Author Archives: Tibby

Friday Five: Transgender Awareness Week

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The second week in November is always Transgender Awareness Week. Below is a list of five books you can read with your child during that week. However, you should have these on your shelf throughout the year so as to dispel the idea that transgender people only pop up one week a year or need to be relegated to one week in November. It is doubly important this year with the current administration threatening to erase trans people and their rights. 

I Am Jazz1. I Am Jazz written by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas

This is a must-have for anyone creating or cultivating a decolonized bookshelf. With author Jessica Herthel Jazz Jennings explains how she grew up knowing she was trans. It’s incredibly simple yet complex and will likely open up conversations between you and your child. Don’t be afraid to have those conversations with your child (although read the parent resources at the back first) and don’t be afraid to tell your child you don’t know an answer and will have to get back to them once you’ve done some research for yourself. The illustrations in the book a so sweet and gentle with a bright palate that make it very inviting.  

They She He Me2. They She He Me: Free to Be! by Maya Gonzalez  

They She He Me is a very, very simple reader that has two-page spreads of a variety of children and people with pronouns repeated underneath. It’s a visual of how people who identify as one gender or pronoun can present so differently physically. Gonzalez is always good at being inclusive so there are disabled people as well as a variety of skin tones. This book is fine on its own and, as with I Am Jazz, can be a great jumping off point for talking about how gender is not binary and up to the individual to determine.  

The Gender Wheel3. The Gender Wheel: A Story About Bodies and Gender by Maya Gonzalez

If you want a lot more in-depth coverage of gender, read Gonzalez’ The Gender Wheel which is PHENOMENAL. Be aware that it is much longer and more text heavy than They She He Me which may make it less accessible to younger kids. But don’t let that be the reason you pass it up. You can break it up over a few days or nights or just dip in from time to time. If you are not familiar with talking about gender outside a binary or you are not comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. And if you are familiar or comfortable with it, buy this book and read it again and again. While I personally talk all about bodies and body parts with my kids in an effort to avoid teaching shame around nakedness, your mileage may vary. There are two versions of the book- one with naked bodies and one without. I recommend you go for the naked bodies, but you’ll need to be the judge of that for your family. 

One of a Kind Like Me4. One of a Kind Like Me written by Laurin Mayeno, illustrated by Robert Liu-Trujillo

While this isn’t necessarily about a transgender child, it does show that clothing can be fluid and does not have to be limited to the narrow idea that girls wear dresses and boys wear pants. In One of a Kind Like Me, Danny wants to dress in a purple princess dress for school but he’s having a hard time finding the costume he imagined at the local thrift shop. After a little worrying Danny and his mom realize that they’ll have to get creative to make Danny’s idea a reality. Again, refer to The Gender Wheel to help you frame your conversations. Clothes may or may not be tied to gender for children, but it’s important to get away from the idea of a binary.

Sparkle Boy5. Sparkle Boy written Leslea Newman, illustrated by Maria Mola

This is in a similar vein as One of a Kind. Here Casey likes to wear things that are considered girly- bracelets and a sparkly skirt. What I like about this book is it shows Casey’s sister grappling with the idea of her brother not conforming to what she thinks boys should be wearing. Casey doesn’t seem to notice that he’s not conforming to gender norms which is great and while we don’t really need to center cisgender voices when talking about these things, it’s good to see how his sister struggles because some kids and people will and do struggle to wrap their minds around a new way of thinking about gender. By the end of the story Casey’s sister 

Books to warn against:

Jacob’s New Dress. The dad is kind of a dick in this one and I think the books above do a much better job addressing the issues. 

Julian is a Mermaid. This one just came out and it looked promising, but it’s written by a cisgender white lady and has a lot of problems. Read this critique by Laura Jimenez for more information. 

Storytime: Apples and Pumpkins

Theme Storytime Banner

Storytime is a series that you can use to get your homeschool day going. If you don’t open with a circle time (we don’t), keep it in your back pocket for one of those days when you need something to fill 20-30 minutes or when you want an enriching activity but don’t want to plan anything yourself. See this post for more detailed information about the series. 

