Posts found under: Family Traditions

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Why buy cialis on the internet is really beneficial for you?

So you’ve decided to order cialis and do not know where to start? We can give you some advice. First, ask your doctor for advice in order to properly determine the dosage, when you do that, you need to decide for yourself exactly where you will be buying the drug. You can buy cialis online, or you can just buy it at the pharmacy. Buy cialis online has a number of advantages, one of which is price. The cost of the Internet will always be lower than in stores, and when combined with the free shipping, it will be the best choice. Besides the price there are a number of advantages over conventional pharmacies, one of which is anonymity. Also, you can always check the online store on reliability, read reviews about it and the opinion of other buyers. Read more.

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Move over Elf, there’s a NEW kid on the block! The Sugar Plum Tree

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Hey ELF!  Move over, there’s a new kid on the block!  And guess what?  This tradition is not secular, can be read anytime (although we suggest special occasions,) does not have a “naughty or nice” element  or have a third party “watching over you.”  Instead, it’s all about kid-powered-dreams-can-come-true.

Introducing….The Sugar Plum Tree! “a bedtime story with sweet dreams and a candy twist!”

Now by no means do we want to bash an Elf on A Shelf.  As a matter of fact, our “Dream Team” admires the Elf creators! So much so, we modeled our marketing strategies after them – at least after how they started – growing one book at a time.  But here’s how we differ.  We are in local stores, and on our own website, (Etsy and Ebay) ONLY and prefer to keep it that way! We’re a small local company who supports small local companies.

Will we be criticized too? You bet!  Our special occasion bedtime tradition has candy under the bed for a morning surprise.  And in an environment that: deals with extremes, is  “anti-sugar,” and is filled with concerns, we have our work cut out for us.

But I’m sure that’s the battle every new, mass produced tradition faces. For example,  Matt Pelc, Huffington Post (2013), states Elf on the Shelf Ruined their Christmas (or at least came very close)  Why?  A couple of reasons, Kelsey (Matt’s daughter) could not bear to say goodbye to her new elf friend “Missy.”  This caused tears for months after Christmas almost to the following Christmas creating a dilemma for Kelsey’s parents.  The next Christmas, Matt explains, they were not ready to have repeat. So in tandem with the new Elf on A Shelf commercials they broke the news to Kelsey that the Elf was really them.  “We walked a delicate line telling her Missy wasn’t real, but kept her belief in Santa alive.”  read Matt’s full post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-pelc/how-the-elf-on-the-shelf-ruined-our-christmas_b_4435749.html

And Brian Gresko, last year posted his feelings on the Elf in a babble blog. While he admits that he “does Santa,” he believes the Elf tradition has crossed the line.  His reasons?  It’s completely changed his habits and not for the better.  He can no longer watch talk and news programs that feature the Elf (for fear it will ruin his kids “magical experience.” He avoids big box stores during the holidays.  But most importantly he states that instead of one short quick “lie” this extends the “lie” to be a month long.  And the whole idea that Santa has surveillance on you is creepy!  To read Brian’s perspective see:  http://www.babble.com/dad/why-i-hate-the-elf-on-the-shelf/

The Sugar Plum Tree is learning from those who blazed the “follow-our-tradition-path” and promises to learn and do better.  Give us a try not just for the holidays but for all your big and little occasions!

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Importance of Board Games –

The Benefits of Board Games _ Scholastic

Playing games with your kids is a perfect way to spend time together — and build learning skills at the same time.

