The Snail and the Whale

January 19, 2015 at 12:51 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I used to do a Weekly Low Down on Kids Books.  Well, I used to pretend to do them, and really they were haphazard and sporadic at best, but sort of happened a few times a month at least.

I’m back.  I’m back with a mission to share all the marvelous books we’ve been reading.  Because, well, we have been reading more than we’ve let on.  I know, our silence is stifling.

P1000708Title: The Snail and the Whale

Author:Julia Donaldson

Illustrator: Axel Scheffler

I bought The Snail and the Whale on impulse.  I’ve been trying to do less of that lately, but it was too darn cute and the kiddo had been working on a snail painting.  Plus, I was feeling a little bit guilty over keeping Christmas as sparse as I was.

A few new picture books seemed a good addition to a Jake and the Neverland Pirate lego set (the third set to polish off the Jake collection); but we purposely are trying to keep Christmas gifting simple… “What you want, what you need, what you’ll wear, and what you’ll read.”  Accumulatively, we’d like for her to get no more than 4 presents from each category once all the grandparents have pitched in.  Ideally I’d keep it to four items total, but I’m practical and I know the family members won’t let that fly.

P1000654So she got the rest of her desired lego collection, a Frozen tiara and tambourine, socks, new boots, and a handful of new picture books.  There were some stocking stuffers and some other odds and ends – a geode science project for her school work, new paints, a painting apron, some canvases – and they were given to her in waves, not all at once on Christmas day.  It gave her time to enjoy each gift before getting overwhelmed with another.  We enjoyed it.  She was spoiled without being spoiled.  It felt like a nice simple holiday, yet kiddo managed to get everything she’d asked for.

Although The Snail and the Whale feels like a summer book – crossing oceans, travelling the world, visiting islands – we were excited to read it while cozied up in blankets and pjs.  I can’t wait to read it to her at the beach once it warms up, though.

P1000590

Working on her Snail painting, which has an actual shell glued to the canvas.

After reading this book for the second or third time, I finally asked kiddo, “So what are your thoughts?”

Kiddo, age four, says, “Other kids should read it, that’s my thought!  But how about we put it where people can’t find it. So no one can tear it up.”

I think she was missing the point of the conversation.  We started talking about the illustrations and what she thought.  She likes the pictures, but thinks they got the font “mixed up.”  I think the font is appropriately cute, but she’s learning to read and I think some of the swirly snail words were hard for her to recognize.

The book, however, is wonderful.  The rhymes are fun, the pictures are fun.  It’s all about adventure, having courage, and taking care of your friends.  It’s definitely a great gift book for any little one, no matter what season.

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Happy Homey Holidays

December 19, 2012 at 4:47 am (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , )

Silhouette

I am currently reading A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg, I thought it would be a nice holiday book that has nothing to do with the holidays.  Instead, it’s about the warmth of family and the joys of a well-used kitchen.  However, I’m not very far into it, and that’s not really what this post is about.

I adore homey, cozy things.  A thick homemade quilt, a pie, a dog, a cup of coffee, a good book (like the one mentioned above), these are all things that make my home feel like the kind of home I want people to remember.  A big part of my home, too, is Scentsy.

I adore Scentsy mostly because candles got way too expensive for how quickly I go through them, and a wickless candle lasts much, much longer.  There’s all the familiar smells: Hazelnut Latte, Baked Apple Pie, the usual suspects in my candle purchases, but instead of a $5 candle that lasts a few days, I can get a $5 bar of wax that lasts months.

I’m sharing this with you for several reasons:

1. It has truly helped me maintain an affordable good smelling home.  Glade plugins and candles were becoming way too much in this economy, and my house smelling good is too high of a priority (for me with 3 dogs and a kid) to just stop buying those kinds of things that help me feel relaxed.  Although those old school gel cones from Wally World are awesome, I also like being able to have my things out in sight of visitors, something that produces ambiance.

2. It is Christmas and they make great gifts.  Order online and get it shipped straight to the intended person.

3. Money is much tighter than usual, and being a stay at home Mom/ part time Event Coordinator/ Writer/ Scentsy Consultant /Kung Fu Instructor without a solid and dependable source of income of my own, I could really use the cash.  Ha! There, I said it, this post is in part a ploy to get you to open your wallet.

So all pride aside, I present in a link  My Scentsy Site and offer a heartfelt thank you to my followers for reading my blog, whether you are a Scentsy shopper or not, I truly appreciate you all and hope you’ll forgive my groveling.

