Write a Card for Each Day in November #NaNoCaMo

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Quote: “Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights the way.” – Author Unknown

In January, fellow VegBooks reviewer and all around awesome gal, Kristin Wald from her blog at mutterschwester.wordpress.com, wrote about the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice (Jane Austen’s brilliant work) and opined about real letters, not just thank you notes and birthday cards, but a handwritten missive:

An actual “catching up” or “I have wanted to tell you” letter. And, if it’s your style, add something quirky or fun or surprising to the letter.  Make it your very own craft project. Maybe you’ll even need to buy some crayons. Or cut up a magazine for color.

– from “Pride and Prejudice: Celebrates Its 200th Anniversary on Paper.”

I loved the idea but I do tend to write letters in cards as well as in folded sheets (upon sheets).  I wrote letters and notes and cards but nothing I had the presence of mind to share with Kristin as she asked in her post.  Still, it is funny that her request that we write real letters to one another came in connection with a post about Pride and Prejudice because that (and Jane Austen’s Persuasion) contain my favorite letters in all literature.

Birthday Card
Quote: “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

Last year my friend Mindy moved very far away to the Dakotas and it reminded me of another author who lived in the Dakota territory, Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I told my friend that I wanted to exchange handwritten letters after she moved.  Yes, we both had email and our respective blogs to follow and comment on, but she was going to live a pioneer life so letters were a must.  When I get her letters, I will sometimes wait a few hours before I open them so I can savor them.  There’s just something special about that.

Birthday Card
Birthday Card

Fast forward to recently, I received some wonderful letters and cards in the mail, including from my friend Annelies Zijderveld(her blog is The Food Poet and she has a cookbook coming out in April 2015!) – who unsuspectingly asked for my address and sent a cheery orange card my way.  I responded in kind with a handwritten card.  Annelies then suggested on Facebook that instead of “NaNoWriMo” (National Novel Writing Month or National November Writing Month, not sure which is the accepted version) we should do “NaNoCaMo” (National November Card Month) and “send a card everyday in November to someone in your Facebook friends list[…].”

(Redacted) Envelopes
(Redacted) Envelopes

I’ve sent four cards so far and will be aiming for 30 total.  For about the cost of a stamp you can make someone smile, so why not?  You could write a note of thanks, a birthday card, a letter, encouragement, you name it.  Here are my first four – I love doing matching envelope doodles so I included those as well.  As it is still early November, there’s still time to message your friends and find out their addresses.  Considering there’s no mail on some days, you won’t be sending a card every day, but it is more fun to space them out through the month, even if you’re not following a rigid schedule.

"Happy Healing Vibes Are Being Sent Your Way" (Interior: Unless You'd Prefer a Happy Healing Hot Fudge Sundae Instead..."
“Happy Healing Vibes Are Being Sent Your Way” (Interior: “Unless You’d Prefer a Happy Healing Hot Fudge Sundae Instead…”

Thank you, Annelies, for the idea!  Anyone else joining in?

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Speaking of VegBooks, here are the latest posts I’ve contributed to. . .

Letters of the West

Tracks Count

Best Books for 5 Year Old Vegetarian and Vegan Kids

The No Biggie Bunch (Review and Indiegogo Campaign)

My food allergy dollars allocate in priority to:

1) Injectable epinephrine
2) Safe chocolate
3) Safe food

Now all they need to make is an epinephrine auto-injector case with a spot for emergency chocolate and snacks, right?  My daughter would totally be on board with it if it was pink, blue, and purple. What I mean to get at, in my signature roundabout way, is that the first place I go when I need food allergy related reading material is my local library (and even inter-library loan) before buying books (or usually in lieu of buying them). So I have to admit that I was aware of the No Biggie Bunch series of books for quite some time before I ever investigated further because our local library did not have any copies. We were missing out on a neat quartet of smart, well illustrated, and accurate food allergy reads for the younger set.