What your child most wants — and needs — is to be with you with no goal in mind beyond the joy of spending time together. He wants you to take pleasure in him, play with him, and listen to him. Nothing bolsters his self-esteem more! So why not pull out an old board game tonight? Playing games is an easy and excellent way to spend unhurried, enjoyable time together. As an added bonus, board games are also rich in learning opportunities. They satisfy your child’s competitive urges and the desire to master new skills and concepts, such as:

  • number and shape recognition, grouping, and counting
  • letter recognition and reading
  • visual perception and color recognition
  • eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity

Games don’t need to be overtly academic to be educational, however. Just by virtue of playing them, board games can teach important social skills, such as communicating verbally, sharing, waiting, taking turns, and enjoying interaction with others. Board games can foster the ability to focus, and lengthen your child’s attention span by encouraging the completion of an exciting, enjoyable game. Even simple board games like Chutes and Ladders offer meta-messages and life skills: Your luck can change in an instant — for the better or for the worse. The message inherent in board games is: Never give up. Just when you feel despondent, you might hit the jackpot and ascend up high, if you stay in the game for just a few more moves.

Board games have distinct boundaries. Living in a complex society, children need clear limits to feel safe. By circumscribing the playing field — much as tennis courts and football fields will do later — board games can help your child weave her wild and erratic side into a more organized, mature, and socially acceptable personality. After all, staying within the boundaries (not intruding on others’ space, for example) is crucial to leading a successful social and academic life.

A Word About Winning
Children take game playing seriously, so it’s important that we help guide them through the contest. When a playing piece falls to a lower level, our kids really feel sad; when it rises up high, they are remarkably proud and happy, even if we adults know that it happened only by chance. Therefore, you need to help balance your child’s pleasure in playing the game with his very limited ability to manage frustration and deal with the idea of losing.

For 3, 4, and even 5 year olds, winning is critical to a feeling of mastery. So generally, I think it’s okay to “help” them win. By about 6, kids should begin to internalize the rules of fair play, tenuous as they may seem to a child who is losing a game. So I am also fine with a 6 year old “amending” the rules to win if he feels she has to. I encourage you to acknowledge your child’s need for special rules. At the start of the game, you might want to ask, “Are we playing by regular or cheating rules today?”

Choosing the Right Game at Every Age
While in the long run we need to teach values, ethics, academic skills, and the importance of playing by the rules, in the early years the primary goals are helping your child become more self-confident and ambitious and to enjoy playing with others. If you’re playing with more than one child, divide the family into teams, giving each player a job he can do well: A younger child may be responsible for rolling the dice (which he considers important, since that is where the luck comes from), and an older child the job of sorting the Monopoly money.

As children approach 5, they have more sophisticated thinking skills and can begin to incorporate and exercise their number, letter, and word knowledge in literacy-based games. By 6, children may prefer more cognitively challenging games like checkers, which require and help develop planning, strategy, persistence, and critical thinking skills. Here are some of our favorite game picks for 5 and 6 year olds.

  • Scrabble Junior (Milton Bradley): This is the younger cousin of the tremendously educational and challenging Scrabble, which we all know and love. Using large yellow letter tiles, players match letters to words already written on one side of the board. The reverse side has an open grid where older children can create their own words.
    Learning highlights: Fosters literacy and language skills.
  • Boggle Junior (Parker Brothers): The prelude to Boggle — one of the best learning games for older kids — is Boggle Junior, in which players link pictures to letters and words. The game comes with 6-sided letter cubes and numerous picture cards that have the name of the object spelled below. Players place a card on a blue tray and use 3- or 4-letter cubes to copy the item’s spelling. Older children can hide the written words and spell the word just using the picture.
    Learning highlights: Teaches letters, words, spelling, and matching skills.
  • Zingo (Think Fun Company): One of this year’s “hot” games, this Bingo-style matching game relies on a player’s ability to spot pictures (of a dog, say, or the sun) and match them quickly to the words and pictures on his play card. As in Bingo, the first one to finish a complete line of items wins.
    Learning Highlights: Encourages matching skills and quick thinking.
  • Monopoly Junior (Parker Brothers): As they do in its senior sibling, players roll dice to move around the game board and buy real estate. The game is shorter and uses smaller dollar denominations so kids can figure out winnings and penalties more quickly. 
    Learning Highlights: Develops math, color recognition, reading, reasoning, and social skills.
  • Junior Labyrinth (Ravensburger): Each player gets a large, easy-to-handle piece shaped like a ghost, which she moves through an extra-large maze in an attempt to reach a treasure. While the path may appear straight, the walls move and shift, so getting there is a challenge. This game imparts the idea of impermanence and change, since a path that was open just a moment ago might now be closed and vice versa. Players have to figure out what to do when circumstances change unexpectedly — a good life skill to learn.
    Learning highlights: Teaches spatial relations and relies on some manual dexterity.
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GAMES – over 100 years old – still PLAYABLE today

