April 23, 2014

Some of our favorite Spring Books

Things are finally starting to be springy up here! We have had a week or so of warm-ish days, mixed with rain and the grass is getting serious about being green and bulbs are pushing up, up, up and buds are swelling. There are the initial few days, when the snow starts melting, that it feels like spring. Then, everything is damp, chilly, and brown for a few weeks. Suddenly April seems indistinguishable from November. Then, then.... things start happening, waking up. And it is spring, with no mistake.

Virginia Lee Burton's apple blossoms

To celebrate, we read spring-y books. These are a few of our favorites. I am sure there are better books and better lists out there, but these are the ones we love right now.

                                                   Spring is here by Lois Lenski

This isn't in any sense deep, but it is a happy, simple, jelly bean colored book and I like Lois Lenski. She illustrated a lot of mid-century kids books that were around in my childhood--Betsy-Tacy books, Strawberry girl, The Little... (sailboat, airplane, fire engine) books, the Mr. Small books (Policeman, cowboy, farmer).The story itself is a poem about spring. 

I love pictures of clothes blowing on the clothesline

Little Lambies

Poppleton in Spring by Cynthia Rylant

My kids love the Poppleton books. They are silly books about good friends that often generate a genuine laugh from the adults reading them. Which is impressive. Generally, the kids laugh and I just smile. So a real, laugh out loud moment is noteworthy. 

Poppleton books are beginning chapter books, so they each contain a few stories. This one has a story about spring cleaning, one about Poppleton trying to make a decision about what kind of bike to buy and finally a story about Poppleton setting up a tent in his front yard so he could sleep there and pay attention to spring. 

Puddles, blossoms, and good friends. What more do you need in spring?

Love this page-- "And sometimes, he was just paying attention. Poppleton loved spring at night."

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

I am going to assume everyone knows this book. I loved it as a kid and I still like it now. Ducks, bringing a city to a standstill in deference to ducklings, the duck father/mother dynamic, and the simple illustrations.

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

If I had to pick just one book from my childhood to designate as my favorite, this would be the one. I loved this book. Strictly speaking, it isn't a story about spring. It is the story of a little house that was well loved, but through the years, as the city got nearer and finally engulfed it, the house was abandoned. Years later, the great, great grandchild of the person who built it originally, notices it, finds out it is her heritage, uproots it from the city, and moves it out to a little hill where it is once again a loved family home. I have a soft spot for old houses and redoing old houses. I love the idea that houses can feel and withstand the onslaught of progress. I love the fact that this great-great grandchild notices and loves something her great-great grandpa built , just walking down the street--an appreciation for the same things that is passed down from generation to generation. (Yes, I obviously have a grandparent/tradition complex of some kind.) It has some great pictures of the house in spring, but the reason I decided it was a spring book is because it feels like spring. Something beloved, going into dormancy, and finally, full circle, coming into its own once again. Rejuvenation.  Happy sigh....

The house as it originally was.

Old and battered, getting moved out to the country

The family finds the perfect little hill ringed in apple trees. Naturally.

And... Once again, the little house was happy. 

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

This is probably my second favorite book as a kid. A little girl is told by her grandfather to do something to make the world more beautiful. She goes to school, becomes a librarian, and then travels the world, coming back to her little house by the sea. She still hadn't done anything to make the world more beautiful. Her bad back (from falling off a camel) left her in bed one spring, with only the view of the lupines and the sea, both of which she loved. The next spring, she saw a little cluster of lupines across the bay, where the wind had carried the seeds from her lupines. She ordered up a couple pounds of lupine seed and sprinkled it where ever she walked. Soon, the town was awash with lupines and she had done something to make the world more beautiful. I love this. Librarian, traveling the world, living by the sea (must be Maine. Because I always like Maine as a kid.) making flowers grow in profusion, and doing something to make the world more beautiful. I think about that last one a lot actually. Okay, not all the time, but it runs through my mind every few weeks. Am I doing anything to make the world more beautiful? 

The Springs of Joy by Tasha Tudor

This book just caught my eye, since it has Spring in the title. I was tossing it aside, since it is just a collection of quotes, beautifully illustrated by Tasha Tudor, when I decided that it was spring like. Spring is just chock-full of joy. This is a great book in general. I love Tasha Tudor. 

There is no duty we so much underrate as the duty of being happy.
Robert Louis Stevenson

Woodland spring

Be like the bird
That, pausing in her flight
Awhile on bough too slight,
Feels them give way
Beneath her and yet sings,
Knowing that she hath wings.

Victor Hugo

And just one more for the road--An Eloise Wilkin illustration from Wonders of the season

April 21, 2014

Spring Break and Easter

Since the kids were on spring break and Justin was working on Clover and Evan's house, we headed down there early Thursday morning to spend a long weekend with them. It was warm-ish, sunshine-y, and perfectly lovely.

A blurry picture of Gilbert with Justin on his sheetrocking stilts. The kids were entranced with the stilts.

Elsie and Daddy hanging out in the attic, which is the current gathering/eating place, since it isn't going to be finished right away, so they don't need it clear for working. 

Kids outside, digging

What happens when kids hang out at construction sites. Barbies. 

The kids collected these from the woods

Girls, dolls, and a ham. Lincoln starts smiling as soon as the camera swivels in his direction. A lovely attribute in a four year old. 

The house. I have seen pictures, but I didn't get the perspective until I saw Justin's truck in front of it. It is a pretty good sized house! Perfect for lots of relations to descend on them for long weekends.

Evan, patiently letting the kids shovel with him. The occasional hoe to the wrist, shovel in face, and dirt all over. But they were terribly proud of helping.

Girls, hanging out

Lincoln in the sunshine

Evan and Elsie

Sweet Cheyenne

Dirty face Gilbert

Sunday morning kids

Silly cousins

Sweet White girls

Posers. Elliott was really in to posing. And Orianna looks so much like a Vaughan girl in this picture. Me, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmother--a little of them all.

Napoleon Linclon, sweet Rilla, peeking Lily, and Gilbert in the process of thinking up a silly face to make

The best one I got of them all. No idea why Lincoln had his hand in his shirt. Hopefully Clover fared better with her picture taking.

My Elsie girl

Kids and daffodils

I finally get Elsie to look at me and Lily gets distracted


Egg dying mayhem

Excited Lily

We use q-tips to make the eggs polka dot with the dye. Elsie loved the q-tips and carried them around, arranging them. 

The eggs

Hidden eggs

We found a nest to put an egg in, which was so cool.

Searching kids

Orianna on the hunt

Elsie hands and egg


Then we had to hide them again.

And put a different egg in the nest

Apparently I was not supposed to put things in this water, due to possible contamination. But I didn't know that. 

Egg and day lily shoots

Our eggs and a broken reflector

Gilbert was terribly weepy this weekend. Not sure why. Justin thought he was over-whelmed. Anyway, for whatever reason, he announced that he was going to go cry on the rock and he did. Sweet boy!

Lily and Elsie going to comfort Gilbert

Justin sat on a different rock and pretended to cry, which delighted Gilbert and gave up crying to come tell Daddy to be happy. 

Gilbert being cool, carrying Clover's keys

Telephone lines and bare trees

Then we brought out the bubble machine. $10 at Wal-mart. And then 6 AA batteries. It is worth it in my humble opinion. I love bubbles floating around. I also love egg dying and hiding eggs. I am secretly still 6 years old.

Gilbert was thrilled.

Elsie was excited and.... cautious.


Bubbles in the air

Bubbles all around