Simple Money, Rich Life

“Easy to read” and “finance book” are not two phrases that I have ever used in the same sentence, until now! Simple Money, Rich Life is the easiest to understand finance book I have read. It isn’t just a “How-to” but an in depth study of your finances. Bob Lotich really helps you to understand money.

I was excited to receive this book because I knew my husband was looking to quit his job this October. I thought the timing was great to learn more about how to make my money work for me and gain some basic knowledge of investing. Fast forward to a few months later, we are in June and my husband put in his two weeks notice. At that time, he was hoping to do some things from home. This book allowed me to find unique ways to control my finances. (It also inspired me to start selling my unused items on Facebook again!) It also gave me lots of talking points. The biggest one being how to write out your fears and think through the ways to prevent or repair those particular fears.

Fast forward to today, and my husband has actually taken a teaching job and out situation looks completely different. But I am still working through many of the concepts from this book.

Here are a few particular things that stood out to me:

-It’s ok if you are finding ways to provide for your family that might feel below your abilities. You may have a master’s degree but find yourself selling your kid’s unused toys on Facebook to bring in a little extra cash while you choose to stay home with him.

-Understanding your Assets Under Management really gives you some perspective on what you really have. When I think “money” I don’t think of the value of all of the items I own. I think of the cash in my bank account. It gave me peace to realize that I actually have more than I realized! And at any moment, those things could be sold if necessary.

Anyone can be good with money when you learn how to attend to your money. Back in May I began to merely track our spending. I literally kept every receipt and wrote it in a notebook under a specific category. We have done this before, but it has been a while. I found it interesting because my husband and I were quick to underestimate how much we were spending on things like groceries. We kept saying about $400… NOT!!! It wasn’t until I started paying attention that I noticed it was much, much more! This really helped us to refocus our spending.

-And of course, for the nearly 2 months my husband was working on some goals at home, we did not want to spend any unnecessary money. Tracking held us accountable. I was less likely to buy something if I knew I had to write it down! (There are apps for this sort of thing but I prefer paper! There is something to literally writing your spending down.)

I also really loved that Bob’s wife, Linda, tossed in her thoughts, opinions, and experiences as well. Overall, this book is a great read. I feel like it may be one I return to often as a refresher! I highly encourage everyone to grab a copy no matter your current financial situation. You WILL learn something from this book!

You can learn more about Bob and Linda Lotich at there website www.seedtime.com

Book of Dinosaurs

Calling all Mommas of Dinosaur loving kids. This book is for YOU! (Well, them actually.) Book of Dinosaurs 10 Record-Breaking Prehistoric Animals by Gabrielle Balkan is a fantastic book for dino-fanatics.

This book is set up in such a way that you read a biography of the dino in question, see their skeleton, and then have to guess which dinosaur is being discussed. By the third or fourth biography, my son had the pattern down where he would say “What Dinosaur was I?” when I had finished the description. He also enjoyed feeling the texture of the dinosaur.

The biographies are short and simple. I love that there is a paragraph or two of text followed by a simple list of 3 top facts. Then the skeleton has several specific descriptions breaking down the dinosaur. Once you guessed, you turn the page to a full color spread of the dinosaur in question with more details regarding the dinosaur’s existence. The color dinosaur has a nice texture for your child to feel while you read the continued biography.

If your child is already a connoisseur of dinos, then this would be a fun book to read and “quiz” them; It could be a super fun game!

My son’s 4th birthday is just around the corner and we are doing a dinosaur theme. I am excited to have this book out for the kids to check out.

All in all, this would be a great addition to any library. Much like What a Shell Can Tell, this book is incredibly sturdy. It’s nice and large and will be great to read snuggled up with multiple kids or read aloud to a large group. The cover is solid and, barring any crazy catastrophe, I imagine this book will last for years to come!

Our Seasons

One of the many things I love about the seasons, other than the traditions and delights each one brings, is that they are tangible. You can see the seasons changing. It is such a wonderful time to talk about God’s creation with your children. One of the many ways you can engage your children in conversation about seasons is with books!

Sue Lowell Gallion has created another wonderful picture book for children. Our Seasons is an exploration into each season. What the environment looks like. What the animals or people may be doing. The illustrations are lovely and really help to give the reader a visual as to what the seasons look like. Of course, down here in the south, my winter does not look like the winter in the book, but what a great way to discuss the way the seasons are depending on your location on the globe.

Not only does Sue give bite-sized pieces of information, but she asks questions as well. These allow for great connection between reader and child. These questions will help you move beyond the text into greater conversation and connection. This book is great for reading together or just allowing your child to look through it alone and turn it into a globe!

