Our Bookshelf: Sleepy time books

My children are getting older now, the oldest is now in his last year of middle school, and the youngest in her last elementary grade, however we all still enjoy a good picture book. I, as an illustrator, especially relish them.

Over the years we collected some favoritesthat were a part of our bedtime ritual for many years. A couple of new ones joined the “sleepytime pile” lately. I want to share them today.

Sleepytime books

  1. The Man in the Moon by William Joyce– beautiful story, stunning artwork, this one is one of the longer books we have. Children always adored it and moved on to The Guardians of the Childhood series when they got older.
  2. When the Sky is Like Lace by Elinor Lander Horwitz and illustrated by Barbara Cooney, this book is absolutely magical, calm blues and grays and sandy yellows of whimsical illustrations always left an impression. We still are on the lookout for lacy sky and quote this book when it is.
  3. If Your Monster Won’t Go to Bed by Denise Vega, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora- this is the latest addition to our collection. It’s a playful and hilarious recipe for putting a monster to bed. It is not so much of a calming book, but definitely a favorite already.
  4. Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski– this is an absolutely brilliant book, especially for reluctant sleepers, illustrations are magical with delightful textures and details.
  5. Once upon a cloud by Claire Keane– this is not so much of a direct sleepytime book, but sweet color palette and calm dream-like text is a winning combination for a bedtime read
  6. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger is another classic and is a huge favorite we followed the process of winding down and welcoming a good night’s rest along with Grandfather Twilight and his companions.
  7. A Poem for Every Night of the Year edited by Allie Esiri is a delightful collection the older kids would appreciate, we so enjoy completing our day with a poem and maybe even a short discussion.
  8. I Don’t Want to Go to Bed by Astrid Lindgren and illustrated by Ilon Wikland, this book is another longer read as we follow a little boy that doesn’t want to go to bed but has a chance to peek at  forest animals’ getting ready for bed through the neighbor lady’s magical glasses. Illustrations are absolutely adorable.
  9. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Jerry Pinkney– this is one of the most gorgeous books that we own. Little chipmunk has an adventure and finally settles in for the night.

 

 

 

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Goodbye Summer- Hello New School Year!

We are saying goodbye to another summer. Last summer of my son’s tweens, as he’s turning 13 tomorrow. Last school year was incredibly busy, and quite stressful for us with intense extra curricular activities. But the summer was sweet (but short).
We hiked,played with friends and visited new places in our state. We made lovely memories.

 

 

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Colorado National Monument

 

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Rocky Mountain National Park

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Golden Gate Canyon State Park

This week we have started school at home and at the homeschool program my kids attended for many years now. D. started grade 8 and C. started grade 5.

This school year at home will be different for us as D. will take all of his core subjects at the program and I will support and supplement at home, which is completely new, as it used to be the other way around. He wanted to take Algebra and Physical Science and I wanted to make sure that he gets the best possible instruction. I don’t mind these, but they are not my favorites. He also takes English there, US History and STEAM. His classes are twice a week.

C. still goes once a week to the program taking English, Colorado History, Science and Coding there, most of her school is done at home.

Both kids continue to sing with Young Voices of Colorado, D. is now in advanced male choir and considers Music Theory Exam in the end of the school year. C. is in second level of training choirs.

Both are still doing karate with D. being a junior black belt and C.- solid green.

At home my goal for this year is taking a calm approach (1st week was a failure in that term) . We are trying out Book Shark Curriculum for Language Arts and Science/History. Singapore math for C., D. is doing Saxon for the first time in the program (we used to do Singapore with him). We continue doing our Russian lessons, and D. is taking Spanish in addition to that. He is very excited.

My plate is full with my illustration work  and the commitments I made for volunteering at children’s choir.

It will be a very very busy year. I do miss the early grades and the lovely slow days we had.  But I also welcome the challenge of having a full schedule and measure our time to do both work and play. I hope we can spend enough time in nature, will have more read-alouds as a family.

 

Here’s to 2018-2019 school year, out 10th year of homeschooling.

BOOK REVIEW: How to Set a Table by POTTER

Who doesn’t love a cute home decor book, bonus points for practical tips. How to Set a Table by POTTER book promised to offer an exciting range of possibilities to add to one’s dining experience. I was surprised to find the book on a smaller side, quite compact and under 200 pages long.

