Puddle Jumper. (me).

It's been a WEEK. [Do you know the kind I'm talking about?]

Puddle Jumper. (me). 1 Puddle Jumper. (me). 2

Whenever I have the kind of week that is full of no's and tantrums and too much whining (Yes, all of those things happen in our house. We're not perfect - in case you were tempted to think so.), I always look at ME first. Yes - ME.

Puddle Jumper. (me). 3I know this to be true: If I am grumpy or impatient or lacking energy or full of "just-a-minutes" and "not right nows" and "maybe laters," then my kids mimic my attitude. Every time. So if my kids start acting uncharacteristically unpleasant, I try to react w/ a hefty dose of attention, love, and spontaneity. It's a wonderful cure.

This afternoon, I decided not to check my e-mail or send out business pitches or tweet (not that there's anything wrong with those things, by the way...). Instead, I sat out on the back porch swing with my girls and we watched the clouds and sang, "I hope it rains! I hope it rains! Doo! Do! Doo!" And then it rained - it sprinkled - it POURED.

Puddle Jumper. (me). 4We ran out in front and dashed back-and-forth to and from the safety of the garage (until we were drenched and our curls were extra curly). When the streets were full and flooding, my 3-year-old said, "Can I go out there?" At first, I was going to say, "Our shoes will get soaked. There are too many cars. Etc." But then, I said, "Yes." And I went too! We jumped and laughed and kicked up puddles.

Afterwards, I made smoothies. For dinner. At bedtime, we got under the covers and I read 3 (THREE!) chapters of Ramona the Pest out loud to the girls. And they both listened in captive silence. We stayed up a little later than normal.

And you know what? Today was a really good day.

Does it rain in the summer where you are? Also - Do you read chapter books aloud to your kids? If so, which ones do you recommend for preschoolers? (And - P.S. - three is a wonderful age to start this...my 3-year-old kept wanting me to read "the next chapter!")

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41 comments on “Puddle Jumper. (me).”

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  2. We have been having a very dry summer with not enough rain to play in the puddles, until recently. The "rainy" season has started and yesterday it rained a lot. I was upset at first because I wanted to be able to send the girls outside while I cleaned the house and they would rather play outside and in. Once we all got home the rained stopped and I told the girls to play outside and they could play in the puddles. My 5 year old acted like she had never done this before. She told me she might even sit in one and I said go ahead! I hated to bring them in for bath time because they were having such a blast but then Mikayla said the warm water was so nice after playing outside since it cooled down quite a bit.

  3. What a sweet day you must have had! I know what you mean about trying to change your mood if the day is going wrong, and I'm so glad you ended up playing in the rain and enjoying the monsoon. Nason and I have gotten a few good storms this year, and we've been doing a lot of four-wheeling lately-all the mud makes it so much fun!

  4. We've had surprisingly little rain at our house this year...except last night at about 2AM...maybe we should have had a play-in-the-rain-outing.

    Tyler just recently started reading chapter books to Calvin (4 3/4). He's read The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe and Winni-the-pooh. I've also enjoyed reading chapter books for early readers. They have about 5 chapters with 4 pages each. One of my favorites: Mr. Putter and Tabby... by Cynthia Rylant (expressive and fun illustrations). One of Calvin's favorites are Puppy Mudge also by Cynthia Rylant because he can read them himself.

    If I don't stop and look at myself when everyone seems to be in grumpy chaos, it only continues to get worse! Usually it starts with turning off the computer. ha

  5. LOL! I love puddle jumping! Except we didn't get any rain, until 2am last night. Maybe I should have combined this post with your next one, and hauled the kids out of bed to puddle-jump at two in the morning! :D

    I started with the Little House books. Simple message, short chapters, different enough to capture their imagination.

  6. I love this post! Speaking from my own experiences, there's nothing like some wildly fun puddle-jumping to completely turn around everyone's attitudes, Mommy included!

    I'm looking forward to reading chapter books aloud with my son someday. I remember all of my old favorites from when I was a little girl -- The Ramona series, the Little House books, etc. Plus there's all those classics that I somehow missed out on as a child, like the Chronicles of Narnia, or a Wrinkle in Time. And, of course...Harry Potter!

  7. Oh man, I wish that rain song worked for us! Here in Phoenix we haven't had hardly anything, and at my house, not a drop! When there is lightning or clouds, or even the smell of rain, my 6 year old says "I just KNOW it's going to rain today!" and I say "I hope you're right buddy!". So far, nothing. We're hoping though! =)
    And yes, I read chapter books aloud to my kids. Right now we are reading "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle", and I am also reading "The Boy Who Loved Alligators" to my 6 year old (who happens to be a boy who loves alligators!). =) In our 2nd grade curriculum this year we will be reading LOTS of chapter books! SO excited!

    1. I just looked up "Mrs. Piggle Wiggle" on Amazon. The title and the book cover look familiar. Perhaps I read it as a child.

