Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Reviews for Toddlers by Toddler (and Mom/Teacher), Part 2

For anyone who would like to see what's hit and what's miss BEFORE heading to Amazon or the local library, here's what the Head of Demolition and I thought of the books we got on our most recent library trip!

Disclaimer alert: this post contains affiliate links, which means that on the off chance someone clicks over to Amazon and buys something, Amazon will give me a commission.  So they say.  It's never actually happened.

Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton

I know, I know. As a teacher and parent, it is my job to love all things Sandra Boynton. My problem is...I just don't love them all. I do love SOME of them though, like Dinosaur Binkit and a few others. This one would just get a "It's fine.  And it's good for teaching emotions." or whatever.  BUT here's where the book REALLY SHINES!!!!  It asks, "Can you sadly say 'cluck cluck'?"

You just haven't lived until you've seen a two year old fake sadness while clucking. 

Worth WAY more than the $3.30, even if your local library doesn't have it.

So that was my first "Click to Tweet!"  Hope everyone and their brother tries it and it works!

I Must Have Bobo! by Eileen Rosenthal

I LOVED this one, and so did the Head of Destruction!  I loved the drawings, which are a little on the retro side, very soft and sweet.  Boy and cat are just a touch mischievous in an innocent and endearing way.  It reminds me a little of a Calvin and Hobbes for the youngest set.  It's funny and sweet but not cloying.  That said, my partner in crime did not have any particular attachment to it, so I suppose that it's not universally appealing.   The Head of Destruction and I adored it though.

Duck Duck Moose by Dave Horowitz

Sometimes I have to pick one just for the title.  This was not really a great book for a toddler, though I had a laugh or two.  She a big fan of moose though, so she was willing to listen.

Grumpy Cat by Britta Teckentrup

This one is cute enough.  I like the illustrations and it's a sturdy board book that reads like it's not really meant to be eaten.  The story is nice.  A small kitten befriends a grumpy cat who becomes much less grumpy because he has a friend.  Nonetheless, it didn't get a lot of traction at bedtime. The Head of Demolition rarely picked it and that was fine with me.

Red Truck by Kersten Hamilton

A fun read with rhymes.  Nothing to write home about, but certainly fine for bedtime.  I didn't regret taking it out of the library.

Little Lost Cowboy by Simon Puttock

Ok, I regretted this one a tiny bit.  It was just too cute for me.  The Head of Demolition thoroughly enjoyed this story of a baby coyote who gets lost and has a misadventure or two before mom finds him.  She particularly liked the parts where the lost cowboy/coyote calls out "AROOOOOOO!!!!!"  That was probably my favorite part too.

Over at the Castle by Roni Ashbury

This was cute and goes along with the tune to Over in the Meadow.  No diversity though at all though.  Every last castle dweller (and there are plenty) are white.  The Head of Demolition asked for this one each and every night we had it though, most likely because she loves song books as much as I do.

Clip Clop by Nicola Smee

I wasn't impressed the first time I read this, but the Head of Destruction enjoyed it.  The more she requested it, the more it grew on me.  So at least there's that - I liked it better and better each time I read it instead of getting tired of it.  Some animals take a horsey ride that ends semi-disastrously.  So there's a bit to discuss as far as what the animals are feeling, and it was interesting to see if my little gal was making the simple inferences she needed to in order to make the story make sense.

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray and Marla Fazee

A very pretty book and gentle book.  Some nice ideas in it.  I don't think at age two the Head of Destruction is really ready to truly understand, but it's a beautiful book that she loves and she'll definitely grow into it.  Another favorite from this batch!

Oh Dear, Geoffrey by Gemma O'Neill

The kid has refused to listen to this book even once.  I'm not sured I really mind though, because it has the the sentence, "Soon Geoffrey has more friends than he can count!"  And, as I mentioned above, I'm not into too cute or cloying.  Still, it has potential because of the illustrations, which are quite nice.  I especially like the last page.

Get more reviews and recommendations right here in Part One of this series!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

You Know You're a Grown Up When Thanksgiving Means...

Actually, I don't really know what it means to be a grownup on Thanksgiving.  I just know that when I was in my 20's, I thought I had to have certain foods or do certain things.  Otherwise, it just wasn't Thanksgiving.  Now that I'm in my 40's, if I hear Alice's Restaurant and maybe have a slice of dead bird, I'm pretty happy.

But, if the meaning of Thanksgiving is bringing your Jewish Mexican American daughter to a Hindu temple to take pictures for her college photography class and buying a bunch of exotic snacks in the gift shop there, then coming home to care for a sick, miserable, feverish toddler who STILL manages to give heart attacks and wreak havoc, meanwhile making dinner rolls in an under-renovation kitchen while trying to sequester a non-littlerbox-using-cat, I definitely have this whole Thanksgiving thing sewn up.

