Tag Archives: Humor

THEME: FOREST-SET FUN & INSPIRATIONAL STORIES

The Boy Who Grew A Forest

by Sophia Gholz

Illustrated by Kayla Harren


An inspirational true story about how even the youngest among us can make a world of difference, Gholz tells of Jadav Payeng, an Indian boy whose river island village suffered from erosion and deforestation. When hundreds of snakes died, Jadav’s concern prompted his elders to give him 20 bamboo seedlings to plant. Over time, he devised a watering system, added grasses and fruit trees, and eventually planted over 1,300 acres, transforming the area into a lush haven. Kayla Harren’s beautiful illustrations transport readers into Jadav’s world, while Gholz’s lovely storytelling helps them come to understand and appreciate Jadav’s efforts and commitment.

When A Tree Grows

by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Illustrated by Kasia Nowowiejska

Cathy Ballou Mealey has written a fun, clever book that’s all about a forest, animal friends and the possibilities and choices they face one day which lead them on a delightful adventure. When itchy Moose uses a tree as a scratching post, causing the tree to sway, two things could happen. The story moves forward with a chain reaction of (mostly) two possible outcomes, leading Squirrel to head to “the big city” and Moose to eventually bring him back home to celebrate with all their friends in an even better forest. Kasia Nowowiejska’s adorable, spirited illustrations add greatly to the humor!

The Lost Forest

by Phyllis Root

Illustrated by Betsy Bowen

Phyllis Root has created a lovely and reverent story about a parcel of forest in Minnesota that still holds big, beautiful trees which are hundreds of years old. In the 1800s, when land and trees were being seized from Native Americans by the U.S. government, sold off in parcels, and logged, a surveying crew’s mistake placed a lake where 114 acres of trees actually lived. Because this “lost forest” wasn’t discovered until 1958 when it was part of a National Forest, those trees still live on today. Extensive back matter and detailed, interesting illustrations round out the lyrically-told story.

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THEME: FUN NEW PICTURE BOOKS SUMMER 2019

Noah Noasaurus

by Elaine Kiely Kearns

Illustrated by Colin Jack

Everyone can relate to having a bad day, a “NO!” kind of day, and this book can help young readers see how to turn that around. In Noah Noasaurus, Elaine Kylie Kearns takes something kids love – dinosaurs – and something kids say – NO! (because they are in a bad mood) – and pairs them together with hilarious results, showing that even a bad day can turn out okay with friends. Illustrator Colin Jacks’ brightly colorful, adorably fun illustrations highlight the story and humor as well (the facial expressions on the dinos are especially delightful). Makes for a fun read aloud too!

Hello

by Fiona Woodcock

Fiona Woodcock is back after her charming book LOOK with this delightful ode to summer. Hello is a story about a brother and sister visiting a seaside amusement park and beach for the day, followed by a family camp out. The story is told mostly in words featuring double L’s – hello, roller coaster, thrill, jellyfish, shells, marshmallows, etc. – and Woodcock’s softly colored illustrations, created from stencils, children’s BLO pens, and other techniques and incorporating the highlighted words into the illustrations themselves, pair well with just enough white space to make this a gentle and fun look at the perfect summer day.

If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon

by Joyce Lapin

Illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli


Imagine doing all the usual birthday party activities – bouncing, dancing, and playing games; exploring around you; singing Happy Birthday; blowing out candles; eating cake; hitting the pinata; and more – on the moon, where EVERYTHING will be different! Lapin’s fun and funny look at a party on the moon offers easy-to-understand scientific explanations for these differences, packing pages with cool facts about space, the moon, gravity, astronauts, and much more, while Ceccarelli’s bright and lively illustrations help young readers imagine that it could happen for them one day soon. A Glossary and other back matter add to the learning.

Theme: Fun & Funny for Summer 2018

The Big Bed

by Bunmi Laditan

Illustrated by Tom Knight

The Big Bed

The Honest Toddler’s creator captures the quirky, straightforward, yet charmingly cunning personality of a very honest toddler as she offers her father a new sleeping arrangement AWAY from her beloved Mommy. Readers will giggle and delight in the passionate plan made all the more fun with inviting and colorful illustrations.

Monster & Mouse Go Camping

by Deborah Underwood

Illustrated by Jared Chapman

monster and mouse go camping

This slapstick, everything-goes-wrong camping trip is A Walk in the Woods for the very young! When Mouse convinces Monster to go camping, readers see what is going wrong well before the campers thanks to clever illustrations. But the sweet friends still have a great trip and a surprise ending.

