Archive for January, 2013

Sniffle cough

January 31, 2013 @ 7:24 pm | Filed under: Books

First Jane got sick, then I got sick, then Scott got sick. I’m waiting for the next domino to topple…waiting in my bed, all bundled up and aching, reading a little, playing that art puzzle game, which is very soothing. I wasn’t up to our usual morning read-aloud time (no Winter Holiday, alas), but we had a tall new stack of picture books come into the library the day before, a bunch of Dan Yaccarino and Bob Staake things I’d requested, Boy + Bot, (art by Yaccarino, written by Ame Dykeman), The Donut Chef (Staake), a bunch of others—go look at their sites; they have so many good books. You may recognize Dan’s art from the Oswald show, which my littles love. (Though I think possibly it’s Scott who loves it most of all.)

Rose did all the reading. Huck loves loves loves Hervé Tullet’s Press Here.

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Also, she did all the dishes.

Then Rilla and I listened to a couple of chapters (somewhat abridged, I realized later) of The Wind in the Willows, magnificently narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi . I picked up this edition, a BBC Radio dramatization, on sale years ago, and we’d never listened. The voices are splendid.

Things That Are Working

January 30, 2013 @ 10:24 am | Filed under: Art, Books, Homeschooling

larsson detail

detail from “Girl at Desk,” Carl Larsson

1) I like to pull out a bunch of our poetry books and let each kid (from Rose on down) pick one, and while I’m busy with something else, the kids each choose a poem to read to the rest of us. They enjoy the hunt, and I love hearing which poems have captured their hearts.

2) The Art Puzzle HD app. Another mom on my local homeschooling list mentioned it—we were sharing our favorites—and I love love love this app. You select a puzzle  from paintings by artists like Van Gogh, Klimt, Bruegel*, Picasso, Renoir, and Dali. (More paintings are available via in-app purchase.) There are four levels of complexity and I’m finding even the second-easiest level to be challenging in some of these pieces—all Monet’s little dabs of color make for a puzzling puzzle indeed. There’s a gentle soundtrack of classical music (limited in repertoire but lovely choices—The Four Seasons, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Clair de Lune, the Elgar cello concerto I love—things I’m happy to listen to over and over, and am happy to have my kids hear). You can toggle the music off whenever you like. If you like (or wanted to like but the kids’ interest flagged) Mommy, That’s a Renoir, you’ll like this app. Best picture study resource I’ve seen in a long time. My only complaint is: no Carl Larsson!

*Wikipedia tells me he dropped the H from his name at some point. Who knew?

3) Earworms continues to be a hit with my older girls. Rose and Bean are nearly done with German Volume 2 now. Rilla and Huck have picked up a lot along the way. Jane is enjoying the Japanese version.

4) A liberal dose of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for my younger set. Nothing new here, just noting it because it’s bringing me so much joy these days.

5) Winter Holiday as a read-aloud. Though I do still hanker after the Gabriel Woolf audio recordings that Alice’s gang fell in love with ages ago. (Scroll down to the final comment on that post—hilarious!)

6) Sunday family Shakespeare readings. Still working our way through The Tempest. Sunday can’t come fast enough.

I share a lot of links…

January 29, 2013 @ 3:03 pm | Filed under: Links

birds and basket…in my sidebar (and elsewhere). One hitch with the sidebar list is that we don’t often discuss them, and usually when I’m sharing something it’s a post or article I’m keen to talk about. I share a goodly number of these same links to Facebook (but by no means all), and often lively conversations ensue.

So—anything in the most recent batch grab your attention? Anything you want to gab about? You know me, I’m always up for a discussion. (more…)

Morning News

January 29, 2013 @ 7:24 am | Filed under: Links, Thicklebit

New Thicklebit today!

Dorothy Parker SAYERS [gah, I did this on Facebook too, and only just now noticed I did it here] and Julianna Baggott books for $1.99 on Kindle today.

San Diego folks, don’t miss the big event at Yellow Book Road this Saturday: Give a Book on Behalf of Sandy Hook. Some very fine children’s book authors will be there:

Yellow Book Road Sandy Benefit

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My new Downton Abbey recap

January 28, 2013 @ 6:30 am | Filed under: GeekMom posts

…is up at GeekMom. Lots to talk about this week.

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A few last quotes from A Far Cry from Kensington

January 27, 2013 @ 9:09 pm | Filed under: Books, Quotes from this week's reading

On William, a highly intelligent medical student with an impoverished background:

“What moved and astonished me most was that he knew no nursery rhymes and fairy stories. He had read Dostoevsky, Proust, he read Aristotle and Sophocles in Gree. He had read Chaucer and Spenser. He was musical. He could analyse Shostakovich and Bartok. He quoted Schopenhauer. But he didn’t know Humpty Dumpty, Little Miss Muffet, the Three Bears, Red Riding-Hood. He knew the story of Cinderella only through Rossini’s opera. And all that sweet lyricism of our Anglo-Saxon childhood, a whole culture with rings on its fingers and bells on its toes, had been lost to him in that infancy of slums and smelly drains, rats and pawnshops, street prostitutes, curses, rags and hacking coughs, freezing bare feet and no Prince Charmings, which had still been the lot of the really poor in the years between the first and second world wars. I had never before realized how the very poor people of the cities had inevitably been deprived of their own simple folklore of childhood.”