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Dickens on the Strand is Coming Up!

November 24, 2012 at 2:54 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Do you have tickets yet?  If not, win some at Half Price Books in Humble!

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Falling Back with Scentsy

September 20, 2012 at 9:35 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

It is a bit silly that during the time of the year when money is the tightest for my family, I feel highly unmotivated to push my Scentsy products.  Mostly because I have few summer scents that inspire me.  Just Breathe is heavenly and Pixie and Cerise are both a bit like crack in that you start sniffing them and you just can’t stop.  But for the rest, eh, they aren’t my cup of tea.

Fall and Winter on the other hand is divine.  So divine, in fact, that before last year’s Fall/Winter catalogue expired, I found myself stocking up on Honey Pear Cider bars and Cozy Fireside room sprays.  As my best friend will tell you, ‘the house always smells like cinnamon and food.’

Well, now they are back.  Caramel Pear Crisp, Clove and Cinnamon, Cinnamon Pear.  Check out the catalog: https://akklemm.scentsy.us/Scentsy/Browse

I am a little sad that last year’s December Scent of the Month did not return (Comfort and Joy), I uncharacteristically adored it and warmed in 24-7 until I was all out.  For some reason a lot of people thought it smelled like soap.  I thought it smelled like a clean Christmas morning.

With or Without Comfort and Joy this season, know that the Scentsy pairings will be back for fall.  I’ve been warming Weathered Leather for almost every book I’ve read this summer, but it will soon change!  Expect to know what smells are tickling my nose.

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The Mother’s Day Post

May 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm (Events, In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world at various times in Spring to, obviously, honor one’s mother.  In the United States, Anna Jarvis founded the day we know now that is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, in 1908.  By 1914 it was made a National Holiday.  By Jarvis’ death, she was renouncing her own holiday as having become too commercialized.

It is too commercialized.  But, who wants to abolish a holiday that celebrates ones mom? No one. Its not like Valentines when you can commit to showing your partner you love them every day of the year.  A lot of children (especially adults) don’t live anywhere near their mothers, and this is a good day to (of all days) let them know that you’re still thinking of them even from afar.

My proposal? Untraditional gifts.  Token mother’s day gifts come in the form of Hallmark Cards and flowers.  That’s all well and good, and if your mother loves those things, by all means, get them for her.  But get her something more as well.

Always, I’m a fan of books, afterall I write a book blog.  There’s always something special to be found at a bookstore.  Whether its the latest and greatest of a beloved series, a funny gift book, a sappy gift book, a history book on a topic of interest that you both share, music, movies, or just a gift card so she can go have some time to herself and pick out something of her own choosing, there’s something for everyone at a bookstore.

For Dads helping small children, a newer (but not too new) overlooked title is Tomie DePaola’s My Mother Is So Smart. DePaola has been an award winning children’s author for years, but even I didn’t know this 2010 publication existed until I stumbled across in the library the other day.  Its beautiful, as are all his books, and celebrates the love and awe he had for his mother as a child.  Its sweet, and perfect for a young mother to read to her toddler… although I did notice how many things I’ve neglected to master as a mom, like the perfect cookie recipe, and the uncanny ability to always know why my child is crying.

Great Gift #2: I dream of having a cleaning service come through my house once a year.  I keep a fairly clean house.  I actually enjoy cleaning, when I find the time and energy to clean up blocks and toys that have been strewn everywhere for the 300th time that day.  But the idea of having a cleaning crew come in every Spring and scrub my base boards, toilets, showers, and maybe also have my AC ducts cleaned out – that would be the BEST mother’s day gift EVER. (Aside from someone purchasing and installing all my hardwood floors over night without any assistance from me… that would be even better, but a little less practical as a mother’s day gift.)  If this awesome treat proved unobtainable, I might settle for lawn fairies to come weed my gardens in the middle of the night.

Shop AKKlemm.scentsy.us

Great Gift #3: After books and a laziness enabler, I choose  Scentsy products.  I love candles and fabulous smells, but the wickless candle deal with mood lighting has proven to be the best choice when a toddler is running all over the place.  When (I say when NOT if) your kid decides to lather themselves in hot candle wax and try to put every blessed thing you own under wax treatment, you want it to be low heat, no flame, I promise.  My favorite spring scents available this year are Pixie and Cerise.  The Just Breathe is also quite excellent and one of my year round favorites of all time.  But you know your Mom and/or Wife, get what she likes.

