Category Archives: Adventures in Parenting

Adventures in Parenting: Top Ten Reasons I Love the First Day of School!

Today is the day I’ve been looking forward to since the beginning of summer break: the first day of school. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy a break from helping the boys with homework and all of their extra-curricular activities, I do. That said, in my opinion things are easier, at least for me, when the boys have things to do in the evening to entertain themselves and occupy their time…other than to bother me or one another.

When school is in session, I never hear “Mom, I’m bored” or “I have nothing to do.” Evenings are spent quietly curled up with a book (me) while the boys diligently (snicker, snicker) complete their homework. So, while reminiscing about my most memorable first day of school, I came up with the following top ten list:

Top Ten Reasons I Love the First Day of School!

1. Regaining a regular routine. Granted, our schedule is a busy one. In the summer, however, things pop up randomly and out of the blue. Our school season schedule is fairly regular. We know we have something to do every evening, who needs to do it, and when.

2. Back to School Supply Shopping! Hello, new pens, notebooks & post-its? Yes, please!

3. New Clothes Shopping! Yes, I’m one of those sick parents who actually likes taking her children clothes shopping. They both have their own individual personality and taste in clothes. And, despite the fact they are no longer babies or toddlers, I do like dressing them up in great outfits.

4. Reading Lists! Yep, I like these too. I especially like reading along with my boys.I’m especially excited about my oldest son’s English class this year. They have to pick a book outside what is assigned & do some sort of report about it. This report can be a comic strip, a video, a book review…as long as they are writing about the book they read the format is limitless!

5. Book Orders! Do you see a theme here? They’re back…I look forward to these all summer! I’ll never get too old for Scholastic Book Orders!

6. First Day of School Pictures! One of my favorite traditions; we take a picture of the boys on the first day of school, typically in front of their school. This year, I took one of the boys together just outside our house:

L-R: Justin (second grade) & John (seventh grade)

7. Enthusiasm! I’m lucky in that both of my boys were thrilled to go back to school. I love seeing the happiness in their eyes when they see their friends for the first time since school ended, the joy in walking around the school and meeting new teachers.

8.Witnessing Learning in Action! That moment when my boys discover something new, learn a new and exciting fact. The wonder and amazement in their eyes is breathtaking. Pure bliss.

9. Reliving my own school years.I’m not going to lie and state I had the best school years. I had some great ones as well as some not so great ones. Sharing these experiences with my children, however, make me more “human” to them…and they see me as a person, just not their Mom. I can sympathize with many of the things they are going through and we use these teachable moments as time to talk, one-on-one, further nurturing our relationship.

10. Watching my boys grow. Reflecting back on previous first day of school pictures, looking at school photos and the artwork they’ve produced over the years, I see my boys growing leaps and bounds before my very eyes. It is moments like this that I say to myself, and to my husband: We did it. We really did it. We ARE excellent parents.

So, what are some of your favorite back to school/first day of school memories or traditions?

Adventures in Parenting: TMI & Social Media

Wow, it’s been a while since the last Adventures in Parenting post!  Today’s is an important one: parenting & social media.

Last week, there was an incident involving my six-year-old son & a disciplinary action taken by the school. I posted it on Facebook & Twitter. That evening, my husband & I got into a discussion about how I shouldn’t have posted that information on those social media sites. Despite the fact that said son is only six year’s old, my husband felt it was “forever” and could have an impact on my son. My retort: he’s six. If the incident involved my twelve-year-old son, who has friends on social media, I definitely wouldn’t post it.

So, the question I pose to you: do we share too much on social media?  I’m not talking about posting pictures from the actual labor & delivery room or pictures of your son’s first successful trip to the potty.  Those are definitely over the top. But information wise: do we share to much? Will it impact our children? Just what is TMI on social media?

Adventures in Parenting: Sharing the Love of Reading

Why yes, it’s been an unreal amount of time since the last time I posted an “Adventures in Parenting” post.  Let’s just say that my parenting life has had so many adventures since the last post, I don’t even know where to start!

Those that know me, be it on Twitter, Facebook, or here on the blog, know how important sharing the love of reading with my children is to me. I’ve talked endlessly about how John, my eleven year old, transformed from a reluctant reading into an avid reader.  I haven’t talked much about my five-year-old, Justin, because he’s ALWAYS had a love of reading. 

For this edition of Adventures in Parenting I’d like to show a video taken of Justin by Erica Perl, author of CHICKEN BUTT and CHICKEN BUTT’S BACK (among many others). Those who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr may have already seen this, so I apologize in advance (not really, I’m darned proud of him!)  This video was taken in April when Erica paid a visit to One More Page Books. Justin discusses his love of these picture books!

My future bookseller in the making :) Looks like all my hard work has paid off!

Adventures in Parenting: Pride

Readers of this blog know the challenges my husband and I have faced with with our oldest son, John.  John has ADD and in the past this condition has hindered him quite a bit.  He was a reluctant reader and viewed reading as punishment or a chore.  However, within the past year, his attitude has improved dramatically. He enjoys reading now, loves taking trips to the bookstore, etc.  His overall attitude has improved drastically!

