Saturday, May 8, 2010


A prolific blogger is one who is intellectually productive,

keeping up an active blog with enjoyable content.

Colleen over at Adventures of a Small Town girl honored me with a blog award. Thank you, Colleen! I've really enjoyed reading the stories she has shared on her blog as well. She has a big heart, and I'm blessed to know her! I hope you can pay her a visit!

It's a bit ironic that it's a "prolific" award, though. I have prayed and decided in the last couple weeks to step out of the "blogosphere." So I suppose this is a good, yet ironic note to end on!

I hope to be prolific in other areas in the next few months. Foremost in producing more offspring... via adoption. We are in the process of being certified with a new agency after the Lord led us to open up our options to all of California. We are excited to see how He will proliferate our family. And we really hope it's soon, although in the end, His timing will be perfect!

God has also burdened my heart to write a study to share with some of the women at my church. So far He has given me an outline, and I'm excited to see how He will fill it in and what He will teach me and others.

I'm eager to see what the Lord will accomplish during this season in our lives. I hope to be back some day to share some evidences of His grace with you. Until then, it has been a pleasure sharing my life, and a wonderful blessing to read about you and yours. You inspire me in so many ways!

So long, farwell... until we meet again!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Little Gertie stopped by for a visit last month. With an abundance of lionesque fur adorning her tiny little body she pranced down the driveway with a wag of her tail and a toothy smile. I spotted her just before I pulled the van into the driveway and made sure she stayed clear as I pulled into the garage.

No one was home at Gertie's house, so we invited her in for a spell, and that's when Sophie spotted her fluff. Jerking back with a low and meaningful growl, she told this visitor that she wasn't expected, nor welcome.

Sophie has always been a good little guard dog, but I'd never beheld such a territorial attitude. I told her it was ok, that Gertie had been invited, and she wagged briefly before she went back to staring down our little guest.

The boys began to lavish their affection on the little pup, and this proved to be even more unnerving to Sophie as she pace back and forth with obvious concern. Then every move was carefully observed and followed as Gertie did a bit of reconoitering throughout the house and the yard.

"Why is Sophie acting like that?" Josh asked, clearly enamored with our pint-sized neighbor.

"Well, Gertie has invaded her territory, I suppose. Sophie doesn't like to have to share the attention and space, and she certainly didn't appreciate Gertie climbing into her bed!" I replied.

I have often wondered over the last few months if the boys may have a similar reaction to having sisters in our house. What might they feel territorial about? How will they handle the reality of sharing the affections of their parents. And sharing their space... and their toys. So we talked about it a little bit, and they could see both Sophie and Gertie's viewpoints. We played out a few verbal scenarios and giggled at our fabricated reactions.

The truth is, I can get pretty territorial, too.
Sometimes Jesus comes into my spiritual house when I'm not expecting Him. He starts to reveal things and poke around in places that unnerve me. He makes me uncomfortable and unearths things about myself that make me want to growl.
But I need to be uncomfortable.
I need my territory to be challenged.
I need to remember that it's His domain and not mine.
I need to give Him every inch, letting Him roam freely in my life.
Finances, relationships, ministry, "my" time... every little nook and cranny. Each day, I want to be able to say,
"Come on in! Make yourself at home. How can I serve you?"
Are you ever a Sophie?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Gotta Get Back in Time

For the second half of our 4th grade history trip,
we traveled back in time to the 1850's
(This would explain why all my photos came out in a sepia tone.)
This is Lydia, the women in charge!
She spoke with a French accent and had a ton of energy!

First, we met our 49er pen pals.
Notice how there are an equal number of boys to match with girls.
There was a lot of giggling.
Next, we explored the depths of
the Gold Bug Mine and Priest Mine.

(Hard hats in the sack, so the adults won't konk their heads!)

We found this gentleman at the museum in
the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
He was an incredible story teller,
and told us the tale of the infamous Black Bart.

James Marshall's humble cabin.

Our tour guides, Trubble and Spot
in front of the Sutter's Mill recontructed replica.

In the evening we had a lively sing along
led by this talented trio.
We enjoyed singing songs like Home on the Range and
Turkey in the Straw (so that's where "a high tuckahaw" comes from!!)

Then we danced the night away with the Virginia Reel.
I don't have any photos of that because I was too busy
hooting and hollerin' and kickin' my heels up!

It was pure, unadultered fun...
and I enjoyed every minute of it, thoroughly!!!

