Stone Soup Books

January is National Soup Month and us grups (that’s grown ups for you non Star Trek fans) have eaten soup several times during the month (MBS is a very picky eater). While he wouldn’t eat any of the soups he has enjoyed reading about the folk tale stone soup.

First we read The Real Story of Stone Soup written by Ying Chang Compestine & illustrated by Stéphane Forisch. This clever version of the tale is told from the point of view of a fisherman, who describes himself as hardworking and his 3 nephews as lazy when the pictures show a different story. When they stop on a beach to make lunch his nephews fool him into believing they are making soup just from stones, when in fact they are distracting him and adding other ingredients. It is a cute story and the illustrations nice but it really went over MBS’s head, to get the humor you have to be able to examine the pictures and see what is happening and he’s just not there yet.

Our second stone soup tale was Stone Soup retold & illustrated by Jon J Muth. This version of the tale has 3 monks coming to a village that had survived many hard times, making the villagers weary and untrusting, and only took care of themselves. This story wasn’t about the monks tricking the villagers into making the food so much as them bringing happiness and caring back into the villagers lives. It was a lovely story and the author’s note at the end has information about Buddha story tradition’s and traditional Chinese folklore and culture.

Our final version of stone soup was Fox Tale Soup written by Tony Bonning & illustrated by Sally Hobson. This is the more traditional tale of the trickster getting a free lunch and it was our favorite of the three versions. The trickster in this version is a fox who stops by a farm on his travels and asks if they can spare any food, of course all the farm animals say no. So the fox decides to make himself stone soup. What made this book the best? The illustrations!!!! Oh my, these are some of the cutest farm animals I’ve seen.

The fox setting up his pot over the fire.
The animals smelling the soup.

Aren’t those chickens the cutest?  Sadly, it is out of print so we’ll just have to remember to get it from the library again.

I’m linking up to There’s a Book for the picture book challenge.

Tot School Owls

Tot School

Mr. Blue Sky is 24 months old.

We had a fun owl themed week. We read some books that featured owls (reviewed here):

  1. A Book of Sleep written & illustrated by Il Sung Na
  2. Little Owl Lost written & illustrated by Chris Haughton
  3. Wow! Said the Owl written & illustrated by Tim Hopgood
  4. Whoo Goes There? written by Jennifer A Ericsson & illustrated by Bert Kitchen
  5. Oliver’s Wood written & illustrated by Sue Hendra

We got a set of Do-A-Dot markers (reviewed here) and MBS had a blast drawing with them. At DLTK, I printed out  a rhyme, owl coloring sheets, and a neat paper bag craft. MBS decorated all of them with his new markers.

O is for Owl
Decorating the owl puppet parts.
Paper bag owl.
He likes it!
Coloring owls with Do-A-Dot markers.

We also made some O’s, using printout from Confessions of a Homeschooler and hand drawn O’s.

Trying hard to dot in the circles.
Following Momma's lines.

I read about making your own lacing cards on Tot School. I cut out one of the owl shapes from a coloring sheet and used that as a pattern to cut and owl out of a piece of foam. This was MBS first time doing any lacing and he was easily frustrated but had a blast making the foam owl play with his stuffed owl.

Trying to lace the owl.
Getting frustrated.
Making the owl hoot.
Playing with his two owls.

As a wrap up to our owl week I made some owl cookies. I used ideas from here and here to make them.

Owl cookies.
Must pluck eyeballs first (he LOVES m&m's).

We had a fun week. To see what others are doing visit 1+1+1=1.


This month I was able to use two 40% off coupons at Michael’s Craft Store. I used one on a new puzzle for MBS and the other on a set of Do-A-Dot markers. MBS has been loving using these markers, though he tends to overly bang them down and also soak the paper. I like that so far he can’t open the cap on his own, so no worries of finding him using them when I wasn’t planning on them being out.

MBS liked helping to shake them.

Shaking the new marker.

He liked trying to get in the circle.

