Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Merlin, Arthur, Knights and Dragons!

The boys don't want to be called Merlin and Arthur quite yet. But it seems like we are heading down that road. On Sunday we watched The Sword and the Stone. When the movie was over, we read:

Merlin and the Making of the King
Retold by Margaret Hodges
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
ISBN: 0-8234-1647X

In the sight of all the great lords, Arthur thrust the sword into the stone and pulled it out easily. And though he alone could succeed in the marvelous feat, the lords would not have him. "How can that unknown, beardless boy be king?" they muttered.In this collection of three exciting Arthurian legends, Merlin the magician watches over young Arthur as he rises to become king of all England. But many threats befall Arthur in the kingdom of Camelot: the evil witch Morgan le Fay, the traitor Mordred, and even his best friend, Sir Launcelot. Will the courageous Arthur triumph over the evil forces in his path and bring peace and justice to the world?
With lyrical storytelling and dazzling paintings, renowned author Margaret Hodges and celebrated illustrator Trina Schart Hyman together capture the beauty, danger, and glory of these timeless tales adapted from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur.

The Paper Bag Princess 
by Robert Munsch
Illustrated by Michael Martchenko
ISBN: 0-920236-16-2
The Princess Elizabeth is slated to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon attacks the castle and kidnaps Ronald. In resourceful and humorous fashion, Elizabeth finds the dragon, outsmarts him, and rescues Ronald --- who is less than pleased at her un-princess-like appearance. Full color throughout.

King Arthur's Very Great Grandson
by Kenneth Kraegel
(already listed from a previous library book list)

Over the past two days we have been reading: 
Saint George and the Dragon
Retold by Margaret Hodges
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
ISBN: 978-0316367950 

In this retelling of a segment from Spenser's Faerie Queen, Saint George, the Red Cross Knight, is guided by the lady Una to her parents' realm, where in a mighty battle he slays a dragon who has terrorized the land. After thus proving himself, he and Una are married.
Hodges' prose distills much action and color into a fairly brief text, sprinkled with quotes from the original work. The adaptation retains a courtly eloquence but should be easily understood by older readers. For younger listeners it will still be challenging, and it may be best to begin with a paraphrase of the story events, leaving time for questions, and gradually introduce the full text of the story with successive readings. Hyman's mesmerizing illustrations, augmented by lavish and intricate borders, make this book excellent for this kind of exercise, because the pictures do most of the work in capturing a child's imagination. This story of heroism and love is wonderful in its own right, but it should also whet the appetite and prepare the reader for a future experience of the full poem (original text of which is here, and audio is here…).

The Kitchen Knight: a Tale of King Arthur
Retold by Margaret Hodges
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman 
ISBN: 0-8234-0787-X
The Kitchen Knight retells the first part of "The Tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney," one of the most exciting and entertaining of the stories about King Arthur and his knights, which first appeared in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur.
In this glorious tale Gareth, King Arthur's nephew, is knighted by Sir Lancelot, vanquishes the dreaded Knight of the Red Plain, and wins the hand of a fair maiden.

By Howard Pyle
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
ISBN: 0-688-09837-1 
Betrayed by his own father, the infant son of a lowly miller narrowly escapes death and is lovingly adopted by a faithful she-bear. Raised on her nourishing milk, the boy becomes the strongest man in the land -- and the only one brave enough to battle the kingdom's bloodthirsty three-headed dragon. Yet it is wit, not just courage and might, that the hero must employ to win his true desire: the delicate hand of a princess already betrothed to another.
Nothing could be more delicious than the marvelous quest that ensues -- a tale of romantic valor, stolen glory, and sweet justice. Caldecott Medalist Trina Schart Hyman has created a pictorial drama that is alive with good humor and splendid characters as forever memorable as Howard Pyle's timeless story. Here is a winning revival from the classic book The Wonder Clock that will surely be savored again and again.

The Water of Life
Retold by Barbara Rogasky
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Once upon a time, there was a king so sick that everyone thought he would die. His three sons learned of the Water of Life, which would make their father well. One by one they went to find it. The oldest and middle sons, cursed by a curious dwarf for their pride, got trapped in a narrow ravine and could not move forward or back. But the youngest son was rewarded with the ability to find the Water of Life and help save his father. Before the youngest son could succeed, he had to tame two lions, survive alone and lost in the forest, and defeat his brothers' treachery.
This fairy tale, elegantly retold by Barbar Rogasky, is rich in the traditional elements of folklore. Good and evil battle to win, the imprisoned beautiful princess is freed, a magic sword saves the day, and love is redeemed through trial. All these ingredients are vividly portrayed in Trina Schart Hyman's luxurious illustrations.

Flight of the Last Dragon
By Robert Burleigh
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre
ISBN: 978-0-399-25200-6
What if there was but one dragon left in the world?
What if dragons were more than just imaginary creatures? What if long ago they soared through our skies? And what if there was only one dragon left? Where might it hide from our machines, from our technology, from us? And where would it go if it spread its wings for one last flight?
New York Times bestselling writer Robert Burleigh and Harry Potter artist Mary GrandPre answer these questions by taking us on one last great journey into the starry night. Read this book with a child and wait for the inevitable moment when he looks to the sky . . . and wonders.

Iron John
adapted from the Brothers Grimm
By Eric A. Kimmel
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
ISBN: 0-8234-1248-2

The tale of "Iron John" or "Iron Hans," as it is sometimes translated, has fascinated me since I read it for the first time when I was eight years old. The story is rich in archetypal symbolism. Writers such as Robert Bly and Joseph Campbell have discussed it at great length. Readers interested in understanding the story's deeper levels of meaning should refer to their works.
"Iron John" is a lengthy tale. To make it with the narrow confines of a picture book text I found it necessary to cut the first part, Iron John's capture, which is a fascinating episode but one that has little connection with the rest of the story. Except for Iron John, the characters in the original version are nameless. I took the liberty of giving the king's son and the garden girl names. Elsa comes from "Patient Elsa," another tale from Grimm. Walter takes his name from a knight who fought in the First Crusade: Gautier-Sans-Avoir or "Walter-Without-Wealth."
The most significant difference between this version of the story and Grimm's is that here Elsa the garden girl, not the princess, marries Walter. I always resented the idea that a princess who despised the hero when he was poor would love him when he became rich. Fie on princesses! Elsa loves Walter truly, and so she will have him.
- Eric A. Kimmel May 30, 1992

