November 20, 2014

Distraction: A Parent's Best Friend?

Distraction. A Good thing?

For many of us that like to attempt multi-tasking everything and running around trying to do too much, distraction may not be a good thing. We need to prioritize and know what is most important so we can stay on track doing what matters most and not trying to keep up with everything someone else thinks we should be doing.

And yet, I stick with my title of this post. Why?

My husband actually mentioned this tonight while struggling to feed our kids. And I thought..."that's my next post." So let's look at "distraction" from another perspective....

  • Dilemna: My two-year old child is trying to climb up the hutch in the kitchen because she sees her big brother on top (put there by Dad for fun---that's another story). Little girl can't get up: throwing tantrum. (I'm thinking: "Not safe...no way are you getting up there girl! Not going to happen.)
  • Distraction: "Nellie want to wrestle/dance with Dad?" --Boom! and she's off to the living room, delighted with a new quest she can conquer!
  • Dilemna: My four year old will not eat his dinner and he's too tired to focus on eating (don't even get me started...bane of my existence!). (I'm thinking: "You will eat what I made you. Dang it. It's not moldy. Won't make you sick. So please...just eat it! Now.")
  • Distraction: "You're growing dragon scales! Woah!" Those peas must be making you turn into a dragon! Crazy!" *giggles from said four year old. Followed by serious pea-popping and more giggles. "Am I growing wings?"*

These are the moments we face daily: Struggles and discipline? Or trips of fantasy and adventure into a world of your/their own creation? Excitement, enthusiasm and joy fill their little minds....

So, I admit, I feel extremely left-brained at times; but I have to say that homeschooling is sure good at making me step out of my left-brained world and more fully accept a creative and fun approach to life and learning with my kids. I still yell and get annoyed more than I should at kids' imperfections, but I'm getting better at understanding their limits (mentally especially). Kids need things simple and direct, without baggage and blame. They need rules, but not guilt. They feel consequences...without too much explanation. We as moms are guides: placing good examples in their path and helping them see true principles and feel the beauty and meaning of them in their own time and way. The children will draw their own conclusions when they are ready.

So, one thing to help provide our kids with distractions is awareness: What does your child love? What do they need? How do they feel? Do they feel loved? (Are we paying attention to our kids on a deeper level? Are we holding them and telling them we love them? Do they feel they are special and know their real worth?)

Love and gratitude are the two most important things in the world (if you haven't heard of the rice experiement, try it out. Love and gratitude are powerful words/feelings). I view them as being first, that which is given/received; followed by second, the mirroring of that which was given/received. So combined, love and gratitude come full-circle into a complete fullness of feeling. If we are without one, most likely we aren't experiencing either to the full extent possible.

That said; one thing I detest is whining. Can't stand it. Will not tolerate it in my house. And Ethan knows it. Drives me up the wall! I'm serious. I don't know why my whine-tolerance levels are completely whack; but I hate, hate, hate whining with a passion (can you tell?).

So, Ethan knows that whining will not get him anything but an angry mom. And this angry mom yells when pushed to "strike three." (which I'm working on) He also knows that whining is not being grateful. And being grateful is a huge focus at our house! (I'm still meaning to make a wall-hanging on wood that says something about love and gratitude...but my crafty-intelligence hasn't completely caught up with that thought yet. Alas.)

I try to teach principles, and then discipline according to such rules; but sometimes kids just need distraction if they aren't "getting it." So when we come across whining in our day and principles/logic just aren't working, I will use distraction/creativity....
  • Dilemna: "I want juice!" (I'm thinking: "No you can't drink sugar junk all day, you already hyper monster!"
  • Distraction: "This magic bottle is a laughing potion. It starts with a smile and gets bigger and bigger until..." *then giggles start and we sit and eat lunch together talking about potions and Elsa in Frozen or something (everything goes back to that movie right now)."

So, why am I rambling about this? Well, it has been very handy for my own kids and also helped me be more patient with others' kids who may be low on the gratitude spectrum. And it's sure better for me too, when I'm trying to figure out how best to cope with annoying and imperfect little behaviors. Afterall, I am a mom of soon-to-be three. So I better learn coping mechanisms for my own sanity. And I think an adventure-beyond-reality is a good way to go for the kid in all of us. I need to laugh things off (like a pressure cooker with a release valve. Don't let it stick too tight--in reality and explanations--but let a little imagination keep the valve a-bouncin'. Then pressure and stress can dissipate).


