Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Believe and Achieve

I'm floored by the responses I've received to my last post.  How strange and wonderful that writing about gross feeling dark things has brought me so much joy and connectedness to so many people I miss and cherish in my day to day life.  I've received texts and emails and messages and phone calls.  I'm simply floored.

The point for me of writing what I did was so that I could move on from that, at least on here, and get back to focusing on the good in my days.  I first wrote "our" days but life isn't like that for me as much.  Much of my weekdays are just me now.  It's so strange, but it's ok.

Part of my struggle these past two years has been letting go of those early years of parenting that were SO HARD but so incredibly fulfilling.  For me I've always felt like my vocational calling were those particular years from when Ainsley was born until Felix goes to kindergarten.  I thrived making up our days and being in control of us four.  Now school dictates most of our lives, as I knew it would, and I push back on that so hard.

It's funny because school mattered SO much to me.  I was the kid with intense anxiety about doing anything wrong or not on time.  At the same time, I got such fulfillment out of being a good student.  I felt physically sick if I didn't get a good grade on a test or paper.  I was anal to the point of ridiculousness.

And for what?  Looking ahead I'm thrilled at the prospect of a very part time preschool job this fall, starting a community ed sewing class, and finally making good on my personal goal to open an etsy shop.  Those jobs would all come from life experience not education.  Funnily enough should I want to pursue a more full time preschool job in the future I'll have to go back to school.

Today kids are pushed so early to be so good at so many things, to hone in on their strengths and who they want to be so very young.  I'm 34 and I know I'm still coming to grips with who I am and what I want to do with the rest of my adult life.

Why does it matter so much for a kid to master a timed test wen they know their math facts and just can't do them fast?  Why is it important to turn in a reading log every damn week even though you've read together as a family for hours and hours a week since the moment they were born?  Why is there so much busy work, especially for a kid who can hardly focus long enough to get socks on in the morning before school but who scores in the 90th percentile on standardized tests because clearly she's learning and able?  Why is school so variable depending on the teacher your child gets?  Where within weeks of the school year beginning you as a parent can sense what the rest of the year will hold and can feel like an entire year is wasted for you child if they get a lemon.

I'm not even a parent that has a deep need to protect my children from every little challenge. I want them to be capable and tough.  I find it so hard to handle so many things.  I pray they get their resilience and flexibility from their dad.

I so acutely remember my panic when we found out we were moving back to Minnesota and we had one weekend to find a house to live in, presumably for the rest of our kids' childhoods. Ian let me totally spearhead that, trusted me about the location. "I'm adaptable" he told me when I expressed concern about his long term happiness being a city boy living in the suburbs.  I know I've had a harder time adjusting to being here than he has.

But I can learn from him and so can our children.  It's ok to just try and settle where you are and make the most of it, especially when in your logical brain you know that where you are is pretty lucky and great.  I'd rather have the kids in a school that's too rigorous than one that doesn't teach them enough or have enough resources.  And? There are always options.  I don't have to do things the way that they were done when I was a kid.  In truth those ways don't fully exist now anyways.  Life has changed so I must change too.

Yesterday I struck up a conversation with a mom at preschool pick up who has always intimidated me with her guise of perfection.  She's tall and thin and blonde and always speaks so calmly and thoughtfully to her daughter, even at 9am when I know she has an older kid she's already gotten on the bus and her hair is done and her outfit is well, an outfit.

We somehow got to talking about our kids and our struggles.  She's concerned that her son is making the wrong choice with friends. I told her I've been struggling with that with Ainsley as well and that I'd told her to try and notice the kids she feels good around, the ones that bring out the best in her.  She looked at me with such stunned appreciation.  "What a great way to put it. I hadn't thought of it that way.  I'm going to tell him about that at soon as he gets home." I had a smile on my face all the way home (even though Felix was throwing a car tantrum because I wouldn't get him a smoothie at caribou :oP)

I'm always stunned myself when I can give other moms advice and actually seem a bit wise or helpful.  Maybe I shouldn't feel this way.  Maybe none of us should be surprised by our capableness.  I've been using that word a lot with my kids lately. You are capable.  You are ABLE to do anything you put your mind to.

That can be an especially hard mantra when you are depressed or lack self esteem of suffer from debilitating anxiety.  BUT even just that one little step can be enough to set the trajectory in motion.

