5 Favorites about RAINYday Bibs + a GIVEAWAY

*Disclosure: RAINYday Bibs offered me a bib in exchange for this review. BUT, I had planning on writing about them anyhow, AND I already have purchased several, so I’m passing the bib along to you!*

 

puddlejumper

I have to admit something: I’m a lazy, lazy mom.

Well, I guess I should clarify: I think I have a touch of…how shall we say…distractibility…and by the time I finish chasing all the wild tangents of my brain, I’m too exhausted from my undisciplinedness to buckle down to the mundanity of sweeping the crumbs up off the floor and tackling the mountain of clothes.

Call me a thrill seeker. Who is a homebody.

If you will.

When Liam was born, way back 6 years ago, we were…clueless? I don’t think we had even really figured our highchairs. So when Liam was about 6 months ago, he + me went on his first cross-country (airplane) trip to visit all his grandparents in the Pacific NW.

And my mom brought forth both a highchair and a bib.

Good Grandma. Clueless Mom.

"Tell us something we don't know, Mom."
“Tell us something we don’t know, Mom.”


By the time Logan came along, I decided it was easier to just strip a baby down to baby skivvies for meals.

And all the time.  Unless we were leaving the house.

I dunno. Summers in South Korea. Hot. Humid. Lazy mom. It all adds up.

And yet. And YET. I sorta have always wanted to be the sort of mom that bibs up her progeny at all the appropriate moments. So I have tried out LOTS of bibs. And then cried over the extra laundry.

I’m still pretty clueless. And I still often subscribe to the Diaper Only Dress Code for Dinner.

BUT, when I DO Bib UP! I now, exclusively, bib up with Rainyday Bibs. (I know this sounds cheesy, but it’s 100% true and was way before writing this post!)

Bib and dirtI do this for a few reasons:

~1~

They are practical. The big ones catch messes. They offer great baby-coverage. (Ami is pictured in the Puddle Jumper-wipe off, and you can see how it covers her whole front.) The laminated cotton ones are wipeable for less-messy meals (ok, those don’t really exist in my house, because my kids can make an ordeal even out of Saltines). The Drizzle bibs are absolutely perfection for catching the massive amounts of drool. (Side note: Amélie drools so much that she actually would get wet and cold this past winter.) I think these make GREAT shower presents!

~2~

They are SO cute. I mean. Seriously.

there is this one…
…and THIS one…
…and just when I think I’ve found a favorite…

 

~3~

They are really well made, and they really have quality craftsmanship.  The snaps make the neckline adjustable, which is great as your little one grows.

snaps
~4~

The momma who makes them is pretty darn amazing. She is the mom to some lovely ladies I grew up with and my kids now play with her grandkids. It’s a small world when you are a Catholic homeschooler in the PacNW.

bibdetail
well-made, super-soft


~5~

You get to win one!!

The great news is that I’m offering your choice of a Rainyday bib to WIN! If you are a mom, enter. If you are a grandma, enter. (My mom and her friend keep these at their houses for when grandkids come!) If you know a baby, enter (this would make a great shower gift!).  Are you ready to Rafflecopter?!?!?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

RAINYday Bibs has also graciously offered to reimburse shipping costs (to addresses within the US) for every reader ordering in the month of May – so remember to mention FromLittleHands in the notes to the seller! I also definitely suggest giving Rainyday Bibs the ol’ thumbs up on Facebook as it’s a great way to know when there are special offers and discounts.

Thanks to Hallie for hosting my favorite link-up!

7 Things you Probably Could Skip Reading

I have approximately seven random odds and ends to talk about. So here I was thinking, “Well, I’ll just throw up a mashmish sort of post.” When I realized that it’s Friday. And there’s an app…erm…linkup…for that. Also, this sinus crud is making me dingy. No medicine required.  Read at your own risk. Or go click away to more edifying reading.

~1~

Polling the readership for teaching reading ideas.  We are pretty laid back here. Buuuuut…the 4yo taught himself to read. And the 5yo is sort of flabbergasted (as are we all). And after my voice gave out while reading On the Banks of Plum Creek, he forlornly requested his little brother to finish up reading. Early this am, Li was by my bed with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, asking if we could, “please do this today.” And I wanted to run for the hills screaming.  We tried this book and the hangup was all me. Halp!

~2~

Sorry, Kendra. I just HAVE to post about poop today.

After attempting to direct life, “from the throne”, as it occurred on the other side of the bathroom door, I instructed Liam that, “You may NOT run life while you sit on the toilet.”

