Saturday, August 25, 2012

Marlow and the Monster: Giveaway WINNER!!

Hello all and welcome to the winner announcement for our first ever GIVEAWAY!!!

Marlow and the Monster
Sharon Cramer
belongs to.......

You are the winner!!! 

Thank you for entering, 
there will be more freebies in the future.  
Please feel free to leave in the comments what type of giveaways you'd love to see!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Marlow and the Monster Book Review and FIRST EVER LaLa Giveaway!!!!

Are you struggling with monsters?  Is your kidlet emphatic about having one in their closet?  Under their bed?  And you just can't get rid of them?  Here's a fantastic book you can read them, guaranteed to get rid of all monster problems.....ok, maybe not guaranteed but the author, Sharon Cramer, has some excellent tips.  Read on and find out how you too can WIN a copy!  WOOT!   

Children's Book Review:

Marlow and the Monster
Sharon Cramer

Are you struggling with monsters?  Is your kidlet emphatic about having one in their closet?  Under their bed?  And you just can't get rid of them?  Here's a fantastic book you can read them, guaranteed to get rid of all monster problems.....ok, maybe not guaranteed but the author, Sharon Cramer, has some excellent tips.  Read on and find out how you too can WIN a copy!  WOOT!   

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Marlow and the Monster by Sharon Cramer (Talking Bird Books, August 1, 2012 for $14.95).  My kids sat right down and listened to the whole book.  And then fought over who would look at the pictures when we were done.  

The concept is a cute one:  Marlow has an unruly monster that hides whenever he calls his mom.  He’s not scared, just annoyed which is a nice change of pace for a monster story.  I’ve read suggestions for monsters, such as a Monster Spray bottle, which, in my opinion tells the kids the monsters are real and need a spray!  Or that monsters might be enticed by a treat or captured with a trap.  To me, this book is a much better take and a much better lesson.   I asked my boys at the end what kind of monster he was and they said, “Funny!”  Then I asked what the monster really wanted, did he want to scare the boy?  And Ian piped right up and said, "No!  A friend!" 

The illustrations are detailed and the color makes the monster pop and emphasizes how silly he is.  

I highly recommend this book if you have a kidlet that’s afraid of monsters. 

How to Deal with Monsters, Bad Dreams, and other Scary and Frightening Things
By Sharon Cramer

Every child is afraid at some time or another. Frequently these frights have to do with imaginary fears, but that doesn’t mean it is not real to the child. Here are a few pointers that may help your small ones negotiate their fears a little bit better.

1)  Read stories and watch shows that debunk traditional monster fears. Stories that represent other children bravely or humorously while facing their fears can be wonderful at allaying false beliefs. When my granddaughter was three, and struggling with the monster stories that were being cast her way at daycare, I bought the movie “Monsters Inc.” and we watched it over and over. Not only did she reframe in her mind what a monster really was (a cuddly and sweet creature that protects little girls) she challenged the older children’s belief system at daycare!

2)  Provide soft lighting in your child’s room. A lot of the mysterious and scary thoughts surface in darkness, and light helps restore a child’s confidence in the stability of the here and now. Don’t worry about how long a child utilizes the nightlights. They will let you know when they’ve had enough.

3)  Make a sign and put it on your child’s door that reads, “Only nice monsters allowed.” That way, your child has control over who visits his or her imagination.

4)  If your child fears the “under the bed” creatures. Put the mattress right on the floor. No under the bed frights can happen then!

5)  While removing scary scenarios is logical, ie: closing the closet door, searching the room to make sure the coast is clear, it is more reasonable to reevaluate what a monster is. If the child learns to look at it a different way, or with familiarity, they can learn to conquer their fear and misconceptions. “James and the Giant Peach” is another wonderful movie, for the slightly older child, about looking at fearful scenarios and beings in a different way.

6)  If your child wakes up afraid of a nightmare they had, talk about what they dreamed about that was so frightening. Sharing fearful experiences and making your child aware that everyone has bad dreams sometimes, but teaching them to separate dreams from reality can give your child control over their fears.

7)  When your child decides they no longer want a nightlight, give them a flashlight. That way they continue to control their environment. This concept is key: controlling their environment and belief system!

8)  Favorite stuffed lovies are essential. When they are surrounded by their favorite stuffed animals, they are not facing their fears alone. These stuffed creatures allay fears and comfort children in times of illness as well.

9)  Play monster! When you play monster and your child starts to associate monster with a fun game, the fear goes out of it. Coloring monsters is also a great way to debunk the myth. See who can draw the funniest monster!

10)         If your child is afraid of thunder and lightning storms, sit with them in the dark and play a game of counting how many seconds between the lightening and the thunder clap. See if the two of you can roar louder than the thunder!

11)         Eliminate violent books, movies and cartoons. These only serve to feed the frightful and harmful parts of a child’s imagination. Be careful what you watch and listen to as well. Small ones have the biggest eyes and ears!