My very successful retired CEO now accomplished and respected soccer coach dad has his own mantra "If you can BELIEVE it you can ACHEIVE it."  I think of this phrase often.  He makes it sound so simple, annoyingly so at times, but maybe it can be just that.  I can think of what I want my life to be like and I have the power to make it that way.  Where do I want to go?  How do I get there?

These are things that I feel lucky to have the time to mull over every now and again.  I hope you have time to believe and achieve too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Today is my thirty fourth birthday.  34.  I remember turning 30 and feeling like that was such a big deal.  Soon I'll be 35, then 40, then more.  The years will keep ticking on (God willing).

This year has been hard.  I've stopped writing almost altogether because I've always been an honest writer and to be honest about how hard life has been lately feels like too much. I miss writing though so I need to get over this hump so I can get back to it.  Documenting my life used to bring me so much joy.  I need that joy now.

I have always wanted to be a mom.  I still remember the wintry walk that Ian and I took when we decided to start our family. Weeks later Ainsley was on her way and it was never a second thought that I would stay home.  I remember wishing that I looked more pregnant, sooner.  I was so elated to be pregnant.  That time waiting to become a mom was so filled with excitement and anticipation.

Then Ainsley was born.  It was traumatic and so fast.  I almost didn't make it to the hospital in time.  My newborn girl had such a voice.  She screamed and screamed and screamed.  She didn't like to be held when she was awake.  She was happiest on her own lying on the floor.  I was frantic and hurried all the time.  She walked so early and never stopped running.  My heart still stops when I can't find her.  She is so quick, always has been.  It wasn't what I thought it would be.

But we had Louise anyways.  We were so thick in it and it felt like the right time.  She was so easy and sweet and calm.  She laughed so much, needed so little.  How did these two girls come from the same two of us?

Then Felix.  A perfect mix.  A mommy and daddy's boy.  Sweet and sensitive and strong and sometimes naughty.  He's almost 5.  I know our family is complete.

I was ready for, excited for, the baby years.  I knew how to swaddle and feed and soothe and play.  These big kid days are hard.  Wrought with fights about homework and obedience and helpfulness and friend problems.  It's not what I thought it would be.

Moving was traumatic for the girls.  It was not normal.  Ainsley's first grade teacher told us she'd never seen a child have a harder time transitioning.  We've heard that a lot with her.  "We've never seen this".  It's especially hard when we live in a world where people gush and ooze love about their children at every turn.  Instagramming about accomplishments, facebooking about perfection.  There is none of that here.

I used to feel like a good mom.  Now I feel completely out of control.

I was rediagnosed with depression and anxiety 18 months ago.  I spent a year on medication that took my panic attacks away and let me drive again, but that made me so tired that I spent most afternoons lying on the couch while Felix played on the ipad next to me.  Nothing instagram worthy about that.

I felt ashamed, embarrassed, bad.

I found a new psychiatrist this year.  I'm on new medication that works better.  But it's not a cure-all. Life is still hard.

This is the part where I usually stop writing and let the post sit dormant.  I promised to push through right?

Right now we're...looking into new schools, going to therapy twice a week, fighting every day about every day things like getting ready for school and taking medication and doing homeownet and not lying and not hitting or biting.

Right now life is harder than normal and harder than "harder than normal".  How do you take care of a hurting kid when you are hurting so much yourself?  How do you stand up when you are broken?  How do you make friends and connections when you know that no one really knows how bad it is?  How do you get out of the fog and into the sunlight?

I'm learning that you take baby steps. As much as it SUCKS you take it slow.  You cling to the things that are working and praise the heck out of the good and right.

For me right now this is the church family that we have found and the family family that we have so close.  It's feeling silly listening to the guided self worth meditations that your therapist recommends and praying like crazy that they take hold.  It's learning to grow a back bone and stand up for yourself and your kid, and the sad realization that not everyone is on your side.  It's having the strength and confidence to know that my gut feelings are worth something and no one can tell me the right thing to do.

Growing up is so hard.  I still feel so young.  But my eyelids are drooping and my eyes lines are growing and my body is slowing.  I don't feel equipped, almost every day, to be dealing with what we are dealing with.  Still I am.  We get through each day. 

This past weekend we went to Big Sky, MT.  My parents have a home there and we decided last minute that we needed that changed of venue, that injection of different and beauty and fun into our lives.  We had such a wonderful time. 

But on both sides of the trip were 19 hour treacherous drives.  Ian drove it all.  He had to because I'd broken my tail bone and couldn't sit to drive, but he never complained.  I look at this man that I've known almost 15 years and realize more every day how lucky I am to have him, how lucky we are to be together doing this life. 