Li: *pause*
Li: ok, then, but there are two sharks swimming in the toilet, and I might not make it.
Maia:
Li: *pause*
Li: oh, never mind. They are after my poop.
Maia:

it’s a whole new perspective on SharkTank over here…

next week on Shark Tank…

~3~

I had a dream that I looked absolutely amazing in hats. We are talking incredible.  I’m not sure that I’ve dreamt that something that farfetched since I dreamt, at age 12, that I could swim in air. I’m sure that dreams of this nature mean that one can achieve anything. Or that one needs more sleep.

~4~

How to Stir Peanut Butter

just kidding

I actually was going to write a whole post on that. (This sore throat/sinus thing is clouding my ok-judgement). But I’m just going to spare you the gory details and just boil it down for you:

  1. Stir (the natural stuff) by moving the knife up and down a bit to get yourself started and then pop it in the fridge for a half an hour or so in order to solidify the oils a bit and make it not so gloopy. Then pull it back out and finish the job.
  2. You didn’t need me to actually expand that into three steps for you, did you? Nope. Didn’t think so.
half-way stirred peanut butter is still ok to make a sandwich with
half-way stirred peanut butter is still ok to make a sandwich with

~5~

Anybody else happen to notice that The Blair Witch Project is “NOW on Amazon Instant Video”? I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around anyone putting energy towards even clicking on that, much less doing whatever it is they do to put it on AIV.

~6~

Our Ash Wednesday Mass was combined Spanish/English. One reading was in English, the other in Spanish. Our priest is from Colombia, and he flows in and our of Spanish and English beautifully. When the lector started reading the 2nd reading in Spanish, Li suddenly perked up and, loud enough for 3-pew-radius (3PRs for those of you who calculate everything your children say in Mass Volume), piped, “Is he talking GERMAN?!?!” (That’s the language, other than English that he gets most exposure to.)
Maia: *whispering* no, honey, that’s Spanish
Li: *NOT whispering* oh WOW! I can’t even BEGIN to understand what he’s talking!!

And, yet, this is the child who yells out “Vamanos!” when he wants his little brother to follow him on the playground…

~7~

I’m off to try ALL THE REMEDIES to get this sore throat/sinus crud gone.  I asked to be allowed to cantor for my grandmother’s funeral (Monday), and I would love to be partially-voiced if I can’t be full-voiced. So far I’ve been drinking ACV and honey, hot liquids, tried a little oregano oil this am out of desperation, steam baths, going to go gargle with salt and do a saline sinus rinse. Rest. Fluids. What am I missing?

other things I am capable of doing when I'm sick include burning the Ash Wednesday lentil soup…I call it "Let's See What Else We Can Turn To Ashes Soup"
other things I am capable of doing when I’m sick include burning the Ash Wednesday lentil soup…I call it “Let’s See What Else We Can Turn To Ashes Soup”

~bonus take~

(Yes, I realized I could have deleted any one of these, including this one. But I’m committed to the ludocrisy at this point.) (Yes, we are just going to make “ludocrisy” a word.)

During one of our many discussions on Lent and Ash Wednesday (which always seem to occur in the car, which might account for my children’s understanding of things), Li finally declared: Well, then, I’ll just give up picking my nose.

Maia: um…
Li: Yeah! Because I pick my nose aaaalllll the time. And I really need to stop.

So, back the drawing board we go. And by drawing board I DO mean the Lenten wisdom of Like Mother, Like Daughter. Although, I have to say that I support his efforts to stop picking his nose.

Also, my apologies to Kendra. I think I might have broken every single one of your rules. Which I didn’t mean to. Because I think your list is awesome.

Do you hear the people sing?

I’m linking up with Cari’s Theme Thursday because I actually really need to talk about a fence today.

peeking through the fence
peeking through the fence

…FIRST…some backstory…

…we live with my in-laws.

They have a dog. We have a dog. Our dog, Doofy, is pretty big. We love him. He loves us. He hates thunderstorms. He likes snow. He’s from Alabama. He loves to dig.

That last trait is not earning him any love around here.

He and his partner in crime, my in-law’s dog, have taken to pacing the fence.  There is a dog who likes to hang out on the other side and taunt them with his freedom.

note the path worn along the fence from the dogs’ regular “beat”

So our two dogs have decided to share. His freedom, that is.

The fence? Well, the fence is old. It would be quite adequate for no dogs. Or even dogs who weren’t interested in getting out.

Over the past few weeks we have been in quick-fix mode instead of fix-it-right mode. And, so, the fence looks like this

We always find that the dogs have pushed through the board at the worst possible moments…when it’s pitch black out, when someone has to be at work, when it’s pouring down rain, when I can’t leave the kids. We keep grabbing whatever we can get our hands on in order to keep the dogs in.

I’m beginning to feel like we live next to The Barricade.

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
WHOSE DOGS WILL NOT ESCAPE AGAIN!!!

Fence? Barricade? I’m losing the distinction.

