Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summertime, and the reading is easy- Book series recommendations included!

When my son MAP was born, it was a cold winter and just him and I in the house. Previously, I had been working in Manhattan at Ralph Lauren in the corporate office uptown, surrounded by hundreds of people. I took subways and trains and talked to a lot of people in the course of a day.

Then I was home with my baby boy, where I didn't know a lot of people. I didn't know anyone who had a baby. And I was so tired from lack of sleep. The house seemed so quiet without people to talk to. So I talked to my boy. And we read. A lot. Picture books from my childhood. New ones I had been given at his baby shower. No matter how tired I was, I could lie down and snuggle my boy and read. He loved to hear my voice and enjoyed looking at the pictures. MAP had a long attention span and reading filled up our cold weeks until spring came and we got outside more. But we always read. Every day. Outside on a picnic blanket, at the beach, everywhere.

Fast forward 10 years and he is super reader. So is his sister. I am not saying this is just from our reading sessions, but I do think they helped. I think it also helps that they have a fresh batch of books always on the bookshelf in topics they are interested in. To accomplish this, I turn to our amazing library system. With a little help from different websites to research what is new plus searching the libraries vast inventories, by topics or genre, I've found some incredible books for the kids. And if they don't like it, we return it and try again.

The Montessori School they attend has also helped shape our readers beyond what happens in the classroom. They encourage a Family Book, which is exactly what it sounds like, a book the whole family reads together. They said we should try to read above their reading level too- books they wouldn't read on their own yet.

Now, before they were at the school, we always read to the kiddos at night, but usually it was one parent and one child reading a book together. But this was a great idea, so we could all read and discuss the same books. One of those "Ah-ha!" moments.

What amazing stories we've discovered together!  These are a few book series that are our favorites and we highly recommend for a family book!

What an incredible series by Trenton Lee Stewart! A story of four children with different gifts that end up forming an amazing team and saving the world. Well written, fast paced and includes some puzzles to figure out along the way. They actually made a super fun puzzle book as a companion to this series, which we also loved.

This series is well written, full of action and brings Greek Mythology to life! From here, we explore mythology with cool fact books we found, plus a cool game called Zeus on the Loose- a fast paced card game by Gamewright that has us doing math in our heads! pictured below...We are now on to the second series, Heroes of Olympus. 

We all LOVED this series. A very sweet series about four sisters and a boy who they befriend. The sisters have lost their mother to cancer, but the way they care for each other and their father and this new boy, it's just so well written and engaging as a story. We couldn't put them down!

I think the most important thing was to find things that the kids were interested in. Some books just didn't do it for them. We tried Wind in the Willows, but it wasn't holding their attention and we moved on.

My daughters class was learning about Greek Mythology & that's when we brought in the Percy Jackson series. It made my son interested too and we all had fun together. Then we watched the movie together one night after we'd read the book. They both liked the book better. :)

If you have younger kids, there are lots of great stories too! If you have girls that have enjoyed the Fancy Nancy picture books, there is a chapter book series now. My girl loved these!

The Magic tee House series is a classic one and now they have Non-fiction companions to go with many of the books to delve into a the topes deeper, so if your child liked one of the books and wants to learn more about it, this is a great way to go. Mary Pop Osborne is a genius! 

Don't forget the Clarice Bean and Ruby Redfort Series by Lauren Child that we've posted about before. These are great books for girls AND boys alike who like mystery and adventure! 

We LOVE Jon J. Muth's picture books. The images are amazing and the stories beautiful. Zen shorts, Zen ties, Hi Koo! They introduce children to a Zen approach to the world, and let the child see a situation from a different point of view, via the stories of Stillwater the panda.

My son also HIGHLY recommends the swerves the Strange Case of the Origami Yoda for Star Wars fans approaching Middle School Age. 

We also discovered the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series, which is a comic style book about real historical events that my son devoured! These can be found in the graphic novel section of the library and I encourage you to check them out. My son learned a lot from these and there have been many amazing books we've found in that section dealing with biographies and real alive events, PERFECT for a non-fiction lover or a hesitant reader or a comic book fan! 

Our library has a new books section. My kids head there now first to see what has just come in! We have found lots of cool books this way.

On a personal note- I am excited for our EmmaMade featuring Loops by Keri Creativity Camps to start NEXT week!!! We made them 2 hours of jam-packed fun, twice a week, so it will easily fit into the busy summer scheduled.

Next week- Frozen camp in the AM and Minecraft CRAFTING in the PM!

FROZEN camp- Thursday July 8th & 10th- from 9:30-11:30am for a creativity camp based on our little ones favorite movie! We'll be singing along to the music as we craft. Just $80 for the two day session includes all supplies and snack! For ages 4+ 

MineCrafting camp- Is your child obsessed with Minecraft? Ours are too! Come have them CRAFT at our table with their hands, not just their thumbs  as we make some awesome Minecraft themed projects. Next Tuesday & Thursday July 8&10, from 12:15pm-2:15. Just $80 for the two day session includes all supplies and snack! Awesome for both boys and girls 4 & up!

More to come for book recommendations & crafty options..but for now, Read on!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FREE Open House- This Monday from 10am-1pm in Huntington

My kids go to an amazing school. They've made true, lasting friendships and we have this incredible community. But I am still amazed sometimes at the friends I have made thanks to this incredible school.

Case in point, my awesome partner, Emily Diamond. 

First, her name is just so cool. And she is an art teacher. Miss Diamond, the art teacher! The perfect art teacher's name. And Emily lives up to the name. Totally a sparkly gem, full of energy and positivity and enthusiasm.