(btw....I write all these posts because I need them for myself. So if anyone is getting value from them--fabulous!. If not...I don't really care, because they really are for me anyway. :) So don't judge me too harshly for them. They are mine. And I'm just a mom trying to get my thoughts and feelings out for my own sanity. And lucky you (or unlucky) are privy to the intricate workings of my mind.

November 16, 2014

How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci

I have been glimpsing through this interesting book by Michael Gelb who studied Leonardo Davinci's writings and found 7 key principles behind what made Davinci the genius he was. Below is his list. 


Davinci's 7 Keys to Genius
  1. Curiosità: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  2. Dimostrazione: A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  3. Sensazione: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  4. Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  5. Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-brain” thinking.
  6. Corporalitá: The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  7. Connessione: A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

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*Which one of these seven habits can you work on this month???
Want to have ideas of how....try some of the self-assessments and activities from his book. The book has been outlined in an interactive online mind-map so you can find which you are interested in. Mind mapping is awesome! Click on the link above to try the mind map.

*Paul and I did the Curiosity 1st activity that is to jot down 100 questions that come to your mind as fast as you can. Then you go through them and find what common themes are. And narrow down your ten most important questions. IT was a fun activity.



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Here are the assessments from the book for each of the seven points.
Curiosita
ü  I keep a journal or notebook to record my insights and questions
ü  I take adequate time for contemplation and reflection
ü  I am always learning something new
ü  When I am faced with an important decision, I actively seek our different perspectives
ü  I am a voracious reader
ü  I learn from little children
ü  I am skilled at identifying and solving problems
ü  My friends would describe me as open-minded and curious
ü  When I hear or read a new word or phrase I look it up and make note of it
ü  I know a lot about other cultures and am always learning more
ü  I know or am involved in learning a language other than my native tongue
ü  I solicit feedback from my friends and relations and colleagues
ü  I love learning

Dimostrazione
ü  I am willing to acknowledge my mistakes
ü  My closest friends would agree that I am willing to acknowledge my mistakes
ü  I learn from my mistakes and rarely make the same one twice
ü  I question “conventional wisdom” and authority
ü  When a celebrity I admire endorses a product, I am more likely to buy it
ü  I can articulate my most fundamental beliefs and the reasons I hold them
ü  I have changed a deeply held belief because of practical experience
ü  I persevere in the face of obstacles
ü  I view adversity as an opportunity for growth
ü  I am sometimes susceptible to superstition
ü  In considering new ideas my friends say that I’m: a)gullible/”new-agey”, b) close-minded cynic, or c) open-minded skeptic

Sensazione
ü  I am sensitive to color harmonies and clashes
ü  I know the color of all my friends’ eyes
ü  I look out into the far horizon and up to the sky at least once a day
ü  I am good at describing a scene in detail
ü  I like doodling and drawing
ü  Friends would describe me as alert
ü  I am sensitive to subtle changes in lighting
ü  I can picture things clearly in my mind’s eye

Sfumato
ü  I am comfortable with ambiguity
ü  I am attuned to the rhythms of my intuition
ü  I thrive with change
ü  I see humor in everyday life
ü  I have a tendency to “jump to conclusions”
ü  I enjoy riddles, puzzles and puns
ü  I usually know when I’m feeling anxious
ü  I spend sufficient time on my own
ü  I trust my gut
ü  I can comfortably hold contradictory ideas in my mind
ü  I delight in paradox and am sensitive to irony
ü  I appreciate the importance of conflict in inspiring creativity

Arte/Scienza
ü  I like details
ü  I am almost always on time
ü  I am skilled at math
ü  I rely on logic
ü  I write clearly
ü  Friends describe me as very articulate
ü  Analysis is one of my strengths
ü  I am organized and disciplined
ü  I like lists
ü  I read a book starting at page one and go through in order

ü  I am highly imaginative
ü  I am good at brainstorming
ü  I often say or do the unexpected
ü  I love to doodle
ü  I am better at geometry than algebra
ü  I read a book by skipping around
ü  I prefer to look at the big picture ad leave details to someone else
ü  I often lose track of time
ü  I rely on intuition