Working on the letter O.

And he liked painting his face with them.

What Momma?

Unfortunately Do-A-Dot markers are NOT as easily washed off as Crayola’s Washable Markers. It’s mostly cleaned up but you can still see faint “smudges” where the marker was. All in all they seem like a great product but need supervision if your child is the kind to paint their face (or anything other than the paper).

Owl Books

MBS has been having an owl theme week, it’s a theme we keep returning to since owls seem to be one of his favorite animals. Our favorite owl book of the week wasn’t really about owls, it was about sleep.

A Book of Sleep written & illustrated by Il Sung Na was a truly lovely book.  The book follows an owl who watches as other animals fall asleep. The text was brief and the the imagery of the book was charming and unique. I was really surprised that MBS liked this book, the owl isn’t the main focus and isn’t very realistically drawn but he asked for this book again and again this week.

Our next owl book was Little Owl Lost written & illustrated by Chris Haughton. Due to a good review, this book was supposed to be one of MBS birthday gifts. But it was out of stock when we were doing our birthday order, and I’m glad it was. It is a cute little story about an owlet who falls from the nest and is lost. Other forest animals try to help him find his mom but his descriptions of her keep leading them to other animals. The story is cute, illustrations clever, why am I glad we didn’t buy it? The color scheme of the illustrations and the odd font used for the text really bothered me– physically. I got a headache reading this book to MBS!

We’ve had Wow! Said the Owl written & illustrated by Tim Hopgood out of the library before. It’s a fun book about an owl who stays awake and sees the sunshine and all the beautiful daytime colors. I want to remember to check it out again when we talk about rainbows.

Whoo Goes There? written by Jennifer A Ericsson & illustrated by Bert Kitchen is about an owl listening for it’s dinner. It has realistic illustrations and the animal life look beautiful. I was stressed reading it the first time wondering how MBS would take it when the owl caught his dinner, but the owl never did catch anything and for some reason that bothered me all the other times I read it. MBS really liked this book, pointing at all the different animals.

Oliver’s Wood written & illustrated by Sue Hendra has the same general idea as Wow! Said the Owl. Oliver stays up all day, but instead of being amazed by the colors he could see it showed what animals he could find. The illustrations are cute but this book didn’t really grab me. Okay, so I was really bugged by the fact that it shows all his nighttime friends falling asleep out in the open but when he’s awake during the day they’re gone and replaced by daytime animals. No, if bats are asleep hanging in this tree they’re still going to be visible in the daylight. I realize it is just a picture book but these kind of logic gaps really bother me, must be my vulcan blood.

I’m linking up to There’s A Book for the picture book reading challenge.

Ten on the Sled

We’ve had Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman and illustrated by Liza Woodruff checked out from the library for the maximum amount of time so I figured I’d better hurry and get a post written about it before it’s overdue. (It’s bad when your husband is the manager of the library and brings home your holds, returns your books for you, and still you manage to get overdue fee’s!)

Ten on the Sled is a countdown book with nicely rhyming text and adorable illustrations. The book starts with just one on the sled but then all ten animals climb on and they go sledding down the mountain. As they race downhill the animals leave the sled one by one.

There were nine on the sled
and the caribou said,
“It’s snowing! Get going!”
So they all got going,

but Hare hopped out.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this to MBS. The text flows wonderfully and has a great vocabulary but it’s really the illustrations that put it over the top. Of course, one big bonus for me is that this book has a sled full of arctic animals and NO PENGUINS! One of my pet peeves are penguins and polar bears together— they do not live in the same hemisphere! Thankfully this book got it right and didn’t include any cute tuxedo birds.

One through ten,
all leaped on again,
for one more run
and a little more fun
in the moonlit land
of the midnight sun.