Hindu Temple on Thanksgiving Houston area Texas

Meanwhile, I promised that YOU would be the first to know when and if I ever did a sponsored post, so here's the exciting news: I'm going to do a sponsored post!!!!!!!  And my that I mean that my new friend Nicole from Organic Sunshine sent me some of her "It's The Balm" products to review!

Bath products make great gifts

They've already passed my all important "I have to be able to pronounce all the ingredients" test!!!!  AND Nicole is going to be getting together a giveaway JUST for people that hang out with me!!!!  So stick with me if you want to know more!

One of these days I'll also be posting a recipe for homemade tortillas, but I couldn't pass up giving a sneak peek.  Because who doesn't love a picture of a toddler using a tortilla as a toy?

homemade tortilla recipe from scratch
Have a great Turkey Day folks!
Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 21, 2014

Beer Bottle Cap Table: A How Not to Guide

Since every middle age suburban mother is in dire need of a piece of furniture inspired by a college dorm room, I decided to try my hand at a beer bottle cap table.  When I had a newborn baby.  And three other kids.  And then I wrote this post.

But because "baby brain" is in fact a very real and acute condition, I totally and completely forgot to take the pictures, much less publish the post.  Until now...a mere two years later.

How do I get one of these wonderful contraptions for my OWN home or dorm room, you ask?  It's not even as hard as it looks:

1) Choose an optimum time to begin. In this case, I decided that when my baby was a couple weeks old would be wonderful because obviously...who doesn't start projects involving resin when they have a newborn?  Particularly when they've never once used resin...ever.

2) Have friends bring you bottle caps from near and far, including but not limited to Canada, Germany, and Israel.  Or buy them from Etsy.  Or collect them at gas station parking lots.  Or some combination of the three.

3) Or drink all the beer and save the caps.  That would work too.  Although you might need to adjust the size of the table, so you can make sure and finish the table before your liver gives out.

4) Arrange bottle caps at your leisure.  UNTIL baby begins to crawl, at which time baby notices the irresistible lure of these fine choking hazards and constantly throws the carefully laid pattern into total disarray.

5) Frantically glue down bottle caps the moment baby has begun her nap. Start with superglue, as per Pinterest instructions, but realize that the task will take decades at minimum. Switch to hot glue after gluing fingers to several surfaces and reading about a two year old who super glued her eyes shut.

6) Tape edges of table. Realize that unlike the table in the pinterest instructions, top of table is not sealed to the bottom. Seal using duct tape.

7) Scan comment section of instructions for advice. Read that original instructions were stolen. Ask around for more instructions.

8) Mix and pour resin. Quickly realize that duct tape is a completely inadequate adhesive for the table underside. Take stepdaughter up on her offer to buy more resin while watching resin pour out the bottom.

9) Attempt to remove tape and extra resin with pliers, scissors, and knives.  Fail miserably.  Put table in living room anyway.  Because do you really need to be as delicate as all that if you're going to end up with the college dorm room look?

My apologies to the original post where I saw this two years ago.  Sort of.  The fact of it is, the entire post was stolen from another website and would never have worked anyway, even if I had followed the instructions.  Wood and metal can barely contain that stuff.  Duct tape did NOT contain it.  So I doubt very much that painter's tape and tin foil in the post I saw would have held it in.

I do have a couple of very real instructions if you do choose to try this at home:

1) Buy extra resin, in case yours runs all over the place like mine did.

2) Don't worry about what adhesive you use for putting the bottle caps on.  I can NOT tell which were done with super glue and which were done with hot glue.  All the super glue did was cause me tons of anxiety due to my newfound irrational fear of getting that stuff in my eye.

Happy decorating!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Talk, Head of Demolition Style

When we're at the library I alternate between carefully selecting books and trying to stop our Head of Demolition from performing her craft to the extent that the library is no longer standing when we reach the checkout line.

I look for books that strike that nearly impossible balance between being simple enough for a two year old to understand and books that prevent me from going stark, raving mad when I read them for the 32nd time in a single sitting.

I find a fair number of them each time.  But so that readers can more authentically appreciate the chaos that our trip to the library entails, I have also included the Head of Demolition's self selected titles in this list.

Also, as a DISCLAIMER if you choose to buy through my Amazon link, Amazon will pay me.  That's the idea at any rate.  I wouldn't know, because it's never actually happened that someone clicked on the link I recommended and bought something.  But the chance is there.  Apparently.