Historical Outdoor Children’s Games
By Corinna Underwood

Marbles

According to Collector’s Weekly, the game of marbles dates back as far as Roman times. The earliest marbles were made from stone, but as their popularity grew, they were also made from baked clay and real marble. Later still, marbles were made from agate and alabaster long before glass marbles came on the scene. Early games involving marbles were similar to the English game of bowls and involved rolling a large marker across the ground. Opponents would then try to hit the marker or get their smaller marbles as close to it as possible. The winner was the one who hit or got closest to the marker. Children still enjoy playing marbles today.

Annie Over

An outdoor game popular more than 100 years ago was Annie Over. This game was played by two teams. A barrier such as a table or log was set up between the two teams. One of the teams had a ball, and on the call of “Annie,” the ball was thrown to a member of the opposing team. If she didn’t catch the ball, she took a turn to throw. When the ball was caught, the teams switched sides as fast as possible. The catcher attempted to hit an opposing team member with the ball while he ran to change sides. If she was successful, the player who was hit had to change teams. The game progressed until one of the teams was eliminated. A modern version of this game is called red rover. This type of game is popular in school yards where young children can play with large teams. It’s a fun communal game that does not need any equipment, and ultimately there are no losers. Red rover is good for fitness and helps improve speed and coordination.

Graces

Another game popular more than 100 years ago was graces, which was played by two girls or a girl and a boy. Each child had a hoop and a stick, and they attempted to use the stick to successfully pass the hoop back and forth. This game was devised to promote grace and dexterity in young children. Although hoop-and-stick games are no longer played by contemporary children, the hula hoop has maintained its appeal to children of all ages. The hula hoop can be incorporated into many games, including those involving obstacle courses, skipping and running. Mini hoops are used in target games where objects are placed at a distance from the thrower, and the thrower tries to capture them with the hoops. Hoop games are good for improving coordination and dexterity.

Chase and Capture

Chase-and-capture games — similar to different variations of present-day tag — have always been popular with children both in Europe and the United States. There are a number of variations. For instance, a game popular in the streets of Brooklyn in the early 20th century, ring relievo, was a variation of the European game relievo. This game involved chalk rings drawn on the street; these served as bases for “prisoners.” The game often extended through many city streets.

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Family Traditions by Dr. Laura Markham

Rituals and Traditions That Bring Families Closer

“The goal of rituals is connection. Rituals create sacred space designated for togetherness and unity.” – Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D.

Why do families need rituals?

What’s a ritual?  It’s a routine with meaning.  Children love ritual.  Repetition, the comfort of belonging, the sense of wonder, magic, and celebration — all Photo: Phil Cantorcreate a bonding experience that nurtures both kids and parents.  Rituals hold families together.

Why do we need rituals?  It’s primal.  They help us move emotionally from one place to another; they ease pain, acknowledge growth, and create connection. 

Rituals are invaluable to families, as most parents discover.  Daily rituals like bedtime stories and goodbye hugs make separations easier and provide comfort and security. Traditions like taking a picture on the front steps on the first day of school and letting kids stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve help children integrate the changes of the year. Rituals like bar mitzvahs and Christmas Eve mass communicate values in a visceral way.

In a secular culture, many parents who don’t relate  to organized religion find that rituals and traditions give the sense of meaning and anchoring they seek.  All rituals reinforce values and create connection.

