• Top 10 Life Skills Kids Need Before College

    My book list of Top 10 Books to Teach Kids to Be More Responsible made me start to think about life skills that kids need before going off to college. That and the fact that my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, will be starting high school next fall so we have only 4 years to tackle this […]

  • Today I am on the Front Page of The Boston Globe

    Today I am on the front page of The Boston Globe for the past week of posts that I wrote on my microblog, I Love Newton, about the anti-Asian racism in the local high school musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie. School play’s stereotypes bring outcry and apology. “Millie” touches nerve in Newton by Ellen Ishkanian, Globe […]

  • Get Kids Reading Strategies: 12 Surefire Ways

    I searched five years of digital photographs looking for photos of my kids reading and I only came up with the handful here. Why? It’s not easy getting kids reading, especially to love reading enough that they choose it over more exciting things like screens, playdates or sports! I started my blog after my oldest […]

  • 10 Perfect Read Aloud Books for 3rd Grade

    I had the great fortune to meet The Nerdy Book Club founders at a dinner for Anne Ursu hosted by Walden Pond Press to celebrate her latest chapter book, The Real Boy. (It’s wonderful. I put it on my  Newbery 2014 Contenders list! And it just won a Middle Grade Fiction Nerdie). Colby Sharp, one of […]

  • Best Beginning Chapter Books for 2nd and 3rd Grade

    Best books for beginning readers from my library. This list is perfect for 2nd grade and 3rd grade.

  • How To: Create a Great Kids’ Book Club (Activity and Book Suggestions)

    Some ideas on how to set up a book club for your child with examples of successful book club meetings.

  • Top 10: Best Dragon Children’s Books (ages 2-16)

    The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors blog has a great post on dragons that preempted this post but I actually had been working on this for several weeks. There is something magical about dragons and I’m glad that some kids can keep the magic alive. I’ve gathered my favorite dragon books that range in age from picture books to young adult. What is your favorite dragon book? Please share!

  • Best Science Apps for Kids (ages 4-21)

    I am starting to buy into this idea of teaching and really connecting material through games and apps. I was sort of on board with this concept, but since playing around with The Elements (a Harry Potter version of the Periodic Table) that my brother-in-law turned me on to, I am now a believer as I saw, with my own eyes, how captivated my kids were with the Periodic Table, an otherwise dull chart.

  • Newbery Winners by Grade Appropriateness!

    Thank you to Hubpages for this information. There are additional book suggestions by grade if click here to see their post. I have added an asterisk to the books that I’ve read and loved (and two astericks for must reads!).

  • Best Picture Books That Teach Math Concepts

    Picture books can be a visual and fun way to introduce math concepts. I think it makes math less intimidating when it’s part of a story. For those kids who love math, it’s another way to eat it up!

chocolate medicine for kids Dr. Cocoa

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down

Mary Poppins may have preferred Rum Punch as preventative medicine but some of us prefer the flavor of chocolate!

When PickyKidPix got sick last week, she tried powering through the school week, going to class and her activities including three soccer practices as usual. But by Friday, she was coughing up a storm and generally miserable so she finally took a sick day and slept in. Read more…

Tai Lee golf player for University of Hawaii

Happy 19th Anniversary Honey!

I knew a few things when I met my honey:

  • That within a week of meeting him I knew that I met my future husband. (It took him a few years to figure that out though!)
  • I would become a golf widow (though I took up golf to avoid that).
  • It would be hard to ever stay mad at him because he makes me laugh.
  • That I would marry him all over again!

Tai Lee

When I met my husband 21 years ago, he looked like this.

Mama C and the Boys noticed on my Instagram account when my husband finally made an appearance on my social media. He’s a bit elusive when it comes to being in front of the camera. See what I mean?

Tai Lee golf player for University of Hawaii

At a photoshoot at the golf clothing apparel company that I started after business school (now defunct).

Read more…

Family Fire Safety Panic, Plan & GIVEAWAY

Family Fire Safety Panic, Plan & GIVEAWAY

We recently moved to a new house and PickyKidPix and Grasshopper and Sensei – our two girls ages 12 and 14 — share the attic. At our old house, I was careful to buy fire escape ladders with hooks at the top that hang over the window sill. They were very sturdy but they took up a  lot of room and it was only a two-story ladder. Since the girls are on the third floor, their old fire escape ladders are now too short and I hadn’t gotten around to buying them new ones.

