Thursday, December 17, 2009

What We're Reading Dec. 17

Today I am hosting “What We are Reading This Week” for the Well Read Child; so please comment or include a link in the comments to your blog post about what you are reading this week.

At the beginning of 2009, I decided to help the Elf to keep a record of all the books she would read this year. This was due largely to the fact that she had received twenty-plus books for Christmas and had read most of them by the end of January!

We started recording the details of what she was reading in an Excel doc.; the title, author, illustrator, whether it was fiction, non-fiction, picture book, and the month in which she read it.

Now, looking over that Excel doc. as we close in on the end of 2009, I see that she has read 121 books. Most of them have been fiction chapter books, from the Rainbow Fairies and Puppy Place to the Chronicles of Narnia and the Harry Potter series. Picture books were down in consumption from last year, numbering only 13. She has read some of her favourite books twice; Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing series, for instance. Those books were the first three on her list in January 2009 and now, they are being revisited this month, this week.

This week, we did look at a picture book together; Nutcracker Noel by Kate McMullen and illustrated by Jim McMullen. A charming story of a young girl who dreams of dancing in the Nutcracker ballet and how she deals with disappointment by becoming the best tree ever!

At work this week, the theme is Red. To the children in my care, I read, Red Is Best. It has long been one of my best loved books for toddlers and preschoolers. Below is a short review I had previously written for it.

Red Is Best
by Kathy Stinson
Art by Robin Baird Lewis
Annick Press Ltd. Copywrite 1982
ISBN 0-920236-24-3 (bound)
ISBN 0-920236-26-X 9pbk)

Kelly’s mom just “doesn’t understand about red”.

Stinson gets it though. She thoroughly captures a young child’s affinity for all things “favourite”, and in this case, obviously, red! Any one who has ever known a preschooler will definitely relate.

And Kelly, well, she possesses the wisdom that all small children do… she instinctively knows that “juice tastes better in the red cup” and that she can “jump higher in (her) red stockings”. We could all learn from following these types of instincts. Some things just make us feel better and it is good to acknowledge this and surround ourselves in these comforts, whatever they may be.

I’m off now to slip into my deep purple chenille bath robe.
I relax best in my deep purple chenille bathrobe.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What We're Reading Dec 10

Books about Snow.

That’s what we’re reading.

At least that’s what the preschoolers have been having me read to them.
I have a few favourite snow books. I can hardly wait for the first snowflake to fall before bringing them out each year, however the magic of the books is so deeply enhanced when reading them against a backdrop of softly falling snow. Lucky for me we had our first real substantial snowfall on Monday, my teaching day. So, I was able to bring out the books in order to celebrate.

My little Elf is still on her exploration of mythology and is now reading How to Speak Dragonese by Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III translated from the Old Norse by Cressida Cowell. I’m not sure what I think about this book as I have not yet read it but there appears to be a “Captain Underpants” appeal to the story ie: references to bums, farts and poo.

Together,the Elf and I? Well we are reading Wind in the Willows, of course.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Calendar Day 9…. Snow Day!!!

You just had to know it was coming! I think we had already had about 5 or 6 snow days by this time last year, so I’m not complaining. I’m just glad that it happened on a day when I was not scheduled to work so that I am able to stay home with my little Elf and enjoy the snow day too. This day of tri-county bus cancellations gives us a great opportunity to pull out all the Christmas decorations and start decorating our home for the holidays! (We are NOT pull the decorations out the day after Halloween people)

We are playfully making our way through the advent calendar which we started a bit late after I found the idea for the 25 days of Christmas challenge over at a peek inside the fishbowl. We have made some small cards using old holiday cards, added numbers 1-25 and I added the strips of paper with the activity for that day inside (along with an individually wrapped Riesen candy!).