We have also been listening to C. S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader via our apple TV, while the boys play. They love it. Here's the description from Amazon:
A king and some unexpected companions embark on a voyage that will take them beyond all known lands. As they sail farther and farther from charted waters, they discover that their quest is more than they imagined and that the world's end is only the beginning.
Anything can happen in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a novel that stands on its own, but if you would like return to worlds beyond your wildest imagination, read The Silver Chair, the sixth book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

I love listening to the boys playing. They talk about C. S. Lewis (I don't even think I knew that name until I was in high school!), and the White Witch while they play with their PlayMobile firefighters on a pirate ship…. They are so creative, curious and love reading. After we finished reading today, I finished blogging this, and the boys have been listening to the above audiobook. I love the development of Eustice Scrubb, and Peter loves listening for the mouse, Reepicheep! I look forward to the rest of the adventures today will bring!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cleaning the Homestead and Warrior Boys

I don't know why I'm excited about this, but I am.

I was recently introduced to Radiantly You, by a friend. I try to be conscientious of what I clean with in the home, keep poisons and toxins out. I bought some products to try, and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival. In the mean time, I made some of my own tub scrub, since I had the same ingredients on hand at home. I don't know the correct proportions for their formula, and I don't know the consistency of their formula, that was the one product I didn't look at the party. However, I winged it. Here's what I made, and I probably won't make it again because it was a pain in the butt (which is why I will buy the product next time!):

1 C Baking Soda
1 C Super Washing Soda
Approx 1 C Castile Soap (I used what was left in my bottle of Dr. Bronner's Almond)
Approx 2 Tbsp Young Living Thieves Household Cleaner (again, what was left in the bottle)
Filtered Water to make it into a thick paste consistency

It worked miracles on my shower stall, the ring around the tub, and the make-up left behind on my unstained wooden step stool that I had since I was a child.

Oh, I haven't told the story of how my children made themselves into warriors as I was trying to get a few extra winks Sunday morning.

Boys, I am immortalizing this story, mostly because I did NOT have a complete freak-out and this was a HUGE step for me.

Saturday night I went to a friend's house, with the boys for a direct sales launch party. I decided to put on some make upto help myself feel good when meeting friends and new people. I was in a rush to get out of the house on time, so I don't put my makeup away. {I left the bag on the counter, and I left it open.}
That night I had insomnia after little Edmund woke at 1:30am, I was able to get him back to sleep immediately, but finally got back to sleep around 4am. He then wakes up at 5:30am. I try to convince him to go back to sleep because it is still night. I doze in and out, extremely groggy, and hear the two boys playing nicely, then they say they have to go potty, and they both pee together. I hear Peter trying to get a new diaper onto Edmund, I think it's funny in my drowsy state and I also think all is well. When I finally wake up because I was called to wipe a butt from someone who pooped on the potty but won't wipe himself, I find the reason they were playing so nicely. 
They found said make up bag. 
Both boys had become warriors with ALL my makeup save my compact, some blush and two containers of Clinique eye shadow. 
I never thought I would be trying to get lipstick out if my son's shirt collar at the precious age of two. I should have taken a picture, but I was too much in a hurry to get the boys contained, the floors, cabinets, toilets, counter tops, door knobs, sink handles, foot stools, throw rugs, decorative towels (body, hand, and finger tip towels) clean. My mind was raging, but I was able to contain my anger. 
Deep cleansing breath. Big cup of coffee after the event, and trying to say a rosary. Eep
So much mascara, blush, red tinted lip gloss and lipstick in so many places...all over their entire face including eye lids, in the crevices of the top parts of their ears, backs of hands, up their forearms, back of necks, all down their thighs, knees, calves, ankles, tops of feet. All my Clinique and Mary Kaye lipstick (well, it was only three tubes of lipstick, but it was all I had - I'm not huge into makeup) and some bright red lip tint and shine that was yummy peppermint flavored. Needless to say they got a rather uncomfortable lukewarm bath. I wasn't in the mood for giving them their typical a fun, warm bubble bath with toys, but I wasn't going to torture them with cold water like my inner demon suggested. (Right now I am VERY grateful that my irritability and anger are able to be contained with medication. Without it, I don't want to know what could have happened - I am praising God for this) They did get a comfortably warm rinse off.

So, this new tub scrub that I made today not only got the lip stain/gloss and mascara out of the wood from the foot stool, it also took the year old rust stain off the bench of my shower! I was super stoked for that.

To clean I used a scrub brush and a rag from the FlyLady's rags in a bag (I splurged last year before we moved trying to get things clean that weren't getting clean with the rags I had) for the places where my scrub brush couldn't go.

* Please note that I receive no compensation from any links posted, I am just trying to share what I use and what works for me, and help those who I got help from!

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Air Plane Museum

This morning the boys snuggled so nicely to wake up calm and peacefully. I was still very tired, but I love the gentle wake ups. We then ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, as requested from the boys. After they played with the alligators they got from their Babci & Pop-pop for Valentine's Day, we bundled up and went to Walmart. The boys decided they needed balloons, the big, huge mylar balloons - so I allowed them to carry them around the store so they could wander a little and I could find them again easily, and then we returned them to their original place.

We continued our sojourns by driving to Hampton, VA to the Virginia Air & Space Center. Thankfully I lived in Ocean View for about five years because I knew the back way around the traffic backup on I-64W. We got there without delay, but I warned Peter that if the Willoughby Spit exit would be closed, then we would have to try going to his Airplane museum another day, but thankfully made it there and we had so much fun!

We then stopped at the library to drop off the majority of our library picks, but saved our favorites to re-"read again and again" as Edmund likes to say, and I picked up 18 new items, although I found out two of them are big chapter books for older children, I will be returning them because they are parts of a series that is inappropriate for the boys.  The library book list is up. Edmund was sleeping in the car, but awoke as we came inside the house, so much for a nice nap. The moods were irritable after lunch, so the boys got to watch a Leap Frog show, and two Magic School bus episodes. Later I found as I had been doing laundry and other things as they were watching their shows that they had raided the refrigerator and ate all but eight strawberries in the play room! No wonder why they weren't very hungry for dinner tonight. I made penne with shrimp and broccoli scampi. It was so delicious. I went through their spent strawberries that were half eaten and made myself a milkshake for dessert. They got a big talking to about helping themselves to food in the refrigerator and hiding it. We discussed bugs and animals in the house if we leave out food, and that I need to wash the fruits (usually apples, now strawberries) before they take it out, and trim off the tops of the strawberries so the strawberries aren't wasted.

