A Grandmother’s Guide To Toddler Books – Part One

If you have been to a baby shower recently, you may have been asked to bring a book instead of a card with your gift. Hallmark may not be happy but new parents love this idea as a way to build their family library.

But shopping for children’s books can be overwhelming. There are so many great options – and some stinkers, too.

I thought I’d share with you some of the toddler books that have become my favorites after hours of reading to my little grandchildren, ages 2 months – 4 1/2 years old.

Sure, you can’t go wrong with the classics like “Goodnight Moon” or anything by Dr. Seuss but thinking outside that box, you might consider these gems.

(By the way, this post contains some affiliate links which means that if you buy something after clicking on the link, Amazon will send a few pennies my way. Then I will promptly send these pennies back to Amazon as I buy new books for the little ones.)

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Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry

Little Blue Truck

Little Blue Truck Leads the Way

These sweet books tell the tale of the Little Blue Truck who shows by example that kindness is best.

 

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama

The headliner in the Llama Llama series, this book is written in a melodic tempo which makes it a delight to read.

Caution, however, if you are reading this to a young one who is suffering from separation anxiety you might want to skip the page that says,

“Llama llama red pajama feels alone without his mama.”

Just a little word of advice. From experience.

 

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna

The Pout-Pout Fish

Featuring whimsical illustrations, The Pout-Pout Fish tells of a gloomy Gus who learns to turn his frown upside-down. The story is particularly riveting when the reader uses a different voice for each of the friends as my son does when reading to his twins.

Again, there are a number of “sequels” in the Pout-Pout series but you will want to read this one first.

 
Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin

Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type

Farmer Brown’s cows have some demands which they present to the farmer in the form of a typed letter. Negotiations go back and forth until – spoiler alert – the animals win.

 
The Gruffalo by Julie Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler

The Gruffalo

A tiny mouse uses bravery and quick thinking to outwit those who would like to have him (as in EAT him) for lunch.

 
Digger, Dozer, Dumper by Hope Vestergaard, illustrated by David Slonim

Digger Dozer Dumper

The important jobs of each digger, dozer, and dumper are described in a rhyme. Truck-obsessed children like the ones in our family will love this.

 

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market Street

This award-winning book first came to my attention when I saw it on a list of children’s books that encourage kindness to others.

CJ and his grandmother ride the bus across town together as they do every Sunday. Through their conversation along the way, Nana open’s CJ’s eyes to the goodness all around him.

The beautiful message and captivating illustrations won my heart immediately. And might have even brought a tear to my eye.

 

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Stay tuned for Part Two of my toddler book recommendations – more great stories that have earned the Momo seal of approval.

In the meantime, what are your favorite books for young children? I’m always looking for suggestions!

Thanks for stopping by,
Mo photo signature_zps14e6c366.png


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Women’s March Chicago – A Beautiful Day And A Beautiful Event

On Saturday, I participated in the Women’s March Chicago along with my husband, my sister-in-law and 250,000ish of our closest friends.

Women's March

Chicago has a, perhaps well deserved, reputation for bad Winter weather. Well, someone was looking out for us marchers because Saturday was an absolutely glorious day – sunny and 60+ degrees.

I heard one marcher say, “Today is the one day I’m ok with global warming.”

I’m sure they were kidding and they are NOT ok with global warming but it was nice to have a sunny day.

Our little, mighty band of marchers decided to stay in the city on Friday night to avoid traffic on Saturday morning.

We went down to the hotel’s Starbucks about an hour before the gates were going to open at the rally venue. Already the lobby and Starbucks were packed with pink hatted folks.

By the way, a giant shout-out of thanks to my fabulous daughter-in-law, Lily, for knitting hats for us so that we would be properly adorned.

As we left the hotel, we started to get a better sense of how many people were joining us.

Women's March Chicago Art Institute

Note that the bus is jam packed. We passed by an “L” stop and folks were just streaming out of the trains on onto the streets.

As recently as the beginning of last week, the Women’s March Chicago organizers were estimating 22,000 marchers based upon the number who had registered on Eventbrite.

