Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Seize the Moment ~ #ThrowbackThursday

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Now, mamas, I’m not going to tell you, “Don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys,” but I will say, “Seize those moments!” I’d love to go back to this moment and enjoy that face-smashing hug a few more times!

Circa 1992, this photo shows my (our) daughter, Chelsie, loving her mama, right there in the middle of the floor. Sometimes you have to just be on the floor. Or the couch, the bed, the dirt, the tub, even, eh-hem, the potty. Wherever and whenever the moments present themselves, go for it! Abandon the to-do’s and not-right-now’s and seize the moment.

Lesson to me, the Nana. I need to remember this when my grands are all over the place. They are growing up so fast! Nothing is more important than those sweet hugs and kisses. I’d pass on the germs they share, but that goes with the territory of young children building up their immunities.

Seize a moment today.

P.S. Comment below and let me know which moment you captured!

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A Tub Can Be . . . Creative Uses for Everyday Items

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Taylor and Chelsie enjoy a sticky treat while lounging in a plastic baby bathtub.

A tub can be . . .

Actually, a child’s plastic bathtub can be:

  • a snacking spot
  • a boat
  • a water table
  • a push car
  • a chair
  • a sink for washing
  • an actual bathtub
  • a container for small animals
  • a storage unit
  • a reading nook
  • a garden box
  • an art project
  • a doll bed
  • a watering tub (for animals or kids)
  • a pond
  • a fairy garden
  • a mud pie factory
  • sand box
  • a cat box (if one is not careful)

Taylor and Chelsie (circa @1992) are enjoying some good old sticky lollipops as they sit in the baby bathtub. It was no longer a bathtub at this point, but instead became the object of many imaginative games.

How about you? What other uses have you found for a plastic baby bathtub?


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The Station Wagon #ThrowbackThursday

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The Hill kids, Mark (blue suit), me (tallest), Tracy (white knee socks), and James (bib), next to the family roadster!

Station wagons and me, we go way back.

In the late 80s, my husband accepted employment with a new company, one benefit being a company car. “Anything would be cool, but please don’t come home with a station wagon. And especially not one with fake wood details.”

Ahem. Yes. He came with a station wagon. Adornment of imitation wood panels? Whew. Dodged that faux grained bullet.

Even earlier than the 80s & 90s version of the station wagon work vehicle was the early 70s family models owned by my parents. We had at least 2 different family touring vehicles, blue and white. Those wagons could really hold people and belongings. And pets, groceries, camping equipment, children, toys. Nothing like the little trunks in modern cars.

 

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The family station wagon, mid-trip exploring the Arizona desert.

Some of my fondest memories are the days we spent exploring the southwest. We’d load up 2 parents, 4 kids, and 1 collie dog. The first mandatory stop would be a mini-mart so we could purchase the required bologna, cheese, white bread, and soda for our snacking pleasure. Sometimes we ate hot dogs (always cold) instead of bologna, but either one was a treat. Then we would hit the road.

The Arizona desert is a wondrous place for questing. Forests, rivers, desert lands, mountains, ghost towns, dirt roads, historical sites. My parents loved to haul us around seeing what we could see. I have vivid pictures in my mind of those trips, but I can’t help but wonder if we didn’t drive mom and dad the slightest bit crazy. 4 kids and a dog in a station wagon? Even if we did use the fold-up seats in the way back to separate us.

Horned toads, tarantulas, snakes, spiders, scorpions, cacti, sagebrush, thorns, stickers, heat mirages, dust. Treasure is all in the eyes and heart of the explorer.

What about you? What memories do you have about a vehicle or early days with your family? I’d love to hear your tales on this #ThrowbackThursday.


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Happy Hump Day Haiku #Writingchallenge

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goldfish

by Angie Quantrell

 

crunchy goldfish swim

wet mouthful of cheese and salt

disintegrating

 

*Inspired by certain grands who love goldfish crackers, despite the spewing of soggy bits as they graze through a bag.

 

Haiku Challenge:

Do you love to write Haiku? Join me! I’d love to read your poems. Silly, serious, sage…one and all.