That was our day. We ended it by reading the first three books of the new library book list.

Library Book List for Feb 7 2014

~Here's our current list of books - I include Title, author, illustrator (if different from author), ISBN, a description provided from the inside, front jacket cover, or back of book, and a picture if provided by an internet search of images.~

Animals in Winter
by Henrietta Bancroft & Richard G. Van Gelder
Illustrated by Helen K. Davie

When winter winds blow, people stay warm inside their homes. But what do animals do?
Animals have many methods of coping with winter. Some simply sleep it out: They hibernate. Others make tracks for warmer climates: They migrate. Still other animals don't plan ahead at all and must get through whatever weather comes their way.
Young animal lovers will be curious to discover what happens to their favorite creatures in winter.

The Right TouchA Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
By Sandy Kleven, LCSW
Illustrated by Jody Bergsma
ISBN: 0-935699-10-4

The Right Touch reaches far beyond the usual scope of a children's picture book. It is a parenting book that introduces a very difficult topic-the sexual abuse of young children. This gentle, thoughtful story is meant to be read aloud by a trusted caregiver.
In the story, young Jimmy's mom explains the difference between touches that are positive and touches that are secret, deceptive, or forced. She tells him how to resist inappropriate touching, affirming that abuse is not the child's fault.
The introduction provides valuable information about sexual abuse and guidance on what to do if your child experiences an abusive situation. Jody Bergsma's delightful illustrations soften the impact of the story, yet this portrayal of a dangerous situation is very realistic. If your child is old enough to sit still and listen to a story, he or she is old enough for The Right Touch.

Ant and Honey Bee: A Pair of Friends in Winter
By Megan McDonald
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5712-3

Brrr! The leaves are off the trees, and frost is on the ground. It's time for bugs to hunker down and hide out for the winter.
But Ant isn't ready to hunker down. Ant isn't ready to be all by herself for months on end. The thought of a long chilly season without her best friend, Honey Bee, is enough to make Ant shiver with dread. Can Ant brave the cold for one last surprise visit before the snow flies?
Whatever the outside weather might be, a friendship is going to have hot days and cold ones. Just ask Ant and Honey Bee!

Fun Facts About Alligators!
By Carmen Bredeson
ISBN: 978-0-7660-2786-4

'Gator Aid
By Jane Cutler
Illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson
ISBN: 978-0-374-32502-2

Is there an alligator in Shaw Park Lake?
Second-grader Edward Fraser things so, but at first nobody will believe him. Not his parents, not his teacher Mr. Fortney, and definitely not his older brother, Jason. But the enterprising Conroy sisters believe him, and they soon have the whole town talking. Veterinarians, Animal Rights people, a zookeeper, and even a television crew gather at the park to try and catch--or rescue, as some people insist--the scary reptile. Everybody's got a different story about the creature in the lake, none of which matches Edward's version. It's up to Edward and Earline, the granddaughter of a professional alligator catcher from Louisiana, to help solve the mystery.

Where My Wellies Take Me…
By Clare and Michael Morpurgo
Illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6629-3

Pippa goes for her favorite walk in the countryside, her head full of the poems she loves. 
In their first ever book together, Clare and Michael Morpurgo have created a classic for their children of future generations, told with the help of their most beloved poets, including Shakespeare, William Blake, and Ted Hughes.

I Said No! A Kid-tokid guide to keeping private parts private
By Zack and Kimberly King
Illustrated by Sue Rama
ISBN: 978-1-878076-49-6

Helping kids set healthy boundaries for their private parts can be a daunting and awkward task for parents, counselors and educators. Written from a kid's point of view, I Said No! makes this task a lot easier.
To help Zack cope with a real-life experience he had with a "friend", he and his mom wrote a book to help prepare other kids to deal with a range of problematic situations. I Said No! uses kid-friendly language and illustrations to help parents and concerned adults give kids guidance they can understand, practice and use.
Using a simple direct, decidedly "non-icky" approach that doesn't dumb down the issues involved, as well as an easy-to-use system to help kids rehearse and remember appropriate responses to help keep them safe, I Said No! covers a variety of topics including:
  • What's appropriate and with whom.
  • How to deal with inappropriate behavior, bribes and threats.
  • When and where to go for help, and what to do if the people you're turning to for help don't listen.
  • Dealing with feelings of shame and guilt.
I'm the Boss of Me!
By Laura Fogarty
Illustrated by Remi Bryant
ISBN: 978-0-9819007-6-6

"Laura Fogarty's I'm the Boss of Me is a 'must read' for all young children in today's challenging world. It is a wonderfully empowering book which can equip the most vulnerable and precious members of our community with the information and the affirmation they need to protect and defend themselves against one of the most insidious and potentially damaging elements in our society, the predatory adult who targets the very young. I highly recommend it to all parents and caregivers!"
--Roscoe Orman - actor and children's advocate, Internationally known for his 37 years as "Gordon" of SESAME STREET. Author: Sesame Street Dad. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
ISBN: 0-525-40115-6

The poem that begins "Whose woods these are I think I know" surely holds a special place in American hearts. Frost was a poet who could and did speak to everyone, but rarely more memorably than in this evocation of the quiet delights of winter.
In this first picture book version of the poem, Susan Jeffers adds exactly the right visual dimension with the exquisite details and sweeping background of her frosty New England scenes.
And the kindly rotund figure with his "promises to keep" lends both humor and a Christmas feeling that should greatly enhance the enjoyment of the book. It is truly one to share with the whole family.

Animals After Dark Alligators and Crocodiles Hunters of the Night 
By Eliane Landau
ISBN: 978-0-7660-2771-8

As the sun goes down, alligators and crocodiles quietly swim in the water. These animals use their great sense of smell, hearing, and sight to hunt for food. With their huge mouths, they can eat small animals whole, without taking one bite! Author Eline Landau tells the reader all about these scaly reptiles: how they are related, where they live and what they eat.