On Thursday they sent out a notice that the number had jumped to 50,000 then 60,000.

As we walked down Michigan Avenue heading for the rally, there were people in the streets and on the sidewalk as far as you could see.

We looked at each other and said, “Toto, this is going to be WAY more than 60,000 people.”

Women's March Chicago entering the park

The organizers sent out a plea, asking all participants to stay off the grass at Grant Park since they would be responsible for the cost to repair any damage done. (The Cubs had to pay $388,000 for repairs after the World Series Champions rally in November.)

God bless all the cooperative midwesterners. We did stay off the grass.

WOmen's March Chicago stay off the grass

Even though we arrived at the rally over an hour before its scheduled start time, this was as close as we could get.

Women's Rally Chicago stage

The crowd continued to build. Not just an event for women, there were plenty of men showing their support, too. And lots of Cubs fans.

Women's March Chicago cubs fans

Soon the message started filtering through the crowd:

Rather than the expected 60,000 participants, the crowd is estimated to be 250,000. The park is completely full of people. All of the streets around us – Michigan Avenue, Columbus Drive, Jackson, Van Buren, and more – are shut down to traffic and flooded with people. The entire length of what was to be the march route is packed with sign carrying folks.

This is AMAZING!

Although the organizers said that officially the “march” part of the day was canceled you sure wouldn’t know it by the streams of people who peacefully walked through the closed streets of Chicago for hours.

women's march Chicago marching

Women's March Chicago people everywhere

Every participant had their reason for joining in on this event. While there certainly were a number of signs expressing dissatisfaction with our new President, overall the message of the day was one of strength, respect, sister (and brother) hood, and action.

And love for our country.

Women, men, families, grandparents, babies in strollers, lots and lots of little girls and boys, veterans, people from across the entire spectrum of our citizenry joined together.

The Women’s March Chicago was a beautiful, powerful, happy, uplifting and moving event and I am thrilled to have experienced it.

Women's March Chicago Kindness Counts

Why did I march?

Honestly, for me it was less about protesting the election results (although I’m pretty sure you know where I stand on that) and more about what kind of country and world I want for my children and grandchildren.

Women's March Chicago my sign

I marched because I believe in equal rights and respect for all people.

I marched because I realized that I need to be a better citizen; a more responsible and engaged citizen.

I need to be the change I want to see.

Thanks for stopping by,
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If I Were Invisible…

Hi. I’m Mo. You might remember me? I used to write a blog…

The days and weeks have flown by and I’ve missed being here.

My absence has been the result of many things including lots of (mostly good) activities but also, to be perfectly honest, a bit of post-election blues.

Although I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because they are usually kicked to the curb by Valentine’s Day, I realized that right now I need a resolution or, better yet, a mantra to get back into my Pollyanna groove.

“I will choose love over hate, happiness over anger, kindness over vengeance and action over idle complaints.”

I feel better already.

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Moving on…

If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ve heard me talk about Coach Daddy’s 6 Word Challenge.  Each month, Eli poses a question that participants must answer in exactly six words. It is a creatively challenging and sometimes maddening exercise in clever conciseness.

This month’s question: “If you could be invisible for a week, what would you do?”

Hmmm…

There are so many directions this could go.

Would I want to use this super power to get even with someone? To feather my pockets with ill-gotten gains? No, too mean and dishonest. (See mantra above.)

Perhaps I’d spend a week hanging out among lions or polar bears to soak in their beauty and majesty up close, without the fear of being eaten. Not a bad idea but, after all, isn’t that the job of the National Geographic Channel?

OOOO! How about this: I could park myself inside Buckingham Palace to see just what the Royals do all day. Oh sure, they have some duties to attend to as part of their ceremonial positions and then there’s the daily high tea, but other than that? I’d love to know.

With 188 staff bedrooms, the palace houses plenty of folks to do all the work around the place; surely that means the Royals have scads of free time on their hands. What do they do all day?

Do the Royals sit around watching “Ladies of London”, reading Hello! magazine or pinning items to their “Fascinating Fascinators” or “Recipes For The Downstairs Staff” boards on Pinterest?