Corporalita
ü  I am aerobically fit
ü  I am getting stronger
ü  My flexibility is improving
ü  I know when my body is tense or relaxed
ü  I am knowledgable about diet and nutrition
ü  Friends would describe me as graceful
ü  I am becoming more ambidextrous
ü  I am aware of the ways in which my physical astate affects my attitudes
ü  I have a good understanding of practical anatomy
ü  I am well coordinated
ü  I love to move

Connessione
ü  I am ecologically aware
ü  UI enjoy similies, analogies and metaphor
ü  I frequently make connections that others don’t see
ü  When I travel I am struck more by people’s similarities than their differences
ü  I seek a holistic approach to diet, health and healing
ü  I have a well-developed sense of proportion
ü  I can articulate the systems dynamics—the patterns, connections, and networks—in my family and workplace
ü  My life goals and priorities are formulated clearly and integrated with my values and sense of purpose
ü  I sometimes experience a sense of connectedness with all Creation




Celebrating Motherhood: My Blessing Way

Have you ever heard of a Blessing  Way? It's like a baby shower, but instead of just celebrating baby and getting baby gift stuff, this is more a celebration of motherhood and has a feel of traditions and respect. Apparently it has Native American roots and many other cultures and traditions mixed in. (who could resist a fun new experience merging lots of cultures...Not me!)

I'd heard about it from my friend Rachel, so I asked her to throw me a little one with a few close friends that like holistic and interesting new experiences. :) And it was so fun! I highly suggest it if you like that stuff.

I think that it's so easy to get caught up in preparations for baby and craziness, that it takes extra effort to remember that mom is important and the birthing experience is about the journey and feeling...not just the outcome.

So here's what we did....

We had candles lit and nice music playing and when we got there (I did it with another friend who's  due a month after me) Rachel put a laurel wreath on our heads with flowers. We chatted and ate healthier version treats and wassail. Everyone had found a favorite quote, saying, poem (Emily wrote a beautiful one I'll post at the end of this) about motherhood to share in their turn and express what motherhood means to each of us. Then I played a "tribute" on my native american flute (i just got at the farmer's market a month or so ago--which I love and feel like a little flute player, though not amazing at it yet).

After that we picked a rock from the basket and wrote something on it to remind us of motherhood that we can place in our room after baby comes. I wrote "beautiful" and "honor" on mine, to remember to 1. find the beauty in each moment of this pregnancy and birth and to 2. honor the experience of giving birth and becoming a mother once again to a new little soul. :)

Then we did henna painting and such (on the belly or wrist or ankle)...just for fun. And continued chatting forever. In fact, we talked about placentas and how they are loaded with all the mother's nutritional needs to baby and how people encapsulate them so they can take the capsules to better re-adjust to life and a normal body after baby.
Totally look like a Hippie, huh?!
BTW, did I mention I love my hand-carved flute?
Did you know many animal mothers actually eat their placenta after giving birth?
And that the placenta is actually kind of part of the endocrine system--loaded with beneficial hormones to help regulate your body (not to mention all the vitamins and minerals)?

Yeah...so, having your placenta in a usable form is great for moms who feel they need that. I always thought it sounded gross, but just recently feel that it would be so helpful for my body.
Particularly those who are anemic, or who feel depleted in hormones (deal with post-partum stress). And you can also get a tincture of your placenta so you can just use the drops (they last forever). Other people just bury their placenta in their yard near a tree or something to help provide boosted nutrients to the soils and plants. (That's awesome, but I'd rather have them back in me...since I know I was totally depleted after Rynelle and imagine this one will take even more from my totally iron-deficient body).

So...at the end we each took a candle home to light when us pregnant mam's are in labor. But it was just a great little girl's night with close friends. And who doesn't love that.

Anyway, this all may sound a little hippy-ish, no doubt, but I loved it. And I feel it's especially great now that I'm on my third child and don't want to feel like giving birth is "just another typical experience". I wanted it to feel like a new experience all over again. And it did. And it was and is special. Life is special and motherhood is too.

What a blessing: My Blessing Way.
Thank You Rachel.


