Saturday, January 31, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} Winter Reading

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter

What books do you like to read with your kids in the winter? I posted some of our winter recommendations here, and I'd love to hear your own!


Winter storm season is upon us! We are surviving just fine with stacks of good books to read and storm chips. If you need to know what storm chips are, they seem to be a uniquely maritime invention! (Feel free to appropriate as you deem necessary.)


Can you see what he's reaching for there? Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Town. Jack will find anything Richard Scarry or Thomas the Tank Engine and ask to read it over and over and over again. He will also look at those books by himself for quite some time. I'd always heard it said, and can concur from experience, Richard Scarry is great for little boys!

Here he is with Thomas.

When the storm and the flu cleared up, these two were more than happy to get outside to play!


We have been reading this great winter poem book - Winter Poems (that's the cover up in the first picture). There's even something by Shakespeare in it, which is partly why I love it! This poem is called "A Merry Note," and the last line of each stanza reads:

While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

 Never mind who greasy Joan is, what does it mean to "keel the pot?" We all thought it sounded rather funny, and I got out the big dictionary for the kids (I think for the first time) and we looked it up together.

As a verb it means "turn upside down; upset." Makes sense considering the noun, which I already knew. Of course, I also know what it means to "keel over," but now I shall be confident in my verb usage! I keel pots on a regular basis, don't you?

We all just think it's a funny line. It still begs the question though, who is greasy Joan?


My darling sister sent me this delightful book for Christmas.

It has so many great storytelling ideas! I've done a little bit of storytelling with the kids at bedtime, where I make up stories that always begin, "Once upon a time there lived a brave and beautiful princess named Arden and a strong and noble knight named Jack. Together they lived in a beautiful kingdom, and they ruled it well. . ." Now Arden always asks for a "story with no pages."

I'm excited to try some of the activities and prompts to keep my own story juices flowing and get the kids in the practice of making up their own stores. I'd love to make some of the story rocks and other more crafty things, but a couple weeks ago I did a very simple version of a story bag, just with drawing some simple pictures on a piece of paper, cutting them up, and putting them in a little bag.

The kids took turns pulling a piece of paper out the bag, and we made up our story as we went along. They thought it was wonderful, and afterwards made up their own versions. For this bag I used mostly wintery words, and it would be easy enough to change things up with the seasons, or with any passing interest.

I'd love to hear some of your ideas for winter reading and indoor activities when the winds are raging outside!


Winter Book Recommendations

We love winter reading! Here are some of our favourites from the library and our own bookshelves.

Winter habitats

Over and Under the Snow
by Kate Messner & Christopher Silas Neal

Birds of Eastern and Central North America
by Roger Tory Peterson

National Geographic Animals in Winter
by Ron Fisher

In the Snow: Who's Been Here?
by Lindsay Barrett George

Winter poetry

Flower Fairies of the Winter
by Cicely Mary Barker

Winter Poems
Selected by Barbara Rogasky
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
A collection of 25 winter poems, from Shakespeare to Nash to Frost.

Winter stories

Once Upon a Northern Night
by Jean E. Pendziwol & Isabelle Arsenault

by Uri Shulevitz

Brambly Hedge Winter Story
by Jill Barklem

Katy and the Big Snow
by Virginia Lee Burton

The Snowy Day
by Ezra Jack Keats

Flannel Kisses
by Linda Crotta Brennan & Mari Takabayashi

A few lesser known worth mentioning:


Once Upon a Northern Night
by Canadian team Jean E. Pendziwol & Isabelle Arsenault
Groundwood Books

This one appealed to my northern sensibilities! I love the poetic text and dreamy illustrations. It's a great bedtime story with the feel of a lullaby.

It begins:
One upon a northern night
while you lay sleeping,
wrapped in a downy blanket,
I painted you a picture.

Flannel Kisses
by Linda Crotta Brennan
Illustrated by Mari Takabayashi

I discovered this one years ago when I worked at The Freckled Lion Children's Bookstore in Georgetown, Ontario. I think it's out of print, though probably findable online somewhere.

Both the rhyming text and colourful pictures are fairly simple, but I what I especially like is the portrayal of family life. The children spend most of the winter day outside, coming in for hot meals and to dry their socks. When we read this, it inspires my two little ones to get outside, and that's a good thing!

What does your family love to read in winter?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

{pretty, happy, funny, real} new year, new posts

~ Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~
Brought to you by Like Mother, Like Daughter

Something happened to this blog. I just got tired of posting. Or maybe I didn't see why I should keep posting beyond my regular Thursday miscellany. I do post regularly at my writing blog, Red Letters. But I think what I've missed about posting here is taking the time to reflect on our week, to look for the little moments of beauty and contentment, to create a little snapshot of our lives, more for myself than anyone else. That's what {pretty, happy, funny, real} is all about.


Pretty are the gifts of the sea in the center of the table, and the cups of tea in celebration of a new year.

 (You can see in the background a chunk of birch log found by Micah and the kids after the high water - chewed at both end by an industrious beaver! It was also deemed centrepiece worthy!)

At last, after our very green Christmas, the snow began to arrive.


Happy are little hands in new mitts, home-grown pork ribs, and the ringing in of a new year!

(Their Christmas gift to each other this year were these hand knitted mitts, bought at our local Christmas craft fair. Arden picked Christmas colours for Jack. This was Boxing Day, still green. But the snow followed shortly, and is still here, much to everyone's delight. )

Happy New Year!! This is the first time we've really marked the new year with the kids. We celebrated "Greenwich New Year" - midnight at Greenwich (you know, the place where time is mean) meant 8:00 here, just perfect for these two. We found a live feed from London which counted down the last minute with a big projection on a tall building, followed by fireworks over the city. At 8:00 the kids were allowed to make as much noise as they wanted to with shakers, whistles, drums and shouting. They thought it was great fun. :)

These are our midnight clock hands, in case you are wondering!


Funny are these two and their faces in their (frequent) silly mood.


Real are our winter days, and sibling love growing with shared adventure, indoors and out.

Yes, winter has its own brand of contentment!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


This Christmas was memorable for many reasons, most notably the wonder and joy on two little faces!

The day began in a flurry of unwrapping…

Stockings! Chocolate for breakfast!

The little prince
(Note the very green grass out the window!)

A rainbow princess

She found her name on something!

Meeting her Nutcracker Prince

Books from grandparents

Laying tracks through the chaos

Happy, busy

Important words

The brunch bunch - our very own bacon and eggs

This was the mildest Christmas I have ever experienced. Not just green, but warm (+15 celsius), with wind, rain and flood warnings! Late morning there was a bit of a lull in the downpour so we drove up to Robinson's Island on the north shore for a walk on the windy beach…

It's a bit blurry, but there's that 15!


Merry Christmas to the ocean!

Soon after we got home, the power went out, and stayed out till dinner ended. No one was complaining about the candlelight… and thankfully my propane stove kept on cooking our Christmas dinner! We had our own home-grown ham, mashed turnips and apple sauce, and scalloped potatoes. It was just us for dinner - calm and bright.

Crafty in jammies

Lights! Camera! Bedtime!

Merry Christmas from our little island hearth and homestead!


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