Here are some of the activities we have enjoyed thus far (I just haven't got around to blogging about them yet):

  • Looking at and reading last year’s Christmas Cards
  • Santa Claus Parade
  • Writing Our Christmas Cards
  • Drinking hot chocolate with marshmallows
  • Listening to Christmas music

Stay tuned for 16 more days of twinkling-crinkling-glittery-sugar-plums-dancing-round-our-heads, holiday fun!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

What We're Reading November 26

Well, we’ve pretty much wrapped up our reading from our large haul from the library a couple of weeks back. It’s a good thing too as the books are due back on Saturday. Normally this would be a good opportunity to get more books while returning the old ones, however, I am singing in the Westben Theatre’s concert of The Wind In the Willows on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, so the library trip will have to wait until next weekend.

Last weekend I was so very fortunate and excited to have performed two wonderful concerts and a dress rehearsal as part of the Westben Festival Chorus along with the Youth and Teen Choruses. Of course, the highlight of the performances has been the narration of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In the Willows by Canadian Stage and movie actor, Tom McCamus. We are truly honoured to share the stage with him and the creative, expressive talent he delivers through his resonant, baritone voice.

Since my little Book Elf has been through all her library books, she has begun to reread the Chronicles of Narnia. I think she is currently in the middle of Voyage of The Dawn Treader.

I’ve also read all the library picture books to my preschoolers, so have gone back to my personal collection. This week our theme has been winter birds. One of my choices for a circle time book was Without You by Sarah Weeks (one of my preferred children’s storybook authors) which is a story about fatherly love and Emperor Penguins. This story also appears in song format on one of my much loved children’s cd’s put out by Ms. Weeks called I'm An Animal.

I'm thinking that we will be looking for the Wind In the Willows on our library trip next weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What We're Reading This Week: November 19

Still going through the stack of library books from almost 2 weeks ago.

The Elf is particularly enjoying Mythology: The Gods, Heroes and Monsters of Ancient Greece (having a heck of a time finding a good link for this one) written by Dugald Steer under the pen name of “Lady Hestia Evans”.

It is from the so- called "Ologies Series" put out by Candlewick Press and is a unique and cool book with fun flaps and pockets, maps and genealogical tables and Greek mythology galore.

It even contains a pop up Pandora’s box.

A pop-up Pandora's box which I automatically reached for and opened up before I even realized what it was!

Book excerpt, “ Now you’ve done it! You couldn’t resist opening the box, could you? Now you know how Pandora must have felt.”

This book was sought out as a follow up and out of interest stirred by the Percy Jackson and the Olympian Series we were reading a few weeks ago.

Picture books we enjoyed this week included:

Me, well for myself I read the Secret Life of Bees by Sue Kidd Monk and I just loved it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What We are Reading This Week , November 12

This past weekend I took my little elf and her friend to the library. It has been a while since we’ve been and so we really went nuts!! We took out about 30 books between the two of us!
Usually we only take out about 5 each, but I guess we were trying to make up for library withdrawal. And of course, I took a few books out for the children at the daycare, too.

So, here is the list of what we have been reading this week since our backbreaking trip home from said library.

The Elf has read:

  • Ramona the Brave
  • Ramona the Pest
  • Ramona and Her Father (all by Beverly Cleary)
  • Magic School Bus. In the Time of The Dinosaurs
  • MSB, Explores the Senses by Joanna Cole.

My daycare children (as well as the Elf) enjoyed:

  • Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp by Carol Diggory Shields and wildly illustrated by Scott Nash
  • On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman
  • Berenstain Bears on the Moon by Jan and Stan Berenstain

We also borrowed The Glow in the Dark Night Sky Book by Clint Hatchett, illustrated by Stephen Marchesi. Besides the fact that “Night” is our theme at the daycare this week (hence the Night theme in the above picture books), I thought that here at home we could use the “late autumn” constellation map when we are out next Tuesday night (November 17-18 , 11:00 pm until 4:00 am) to witness the Leonid Meteor Shower.

I’m still not sure whether to have the Elf up so late to witness the shower or not. It is a school night and it is getting much colder. But she is eight now and interested in all things celestial, so it might be worth letting her sleep in and go to school late….
I will likely get her to bed early and wait to see if the night is clear enough and we get a good show before deciding whether or not it is worth waking her.

