Reading and Knitting…

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I’m absolutely loving The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert.  I’m only 40 pages in, but so far I am hooked and looking forward to learning more about Nan and her adopted daughter, Bay.  Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the novel for me is the garden.  This time of year I just yearn for anything that transports me to the seasons of growth and workable dirt.

I am working on a cowl for my sister.  The pattern is beautiful and fun to knit.  I’ve been so sleepy lately (this growing baby is really taking it out of me) that this simple project is taking much longer than it should 🙂

What are you reading and working on?

Let It Snow…Finally

The snow is falling…finally!  It’s been such a mild winter, that I’ve had to remind myself almost daily that spring is not just around the corner.  Today, it’s not hard to remember it is February, and isn’t the snow beautiful? IMG_2092 What better way to spend a snowy February morning than baking zucchini bread (I froze a little shredded zucchini from the summer garden back in August for just such an occasion) and making Valentines with my son for his preschool class?  The idea for the Valentines came from a Seventh Generation blog post, and the zucchini bread recipe comes from my old trusty Better Homes and Gardens cook book (handed down from my grandma) but I linked to some similar recipes in a previous post. IMG_2097 IMG_2098 How are you spending these February days?

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom & Letter Fun

To give ourselves a new focus for the new year, I have decided to put our weekly art and sensory projects together around a new theme each week.  For a few months now, I have been making a point to give the kids 1 sensory activity per week and 1 organized art or crafting project each week.  Of course we encounter many experiences with art and things that engage our senses throughout our daily rhythms, but these are more incidental like coloring with crayons when my daughter wants to help me pay bills or kneading dough with me while I make bread.

As an early childhood teacher, I have always loved to build lessons and activities from books so I think I will try to start with a new book each week.  I am also considering adding a special game or activity with my son (3) to reinforce the skills that he is picking up so quickly.

This week I chose “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archembault for our book.  I chose it because my son has begun to show interest the letters in his name and my daughter has begun trying to sing the ABC Song.  If you’re not familiar, “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” is a silly poem about all of the letters playing in a coconut tree.  We have been reading this book each morning after breakfast.  We have also been singing the ABC Song a lot!

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Sensory Activity:  Several months ago I died white rice green.  This is an easy project.  All you need is a bag or 2 of white rice and a few drops of food coloring.  Mix several drops of food coloring into about 1/4 cup of water per 2 lb bag of rice (I think I used 1 bag) in a large bowl.  Add rice and stir.  Kids love this part 🙂  You could add a little more fun and place everything in a sealable jar or plastic baggy and let the kids shake, shake, shake!  Once all of the rice is covered spread it out thinly on brown paper (I cut a grocery bag) or paper towel to dry.  This takes a while.  Plan to let it dry over night.  I keep our rice in a plastic container with an airtight lid.  (One day I spiced it up by adding the last few orange lentils from a package that I wanted to clear out of the pantry.)  When we want to play I simply open the lid.  We’ve added lots or enrichments to the rice like small plastic frogs, small people, we’ve hunted for gold treasure in the rice; but this week I added some wooden letters from my son’s Melissa & Doug word puzzle set.  I added a palm tree from a play set and voila, we have a “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” themed sensory box!  Both kids loved it, I even heard my son telling his sister (1) that he had found a letter from his name.  Something about the rice can really mezmorize young children.  It’s worth the bit of sweeping that is required to clean up.

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Art Project:  I used several full 8×11 sheets of construction paper in varied colors to draw a large block letter for each letter in my children’s names.  Then I gave them markers and encouraged them to fill their letters with color.  To my surprise, my son drew a line through the inside of each letter (essentially writing each letter).  He then embellished a couple of letters with different designs.  All of the letters turned out beautiful and when hung together they make fun name banners on each child’s bedroom door.  I am a huge advocate for giving children loose directions and a limited choice of materials for art.  They almost always surprise you with what they produce!  And it is always more beautiful than you could have predicted.

Happy day to you and yours!

“A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer”. ~Author Unknown

Books and Knitting in January

We hit the library last week!  My oh my, I had forgotten how much I love using the library.  We will definitely make this a monthly excursion this year.  I picked up The Jim Henson Biography for myself and the kids picked a couple of picture books for themselves.  I added a couple of winter themed picture books that looked nice.