If I were invisible, I could find out.

I guess I could also read a book about the Royals. I suppose that might answer my curiosity but certainly would be way less fun than roaming the halls in my invisibility cloak.

Alright, here’s a thought.

If I were invisible, maybe I could get myself a magic wand (if you are dreaming, dream big) and then maybe I could use that magic wand to go around doing anonymous good deeds.

Yes, that’s it.

My 6-word response to the question,”If you could be invisible for a week, what would you do?”:

Grant wishes with my magic wand.

Kind of like Ellen or Oprah without the zillions of dollars required to be a real-life fairy godmother.

Wouldn’t it be fun to perform random acts of kindness and get to see the surprise in the faces of the recipients without it seeming like you are just hanging around looking for a “thank you”?

To be able to catch a glimpse of the joy experienced by your target before reholstering your wand and invisibly moving on to the next “victim”?

No pats on the back, no newspaper headlines. Simply kindness for the sake of kindness.

Well, I’m not likely to come into possession of an invisibility cloak or magic wand anytime soon but I can do my best to spread light in the world through positive words and kind deeds.

Random acts of kindness, standing up for and protecting others, thwarting bullies wherever and whenever they surface, encouraging hope, always hope. I’d like these to be my superpowers.

I can think of no better way to clear the blues.

Make the world a better place

What about you? What would you do if you were invisible for a week? What would you want your superpowers to be? Do you ever wonder about the idle time of the Royals or is that just me?

By the way, do yourself a favor and spend some time visiting Coach Daddy’s site. You will be glad you did!

Thanks for stopping by,
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Pomegranate Mimosas and Corn Avocado Salsa

As you may know, my favorite recipes are those that are low effort, high impact.

Particularly during the holiday season, when we are busy making our lists and checking them twice, this kind of recipe can be the answer to the pot-luck holiday party challenge.

First up, Pomegranate Mimosas. Perfect for a ladies lunch or Christmas morning, this light and lovely beverage is a nice variation on the traditional champagne cocktail.

Pomegranate mimosas

Pomegranate Mimosas

  • 2 cups of pure pomegranate juice (like Pom Wonderful)
  • 1 cup of pulp-free orange juice
  • 1/2 cup of Cointreau (orange flavored liqueur)
  • Bottle of your favorite Champagne
  • Pomegranate arils for garnish

Mix together the first three ingredients. Be sure to keep this mixture and the Champagne ice-cold.

When you are ready to serve, sprinkle some pomegranate arils in the bottom of the Champagne glass (you can use a Champagne flute or beautiful vintage Champagne glasses as seen in the photo).

Pour some of the mixture and some champagne over the arils (I start with a 50/50 ratio then adjust based on people’s preferences) and enjoy!

I brought this to a luncheon at my pal Woody’s house which was beautifully decorated for the holidays complete with a Christmas village including this.

Christmas village W

Well done, Woody and Mr. Woody!

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Sometimes I think “healthy” and “delicious” are oxymorons when it comes to recipes. That is not the case, my friends, with this gem.

All credit for this low effort, high impact appetizer recipe goes to my friend, Clare.

Corn avocado salsa ingredients

Clare’s Corn Avocado Salsa

  • 3 Tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (be sure to use white balsamic or the finished product won’t be as pretty)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
  • 1 can of white corn, drained
  • 3 avocados, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup of onion (use a red onion is you like a little kick, or yellow onion if not)

Mix the first four ingredients then add to the bottom three ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips.

Pretty simple, eh?

The only tricky part of this recipe is keeping the chopped avocados from turning brownish. Clare recommends tossing the corn and onion then adding a little of the dressing as you add each avocado.

Be sure to put a tight seal of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dip to keep air away from the avocado until serving. But, honestly, this salsa will be gobbled up so fast the avocados won’t have time to transform.

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There you have it. A couple of easy-peasy recipes to share with friends and family. Cheers!

Thanks for stopping by,
Mo photo signature_zps14e6c366.png


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