Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009

Doctor June and the Tales of Anatomy

My three year old daily inspires me with endless hours of blogging material.  Her latest obsession is the human body.  She's trying to decide whether she'd rather be a pediatrician or an internal medicine doctor when she grows up.  Last night when I was tucking her in I found myself describing the entire male and female reproductive systems (But why?  Mommy, why?).  Long story short, I've decided that even Anatomy and Physiology deserve a good story.  Finding the subject in the form of a teddy bear was a little unexpected, however.

Said daughter is fully knowledgeable about different types of cells in the body and what they do, but especially white blood cells (it is cold and flu season, after all).  As she puts it, "white blood cells find and gobble up things that don't belong."  An unfortunate accident with a friendly teddy bear led my daughter to discover that teddy bears only have white insides.  The following conversation ensued:

"Why are his insides white, Mommy?"
"Maybe it's his blood cells that make his insides look white.  But it's probably just his stuffing."
"Why doesn't he have red blood cells?"
"Maybe because he's not alive, so he doesn't need red blood cells to carry oxygen around his body."
"Oh.  Why does he need white blood cells?"
"Teddy bears are a great comfort when you're sick.  He wouldn't want to get stuck with a virus, would he?"

The discovery that teddy bears actually fight viral infections has yet to be published in a medical journal, but I'm sure the research is well underway.  Didn't they spend a bunch of research money on why chicken soup makes you feel better when you're sick?  Why not teddy bears?  In the meantime, I feel a story brewing about a heroic bear who assists children in fighting viral infections simply by being snuggly.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Fairy-Tale Life...

I must start with a confession:  Last week we let our 3 year old daughter watch Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.”  I normally don’t encourage such behavior, but it seemed like harmless fun at the time.  Family movie night quickly turned into a week-long obsession with Belle and Beast.  Being the non-conformist mama that I am, I wasn’t content to let her watch it over and over again, so we went to the library at checked out classic fairy tale versions of Beauty and Beast (of which there are many!).  We discussed the differences between the books, we looked at pictures, but mostly we acted out the story.  Storytelling can be a great way to infuse a little fun into your otherwise normal (read: boring) day- here’s what my day looked like, today:
7:00 am- My daughter tells me she is the Beast and I am Beauty.  Ok.  If that is any indication of how the day is going to go, at least I’m prepared.

7:30 am- Beast eats all his oatmeal (because Beasts need to be strong to be fierce).

8:00 am- Beauty helps Beast pick out some beautiful courtly clothes for the day.
8:30 am- Beauty vacuums while Beast begrudgingly dusts and helps vacuum (because a clean castle is a happy castle).  Singing helps us along.
9:30 am- My daughter tells me that I am now the Beast and she is Beauty.  Was it the vacuuming that turned me beastly?
10:00 am- Beast convinces Beauty that the castle is being attacked by dragons.  Beauty climbs into her chariot while the horses and Beast whisk her off on a nice 2 ½ mile jog through the forest.  Beast is happier with a little exercise.
10:30 am- Beauty runs with the horses then rides her bike (“it’s NOT a horse, Beast, it’s a bicycle!”) around the neighborhood with Beast in hot pursuit. 
11:00 am- Beauty finds a baby who needs a home and invites her to stay in the castle while Beast makes lunch and tidies up.
1:00 pm- As we settle down for naptime books, my daughter says, “I’m just June now and you‘re just Mommy.”   “Oh Good- I’ve kind of missed being Mommy.  But I had fun, too!”

Not every day will be the perfect pre-school day.  Neither of us were in the mood, today, for counting, letters or anything structured.  Besides, the house looks clean.  We got our exercise.  And we had fun. 

Mission accomplished. 
Maybe tomorrow I’ll get to be a dinosaur. 
I like dinosaur-days.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My Story... a work in progress

Blogging has forced me to be a little honest about myself: Apparently, I'm not perfect. Sad, but true. I'm not unique in this; I am a mom. Here are some of my top issues:

1) Parenting: I'm not a fan of being forced to parent someone else's kid because they don't feel like it (of course I don't mean you, silly!). I am, apparently, a big fan of standing on a soapbox and preaching about it.
2) Junk food and sugar: It's a special treat. That doesn't mean they should serve it at every event where children are welcome to attend. Would the world collapse if someone offered a 3 year old a carrot stick? If they're hungry enough... well, you know how that goes.
3) Commercialized toys and other junk: Don't we have enough to shield our children from without having to be worried about lead paint, choking hazards and commercialization? I say, let them play with blocks and read books. It won't kill them to be the last kid on the block to play Rock Band.

That's enough ranting for one day. I enjoy the simple things and I want my kids to enjoy them, too. Is that too much to ask? How about you? Is there something in your world that drives you to the edge of crazy? Or beyond? I'd love to hear about it!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live Local, Love Local!