At one playdate we got to talking. Emily loved my Loops by Keri knits and sewing projects I did with my sewing students.  I loved her joy of letting kids create and getting involved in the process, not just getting hung up on them making a "perfect" piece. We talked about how we would love to have a place where kids and adults could delve into that creativity. An AFFORDABLE place. And so EmmaMade featuring Loops by Keri was born.

We are having a FREE open house this Monday June 30th, from 10am-1pm in Huntington to introduce people to our studio, to meet Emily and I, to let the kids craft and the parents talk! We would love you to join us!

We have been running workshops and classes and Parents Night Out, where kids stay with us and craft and parents get to go out alone! 

We decided for summer to create mini Creativity camps. Camps that have different themes and are 2 hours in length for a Tuesday/Thursday. We have a class in the am (9:30-11:30) and another in the pm (12:15-2:15) Kids can choose to come for one session or stay for both (with no extra charge for the lunch time- just bring a packed lunch) There is a comfortable place for parents to stay if a child has trouble separating. We're moms. We've been there. 

We have an incredible variety to the themes of camps. Check it out! Click to view full screen :)

Hope you will come by Monday to check us our and get your craft on! 

Sooooooo lucky our boys found each other at recess and requested a playdate. 

Craft on!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Time! LOTS to come - and a pancake recipe for you

Ok, so I kinda fell off the blogging bandwagon. I have been focused on other things right now and it seemed like I could never get to it. BUT I ran into a friend while food shopping last night and talking with her reminded me of why I started in the first place. Sharing!

Sharing ideas of fun projects we tried or places we went. Sharing how to plan ahead meals and different ideas to keep things interesting as well as easy. Sharing fun places and events to go around town. And sharing some of my knits (and classes!!) too...

SO, I'm back. Thanks V for getting me back in the saddle....

We've had some BUSY few weeks. School ending always leaves me in a bit of a funky place. Love having my kids home to do things with, but it signals passing of yet another year. They really do go so fast. Too fast for me.

Five years ago, I had asked some friends to go to Adventureland the week after school was out and we had a blast. This has now morphed into a "the whole Love of Learning Montessori school is invited" trip and each year, more and more people take advantage of coming along and hanging out with friends. It is hands down, my children's favorite day of summer. All their friends! Unlimited rides! And it's less crowded since most schools are still in session. And we stay ALL day. Whee!!!
Here are some highlights...

Hoping this ride doesn't malfunction like last year......

My son, heading right towards us to ram his car into ours on the bumper cars

Happy Siblings

What I love best about this day. Seeing older kids eagerly jump on rides with younger kids who need someone of height to go with them so they can ride too. 

Who you gonna call?

Part of the group hanging out

Happy to catch this pic of my good friend and her boys sharing a happy smile

And to add to the memories for that day- the roller coaster stopped running while a whole bunch of our friends were on it! Luckily, they weren't high up. But they did have to wait in the sun for awhile and then climb down a rather thin looking ladder. Not the kind of ladder we were expecting to see...Thought it would be a very sturdy looking one. Ah well. All were safe and now have a cool story to tell.

This photo catches one of my favorite things about summer. Impromptu playdates. A friend happened to be stopping by to give me something and the kids started playing together, so we had a cup of coffee and watched our little Jedi's build Tinkertoy lightsabers and duel. Looking forward to many more of these in the summer!

I am planning on keeping this blog full of fun things to do, places to go, things to see, things to make and try...all summer long!

Stay tuned friends. There is a LOT more to come! Right now, it's pancake time!

My kids favorite pancake recipe:

Wet ingredients:
2 cups buttermilk (we use almond milk that we sour with apple cider vinegar- 1 1/2 tablespoons for the 2 cups- add them and let sit)
2 eggs
1 teaspon vanilla
1/2 stick butter, melted then cooled (or in our case, an Earth's Balance stick)

Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 cups flour (all purpose will give you lightest and fluffiest, but isn't the best nutritionally. We use 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour and 3/4 cup of all purpose- but we sometimes mix it up- try other flours- rice, graham, )
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar

Put all the wet together- whisking eggs first. Then put all the dry together. Add the wet into the dry and stir until mixed through but don't over stir.

Cook on the stove top. Make a few crazy shaped ones for fun. Same batter works great for waffles too!

To save time, make a double batch and refrigerate the batter. It'll keep for a few days in the fridge. I have some already made waiting for me.

summer on!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Who needs a night out? YOU do!

Hello friends!

The weeks are flying by between posts. We've been busy with end of school year stuff- piano recitals,  science fairs...LOVE it! Amazing memories being created...but not a lot of time in front of my computer...which is a good thing, right?

With all this busy time, you might need a night out - Here are TWO options for you ;)

Parents Night Out!  - Drop the kids with us for crafty fun & you can hit the town! 

We will be mixing up some fun with this Father's Day "Dad Rocks" paperweight. Children will learn to create their own clay from natural scratch ingredients. Will gather rocks and findings to create beautiful mosaics for the dad, grandparent just in time for Father's Day.

June 6th, 6:30-8:30pm
Snacks will be provided

Click Here to register for Parents Night Out-

Get Your Knit On!  - Adult Class

Come get out and meet some other fantastic local women!  Come learn to knit in our relaxed environment while meeting some new local moms/women. We’ll teach you how to cast stitches on the needle, how to knit and then bind off your completed scarf!  Perfect for the new knitter or if you need to relearn some long lost skills. Please feel free to bring a pattern and begin your project with our help! 

*We teach left handed people too! Come join the fun!

June 20th, 7-9pm
Bring your own beverage of choice.

Click here to register for Knit Night-

Hope you or your child can come craft with us soon. Class taught in Huntington NY by Emily and Keri (that's me ;)

Here's a fun pic to end the's from the science fair. Gotta love cornstarch goop ;)