Archive for September, 2013

Archery For Kids for the Sheer Joy of It

Grasshopper and Sensei loves The Hunger Games. When she went to sleepaway camp this summer, one of her favorite activities was archery. When she hit 5 bullseyes, she reached Level Katniss and then she stopped keeping track but she did ask me to find her an archery range when she returned home.

At Mother/Daughter Weekend at her camp, I was forced to sail a Sunfish (actually, it was me screaming on the bow of the boat as we nearly hit other boats, kayaks, and submerged tree trunks), run for my life in a competitive game of Freeze Tag, make a bead necklace, sleep in a tent, and shoot 5 arrows at the archery range.

My first three attempts at archery completely missed the target. But attempt number 4 was the ellusive bullseye. I can see how easy it is to get hooked! Read more…

Exercise: A Small Change for a Big Difference

I hate to exercise. Getting “in shape” feels like a temporary and elusive condition. Gyms don’t work for me. I won’t show up and I don’t like that feeling of not knowing what to do whether it’s working the equipment or what the next thing I should be doing.

I tried personal training too. It solved the “what to do” part but it quickly became boring. I need to find motivation to exercise. For me,

  • if I am meeting a friend
  • if I have an appointment set up
  • if I am helping someone with their exercise goals

I think half the battle is just figuring out what your exercise motivation is.

For many years, I did yoga because my friend was newly certified and I wanted to support her. The benefit to me was not just coffee together afterwards but finally being able to touch my toes! Read more…

books for kids with single parents

Best Children’s Books With Single Parents

The divorce rate in America peaked at around 50 percent in the 1980s and slowly has been trending downward. It is now slightly more than 40 percent. With so many divorced families, why are there more children’s books depicting single parents? Fruit & Veggie Mom ‏(@Eatfruitnveggie3h) asked me on Twitter, “My question is – what about books for single moms? Everything is mommy and daddy!”

This list is for her! Can you please help me out by adding your favorite children’s books with single parents? Thanks so much!

New Not-To-Be Missed Books with Single Parents

The Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick
What makes a true hero? Sonnenblick has always created heroes that spoke to me. They weren’t obviously heroic on the outside being puny or skinny but they carried an invisible burden gracefully that would have felled anyone else. They also have the super power to change those around them for the better. Maverick is carrying the weight of his mother’s alcoholism and the instability and poverty that it brings including food instability. His father died in Afghanistan when he was three. His mother has always attracted men who were physically abusive and Maverick’s shame is that he never stood up to them. As the story unfolds, Maverick decides to be that guy who protects the victims at school despite being scrawny. He finds out that people surprise you, especially himself. If you liked Wonder by R. J. Palacio  or One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, you will love this book too. [chapter book, for ages 8 and up]

Single Parent in Children’s Books

10. A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

I love this picture book about an African American multigenerational family who save up and then search for a special chair after a fire destroys their home. Though it is never explicitly stated, the family is depicted as a grandmother, a mother and her daughter. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

Read more…

banned books

Reading for Banned Book Week

In honor of Banned Book Week, let’s all read a book on the list! Thank you to Allison of No Time for Flashcards for this link!


Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011-2012

Information on why the book is banned or challenged excerpted  from The Daily Beast.

1. TTYL series by Lauren Myracle

The first book in the series, “TTYL,” was banned from a town in Texas in 2008, after parents complained about the sex and profanity in the book. But author Lauren Myracle seems unfazed by the controversy. “My favorite comments come from girls who say, ‘I feel like you’ve given me a self-help book because my parents won’t talk about this.’ When I was a kid, I read Judy Blume to figure out what a hard-on was and what to do when you got your period, so when people say to me, ‘You’re this generation’s Judy Blume,’ I am wildly honored by that,” she says.

Read more…


I’m Judging the Cybils!

I’m really excited to be judging Graphics (as in graphic novels) for the 2013 Cybils! What am I excited to read? Graphic novels that tell a great story, get kids excited to read, and have beautiful illustrations doing some of the heavy lifting of storytelling. I’d also love to discover more graphic stories for younger kids and especially some geared for girls. Graphic novels are my secret weapon for reluctant readers. I’ll be excited to share them with you … eventually!

Please meet my esteemed colleagues for round two. You can also follow them on Twitter. We are not allowed to blog on the short list that Round 1 judges will come up with until after the awards are announced but expect to hear more about great graphic novels from me shortly after that.

Want to nominate a children’s book for the Cybils? That will be coming up shortly!


2013 Graphics Judges

Second Round

Emily Mitchell, Emilyreads

Debra Touchette, Adventures in Reading (Also blogs at Guys Lit Wire)

Michael Kahan, No Flying, No Tights

Mia Wenjen, Pragmatic Mom

Maria Selke, Maria’s Melange
@mselke01 Read more…

Picture Book of the Day, The Dark by Lemony Snicket

Monsters In the Closet Picture Books: The Dark

I started haunting our local bookstore to read picture books but I always feel guilty using it like a library so I make sure to buy a small stack. When it comes to picture books, I am the pickiest purchaser ever because I am buying for myself! The Dark made my purchase pile. I had heard wonderful reviews about it and I have long admired Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen.

Other Monsters In the Closet Picture Books also delight us:

There’s  Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Myer

We love this sweet monster picture book in which a little boy bravely confronts his “nightmare in his closet.” It turns out that his nightmare is a good snuggler! I love the reading by Billy Crystal too! In fact, I always picture him reading it to my kids, even as I read it.

Read more…

Happy Birthday to My Mom: 90 Years Young!

Today my mom turns 90 years old! Oops, I mean 90 years young!

Happy birthday mom! She was born in San Francisco’s Japantown in 1923. Her parents immigrated from Japan and I have that story here along with our Japanese family crest.

During WWII, she was forced to relocate with her family. She ended up in a remote part of Utah where she had relatives but it was near an underground nuclear weapons testing station. All her siblings died of cancer and I suspect there is a connection there.

My mother, a breast cancer survivor, is the lone member of her family who was able to claim WWII restitution. She used the money to buy a new car and she’s still driving it. In fact, she still drives, but only during the day and only in her neighborhood.


 My mom Read more…

My Son’s 2nd Grade Hopes and Dreams

PickyKidPix and I had a good laugh when we reflected on the summer camp choices that her siblings made. I let each of them pick one inconvenient (and overpriced) week of day camp.

  • Grasshoppper and Sensei picked Hot Glass Blowing.
  • PickyKidPix picked a week of soccer camp run by FC Barcelona, our favorite professional soccer team.
  • My son picked a week of Minecraft computer camp.

They all loved their special week of camp but what made us laugh was the thought of one kid’s heaven is truly their sibling’s hell.

This would be the worst camp schedule EVER according to my kids: Read more…

Roald Dahl Day, September 13 Roald Dahl Day

Roald Dahl Day is Today, September 13!

Grasshopper and Sensei and PickyKidPix both discovered Roald Dahl in third grade. I think it was the first chapter book author they really fell in love with. Now that my youngest is in third grade, I hope that the magic of Roald Dahl happens again for him and his class.

In honor of Roald Dahl day today, I’m revisiting posts that I’ve done in previous years.

Roald Dahl Day and Our Favorite Roald Dahl Books

These were PickyKidPix’s favorite Roald Dahl books. If you asked her now, she would say that her favorite was:

George’s Marvelous Medicine

George’s Marvelous Medicine is also highly recommended by the kids in her class. She and I thought it was very, very funny too! Afterwards it inspired her to make a big messy mix up of potions and lotions. Fun stuff! It would make for a very fun children’s book club! Read more…