Look Ma! I made some rope!

Look Ma! I'm using a printing press!

Trubble is explaining the best gold panning methods.
He is also winning the hearts of many 10 year old girls!

Hey Spot! Are you lying down on the job??
He kept telling me to stop shooting him with my cannon.
I told him it's a Nikon, not a Canon.
Silly Spot!

Josh worked very hard in an icy cold stream
for his four flecks of gold dust!

Our gang with their gang!

They sent us home with the reminder that
God is our true treasure and the only one we can kept for eternity!
I can't begin to tell you how impressed I was with this program!
The guides and the majority of the folks running it were 16-21 years old!
It was amazing how knowledgeable and articulate they were.
They taught the kids (and adults) so much about
California history and the Bible.
They were hilarious and fun and never broke out of character.
In an age when it is "cool" and acceptable to be
an adolescent until you are 30+,
it was so amazing to see teenagers transitioning into adulthood
with such excellence and purpose.
I told Josh that I hope Patrick and I can help he and Jason to do the same.
He agreed!
The trip was wonderful, but the Godly role models
were an unexpected and amazing surprise!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

CA History Adventures, Part 1

Our 4th grade history trip was a fun, memorable experience!
I love exploring "hands-on," in the field!
Our first stop was to see the state redwood trees.
We called for conditions, and discovered it had snowed 8 inches that morning!
In mid April??!!
While we didn't get to walk the trail, it was a great surprise...
a beautiful wonderland.

Arnold, CA
Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Josh had never actually been in "real" snow before!

It was fun to see him take it all in!

Columbia, CA
Columbia State Historic Park

The next morning we drove up to an 1800's town called Columbia.
It wish I could have taken outdoor shots, but it was pouring rain!

We spent the morning learning what is was like to attend school
back in the 1800's in a mining town!

We also visited a museum and the kids got to dip their own candles.

The kids were learning brick patterns.
Columbia buildings were once wood, but there were horrible fires
that resulted in rebuilding, using brick and other more fire resilient materials.

Murphys, CA

Mercer Caverns

Next, we explored Mercer Caverns, beautiful cave formations
which extend 16 stories below the surface of the land.
Walter J. Mercer bought this land for $1 after discovering the cave,
and made his "fortune" buy charging pinches of gold dust for tours.

This formation was named "The Twins" because it looks like crouching children.
This is the only place in the cave we were allowed to touch,
because the oils in your hands hinder the calcium formations.

When you are underground for an hour, you go cave crazy!

Our tour guide, Megan (behind Josh),
broke open geodes for us.

Angels Camp, CA

We stayed at this resort in Angels Camp, which is known for Mark Twain's
"The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County."
We read the story one night and did the voices and everything!!
Don't fill a frog full of quail shot!

The creek bed behind our room.

Stay tuned for Part 2: The Gold Miner Camp

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Road Trip Revelations

I have a love/hate relationship with road trips! I love the closeness they foster and all the fun memories that make for great "inside jokes"... and yet they are good at bringing out the quirkiest parts of us, along with all our weak spots, too.

Patrick and I generally have a rhythm when we travel, now. We have developed routines over time, and we generally know what we can tolerate, when we need to push through, and when we need to just take it easy and enjoy the scenery. But Patrick wasn't there...

So I had the opportunity to learn lots of interesting things about myself on the 4th grade road trip. For instance...

  • Discovery #1: When I'm playing "leader" I have an insane obsession with being on time. This is so bizarre, since I am normally 5-10 minutes late everywhere I go. All of a sudden, I transformed into Officer Penelope Punctual, and it was a good thing I didn't have a whistle! A really good thing!!

  • Discovery #2: I discovered that when I have Daphne (my GPS) talking to me on my left, and my friend navigating by map on my right, I get D.A.C.S., or Driver Anxiety and Confusion Syndrome. This affliction results in missed turns, making sudden exits, and a general brain fog. It is slightly dangerous to drive if you are afflicted with D.A.C.S., especially of you are prone to getting lost anyway. Maybe I should have let said friend drive, but then I would have had to read the map, which is scarier than having D.A.C.S.

