Pad Pants & Flashlights

We are off on our great family adventure – biking and camping in Colorado with Western Spirit Cycling.

 I’m beyond excited.  I did Western Spirit’s White Rim Tour in Canyonlands National Park exactly 9 years ago.  It is still the best trip I’ve ever taken.  This time, we’ll be doing one of Western Spirit’s Family Trips.

If you are at all interested in mountain biking, this company is fantastic.  They organize trips for all levels in the country’s national parks and forests.   A truck carries your gear and the expert guides do all of the cooking.  The food is amazing!

I can’t wait to share this with my husband and kids.  Our suburban life is undoubtedly charmed, but getting out of our comfort zones will be good for all of us.

Fresh air, wide, open spaces and sore rear ends, here we come!

WS 2002

Western Spirit Cycling’s White Rim Tour, 2002

Faaamily Book!

When my daughter was 3-months-old, I lay her on her back next to me and read “Who Said Moo?,” over and over again until my arms hurt from holding the book up.  Next came “Rainbow Fish.”  We both loved it.

Now, she’s 6, her brother is 5 and their dad and I still read to them every night.  They run down the hall announcing ”Faamily Book!,” after they’ve brushed teeth and dressed for bed.  But it can be a struggle to find books that appeal to both of them – a reader and a non-reader, a girly girl and a boyish boy, school-age and pre-k.

Enter Magic Tree House.  Great series that our daughter has read independently, but was also interested in listening to.  As was our son.  He loved it as much as she did and the brother and sister protagonists make it a perfect fit if you have boys and girls.

Next, Charlotte’s Web.  We all cried when Charlotte died and cheered when her babies were born.  Stuart Little was a big hit, too.

Then we moved on to Junior Classics for Young Readers by Dalmatian Publishing, available sometimes in Target’s Dollar section.  We think these abridged versions of the classics are well-done.  Plus, they have an illustration on every few pages.  Our son enjoyed The Secret Garden and A Little Princess as much as our daughter did, but he played with Legos through Little Women.  (Truth be told, his dad would rather have been playing with Legos, too.)

Both kids also liked The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Black Beauty, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Ann of Green Gables.  We omitted a few paragraphs about the town drunk in Tom Sawyer - not ready to go there yet.  In Ann of Green Gables, when Ann mistakenly gives Diana currant wine, we got away with a brief explanation about a ‘grown-up drink that makes kids sick.’

Now, we’re on to Harry Potter, halfway through The Goblet of Fire (Book 4).  I’m amazed at how enthralling this 734-page book is to kids this young.  My husband uses a different voice for each character and does it so consistently that the kids know right away who is ‘talking.’  (Of course, his theatrics don’t explain the several hundred million other copies of Harry Potter books that have sold.)

Good, old-fashioned plot and wonderfully-developed characters, plus an enthusiastic reader.  Faaamily Book!

No More Training Wheels

Both of our children recently took off on their bikes sans training wheels.

My husband and I would like to thank REI. Their status as one of my favorite retailers has been further cemented.  Check out their video, “Teaching Your Child To Ride A Bike.”  It worked like a charm for us.

Chapter Books for 5 to 6-Year-Old

My 6-year-old daughter is an avid reader and friends often ask us for book suggestions.

Last year, her wonderful kindergarten teacher read the first few Magic Tree Housebooks aloud to the class and used them to kick off lesson plans on dinosaurs, knights and Egyptian mummies.  We found most of the 46 (and counting) books in the series at the library, and Sasha would read an entire book before we got home.

Junie B. Jones was next.  Initially I was put off by the poor spelling and grammar, as well as Junie B’s questionable behavior, but my daughter begged to read them.  I quickly decided that I didn’t want to add a speed bump to her blossoming love of reading.  And while her writing isn’t perfect and she occasionally talks back, not once has it occurred to me to blame Barbara Park!

Below are lesser-known series that have been equally as popular in our house.  Currently, it’s the “B” for Betsy books by Carolyn Haywood.  First published in the 30′s and 40′s, they’re a great option for kids of moms who don’t embrace the Junie B-type of character.  There are multiple books in each of these series and we have found most of them at our library.

Roscoe Riley Rules by Katherine Applegate

Horribly Harry by Suzy Kline

Mary Marony by Suzy Kline

The Pee Wee Scouts by Judy Delton

Keeker and the Sneaky Pony by Hadley Higgenson

Nancy Drew Notebooks or Nancy Drew & The Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene

Marvin Redpost by Louis Sachar

Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo by Nancy Krulik

Calendar Mysteries by Ron Roy

Geronimo Stilton by Geronimo Stilton

Judy Moody & Stink books by Megan McDonald

Ramona books by Beverly Cleary

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol

Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrow

Betsy and Penny books by Carolyn Haywood

American Girl Contemporary Fiction