• 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!

Giving and Receiving Unwanted Gifts

Giving and Receiving Unwanted Gifts: Day 11 of 12 Days of Shopping

For Day 11, I am exploring the art of giving and receiving unwanted gifts and Jeanette has 15 DIY holiday gifts you can make with your kids.

I doubt anyone would ever reject a handmade gift made with love (hence going DIY shows you really care), but are you inadvertently giving gifts that are being regifted? Do your kids know how to react when receiving a gift that does not excite them? What is the etiquette of handling an unwanted gift? I don’t have the answers so I went exploring…

I really liked what The Grio had to say about regifting.

Exchanging at the Store: She says it’s tacky to return for money but exchanging for something more suitable is ok.

Here’s what you say to the giftor (I thought this was genius): “I took the [insert gift] back to the store because it had a [insert defect], but they didn’t have anymore *look really sad for this part *, so I got a [insert much cooler gift] instead.”

The Perils of Regifting: You can’t get caught so you have to think 6 degrees of separation when you decide to regift. Does your intended gift receiver have any connection to the originator of the gift? If there is any hint of that, then No, No, No!! You will get caught and it will be ugly.

Donating Unwanted Gift: Find a local charity and get a two for one. You get rid of it and you get a tax deduction.

Here’s what you say to the giftor (again, pure genius): “Gosh, you know me so well! I already have a [insert gift], so I went ahead and donated the one you gave me to [insert awesome charity]. I know that will make someone really happy.”

Read more…

Gifts For New Year's Resolutions

Gifts For New Year’s Resolutions: Day 10 of 12 Days of Shopping

Hannukah is late this year, ending on December 24th, so holiday gifting can also roll right into New Year’s Resolutions. Why not gift someone something to help them kick off their goals for the new year? Jeanette and I thought we’d find gifts that help teach something new and help you reach your New Year’s resolution goals.

Jeanette’s New Year’s resolution goals include: personalized volunteer match, exercise trainer, photography class, public speaking like TED, cooking and knitting. I love hers! How about you? Would you give gifts for someone’s New Year’s Resolution? And how do you figure that out?

 

Artistic New Year’s Resolutions

I’m trying to return to watercolor painting. I used to take a lot of art classes before kids and now I’m ready to start back up. This is my first attempt in nearly a decade. It took me a month to rebuy art supplies, set up my watercolor palette and get myself to sit down and paint again.

poppies watercolor painting by mia wenjenRead more…

Gifts for the Forgotten

Gifts for the Forgotten: Day 9 of 12 Days of Shopping

Jeanette and I thought we’d try to remember those who are easily forgotten because … sometimes we forget about them. A small gesture goes a long way. Jeanette has Unique Client Gifts … helpful because one year, I forgot to gift my clients during the holidays so I had to do the late thing which is not very impressive.

If this list of the forgottens is too long, maybe this is a good list to DIY with your kids?! Everyone loves this granola recipe from Nigella Lawson. I’ve gifted it year round to teachers who love it!

best homemade granola recipe from nigella lawson Read more…

left brain right brain toys for kids

Left Brain/Right Brain Gifts: Day 8 of 12 Days of Shopping

For Day 8 of our 12 Days of Shopping, Jeanette and I thought we’d explore gifts for both sides of the brain for kids and adults. I have a selection of STEAM toys. STEAM is Science, Technology, Engineering, Art an Math. I think the math belongs with its more popular cousin,  STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), because creativity is the root of all problem solving!

I also have two gift guides that fit the bill:  Science and Math Toys and Gifts for Arty Kids. I’m pulling out tried and true toys that we’ve really enjoyed for Right Brain/Left Brain toys for kids and adults! Read more…

Gifts To Steal from Loved Ones

Gifts To Steal from Loved Ones: Day 7 of 12 Days of Shopping

For day 7 of our 12 Days of Shopping series, Jeanette and I are getting sneaky.

Day 7 Gifts to Steal From Loved Ones

  • Self-serving gifts (things to give to your husband and kids that you really want)
  • Disappearing gifts (gifts that you receive but everyone else takes)

 

Clothes are fair game in our house to steal. There’s already the general confusion as to who owns what now that the girls are close in size to me. But there is something about men’s wear that appeals to us; it’s oversized and cozy. So beware, these are gifts that are going to be swiped.

Johnnie O’s Quarter Zip Sweatshirt, $115

Made of 100% Pima interlock cotton, it’s soft and warm.

Johnnie O's quarter zip sweater Read more…

ugly holiday sweaters and other terrible gifts

Ugly Holiday Sweaters and Other Terrible Gifts: Day 6 of 12 Days of Shopping

Has anyone ever complained about those holiday decorations outside your home? Really?! No one? You are missing out on an important rite of passage. Jeanette and I are going to ensure that you get those public letters to the editor complaining about your tacky religious celebration and you’ll be the talk of your company party in these memorable ugly holiday sweaters. Don’t miss out. It’s the holiday season. Time to break out the tacky!

Day 6 Oops, I Did It Again

  • Tackiest holiday gifts and accessories
  • Ugly Holiday Sweaters and Other Terrible Gifts

 

Let’s start with some Ugly Sweaters!ugly holiday sweaters

This is from The Frisky. I’m not sure you can buy it but if you are crafty, you can make it yourself. It just needs a little glue gun action!

ugly chrismas sweater Read more…

Massachusetts Book Award Part II, Kid Lit Blog Hop

Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Part II and Kid Lit Blog Hop

This is part II of the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award list from last year. Part I is here and covers 3rd and 4th grade books for kids. The grade levels suggestions are from either School Library Journal or Booklist. This year’s Massachusetts Children’s Book Award list is here.

What books for 5th or 6th grade are you and your child enjoying?

Read more…

gifts for kids who hate art and books for kids who hate reading

Gifts for Kids Who Hate Art and Reading: Day 5 of 12 Days of Shopping

Jeanette and I thought we’d search for gifts today that open young minds; gifts for kids who hate art, and books for kids who don’t like to read.

What gifts have you had success in introducing your kids to something mind-expanding that they have resisted?

 

Wreck This Journal, $9, to bring out the inner artist in any child!

Here’s a completed Wreck This Journal to see the possibilities!

Read more…

gifts for men and dogs

Difficult To Shop For Gifts: Day 4 of 12 Days of Shopping

Today, Jeanette and I are focusing Day 4  on Difficult to Shop for Gifts including your spoiled pet and those who have everything yet you must procure a gift during the holiday season. This includes husbands, wives, father-in-laws and mother-in-laws.

This is a tough category for me. I’ve started using The Gift Huntress for help because I’m running out of ideas for my difficult-to-shop-for list but I hope my old ideas will work for you!

My husband would also like a 1970 Porche 911 like Jeanette’s or a $5000 watch, but then he just recently sent me this video of a car that flies that he fell in love with. So that’s on the list too. The FANTASY list that is!

How about you? What is your best idea for difficult to shop for people? Please share!!!
Read more…