Other books we’ve enjoyed lately:
Bear in Sunshine written by Stella Blackstone & illustrated by Debbie Harter
Bear on a Bike written by Stella Blackstone & illustrated by Debbie Harter
One Moose, Twenty Mice written & illustrated by Clare Beaton
Elusive Moose written by Joan Gannij & illustrated by Clare Beaton

To sign up for the picture book reading challenge visit There’s a Book and to see what other people have read this month visit the January link up page. Thanks for stopping by.


Now onto the chores. No, not on to chores because I truly dislike that word.

chore (chôr, chr)


1. A routine or minor duty or task.
2. chores Daily or routine domestic tasks, especially a farmer’s routine morning and evening tasks, such as feeding livestock.
3. An unpleasant or burdensome task.

Definition from the Free Dictionary. The third definition is what I object to, an unpleasant or burdensome task. Now it is true that there are plenty household things that I don’t like to do, but to label the entire lot of them with this negative outlook just seems wrong to me. So I’d rather call it our “job” list than our “chore” list, that’s just me. I know it’s a simple and possibly silly little thing but oh well. (I am now humming “a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, medicine go down, medicine go down”, yep, that’s me)

I am a strong believer in having every family member do jobs around the house.  I also  feel that the jobs should be shared. Just because I hate doing dishes or folding and putting away clothes does not mean that those jobs are going to be dumped on MBS when he gets older. Everyone rotates through all the jobs, the easy, the hard, the fun, the unpleasant.

At his age he doesn’t have many jobs, and all the ones he does now he is doing WITH a parent. He feeds the dogs, he carries the chicken feed up to the coop, he puts away his toys every night before bed (and usually at least once during the day– or else our small living room just screams DISASTER). I know at least one extended family member got really upset hearing that we have our 2 year old doing jobs, but you have to understand he LOVES helping. It makes him feel so proud. When he takes a cloth and wipes down the table after eating he just glows with accomplishment. Jobs aren’t some sort of punishment, he loves helping and making a contribution to the family.

As he gets older we’ll add more and more jobs until by the time he’s ready to leave home he’ll be able to do everything necessary to run a household on his own. That’s the goal anyway. I’m sure there will be many stumbling blocks along the way and we’ll probably have to try different ways of assigning jobs but I feel that that is just part of life. You keep trying different methods until you find the one that works best for you.

One that I am planning on starting as soon as he’s more capable is a Job Jar. Olive Plants and Counter-Culture School blogged about theirs and I thought it was a great idea. Write out jobs on index cards and put them in a jar. Color code jobs either for age or for difficulty so that no one is drawing a job they can’t do (or if by difficulty not drawing a card they don’t have time to do).  Rules are you have to do the job you pull out, no reading it and putting it back.

Now they both  wrote a money amount on the cards for how much the job was worth but I thought I would use a code and then have a code reference book listing what that code was worth. That way I could have the same job be worth different things depending who did it, and easily change what it was worth. I was thinking that I would sometimes want to change the code so that instead of cash sometimes the job would be worth a neat treat like tickets to the movies. Plus put in rewards for me and Ryan too. I mean, I already do that— tell myself if I go scrub the bathroom I can order an ebook. Also by changing the code reference I can base it on what our budget is like right then and also maybe linking it to plans I already had. “Wow, you did that job, it was worth a trip to the zoo!” when I had planned for us to go to the zoo that week, which sounded clever when I thought of it but seems very sneaky as I type it. Hmm. I might have to rethink that, good thing he’s only 2 so I have plenty of time to plan.


The subject of allowances and chores has come up on both an email list and several blogs I read recently so it’s been on my mind. Years ago when we were in our happy “we’d get pregnant any time now” phase (not realizing it would take 16 YEARS!) we had read the book Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees by Neale S. Godfrey and really liked the ideas she put forth. So we sort of had an idea in the back of our heads about allowance and teaching about spending and saving, but it’s been a long time since I’d read it so I went ahead and reread it (new updated edition!).

