To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
And the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
And endure the betrayal of friends;
To appreciate beauty,
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a little better,
Whether by a healthy child,
A garden patch,
Or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier
Because you lived.
This is to have succeeded.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson~

Just bumped into this prose by Emerson.
Though I don’t agree with all of his philosophical ideas,
many of his quotes hit home for me, this one included.
If I could tuck in a line or two of my own, they would be…

To love the Lord with heart, mind, and soul,
And let His light shine out to those around.


Before he had finished speaking…

This morning, I read the story of Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for his son from among his family back in Mesopotamia. The servant had to travel many miles and ask a young woman who didn’t know him to go with him to marry Isaac. An impossible task? When the servant arrived in the city, he said a simple prayer, asking for a definite sign from the girl that he should approach. And “before he had finished speaking,” Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nahor, was walking toward him. Pretty neat. The Lord already had her enroute to the well to draw water for the servant and his camels.

We pray.

But God already has the answer.

When we are faced with seemingly impossible situations, we need to remember that God’s grace is sufficient. This devotion helps paint a beautiful word picture of how big our God is… Can you imagine a tiny fish being worried that he might drink up the entire river and then go thirsty? How silly. That’s us, thinking we might somehow use up God’s grace.

But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses,
so that the power of Christ may reside in me.
II Corinthians 12:9


It snowed last night…

We live in southern Delaware.

Near the ocean.

And do not get much snow.


Every time a big storm blows in from the west, and the media goes bananas and predicts blizzard-like conditions for the eastern seaboard, we suddenly become “The South” and get nothing but slush and ice. Seriously… my friends and family that live 15 minutes north or west get snow. We get freezing rain. And slush. And ice-covered everything. (Which IS actually pretty!)


When the snow comes from the south…

…And the media ignores it until the last minute…

…THEN we get our snow, and it’s a good one!


Grace upon grace…


I grew up saying grace at every meal.

I knew what it meant be a “graceful” young lady…
…and gave up on wearing high heals because they
were definitely not adding to my “gracefulness.”

(I walk like my Dad. It was kind of hilarious.)

But not too many years ago, I discovered the
real meaning of the word “Grace.”

God’s unmerited favor.

His love and forgiveness for us…
His favoring us…
His laying down His life for us…

… When we didn’t even deserve it.

As Christians, we can demonstrate a small portion
of grace to those around us by helping, forgiving,
loving, being patient, and offering kindness.

And we can offer a bit of grace to our own selves…
…by realizing we all fail, we all fall…
…and by not expecting perfection from ourselves.

So, for this next year,
my One Word is going to be

For from His fulness, we have all received grace upon grace.
John 1:16

Day #12 – Books that Inspire Creativity

Feeling creative?

Or not so much?

Below are some new picture books that help kids get in an artsy mood!

Mouse Paint is a  fun little book that teaches primary and secondary colors…
…Three white mice have a grand time splashing about in paint!


And a little more color fun for the older kids…
The Day the Crayons Quit is a book of protest…The crayons are fed up with
their normal jobs and are mad at each other, so they write letters
to a little boy named Duncan, telling him all their woes.


The Dot is another book with a bit of attitude…
Vashti is having a bad case of artist’s block, and in frustration makes a
angry jab at her paper, creating a dot in the center of the page.
She discovers that The Dot can be a beginning of a great work of art!


And for those of us who have kids that get Very Upset when making a mistake…
Beautiful Oops! gives lots of ideas to turn a mess up into something beautiful!


And… Though not necessarily about being creative, Press Here
will get your kids creatively involved in the reading process…


Day #11 – Cute Critters

Who were your favorite personified picture book characters?

Personification is a popular character development method used in children’s picture books. It’s fun to imagine animals that can talk, walk around in people clothes, and who sometimes act up or get themselves into a bit of a fix. One of the benefits of reading books about animal characters is that we can discuss their behavior and attitudes, the mischief they get into, and how they solve their problems with just enough “distance” so that it doesn’t feel like it’s pointed directly at any behavior or situation that might be cropping up in real life. These cute critters can give our little people examples of friendship, leadership, sharing, obeying, curiosity, and much more. Definitely worth including in our read-aloud repertoire!

