Books, Review, Homeschooling, Story Telling, Poetry, Library

When the Snow is on the Ground (When, indeed!)


The Little Robin Grieves - Nursery Rhyme

The little robin grieves
When the snow is on the ground,
For the trees have no leaves,
And no berries can be found.


The air is cold, the worms are hid;
For robin here what can be done?
Let's throw around some crumbs of bread,
And then he'll live till snow is gone.


The other day I came upon a stack of large flip charts. Do they even use those any more? Anyway... opening them brought on a ton of delightful memories.


I didn't homeschool my children. To be honest, at the time, I only knew of 1 family that homeschooled, and the thought never even crossed by mind. Instead, I surrounded our children with enrichment learning, and I think my family would all agree, that some of their best learning, certainly the most enjoyable and memorable, occurred within the family. One of the things I always did, was to print poems on flip charts, which were displayed in our family room, which I then surrounded with picture books and resource books on the topic. We kept a poem up until everyone had a chance to mostly memorize it... at least become intimately familiar with it... and we had enjoyed crafts and outings that corresponded with it.

I thought it would be fun to share some of the poems that the wee ones haven't learned yet.  The nursery rhyme, The Little Robin Grieves, has long been one of our favorites. I think I like the poem so much because it speaks of the seasons and encourages us to help these lovely creatures :)   


Although we haven't gotten any noteworthy snow yet, the above picture was taken last year, our feathered friends still appreciate the food and heated water we provide for them. 

Above is this year's winter picture, sans snow or sun!!!

If you've never looked at Michelle's Winter Wonderland Curriculum, you are in for a treat. Although it is geared to preschool/kindergarten, many of the activities will be enjoyable for children of all ages and it has a list of some wonderful winter books. One of the crafts we will be doing this week is to make the ever popular pinecone feeders. The tutorial is available in the Winter Wonderland Curriculum. We will doing other activities, which we will be sharing, too.

BTW... we have many books on winter, birds and animals in winter, but I just read a review on the book, A Bird in Winter by Hélène Kérillis and Stéphane Gire , and thought it would be perfect. It was inspired by Pieter Breugel's painting, Hunters in the Snow, and is about an eight year old peasant girl named Mayken who finds an injured bird in the snow. She nurses the bird back to health. Not only is the book's water colors suppose to be lovely, but I'm hoping it demonstrates the joy in helping all creatures, great and small :)


Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1565)

The book is due in on Tuesday. I'll do a review on it them :) And, fingers crossed... Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Fairy's Christmas Gift

A couple of weeks ago, I came upon a really neat project at Leaf Cutter Designs. It is called a Sky Scarf. Basically, every day you knit 2 rows of the scarf in colors to match the sky that day. You do this for an entire year. In the end, you have a scarf that is around 5' long, and is a record of that year's weather. How cool is that? I will send you over to their blog to get more details and directions. The Sky Scarf can be found HERE along with a couple of videos.

I plan to start making one myself January 1st. For Christmas this year, I wanted to get Fairy some knitting supplies. I decided that she would probably really enjoy this project, too. So, for her Christmas gift, I bought her yarns to make the sky scarf, a set of bamboo needles, a basket to hold the project and a couple of books. Fairy only lives a couple miles from me, so it will be fun to see how similar our scarves are at the end of the year. The one thing I did different than the directions, was to add a ball of rainbow colored yarn. (It changes colors quickly, which is important since you only knit 2 rows at a time.) Although there won't be very many rainbow rows, you can be certain Fairy and I will be keeping ours eyes open, scanning the skies for rainbows :)

The 2 books I got Fairy are Knitting With Gigi by Karen Thalacker and Gigi Knits ... and Purls by Karen Thalacker. They are beginning knitting books with directions on how to knit and purl. Each book has 8 simple projects girls will enjoy knitting. Even though Fairy knows how to knit, I thought they would be good reference books and the projects are cute.