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom, as a printable/downloadable pdf version of the storytime is available there. In the pdf there are extra books in case you don’t have access to the ones listed or need more, as well as extra songs and rhymes. 

Apples and Pumpkins

Opening Song

“If You’re Ready for a Story”

Sung to the tune “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, if you’re ready for a story,

If you’re ready for a story clap your hands.

(nod your head, sit so still)

Book

The Mystery Vine written and illustrated by Cathryn Falwell

 

Flannel Board

“Five Little Owls”

Five little owls on a moonlit night

Five little owls are quite a sight.

Five little owls Are you keeping score? One flew away! And then there were Four. Four little owls happy as can be,

One flew away then there were Three. Three little owls calling Who, Who

One flew away and that left two.

Two little owls having lots of fun.

One flew away and that left One.

One little owl we are almost done

He flew away and that leaves none.

 

Book

Apple Days: A Rosh Hashanah Story written and illustrated by Allison Soffer, illustrated by Bob McMahon

 

Wiggle Break

“Bananas Unite!”

Bananas unite! (Bring arms and hands together over your head)

Peel bananas, peel, peel bananas.

Peel bananas, peel, peel bananas. (Spiral hands and arms downward as if peeling)

Eat bananas, eat, eat bananas.

Eat bananas, eat, eat bananas. (Pretend to eat a banana)

Go bananas, go, go, bananas.

Go bananas, go, go, bananas. (Wave arms over head and dance around)

 

Book

Wonderfall written and illustrated by Michael Hall

 

Goodbye Song

Teach the signs for “good bye” (waving right hand goodbye by folding fingers up and down) and “friends” (touch tips of pointer fingers together). Sing through twice.

“Good Bye Friends”

Sung to the tune “Goodnight, Ladies” 

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

It’s time to say goodbye.

Click here to download the Apples and Pumpkins Storytime

Montessori Infant: Seven Months

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I missed six months. It’s been busy, in large part because Malin is now crawling and has been for nearly four weeks. She also pulls herself up to standing. We’re doomed. So while I’ve been following along with the Montessori materials, she’s jumped through a few of them because she sat up, started crawling and began pulling herself up so quickly.

We’re now at the fun part where I can assemble little treasure baskets for her with three or four items. She’s very quickly gaining control over her hands, passing objects between hands, manipulating them, turning them over, and banging them together. I remember really enjoying this stage with Cam and it was relatively easy to entertain her with a few new items rummaged from our kitchen or bathroom drawers.

Malin is really into blocks. Cam got into them, but not until much later. Malin likes to pull them out of the basket one by one, flip them around in her hands and look at every side, then set it down next to her and grab the next one. It’s interesting to watch and can entertain her for upwards of 15 minutes.

Ball Basket

I am always so amazed at what a different kid Malin is from Camille. While I knew she would be I had no idea we would be able to tell so early. Here’s to our last few months before she’s up and running.

Zero Waste: Backpack Kit

Zero Waste BannerAs I’ve been transitioning to a zero waste/low impact lifestyle I decided to kit out my backpack/baby bag with some zero waste essentials. Here’s a run down of what I keep in there.

  • dish towel- for drying hands, wrapping up food, I don’t alway have this on me
  • canvas tote bag- I have a ton of these at home that I’ve collected over the years, I take them with me separately to the grocery store, but sometimes I stop and don’t have the bags with me, this saves me from balancing items or from taking a bag
  • cloth diapers- we have some all-in-one diapers that I’m not wild about for using around the house, they function like disposable diapers in that they’re single use, so they’re perfect for out and about, wrap the wipes up inside them and tuck them into a wet bag, no need to worry about soaker pads or wet outers
  • food container- for leftovers or take out, ours flattens out which makes it easier to carry around when not in use
  • bamboo utensils- my husband and I each bought a set of these years ago to use for lunches at work, I have packed them in the backpack to use when we go places that only offer plastic ware or if we happen to need some flatware
  • reusable straws- again, for places that only offer plastic
  • coffee mug- I don’t always keep this in the backpack because with the diaper essentials and the weight of the cup it can get tight and heavy, but if we’re ever out and we need a cup for water or for coffee I like to have it, something lighter weight like those reusable Starbucks cups that cost $2-$3 would probably be totally fine