***Family friendly, please!


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Clay Tiles + Wood Benches = Fun for Kids

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Did you know that:

  • Dried-up markers make excellent painting tools when dipped in clay saucers of water?
  • Water color makers make pretty cool paintings on the clay tiles of a patio.
  • Chalk is another fun tool. Water, chalk, clay tiles. That’s it.
  • Dirt. Always fun. Anyplace. Dig out the gardening tools and construction toys.
  • Wood benches also make the perfect canvas for dried-up markers and water and chalk and water.
  • River rocks, those flat, smooth sorts that are so awesome to hold and touch, make wonderful stacking blocks. Add them to clay saucers to experiment with how they change colors. And paint them with chalk and markers.
  • Add some off-roading or construction vehicles for a different type of exploration.
  • Turn the tiles over. Bumpy road! (My tiles have ridges on the back.)
  • Cut fallen branches into logs for building. Birch trees are a personal favorite. My kiddos love peeling the paper off (extra fine motor practice) and I can use it for crafts. Or they can.
  • All of the above? Leave as is and let the rain or sprinkler wash away the traces. Or spritz the clay tiles and benches with water and TA-DA, clean, fresh canvases for more fun!

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So go ahead, enjoy those dried-up markers, clay tiles, rocks, branches, and benches. I love watching my grands explore, create, make a mess, and explore. Me? Not a care in the world since it all washes off.

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This Is My Dollhouse ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

This is what a homemade doll house looks like.

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

This Is My Dollhouse

By Giselle Potter

(Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016)

I’ve always loved doll houses, so I was instantly attracted to This Is My Dollhouse.

A young girl uses an old box, craft materials, and toys to create and decorate her own doll house. Her imagination is in full swing as she makes food, clothes, and props for the little family that lives in her dollhouse.

Her friend, Sophie, also has a doll house. It’s a fancy store-bought dollhouse with pretty furniture and a family. When the girl goes to visit Sophie and play with the dollhouse, their imagination is stilted and comes to a stand still.

After seeing Sophie’s doll house, the girl is afraid of showing her own dollhouse to her friend. But one day, when Sophie came to play, Sophie discovered the hidden house and was delighted. Many hours of creative play followed and the girl was once again pleased with her own dollhouse.

I don’t think this book is against store-bought doll houses at all, but rather This Is My Dollhouse celebrates creativity and ingenuity of those who build from scratch.

It was so much fun to see the creativity of the young girl and the way she used her imagination to create scenarios and adventures for her little family. This book will inspire little ones to create from miscellaneous materials found around the house.

This is a little sewing room I made in a wooden box. Can you find the tiny mouse?

KID KANDY:

Make A Doll House

Materials: box (any size will work), cardboard, paper scraps, fabric scraps, ribbon, markers, scissors, tape, glue, toy figures, wood scraps or blocks

1. Make a doll house. You can use ANY type of container to make a little house. I once made one from a teapot! Cut cardboard and paper to make walls and floors. Ask for help in cutting a door and windows.

2. Use craft scraps and other materials to decorate your house. Add curtains, rugs, furniture, and whatever else you want. Use markers to add color.

3. Make your little family comfortable. Cut blankets, clothes, and other household necessities from your supplies.

4. Give your family (and their pets) names. You are now ready to imagine adventures for them!

P.S. This would be a fun activity to do with a sister, brother, or friend!


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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 2: Ideas Come from Chants and Songs by Tammi Sauer

Day 2 of Storystorm features Tammi Sauer, who shares how she uses songs and chants to come up with new ideas for picture books. You might recognize the title from her new book, BUT THE BEAR CAME BACK (book birthday in April), which originated from “But the Cat Came Back,” a song she heard on the radio. I can’t wait to read this picture book.

Any song or chant can spark an idea. So let’s get to it. Dig out those old songs you used to sing as a child (or to your child or with your students). I can’t wait!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 2: Tammi Sauer Chants and Sings

Congratulations, Tammi!

Thanks, Tara, for Storystorm!


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Peace & Joy, From Us to YOU

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Mary and Joseph were pleased that Jesus had been born but nervous about the waiting crowds.

