What We’re Reading

winter-books

The other day I pulled out my–urrr, my kids’–winter and Christmas picture books. We don’t have enough shelf space for all our books, and fine, I admit, I am kind of a stickler about reading/watching seasonally appropriate media only. So, I rotate books with strong seasonal associations. Tomorrow, I’m surprising the kids with Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas. We’ve already started with Muumipeikko Herää, (a Moomin lift-a-flap book), Lucia and the Light by Phyllis Root, and Jan Brett’s Christmas Trolls. I’m leaving these stacks on the living room table for now, to encourage browsing. All of us love these books so much, so I’m tempted to give 20 reviews, but I’ll leave you to squint at the titles.

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My husband and I have slipped into an undesirable pattern with the kids lately, where they seem to require constant prodding, nagging, and yelling and threats of no movies! no books! no friend time! to do even the simplest routine actions. I realized I was feeding the tension by avoiding it, so I’ve started making a point of connecting with each of my kids individually every day. Lots of little people’s big feelings are being validated over here. I’ve read part of Raising Resilient Children by Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein, and I am a huge believer of The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle (seriously, it changed my life’s perspective). But in this current rough patch, I also finally picked up a copy of Parenting With Love & Logic by Foster W. Cline. I have many mixed feelings and thoughts about it, so if you want to chat about “Positive Parenting Solutions” in the comments or on Facebook, I’m game.

What are you reading? Are there any books you always re-read at certain times of the year?

 

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Advent Calendars 4 Ways

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Alexandra (my 6-year-old) has been asking me all week how many days until Christmas. I keep telling her we’ll start counting once it’s December. I just set out the advent calendars, so, fingers crossed, the calendars make it through the last few days of November before the kids break into them.

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It used to be hard to find advent calendars in the U.S., so my mummi (grandmother) sent my brothers, sister and I each one from Finland every year, until we were adults. She and my mom sent them to my kids, too, until I took over in her name last year, since they’re easier to find locally now. This year, I got ours from IKEA and Trader Joe’s.

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My December has a lot of traditions, including the chocolate encased in cardboard countdown, so I have never thought much about other ways to wind down to December. But if you’re looking for inspiration here are three simple non-chocolate advent calendars that caught my eye:

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Postcard Advent Calendar by The Merry Thought makes a heartwarming activity seem attainable, and looks so lovely, too. She covered the front of 24 matchboxes with birch veneer, painted and numbered each one, and slipped the name of a loved one inside. Each day, she picked a vintage postcard from the basket below and sent off a little note. There are endless ways to adapt, simplify, or expand this idea, but the simple boxes dangling from an evergreen branch are so lovely.

 

advent-photos

Photo Frame Advent Calendar by Not on the High Street is 50% off for Cyber Monday, but probably wouldn’t ship in time this year. You could easily make your own simpler version from Instagram or other photo prints, clothes-pinned onto wires in a frame like this, or just along a string or ribbon. If you want to ramp up the sentimental giving, make one for a loved one.

 

advent-lego-combined

Lego City Town Avent Calendar is at stores (like Target) and elsewhere online. Each day, you get a little piece to put the town together. It sounds fun, and it’s got me wondering what other constructions could be broken down into 24 pieces or steps.

Do you have an advent tradition, or countdown to Christmas?

 

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Pretty Links

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Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess served Lentil Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce as the main course of their plant-based Friendsgiving. Yum. Photo by Amber Ulman and Emma Chapman.

 

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I just bought Holly Jolly Mad Libs, but there are plenty of free printables online like the one above by Small Stuff Counts.

 

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Can #FeministXmasSongs be an annual tradition? Because I’m really tired of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. Image from Distractify.

 

 

Pretty Links

rick-walton

Rick Walton, children’s book author and teacher, recently passed away, much too soon. I came across this old picture of Alexandra and I with him on a post I wrote about his picture book workshop I attended five years ago. Here’s a great article about his influence. He had more than 90 books published.

 

world-map

The most accurate map of the world! YES! You can even print a version that folds into a sphere!

 

clock

I hate Daylight Saving Time. It ends on Sunday, and I wish it would not resume in March. “We did it for the farmers” and 4 Other Myths About Daylight Saving Time. Why America will never get rid of Daylight Saving Time. Say it ain’t so. Above: Little Time Clock by Rafael Morgan.

 

voting-cpg

C.G.P. Grey Explains Elections. It’s a very helpful educational video series. These cool animals are hypothetical politicians.

 

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I’ll be wearing white to vote on Tuesday! STRONGER TOGETHER.

Best Tips for Photographing Kids

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A few weeks ago, I went to J.C. Penney’s portrait studio for a couple of school photo supplements, and I was shocked that despite the fact that a rainstorm ruined the kids’ hair and they hadn’t had their afternoon snack and they were on strike from standing in one place, the photographer got some cute shots.

I tend to be a frazzled mess during photo shoots of my kids. I feel like I want to capture something priceless and the clock is ticking, so I am basically asking the photographer for an instant miracle. I know I am not helping when I constantly fuss over their hair and hiss, That’s not your real smile! Just sit by your brother for one minute! What are you doing with your hands?? I know I need to just get out of the way. In an effort to convince myself to chill and trust the pros, I asked two photographers for their best tip for a photo shoot with kids. If you’re preparing for family photos, these experts have some golden advice for you.

Continue reading “Best Tips for Photographing Kids”

Winter Clothes for Kids

While shopping for some winter clothes for my kids, I found such adorable new must-haves that I had to share. I only chose the softest and kid-friendliest cold-weather basics that I was sure would get approval from both kids and parents. Here are my finds for little girls and boys (6 years and up), and in another post I’ve got toddlers covered.

My 6-year-old, Alexandra, will wear dresses but not pants (not even sweatpants!), and tights but not socks. That makes her winter wardrobe straightforward: long-sleeved dresses and thick tights. But for those of you who can get your kid to wear pants, check out these picks.

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Continue reading “Winter Clothes for Kids”

Winter Clothes for Toddlers

While shopping for some winter clothes for my kids, I found such adorable new must-haves that I had to share. I chose only the softest and kid-friendliest cold-weather basics that I was sure would get approval from both kids and parents. Here are my finds for toddler girls and boys, and in another post I’ve got kids 6 years+ covered.

 

winter-wardrobe-toddler-girl

Continue reading “Winter Clothes for Toddlers”