No Biggie Nutrition Facts

I met Heather Mehra, co-creator of the No Biggie Bunch books (with Kerry McManama and Michael Kline), and her husband at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference last November and they are some of my favorite people because of their authentic exuberance for kid lit, awareness, and their family. I flipped through one of the books for the first time when I visited with Heather and the quality of the series was readily apparent. I excitedly purchased two books for my children and when they shipped to me I was generously gifted the other two books in the series as well, all signed (thank you so much again Heather)!

No Biggie Bunch books

The No Biggie Bunch should be in libraries and a new Indiegogo campaign aims to make that happen. Contributions fund distribution costs associated with putting the series in libraries across all 50 states. In the first week of the campaign, for example, $30 covers one set of four books for a library as well as two books for a school library dear to the contributor’s heart. Six books (retailing for $14.99 apiece normally) disseminated with sound and approachable food allergy discussion for just $30 is a great deal and I wanted to use it as the nudge I needed to get around to writing about the series here.

Peanut Free Tea for Three

This was the first of the series that I read and I had to get it for my daughter.  Three friends gather to have a tea party and are totally supportive of one another’s food allergy circumstances.  They bring their own safe food, something very familiar in our family, and have a wonderful time.  A main topic in this one is cross contamination with jelly because a knife may have had peanut butter on it during a prior use.  The book also models collaborative imaginary play.

Trade or Treat Halloween

The No Biggie Bunch each have single allergies, as well as one member that has no food allergies.  This really works for kids with multiple allergies because they can identify with more than one character in the books.  In “Trade or Treat Halloween” the kids are able to enjoy trick or treating with the knowledge that they’ll trade their haul for safe options.  Last year we had our first trick or treat outing and my kids handled it very well.  Greta, allergic to wheat, is excited in this story because she trades all her candy for stickers to decorate her room.


Dairy Free Dino-Licious Dig

There are no adults in the No Biggie Bunch books so the situations and dialogue are very accessible to elementary school and pre-school children.  Davis can’t share Natalie’s cheesy crackers when she offers them on a playdate because of his dairy allergy but both Natalie and Davis handle things in an upbeat way.  Davis’ “No Biggie Bag” has just the safe snack he needs and the two can continue with their adventure.  The attitude toward food allergy is very factual but supportive.  I see the children in my daughter’s class being very understanding on a regular basis.  Like Natalie, they want to share but know they need to keep their classmate safe.


Sports-tastic Birthday Party Book

We’ve covered tea parties, Halloween, and the run of the mill playdate. . .I saved the hardest scenario for last – the birthday party.  Scotty’s birthday cake is safe for some but not all of his friends but they are prepared with safe treats of their own.  As a mother I feel a pang of sadness when I read this book because of course we want our children included in those activities that others take for granted but to my children this book reflects the reality of birthday parties for them.  We plan and prepare and shop and bake so we can celebrate with their friends so that the focus of the day is not on the sugar rush (though that is an added benefit) but on having a great time together.

"No Biggie!"
“Along with my princess crown I packed my own jelly in my No Biggie Bag.”

The illustrations by Michael Kline are bright and cheerful and the characterizations are forward thinking – the friends have varied cultural backgrounds and diverse interests but love getting together.  I hope you’ll consider supporting the Indiegogo campaign to get these books into more libraries!

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The books are really focused on models of good habits when managing food allergies, so for books that cover allergic reactions I’d recommend The Princess and the Peanut: An Allergic Fairytale and The Bugabees: Friends With Food Allergies to round out your library collection.  

I am a volunteer contributing reviewer of books, music, and movies over at VegBooks.org if you’d like to check my recent posts there: Philip Reid Saves the Statue of FreedomThe Lego Movie (2014)In a Heartbeat (CD), Patty’s Secret, Bronto, Friend of Ceratops, Violet Mackrel’s Natural Habitat, and Monster on the Hill.