These are just some ideas for what you might want to carry with you to help reduce your waste while out and about. There are plenty of other zero wasters/low impact folks out there with additional or similar ideas. You might want to look for those to get some inspiration for other things you may want/need to carry with you. This is just a starting point. You may also want things that are more minimal or collapse down if you aren’t carrying around a large purse of backpack all the time.

Decolonize Your Bookshelf: Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect by Jayneen Sanders

Decolonize Your Bookshelf

I have a few thoughts I need to get out before I get into a review of this book. First is that colonization goes hand-in-hand with patriarchy, so despite the fact that this book isn’t really about incorporating more diversity into your shelves, it does relate very closely. The second is, what the fuck, with the confirmation of our newest Chief Justice bodily autonomy is apparently still up for debate (to be honest, I knew it was, but it still feels weird).

Lets Talk AboutLet’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behaviors
written by Jayneen Sanders, illustrated by Sarah Jennings

It’s never really too early to talk to your children about body boundaries. You should also be teaching your children the correct anatomical terms for body parts. So yes, that means teaching your two year old the words penis, vagina, and vulva. There is nothing inherently bad or embarrassing about these words. This will be easier or harder depending on how you were brought up thinking about these words and the actual parts. There is no shame in bringing your own baggage to these conversations. But for the safety of our children we need to move through that discomfort and teach them to not be ashamed of their bodies (body positivity) or their feelings (sex positivity). Children who are taught correct body parts and boundaries (appropriate touches vs. inappropriate touches) and taught to set boundaries without shame will be able to share when someone has crossed those boundaries and exactly how. They will also learn to develop healthy, happy relationships. 

Not only does this book open those conversations for parents who may feel uncomfortable with talking about these topics, but it gives parents who are confused about where to start a good jumping off point. Despite my rant above, body parts are not mentioned. It’s primarily hugging and kissing of a very innocuous kind. And there aren’t any scenes with creepy adults crossing lines. But the concepts covered here are vitally important for a lifetime of needing to define and hold boundaries.

We found the illustrations to be engaging and fun and the text, while it got a little long overall, was also engaging. Do be prepared to stop and talk about the concepts covered here. There are a lot of notes at the end that can help you ask good questions and give you plenty of food for thought for each page of the book. This is immensely helpful, even for parents who know what they want to talk about. High five to the illustrator for including a child in a wheelchair and showing that that child’s body boundary includes the chair.  

Remember patriarchy is about power and by teaching girls to please above all else, as well as neglecting to teach them about body boundaries, we set them up in that power structure that takes advantage of them. Teaching boys that they have a right to women and girls gives them permission to use the power patriarchy mistakenly gives them. That’s not to say when girls don’t speak up assault or harassment is their fault or for boys that by going along with all the implicit messages we send them removes their culpability. It’s not and it doesn’t. Smash that patriarchy by reading this book with your daughters and your sons. Teach them that consent is sexy and that consent should always be enthusiastic.  Teach them: their body, their choice. And then be sure to back that up when relatives want a hug or kiss and they don’t want to give it.

A big shout out to Aisha Ray of Raising Luminaries/Books for Littles for bringing this book to my attention with her amazing review that I came across on Facebook. If you don’t already follow her, go do that now and then give to her Patreon. She works hard and is such an incredible resource for parents fighting to bring about change in this world. 

Friday Five: Interactive Books

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Friday Five is a series that suggests five books around a theme. You can use them to jump off into a themed homeschool unit, guide your reading around an interest, or just as a ready-made set of books to read. 

