Library List – 5 gems for your preschooler

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My son and I have a little tradition going where I bring home a big bag of books from our school library on Fridays, and we read as many as we can before falling asleep at our little sleepover in the big bed, while Daddy is out playing hockey.

It’s really come to be my favourite day of the week. Choosing a bunch of picture books at work to try out, picking up the ones that have always intrigued me but I haven’t had time to read, and bringing home the brand new ones to test them out on my discerning little reader. I always grab a few non-fiction picks as well, and we have found some real gems in the past few weeks.

I know it’ s my job to love the library, but I honestly feel a little leap of joy when I step into a library. It’s just filled with possiblility, and borrowing books keeps reading time fresh and fun at our house. Don’t get me wrong, I like to buy books too, but I tend to only buy books once we have tested them out from the library first. I would say among the 10-15 books I bring home each week, there may only be 2-3 standouts that Hunter will request to read again over the weekend. The other books are good for one reading, but not interesting or engaging enough to merit a second read.

Here are a few that we have read quite a few times lately:

1. Baloney (Henry P.) by Jon Sciescka, illustrated by Lane Smith – Jon Sciescka is absolutely hilarious. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and Squids will be Squids are two books that I share with my Grade 3 students when they study fairy tales and they are the perfect books where both children and adults alike find them funny. In this tale, Baloney, a little alien boy, crafts a tall tale to explain why he is late to school. It’s so fun to read aloud, and introduces a bunch of great words from different languages.

2. Wild by Emily Hughes – this gorgeously illustrated book tells the story of a feral child who learns everything she knows from her animal friends, until a pair of hunters capture her. It has a beautiful ending and I think it might be on Scarlett’s birthday list this year!

3. Don’t Say That Word! by Alan Katz – this is a classic little toilet humour book that Hunter could not get enough of. Told in rhyme with a quirky little boy in the illustrations, it’s one that is very very well-circulated in our library.

4. And then it’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead – This beautifully illustrated book resonates with us right now as we wait for spring. The prose is almost poetic, and the animals’ antics on each page captured Hunter’s attention. I could read this one over and over and not get tired of it. We also love A Sick Day for Amos McGee by the same illustrator (Stead)

5. Actual Size by Steve Jenkins – Steve Jenkins is a go-to for awesome non-fiction books. They are perfect for the preschooler set with their beautiful illustrations and simple tidbits of information. We’ve also enjoyed Life Size Zoo, Time to Eat, Time to Sleep, Time for a Bath, Prehistoric Actual Size….this guy can do no wrong! Check out one of his amazing books at your library soon!

I hope you will add these to your library list, and read them with your kids soon. If you would like to follow my kidlit book reviews, I’d love to have you follow me on Goodreads!

9 best bedtime books for babies & toddlers

best bedtime books for babyI absolutely love the quiet moments reading with my kids before bed. They are made all the better with books that I actually don’t mind reading over and over and over (and over!).

These are my go-to bedtime books for babies & toddlers because they meet my criteria for reading to a child from age 0-2. Short, simple stories with not too much text on each page – so I can read it out before the baby “helps” me by turning the page.

I find these are perfect for bedtime because they are either about love or going to sleep, and many of them are rhyming too, which I always find helps to hold the child’s attention.

1. Goodnight Moon – the classic bedtime book. What can I really say? It’s a must have for all babies. An interesting tidbit about this beautiful book is that it contains a number of references to The Runaway Bunny (one of my favourite books to read  to preschoolers) in the artwork.

2. I love you Stinky Face – At bedtime, a little boy asks his mama if she would still love him if he was a one eyed monster, a swamp creature or a giant meat-eating dinosaur. Of course, she declares she will always love him no matter what. A sweet and playful story, especially for mothers and sons.

3. On the night you were born – a sentimental read for reminiscing about the magical night they were born and letting them know how much they are loved.

4. Time for Bed – a soothing book in rhyme about animals and their babies going to sleep. Beautifully illustrated.

5. Goodnight! This peekaboo book is a new favourite at our house. It’s filled with pet names (we are partial to “my little dumpling” and “my island bird”) and simple illustrations. Hunter loves to read this one to Scarlett.

6. I love you through and through – “I love your hair and eyes, your giggles and cries” – it’s a fun one to point to different body parts as they are mentioned in the book.

7. Mortimer – I know you aren’t supposed to rile kids up with a rowdy book before bed, but this one is such a classic bedtime tale. I remember my Dad reading this one to us, and Robert Munsch’s books are made to read aloud with a dramatic flair. I love the simplified story in the board book version, and to date neither child has sung “clang clang rattle bing bang, gonna make my noise all day!” instead of going to sleep after reading it :)

8. It’s time to sleep my love – we are definitely partial to Nancy Tillman, and this book is an artful and poetic bedtime book.