Dude!

by Aaron Reynolds

Illustrated by Dan Santat

Dude!

One word says it all in this clever and hilarious summer adventure story. Platypus and Beaver are surfing when Shark shows up. Dude! Will ice cream save the day? Gnarly silly and vibrant illustrations, plus a fun and zany tale of friendship, make this an awesomely bodacious read! Dude!

I, Tania

As a writer of both fiction and nonfiction, I spend a good portion of my time researching unfamiliar topics and reading in a variety of genres. Over the past several years during these efforts, I’ve noticed an unsettling trend emerge – writers of books, movies, and TV shows creating a seedy and sad cast of characters named, um, “Tanya”.

First, researching a picture book I was writing in 2015, I found this gem: Presenting Tanya, the Ugly Duckling, whose description on Amazon states: “After being assigned the lead role in her spring dance recital of The Ugly Duckling, clumsy Tanya wonders if she will be able to live up to the part and truly be able to dance like a swan.”

tanya ugly duckling

Then, this popped up: The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Vol. 1 (light novel), wherein “high above the blood- and mud-soaked trenches, a young girl pits herself against army mages in high stakes aerial duels with bullets, spells, and bayonets. Her name is Tanya Degurechaff and she is the Devil of the Rhine…”

tanya the evil

Next: the confusing Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide to Feline Chronic Kidney Disease… by author Helen Fitzsimons (huh?).

tanya's guide to cat disease

And now, I’ve discovered: Dancing is for Everyone, a picture book for (oh-so-impressionable) children, whose plot is described as such: “An alligator dancing ballet? When the reptile takes her place at the barre, Mrs. Iraina and her dancers are very surprised. But since they can’t communicate with the alligator–and she is able to follow along–they just decide to name her Tanya and let her stay. (Would YOU say no to a 450-pound alligator?).”

dancing is for everyone

450 pounds? Hmmph!

Now, I want to blame this Tanya hate-fest on the notorious Tonya Harding. I mean, who can forget this face:

tonya harding

Or this one:

t harding

And of course, the new movie I, Tonya serves to bring even greater attention to the frizz-haired bad-girl ice skater of the early 90’s.

i tonya

But then I also found this 1976, uh, quality comedy:

Tanya the movie

And this:

hbo hungHBO’s Hung, starring Jane Adams as Tanya Skagle, pimp.

And, who can forget the over-sexed Tanya on Mamma Mia!?

mamma mia tanya

Notice the spelling? I soon realized that “Tanya” and “Tonya” exist on different planes.
And I did what I do best: research.

  • On namestatistics.com, I discovered that Tonya is the 209th most popular girls’ name in the U.S., while Tanya lags behind at 237th.
  • “Tonya” and “Tanya” are both Russian names, but the former means Praiseworthy and the latter is usually listed as a Roman clan name.
  • Tonya is rarely mispronounced as Tony-a, whereas Tanya is often mispronounced (or pronounced differently) as Tan-ya.

Yeah, yeah, I discovered other things too, but you get the idea. And now that I’ve brought this important issue out into the open, I wanted to beg, implore, and plead with writers in all genres to P-L-E-A-S-E (with double cherries on top) get those creative juices flowing in the character naming department. Don’t fall into the I’ll-just-name-the-crazy-lady-Tanya trap! Branch out a bit. Mix it up. Try, say, “Tonya” for your next freaky female. NO! Just Kidding. Try Olive or Becca or Carly instead.

Meanwhile, I’ll be downtown filling out some forms. Starting today, I plan to answer to the oh-so-lovely name of Tania.

 

 

Christmas Gifts Sure to Make Them Say Wow 2nd Edition

bad-wrapping2

If you are still looking for the perfect gift for that certain someone, and you’ve already given everything I suggested via Christmas Gifts Sure to Make Them Say Wow 1st Edition (not sure? you can find it right here: https://tanyakonerman.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/christmas-gifts-sure-to-make-them-say-wow-2/), look no further. I’ve scoured the web for some of the best ideas to help you wrap up your shopping in no time flat. No, no. No thanks needed. I’m just glad I can help you find an oh-so special item for THAT person in your life!