This book will make a great addition to your home or school library. I encourage you to grab a copy for yourself and let the connections begin!

What a Shell Can Tell

We planned a trip to the beach for Memorial Day weekend. And as with most other things we do with our little man, I wanted to prepare him for things he might encounter while at the beach. Helen Scales’ What a Shell Can Tell was the perfect book for this!

Each full page spread is filled with delightful facts about the various types of shells and the creature that call those shells home. The information was not so overwhelming that my nearly 4 year-old couldn’t grasp it. In fact, the factual information was fairly succinct and allowed for the beautiful illustrations to solidify that knowledge.

We loved discussing all the images and talking about how they represented the information given. For example, one section talks about how you can tell the age of a shell. The illustrations beautifully showed that specific information so that I could point out the very lines the text had mentioned.

My son was eager to go to the beach and kept saying he hoped he would get to see creatures. Unfortunately, the beach we went to didn’t have many shells. We did find a plethora of one specific type and it was fun to talk about how we saw those clams in the book.

I also want to take a minute to talk about the quality of the book itself. The book is large, maybe a foot and a half in height. This makes for a great lap book and allows for the illustrations to be really detailed and easily seen. The paper quality was amazing too! Thick pages and a very sturdy cover. I was really impressed with the quality of the physical book as well as the information and illustrations it portrayed. If you are planning a beach trip or just want to learn more about shells and what they can tell us, then I encourage you to grab a copy of this book!

My new found love!

Over the past several weeks, I have really begun to have an interest in cultivating a morning time with my little man. Like most of us, I set out to find a podcast to listen to and discovered Pam Barnhill’s Your Morning Basket podcast. I, of course, begin to binge listen. In episode 20, she introduces Bonnie Ward Simon, founder or Maestro Classics. I was enthralled by what Bonnie was doing. Setting children’s books to classical music? Sign me up! (Did I mention my son is pretty musical and I have also been wanting to find ways to introduce him to that too? Match made in heaven!)

I went to Maestro Classic’s website* a few weeks back to find that Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel was not only one of their books, but also on sale! Double YES! I purchased it and while I waited for it to come it, I moseyed on over to the public library catalog and put Big Machines and Mike Mulligan on hold. By the time the CD arrived, we had been reading these books for several days. My little guy was so in love with the CD the first time he listened. Every day after that, when I picked him up he’d ask if I could play the CD. WIN!

Currently, they are having an Easter sale and I have my eye on a few things. If you haven’t yet, you should definitely check out their website. As well as Pam’s podcast!

*Affiliate link

The Apostles’ Creed For All God’s Children

The Apostles’ Creed for All God’s Children is an illustrated picture book of the Apostles’ Creed. The text breaks down the creed line by line. Then it adds some Biblical truths to that portion of the creed. The additions are written in different ways. Some pages include basic information about what that line means to us and others add some question answer format similar to the Catechism.

The book was published this past February. Check it out anywhere books are sold.

I liked this book for its simplicity. It easily helps to explain the basic principals of the Christian faith. I liked it, too, because it included a few of the catechism questions we are working on with my son. I think, overall, this is a great addition to the family library.

Just a caution, the crucifixion illustration is fairly graphic and may just be a tad realistic for the younger audiences. My 3 year-old did not seem to have a negative reaction to it.

If you are looking for another way to help your child understand their Christian faith, I believe this book is a great way to do just that.

The Stars in April

For Ruth, India is the only home she’s ever known, but now she must move to America. Ruth is, to say the least, not thrilled. Ruth is feeling angry at her father for sending the family off, sad for leaving her best friend, and disappointed in missing her Spring concert. If all of that was not bad enough, Ruth must ride overnight on a boiling hot train only to be put on a ship bound for England where she will set sail for America on the RMS Titanic.

The reader who is aware of the fate of the Titanic cannot help but read with that ending in mind. I actually cheated and read the author’s note at the end! As a mother, I can only imagine Mrs. Becker’s fears and anxiety in taking 3 children halfway across the world! Not only that, but then dealing with the actual sinking of the ship and the separation from her daughter. I absolutely experienced some real emotions while reading this story.

The sinking of the ship and Ruth’s experience with that is the climax of the story. The bulk of the story line follows Ruth’s travels from India to the mid-Atlantic. Throughout her travels, Ruth is met with many wonderful characters; Each one giving Ruth something to think about and helping her come to accept the turn her life has taken.

This book is a great read for upper elementary and beyond. If you love a well-thought out historical fiction book, then I encourage you to pick this one up. I will certainly be adding it to my school’s library.

