Monthly Archives: March 2012

Spring into Reading with your Toddler

Spring and Easter Reading List for Toddlers

With whispers of Spring in the air and Easter around the corner, I wanted to share some of the books we are reading in our home. I know many of you will note the lack of explicit religious titles and I wanted to take a moment to address that topic.  As my daughter is only two, I have not included the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.  I found that all of the titles I previewed on the topic, even the most child-friendly, still included themes (eating the body and blood of Christ during the First Communion and Jesus dying nailed to a cross) that I do not yet feel prepared to explain to my two year old, who does not understand abstract concepts. I don’t want to frighten her with complex themes that she is not developmentally ready to comprehend.  I know many parents feel differently, and I usually find that Patricia Pingry does a decent job of explaining complex holiday or historical concepts to small children in her board books. If you have found child friendly titles on the topic, I encourage you to share in the comment section below. I’d be interested in checking them out!

Instead, we’ve chosen to focus on “new life” themes; here are some titles to check out this Spring/Easter season!  Here are some of our current favorites:


Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson

Wee Little Lamb by Lauren Thompson

I have listed three titles by Lauren Thompson; they are all sweet, gentle stories about baby animals with beautiful (I think, colored pencil), realistic, illustrations by John Butler.


Bunny’s Noisy Book by Margaret Wise Brown

The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

Who can go wrong with a Margaret Wise Brown book?  Bunny’s Noisy Book is not the most well-written story, but we still enjoy the story of a bunny’s outdoor adventures and the exploration of nature sounds.  On the other hand, The Runaway Bunny is sure to pull on any parent’s heartstrings, as it depicts a mother bunny who reassures her baby bunny of her enduring, unconditional, ever-present, love.

Wee Little Bunny by Lauren Thompson

V loves this title, because the bunny illustrations look just like our bunny rabbit, Carmen!


Duck and Goose:  Here Comes The Easter Bunny by Tad Hills

Duck and Goose, the comical and lovable duo, try to hide in wait for the Easter Bunny.  So cute!

Easter Parade  by Irving Berlin (illustrated by Lisa McCue)

The traditional Irving Berlin song is illustrated in book form with a daddy and daughter bunny pair as the main characters.  The music for the song is tucked in the back of the book for those of you who have more musical talent than I!

Happy Easter Corduroy by Don Freeman

Everyone’s favorite bear participates in traditional Easter activities with his stuffed friends!

Happy Easter Mouse by Laura Numeroff

Mouse wanders through the house finding Easter eggs left by his special friend, Bunny!  This book is great to teach colors and counting, as the egg colors change on every page, and the number of eggs in each picture increases throughout the book!

It’s Easter, Pooh!  by Disney Enterprises

Another favorite bear and his friends go on an egg hunt; Pooh’s basket breaks and he loses all his eggs.  His friends come to the rescue by sharing their eggs; this story is a good lesson in sharing and generosity of spirit.


Everything Spring by National Geographic Kids

I love the sounds in this book; the words read like poetry and the pictures of baby animals and springtime scenes are adorable!

It’s Spring by Linda Glaser

This book reads like a spring meditation and the paper cut art makes you want to study each  page.  What a wonderful find!

Splish, Splash, Spring by Jan Carr

Another title with paper cut art, this book uses a rhyme scheme to show three friends exploring the Spring out of doors.

Happy Springtime everyone and please share your favorite Spring stories in the comment section!


Sharing Shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day

Materials Needed:

Green tissue paper ( I save used crumpled tissue paper from gifts for craft projects)

Green tempura paint

Elmer’s Glue


Paint brush

Paper towel

Wooden shamrock (Cardboard would likely work if it is thick and less porous; I purchased the wooden form for under a dollar at the craft store)

Optional: magnets and hot glue gun if you want to magnetize your shamrock

Age:  2+ (unless you just want them to do the painting part, which is feasible at younger ages)

Objectives:  learning about holiday traditions, colors, textures, cutting, gluing


Cut tissue paper into small squares.  My two year old, V, is just learning to cut and was so excited to do this! We used two different colored and textured tissue paper and streamers to create a multicolored look.  Squeeze and smear glue over the wooden shamrock form; wipe messy fingers!  Have your child apply the tissue squares.  Let dry.  Paint the shamrock with tempura paint.  Let it dry.  If you wish, affix magnet with hot glue and decorate your refrigerator.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

On an unrelated but also green note:  here is a picture of the crazy turtle that crossed a road in our subdivision today.  This old-timer stopped traffic as people poured out of their vehicles to watch his unexpectedly hasty crossing into the pond near our home.