However, it wasn’t until recently that I really saw this improvement in action.  Recently, John was tasked with coming up with a talent to present at a family reunion. John and his father decided that his talent would be to recite Obama’s “Yes We Can Speech.”  John’s grandmother has frequently mentioned that he resembles Obama, so this talent seemed perfect.  Now I admit, I didn’t think he’d be able to do it. I didn’t think he would be dedicated enough to be able to do what it takes to learn this speech and to perform it well.  Boy, was I wrong.

John presented this speech with so much emotion, enthusiasm, that it gave me goosebumps.  Listening to him recite this powerful speech left me feeling so much pride I thought I would literally explode.  So, without further ado, John’s recitation of Obama’s Yes We Can!

Gives you goosebumps, doesn’t it!?  However, this has reminded me to be proud of the small achievements as well as the monumental ones, for the little steps are a pathway to the big steps.

Adventures in Parenting: Trust. How Much Is Too Much?

My husband and I are co-treasurer’s for the PTO at my oldest son’s school.  Fairly often, we rely on John to be our messenger, dropping off checks and other materials in the front office because our work schedules don’t always allow a visit to the school.  Yesterday morning, I asked John to drop off the PTO checkbook at the office for the PTO president.  I’ve asked him to do it before and thought nothing of it.  Until around 8:30 AM when I received a call from John’s teacher:

Teacher: Good morning!  Did you know that John had a checkbook with him today?

Me: Yes, I asked that he drop it off in the office on his way in to school this morning.

Teacher: Well, it didn’t make it to the office. I found out he had it because he was attempting to write a check.

Me: Really?! (Inside I was screaming “HOLY *insert expletives here*!”) Ok, can you ask him to please take it down to the office?


My mind was reeling!  Why oh why would John think it okay to write a check?  Ok, and I do have to admit that I thought it was  a little cute and I tried to picture John writing out a check.  I was also a bit impressed that he knew how to write a check.  I sent an email to the PTO president letting her know what happened, apologizing immensely. She said that she picked up the checkbook and the check was written in pencil so it was easily erased.

When I picked John up from school I asked him why he was writing a check.  He stated that he thought the school needed money for a particular event and wanted to help, so he wrote a check for $13.  BLESS HIS LITTLE HEART!  My heart did go a little mush, but then I quickly recovered and discussed why what he did was wrong, how one shouldn’t write checks in a checkbook that didn’t belong to him, why 11-year-olds shouldn’t write checks, etc. End of discussion.

This whole scenerio made me reflect on how much trust I put in John.  He’s an extremely sweet, caring little boy and perhaps sometimes I put too much trust in him. He is still a kid afterall!  He’s quite mature and responsible in certain situations, but I must force myself to remember that he is  still a child. Therefore, while what he did was wrong, I was at fault just as much as he was.

So what do you think? Do we sometimes put too much trust in our children?

Adventures in Parenting: Relunctant Readers


Today’s episode of Adventures in Parenting will take on a more serious note.  Those that know me well know how passionate I am about reading and about getting children excited about reading.  Why am I so passionate?  This  effort was largely due to my oldest son’s problems with reading. 

We enrolled John-John in a private kindergarted at the age of six.  Our county doesn’t have all-day kindergarten and we thought this would be the best thing for John.  Also, he was a bit behind in reading and we thought he would get some more assistance with this in a smaller classroom.  Unfortunately, this was not the case.  We knew at an early age that John had some attention and focus issues. The private school required that we get John tested for ADD before they would provide any extra assistance.  In the meantime, John was shutting down.  He detested reading.  It was a chore, a punishment almost.  

We couldn’t bear to see John in this state any longer, so we moved him to public school midway through first grade, the best decision we’ve ever made.  While he was ultimately tested for and diagnosed with ADD, we did it of our own volition and were not pressured to do so. 

Since John’s school is considered a Title 1 school, he receives a tremendous amount of extra help with his reading and he’s grown by leaps and bounds!  He now loves to read, and has reviewed a few books for this blog. One of the features of Jenn’s Bookshelves  is Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader, in which John reviews books “advertised” for reluctant readers and indicates whether or not they’ve passed his “test.”

So, what’s the point of this post?  If you have a reluctant reader, don’t give up!  Here are a few tips I offer to parents of reluctant readers:

  • Don’t force your child to read. Doing so will make it seem like a chore or a punishment
  • Let them read what they want (within reason!).  A graphic novel is still a book!  Also, boys tend to enjoy reading more nonfiction than fiction. 
  • Find books about things they are interested in.  My son LOVES Star Wars, so we stocked up on books about the Star Wars movies and characters. DK Books has an outstanding line of books on Star Wars.
  • Does your child like a movie that was based on a book? Find that book, and read it along with him/her. 
  • READ TO YOUR CHILD!  John is now almost 11 years old, and I still read to him!  Talk about the book while you are reading it. Get your child to talk about the characters, how they make them feel. See if they can predict what is going to happen next.
  • Let your child see you reading!  If they see that you enjoy reading, they might be more inclined to do it!
  • Do they want to learn a new sport or activity? Find a book on that topic.  For example, John loves to do oragami.  So we went out and bought him a few books about the topic. Those books are now worn because he’s read them so many times!

