Claire Writes – ‘Baby Frederico in One Sentence’

My dad challenged me to write a story in one long run-on sentence. I took the challenge!

Baby Frederico loves to eat brownies but he also likes to eat candy and pretzels, so here is the story that Baby Frederico once made brownies because he loved them but he also wanted pretzels and then he saw candy so he wanted that too but he remembered that his Mama Mia had told him, ” You can only eat brownies Baby Frederico!” so he thought and he thought and he thought until he said,”I know what to do!” so he baked his brownies and waited for them to be done with great anticipation and when they were done, he took out his favorite candies and pulled out the pretzels, and covered the brownies with every bit of them and then called his Mama to come and see and she could not believe her eyes and for a speechless moment Baby Frederico was almost afraid that his Mama would get onto him but soon a big, huge smile spread across her face and she said, “Let’s eat!”, and so they ate happily ever after.


Bored Games!


Our nine-year old, Julia, and I have an inside joke that she loves to bring up when we are needing to reconnect.  It has to do with the headache-inducing board game “Hedbanz” (yes, that is actually how it is spelled!).  It revolves around the question, “What Am I?” and is the least enjoyable game I have ever had the pleasure of playing with my kids!

I remember the first time we played it.  I was very enthusiastic because I love board games.  I even grew up with my wonderful aunt, Jana Dabney, always introducing our family to new games during the holidays and it became a tradition that I now enjoy with my own family.

And then…Hedbanz.  I am not sure why I dislike this game so much, but the funniest thing has happened because of my disdain for it.  Julia has grown to love it even more!  I still play it with her sometimes and last night after dinner she got that look in her eye and said, “Dad, let’s play [big dramatic pause] THE GAME!”

I told her there was no way I was going to play it.

“I can’t stand that game,” I said.

She was resolute and in no time at all was back at the dinner table and putting the game pieces together for us.

We played and I lost nearly every round.  However, I realize more important things can happen when you are playing a game with your kids.  I watched my little girl laugh until she nearly cried as I fumbled with the questions and the answers, the clues and the rules of the game.  The more I grumbled about the game, the more she laughed.  I think that she won the games but I won the memory.

By the time we said our goodnights, I had to admit to myself that Hedbanz isn’t really all that terrible after all.  Just don’t tell Julia…

‘Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend’ – Tuesday’s Look at THIS Book!

* Every Tuesday we introduce you to a favorite book from our secret book room.

Scaredy 1

Today’s great book: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt (2007, Kids Can Press)

Great Website:

Time to Read: short and very funny; we read it right after dinner

Summary:  from the website…”That lovable little worrywart is back. And he’s as scaredy as ever! In his latest adventure, Scaredy Squirrel sets out to make The Perfect Friend. And once he’s spotted a perfectly safe candidate (with no teeth), Scaredy’s ready. Armed with a name tag, mittens, a mirror and a lemon, he’s prepared to make The Perfect First Impression. But just when every detail is under control, Scaredy’s Action Plan takes a surprising — and “toothy” — turn. Will he survive this ordeal? Will he find his kindred spirit? Will he discover the true meaning of friendship? Read Scaredy’s nutty story to find out…

Best Quote from the Book:  “If all else fails, play dead…”

Our View:  Among the great 1st grade teachers of the century is Kathleen Brannen.  She has been our friend since Claire was in her class nearly a decade ago and she has shared so many good books and ideas with us – and the Scaredy Squirrel series of short books are among our newest favorite!   This is the story of one scared squirrel who has learned to handle his fear by simply having a plan.  The plans are hilarious and they are drawn in map form in detail on the pages of this wonderful story.  Watt is not only a fine storyteller but a master illustrator for young children and their dads, and this book is a treat in every way.  If your children have any fears, we happily recommend this book because it helps the reader understand courage and making a plan.  When the plans don’t always work out as expected, Scaredy Squirrel does a super job of rolling with the punches (in this case, energetic dogs in parks).  I only wish I had heard about this series sooner.

Favorite Illustration from the Book:

Scaredy 2

It Hit Me!

Today, our youngest was buying a new Peg Kehret book (Terror at the Zoo) and it hit me!  These are the books that she will more than likely have on her shelf when her children begin reading books.

I cherish those childhood books that have made it with me all the way through 40 years of living.  They work as a time machine that nearly effortlessly transports me to my childhood.

