Best of 2010

#5

Kissing Hand Necklace

My son and I are gleefully attached at the hip most of the time but sometimes I have to go away. This craft was inspired by one of my favorite children’s books The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It came to my rescue when I went to a conference last year leaving my son at home. It gave us something physical to touch and have close even when we were apart. It’s a great craft for any parent and child who are apart because of work, military deployment, hospital stays etc…

When you are away from your kids what special things do you do with them to make it through the separation?

Favorite Picture Books

I am often asked which books I consider my favorites. I have often talked about The Very Hungry Caterpillar being my all time favorite so I am leaving it out today but here are books that when I read they took my breath away( and some made me cry) , they all have really important messages for our children and us as we read them together.

One Green Apple by Even Bunting is a treat. The book is not about apples really at all, instead it’s about Farrah a little Muslim girl who has come to the United States from an unnamed country and her first day at school. The day is spent on a field trip to an orchard , where the children pick apples and make apple cider. I immediately related to this as my first day of work at a school in my new country was trying, although I could speak the language unlike Farrah it was still daunting to be new in unfamiliar territory. The melting pot analogy is turned into a apple cider one as all the children throw their apples in and work together to press it into cider, even Farrah helps. They all drink the collectively made cider. My son was too young for this book but I think it would be realistic for a PreK – 2nd grade.

Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is one of those books that you read and think oh I love it, but will kids? I am here to tell you yes! They love this old Yiddish folk tale about a little boy, his very special blanket and his grandfather who made it for him. Over the years Joseph’s blanket transforms into a jacket, a vest, a tie, and handkerchief and finally a button. The story is beautiful and kids love not only the repetitive text when the grandfather is sewing but also the continuing storyline of the mice that live under the floor boards who use the scraps of material for all sorts of things. There are no goofy gimmicks, no lights or sounds just a great story and beautiful illustrations in this gem! A fantastic book about family and growing up.

That Summer

That Summer by Tony Johnson. I read this at the library alone knowing that my 3 year old wasn’t ready for a book about death quite yet. I didn’t even try to conceal my tears, I wasn’t crying I was sobbing.  The book is about the summer that one little boy watches his brother Joey get sick and die from Cancer.  The author does a masterful job at relating grief, and the sadness of watching someone you love and don’t expect to die, get weak and leave you.  As Joey’s condition worsens he learns to quilt and ultimately it’s his brother who finishes his quilt. I can’t rave about this book enough it simply makes the reader get it, as much as you can without ever living this particular nightmare. The line that haunted me was ” I learned a lot that summer, how to grin when your heart is in shreds..” that was the line that forced me into the “ugly cry”.

pocket full of kisses

A Pocket Full of Kisses by Audrey Penn is another book in her Kissing Hand series. Chester is not so happy about having a little brother and suggests that he gives him back! I love that jealousy doesn’t stem over toys or material things but rather over Mama giving his little brother a kissing hand too.  My mom has always called me sunshine and I will grudgingly admit that I do not like it when someone else earns this name, it’s an instinctual reaction and I am in my 30s! When Chester raccoon bursts into tears kids and adults a like can relate to it. Mam raccoon handles it beautifully and Chester understands that no matter how much love a mama has for one child it doesn’t take any way from others. This book was a great vehicle for discussion about our recent arrival and I urge other parents dealing with a new sibling or jealousy to check it out.

Let Them Play by Margot Theis Raven and Chris Ellison is an amazing book, it tells the true story of the 1955 State Champion Little League team from South Carolina. The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once as the authors tell the readers about the realities and injustice that this team of little boys faced. They were the first all black all star team who were disqualified from playing in the little league world series because they hadn’t played a single game to become state champs, because all the other teams forfeited. I dare you not to cry, I was a sobbing mess by the end. The book itself is too complex for really little guys, my son had no interest in the text, though he loved the pictures. All kids old enough though should take a look, and be prepared to answer some tough questions about why people were so mean. Wonderful wonderful, important book!

Alexander and the terrible horrible no good very bad day

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst was another childhood favorite that I have enjoyed sharing with my own son. This book is beautiful, even though it may take a few reads to see it’s not a story about a whining little boy so much a lesson that sometimes things do not go our way. Days can suck. It’s just the way it is. As a child I related to Alexander’s feelings of frustration and things being unfair. How often to you hear a child say “No Fair!” probably a lot. This book taps into that feeling, being little is hard but just because you are mad, or your day was bad doesn’t mean you get your way. Great book to talk about anger and frustration with your child, and it’s funny too! The magic of this book is that the end isn’t happy , Alexander goes to bed still mad and that’s okay, sometimes days are bad.

Don’t Forget about our Summer Reading Challenge!

When We Are Apart

My son and I are often together. He doesn’t cry when I leave him at preschool, or with family but by bedtime he wants one person only. Mama. This week I am going to Nashville for Blissdom, a social media conference for women and it will be the 3rd time I have been away from my son in his life. I hate leaving him and this activity was as much for me as him. His hand will be for me to wear when we are away and mine for him to wear if and when he misses me. * I wanted to add an idea that a Twitter follower had which was using this for military families during deployment! Fantastic!

  1. Gather your materials. Today we are using Shrinky Dinks- yes they still exist! I got ours at Micheal’s, as well as colored pencils, scissors, a baking sheet with parchment paper, a hole punch and some ribbon or plastic thread.  My son picked his out, honestly I would use ribbon if I were you, the plastic thread doesn’t lay flat when you wear it.Kissing Hand Necklace
  2. Start by tracing your little one’s hand with a colored pencil.Kissing Hand Necklace
  3. Ask them to dictate ( or write if they can) what they want to say.Kissing Hand Necklace
  4. Have them color it.Kissing Hand Necklace
  5. Make your own hand as well. Remember your hand will be worn by your child so write them a note.Kissing Hand Necklace
  6. Cut out.
  7. Punch a hole in each.Kissing Hand Necklace
  8. Watch them shrink.Kissing Hand Necklace
  9. Don’t take your eyes off them when they lay flat it’s time to take them out.Kissing Hand Necklace
  10. Let cool and thread the ribbon and thread through.Kissing Hand Necklace
  11. Pop it on and when you miss each other you have a message to remind you of the bond and love you share! He is showing me how he will kiss it when I am away ! Kissing Hand Necklace

Book

This is the book that inspired this activity and it would be wrong not to include it!

The Kissing Hand by Audry Penn is an absolute favorite . Chester is a raccoon who like most of us doesn’t like change. In his case it’s starting school. He wants to stay home with his mama and play with the friends he already has instead of going to school away from her and his friends. So his mama explains to him the magic of the kissing hand . The real magic is the message that we have to do things that scare us sometimes but that the love of our family is always with us to help us through. Go get this book. See how perfect is this, mostly for me this week, I hate leaving my son, letting go is good for me but man I miss his snuggles when I am away!