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The information touches many aspects of shared meals: it mentions casual dining, weekday breakfasts, formal dining, buffet-style entertainment and even birthday picnic. It is however quite concise: an occasion and approximate setting mentioned and not much else. A tip on etiquette is likewise included but only one per occasion. I did appreciate the info graphics on types of basic dinnerware. Formal dining has nice tips on arranging of plates and glasses. The photography is lovely and images are abundant – plenty of eye candy here.

Overall impression: I think it makes a cute little gift. The book is very pretty to look at, it has this delightful linen cover that I just loved. It won’t teach you everything you need to know about table etiquette, but I thought it was a nice and pretty cheat sheet with enough occasions included.

I received this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

January 2017

Already a month into 2017. January sure went by fast. Yet at the same time it was a month of adjustment, rather than new beginnings.

img_0845We went back to doing school after nearly a month-long break. Kids went back to their extracurricular activities. I went back to my work and had a very productive month. Life moves in measured paces more or less, with a crazy day here and there of course.

 

We went to see Star Wars the Power of Costume in Denver Art Museum, and we absolutely loved it, such a large and thorough exhibit. Local people, if you haven’t yet, definitely go and take a look, it’s on until April.

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D. did three days of World Peace Game with our homeschool group. It was such a valuable experience for him and made him think about current events more.

School was mostly “getting into the swing of things” and hopefully it will be better in February.

Gray and white cold days, splashes of color of mundane things – the combination seemed comforting somehow

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My favorite moment was probably playing with Excentric Cinema book by Beatrice Coron. Kids had so much fun moving shadows and making up stories

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I ended up making one of my own papercuts out of black paper and it worked too

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Kids read (beyond a pile of re-reads):

D. read Pax by Sara Pennypacker and White Fang by Jack London

C. read BFG by Roald Dahl and Amazing Animal Stories by Quentin Blake

Mama read Spaceman by Mike Massimino and absolutely loved it

 

I have opened a bookstagram  with most of our reads. Come and take a look. I have a Litsy account under the same username too.

So this was our January. February looks quite busy, but it is also shorter. I hope to keep the measured pace and not give in to the crazy moments.

 

 

WEEKLY ROUND UP: 10% of school year is done :D

Well, I was away from the blog again. With the school year in full swing days fly by very very fast. The weather cooled down at last and we have our comforters out. Even though the sun can still be quite brutal, we can safely say that summer moved on. Truly thankful for that.

 

What have we been up to:

School at home goes well,  mostly routine, we are settled into our daily rhythm and overall it is good. 10 % of the school year is done, hehehe. Kids had their testing this past Wednesday and seemed to have done ok, even though little C. forgot a lot of her math over the summer. D. gets lots of new information in math now, algebraic equations, exponents,  it is all very exciting. C. is ready to start multiplications in earnest. Both read and write a lot. C’s spelling has improved tremendously.

Outside of home: extracurriculars progress nicely, D. is getting ready for a sleepover with his choir next week, C. had a couple of choir practices and seems to be loving it so far. Karate goes great for both as well. I am surprised how much C. loves it considering she wouldn’t even hear of trying  a couple of months ago. Now she’s fully focused on her practice and tries her hardest to keep up with more experienced kids. She’s an only girl in her Saturday class but it doesn’t bother her at all.  We had a lovely outing with friends in one of the local parks, it used to be my “pregnancy promenade” when I was expecting C. but then we moved away and I never returned there. I forgot how pretty it was with all the water and birds, the grand time was had by all of us.

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-The House: we have interrupted our kitchen repairs. Interrupted is the right word here, I guess, since the repairs are truly never-ending. There are still minor things that need to be finished- some paint touch ups here and there, new curtains need to be put up. Downstairs bathroom needs to be done asap…But our kitchen is cleaner now and looks completely different. We went from yellow/ black to green/white/light furniture combination.

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Cooking: the highlight of the week is

Breakfast Pasta Bake

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-cooked pasta (we had elbows)

-5 eggs plus 1/2 c of milk

-thinly sliced baby zicchini

-shredded cheese

-salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F

Put boiled elbow pasta into a greased oven-proof dish, pout egg and milk mixture over, bake for about 20 minutes, sprinkle extra cheese on top and bake for another 3-5 minutes.

