Posted in Education, Family, Library, literature, Opinion, parenting, pop culture, reading, Uncategorized

6 Children’s books that are just wrong

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I love seeing spoofs of children’s literature, even the obscene ones. However, as I was reading to my daughter the other night I started to notice there’s enough creepy nonsense in a lot of these stories to begin with. Spoofs may not even be necessary.

So now I will ruin some childhood classics-

Corduroy


Corduroy is one of my favorites. I loved it as a kid and I love reading it still. However, this is the first book that I really was like, “huh, I can’t believe I didn’t notice that before.” In most of the pages all the other toys are staring straight ahead, with that deadpan flopped head look they are supposed to have.

When Lisa comes back to buy Corduroy however, things turn dark. All the toys glare at poor Corduroy and the bunny next to him stares hard with bright red eyes. RED EYES?

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Goodnight Moon

You man already know my stance on Goodnight Moon. It’s not great. It’s so easy to find flaws in this comically nonsensical children’s book. One can argue that Brown was a revolutionary, writing children’s books that represented life at the time of publishing (1947). Before that most children’s story were telling tales of far away places, fairy tales, and other things that were not super relatable to children.

I would still have to say…I just can’t stand it.

Why is that fireplace so big? Where are the parents stopping the children from toppling in and cooking themselves into a nice rabbit stew? Who is the decorator, because they need to be fired.

Green walls, red carpet, yellow and blue curtains, we want this child’s room to be avante garde…nailed it. Oh, but throw in a tiger skin rug, that will really pull everything together.

The color scheme we're going for is

Love You Forever

I know some of you are going to be like “noooo, leave Love You Forever alone!” but come on. Books blog

Why is she crawling? Why is she crawling into her teenage son’s room? I have a son, I will not be doing that.

Then continue on to see her spooning her adult son like he’s still an infant. Shoulder to cry on? Sure. Rocking to sleep at 25? Probably not.

In a Dark Dark Room


At least this book is supposed to be creepy, but I had to add it. I saw in another post someone mentioned the green ribbon story. I second that fear. That story has stuck with me my whole life. When I started teaching I saw this book in our collection and was like “oh man, that freaking girl with the ribbon is in there, nope”.

And Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark? The stories aren’t even scary but those drawings are terrifying. Image result for scary stories to tell in the dark

Arthur

There really isn’t anything wrong with the Arthur books, I actually really like Arthur. Arthur the Aardvark, the story goes that Marc Brown’s son wanted a story about a weird animal and the first one that popped into Brown’s head was an aardvark. The first illustration is from the original Arthur books published in the 70’s. The middle is Arthur’s transformation in the 80’s. Then the last is him now. I can’t even tell what the last Arthur is anymore! Is he a dog? A giant hamster type thing? Maybe a bear?

Richard Scarry Butcher Shop

Image result for richard scarry butcher shopImage result for richard scarry butcher shop

So the butcher character is in multiple Richard Scarry books but there’s a common theme for the character…it’s a pig. A pig, slicing up ham and sausage and pork chops and bacon and…yeah it’s a little gross.

Curious George Takes a Job

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Curious George is a favorite at my house. I did not realize this one particular book actually has quite the following. Curious George Takes a Job is like all classic Curious George tales of mishap and mayhem…except this time George tries ether.

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So…yeah kids try drugs and feel like you’re flying and rings and stars will dance around your heads then you’ll pass out with a giant smile on your face while your family looks down at you in shock. I guess it’s accurate at least.

What are some more classics that maybe need to be reread with adult eyes?

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Posted in DIY, Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

The Closet- Minimized

closet

This smattering of clothes and piles of random items was my closet. It’s embarrassing how bad it got but I have to show the disarray in order to show the difference that downsizing can make. In this picture, our master bedroom, we had two dressers (one for each- mine is on the other side of the room), a closet (not walk in but not too small), and a mess of shoes, hats, and misc home stuff on the ground. We don’t even have doors on the closet so I have to look at this every morning. Not a great way to start the day.

This post contains affiliated links that help me survive, apparently I’m supposed to say that now.

