recommendations this week: kid stuff

Lately, two of my favorite podcasts are While She Naps and Slate's DoubleX Gabfest. They are completely different in terms of subject matter - While She Naps is all about creative business and textile arts, while the DoubleX Gabfest is women discussing current events and feminism - but I find them both so interesting and engaging. In fact, whenever I'm listening to either podcast, I often find myself wishing I could be part of the conversation instead of just listening in.

Another thing both these podcasts have in common is that they both wrap up with recommendations. (I realize this feature is likely not unique to While She Naps and the DoubleX Gabfest.) It's just fun to hear what random things these people have to recommend to everyone else. And I do mean random - they recommend everything from smartphone apps and books to exercise routines and pencil shops. The other day I wondered to myself, if, at the conclusion of a fascinating (ha) and enlightening (double ha!) interview with me, I was asked to recommend anything I like, what would I choose? So I've thought it over, and here they are, in no particular order:

  1. The Septimus Heap series by author Angie Sage. I might be the last one to the party on this, I don't know. In any case, Daniel's teacher sends books home every couple of weeks to encourage more independent reading. Back in January, he read Magyk, the first book (of seven) in this series, and was hooked. I think he burned through all seven books in about three weeks. I'm catching up slowly (about to start the third book, called Physik) and I'm really enjoying them, despite not having enough time to read as fast as Daniel did. The story moves fast, the characters are interesting and funny and full of surprises, and I can't wait to see what happens next.
  2. Hand crafting for kids. I am a believer in kids keeping their hands and minds busy with things like sudoku puzzles and knitting and needlework. Such activities are good for learning patience and developing creativity and not pestering me that they are bored and have nothing to do. The last few weeks we have been messing around with sewing and needlework, and it's been really fun coming up with projects and learning new skills. I will say that the way the arts and crafts industry markets almost exclusively to women and girls really really bugs me. Because boys are creative, too, and they have just as much right to be interested in hand-making things out of thread and fiber. Let's teach some NFL players to knit, shall we? OK, off my soap box now.
  3. I've been trying to add some variety to the kids' lunches lately. I think they're tired of eating sandwiches and carrot sticks nearly every day of the week, and I don't blame them. About a month ago, another mom who has twins in high school said she sends hot lunches with her kids  in insulated containers and I was like, "OMG THAT IS GENIUS, HOW IS IT I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT?!" So later that day I looked online and found the Thermos Funtainer and ordered two of them, and I have to say, it has totally changed lunches for my kids. Now they can bring all kinds of stuff to school for lunch: soup! leftover noodles! mac and cheese! It's a bit of a production getting their lunches ready because I have to fill the containers with boiling water and heat the food to scalding in order for it to stay hot until lunchtime, but the effort is worth it. They're eating better and they're happy with their food.
Recommendations are fun! I may make it a regular thing, maybe once a week or every other week or something. I did just notice that everything on my list is kid-related, which I didn't really mean to do, but that's just how it happened this time. 

In other news, everyone but me is on spring break this week, so my parents are here to visit and help out with babysitting so I can go to work. I haven't gotten squat done all weekend, so I'll have to put my nose to the grindstone big time tomorrow. Tuesday Night Fun Cooking! shall resume this week, however, and it will be a special edition with grandparents! We have yet to decide on the menu, but whatever we choose will be fun and exciting, I'm sure. 


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