Enjoy!

 

-What are we reading:

D. read “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown, he was absolutely fascinated by the process of discovering a new planet and wants to learn more about space now

C. reads Ollie’s Odyssey by William Joyce

Together they are reading Women in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky and Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

I read The Light Between Oceans by M.L.Stedman . I enjoyed this book, such a very sad story, but the descriptions of a life at the lighthouse were beautiful and fascinating. I am not sure whether I will see the movie, but I might.

Plans for the next week:

We have quite a schedule- doctor for D, a field trip, choir camp for D. I had to cancel one of the clubs kids were looking forward to, it was getting too crazy …Overall life is good.

Hope next week is fun and pleasant for everyone.

Goodbye May, Hello June

May is over, June is here. Summer, at last. We are slowing down, trying to sort our thoughts, calm our minds and let our bodies truly rest.

We still had some activities going and there are some ahead of us yet, but it’s nice to know that we can take a step back if it gets unbearable. I was re-evaluating our school year and decided to scale back on activities. Kids loved what they did, I loved watching them try hard and excel, but on the other hand, their schedule took over our life and affected my health. Clocking in 200 miles per week in activities driving alone was difficult for me and I was sick a lot. I also want to have more slow afternoons, more unstructured play time for kids and especially more chances to get out and be in nature. So next year I will lighten up our schedule and combine kids’ activities where I can. I must admit, I do feel guilty about cutting things, but I believe ultimately it will all be for the best.

This past week brought great joy for us– we finally went for a hike (we haven’t been on a proper one since October). Just breathing in all the fresh air, getting our faces washed by gentle spring rain, oh it was a blessing indeed.

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Meyer Ranch Park in Conifer, CO

Another lovely outing was in nearby Audubon Center, we enjoyed a wonderful display of Redwing Blackbirds, swallows were going crazy and flying around us on the eye level, the birdsong was incredible.

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Kids are reading with gusto, now that they have all this time. C. re-read “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo (maaan, I read the ending when she was done and cried, again). D. is completely immersed in The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. He is done with first three books and halfway through the final, fourth one.

I am re-reading “The Enchanted April” by Elizabeth Von Arnim, probably because it is full of something I’ve been craving desperately- rest and flowers.

 

Mama makes:

I have made a new keychain out of polymer clay and finally painted an initial letter for my studio upstairs. Very happy with both projects.

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It’s been a while…

May is almost done, and last time I talked about how we’re doing was the beginning of March. Where did the time go?

Seriously, though, we had a rather intense spring–  field trips and museum visits, kids participated in Roots and Shoots program focusing on cleaning up local water ways. Both kids had their concerts with choir and ballet. Both had their testing and although I am still waiting for the final numbers, I am fairly sure they did well. D. got silver at karate tournament and got promoted into next level at his choir, C. joins his choir next year as well.

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great horned owl- mama

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baby horned owl

 

 

 

Looking back at our school year, I can say that it was probably the toughest one we had in 7+ years of homeschooling. There were too many activities, and although I scaled back a little in the very beginning of the school year, it still was a lot. There were positive changes in kids’ learning- C. especially made a huge leap with her spelling and story telling skills. She is fantastic with math too, she really loves it. C. also took some Spanish classes and enjoyed it immensely. D. focused on basics and out of all extra subjects he enjoyed science the most. We are a little bit behind on our history studies, the last month was just so crazy, but we will catch up during the summer.

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I already know kids’ schedules in co-op for the following school year. I am more or less certain what our extra curricular activities will look like. It was a tough decision for me to choose what stays and what goes, especially because kids wanted to do it all and they are good at what they want to do. But we will take a break from some things and hope it will be a little bit slower.

My things- I have a positive change in my life as I am able at last to make a little bit of money with my art.  It’s not something huge (yet), but the response is positive and I am looking forward to expanding in the future. I am also painting walls in C’s room, replacing stickers with drawings. Husband changed jobs and still has some school left for the fall semester. Summer is for resting.

 

What I hope we’ll do this summer?  TAKE IT SLOW please. I am looking forward to lazy mornings, to books, and paint and yoga, but most of all outings in nature. Slowing down. Reconnecting. I am not sure if we will be able to take any far away trips this summer and I don’t have anything planned as of right now (although I would love to see ocean again)