  1. The dresser

Why do I need a dresser? Do I need somewhere fancy to store t-shirts and underwear? Do socks need a whole drawer to spread out in? Not really.

I went through my dresser first and did it in steps. First, I made all my foldable clothes fit into one drawer as opposed to three. I had an affinity for funny shirts and graphic tees in high school and college and wore them much longer than I rightly should have (let’s be real I still do at home).



After sorting through those and saving some for a future quilt (yeah I know), I was able to get everything into two drawers, then one. This took a few times of sorting. I really felt like I needed a pair of sweat pants for every day of the week. But I wear the same three over and over again. Once the dresser was out of my room and gone and I saw the open floor I was addicted.

2. The Closet Planning: Capsules

Then came the more fun part: capsule planning. Now for some people that probably sounds “so bored” as my daughter says, but this was my favorite part. I got to go on Pinterest and plan my wardrobe. There are sites that you can pay and they will help you but I wanted to do it myself. Also, I am using “capsule” very loosely. For many people who have a real capsule wardrobe of 30 pieces I still look like a lush. I still want to downsize some more but right now I’m at a good point (I have about 55), and I’m not buying anything else to add so there’s a win.



Some things I learned from capsule planning are:

Pin outfits you really like. Don’t worry about if they would actually look good on you at this point just find stuff you like. Look for patterns. If you see a lot of tanks with maxi skirts than there’s a good bet you should have that in your closet. If you don’t see a lot of flowy tops but you have four of them hanging up, maybe time to get rid of them. I even printed out my top favorites and made a visual list of items that I should have to create the outfits I like. I have never been the most fashionable person in the world so this step was kind of new to me.

Selecting a few colors really does help. I had a lot of pretty bo-ho tops that I never wore because the colors made me look ill. I had a lot of colors that just plain didn’t match as well. I narrowed mine down to neutrals (white, black, gray, and navy) and accents (blush, yellow, teal, and olive). Anything not primarily in those colors I took out of my closet and boxed them up. I didn’t throw them away right away I just removed them to see how I would feel.

Duplicates need to go. I always though I needed like ten black shirts. They all fit different, I argued. I now have two, one loose and one tight, and that’s all I need.

3. More perks of less clothes

I have gotten a lot of compliments in the past few months about my style change and I think creating this “capsule” really made that happen. It takes half the time to get ready in the morning and I’m not saying I feel great every day I walk out the door but what I’m going to wear doesn’t consume as much time as it did.

I still have a ways to go but I managed to get rid of enough clothes that my husband was able to build a book case in the closet. That was a HUGE motivator for me. I have more books than anything else probably and wanted storage for them, even though I am still minimizing and getting rid of some. It’s a long process.

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Last thing I would like to point out is when you are minimizing your closet/wardrobe make sure you gather ALL your clothes. From the laundry, from the car, from your work, everywhere. Don’t just do the clothes in your room.

Hope this helps some of you out there! I had a few emails about the bedroom so please send me your thoughts I love hearing them.

Posted in Family, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

Mighty Minimalism: Step 1, the bedroom

Things have the taken the world over. We have so much stuff, most of it we don’t even

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need or use. Most of it, we wouldn’t even notice if it were gone. With the holidays creeping up on us this is the time of year consumerism is at it’s prime and more things enter your home.

 

I don’t really care if I have the newest phone (not that I could afford an iPhone X anyway). I don’t have a kitchen gadget that does something I can do with a knife. Half the time I don’t even use a strainer when I make pasta because I don’t want to dirty another dish (you just tilt and turn to get the water out, it’s a very precise system).

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However, my weakness is collecting items that relate to a memory. A napkin from that weird bistro in New York, or the rock from the bank of a river in the Shenandoah Valley, or movie stubs, or concert tickets, or trinkets- those kind of things are what make me somewhat of a clutter bug naturally. It’s taken a lot of hard work to change that way of living and focus on the memories, not the stuff.

One of my first projects on this road to minimalism has been to condense my closet to only 50 items. That may sound like a lot to some and not enough to others, but to me it’s a good sweet spot for now. I have to dress nice for work and I barely get out of my sweat pants at home so I can’t have a simple capsule wardrobe like those I admire on Pinterest. Maybe one day when I work from home I can throw out all my dress pants.

