As The Mommy doesn’t get home until 7 during the week, dinner has always been a challenge for us. At least once a month we announce that we are going to try and eat at home more and then I put that idea in the bin marked unused good intentions. However, now that LTD is old enough to ‘help’ us cook. I have turned to Lynn Fredericks and Mercedes Sanchez’s Get Your Family Eating Right. The book centers around the goals of not only cooking at home, but using fresh ingredients and including the whole family in the process. I know what you’re thinking, Yeah Right. However, the book includes time saving tips and task ideas by age range. Each recipe offers steps for both the adult and child. Another focus is on meal planning which is an area that I spend a lot of time saying the words ‘I should’ instead of ‘I do.’ I guess now I have no more excuses as to why I keep eating ice cream for dinner.
(Makes 10 tasting portions)
1 14-ounce can black beans
1 14-ounce can corn
1 medium red onion
2 plum tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 ripe mango
1 bunch cilantro
3 ounces pineapple
juice or to taste
Kosher salt to taste.
1. Carefully open the cans (adults discard the
lids as they are very sharp). Strain the beans
and corn in a colander and rinse well. Place
them in a large mixing bowl.
2. Dice the onion, tomatoes, red pepper and
mango. Transfer diced ingredients to the
3. Next have kids clean and dry the herbs,
pluck off the cilantro leaves from their stems,
tear them up and add them to the mixing
bowl. Now squeeze the limes into a measuring
cup or right into the bowl. Make sure to
get every bit of juice squeezed out — or use
4. When the diced ingredients have been
added along with the lime juice and cilantro,
add the pineapple juice to taste, with kids
mixing well with wooden spoons. Add salt to
taste, seasoning with more salt and drops of
pineapple juice as necessary.
When I was a kid it seemed like the classic fairy tales were all the rage and I am hard pressed to remember that many stories that weren’t little red riding hood related. However, LTD’s generation is what The Mommy calls Digital Natives and they have the world at their finger tips. In other words besides a few of the big ones (Snow White and Goldilocks) I don’t think LTD knows anything about the classics. The compilation, Fairy Tale Comics is edited by Nursery Rhyme Comics’ Chris Duffy and features a mix of 17 tales ranging from beloved standards and less known adventures. For every Hansel and Gretel you’ll find a The Prince and the Tortoise. Each tale is adapted by a different author/artist but my favorite is Give me the Shudders by David Mazzucchelli for the simple reason that he drew Daredevil: Born Again and Batman: Year One. The collection is probably not for really young ones, but definitely worth a look if you are searching for material left of Disney’s center.
Now that LTD is beginning to read one of the words he can spell and read, is appropriately enough, his name. Personalized books always make a nice gift, usually from a grandparent, but when the little ones begin to read it makes things a little cooler. Flattenme has a ton of personalized gifts from wall art, cards and t-shirts and of course books. In addition to books with names in them you can get one with photos. The book featuring your child’s name is called, OWL Always Love You and works best at bedtime as the story and tone is suited to a relaxing sleepy mood. If you want to move past names to pictures the photo books feature a range of choices including story-lines centering on superheroes, pirates or fairies. However, the photo book about the potty may not be suitable for all temperaments. Flattenme also provides what I consider grandparent gifts of t-shirts, water bottles and posters. But the real benefit of the site is that you can say they ‘flattened me.’
Thanks to the wonders of DVR LTD has never watched a commercial and he has also never seen the news. With all the bad stuff that has happened in the last few years the family has been able to deal with it on our own terms without the 24 hour news cyclone screaming in our faces. When LTD was talking a lot about death we turned to Leo Buscaglia’s The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, but after events like Hurricane Sandy it was nice to be able to use Alvaro F. Villa’s Flood. The interesting thing about this book is that we didn’t read it to LTD we ‘read’ it together because it is a wordless story. The narrative told through powerful pictures shows one family’s struggle dealing with a major flood. The family has to leave their home when a powerful storm sets in and deal with thoughts of what that they will find when they go back home. However, ultimately the story offers hope and optimism. By asking the question, what do the pictures show? The adult can gauge the child’s level of comprehension and begin the discussion tailored to his or her development. Plus you can’t go wrong that when you buy Flood the purchase supports Save the Children’s Domestic Emergency Fund.
Summer time allows our thoughts to turn to the beach and the beach means the ocean. I give you 2013’s sea creature book Shimmer & Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life by Jim Arnosky. For some reason it seems LTD digs sea creatures more than land animals and we all know BB’s feelings about octopi. Shimmer & Splash honors the big wide open ocean by having not only big splash pages of animals like Dolphins swimming and jumping, but it features pullout spreads of sharks and game fish. Of course this comes with a word of warning that pullout pages can easily be destroyed if they fall into the wrong hands. In addition to the sea life swimming off the page the words are filled with cool facts and descriptions of the different sea creatures. But at the end of the day you can never go wrong with a drawing of a Great White Shark’s tooth at actual size. Shimmer & Splash could just as easily be a coffee table book instead of a children’s book since the art is expertly painted.