The Dump of the Diapers

Today, Day 2 of 7 in Jen’s 7×7 Challenge, I decided to join in Kendra’s mortifying fun little exercise in public revelation. I almost wasn’t going to join in the game, but Kelly was funny, and Jenna made me crush on her a little harder than I already was (even though she doesn’t drink coffee and doesn’t like Skittles, I think maybe we could be frendz) and then Kate tipped the balance because she just…well…I think we might have some things in our minds that tick the same way.

Without further ado…

the BIG purse dump

I actually don’t carry a purse. I have at times in my life, but I don’t really get attached to them and I often would rather just tuck essentials about my person and call it a day. It’s been a rough learning curve for this momma to figure out how, then, to not just pack for myself but for a hoard pack school handful of littles who depend upon me. Scary stuff.

With the boys, I recall that I had a smaller purse that I would throw into the diaper bag and be able to extricate on occasions I flew solo. I can’t even tell you why I no longer have that set up. I’ve been out in public sans any of my children five times since Ami was born, and every time I wished that I had a smaller purse.  Not enough to cancel my solo voyage.  Or, for that matter, actually DO anything about it. But strongly wished.

Right about the time we learned we were having a girl was right about the time I discovered Zulily. And this Kalencom bag was a hormonally-charged impulse buy.

I still like it. I appreciate how easy it is to clean. But, it slips of my shoulders at the most inopportune times and it screamsbloodymurdertoddlertantrumstyle diaper bag. If I had it all to do over, I’d find something a little more incognito. (Grace Patton is, now, my fashion bible.) Because, I will not lie, the last time I was offered the chance of a lifetime in the form of a quick trip to the grocery store all by myself, I didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and I didn’t stop to even grab my wallet out of the bag. Took the whole dang thing.

Sometimes, in public, I pretend not to know me.

Here’s what’s inside:

Lemme break it down:

{starting with the large box and working clockwise}
1. The diaper bag came with a matchy matchy zippered thing. Inside that I put a wooden rosary, a wooden crucifix, and a teething necklace. The zippered bag comes out at Mass when Ami starts to get a wee bit squirmy. Also, breast pads. I can probably take those out, now.

2. Business cards (and, I realized from reading other posts: I want need a card carrier!), my wallet (my sister brought it back from Europe for my husband and I reallocated its use), receipts that I always plan to save…uh…until…uh…the accountant shreds them for me??

And a cap to a pair of binoculars I had when I was a kid and that now my kids have.

3. Ami’s sweatshirt, a plastic bag, and my infinity scarf/nursing cover (love).

4. Two pens, an appointment reminder card, AND two priority enrollment slips for the boys that let us know that they moved up a level in swimming. They are nearly finished with their first formal swimming lessons and we were all so excited to see that they had moved up! I was a swim instructor for years upon years, and I just might keep these little scraps of paper from my own progeny until I am old and gray.

And a reading light that has been broken for ages that we can’t seem to rid our selves of (I am pretty sure that this and binocular cap were things that Ami thought were essential add ins.

5. Four diapers (sized 4), and the Costco pack of wipes (best. wipes. ever). A little excessive for our normal trips, but it’s always always feast or famine around here. Also my changing pad that had a pitiful wipe case and which folds up with a zippered pocket and which I envisioned would make my life complete. It doesn’t.

6. Two lollipops that the clerk at the post office gave the boys for being so good. They’ve forgotten about them, and so have I. I guess they will come in handy some day. Sinusalia that my mom gave me when we left their house yesterday after a quick weekend visit. My ears were clogged. The hand sani that we snagged from the hospital when Ami was born, to be used only when I can’t quite convince myself that the good germs are stronger than the bad germs. And a lip stain and a lip gloss from Birchbox. That I hardly wear for various reasons and mostly because when I do I feel like a little kid playing grownup. Or the Joker. 

As for the official categories?

  • It’s my favorite thing in here: My husband and I were given the ByRon Palm Cross when we got married. All my kids have let so much baby saliva soak into it, that it will be a wonderful relic, someday, I pray.
  • Wow, I really have a lot of these: Wipes, I guess. But that’s not usually a wrong thing to have a lot of…
  • I’ve been looking for those: I was hoping to find some of Ami’s socks, but that sweatshirt was a good consolation prize. I just hope it still fits her…
  • Huh, that shouldn’t be in there: Broken reading light and binocular cap
  • What’s missing?: My keys have a hook and my phone wanders. My camera and gear has it’s own bag. Magnificat is supposed to be in here, otherwise I can never find it when I need it. And I usually carry around mini-facials for my Rodan + Fields business, but I was clean out from our trip to Oregon.

Consider yourself (purse) dumped.

CHARGE!!

