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Mama’s question of the week: What’s on your summer reading list?

What’s on your summer reading list?

For some reason I always associate summer with reading.  Maybe the pile of beach books I collect all winter and save, or that there is more time to relax in the summer with a good book.  Currently I’m reading the Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.  They are quick reads, perfect for a beach, by the pool, or in the backyard while the kids are playing.  I noticed in the bookstore the other day that the tables are covered with assigned books for summer reading for school kids.  Growing up we never had assigned summer reading in my schools, but I see why it is helpful for kids.  Local libraries often have fun summer reading programs for kids and adults, often with incentives to participate, like raffles for prizes.

On my to-read list for the summer, after the Hunger Games trilogy, is:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird (A classic that I’ve never read for some reason)
  • Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

I use the Goodreads website to keep track of books I’ve read, books I want to read and to find recommendations for new books that I haven’t discovered.  I swap books with a small group of friends so that I always have something new to read.  If I don’t buy a book new or borrow one from the library, I often buy used ones from book sales at the library or the Original Book Swap shop in Horsham.


So what is on your summer reading list?  Any recommendations?

Featured Mama of the Week: Stephanie Glover of A Grande Life

From reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to improving patience, it’s a Grande Life for Stephanie!

This week’s featured Mama of the week is Stephanie Glover from the blog A Grande Life.  Stephanie is the mom to two boys, ages 3 and 1 month!  Her boys enjoy reading, playing soccer, baseball or golf, going to the park and singing silly songs.  She enjoys watching them grow and learn and is amazed at all the little changes that happen almost every day.  Her three year old “never ceases to amaze with the things that he does!”  A favorite neighborhood spot is the playground.  Stephanie said, “I just love the excitement my oldest has every time we go to the playground.”

Like many three year olds, Stephanie’s son enjoys testing the waters, and mama’s patience!  Having little to no patience is what Stephanie finds to be a challenge to her as a parent.  She mentioned that this has always been an area of struggle for her and she finds herself constantly working on improving her patience.

Stephanie mentioned that even though her oldest son is only three, she and her husband have already started to teach him about generosity and compassion.  They raise funds for the March of Dimes in honor of both the boys.  Both of her sons spend some time in the NICU and it is important to their family to give back to such a helpful organization.  She understands that at age three he may not completely understand why they do this, but they explain it to him and demonstrate it through their actions.

Being a mom with experience has taught Stephanie that it is important to stand up for yourself as a parent. “Whether it’s at the doctors or towards a family member, remember, you are the parent. Only you know what is best for your child. So stand your ground!”  She also has learned that every child is different and that milestones are loose guidelines that are not worth stressing about.  Comparing your child to another will not be helpful!

A favorite family activity is currently reading books.  Stephanie said, “my oldest is really getting into reading these days. Whether we are going to story time at the library or reading together, I just love his enthusiasm for reading! Our current favorite book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.”

I asked Stephanie to share a favorite family recipe with Mama’s Little Helper readers.  She sent along Santa Fe Chicken, an easy go-to recipe that sounds like a great recipe for the summer, since it’s made in the slow cooker and won’t heat up the kitchen!

In a crockpot, add 2 cans of corn {undrained}, a can of black beans {rinsed} and a ½ cup of salsa. Top with 3-4 chicken breasts. Top the chicken with another ½ cup of salsa. Cook on high or low {depending on how much time you have} until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove the chicken after it is cooked and shred/cube it. Add it back into the crockpot. Add a brick of cream cheese and stir until melted. Serve over rice with shredded cheese!

Stephanie is currently a working mom on maternity leave.  She is enjoying have the summer months off to spend more time with her family.  Her older son attends preschool twice a week, as he enjoys the socialization and it gives Mama a little break too!

Twitter is Stephanie’s social media format of choice, although you’ll find her on Facebook as well.  She mentioned that she has made many connections on Twitter, both personally and for business (she is a photographer!)  She enjoys finding out news updates, meeting new people, and learning about new products and businesses on Twitter.

And finally, I asked Stephanie what she likes to do to relax, which is something that a mom with a newborn doesn’t get to do often!  She said that her time for an uninterrupted 10-minute shower was her time to de-stress!  Sometimes she is lucky enough to get a 20-minute shower when her husband is home!  Every new mom can relate!

Thank you Stephanie for sharing a bit of your life with Mama’s Little Helper!

Stephanie Glover from A Grande Life


If you would like to suggest a Mama to be featured here, please email for more information.

Mama’s Question of the week: children’s books

Reading to children, even at the youngest ages, is a wonderful way to bond with them along with teaching them to enjoy all the benefits of reading.  Favorite books change as children grow, although sometimes there are family favorites that last despite the child’s age.  What are some of your family’s favorite books to read or favorite author of children’s books?  Please join in the discussion by commenting below!

At our house, anything by Sandra Boynton is a favorite, especially the Going to Bed Book and Hippos Go Berserk.  We never tire of those two.  Another favorite author is Mo Willems, who’s pigeon series and Knuffle Bunny books are keepers.  A third favorite, which is just a silly story, is New Socks by Bob Shea.  My son received this book as a gift and we crack up every time we read it.  Books are the one thing I never hesitate to buy my son as a gift, since they bring us such pleasure.  We also enjoy visiting our local library to discover new books.  The ones that we keep borrowing over and over I end up buying for our personal library.  I hope my son always enjoys reading as he grows up!


