Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Retro Baby

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I also received a copy of the book to facilitate my review.

About Retro Baby (from Press Release)

While bouncers, walkers, carriers, electronic toys, and “educational” videos are intended to make parents’ lives easier and children smarter, according to a new book published by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), parents should consider reducing their baby’s time spent with gadgets and bond the old fashioned way by going back to basics.

Leading pediatric occupational therapist and child development specialist Anne Zachry, PhD, OTR/L is the author of Retro Baby: Cut Back on All the Gear and Boost Your Baby’s Development With More Than 100 Time-Tested Activities (American Academy of Pediatrics, October 2013), a new book intended to help parents and caregivers understand the importance of one-on-one play with children during the early stages of life. With over 20 years experience, Zachry understands that each family and baby have different needs and in her book, she offers many flexible strategies and suggestions for playtime that provide lots of opportunities to spend valuable time with baby, creating that special bond that will last a lifetime. 

Incorporating the latest recommendations from the AAP with extensive research by Zachry and other experts in her field, Retro Baby covers how an infant’s brain, body, motor and sensory skills develop, explain the negative impacts of overusing certain baby gear, and provide specific instructions for play positions and activities that are appropriate for each developmental stage, giving parents both a starting point and guidelines to help them properly invest in their child’s development and future.

 Packed with more than 100 wonderful activities based on modern day research, Retro Baby is a comprehensive guide that will help parents and caregivers:
·      Learn how crucial connections are formed between a child’s brain and muscles during the first year of life.
·      Discover how the over use of some products can hinder infant exploration.
·      Observe how good old-fashioned play affects your baby’s development in a positive way.
·      Try a variety of ideas that enhance baby’s ability to learn.
·      See how to make traditional, handmade toys using common household items.

Retro Baby also includes chapters on keeping your sleeping baby safe, practicing tummy time and preventing positional skull deformities.

“I’ve discovered that many parents do not understand of the dangers of extended equipment use and overexposure to technology,” said Zachry.
She adds,  “All of the information in ‘Retro Baby’ will help parents play a role in building a solid foundation for their child’s future skills in school and in life. When you use this authoritative up-to-date source, you’ll be faithfully supporting- but not rushing- your baby’s mastery of developmental milestones.”

About the author, Anne H. Zachary

Anne H. Zachry, PhD, OTR/L is a pediatric occupational therapist and child development specialist with more than 20 years experience. Her research on this subject has been published in national peer-reviewed journals and her profession’s trade magazines as well as a number of parenting magazines. She cites and extensively supports AAP policy and is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has lectured at the University of Memphis and is a Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center. Her blog, “Pediatric Occupational Therapy Tips: (www.drzachryspedsottips.blogspot.com) averages 30,000 hits monthly.

My thoughts on Retro Baby  

For a long time, I have felt as though all of our lives are being overrun with technology.  I miss the simplicity of the days gone by, and I am only talking about the days when *I* was younger.  As a wife and mom, I strive to bring back as much simplicity as possible, but also embrace the virtues of technology, at least for myself and my "older" kids.  Like Retro Baby, I do not see much value in electronic gadgets for babies.  As a mother of a 16 month old, I was thrilled to find that this book has information and ideas for babies up to two years of age. The ideas are great, and easy to make and/or do with a baby.  Many of the activities can be done anywhere, some require you to have materials and/or to make something, but the materials are often commonly found, some are even things you might otherwise dispose of, so they are inexpensive, making the activities appropriate for parents of all income levels.  My son loves playing with his homemade Choo Choo Train and enjoyed the activities that we have done together.  In addition to the educational chapters, which also have activity and homemade toy ideas, there are chapters that are specific for the different age groups, based on developmental growth.  

I highly recommend this to any parent who is looking to unplug, at least a little bit, and to connect with their baby on a more personal level.  You could replace several gadgets on a baby registry with this book and the baby would never know what he "missed out" on.  In fact, this may just become my new go-to baby shower gift.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Book Review: Not Guilty

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I also received a copy of the book to facilitate my review.

About Not Guilty

It's 1974 and Carrie Shepherd, daughter of the minister at Windspree Community Church, is a college senior with plans to be a missionary in Africa. Raped by a masked assailant, Carrie is so traumatized she tells no one until she realizes she's pregnant. Refusing to have an abortion, she must find the courage to face her family, her fiance, her friends and a gossiping, angry congregation which may include her attacker.