I’m joining in Jen’s 7 posts in 7 days resolve

because I’m sure that you needed help in having more ways to distract yourself from folding laundry. If you don’t need distraction, then may I please ship you my clean laundry so that you can fold it for me and ship it back? I’ll even put it up. It’s just that socks and sorting and coming to terms with the fact that I am the world’s worst folder…all these things…make me cry.

I’ve set my boys to work on memorizing things.  This was not really my idea. At our last (final) duty station, a good friend of mine was setting her young children to this task and her thought was that they are GOING to memorize things at this young age, so why not make it good poetry and prayers instead of mindless lyrics and ditties from TV shows. Good point. I watched her (then) 5yo recite ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and was completely astonished. And, then, typical to my nature, thought, “But WE (meaning me) are not that motivated.” The idea stayed in the back of my head, but I did nothing about it until last September when we started school and memorization seemed like a doable subject to tackle.

Some things I’ve learned

  • If you say the same poem everyday in order to help your (non-reading) children learn it, you yourself will learn the poem. It strikes me that this is good for the ol’ noggin.
  • Children have fun memorizing things.
  • IF you are all working on a poem and IF you search Youtube to learn a little background on the poem or find a dramatization or recitation of said poem and IF you happen to find something funny instead and IF you show this to your children BEFORE they have finished learning the actual poem…
  • …then you should plan to be sidetracked for a long time. Or maybe that’s just because this particular clip happened to include lighting off firecrackers and my boys are particularly enthralled with things that explode.

Here we go, folks:

“Forward the Light Brigade!/ “Charge for the guns!” he said: /Into the valley of Death/ Rode the six hundred.

…or at least rides this little blogger.

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Reading With Your Kids (A Mini-Series): Part III

Lazy Mom's Guide to Reading With Your Kids

This is part three and the final installment of this series.  You can catch up on part one and part two if you are so inclined. Linking up with Housewifespice. Because books.

I really owe this whole project-I-didn’t-realize-was-a-project to my mom, who surrounded us with wonderful books, selecting ones that were beautiful and wonderful, and to my dad, who has always let us know by example the importance of the written word.

There are two bloggers that I have to give much credit to. Sarah at Amongst Lovely Things, was a blogger that I cut my blogger teeth on, and is responsible for relaying the fact that reading TO one’s children is important – EVEN after they are reading on their own. It’s how writers are born. She has a great encouraging set of posts entitled Read-Aloud Revival, and a particularly great post in that set (How to Get Back in the Saddle) for when your reading aloud has waned. It was this post that got this whole thing started. And Aunt Leila from Like Mother, Like Daughter, who helps me to realize that if she can do it (her words), so can I…which leads me to decide that…if I can do it…so can you. Also, if Auntie Leila or her daughters recommend a book, it’s probably a good idea to read it.

Book Specifics

A year and a half ago, if you had presented me with the list of books that my kids listen to now, I would not believe you. Not in an underestimate-my-kids way. (Ok, maybe a little, because some titles on this list astound me that my four-year-old and five-year-old will listen to, comprehend, and enjoy!) But in a there’s-no-way-I’m-that-together way.

Wanna see why? Here’s our listening list, presented in the order in which we downloaded:

  1. The Little House – Virginia Lee Burton
  2. The Complete Tales (Unabridged) – Beatrix Potter
  3. The Kissing Hand – Audrey Penn
  4. The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr. Seuss Favorites – Dr. Seuss
  5. Caps for Sale – Esther Slobodkina
  6. Make Way for Ducklings – Robert McCloskey
  7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
  8. Corduroy – Don Freeman
  9. Skippyjon Jones in the Dog-House – Judy Schachner
  10. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
  11. Winnie the Pooh (Dramatised) – A. A. Milne
  12. Jamie O’Rourke and the Pooka – Tomie DePaola
  13. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus – Mo Willems
  14. The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog – Mo Willems
  15. Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late – Mo Willems
  16. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  17. Skippyjon Jones and the Big Bones – Judy Schachner
  18. Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble – Judy Schachner
  19. The Cricket in Times Square – George Selden
  20. Magic Tree House Collection: Books 1-8 – Mary Pope Osborne
  21. The Little Engine that Could – Watty Piper
  22. The Very Busy Spider – Eric Carle
  23. Pippi Longstocking – Astrid Lindgren
  24. The Magician’s Nephew – C.S. Lewis
  25. Peter Pan – J.M. Barrie
  26. The Trumpet of the Swan – E.B. White
  27. The Henry Huggins Audio Collection – Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
  28. Favorite Poems for Children – assorted authors
  29. The Princess and the Goblin – George Macdonald
  30. Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling
  31. The Moffats – Eleanor Estes
  32. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
  33. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
  34. Half Magic – Edward Eager
  35. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths – Ingri d’Aulaire, Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
  36. Freckles – Gene Stratton-Porter
  37. The Ramona Quimby Audio Collection – Beverly Cleary, Tracy Dockray
  38. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
  39. Father and I Were Ranchers – Ralph Moody
  40. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – C.S. Lewis
  41. The Horse and His Boy – C.S. Lewis
  42. The Silver Chair – C.S. Lewis
  43. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum (this one not available anymore)
  44. The Last Battle – C.S. Lewis
  45. The Children’s Homer – Padraic Colum
  46. Man of the Family – Ralph Moody

What is in our near future?