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The Anybook, a great holiday gift idea for preschoolers

My son adores reading stories and being read to by anyone willing.  We read to him at least twice a day, before nap and before bedtime.  He has amassed quite a library of books, mostly because I am a big fan of books, particularly picture books.  (I’ve been buying them since we got married whenever we went anywhere special, so he already had a collection before he was born.)  He now recognizes logos of brands and can “read” them to us, as well as recognize the alphabet, but he isn’t reading books on his own yet.  He does enjoy looking through books and pretends to read them, especially ones he has memorized.

Recently we started using the Anybook device in addition to his story times.  This is a small electronic gadget that is shaped like a bulky pen or marker. The Anybook is a new gadget by Franklin Discover and is used by a reader, such as mom or dad, to record a book in your own voice.  The child can then use the device like a speaker to listen to the story, even when playing alone.  The Anybook uses stickers on each page that activate the recording on that page.  The Anybook works with every book in your personal library!  The gadget we are using is the Anybook DRP-4000, which holds up to 60 hours of recordings.  It can also delete books as needed, once the 60 hour threshold is met, so it can be enjoyed for years.  It runs on two AAA batteries and does not require software or a computer to use.  Unlike some of the other reading gadgets on the market for kids that I’ve investigated, the Anybook does not need special books to go with it.  As its name implies, it can be used with anybook in your personal library!

I started first with a short board book, one of my favorites, Chicka Chicka abc.  After putting a small circle sticker on each page, I then used the Anybook’s record mode to record my voice reading the words on each page, while touching the sticker on that page with the device.  I recorded each page of the book and then was able to play back each page by touching each sticker.  It was that simple!  I was surprised by several things: how I sound during playback, how important enunciation is, and how amazing this gadget is!  I did have to re-record two of the pages because I thought they sounded a bit muffled, but once I figured out how far away to hold the device from my mouth, it turned out great! (Speaking directly into it seemed to be too close, so holding it down a few inches from my mouth, similar to how one holds a microphone, seemed to do the trick in improving my recording quality.)

The stickers that come with the Anybook are the key to making it work.  They use a unique code, which seems like magic to me, to recognize the assigned recording for each page of the book.  They are about a half inch sized circle and the ones that came with my Anybook are white.  The Anybook sticker pack has approximately 400 recordable stickers and also includes four sheets of stickers that are pre-recorded with sounds, such as a train, a child laughing, clapping hands, a phone ringing, as well as some animal sounds.  There are also two sheets of faces stickers representing moms and dads, grandparents, and brothers and sisters.  These stickers can be recorded, so for the mom one I recorded my voice saying “Mommy.”  I will place this mommy sticker on the front of the books I read, and my husband or parents can use the other stickers for when they record their books.  The stickers can be removed from a book and re-used.  I was able to peel the sticker and move it quite easily when I realized I wanted to move a sticker to another spot on the page.  If the stickers can be used in other books and re-recorded over, so to speak, so until the sticky part stops sticking, they are reusable.  Additional sticker packs are available for purchase from the manufacturer.

To say that my son liked “reading” his book with Anybook is an understatement.  He kept asking me if the voice was me and went through the book several times in a row.  It was very exciting to him to hear his mom read to him through this gadget.  I later recorded a second book; A is for Angry, by Sandra Boynton, a favorite author of ours.  He enjoyed reading and using the Anybook reader gadget just as much.  With this book, I even added a few things to the recordings, the way I add extras when I read, such as asking him to recite the alphabet at the end of the story.  I also used the Mommy sticker on the front and included a personalized greeting with the title of the book.

The Anybook by Franklin Discover is sure to be a hit this holiday season.  I am going to recommend it to a friend of mine whose daughter adores reading so much she would be happy to be read to all day.  This is the perfect gadget for a family with a parent that travels or is in the military.  What a great way to be there for a child by being able to read a story to them even when you can’t be there in person.  I am planning to have my husband record a few books for my son so that when he is away on his next business trip or even just at work during the day, my son can listen to daddy read to him.  I also am hoping to have my son’s grandparent’s record a book so that we have their voices recorded for him.  With it being so easy to use, a book can be recorded in just a few minutes more than it takes to read it.

Disclosure:  I was provided with a complimentary Anybook gadget and stickers set for the purpose of this review.  The opinions and experience expressed here are honest and my own!

Mama Diane

The Redner's R-Phils Kids Club

The Redner’s R-Phils Kids Club

This is a free kids club with lots of benefits for kids (14 and under) to enjoy all season long.

Each member will receive:

* Membership Card – Each member will receive a membership card with their Individual kids club number (pick up at FirstEnergy Stadium)
* Free Tickets to Kids Club Events – Seven Games with a free ticket and free experience exclusively for Redner’s R-Phils Kids Club members (game dates & experience listed coming soon)
* Kids Club Weekly Email Newsletter – Weekly email newsletter.
* Kids Club “Member of the Game” – Throughout the season, 71 Redner’s R-Phils Kids Club members will be selected to be the Kids Club email winner of the game and receive 4 Box seats. (winners will be selected in advanced and notified on the Kids Club email newsletter)
* Kids Club “Lucky Seat Upgrade of the Game” – All kids club members are encouraged to check in at the customer service booth at each game. One lucky winner each game will be “upgraded” to box seats, and be recognized on the videoboard.
* Free Phunland Happy Half-Hour – Kids Club members will be able to play all the games (besides ring toss) free of charge during the first 30 minutes of every Happy Hour all season long. (Happy Hours are on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday Games)
* Free Player Autographs during Family Nights – Only the kids club members will be able to get a free R-Phils players autograph during the pre-game on family nights this season.
* Free Balloon Art during Family Nights – Only the kids club members will be able to get free balloon art from the clowns during the game on family nights this season. Registered & Protectedcopyright for video