Let’s Hear it For Almigal is the story of a little girl with cochlear implants that isn’t just for families of kids with hearing loss. Written by Wendy Kupfer, whose daughter was born with profound hearing loss and illustrated by Tammie Lyon, the tale deals with Almigal’s struggle and sadness over not being able to hear every day childhood sounds. However, the big sound she wants to hear is that of her parents telling her they love her. The book’s message celebrates differences among all children and the power of friendship. An important safety point is also brought up when dealing with not getting the implant wet. While the book focuses on cochlear implants the narrative isn’t preachy and LTD dug it because anything that even comes remotely close to being about robots make him go nuts with joy.
5% of sales from Let’s Hear it for Almigal are donated to organizations that support children with hearing loss and their families.
• The Center for Hearing and Communication finds that about 3 million children in the U.S. have a hearing loss, with 1.3 million of them being under the age of 3.
• According to ASHA more than twenty-one million infants, children, and adults in America suffer from some degree of hearing loss in one or both ears.
• According to the CDC the earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential.
When you got two kids at home the so-called rainy day blues can reek havoc on a tired family. Knowing that indoor activities that don’t involve a screen are in prime demand and that LTD enjoys art we turn to crafts that he can either do or help with. Long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know that the little guy has fallen for Star Wars and is a proud member of the Rebel Alliance so with that in mind DK’s Star Wars Mega Models takes care of what to do when you need a craft project and your kid’s love of Lightsabers. The book includes four punch-out models to build without glue or tape. The models are a TIE fighter, Yoda, a Lightsaber and Boba Fett’s helmet. Of course for sheer awesomeness nothing beats Boba Fett, but the TIE fighter is the coolest to make. The book includes a little background info on the subjects if you can get your kids to listen before tearing into the projects. Which brings me to a word of caution if you don’t want these bad boys to rip you have to either be careful or if you are like me and LTD get The Mommy to tear them out.
This morning LTD announced that he wanted to be a doctor when he grows up. This is curious because last week he wanted to be an astronaut. One of his interests (when he isn’t running around naked) is space with a concentration on the planets. Professor Jim Bell’s new tome, The Space Book: From the Beginning to the End of Time, 250 Milestones in the History of Space & Astronomy features planets and so much more. The heavy book is presented in chronological order starting with the Big Bang in 1.37 Billion BCE and goes up to the near future. Each spread opens with the event and explanation on the left and a bright amazing photo on the right. Scientists and astronomers are highlighted with their achievements but the real magic is in the awesome photos of spiral galaxies, Quasars and Uranus (come on that’s potty mouth). The text is way above LTD’s clearance level, but it’s cool for me to understand so that I can simplify it for him. Or to be more accurate for him to some day read it and explain it to me.
After having watched many many trailers and spots for this summer’s Man of Steel I keep having a debate with myself about whether I can take LTD. Sadly, I think it is just a little too scary for him cause when you have a guy like Michael Shannon playing Zod then you know things are hardcore. However, since Superman will be everywhere this summer I want the boy to be able to know what he is talking about. Daniel Wallace’s Superman: The Ultimate Guide to the Man of Steel is just such bible. While the words are above LTD’s paygrade, there are so many awesome splash pages that he doesn’t care that he can’t spell Krypton. The Superbook covers our hero from Supes to Nuts (if you count Lex Luthor as a nut) highlighting milestones from his 75 year run in the comics. While the art of the Golden Age has that awesome classic look I love the modern depictions especially when the artists go for that Christopher Reeve homage. But I know what you’re thinking; does it include the classic fight with Muhammad Ali? And the answer is, of course it does.
As a child of the seventies I enjoyed many of the vegetable of that decades cultural stew. In the book department (when not watching Chips) were the Serendipity books. Stephen Cosgrove and Robin James’ series about animals and made up creatures that teach a moral lesson. And while Wheedle on the Needle has a special place in my heart 1976’s Bangalee will always take top honors on my favorites list. The story revolves around the messy Kritters who make Pigpen look like an Purell ad. Of course every Kritter is a total slob except Bangalee who some would say has obsessive compulsive disorder. The other Kritters make fun of him but he knows that nothing good every came out of chaos and preaches clean living. The big garbage eating monster known as the Grunk comes to Kritter castle in the story’s second act conflict. I won’t spoil the ending but it is fair to say that some people learn an important lesson, a lesson that is easily relatable for parents and kids.