  1. Shotgun Plunger                        shotgun-plunger
  2. Muffin Top Bakers                             muffin-top
  3. Selfie Toaster selfie-toaster
  4. Shower Gel Nose Dispenser                  shower-gel-nose-dispenser
  5. Bag of Unicorn Farts unicorn-farts
  6. V.I. Poo  v-i-poo
  7. Finger Hands                      finger-hands
  8. Monkey Head Tissue Holder monkey-tissue-holder
  9. Poo Earrings poo-earrings
  10. iArm iarm

Annual Favorite: A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

Bacon Heaven: A Gift for Every Bacon Lover

bacon doormat(Bacon Doormat)

Still searching for that just-right gift for a special someone this holiday season? You know who I’m talking about: that certain person in your life who seems to have everything, want nothing, and deserve, well, something. I have compiled the ultimate guide sure to make everyone on your list happy. Because everyone LOVES bacon (proven fact: even if they don’t like to eat it, everyone loves to smell it!).

BACON, IT’S WHAT’S FOR EVERY MEAL

extra bacon

For your friends and family members who do love to eat bacon, but still can’t get enough of that crunchy, meaty flavor, try these gift ideas:

squeeze bacon                     peanut butter bacon cookies   Bacon Bacon ice creambacon apple pie

bacon hot sauce                    baconnaise

And to top it all off: Bacon Beer in a Bacon Mug

bacon mug

WORK IT, BACON

For that fashion-forward person who can pull off anything:

bacon sweatshirt                                    bacon underwear

bacon high topsbacon swimsuitbacon high heels
bacon suit

bacon tie 2

bacon tie 1

BACON GETS PERSONAL

Great add-on gifts and stocking stuffers:

bacon balm bacon sunscreen gummy bacon bacon toothpaste bacon soap bacon mints bacon gum bacon floss bacon drink tabs  bacon candy cane bacon bandages

BACON HERE, BACON THERE, BACON BACON EVERYWHERE

Still haven’t found something that seems just right? Give these and you’re sure to be remembered:

bacon wallet bacon tattoo bacon skull mug bacon roses bacon poetry kit
bacon candle bacon clock bacon board game

Still looking? Here’s the ULTIMATE idea:

Kevin-Bacon

(Portrait of Kevin Bacon. Medium: Bacon)

Finally, after all this bacon, you might want to consider a more, um, long-term gift:

bacon casket

Just be sure to wrap it up the right way. No, not this:

bacon wrap

This:

bacon wrapped

10 Mad Gifts For Teen Girls LOL!

If you’re like me and are drowning in female teen hormones in your house, or have a family member who is, you might still be searching for that tres cool must-have to give that special teen girl. Look no further: I’ve uncovered some great items sure to show you’re killin’ it this season…KK? Dats right. Time to Turn Up! YAAASSSSSSS!

1. Selfie Taker: for those hard-to-reach bathroom shots.

selfie monopod

 

2. Earbuds: so she can continue to ignore you, especially in the car.

earbuds

3. Nutella: 11 pound jar to get her through until New Year’s Day.

 

nutella supersized

 

4. Leggings: she wears them everywhere anyway, so why not stock up?!

Leggings - true black

5. Starbucks Cup: doesn’t matter if it’s full or not since it’s a prop for her selfie!

starbucks cup

 

6. Personal Crossing Guard: so she doesn’t have to stop texting while crossing the street.

crossing guard

7. 5 More Minutes Clock: slows down time so her 30 more minutes of getting ready appears to take only the promised five!

girl clock

 

8: More Followers: Hit up every teen  you know (or don’t) to follow your teen on social media for increased social status!

200149334-001

 

9. Duck Lip Gloss: so her duck lip photos show only shiny and soft lips.

duck lips

10. Cookie Dough: Whip her up a fresh batch for her Pretty Little Liars marathon!

cookie dough

 

 #YOLO

Christmas Gifts Sure to Make Them Say Wow!

bad wrapping

So you’re looking for the perfect gift for that certain someone, maybe a bit of jewelry or something special to wear. Look no further. Read on to discover my top picks in five big categories. You’re sure to find just the right thing for those oh-so special people on YOUR list!

1. Jewelry & Accessories

Plunger Earrings                      Guinea Pig Hair Clip                    Armadillo Handbag

plunger earringstaxidermy hair clip        armadillo handbag

Scorpion Bracelet                           Boombox Wristwatch   Glowing Spider Earrings

scorpion bracelet  boombox watch                 spider glow earrings or key chain

2. Personal Care

Ear Wax Vac                               Soap on a Rope                      Chicken Poop Lip Balm

wax vac      soap on a rope                    chicken poop lip balm

Finger-Shaped Nose Hair Trimmer

nose hair trimmer

3. Clothing

Underwear for the Hands           Instant Underwear                Booty Pop Undies

handerpants             instant underpantsbooty bop undies

Beer Beard

beer beard

4. Food and Treats

                      Yummy Chocolate?                                           Log of Old Fruit

            fartless candy log                           fruitcake

Coffee in a Toilet Mug

toilet coffe mug

5. Thinking of You Gifts

Poo-Related Goodies

 toilet golf game    poo penpoo book

Lazy Helpers

            pet petter               go girl

Anything Chia

chia britney               chia bullredneck chia pet

CHOOSE ANY ONE OF THESE FINE GIFTS AND THEY’RE SURE TO KNOW YOU’VE BEEN THINKING OF THEM!