----------Emily Erickson's Poem---------------
For the Mother to be...
Nine months in waiting, eternity more,
breath finally washes this new life ashore.
From wrapped in my womb, to wrapped in my arms.
Stronger than pulses my love ever warms.
Seen cords that bound us are soon to become 
the unseen affections this new life has won.
Moment of life waking awe steals my breath,
and gives it for you past the days of my death.
May you breathe well with me day after day,
and learn with me, meekly, the life-living way.
Thank you for living, for breathing this gift.
I'll treasure it always, long after I've lived.

November 5, 2014

Words, Words, Words

Here are some random thoughts I had this morning...

Words. 

Helpful? Sure.
Needed? Not always.
Overkill? Could be.

Even as I write this I think of the irony of me having to use words to express both my love and frustration with them. If I were cooler I'd put together some awesome visual video without words that could express what I'm trying to get at in this post. But...I'm not THAT awesome. So this post will have to suffice.

In college I was looking for a major, and since there wasn't architecture at the school, I decided to look into a few other fields. First, communications. Advertising and Design seemed somewhat appealing, but when I stopped into the main office I was posed with question: "so you like to write?" My immediate reaction was "No, I hate writing!" And that was the extent of my exploration into the field of communications: so I did business (because I like to organize and somehow thought that fit).

Little did I know I love business writing (which I hadn't taken yet). But more than that, I love the power of getting a clear and simple message to an audience in a well-thought, holistic way. This is the essence of Advertising and Design. I wish I would've talked to someone else that day I stepped into the Communications Department office. But alas...now I get to write about it.

So..what messages are we sending by our Words and the words with which we surround our children; Or on a broader level, the information we receive and place upon our children?

  • Is it time-appropriate
  • Is it level appropriate
  • It is overwhelming and outside their need to know

Experience/Feel First; Speak Second if necessary
Ethan frequently asks "why" about things and I have to remind myself that he doesn't always need an exact or logical answer. In fact, sometimes the more logic we cram into and at our kids, the more it stifles them and the free expression of their personalities or imaginations.

For example, I've learned that when Ethan is building or drawing and tells me to look, that it isn't an invitation to take over and make his tower taller or to praise him on every awesome thing about it. But more importantly is my attention--not words. So I say simply, "wow" or "look at those colors." Something objective and not making him feel less than he is or over-inflating him unessearily to where he expects grand compliments. I just state a simple observation with love and attention. Then he's off to continue playing. The same is true when we read books. BEfore he's seven, he doesn't need me to ask him "what happened" and "what's the moral of the story" and what was your favorite part" all the time. I have found out that kids need experience without judgment and without feeling like they have to have a favorite part or have to know exactly what is happening. I have to let my child be a child. Then, once they get older, or more familiar with a thing, then I can start to help them pick it apart, or ask questions to help them unfold why they like it or how it makes them feel, etc. Analyzing and judging too early leads to missing the experience. Our kids need exposure and experience without words so they can first feel how things are, before they think about it.


Lately Ethan and I have been enjoying wordless books. Looking back at my life I realize that I wasn't a great reader (well, I already knew that...although you'd never guess it now), but I realize that three of my favorite books were Full Moon SoupThe Laugh Book,  and The Eleventh Hour. Until this very moment I never put all three together in the same category.
  

One is silly and doesn't seem at all educational, but is simply a kinda weird cartoon hotel scene that progresses in time with each page turn. And I loved looking for differences and progression of a story with each flip of the page. There was so much going on and I felt an endless explorer in a simple, yet chaotic experience.

Another is full of jokes, riddles, tongue twisters, math puzzles and brain bogglers...etc. This kept me endlessly busy in a variety of fun ways that used my mind and made me both laugh and feel smart (or at least empowered to think about things from different perspectives).

The last is a short, simple story with beautiful and entertaining pictures. But within the story are hidden secrets on every page. There are clues in each picture and hidden codes using patterns and math to figure out clues along the way of solving the ultimate mystery behind the story of who stole the food. This book I returned to again and again to find new clues.


Words with Purpose
What do all these books have in common?
Well, minimal words for one (in some cases none). With each book, if there are words, they generally have a purpose: giving directions for a puzzle, or a sequence to tangle the tongue and bring a smile, or for telling a story simply.