I remember meeting him and hearing that voice that you hear of that told me I was going to marry him.  My 19 year old self shrugged it off and those next 4 years were tumultuous but they taught me to listen to that voice. 

Right now that voice is a bit muddled. It's hard to decipher. But I'm reminded that it's there.  I just need to quite myself to hear it.

May 34 be a year unlike any other.  Please, please, please.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Fun Things

This year more than ever I am loving the New Year.  2017 was pretty bad right? It still feels insane to me that we have an insane president.  It's still been a hard adjustment, moving. The daily drudgery of raising children still surprises me.  As they grow so do their problems.  It's hard, great too.
This year it feels like we may finally have our ducks in a row.  This could be the year folks.

For me it starts with getting my shit together.  Cleaning out cabinets and drawers, decluttering and focusing on needs only.  It's so freeing to walk into Target and only get the coffee filters and bathroom paper cups that you went in there for because you simply know that's all you need.  Ahh bliss.

The new year for me is also about rejuvenating what we already have.  Looking back at old cook books, diving into stories I still haven't read with the kids, going through fabric and making plans for single skeins of yarn.  With so much abundance given and received in these last weeks it feels so good to just settle in.

Currently Enjoying...

I just started reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane with Ainsley.  She's enthralled.  I remember reading it as a young 20 something and being floored once again by the brilliance of Kate DiCamillo.  Brillance.
Lousie is diving into Letters to Anyone and Everyone, a favorite of Ian's and mine for a while.  SO fun that she's old enough to re-read it on her own.  She's also been enjoying Calvin and Hobbes comics, this Disney Princess comic I got her for her birthday, The Zita the Spacegirl series and a new series I found for Christmas.  Love having a little reader in the house.
Felix is LOVING his new pop gun we got him. I'm thrilled I finally found a benign solution to his "I want a shooting gun" phase. We're still plugging away at his reading book and even though I've been sporadic at best with doing it with him he's keeping up and reading like a champ.

I just finished the Heart's Invisible Furies.  It's definitely not for the faint (or prude!) or heart but goodness was it divine.  I haven't read such beautiful character writing in a while. Sad it's done.

Just today I re-delved into some old cookbooks.  I'm officially over making sandwiches for the kids for school lunches and this book never disappoints.  Just tonight I made a veggie and cheese rice with chicken sausages to put in thermoses for them.  Next on the docket is an avocado bacon and corn pasta.  Yum. I'm also really enjoying Keepers, Molly on the Range, and The Family Cooks. While blogs and online recipes are super convenient I don't think anything can ever replace and well done cookbook.  Right?

Now that Christmas knitting is over I am so pumped for the freedom to get greedy and make myself some things.  My dad got me skeins upon skeins of a beautiful red natural wool yarn for my birthday last year that I am FINALLY going to make into a sweater/coat.  Been eying this pattern for over a year and Ian got it for me for Christmas! Time to cast on.
I do have a tiny spring sweater to make for my 4 month old niece.  Nothing like pulling apart a perfectly good newborn sweater because you never got around to finishing it in time to give it to her before she grew out of it!
I also need a new hat. I have a head that hates hats.  I just can't find one I like.  So I figure I'll knit a few simple ones and make do.  This one looks promising, and I love the slouchy beret look (hoping it won't flatten my curls!)

For me this new year feels like it needs to be about getting back to who I am when I like myself the best.  I'm starting simple.
Drinking big glasses of water in the morning and taking my probiotic BEFORE I even take a sip of coffee.  Making sure I find time in the day to do exercise.  I pulled out my 30 day shred which I love when I want a quick sweat, and my favorite Pilates and yoga videos when I just need some movement.  We just purchased an inexpensive exercise bike which I'm looking forward to using to get some much needed cardio in when this weather doesn't allow my lungs to breathe well outside and the dang gym parking lot is so full all the time.

I also need to find time in the day to make something.  Those simple knitting projects are helping but I want to accomplish some of the things that have been on my list for a while.  Finally finishing that quilt for Ian and I. Also finally trying my hand at a fabric art wall hanging.  There is one blank wall in particular that's driving me wild in our house and needs some art.  Finishing the paint by number my mom got me last year. 
For some reason these bigger projects have been daunting.  Most likely because of the puppy.  It's hard to lay out a quilt with her around!  Winter hibernation seems the perfect time to figure out how to so these bigger projects can happen again.

