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Old Bear

Old Bear

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I wrote about our family’s obses­sion — I mean love — of Christo­pher Robin’s Sil­ly Old Bear. Our fam­i­ly also has a deep and abid­ing love for Old Bear by Jane Hissey and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about it. We’ve found that too many peo­ple do not know about these delight­ful books.… more
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Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh

Winnie-the-Pooh

There are a lot of “chal­lenges” hap­pen­ing in the social media sphere these days — books, ice buck­ets, kind­ness, grat­i­tude, etc. All great things — per­haps one of the bet­ter uses for social media even, though it doesn’t quite beat out birth­day greet­ings and first-day-of-school pic­tures, in my book. Last week, a good friend and fel­low read­er “chal­lenged” me to list ten of the books that have shaped or stayed with me in some way.… more
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Just Like A Baby

I’m miss­ing a dear friend who died very sud­den­ly this past spring. Liz was old enough to be my moth­er and my kids’ grand­moth­er. She loved to give gifts and had an almost mag­i­cal way of doing so. Her taste in books for kids was exquis­ite and she always found the most per­fect, most unique books for us — books I’d some­how nev­er seen before.… more
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On Flower Girls

A year ago this week­end, I had the hon­or of offi­ci­at­ing at the wed­ding of dear friends. They’d planned a grand cel­e­bra­tion — organ and trum­pet, dra­mat­ic read­ings, fantab­u­lous atten­dants, fam­i­ly and friends, and not one but two flower girls. In my expe­ri­ence, flower girls and ring bear­ers increase the “chance ele­ment” in a wed­ding cer­e­mo­ny.… more
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Kuplink, Kaplank, Kuplunk!

We missed straw­ber­ry pick­ing, and there­fore jam mak­ing, this year. We were in the moun­tains, a dandy excuse to be sure, but now we’re in a bit of a pick­le (no can­ning pun intend­ed). We have a strong home­made jam habit at our house, and last year’s boun­ty is dwin­dling. We’re try­ing to fig­ure out how to get jam of some vari­ety in the freez­er in the next few weeks.… more
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We Need Longer Picture Books, Too!

I’ve just read yet anoth­er arti­cle about the new length of pic­ture books. Some say pub­lish­ers won’t even con­sid­er pub­lish­ing a pic­ture book over five hun­dred words any­more. Oth­ers say they should be under three hun­dred words. Why? Inevitably, the short­er atten­tion spans of chil­dren are cit­ed some­where in the rea­son­ing. Rub­bish, I say! As a fre­quent sto­ry­time read­er in var­i­ous venues, I can tell you that chil­dren will sit (even the ones you think won’t) for quite a long time for a good sto­ry well read.… more
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Harry Potter

Har­ry Pot­ter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book in the Har­ry Pot­ter series, came out a few months after Child #1 was born. In my sleep-deprived stu­por, I didn’t notice for awhile; but it quick­ly became dif­fi­cult to be a cit­i­zen of the world and not know about Har­ry Pot­ter. Suf­fice to say, the first four books were in the house by the time that baby boy went to school, which is when and where he found out about Har­ry and friends.… more
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This Vacation’s Audiobooks

Many have asked what our fam­i­ly lis­tened to on vaca­tion this year. We have recent­ly returned and I can now report back. We had a lot of hours in the car — Min­neso­ta through the Black Hills and into the Tetons and up through Mon­tana etc. And back, of course. Good to have three dri­vers. Good to have three stel­lar audio books.… more
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The Ruby in the Smoke Audio-book

In our roadtrip/vacation van there are four very dif­fer­ent read­ers — dif­fer­ent inter­ests, dif­fer­ent read­ing inter­ests, vary­ing atten­tion spans, etc. In addi­tion to these dif­fer­ences and vari­ances, the kids are five and a half years apart. Find­ing a book that keeps every­one enter­tained and is appro­pri­ate for all ages can be a chal­lenge. Two years ago, The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pull­man fit the bill just fine.… more
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The Borrowers (audio book)

One of the first books we lis­tened to in the car was Mary Norton’s The Bor­row­ers. We had one child and he was very small. But he’d been well-trained on audio books. He fell asleep to The Vel­veteen Rab­bit (Meryl Streep and George Win­ston) or Win­nie-the-Pooh (The BBC ver­sion) every night. So we popped in the tapes (yes, cas­sette tapes — this was a good fif­teen years ago) to The Bor­row­ers on a trip to Bloom­ing­ton, Illi­nois to vis­it friends.… more
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Pulling Radishes, Thinking About Books