My thoughts on Not Guilty

I really liked the characters in the book and found parts of it to be very believable, but some parts, particularly towards the end, of it were rather unbelievable.  However, the topics covered, particularly race and the way some Christians judge others, are timeless and you would not have known the story took place in 1974, if you had not been told.  I do like books that include discussion questions and I found the questions in Not Guilty to be thorough and thought provoking.  I also enjoyed the epilogue at the end of the book which gave a sentence or two about what happened in each character's life after the book ended.  One thing I will warn about is that this is a piece of "preachy" Christian literature.  Those of you who have read my reviews know that I enjoy Christian literature and do not mind a bit of preachiness, but this one is heavy with it.  The characters work at converting just about everyone they meet in every interaction.  I am of the belief that it is great to share your beliefs, when it is appropriate, and it is better to live by example.  I just found the way the characters did it to be too much.  In real life, they are the people I would have avoided, especially before I truly began to know Christ.  If people avoid you, your example is lost to them.  As for a recommendation, overall, the book was ok, but not one I would recommend running out and buying it.  If you have the chance to borrow it, it is a decent read though.

Unit Study: Sonia Sotomayor (Hispanic Heritage Month)


Read the biography of Sonia Sotomayor, and answer the following questions:
  1. When and where was she born? (6/25/1954 in the Bronx, NY) 
  2. What is her heritage? (her parents are Puerto Rican)
  3. What law school did she graduate from? (Yale Law)
  4. Which president nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court? (Barack Obama)
  5. When was she confirmed by the US Senate, making her the first Latina justice on the Supreme Court? (August 2009)

English and Writing:

Learn how to do research and create a research project on either a case that the US Supreme Court has ruled on or the life of another Supreme Court justice (past or present, but not Sonia Sotomayor.)

Spelling and Vocabulary:

Be able to spell, define, and use each of the following words in a sentence: justice, docket, unanimous, verdict, prosecutor


judge: el juez(male)/la jueza (female); to judge: juzgar; school: la escuela; college: la universidad; to learn: aprender

Social Studies: 

Learn about the U.S. Supreme Court.  Be able to name 9 justices (at least by last name) and describe how a case gets to the Supreme Court.


Learn about Puerto Rican art history.


Learn about the various musical instruments common in Puerto Rican music. (There is a list on the left hand side.  You need to click on each one.)


Learn about stress and healthy ways to deal with it.


We will be working on percentages, particularly what percentage of the court ruled which way on various cases throughout history.  There is also a nice lesson here on teaching percentages.

Domestic Arts:

Learn where your family comes from and create a family tree.  Be sure to include place of birth of each person.  See how far back you can go.

Physical Education:

We will work on personal health this week by participating in a variety of physical activities and games.


Learn about hurricanes and make your own.

Book Review: God Gave Us So Much

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This simply means that if you click on the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you. I also received a copy of the book to facilitate my review.


About God Gave Us So Much

Three Adorable Tales for Children of All Ages!

Through the eyes of a curious little polar bear, young readers are invited into engaging journeys through the Arctic North Pole to explore some of their most tender-hearted and important questions.

Mama, Papa, and Grampa Bear, the ever-loving and wise guides for Little Cub’s adventures, share with her the incredible miracles of God’s creation and the depths of His love for her. 

This limited edition treasury of the best-selling God Gave Us series includes three complete charming tales. With heart and humor, the stories reveal the beauty of diversity throughout the world, the incredible gift of love, and the wonderment of our Heavenly home to come.

All three books are available in this exclusive treasury for the price of two!

God Gave Us the World
God Gave Us Love
God Gave Us Heaven

My thoughts on God Gave Us So Much

We were given the book, God Gave Us You, when one of our daughter's was born.  We really enjoy that book, so I was excited to receive this 3-book collection.  In God Gave Us the World, the child is taught about all the wonderful things God has given us in this world, such as the animals and the seasons.  In God Gave Us Love, we learn about the different types of love and how when we show love, even to those who we may not like, we are sharing His love.  In God Gave Us Heaven, the child learns about how Heaven is different from Earth.  The book also gently deals with the topic of death.  This was particularly helpful for us, when my then 4 year old was dealing with the death of her best friend.  The book is beautifully illustrated.  Theologically speaking, there are some differences in what I believe, but overall, the book does a great job of answering questions children may have.