There was sad news in our town, today. Our local children's museum doesn't have the funding required to continue. This makes me a little angry, people! It's past time for us to band together; we are moms, husbands, sisters, cousins and friends and we are all neighbors. We need to support the institutions and non-profits that matter in our lives! Even the most solid organizations are suffering right now. Who sponsors those free craft days in the park? Who puts children's activities at every family-friendly festival? Find out, and show them some love this week! Free advertising on your blog, an event that highlights or raises money for them, or just a shout-out on Facebook can make a big difference in our small world. Nuts and bolts ideas? Here's one: I'd love to help you organize an online fundraiser using Barefoot Books. I can donate up to 25% of online sales towards the organization of your choice... just contact me and I'll get to work for your community! It's never too late to see how one person can make a difference. Now go, make magic happen!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

If you haven't read it, yet...

This is an amazing book! The Jesus Storybook Bible is a great Bible for kids of all ages (my mom loves it as does my 3 year old). Whether you read the Bible for the cultural experience or because of your faith, this is a great addition to your bookshelf! Sally Lloyd Jones is a wonderful storyteller and gives these classic Bible stories a twist that is irresistibly fun and easy to read. Artist Jago maintains cultural accuracy (sometimes hard to find in Bible books for kids) with a beautiful color palette and style that holds the attention of even more rambunctious toddlers. Good news- The Jesus Storybook Bible is being re-released as a deluxe edition with an audio cd featuring David Suchet. Some samples are available on the website. There are some publicity contests going on, so check it out on the website and join in! If I win I promise to share with you all!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Check out this great new video that just came out... Barefoot Books is a publishing company committed to more than just books- it's a whole lifestyle. We care and want to make a difference in the world, which is why I love my job! Watch the video and come see me at my website!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Bedside Storytelling

One of my favorite things about my addiction to children's books (not just Barefoot Books!) is the great storytelling I encounter. The books that stand the test of time, and the test of patience, are the ones that are great stories. Barefoot has MANY in this category (Mama Panya's Pancakes, Herb the Vegetarian Dragon, and hundreds of others). Some of the best stories come from our own imagination. Often, at my daughter's bedtime, I find my own eyes closing. Reality blurs with imagination, and I sometimes find it is easy to conjur a great tale.

Tonight my daughter requested a story about a horse (lately we've been giving her a choice of an animal and allowing the story to unfold naturally. Lately she's been choosing a horse). Daddy told the story, tonight. Here it is:

Once upon a time there was a horse. The horse lived on a farm with a barn, stables, fields and many other animals. The big strong horse worked hard for the farmer, year after year, plowing diligently in the fields, day after day, never complaining. The farmer always gave him the best oats and brushed his coat every day. The horse believed that he was made for this: for hard work, great rewards, and a gentle life. One day, the farmer said to the horse, "would you like to go run in the pasture?" The horse tossed his mane. "I never thought of it, before," he replied. "But I suppose I could try it." So, with a kind smile, the farmer led the old horse to the wide open pasture and released him. The old horse began with a pleasant trot, enjoying the sunshine and open space. Then he saw a bluebird. The little bluebird said, "oh great horse, I bet you can't run faster than I can fly!" So the horse began to chase him. He ran faster and faster, pushing his limits, breathing harder and harder, sweat glistening on his flanks. He chased the bird across the pasture where he finally met an open gate at the other end, leading out into a deep green field, surrounded by forest. But the mighty horse stopped. The horse remembered the farmer. He remembered the farmer's kindness, always giving him the best feed and gently brushing his coat every night. The mighty horse tossed his head and turned. He ran back to the farmer at the other end of the field. The farmer greeted his old friend with a smile. "Why did you come back?" The horse replied, "I ran all the way to the other end of the field. I realized for the first time that I was made for this, to run free. The air tasted sweet, the sky was blue, but I remembered you. Your kindness, always giving me the best oats, and your gentleness, brushing my coat every night. I thought maybe I ought to come back and keep working for you as I have all these years." The farmer lovingly stroked the mighty horse's nose. "Ah, old friend, your time plowing is through. You passed the test and came home to me. It's time to do what you were made to do. Go run." The horse tossed his head, turned and ran and ran and ran. Running free, as he was made to do.

Here's an amazing collection of magical horse stories from Barefoot Books, for the nights when your imagination needs a rest, or for an endless number of other good reasons.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Go Barefoot! Ir descalzo hoy!

Are you wanting to introduce the kids in your life to a little multiculturalism? Time to "Ir Descalzo" con "Barefoot Books!" Those of you who also live in small towns know how challenging it is to find ways to introduce other cultures to our kids. Barefoot Books offers a huge variety of books about other parts of the world. We have a great selection of books about Africa, Asia, Latin America, China, India and the middle east. Recently at an event someone asked me about books specifically geared towards multiculturalism. Our Barefoot collection of books in Spanish came to mind first. Our sing-along books, like "Cha-Cha-Cha en la Selva" (Animal Boogie) and "Mira Quien Toca Calipso" (Creepy, Crawly Calypso) are an easy and fun way to introduce your children to the Spanish language. And you can learn the songs along with them! We also have many other Spanish language books available on my website. The best news of all is that we may soon have some books translated into French! As Barefoot Books grows, so does our passion for multiculturalism, global understanding, and our role as caretakers of the planet and our children. Go Barefoot! Ir descalzo, hoy!