  • Discovery #3: Trying to start a 6-7 hour drive at 4pm, after you have not slept the previous night due to freezing conditions in a very small tent can result in Multiple Personality Disorder. I started off as Officer Punctual, turned into Mean Molly, and then took some Advil for my headache that turned me into Relaxed Rita. Along the long stretches of highway, I transformed once again... this time into Philosophical Phoebe. And around midnight, I ended the trip as Kooky Katie, laughing while singing camp songs like "Duh Moose, Duh Mooo-ooose!" I heartily apologize to friend in Discovery #2.... I really wasn't trying to be Sybil.

I certainly discovered more of my strengths and limitations! Had I been born in the 1800's, I would have made a lousy pioneer woman! I would also come in last on the Amazing Race, but I already knew that about myself!

Aside from discovering more of my own quirks and shortcomings, we did have a fantastic 4th grade adventure. I will post pictures and stories this week!

Have you discovered anything interesting about yourself lately?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

First off, here's some cuteness on a Monday morning!
Oh, it just makes me want to kiss their chunky little cheeks!

I am a little more chunky, too. I gained 2 pounds last week. I'm not sure, but it might have something to do with the Sees' candy we bought on the way home from church last week. The chocolate goodness that keeps on giving. Oi! But oh, how the truffles melt in your mouth.

This week I'm taking my son, 6 other kids and 3 other chaperones on a 4th grade history/science extravanganza. We're going to see the Calaveras Big Trees, Angels Camp, participate in a live history program and candle-making in Columbia, explore caves in Murphys, and do all the Gold Rush fun in Coloma. I'm sooooo excited! This kind of stuff was always my favorite thing about teaching! It's supposed to rain, though, so please pray for us!! We are supposed to be in tents part of the time! I'll post pics when we return.
Hi Hucka Haw!
I'm not sure what this means, but our Gold Rush pen pal teacher used it as a closing in his letter! Mr. Lee, if you are reading... I'm going to need a 49er translation!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When the Going Gets Tough

Many, many years ago, Patrick and I were preparing for marriage by going through premarital counseling sessions. We each had a "Before You Say I Do" workbook. The book was mauve and it had a photo of an 80's couple filtered through a soft lens. Every week we would get homework to do separately in this workbook, and then we would share our answers at the session.

One week, our assignment consisted of a few pages of "What would you do if..." For instance, what would you do if you lost your job? What would you do if a family member died? What would you do if you couldn't have children?

These were serious life questions. Serious! I devoted a great deal of time thinking about my reaction and how I would respond and what steps we might take as a married couple together. I had a short paragraph answering every single one... partly because I was taking it so seriously, and partly because I can be an over-achiever. I was going to be prepared for this marriage thing!

The time came to share our homework with the counselor. I glanced over at Patrick's workbook. He had one short sentence to answer each question. It appeared to be the same sentence. I was slightly furious. He hadn't taken it seriously at all, I thought. We are going to have a horrible marriage, I lamented.

"Pray, and know that God is sovereign."

That's it? How can that be it? That is much too simple. That is like answering "Jesus" at Sunday School.

And yet through all the ups and downs we've had over the past 16 years, that has always been the best answer.

You were right, honey! R-I-G-H-T! (And that's another good piece of marriage advice.)

What's the best piece of marriage advice you've ever heard?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Can You Hear Him?

He spoke the world into existence.

His creation speaks of his majesty, beauty, & power.

He spoke to Adam & Eve, Abraham, & Moses.

The prophets of old heard his voice and relayed His messages.

He sent Gabriel to speak to Mary.

His Word became flesh, and He spoke through His Son, Jesus.

Volumes of love and redemption were spoken through His death and resurrection.

"His" story was cannonized and bound in leather.

In the past, I have heard people say that He has spoken,

...and that He doesn't speak today.

But I just can't believe that.

Because I hear the trees and flowers declaring His glory.

I feel His Word speaking to me in ways it didn't 10 years ago.
The voice of His Spirit convicts my heart.

The voices of His children speak into my life, if I bend my ear to listen.

When I pray, I expect Him to answer...

It may not be audible.

It may be "yes," "no," or even "wait."

But I know that He will answer me...

Because I am His.

He is my Good Shepherd, and I listen for His voice.