"It's not easy being green..." -Kermit the Frog

On the Banks of the Shenandoah with my Daughter

One of my favorite memories of V’s early toddlerhood is the morning I packed us a picnic breakfast and after dropping my husband, M, off at work, settled in for a rest alongside the Shenandoah River.  We sat together on a sheet, her fingering sand, and eating snacks; me, watching how beautiful and precious she was sitting on the shore in the morning light.  The sun filtered through the trees with just the right amount of sparkle to light the red in her baby fine hair, the water rippled happily yards away, and we had the perfect quiet of two people who can be content and silent together in the most restful sort of way.  It was my idea of heaven.

It’s been a while since we ventured back to “our spot.”  V prefers walking to strolling for the most part now, so it takes more effort to get there, and, with entering the “why?” and “What’s dat, Mommy?” phases, quiet is rarely to be had.  But another spring day rolled our way, and when I asked her what she wanted to do that day, she said she wanted to go to the park.  After a morning spent with friends on the swings, I tucked her into her car seat to return home, only to find her asleep as I pulled into our subdivision.  Faced with the prospect of sitting in the driveway for another couple of hours, I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  So I pulled through the drive-through of our most healthy fast-food joint, grabbed us some chicken and fruit and fries and drove to the local national park we visited last year.  I sat and ate and read in the car while she slept, and when she woke, packed her food into her little owl backpack and we went on a picnic walk together.

In some ways, this visit was a different experience.  V exclaimed over every bird she saw; “Geeses, Mommy!”  I wish I was that excited over them!  We made footprints in the muddy riverbanks and noted bird tracks and “Blue’s Clues” footprints left by an obliging dog.  We learned to brush off bugs when they land on us.  We picked up sticks and three pockets full of rocks and learned how to avoid bird poop on benches. We sat and waited to watch trains, finally catching one as we were about to leave for the day. She begged me to stay and watch the next one; I wished we had more time to do so.  Always:  the need for more time.  So much learning is going on these days; some days I feel like I can’t pour it out of me fast enough for her to absorb.  She is inquisitive and curious; she watches people everywhere we go, reporting to me the dynamics of what she sees:  “That boy needs to listen to his Mommy.” (as an example).  She is awe and sensation and curiosity and wonder personified.  Watching her interact with the world is an amazing gift that I am grateful for daily.

Despite the more animated conversation on this trip, and the need to urge her onward during distracted moments where she dawdled during our walk back to the car, I found the same peace I had experienced during our first visit to our spot.  Being with my daughter in nature, smelling the water and the earth, feeling the squish of the mud under our boots, catching glimpses of wildlife (a family of turtles perched on a log in the river),  and doing nothing but sharing with V, I felt a peace I haven’t experienced in a while.  A peace born out of leaving the computer at home, of having a dead cell-phone battery, of a spontaneous moment, of no distractions, just nature and my daughter.  Peace.  I hope to return again soon, after all, V wants to wait for those trains.  Maybe next time, that’s all we’ll do.  Just sit, and watch the trains, rolling by, one after another, until we are ready to move on, sitting in stillness and togetherness again.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Toddler Style

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: Toddler Style

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig
“Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”

(source: )

While we are not Irish, my family does have some Gaelic roots; both my great-grandparents on my mother’s side were Welsh.  In fact, though they lived some streets apart in Wales, they did not meet until they crossed the Atlantic and settled in Michigan!  As St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday that even the least Irish of us are invited to enjoy, I wanted to share some activities that we have been doing to celebrate Ireland in our home.  This post is dedicated to our friends Megan and Brian and their lovely Irish family: to good friends—I’m glad our friendship has endured distance and years and we hope to see you soon!