I then expanded to the whole bedroom, which is a small bedroom by most standards. As I looked around I realized on a daily basis we always had stuff on the floor. Books, clothes, kids toys, shoes, jackets; always something. It started to drive me nuts now that I was focusing in on it. So my overall goal became- declutter and minimalise my bedroom.

When you start to Google image search you come up with many cold looking rooms. Modern furniture with bare walls and no color scheme to speak of. This, to me, is not comfortable. Not in the slightest.

Very comfy

Then came Hygge. It’s a new craze (well not really new but starting to get around more) that is kind of minimalist at it’s core, but cozy. They use the word cozy a lot. It’s basically minimalism with scarves, fluffy blankets, and a hot beverage. All the things that make you comfortable, and nothing else.Image result for hygge

 

 

Minimize your bedroom:

A) The Closet

B) The Furniture

C) The Art & Knick-knacks

D) The Books & Work

 

 

Posted in Family, Holidays, Opinion, parenting, Uncategorized

In bed by 10; Halloween has really changed

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Halloween.

Just saying it gives you a feeling. Or at least it should I think. Every time I say it I feel this overwhelming sense of mystery and warmth. I feel the cool autumn breeze and smell the dead leaves on the ground. I see the lights of all the decorated homes, and taste the candy and Halloween inspired shots (don’t mix the two). And I mourn a holiday that is so much different now.

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Before kids, I looked forward to Halloween all year. Ever since high school, I started planning my costume in July. I prepped and prepared and made them from scratch (I don’t sew so the “scratch” thing may be a little misleading). Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and indoorI picked which parties and bars to attend on which nights because just one night wearing my costume was simply not acceptable.

 

 

This year, there will be no shots. There will be no hangover. There Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, selfie and closeupwill be no loud music and slutty costume contest. We have tried to have both and I fear that we failed, miserably. In the past few years, even after becoming parents, we tried to rally for all nighters on Halloween. Did the costumes, found a sitter, and saved up a little bit of drinking money. Lets just say, it didn’t end well and nursing a hangover around chocolate and screaming kids is not my idea of a good time. We did trick-or-treating, we went to the pumpkin patch, and we let the kids stay up a little later

Image may contain: 3 peoplethan usual. That was much more entertaining than throwing up at a gas station (no need to point fingers at who). (It was me).

 

This year, we are doing the family things. We are going to the Halloween parties, the Trunk-or-Treats, the pumpkin patch. We’re going trick-or-treating and celebrating at my library’s Halloween maze. We may need to skip the “adult Halloween time” for a yeImage may contain: 4 people, people standing, sky, shoes and outdoorar or two. Image may contain: 2 peopleNot something I ever thought I’d hear myself say but the time might be here that I need to hang up my witch’s hat by 10 instead of 3am. Is that bad? I don’t know, maybe. Maybe in a few years I’ll be craving the excitement of going out on the town for Halloween. But for now I’m looking forward to taking my bugs out, watching them get excited by all the costumes and decorations, and just hanging out with family. Not to mention the two weeks of horror movies, that needs to still happen or why are we even doing this?

Posted in Education, Family, history, Library, literature, Opinion, reading, Uncategorized

Why read nonfiction at every age

You either love it or you hate it. There’s not many people who are in between (I’m sure you exist just bare with me). I’ve heard the argument many times “I don’t read nonfiction because it’s boring”, “It’s too hard to read”, “I just like stories that are made up”. All are valid points for certain titles and authors. However, there’s a whole world of nonfiction that is far from boring, hard, and read so much like fiction you’ll be amazed that it’s not made up.

Reading nonfiction is beneficial to you as an adult, and even more so to children. Since common core was initiated, nonfiction became a higher percentage of what children had to read per grade which is a good thing and a bad thing. I hate the idea of children and teens growing a resentment or dislike for nonfiction because they are forced to read it (much like what happens with the classics) but I do like that they are at least being more exposed to it.

Why Read Nonfiction?