Side note: I use to have the mentality that I needed to fill my kids' heads with books and words. I would gather tons from garage sales and people who were getting rid of them. And we go to the library weekly and devour 10-20 books at a time. But, I remembered reading in a book Simplicity Parenting that, as with toys and any other over-abundance, we need to understand the principle behind why we do/have the things we do/have. And that books and toys can be a great tool to learn how to foster deep and meaningful relationships, as well as to learn and explore "information."

In a society as fast-paced and frenzied as ours, are we encouraging running around and frantic learning, as opposed to cultivating a strong and stable foundation of good principles? Without a strong foundation based in truth and goodness, how can we distinguish the beauty and relevant information from the garbage?

I never would've thought there were so many garbage books that really are either poorly written or not well thought out or just plain not helpful in real educational development, if I hadn't been gathering and exploring all the books I have been. But I admit...I'm less and less enchanted with a majority of books I find now. We should treat books like friends...open to everyone initially, but discerning in which we let into our closest circles to stay. And I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said if a book is worth reading again, then it's worth owning. Either he had lots of books, or a high standard of what really contributed to his library.

I could go on about other compelling reasons to stick to good books and why classics and such are so powerful, but I wont.


Balance: Variety & Depth
Another note about those three childhood books I loved is variety vs. depth of both words and experience. There is value in relearning the same things over and over until you get it down so well it becomes inherent....a part of you. The Laugh Book was meant for variety and exposure, while Full Moon Soup was meant for following a process--analyzing and re-analyzing. Then the Eleventh Hour was meant for learning and following in a variety of ways, but through continual expsoure and deeper and deeper learning, analyzing and understanding of the plot, pictures, words and patterns throughout the entire book. This is a holistic approach. (I love books that are interactive or require/use more than just words.)


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Simplified Words: Simplified Behavior
I find the more I talk at my kid, the more I overwhelm them and they shut down. I'm sure you've experienced this at some time or another on one or both ends. But really...a four year old doesn't need to know the inner-workings of my mind and play of emotions. In fact, sometimes I'm sure I don't even want to know everything I'm thinking and feeling.

When talking to kids it's important to simplify and tailor to their needs, age-level and emotional readiness. When my son is throwing a tantrum or whining, I just leave or put him in his room with some soft music on and I tell him to come out when he is calm and ready to talk. No words will help a tantrum in the moment.

Once he is calm he or I find one another and we have "talk time" to turn the experience into a learning moment. We hold hands and ask the question "how do you feel?" We compare how he felt mid-tantrum to how he feels now that he's calm...and then he becomes aware of what happened and how to better approach the situation next time. Talk time is vital. (But so are calming sessions. In fact, I frequently tell Ethan I need a time-out for a few minutes and just leave if I need to. If I don't, I end up lecturing a four-year to the point he actually starts telling me to "stop talking"--which is helpful to realize when I'm talking at him, vs. to him). Kids don't need words half the time.

So...
When do you talk too much or over-explain things?
What do you do in your daily life that doesn't need words? 

I think about how grateful my little 2 year is, versus Ethan. He's fine, but I have to remind him: "Are you grateful?" to get him to say "thank you." But my two year old says thankyou whenever anyone gives her anything. The difference? With her I taught her the principle behind "thank you:" Love and caring. And how? Every time I gave her something I'd blow her a kiss. And everytime she gave me something I'd also blow her a kiss. Now she knows that giving and recieving are acts of love...not just words. I'm still working on clarifying that with Ethan, but it's harder now, since I started with him by words, "say thank you."

Are we teaching our children empty words? OR are we teaching principles behind our words?
What about our approach to education? Are we just throwing our kids into a system or curriculum that takes responsibility away from us, to ease our burden? I'm not talking in vs. out of the public education system. I'm talking about when we are with our children in either circumstance. Do we take opportunities to teach our children the principles behind why they should or shouldn't do things, or are we just using force and compulsion to get things done.

The key is discernment. I frequently think of Mary in the New Testament, after the angel Gabriel came to her. The scriptures say she "kept all these things and pondered them in her heart." I imagine she wasn't a mother full of words and blame. Did she have and feel them? Most likely to some extent. But, she understood her purpose and the need to be in a place where she could have the spirit and direction to raise her son to his royal heritage. So with that fervor in her heart, she gave him guides he needed to progress at his level and at the right timing. I imagine she didn't overwhelm him with all the details of his future, but rather the beauty of that future and guidance to how his choices either brought his closer to that or took him further away from it.


