Indoor Fun

The Miracle of Books I'm not a parenting expert. If I were, there wouldn't be fingernail polish on my daughter's bedroom wall . . . or a fitted sheet in my garbage can that was cut by scissors. You'd also probably be dazzled by my children's perfect manners and impeccably clean finger nails.

But despite our mistakes and occasional dysfunction, I have discovered something that helps things go right. It softens moods and inspires laughter. It helps bind me to my children and helps them find common ground with each other.

What is this miracle, you say? Books.

I know it might sound silly or so ridiculously simple that you won't believe me. But it's the truth. I read to my children. A lot. And when I do . . . magic. They pile up, they snuggle in, they giggle, and they find commonality. A day gone horribly wrong can turn out miraculously right with the words of a simple, children's book.

I was thinking a lot about this today. I have several kids not feeling well. There are some high-stress health situations that we're battling. Moods were edgy. Fights were frequent. Until Avery walked up to me and placed a book in my lap. "Read book," she stated simply. I picked her up and put her in my lap. "Thank you," she smiled (her new, favorite phrase . . . which is a huge improvement from her fascination with shouting "butt crack" every time I changed her diaper . . . and yes, I wish I was lying). I started to read Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buehner. In seconds, Haylee was at my side, giggling about the snowman learning to dive and swim in the pool. Then Tanner started listening. Even Hunter propped his head on the back of the couch to look over my shoulder. A good book changed everything for awhile.

On days where everything else goes wrong, sometimes I forget that reading a book together can help solve it. I'm trying harder to remember. So as I was thinking about this today, I began to smile about some of my kids' favorites and I wanted to share them with you.

1. No, David! by David Shannon

No, David

This book will always be a favorite in this house. My kids snicker with delight over David's shenanigans. They love him. He's real. He makes mistakes. And he's loved.

2. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Alexander Honestly, it's the same with Alexander. Real is funny. It just is. Even kids relate to it.

3. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

If_you_Give_a_Mouse_a_Cookie

We love all of Laura Numeroff's If You Give books, but this was my favorite as a kid and so it's the one I always read to my kids. And hey, it's good for teaching cause and effect too.

4. Not That Tutu! by Michelle Sinclair Colman

not-that-tutu

This is an adorable, little board book that my girls love. Taylor is obsessed with wearing her tutu (which they can totally relate to, I assume). It's Avery's favorite book, hands down.

5. Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

Bear-Snores-On

All of Karma Wilson's Bear books are excellent. My kids find every single one to be engaging. Plus, Jane Chapman is a fantastic illustrator, so there's that.

6. Mrs. Wow Never Wanted a Cow  by Martha Freeman

mrs wow My kids love her "lazy, crazy pets." They think this book is hilarious.

7. Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems

Can I Play Too Gerald and Piggie are favorites at our house. The illustrations are so expressive and really make the books great. This one is one of my boys' favorites. My 8 year old laughs hysterically every time we read it.

8. How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? by Jane Yolen

The dinosaur books are great. And funny. This is one of my personal favorites.

9. Corduroy by Don Freeman

Corduroy I loved this book as a kid and my kids love it now. I don't even know what it is about the book, but they enjoy reading it over and over.

10. Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed  by Eileen Christelow

Five Little Monkeys We love the five little monkeys. They're adorable. Enough said.

I hope you and your kids can enjoy some of the same moments that we do as we read this books. And please, share your favorites with me! We're always looking for more great books to read together.

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2 Comments

I'm sort of obsessed with Christmas. I'm not going to deny it. I'm totally proud of it. I'm also obsessed with Christmas movies and this will also not be denied. I watch them all year. Give me whatever speech you'd like about encroaching on other holidays because it won't phase me in the least. I love feel-good jolliness all year long. Christmas movies are uplifting and warm and sometimes even cater to my romantic heart. Besides, if you don't like Christmas movies, it's quite possible that you have no soul.

So I either buy or rent or watch on Netflix, any Christmas movies I ever get my hands on. I won't claim to have seen them all, but I've seen a lot. I also won't claim to love them all because sometimes the acting can be incredibly poor. But I love a lot of them. Give me a good, cheesy, romantic story with good acting and I'm yours. If any of these ten movies hold claim to cheesiness, I'll warn you, but will not apologize for the sappy genius.

Okay, so here goes, in no particular order . . . good Christmas movies can't be rated without offending the season:

white-christmas-movie-finale-red-costumes

1. Irving Berlin's White Christmas
- I don't care who you are. I don't care if you like dancing or singing. If you can't appreciate Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera Ellen and Danny Kaye's artistic talents, then you probably shouldn't watch Christmas movies anyway.

dear-santa-amy-acker-5

2. Dear Santa
- My family loves this one. It's one of our favorites. It's a romantic, feel-good movie that focuses a lot on hope and service to others. I seriously probably watch it once a week. All year.

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3.It's A Wonderful Life
- I shouldn't even have to say it, but this is a classic. And I prefer it in black and white, but they sell both versions. James Stewart is fantastic and the story is uplifting and wonderful. It's a must watch every year.

12 Dates of Christmas 4. The 12 Dates of Christmas -  I can't find this to purchase anywhere, but it's on Netflix. It's a great movie. It's like a holiday version of Groundhog Day. Can't go wrong with that. Plus, if you watched Saved by the Bell and were in love with Zack Morris, it's like a trip down memory lane.

the-santa-clause 5. The Santa Clause
- I love this movie and it's not just because of Neal's ridiculous Christmas sweaters. It's a warm and kind of healing movie, I think.

MostWonderfulTimeOfTheYear1 6. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- Love it. Period. Just a warning though, if you have little kids who still believe in Santa Claus, I probably wouldn't let them watch this one. It will get them asking questions you don't want to answer. I've never let my kids watch it, but I do all the time.

600full-miracle-on-34th-street-screenshot 7. Miracle on 34th Street
- There are several versions of this movie and the new one is actually good too, but I still like the classic the best. The magic of Christmas right there.

BoyfriendforChristmasStill2 8. A Boyfriend for Christmas
- This is probably the cheesiest of all my picks, but it's still totally cute. Just a good romantic comedy. Totally worth watching.

Christmas Shoes 9. The Christmas Shoes
- If you don't feel like crying . . . well, okay, or completely sobbing . . . through the entire thing, then don't watch it. Luckily for me, I don't mind shamelessly blubbering. If a movie is capable of capturing heartbreak and happiness at the same time, this is the one. Great movie. Plus, Kimberly Williams-Paisley rules. And actually, there are two sequels to this which are also good.

still-of-macaulay-culkin-and-joe-pesci-in-home-alone-large-picture 10. Home Alone
- I've been watching this since I was a kid and I still love it. Funny and yet works in the hope of the Christmas season. It's an incredibly well-done film.

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