Studies show that happy families not only have treasured traditions, they evolve new ones that help them find their way through the inevitable changes of growing up, as well as create warm bonds and a sense of security.

“The idea of starting a family tradition sounds overwhelming.”

Don’t worry, your family already has its own traditions, from Sunday morning pancakes to observing holidays in a certain way. The way you celebrate birthdays, mark the passing of pet or observe a special day, the way you say goodbye to each other every morning or shop for fall clothes each school year; all are the stuff of which memories are made.

 

“Ok, but how do I create traditions that nurture family connected-ness?”

Creating new traditions that work for your family is a simple matter.  Try something new, and if you like it, repeat it.  Then begin to talk about it and look forward to it with the whole family.  Eventually, that tradition will take on a life of its own and will become a sustaining part of your family’s culture.

“And what about rituals?  Are they different?”  We might think of rituals as a tradition carried out in a more sacred way, usually the same way every time. Singing the Chanuka blessings or saying Grace before meals are obvious examples, but so are singing Happy Birthday and blowing out candles.  It may not seem that “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite!” is sacred, but all repetitious chants  are essentially prayers, satisfying a primal human need. Kids love rituals and gain a sense of safety from them.

“Are rituals easy to create?”  You don’t need to do anything fancy. Most rituals use either the lighting of candles or the repetition of a phrase or song as an invocation, or a beginning.  Sometimes that’s all there is to them, as in the case of a particular goodbye saying.  Other rituals, like going around the table at Thanksgiving to say what we’re thankful for, have “content.”  And virtually all have a closing, signaling that sacred space is over and we return to daily life, as when the birthday candles are blown out, or we say “Amen” at the end of a prayer.

 

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Make Your Own Candy Corn!

Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

Note: Jessie Oleson (aka Cakespy) drops by every Monday to share a delicious dessert recipe.

[Photographs and art: Jessie Oleson]

Ever wondered how candy corn is made? Well, to give you the short answer, with lots of equipment, over a four to five day period. But don’t let the process daunt you, because it is possible to make your own micro-batches of the classic Halloween candy at home.

This surprisingly simple recipe yields large, plump candy kernels infused with a sweet vanilla flavor. I found that using salted butter adds a nice, rich finish. Conclusion? These homespun tricolor treats are definitely worth the time and effort. Once you’ve tasted them, you may never buy candy corn by the bag again.

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Cakespy: Homemade Candy Corn

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup salted butter
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup powdered milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • red and yellow food coloring

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a medium sized bowl, combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk. Set to the side.

  2. 2

    In a medium saucepan, combine the granulated sugar, corn syrup and butter. Bring to a boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Once it reaches the boiling point, reduce heat to medium and continue stirring for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the vanilla extract and remove from heat.

  3. 3

    Add the confectioners’ sugar and powdered milk mixture to the wet ingredients; stir well until the mixture is thoroughly incorporated and smooth.

  4. 4

    Let the dough cool until it is firm enough to handle, about 30 minutes to an hour (I just let it cool in the saucepan).

  5. 5

    Divide the dough into three equal parts and set each third into a separate bowl. Add 2 to 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one dish, one drop of red and two drops of yellow to another dish, and leave the remaining dish uncolored. Knead the dough to which you have added food coloring until the color is even (you may want to use gloves to ensure that you don’t stain yourself). If the dough is feeling very soft or sticky, you may want to chill the dough for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator before proceeding with the next steps.

  6. 6

    On top of a sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper, use your hands to roll each color of dough into a long, slender rope. You can roll it out to your desired thickness: for larger candies, make each rope thicker; for smaller candies, make each rope thinner.

  7. 7

    Line the three ropes of dough together: white, orange, and yellow. To ensure that they will stick together, lay a piece of waxed paper on top and give them a very gentle rolling with a rolling pin. You just want to adhere them, not to flatten them.