BTW... I was very thrilled with the basket I got. It was a great find at Tuesday Morning's. It was discounted to $3.99. Such a deal! Using a stem stitch and 6 strands of variegated floss, I stitched her initials on felt and slid it into the name tag area. I think she'll like the personalization :)

We you like to join Fairy and I on our sky watching adventure? Let us know if you plan to make a Sky Scarf, too. All you need to do is knit, so it is really easy. If you don't know how to knit, follow Michelle's Knitting Tutorial, and use this as you first project :)

Bug's Christmas Gifts

Back in early November, I had my idea for Bug's Christmas gift. He LOVES to draw, and I thought it was high time he had his own supplies. So, I got him a sketch book, a couple of "how to draw" books, and a nice set of pencils and erasers. 

I think he will really enjoy the drawing books. The first is The Boys' Guide to Drawing by Aaron Sautter. It has "aliens, warriors, robot and other cool stuff". The sketches get harder as you progress through the book. The other book is Drawing Dragons by Sandra Staple. It teaches you "how to create fantastic fire~breathing dragons" and such. This book is more complicated than the first, but the pictures are awe inspiring, and like the other book, the drawings become more complex as you make your way through the book. The Kohinoor Gioconda 24 Piewce Drawing Set includes pencils, erasers, chalk and charcoal. Lots to experiment with. And, of course, I included some Strathmore Drawing Paper.

Next, I needed something to put everything in. I thought of making him a messenger bag, but I must admit, I decided to buy one instead. I started looking at kid's bags but they were too small, and had designs on them that Bug would consider babyish. Finally, I hit some shops in town. The price tags were all very dear! Did I really want to spend $50.00 just on a bag? Then, I got lucky. I was in Aeropostale. I didn't see any bags, so I asked. The manager said there were a few in the back left over from a promotion. She brought out the bag, and it too was $50.00. (Must be the going rate for messenger bags this year :) As I was hemming and hawing, she did a price check, and it was reduced to $15.00! Well... YAY! So, I bought the bag.

It is really a cool bag. It has a distressed look about it, too. Just the kind of place to put all your treasured work. I did want to do SOMETHING to add a little panache and individualize it. I considered appliqueing something on it, than decided it would look more "grown up" to add a tag. After considering Bug's favorite things, I made a keychain to look like Kai, a Lego Ninjago. I also embroidered his initials on the back.

And here is the final result...


Although I think Bug will like his drawing supplies, I know he is going to LOVE Kai. Tomorrow I will share the pattern I made just in case you have a Ninjago lover in your life :)

Little Lady's Christmas Gifts

I have been busy finishing up Christmas gifts for the wee ones. I thought I might spend some time this week sharing their gifts, plus a tutorial on the drawstring bags I made for the Little Lady and Pixie.

First off... every year I buy the grandbabies a piece to their 5" Fontanini Nativity Scene. For their first Christmas I get them the holy family. For their 10th Christmas (not there yet), I will get them the 3 Wisemen. In between, they get angels, barnyard animals, and various villagers. By the time they are 18, they will have beautiful Nativities to share with their own children some day. This year I bought Lady the Little Drummer Boy. It was her daddy's favorite piece in our set. Thought Drew would enjoy it :)

In the top photo is the rest of the Little Lady's gift. I started by making her a colorful drawstring bag. (I'll include the tutorial later this week.) I bought unfinished wooden eggs and cups. I watered down some soy paint, because I wanted a translucent look. When the paint dried, I worked in some of my beeswax and olive oil finish. It gave the wood a wonderful luster.

Little Lady just turned 1 in October. The size of these cups and eggs are perfect for pudgy little hands and pose no chock hazard! It is also a great first sorting and matching activity. Matching the egg to the cup is just right for a toddler.

Just think of all of the other uses she'll find for all these eggs. They will be perfect in her little wooden kitchen.

Then, I made a Flower Wand. I plan to make her several more styles for her over the year. I will be sharing this pattern with everyone in January.

Finally, I added the lovely book, Around the Year, by Tasha Tudor. Tasha has long been one of my favorite authors/illustrators of children's book. Her illustrations and stories are soft, gentle and kind. She also has a wonderful ability to share the wonders of nature with young and old alike.