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A very pretty and clever book. The book is basically a list of greens (jungle green, pea green) making it simple enough for a two year old. But the illustrations are gorgeous (thus the Caldecott honor) and each one has a cut out that shows through to part of the next page.  Very enjoyable, at LEAST the first seventy five times.

The Case of the Missing Donut by Allison McGhee

The Head of Demolition chose this book herself and has since refused anything to do with it. It's cute enough and might be good for older kids.  But all in all it doesn't bother me that she hasn't picked this one back up.

To the Beach by Linda Ashman

Another one selected by the Head of Demolition and since abandoned. It's not bad. It rhymes, so that's always nice. The illustrations are the cartoon kind and cute. I can't really say if I'd get sick of it after several hundred readings, because like I said, the Head of Demolition abandoned it right away.

Blue Sky by Audrey Wood

I have to admit that I really like Audrey Wood. I chose this book because of its simplicity. It goes through a series of skies (dark sky, cloud sky, etc.). I wouldn't really say it's my favorite of her books (in fact, it would be hard to pick a favorite!). But it's serving it's purpose as a bedtime book quite nicely and I can read it a LOT of times without wanting to accidentally on purpose lose it under the couch.

Welcome Song for Baby by Richard Van Camp

Chosen by the Head of Demolition, this book is subtitled "A lullaby for newborns" and is quite sweet.  I think both her and I would like it better if there were a tune to the lullaby and/or I knew the tune.  It has a lot of "Hey ya"s in it, but there's no shaking like a Polaroid picture, so it's hard to tell where to go with that.  Still, the sentiments are absolutely beautiful, and Head of Demolition likes looking at the baby pictures.  So there you go.

Pierre by Maurice Sendak

I checked this out because Really Rosie was a childhood favorite of mine, so I DO know the tune to it.  The Head of Demolition loves any book that has singing, so it's an easier one for her even though it is fairly long for a two year old. I get to not only relive my childhood while reading it to her, but remember a time when feeding children to lions was considered suitable punishment for not minding one's parents.

Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell

I like the illustrations in this book, and the story has that kind of feel good "child as part of a community" quality.  It's a little disorienting that the trucks and vehicles have names right away while the occasional human remains unnamed.  I'm not sure the Head of Demolition really kept up with the plot the whole time, but she had fun looking at the trucks.

Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley

Yet another Head of Demolition pick thrown by the wayside the second we got it home.  It is a really cute one though.  It rhymes and has a story that is probably just a tiny bit over her head.  I think another few times through though and she'll be able to understand that the mouse made the mess.

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

Much better than I expected.  I got this book out because I figured that the bold illustrations would attract my young cowgirl.  I was right about that, but I wasn't expecting it to be so delightfully silly.  I don't think the toddler quite understands, especially since to her a wolf is not necessarily scary (wolf = woof = dog).  She enjoys it and understands at her own level. And I've read it a number of times and am not sick of it yet.

Good Night Spot by Eric Hill

Another Boonga pick, obviously.  And if you've seen one Spot book, you've seen them all.  Still, there's probably a reason they're so popular and I really don't mind reading this one seventy million times.  Mercifully, there are no little lift the flap things in this one.

So that's what's in The Boonga's book bag library bag! I don't know that there was a clear favorite this time, but there were some good ones. We'll bring another library haul to the internet soon!

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Texas Women Bloggers

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Friday, November 07, 2014

Walls May Come and Go, But Toddlers Requesting Breakfast Out of the Garbage is Forever

My partner in crime and I and I are a perfect match for each other home improvement and DIY-wise, because he lets the perfect be the enemy of the good, and I never finish anything.

Which is just a different way of saying we've had cement floors in our dining area for half a year now, and we're barely creeping toward the finish line.

I wanted to post "before and after" pictures, but the truth is that I never take before pictures, and by the time we ever finish everything, I will have forgotten where I put these "during" pictures.

So I offer my normal: during and during pictures.

I'm pretty sure I posted it on my Facebook page when I decided I couldn't stand the carpet in the dining area one more nanosecond.  Of course "before" pictures would have wasted that nanosecond, but click here to see it in all its the bar mitzvah  prep glory back in 2010.

Here's how it more or less looked from the kitchen side, although the refrigerator had been pulled over and the pantry door opened and the garbage can providing back up reinforcements to keep all cats and toddlers out of the bare cement dinging room.

Because.  Our cement floor has a great big old sign on it that says, "Use me as a litter box!"  Apparently.

The bad part was, the carpet that used to be on top of the bare cement also apparently had a huge sign on it that said, "Please PLEASE use me for a giant litter box!  For the love of cats, there is NO other place to relieve your furry self in this entire house!  Especially not the litter box."