Now my words feel they are getting long-winded. So I will stop soon. But, here is some food for thought...

  • What is the effect of your words on your kids? (which situations are better than others?)
  • Do we blame and guilt-trip our kids or even our spouse? (If so, we are not taking responsibility for our words and we are not acknowledging the true principles to work towards: love, peace, joy and the spirit.
  • Do you stick to objective statements, free from blame and judgment?
  • Do you simply, calmly and openly express how you feel (happy or sad)...with which you can reason together to figure out why as needed? (If  not...story time at night is when I make my confessions to Ethan that I'm imperfect and need his help to not yell and such. And I do ask for his help and he in return tells me what he will do to help me (not get three strikes, etc.). 
  • Are you helping our children understand the spirit and discern good from bad--true from false? 
  • Are you helping them realize all things either take us closer to become who you are truly meant to become--closer to God--or further away from our true selves? 
  • Are you open when you fall short and acknowledge you are imperfect and need to try and be better? 

So even if we have blame-sessions and yelling, we don't have to be mad at ourselves. We can correct the bad behavior together and use it as a tool to deepen our relationship together and as a director to point us more fully towards repentance and reliance on the Savior. (and isn't that what life is about anyway....shouldn't this be a large part of real education for our children? Building good character and actively using the atonement?) 

I'll bet, stripped of all our educational systems, homeschool curriculums,  to-do and chore lists, etc., God would be most pleased with us as parents if we were directing our Children towards him by helping them rise to their greatest Divine character and potential. And that is only possible through clearly using and identifying the atonement (change for better) daily in our lives--together as a family. And we can start to improve that process by paying attention to our words.

As moms, we must set the example and keep the deeper details--overabundance of words/information--in our heart. (This is best done by turning over our need for control--and our thoughts/motivations--over to God and asking Him to help us discern what matters most and what timing is appropriate. This is our quest as moms and a great way to access His atonement and spirit daily in our lives.)




Examples of Good Books

I was typing this list in another post and it was getting too long, so I thought I'd start it here. But basically there are a lot of books in the world. Many of which are totally empty of value and character. I didn't realize how many garbage books there were that have no purpose except to take away your attention and time from other more awesome books you could've been reading. So...here are some good ones I like--definitely not comprehensive--just to whet the appetite. If you want more of my books I like and reviews...check out my Goodreads shelves...I've got a ton on there.

Wordless:
The Adventures of Polo (basically a wordless comic book)
Quest & Journey (adventures that left my son asking me to "read" it again)
The Snowman (a favorite from England)
Suzy Lee

Simple Illustrations
Not a Box
Rabbit/Duck (illustration looks like a rabbit, or a duck, depending how you see it)
Harold & the Purple Crayon
Potty

Interactive:
Press Here

Character:
Any Max Lucado: You Are Special, Just the Way You Are...etc.
Covey 7 Habits for Kids Series
A Fly Went By (being a problem solver)
Janeen Brady's Standing Tall Series (not all are amazing, but I love a few of them--on Youtube)
The Crayon Box That Talked
Did You Fill A Bucket Today?
The Giving Tree

Music & Movement (feel/experience while learning)
Zin Zin Zin! A Violin (poem with CD)
Peter & the Wolf (story with CD)
Do You Hear it? (with CD: listen to clip, look at art and move like you feel as a result)
Little Hands Fingerplay and Actions Songs
ABC Yoga

Art (empowering creativity)
Peter Reynolds: -Ish, The Dot, etc.
Look, Look, Look (how to analyze art...via a cute little mouse story)

Dr. Seuss (character and imagination)
Gerald McBoing Boing
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are
Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew
Horton: Hatches an Egg or Hears a Who
Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
Thudwick the Big-hearted Moose
Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
Oh The Places You'll Go
...so many more!!!

Classics Introduction
Shakespeare's Seasons (quotes to memorize from his plays that follow the seasons)
B&N Illustrated Classics for Kids Series
Peter & the Wolf (with CD)
Fun with Shakespeare for Kids