Sunday, June 30, 2013


My name is Ami.
And I'm addicted to Bountiful Baskets.
If you do not have a Bountiful Baskets site near you, or you do not know anything about it, then stop reading now. Turn away while there is still time. In sharing my addiction, it is not my intention to create other addicts. Others who, like me, hover over their keyboard, debit card in hand, at 11:59 every Monday, ignoring the rest of the world with a single-minded focus: to get your baskets (and add-ons! Don't miss the glorious add-ons!) before your site sells out (36 minutes this week!)
Then begins the long wait until Saturday's pick-up. It's a lot like Christmas: sometimes you know exactly what you are getting, like the 20 lbs of peaches.
Soooooo juicy and sweet, much better than those I've had from the grocery store.
Other times, you know vaguely what you are getting, like the juicer and Asian vegetable add-ons:
And then there is the main basket. You know it will have fruits. You know it will have vegetables. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess.
This is really a bad representation. You can't see the gigantic baking potatoes, donut peaches (flat, white inside, REALLY sweet!), mangoes, oranges, bell peppers, grapes, plums... This is two of the regular baskets. I got a third for my mil, who picked it up already.
Some people carefully rinse their produce, arrange it artistically on the counter, and take pictures. I have small children 'helping' me put things away, so...yeah, that doesn't happen here.
So, how did I get started on this path to fruit and vegetable decadence? I place full blame on a woman whose initials are K. F. There I was, minding my own business, supervising the crafts in Preschool Story Time - a safe place, you would think! - when she casually asks if I have ever heard of this produce coop. Now, I'll admit, I was easy pickings: I love to cook. I love to have a full freezer. And, I'm cheap. Just the kind of person these pushers are looking for. I had no idea this normal-looking woman with the sweet toddler was actually on her way to being a site coordinator!
She lured me in with an invitation to join the Facebook page. I saw tantalizing pictures posted by other addicts, and read the recipes they were trying. It wasn't long before I had my own account, and was ordering my first basket from the site the next town over. From there, it was just a matter of time before I found myself, just this past Saturday, not just filling my van with baskets, but volunteering! Yes, I am now enabling others in their addictions!
Just to make sure I am in it for good, BB even feeds my OCD needs. From the unloading of the truck ("Swiss chard next to the red leaf lettuce!") to the numbering of the baskets (with coordinating numbered poker chips), to the filling of the baskets ("Grab a partner. You take potatoes. Your partner holds the boxes, you put four potatoes in each basket. Bell peppers, you are behind the potatoes"), there is enough efficiency and organization to make my little complexes sing.
So, obviously, it is too late for me. There is still hope for you, though! If you hear a group of Mommies talking about cherries for $1.25 a pound, run! Run far away!!! As for me...I have jam to make...
...and greens to rinse...
...and onions to carmelize...
...and peaches to grill...

Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Fancy Nancy, Fanciest Doll in the Universe

When I was about Fancy Nancy's age, I had a set of Holly Hobby rag dolls.
Okay not the last pic because someone cut off her braids   This one <3  Vintage Holly Hobbie rag doll Heather Knickerbocker 1970s. $19.50, via Etsy.
This is not one of my dolls. I don't remember what ultimate end my dolls came to, but I very distinctly remember the day I took them all to the neighbor's house to play, and her little brother CUT OFF ALL THEIR BRAIDS!
Scandal. Heartbreak. Actually, I think my mother was even more upset than I was, but, still! Raise your hand if you can instantly name a time when a younger sibling or playmate ruined your favorite truck/book/doll/toy. You just got mad at your little brother all over again, didn't you?
We can understand, then, Nancy's dismay when her little sister draws a skull-and-bones TATTOO on Marabelle! Yes, Marabelle, her very fancy doll who is with her in EVERY book! This is a tragedy beyond epic proportions. Nancy's mother tries to console her by taking them both (Nancy and Marabelle, of course - Jo-Jo is stuck at home) to a doll gala. While there, an even worse tragedy is narrowly averted, and Nancy discovers she is not the only older sibling of a 'handful'.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quick Reviews