Something I’ve learned about myself

Within this last year, I realized that I LOVE to check off things consistently. I want to see how many days I can complete something. 30 day squat challenges? Love them! So when my school began using Beanstack as a way to track reading minutes, I should have known how into it I would get!

Beanstack is a platform we use for our students to track their minutes read. As the Library Media Specialist, I set a community goal for the year (which we have already exceeded!) and the kids track their minutes. Our charter ran a challenge for Hispanic Heritage Month to see which school could read the most. Man did I jump on this! I’m not an athletically competitive person, but when it comes to academics, I can go all out. (Side note: my school of 148 kids read over 25,000 minutes! We read the most out of the high schools in the charter. But I digress!)

I enjoyed tracking my minutes and made sure that I read for at least 10 minutes a day so my streak wouldn’t die. I think I may have been more into it than the kids! 🙂 I did, however, lose my streak in October… that is because I completed two absolutely fabulous books and I just needed to sit with them for a while. You ever feel that way? I couldn’t even fathom starting another book because those two were just so, so good! But I have since picked up another great read and my streaks are back! Do you like to see how many days in a row you can read? Also, do you know how many books you can read when you ensure you’re reading 10 minutes a day? Trust me, it’s more than you think!!

My Beanstack streak for October!

The Paper Wolf

Gracie is an eleven year old who has been in foster care since she was six, moving from family to family. It is no wonder that she has no true understanding of family stability. After being kicked out of a foster home, she is temporarily placed in a group home while her social worker searches diligently for a new family for her.

Early on on the novel, Gracie is placed with the Barkmans. Here is a true family unit. Mr. and Mrs. Barkman have two teenagers and are eager to show love to foster children. But Gracie is not the easiest child to love or so she thinks. Plagued with emotions she can’t really name, Gracie struggles to let down her walls and allow the Barkmans into her heart.

Through unconditional love and one very dramatic experience, the Barkmans show Gracie that they do love her and want her to be a permanent part of their family. But Gracie is holding out. She has to decide if she can let go of what she dreamed of the last six years and let the Barkmans become her permanent family.

Written by a foster parent, this novel introduces its reader to the potential struggles faced by those in foster care. At some points, you just want Gracie to get over herself, but then you remember that 5 years is a long time to be in foster care and Gracie has not had loving families care for her. You begin to see that Gracie is not being a pouty preteen but is harden by a difficult life and needs lots of love to break down barriers she has had to put up to survive. As a granddaughter to foster parents, I have some personal experience with children who have had to be removed from their families for various reasons. Loving foster families can make such a difference in the lives of these children. I think this is a great book for preteen and teen readers. It lends itself to some wonderful discussion about the love of family and the love God has for us all.

Awesomeness:

-The Barkmans want to show Gracie love the way Christ loves us.

-Mrs. Barkman prayers out loud when she is having a particularly difficult moment.

-A wonderful picture of a family who truly loves each other and enjoy being around one another.

Cautions:

-As you can imagine, Gracie has a lot of anger and frustration. She has several outbursts and runs away a few times. Chrissy does a great job of showing us what possible walls a child in foster care might have and ways they might express their emotions without being unrealistic or too descriptive. I think this allows for some really great conversation regarding the experiences of children in foster care.

-There is a scene where Gracie is nearly assaulted by some older boys but is saved by her brother who is then beaten up pretty badly. The description here is well-written and does not use any unnecessary details.

You can connect more with Chrissy at www.chrissymdennis.com

The Broken Paintbrush

Everyone wants to be needed, important, seen.

Sitting among perfectly crafted paintbrushes was a little broken paintbrush. He was continually passed up by artists because he was cracked. But one day, a painter comes in and purchases this little, imperfect paintbrush. The paintbrush is excited. Finally!! Finally he was going to be an artist!

His excitement was diminished when he discovered the artist he was going to be used by was not a great, artistic master but a little girl. Feeling disappointed and confused, the paintbrush had no choice but to do what the little artist wanted. He was dipped into clay paint and roughly brushed across the canvas. He lost bristles. He was unable to breathe. He was, to say the least, very upset.

But his demeanor changed when he realized that this little girl thought he was special. He was special to her.

We can all relate to this broken paintbrush. At one time or another we have felt forgotten, but we can remember that even on days when we feel this way, God sees us and has NOT forgotten us. This powerful story is told in such a way that the littlest of readers can understand. Certainly a must-have for your child’s library.

Awesomeness:

-Art history- this is a fun little intro into Italian art and one of the most famous paintings around.

Challenge:

-Grab your child’s untouched/forgotten art supplies and encourage them to create a masterful work of art!