A Book Called Love

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day for Love, a new picture book written by Matt De La Peña and illustrated by Loren Long. Although this exquisite book is for children, it resonates with all ages. I had the opportunity to see Matt and Loren at Words Bookstore in Maplewood, NJ on the second day of their book tour. When they read Love, I choked up. It’s that beautiful.

“In the beginning there is light
and two wide-eyed figures standing near the foot of your bed
and the sound of their voices is love.

A cab driver plays love softly on his radio
while you bounce in back with the bumps of the city
and everything smells new, and it smells like life.”

In this heartfelt celebration of love, Matt de la Peña and illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.  (Goodreads)

Interestingly, the book has a controversial scene. In it, a child and his dog hide under a piano while the boy’s parents fight. In an interview, Matt said he and Loren were told this scene was too raw and should take it out. Matt and Loren insisted the scene stay. Matt said that a child going through something similar might recognize himself in the picture. If not, where better to explore scary emotions than in the lap of a caregiver? As a response to the controversy, he wrote an excellent article, “Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children From Darkness,” in Time magazine.

Click here to see a beautiful 4 minute video where Matt and Loren talk about their book. Hon, have you read it? Do you have a favorite scene?


Icy Art

Lucy and I never know what we’ll find on our walks.

It snowed. It rained. It froze. 

My daughter asked, “What’s something both beautiful and terrifying?” Hubby said a lion. I said a tarantula. Today, when walking Lucy very carefully, I thought ice. It’s beautiful yet, also, terrifying for many people.

So, here’s to the beauty of ice…

….and to it melting quickly!

Branches outlined in ice.
Water frozen while flowing.
A rock covered by  an Impressionistic stippling effect.
Foam frozen in a pattern.
Ice and dirt create a puppy’s face.

Two Snow Globe Kids Crafts


Need a fun winter craft for two, three or four year-olds? 

Drying on a shelf outside of my pre-school classroom were these colorful tissue paper and white paint snow globes. They’d been made by older kids in the pre-school after-school program. I wanted to do something similar with my young two year-old’s, but they don’t know how to use scissors and aren’t ready for projects with several steps. I eliminated their need to use scissors and broke up the project into two days. It was a hit!

Here are instructions for both snow globes.

Happy creating, hon!

Snow Globes for 3 and 4 year-old’s


  • white and colored construction paper
  • a variety of tissue paper
  • white paint and paint brushes or crafts sticks
  • scissors
  • glue
  • newspaper to protect work surfaces


  1. Cut globe of snow globe out of colored paper. Cut base of snow globe out of white construction paper.
  2. Cut tissue paper into small squares and rectangles.
  3. Using paint brush or craft sticks, drizzle white paint over globe.
  4. Glue tissue paper squares and rectangles on snow globe base.
  5. Glue painted and tissue papered snow globe pieces on contrasting construction paper.


Snow Globes for 2 and 3 year-old’s


  • white tagboard
  • black construction paper
  • dot marker
  • scissors
  • glue
  • glitter
  • newspaper to protect work surfaces


  1. Cut snow globe shapes out of tagboard.
  2. First Day: Decorate snow globes with dot markers.
  3. Glue snow globes onto black construction paper.
  4. Second Day: Drizzle glue onto snow globes.
  5. Second Day: Sprinkle glitter onto wet glue. Shake off excess glitter.

Skyping With Spain

Congratulations, Skype-a-Thon participants!

Together, we’ve connected nearly half a million students and traveled over 14,500,000 virtual miles in 48 hours! Thank you to all the teachers, speakers, and students who made this achievement possible.

New Year’s Resolutions are built on foundations laid the previous year. One of the things I did in 2017, and definitely want to do more of, was Skype with classrooms.

Thanks to Microsoft Education and the opportunity to become a Microsoft Guest Educator, I participated in a 2017 global Skype-a-Thon on November 29, 2017.

Map of Spain.

Javier Ramos Sancha, a teacher in Aguilar de Campoo, Spain, asked if I could read to his Year 1 bilingual students. Aguilar de Campoo, a northern town in the province of Palencia, is “a key point on the route of Palencia’s Romanesque heritage.”

Skype-ing with Level 1 bilingual students in Spain.
Sharing stories across an ocean!

Guess who else the students got to meet?


What fun! Thanks Javier!

Earlier in the year, I also Skyped with a classroom in Canada. French teacher Madame Diaz and I have Skyped several times. It makes me so happy to connect with her students.

Thanks, Madame Diaz, for this note: “Hi Naomi, as usual my students LOVED getting to know you.”

Thanks, also, to children’s book author Darlene Beck-Jackobson, who took time to   discuss classroom Skype-ing with me! Check out her blog, “Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Gold From The Dust: Bringing Stories to Life.

