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?
Here’s a peek at what I’ve been reading…
I’ve been considering ordering Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian for several months now. I looked at my local libraries and it was not available, so I waited and considered if I really wanted to buy this book. I decided if I was still thinking about it after months of sitting in my Amazon shopping cart, I should just hold my breath and click complete order on Amazon. I’m glad I did. It’s a nice reference to turn to in moments of transition and stress. It brings me back to thinking about moments in my day and what makes some smooth and some jagged and stressful. It reminds me to plan transitions and rhythms for everyone’s peace and sanity.
Last month I finally got around to watching my DVRed American Masters: J.D. Salinger on PBS. It captivated me and really inspired me to pull out my old 6th edition of The Catcher in the Rye (received as a gift in the days after high school when I first fell in love with the book). It is a fun read after so many years. It is reminding me of how I felt as a teenager and renewing my empathy and faith that despite our many differences and varied experiences in life, there is a thread of human experience that is woven through us all. We’re all connected.
I just picked up The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley from the library the other day. I had been waiting for it to come in for a month or so. I opened it up Tuesday night and devoured it in 1 day! I haven’t read a book that fast in a long time. While I didn’t agree with all of the points the author made (namely her fixation with rigor) I found the descriptions of education in other countries fascinating. The book follows 3 exchange students from America living and studying in 3 high-achieving countries (based on scores from an international critical thinking test, PISA): Finland, South Korea, and Poland. I’m a nerd when it comes to ethnographic studies like this, and I’m always absurdly interested in education.
Happy reading to you all! I hope spring finds us all reading in the open air soon…
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.
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.
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?
The book basket is filled with silly turkeys, Native Americans, Pilgrims, and families giving thanks. These are the books filling our days and getting us in the spirit of giving thanks and eating great food.
- The First Thanksgiving Day, Laura Krauss Melmed (This is my fave. The illustrations are beautiful and the story pays homage to both Pilgrim and Native American contributions to the tradition that we celebrate today. It is respectful and easy for small children to understand. It’s also a counting book)
- Run, Turkey Run! Diane Mayr (This is my children’s fave. A silly book about a farmer trying to catch a turkey for his family’s feast.)
- Our Thanksgiving, Kimberly Weinberger (An easy reader, which makes it a simple story about a family gathering for a Thanksgiving celebration.)
- Thanksgiving Day, Gail Gibbons (No holiday reading list is complete with out a Gail Gibbons non-fiction picture book packed with information and facts. The illustrations are nice too. Unfortunately some of the info is quite Eurocentric.)
- 10 Fat Turkeys, Tony Johnston & Rich Dias (Another silly counting board book)
Yes, that’s The Great Gatsby and yes, I’m still reading it 🙂 I’ve been spending most of my free time knitting Christmas gifts. I’ve also been reading my holiday magazines and as usual working through Amanda Blake Soule’s The Rhythm of Family.
Here’s what I’ve been knitting. I decided to knit cowls for each of my sisters for Christmas this year. I began with the purple one and it turned out so soft and cozy. It also knitted up in a couple of evenings. Then I started the green one which is beautiful, but taking a lot longer. I’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks now and I’m not even half done. So I ordered more yarn for the first pattern and I’m planning to knit up a few more of those. Maybe the green one will be for me when ever I manage to finish. I ordered both patterns and the yarn from Knitpicks.com, my favorite knitting store!
What are you reading and working on this November?
I keep a basket of books in the living room for the children. I keep it stocked with seasonal books. Right now it is filled with autumn themed books. We are about to add Halloween titles, but for now I’ll share our fall reading list.
“Let it Fall” is a sweet, short rhyming story about a family enjoying autumn activities. “Leaf Jumpers” is another rhyming book about the shapes and colors of different species of leaves. My son (3) really likes to compare the leaves we find outside. “The Fox and the Falling Leaves” is a lovely book (perhaps my favorite) about a little fox who worries about his favorite tree when the leaves begin to turn brown and fall off. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is so sweet. And “Joy” has been one of my son’s favorite books since he was just an infant so it hold a very special place in my heart. It is a board book and a poem about a child and his mother experiencing the seasons.
I have been catching up on my growing stack of magazines. A few of my favorites are Martha Stewart Living and Midwest Living and Family Fun and Renewal (Association of Waldorf Schools in North America). I’ve been reading some back issues lately. I am also enjoying rereading The Great Gatsby.
What are you and your kids reading?
I like to switch out a couple of my kids toys and books to fit a new theme for the week. It keeps things fresh and they love to wake up Monday morning to new books and toys!
Last week’s theme was The Farm. With our garden providing so much produce to harvest lately, it seemed a fitting theme. Here’s a list of the books I included (I keep theme books in a basket in the living room. This keeps them special):
Around the Farm by Eric Carle
This is a book of animals and sounds. It has push buttons with the sounds of each animal.
The Farmyard Jamboree by Margaret Read MacDonald
This is a fun song book. It can be purchased with a CD. I just LOVE this book as do my children. Check out the song here.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle
A cute rhyming story of a truck and its animal friends learning the value of working together.
Mommies Say Shhh! by Patricia Polacco
A soothing story that teaches animal sounds.
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
A rhyming story of animals on a farm.
Because we are entering Autumn, I included a couple of books about the changing seasons which I will leave out until we have officially entered Fall. These titles are:
Joy by Joyce Carol Thomas
This is a lovely poem about the joy of experiencing the seasons with your child. It appears this book is out of print. If you can ever find it, I highly recommend buying it. It has been one of my son’s favorites since he began to show favorites with books 🙂
One Tree by Leslie Bockol
This book follows the life of a tree and the animals around the tree through one year.
Do you have a favorite August theme, or favorite Autumn book? I’d love to hear about it!
“Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.” ~Oscar Wilde
Last week, in the name of simplicity, I thinned out my son’s toys and mainly his books. As a former teacher, I have achieved an extensive collection of children’s books over the years. (I love books!) I have been watching my sons bookshelf become more and more crowded to the point where they are packed in so tightly that he struggles to pull one out.
I spent last week reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne, and one of the things he suggests is thinning young children’s books to about 15. So that became my goal. In fact, I narrowed them down even more. I chose books around a loose theme of home and made sure to leave a couple of fun favorites 🙂 And guess what happened? My son took one look at his bookshelf with about 10 books, 2 puzzles, 2 bins of little “guys” and animals, his Leapfrog Tag Jr. (which he loves), and his finger puppets and said, “Wow, new books!”
Nap time and bed time goes much more quickly since the change because he is not hunting for just the right book, and I am learning more about his interests. By limiting his choices I am finding that certain books he wants to read over and over (The 3 Little Pigs & All by Myself by Mercer Mayer) and some he chose once and hasn’t chosen again (The Little House, and Guess How Much I Love You).
All in all, I knew that simplifying would lead to a fresh perspective on his books and toys and bedroom in general, but I am witnessing benefits I couldn’t imagine before I did this. I now have a large selection of picture books in storage to be pulled out and exchanged as the seasons and themes of our life change. After all, if simplicity is the security blanket of life, variety is still the spice of life, right?
Do you have any experiences with less being more?