getting started with a kids book advent calendar tradition - tips, tricks, and book picks

One of the holiday traditions that I get super excited and all squealy about is our children’s book advent calendar. Since we’re big-time book lovers, it made perfect sense for us to turn our “calendar” into a basket overflowing with books. We do the whole cheap chocolate thing too, but the girls and I absolutely love the excitement of opening up a book each and every night leading up to Christmas, getting under a cozy blanket, and reading by Christmas tree light.

Before I give you a peek at some of the books that are included in our tradition, I thought it might be helpful to give you a few tips. This does not have to be an expensive tradition! I am the Queen of Cheap. I would not run to the nearest bookstore and shell out hundreds of dollars on books that we’ll only read once a year.

How to build a children’s book advent calendar library without going broke

our children's book advent calendar basket

1) Be flexible. The books don’t all have to be about Christmas. I include any wintry books that make us all holly jolly. If there’s snow involved, it can be considered! This makes it much easier to do the next step.

2) Shop your personal library. Comb through your children’s book collection and make a great big pile of books that could work. You might be surprised at what you already have. Depending on how many books you own, you might not even need to go out and purchase more.

3) Get thrifty. If you do need to fill in (we did), don’t head straight to the bookstore. Hit up tag sales, consignment stores, and library sales first. You’d be amazed at how many used books you can grab for a dollar.

Continue Reading "How to Start Your Children’s Book Advent Calendar"
On our bookshelf - October reads - picture books, beginnger chapter books, kids lit, children's books

We are always looking for books to add to our To Be Read list over here. We look for books of all levels: picture books, beginner chapter books, middle-grade fiction, and books that busy moms can enjoy. Figuring I can’t possibly be the only one out there who is hunting for good reads for a variety of age levels, I’ve decided to try something new.

Once a month I’ll put together a list of all of the books we’ve been reading with some of our thoughts on them. Sometimes they’ll be gushy and glowy. Other times they’ll be lukewarm. Either way, we’ll let you know if we think they’re worth your time.

Skim through and see what looks good—for you, for your kids, for a gift. And let us know what you’ve been reading!

On Our Bookshelf | October 2017

On our bookshelf - October reads - middle grade fiction, kids lit, children's books

Continue Reading "On Our Bookshelf | October"
5 of the weirdest things kids love to watch on youtube - #parenting #screentime

My daughters are obsessed with making videos, which made me take a closer look at the weird things kids watch on YouTube.

Kids are weird. But lately, the things they watch on YouTube strike me as really weird. Is this just me reaching old lady “in my day…” territory? Or are the things kids are watching (and emulating) on YouTube really freaking strange?

The other morning I woke up, groggy and still tired. When I grabbed my phone and unlocked my screen, I saw that my six-year-old had recorded a nine-minute video while I was sleeping.

It started off with my daughter’s grainy face in my almost-pitch black bedroom. It was near impossible to figure out what she was saying, as her whispers were drowned out by the white noise machine (which, it’s worth noting, is on for this very reason). Soon she gets up and wanders around the upstairs of our house, continuing to whisper some kind of song while staring intently into the screen. She eventually goes into the bathroom and turns on the light so that she can see herself more clearly and I see that, even though the sun hasn’t completely risen, she’s fully dressed.

She continues her song, which I can now identify as the line “We’ll do this togeeeeether,” over and over and over again, making different dramatic faces as she sings. The rest of the nine minutes is filled with her sitting on the toilet (while continuing to sing), a view of the ceiling of my bathroom when she (thankfully) puts my phone down to take care of business and wash her hands (popping her face into view every so often so that she can get really dramatic), and flicking the lights on and off. It culminates with her sitting on the floor of her room, applying lip gloss as theatrically as one could ever dream of applying it.

Why does she feel the need to document the seemingly mundane? YouTube.

Continue Reading "The Five Weirdest Things Your Kids Love to Watch on YouTube"

This time of year can be tricky, but these simple back-to-school hacks will make the transition so much easier. This post is sponsored by TruMoo. All opinions are my own.

I stood in front of the receptionist, breathless and wild-eyed but still smiling. I had just successfully navigated the pickup line at my daughter’s middle school for the first time and managed to get to the pediatrician a little early for her physical. I felt like a champ. A flustered champ with at least six other essential things on my to-do list before bedtime, but a champ nonetheless.

After a few taps of the keyboard, my bright-eyed enthusiasm was dashed. Apparently, I got there really early. The receptionist looked up over the top of her glasses and informed me that our appointment wasn’t for another week.

Oops.

I wanted to sink into the industrial carpeting and slink back out the front door. Hi, I’m a hot mess. And yes, I’m this kid’s mother.

Is anyone else having a really hard time getting used to the back-to-school schedule? September is almost over and I’m still struggling. Transitioning from a laid-back summer to a stricter, more full back-to-school schedule is not easy.

Still, in the week or two since The Incident, I’ve found three completely key tips that have made our lives so much easier.

Three back-to-school hacks to make the transition easier

back-to-school hacks | how to make life easier as you transition into a new school year | parenting school kids

Continue Reading "3 Back-to-School Hacks That Will Make Your Life Easier"
Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian

An award-winning kids science book that will foster a love for science while having hands-on fun.

Step into my house and you’ll find surfaces littered with Ziplock bags open just enough to let the day’s latest slime creation ooze out, bottles filled with unidentifiable concoctions that contain some kind of plant matter, and everyday objects “scented” with copious layers of lotion. My girls love science. They love to experiment with different ingredients to see how they react and to proudly create their own “essential” recipes.

Sometimes, I’m all for this scientific exploration.

Other times, I wonder how long I’m expected to let something sit (bacteria multiplying by the second) while we “wait” for the reaction.

When DK offered to send us a complimentary copy of Smithsonian’s Maker Lab, an award-winning book that encourages kids to build, invent, create and discover through 28 DIY science experiments, I jumped at the chance. Crafty science projects that will work and teach the girls a little bit about the science behind them? What could be cooler?

Getting kids excited about science - bath fizzies with DK's Maker Lab by Smithsonian - kids science book with cool projects and experiments

Continue Reading "A Hands-On Book That Will Get Your Kids Excited About Science"