The Tree the Time Built - a celebration of nature, science, and imagination
Selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston

Ranging from the birth of the universe to the age of the dinosaurs to our own arrival on earth, this spectacular collection of poems will inspire you to praise our prehistoric past, thing like a tree, and marvel at the miracle of flight.
Selected by Children's Poet Laureate Mary Ann Hoberman and teacher Linda Winston, The Tree That Time Built will delight lovers of poetry and nature alike.
In the tradition of the New York Times bestsellers Poetry Speaks to Children and Hip Hop Speaks to Children, the included audio CD features readings of 44 poems, including 18 poets reading their own work, most heard here for the first time!

The Groundhog Day Book of Facts and Fun
By Wendie Old
Illustrated by Paige Billin-Frye
ISBN: 0-8075-3066-2

Snowy Owls - Polar Animals Life in the Freezer
By Ruth Owens
ISBN: 978-3-4777-0223-9

Owly: The Way Home & the Bittersweet Summer
By Andy Runton
ISBN: 1-891830-62-7

Owly is a kind, yet lonely, little owl who's always on the search for new friends and adventure. The first graphic novel in the series contains two enchanting novellas, "The Way Home" & "The Bittersweet Summer," wherein Owly discovers the meaning of friendship, and that saying goodbye doesn't always mean forever. Relying on a mixture of symbols, icons, and expressions to tell his silent stories, Runton's clean, animated, and heartwarming style makes it a perfect read for anyone who's a fan of Jeff Smith'sBone or Mike Kunkel's Herobear and the Kid. -- 160-Page Graphic Novel, 5 1/4" x 7 1/2"

The Enormous Crocodile
By Roald Dahl
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
ISBN: 978-0-14-03656-6
The Enormous Crocodile is incredibly hungry--and incredibly greedy. His favorite meal is a plump, juicy little child, and he intends to gobble up as many of them as he can! He is sure that his "secret plans and clever tricks" cannot be foiled. But when the other animals in the jungle join together to put an end to his wicked schemes, the Enormous Crocodile learns a lesson he won't soon forget.

First Tumbling Class

I didn't post about yesterday because I was EXHAUSTED!
We had so much fun!
We started the day off with bouncing Mommy out of bed, then we breakfasted, got our gear together and went off to the rec. center. Peter had tumbling classes and I was blown away at his enthusiasm, attention and ability. I am very comfortable with the teach, Miss Jan, and can't wait for next week's class. He also made a friend instantly and they bonded over Spiderman. Peter was wearing spiderman socks, and his friend was wearing a spiderman shirt. Unfortunately you won't be getting any pictures from tumbling class because photos are not allowed per the teacher.
After tumbling class we went to the swimming pool to meet up with friends for a playdate, and another boy from tumbling class was there too! This kid is a natural swimmer! He wore goggles and his mom told me he just taught himself to swim. Well my boys were as enthusiastic as he was and kept showing me how they could put their faces in the water and blow bubbles. Peter even did a little underwater swim where he kicked his feet and held his breath! I was so impressed.
We then went to the Commissary for some necessitates, the boys wanted blood oranges, I got a bag of mineolas (also knowns as honey bells and tangelos), along with other goodies. Driving in the car we were listening to audio books of Peter Rabbit and other Beatrix Potter stories, and the boys wanted to watch Peter Rabbit on TV. I have a Peter Rabbit VHS that a neighbor gave me from 1993 (the 100th anniversary special) and the tracking is really bad. They struggled through watching it with little to no patience as they yelled at the TV every time it had to reset itself. Afterwards they had me read them the treasury of Beatrix Potter books. We then had a tea party with their Peter Rabbit mugs. We then took a bubble bath to get the chlorine off our bodies, and we changed into our warmest pajamas to watch some TV as I was supposed to be making dinner, but I was so tired I sat on the couch and took a nap. As I heard the second episode of Wild Kratts start, I got up and prepared dinner - bagels with cream cheese, it's what the boys wanted and I was so tired, I was happy that's all they wanted. After dinner the boys colored a little as I cleaned up the crumbs, then we picked out books, brushed teeth, read the books and went to bed. I asked Peter what the best part of the day was, his reply, "tumbling class and swimming." Made me smile that I enrolled him in both!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Reading, Dancing, Swords, and Hide and Seek

What did we do today? Oh boy. We did a lot and yet it feels like I got nothing accomplished. Both boys were very self sufficient today. In the time it took me to get out of bed, use the toilet, wash my face and come downstairs, the boys helped themselves to the last chocolate chip cookie, the melba toasts, a pear, and DS1 got out bowls, had cereal poured, and was pouring the milk. Impressed, yet a bit annoyed at the amount of spilled milk, crumbs, and the eating of a cookie for breakfast - but it was made out of oatmeal and whole wheat, and they were sharing it.

play silks were attached like this
After I made myself breakfast and ate it, we read a ton of books on the couch, most of which I already listed in prior posts. We then listened to Making Music, Praying Twice - Winter Ordinary Time - as I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher. DS1 colored, and DS2 played quietly in another room, then I played some CDs I borrowed from the library. The boys got out their tinker toys which they fashioned into swords, their play silks, which I had to fasten into capes, and their cardboard shields. I danced, they fought, then then told me I was Peter Pan and had to fight them, "man-to-man."

Snack time consisted of a small helping of goldfish crackers, half a toasted english muffin with peanut butter, and half a clementine (all for each boy).

We then played a long game of hide-and-see
k. DS1 was having a rough time finding me today. DS2 must hide with whoever is not seeking. In DS1's defense I did have the music turned up nicely so we could hear it all over the house, that probably hindered him from hearing DS2 giggling and shutting doors, trying to give our hiding space away. At one point I was able to sneak upstairs and hid next to my bed behind a pillow. I was sure they would find me, but they just popped their heads into my room, didn't see me and walked right out. I got some decent Facebook time in - LOL!

As I was making lunch, enchiladas, DS1 decided he was hungry and had to take matters into his own hands - he got out cereal for himself and his brother again. We are now officially out of cereal. I will be heading to the grocery store tomorrow after our schedule at the local recreational center. DS1 starts gymnastics tomorrow and then we have a swimming play-date to follow. A friend called as I was getting my lunch ready - chicken enchiladas with plain yogurt. We had them for dinner since and after the boys tasted it, they loved it and wanted more, which I didn't have anymore since I had to eat it twice today. But they got to eat more of their pear from the morning. I cut up the pear since it had half a dozen bite marks and was put down in the morning. I guess they really didn't like the green pears that they insisted on buying. That was the final pear of the four I bought and they insisted on eating before they were ripe.