This past year has been such a struggle.  Today I feel hopeful that this new year (my 34th) will bring some wisdom and ease.  Hoping for that for us all.

Thursday, December 14, 2017


Good Morning December 14th! You are literally my exact favorite time of year.  Enough time until Christmas to not be panicking about anything or too preemtively depressed that it's almost over, but still Christmastime! Totally thick in the middle of all the fun this time of year brings.

Last night I cooked at church, a simple pasta bar meal (where I underestimated the amount of red sauce to pasta ratio, darn!) Afterwards I played with the kids who weren't cooking desserts for the homeless shelter memorial dinner next week.  We mostly made little festive garlands and played Christmas dictionary.  Time feels so easily and joyfully filled this time of year.

I especially love giving gifts.  I spend most of the year thinking about what to give people, what my kids need in particular.  I've taken to throwing clearance things in the carts whenever I'm shopping for other necessities.  Like buying them all new post season discounted swimwear from Lands End when I'm also buying that new winter coat I need at 40% off. It's a great system but means December rolls around and I have 80% of my shopping done.  I've learned to save this 20% for some fun last minute things.  I do still love just going out to a great toy shop or book store and perusing.  I've found some fun things this year.


Words With Wings a book written in poetic prose this looks perfect for Ainsley.  She prefers "quicker" reads and this one treads that fine line between quick enough but meaningful that she loves.

Finding Wonders another prose books written from the perspective of three young scientists.  I love the historical content.

Fanny in France a book I stumbled across written by one of my favorite chefs.  This book will be perfect to cuddle up with by the fire with the girls and read about the cooking adventures a young girl has in france with her Aunt.

Where the Sidewalk Ends for some reason we JUST got this from the library this fall and Louise in particular was entranced.  She laughed out loud over and over so of course I bought it for her from Costco so we can keep the laughs coming.

Berenstain Bears and the Big Car Race a new one to add to our collection, heard towards Felix but we all love them.

Carl Books My mom just helped me discover these and they are a new family favorite.  I bought the Christmas one in paperback and we've been getting others from the library.  Perfect for Felix's age where he wants to "read" everything.

Zoey and Sassafrass Books a new chapter book series I found that I think both girls (but Louise my ravenous reader in particular) will devour.  About a girl and her cat and their scientific adventures and mysteries.  Can't wait to read the first one.

Lakeshore Learning: my new favorite store.  I stock up on art supplies and small learning games/tools when I go.
     Microscope and Slides Ian is giving Ainsley an old REALLy cool microscope for her birthday but if we didn't have that one I'd definitely get this one for the kids.  How cool to carry it around and look at everything under it?
     The Ultimate Fort Builder I'm always searching for actives to keep the kids happily occupied inside in the winter.  Even with the hours of sledding and ice skating there's still lots of down time indoors.  I've been seeing these fort builders popping up all over the place and this one gets the best reviews.  I'm signed up for their coupons so when I used a 30% off to get this as a joint gift for the kids.

  We're not nearly as lego crazy as we could be around here but they all do love building their sets.  I struggle with how specific the sets are though so if you lose even one piece you can't put it back together.  I prefer just having a big bin of the basics around but when I saw these winter themed sets I got excited about the possibility of them building them and setting them up in our Christmas village to play with all winter long.

Ski Lift
Ice Rink

   The games always come out in the winter and after cleaning out for the rummage sale this fall we were ready for some new ones.

Twister I found this at the thrift shop for $2! Can't believe we haven't owned it until now.

Ticket to Ride  My family loves the original and then I saw this juniors version at Target and think the kids will all love it (and honestly this is more at my level of gameplay too)

Battleship a classic that was one of my favorites.  Fun to have all three big enough to play it now!

Sometimes I score new craft kits at the thrift shop, Ainsley is getting two AG craft kits this year that I got for about $1 each.

Rebecca Rubin Fashion Kit
Sewing Kit

I of course can't share EVERYTHING, but always love seeing other's gift lists so thought I'd jump in.  I hope everyone is having a great December!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Good Enough

For some reason writing has become hard for me.  I have these children who are growing and it feels odd to write our stories here, suddenly.  We are two years into our Minnesota lives and it still doesn't feel quite settled.  I didn't expect that, but here we are.