Because it has me thinking about it, I decided to sit in our book room this evening and find at least a few of the books that I have brought along into middle age.  Here’s the shortlist:

The Wizard of Oz
Bigfoot Pass
The Time Machine
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Bridge to Terabithia
The Night the Monster Came
The Biggest Bear
The Boy Who Saw Bigfoot
The Large and Growly Bear
Proverbs for Graduates
The Lord Is…
Ship of State on a Sea of Oil
The Jim Thorpe Story
Out of the Silent Planet
The Devil and Daniel Webster
Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door
“Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!”
Where the Wild Things Are

And that’s not all! There are at least forty titles in the Little Golden Book series and five in the Choose Your Own Adventure series.

I look at all these books and wonder which my grandchildren will implore me to give them. Which will they borrow or sneak away in their backpacks? Which will they carry into their adulthood?

Either way, it’s a list I can’t wait to help them create…

‘Baby Frederico and the Lemonade Stand’

Baby Frederico loved the summertime that was now winding its way through the forest paths and shining brightly across the grassy hills around his home.  It was not yet too hot and, with school out for the season, he could sleep in late and go to bed even later.

One morning, he woke up with lemonade on his mind.  He had dreamed about the delicious treat sometime in the night and the memory of it was now so real that his eyes watered just thinking about the sugary, sour taste of it.

At breakfast, he decided to ask Papa and Mama about opening his very own lemonade stand.  He just knew that if he could set it up at the end of their driveway, he would probably make a million dollars!

There was just one problem with his plan – they lived in the country and, other than his grandparents who lived down the road, there was not one other neighbor or passerby for miles around.  This meant only one thing, to make a million dollars, his grandparents would have to buy an awful lot of lemonade!

Papa and Mama said of the dilemma, “You never know until you try.  And, who knows?  Maybe your grandparents are really thirsty this summer!”

Baby Frederico quickly went to work and painted a large wooden sign with big yellow letters that read “lemonade” and drew a large blue straw that stuck out of the letter “o.” He wanted to charge $10 per drink, but his Papa said that was something called “highway robbery” so Baby Frederico chose 50 cents instead.

At 9 a.m. sharp, Baby Frederico opened for business at the end of his driveway and waited for his first thirsty customer.  He waited…and waited…and waited.  At 9:15, he had nearly given up.  Surely there was someone out there who loved lemonade and had two quarters to spare.  Surely there was a very thirsty person out there who just needed a good cold drink on a hot summer day.  Surely!

By 9:30 a.m., Baby Frederico was thirsty.  He looked at the lemonade.

By 10 a.m., Baby Frederico was not thirsty.  He drank nearly all of the lemonade. Uh oh!

At 10:15 a.m., Baby Frederico’s grandpa walked over with a very thirsty look on his face.

He said, “Hello my boy! How about your biggest cup of ice cold lemonade?  I’m SO thirsty and I have money to spend!”

Baby Frederico looked at the nearly empty pitcher of lemonade and began to pour. Thankfully, there was just enough to fill up the one unused cup that was still sitting on the table.

Grandpa smiled as he handed Baby Frederico a crisp $2 bill and said, “Keep the change.”

Baby Frederico was so excited.  He had finally sold his first (and last) cup of lemonade, all before 10:30 a.m.!  He even had a brand new $2 bill and all the lemonade was gone.  He smiled when he realized he drank nearly all of it himself, but he laughed when he realized that he had just enough left to put a smile on his one customer’s face.


63-year old Mother Reads to 42-year old Son!

My mom read to me while we were in the car today! Yes, you read that right. My mom read to me.

I was taking her to a new Chinese food restaurant near the office where we work together and she had just purchased a new children’s book as a gift for a new baby.

As we made the short drive to the restaurant, my mom was so excited about this book that she said, “I have got to read this story to you!”

And so…my 63-year old mother, in a familiar cadence that took me right back into my childhood, read a book to her 42-year old son.

I can’t say that either one of us remember what the last book was that she read to me before the fleeting days of my childhood disappeared before our eyes, but we will always be able to recall the book that she read to me earlier today.

It all reminds me to look into the mirror tonight and remember: read to your kids….read to your kids…read to your kids.

You never know when you’ll get to read to them again. You just never know.

P.S. If you need another reason to read to your kids tonight, take a look at this fascinating article from Forbes that was posted just this week:

“Kids Don’t Read Books Because Parents Don’t Read Books”