And so I did the logical thing which was to ignore the problem as long as I could and then start ripping up the carpet on a day when I couldn't stand it even a moment longer.

Then my partner in crime needed to help me, because to paraphrase my off site travel journalist (who was then two or three), He "wants it the way he wants it!"

Here's where the surprise came in for me.  After five years of talking about taking down the wall, I just figured that talking was as far as we'd ever get.  What I didn't realize was that my partner in crime would not want to move forward on replacing the carpet until the wall had disappeared.

So then I figured, "Well okay, no big deal.  My partner in crime has plenty of hammers and mallets in the garage."

But he kept throwing around words like, "load bearing" and I decided against throwing caution to the wind.  Because you just never know when wind might turn in to the next hurricane.  So that's why we hired someone to knock down the wall instead.

There's still PLENTY to be done.  If you've ever known the joy of NOT doing the breakfast dishes on a Saturday morning, you'll realize how wonderful it was to have my partner in crime working directly over the sink and dishwasher right after breakfast:

And that's why, a kajillion dollars and much blood, sweat, and tears later we are still no closer to having something besides bare cement in the dining area.

Which only goes to show that walls may come and go, but toddlers requesting to eat breakfast out of the garbage is forever:

To totally change the subject without warning, last month I promised a free recipe card printable.  I've been lollygagging a little, because I've never actually offered a printable before, free or otherwise.

I think I have this a good, workable size (4x6) but if you have any trouble with it at all, I will certainly be willing to tweak it and re-post.  Please let me know how and if it works out for you (in the comments).


If you'd like to see more of the kitchen re-do, try these posts:

If Only We'd Have Known We Could Have Just Locked the Cat in the Bathroom, We Wouldn't Have Had to Do this Whole Kitchen Renovation Thing

Our Kitchen Renovation Has Leaked Out All Over the Living Room

Of Digestive Disease and Washi Tape (I had no idea putting washi tape on drinking glasses would be so popular!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Grocery Store Products I didn't know existed AND an Amazon $50 Card Giveaway!

Well folks, we've had a good run of internet.  For five years we paid AT&T for their highest available internet speed.  They sent out a kajillion work people to "fix" the internet that we weren't getting.  We paid top dollar to rarely be able to pull up a website.  And I went through and got a Master's Degree online that way!

The last time someone from AT&T came out to "fix" our internet the technician said, "I don't know why they sold you that.  You can't get that service in this neighborhood.  We don't even offer it here."

Anyone who has been reading here long enough may remember how incredulous I was to find out that AT&T had been charging us for FIVE YEARS for a service that they actually didn't offer.

I tell this story not to sully AT&T's good name (I already did that as best I could when they refused to refund our payment for five years of service they hadn't provided), but to tell you that we are more or less in that same boat internet-wise.  This time it's The-Guy's fault though since he cut the internet cable while gardening. 

Meanwhile, The-Guy and I had the rare opportunity to go somewhere without our Head of Demolition.  Unfortunately, it was the grocery store.  Still, at least I had a chance to take some lousy cell phone pictures.

Because who doesn't love pictures of jelly?!?  I understand this jelly flavor completely:

I'd try all these.  For real.

Even though I don't particularly care for jalapeno...

This one though.  It's not that I'd knock it before I tried it (okay, maybe I would), it's just that I know how valuable shelf space is in a grocery store.  It's surprising to me that they can sell enough of this to carry its weight:

And I know I've complained about this one before, but what exactly is "scratch made"?  We know it's different from making something "from scratch", because one does that at home using ingredients like flour and sugar and butter and stuff.

And we know it's not the same as being "homemade", which has been appropriated to mean stuff people make out of a box at home.  So...still a mystery to me.

One last grocery store mystery before getting to the giveaway:

And now the giveaway news! I still wanted to participate in this Amazon gift card giveaway  EVEN though our internet is sometimes here and sometimes on vacation.  Because why not?  At best, someone who hangs around here will have fifty extra dollars to spend on holiday stuff!

If I were working harder to actually make money on this website, here's where I would put in a plug for some really great children's literature on Amazon, just in case you have an extra $50 to spend after winning this giveaway.

But...somehow I signed up to teach six days a week this year.  So that will have to wait for a later date.

Good luck everyone!!!!!  Send me a postcard when you're rich and famous on Amazon!!!!

$50 Amazon Gift Card from

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Sponsored By: LaMode365
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1 LUCKY Winner Will Receive a $50 Amazon Gift Card To Use However He or She Chooses!

Giveaway Dates: 11/02 12PM EST until 11/16 12PM EST
Entrants Must be 18+ Years or older and USA Only please :)
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in the Continental United States. Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter.
This giveaway will end at 12:00 AM (EST) 11/16/2014.