Just a few that you’ll love introducing your kids to…










Day # 10 – Picture Books that Rhyme

Did you ever get the feeling There’s a Wocket in your Pocket?

If so, I’ll bet you grew up reading Dr. Suess!

Hubby and I both loved Dr. Suess books when we were little. Hubby absolutely loved Green Eggs and Ham… Mom-Mom Frey must have read that book several thousand times! My favorites were And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street and Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? When I was little, these wonderful books arrived in the mail at our house, two or three at a time, via the Dr. Suess and His Friends Book Club. So, when the sun didn’t shine and it was too wet to play, there were lots of fun, whimsical rhyming books to read!

Besides being super fun to read aloud,
did you know that Dr. Suess books,
as well as other rhyming books,
can help your child learn to read?!?

Hearing lots of rhyming words… whether it’s by reading Dr. Suess books or chanting Mother Goose poems… can help establish pre-reading skills for your little folks. Rhyming helps kids develop auditory discrimination so they can distinguish those tiny little differences in sounds of letters and words. Rhyming helps them understand what a “syllable” is. Rhyming helps kids recognize word families, such as cat, hat, mat, and pat. And it helps them learn to spell using those word families or patterns of letters.

Plus, rhyming can be downright silly and fun.

I mean, who doesn’t want to Hop on Pop?


Make sure you have some Dr. Suess books in your home library!


Day #9 – Bible Friends

There’s a small stack of books in our home that have been around quite a while.


They belonged to my brother and me when we were little.

These books are definitely favorites around here. Reading these stories over and over again as a little girl made the people of the Bible so familiar. David, Esther, Samuel, Daniel, Josiah… and especially the Lord… felt like friends I had known forever.


The illustrations were realistic and beautiful, and God’s people were courageous.

Queen Esther was one of my heroines…
“For such a time as this” is such an amazing thought.


I loved reminiscing over these storybooks from my childhood…
and then as I flipped through to the back pages, I saw tell-tale signs
that these books had been part of our daughters’ childhoods as well…


…The girls played “Library” with them!


What were your favorite Bible story books as a child?

Day #8 – And the ladies…

Decided not to worry that the “Day” matches the “Date”
in this year’s 31 Days of  Reading Aloud Project!

Guilt for being late now officially deleted.


Who could do a blog series about children’s picture books and not mention two Very Special Ladies? While the guys we talked about in the last post were a bit stylized and modern, these two ladies are decidedly old-fashioned. The first is old-fashioned because of when she lived and worked… The second completely by choice.

Beatrix Potter is known for being one of the very first female author/illustrators in the world of children’s picture books. When we think of Miss Potter, she seems to be the epitome of “old-fashioned,” but in reality, she was quite the progressive! Though she was born into English society, she did not want to follow the path of marriage for wealth or title, but instead wanted to marry for love and live a simple life in the countryside. Miss Potter had made up stories and painted pictures since she was a little girl, and as a young woman she decided to have one of her stories published. She was turned down by several publishing houses who thought her “bunny book” would never be successful, but finally her little book was chosen for publication by Warne Publishing. Unlike most authors of her day, Beatrix was very involved in the production of her books for children, from choosing a small size that was just right for little ones’ hands, to personally approving the colors used in duplicating her illustrations. Her first little book proved to be unbelievably successful…


Miss Potter lived quite an interesting life, and if you’d like to know more about her,
take a look at this list of books.
You can also watch this wonderfully sweet movie.

You’ll need a hankie.

