Tag Archives: Inspiration

Picture Books Theme: Girl Power

Theme: Girl Power

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World

by Susan Hood

Illustrated by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet

Shaking Things Up

Celebrating the lives of 14 amazing young women in history who helped change and shape our world through their actions and words. Each poem rings true in its focus and style, while delightful illustrations by prominent female artists allow for a unique take on those profiled. Inspiring and powerful!

Dear Girl,

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal

Dear Girl

This mother/daughter writing team offers down-to-earth advice and reach-for-the-stars inspiration for girls, encouraging them to be true to themselves while also being brave, strong, curious, and thoughtful. Each short love letter is highlighted by Holly Hatam’s simple yet lovely illustrations, making this a great read.

KidsLogoORIGINALFILE

Beautiful

by Stacy McAnulty

McAnulty takes common ideas about what makes a “pretty girl” and turns them upside down to show that beauty is more than good looks. Even when splashing in mud and doing science experiments, girls are beautiful because they are also strong, passionate, and unique. Bold, colorful illustrations add to the powerful message .

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A Bonus Day You Shouldn’t Leap Over

Usually, this time of year in Indiana is hard for a sun-worshiping, warmth-seeking, green-loving gal like me. Winter is long, hard, and cold, not to mention dreary with its gray skies and leafless trees. And even though I still haven’t decided if Al Gore is right about global warming, I have decided I don’t mind today’s February gift: balmy, upper-50’s and sunshine! It’s a rare treat, and I’ll try to make the most of it.

Another thing I plan to make the most of this February is our bonus day – February 29th. I know we get one of these every four years, so it’s not exactly rare, but I like to view it as a gift. A day to appreciate, an opportunity to seize, and a chance to go all out so it will really make a difference. I mean, really, how often have I said I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, or more weeks in the year? Trust me, it’s a lot. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I need and want to do!

So this Leap Year, I plan to make the most of the whole 24 extra hours I’ve been given. I plan to seize February 29th as the bonus day it is. I intend to make this a Leap Day that will be both memorable and useful, fun and relaxing…enough to hold me over for another four years.

And I invite you to join me!

What will you do with your Bonus Day?

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!

Favorite: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

bigmagic_gilbert

Is Creativity (with a capital “C”) an innate trait for a select few of us, or can it be welcomed and nourished as an almost living entity by anyone open to receiving it? This is one of the questions Elizabeth Gilbert asks and answers in her new book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

big magic defn

Gilbert mines her own experiences as she explores what she calls the Big Magic that happens when we open ourselves up to any and every form of creativity – from writing, dancing, and art to knitting, cooking, photography, inventing, and gardening – and embrace these efforts fully. “The work wants to be made, and it wants to be made through you” is a theme throughout the book. She looks in-depth at the areas of courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity as key components of living the creative life we are meant to live. And she weaves it all together with examples from her own and others’ creative struggles to drive each point home.

Inspiring? Definitely. Of fear of failure, she says it’s just part of the creative life. “It isn’t always comfortable or easy – carrying your fear around with you on your great and ambitious road trip…but it’s always worth it, because if you can’t learn to travel comfortably alongside your fear, then you’ll never be able to…do anything interesting,” she states.

big magic fear

Encouraging? Absolutely. “You will fail. It sucks, and I hate to say it, but it’s true…I have come to understand what part of me is suffering when I fail: It’s just my ego…My saving grace is this, though: I know that I am not only an ego; I am also a soul…My soul desires only one thing: wonder. And since creativity is my most efficient pathway to wonder, I take refuge there, and it feeds my soul, and it quiets the hungry ghost…”

big magic revolution

Motivating? Undeniably. Gilbert stresses that “you have treasures hidden within you…and bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”

big magic treasures

With Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Gilbert has given us a gift, one we can all use no matter our age, vocation, or passion. Big Magic can help anyone looking to welcome more Creativity into his or her life. And as Gilbert states: “It’s what we all want.”

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!

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!

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!

A Bonus Day You Shouldn’t Leap Over

Usually, this time of year in Indiana is hard for a sun-worshiping, warmth-seeking, green-loving gal like me. Winter is long, hard, and cold, not to mention dreary with its gray skies and leafless trees. And even though I still haven’t decided if Al Gore is right about global warming, I have decided I don’t mind today’s unusual kick-off to February: balmy upper-50’s and sunshine! It’s a rare treat, and I’ll try to make the most of it.

Another thing I plan to make the most of this February is our bonus day – February 29th. I know we get one of these every four years, so it’s not exactly rare, but I like to view it as a gift. A day to appreciate, an opportunity to seize, and a chance to go all out so it will really make a difference. I mean, really, how often have I said I wish there were more hours in the day, more days in the week, or more weeks in the year? Trust me, it’s a lot. There never seems to be enough time to do the things I need and want to do!

So this Leap Year, I plan to make the most of the whole 24 extra hours I’ve been given. I plan to seize February 29th as the bonus day it is. Over the next four weeks, I intend to plan a Leap Day that will be both memorable and useful, fun and relaxing…enough to hold me over for another four years.

And I invite you to join me!

What will you do with your Bonus Day?

Speaking My Thoughts, Living My Life, Loving My Country

This morning I was at the drive-thru window getting my a.m. pick-me-up (aka sweet tea). As I waited to move forward, I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed the, um, lovely gentleman behind me applying his eyeshadow and mascara for the day. And recently while visiting one of those dark, neon-y stores, its walls throbbing with screamo music, in order to purchase a gift card for a funky teen I know who has beautiful blonde hair but prefers purple and fuschia instead, the salesclerk greeted me in full-length denim skirt over his combat boots. Both times, I was barely fazed…I DO live in a progressive college town, after all. But more than that, I was glad, thankful even, that I live in a country where we are each allowed to express our individuality, our true selves, in outward appearances as well as our choice of vocation, location, and admiration, to name a few.

This morning, the first Tuesday in November, I overheard someone complaining that they “hate Election Day, with all the signs up…blah, blah, blah.” And because we live in this great country, that person can say that without worry or fear of retaliation or violence. But it is precisely because of this Election Day that I am reminded of others who are not so lucky, not so free, to express their thoughts, their worries, their likes and dislikes. And I am ever so grateful to call the United States of America my home. With all of our problems and all of our issues, we are still the best place to live in the world.

As Veteran’s Day approaches later this week, I will express my gratitude even louder, even more passionately, to let everyone serving our country know, that I know they are what keeps our country free and makes it possible for full-length denim skirts and combat boots, fuschia hair, and all the other millions of expressions of self we are free to enjoy on a daily basis. They are what make it possible for me to sit here right now, speaking my thoughts, living my life, loving my country. And for all of that and more, I say Thank You!