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Early literacy education focuses mostly on just inspiring the idea of reading

and the want to read. However, most of the books that children get exposed to in these younger years are fiction. There’s nothing wrong with that, the cartoons and illustrations are one of the main things that draw young children into books in the first place. There are nonfiction books though that are great for this age range. The series of books called the “tabbed board books” that feature real photos of different topics are wonderful for young readers. They see things they can relate to, things they see everyday, and start to learn names for all of these things. Plus they are bright and colorful so they keep their attention.



6-12

I read an article awhile back (I believe the stats were from 2013 or 2012) that said students only spend 5% of their free time reading nonfiction. While it’s not that hard to believe it’s still such a small percentage that I get worried. Obviously, there is a huge correlation between student’s who read on their free time receiving good grades, versus students who do not read on their free time receiving bad grades (not everyone, just the stats).

Nonfiction is great for hesitant readers in this age group. The nonfiction titles may not be as “age defined” as some of their fiction cousins. For example, there are some nonfiction books about the Titanic that a six year old could enjoy or a twelve year old could enjoy. Nonfiction is also great for boys. Yes, I’m being sexist here but again statistics show that after the third grade boys are much more likely to stop reading on their free time than girls are. I still don’t know why that it is I wish I did so I could fix it. However, some of my reluctant boy readers took really well to nonfiction. Sports, war, history, science, things like that are interesting when they are written about the right way. Do some exploring with your student until you find something they like to read about.

                   

12-18

Teens should read nonfiction for the same reason that middle school and elementary school students should: it will help their grades. Period. They will be smarter. You can’t read a nonfiction book (a well written one anyway) and not be a little bit smarter afterwards (unless it’s a political book but we won’t go there).

I feel like when I was in high school there wasn’t a lot of “YA Nonfiction”. Young Adult wasn’t even really a “genre” the way it is now. There was a handful of titles considered “teen” but it wasn’t the powerhouse it is now. YA Nonfiction has come light-years and is sometimes more entertaining than adult nonfiction. Again, it’s just finding what your student is interested and will take to the most.

                                     

18+

You’re not a student (well you may be a college student I don’t know, for argument’s sake we’re going to say you’re not). You’re not a student, you have no papers to write, no reports to be had. Why in the world would you waste your precious free time reading nonfiction? Reading is supposed to be fun, relaxing, enjoyable. Nonfiction is all of those things if you find the right authors. There’s more to nonfiction than studies and statistics being spit at you in the text of page after page of information.

If you are hesitant, or you have tried several nonfiction books but just cannot seem to get into them, try memoirs or true crime. Sometimes true crime can get a little sciencey, but a lot of true crime I’ve read reads more like a soap opera. I adore memoirs if they are well written.

                         

My favorite is history, usually American history but some eras in European history are also pretty fascinating. Some people just skipped this whole section as soon as they saw history. I get it, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, there are some amazing authors in this category to try.

Health and wellness is a new topic I’ve been reading. It’s one of the most popular topics at my library but I’ve never really been interested enough to read a whole book on a wellness topic. Now, I can say I have read a few that I didn’t get through because I thought it was boring, and I’ve read a few within a night or two because they were very interesting. Just have to find your niche.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science and medical nonfictional can definitely fall into one of those harder to read categories. Certain authors make it more “story like”. Mary Roach is a really good one, and Bill Bryson.

                              

Folklore and fairy tales are categorized as nonfiction. Oddly enough this is one of the most frequent questions I get asked by students and adults; “why?”
Well technically, classic literature and poetry should be in nonfiction as well. All of these forms of writing give a scholar, or whoever is reading the work, a glimpse of the culture that the work came from. So for example, by reading Native American folklore, historians can learn what different values tribes held that may not be documented anywhere else.

 

Feel free to post any other suggestions!

 


Posted in Education, Family, Mental Health, Opinion, parenting, teaching, teen, toddlers, Uncategorized

Impulse Control, or lack there of

Stop hitting your brother.

Get your hands off your brother.

You can’t make your brother dance if he doesn’t want to.

Put down your brother.

He’s not a puppet, stop trying to make him talk.

No you can’t sit on his lap you’re twice his size.

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST STOP TOUCHING YOUR BROTHER!