She proposes giving an allowance based on the child’s age per week and then a 4 jar system of using/saving that money: charity of the child’s choice 10%, long term savings 30%, short term savings 30%, and spending money 30%. She recommends using actual see through containers at first so the child can see the savings grow and of course exact change so you can split your child’s allowance up into the jars.

The book has a lot of games for learning about money, how to be a wise consumer, how to set up a budget, and how to eventually get your teen to manage all their own money so that by the time they’re ready to leave home they are money wise. I highly recommend this book.

So, is this how we are going to be doing MBS allowance? Sort of. She feels strongly that the allowance should be based on chores, that it should be money earned and we differ there. When she talks about chores she does share some of the same ideas as me that some chores you do because you’re a “citizen of the household” and you don’t get paid for those. While other chores have an amount attached to them. I am kinda with her on all of that, I agree some chores you just do because you’re a part of a family and these jobs need to get done for life to move smoothly, while other jobs you get a special bonus for. I just disagree that the “allowance” is tied to chores.

I think of MBS’s allowance the same as my spending money, Ryan doesn’t take away my latte and  ebook cash because I didn’t get the laundry put away (my dreaded chore). I don’t stop Ryan from buying new books because I had to take out the trash and recycling. Spending money is just that, spending money. It’s each family members share of the household budget. Now, sometimes the unexpected comes up and the budget is tight and I don’t have money for lattes because of it. I think that’s a good lesson for a child. Telling MBS that “the dog got sick and we have a large vet bill so everyone is cutting back on extras this month to help pay for it”. I think that helps him understand about being a part of the family, that everyone gives and everyone takes, everyone works and everyone benefits.

So we are doing an allowance based on MBS’s age per week, for now it is all going into long term savings, when he starts becoming more money aware we’ll start the 4 jar system.

Tot School No Naps, Tantrums, and Puzzles

Tot SchoolMr. Blue Sky is 24 months old.

I’ve been terrible about getting anything planned or organized so we’ve pretty much had non-stop free play here. Most of every day is filled with playing with his trains and duplos. I’ve noticed that he’s really enjoying lining up all the trains and cars, that’s a new fascination for him.

Last weekend MBS (Mr. Blue Sky) learned about carpet removal and was a “Very Useful Engine” (we watch a LOT of Thomas!). We have a leak in our living room wall (outside cement patio is the same level as the slab foundation so rain has just worked it’s way in) and while long term repair means removing the patio, tearing out the rotten boards and drywall and rebuilding a section of the wall, the short term fix was removing the wet carpet so we can at least dry up the puddle as it forms. MBS was fascinated by the carpet removal. At first I was worried that it was going to have lots of fumes or dust and it would be dangerous but it was actually pretty easy, dirty but not gross. He was really helpful in moving the cut up carpet squares to where we were piling them and ripping up the padding and putting it into the trash bags. Each time we removed a section of carpet he’d go onto the cement floor and do a little dance, it was very cute!

Aside from me not being organized right now we’ve been having a tough time because of 2 things MBS is doing, I’m pretty sure they’re connected and I’m hoping that time will just fix it or we’ll find some routine that helps. So what are the 2 things?

  1. MBS has decided he no longer wants any naps. He REFUSES to lay down and take an early afternoon nap, a few times he has fallen asleep early but if I try to get him to nap it just means a big tantrum. Of course with no nap he just keeps getting crankier and crankier as the day goes on and at least half of the nights he falls asleep right at dinner time, napping through dinner (and he needs all the food he can get!) and waking about bed time with lots of energy! So I end up staying up really late with him… I am so tired!
  2. He’s been having some really major tantrums. I’m assuming this is because he’s tired and his sleep cycle is all out of whack. He’s gone a bit farther than his usual throwing himself on the ground screaming, several times he’s taken to running right into the wall head first giving himself glorious bruises (textured walls make weird bruises!)!

So, what do you do with 2 year old who no longer wants to nap but obviously needs a nap? How do you stop a toddler from hurting himself during a tantrum– trying to hold him just makes him angrier. I’ve been trying to calm him by asking him to “use words” and tell me what is making him so upset and some times that calms him but since his spoken vocabulary is very limited this sometimes just leads to more frustration.