Unit Study: Antonia Novello (Hispanic Heritage Month)


Read the biography of Antonia Novello, and answer the following questions:
  1. When and where was she born? (8/23/1944, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico) 
  2. Which president appointed her Surgeon General and in what year? (George H.W. Bush, 1990)
  3. What was significant about her appointment to Surgeon General? (she was the 1st female and 1st Latin to hold the position)

English and Writing:

Imagine you became Surgeon General.  What are some issues you would want to work on and why?  (Older students can use this as a research project.)

Spelling and Vocabulary:

Be able to spell, define, and use each of the following words in a sentence: surgeon, acquired, deficiency, syndrome, immunize


surgeon: el cirujano (male)/la cirujana (female); AIDS: SIDA; to smoke: fumar; health: la salud; President: el presidente

Social Studies: 

Learn about the duties of U.S. Surgeon General.

Read about the current U.S. Surgeon General.


Create a poster sharing information that will help get out the message you chose for the writing assignment.


Listen to "La Borinqueña", the official anthem of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.Be sure to read the lyrics underneath the video (the English version is under the Spanish version.)


Learn what HIV/AIDS is and how it is spread.  (***PLEASE NOTE***- I am required by my state to teach this topic annually.  This website may contain information that your child is not ready for,so please use your judgement.  Additionally, feel free to learn about one of the other health topics that Antonia Novello focused on, such as underage smoking or women's health.)


We will continue to do what we did last week: I will be typing out a bunch of problems using numbers written in Spanish and expecting the answers written in Spanish.  For example: dos y cinco iguals ? (siete)  This will help them review some basic math facts, while working on their Spanish vocabulary.  Here are the numbers zero through 10, plus some helpful Spanish vocabulary:
0= cero
1= uno
2= dos
3= tres
4= cuatro
5= cinco
6= sies
7= siete
8= ocho
9= nueve
10= diez
plus= y
minus= menos
equals= iguals
divided by= dividido por
times= por

Domestic Arts:

Make Arroz con Dulce.

Physical Education:

We will work on personal health this week by participating in a variety of physical activities and games.


Learn how a lung works by making one. You can also learn how smoking affects the lungs.

Help Children win Imagination Playground equipment with Children's Claritin

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Imagination Playground™ is a collection of specially-designed oversized foam blocks that promote creativity, communication and collaboration in play. By interconnecting the components, children are able to build and rebuild their play spaces with each visit fostering creativity and critical-thinking skills. 

Visit http://Facebook.com/Claritin between 8/1 – 10/31 to cast your vote for one of twelve finalist schools. Together, we’ll raise awareness about the importance of outdoor play for kids and increase quality play opportunities.

I have received various promotional items from Claritin, as a member of the Children's Claritin Mom Crew.  No other compensation has been received and my opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Special Mini Units October 1-6, 2013

You can find all of our mini unit studies for this month on the October 2013 post.

 10/1- World Vegetarian Day

- Spanish word of the day: vegetables- los vegetales
- Learn about the different types of vegetarians and some reasons why people may become a vegetarian.
- Writing prompt: Do you think you would want to be a vegetarian, why or why not? Be sure to say what type of vegetarian you think you might be, if you would be one.
- We will also be eating (lacto-ovo)vegetarian meals all day.  For breakfast we had vegetable omelets (spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and green peppers) and fruit salad.  For lunch, we had Tuscan Beans with Basil Pesto and Mushrooms (a sophisticated twist on greens and beans, and VERY yummy).  Tonight's dinner is simply pasta and tomato sauce with garlic bread and ice cream for dessert.

10/2- Groucho Marx's Birthday

- Spanish word of the day: glasses- las gafas
-  Read Groucho Marx's biography and answer the following questions:
  1. What was Groucho's birth name? (Julius Henry Marx)
  2. What were the stage names given to Groucho's brothers, Leonard, Adolph, Milton, and Herbert? (Chico, Harpo, Gummo, and Zeppo)
  3. What were some of Groucho's trademarks? (a long coat, a painted-on mustache, thick glasses and a cigar)

10/3- Chubby Checker Birthday

- Spanish word of the day: to dance- bailar
- Read Chubby Checker's biography and answer the following questions:
  1. What was Chubby Checker's birth name? (Ernest Evans)
  2. Who were his musical heroes? (Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley)
  3. What was Chubby Checker's most successful song? (TheTwist)
- Watch Chubby Checker perform The Twist. Practice the dance yourself.