      I think I'm going to add that one to our library list. Thank you for the recommendation.

  8. That's how last week was for me. I kept asking myself, "Why am I yelling again?" and the answer kept being, "Because you forgot to pray this morning."

    I'm halfway through Little House in the Big Woods with my 3-year-old. He mostly sits still, but makes lots of airplane/spaceship/light-saber/hot-air-balloon noises while he listens. I, however, am enjoying the book immensely!

  9. Been there done that! This summer it has been REALLY dry with not enough rain to make puddles to jump in but we have done so in the past. At first my oldest is a little hesitate until I go ahead and jump right in and get muddy and dirty and then she starts too. All the while my hubby is just shaking his head at us!

  10. Oh yes, it definitely rains here! We're in AR, btw, you had asked on my blog.

    I love playing in the rain, it is such fun. Love the pics, looks like you all had a blast!

    I do read, sometimes its not every night (if the baby is having a bad night, teething or what have you) but if I don't read one night, we read extra the next, so they get it made up. My 6 year old can read now, still new to it, so she likes to read smaller books to her sisters too.

    Right now we are reading the Little House books, we're on book 4. Both my big girls love them. Calleigh wants to eat them LOL.

    Other books we've read or plan to read
    Chronicles of Narnia
    Secret Garden
    Anne of Green Gables

    Not a chapter book but Winnie the Pooh. (Great grandpa got Caity the big huge book and she loves it)

  11. I loved Ramona as a kid. And "My naughty little sister" (at least I think that's what was called). And Paddington. And Jeremy James. My husband reads Jeremy James to Elizabeth all the time already. The thing about these stories is that yes, the characters occasionally behave in ways that we don't want our children to emulate. But the kids listening usually know that! Hearing about (and then being able to talk about) bad behaviour is developmentally important.

    It's similar to why I think nursery rhymes are important (even the 'violent' ones!). They provide a safe way of introducing and working out sometimes difficult topics. If difficult topics are avoided until they can't be avoided anymore, they become more difficult to deal with at a psychological level. Not to mention that the exaggerated or silly parts of many of these help figure out the difference between what's real and what's make believe.

    That said, I do believe there is a balance...

  12. Good for you--no, GREAT for you! I wanted to play in the rain puddles today w/ my 3 yo, but we had somewhere to be. I remember doing this all the time in the summer as a kid, but sadly haven't done it w/ my own kids yet.

    As a librarian, let me tell you it's wonderful that you are reading chapter books aloud to your kids--you are doing a great service to their comprehension and vocabulary, as well as giving them fodder for creating their own stories. My 3 1/2 yo has just really gotten into listening to Tales of Peter Rabbit on cd in the car. Fun!

    1. We love audio books in the car too! Two of our recent favorites include: "What Charlie Heard" and "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters."

  13. I am so jealous of your monsoon storm! I have been waiting and waiting for a good rain....nothing at my house yet :( I even bought new windshield wipers for my car, and haven't had to use them even once.

    I like your comments about looking at yourself first. It is the same way with teaching. When I put a lot of effort and thought and planning into my days, they go much more smoothly. When I'm not really into it, neither are my kids, and it makes for a long, exhausting day.

  14. Thanks Stephanie! This is so true about starting with yourself on the attitude adjustment. I need to try to remember that every single day!
    I love summer rain. But, we don't really get it. Looks like fun!
    Thanks for inspiring me to start chapter books. Our daughters are the same age. Maybe tomorrow will be a library day.

  15. Some days just need to be full time mothering days. With no computer or housework, just focusing on the kids. I know when I do this I feel better about me and I can see my daughter feels special too.
    I have been thinking about starting chapter books but didn't know where to start. I saw some great suggestions here, thanks.

  16. You are so right...often when my son is a handful, I think, "What is his problem?!" when I am the one who is causing the problem. We love chapter books and ironically just finished Ramona the Pest. He also loves the Magic Tree House series and The Boxcar Children was a favorite a couple of years ago (he just turned 6). Oh, and we've read every Junie B. Jones book.

  17. All the girls in my house are completely enamoured with chapter books right now. My oldest (5 yo) loves the American Girl Doll books... we've read everything available except for one which had themes that were too tough for us to explain just yet. I'm sure we'll get to it eventually. We've also been reading the Little House books and she really likes those as well. She can read early readers to herself, but she much prefers snuggling in and listening to her daddy or I read something "more grown up" i.e. chapter books, to her.

    My three 3 year olds love hearing about Junie B. Jones... though I have to skip over words here and there because the main character says some things that I don't want to have repeated here. They love those stories! They've also enjoyed Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little.

    I would highly recommend the Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. It has suggestions and synopsis for tons of great early lit. for every age range. I read it before my oldest came along and have found it to be a valuable tool in helping to select what I'm reading to my girls as well as great encouragement to continue reading aloud to them long after they are able to read to themselves.