Where do you hear His voice?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Everyday Attitudes

The remarkable thing is,
we have a choice everyday
regarding the attitude
we will embrace for that day.
Friday turned out to be a litmus test for my attitude. Oddly enough, I had a conversation with Josh that morning about his attitude, that turned out to be equally as useful for me. Josh had a less than enthusiastic attitude about his schoolwork that quickly led him into the depths of despair.
He furrowed his brow, and the corners of his mouth turned down in a sour frown as he regaled to me how much he despised math. He figeted in his seat and sighed loudly as he wielded a No. 2 pencil in his hand.
"You know, Josh... math doesn't have to be your favorite, but you can choose your attitude about doing your work. Did you know that?" I asked, expecting a comeback. "You can choose to do your best, and you can choose to not be tormented over it... and then move on."
I left the room before he could launch into an argument of courtroom proportions. He would make an outstanding lawyer, possessing the logic to win just about any debate if engaged in a heated moment. Sometimes it's just best to walk away and give my words a chance to take root.
They did sink in... he decided to choose a different attitude and get on with his day.
My day, however, continued to be met with several more attitude defining situations.
The garage door opener broke. A few hundred dollars later, we have a new opener installed. Oi! I choose to believe that the unexpected check FedEx'ed to our door the same morning was God's provision to cover it.
Our foster care agency called... there are items on our certification that will be expiring soon. We will need to take renewal classes, and we still don't have any kids in our care. Discouragement. Yet, maybe this is one of the many "signs" God seems to be giving us in the last couple weeks that it may be time to pursue another agency.
The boys had tantrums and fought with one another all day long. I struggle with anger and impatience. In the end, I choose to see this time as an opportunity for growth... to help my boys grow in love for one another. And I choose to take some "mommy moments," driving up to San Luis for a mini-getaway.
I stop at Kohl's with a $10 coupon in hand. The purse I saw in the ad didn't turn out to be what I wanted afterall. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. No big deal.
On to the SLO Little Theater. I had been looking forward to seeing a production of Enchanted April for two weeks. I approached the box office... they had just sold out. Not a single seat left in the house. By this time, I felt pretty dejected.
But today, I'm choosing to move on. Because as Anne Shirley would say, "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." In the grand scheme of things, there are far worse things that could have happened, and sometimes I need to remember that instead of letting all the little, silly things pile up and defeat me in the end. Today I'll have a fresh set of circumstances. A new day for new attitude choices. And a new day to focus my eyes on Jesus.
How do you make attitude adjustments?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Oh, Muddy Waters...

Look out for Tom & Huck

Boys and Rivers
they're just made for one another

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beauty Marked

circa 2008

The year was 1992. I was all of 20 years old, having a chat with Patrick and some guy friends. The topics of discussion with these guys usually ended up including theology, politics... and girls, not necessarily in that order. Somehow in the course of our conversation, Olivia Newton-John was brought up. During the events of that summer, Olivia had been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a modified radical mastectomy. The gorgeous singer and actress' body had been assaulted by a deadly disease, and her beauty had been altered because of it. My heart was heavy for her, and I wondered if she was struggling with the results of the operation, or if she was simply thankful to be alive and able to see her daughter Chloe grow up.

And then the guys, minus Patrick, opened their mouths. They didn't hold back their brutal honesty and unfiltered feelings.

"That's just gross. I will never be able to think of her in the same way again," was a paraphrase of the harsh reponse.

"That is so mean! She is still a beautiful woman... and a cancer survivor! I can't believe you would say that," I replied, my feathers obviously ruffled. I had to defend this sister.

"Ya, but it totally ruins my attraction to her," one of the guys countered.

Within the months that followed, I had some doctor's appointments of my own. You see, I was born with a "beauty mark" on my chest, a mole that had grown and changed in appearance and texture over the years. My mom had always kept tabs on it, knowing it could become cancerous at some point. Finally, it had peaked concern in a physician, and he recommended its removal.

He described the relatively simple procedure, and he described the effects. Because of the location of the mole, it wouldn't be an unnoticeable scar. It would initially be about an inch of stitches, but then it would stretch out with the weight of my breast as it healed.

Olivia came flooding back into my mind. Patrick and I were getting close to marriage, and all I would have to offer him was a damaged, scarred beauty. He would be repulsed and wouldn't want me anymore. Tears come unexpectedly and easily as I remember the feelings I wrestled with over 18 years ago.

Tenatively, I shared my troubled thoughts with the man who held my heart. We had always shared our struggles before, and I didn't want to keep this from him, especially since I felt it would be of such concern to him on our wedding night.

My love embraced me and reassured me with his calm, soothing voice. He couldn't believe I was so worried. He cared that I was alive, and no scar was going to affect his attraction to me or what he perceived about my beauty.