Some other fun ways to introduce your kids to cultural diversity:

  • Make a trip to a big city for a cultural festival. While you're there, make it a point to have some cultural experiences. Visit ethnic neighborhoods, try their food, listen for other languages being spoken and teach your kids to seek out experiences that are unfamiliar.
  • Plan a cultural "stay-cation." Do some research on a particular culture. Borrow books, make costumes, and cook food that reflect that culture. Involve your kids and have a party! Invite friends and make it a community event. (check out our "Mama Panya's Pancakes" for a great Africa-themed book with lots of great food ideas!)
  • Your local library probably has travelogues or at least videos of journeys to far away places. Surprise your family by renting one and having a movie night around that video instead of the usual Hollywood blockbuster.
  • Consider hosting a foreign exchange student in your home. If your kids are old enough to hang out with them, this is a particularly rich experience, for the whole family.

Go Barefoot at Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Parenting is hard enough without all the confusing messages out there. We adopt a style when our babies are young, but most parenting books drop off around age 2. Part of living a Barefoot life, for me, is creating a healthy, happy, nutritional soil for my daughter's emotional, spiritual and physical growth. A child-centered approach can be tricky, especially with the inundation of glossy-one-paragraph-theories that are so popular right now in the parenting world. I was just beginning to notice a second grey streak in my hair when a new book arrived on my doorstep, thanks to the moms at Mother-Talk and Mom Central.

Author Dyan Eybergen is a pediatric psychiatric nurse, but she's also a mom. This is obvious by the practical wisdom in her book, Out of the Mouth of Babes: Parenting from a Child's Perspective. Dyan has delivered a gently constructed book directing the parent to "develop an understanding for how a child sees and feels about a given situation, to listen to and respect your child's point of view, and to attune to a child's individual needs and personality, and parent him accordingly." Prosaic and situational, but practical, this book was the perfect read for rare stolen moments throughout my day. One particular afternoon I landed smack in the middle of Chapter 7: Discipline. We always strive to use natural consequences at our house, and Dyan had plenty to offer in this vein. By the end of the day I was implementing some new ideas. Simple. Commonsense. Why was I not doing this, already?

For example: Dyan suggests that when giving a time-out to a child, you should not give them warnings beyond the first recognition of misbehavior. I had fallen into a particularly nasty trap of warnings with my daughter. I can proudly say I am recovering from this illness and enjoying the fruits! My daughter is also learning t0 practice self-quieting during time-outs and is recognizing when she is ready to rejoin the activity at hand without an arbitrary time-limit.

This books offers a refreshing reminder to recognize your child's uniqueness and suggestions on tailoring your parenting to fit the individual child. Clearly, the author has been down the road of "one size does not fit all" parenting and she now offers her wisdom to the rest of us. One of the best parts of this book is the collection of children's quotes throughout. I'll leave you with a couple:

"If you won't let me have a cookie before breakfast, how am I going to grow any bigger?" -Talen, age 4

"I don't want to go on time-out. Maybe you should go back to babysitting school." -Kohan, age 6

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Books for Africa

Some of us are called to travel to far-away lands and some of us go reluctantly, but most of us can hardly get out of our driveway. The good news is that we live in a global culture that reaches us where we are. Part of our mission at Barefoot Books is to spread literacy and cultural understanding. We have recently partnered with an amazing program called Books for Africa and I couldn't help revisiting this fantastic organization.

The mission of Books For Africa is to end the book famine in Africa. Since 1988, Books For Africa has shipped more than 20 million books to 42 African countries and put books int0 the hands of those who need them the most: children who long to explore the world in ways that only books make possible.

Through my website, you are able to choose from six select Barefoot Books which will cost you only $3.00-$5.00, each. The books will be shipped from a central warehouse directly to schools, libraries and resource centers across the African continent. These books were chosen because of their emphasis on African stories, wildlife and culturally relevant artwork.

Check out this video to learn more about this wonderful organization:

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Bedtime Story

"Once upon a time..." the little voice starts
holding her bear close to her heart
The words blur together, toddler style,
the pretend little story makes me smile.
I know all the lines, from beginning to end
Each night she begs me, "Mommy, again!"
The story shifts, the characters change
Like a thought almost lost, or a song out of range
There's a bear, a porcupine, spider or dog
Maybe princesses, dragons, or a shape in the fog
High towers, meadows, mountains, or home
No place is too far for a story to roam.
Back to the bear, clutched close to her chest
he loved her story, the very best, yet.
Both have a drink, two songs and a kiss
It's easy to see how these moments I'll miss.
"And that's the end of the story."