  8. 8

    Using a very sharp knife, cut the dough into triangles. Keep a damp cloth nearby so that you can wipe off the knife if it begins to get a candy residue. This method will result in half a batch of traditionally colored candy corn and half a batch with yellow tips (it’s OK—they taste the same). Let the finished kernels sit for an hour or two (do not stack them on top of one another as they will stick together!) to become firm.

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8 Scavenger Hunt Ideas!

8 Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Kids

Entertain kids for hours with these fun scavenger hunt games.

Elizabeth SanFilippo, Contributor   |   0 Comments
scavenger hunt map

Warm or cold weather, there’s nothing more entertaining for kids than taking part in a scavenger hunt. And they’re great activities for babysitters to do with kids and can be fun for birthday parties.

“Scavenger hunts teach children to open their eyes to their environment,” Alyson Schafer, a parenting expert and best-selling author, says. “It helps them learn to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. It develops a sense of curiosity and adventure.”

Scavenger hunts can also be a great way to get your kids away from the TV and moving around, says Len Saunders, a health and fitness expert. But he says parents should keep the hunts age- and skill-level appropriate. “If it is too easy, the kids will lose interest right away, so make sure it is a challenge,” Saunders says. “If it is too hard, they may lose interest, so keep it at a level where they will have some degree of success.”Younger children should stick to familiar homes or your local park, while older kids may have a larger area, like your town, to roam to find all the clues. Play to your kids’ interests and your environment. Set up a hunt for one child or many, but keep in mind that as the group grows, so will the craziness.

Get your creative juices flowing with these eight ideas for out-of-the-box scavenger hunts:

  1. Nature Hunt
    No matter what climate you live in, Schaefer suggests you “take a look around your surroundings and see what your kids could ‘hunt’ for and collect in a basket. “Outside it might be as simple as a twig, bark, stone, acorn.” Use this hunt as an opportunity to educate the children about their surroundings and instill an appreciation for nature.
  2. Fitness Hunt
    This is perfect for the cold weather months when kids can’t be outside playing as much. To organize, Saunders recommends attaching each object with a fitness challenge. “For example, if little Johnny finds a tennis ball — which is on his list — he has to read the note attached, which may say, ‘perform 10 jumping jacks.’” Before moving on, he has to do those jumping jacks.
  3. Household Hunt
    “Inside, you can have kids hunt for either household items — so they learn where the broom goes, and what drawer the tin foil is kept — or you collect items and hide them like Easter eggs,” Schaefer suggests.
  4. Puzzle Hunt
    Attach a puzzle piece to each item on your child’s hunt list. This way the fun isn’t over once the pieces are collected. “Children love a theme, so keeping the scavenger hunt simple, yet attractive to them builds more interest,” Saunders says.
  5. Themed Hunt
    Do your kids like pirates? Have them dress up while they hunt for their booty. Or, if they’re into the beach, take them there to find beach-related items, like shells and fossils. Themed scavenger hunts can also be a way of educating your children. “If they love baking, they may love looking for spices in the kitchen cabinets and measuring cups to get the cookie ingredients ready,” Schaefer suggests.
  6. Holiday Hunt
    Time to find Easter baskets or Christmas stockings? Give your kids clues on where the Easter Bunny and Jolly Old St. Nick may have hid them. As the kids get older, put them in harder-to-find places.
  7. Video or Photo Hunt
    Teenagers can be turned loose with their smart phones or a digital cameras to capture moments on video or in still photos, rather than collecting items. Have them find a statue to pose with or play a silly game, like duck, duck, goose in a public park, then laugh at the videotaped results.
  8. Museum Hunt
    As parents, you’ve probably been to a favorite museum dozens of times and know it like the back of your hand. Tap into that knowledge and make a list of exhibits kids must visit to check off their list. This can be more general for young kids (find the T-Rex skeleton!) or specific for older kids (find a painting done in the impressionist style.) It’ll also get you out of the house on a bad weather day.