…impulse control. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms of ADHD that I have encountered. The endless talking, the inability to stop touching things, the constant

movement. More importantly, the lack of control. It’s hard as a parent and someone who grew up in a strict home to understand “can’t”. (Warning: Double negatives ahead) She can’t not touch him. She can’t not move around the couch. She can’t not speak over anyone else who is trying to speak to you. Anyone. Ever. And then of course is the backlash of “that’s just being a kid.” Just to clarify there’s a huge difference between a hyper child and a child with ADHD. A hyper child may have some issues keeping their hands to themselves, but in a child with ADHD you can see the physical discomfort as they try to restrain but can’t. If you haven’t had to see it that’s wonderful but I assure you it’s a problem.

Now that I have a better understanding of my daughter and what she’s going through I know now that no medicine is ever going to be able to help her in this area. Some parents can use the available treatments out there but even so, no amount of medication is going to work without some cognitive intervention.

How to handle impulse control:

    1. It’s okay to get mad/sad/frustrated. Just try to not project that onto your child. Yes, they need to be made aware that their behavior is not okay, and that it is causes conflict; however, making them feel guilty or responsible for your bad feelings is a bit much for a young child. For an older child, like 8 and up, I think they should know that what they are doing is causing you stress. That way you can work together on a plan of action.image
    2. Repeat yourself constantly. Something I loooooathe doing is repeating myself. I repeat; I loathe repeating myself. Did I mention I loathe it? Loathe what? Oh, repeating myself. Sometimes this is how it feels to talk to my daughter but I have to. I have to tell her many times that it’s time to put on pants. Most kids will putter and delay the inevitable but when impulse control is an issue it can take hours. Literally. Just to get dressed. One piece of clothing at a time; “Go put on your shoes”, “Please go get your shoes”, “I know that’s a beautiful a picture you just drew when I thought you were putting on your shoes but now you really need to put on your shoes”, “You know what? You can put them on in the car.” – not the best ending but it happens.
    3. I do believe in praising a child for being able to do something that is difficult for them. I think that it builds esteem, creates a bond, and gives them incentive. I do believe in special treats and awards. However, when my daughter started saying things like “if I’m good all day at school today I can have a snack when I get home right?” and I said, “Why don’t you be good all day at school today because that’s what you’re supposed to do and it will make me happy?” I got “the look” but we did have a good day that day. Awards can be over done but I feel like praise can’t, as long as it’s genuine. Kids are smart, and if you start praising them for every little thing (“Oh my gosh you walked down the hallway and didn’t trip that’s AMAZING”) they will know it’s not sincere. Praising for things that are milestone with impulse (“I’m so proud that you were able to get dressed before breakfast today, thank you.”) I think builds that positive experience.
    4. Routines. I’ve already posted about the importance of routines but consistency is crucial when teaching impulse control. If you do (blank) than (blank) happens and you feel (blank). This statement works for good and bad instances. Consistent punishments and consistent rewards are necessary when trying to change behaviors. We have a schedule for after school: snack, play outside, come in and help set table, eat dinner, play alone, bedtime routine.
    5. Learn the beauty of physical work. Chores. Wonderful chores. Cleaning up her bedroom has little appeal (although sometimes she really gets into it). However, doing things she sees me doing like the dishes, setting the table, feeding the cat, wiping down counters and tables; are all things she likes to do on her own. It occupies her, burns some energy, and keeps her out of trouble. I am starting a chore chart soon so we will see how that goes. Also, running is a godsend. Make up reasons for them to run. I like to pretend that the swing set in the furthest corner of our yard is the safe zone. So, she has to run from there to the house several times per game.
    6. Along the same lines, games are great tools for learning a new skill. Simon Says is one of my favorites. We play inside and out. When inside I like to put down colored paper in the hallway and make her go back and forth. If she steps off the square before I say the next “Simon Says” she loses. This teaches her to wait and listen to instruction before acting.
Posted in Uncategorized

Hiatus

I just wanted to update my site for a minute to say that I’m not going to be posting anything new for a couple of weeks. My “regular” job has picked up steam for our usual busy season and I am also in the process of editing my next book.

I am hoping to be back to posting regularly come fall!