An angel, wearing pink socks and blue wings, was happy to eat fruit snacks before donning one snow boot to wear while dancing up the aisle.

One of two shepherds sported adorable glasses while keeping watch over his tiny flock of one.

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The other one of two shepherds was having none of this mess.

From our Christmas story to yours, Merry Christmas!

Peace and joy to you this day and on into 2018.

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Applesauce Day ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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Applesauce Day

By Lisa Amstutz

Pictures by Tabitha Shipman

Albert Whitman & Company, 2017

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I love Applesauce Day!

Fall is my favorite time of year, when the apples, pumpkins, squash, and other great produce is harvested. I can’t wait to sink my greedy fingers into a box of apples or a trunk-load of pumpkins.

Applesauce Day takes me right into autumn. I can just imagine the fun and tradition of gathering with family to make large amounts of applesauce. What tastes better than homemade applesauce? Nothing! Ok, maybe homemade pumpkin pie or apple cake or pear tartes or . . .

This lovely picture book tells the tale of a family traveling from the big city to the orchards to pick apples and then to grandma’s house to put those apples to good use. What’s special about Applesauce Day is the family heirloom – the applesauce cooking pot. Family traditions and passed-down items are a passion of mine, so I immediately bonded with this tale.

I found Applesauce Day to be well written and beautifully illustrated. Flashbacks! I don’t know that I’ve seen other picture books with flashbacks, but the ones in this book are adorable.

Even though apple season is at an end, boxes of apples are still available. Go ahead. You know you want to read this book and make applesauce. Just imagine the scent of warm apples and cinnamon wafting through your home. See? I can smell it from here.

KID KANDY

Make Crock-Pot Applesauce

Ingredients:

apples, cinnamon, water

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and core apples. Slice into wedges.

2. Put apples in Crock-Pot. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Add about 1/4 cup water.

3. Cover Crock-Pot with lid. Turn heat to high and let it simmer. Occasionally stir and check apples for tenderness.

4. When apples are soft and mushy, use a potato masher to mash the apples into sauce. I love chunks, so I don’t strain it.

5. Eat warm! Cool and put the rest in the fridge. Or freeze individual containers for later.

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I love making Crock-Pot Applesauce with my students every fall. Everyone brings 2 apples, no matter what variety, and we put them all together to cook. By the end of the day, everyone in the school wants what’s bubbling in our room!

I’d love to hear (and smell and taste) how your applesauce turns out!


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TRAINS DON’T SLEEP ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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TRAINS DON’T SLEEP

By Andria Rosenbaum

Illustrated by Deirdre Gill

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017

 

I won a beautiful autographed copy of TRAINS DON’T SLEEP from KIDLIT411.com. After our family success last November with my birthday trip to The Polar Express train ride (it was my birthday, after all – I love books and Christmas!), I knew this train book was sure to please my train-loving grands! I was right.

TRAINS DON’T SLEEP tells the tale of many different working trains. Trains don’t rest, but chug and pull to carry people, goods, and animals. The story begins while families sleep and trains wake the day with their bustling work. As the day goes on, the trains continue their work in all sorts of environments like big cities, plains, mountains, and forests. Tucked into bed, families go back to sleep while the trains keep racing towards the next brand new day. This picture book makes a great bedtime read-together.

What I loved about this rhyming story is the train vocabulary! Readers will enjoy the rhythm of the words and hear language specific to trains. Fluid gorgeous illustrations perfectly compliment the tale of trains. A picture glossary identifies different trains and train-related fixtures.

If you know a train lover, share TRAINS DON’T SLEEP and see how quickly it becomes a favorite.

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KID KANDY

Here are some fun train activities you can do with your family.

*Visit a train museum.

*Play with train toys and cover the floor with tracks and make-believe adventures.

*Stand in a line. Show each person how to hold a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of him or her. Use the other arm, hand, and feet to shuffle and move like a train. Make sure to chug-chug-choo-choo!

*Dig out the markers, crayons, and paper. Draw train tracks, engines, and rail cars. Add your favorite scenery.

*Flatten play dough and use toy trains to make train tracks across the dough.

*Take a ride on a train!