A Pinterest-Worthy Family

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A few years ago, someone gave Salem a cloth-bound, slip-cased edition of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! I had his preschool teacher sign it, and I plan to have all of his teachers inscribe the inside cover from now until he graduates from high school. Wouldn’t that be a special keepsake? Looks like I’m going to need an extra copy.

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Today is Mia’s first day of preschool. Before I could even hang up her Disney Princess backpack, she said, “Bye, Mom. Thanks for coming!” Translation: “Get lost, Mom. You’re messing up my game.” This image captures Mia’s truest self– confident, social, independent… a party looking for a place to happen. If there were any First Day Jitters to speak of, they were felt only by Mom and Dad.

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Caption might read… “Seriously, are these people ever going to LEAVE!”

I had high hopes of getting a Pinterest-worthy-first-day-of-preschool photo, but clearly it was an epic fail. Then again, we have never been a Pinterest-worthy family, and I have to admit… that’s one of the things I love most about us.

Happy first day of school, my darling Mia. I can’t wait to see all the places you’ll go!

A Slice of Anger in the Pie of My Brain

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I didn’t say it, but I wish I did. This is one of many brilliant imageries used in Nora Ephron’s book, I Remember Nothing. I just finished it, and all I can say is only Nora can describe meatloaf in poetry. If you’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, and you’ve struggled with either getting older and/or recovering from childhood, this is a helpful read.

Have a great weekend!

Outliers

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I just finished the book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. Have you read it? Surprisingly, this socio-economical analysis debunking the myths of success as defined by 21st century Western Society spoke volumes to me about parenting. Gladwell unpacks the idea that hard-work combined with unmerited opportunity and cultural legacy are what actually drives success. Perhaps with this being the last official week of summer, I am evaluating what sort of influence I am providing my children of “hard work”. In so many ways, this is still being personally defined for me. The start of a semester has always been a good time to take inventory of short-term goals. So when it comes to “hard work”, what do I want to model for my children in the coming months? A few unedited ramblings…

Hard work can be rewarding.

There’s a difference between hard work and busy-ness. It’s easy to be busy doing a whole lot of nothing.

Hard work is most gratifying when it makes someone else’s life better.

Relationships are hard work, but the pay-off is worth it.

Working hard is our way of saying “thank you” for the opportunities we’ve been given.

Hard work doesn’t have to feel like work. It can be fun!

Work hard at your personal best. If your best isn’t good enough, ask for help from someone whose “best” is better.

Patience combined with hard work is a force in the making.

Hard work ought to be acknowledged and appreciated.

Work hard. Rest hard.

What about you? How do you teach your kids about hard work?

Tune Into Tina

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I finally joined Audible! Per early birthday gift request, Clark happily subscribed for us to download two audio books a month. We made our selections before we boarded the van for a 6 1/2 turned 9 hour drive home yesterday. He downloaded Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell {which I plan to read/listen too}, and I chose Tina Fey’s Bossypants. Have you read it? Be warned: this book is not for those without a sense of humor. I was laughing so hard at randomly inappropriate moments, that Clark was forced to audio bookmark Gladwell and tune into Tina with me. By the time we pulled into Atlanta, we were both in hysterical tears half way through the audio book.

It was a tender marital moment.

It’s Monday morning, and Operation: Pack Attack will officially launch in T-2 hours. Salem is off to his first day of summer camp, and Mia is going out on the town with my Mom and Sister. Fortunately, I have Tina to keep me company while I box up the Master closet.

What are you reading/ listening to these days?

PS. I’m thinking of downloading this title next

Read the Summer Away

Hello and Happy Monday! Did you see the supermoon last night? It reminded me of one of my kids’ favorite books right now.

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Other popular titles by Eric Carle include, Do You Want to Be My Friend, The Grouchy Ladybug, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Each of these has been a huge hit with my kids. What are your kids reading these days?

Children’s Summer Reading List

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
— Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail

If you are at all like me, you walk into the children’s section of the library and stare at the 15 rows of hardcovers and wonder, “Where do I start?”  Well, I did a little homework and put together a kid-tested summer reading list for you. Some of these titles are doctor-recommended. Others feature authors from the New York Times Children’s Book Review and the London Book Fair. When it comes to what our kids are reading, I think it is all right to be a bit of a book snob, don’t you think? The good news is, I can tell you from experience that not only will your children love these books, but you will enjoy reading them too. Feel free to comment below to add one of your favorites to the list! {Oh, and I have also put together a summer podcast guide for mothers who love to read but for whom peace and quiet is a luxury they can’t afford.}

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Pete the Cat: Rockin’ in My School Shoes

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Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

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The Three Horrid Little Pigs

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The Monster at the End of this Book {my personal favorite growing up}

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Tacky the Penguin

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The Grouchy Ladybug

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The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

Happy reading {and listening}!

Book Review: Salt Sugar Fat

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Do you remember learning about the tongue map in your middle school science class? Well, according to Michael Moss’ book, Salt Sugar Fatit’s completely bogus. He says that our bodies are hard-wired to crave sweets from our taste buds to our toes. Did you know that between actual sugar cane and sugar-based sweeteners and syrup in our food products, the average person consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? That is 71 pounds of sugar per year!

Evidently, the junk food manufacturers are not only clued into our total body weakness, but the Cap’n Crunch makers of the world have cashed into a multibillion dollar industry because of it. In other words, Toucan Sam is single wing-edly responsible for luring our children into the junk food nest with his irresistible advertisements leaving us parents without a prayer for their nutritional health. In a recent New York Times interview Michael Moss said:

...the {food} companies are exploiting the biology of the child when they add sugar into so many of their products throughout the grocery store {i.e bread and tomato sauce}. Our kids are being taught to expect sugar and sweetness in things that never used to be sweet before…Kids can’t distinguish between advertising and reality…therefore millions of kids are becoming clinically obese.

Even our First Lady has it out for the Lucky Leprechaun. In 2010, Michele Obama launched the “Let’s Move” campaign as part of a White House program to reverse the effects of the childhood obesity epidemic by 2030. She turned up the heat for big label food manufacturers to revise their nutrition labels while suggesting that they make a more supportive effort to help parent consumers give their kids a healthier start in life.

So what does all of this mean for the average American parent and their processed food dependents? I personally have a hard time believing that the blame for our country’s health crisis falls entirely on the Grocery Manufacturers Association. In the Land of the Free, we have a blessed choice as to what we put in our mouths {and in our babies’ mouths} every day. Are we really that defenseless against the Sugar Spikers when it comes to our family’s nutrition? I appreciate efforts like those of Moss and Michelle Obama to expose the food label’s capitalistic priorities to our own physical detriment, and yet I have to wonder if it isn’t more effective to educate the eater rather than convert Tony the Tiger?

What about you? How do you and your family stay healthy?

{Image via Armand’s Blog}