Written and images on this blog are Judie Ryan's sole property unless otherwise indicated.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I had a several very strange shaped gifts to wrap this Christmas.. I know this package looks like gift wrapped rising yeast bread, but it's not. When a friend took it out of its shipping box, she thought it was the gift. Her daughter, whose son also received a weird shaped present too, told her it wasn't. "No Mom. That's only the gift wrap. You're supposed to unwrap it!" And of course, you can use this kind of wrapping for ordinary old gifts, like socks, too.

This gift is for Christmas, but this kind of wrapping works for any holiday. Just change the fabric.
Here's the directions:
1. Take your gift to the cheapest fabric store you can think of. Buy enough fabric to cover the whole gift plus three-five inches extra left over at the top when you gather it to one side. If your child is interested let him/her choose the fabric.
2. Purchase the kind and color of wired ribbon you want plus any ornamentation you'd like and a little floral wire. (In this case, my little extra was a silk poinsettia with glittery trim. Your child can help you choose the extra decoration.
3.When you're ready to wrap, cut a long piece of leftover fabric (or use string or old ribbon) to tie the gathered fabric at the top. Tie it tight. Now, with scissors even out the gather at the top to about two inches long (I used pinking scissors to do this.)
4. Make your bow from one of the excellent online directions for creating a wired ribbon bow.
5. Wire in the extra decoration. Again using a narrow piece of leftover fabric attach it. Voila!

Friday, November 18, 2016


One of the great experiences for very young children is watching the leaves turn colors. Then, when the leaves fall to the ground jumping in, rolling in, throwing them into the air. In my Books-in-Action Classes, I want to make sure that kids, even the ones with handicaps or severe allergies, have this experience. You can do the same thing at home. Find inexpensive bags of colored silk leaves, available anytime of year but mostly before Halloween or Thanksgiving, or on sale afterwords. Be sure to have adult rakes and kid plastic rakes on hand. Then, drop the leaves as if they were falling from a tree ot the sky. The more leaves the better. Let the kids roll in them. Pile them. Play in them. Get your munchkins to help you rake the leaves up or carry them into a big pile and jump in them.  After all play is done and the kids want to start over, help the kids rake and put them in a children's wheel barrow or whatever you'd like to put them in. Tschaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy or Waltz of the Snowflakes make great musical accompaniment for leaf play or just plain spinning and dancing.. It also helps to find books-fiction or non-fiction about fall and leaves.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Here it is National Adoption Awareness Month and I'm too sick with allergies and asthma to let you know. My apologies for being so far behind, I've just been very sick when  I get asthma. Adoption Month is the most important month to me, because my daughter is adopted. Not just that, many of my cousins and other family members are adopted. I never forgot the adoption story of my cousin Pam. She was born a blue baby because she had a hole in her heart. She didn't get enough oxygen, so she had to have open-heart surgery. It sounded like a really scary thing because I was only about six myself and I can't imagine what I thought a blue baby was. Most of my husband cousins are adopted too. It's just something that is totally normal to our family. We could never consider an adopted child to be any different from a genetic child. But that's not true of every family. I wanted to introduce my baby to a friend I'd had since seventh grade. Her sister had two adopted children and finally gave birth to a genetic child. When my friend talked about the genetic child, she described him as "perfect.'"He doesn't try to be that way," she'd say, "He just is." That didn't bother me a whole lot until I adopted my own baby. My friend's two genetic nephews were nearly grown by the time I adopted Julia. I wanted her to meet Julia because I was so excited and because we'd been friends with all the ups and downs of long term friendship for many years. I can't what restaurant my husband and I and Julia met her, but soon after we were all together, my friend started talking about her adopted nephews (Not the perfect genetic one). She said, "I'm always telling them, they're too smart to be in our family." Well. what family do they belong in? I thought. I could just imagine her saying something like that to Julia as she grew old enough to know what adults were talking about. Having read a million books (well not really a million) on how to talk to children about adoption, I said, "You know, _______, you're adoption language isn't very good." To my surprise, although I'd known her for more than 20 years, she got up and left and I haven't heard from her since. Adoption is a sensitive topic for everyone involved and I can't imagine anything more wonderful happening to me.

Thursday, November 10, 2016


FROM JUDIE" Good for rainy days in October or November. Right? I'd make the craft last longer, by using white paper and letting kids paint or marker the circles with fall colors. Each child's pumpkin would be different. A collection of pumpkins could be made into garlands or mobiles. Link this craft to literacy by starting activities with a pumpkin children's book like "Too Many Pumpkins."

Thursday, August 18, 2016


I miscarried four months later. But we soon adopted a gorgeous one-day-old baby girl. She was beautiful! Still, as the agency representative said, "She's yours." I looked at her and said, "I don't know how to pick up a baby." 

You'd think that with that bumbling, uncomfortable beginning I might have flipped out the first day I was alone with her. But an hour after coming home, I discovered that our tiny human was the most fascinating creature I'd ever experienced. Long buried in the creases of my brain, hungry, tired, cold, wet, sick drifted out when I needed it. When she screamed, I ran down the checklist. And it always worked. I was ready when she shot herself off the the changing table by kicking her feet against the wall. I was ready when she threw-up on my student's father's best suit. I can't imagine anything more wonderful than watching her or any child develop. I couldn't wait to share my family's joy of learning with her.

It never occurred to me how much things had changed and how hard that would be.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


The Baby!
"What am I going to do with a baby?" I howled when my husband and I were told I was pregnant. After months of surgeries, shots and stirrups, our in vitro fertilization had worked. So, what was my problem? I'd always wanted a family, but I'd pictured myself for so long as a professional, I couldn't see myself any other way.  And, I was oooold--thirty-eight. What if I couldn't keep up with a baby?

I'd grown up in a family of teachers, many of them Phi Beta Kappas. Growing up in that environment meant learning was always fun. From my first moments, my family encouraged learning through play, discovery and exploration. In spite of that background, I felt unprepared for the crying, helpless thing that was about to change my life forever.

More Next Post


My friend Diana likes soup. Here are two of her recipes.

Friday, January 1, 2016


Hello Fellow Humans,

Before I start blogging, and stick my foot in my mouth, I want to tell you what my blog will be about. As a parent (the world’s toughest job), lifetime educator, children's book author/illustrator and musician, some of my passions are: 1.To see that all children have a safe and healthy upbringing 2.To help kids learn to love language, learning and reading without the stress of today's pressure-filled public education system 3. To learn to belly dance with those little finger cymbals 4. To help parents with humor, ideas and suggestions that might make their lives easier 5. To skateboard (never happen!)  6. To support parents in making teaching their children stress-free and 7. To balance my check book.

Don’t expect my posts to be mistake free or to have any sense of logical order. When my husband, a university professor, gives me something logical to think about, I tell him “thinking that hard makes my head hurt. “ That’s just not me, I’m creative, childlike and joyful, but I like to apply those characteristics to serious topics. Hopefully, my posts will be funny, entertaining, informative and useful to you.

I don’t think my ideas are always right. Some things will work for some people and not others. My posts will include my experiences, my neighbor’s or the kid's I met at the post office; be hysterically funny, sad, confused, very serious…or just plain human. Several might be long, others very short. They might be peppered with ideas and quotes from comedians and other sources—new and old, famous and not-so-famous--about my favorite subjects. On a good day, I might even add anecdotes about dogs, cats, dirty dishes, hamsters, Adele’s latest album, vomit stains on the rug…well you get the idea.