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Easter 2017

The sun is shining, the sky is a light, clear blue, the kind that is almost colorless instead of a brilliant azure, like it's already tired of clarity and bringing joy and is all washed out. It's the color I need today. The deeper the hue of the sky, the more I feel called outside, and since we are still inside schooling, and since I am still weak and coughing, staying in and ignoring the beautiful weather seems a likely outcome to the day. 

After a week of bronchial distress and theater commitments, the holiday weekend was a well deserved reprieve. We cleaned house (I put the sewing away), we ate great food, we enjoyed some celebratory time with family. Oh, and we colored eggs. 


10 great youth titles for reading in spring

I like, as a general rule, to read books that fit with the season. You won't find me reading A Christmas Carol in April, for instance. It has more to do with time setting. A book set in the summer is comfortably readable in December if the focus of hte story isn't on beach combing, and a lot of stories aren't heavily reliant on season. Still, there are some books best read in their coinciding season, and others that are noticeably enjoyable when they do happen to fit.

These books are a smattering of titles we've enjoy over the years that I think go well in the spring. I try to avoid making age recommendations on books, since reading is such an individual thing. Reading aloud is always a great option for slightly more advanced books. This list includes books that Calvin, who is currently in fifth grade, has already read. The difficultly level between them varies widely, but they are all books we have (or he has) enjoyed at one time or another.

In no particular order:

All Creatures Great and Small, by Herriot
These are the beloved stories of country veterinarian James Herriot, who captured his experiences with such emotion and honesty that they have survived nearly fifty years of readers. By turns jubilent and heartbreaking, harrowing and homey, but always touching. 

Rascal, by Sterling North
One man's memoir of raising a raccoon during his childhood in a small town in rural Wisconsin at the time of WWI. Delightful writing captures the essence of a rural childhood in the early twentieth century. Both the boy's and the raccoon's antics have captured hearts for decades.

The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
A boy raises an orphaned deer amongst many hardships, then is faced with a heartbreaking and very adult decision. This is not going to be for everyone. Spoiler alert: the boy has to kill the deer in the end because his family is starving. This is a heartbreaking read, but we found great value in the reading and discussion.

The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
Stories  of the countryside excursions of those beloved characters Rat, Mole, and Badger. From summertime picnics to crisp winter nights, from good behavior to bad, Grahame's writing entices the imagination and warms the heart.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Three children find a secret garden in disrepair and make it bloom again, while in return the garden changes the children. A literary classic for its writing style, vocabulary, and themes.

My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
A young boy spends the winter by himself on his family's wild mountain land in the Catskills of New York. George skillfully captures the beauty of the natural world while describing in great detail the boy's methods of survival through the long winter before emerging triumphantly in the spring wiser and more confident.

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Anne's is another story that has survived generations. A young orphan adopted by an aging brother and sister on Prince Edward Island in Canada, Anne has much to learn about their proper and loving way of life, making friends and winning hearts along the way.

Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
Spring on the farm brings baby pigs, but when Fern's father wants to kill the runt of the litter, Fern saves him and raises him on her uncles farm. When the end of summer comes around, though, his life is in danger again, and only his friend, the spider, can save him. Poignant and sweet, a classic of the ages.

The Enchanted Castle, by Edith Nesbit
Three children find an enchanted garden and awake a princess from a hundred-year slumber, only to have her immediately made invisible by a magic ring, making her rescue difficult, funny, and sometimes a little bit scary.

Dr. Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
The story of an eccentric doctor who becomes a veterinarian and embarks on a number of remarkable adventures with interesting characters of all kinds. Lofting sense of hilarity will keep kids guessing and giggling throughout.

Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry
Paul and Maureen work to bring in The Phantom, a wild horse from Chincoteague Island, but can they earn enough money to buy her and her colt on Pony Penning Day? Written with old world charm, Henry's great love for horses shines through.


Spring bucket list 2017

Everybody talks about their summer bucket lists, but how many people have must-do lists for other seasons? It's definitely a busy time, especially if your kids are in school, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the many wonderful things about this season of rebirth and growth. Spring is the time to see migrating birds, to start your garden from seeds, to get in lots of outdoor activity before it gets summer hot and sticky. There are lots of great reasons to embrace this time, and here are a few of our favorites:

Start seedlings inside

Plant spring veggies outside

Avian migrators: collect them all!

Listen to the frogs

Go in search of fungi (especially morels!)

Practice wildflower identification

Hike Magee Marsh

Festifools Parade

Play in the rain

And, just before it's over...strawberry shortcake


March 2017 Recap


Spring in the air