Now that you’ve got an idea of the type of hunt you’ll stage, don’t let the creativity stop. Whether kids are checking things off a list or going from one clue to the next, clues can include instructions on how kids must navigate to the next clue. Get creative by telling them they need to hop to the next clue or maybe crab walk.

Keep your audience in mind, too. Young kids, for instance, may need picture clues. Older kids can tackle a longer list and clues should be vague and require a little decoding.

Scavenger hunts can be a great way to entertain your kids, no matter their age or the size of the group you’re hosting. Go crazy with the planning and hunting, and you’ll have as much fun as them.

Share your scavenger hunt ideas in the comments section below.

Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer. Her work can be found here.

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ROCK CANDY!

Making your own rock candy is a fun and tasty way to grow crystals and see the structure of sugar on a big scale. Sugar crystals in granulated sugar display a monoclinic form, but you can see the shape much better in homegrown large crystals. This recipe is for rock candy that you can eat. You can color and flavor the candy, too.

Rock Candy Materials

Basically all you need to make rock candy is sugar and hot water. The color of your crystals will depend on the type of sugar you use (raw sugar is more golden and refined granulated sugar) and whether or not you add coloring. Any food-grade colorant will work.

  • 3 cups sugar (sucrose)
  • 1 cup water
  • clean glass jar
  • cotton string
  • pencil or knife
  • food coloring (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp flavoring oil or extract (optional)
  • Lifesaver candy (optional)
  • pan
  • stove or microwave

Make Rock Candy

  1. Pour the sugar and water into the pan.
  2. Heat the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. You want the sugar solution to hit boiling, but not get hotter or cook too long. If you overheat the sugar solution you’ll make hard candy, which is nice, but not what we’re going for here. Stir the solution until all the sugar has dissolved. The liquid will be clear or straw-colored, without any sparkly sugar. If you can get even more sugar to dissolve, that’s good, too.
  3. If desired, you can add food coloring and flavoring to the solution. Mint, cinnamon, or lemon extract are good flavorings to try. Squeezing the juice from a lemon, orange, or lime is a way to give the crystals natural flavor, but the acid and other sugars in the juice may slow your crystal formation. Set the pot of sugar syrup in the refrigerator to cool. You want the liquid to be about 50°F (slightly cooler than room temperature). Sugar becomes less soluble as it cools, so chilling the mixture will make it so there is less chance of accidentally dissolving sugar you are about to coat on your string.
  4. While the sugar solution is cooling, prepare your string. You are using cotton string because it is rough and non-toxic. Tie the string to a pencil, knife, or other object that can rest across the top of the jar. You want the string to hang into the jar, but not touch the sides or bottom.
  5. You don’t want to weight your string with anything toxic, so rather than use a metal object, you can tie a Lifesaver to the bottom of the string.
  6. Whether you are using the Lifesaver or not, you want to ‘seed’ the string with crystals so that the rock candy will form on the string rather than on the sides and bottom of the jar. There are two easy ways to do this. One is to dampen the string with a little of the syrup you just made and dip the string in sugar. Another option is to soak the string in the syrup and then hang it to dry, which will cause crystals to form naturally (this method produces ‘chunkier’ rock candy crystals).
  7. Once your solution has cooled, pour it into the clean jar. Suspend the seeded string in the liquid. Set the jar somewhere quiet. You can cover the jar with a paper towel or coffee filter to keep the solution clean.
  8. Check on your crystals, but don’t disturb them. You can remove them to dry and eat when you are satisfied with the size of your rock candy. Ideally you want to allow the crystals to grow for 3-7 days.
  9. You can help your crystals grow by removing (and eating) any sugar ‘crust’ that forms on top of the liquid. If you notice a lot of crystals forming on the sides and bottom of the container and not on your string, remove your string and set it aside. Pour the crystallized solution into a saucepan and boil/cool it (just like when you make the solution). Add it to a clean jar and suspend your growing rock candy crystals. You can watch a video tutorial for making rock candy if you would like to see what to expect.
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Interview with Katherine James 6/22/2014

Bianca Schulze: The Sugar Plum Tree is your first children’s book and you were inspired by one of your own family traditions. Will you share a little about this tradition and how it began with your family?

