Posts Tagged ‘ Peter Hoffmeister ’

Parents Picks: My Top 5 Books of 2013

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

After reading and skimming more than 100 books this year it’s no easy task to tell you which ones are my favorites. But I sat down, poured a beer and perused my overflowing bookshelf. It was so much fun to revisit Pamela Druckerman‘s Bebe by Day, Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train and Kristine Barnett‘s The Spark. They are easily among my top 12.

But if I absolutely had to whittle it down, here are my Top 5 Books of 2013. These are the books that stayed with me all year long–the ones I went on and on about until my husband’s eyes glazed over. These titles were so fresh that I fired off Facebook statuses and emails about them.

What about you? What are your favorites of 2013?

Here are mine:

1. Lean In
by Sheryl Sandberg
She stepped up to the plate this year and said what hasn’t been said before to women. Just because women want to have families and careers doesn’t mean we need to start planning for it straight out of college. She encourages women to go out there and claim what’s ours in the workplace. Wait to figure out your next steps until you’re actually pregnant. That’s advice I wish I’d had when I was getting started in 1999. Sheryl is a cool chick who has her gender’s back on every page. Take this: “’Ask a man to explain his success and he will typically credit his own innate qualities and skills. …A woman… will attribute her success to external factors, insisting she did well because she ‘worked really hard or ‘got lucky’ or ‘had help from others.’”

2. The Still Point of the Turning World
by Emily Rapp
I’ve wondered for months how Emily Rapp is doing. She lost her dear son Ronan to Tay-Sachs earlier this year around the time her memoir came out. This wasn’t the run-of-the-mill tragedy. She was unapologetically angry and fiercely sweet. Her frustration and struggle–without the religious backdrop and sentimentality–made her achingly real. She’s real in a way that I will never forget. I’m not sorry for her. I’m inspired by her book that drips with meaning and poetry.

3. Let Them Be Eaten by Bears
by Peter Brown Hoffmeister
Thanks to this book, I’ve taken my kids hiking this year for the first times ever. Right in the beginning, he writes, “With kids, we don’t get out much. It’s too hard.” That resonated with me. I’ve been saying this to my husband since my babies were first born. Now they are 8! And they had never really been outside beyond the backyard or park. Thanks to Hoffmeister’s playful and inspiring approach, we even got our butts off the couch and went camping. I let the kids wander the playground, too, and with bare feet just to make Peter even more proud of me.

4. Orange is the New Black
by Piper Kerman
If you’re tired of books and shows about desperate women chasing dreams of men, careers and babies, this one is for you. It’s got very little to do with anything you’ve probably ever read before. This memoir, which formed the fictionalized–but equally awesome Netflix TV show–is about a nice girl who graduates from college and goes buck crazy. She lands a hot, rich girlfriend who just happens to smuggle drugs internationally. Piper runs cash in this operation just one time, and she soon leaves the relationship. She becomes a nice, normal straight woman again. But the feds catch up with her 10 years later, and she winds up in federal prison for a year while her real-life fiance waits for her. The inner workings–and indecencies–of the prison system are fascinating. Her life isn’t as whack as it is in the show, (Piper and Pennsytucky became friends for real) but Piper blasts your thoughts right open. This was a unique read.

5. Until I Say Goodbye
by Susan Spencer-Wendel 
Whenever I’ve felt kind of bad this year, I reminded myself of Susan Spencer-Wendel. She lives with ALS everyday, but she isn’t sad. Instead, she does everything her heart desires, including getting makeup tattooed on her face for when she could no longer apply it herself. While she still can, she goes on an epic trip with her longtime best friend to see the Northern Lights. She takes her teenage daughter wedding dress shopping because that’s something she doesn’t want the two of them to miss. Susan’s book did make me weepy–just once–but mostly she made me laugh. Her life has purpose and meaning, and it makes me more aware of what I’m doing with my own. Her book was optioned, and a film sounds like its in the works.

Instill a love of reading in your little one with one of these children’s books. Then, sign up to get parenting tips and tricks sent right to your inbox.

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Peter Hoffmeister Implores You To Play Outside in ‘Let Them Be Eaten By Bears’

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

This morning, my kids’ elementary school canceled Field Day because our town was on black bear alert. One of these animals had been spotted at the local museum grounds. I’ve never heard of a bear attacking a tug-of-war or potato sack race, so I believe officials overreacted. Anyway, they found the poor, scared bear hiding in a tree by lunchtime. Field Day is back on for tomorrow.

A new book called Let Them Be Eaten by Bears: A Fearless Guide to Taking Our Kids into the Great Outdoors is perfect for today. I wish Montclair Public Schools would’ve consulted outdoor expert and author Peter Hoffmeister about the bear.

Hoffmeister works hard to inspire nature lovers and indoor folks alike to get more sunshine. He grew weary of hearing parents say, “With kids, we don’t get out much. It’s too hard.” So he offers well-researched reasons why families need fresh air and easy tips to get started. He says to just open the door and play in the backyard for 15 minutes, then 30 and work up to half a day. Be sure everyone—including you—takes off the shoes. “Let your kids get filthy, and get filthy yourself.” (He makes it sound so fun!) Once you’re on a regular schedule, camp out in the back yard. Or do what Hoffmeister does and take your young kids on weeks-long camping excursions in beautiful settings. His relatable writing style and first person stories—he’s also the founder of an outdoors program for high schoolers—will make you want to hop in puddles, gaze at clouds and share the wonder of nature with your children ASAP.

Thanks to his book, my kids and I have already expanded our horizons and taken local hikes. Hoffmeister is absolutely right: Children instinctively love nature. They ponder the plants and insects. And now, of course, they’re dying to spot a black bear.

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