library haul 11/8

First of all, a bit of news!  This here link-up is moving!  Alicia at Sweeping Up Joy will be hosting the link-up over there from now on.  I’ll still be sharing my library finds and linking up there, but if you want to join in (and I hope you do, we have so much fun!), you’ll just be linking up over there instead of here.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

So, if you thought we got a lot of library books before, you’d be well and truly shocked at how many library books etc. we check out when the weather turns colder.  It’s a lot.  Nothing  better than snuggling up on the couch with all your little peeps (or without) and diving into a big pile of fresh library books.  We got a HUGE pile this week, but for some reason, I wasn’t feeling super excited about many of them. You win some, you lose some.  There were a couple of standouts, though.

fullsizeoutput_2c13Joseph Had A Little Overcoat – Such a great book.  Very simple story, but my kids loved it and the illustrations were phenomenal and the pages were die cut to show how Joseph’s overcoat gets smaller and smaller with each incarnation.  AND my kids thought it was pretty funny when I tried to play the accompanying song on the piano and sing along.  Terrible singing voice and piano playing optional. Continue reading

library haul link-up 11/1

It’s the first day of November!  Which also means that it’s the first day of #buynothingnovember!  And what better way to celebrate than to talk about library finds… because at libraries, it’s all free!  Friends who are doing this with me- the library will be your friend this month?  Books?  Movies?  Magazines?  Tickets to local attractions?  Music?  ALL FREE, nothing to buy.  Here are a few of the things I picked out this week.


Everyone Brave is Forgiven (for my kindle)- I try to always have a good book on my kindle, so that when I have a few minutes, I can read from my iPhone, instead of wasting time on Facebook.  I have loved all the other Chris Cleave books I’ve read, so I was really looking forward to this one and it hasn’t disappointed  this far.  I love this dark, but sometimes silly sense of humor, and I really enjoy his characters.  I’m enjoying this one immensely. If you don’t check out e-books from your library, you’re missing out!  I have probably saved hundreds, if not thousands of dollars getting ebooks from the library rather than buying them. Continue reading

library haul 10/18

Hey all!  Did you get to the library this week? We sure did, and got a TON of books.  But here are a few of the highlights:dsc_0199Teaching from Rest – I might be the last homeschooler/homeschooling wannabe in the world to read this book, but what can I say?  I’m not great at keeping up with the Joneses.  But I can tell you that all those people who said this book was a really great resource and encouragement for homeschoolers were right on.  I can see revisiting this one again and again.  Awesome, helpful read. Continue reading

library haul 10/11

Another week, another trip to the library.  Working on nap time beast mode, so here’s the best of what we grabbed this week, lickety split:


  1. The River Cottage Bread Handbook – I grabbed this on a whim off a display, basically because it’s a bread book I haven’t taken out from the library yet.  But I was pleasantly surprised because there were a lot of recipes in there for sourdough without added commercial yeast! (This is really kind of hard to find in cookbooks!  And yes! I’m a dork and very few people would be excited about that.) Anyway, after flipping through, I think this would be a great one for inspiration, and I’m going to try some of the sourdough recipes the lack of weight measures (only volume measures) and even amounts like “a ladleful of sourdough starter” kind of trouble me. For a beginner who doesn’t know how a dough is supposed to feel and isn’t as able to make adjustments, it would make it hard to have such imprecise measurements.  But I’ll report back after I try a few recipe and give you guys an update.  dsc_0190
  2. Julia, Child – I wasn’t sure about this one, since I kind of suspected it might be one I enjoy more than the kiddos, but I was wrong.  My kids love it and have asked to read it several child.  It’s a fun, sweet little story about a a girl named Julia and her friend Simca, who work to create recipes that bring back the joy and fun to grown-ups.  Pretty adorable, no?dsc_0199
  3. Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? – Joey picked this one out and we are all loving it.  It’s silly, but incorporates fun facts about penguins by asking what would happen if they were put in every day human situations.  Lots of giggles, lots of fun, but some good learning happening, too.  We’ll be checking out a few others in the series next time, for sure!dsc_0180
  4. Puzzles! – Yep, I threw a non-book thing in there!  Tricky, huh?  We LOVE getting puzzles from the library.  The thing about puzzles is, once you’ve done them a few times, you’re kind of over it.  So that’s why it makes so much more sense to borrow them from the library rather than buy them.  We take out a few puzzles every week to work on a few times before we swap them out for different ones.  Dinos were obviously a big hit.dsc_0189
  5. The Big Book of Slumber – My kids were strangely enamored of this book.  Usually, anything that’s too obvious about trying to get them ready for sleep is quickly dismissed.  But this one was really lovely.  It reads like a poem, with beautiful illustrations and just the right amount of silly.  I could see this standing in for your usual bedtime classics, and being a nice change of pace. I’m tempted to go ahead and buy this one.  Maybe a Christmas present for somebody?  I’m also definitely keeping this on the list of books to give people at baby showers.

Continue reading

library haul link-up

I mentioned in my last post that I kind of dig the idea of sharing our library hauls each week, so I decided to give it a shot this week.