Yes, I know, every blogger who is also a librarian is doing 'quick reviews' these days. That's because we are short on spare time, but long on guilt over our TBR piles. Here are a few I've been wanting to get off my desk and out on the shelves:
Everything Goes: Blue Bus, Red Balloon: A Book of Colors
A little girl loses her red balloon at the beginning of this brightly colored board book. Children can watch it float past purple sailboats and white airplanes, occasionally spotting the little girl, until she finally recaptures it in the end. Most pages have just two words, and the color concepts are clear and engaging. Part of the "Everything Goes" series that is in both junior readers and board books.
Flat Stanley Goes Camping
Flat Stanley has come a long way since he was first squished by a falling bulletin board. Many adults can remember reading the original story as a child, and how many of us have had a Flat Stanley visit them from a classroom far away?
Since his early days, Stanley has starred in chapter book adventures all over the world. In this junior reader offering, Stanley is feeling a little glum about his slender status. His parents decide to take the boys on a camping trip, and when Stanley and his brother find themselves cornered by a skunk, they discover even more advantages to being Flat Stanley! This is one of those few (it seems) junior readers that is simple enough for kids beginning to read alone, but which has enough of a plot to not completely bore the listening parents the first six times through.
Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach
The original Pete the Cat picture books are written by James Dean, and are quite witty and funny. The junior readers are...not. I'll just stop there.
Tyler Makes Spaghetti!
I keep accusing the kids in story time of making me hungry (it doesn't help that it's held right before lunch), now I'm doing it to myself. The length of this book makes it better for a one-on-one reading than for a story time, but it would be excellent for a child who has started asking about where things come from. Tyler and his favorite chef travel all over the world choosing ingredients, as he learns how to make his favorite meal. Includes a recipe in the back for making spaghetti from scratch, just in case, like most of us, your meatballs come from a freezer bag and your sauce from a jar!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: Dig, Dogs, Dig, by James Horvath

Dig, Dogs, Dig: A Construction Tail
Who better than a pack of dogs to demonstrate digging? Construction books are always a hit with the younger set, and with our summer reading theme of "Dig Into Reading", I was especially happy to get this one in the mail.
Bouncy rhymes, four lines to a page, follow a group of dogs from their early morning wake-up call as they are dozing barracks-style. A little black cat follows them as they get their gear, eat their breakfast, and head off to the day's project. Each vehicle's purpose and appearance is described while happy working dogs seem to be everywhere at once. The completion of an entire park in one day is a bit of a stretch, but who wants to plod through months of permits and delays, anyway? (That dinosaur bone alone is going to cost you at least a year of governmental paperwork!)
This will be a great addition for both story times, and for those preschoolers who love to pore over pictures. Thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Reading Week 3: Underground Animals

I had a hard time finding good read-alouds and suitable crafts for this one!
Story Times
What We Read:

Diary of a Worm: Diary Series, Book 2     Yucky Worms (Read and Wonder Series)
It was hot, the kids were wiggly (like worms!), we only made it through two! We talked about animals that live underground, and I showed them our worm farm made from a 2 liter bottle (dozens of instructions in the internet).
What we made:
Worm art! Use the worms (yarn) to make pictures, or do it in abstract and sell it for a thousand dollars.
Table Set-Up:
Total fail in picture taking. Very simple, though: each seat had a piece of paper, glue, and scissors, then I scattered different colored balls of yarn.
Kinder/1st Grade
What We Read:
Diary of a Wombat     Two Bad Ants     Hunwick's Egg
What We Made:
Ants at a picnic scene!
Table Set-Up:

I also had wet wipes at the front to wipe with after using the stamp pads. Some of the 5-year-olds who came with a local camp got a little over-enthusiastic, pressing their whole hands in, so this turned out a little bit messier than intended.
2nd Grade and Up
What We Read:
Wombat Goes Walkabout     No Place Like Home   Hunwick's Egg
What We Made:
Yes, I know, moles are not purple and pink. But they should be.
Table Set-Up:
Because we just didn't make enough mess with the dirt last week. This went with MUCH instruction involving keeping the sand contained (and with a very realistic understanding that it would not happen). We had different underground animal shapes spread out up front, to choose from. The popsicle sticks are for spreading glue evenly. I also had large baggies available to take the pictures home in, and kids could leave them on the table to dry while they went to lunch.


Tween Activity - Origami Animals
Great turnout!
Thursday Afternoon Movie
The Ant Bully (2006) Poster
Teen Cafe - Reptile Show
This turned out to be more of a multi-age program, presented by one of my former students, Joshua Haynes and some of his friends. They brought a dizzying number of reptiles, mostly snakes, and shared all sorts of fascinating information about how they live both in the wild and in captivity. I HIGHLY recommend him to any teachers looking for a classroom program!
Mike, here, refused to speak, he just held and demonstrated:)

Now, that's a striking scarf! A bit heavy for summer, though (about 12 pounds).

I didn't think she was going to give him back!

Josh describing how big Spike, held by Mike, can get.

Don't worry, much hand sanitizer was used over the course of the evening.

Explaining the difference between different phases of the same type of snake.

I HAD to hold this one! 8 feet long, about 24 pounds. There was a contest to guess her weight (and, really, people who guessed 300 pounds or more? Do I LOOK like a body builder?!)