YOU’RE WELCOME!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision languorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugar plums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

Give This, Not That: Halloween Edition

 

 

Back by popular demand!

halloween candy bowl

Want to be the cool house on the block come Trick-or-Treat time? Sure, the headless ghoul and ghastly sound effects – not to mention swirling fog and creepy doorbell – will go a long way. But to truly take your place in the hall of fame, you need to master The Give. To help you out, I’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to treats every kid worth her princess ball gown or his superhero cape will be looking for October 31st, along with the sure-to-scare-away equivalent:

First, the basics. Whenever possible, give:

  • Candy                  NOT         Candy Corn, Fruit, or Raisins
  • Full Size              NOT         Fun Size or Mini
  • New Candy         NOT         Last Year’s Easter Candy

chocolate bunny

Once you’ve mastered Candy 101, you’re ready to move on. Give:

  • Chocolate                           NOT     Breath Mints
  • Sour, Sweet, Gummy    NOT    Atomic Fireball, Tabasco Jelly Beans
  • Laffy Taffy                         NOT     Bit-O-Honey or Licorice
  • Caramel Anything           NOT     Coconut Anything (sorry Mounds)
  • ANYTHING ELSE           NOT     Pecan Logs, Sixlets, Necco Wafers

necco wafers

 

 

 

 

Finally, when you’re ready for the Advanced Give, give these a try:

  • Gross-out Candy (Zit Poppers, Gummy Tongue, Box of Boogers, Ear Wax Candy)

zit poppers

                                                                       NOT

  • Goodies you may have on hand (Beer Nuts, Clif Bars, or 5-Hour Energy)

5 hour energy

Now that you’re all set to be the best house on the block come Halloween night, be sure to follow this last piece of advice: GIVE IT ALL AWAY (your skinny jeans will thank me come Thanksgiving!).

Christmas Gifts Sure to Make Them Say Wow!

bad wrapping

So you’re looking for the perfect gift for that certain someone, maybe a bit of jewelry or something special to wear. Look no further. Read on to discover my top picks in five big categories. You’re sure to find just the right thing for those oh-so special people on YOUR list!

1. Jewelry & Accessories

Plunger Earrings                      Guinea Pig Hair Clip                    Armadillo Handbag

plunger earringstaxidermy hair clip        armadillo handbag

Scorpion Bracelet                           Boombox Wristwatch   Glowing Spider Earrings

scorpion bracelet  boombox watch                 spider glow earrings or key chain

2. Personal Care

Ear Wax Vac                               Soap on a Rope                      Chicken Poop Lip Balm

wax vac      soap on a rope                    chicken poop lip balm

Finger-Shaped Nose Hair Trimmer

nose hair trimmer

3. Clothing

Underwear for the Hands           Instant Underwear                Booty Pop Undies

handerpants             instant underpantsbooty bop undies

Beer Beard

beer beard

4. Food and Treats

                      Yummy Chocolate?                                           Log of Old Fruit

            fartless candy log                           fruitcake

Coffee in a Toilet Mug

toilet coffe mug

5. Thinking of You Gifts

Poo-Related Goodies

 toilet golf game    poo penpoo book

Lazy Helpers

            pet petter               go girl

Anything Chia

chia britney               chia bullredneck chia pet

CHOOSE ANY ONE OF THESE FINE GIFTS AND THEY’RE SURE TO KNOW YOU’VE BEEN THINKING OF THEM!

YOU’RE WELCOME!

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!

Give This, Not That: Halloween Edition

halloween candy bowl

Want to be the cool house on the block come Trick-or-Treat time? Sure, the headless ghoul and ghastly sound effects – not to mention swirling fog and creepy doorbell – will go a long way. But to truly take your place in the hall of fame, you need to master The Give. To help you out, I’ve compiled a beginner’s guide to treats every kid worth her princess ball gown or his superhero cape will be looking for October 31st, along with the sure-to-scare-away equivalent:

First, the basics. Whenever possible, give:

  • Candy                  NOT         Candy Corn, Fruit, or Raisins
  • Full Size              NOT         Fun Size or Mini
  • New Candy         NOT         Last Year’s Easter Candy

chocolate bunny

Once you’ve mastered Candy 101, you’re ready to move on. Give:

  • Chocolate                           NOT     Breath Mints
  • Sour, Sweet, Gummy    NOT    Atomic Fireball, Tabasco Jelly Beans
  • Laffy Taffy                         NOT     Bit-O-Honey or Licorice
  • Caramel Anything           NOT     Coconut Anything (sorry Mounds)
  • ANYTHING ELSE           NOT     Pecan Logs, Sixlets, Necco Wafers

necco wafers

 

 

 

 

Finally, when you’re ready for the Advanced Give, give these a try:

  • Gross-out Candy (Zit Poppers, Gummy Tongue, Box of Boogers, Ear Wax Candy)

zit poppers

                                                                       NOT

  • Goodies you may have on hand (Beer Nuts, Clif Bars, or 5-Hour Energy)

5 hour energy

Now that you’re all set to be the best house on the block come Halloween night, be sure to follow this last piece of advice: GIVE IT ALL AWAY (your skinny jeans will thank me come Thanksgiving!).

A Gift for Parents: A Stress-Free Christmas Morning

christmas morning

All parents love the joy and wonder they see in their children’s eyes on Christmas morning. We envision langorous, loving exchanges of gifts and resulting hugs, sips of hot toddies by the fire, and magical elves that cook breakfast and bag up a landfill’s worth of wrapping paper and bows as classic Christmas tunes serenade our relaxing repose.

The reality, however is a bit different. For instance, at 6 a.m. on December 25th, we are already blurry-eyed (or hungover if you previewed the hot toddies after Midnight Mass) from staying awake until 2:30 a.m. to:

  • Wait for sugerplums to start dancing (start, already!) in their bursting-with-excitement heads.

children sleeping

  • Finish, or, er, start, building that bike or 250-piece deluxe dollhouse and furniture with magnifying glass and a hot glue gun.

deluxe dollhouse

dollhouse furniture

  • Clean up reindeer poop and free Santa from the chimney after a few too many cookie/milk combos.

santa chimney problem

Because of these challenges, we often set ourselves up for a less-than-satisfying experience, not the ideal we dream of. So in order to help parents everywhere better prepare and maybe even enjoy the day, I’ve created this handy checklist of THREE WISE things to remember:

1. Three Things to Have on Hand for Opening Gifts

swiss army knife

dynamite

box cutter

Why? Because every parent knows toys are boxed for maximum display, not ease of removal. Take Polly Pocket or Barbie sets, for instance. Military-grade plastic strips and twist-ties are used to hold EVERY SINGLE limb, accessory, and hair in place in the box. These require hours of finger-numbing work to loosen, untie, or remove. Same goes for CDs and DVDs. They are encased in SPF 1000 plastic which you may or may not be able to remove before the second or fifth installment is released at Easter.

polly pockets

2. Three Things to Prepare Ahead of Time

industrial coffee maker
batteries
headphonesStart with an industrial-sized coffee maker prepped the night before to spew out that glorious caffeinated liquid. Or, if you prefer:

hot toddy

Next, be sure to have 212 batteries on-hand for all those toys that say:

batteries not included

No kid wants to open a gift they can’t play with until you run out to the store in your pjs and curlers to get the batteries!

curlers

Finally, despite our best efforts to avoid them, there are always toys on our kids’ wish lists that tend to be a bit noisy:

pink drumset

A great set of headphones attached to something playing those classic carols will help you keep your sanity in check.

3. Three things to Make this Christmas the Most Magical and Memorable

wrapping mess

family at christmas3

ugly sweater

More important than anything else, be sure to take the time to ENJOY Christmas morning…these are precious memories for you and your family. Can’t walk in the living room because of the huge mess? Leave it for a while. As long as the baby isn’t trying to eat a ribbon or the cat trying to do her business in the crinkled wrapping paper, let it go. At least until you need to search for the miniscule missing part that makes this year’s must-have toy go BING, BANG, BONG (bet you’re glad I recommended those headphones now, huh?).

Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time together as a family. Bake a batch of cookies. Sing some carols. Attend church together in matching ugly Christmas sweaters (don’t forget to take a photo too…it will be great for embarrassing your kids in their teen years!). Laugh and joke and do all the things that make family time great. When you just can’t stand being together any longer, say, 11 am, head off to relax a bit…

headphones in bath

…so you’re recharged and ready for more TOGETHER TIME!

And finally, be sure to teach your kids what this joyous day is truly all about. No, not that:

tvguide

THIS:

nativity

Wishing you and yours a Blessed Christmas and

Very Happy New Year too!