Related Post: Skype Hype

Sources: Spain.info, Wikipedia, Microsoft Education

New Year, New Look

Me and Lucy, not really a lap dog!

I’ve been thinking about introducing a new look to Bmore Energy and finally decided 2018 was a great time to change things up. This year,  I want to be as bold and brave as the color of the year, Ultra Violet!

A dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade, PANTONE 18-3838 Ultra Violet communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking that points us toward the future.  Pantone.

Spinach Cheese Lasagna

Spinach Cheese Lasagna

The Secret Ingredient is a Superfood!

I love cheese lasagna and so do my kids. I love spinach and so–wait!–DON’T my kids. But my two picky eaters need more veggies! This recipe is so cheesy and saucy that the spinach is practically hidden. Guess what? My picky eaters loved it!

Cook lasagna noodles and set aside.
Mix ricotta cheese with egg, salt, pepper, garlic powder and spinach.








Spread sauce on bottom of pan and then start layering noodles, cheese, spinach and spices.
Layer ricotta/spinach mixture.
Sprinkle mozzarella (and parmesan if using) on top of ricotta/spinach mixture. Sprinkle spices on top of that.
Keep layering until almost at top of baking dish, ending with mozzarella cheese and spices. Bake.

Spinach Cheese Lasagna


–1 pound lasagna noodles

–1 pound chopped, cooked spinach, drained thoroughly to prevent lasagna from becoming too soupy. (I used frozen spinach but will try steaming and draining fresh spinach next time.)

–15 ounces ricotta cheese

–1 egg

–salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

–1 (28 ounce) jar tomato sauce

–1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese

–1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, optional

–dried basil, oregano, and parsley to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9″ x 13″ metal or glass baking pan by spraying with non-stick spray or brushing with olive oil to prevent sticking.
  2. Cook lasagna noodles as per directions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Place ricotta cheese in a large bowl and add egg, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix in chopped spinach.
  4. Spread a light layer of sauce on bottom of baking pan. Lay out noodles to cover bottom of dish. I overlapped 4 noodles but next time will do the math and will overlap 5 or 6 noodles in each layer. (# total noodles divided by # layers = how many noodles to overlap in each layer.)
  5. Layer like this:

    Overlap noodles.

    Spread light layer of sauce over noodles.

    Spread ricotta/spinach mixture over sauce.

    Sprinkle shredded mozzarella (and parmesan cheese) over ricotta/spinach mixture. Sprinkle, basil, oregano and parsley on top.

    Repeat until dish is almost full.

  6. Top layer should be noodles, sauce and shredded mozzarella. Sprinkle with spices to taste.
  7. Loosely cover with foil. Tip: spray side of foil touching cheese with non-stick spray.
  8. Bake approximately 40 minutes. Uncover and cook another 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is browned and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into and serving.

Yield: Approximately 10-12 servings.

Tip: Lasagna freezes well. I made two whole lasagnas: one for now and one to freeze.

Bookstore for Book Lovers in Annapolis, MD

Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse. Photo credit Yelp.

On a recent trip to Annapolis, MD, my sister introduced my youngest daughter and I to Old Fox Books & Coffeehouse. The “Welcome” on its website says, in part,

We believe in the power of stories to inform our humanity and in the value of a third place, where unrelated people relate in healthy public life. Books are gateways to all the great ideas.

You know what I say to that? Amen!

The first thing my sister showed us was…

…the space under the spiral staircase, where a sign says “Harry’s Room” and Hedwig perches in a birdcage.

The second thing she pointed out was…

…the coffeeshop. Photo credit Yelp.

The part of the store she knew I’d love the most was…

The children’s section. Photo credit Yelp.
Quirky accessories fill the store.

Comfy chairs, antique furniture and quirky accessories invite customers to stay in this enchanting shop. Too bad we had to go, but guess what I discovered on the way out?

A mouse house door.
A room inside the countertop.







A dollhouse sized library! Omg–too cute!

Next time I’m in downtown Annapolis, I have to check out these two bookstores as well:

The Annapolis Bookstore 

Its website says it carries “a vast collection of used, new, and antiquarian books, as well as amazing cards, games and puzzles, and interesting ephemera. ” I love this quote on the “Children’s Page.”

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” — Victor Hugo

Back Creek Books & Antiques

Reviews say this unusual, friendly, refined, tidy, gem of a shop is the place to find rare and higher end books, signed books, classics, prints, postcards, and an old world charm made up of the scent of aged paper and the owner’s passion.

Click here to read an Interesting article about all three bookstores. Yay for independent booksellers!

Hon, do you have a favorite independent bookstore?