Friday Family Event
This was just one of those good weeks where everything scheduled worked together with the theme. The Asombro Institute for Natural Science is based in Las Cruces, part of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Preserve. They offer programs throughout the year, with groups coming out to the preserve, as well as presentations they give at other locations.
She started off with the story, "The Three Little Javelinas". There were just a few audience members at first, but the room was packed by the end of the story.

She showed all sorts of animal skulls, skins, etc. and explained how their bodies helped them adapt to our desert environment. She included a lot of audience participation by having the kids pant like a coyote, etc., and misted the audience with a spray bottle to demonstrate how sweat helps us cool down.

There were two live animals, a spadefoot toad and a tortoise, then everyone got to feel the snakeskins and ask more questions.

Another highly recommended program, if you are in southern NM!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

All About Me

One of my favorite bloggers, Amber Dusick at Parenting Illustrated with Crappy Pictures, along with Jenn at Something Clever 2.0 suggested letting your kids write your "All About Me" section. Since I am currently feeling too lazy to review any of the books in the pile on my desk, I thought this sounded like a wonderfully productive idea. I stole some questions from both, and this is what we came up with:
How old am I?
 Sheridan: 17
Christopher: 100

What do I like to eat?
Christopher: Pizza, leftovers.
Sheridan: Hamburgers, mac n cheese, salads and vegetables.

Hey, guys? Nobody likes leftovers.
What do I wear?
Sheridan: Big shirts.

It's called being pregnant, okay?!
What is my favorite movie?
Both: Cowboys.

??? Then again, I did marry Sam Elliot.
What do I do after you guys go to bed?
C.: Work on the computer.
S.: And in the kitchen.

Sure, we can call that work.

What did I do when I was a little girl?

C.: Go to school.
S.: You did things you didn't supposed to do.
What do I do at work?
Both: Read stories and do prizes!
Besides that?
S.: You're the boss!

Mmm...okay, sure.
What is my favorite thing to do?
S.: Type on the computer and bonk your head.
C.: Watch us play.
What do I dream about?
C.: Us!

Pretty much! And tonight I'm sure I'll be dreaming about you bonking me on the head while I work on the computer and eat mac n cheese.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father Daughter Tea Party 2013

Fathers always seem to get the short end of the stick. Mother's Day is at the end of the school year, when teachers are using art projects to keep some semblance of order and interest going in those last few days. We get all the cute little handprint poems, the tissue paper flowers, the stinky bath salts. What do Dads get? Handed the barbecue tongs.
Even the sermons in church are different. Mothers are praised as shining examples who need to be appreciated and pampered (all true, of course). Father's Day, on the other hand? All we hear about is how shiftless fathers have become, how their absence has caused all the world's evils, and how they need to step up to the plate. (As I've said before; Pastors? If a Dad is there to hear the sermon, he's probably not the Dad you need to be telling this to.)
It is certainly true that many fathers aren't around - by choice or otherwise. Some people steer away from celebrating Father's Day at all for that reason. To me, though, that's all the more reason we should celebrate the fathers who are there, doing a great job - and the men who have stepped in for the fathers who can't be there.
So, (stepping off my soapbox), we started holding Father Daughter Tea Parties each summer, on the Saturday before Father's Day. I'm thinking of making it a Father/Son/Daughter event next year, but there's just something so sweet about these little girls in their prettiest dresses, proudly escorted by their big tall Daddies!
Decor is very important for this one - no plain old styrofoam cups for us!
The glasses and heart wreaths (day-after-Valentine's-clearance sale) were theirs to take home. Tre chic!

Lots of fancy tea cakes and frosted cookies, punch with sherbet and individual cups of ice cream - and, in case Mom asked later, veggies and fruit, too.

I started off reading two books - one sweet, one silly - to the group, then there were books about Daddies at each table, if they wanted to read more together. There were also four activities to choose from:

Sticker scenes and paper to write a corresponding story (with the daughter in the starring role, of course)
The object is to fit every single sticker into your scene!
Picture frames to decorate:

The more sequins, the better!
A collage card:

And tie for Dad:

A quick poll showed many fathers in the room did not own a single tie. Of course, we had to rectify that:
Everybody loves sequins, it doesn't matter your age.

I have to admit, this is my favorite part - watching the young ladies direct their fathers in the proper methods of coloring and sequin placement.

The blue one goes right HERE, Daddy!

And, of course, we had to take some Father-Daughter portraits.

So sweet!

Floor-length - very elegant!

Yeah for Grandpas, too!

Three lovely ladies - and I love the smiles!
Turning into quite the young lady!
A. Dorable.

Okay, I'm biased, but you can't end with anything sweeter than this.

Happy Father's Day to everyone who fills that role!