Interactive Books

Interactive books are books that invite the reader(s) to touch them, shake them and become part of the story. 

Tap the Magic Tree1. Tap the Magic Tree written and illustrated by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree follows a tree through the four seasons. Children are invited to rub, touch, tap and blow to help the tree change through the seasons. This is a really great way to introduce the change of seasons to young children as they help bring them about. I particularly like all of Matheson’s books with their clean, bright illustrations. This would also be a great addition to a nature or tree study unit. The real message here being that the tree isn’t actually magical, but that it can certainly seem that way. 

Mix It Up2. Mix It Up! written and illustrated by Herve Tullet

Press Here, Tullet’s first title, is sometimes heralded as being the start of this genre, but I prefer the author’s second book Mix It Up! This one focuses on helping children understand color theory through tapping, rubbing, and smashing the book closed. 

Don't Push the Button3. Don’t Push the Button written and illustrated by Bill Cotter

A little purple monster has been charged with not pushing a tempting little red button. But what will happen if it does?! Hilarity ensues as he gives in to the temptation and then tries to fix the results by pushing the button again and again and again. This one makes for a great read aloud, even in a large group. Kids will get a kick out of pointing out what has happened with each push of the button.

 

Don't Wake Up the Tiger4. Don’t Wake Up the Tiger written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup

Teckentrup is like catnip in our family. We love her stories and her illustrations. This one is no exception. Here a group of animals needs to get from one side of a sleeping tiger to the other. Readers help the animals across the page by blowing them across or helping settle the tiger back into a deep sleep. But with the final animal, a balloon pops. Uh-oh. What is tiger going to do?

This Book Just Ate My Dog5. This Book Just Ate My Dog! written by Richard Byrne

Bella is out for a walk with her dog when something unexpected happens. Bella makes it across the gutter of the book, but her dog does not. After her friend, an ambulance, and fire truck head into the gutter to find out what’s going on and don’t return, Bella has to take matters into her own hands. Except she slips into the gutter too! A page turn reveals a note thrown out by Bella that requests that the reader turn the book sideways and shake everyone and everything out. I have used this book in the library to draw attention to the physical aspects of books and use it to kick off a conversation about all the names of the parts of a book. But it’s also a good interactive book for storytime if you don’t want to be swarmed by children all wanting to tap here, swipe there, and push the button. 

Zero Waste: Getting Started

 

Zero Waste BannerSo when I first began looking at the zero waste movement I felt overwhelmed. There is so much trash out there and anything I did felt like a drop in the ocean. And anyways, where do I even begin evaluating my own life and the trash I produce? It felt like an enormous undertaking to get started. But I had to start somewhere, so I decided to break things down into manageable chunks that I could tackle one at a time. I thought I would just share a little bit of how I went about getting started in case someone else out there is having trouble, is getting overwhelmed, or wants to use my approach. 

The first thing I did was make a list of areas in our house/life. Things like bathroom, bedroom, clothes, and kitchen. This is something that will be personal to each person/family/home. We happen to have a camping area in our lives and cars, but not everyone will have those (I wish we didn’t have to have cars!). 

Then I went through each section, one per day for a week, and wrote down all the things we do in those areas and products we use. This sounds more confusing than it is. Here’s an example:

Bathroom:

  • body wash
  • shaving cream
  • shampoo/conditioner
  • face wash & scrub
  • razors
  • underwear
  • socks
  • underwear
  • toilet paper
  • q-tips
  • cotton balls
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • mouthwash
  • lotion
  • deoderant
  • floss
  • neosporin
  • sunscreen
  • supplements

Next, I revisited one of those lists, one per week until I got through all of them, and researched options for each product or activity. Looking back at the example above, I researched sustainable toothbrushes and floss and toilet paper. For shampoo/conditioner I researched water-only hair washing (I had other reasons to do this too). I also decided some products we used were not necessary. It’s really important to remember at this step that you may have limitations that prevent you from adopting pure zero waste products and strategies AND THAT IS OKAY. DO NOT feel bad about them. Zero waste is not actually possible yet and while it that can feel sad, it’s reality. The point of a zero waste lifestyle is to reduce your footprint not erase it. 

