Current Favorite Reads for Toddlers

Every week we take a trip to the library in order for Max to pick out new books. It is a nice weekly ritual we have.  I usually ask him if there is a book he wants to get but then I usually pick out a few that I think he will enjoy. We have read our far share of books about trucks, construction sites, and dinosaurs. I also think we have read every Curious George book out there. Lately I have been trying to branch out and expose Max to some new books. Here are some of his current favorites.

The Napping House by Don & Audrey Wood
I think we all are thankful when our house becomes a napping house. In this silly story the entire house is napping, snoozing, slumbering, dozing, snoring all in one bed. They each fall asleep one on top of another one at a time.  Suddenly a wakeful flea sets off a cascade of events which causes each napper to wake up. A repetitive & rhythmic book with descriptive pictures making it an enjoyable read for all.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen
This repetitive tale is one of Max’s favorite. A family decides to head off on a bear hunt. “They are not scared”. They travel through grass, mud, a river, a forest, a snowstorm, all of which make interesting sounds. Finally the family comes to a cave where they do find a bear! The bear chases them and they have to travel back through all the terrain they encountered on the trip to the cave. When they finally make it home they decide bear hunts are not for them and hide under their covers.

Flip Flap Fly by Phyllis Root
This rhyming story follows different baby animals in their habitat. A bird sees a a fish who sees snake who sees a otter who sees a duck who sees a mouse who sees a child. The child sees that there are babies everywhere in nature. Each animal learns to move with the help of their mama. It is a fun book to read and has some silly words. Max loves that the snake says “wiggle with a squiggle”. There are beautiful illustrations as well.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
These books are part of series they Max loves. In this story the mouse is given a cookie and then asks for a glass of milk. This first request causes the mouse to ask or think of something else.  Then with each sequential item the mouse is given he tangentially asks for something else. In the end needs a glass of milk and of course wants a cookie to go with it. We also have read If You Give a Cat a Cupcake and If You Give a Mouse a Muffin. They are all big hits!

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Gilles Andreae
Gerald is a self conscious giraffe who believes he cannot dance. His fears are realized when he is called weird at the jungle dance. Gerald is embarrassed and leaves the dance only to be confronted by a cricket. It turns out Gerald is a beautiful dancer who simply needed to find the right music. Another rhyming book that has you cheering on Gerald as all the animals come to see him dance.

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Current Favorite Reads for Toddlers

Lenten Digital Detox: How to Simplify?

For Lent this year I decided to take part in a form of digital detox. I was convicted about how much time I was on my phone and the amount of time I was wasting by checking it needlessly.  I felt that by creating boundaries for my phone usage I would be more present, less distracted, and more productive. Here were the guidelines I created and how they made life simpler.

  1. In Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home one valuable tip they recommended was only checking your email three times a day.  Pick three times that are convenient and make sense for you to check your email.  For me it was in the morning when I first get up, in the afternoon when both kids are napping, and in the evening after we put the kids to bed.
  2. Think about the amount of emails you receive and unsubscribe to emails you do not want to receive or are not essential.  Not receiving them is simply easier than deleting them daily. For me I thought about: Have I ever ordered something online from this store?  Can I receive this information somewhere else if I need it? How did I even start getting these emails? The first day I unsubscribed or changed my email preferences to over 30 different sites. I realized there were some stores I never shopped at or emails that I never requested getting.  By unsubscribing it has saved me time since now I do not have to sort through as many emails a day and it has significantly decluttered my inbox.
  3. Respond to emails as soon as they come in. With less clutter in my inbox and more time I try to respond to emails that require a response either that day or the next day. I often do this during the afternoon while my kids are napping and I have the most time. I used to often put off responding because I thought I did not have the time and then I would forget about them.
  4. Check social media once a day. There are wonderful things about Facebook, Instagram, bloglovin’, Pinterest. They can be extremely useful tools and offer great resources. That being said they can simply be a time theif.  I thought this would be much harder than it was. It was much easy than I thought and it was nice to have some down time in the evening to look through it all. You really are not missing anything by not checking this every 5 minutes and your the picture of your friend’s kid trying a new food or your coworker’s vacation pictures will still be there.

Put down your phone. Enjoy time with people and have a happy Easter!

Lenten Digital Detox: How to Simplify?

Make Your Own: Basic Tomato Sauce

I recently posted simple steps to change the way you eat where I encouraged you to begin to stop buying and start making some items on your own.  I wanted to start with this super easy and versatile tomato sauce. We love Italian food but my husband and I never found a tomato sauce we both liked.  Being fifty percent Italian myself I thought I should simply make my own.  Recently I discovered that some tomato sauce may not even be made from tomatoes but from a concentrate made up of water and tomato paste.  Other sauces are high in sugar, up to 8 to 9 grams per serving. Being fifty percent Italian myself I thought I should simply try my own.  Not only is it healthier but it tastes so much better.  I trusted another Italian girl and chose this recipe from Giada. It is not only delicious but it is so easy to make and freezes wonderfully. I added ground beef to this batch because I was making a sauce for a ziti.  If you do not have time to make your own I would recommend picking up at can of Rao’s.

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Ingredients
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
4 to 6 basil leaves
2 dried bay leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Directions

In a large casserole pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, and bay leaves and simmer covered on low heat for 1 hour or until thick. Remove bay leaves and check for seasoning. If sauce still tastes acidic, add unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon at a time to round out the flavors.

Add half the tomato sauce into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Continue with remaining tomato sauce.

If not using all the sauce, allow it to cool completely and pour 1 to 2 cup portions into freezer plastic bags. This will freeze up to 6 months.

Make Your Own: Basic Tomato Sauce