5 Favourite Books From My Childhood

Share These Oldies But Goodies With Your Kids

5 Favourite Books From My Childhood

Uncovering a well-loved book from my childhood feels like finding a long-lost friend. No matter how many years have passed, an inexplicable affection remains. So, naturally I presume my kids will love these books the way I do. I admit, my feelings are kind of hurt when a favourite childhood book gets rejected. What do you mean, "boring!?"

Happily, I found some favourites that my kids love as much as I did (do). Joy! These books are just as awesome for them as they are for me. True classics that transcend time and place. Best part is I get to relive a piece of my childhood with my kids. Nothing lame about that.


1. Little Blue and Little Yellow 

A blue blob and yellow blob are best friends. They hug, and turn green. Trouble is, nobody in their families recognizes them. Whatever will they do? I can't explain it, but kids love this book. I never got the deeper message of racial harmony as a child, and I don't think my kids do either. There's just something about the drawings and the words.

2. The Story of Ferdinand

A strong bull is taken away and trained for the bullfights in Madrid. But Ferdinand just sits and smell the flowers. How I love this book! My kids didn't miss the message about staying true to yourself, despite the pressures around you.

3- Mister Men Series Mr. Bump walks into everything. How will he ever get by in life? Mr. Messy is a disaster. Will Mr. Neat and Mr. Tidy be able to change his ways? These books are adorable, and great for practicing reading skills.


4. Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue. (From the Nutshell Library.) 

No matter what his parents do or say, Pierre says, "I don't care." Until one day, a lion comes to eat him up. Written in rhyming verse, all the charming stories in this collection are memorable.

5. Corduroy

Nobody wants to buy a teddy bear who is missing a button on his overalls. What do sad little bears do after all the shoppers have gone? Will he ever find a true home? Kids love stories about stuffies who come to life. This sweet tale about friendship will resonate with anyone who has ever had a special stuffy.

Which favourite books from your childhood do you share with your kids?


Why I'm 40 And Still Studying For Finals

I Have A Final Exam. Tomorrow.

Why I'm 40 And Still Studying For Finals

When I tell people I'm studying for university finals, the response is often, "Why would you do that to yourself?"

Perhaps I do have a tinge of masochism in me, but the truth is I love everything about it: The studying, the stress, the commiseration with classmates. I didn't HAVE to go back to school. I WANTED to go back, and I feel very lucky and happy. Why? Because apparently at 40 my brain can still feel a sense of wonder. 

Full disclosure: I'm "pursuing" (preferred word to "doing") my Masters in Greek and Roman Studies. I'm studying dead languages, and ancient history and literature. Let's not pretend for a moment this is practical. It is, however, incredibly beautiful and stimulating. I love feeling a connection to texts that are over 2,000 years old. I love the Sudoku-like feeling I get after untangling and translating really complicated phrases. Wow, I'm a nerd.

If I'm having a stressful day, an intense hour at school helps me to refocus and relax. My time on campus and my time with books, students, and profs is for me. It's my own little world. My family has been very supportive, and I never tire of hearing my kids say, "Have a good day at school, Mom!" 

Unexpected discovery: Being around young students makes me appreciate being, ahem, OLDer. My classmates may not have crows' feet, but they also don't have cars, housing, money, or a stable relationship. Unlike my younger classmates, I don't have to justify my degree to anyone. Nobody ever asks me what I'm going to be when I grow up. I'm already an educator, a Mom, a wife. Funny enough, I find myself wondering where this degree will take me next. You never know.

p.s. Wish me luck on my final tomorrow!




How To Get Kids To Practice Their Instruments

5 Tips That Hit the Right Notes

How To Get Kids To Practice Their Instruments

Make music, not war. Is that too much to ask? Even talented kids who love music will put up a fight when it comes to practicing. I've been there myself (still playing piano after 36 years), and 9 years still driving my three children to lessons. That's a lot of accumulated blood, sweat, tears and wrong notes. The question is how to get kids to practice their instruments without losing your mind. 

You can use these tips and adjust them to the rhythm (haha) of your child's personality and schedule. Some of these tips come from my own experiences, and some come from the pens of experts. Just remember that this a longer journey. Be patient, because music doesn't happen overnight.

1. Create a musical home. Listen to a variety of music in your house. Go to performances together. Listen to your kids play, and then talk about their music. Talk with your kids about their favourite musicians, and how practice contributed to their success.

2. Record Them. Kids will be surprised to hear how far they have come over time. Also a great tool for self-correction and reflection.

3. Set Practice Goals, Not Time Goals. Many parents and kids fixate on practicing for "x" amount of time. I learned that it's often better to have shorter practices with specific objectives. Every practice session should be meaningful, and have a few set goals. Quality over quantity. Talk to the teacher for guidance. Eventually, kids become quite adept at determining goals for themselves. I have also found that when kids feel a sense of achievement, they will push themselves to practice longer.

4. Embrace Performance Opportunities. Great advice from Piano Lessons World! I would add that performances don't have to be formal recitals. My favourite performances happen spontaneously in our backyard, at dinner parties, and for visiting family members. Sometimes the audience consists entirely of stuffed animals! All types of performances can motivate kids to practice, and to take pride in their playing.

5. Stay positive and end practice with play. Here is some excellent advice from a parent and music teacher: “My 8 year old son started violin a year ago and for him the things that work best are making sure we are fairly consistent with practice (4 or 5 times a week), sitting next to him and staying positive and enthusiastic while he plays, making sure we don’t leave it too late in the day when he’s too tired and can get easily frustrated, and adding some fun melodies he recognizes into the mix. After we’ve gone over music from his lesson, we often end with an “open jam” session where he can play whatever and however he wants (ie., Shredding on the violin with Led Zeppelin strings cranked up high in the background!). If someone in the family can join in on an instrument, all the better…"

I hope these tips are music to your ears, and bring some harmony back to your routine!