12)         Don’t devalue the genuineness of your child’s beliefs and fears. Sit with them and tell them about what scared you when you were a kid and how you conquered them, ie: “I learned that it was my imagination and not real.” This will help your child to normalize their own fears and recognize that he or she is in control of their own emotions.

13)         Try not to invite your child to your bed. Instead, stay with your child in their bedroom until they are adequately comforted and back to sleep. The former can set a bad routine that is very hard to break and only reinforces that their own bedroom is to be feared.

14)         If your child is afraid of shadows, use daylight to teach them about shadows, or set up a light and play shadow puppet games. Again, you are fostering understanding of a misconception when you do this.

It is normal for every child to have fears at some time or another. How you teach your child to negotiate these fears will set them up with a lifetime of healthy habits for negotiating even bigger, and more real, fears that will come their way!

Sharon Cramer is a registered nurse, mom of three and author of Marlow and the Monster (July 2012).

To WIN YOUR OWN COPY: Please do one (ok, or all, I'm flexible; each one of these actions will get you an entry) of the following:

1.  "Like" my Facebook Page, Lara McKusky Taylor, Writer/Artist  
2.  Post a link to this post/contest on your business Facebook page
3.  Post a link to this post/contest on your personal Facebook page  
4.  Tweet about it with a link to this post

4. Come BACK here and post in the comments what you've done and links to your pages for both extra publicity for you and a place for me to double-check that you've done it! :)  I will do the drawing in ONE WEEK on Friday, August 24, 2012 at 9:00PM EST.  

Good Luck my friends!!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Restaurant Review: Woodberry Kitchen

LaLa in the (Woodberry) Kitchen
2010 Clipper Park Road
Baltimore, MD 21211

We decided a Girls’ Night Out was in order.   Myself, my mother, my sisters Steph and Kate, our sister-in-law Amy with HER mother, and her sister all raced a bodacious thunder cloud to northern Baltimore.  Amy and her family won.  The storm was second, we were third and Steph was fourth.  After a soggy start to our evening (I’m not even going to relay how excited we were for complimentary valet after realizing this side-street restaurant had virtually no parking and it was down-pouring….nor am I going to mention how my mom lost her shoe.  In the rushing waters by the curb.  I’m not. Stop laughing.)

After dashing up steps and around the corner (may I suggest, WoodberryKitchen, an awning SOMEWHERE along the route from the curb to the door?) we were in.  They were handing out cloth napkins to dry off with----drying off being a relative term, apparently, because the napkins were like 12x12 inches and we needed beach towels---and after that we were free to wonder at the lovely atmosphere and architecture.  Congratulating ourselves for wearing long pants when it’s 102 degrees out because hey—it’s always freezing in restaurants---they showed us to our reserved table.  Upstairs.  In the Loft, overlooking the restaurant.  Where we all proceeded to complain about how friggen warm we were!  (Nevermind the constant laughter and the consumption of alcohol by some members of our party.  That had no effect whatsoever.)

 All the ladies working there wore dresses or skirts with aprons.  The guys were all wearing skinny jeans and plaid shirts and messy hair and hip shoes.   Old school light-bulbs hung from swinging arms, ingeniously discovered by my sister (I won’t say which one) who bonked her head on one.  The architecture was open and utilized a lovely combination of urban hardware and lighting with eclectic comfy touches, which included wooden tables with a nice patina and a 1950’s refrigerator. (I just have to point out that Kate felt the need to take a picture of it because she was awed by the oldness of said fridge. Kids nowadays.  Sigh.)  
I cannot emphasize enough how much we enjoyed the atmosphere.  Dana, our waitress, (who was fabulous, by the way) poured us cold water from an old-fashioned milk jug into little glasses that resembled flower pots.  The food selections were interesting and varied.  This is what I ended up ordering:

Direct Trade Iced Tea with syrup for sweetening (I forget what kind.  Still delish.)

Lancanster Co. Ladyfinger Popcorn (appetizer---hello, it was a DOLLAR!)

Garden Salad with ranch dressing

BBQ Pork Flatbread  (Shredded pork with BBQ sauce, banana peppers, sweet onions, cheese on flatbread. Oh and corn.)

Nectarine Tart  (Oatmeal and pecan shortbread-type cookie, chopped nectarine, a sauce and homemade whipped topping)   

We also received a complimentary appetizer:  Heirloom Tomatoes on Toast and their usual basket of slices of bread (yes, all kinds!) and a cup o’butter.

(If you go to the website, you’ll notice you can’t find some of these, as they were part of the list of specials. Sorry.) 

What others ordered:  Kitchen Burger, Tilghman Island crab cakes and Braised Liberty Delight Beef Shank.   All rave reviews. 

Did I mention everything is made fresh, from local, organic products? Cuz it is.  The food was fabulous.  Fresh food prepared by professionals is AMAzing!  I have to say, I am a meat-and-potatoes-what’s-in-this?-kind-of-woman, so I was a little leery. 

I’ve completely converted.  Hands down on my top 5 list of favorite restaurants.  


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