A surprise Valentine's package arrived in the mail from my in-laws for the boys and I. We all got a heart shaped box of chocolates, both boys got a spiderman sweatshirt (which they just LOVE), a life sized baby alligator that squeaks (so it sounds like a real alligator - and they LOVE it too), lovely board books about how much they are loved (the books had them giggling in stitches and I had to read them again and again and again), and a Harry Potter Valentine; and I got a pair of Valentine themed socks (can't go wrong with socks!), along with a nice little note tucked into my card. My in-laws are very sweet and generous with the holidays.

The boys were hungry again around 2pm because a bowl of cereal just doesn't hit the spot very well, so I gave each of them a hard boiled egg while I was finishing my lunch.

After dinner we listened to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, from The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, on the computer in my room up stairs while the boys played who can hop on Mommy in bed while she's trying to listen to the story. They beg to listen, but they never seem to pay attention…I guess that's just what happens with you're almost five years old. It's just much more fun to do tumbling on the bed and see how hard we can body slam each other. While I wasn't getting body slammed, I went onto our library's catalog and put items on hold on different topics: alligators (because we got the toys), owls, animals in winter, poetry, and books regarding the tender topic preventing sexual abuse (how to say no, be the "boss of me", and the right touch - because stories such as these: "MONSTERS SPEAK OUT: Molesters tell how they 'groom' children for sex" keep coming up). By the way, have you read Protecting the Gift, by Gavin de Becker? If you haven't, I totes (do you like how I'm keeping up with the times? It feels so weird to write that) recommend it to ALL parents.

We then did our bedtime routine, brushed our teeth - the boys have been asking me to push an imaginary button on their toothbrushes and pretend that it's the dentist's polisher - I have to make the buzzing noise. It's fun except when the two year old decides he doesn't need help getting his teeth brushed anymore so you have to wrestle him to get into his mouth, but the four year old needs lots of prodding to get started on brushing his own teeth and still loves you to do the final go-over.

We re-read the books from the in-laws in bed along with another goodnight book they bought us over a year ago which always ends in giggles as we say goodnight to the body parts - especially when the mama hippo hugs baby hippo's bum and we say good night to the bum. Prayers were next, then the begging for water, DS2 spilling water all over himself because he didn't want to sit up, and then he needed a full change. Oh the life of a 2 year old - so stubborn. DS1 didn't want to go to sleep and wanted to ask endless questions about Narnia: Is the White Witch good? Why is she nice to Edmund? How is she fake nice?
how is the White Witch so evil? why do her eyes turn black in the movie? why do we have black in our eyes? does that mean that we're evil? what's the white in our eyes? what's the White Witch's name? does Aslan kill the White Witch? why doesn't he kill the White Witch? does he love the White Witch?….and on, and on, and on, and on, and on until I answered so many I just said, "you have to wait for tomorrow to ask me, I'm too tired." I then pretended to fall asleep and he started pulling my ears and elbowing me to get me to wake up so he could ask me if he could get a drink from his cup at his bedside table. I told him he didn't need to ask me, he just needs to go to sleep. Oi vey!

Every Little Bit Helps

I love dragonflies, I love The Hunger Site. The other day they advertised on my Facebook wall a mug that is right up my alley. It's ceramic, yet able to travel - so it's more eco-friendly in my book than plastic travel mugs, plus it is beautiful, AND with a great message: "Everything happens for a reason. Just Believe."
Plus it funds 25 Cups of food!
There may have been a few other things I bought through the hunger site. It's hard to stop when you know your purchases are helping to feed people.

Here's How Rich Every U.S. State Really is — In One Eye-Opening Map

By: Tom McKay
You knew the U.S. was rich, but did you know just how rich?
On Saturday, Redditor Phaenthi posted this map showing us the countries that each state's GDP overtakes. The result is compelling, and oddly troubling when you mull the results.
For example, this map is not adjusted for population size. That means that "Minnesota has a population of ~5.5 million and Nigeria has a population of ~175 million," or in other words, that the statistically average Minnesotan has at least the same wealth as around 32 statistically average Nigerians.
Texas' 2012 GDP of $1.4 trillion is considerably bigger than Mexico's $1.18 trillion. But Texas had an estimated 25,145,561 people in 2012 to Mexico's roughly 116,900,000. New York's 2012 GDP was $1.2 trillion (turns out hosting the world's center of finance has its benefits), beating out the entire nation of South Korea's $1.12 trillion.
Some other surprises: The tiny state of Maine is more wealthy than Uzbekistan, while California beats out the entire nation of Canada. California's $2 trillion in in 2012 far exceeded our neighbor to the north's 2012 total of roughly $1.82 trillion. Illinois ranks very highly, beating out oil-rich Saudi Arabia, but that's because Chicago happens to be one of the richest cities on earth.
Looking farther South and Southwest, though, the comparisons are a little less impressive. Utah beats Angola, while Mississippi beats Oman and Louisiana overtakes Pakistan. And Florida's GDP per capita is $40,231, while Switzerland's GDP per capita is $78,925 (seventh in the world), meaning that it's actually not a very impressive showing.
What you can take from this map is that the U.S. remains very, very wealthy, and its productive capacity outranks much of the world put together. But at the same time, this map doesn't track more useful statistics like Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) — a measure that is essentially an adjusted cost of living measurement. Alternatively, median household incomewould be a more telling measure. While this map shows us just how much wealth each state is capable of generating relative to the rest of the world, it doesn't tell us very much about how the people in those states are faring.

Here are some other organizations and projects I would like to spread the word and get other people to donate:

Catholic Relief Service 

Catholic Relief Services carries out the commitment of the Bishops of the United States to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching as we act to:
  • Promote human development by responding to major emergencies, fighting disease and poverty, and nurturing peaceful and just societies; and,
  • Serve Catholics in the United States as they live their faith in solidarity with their brothers and sisters around the world.
As part of the universal mission of the Catholic Church, we work with local, national and international Catholic institutions and structures, as well as other organizations, to assist people on the basis of need, not creed, race or nationality.