  1. More from Ralph Moody (Liam loved the first and second books of the series and is requesting the rest.)
  2. More from Arthur Ransome
  3. I’d like to get our ears on some James Herriot.
  4. Andrew Lang’s fairy stories.
  5. ??? Let’s open up the comments for ideas and suggestions!!

Some assorted thoughts in no particular order:

  • Not included in this list are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy that we enjoyed from somewhere, I wanna say LibraVox, but don’t quote me on that.
  • I always, always select unabridged, unless it was noted above (I don’t think I noted it anywhere…)
  • If you get a chance to select a book read by the author, I generally recommend it.
  • We started out with picture books because I assumed that was all my boys would comprehend/have patience for and also because I had thought to put together a book basket so they could follow along as they listened. (That never happened. I still think it’s a nice idea.) Occasionally, now, Lo will request one of the picture books, but for the most part they ask for the longer stories.  I suspect that we will get more use out of the shorter ones again as Ami gets a little older and for any subsequent kiddos. (Maybe I’ll get around to that basket.)
  • My kids listen and re-listen and listen and re-listen to all of these titles. In the same way that you buy the books you love (instead of checking them out of the library), we purchase the audiobooks that we love. (Some of these were impulse, so that doesn’t hold across the board, but generally.)
  • I have not prioritized the list above. You see it as our listening taste unfolded. Some of these titles I would probably not pay for again, necessarily. So if you would like to hear more thoughts on which I heartily recommend and which are only so-so, email me and we will talk.
  • If you want great book recommendations, go browse around Like Mother, Like Daughter. There is a whole category of posts on books, and Auntie Leila is most sensible.
  • Kendra has a great post on Spooky Stories for the Whole Family and How to Get Them for Free. Her book recommendations are top-notch and she talks about good resources for free audiobooks at the bottom.  (Though I didn’t have the issue with Audible that she had – I actually love Audible because of ease with which I use it everywhere.) Now that our budget has tightened considerably, you better believe that I am considering what she has to say, however, I have manymanymany reasons why I love Audible and why it will be hard to switch. Keep reading, I discuss it….right now…

Audible Specifics (or Helpful Hints From Not-Heloise)

Now, because I am getting a heap o’ questions about it, here are some Audible specifics. I promise that this isn’t a sponsored post. Audible is what WE use. I’ve learned a few things, and I’m including specifics if you would like to go that route.

  • With Audible, a subscription gets you (depending on your plan) a certain number of credits per month (generally one). A credit gets you a title, but not all titles are “created equal”. Some cost more. Some cost less. So I use our credits for the more expensive titles that we purchase and I “spring” for some of the titles that have great “member prices”.  For example: we used our first credit for The Complete Tales (Unabridged) by Beatrix Potter, which is closer to $9 (or was), and I purchased The Little House by Virginia Burton, which was $0.41, using my credit card (not using a credit). Now I make sure to use my credit for a title that costs more than my monthly member price ($14.95/month). Pay attention when you check out, because you CAN use a credit to buy a book that is $0.41, and that’s a bit…absurd.
  • Once you buy the title, it’s yours. You can listen to it as often as you like. You keep your titles even if you cancel your subscription.
  • There are sometimes more than one version of the same title; I listen to short samples and read reviews to pick a good one, but…
  • …if you don’t like a title, you can return it within a certain time period. And I do this. Audible has been fantastic about returns, in our experience.
  • You can download the Audible app on iPhones and iPads and have them on the ready for travel.  My car has a USB cable port that I can plug my phone into and play the app through the stereo. (I just used a bunch of words there that I hope I used in correct sequence. Does what I just said make sense?) I download them onto my phone at home (where I have wireless) and then they are on my phone and ready to go. I don’t keep aaaaalll of them on my phone. There would be no room. They have all been on my phone at one time, and I circulate them through depending on current favorites.
  • When we had more than one room in our house, I would put the titles onto the app on the iPad and bring that into the boys’ room at night (or carry it wherever in the house we needed it). Now that we have ONE room (or have I not mentioned that lately), I just download all the titles to our computer and open them with iTunes. They get organized splendidly under “Books” and with thumbnails that look like this  which means that my kids are perfectly capable of turning on their own stories if I am nursing the baby or otherwise occupied. They have memorized which picture goes to which book. This manner of organization works PERFECTLY for my cluttered brain!
  • Note: I have noticed that it seems that Audible recently changed how you download the titles. After you purchase your titles, you go to your “Library” and, next to each title, you see “Play now” or “Deliver to”. I used to just click “Download” and it would open up straightaway in iTunes. I spent all of a minute fuming that things had changed (I’m an old lady, apparently, and if you change my technology, beware my wrath) and then realized that I could select “Desktop” from the “Deliver to” pull-down menu and then drag it into iTunes. (I have a Mac. If you have a PC, you are on your own.)

