My kids love stories—all kinds of stories—and they engage them in a variety of ways.
One of the things that I’ve introduced to my school-aged kids to in the last year is the joy of audiobooks. It delights me to curl up together with everyone reading or listening to a book. This week I have been recovering from unexpected surgery and piling in together in our big bed has been perfect.
I think what makes audiobooks such a fun way to engage a good story is the performance element of the reading. They love when the reader adds difference voices to their delivery—because for them it brings the story alive.
And don’t we all love it when one of our favorite narratives is brought to life by a talented performer whose reading is entertaining, funny, and sensitive to the story’s emotions?
Listening to the performances of stories is a pastime that our parents and grandparents enjoyed all the time back in the day. I remember my Papa telling me stories about his family gathering around their radio to listen to their favorite shows.
And so, when a friend Christine told me about a family-friendly story-driven free podcast, Circle Round, created by WBUR, Boston’s much-loved NPR station, I couldn’t wait to check it out.
And I’m happy to say that not only is the Circle Round podcast extremely well produced—of course, it is because WBUR produces incredible content—but more importantly this children’s podcast is entertaining, features stories from all over the world (Romania, Nigeria, the Philippines, and more), and includes a diverse and talented cast of voices, many of which you will recognize.
For instance, the premiere episode—which debuted in the summer—is a performance of an old Yiddish tale called “It Could Always Get Worse,” and it features the vocal talent of none other than Jason Alexander. And of course, Jason’s delivery is amazing and the story is fun and ideal for kids 4 to 10. I’ve loved Jason since I was a kid and it was so neat to tell my kids how I used to watch him do musicals like Bye Bye Birdie, a show I was in when I was 11.
Episode 2, which debuted this week—features an old folklore tale from Romania—“Stella and the Dragon”—and includes Katherine Hahn of Transparent and Bad Moms fame.
Now, we’ve only listened to the two episodes, but our family LOVED them. We listened to Stella and the Dragon twice! They are short—less than 20 minutes—they feature sound effects and music and they take us back to an experience of years gone by, listening to stories together as a family. Another element that I appreciated is that at the end of every episode a question is asked, which prompts a great family discussion.
So go check out the podcast Circle Round and subscribe via iTunes, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast app. New episodes release every Tuesday. You and your kids will love it. It’s perfect for short or long road trips, lazy Saturday mornings when the kiddos are “so bored” or just an evening when you crave quality time together.
Thank you to Circle Round for sponsoring this post. We are true fans and are so excited to introduce this podcast to other families.
Filed Under: Uncategorized
I have long loved personality tests. I think they are useful tools for understanding ourselves and others. Cultivating a deep understanding of personality can enrich our relationships in a very meaningful way.
My first recollection of using personality tests to understand working with others was while in college, when I was an RA in the dorms. Our team had to take personality tests so that we would be able to better understand one another.
I don’t remember much about the test, except that I was a gold, which meant a leader, innovator and loud talker. Throughout the year, my fellow RAs would tease that “Jessica was going gold,” or “let a gold do it.”
As a working professional, I have found that many of my jobs have required personality tests. A few years ago, my team completed the Strengths Finder test.
My results, which shocked no one:
We hung our strengths finder results on our office doors so that people would recognize colleagues’ strengths in various work groups and project collaborations.
Then of course there is the popular Myers Briggs test, in which I am an ESFJ, with the J being very dominant. Again, this describes me perfectly.
Most recently, I have been learning about the Enneagram. I have friends who love this tool and a career coach who places a lot of value in its insights. Ultimately, we determined I am an eight, which is described below. My boss often says that your greatest strength can also be your greatest liability, which I think is clearly shown here — Martin Luther King, Jr. was an 8, but so was Fidel Castro!
So why all this talk about personality today? Well, my friend and long-time personality test lover Anne Bogel released a new book this week called Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything.
From Anne: “Reading People explains the life-changing insights that can be gained from the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life.”
Anne is a wise friend and perfect guide for this personality journey that is important for us all. (She also has GREAT taste in books, so clearly she is a kindred spirit.)
It is transformative to understand our own personalities and the personalities of others that we know and love. Applying these insights can really revolutionize our relationships.
