Category Archives: To do

To Do…

It’s a busy week for us.  Jack turned 9 yesterday.  Victoria turned 14 today.  Victoria has surgery tomorrow (she has a mass on her jaw that doctors need to investigate and remove).  Alex turns 5 the next day (yes, 3 of our 5 kids have birthdays the same week!).  The next day, we leave for Minneapolis and the next day we are taking part in a historic presentation (Daryl will be teaching folks how to use the telegraph!).  The next day, we’re bringing a wonderful friend of Victoria’s back home to stay with us for a week.

I’m trying not to think too much about all the things I have to do!

But in the meantime, I’m making up a to-do list of the fun stuff to be sure to accomplish in the next week or two besides the birthday fun and family adventures.

I want to try to…

  • Go hiking
  • Go bike riding
  • Have some messy fun
  • Try out our new water wall outside
  • Set up a bathtub water wall inside
  • Make lots of healthy treats
  • Do more art
  • Read oodles of books to the little kids and the big ones
  • Spend more time in nature
  • Lie in the sun
  • Have a picnic for lunch (even in the back yard)
  • Play with the dog
  • Play in the dirt (I mean garden)

We’ll see how much we get to.  But I’ll be happy if we just find some time to have a little extra fun. 

What’s on your to-do list for fun next week?


Filed under To do

Do Something Brave Month!

We’re doing a family challenge for the month of February that I thought others might like to join in on.  We’re designating it Do Something Brave Month, and challenging ourselves to each do 20 brave things to earn a family reward.

What counts as brave?  Anything outside your comfort zone that could lead to good things but feels a little scary.

Some examples (for big and little people)…

  • Go to sleep with the lights out
  • Approach someone you’d like to befriend and start a conversation
  • Audition for a play
  • Jump into the deep end for the first time
  • Sign up for a club or class
  • Ask for a raise
  • Stand up for someone (including yourself)
  • Sing in public
  • Face a phobia and take a step towards kicking it
  • Climb a tree
  • Send out a book proposal
  • Go into the basement alone
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Write an author to say you love her book
  • Get a daring haircut
  • Go up high and look down
  • Sign up for a half marathon
  • Quit a bad habit
  • Try out for a sport
  • Look under the bed

Obviously, these should be tasks that are a little bit scary for you.  Petting a dog would be a great challenge for a child afraid of dogs, but not for someone who is always around them!  Each thing should be safe and positive

These can be small steps that help deal with shyness, fears and hesitations.  Keep it doable!

Want to join in?  Pick a family goal (we’re doing 20 each, for me and the four older kids, so a total of 100 brave things for the month) and a reward (we’re taking a trip to the Mall of America for the first time as a family so we can hang out with wonderful friends and see LEGO Land for the first time!).  Also decide on rules.  For instance, we decided that we can do more than one a day and that we can do extra to help the family out (for instance, if one family member is short on her/his 20, we can do extras to make the family goal).  Focus on making it positive and possible!

We’re tracking our points on the calendar, with a different color of pen for each of us to log our accomplishments.

Are you in?  Feel free to jump in any time and tailor it to suit your family!  I’d love to hear some of your challenges in the comments if you do join in.

Here’s to making some magic happen.  🙂



Filed under To do

100 Favorite Children’s Novels

The School Library Journal’s Fuse 8 blog conducted a survey recently of favorite children’s books and these are the top 100 (after being tampered with so that children’s votes were not always counted — see the edit note at the end).

While I’m not a fan of the way the voting was done, I love any sort of list of good children’s books and I have a new summer goal — to have read all 100 by the end of the summer!

Since we have read so many of these already, that’s not actually too scary of a goal.  🙂

Want some new ideas for what to put on your library list (or to see how many you and your gang have read)?  Here they all are….

#1 Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg

#6 Holes by Louis Sachar

#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry

#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

#11 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

#12 The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

#13 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

#14 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

#15 Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

#16 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

#17 Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli

#18 Matilda by Roald Dahl

#19 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

#20 Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

#21 Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riodan

#22 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

#23 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#24 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

#25 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

#26 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

#27 A Little Princess by Francis Hodgson Burnett

#28 Winnie-the Pooh by A.A. Milne

#29 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland /Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

#30 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

#31 Half Magic by Edward Eager

#32 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

#33 James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

#34 Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

#35 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire JK Rowling

#36 Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

#37 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

#38 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

#39 When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

#40 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

#41 The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

#42 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#43 Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary

#44 Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

#45 The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

#46 Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

#47 Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

#48 The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

#49 Frindle by Andrew Clements

#50 Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

#51 The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright

#52 The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

#53 Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

#54 The BFG by Roald Dahl

#55 The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson

#56 Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

#57 Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary

#58 The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

#59 Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

#60 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

#61 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

#62 The Secret of the Old Clock (The Nancy Drew mysteries) by Caroline Keene

#63 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

#64 A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck

#65 Ballet Shoes by Noah Streatfeild

#66 Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

#67 Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher by Bruce Coville

#68 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

#69 The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

#70 Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

#71 A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

#72 My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

#73 My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

#74 The Borrowers by Mary Norton

#75 Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

#76 Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

#77 City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

#78 Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

#79 All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

#80 The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

#81 Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

#82 The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

#83 The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

#84 Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

#85 On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#86 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

#87 The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg

#88 The High King by Lloyd Alexander

#89 Ramona and her Father by Beverly Cleary

#90 Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

#91 Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

#92 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

#93 Caddie Woodlawn by C. R. Brink

#94 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

#95 Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

#97: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

#98 Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

#99 The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

#100 The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

(I’d include a link to the original posting but the main site has been redesigned and all of the original links are no longer working.)

Any that you and your kiddos would add?


Filed under To do

Boredom Busters!


Nothing to do?

Here’s a pile of free and easy ways to turn a lazy day fun…

Make an obstacle course of couch cushions and stray objects in the living room.

Play charades.

Give kids a screwdriver and let them take apart broken phones and other gadgets.

Alter a book.

Challenge the kids to fill a laundry basket with something representing every letter of the alphabet. The catch? It has to be out of place already. Afterwards, put it all away and fill it with 10 blue things and so on.

(Shhh, don’t mention this is eerily similar to cleaning.)

Mix tempera paint with a little liquid dish soap and let the kids paint a fall decoration on a window.

Teach them a new card game.

Paint rocks, sticks or pine cones outside.

painted rocks

Turn a large box into a post office, rocket ship, puppet theater, boat….

(Add your own!)

Happy Friday!


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Filed under activities, To do, Ways to make today magical