Reader Specifics

In the course of writing this series I got a little input:

  • Adrienne from Benedicamus Domino! mentioned that Tomie dePaola read BY Tomie dePaola is delightful (I concur), and also that fairy stories by Andrew Lang are a must.
  • My friend, Jenn, mentioned that her parents used to take video of themselves reading books. Then when would send the book and the recording to their grandkids. I just think this is such a great idea, especially for grandparents that don’t live close to their grandkids!
  • Micaela from California to Korea brought up Whispersync. I haven’t used it. It sounds great. When you purchase the e-book on Amazon, the Audible Whispersync is available “ridiculously cheap”. Basically you can read/listen/listen/read/read/listen/read…et cetera et cetera et cetera (name that movie) and your e-book and audio experience will collaborate so that you don’t have to spend time searching for where you left off. And I can see where this would be completely practical and great. Technology…

And that, my readers, concludes this series, probably the first and only series I will ever write. (Although I’m tempted to write out a series on all my thoughts on the Laura Ingalls Wilder series…maybe just a post…or two…) We (all) have gone from haphazard reader/listeners to intentional literature lovers. I went from being a exhausted-guilty mom who wasn’t sure she had enough voice or energy or patience to read aloud anything more than Pat the Bunny to a mom (still sometimes exhausted and occasionally guilty) who is finding joy in listening to good literature AND in reading aloud. It’s amazing what happens when you cut yourself a little slack, spread yourself a little love, and allow yourself to take baby steps in the right direction.

What books are you going to be reading aloud or listening to?

The Lazy Mom’s Guide to Reading With Your Kids (A Mini-Series): Part I

Lazy Mom's Guide to Reading With Your Kids

A long, long time ago (disclaimer: a year and a half ago), I went to visit one of my most wonderful-est of friends.  I really wish that Stephanie had a blog.  Actually, I don’t.  I wish I lived next door to her. But then I wouldn’t have a blog, most likely. I’d be too busy talking to Steph.  (Sidenote: her sister DOES have a blog. And it’s delightful.)

Stephanie introduced me to the world of Audible. Now, I know I know I know that you can get lots of wonderful audio books for legally free. Audible was what Stephanie used. And what with the curveballs life was throwing me at that point in time, this was simple and I didn’t have to think about it too much.

Around the same time, I was bemoaning the fact that I wasn’t reading aloud more to my boys. Sarah references Andrew Pudewa and touches upon why this is important here. I was doing the whole guiltymomwailinggnashingteethmakingexcuses but, because I’m lazy and because life was throwing major curve balls, it just wasn’t happening.  Oh, we were reading sporadically some picture books. We weren’t, though, making our reading intentional. I was waiting for my kids to bring me the books off of our shelf. They WOULD do that. Sometimes. But not always. We were losing the ritual and the habit of reading.

I have always been a reader and a re-reader. I have a love affair with words, sometimes reading just so that my eyes can pass over words on a page. I love all the books I grew up with. I will still go to my Mom and Dad’s bookshelves and pick up the books I would get lost in as a kid. I remember my mom used to have to put LIMITS on reading. I remember that we had an old, blue claw foot bathtub. I would smuggle books in the back corner under that tub and, behind the closed bathroom door, “brush my teeth” for extended amounts of time just to get in more reading time. I want that for my kids. (And that old blue claw foot bathtub. I want that, too. That thing was awesome.)

So I subscribed to Audible, and I credit it entirely for the reform movement of How This Lazy Mom Started Reading With Her Kids.

Are you one of those moms who sells her kids short? I completely am.  I love my kids. I think my kids are smart. But I really fall short when it comes to putting challenges in front of my kids.  I forget how much they are capable of. These absorbable little sponges that I call my own are capable of learning SO MUCH. And they will learn, no matter what, from what they have around them.  I am re-reminded every day that if you surround them with the good and the worthy and the challenging, they will absorb that.  And if you surround them with the garbage and the mundane? Well, then, they will absorb just that. They are going to absorb something everything. So make the everything noble.  Not with grand expectations of raising geniuses. Not with the avarice of mykidissmarterthanyourkid. Not for the purpose of giving tests and taking A’s. But for the sole purpose of providing your child a rich, sturdy scaffold on which everything they will be presented with in high school and college and LIFE can hang and make sense. If I do one thing right, I want to give them a logical scaffold. For many reasons, not least of which is that it is terrifying to face a world of knowledge and have it appear completely and senselessly random.