You’ll also want to read aloud all Miss Potter’s sweet stories to your little folks…


Tasha Tudor was born almost half a century after Beatrix Potter. Tasha was born into Boston society, but she also wanted to live an old-fashioned lifestyle… and she did. Like Miss Potter, Tasha persisted on having her first book published even though editors turned her down. She became known for her sweet, softly colored watercolor illustrations, which were often surrounded by elaborately detailed borders. Her first book was published in 1938, and thus began a 70 year career in illustration…


Tasha also lived a life that has intrigued many people all over the world.
This movie is a wonderful introduction to her lifestyle.

Warning: You may decide to raise goats and chickens after watching it.

We did.

Needless to say, Tasha is my Very Favorite Children’s Book Author and Illustrator…

…Guess how excited I was to find out we share them same birthday!!!

Reading aloud favorites by Tasha?


… and also Corgiville Fair and Corgiville Christmas!

Day #7 – Just a few of the guys…

Whoops… a day late!


Today I thought we’d take a look at a few of the most
well-known male picture book author/illustrators…
…Maurice Sendak, Tomie DePaola, and Eric Carle!

Maurice Sendak is probably most well-known for this…
WildThingsWhere the Wild Things Are
… The story of a little boy who got in trouble, was sent to his room,
and sailed off to land full of wild and wonderful creatures…
“Let the wild rumpus begin!”

In our family, however, Mr. Sendak is most famous for this little set of stories…
Sendak1The Nutshell Library…
Alligators All Around: An Alphabet
Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue
One Was Johnny: A Counting Book
Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months

Grammy and Grampy have a tiny vintage set of these bold little stories by Sendak… And they were read out loud Every. Single. Time. we visited. Sometimes more than once. I can hear Grammy’s voice… “Sipping once, sipping twice, sipping chicken soup with rice…” The illustrations in these books remind me of old world woodcuts, while the “Wild Things” illustrations are the stuff of dreams. (The kind of dreams you have if you eat spicy things for dinner!) Sendak’s art is folky, fanciful, and very stylized, and his stories center around precocious little kids that misbehave… and often get eaten up as a result. As a mom, I wasn’t quite sure what to think of Sendak’s books at first, but soon realized there’s a bit of reverse psychology in them!

Another well-known author/illustrator is Tomie dePaola…


Tomie dePaola has written and illustrated oodles of books… over 200! He’s well known for European folk tales and Native American legends, but our favorites are his autobiographical stories. Tom is about his special relationship with his grandfather. (Somehow a story about chopped-off chicken feet makes a great kids’ book!) Another favorite of our is…

NanaNana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs

We were partial to this one because we had several generations of Nana’s in our family. Nana Anne (Who our youngest daughter Kate blogged about inner 31 Day Project) found this at a yard sale and brought it home. She explained to the girls that one day SHE would be Nana upstairs. It’s a slightly sad story, but also a very sweet one. And probably our very favorite book by Tomie…

ArtLessonThe Art Lesson

The Art Lesson is the story of young Tomie wanting to be an artist since he was a very little boy. Our oldest daughter, Jordan, loved this book so much that she wrote a letter in first grade to Mr. dePaola… and he wrote back! Talk about encouraging a little kid! Tomie’s style is also very stylized and easily recognizable.

The last guy we’ll talk about today is Eric Carle, who began his career
in children’s book illustration by doing pictures for a book by Bill Martin, Jr….
Brown BearBrown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Carle did a few more books with Bill Martin, Jr., but he also quickly began producing books that he wrote and illustrated himself. One of his most well-known books for children is…

CaterpillarThe Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a fun book for little folks in which a small caterpillar eats his way through the week (and the pages!) and grows bigger each day. Eric Carle produced many concept books that teach counting, the days of the week, insect sounds, parts of the body, and much more. But what is really special about Eric’s books is the WAY he illustrates them… with collage. Look a little closer at an illustration…


Each piece of his collage illustration is created from paper that he painted to add texture to the artwork.


Pretty neat, huh?

Making paint-textured papers and creating collages from them
would be a fun way to explore Carle’s illustration style, don’t you think?


…A Someday Field Trip…

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

Hoping to get there some day!!!