Another book that I took out was Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine. It was winner of the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children, the Silver Birch Award and the National Jewish Book Awards. I read it alone and cried.

The Elf knows certain things about war. She knows that war is not a nice thing. She knows that countless people die in war. She knows a little about the Holocaust. But I don’t think I’m ready for her to read this book yet. Because once you know such horrible truths about the world, it changes you… and I’m not ready for that yet. When she’s a little older, it will be a good book to read.

I am thankful that we are fortunate enough to live in a place where she gets to hold onto her childhood longer than many children in the world who are living through war now. And my heart goes out to those Mamas and Papas who must endure the cold and brutal reality of having more than just the loss of childhood innocence to face.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What We Are Reading This Month

Whoa! Where did the month of October go?


How is it possible that it is November 5th and it was SNOWING this morning?

Ah well, as I begin to slouch into hibernation mode, perhaps I will actually spend more time blogging!!

And of course hibernation mode is also the perfect excuse to read even more books.

What have we been reading?
Well, at daycare it has been a continuation of the fall theme with Theo LeSeig’s Ten Apples Up on Top, Tomie DePaolo’s My First Halloween and The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis which, with it’s refrain of “ 'round and 'round across the ground, makin’ a thumpin’ , bumpin’ sound”, has become my new favourite rhyming, fall picture book.

Here at home in the past month we have devoured the first three of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series written by Rick Riordan. They are, The Lightning Thief, The Sea of Monsters and The Titan’s Curse. These New York Times #1 best-selling books are packed with adventure and Greek mythology which is what we will be investigating more of on our next trip to the library. Needless to say, the next books in this series are now on the Christmas Wish List!!

My 8 year old is an avid reader and she reads well. Of course this is wonderful news, but as a busy,working, multi-projects on the go mom, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with her voracious appetite!! We enjoy reading together, but more and more often she is going on ahead to finish reading the books on her own. In her own spare time. Of which (I keep explaining to her) she has considerably more than I do!

And now, the dishes are done, laundry is folded and put away, the dinner plan is in action, the blog entry has been written... I’m off to curl up with a hot cup of tea and some well earned spare time to read the last few chapters of The Titan’s Curse.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What We Are Reading This Week

Autumn is in full swing and I love this time of year, not only for the crisp fresh apples, brisk mornings and colourful countryside but for the chance to present my “Autumn Books” bin to my circle-time friends. My Autumn collection is one of my favourites.

The book I read on Monday (my circle day at the daycare) was:
Night Is Coming by W. Nikola-Lisa.

The illustrations by Jamichael Henterly evoke a sense of autumnal familiarity that makes me feel warm inside. The text is simply beautiful and poetic.

The rest of my autumn collection includes the following books:

  • Apple Picking by Janet Craig
  • Fresh Fall Leaves by Betsy Franco
  • How do Apple Grow by Betsy Maestro
  • I like Pumpkins, by Jerry Smath
  • My First Halloween by Tomie DePaola
  • Picking Apples and Pumpkins by Amy and Richard Hutchings
  • The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
  • Sam the Scarecrow by Sharon Gordon
  • Squirrels and Chipmunks by Allan Fowler
  • Ten Apples up on Top by Theo LeSeig
  • The Witch Next Door by Norman Bridwell
  • Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts

At home, when asked to choose a book for us to read together, my little elf chose Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox. I’ve had this book in my library since it was published in 2001, the year my daughter was born. She loves the fact that we are reading aloud together a book about reading aloud together!!

So do I.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Book Give Away!!

I love books and reading. I especially love children's books.
Sharing books with children just may be the one thing I enjoy most about my job as an Early Childhood Educator. In fact, one of the intended purposes of my lil' blog here is to write about some of my favourite children's authors and books. (Watch for that, I WILL be doing it SOON!)

