Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Christmas Booklist: What We'll Be Reading This Year

I'm taking a little bloggy break while I reassess how and why I am writing. I've always intended to write a book and do freelance articles on the side...but with my blogging, it's just not happening. It may not happen, despite a blogging break, but blogging is keeping me from really giving it a try.

I wish you the best of all holiday seasons and hope that you are able to stay focused on the "Reason for the Season," especially with your little ones. It's not about how much you buy, or bake, or decorate...though these things hold some of the joy and tradition of the holidays. Enjoy it, have fun with your traditions, and read lots of Christmas books!

Here are a few of our favorites:

The Night Before Christmas (several illustrators have brought Clement C. Moore's classic Christmas poem to life with beautiful images: Tasha Tudor, Jan Brett, Grandma Moses, and Robert Sabuda are all worth collecting. I just ordered the Tasha Tudor version and can't wait to get it in my hands!)

Peter Spier's Christmas! : This wordless book is sadly out of print, but available through several booksellers in both softcover and hardback.

The Sweet Smell of Christmas: Recommended to me, and after seeing (and smelling!), I knew I had to have it for our Christmas book collection!

What Star Is This? by Joseph Slate, Illustrated by Alison Jay

The Animals' Christmas Eve (a Little Golden Book) I still have my childhood copy, but it's missing pages and falling apart...I might have to replace this one!

The Year Without a Santa Claus by Phyllis McGinley, pictures by Kurt Werth

You Are My Miracle by Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Paul's Christmas Birthday by Carol Carrick, pictures by Donald Carrick: This one has special meaning for us, as KID 1 was due on Christmas Eve, but waited until December 28th to make his grand debut! We always have a separate birthday party for him, but he forgets that he's already had his birthday by the time Spring rolls around. I think it just gets lost between Christmas and New Year's for him.

Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale, by Martin Waddell and Jason Cockcroft: Beautiful illustrations and the sweet, classic story of the Savior's birth, as told from the animals' perspective.

Dream Snow by Eric Carle

Geraldine's Big Snow by Holly Keller: A little pig looks forward to the first big snowfall of the season.

Snowmen At Night by Caralyn Buehner, pictures by Mark Buehner: What do snowmen do at night? Beautiful illustrations with hidden pictures throughout. This one is just winter themed, but it comes out with our Christmas books.

A Wish to be a Christmas Tree by Colleen Monroe, illustrated by Michael Glenn Monroe

The Tale of Three Trees: A traditional Folktale (Hunt)

I would like to add to our collection:

Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski (Author), P.J. Lynch (Illustrator)
The Clown of God, Tomie De Paola
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree, Gloria Hunt and Barbara Cooney

Any other Christmas favorites I should add?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tricky Chocolate Truffles Kids Will Love

I tried another recipe from Jennifer Carden's Toddler Cafe, but I changed it up a bit. Going off of the "Toddler Truffles" recipe, which uses a can of black beans, butter, sugar and eggs (to name few of the basic ingredients required), I created actual chocolate truffles.
Instead of black beans, I used kidney beans, drained and rinsed (that's what was in my cupboard) and I added 6 Tablespoons of cocoa powder to the recipe. My kids love these! They look, smell and taste almost exactly like brownies, but don't have any flour in them at all!

And apparently scooping anything into a ball for snacktime makes it an instant sensation amongst the preschool set. My son never eats as much fruit as when we scoop melons into balls, and he especially loves to scoop it himself!


1 can dark beans (I used dark red kidney beans)
4 Tbsp. softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I chopped some peanuts in my coffee grinder)
4-6 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Grease an 8x8" pan.

I blended the first 6 ingredients with my stick blender, then added the eggs.

Pour into greased pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the edges begin to look crisp.

As it cools, use a scooper or your hands to form 1" balls. Dust with powdered sugar to make "snowballs." You could also just cut these like brownies.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Homemade Toy: Montessori Style

Here is our new practical life activity for November:

We painted these wooden beads this morning with cranberry-colored tempera paint. Both kids helped and they dried really fast.
I put them on a tray in a small bowl, set an empty bowl next to it, and demonstrated how to use our toast tweezers to pinch and transfer the "cranberries" into the second bowl.
Both kids LOVE this new toy! It's pretty challenging for our 2-year-old, but she really stuck with it, putting all 40 cranberries into the other bowl one by one.
When she was done, she reset the station by carefully dumping the cranberries into the first bowl...this was self-motivated. I didn't ask her to do this, but when she finished, she announced, "Your turn!" to her big brother. So sweet!
Check out Works-for-Me Wednesday for more great toy ideas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Take me to the polls!

Can I vote, too, Daddy? 14 years.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Very Hungry Party...Finally!

KID 2 turned 2 a couple of weeks ago, and after postponing this party TWICE due to illness, we finally celebrated her birthday in Very Hungry Caterpillar Style!
Some Party Prep:
I made mini cherry tarts the night before the party

Nectar-Sipping Cups...made from foam circles
(I had way too much time to plan after cancelling this party TWICE!)

These little bookmark pals turned out so cute! These were our party favors.

They actually fit through the holes in the book!

Party Day!
Birthday Girl is Looking for Some Fun!


Hunting for Caterpillars

Found One!

The Dramatic Reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar...With the Puppet

The Very Hungry Table Spread...we made apple-cheese muffins instead of cupcakes

Our Very Hungry Birthday Girl!

KID 1 in his salami disguise

Grammy's setting a good example...

Sipping Nectar Like a Butterfly!

Free-Play in the Backyard

Happy Birthday To You, Little One!

Served with a cherry on top, just like the story!

Some activities not shown here:
Feeding the hungry caterpillar (a beanbag toss game)
Decorating butterfly crowns (it was too windy to wear them and I slacked on the photo op)

The party was so much fun! The kids were great and the adults even enjoyed "eating what the caterpillar ate!" Now I need to start planning for KID 1's "Wild Rumpus" (his birthday is right after Christmas, so if I don't plan now, it might not happen!)