I worked really hard at our lives in Oak Park. It took so long for it to feel like home.  I assumed moving here it would feel like home instantly because it used to be! We live less than a half mile from my childhood home.  Sometimes I run by that big blue house just to catch a glimpse.  The treehouse that my dad built is still in the backyard, the swing set too.  The three crab apple trees that we used to climb line the driveway.  My big sister used to make up clim them and play "reading club" which was us reading until she told us to stop.  Haha Kelly!

Now, our house is literally perfect.  We've been here two years and have hardly changed anything.  I've painted the kids bathroom.  I've hung lots of pictures and art.  Ian got some old great maps at work that we want to wallpaper the front hall with.  I built a treehouse out back this summer.  The veggie garden is two years running now.  4 lilac trees bloom every summer.  4 maples wait to be tapped each spring.  The sauna runs hot when we need it to.  The fireplaces warm us in the winter.

Home is a concept I've always pondered.  For my senior art project in college I did pieces about home.  What makes a home, among other questions, are still with me today.

I am such a homebody that these thoughts matter greatly to me.  I know so many people who can drop their bags wherever they land and be perfectly happy (at least on the surface).  They can jump into friendships and new jobs easily.  None of that feels easy for me.

I'm working at being ok with that right now.  That being the part of me that is uneasy with change, who so needs my home and my family and right now that leaves little space for much else.  We can't do it all right?  Where we are at has to be Good Enough most times.  Why is that so hard?

Right now my good enough is mostly wife and mom.  I am not an amazing mom all the time, but I am good enough.  I am actually pretty bad at remembering all the things I need to in a day for my children.  I forget permission slips and to sign that dang assignment book every day and to log each minute of reading and math work and even Felix's preschool open house and to cut his ridiculously long toenails before he rips them off himself causing a giant ouch on his big toe.  Sigh.

But! I make them lunches, sometimes I even write them notes inside.  I make dinner.  I hug them.  I do their laundry and pick up a bit for them (sometimes!) I love them so much and genuinely enjoy finding new books for us to read together, playing games, making fires, doing crafts and art.  We spend a lot of time together.  That's good enough for me.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Summer Sunday

It's Sunday at 4:45 and I just sent all three kids up to their rooms. That's after I dragged Felix across the yard and scolded Louise for unhooking Bluebelle before she got to the house and telling Ainsley that NO! Right now is NOT a good time to make hair bows with hot glue!  And it's not even Monday.

I'm grappling a lot lately with why this all still feels so hard so often. It's also super not helpful when parents of older kids tell me that it never gets easier, just harder in different ways.  Not what anyone needs to hear even if I know it's true.

It's hitting me like a ton of bricks that a lot of what makes it hard is me.  I'm having a hard time letting them go.  Whenever they are out biking or at a friends house I'm worried.  I'm getting some babysitters for the first time ever this summer and I'm worried about leaving them in someone elses care.  I have a hard time relinquishing control but I feel so out of control anyways.  It's a hard place to be.

This summer I'm trying hard to just let things be.  We got some workbooks that the kids love which helps occupy some of those "what to do now" hours of the afternoon.  We're finding new beaches and parks and I'm utilizing audio books for the first time so we can just cruise around town with the puppy and get her used to the car for the trips up north coming soon.  I spent about 5 minutes on pinterest today and have some fun ideas for new crafts.  I'm desperately trying to figure out how to get the treehouse finished, but I'm able to get about 3 cuts and 4 screws in before I'm needed and that's been a bummer.  Plus Ian leaves for a week for a fishing trip soon and then I'm really in survival mode.  Thankfully the girls are also in camp all week next week so it's just Felix and I.  I know we'll all make it.  I just wish it felt like we were thriving more.

Today I'm excited for our first full week of summer without any camps or activities.  Tomorrow we have a new babysitter coming over so I'm excited to get groceries ALONE!  I'm excited for a beach morning or two, bike rides with the kids and runs with Bluebelle, making salads with all the lettuce that's in the garden, cousins, parks, playdates.  It's blissfully easy to fill a day, that doesn't mean they still don't feel long sometimes!

Hope everyone is having a great start to their summer!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


One way I pay homage to that half of a double major I got in English is to constantly be looking up and reading books.

I find such comfort in turning to books.  Ian and I have been known to read a few parenting books when things get rough.  I so love searching for books for each stages of life for my chidren.  Now that my girls are growing and can both read on their own it's a whole new world of book searching.  I can search all I want but it's what they like that they are drawn to.  I'm still finding some winner, some new personal favorite too.  I thought I'd share because there is SO MUCH out there.