Patrick loves me. He sees beyond my many flaws to see a woman made in the image of God.

As much as the infommercials tell me that I can be flawless and airbrushed, toned and tanned, I am a flawed person. I am scarred for life. I am pear shaped. I have cellulite. The parenthesis around my mouth are becoming more pronounced and plentiful as I am fast approaching 40 next year.

I am flawed on the inside, too. I lose my temper. I have mean-spirited thoughts. I am impatient. I'm too sensitive. I make some poor decisions. I am prone to isolate myself. I'm selfish. Where does the list even end?

Yet, by the grace of God, I am being refined and renewed day by day. He is polishing my flaws so that I shine for Him. I want to reflect His image and His glory, so that when others look at me, they don't see my flaws, but a reflection of a flawless and beautiful Creator. A Creator who loves me and sees Jesus in me. He is my beauty.

The King is enthralled by your beauty;

honor Him for He is your Lord.

Psalm 45:11


Click on this link to read more stories about beauty
at Sarah Markley's website this coming week

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Meet Daphne

After the great LOST incident of the summer of 2009, Patrick got me a little gift. He'd been wanting to bestow this gift upon me for quite some time. Finally, I accepted... gladly.

I now own a GPS... I named her Daphne. She tells me what to do... politely.
As soon as it gets warmer, I'm going to take the kids geocaching. Because I'm a nerd, and it seems like a fun thing to do.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

LOST... and Found

Part 2:
(part 1 here)

Golf Center Parkway exit. Was that it? Did the sign say Golf or Gulf? I couldn't be completely certain as I drove right by... it looked like Gulf, and the exit just didn't have a familiarity about it, so I drove on. Quickly, I crossed over to the city of Coachella, not remembering whether I'd passed Coachella on the way out. Coachella is a very small town, and before I could decide if I'd gone too far, I had already passed it and was heading into the barren desert. There were no street lights or city lights and the darkness quickly enveloped me.

"Ok, don't panic," I spoke aloud, "There is bound to be an exit right up the road."

Only there wasn't. Several minutes later, I had driven further into the shadowy landscape accompanied by an occasional trucker. I began to ask God to help me remain calm and to show me a place to turn around. Eventually, I found a turn out on the left hand side where I could see the outline of a big rig. Perfect. I could drive across the divider and carefully get back on the freeway going the other direction. If only there wasn't a guardrail on the other side.

Back on the freeway, heading toward Blythe, I called Patrick. I can't seem to find an exit, I told him. Could you look one up on MapQuest? I immediately sensed that Patrick was worried. I blinked back the tears.

"I don't see any exits at all," he said. "There literally aren't any. As soon as you find anything, you need to turn around."

"Ok, I love you," I replied.

By this time it was after 12:30am. I prayed and I desperately strained my eyes to find an exit on the horizon. Soon I found an exit, but I was disappointed to find it was only a rest stop, so I got back on the freeway again.

Tears began to fall as I struggled with fear and the dangerous scenarios which began to unfurl in my head. I had been driving for over twenty minutes past my Indio exit. Patrick couldn't help me, technology couldn't help me, my van couldn't help me, and I certainly was of no help to myself.

I continued to pray to the only One capable of offering the help I required.

"You are my only help and my salvation. I have faith in you and I trust in you to deliver me," I prayed.

I began to think of my Joshua, whose name means "God is my Salvation." He was born after Patrick and I had endured a church split which had spiritually crippled and discouraged us. As we fought depression and sin, the only thing we could believe, without a doubt, was that God was indeed our Salvation. We clung to that simple, but powerful fact, and wanted to be reminded of it on a daily basis.

I continued to utter "God is my Salvation" out loud. Yes, I believed it when He saved me, I believed it when Josh was born, and I still believed it as I prolonged my midnight drive toward Arizona. Just God and I in a desolate wilderness. My heart-rate slowed and I put my life in His sovreign hands.

And then the exit came.

Joshua Tree... it was Joshua Tree.

"Oh, thank you, Lord," I sobbed in gratitude. "You are my everlasting Salvation! I can't even comprehend how good You are!"

It was one of the most amazing, tangible moments of faith, trust, and worship I have ever experienced. As I corrected my direction and began heading back toward the hotel, my heart exploded with praise and song to my God who sees me, hears me, protects me, and saves me... from the darkest valley and even from myself.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff, they comfort me."