On why writers should have cats:

“Alone with the cat in the room where you work, I explained, the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk-lamp…will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need noto watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.”

Mrs. Hawkins Advises Writers

January 25, 2013 @ 8:02 pm | Filed under: Books, Quotes from this week's reading, Writing

“‘You are writing a letter to a friend,’ was the sort of thing I used to say. ‘And this is a dear and close friend, real—or better—invented in your mind like a fixation. Write privately, not publicly; without fear or timidity, right to the end of the letter, as if it was never going to be published, so that your true friend will read it over and over, and then want more enchanting letters from you. Now, you are not writing about the relationship between your friend and yourself; you take that for granted. You are only confiding an experience that you think only he will enjoy reading. What you have to say will come out more spontaneously and honestly than if you are thinking of numerous readers. Before starting the letter rehearse in your mind what you are going to tell; something interesting, your story. But don’t rehearse too much, the story will develop as you go along, especially if you write to a special friend, man or woman, to make them smile or laugh or cry, or anything you like so long as you know it will interest. Remember not to think of the reading public, it will put you off.”

—from A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark

Needles and Pins

January 25, 2013 @ 4:38 pm | Filed under: Handcrafts

firstsewingproject

Rilla found a Winky Cherry beginner sewing kit on the shelf—one of those things I’ve had stashed for ages and forgot we owned. I used to feel pangs of guilt over forgotten acquisitions, but they so often seem to turn up at exactly the right moment, such a nice surprise. She’s busily stitching away and I look forward to a menagerie of felt critters in the days ahead. Felt is the nicest thing for a beginner, don’t you think? For both sewing or embroidery. No hemming required, overstitch looks lovely, it’s stiff enough not to need an embroidery hoop (for small pieces, at least), and no matter what you do it always looks cozy and cheerful. I love Felt Wee Folk and Doodle Stitching for ideas.

I had all sorts of little stitchery projects going before Huck was born (a mere four years ago), but I put everything aside when he came along and haven’t returned to it since. (To my chagrin: I still owe a couple of quilt blocks to certain VERY UNDERSTANDING members of my virtual sewing circle, and I never even sent out my own fabric for them to magic into something wonderful. IT’S STILL ON MY LIST OF THINGS TO DO, THOUGH.) (I’m shouting at myself.)

We had planned to go to the zoo today to celebrate Beanie’s 12th (TWELFTH!!!!) birthday, but the rain foiled our plans. Perhaps next week. Among all the other delights of the zoo, I want to give Rilla and Huck a chance to pet a real sheep, feel the lanolin in its wool, for a little sheep-to-yarn rabbit trail I’ve planned for Rilla, who got knitting needles for Christmas. With pink cats on the ends! And how’s this for incentive to pick up my own needles: I was sent a KnitCrate package to review for my subscription-box series at GeekMom—it’s loverly. The two yarns they included are to swoon for. I’ll let you know when that post goes up, probably next week.

At first this post was just pictures, but then I went back and added words.

January 24, 2013 @ 9:00 am | Filed under: Assorted and Sundry, Family, Photos

this is my desk

nappingboy

favoritebooks

tigerspots

narcissi

cookieday

Some tempting new review copies arrived: The Water Castle, a middle-grade by Megan Frazer Blakemore, and Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle—gorgeous art on that one, reminiscent of the German illustrator Nikolaus Heidelbach, whose name I was recently wracking my brain to recall.

Simple Pictures Are Best (illustrated by Tomie de Paola) is a book I remember giggling over with my little sisters long ago. Now I get to hear my kids giggle over it. And The Little House remains at the tippy-top of Huck’s best-loved books list.

Rose likes baking. I like cookies. We’re a good match.

This time last year I was heading into a garden-lit binge: that wonderful collection of letters between Katharine S. White and Elizabeth Lawrence, which led to more books (rereads and first-time reads) by each, and some new bulbs in my garden. This year, oh joy! Netgalley delivered to my Kindle a new collection of Eudora Welty’s gardening letters, Tell About Night Flowers, forthcoming from University of Mississippi Press. This is the sort of thing that makes me giddy. This publisher is also responsible for the fascinating (so far; I’m not finished) book Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature. I have many treasured books written and/or illustrated by these two, and until this book I had no idea they were a couple. I love literary couples.

What are you reading right now?