One thing that is almost as much fun as reading books is getting new books. And the one thing that is even better than getting new books is getting FREE new books.

That's why I am entering this contest offered by Jill over at The Well-Read Child and suggesting that anyone else who also likes FREE children's books should consider entering as well. It's easy. Even though... I'm going to win, I'm just saying... anyone else is also free to enter!!

The book Jill is offering is called Winter's Tail : How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again. It looks so adorable.

Oh, by the way Jill hosts a weekly event on Thursdays called What My Children Are Reading
and on Thursday December 17, I will be guest hosting!! So excited!! Should be fun!!

My Kite is Back in the Sky!

Can you hear that?

Ahh, there it is. The sound of peace and quiet and calm that is now settling in and wrapping me up like a nice warm blanket. September is essentially over and the routines are back in place. And this morning I am feeling very calm.

Clearly, the beginning of summer holidays was not a great time for me to begin this blog.

I started out with the finest ambition and then the crazy, lazy days of summer came along and yanked that ambition right out of my grasp! It then became entangled in a tree, much like Charlie Brown’s kite!

Then, September arrived and I thought, okay, now I can get back to that blog.

I forgot, of course, what a chaotic month September can be whilst attempting to squeeze back into those early mornings and making lunches and working out meal times around the Brownie meetings, skating lessons, yoga classes and Board meetings!

But now?

Well now one load of laundry is hanging out on the line, another is in the machine, muffins are in the oven, floors are swept and breakfast dishes done, my little elf has just caught the bus (didn’t even have to rush for it THIS morning), I KNOW what’s for dinner tonight AND it’s only 9 a.m!!!

This feels good.

Think I’ll get my second cup of tea and pour over my songs to study for choir practice next week, do a little singing and maybe even practice some guitar before looking at the rest of my To Do list for the day!

That list includes yoga class plans, bill paying, receipt organizing, dinner prepping, hanging more laundry, menu planning, Brownie uniform ordering, some e-mails and phone calls.....but for now, tea and put my feet up for a bit!! And enjoy the peace and quiet and calm.


Friday, July 24, 2009

The Serious Business of Fun

Day 10: Swimming at a beautiful bit of paradise called
Scott's Dam with her cousin.

Day 22: This raspberry-picking is serious business

Day 14: Ahh, Library Leisure!

Here are just a few shots of the summer my little elf has been enjoying... I miss her.

I've called her once and she has called me once, from Grandma and Grandpa's house in St. Catharines. I think I will call her again, tonight.

She assures me that plenty of her daily activities are being captured in photographs to show me and to use in our 67 Days of Summer Project. At least I'm thinking we are calling it "The 67 Days of Summer". The other option, which dawned upon me just recently, is to call it "The Summer of 67 Days" .

I get hung up on small decisions like this sometimes!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Summer of Balance

Havelock Farmer's Market with cucumber plant and fudge!

Well, it has been our goal to enjoy a summer of carefree abandon balanced with a few well planned adventures. So far, I believe we are achieving just that.

We have enjoyed days at home

  • reading
  • building with lego and fanta color
  • painting model horses
  • reading outside on a blanket under a tree
  • playing with stuffies (a most loved pastime)
  • reading in a tent (indoors and out)

We have also enjoyed several outings. We've been to:

  • the Riverview Park and Zoo
  • the Marmora Library
  • Havelock, Hastings and Marmora on Canada Day (were nearly carried away by the mosquitoes at the fireworks display at the Marmora Mine!)
  • strawberry and rasberry picking at VanderPloeg's Berry Farm
  • Grammy L and Grampy R's house (she slept over twice when both mama and papa had to work)
  • a new friend's house for a 4 hour play date (mama has a new friend now too !)
  • the River for swimming (and to visit Grandma A)
  • the Marmora and Havelock Farmer's market

And now my girl is off to spend two whole weeks with Grandma S and Grandpa N. She went on Saturday and the house has been eerily quiet. The cat is pacing around meowing at me. I spent the day yesterday leisurely cleaning the house. Now this morning I'm off to work.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Picture a Day

I've decided to keep a record of "The Summer Happenings at Our House" by taking at least one picture per day. Of course, forgetting my camera on the first day when we went to a friends for a Pot Luck Lunch didn't get me off to a spectacular start, but c'est la vie!