Psalm 23:4

Sometimes I walk through spiritual valley times, too. My surroundings and circumstances become so dark and bleak that I cannot see any light. But God is always there with me. I keep calling out to Him and He answers. He is my Deliver and my Salvation.

He is my Joshua Tree.

Photo by E.J. Peiker

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Part 1:

Last June, as I was preparing for my girlfriend reunion at Disneyland, Patrick approached me with concern in his voice.

"What if you get lost?" he queried, with a bit of apprehension behind his eyes.

We were in Indio, out in the desert past Palm Springs, and he was anxious about the prospect of me driving the long trek from there to Anaheim and back, by myself, after a long, exhausting day of amusement park fun.

"I will be fine," I assured him. "I'll memorize the freeways and I've been there so many times, I know the streets by sight."

"I just don't want anything to happen to you... I wish you had a GPS," he persisted.

"You are really worried about me, aren't you? That's so sweet honey!" I replied, thinking how cute it was that he was being so protective of me.

Patrick was basing his worry on 20 years of knowing me and my non-existent sense of direction.

He had a point, yet I was sure I had improved over the last few years. Yes, I did end up at LAX once on the way to a bridal shower in Whittier. There are certain towns like Cambria and Santa Barbara that completely turn me around, but I think that has something to do with city planning. And there was the occasion that I thought my car had been stolen at a San Jose mall, because I exited at the wrong door. But generally speaking, I have been doing better, and I was convinced I would be just fine.

So I made sure my phone was charged and memorized my route. The 10 to the 60 to the 91 to the 57. I wrote it down and I repeated it in my head several times for good measure.

"Don't worry, I know where I'm going," I told Patrick as I kissed him goodbye. My stomach was a little queasy as I began to doubt if I could really make it without having a slip up somewhere in Riverside County. No, I had prayed and asked God for His direction and protection, and everything was going to be just fine.

The trip out was one beautiful, seamless transition after another, and before I knew it, I was ready to find parking in Pumba and Timon or some other character's domain. Nothing to worry about. Maybe I had grown out of my directionally challenged state.

Then came the return trip. I was careful to prepare for the journey, topping off my gas tank at a station which shared a parking lot with a coffee shop, then being patronized by the occupants of 2 police squad cars. Feeling pretty safe and secure with my caffeine infused mocha in hand and a whole playlist of Switchfoot tunes on my iPod, I was ready to conquer the reverse leg. Piece of cake.

It all went quite smoothly, even the dark winding roads of the 60. About 20 minutes from Indio, I called Patrick, telling him I was almost in the vicinity and he had worried over nothing.

Famous last words...

To be continued.

(Part 2 here)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Books I Grew On...

I love picture books!!

The artwork, the silliness, the lessons, the touching moments.... I love it all!

Since a lot of you have little ones and many of you
are wonderful aunties, I thought I'd share my very favorites!

Have you read any of these?

What are your very favorite picture books?

What Do You Say, Dear? by Sesyle Joslin
What do you say when you bump into an alligator on a crowded city streep? What do you say when the Queen feeds you so much spaghetti that you don't fit into your chair anymore? The answer to these manner related questions found here! I like to do all kinds of accents while I'm reading this one!

Wake Up, Big Barn! by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood
Despite the title, this one is actually a great "going to bed" book. I love the fun phrases, and the collages that the author/illustrator created are visually stunning... especially if you like the color red!

Trouble on the Tracks by Kathy Mallat
I discovered this one when Josh was little and he was a huge train enthusiast. We read it over and over again and practically knew it by heart! It has a bit of a mystery element, too. I won't say any more, or I'll give it away!

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
This is my favorite folk tale. It's a hilarious story about why Chinese kids have such short names. Such a fun read aloud! Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Pari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo.... now that's a mouthful!!!

Teeny Tiny by Jill Bennett
It is so fun to build up suspense while reading this book and use your super scary voice! Tomie de Paola's illustrations are always so wonderful, too. His style is one kids can emulate with success. It would be fun to make up variations on the story, too!

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig
This is a touching story about appreciating family and never giving up. I always get a little teary eyed and I just love the sweet, pastoral illustrations. Be careful what you wish for and savor the moments!

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner
Skippyjon Jones is a cat who thinks he is a chihuahua. That fact alone makes for one hilarious scenario after another! I love that his mother has nicknames for him like Mr. Fluffernutter, too. I read this one with a Spanish accent and it just cracks me up!