Lady's gift is now ready to be wrapped and mailed. (Have I mentioned that Drew, Meghan and Little Lady will not be home this Christmas? It will be my first Christmas without one of my children. If you happen to hear muffled sobbing, you'll know where it's coming from!) Hope she'll love her gifts :)

The Living House

As summer is drawing to a close, my thoughts turn inward... not philosophically, but rather to the inside of my house. I don't do spring cleaning, I do fall cleaning, and much of the change inside my house occurs in September and October, before the holidays. As I was wandering through my house this morning, tablet in hand, taking notes on ideas I have, I was reminded of this article I wrote for the now retired blog, One Generation to Another. It was first published November 27, 2007. Hope you enjoy! 

            I have been accused (accused, hmmmm, sounds so harsh) ok, it’s been suggested that I do not handle change well. Truth be told, I normally have to be dragged kicking and screaming into change. It’s not that I’m dissatisfied with end results, case in point, THE INTERNET, but that’s a whole ‘nother story, it’s just that I cringe at the process of changing. Although I can be impulsive, spontaneous, and rather fickle, I put a lot of effort into fine tuning and tweaking my decisions, and once I do, I settle into them and see little reason to go through the process again.

            Perhaps the only place in my life where this does not hold true is in decorating. I view houses as living, breathing, organic entities that must continuously evolve or face extinction. Let’s face it. We’ve all been in prehistoric houses, often our grandparents. (Hmmm, must remember I’m a grandmother when I say things like that!) They decorated their houses 30 years ago, and other than removing the protective plastic sofa cover, they’ve changed little. Repainting means finding a shade that most closely resembles the color already on the walls, and their new furniture must fit into the dimples already created in the carpet from previous furniture. Over the years they’ve added their children’s graduation pictures to the walls, and the shelf above the couch holds a growing collection of souvenirs from their road trips, but nothing significant changes, ever.

            I, on the other hand, am ALWAYS in the throes of decorating. You know how some people feel about a new car smell, to the point of buying “new car” potpourri when the original smell has worn off? Well, that’s how I feel about the smell of fresh paint or recently sawed wood. It’s intoxicating! Once that freshly decorated smell goes away, I get the wanderlust for a new project! And it’s not decorating for the sake of decorating. Oh NO, far from it! It’s more like listening to your house and responding to its needs. A couch says, “I’m tired of looking at the fireplace. Let me look out the window for awhile. ” A wall screams for a splash of color. And the laundry room is pleading with you to restore order by installing cubbies. In my opinion, you would be heartless to ignore their needs.

            I realize it takes practice to learn how to speak “house”. Just like new parents need to learn to interpret their infant’s nonverbal cues, so must a homeowner learn to listen to their house. So, grab a cup of coffee, herbal tea, or favorite libation and take a “day trip” through your house. Visit each room and sit in a variety of locations. It’s amazing how different a room looks from different vantages. Start a home journal. I like to use an 8” x 11” sketch book that you can write, draw and paste in. Record your ideas and possible changes. You can use the journal to collect photos and ideas when looking through magazines or surfing the net. Then use the journal to record your changes, including pictures and info for future reference. One of the biggest secrets to decorating is learning to separate the screams from the whimpers. Just like parents know the difference between their child’s whine for a superfluous unfulfilled desire and the scream of pain, our house’s needs vary in intensity. Don’t get overwhelmed by everything you want to do. Prioritize and realize that decorating is an ongoing process, and to the chagrin of everyone I’ve ever lived with, never complete!

            Obviously, budgets are a large factor when planning any change; however, many alterations are relatively inexpensive or free and produce dramatic results. Rearranging your living room to create an intimate “chat corner” costs nothing more than a few sore muscles. Bringing color into a room through freshly painted walls or a new wall hanging can be worked into most budgets. Just remember, there’s no way you would be happy wearing the same outfit day in and day out, neither does your house. Change, gulp, is good, at least where your house is concerned. Consult it frequently and listen when it speaks! 

I use sketch books for the house and garden. Over the years they’ve gotten banged around and often abused…case in point, one fall I needed to get a shipment of plants in the ground before a trip, so I was out working in the garden, in a steady drizzle, with my trusty sketch book haphazardly wrapped in plastic while providing the blueprint for planting. Not only do journals become a great resource of collected info and plans, but a wonderful diary of the life of your house and garden.

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