I could go on and on about this, but in order to keep brief I’ll stop here.  I’m always willing to answer questions from parents who have reluctant readers.  We’ve come across a great deal of books that engage reluctant readers, so don’t hesitate to contact me via my Contact form or by email at  You can also catch me on Twitter as @jennsbookshelf!

Adventures in Parenting: Adolescent Love

Since the premiere post for Adventures in Parenting featured my youngest son,  I thought I’d be fair and focus on my oldest son, John (affectionately called John-John), for this episode.

One night last week as we were all getting settled for bed, John was up to his usual antics, doing anything he could to avoid going to bed.  Usually this is accomplished by spending an unnecessary amount of time brushing his teeth, offering to help me with whatever I’m doing, etc.  This night was different.

John very casually mentions that he has a date the following day.  I asked John if he knew what a date was, his response was “Yes, it’s when you sit down and talk.”  Ok, crisis averted.  The “date” was with this little girl in his class,  Natalie.  He and Natalie have been friends for the past several years.

Fast forward to the next evening.  We’re driving home and I ask how his “date” went.  Here is a transcript of our exchange:

John: You have to promise not to tell Dad.

Me: Not tell Dad what?

John: (shifts uncomfortably in his seat, giggles, refuses to look me in the eye)  We kissed.

Me: (mind you, I’m driving!) Excuse me?

John: On the cheek, on the cheek!  Not the lips!

Me: And where did this take place?

John: Recess.  We were looking at the clouds, describing what we saw, and she just, you know kissed me.

Me: I see.

I spent the rest of the ten minute car ride getting after Justin for kicking my seat while chanting “John-John got kissed! John-John got kissed!”

When we get home, we all get prepped for dinner.  I’ve already mentioned the day’s “festivities” to my husband.  It’s his turn to grill talk to John about what happened.

Husband: So, I hear you had a date today.  How’d that go.

John: (Gives a very condensed version of that day’s activities)

Justin: (butting in, as is the norm) John-John got kissed!

Husband: Really?

John: (Grins)  Yes.

Husband:  So, how did that make you feel?

John: I dunno, kinda good.

Dad: So what do you like about Natalie?

John: The way she looks.  She has the perfect face, the perfect hair, and the clothes she wears are very fashion-forward (I just about died!)

We spent the rest of dinner explaining appropriate behavior at school and why one shouldn’t be kissing at school, even if it is on the cheek.

I think the Husband and I handled it all very well, given the circumstances!

What about you?  Do you  remember your first adolescent love or kiss?  Or, if you are a parent, can you recall your child’s first love?

Introducing: Adventures in Parenting!


Adventures in Parenting will be a new weekly feature here at Jenn’s Bookshelves.  The idea was formulated on Twitter (of course!) by Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog after she read my tweets about yet another fiasco one of my boys had gotten themselves involved in.  Thus, a new feature was born!

The focus of this week’s feature: Vapor Rub!

One night last week (which just happens to be the night before my in-laws were scheduled to arrive!) I was putting my boys to bed.  I went downstairs to put on a new load of laundry.  I was downstairs less than five minues when a minty-fresh odor came wafting down through the air vent.  This air vent leads right into the bedroom of my youngest son, Justin.  Justin is quite the character, always keeps us on our toes.  

After smelling this minty-fresh scent I pondered for a moment.  What on earth could that smell be?  It definitely wasn’t toothpaste.  Then it hit me: VAPOR RUB!!

I ran up the stairs and discovered Justin sitting on his bedroom floor with an empty jar of Vicks Vapor Rub next to him.  He had a mischevious smile on his face.  His hair glistened in the lamplight.  I new instantly what he’d done. 

I took him into the bathroom, undressed him, and stood him in the shower.  I scrubbed and scrubbed his head but the greasy goo just wouldn’t come out. By this time,  Justin was pretty stressed out so I sent him to his bed and logged on to Twitter to find an answer.  I asked my tweople if they new how to remove Vapor Rub from hair.  It’s water-soluable so just rinsing with water wouldn’t work.  At the same time, I googled my question.

I was able to find the remedy at dish soap!  The ingredients in dish soap that remove food & grease from dishes will also remove Vapor Rub from hair!

Justin and I went back into the bathroom and did another thorough cleansing of his hair using some lovely apple-scented dishsoap.  Within minutes, his hair returned to it’s normal state.  Justin continued to smell like an apple-mint combination for the next day or so, but my only other option was to cut all his hair off!

Following are pictures from that night.  While you really can’t see the Vapor Rub in his hair, his face tells it all!

Vapor Rub Head! He's trying hard not to smile for this photo!

Post dish soap! Clearly, no smiles on this face!

Check back next week for the next episode of Adventures in Parenting which will feature: Elementary School Crushes!