The Catholic Values of CRS

Catholic Relief Services is a pro-life organization dedicated to preserving the sacredness and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. Catholic Relief Services is a manifestation of love for our brothers and sisters around the globe by the Catholic community of the United States. We protect, defend and advance human life around the world by directly meeting basic needs and advocating solutions to injustice.
As a part of the Universal Church, Catholic institutions are our partners of preference in our work. To reach all those who need our help, we also participate in humanitarian initiatives undertaken by a wide range of groups, such as governments, other faith communities and secular institutions. Although some positions and practices of these institutions are not always consistent with the full range of Catholic teaching, CRS' association with them is always and only focused on activities that are fully consistent with Catholic teaching. Furthermore, CRS neither facilitates, endorses nor enables any violation of those teachings. CRS and its board of bishops and laypersons have a careful review system to ensure fidelity to Catholic moral teaching and to ensure that all funds under CRS' direct control are used only for purposes complying with that teaching.

Archdiocese for the Military - if you are Catholic and serve in the Military, I believe that it is essential that we help support the Archdiocese for the Military Services to through tithing to help keep our service members with this essential service.

Our Mission

The Archdiocese for the Military Services was created by Pope John Paul II to provide the Catholic Church's full range of pastoral ministries and spiritual services to those in the United States Armed Forces. This includes more than 220 installations in 29 countries, patients in 153 V.A. Medical Centers, and federal employees serving outside the boundaries of the USA in 134 countries. Numerically, the AMS is responsible for more than 1.8 million men, women, and children.

Our History

Archbishop Joseph T. Ryan was named and installed as the first ordinary of the Archdiocese for Military Services in March 1985. In January 1986 he created the administrative headquarters of the newly independent jurisdiction in the Washington, DC area. When Archbishop Ryan retired in 1991 the Most Reverend Joseph T. Dimino, who had been an auxiliary bishop, was appointed the second ordinary for the Military Services. Archbishop Dimino retired in 1997 and was succeeded by the Most Reverend Edwin F. O'Brien, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York. Archbishop O'Brien was installed as Archbishop of Baltimore on October 1, 2007.

AMS Today

On November 19, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, as Archbishop of the Military Services. Archbishop Broglio was serving as Apostolic Nuncio to the Dominican Republic and Apostolic Delegate to Puerto Rico. Archbishop Broglio was formally installed as Archbishop for the Military Services on January 25, 2008, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

The Archdiocese serves as the sole endorser (certifier) of Roman Catholic chaplains to the United States government. A Roman Catholic priest cannot serve within the United States Military as a priest without the express permission of the Archdiocese. As of 2008, 285 Roman Catholic priests were endorsed by the Archdiocese for active-duty military service. These chaplains serve on loan from their diocese of incardination or religious order/society and are released for a term of military service. Chaplains never become members of the Archdiocese; instead, they always remain subject to their home bishop/religious superiors. The only clergy incardinated into the AMS are its archbishop and auxiliary bishops.

Once a priest receives the endorsement and the subsequent faculties of the archdiocese, he becomes a commissioned military officer of the United States. A priest's assignments are provided by the Office of the Chief of Chaplains of each respective branch of the U.S. military.

The Archdiocese is the sole endorser of chaplains for the Veterans Administration hospitals. In 2008, 242 priests were endorsed for service in the Veterans Administration. Approximately 1.5 million Catholic men and women are served by the Archdiocese. To meet the needs of the faithful, the Archdiocese has three auxiliary bishops to assist the archbishop in his pastoral duties. All are former chaplains; Bishop Richard Higgins from the Air Force, Bishop F. Richard Spencer and Bishop Neal Buckon from the Army. The Archdiocese is currently headquartered in the northeast section of Washington, DC, adjacent to The Catholic University of America.

Unlike a conventional diocese, the Archdiocese has no parishes or parish registries. Chapels are property of the United States government. Although the Archdiocese exercises jurisdiction over the religious education programs and the celebration of Catholic Liturgy, it maintains no legal jurisdiction over the physical property of the chapel. Because base/command chapels are United States government property, all records of sacraments performed on U.S. Military installations are maintained by the Archdiocese in its Office of Sacramental Records. This starkly contrasts with the model used in conventional parishes, where all sacraments are recorded in the parish registry. The Archdiocese currently maintains more than 2.5 million records of sacraments performed on military installations.

The Archdiocese receives no funding from the United States government. Rather, the Archdiocese is solely funded by the generosity of its chaplains, men and women in uniform and private benefactors.

Heifer International

Heifer International's mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.

Dan West was a farmer from the American Midwest and member of the Church of the Brethren who went to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War as an aid worker. His mission was to provide relief, but he soon discovered the meager single cup of milk rationed to the weary soldiers once a day was not enough.
And then he had a thought: What if they had not a cup, but a cow?
That "teach a man to fish" philosophy is what drove West to found Heifer International. And now, nearly 70 years later, that philosophy still inspires our work to end hunger and poverty throughout the world once and for all.


We empower families to turn hunger and poverty into hope and prosperity – but our approach is more than just giving them a handout. Heifer links communities and helps brings sustainable agriculture and commerce to areas with a long history of poverty. Our animals provide partners with both food and reliable income, as agricultural products such as milk, eggs and honey can be traded or sold at market.
When many families gain this new sustainable income, it brings new opportunities for building schools, creating agricultural cooperatives, forming community savings and funding small businesses.

St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital


The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay.


Our vision is to be the world leader in advancing the treatment and prevention of catastrophic diseases in children. This vision will be pursued by providing outstanding patient care; by conducting basic, translational and clinical research designed to elucidate biological mechanisms, understand disease pathogenesis, improve diagnosis, enhance treatment outcome, prevent diseases and minimize adverse consequences of treatment; and by educating health care and scientific research professionals. Through these efforts we seek to cure and enhance the quality of life for an increasing proportion of children who come to us for treatment, and by expanding and sharing knowledge, to advance treatment of children with catastrophic diseases worldwide, while developing strategies to prevent catastrophic diseases in children.