Book Gift Ideas for Two Year Olds

My son has fallen in love with some books of late and I wanted to share a few here in case someone is searching for ideas for a birthday or holiday gift for a two year old boys or girls (my four year old daughter enjoys all of these as well).  Books are my favorite gift to take to birthday parties!

R has been read to a lot but I am sure being the younger child he hasn’t had as much one on one reading time as his sister enjoyed when she was small.  Even so, his love of books has been sparked in the last 6 months in particular and these titles put the biggest smile on his face.  A note about the links, they all go through my amazon affiliate tag (you can read more about what that means here) but you can search for them at your library or other site by title as well.


Have You Seen My Duckling? (amazon affiliate link) – A classic for many children, this one used to make R cry when the ducklings went to sleep with their Mom at the end.  I’m not sure if it was because he was anti-bedtime or because it meant the story was over but I had to skip the last page for a while.  All along, however, he has loved looking for the lost duckling on each page.  A little duckling goes missing from his mother but is never far behind her as she searches so on each page you can see the little duckling and point him out.


Trashy Town (amazon affiliate link) – With R’s obsession with garbage trucks I wanted to find him some good library books and with her usual perfect timing, Allison over at No Time for Flashcards did a post about 25 Books About Cars and Trucks as I began my quest.  What appealed to me about her suggestion for Trashy Town was that it talks about garbage trucks in a nice way.  R likes to read this one to me and cried when we had to give it back to our library.  A man goes about town picking up trash until he finally takes his truck to the dump and heads home for a bath.  Really cute, I have this on R’s Christmas List this year.


Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (amazon affiliate link) – This is a gorgeous book and another to file under the label “charming truck books.”  Each variety of truck finishes his work, gets ready for bed, and says goodnight.  The prose is great for reading aloud and R loves that one of the trucks has a teddy bear.


It’s Not Easy Being Big (amazon affiliate link) – Random choice, I know, but the story is an early reading book that features Elmo and Big Bird from Sesame Street lamenting about being small and big, respectively.  At the end they conclude it can be easy being small and it can be easy being big as well.  I think what R loves about this book are the scenarios he can related to – Big Bird trying to swing, Elmo throwing a football to Grover, etc.  I think I read this to him about two to three times each evening and then tell it to him from memory once the lights are out.  Any little one that loves Elmo (or “Elbow Show” as R calls him) will get a kick out of this book.


Lego Duplo Ultimate Sticker Collection (amazon affiliate link) – Sticker books are an obsession of R’s right now and I actually bought this one for E for when I was in the hospital to give birth to R.  She loved it but he is the one that has pretty much finished putting all the stickers in various places in the book.  I’ve bought other sticker books but this is his favorite and the easiest for his little fingers to manipulate.  The free play areas (scenes where you can put the stickers wherever you want) let him play on his own a little bit instead of always asking for help finding where a particular sticker should go.


Ten Little Ladybugs (amazon affiliate link) – I bought this for R’s 1st birthday and it is still going strong.  There are little plastic ladybugs that are part of the book and they disappear one by one until all of them are home again in the end of this counting book.

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Speaking of books, here’s a roundup of my latest reviews at the wonderful Vegbooks.org (mostly for the pre-school and up set):

Nature’s Patchwork Quilt – A great book about habitats.

Granny’s Clan – I learned so much about Orca whales from this book.

Over in the Jungle: A Rainforest Rhyme – Another cute re-work of the song “Over in the Meadow” that illustrates and counts rainforest creatures.

Going Home: The Mystery of Animal Migration – From the same author as “Over in the Jungle,” this book discusses animal migration in a clear, easy to understand way that kept E’s attention.

Bronto & the Pterodactyl Eggs – I’ll never get used to calling Brontosaureses by their proper name, Apatasaurus, but the author of this book lets me slip up sometimes by calling the protagonist in the book Bronto.

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What are some of your favorite books for children right now?