I think the important thing to remember here is that if you try to tackle too much at once, you’ll just feel overwhelmed. Yes, it takes some time to work through all these areas and steps and I understand the impulse to jump right in and start living with less waste as soon as you become aware of the issues. But by breaking it down and moving through it methodically you will do a better job implementing the principles of a zero/low waste lifestyle and you won’t burn out or stop because you’re so overwhelmed. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so take your time. 

Now that I had a game plan in place, more or less, I started implementing the new actions, like packing the dishwasher more efficiently, and switching over new products as I used up old ones. Don’t go throwing out useable product! Use up what you have and make the switch when it’s all gone. So we still haven’t gotten through our toothpaste tube. When it’s done I’ll switch to the product I’ve chosen. Ditto Ziploc bags (I rewash those too). 

To summarize: 

  1. Identify all the areas in your house/life that need to become zero waste. 
  2. Within those areas, list out all the products and activities in them.
  3. Research products and activities and determine what you can replace.
  4. As you use up product or do activities start implementing your new strategies and products. 

Friday Five: Back to School

Friday Five BannerFriday Five is a series that suggests five books around a theme. You can use them to jump off into a themed homeschool unit, guide your reading around an interest, or just as a ready-made set of books to read. 

Back to School

School's First Day of School1. School’s First Day of School written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson

This book is equal parts funny and sweet. A recently built school worries about the first day of school and meeting the children. While waiting for that fateful day it talks to the janitor. When the first day finally arrives things don’t go exactly as expected, but the school learns a lot and comes to appreciate his place. 

A Hand to Hold2. A Hand to Hold written by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Purple Wong

A little girl takes comfort in the solid presence and support of her dad. They go everywhere together, the store, the library, and one day, school. But here the girl learns that her dad won’t be playing with her. At first she’s sad and scared, but the teacher steps in a pairs her up with another little girl struggling. Fortunately the little girl knows just what to do to help both of them feel brave enough to run off to play. Just try not to get misty eyed by the end of this one. :) 

I'm New Here3. I’m New Here written and illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien

Three immigrant children narrate their experiences of starting out at school in the US. They don’t speak English, can’t read or write in English and haven’t made friends, but come to jump all these hurdles with the help and encouragement of their peers and teachers. This one isn’t technically the first day of school, but it is about starting out in a new school. 

First Day Jitters4. First Day Jitters written by Julie Danneberg, illustrated by Judy Love

This is an older book, but it’s great for the first days of school. It flips the traditional narrative of kids afraid to start at a new school and follows a teacher worried about all the same things kids usually worry about (getting lost, not knowing anyone or anything, etc.). The fact that the character is the teacher is not revealed until the end of the book and makes for a good laugh when kids realize they aren’t alone in their fears. 

5. Ming Goes to School written by Deirdre Sullivan, illustrated by Maja Löfdahl

This is not technically a back to school book, but a book that follows Ming through the school year. The text is very spare and simple, but makes for a really beautiful story of Ming growing up through the year at school (parents, get your tissues ready!). The illustrations are just beautiful watercolors that make the story feel that much more sentimental. The soft lines and bright flowing colors really give you a sense of the passage of time. Well worth a read at the beginning of each school year. As a side note, Ming may be adopted? She looks Asian (she’s fairly generic) plus her name is Chinese, but the man, who drops her off, looks white. And the first part of the text says that school is where she learns to say hello which could simply mean she’s shy, but to me seemed more literal. Just a thought. That could be more of an interpretation based on the illustrations combined with the text rather than something actually implied by the text. She could also be bi-racial. My point being, children may be able to read a little more diversity into the story and see some representation. 

