Sunday, November 30, 2008



Jonathan and his dad carrying our tree we cut down at Phinneas' house.

Playing at the beach.

The family.

Nathanael and Lindsey with their Inside East Sacramento magazine.  They came all the way from California to visit us.

Nani, Lindsey, Nathanael.
Thanksgiving desserts.  From the top--Pumpkin Pie Cake, gluten-free pumpkin pie, apple pie, cherry pie.

Our turkey at the end of the meal.
Dinner table before we start eating.  Our 19 pound--organic, free range turkey was the centerpiece.

Islwyn in his super cool Thanksgiving hat that Phinneas made (actually Phinneas' mama made it...)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

New Feature -- Children's Book Reviews

I have decided that we are going to start featuring some book reviews of children's books on this blog.  I have noticed that a lot of parents have a hard time choosing really good books for their kids to read, that the kids are also really into.  I think about this especially when we go to story time at the library.  Many times the stories chosen for the older kids (ages 2 and up) are really not great books.  In fact, some of them are just, for lack of a better word, dumb, and Islwyn is not interested in them in the slightest.  Also, I just had a conversation the other other day with a couple of moms after story time.  They were looking for books--but both stated how hard it is to look for books at the library and how they usually just go to the book cart where the books that were just returned, but not shelved yet, are temporarily stored.  We have an AMAZING children's department at the Bangor Public Library.  But there are so many books I think it is just too overwhelming.

This got me thinking.  Since I am a reading specialist, taught first grade, and took every children's lit class I could in undergrad and graduate school, maybe I could do some reviews and give people some ideas of good books.  While I am by no means an expert on children's books, I was fortunate enough to take classes from and work with a number of people who are experts.  Also, I am lucky enough to have a mother-in-law who ran a children's book shop for years and years and always has really great ideas
 about quality literature for children.  If anyone wants to write a guest post featuring a favorite book of theirs, or even has ideas for me, let me know.

I also want to eventually branch out into giving tips and ideas about strategies to use when reading with your child.  Strategies for differe
nt ages and stages of development.  Etc.  This is something I have a lot of experience with and there are a lot of really fairly easy things you can do to make reading even more of an active process for your child.  

So, to start this little 'segment' of Islwyn's blog, I want to talk about one of my favorite authors and illustrators, Lois Lenski.  

My first experience with Lois Lenski was when I was about 8 years old and my mom gave me Betsy and Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace.  Lenski did the illustrations for that book.  She was an extremely prolific writer and illustrator--writing about 100 books herself, and illustrating around 50 books for other authors.  She was awarded the Newbery Medal for her book Strawberry Girl.  

Recently, Islwyn and I re-discovered her books at the library.  We checked out Cowboy Small and read it at least twice a day for the entire 3 weeks we had it at home.  The illustrations are simple and uncluttered, but also include details for the child to learn about the parts of the horse's gear and cowboy's clothes etc.  In the older printing of the books it looks like they were printed using only two or three colors.  The copy of the book we checked out was an early printing and the colors used were black, brown, and white I think.  But I noticed in the new printings, they use full color.  The picture above illustrates how the new printings of the book look.  

The front page of the book is an illustration of Cowboy Small with all of his cowboy gear around him.  Each part of his clothing is labelled--so every time we read the book we had to start by pointing out his chaps, boots, hat, handkerchief, etc.  Then the books goes through describing Cowboy Small's day on the ranch.  The story is really a perfect blend of fiction and non-fiction.  You learn about the real names of all the things cowboys wear and all the parts of the horse and its saddle.  You also learn about typical things that happen on a ranch and what a cowboy does.  The main character, Cowboy Small, is a little boy, so the children reading it can relate to him.  The text is simple and easy to follow, but uses all the correct words for everything too.

Islwyn loved this book!  There is a whole series of Small books.  There is one about flying an airplane, another about a train, etc.  There are quite a few "Small" books.  Unfortunately, they are almost impossible to find at books stores--around here at least.  I did a little reconnaissance on this--we went to the local children's book shop downtown.  I love this store--they have a pretty great selection.  They had ONE Lois Lenski book.  Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed.  So last night I checked at Borders, they didn't even have one of her books. I think it is pretty sad that some of these old classic books--that are really good literature--are impossible to find.  While you have no trouble finding a book featuring Disney characters or Sesame Street characters.  Depressing.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Islwyn's First Sleepover

Islwyn had his first sleepover last Friday. He got to go over to our neighbor's house last night and stay over night with one of his best friends--Ethan. Meanwhile, Jonathan and I went to a local Inn for dinner and to stay over. It was LOTS of fun and really relaxing for US! Maybe not so much for Ethan's mom and dad! Apparently Islwyn was totally fine without us, didn't even ask for us.

Here is a picture of the view from where we stayed.

Islwyn and Ethan playing at Ethan's before we left. Ethan has all the cool toys.

Islwyn hanging out with me at Ethan's before we leave.

Islwyn by our door, on his way over to Ethan's place with his overnight backpack.

Reading stories with Papa before we head over to Ethan's.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A couple more pics

Here are two more pictures from the Halloween party.  The first one is of the kids fishing.  They cast over where the blanket is and then Jonathan would hook a fish on (cool prizes).  

Islwyn and I with two of our best friends--Jenn and AnaSofia.  Jenn and I totally didn't even talk about what we were going to dress up as for Halloween.  So it was hilarious when they showed up to our party and we were both wearing black dresses and witch hats--pregnant witches!!  AnaSofia was a penguin--Jenn made her costume.  And Islwyn was a skunk--but wouldn't leave his hood up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


We decided to make pumpkin donuts with some leftover pumpkin that we had. The pictures kind of go in reverse order...but here is our giant pile of donuts and donut holes once we were done.

Islwyn had to make some of the donuts himself.
Papa frying and Islwyn rolling the cooked donuts in spiced sugar.
Cooking donuts.
Islwyn sugaring his donut.
Islwyn showing off his "Italia" apron while waving the American flag.
Donuts ready to be fried.
More Islwyn.