I love libraries.  I spent a lot of time at the library as a kid (thanks, Mom!), I worked at a library in college, and now as a Mom, I take my kids to the library at least once a week, often to find books, but more often to get them out of the house and save my sanity.  The library has somehow become like a tantrum-free demilitarized zone.  My kids are happy, I’m happy, it’s all good.  And we always leave with a heavy, full-to-bursting bag of books.  I could go on and on about how great I think libraries are and all the reasons I think they’re so important, but I’ll leave that for another time.  For now, I’ll just show you some of my favorite things from this week’s haul. (I picked all kids’ books this week, but I’d love to include all kinds of books in the future!)img_3891

  1. I’m a Duck!  Even if your kid isn’t as obsessed with ducks as mine is, this is a really cute one.  Not HALF as annoying as other duck books out there.  And trust me, I really know a lot about duck books.  Not by choice.img_3892
  2. Let The Whole Earth Sing Praise  As if Tomie dePaola could produce anything less than a delightful, wonderful, amazing children’s book.  This is such a treasure- and I was actually surprised by how much my kids loved it, even though there is no “story”.  This one might go on the “to-buy” wish list.img_3893
  3. My Village, Rhymes From Around the World Well, it’s no secret that we like poems around here a whole lot.  So I’m not surprised we love this one. But I think this book would be really great to have around if you’re doing some geography or studying other countries… a fun way to bring some poetry to lessons about other places.img_3898
  4. The Artist and Me This is a sweet story about Van Gogh and a little boy who gets to know him.  Not only is it a great way to expose your kids to some tidbits about the artist, but it also has a great anti-bullying message and talks about seeing things from other perspectives.  I loved this one.img_3899
  5. Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes  I grabbed this one because I recognized the author as someone whose books we’ve enjoyed.  Nicola Davies also wrote this little treasure that we read from almost every morning during our circle time.  Joey found this one fascinating, and Davies has a way of explaining scientific concepts in a way that’s story-like and engaging.  The illustrations in this one rock, too.

So tell me, what did you pick up at your local library this week?  Tell me in the comments, or better yet, write a whole blog post about it and link up below.

*Another note: I’ve linked each booked through Amazon Associates, but the whole point is that these are LIBRARY finds, so head to your library and find them there!*

favorite kids’ poetry collections

IMG_4345When I posted a while back about what we do for “homeschool”, a bunch of people mentioned that they loved the idea of circle time.  A big part of circle time for us is that I let the kids pick a book of poetry and we’ll read a few poems from it.  So I figured I’d share a list of a few of our favorites, some of which we always have, and a few that we check out from the library over and over again.


The Frogs Wore Red Suspenders– This one is just the right combination of silly and lovely, and just overall really fun to read.


A Children’s Garden Verses– The classic collection from Robert Louis Stevenson. I crack up a little how many of the poems refer to “nurse” or “nanny”, but lots of treasures in this one.  My kids also really love the illustrations in this one. Can’t go wrong with Gyo Fujikawa, in my opinion.


A Children’s Book of Verse– This is, sadly, not in print anymore, but it can be found used (and pretty cheaply!) on Amazon. My copy was mine as a child, and it’s fun to read some of my old favorites with my kiddos.  Whimsical illustrations and classic selections- can’t beat it. Joey is obsessed with reading, “The Skippery Boo”.Which is terrifying, but he loves it.  Random.


Where the Sidewalk Ends For our daily dose of pure silliness, my 4 year old picks out a poem from this one almost every day.


Favorite Poems Old and New– Not just for kids, this collection is really enjoyable and I often find myself browsing through it, looking for inspiration or just plain old entertainment.  It’s a big book, so if you were looking for ONE poem book to rule them all, this would be a great candidate to take your kids from itty-bittys to adults.


A Child’s Calendar– If you love John Updike, this is a must.  A short, simple book with a poem for each month of the year.  I like the idea of reading the month’s poem on the first and last day of the month, kind of as a celebration of a new month.


Outside Your Window– We got this one out of the library, and after the first time we read from it, I went straight to Amazon to buy it, because it was an instant favorite. The illustrations are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a children’s poetry book, the poems about the natural world are truly lovely and the kids enjoy them immensely.  Not only are the poems fun to read, but they’re actually pretty informative, so I can see using these as part of nature studies and such.  LOVE this book.

These are just a few of the poetry books we’ve read from and loved, but I’d love to hear about some of your favorites that we can add to our list!

*Linking up with This Ain’t The Lyceum today. Head over and check out all the other great posts over there!*

*Links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means if you buy something, I get a small commission.  You get a new book, I get like, 15 cents!  Win win!*

Books I’m Loving

IMG_2430Read any good books lately?  I have!  Here’s what I’m currently reading, or have read recently, that I really enjoyed.