Montessori Infant: Five Months

Moo Five MonthsAnd just like that she was five months. I have to admit this time around I’m enjoying the baby stage a lot more. I wonder if in part I was set up better with my prenatal and postpartum care having used a midwife. I know being older and wiser, having done this once before, is helping too. 

This baby is a little further along than my first was at this age. She’s been rolling over for a month or more now and she has also become quite proficient at scooting around in circles on her tummy to look at things, follow people, and get to toys on different places on her play mat. She has also been working on core strength that allows her to sit up unassisted. While she still flops a bit, she is getting stronger and stronger by the day. She sometimes folds in half and can’t get back up, but she’s also figured out how to put her hands out in front of her to stop herself from falling too far forward. 

A lot of her materials have stayed the same from four months. We still have the Dancers Mobile up over her bed and she loves to watch that. I place her topponcino on the floor bed under the mobil and place her there to nap. I think the topponcino still helps her feel comfortable and familiar and the mobile keeps her entertained when she wakes up. She’ll often spend five or so minutes watching it and cooing/babbling at it after waking and before she fusses to let me know she’s ready for me to come join her. I know this is part of the Montessori approach to infants, leaving them alone (not necessarily physically) to engage with their environment. As she gets better at sitting up we can start introducing baskets with interesting things for her to sift through in them. 

I think the biggest advance Malin has made this month, though, is around food. She loves to eat and was showing all the signs of being ready to start solids. Between those cues and the fact that nursing has been difficult, we started her on some purees. Now this is a place I diverged from Montessori infant methods with my first and am continuing to with my second. In the Montessori way you have a small table and chair for the infant to sit at and eat called a weaning table. But that is just not practical in our house both for reasons of space and added complexity. There is no room to have another table and chair, no matter how small, in our dining room/kitchen. And with two kids and myself to feed I’m not about ready to set up three separate meals. Instead we modified the youth chair we had for Camille by adding straps and a buckle and we simply have the baby sit at the dining room table with us. She gets a little puree at each meal we eat (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) which is exactly how we did it with Camille. She nurses both before or after eating the solids and also between meals as well as early in the morning and later in the evening. 

I am struck this time around by how fast it’s all happening and while it’s been a long five months (this baby doesn’t sleep all the way through the night yet), I also feel like it’s flown by. 

Storytime: Back to School

Theme Storytime Banner

Storytime is a series that you can use to get your homeschool day going. If you don’t open with a circle time (we don’t), keep it in your back pocket for one of those days when you need something to fill 20-30 minutes or when you want an enriching activity but don’t want to plan anything yourself. See this post for more detailed information about the series. 

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom, as a printable/downloadable pdf version of the storytime is available there. 

Back to School

Opening Song

“If You’re Ready for a Story”

Sung to the tune “If You’re Happy and You Know It”

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, clap your hands.

If you’re ready for a story, if you’re ready for a story,

If you’re ready for a story clap your hands.

(nod your head, sit so still)

Book

School’s First Day by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson

  • Be sure to open out cover and show the wrap around cover art
  • Look at the end papers
  • Talk about what is happening on the title/dedication spread

Finger Play

“Two Little Houses”

Two little houses closed up tight (hold up two closed fists)

Open up the windows to let in the light (open fists)

Ten little finger people tall and straight (wiggle fingers)

Ready for school at half past eight (walk fingers along arm)

Alphabet Game

Read LMNO Peas written and illustrated by Keith Baker

  • Before you begin reading, explain that you will be looking for letters that start the names of people in your family. 
  • Write their names out on a piece of paper or whiteboard.

Flannel Board

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean

Goodbye Song

Teach the signs for “good bye” (waving right hand goodbye by folding fingers up and down) and “friends” (touch tips of pointer fingers together). Sing through twice.

“Good Bye Friends”

Sung to the tune “Frere Jacques” 

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

Good bye, friends.

It’s time to say goodbye.

Click here to download the Back to School Storytime