Our foremost responsibilities are to the children with catastrophic diseases, their families, and to the donors that have committed their personal resources toward our Mission. To fully meet these responsibilities, we are committed to an explicit set of values. These values are the standards of behavior that we use to guide our daily actions and decisions. We will ensure that these standards of behavior are adhered to through ongoing training of all personnel working at St. Jude, and by annually evaluating the executive leadership, faculty and staff in their adherence to these values.
Our values of ethical behavior are an important part of who we are, and their incorporation into the fabric of the institution directly impacts our ability to make progress toward achieving our Mission, while simultaneously strengthening our reputation.
  • A commitment to provide our patients with the highest quality of medical and supportive care, and their families with the level of information and support necessary for them to make informed decisions and to become active participants in the care of their children.
  • A commitment to respect the ethnic, cultural, religious and lifestyle differences of patients, their families, our colleagues and our supporters.
  • A commitment to our donors that every dollar donated will be wisely spent toward achieving our Mission of advancing cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic disease through research and treatment.
  • A commitment to a culture of excellence, innovation and creativity, not only in our research, but in everything we do.
  • A drive and a sense of urgency to succeed.
  • Honesty, integrity, and accountability in our actions and decisions.
  • A culture of trust and teamwork.
  • Respect for the employees under our supervision.
  • A commitment to the continual development of our employees.
  • A commitment to diversity.
  • A commitment to social responsibility and institutional citizenship on a local, state, national and global level.

To effectively live up to these ideals, institutional leaders and all employees must maintain a culture that promotes adherence to these values in all that we do.


The Challenge

Today, over 1.5 billion people - about 21% of the world's population - have no reliable access to mains electricity. In several countries, the grid is failing to keep pace with population growth, which mean the number of people without reliable electricity will continue to grow. These people rely instead on biomass fuels - predominantly kerosene - for light.

Hazardous and polluting, there is a real need to replace kerosene with a safer, sustainable and affordable light that eliminates the many negative impacts of kerosene lights:
Fumes: The World Bank estimates that 780 million women and children breathing kerosene fumes inhale smoke equivalent to 2 packs of cigarettes every day. 60% of adult female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non smokers. These fumes kill an estimated 1.5 million women and children in Africa every year.
Injury: In India alone 1.5 million people suffer severe burns each year, primarily due to overturned kerosene lamps.
Sight: Poor quality of light and fumes that cause eye infections and cataracts.
Poverty: Fuel burns quickly and is comparatively expensive, so individuals have a never-ending high overhead burden, in many cases equivalent to 10%-20% of their income.
Sustainability & Climate change: not only does burning kerosene deplete our finite fossil fuel resources, it also has a huge cumulative contribution to CO2 emissions: Used for 4 hours a day, a single kerosene lamp emits over 100kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year.
Deciwatt is a product development initiative with a mission to explore how to do more with less; in turn empowering people through sustainable and affordable low power solutions.
This approach led Martin and Jim to create GravityLight.
Faced with the charity SolarAid’s challenge to create an LED lantern under $10 to replace damaging & ubiquitous kerosene lamps, Martin & Jim quickly realized the need to look beyond solar and battery power.
They took a different approach to benchmarking the amount of power and light needed asking “is it better than a kerosene lamp”. Along with the ever-increasing efficiency of LED lights, this led them to explore what much lower levels of power could deliver.
GravityLight only generates a deciwatt or two of power but has a superior light to the majority of kerosene lamps used by those without electricity, as well as being significantly more sustainable, safe and healthy. With no running costs, at $10, a GravityLight would pay for itself within a few months, freeing people from fuel poverty and the increasing costs of kerosene.
As LEDs continue to rapidly increase their lumens per watt and – as Koomey’s Law predicts – the energy efficiency of devices doubles every two years – this has huge implications for low cost, off grid lighting as well as computing and communication equipment. This is the driving force behind Deciwatt’s mission to explore how to do more with less.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Happy 101st Birthday Rosa Parks!

Last night before bed we read three books: Let's Read About…Rosa Parks, by Courtney Baker; Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, an African Tale, by John Steptoe; and Jonathan and His Mommy, by Irene Smalls. All the books were great. I vaguely remembered the story of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters from when I was a little girl - the story was beautifully captured in the illustrations. And Jonathan and His Mommy had the boys giggling and excited to go on a walk with me to try some of the moves. This morning DS2 and I sat and read again, Let's Read About…Rosa Parks.

Not a page into the book and DS1 joined us reading and asked some very good questions. We discussed chivalry, how no man should ever ask a woman for a seat, unless there's something wrong that would require him to sit (say he has a broken leg, or is in a wheel chair, etc.). We talked about how at one time the laws were very unfair, despite that we knew all people are equal, and Rosa Parks was very brave standing up for what she knew to be right. Her bravery helped get the laws changed. God created us all in His image, and we all are valuable, precious and equal. 

After the boys and I breakfasted on cereal with strawberries, the boys played swords with the K'nects, I did some laundry, washed the kitchen and powder room floors. The boys helped me for a little bit of washing the floor. We discussed how it is important to keep the floors clean. We don't want to invite bugs into our house and we want to keep bad germs away. I then put on their BOZ DVD while I went up to take a shower and get dressed. When I came downstairs, the boys helped themselves to the leftover wacky cake that was sitting in a container on the counter. There were crumbs everywhere - on the freshly washed kitchen floor, all through the living room…oh my! Well, no more television for the day. I vacuumed, and swept and wiped up the floors. Since the BOZ video was about numbers, we practiced our numbers by trying to call my mom, and my MIL by telling DS1 the numbers and him finding them on the phone and pressing them. That way we not only identified numbers, he had to listen to me, push them the correct number of times, and in the correct order, so we could make the phone call the person we wanted. If he got the numbers wrong, the wrong person would be called.

The plumber came to look at why our shower in the master bath wasn't working. A handyman said it was the diverter. The plumber sensed it was just the shower head that went bad. DS1 was following him around asking questions and showing him his plush alligator he got from his Babci for Christmas. The plumber is impressed that he could pronounce aerator so well. 

After lunch, we headed out to run some errands and we ended at the library, see the new list of books on the blog. When we pulled up to our house, we had a stack of packages from Amazon and other places. It was exciting because when we did talk to Babci, she said we would be getting a package in the mail. Unfortunately, the packages weren't from her. They were all for Mommy - bummer for the boys. Mommy was happy with a surprise Valentine's gift from Daddy.

Four new Springerle Molds from House on the Hill. I love their molds, and I actually had two of the four molds in my shopping cart. I love window shopping their stuff and saving things in my cart to dream. I have the best husband in the world, even though he's currently on the other side of it. 

