Friday, September 27, 2013

The Best Feeling

Weaning makes me a little sad. Less opportunity for snuggles with an active baby or toddler. But after weaning, and after a full month spent asking for milk, my toddler now buries her face in my neck and wraps her arms around me when she needs comfort. It's a safe place for her and a pretty awesome feeling for her mama. I'm trying to soak it up every time because this stage won't last forever either.

(Photo taken by my sister-in-law after a day on the beach.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fall Bucket List (and Leaf Garland)

So this week I decided to pick myself up out of my self-pity for not having Fall here. I used Pinterest as inspiration and not just jealousy, and made a simple leaf garland out of craft items I already had on hand. I found a leaf template online, cut out felt leaves in Autumn colors, and stitched them together with embroidery thread. I honestly can't even sew on a decent button, but if you can trace, cut, and push a needle in and out, you could do this. I decided to count the unevenness of the stitches and spacing as a rustic look. Originally I had thought to hang it along the stair banister, but with the amount of leaves I could get from the colors I liked, it simply wasn't long enough. But I like it hanging from this shelf too.

For the past couple of years, I've made a bucket list for various seasons or holidays so that our days aren't spent watching TV. I couldn't put apple picking or crunching through leaf piles (although I think my felt leaves are pretty, they are not crunchy), but I tried to put some Fall activities we could do here in Florida. And some that I might never think of doing in the Autumn months if we lived elsewhere.

Fall 2013 Bucket List 

Go Camping
Family Bike Ride
UCF Arboretum
Visit a Pumpkin Patch 

Mommy/Daughter Date
Daddy/Daughter Date
Orlando Science Center
Avalon Park Oktoberfest

Arts & Crafts 
Make a Thankful Tree
Apple Stamping
Carve a Pumpkin
Handprint Turkeys

Make Pumpkin Cookies
Drink Apple Cider
Make a Blanket Fort
Have a Read-a-Thon

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seasonal Sadness

We moved to Florida in May and jumped right into summer. It was summer a bit early, but close to my expected summertime nonetheless. I haven't loved the heat and humidity and the fact that it's too hot to play outside and when we try to it's five minutes tops before my little girls are pink cheeked and drenched in sweat. I have loved the summer afternoon thunderstorms which are common here.

And then the calendar switched to September. And other people who live in a land of seasons started posting about fall weather and trips up the canyon and changing leaves and pumpkin recipes. And I got sad. Really, really sad. Fall is my favorite season and it simply doesn't exist here. We will still have Halloween here, we can still make pumpkin recipes, and I think there are even pumpkin patches to visit. But there will be no sweaters and boots. No crunching leaves and crisp, cool mornings. No eating apples picked right off the tree or pressing cider in a 100 year old press. No jumping in leaf piles and tossing them in the air. All these pictures are from last year. They're frozen in time and the experience won't be repeated this year:

So forgive me if I post about camping and family walks and picnics while you're stuck inside in January. It's the trade off for me not getting to experience Fall this year. And I'm not so sure the trade off is worth it yet.

(I have considered decorating my house like Fall, but I don't decorate for anything but Christmas and don't really know how. Plus the whole money thing.)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reading Aloud to Young Children

When my first was one year old, I read her the entire Chronicles of Narnia out loud while she played on the floor. We lived with my in-laws at the time, so I had significantly more time to do something like that. Since then I had really only read my girls the picture books that they chose. Which is great too.

But I have memories of my mom reading books aloud to all six of her children. Once my dad even read the book (Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls). I know we read lots of different books, but the ones I remember most are the books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Farmer Boy remains one of my mom's favorite books in the world.

One of my goals this summer was to read a chapter book out loud to my girls. I chose Little House in the Big Woods. Little House on the Prairie is the most well-known, but in Big Woods, Laura is about four years old, my daughter's age. Reading a chapter at a time, we didn't even finish its 13 chapters this summer. But then we started preschool and found a good rhythm for reading together and finished it quickly. After lunch my daughter changes into her uniform and brushes her teeth, then while we wait for it to be time to go, we read a chapter. Some days are too hectic, but more often than not we get to read together.

She loved reading this book because it did have a few drawings that she could look at as we read about something completely foreign to her (like harvesting or making cheese or going to a town for the first time in your life). Laura has a sister and a mom and a dad just like my daughter (both of them even have dads who have beards!).

Today we get to choose a new book to read. I significantly cleaned up my book collection before we moved here, but I still have a few of my favorites. I still have the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder collection because of the childhood memories they brought, so we could choose another one of those. A few other ideas I'll suggest to her:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Matilda by Roald Dahl
The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I'm looking for something with stories that will entertain, but not be too difficult of topics. I've heard of a series of books called Ivy and Bean, which we may check out from the library. Any other suggestions of good read aloud books for young children?