Katherine James:  When we were little, our parents would tuck us into bed by telling us the story of a magical tree that grew candy, The Sugar Plum Tree. They would give us a kiss goodnight and say that if we stayed in bed and slept all through the night, we might find something special under our bed when we woke in the morning.  Sometimes we would get candy, sometimes it would be a special note or stickers.  Our parents would always explain, no two dreams are alike and every dream can bring something different.  (Which really translates to anything they had around the house would be special if we found it under our bed in the morning.)   They were very clever!  And, they shared the story with our babysitters and grandparents to use on special occasions as a fun and engaging way to get us to go to sleep.
Now that we are grown and have children of our own, we have continued the tradition of sweet dreams and morning surprises!

BS: What do you hope readers will take away from a story-time session of The Sugar Plum Tree?

KJ: It’s all about spending time together and creating memories.  It requires adult participation.  The magic starts with the parent (or caregiver.)   Going to sleep can be the start of an adventure at the end of the day.

BS: Being based on the original The Sugar Plum Tree poem by Eugene Field’s (1850-1895), how long did it take you to make gentle modifications to his work and make this poem your own?

KJ: It was about a four-year project.  We took our time researching the legality of modifying a written work in public domain.  We spent a lot of time searching for just the right illustrator.  But most of the time was spent on writing and re-writing to be sure we had stayed true to the poem and our family tradition.

BS: What kind of feedback have you been receiving from children that have read it? And what age groups have you found it resonates with the most?

KJ: Children love it!  They love the magic that surrounds the story. Giving the child a real reason for going to sleep and staying in bed.  The surprise under the bed is their reward.   It’s fun and exciting!  Most of our readers are ages 3-8 years old.

BS: Can you tell us a little bit about how the three of you collaborate under the one pen name of Katherine James?

 KJ: We knew in the beginning that we wanted to pay a special tribute to our parents.  A dedication page in the book just didn’t seem enough.  And by the time we started designing the cover, using all three of our names seemed much too cumbersome.  We combined our parent’s middle names and came up with Katherine James.

BS: The brightly colored cartoon illustrations are a vivid eye-catching treat, sure to make mouths water. Can you tell us about your partnership with Jan Dolby and why you selected her to be your illustrator?

KJ:  Jan is amazing!  We like to think of her as our 4th distant sister.  And, we have never met!  Everything was done via email and phone chats.  She was completely able to put on paper the images we saw in our minds as children.  She is truly talented!

BS: Which published children’s book author do you think has had the biggest impact on the way each of you write for children?

 KJ: It’s hard to pinpoint just one.  Growing up we had so many books!  Our parents were very avid readers.  Their love of books naturally flowed to us.  It was perhaps their retelling stories to us, giving characters different voices, expanding story lines and our parents telling unique versions of classic tales that has remained with us the most.

BS: Do the three of you have continued plans to create more books together?

KJ: Yes!  But our next project is getting The Sugar Plum Tree into a box set, a perfect gift and a treasured keepsake.  The box will include the book and the Sugar Plum bag for collecting special treats.

BS:  If you could each be reincarnated as your favorite literary character, who would you choose and why?

KJ: Mary Louise would choose Pippi Longstocking for her eccentric, self-assured, and superhuman strength.

Karen would choose Nancy Drew for her intuitive thinking and problem solving abilities.

Susan would choose Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon for her imagination and belief that you can create whatever you want.

BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?

KJ:  Dream! Wish! Believe!

Bianca Schulze – www.thechildrensbookreview.com

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