I’m so grateful Anne wrote this needed book. It is short enough to read in an afternoon, but packed with enough information to serve you well for years to come.
Order Anne’s book today! It’s on sale for less than $10!
Thank you to Baker Books for sponsoring this post.
Filed Under: Books
Nashville has the show Cavalia in our city. Created by one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil and billed as the “best show ever,” it really does live up to the hype. Matthew and I have seen a Cirque show before, and we thought Cavalia was even better.
If you aren’t familiar with Cavalia, watch this trailer:
Cavalia provided our family with VIP tickets for the show in exchange for sharing about it on social media. We left obsessed, telling everyone to go see this spectacular show.
I wasn’t planning to write about it here (since you can’t see it across the country), but decided to so that you will know, if it ever comes to your city, yes, definitely go see it!
Cavalia features 65 horses and 50 artists, including riders, acrobats, aerialists, dancers and musicians. The stunts and production are jaw-dropping amazing. We shouted and cheered with delight throughout the show.
The show is under a massive tent that is as large as a football field. Moreover the backdrop are projected on massive screens, three times as large as a movie theater screen. Audiences are taken around the world by the images projected, making the visual production as spectacular as the performances.
Honestly, words cannot do this show justice.
The horses are treated incredibly well both off and on stage. It is beautiful to watch how the trainers gently interact with them. (Check out this article on the horses being treated like royalty.)
Tickets in Nashville begin at $49.50, but most of the seats are $119. I know it’s a lot of money, but it is on-par with what you would pay for any other touring Broadway type show. Plus when you consider the size of the cast and crew, it makes sense. Cavalia is worth every penny.
I will say that I don’t think the VIP tickets are worth it if you are going to take your whole family ($159 – $249 each). VIP includes premium seating, a dinner, a dessert buffet at intermission, free program, and a tour of the stables after the show. We didn’t love the food in the buffet (my kids didn’t even care for the pizza, which is not something they are generally picky about). The VIP tickets are better seats, but I don’t think there was a bad seat in the house. We saw the show on a Friday night (after school). Our kids were SO tired, so we unfortunately had to miss the stable tour. However, if you are doing a date night, the VIP tickets may be worth the spend.
Regardless of your tickets, you will have a spectacular time! Definitely check out Cavalia if it stops in your city.
Thank you to Cavalia for providing our family with VIP tickets in Nashville. Performance photos provided by Cavalia, as photography is not allowed during the show.
So, if you’re like our family, you have been doing the Elf on the Shelf for a few years now.
Each year it feels harder and harder to come up with ideas that you have not used every single year. I mean, how many marshmallow baths can an elf take?
Elf on the Shelf Memory Game
Shutterfly recently offered a free memory game that I thought would be a perfect Elf activity. Yes, I know December is two months away, but NOW is the time to take advantage of Shutterfly freebies because there will be less and less as the holidays draw near.
I often take Elf photos on my iphone, so I uploaded a bunch to Shutterfly and made a Elf on the Shelf memory game. It took just a few minutes and turned out so cute! I can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail. Not only will it be special for this Christmas, but I think it will be special to play with every year.
While this offer is not available right now, I suspect that it will happen again. Shutterfly has been very generous with freebies lately.
Other Free Elf on the Shelf Ideas
If you do Elf on the Shelf, gather up photos of your elf antics and have them ready for the next time Shutterfly offers this fun freebie. Other common freebies that you could turn into Elf goodies:
- Puzzles (How cute would this be)
- Luggage tags (Perfect if you travel for the holidays)
- Magnets (Ideal for decorating a fridge or car)
- Pads of paper (Notes for the kids)
- Journals (Special Christmas keepsake)
If you don’t have photos of your Elf, maybe get him or her out of storage and style a few photos of Elf antics. You could then recreate the antic in December! And if you have never done Elf on the Shelf, buy an Elf now and get ready for making magic with your family throughout the Christmas season. It is SO fun.
I hope this inspires you to create something new and special for your family and your Elf this Christmas season.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, as I will be sharing daily Elf photos in December. (Also, check out my new book Instagram account for lots of great literary inspiration. In December I plan to share a daily Christmas read!)