I’d be remiss in this Lazy Mom’s Guide if I didn’t share this simple tip: if you just  begin to immerse the whole family in the good and the challenging, it makes your job as primary educator of your children (which can we all just agree that parents are, no matter which school option is chosen?) worlds easier. Listening to audio books helps our family to be immersed in words and ideas and constructs that I wouldn’t have thought to share with my boys (5 and 4 years old) in our every day conversations. We talk about paper routes and grease racks (Henry Huggins). We discuss living and eating according to the seasons (Laura Ingalls Wilder). We find moths fascinating (Freckles). We call cupboards what we wish they were: wardrobes, and we crawl inside to check them, just in case we are able to find our way into another world (Chronicles of Narnia). Hearing these books over and over again wraps up what they are learning and kneads it into their imaginative play. They listen while they play and wiggle and – in truth – while they don’t even seem to be paying attention. Oh, but they are. Oh, but they are.

Up next in this little series (golly! I feel like a real blogger. The fact of the matter is that I have a short attention span…) I’m going to talk about what our listening list looks like. And what it looked like when we started on this never-ending-project-that-I-didn’t-realize-was-a-project. And I am going to tell you about how little steps in the direction I wished our family reading to go have had amazing pay-offs for my kids and for ME.

In the comments, share with me: how do you fit reading as a family into your day?

Linking up with What We’re Reading Wednesday over at Housewifespice. Also, during the finishing touches of writing up this series, I was delighted to see Anne of Modern Mrs Darcy share some audio book suggestions.

Thursday Odds and Ends

1. For whatever reason, I can’t seem to get my act together to post Seven Quick Takes on Friday. So I’m writing them up today. And maybe linking up tomorrow. Rebel style. Or Extreme Procrastinator Who Overcompensates Rending All Semblance of Balance Ludicrous. You choose.  I go with Rebel.

rebels, the lot of us

2. I have a child who is boycotting pancakes. Now, this usually isn’t a problem because there aren’t many mornings that I make pancakes. Too much trouble. Not enough coffee. There are, however, some mornings where they ARE on the menu.  Because…well…GOSH! Because PANCAKES! Does there need to be a reason? His excuse is “I am too scared to try new food.” Now…before you come to my rescue with all sorts of advice…I KNOW.  I read Like Mother, Like Daughter and Catholic All Year (and I’ve read this one) so often that I should probably get them printed and laminated and house them on my reference shelf.  He really doesn’t get away with it. It’s a personality thing.  It challenges me. It challenges him. If I do my job, he (and me) should have FANTASTIC self-discipline.  We hope. Anyhow, in a moment of distracted weakness, when he said, “I’m too scared to try new foods.” I think I said, “Not my problem.” Oops.  So I wasn’t really surprised when I informed him that the play area was a mess and would he please clean it up, to hear the comeback, “Not my problem.” It wasn’t intended sassy (I don’t think), it was said more in a “I heard this and am trying it on for size.” So I got to apologize for being pert, and he got a lesson in Things We Don’t Say to Mom. But, seriously, what child doesn’t like pancakes and syrup?

this child. that's who.
this child. that’s who.

3. I was reading Bonnie’s latest post, and just about fell out of my chair because:

You GUYS! I feel like I’ve arrived! (UPDATE: I just realized I am nominated in TWO categories.  I’m up there in the Best Blog by a Mom. To whomever nominated this little space…you are just the nicest reader(s)!)

Go check Bonnie out.  But please don’t vote for me.  If you DO that means that I’m NOT the MOST Under Appreciated. Any votes only work towards a status of Most Appreciated of the Most Under Appreciated Blogs…SO lukewarm…

4. My little lady is about to turn 1. If I start tuh-DAY, I might get a nice little post up for her. If I don’t I will probably just repost her birth story. Which is the best birth story in all the land. But she’s a pretty incredible kid, and I want to document a few things.  Heck…if I am productive I might get both posted!

giant baby
giant baby

5. Did you notice that I’m officially a dot com? Yup! I switched over to fromlittlehands.com. Hopefully there are no problems. I can’t fix them if there are. I probably won’t even realize it. And I’ll just be sitting over here, blogging away while no one listens…firmly locking down my status as MOST Under Appreciated of All Under Appreciated Blogs.

