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Month: February 2016 (page 1 of 2)

6 Favorite Books for Preschoolers

One of my favorite parts of being a parent is sharing my love of books with my son.  Most days he does a “sit time” where he sits with a pile of books for 30-40 minutes.  Each night we read before bedtime.  And we read together at other times of the day as well.

What my son doesn’t know is that I secretly love his children’s books just as much as I love my “adult” books.  I adore the vivid pictures and the sweet stories.  I choke up at the same lines each time even though I’ve read them a hundred times.  I can recite many of them by heart.

Our favorites include many of the classics like The Very Hungry Caterpiller, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Dear Zoo.  But today I thought I’d highlight a few books aren’t as well known.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert

Oh, I love this one!  And, even better, so does Hadden!  You’ll learn fruits and vegetables for each letter of the alphabet accompanied by beautiful illustrations.  This book has made grocery shopping more fun too.  Last week I pointed out a kumquat to Hadden and he said, “That’s in my alphabet book!”  Additionally it’s encouraged him to try a taste of more fruits and vegetables and helped us in our quest to have an adventurous eater.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

I love interactive books and books about nature.  This book hits both notes.  Hadden loves to do all the actions: rub the tree to make it warm, clap your hands to bring the snow, close your eyes and count to ten.  The paintings are lovely and the story is sweet.  It’s a winner!

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

The theme of this story is “you must do something to make the world more beautiful”.  I adore that.  I could lie and say that I read this book because I want my son to learn that lesson.  But that’s only half the truth because *I* need to be reminded to make the world a more beautiful place too.  So that’s why we read it so often.  Miss Rumphius goes on fabulous adventures all over the world before she settles down. Then she makes the world more beautiful by planting lupines all over.  The sweet pictures make this book a slam-dunk.

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama and illustrated by Loren Long

Are you tired of me mentioning stunning pictures yet?  Pretend that you’re not while I say it again about this one.  The illustrations are so, so lovely.  In the book, the father tells his daughters about different character traits that he sees in them and then links each one to a historical American.  It’s a simple, easy introduction to many of the people who have helped make our country great.  But the end is where I really get choked up and start sounding a bit like a preacher delivering the crux of her message:

 “Have I told you that America is made up of people of every kind?

People of all races, religions, and beliefs.

People from the coastlines and the mountains.

People who have made bright lights shine by sharing their unique gifts

and giving us the courage to lift  one another up, to keep up the fight,

to work and build upon all that is good in our nation.”

Can you see why reading that gets me on a roll?  This book is a beautiful way to give your children a simple introduction to great Americans from Maya Lin and Jackie Robinson to Jane Addams, George Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  I especially love the diversity represented in this book.

Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horáček

Hadden loves butterflies, which made this book a favorite in our home pretty quickly.  By searching for a missing butterfly, Lucy discovers many vivid colors in her garden from a green beetle to a red ladybug.  On the last page, (this is Hadden’s favorite part) the butterfly comes back as a pop-up so as you gently open and close the book, it looks like it’s flying.  It’s darling.

Little Yoga by Rebecca Whitford and Martina Selway

This book has several easy yoga poses for little ones.  Between the pictures and the descriptions (“Yoga Baby breathes like a lion” or “Yoga Baby curls up like a sleeping mouse”), it’s super easy for kiddos to follow.  Hadden has fun doing each pose and loves it when we do it with him, although now that I’m in my third trimester I’m less thrilled about doing a couple of these.  This book also features a diverse group of kids, which makes me like it even more.

We are always on the hunt for new, interesting books.  What are some of your favorites?

Six Favorite Books for Preschoolers

Six Favorite BooksforPreschoolers

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The Year of Thank You’s: To the cast of Hamilton

To Lin-Manuel Miranda and the cast of Hamilton:

Thanks for the amazing performance last night at the Grammys (even though you weren’t in the room where it happened).

Thanks for taking history and remixing it to capture the hearts and voices of modern-day Americans.

Thanks for using a diverse cast to tell this story.

Oh, and thanks for giving such a great performance that tickets are going to be even MORE difficult to get!

You’re my favorite.

Sincerely,

Callie

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Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

As a kid, it was always exciting to walk into the kitchen and see that my mom was making cookies.  Since everything was homemade in our house, the counter would be lined with the ingredients.  And since there were six kids in our family, it would usually be a huge batch of dough waiting to be formed into balls and put into the oven.

The only thing that dampened that excitement was when I found out that she was making oatmeal raisin cookies instead of the ever-popular chocolate chip.

Based on that childhood disappointment over oatmeal raisin cookies, it’s a bit ironic that today I’m sharing this recipe as one of my favorites.

These oatmeal craisin cookies taste wholesome and filling, but they still seem like a treat.   I lowered the sugar content in the dough so that they’d be a bit healthier.  The glaze is a nice little boost of sugar and taste (I love almond flavoring!) without overpowering the actual cookie.  I adore the added crunch that comes from chopped pecans, but since my husband doesn’t like them and I’m aware that many people have nut allergies, I usually end up leaving them out.

These are the cookies we took with us to the hospital when Hadden was born.  I wanted to be sure to have a small token for the staff, who I’d already gotten to know over the past month as I went into for regular testing.  I kept hearing that they loved the cookies, but a few hours after our arrival one nurse came in and told me they all wanted the recipe and could I please email it to her?  I did it right there from the hospital bed.  I like to think that those nurses are still making those cookies today.

Have I convinced you yet?  I hope so!  Go make these cookies and then make sure that you come back and tell me what you think.

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Dough:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups craisins
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

 

Glaze:
**These measurements are ESTIMATES.  I make the glaze based on looks and forgot to measure this time.
 Powdered sugar (3 cups)
Butter (2 tablespoons)
Almond flavoring (1 teaspoon – vanilla could also be used)
Milk (until it’s the correct consistency)

 

Instructions:
1.  Cream together the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla.
2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.  Add to the butter mixture one cup at a time and mix well.
3.  Mix in oatmeal.
4.  Mix craisins (and pecans if you are using them).
5.  Chill dough for 30 minutes (optional, but I think it helps them keep their shape)
6.  Roll into 1″ balls.
7.  Bake on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper at 350 degrees for about 13-15 minutes.  They should be slightly browning on the bottom.  Allow them to cool for about 6-8 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to a cooling rack.  Cool completely before drizzling the glaze over the cookies.

 

**Recipe adapted from All Recipes

 

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