Jack and the Leprechaun by Ivan Robertson

The Leprechaun who Lost His Rainbow by Sean Callahan

The Luckiest St. Patrick’s Day Ever! By Teddy Slater

Learning Activities:

We have been talking about shamrocks, leprechauns, and Ireland in our home!  Here are some toddler-friendly learning activities to enjoy:

*Decorating a felt board with felt Shamrocks

*Drawing and painting Shamrocks; we also have a stamping marker that V uses to make mini-shamrock shapes

*Playing Irish Music:  we have a whole stack of CDs with both instrumental and vocal Irish songs that we will play in the time leading up to the holiday

*Finding Ireland on a map or globe; talk with your child about how Ireland is an island located in the Atlantic Ocean.  Talk about some of the features of the country:  (it rains frequently so the land is very green; there are more sheep than people (we heard this from a tour guide on a bus tour of Galway Bay!; there are many hills and cliffs overlooking the ocean)

*M and I traveled to Ireland and Wales after college; in fact we were engaged at St. Davids in Wales on a cliff overlooking the ocean (a romantic story I’ll save for an anniversary post, I think…).  We have many beautiful pictures of terrain and castles that we shared with V.  She was interested in the cows in some of our shots (I have a pic of a cow gazing through the window of a ruined stone building that is one of my favorite shots ever!) and the castles!

*Making Irish food :  have your child help you prepare a traditional Irish favorite.  I’m looking for a good soda bread recipe if anyone has one to share!  A favorite cookbook in our house is Celtic Folklore Cooking by Joanne Asala.  We have made traditional Celtic dishes for dinner parties and especially love the Scones, Honey Glazed Chicken, and Champ recipes.  Our neighbor and landlady, prepares excellent corned beef and cabbage for her annual St. Patrick’s Day gathering, which I enjoyed for the first time last year.

*Have your child pick out an all green outfit to wear for the day!

There are many ways to share this fun and festive holiday!  And when you tuck your little ones into bed for the evening, you can pour a glass of Guinness or a goblet of mead and toast to your loved ones.


Listening, Loving, and Learning through Life’s Everyday Breakdowns

I recently had a mid-day meltdown.  It doesn’t really matter what prompted it, because a dozen things prompted it.  Years of feelings prompted it. Two years of sleep deprivation probably helped it along.  A busted water line in the basement during the previous week just set me off ruminating on some ongoing issues and then pouring out like the water had, I text messaged my husband something like this:

“I’m tired of, tired of…tired of…, sick of…, midlife crisis…blah, blah…., I know there are people dying in civil wars…but I feel….sad story, poor me…who am I…, when will things stop changing…, worry, worry, tragedy…oh, woe is me.”  DUMP.

My poor husband calls, “Do you need me to come home?”  Sob.  Sob.  I haven’t let loose these kind of tears in a long time.

Interjected in between sobs, he managed to extract some of my woes from me and talk me into a temporary state of functioning.

Then he promised to come home after work instead of taking his weekly night off at the game store (we each take a few hours, one evening a week for “me time”).  My daughter continued napping on my lap (where she had miraculously slept through my cry-fest), and when she woke, we ventured outside for some fresh air.  Breezes and warmth blew over my face, instantly moving me into deeper breath.  We kicked a ball around, drew some pictures on the sidewalk, kid stuff.

My husband pulled in the driveway, armed with an apple pie (my favorite), fire and ice roses (our flower), and a warm hug.  He cooked dinner while I finished playing with V.  He let me spend some mindless time arranging his Hidden Chronicles estate on Facebook without begrudging me.  We chatted before going to sleep, holding hands, and I felt my state of being shift.

Because whatever happens in my life, major or minor, and however I stumble or break or cry or fumble,  I have the love of my husband and my daughter.  I have the everyday joys, the comfort of familiar arms, the sweetness of my daughter’s face and kisses.  I am infinitely fortunate.

I was reminded to never underestimate the power of small gestures of love and of listening with acceptance.  And why I married my husband:  because his hand fits just right around my own.

Linking up with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for her two year celebration of  

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