9. I’ll see you in the morning – This one is simple and addresses some of the fears kids have about bedtime (the dark, being alone) and it has the perfect soothing rhythmic prose.

Do you have a favourite book to read to your little ones before bed? Which ones pass the over and over again test at your house?

*I hope you will take these out from your local public library, or support local bookstores, but, if you are planning to purchase via Amazon, I’ve added all these titles to the bedtime section of my store*

app review – waterlogue

I was scrolling through Instagram a few weeks back and noticed that Mom101 was testing out a new app. She had taken a picture of her daughter and turned it into a watercolour, and it was so beautiful I skipped to the app store and bought it immediately. Luckily, we had a gorgeous sunset that night, and I was able to create my first waterlogue watercolour from a photo of our backyard. I have not stopped playing with it since :)

The next day, I snapped a bunch of photos of a sunny walk in fish creek park,

one of our favourite picnic spots,

and my little Hunter pulling along his sled on the empty path. Ican’t wait to print this one for his room.

I loved transforming some of our photos from our dream weekend at Lake Louise (post to come).

I haven’t found it’s worked great for me with faces, but it’s lovely with silhouettes. This was our breakfast view at the Chateau Lake Louise.

It’s wonderful with dramatic landscapes. And I love seeing our little boy among the big mountains.

I can’t wait to use it in the spring and summer once gardens are in bloom. Until then, a simple Costco bouquet is made beautiful in Waterlogue.

Have you jumped on the Waterlogue train yet? I think it’s absolutely worth the $2.99 pricetag, especially if the watercolours print nicely for display in your home. I’m hoping to get some prints this week and I promise to report back.

on vulnerabilty, perfectionism and motherhood

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You are imperfect and you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging. Imperfections are not inadequacies, they are reminders that we are all in this together. (Brene Brown)

I remember thinking when Hunter was a little baby that everyone else knew what they were doing and I had no idea what was the right thing to do. In my new mommy mind, everybody seemed to be playing more with their kids, teaching them things, making the perfect homemade foods for them, reading the best books to them, and I was just playing catch up.

As I have grown as a mother and as a person in the last 4 years I have come to believe that nobody really knows what they are doing. We are all doing the best we can with the information that we have. And, very importantly, even though we sometimes feel like everyday is a rollercoaster of joy, struggle, a few fleeting perfect (kairos) moments and utter failures, we cannot let ourselves be defined by the hard things about motherhood, or the shame that we feel when it seems like everyone but us is doing a perfect job of it.

Brene Brown‘s books have been a huge part of my journey as a person and as a parent and the mantra I have adopted from her work is to remember that:

I am enough.

I’ve changed the way I talk and think about myself. No more “I’m such a bad mom today because…..” or “I can never do anything right.” I’m being gentler with myself, my perfectionist tendencies, and concentrating on the good things. I’m letting the not so good moments teach me something, and then letting them go, not allowing them to haunt my thoughts and cause me to doubt my self-worth as a mother or as a person.

I would never want my child to believe that one mistake (or even a pile of mistakes!) should determine their self-worth. I encourage my children to view mistakes as learning experiences and always try and help them dust themselves off, hug them through feeling the hard feelings, and build up their confidence to try something again even though they might be frightened.

I know as a teacher that mistakes are a huge part of the learning process, and the way a student approaches making a mistake and fixing a mistake can make or break that learning process. The affective aspect of learning (emotion) determines whether we feel safe enough to open ourselves up to learning. So it’s kind of important to get all touchy-feely about our emotions, our self-talk and our outlook on life. Especially as mothers.

So on the days where I feel awful that I’ve yelled at my kids or locked myself in the bathroom for a moment of peace when the baby won’t nap (again!), I’m not going to let myself feel like those moments define who I am.

Parenting wholeheartedly is about daring to be the adults we want our children to be.

So here I am starting to blog again. After a long long hiatus of learning, growing, and lots and lots of thinking and reading, I’m ready to hit publish and share a little bit with you out there.

I’ve become a quoter of quotes in the last few years too, since I seem to be able to draw a lot of strength from a few inspirational words, and I’ll leave you with a few more mantras that define my days as mom courtesy of my favourite author (Brene Brown – so much love for her!) Because “The days are long, but the years are short” (Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project), and sometimes a good quote gets you through those days….along with a nice hot cup of coffee :)

wholehearted parenting manifesto

Click here to print a copy of this from Brene Brown’s website :) Click here to purchase her book

xo – Morgan

disclosure: contains amazon affiliate link. 10% of proceeds from book sales are donated to Calgary Reads, and the other change is put into the book fund for our own home :)

monday morning confessions

I love Saige Wisdom‘s tradition of confessional posts. I’m such a sporadic blogger, that when I sit down I feel like I have SO much to say, and not enough time to write a post for every single point. So consider this a catch-up of sorts……a few of my thoughts from the last few weeks.