IF you buy these salad servers, they will never be in the utensil drawer. the children are ONLY going to pretend that they are Wolverine
IF you buy these salad servers, they will never be in the utensil drawer. the children are ONLY going to pretend that they are Wolverine

6. Did you guys know that SOMEONE LINKED UP WITH MY LINK UP??  Yep. She did. She is a blogger among bloggers. I love her. I love her blog. In a non-creepy, bloggy kind of way.

Go read Laura’s post here. I put all her food ideas on my menu plan. You know. To try out. So I can test them. Make sure they are good. And take them. Someday.

7. I sprinkled in random pictures. Lazy Blogger here. Bonnie, if you need a new category idea for next year, I could have this category ALL locked up.

Am I linking up with Jen? Don’t know yet. Either way, go see all the non-rebellious bloggers…

3 Things I Love…About Advent

It’s high time that I linked up with Micaela. Micaela doesn’t know that she is on my Short List of Bloggers-to-Meet.  Seriously. She doesn’t know how tempting it is for me to just jump in the car some rainy morning and drive south on 1-5 ’til the sun shines and goes down. (Over the Pacific ocean.  Which is where all proper people know that the sun should set.) She is not on my Short List merely because of proximity, either, although if neither one of us can make it to the Not-a-Conference of 2014, then I might just go crash at her place…but, seriously, we have a lot in common (I think) and every time I read her writing, it makes me nod my head and want to sit down with her and drink coffee while kids run crazy in the not-so-background background. And maybe move in next door and force her to be my friend. So…not creepy…at all…

In any case, while I haven’t yet linked up with 3 Reasons Why I Love Catholicism, I absolutely had to link up this month because, like Micaela, Advent is my very, very favorite time of the liturgical year.

~1~

Readiness for renewal

I love seeing forests that have been ravaged by fire. I can imagine how terrifying the fire must have been, even though I’ve never experienced wildfire. In a world where we try to tame and harness and control most things, a fire running rampant can be unpredictable and destructive. When the fire finally dies, and the adrenaline subsides, all looks bleak and black. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. All that thrived, dead. Advent, in a way that ends up being not so stark as Lent, is a time to settle into bleak midwinter. To acknowledge that our lives, without God, are barren. To recognize that we are a people ravaged. Instead of despairing in this, though, we find that our lives — like forests — need the fire in order to have new and more productive growth. Springtime is coming, folks, so settle into this time of sparsity. Whether this past year was one of intense joy or intense sorrowing (and I will admit that 2013 required real strength for me to weather), I find real peace and hope in these Advent ashes, knowing that fertile ground for new growth is being prepared.

~2~

Absence

This relates to my thoughts above, but I wanted to flesh it out a bit differently.  Advent is a time of preparation through lack.  Not as much lack as in Lent, but lack just the same. (I’m cringing that I’ve just used that word three times in two sentences when this isn’t even a tutorial on how to style Ikea shelves in your house; forgive me.) There is an absence in the Mass since the Gloria is suppressed. We hold back on our celebration as we prepare.  Not completely, as I discuss in a moment, but quite a bit. As someone who gets easily overwhelmed by life, in general, and by celebration in particular, Advent really speaks to my personality.  And I can get a little flustered when I read all the things (worthwhile things, but things just the same) that good moms do for Advent. There is space for these things, for sure, but take heart: Advent is a time for absence. A time for simplicity. A time to get simple, prayerful rhythms in place in order to be ready when A Baby comes and turns your life joyfully upside-down. The way that your family gets ready may not look like much

Advent
Exhibit A

Advent2

but it doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s.

~3~

Joy

Have you noticed that it is hard to not let Christmas in a little? Lent is much easier to be somber in. I was thinking on this, wondering if it was just because of the way this particular Holy Day has been secularized.  But you know what? I think it’s because there is a difference. In Lent we unite with Christ’s suffering and strip everything away so that the Pascal mystery takes centrality.  We remember through prayer and fasting and liturgy that Jesus died. It surrounds our senses. We have to participate in the suffering in order to even begin to find (oh! the density of the human condition!) the joy in the resurrection. In Advent, though, we gotta represent our pro-life roots! Mary carried Jesus — as a person — in her womb for nine months. As we work our way through Advent, we get joyful in the same way that a family gets joyful about a gestating child. YES, we put special significance on birth days, and yes, there are aches and pains during pregnancy, yes, we worry about our children and their health, and…yes…sometime pregnancy does become a Lent and our wombs become tombs…I’ve experienced that, too…but joyful anticipation is often just so tangible because, BABY!

So, now, go revel in these last few days of quiet. No matter how your Advent has looked or how you think it may have fallen short, remember that this is not a time for doing but a time making room for God’s will to be done. Because…

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (Luke 2: 9-10)

unto us.