Translatlantic by Colum McCann

I began reading this book without many expections, since I had read McCann’s Let the Great World Spin and been less than wow-ed by it.  It was a beautiful novel, if a bit fragmented and slightly confusing.  (I also might be able to attribute this confusion to the time I read it, which I believe was somewhere in the sleep-deprived stupor following the birth of my son.  So who knows.) But I love going into a reading experience with low expectations because it allows me to be completely blown away.  And blown away I was.  I found this novel absolutely beautiful, weaving raw human emotion into historical figures, and subtly and eloquently spanning generations, without feeling burdened or overwrought.  McCann manages to bring together so many disparate elements of the human experience seamlessly and thoughtfully.  A really gorgeous read, all around.  I think I’ll have to go back and reread some of McCann’s other novels with a (relatively) clear mind and a bit more sleep.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

My mom gave me this book several months ago, saying it was incredible and I had to read it, and like any good daughter I brought it home and let it sit on my bookshelf for 6 months before picking it up.  It’s nonfiction, which isn’t usually my bag, and since it’s about the justice system in the US as it pertains to people on Death Row, I was afraid it would be just plain depressing. (I’m a real peach, I know.) I wish I hadn’t waited so long.  I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I will soon because I can’t. put. it. down.  Yes, parts of it are extremely difficult to read.  Being confronted with injustice and unfairness and racism  does not make for beach reading.  However, Stevenson is really a fantastic writer, and gives his stories so much hard and passion that even the most discouraging anecdotes about our damaged justice system are laced with hope, simply because there are people out there like him that are fighting against it.  It also convicts me, over and over again, page after page, how important it is to raise our families to have strong social justice values and to “walk the walk” when it comes to what we’re telling our kids about racism, justice, and social responsibility.  This book manages to raise some important, uncomfortable questions while also being a page-turning great read.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

As a general rule, I try not to read about a book before starting it, because I like to dive into a book without knowing where it’ll take me. (Why yes, sometimes this turns out badly.) So I was basically halfway through the book before I realized that the main character was the mother of Camille Pissarro, the famous artist.  But I loved that- because this book isn’t just a story about a painter’s mom- it’s a love story, a tale of loss, and betrayal, and redemption. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and the story of this strong-willed woman making her way in the Jewish community of St. Thomas in the early 19th century is intriguing and feels fresh and modern. Loved it.

So… what are you reading?  What should I be reading next?


*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and buy something from amazon, I’ll get a small percentage (you won’t pay any extra!), which will go toward keeping this blog running (i.e. the coffee for mama and snacks for the kids fund). Thank you!*

7 non-cheesy Christmas books

No offense to cheesy Christmas books.  I love those, too.  But if you’re like me, you can never have enough books, especially kids’ books, especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  There are plenty of books out there about elves and Santa, but these are a few of the books that I’ve found to be just truly lovely and enjoyable for both children and adults, while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.

  1. Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey


This is a sweet telling of the Christmas story, with some elements of a folk tale, some background on St. Francis, and of course, lots of animals for kiddos who are so inclined.  Perfectly lovely.


2. The Nativity


The text is taken directly from the bible, and my kids enjoyed hearing the language of the actual bible passages in a picture book.  The illustrations are whimsical and artistic, and really make the bible passages come to life.


3. One Starry Night


This is a simple, cute story, showing how all parents love their little ones, and ends in Mary and Joseph watching over Jesus, just as we watch over our children.  This one was all about the illustrations for me- they are bold and modern, yet moving.  I love this one and my kids actually appreciate the artwork, which I found interesting.


4.The Stable Rat


I’m fully aware that this is an obnoxious selection, as I think it’s out of print.  But you guys, the INTERNET, you can find anything there.  And I was able to borrow this from my local library.  It’s so fun and different from everything else out there.  They are children’s Christmas poems, but I found myself enjoying them immensely.  They aren’t rhymey-silly poems, but melodic, soulful verses that aren’t over-the-top Christmas.  If you think your kids won’t like poetry, give it a try.  My kids have blown me away with how much they appreciate and understand the poems I present them with.  This is a wonderful, beautiful book to start with.


5. The Legend of St. Nicholas


Look, we love Santa around here, but I’m also really trying to instill in my kids that St. Nicholas was a real person, a real saint, who was/is pretty awesome in his own right, even without the whole bringing presents down the chimney thing.  This book is a nice introduction to his story and I love the vibrant illustrations.


6.They Followed a Bright Star


This one tells the story of the shepherds as they make their way across the the countryside to follow the star.  They come across many different people and invite them to join, but each has been given a specific task to get ready for Jesus.  I LOVE this story.  It shows kids how each of us has our own special way of preparing to welcome Jesus into our hearts.  I think the message is so special and the illustrations are really special, as well.  One of my favorites.


7. Santa’s Favorite Story51d8lUw5-vL._SY454_BO1,204,203,200_

I had to include this one because it was a childhood favorite, and I love how it lets Santa and the real reason for Christmas come together in a beautiful way.  And I could just stare at the pictures all day.  So pretty, serene, peaceful.


Ok, so tell me, what are some of your favorites?


***Linking up with SQT over at This Ain’t the Lyceum.**