Adult Novels

The Woman in Cabin 10  - this caught my eye at the bookshop so I snagged it.  It's a great page turner, thrilling, an escape.  All the things I like in a good get me back into reading book.

The Baker's Secret - I love historical fiction about WWII and this one didn't disappoint. I like that it was from the perspective of a young incredibly resilient woman. The characters were memorable and the plot was original.

Delicious - I LOVED this book. If I could live another life it would be the main character's of this book.  Living in NYC, working for a food magazine.  BUT! There's a dark secret.  Wonderful characters, touching, picturesque.  Loved it.

The Kitchen House-I'm pretty sure I found this one at the thrift shop.  Another historical fiction that gripped me.  The characters drew me in and the story was so sad and profound.  It's rare I get through a book this long these days! It was worth it!

Cook/Craft Books

Keepers - I got this from the library and ended up buying it because I wanted to make everything in it.  It's geared towards people who cook for their families every night.  Bing! So good.

The Best Homemade Kids Lunches on the Planet- I bought this at the end of the year (of course!) but was so inspired by the simple ideas it has.  The kids were getting so bored of sandwiches (and I of making them).  This has some really fresh great ideas. (the biggest hit at the end of the year were the ham and cheese puff pastry wheels and make your own parfaits)

Knitbot Essentials - I got this book for my birthday and am SO excited to have a book of things to knit for me! I want to make everything!

Martha Stewarts Craft Book for Kids - Ainsley grabbed this from the library and it's fantastic.  Fresh hands on ideas that kids can make on their own.  Great easy things like popsicle stick villages and experiments.

Great Things To Do Outside - I mentioned this one on facebook.  I love that this kids can use it on their own easily and the ideas are so accessible and realistic for tired parents to execute in the summer.

The Who Was/Is Series - Louise is slowly working her way through all of these.  We started with Sacajawea, then Beatrix Potter and Julia Child and Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln.  Now she has Andy Warhol and Anne Frank (which we may wait on!).  She gets 2 or 3 at the library each time.  Great informative age appropriate biographies.

The Magical Animal Adoption Agency - One of our favorite series.  The girls (and I) hope they write more!

Illustrated Harry Potters - I cheated and read them book 3 two even though they are coming out with the illustrated version this fall.  I LOVE them so much and since I don't have my own copies anymore this has been a nice way to rebuild my collection.

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet Series) - We are only on book 1 but I know we'll be reading the lot.  An older series about a family of 4 children living in a Brownstone in New York right before WWII.  They realize they never have enough allowance money to do anything they want to do so they decide to combine their money each week and do one big awesome thing all together.  As a direct result of this book Ainsley and Louise did just that to buy a shared Kitty toy that you can feed and walk.  I can't wait to read the rest.

Half Magic - a classic I read to the girls a while ago.  They loved it!

Wellie Wishers Books - Another new favorite of Louise's.  These books are perfect for her age and the pictures and stories are cute.

Irene Haas - one of my FAVORITE authors and illustrators.  Her stories are so sweet and whimsical.  Too bad so many are out of print.  I'm glad our library has some.

10 Little Ninjas - The kids new favorite bedtime book.  A cute twist on 5 little monkey jumping on the bed.

5 Minute Stories - We started with the comic book superheroes and Star Wars and now have the Pixar and the Snuggle stories.  They are great before bed and to take on trips and the kids love them. Win win win.

You Read to Me, I'll Read To You- Ainsley still loves reading these with me.  Such a clever idea by the author to have a book meant to be read with someone else.  The girls have both loved these for reading aloud together.

The Barefoot Book of Faeries - Ainsley is still very much a believer of Fairies and this book is so perfect for her age.  It talks about the history of fairies in literature and gives some great background and sweet stories.

Patricia Polacco - I doubt the girls will every truly grow out of picture books (I never have!) thanks in large part to this author and illustrator.  Her longer beautifully illustrated books are so perfect for this middle elementary age.  Many are about tough topics, written about carefully and accessibly for children.

26 Fairmont Avenue - This is an autobiographical series by Tomie DePaola about his childhood.  It's one of the girls favorites and we've read almost all of them.  We can read one in one sitting if we give ourselves the time and they love anything by Mr. DePaola.

I'll add more or make another post when I have enough new books.  I'm sure I'm missing lots but this feels like a good start.  Yay books!