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I’m about 50 pages into the Henson biography, and I love it!  It is taking me right back to those warm, sweet, loving feelings I had while watching the Muppets, Sesame Street, and Fraggle Rock as a young girl.  What an important figure he was for a generation of young people 🙂  I have also been working on The Wonder of Boys by Michael Gurian.  This book I am struggling through.  While it has some valid and thought-provoking points about raising boys to become happy men, I am often getting angry and having to put the book down!  Gurian makes some provocative excuses for absent and deadbeat fathers that I find offensive when given by the same author who places a lot of responsibility and blame on mothers (namely single mothers) for the emotional well-being of their sons.  Basically I find the book interesting and influential in my approach to raising a son, I am often offended by many of the authors societal prescriptions for lessening fathers’ roles in unwanted pregnancies and raising children with estranged partners.  I vow to finish the book 🙂  I have also been enjoying the Winter/spring issue of Renewal from the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) and leafing through my seed catalogues, planning for spring.

I am finishing up knitting the lace cowl that I gave up on before Christmas.  It’s more of an infinity scarf really and I think it will look lovely on me when I finish 🙂   I also ordered yarn for a sweater for my mom.  I will share my progress on that next month, I hope.

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The kids’ book basket is filled with winter themed picture books and a couple of fanciful stories too.  “Over and Under the Snow” by Kate Messner is charming book about a child and her father skiing through the woods on a snowy day.  It explores the animals and their homes for the winter.  This is something my son has been very interested in this year!  “Jack Frost” by Kazuno Kohara is a whimsical story about a boy who befriends Jack Frost and learns to love the winter.  It pairs really well with this old cartoon about Jack Frost

Then I added an imaginative book about walking with the moon on a leash, “I Took the Moon for a Walk” by Carolyn Curtis and Alison Jay.  I also included our copy of “Puff the Magic Dragon” illustrated by Eric Puybaret, which both of my kids have really taken a liking to 🙂

Happy reading and knitting to you all.  What’s keeping your imaginations and hands busy this winter?

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It’s the last stop on the Holiday Blog Hop, and it’s an inspiring one for a fresh new year!  Hop over to Waldorf Salad and Cottage Fries (perhaps my favorite blog title) to learn about creating a vision board for the coming year.

http://waldorfsaladandcottagefries.com/2013/12/30/creating-vision-board-for-the-new-year/

My Week in Review

I can hardly believe that Christmas Eve will be here on Tuesday.  For the week before Christmas, it’s been a pretty manageable one.  We:

  • Finished shopping
  • Baked cookies
  • Made cornstarch and salt dough ornaments
  • Painted
  • Dropped packages at the post office
  • Read lots of Christmas stories
  • Helped decorate Mimi’s and Boo’s new home for Christmas

…and we are counting down the days until the big day!  How is your family preparing for your celebrations?

My son (3) is so excited!  I love watching him remember things from last year, and piece together all of the fun and joyful aspects of our holiday celebrations.  He has also just begun saying “I love you” to his dad and me!  This is the greatest gift he could give us this year 🙂  He really enjoys making gifts and getting them ready to give.

My daughter (1) is enjoying all of the reading and baking of the season!  She also seems to like the music and dancing.  I even notice her trying to sing the words to a few familiar songs 🙂  I can’t wait to see her reaction on Christmas morning.  The 1st year that they are old enough to understand what’s happening is so fun!

I am still knitting like crazy to finish the last cowl.  I’m busy getting all of the ingredients ready for our last batch of Christmas cookies (my favorite, Black Forest Cookies), our Christmas morning egg bake, and Christmas spaghetti dinner.  I’ve finished most of my wrapping.  Just a little more to do and a lot of assembly yet to be done this weekend.  This final stretch is always a little bitter-sweet for me (kind of like the beginning of autumn).

To every hearth a little fire,

To every table a little feast,

To every heart a joy,

To every child a toy,

Shelter for bird and beast.

(Traditional)

Warm wishes and blessings to you and yours this Christmas!

Blog Hop: Celebrating the Winter Solstice

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We’re hopping again… this time to Waldorf Inspired Learning for a lovely explanation of the Winter Solstice and the beauty to be found in celebrating the increasing light.  I look forward to making this lovely sun craft with my kids next week!

http://waldorfinspiredlearning.com/winter-solstice/

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