In the gar­den this week I am pulling radish­es. Weeds, too, and maybe that’s why I appre­ci­ate the small, crisp, spicy lit­tle radish­es. Pulling those rosy red globes out of the black dirt makes me think of one of my favorite books from child­hood: Mrs. Pig­gle-Wig­gle.  I have espe­cial­ly vivid mem­o­ries of my third grade teacher read­ing us the Mrs.… more
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Fevered Reading

Let me be very clear. I do not ever want my kids to be sick. We’ve had run-o-the-mill child­hood sick­ness and we’ve had seri­ous sick­ness — I don’t like either kind. I would wish only good health, hap­pi­ness, sun­shine, and lol­lipops for my chil­dren and the chil­dren of the world. And we are for­tu­nate and grate­ful to have excel­lent health care and, gen­er­al­ly, very good health.… more
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Touching the Reading Spot

About a year ago, I found myself at week­ly appoint­ments with a speech ther­a­pist who spe­cial­izes in func­tion­al breath­ing dif­fi­cul­ties. I was deal­ing with some breath­ing and voice issues and my aller­gy and asth­ma doc­tor thought I might ben­e­fit from “relearn­ing to breathe.” The process was fas­ci­nat­ing — we worked on pos­ture, word lists, tongue place­ment, swal­low­ing, dif­fer­ent kinds of breaths, etc.… more
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An Ode To Beeswax

Back in the days of small chil­dren and lit­tle mon­ey, I reg­u­lar­ly saved pen­nies for The Best Art Sup­plies that could be found. I’d read some­thing ter­ri­bly inspi­ra­tional about giv­ing your chil­dren real art sup­plies: gor­geous col­ors and tex­tures that would help them pro­duce fan­tas­tic works of art even if all they did was scrib­ble, pum­mel, and spill.… more
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The Privilege & Responsibility of Reading in Bed

The indomitable Gertrude Mueller Nel­son gave our fam­i­ly the rit­u­al of Birth­day Priv­i­leges & Respon­si­bil­i­ties. Each birth­day our kids receive a scroll of paper fes­tooned with rib­bons. Inside, in the fan­ci­est (and hard­est to read) script our print­er can man­age, we have cer­e­mo­ni­al lan­guage award­ing the birth­day child his/her next year’s Priv­i­lege & Respon­si­bil­i­ty. We start­ed this on their respec­tive third birth­days, at which time they each received the priv­i­lege of using mark­ers in addi­tion to crayons…and the respon­si­bil­i­ty of wash­ing off any mark­er that acci­dent­ly found itself on the craft-table.… more
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The Miss Rumphius Challenge

Hen­ry was a reg­u­lar. He was in after­noon kinder­garten and he and his nan­ny had the morn­ings free to come to the sto­ry­time I did at the indie book­stores near his home. He was old­er than most of the oth­er kids — a very wise and eru­dite six years. His eyes were black and lumi­nous, his curls dark and unruly, and his brow fur­rowed when he thought deeply, which was the only way he thought.… more
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Seussical the Musical!

Dar­ling Daugh­ter has dis­cov­ered the stage. She is in her first musi­cal this spring and is hav­ing a ball. Nine­ty-four mid­dle school­ers (with help from some won­der­ful teach­ers and staff, of course) are valiant­ly putting on Seussi­cal. I say valiant­ly because it is a big project. It’s real­ly a mini-opera — very few lines are not sung.… more
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Of Knitting and Books and Tattoos

I met her while knit­ting. She worked at the children’s book­store next to the yarn store I fre­quent. I was knit­ting with the usu­al group gath­ered around the table at the yarn store when she came in. Cat!” my table­mates called out that day. (I’m embar­rassed to admit I don’t know if she spells it with a C or a K.… more
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My Son’s First Book

Sev­en­teen years ago today, I became a moth­er. My water broke in the mid­dle of the night and I called my hus­band, who was work­ing the night shift, to come and get me. It was time. I was ready. More than ready. I had a bag packed with slip­pers and the new bathrobe my moth­er had giv­en me, along with wee lit­tle one­sies and sleep­ers for the long-await­ed baby boy.… more
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