April 30, 2015


Have  you seen the study making the rounds right now--"You can't outrun a bad diet?" It argues that improving diet is what causes weight loss, not exercise. This is not an isolated study. Quite a few studies of late have been coming to the same conclusion. The authors of the You-can't-outrun-a-bad-diet blame the food industry for making commonplace the idea that people are fat because they are sedentary. Shifting the blame from the food people eat to the exercise people aren't doing. The authors clearly state how important exercise is for overall health, and that it can be an important part of weight loss maintenance. It just isn't the key ingredient to weight loss.

I, for one, love these studies. They fall in with my thoughts and experience on the matter quite well. Isn't it lovely when you find scientific proof for something you think? So satisfying.

I walk almost every morning. I love taking walks. As long as I can remember, I have loved taking walks, rambling all over the farm when I was a kid, then on the road as I got older. Yet, every once in awhile, I get the idea in my head that I should be walking faster; I should be trying to run; I should be walking farther. All of these are prompted by my of-the-moment weight loss scheme. And I find that after maybe a week of this, (okay, two days) I start finding reasons why I shouldn't take a walk. Last spring, I made a concentrated effort, and tried to run at least half a mile to a mile 3-4 times a week. And the weight I had been losing slowly, but surely, stubbornly stopped getting lost. At the end of a month, I weighed the same as I had at the beginning. And no, my clothes weren't fitting much better either. So I got discouraged, stopped running, fell off my diet, and went back to enjoyable walks.  I know some people say they have good luck with losing weight by adding in running. Not me. And I don't see why this is weird. Why shouldn't people's bodies respond differently to things? The human body has too many variables to be explained by a simple mathematical explanation, like calories in/calories out.

I know some people think that if a person rejects these ideas, they are saying they are a victim of things beyond their control and they can't help the fact that they are overweight. I don't believe that.  But it is true that weight loss is not as simple as some people would like to think. (It is childish of me, but sometimes I think thin people like to think it is simple, just so they feel superior.)

Exercising for the sake of exercising is sort of freeing actually. I enjoy moving around. I like feeling the sun on my face. And, I know this is weird, but I like feeling/thinking about my muscles working. And if I do not have some tangible goal (x amount of pounds lost by this date) I have to meet, I can take walks exactly as I feel like that day. Some days I like to amble along, daydreaming. Some days I want to see how fast I can do two miles or how far I can get in a certain amount of time. Some days I like to stop and take pictures. Some days I am mentally running through my to-do list and hurrying home to cross off a few things. I am not sure how beneficial rambling walks are to overall health and adding years to life, but it makes life more pleasant in the immediate now. And that is worth a lot.

Some pictures from my walks. And then some afternoon in the sand pile pictures.

I love my zoom lens. I have idea what this bird is. 

Water droplet. Isn't it neat?

Yes, Elsie was still in her jammies in the afternoon. She was so comfy.

Hoyt boy

Gilbert has been here

This is Elsie's favorite book at the moment. She carries it everywhere.

Isn't he edible? 

Out come the Tonkas!

Gilbert and Hoyt working together. They are good friends.

Bare feet



Hoyt giving back the precious Stella book.

Gilbert just lost a front tooth!

Sorting out feet placement on the bike.

April 28, 2015

Picture Books of Rain

It has been a cloudy, rainy, grey spring so far. 

So some cheerful books about rain and storms. 

First a poem. 

A Poem from Marchette Chute illustrated by Eloise Wilkins

Spring Rain

The storm came up so very quick, 
It couldn't have been quicker.
I should have brought my hat along, 
I should have brought my slicker.

My hair is wet, my feet are wet.
I couldn't be much wetter.
I fell into a river once, 
But this is even better.

A Drop of Water by Gordon Morrison

This book is about water and all the different habitats a drop of water can get to, focusing on a farm in the mountains. Not a very exciting book, but I love it, for all the nature-y things in it. 

A Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey

This book is about an island in Maine, following it through spring, summer, and into the fall. There is spring rain, but also a violent fall storm, tail-end of a hurricane. The words are calm, sort of slow, so this is more for older kids. Gilbert and Elsie get impatient for the next page. But I love the words. Describing standing on the island, watching the rain cloud roll across the bay, until 

"Now you even see the drops on the water...on the age-old rocky point...on the bayberry...on the grass... Now take a deep breath--It's raining on you!"

I love Robert McCloskey's illustrations too.

Completely unrelated to rain, but spring!

The storm in fall. During this storm, the family battens down the hatches, struggles with closing the door, and then, to take their minds off the storm, they sing Glory, Glory Hallejuah, as loud as they can to block out the storm. When Cheyenne was little, she liked that page, where we would start singing, loudly. 

Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

These are the guys who wrote Chicka, Chicka, Boom Boom!. And the words do not disappoint. 

"Listen to the rain, the whisper of the rain, the slow soft sprinkle, the drip-drop tinkle, the first wet whisper of the rain."

But the pictures....! Oh, that this could be re-illustrated. I really dislike the pictures. 

I can't see how anyone could conceive how these illustrations add to the words

All the pages have this rosy hue, which makes it look very....dire and awful. 

The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow

This is another book that is a little slow for kids, but that I love. It has words, but no pictures on one two page spread, then a two page spread of only picture, no words. The words are lyrical and descriptive of a hot summer afternoon thunder storm, the illustrations, sweet, but I do wish you could enjoy both at the same time. 

"A little cool wind suddenly races through the trees, sways the rambler roses, bends the daisies and buttercups and Queen Anne's lace and the long grass until they make a great silver sighing stretch down the hill. Then it happens! Shooting through the sky like a streak of starlight comes a flash so beautiful, so fast.."


Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

This is the story of a grandmother who helps her granddaughter discover her bravery in a thunderstorm. The little girl is terrified of the thunder, but she loves and trusts her grandmother, who calls her out from under the bed to collect the ingredients for stirring up a thundercake. (Which is a chocolate cake with tomato puree. Recipe included.)
After gathering all the ingredients, the grandmother tells the little girl that she is very brave, since only a brave person could have come out from the bed and gone out into the approaching storm to gather the eggs from the chickens, milk from the cow, and a tomato from the garden.  
A very sweet story about what bravery means and the love a grandmother and grandchild have for each other.  

I am on the fence about Patricia Polacco's illustrations. Sometimes I think them darling, but not always. 

Another thing I love about this story, beyond the whole grandmother/granddaughter baking thing is that the grandmother teaches her granddaughter to count seconds between the lightening flash and the thunder crack, to tell how far away the storm is. I always do this, so I approve of teaching this to kids. 

Waiting out the Storm by Joann Early Macken

A little girl and her mother are caught outside in the rain. They discuss all the animals and what they do when it rains, before going inside their warm house. Oh so sweet!

"So come darling buttercup, 
here where its warm. 
Like chickadee babies, 
we're safe from the storm.
 While winds blow and rains fall, 
we'll wait out the weather. 

Cozy as bunnies!
Yes, snuggling together.

Miss Twiggley's Tree by Dorthea Warren Fox

This is the story of Miss Twiggley, the villiage eccentric, who everyone disparages who comes in handy when it rains for a month and one day, flooding the town until they are all afloat at the base of Miss Twigley's tree, where she has her house. And they all became good friends. I loved this book when I was a kid. 

Such good, damp pictures.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre

This is a book of photographs of rain. Lush and lovely with lots of onomatopoeia. (That is an ironic word, since it doesn't sound like how it is written. My first attempt at spelling it, google suggested correcting it to sellotape. Haha!) 

I want to make my own rain picture book. 

And at last, my very favorite

Peter Spier's Rain

This is a wordless book, following a brother and sister through a rainy day and night. Peter Spier does wordless picture books so well. 

I adore his illustrations. See the darkening sky in the upper left corner? 

And then, the deluge.

One of my favorite pictures in the whole book

The kids, armed with boots and umbrellas head out to see the rain.  

And then come home to a steaming bath and cocoa with Mum. 

So evocative of a rainy, childhood day. 

And now, I am off to enjoy another grey day, that has occasional peeps of sunshine!