The next day was easy as we attended a 40th Birthday Party for my sister-in-law. My little elf enjoyed playing with many cousins and of course was able to enjoy the first swim of the summer in The River! And that's what summer IS all about!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Joyful Chaos

I couple of weeks ago, I was having one of those days. You know the ones I mean...

I hit the snooze button twice before I manage to drag myself out of bed much later than I should have. As I trip on a pile of laundry, making my way down stairs, I remember that I neglected to prepare my daughter’s lunch the night before and then discover that we are out of bread (well the last couple of pieces had gone moldy). My sweetheart has no clean underwear (the washing machine broke down last week). The sink is full of dirty dishes. The bus comes early. I don’t have time to make my lunch. And as I rush out to the car, I don’t realize that I am still wearing my slippers (until I get to work).

As my sweetheart drives me to work and I finally have time to catch my breath, I feel that sting in my eyes and the pressure in my throat and I just start to cry.

He looks over at me and with genuine concern asks “What’s the matter?”
That pushes me over the edge and I spill (much like the tea I’ve noticed down the front of my dress). I sputter and sob… “It’s that thing that happens to me,,, it’s happening again…. I’m feeling overwhelmed.”

I unleash my rant. I explain that I’m just not coping with the day to day management and control of the house, my job, our girl. I sob over not seeming able to find enough time to write or practice my guitar or plant a garden. I bather about feeling inadequate; after all we only have one child. Plenty of the other mama’s I know have 2, 3, 4 children (how on earth do they do it?)

This state of overwhelm is something I have struggled with over the years. I seem to go through cycles. For a while I feel like I have everything more or less under control and then all of a sudden I find that my time management and coping skills have been hijacked. Only, I know that it isn’t all of a sudden. There are warning signs and small sequences of events that accumulate, leading up to the apparent ambush of sensibility. But, I digress, all that for another post.

Anyway, I cry and complain and whine for about half of the 20 minute drive to work. Calmly, my sweetheart listens. He nods but remains thoughtfully silent. Then I try to pull myself together. When we arrive at the daycare (where I work part-time as an Early Childhood Educator), I’m almost re-assembled, eyes dried, blotchiness fading, lipstick re-applied, although I am still wearing my slippers. Well, at least that should evoke some laughter from the children (and staff).

I know that I need to leave my personal baggage outside of the environment I’m about to enter. I need to radiate positivity and light for the developing young people who are about to be in my care for the next eight hours. I’m not sure how I’m going to pull it off.

My sweetheart leans over and kisses me and he says, “You know that we have a great life, don’t you?” And I’m in tears again. This time they are of joy, because he’s right. We do have a great life.

We have a beautiful, healthy and bright seven year old daughter. We have warm and supportive family and friends. We have jobs (that aren’t completely soul-sucking) and a steady income. We have love and peace and happy times together.

Of course every now and then life can seem to get a bit crazy and chaotic but with the right mix of chaos and tranquility I joyfully admit, I wouldn’t trade my life for anything.

Friday, June 26, 2009

To Beginnings

Yippee! It's summer vacation time. I feel excited (and a little envious) for my daughter, starting her holidays today. She informed me that there are exactly 67 days of summer fun/no school ahead of her.

She even gave me the "number story" (math equation), 5+31+31=67, proving that she did indeed learn something in grade 2 this year. In fact, she really does love math and school in general, but what kid doesn't love summer vacation??

In honour of the first day of summer vacation I am beginning this Blog.
I’ve been agonizing over what to write for the first post and well, I’ve decided to just get over myself and get on with it!

So here it goes. The rest will fall into place. It will be a work in progress

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.