Fire Safety Ladder Conundrum

In my mind, I hadn’t figured out all the logistics:

  • If two-story ladders take up 1 foot of space, won’t three-story ladders be too huge to store?
  • Do we really need three-story ladders or will two-story ladders land them on some sort of outcropping on roof a floor below?
  • I wonder if PickyKidPix would use the ladder to sneak out at night when she’s a tad older?
  • Where do these ladders go?
  • Do I need one or two?

Read more…

Top 10 Ninja Books for Kids

Top 10 Ninja Books for Kids Ages 4 through 16

My kids are one-quarter Japanese and they wish that their Japanese ancestry is steeped in the way of the ninja. It’s not. Their heritage is actually that of Daimyo, a feudal landowner/warlord,  and our ancestors are located about one hour outside of the city of Hiroshima.

I can see the appeal of the ninja over that of warlord, though. It’s that martial arts thing mixed with mystery and powers that border on mystical. Very appealing!

For today, October 10th or 10/10, I have 10 ninja books ranging from picture books, early chapter book, chapter books, and young adult. So it’s 10 on 10/10!

What is your favorite ninja book for kids? Please share! Read more…

10 perfect read alouds for 5th grade

10 Perfect Read Alouds for 5th Grade

Fifth grade was a busy year for Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyPidPix. The year focused on getting them ready for Middle School both academically, socially and emotionally. Some of the highlights that my kids remembered included a Sharon Creech author study which they unfortunately don’t do anymore due to increased demands from Common Core, Holocaust, and a lot of science. I remember the science of weather being particularly in-depth.

There were books that they loved and discovered that year too! PickyKidPix’s studied SeedFolks and when the teacher omitted two of the stories due to mature content, she searched it out at the public library to read the censored content. We met Sharon Draper that year too who was here on behalf of Understanding Our Differences.

Puberty and anxiety around changing also marked 5th grade and there was no way to win; it was either too slow or too fast or too annoying. Coming of age for girls is a difficult time so we used books as a way to tiptoe and explore the drama that is a part of growing up.

This list is a walk down memory lane for me, as books often are. It includes books I read with my kids, books my kid were read to at school, books they loved and wanted me to read to blog on, and even a book I loved as a fifth grader.

What are your memories of 5th grade either for your kids or yourself? Are there any favorite books you recall as you go down memory lane too? Please share! Read more…

Zoomer Dino Toy for Dino Obsessed Kids Like Mine

Zoomer Dino Toy for Dino Obsessed Kids Like Mine

My son and I were waiting at the hospital to get an MRI scan for a bump on his neck that has persisted for about a month. It turns out that he will need surgery to remove what the MRI revealed to be a kind of cyst that mysterious popped up.

photo

My son’s mysterious cyst that popped up on the left side of his neck.

While we were waiting for our turn to be called, my son snatched a National Geographic Magazine with a Spinosaurus on the cover and an intriguing headline that the Spinosaurus could beat a T-Rex. Read more…

Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade

Do You Have a Signature Drink?

I participated in an influencers Activation Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for mike’s hard lemonade. I received a Circle K gift card to facilitate this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Do you have a signature cocktail or drink when you drink socially at a bar or a party? I don’t. I’m not much of a drinker but I will occasionally have a glass of wine when out socially. I tend towards light and fruity too. I’ve always wanted to have a Go To drink when ordering at a bar though, so I thought I’d branch out from my usual glass of wine or sangria or my non-alcoholic version of cranberry juice with a lime wedge. Read more…

bullying prevention, Be a Famous Writer Contest, Mrs. P

Bullying Prevention and Be A Famous Writer Contest!

I’m so excited to have Mrs. P of MrsP.com as my guest author today. Her passion is getting kids writing and she runs the very popular MrsP.com Be-a-Famous Writer Contest. Today, though, she’s here to talk about bullying prevention and the role that writing can play for kids. I hope you enjoy it!

p.s. You can also find her on Twitter @MrsPStorytime!

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month, a time when schools and organizations across the country can bring awareness and open up a dialog about the impact of bullying.  Since I am interacting with teachers and parents daily with my free reading website, I wanted to be able to join in these efforts aimed at educating ourselves and the young people in our lives.    Read more…