Aside from tantrums and lack of naps things are going pretty well. His vocabulary is growing, today while we were out he correctly identified that what was driving next to us wasn’t just a “car” but a “truck”. When my Mom was here yesterday he actually said a full sentence (which I totally can’t remember!) and she was really surprised and I wasn’t which made me realize he’s been stringing a few words together for awhile now. (Woohoo!) The other day he had his Infantino Color and Texture Puzzle out and I turned around and realized he had put together several of the matches all by himself! I was super impressed, had to take photos on my phone and send them to Ryan at work.

Hoping to have a slightly more organized and together week (fingers crossed!) this coming week. Our theme will be Owls! I will also be posting books that we are reading for the Picture Book Challenge. To see what other tots are doing visit Tot School. Thanks for stopping by.

Read to Me

Since having Mr. Blue Sky I’ve found it hard to find time to read, which being an avid reader has been a really negative thing. So deciding that Mommy needed to get back her reading time I signed up for 3 different book challenges (Mystery and Suspense, Stephen King, and Speculative Fiction) to help keep me motivated. I’m posting about the books I’m reading for those challenges on our family blog.

Then I came across the Picture Book challenge hosted by There’s A Book. This challenge has quite a few levels. I am aiming for “Harvesting”, reading 200 books to Mr. Blue Sky.

Challenge Levels:

Reading with a Child:

  • “Planting” – Read 12 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Watering” – Read 36 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Feeding” – Read 72 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Growing” – Read 120 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Harvesting” – Read 200 picture books with a child during the year.

Reading on Your Own:

  • “Board Book” – Read 12 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Unjacketed” – Read 36 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Jacketed“ – Read 72 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Early Reader” – Read 120 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Chapter Reader” – Read 200 picture books on your own during the year.
While I really have no trouble getting in reading time with Mr. Blue Sky, I like the idea of a challenge to keep me motivated to introduce new books versus just reading his favorites over and over again (though I’m sure I’ll still be doing that too). Plus it will mean more posting on this site— hopefully— that’s the plan anyway!  If you’re interested in joining the challenge stop by There’s a Story and sign up.

Tot School Birds and Birthday

Tot SchoolMr. Blue Sky is 24 months old.

We had a pretty mellow week here at the Woolly Dragon. The 5th was National Bird Day. To celebrate we watched birds outside our windows and colored some neat pages I printed out from Birdorable and We also read Birds (A First Discovery Book). We have a couple from this series and they are really neat, with some see-through pages that change the pictures. He really likes looking at them.

Mr. Blue Sky spent a lot of time this week playing with his trains and cars. Not only playing with them but sorting them and putting them away. I bought some clear plastic containers with lids that he could remove (we tried at the store before buying them) for him to store his different toys in. He’s learned that all the Duplo go in one box, the train tracks in another, and train buildings, trains, and cars all go in the third. He’s gotten really good at putting them away in the right container, sometimes without any prodding from us!

Saturday was Mr. Blue Sky’s 2nd Birthday! So hard for me to believe that he is two years old! We had been planning on having my mom over for cake but snow in the forecast changed our plans, instead we dropped him off at my moms while we did the grocery shopping. That was nice for them, my mom got to see him open her present and they got some special one on one time. When we got home from shopping we set up Ryan’s laptop so it faced the couch and then Skyped with Ryan’s mom while Mr. Blue Sky opened his presents from them.

The rest of his presents we doled out throughout the day and then we had chili dogs for dinner (he actually ate some!) and an owl cake for dessert. It was a chocolate cake with chocolate cream cheese and plain cream cheese frosting, using dried pineapple rings, Whoppers, a pecan, and slivered almonds to make an owl face.

Looking forward to life with a TWO YEAR OLD! Visit Tot School to see what other tots are doing. Thanks for stopping by.