- I’m a little addicted to watching House Hunters International. I dream of moving our family to Europe one day (maybe just for a short while) to do a teacher exchange. Design Mom’s experience in France only makes me want to do it more. Her house was an absolute dream!

- I’m reading Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly for the fourth time (maybe fifth – not sure!) and every time I read it, something new stands out to me. I pretty much love her. My friends might say I’m a Brene Brown evangelist….I’m always recommending her Ted Talk and books. Her perspective on life, love, self-image, gratitude and joy have really changed the way I think about myself and how I interact with others, especially my own kids. Love, love, love her.

- my little boy, at 3.5 years old, still thinks black is brown, says things like “I gotted this, i eated this, i poopded….” and we often don’t correct him. I think it’s funny, and know eventually he’ll say them correctly. I’m missing already how he used to pronounce his L’s as Y’s. I saw in my 5 year journal the other day that he had said on his birthday last year (about the lobster we ate – his choice) “I yike dis chicken!”

- I’m completely overwhelmed with clothing shopping lately. I feel like I have totally lost my edge in fashion and every time I go to the mall I leave exhausted and discouraged. I wish there was ONE STORE I could just always go into and love all the stuff and have it all fit this squishy body of mine. That or a personal shopper….funny that used to be a dream job of mine….not anymore!

10 min Strawberry Balsamic Jam

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One of the blogs I’ve followed forever is local chef Julie Van Rosendaal’s Dinner with Julie. Her recipes have never failed me and I love the laid-back feel of her blog and her food.

I made some of her brilliant Skillet Granola for breakfast yesterday (quick and delicious granola cooked in the cast iron for about 5 min) and saw in the comments that many people thought her Skillet Jam was to die for.

We went for an epic Costco trip last night, so I grabbed a bunch of strawberries so I could give it a try this morning.

Oh. my. goodness.

I don’t think I’ll buy jam again after tasting this. And it was super easy. Most of all, it didn’t require canning equipment or super awesome farm-mama-know-how to make. One day I will learn how to make a proper canning jam, and pickles and dilly beans etc etc etc….but for now, I’m not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good and I’ll be whipping up jam with this recipe with our berry bounty.

Here is my version (modified from her Strawberry Vanilla version)

- 2lb strawberries, hulled and then mashed or pulsed a few times in the blender

- 1 cup sugar (I only had coconut sugar on hand, and it was good, though I’ll try regular sugar next time)

- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Pour the strawberry mulch in the cast iron pan. add the sugar and lemon juice and simmer over medium-high for about 10 min, stirring often, until your wooden spoon leaves a path when you drag it through. Add the balsamic and let it cool. Pour into any jar you have on hand :)

It should keep in the fridge just long enough to eat it all up and Julie says you can freeze it too.

Next time I’m going to try some Skillet Brown Sugar Peach Ginger Jam (omg!)

p.s Another of my fave fave fave recipes from her blog is her One Pot Mac & Cheese. It’s the easiest mac and cheese I’ve ever made, and you don’t have to make a roux….it’s almost as fast as a box!

 

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

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So, I started this blog months ago….but I kept waiting for more time to work on it, to write a few perfectly Pinterest-y posts before I put it out there to the public. To make it as perfect as I could. But then…..my kids don’t sleep, our life is busy and I don’t have much downtime, and the months dragged on, and I didn’t want to show my very plain, boring new blog to everyone.

I went to a blogger event this week (which I was shocked to be invited to given my spotty blogging over the past year) and I was introducing myself as “Mon Petit Amour Blog” and it just didn’t feel right. I don’t teach French anymore, and, it’s a bit awkward to say out loud :)

I decided there was no time like the present to just start writing here, and see where it takes me. I’m hoping to spend time here sharing when I can, and I hope you’ll enjoy some of the things I am planning (I’ve started many drafts, just need to find the courage to hit publish!)

Voltaire wrote: “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” (there I go speaking French again!) and I’m living proof that you can procrastinate a million things because you don’t have time or energy to do them perfectly, when just doing them the best you can at the time will be just fine. Good, even. Good enough.  I’m not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good anymore with this blog, and probably with a few other areas in my life (hello thank you cards, working out, eating better!)

Are you a recovering perfectionist like me? Did having kids kick your type A butt? If so, welcome to my blog about my imperfectly wonderful life.

full disclosure: I google image searched for 10 min for a better,prettier image of the Voltaire quote even after I had already made this image in my ‘A Beautiful Mess app’…..what can I say? I’m a work in progress :)