Great Gift #4: Reloadable Starbucks gift cards.  Who doesn’t practically live at Starbucks, or would if they could?  Its become an American staple.  Cliche, over-rated, over-priced, I agree, but hey, its pretty darn good coffee available on every street corner, I’ll take it.  The reloadable gift cards are pretty sweet.  Reload them a few times and you are an upgraded customer with free birthday drinks, free syrup add ons, free cups of coffee with your bean purchases, the list goes on.  Buy the mother in your life a gift card and take the time to reload it for her a few times before the year is up and BAM! she is one happy caffeined lady.

Whatever you do, be sure to enjoy the day.  Sundays should be lovely days anyway, but I hope one day Ayla will love to spend a lazy Sunday with me, reading, having coffee, or maybe picnicing in the sun if the weather is nice.

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books 4/17/12

April 17, 2012 at 11:46 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

11 Experiments That Failed Deemed Awesome

“That was great! It was hilarious.  It reminded me of myself.  People should read it because its really, really, really funny.  Its not really a story, its more about things you shouldn’t do at home,” my eleven year old niece, Ashleigh Raine, says as she finishes 11 Experiments That Failed by Jenny Offill and Nancy Carpenter.

I brought a stack of library books with me to my sister’s house to watch five of her six children, along with my own kid, while they rushed Alexandrea (the 3rd in line) to the ER for a broken arm (compliments of the fabulous climbing tree in their backyard).  After completing their chores, the kids got to sit down to a few episodes of Transformers, and then it was off to nap, rest, and reading time according to their respective ages.

The youngest asleep upstairs, the two eldest bee-line for the bag of books from the library – new books, ones they don’t see every day, like most kids in a toy store their eyes light up with glee.

I talk to Ashleigh about whether I can quote her in my blog, and as we discuss the book Ethan Blaise, age nine, asks about an illustration on an open page.  “What is that kid doing?”

“You should read it,” Ashleigh pushes the book across the carpet to him.  Ethan immediately stretches out, belly down, on the floor, kicking his feet while audibly snickering throughout the book.

While Ethan reads, he intermittenly laughs aloud while Ashleigh reads over his shoulder, distracted from the book she picked up to read second, apparently she would rather re-read 11ETF with her brother.

“You think its funny too?” she asks him.

“Yeah,” he grins, smacks his gum, and continues to flip through the pages while laughing and reading the best parts aloud.

When he finishes he tells me, “This one is funny!”

“Is it the most hilarious book you’ve ever read?” Ashleigh asks him.

“Yes, it is the funniest book I’ve ever read.  ‘What you need is a message, a toilet, a bottle…’ ” This last bit I assume is a quote from the book as the two continue to quote the book from memory for about ten to fifteen minutes before they remember they are now hungry and flee to the kitchen to raid the pantry for crackers.

I initially checked this book out to read to Ayla, but I haven’t got around to it yet.  I am posting this review solely on the reactions of my niece and nephews recommendation.  If you are shopping for nine to eleven year olds, I think you’ll have a winner.

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Gift Ideas for the Masses

November 30, 2009 at 8:02 pm (The Whim) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Half Price Books has these fabulous little polar bear reuseable bags for $1.98 and all these cool odds and ends (like cards and calendars) to go with them.  My idea: buy the bag and stuff it with goodies and put a big matching bow on the top.  You’ll probably save lots of money (only buy one bag per person on your list) and you wont have to wrap a thing.

What I plan to do with the bags I buy (shhh, don’t tell my friends and family – good thing they don’t read this!):

Find a book at Half Price that you think they might enjoy, its Half Price – so it wont cost you much!  Find a movie to match the theme of the book.  Ie: if you buy them a copy of Atonement by Ian McEwan, buy them the movie with Kiera Knightley as well!; if you buy them a Civil War Coffee Table book, get them a documentary too!   For kids, maybe get books that have Polar Bears in the story or on the cover: Pullman’s The Golden Compass series and maybe the movie to go with.  Obviously, there’s still space in these reuseable bags.  Bake some cookies, fudge, or candies (don’t know how, I bet Half Price or Amazon has a book on that too!).  You might also want to add a small bit of artwork from Bryan Collins, he has small easily frameable prints for sale at bryandrinkscoffee.com.  This will make these gift bags more personalized and family friendly – and you’ll still save lots!

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