Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kids' Book Series You Might Not Know About

After finishing kindergarten, Eliot worked hard all summer to meet his reading goals by filling out a reading chart. Sometimes kids are ready for the next step in reading before you even realize it. On a whim, my husband suggested that we buy Eliot his first chapter book while walking through Target one day. We chose the first Magic Treehouse book, and, sure enough, Eliot ripped through the book in two sittings.

Ever since, Eliot has been devouring books at a rate that I couldn't keep up with. I'm always looking for new chapter books series for him, but I couldn't find much "new" online other than Captain Underpants and The Boxcar Children. Don't get me wrong. I love The Boxcar Children, but I wanted to see if there was anything more recent out there. So, here are some book series that Eliot and I have loved so far!

The Bad Guys. I think this series might be our favorite. The Bad Guys is about a team of "bad guy" animals who decide that they want to be good. A wolf, shark, snake, spider, and piranha team up in this graphic novel. And the books are really, really funny. The books have lots of pictures, but also a lot of words per page, so kids aren't too overwhelmed with all the words. There are currently four books, and Eliot and I have already pre-ordered book five!
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The Last Firehawk. The Last Firehawk series is rather new. The first book came out in September and the next one will be out at the end of November. There are four books announced in the series (so far). When I saw this book on the Scholastic website, I immediately thought of the Redwall series. I mean, who doesn't like talking forest animals? I really appreciate books published by Scholastic. The books are labeled by "interest level" and "reading level." Also, each page has a picture to keep readers engaged. The font is large and easy to read. 
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Dragon Masters. We have just read the first book in this Dragon Masters series, but we have two more on the shelf. We're planning to start Book Two tonight! It is also published by Scholastic, which helps us keep going with pictures and large font. I also like the series because it poses questions of character development. The reader can draw parallels between Drake (the protagonist) and his dragon. By the end of the book, the reader is questioning who is "good" and who is "bad." As the series continues, I am sure that we will see changing character dynamics and analyze conflicts other than external conflicts.
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Doodle Adventures. I also bought this on a whim at Target. Doodle Adventures tell a story in a comic and allow the reader to participate. It's kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure except you get to draw yourself into the story. The speaker addresses you (the reader) and you create a "file" on yourself, give yourself an "agent" name, and engage in the story. For example, if you need to cross a river, you might draw rocks to step on or a bridge or a rope--whatever you want! It helps keep the reader interested and creative by working on drawing and spelling as well.
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Narwhal and Jelly. These graphic novels are a quick read. Eliot read the two books in one sitting each. Eliot actually read the whole first book to his class, and all of the kids loved it. The drawings are simple and aesthetically pleasing while the story is about two unlikely friends--and it's rather funny. The next book comes out in March!
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My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish. According to Amazon, this series is suggested for ages 7 to 10. It has less pictures and many more pages, so when Eliot gets reading fatigue, I read a couple of pages too and encourage him that, yes, this is harder, but he is doing something BIG. We're just a few chapters in, but Eliot thinks it is funny and really likes it. These books might be good if your early reader is looking for a challenge.
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why I Tolerate Excessive Body Humor from My Sons

When the nurse heard I just found out that I was expecting a boy, she said, "Your troubles are just beginning." I thought it was rude and discouraging. Who says that? However, I continued to receive those reactions and I learned they were referring to many "boy" issues, like fighting, loudness, messiness, and more. And body humor.

I'm not a fan of body humor. Or slap stick. Or sexual humor. It isn't because I think it is vulgar or offensive, even. No, it's too easy. A person can burp loudly and we're expected to laugh? There is no cleverness in it. I didn't expect to have to endure excessive body humor when my boys were babies. I mean, I was dealing with plenty of poop in their diapers, right?

I have learned, though, to accept body humor because beginning these conversations can lay the foundation for helping them in the future. You see, sometimes we joke about things before we feel comfortable enough to discuss them seriously. We test the waters to see a reaction before we continue the conversation. My boys fortunately don't make fart jokes (thank God) or laugh about poop much, but if they do, I don't tell them we don't talk about poop. There have been times when they have given me extensive reports on their bowel movements, including notes on its texture, smell, color, and more. Yeah, pretty gross, but I do not want to shame them about their bodies and how they work. If I can encourage open communication, they will feel like they can tell me or their dad if they have a problem or something is wrong without shame.

To be honest, I had an infection when I was 10, but didn't know it. I assumed that I had leprosy. WebMD and Google didn't exist back then, so I couldn't diagnose myself. I didn't tell my parents. It wasn't their fault, but I was too embarrassed. I suffered until it cleared up on its own--and I was lucky that it did clear up. If I had told my mom, I could have easily gotten relief quickly with the appropriate medication. But, as I said, I thought I was going to be sent off to a leper colony.

I also have to teach my sons that there is a time and a place for certain jokes and conversations. Around me is a safe place. It is not appropriate at lunch, school, or at soccer practice. I currently am trying very hard to teach Jack that it is not OK to repeatedly try to burp every time he drinks. I have to admit, though--it is pretty funny when he burps and blames it on the tree frog in his belly.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Coming Back from the Silence

I have really fallen off of blog world. It has been partially a measure of privacy for my boys. I didn't mind sharing their milestones, our adventures, and my thoughts when they were babies, but as they grew into kids with social lives, I felt like I was making choices for them. I didn't think it was right for me to share their struggles. Even stories about our accomplishments are incomplete without also mentioning where we can from.

Also, our little family has been working through questions and where we want to go in life and how we should get there and responding to challenges in "adulting". I am happy to say that Chris and I have always worked together for the best for our family and while we've had to look at a lot of different options, we're generally on the same page. We will hopefully be having some changes come fall with additionally opportunities, but I will write about that as it all unfolds. (No, we're not quitting our jobs. We love our jobs. No, we're having another baby.)

So, what to do with this little space on the internet? I have been blogging since I was 11--that's 19 years--so I don't really want to stop. Much of my identity is wrapped around mothering my boys, and I don't want to overshare too much information about them. I'm not sure what I'll write all the way, but I will write from time to time.

Lately, we have been very busy with the boys and I have been working on trying to be a better, healthier "me". The garden is in full swing with bulbs returning. Chris is constantly tidying up the yard by cleaning up pollen, fertilizing the palms, and more. The boys are both in school (and doing great! Eliot can read and is excelling in math!), playing soccer, and taking part in the Healthy Kids Running Series. More thoughts and posts to come!