10/4- National Golf Day

- Spanish word of the day: golf club- el palo de golf
- We are not big golfers in our house, so we will limit our golfing, at least on this day, to miniature golf.  In the future, maybe we will attempt a driving range or a round of real golf, but for now this is what we will do.
- Choose one of the following golfers and read their biography: Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie, Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Nancy Lopez.  Share with the family 5 things you learned about the golfer.

10/5- Do Something Nice Day

- Spanish word of the day: to do- hacer
- Perform 5 random acts of kindness today.

10/6- Thor Heyerdahl's Birthday

- Spanish word of the day: raft- la balsa
- Read this article of Thor Heyerdahl and answer the following questions:
  1. Where was Thor Heyerdahl born? (Larvik, Norway)
  2. What was the name of the raft that he used to sail from South America to Polynesia in 1947? (Kon-Tiki)
  3. What were the names of the 2 other boats he used on his expeditions? (Ra II and Tigris)

Mini units for October 2013

For more information about mini-units, please see the September 2013 mini-unit post.

September 15th started Hispanic Heritage month, so we are continuing full units of famous Hispanics.

September 30th also kicked off Get Organized Week.  Each day this week, we have worked on going through and organizing a different area of the house.  On Monday, we organized our desks.  Today, we are organizing an area where we put things we want to donate or give away.  There are a bunch of clothes that we need to sort by gender and size so that they can be given away.  On Wednesday, we will be organizing under all the sinks.  Thursday brings us to the pantry and food storage areas.  On Friday, we will be organizing the craft area and Saturday we will be working on the enclosed porch which has become a dump all.

In October, we will commemorate the following:

Breast Cancer Awareness-

 The older girls (11 and 12 years old) will learn about the importance of regular self breast exams and how to do them.  We also have some friends who are breast cancer survivors, I am encouraging the kids to choose one of them and spend some one-on-one time with them.  In future years, we may all participate in a walk to raise money for breast cancer research. 

Clergy Appreciation-

Religious or not, this is something everyone can do.  Most churches give back to their communities in some way.  I encourage everyone to express their appreciation, in whatever way you choose, to not only your own clergy (if you attend a church), but also to a clergy member of a church in your community.  For us, we will be making cards for the clergy of a local church that runs a food pantry for the community.

National Cookie Month-

We will make a different type of cookie each week this month.  Here are the plans: Caramel Corn Cookies (drop cookies),  Homemade Nutter Butters (sandwich cookies), Seven-Layer Cookies (bar cookies), Turtle Cookies (molded cookies), and Jell-O Spritz Cookies (pressed cookies).

International Drum Month-

We will learn about different types of drums and listen to examples on YouTube.

National Diabetes Month-

My husband and children are Hispanic which automatically increases their risk of diabetes.  We will each take the Diabetes Risk Assessment, learn about the symptoms of diabetes, and come up with a plan to reduce our risk, as a family, of becoming diabetic.   We will then work on implementing that plan.

Lupus Awareness-

We will learn the basics about what lupus is.

Now onto the special days, the links will be added as each week's post is done.

Week 1

10/1- World Vegetarian Day

10/2- Groucho Marx's Birthday

10/3- Chubby Checker Birthday

10/4- National Golf Day

10/5- Do Something Nice Day

10/6- Thor Heyerdahl's Birthday

Week 2 

Fire Prevention Week

10/7- World Smile Day

10/8- R.L. Stine's Birthday

10/9- Fire Prevention Day

10/10-National Angel Food Cake Day

10/11- World Egg Day

10/12- Luciano Pavarotti's Birthday

Week 3

10/14- Columbus Day

10/15- Emeril Lagasse's Birthday

10/16- Dictionary Day

10/18- Chuck Berry's Birthday

Week 4

10/21- Count Your Buttons Day

10/22- National Nut Day

10/23- Gertrude Ederle's Birthday

10/24- United Nation's Day

10/25- World Pasta Day

10/26- Make a Difference Day

10/27- Navy Day

Week 5

10/28- Jonas Salk's Birthday

10/29- National Frankenstein Day

10/31- Halloween