Rotten Richie and the Ultimate Dare
by Patricia Polacco
I enjoy many of Ms. Polacco's stories that have a Russian flare. This one is definitely a departure from those, but it has the same relatable quality that she infuses into all of her books. This one is on sibling rivalry and learning to live with and actually love someone who drives you nuts!

If You Give a Pig a Pancake
by Laura Joffe Numeroff
This is my favorite of the "If You Give..." series. The pig gets into even bigger messes than the mouse... she's a pig, of course! I love the cadence of these books and predicting what the animal might do next! I think it might even help kids understand what it's like to be a parent sometimes!

Nurse Nancy by Kathryn Jackson
Nurse Nancy is my favorite Golden Book of all time. My mom and Aunt Nancy used to tell each other, "I'm a nurse at this," when they were little, so this book reminds me of both of them. It encourage little girls, especially, to dress up and play act at a career.

Noisy Nancy Norris by Lou Ann Gaeddert
I'm not sure if this one is even in print anymore, which is a shame! It is the story of a very noisy girl who lives in an apartment building... a situation that spells trouble. I love to act out her behaviors with the kids and have an excuse to be noisy and obnoxious. Then we learn why it's important to be considerate!

The Maggie B by Irene Haas
My mom always loved this book. It is about a little girl who makes a wish and gets to sail away for the night with her little brother. It is a sweet, endearing story and it ends peacefully, just in time for bed.

Lentil by Robert McCloskey
Mr. McCloskey is better known for books like Make Way for Ducklings and Bluberries for Sal, but Lentil is my favorite! It is the story of an unlikely hero and an unlikely antagonist in a small town setting. Brush off your harmonicas and play along!

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg
Mr. Van Allsburg has written and illustrated so many wonderful books. I've lost track of the awards he has received. I love Jumanji because of its whimsy. It is easy to suspend your disbelief and imagine yourself as part of the story as well. Board games will never be the same!

I Stink! by Kate & Jim McMullan
Anything can be turned into alliterative poetry... even garbage! It's absolutely disgusting, and I'm not sure little girls would sit through it, but my boys think it's the best!

Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
I must have checked this one out from the library at least 10 times as a little girl! What happens when you're invited next door for a sleep over, but you've never slept without your teddy bear? Oh, the dilemma!!!

I Love You As Much by Laura Krauss Melmed
Tissues, please!! As a mom, I simply can't read this one without crying. No, it's impossible! I'm getting teary... I better move on!

The Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Oh, how I adore Mr. Carle's books. I have yet to meet a child who is not enamoured by his collages and clever stories. This one, though, is the classic. I've used it to teach about metamorphasis and the days of the week and the perils of junk food! We have it in the Spanish version as well, and it is hilarious to hear my huband read it with a throaty, deep accent!

Harry the Dirty Dog by Margaret Bloom Graham
I had a college professor who implied this book was racist. No, I just can't see it! I think it's just a dog who runs away from home because he doesn't want a bath. It's a cute lesson... I think I should read it to my almost 10 year old who still hates bathes! Maybe it would encourage him or at least make him laugh!

Fritz and the Beautiful Horses by Jan Brett
An enchanting story, that teaches beauty is so much more than only skin deep. I love the fairy tale quality about it, and pulling for the underdog! The illustrations are also amazing, but that's to be expected of all of Jan Brett's books. I love The Mitten, too.

Corduroy by Don Freeman
No matter how many times I read this book, I alway feel for the little bear with the green overalls. I can't wait for him to be taken home and loved despite his "flaw." I think all children imagine stuffed animals to be real, don't they?

Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book of Months
by Maurice Sendak
Mr. Sendak is known for Where the Wild Things Are, but it is this cute little gem that caught my attention. It is a fun way to learn the months of the year. I love it's repetitive a quality, and of course, it's fun to heat up a bowl of chicken soup with rice to go along with it!

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
This is both a fun read and a wonderful, inventive alphabet book. It's hard to not get sucked into the rhythm! Add a drum to make it even more fun! Set it to music and start rapping! Or get some alphabet stickers to illustrate your own version!

Animalia by Graeme Base
Speaking of alphabet books, this is my other favorite! The illustrations in this book are so detailed and beautiful. You could literally spend a half an hour on each letter finding the hidden objects and exploring the world of Animalia.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
by Judith Voirst
Because some days are like that... even in Australia!

Tomorrow is our library day... so I need to know some of your favorites!

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