  18. It sounds like you had an absolutely wonderful kind of day. I wish we had more days like this. But unfortunately our days are filled with more "in a little bit" or "when the baby wakes up". Last night it rained hard here. We all went into the driveway and puddle jumped, we all ended up very wet and very dirty. But it was so wonderful and the kids had a blast.
    I haven't even thought of starting to read chapter books to the kids. But maybe I should. They will sit still and listen so well when I read them many, many books. So it might be something I look into. Do you have any suggestions?

  19. We haven't started chapter books yet, but we might soon. My daughter (2 years old) loves the little house picture books, so I think we will start with those chapter books.

    We watched the rain on the porch the other day. I encouraged my daughter to play but she wasn't that interested. I didn't want to bring the sleeping 4 month old out in the rain or otherwise I would have gone out and shown her how to splash and play. i love playing in summer downpours, and i love just sitting and listening to the thunder and rain.

  20. You are right about the cure for grumpiness.
    And, I have not read chapter books yet, but now I'm wondering why not. I bet Lilly is ready for it! We may have to hit the library this week. Any other suggestions for first chapter books?

    1. We tried Ella Enchanted first, but it was a little too scary/sad for us (perhaps when she is a bit older).

      As I mentioned in my post, we're currently reading Ramona. The reading/vocabulary level seems just about perfect.

      Other books on our list:
      * The Boxcar Children
      * The Secret Garden
      * Anne of Green Gables

      I'm looking for other recommendations as well.

    2. I've found that the Winnie-the-Pooh books and the original Paddington the Bear books are excellent introductions to chapter books for young children because each chapter can 'technically' stand on it's own.

      My boys also LOVED Mr. Popper's Penguins. We've read thru it THREE times in the last 8 months!

  21. Now that's a rockin' day! We had one of those weeks too (see yesterday's post!) Good job overcoming your own fatigue with that extra dose of enthusiasm for the kids. They really do follow the energy....

  22. Playing in the rain is so wonderfully fun, especially warm summer rain. I remember as a child floating "boats" made of sticks and leaves in our ditch when it rained enough. We would also "go fishing" with our child sized fishing poles (btw, no hooks, just a weight on the end.)

    I don't have any recommendations on books for any as young as yours, but I do remember the Beverly Cleary books fondly.

  23. I read the whole Little House series to my 7yo when she was 4. We both loved it! And now, she reads them all by herself {sniff}.

    1. Good to know! We may try those books in a few years. I remember reading those books as a little girl.

  24. I wish more parents got this. Most of parenting is more about correcting ourselves than our children....which if you think about it is much easier.

    Chapter books just might be in our near future. Levi's book preferences get longer and more involved with each day. It's sweet to watch their minds develop and their hearts get caught up in books.

    1. Madeline - I just love the way that you wrote your 2nd sentence...and I agree! Good parenting is so much more about bettering ourselves than it is about "discipline" techniques and strategies.

  25. I needed this post. S was up at 4:30 this morning... I don't know why. And I know it's going to be one of those days. I am living for nap time right now... And wishing Daddy were here.

  26. P.S. Did you all catch the sunset/rainbow/second storm? Breathtaking. Every time I am out IN it I am so thankful to live in this place.

    1. We must have missed it! We came inside, drenched and dripping...and didn't venture out again that night. Thanks for the reminder to check for rainbows next time. :)

  27. We had a wonderfully similar monsoon experience this afternoon! We simply have to drop everything and go out and at least smell the rain (and it usually doesn't end there;)Something about this time of year...
    We haven't tried chapter books yet but it is really funny how all of a sudden a couple of months ago (around 2.5)my big girl started asking for longer and longer books. Some previously shelved ones have made it into the rotation.
    Thanks for the tip. I remember those Ramona books fondly...

    1. I also have fond memories of the Ramona series! I think I read all of the books when I was a child. I also watched the Canadian TV show (Have you seen it? There were 10 episodes that debuted in the late 1980s).

      That said, I definitely have noticed that there are some messages in the book that are not particularly positive. Ramona actually is quite a brat...and she chases boys to try to kiss them on the playground!

      Still, the reading/vocabulary level seems just about perfect - and we're having great conversations about the book already!

      1. I recently reread Ramona the Pest as an adult for the first time and I can totally see why I read and reread the books as a child, but...as an adult, I really want to have a strong talk with Ramona!!

  28. what an absolutely perfect kind of day you had. We had more of the "not right now" kind of days since my husband was preparing to go out of town for 8 days. :(

    My girls love when I read them chapter books. I've been tempted and attempted to read books like "The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe" but those are a bit too wordy for even my 7 year old to enjoy. So, we'll stick with the Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume books for now.

    1. I, too, look forward to reading the Chronicles of Narnia books to my girls when they are older (they're so imaginatively and beautifully written).

  29. Too funny! We just did this exact same thing today. Played in the rain. I haven't done that since I was a kid and I am so glad I did it today! :)

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