After our running around, we ate dinner, the boys wanted cereal again, I wasn't arguing. I was taking out all the leftovers from the past month and chucking them, getting disgusted at how much food I waste, despite my best efforts to try to eat my leftovers. I reheated a stuffed pepper from last week, for myself for dinner. DS2 was cold as he was finishing he dinner, so after we had a cookie for dessert, we got changed into our pajamas early. The boys wanted to read. We snuggled onto the big red couch with the red and black pirate blanket Nana crocheted for the boys, a boy tucked on each side of me, and we read for over an hour. Here's the impressive list:

Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey, BIGMAMA'S, by Donald Crews, King Arthur's Very Great Grandson, by Kenneth Kraegel, Little Tad Grows Up, by Giuliano Ferri, Froggie Went A-Courtin', by Iza Trapani, Groundhog Day!, by Gail Gibbons, The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Firetruck, by Laura Murray, Mr. Groundhog Wants the Day Off, by Pat Stemper Vojta, My Pig Amarillo, by Satomi Ichikawa, Air Show!, by Treat Williams, The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn, ZATHURA, by Chris Van Allsburg, and Insect Detective, by Steve Voake.

PHEW! That was a lot of reading, and by the end both boys started getting antsy. DS2 was very tired, so we went upstairs and brushed teeth, read three more books (short board books about going to sleep), said our prayers, and went to sleep. 

Library Book List February 4, 2014

Continuing my new obsession to keep track of all the library books we check out, incase I want to find a book again:

Insect Detective
By Steve Voake
Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4447-5

Right now, all around you, thousands of insects are doing strange and wonderful things, wasps are building their nests, ants are collecting food, and dragonflies are readying for the hung. But it's not always so easy to catch sight of these six-legged creatures….
Become an insect detective and find out just what the insects around you are up to!

Groundhog Phil's Message
By Barbara Birenbaum
ISBN: 0935343-69-5

Story Within a Story® Story- Life of Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil, history and traditions of Groundhog Day. Story within a Story-Lives of other groundhogs of PA, WI, NJ, NC, GA and FL that also predict weather and their traditions. Includes Indian folklore of Punxsutawney, Old World to New World history of forecasting Feb 2nd. Locator map, dictionary, sheet music w/lyrics

The Giving Tree
By Shel Silverstein
ISBN: 0-06-025666-4

"Once there was a treeand she loved a little boy." So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein. 
Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunkand the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave. 
This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Sel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.

ZATHURA: A Space Adventure
By Chris Van Allsburg
ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

On the last page of the Caldecott Medal-winning book Jumanji, young Danny Budwing is seen running home with a game tucked under his arm. Now, after twenty years, Chris Van Allsburg is ready to reveal what happens when Danny and his brother roll the dice. This time the name of the game is Zathura and Walter and Danny Budwing are in for the ride of their lives. 
Only the mind and hand of Chris Van Allsburg could create such a fantastic world where shifts in time and space and perspective take the reader on an extraordinary journey.

The Kissing Hand
By Audrey Penn
Illustrated by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak
ISBN: 978-1-933718-00-2

Chester Raccoon doesn't want to go to school--he wants to stay home with his mother. She assures him that he'll love school--with its promise of new friends, new toys, and new books. Even better, she has a special secret that's been in the family for years--the Kissing Hand. This secret, she tells him, will make school seem as cozy as home. She takes her son's hand, spreads his tiny fingers into a fan and kisses his palm--smack dab in the middle: "Chester felt his mother's kiss rush from his hand, up his arm, and into his heart." Whenever he feels lonely at school, all he has to do is press his hand to his cheek to feel the warmth of his mother's kiss. Chester is so pleased with his Kissing Hand that he--in a genuinely touching moment--gives his mom a Kissing Hand, too, to comfort her when he is away. Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand, published by the Child Welfare League of America, is just the right book for any child taking that fledgling plunge into preschool--or for any youngster who is temporarily separated from home or loved ones. The rough but endearing raccoon illustrations are as satisfying and soothing for anxious children as the simple story. (Ages 5 and older) --Karin Snelson 

Air Show!
By Treat Williams
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker
ISBN: 978-142311185-6

"Fuel full?"
"Radios on?"
"Ready for takeoff!"
Ellie and her brother, Gill, are in for a special treat. Their dad is taking them to the air show! And even better--he's taking them on his plane!
The air show is filled with every imaginable model of aircraft, from a World War II B-17 to a huge Boeing 787. And, of course--stunt planes. Big sky loops, huge nosedives, even barrel rolls--every stunt is amazing!
Ready, set, ZOOOOOM!
Ages 3-7

Mr. Groundhog Wants the Day Off
By Pat Stemper Vojta
Illustrated by Olga Levitskiy
ISBN: 978-1-934960-79-0

Mr. Groundhog tries to give his Groundhog Day duties away. He is tired of everyone getting mad at him when they see his shadow. He does not want to be blamed for six more weeks of winter anymore. He asks his friends to take on the responsibilities, but they are not interested. Instead, one by one, his friends who him how he is perfectly suited to the role. As the day progresses, Mr. Groundhog finds a way to enjoy his special day. 
To create the illustrations for Mr. Groundhog Wants the Day Off, the drawings are made in full scale and then are transferred to watercolor board. Watercolors, and at times acrylic paints, are built up in layers. This is followed with colored pencils, which are used to finesse the details and add texture to the painting.

Groundhog Day!
By Gail Gibbons
ISBN: 0-8234-2003-5

Every February 2, people all across America wonder about the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. Will he see his shadow on that day or won't he? Will spring come early or late? Here is information about Groundhog Day and its origins, as well as facts about the animal at the center of this delightful annual event.

Froggie Went A-Courtin'  
By Iza Trapani
ISBN: 1-58089-028-8

Froggie went a-courtin', and he did ride.
H'hm, h'hm.
A dapper young frog, dressed in his best, sets out to find the perfect bride. But as in all great romances, this young suitor encounters a few bumps along the way. Children will cheer as the determined young hero overcomes disappointment to discover that his heart's desire, his perfect match, has been waiting all along in his own backyard.
Iza Trapani keeps her audience smiling and singing as they move through the pages of this delightful retelling of a 400-year-old Scottish folksong.