Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday: Poetry

You've probably caught on to the fact that many many children's books are in rhyme. Dr. Seuss' books are a prime example. While I enjoy rhymes and find them fun to read aloud, I also enjoy reading actual poetry to my daughter.

Need a definition of the distinction? Sorry, don't have one on the top of my head. (Anyone want to help me figure it out? Leave a comment!) But I can share a few of the books I read to Uli which I consider poetry rather than just rhymed prose (emphasis on "I consider"):

by Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Chris Raschka

From the book's jacket the poem is described as one which "inspires us all to trust our hearts" and "a hymn to the power of art and of love." The illustrations show us a young girl dancing with her mother and community and receiving comfort when sad.

I enjoy reading it to Uli because it's short (sometimes you only have time for a quick read!), because it's positive (make the sky sing a Black song / sing a blue song / sing my song), and because the pictures are easy to describe (mainly people dancing or hugging on a plain brown background:  it's easy for my toddler to count the people on a page, or name colors, or ask about the action on the page).

One repeated line/warning in the poem is "don't prick your finger," which thus far I haven't needed to discuss with Uli. I'll have to put on my Literature Hat for that one. Otherwise, it's a very approachable book.

by Douglas Florian

LOVE this book! It's a collection of twenty-one bug-themed poems (who doesn't like BUGS?), each with a corresponding painting. The artwork is clever but the poems are even better. Uli loves to hear them. Her favorite? 

The Daddy Longlegs
(O Daddy / Daddy O / How'd you get / Those legs to grow / So very long / And lean in size? / From spiderobic / Exercise?).

I think my favorites are either

The Dragonfly
(For lunch I much / On flies and bees. / Mosquitoes with / My feet I seize)


The Praying Mantis
(Upon a twig / I sit and pray / For something big / To wend my way).

by e.e. cummings
illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray

This short, enjoyably illustrated book uses Cummings' poem to explore a Halloween night. The poem and pictures could be too scary/worrysome to some small children (look out for the old woman / with the wart on her nose / what she'll do to yer / nobody knows), but I (and Uli) appreciate the "revelation" on the last page that shows all the spooky characters introduced earlier were just children dressed-up in costumes, having Halloween fun. Uli enjoys the read (and specifically asks for "hist whist," which I find adorable).

And finally,

by Sally Fitz-Gibbon
illustrated by Brian Deines

In this children's book, a girl describes a day on her uncle's farm. The story is told in first-person, non-rhyming lines. (Back in the garden of peas, beans, and carrots / of strawberries staining my fingers and mouth / I twirl in the middle of cabbage and lettuce / my toes in the deep earth / my arms to the breeze). The impressionist-style pictures add to the free-whirling charm of the poetry. Uli regularly asks this to be read to her at bedtime.

So, just a small selection of books I consider poetry which my daughter enjoys as much as I. Do you have favorites? I'm all ears when it comes to book recommendations!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Little Baby-Wearer

Doesn't seem so long ago I was the one wearing the baby!

Uli and "Little Baby"

I wish I could take credit for inspiring her to baby-wear, but I cannot. At least, not in the back-carry she currently favors. She's picked-up this carry (or as she calls it, "Baby [on] back!") from various books and from watching the Babies movie.

Yup, she's back there, safe & sound

And what to do when baby is done being worn? 

What's that, baby? Want to get down?

Time to coerce coax the kitty into being wrapped!

Here, let me wrap this like so...

We've learned baby-wearing is best done with babies

Monday, November 15, 2010

Not a Picky Eater

My dear baby girl. She has quite the wide and varied palate.

For the actual people-foods she's been eating lately, click on over to my cooking blog. (More cooking than writing, lately).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

CSA Windfall

A lovely friend of mine was out of town this weekend and unable to pick-up her last scheduled CSA delivery. She graciously offered my family the veggies.

Who could turn down an offer like that? I meandered on down to to the farmer's market and picked-up her scheduled share of this week's harvest.

Brussels Sprouts

Kale & Bok Choy & other mystery [to me] greens

Broccoli & Cauliflower 

Turnips, Beets & Sweet Potatoes


Catnip  Salad Mix

There was also some lovely butternut squash, which made two wonderful soups for our dinner.

If you haven't participated in a CSA before, perhaps I can convince you to check your local farms/availability and to sign-up next spring? You won't regret it! But note that many CSAs sell out all their shares by April or May, so don't forget to research/apply prior to the actual harvesting season. I tell you, the fresh produce from a CSA beats grocery store veggies every time.

A very big thank you to my friend for sharing the veggies with us. You're awesome, M!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Vinegar & Honey: Outlook on Natural Parenting

When I'd started brainstorming about a post for November's  Natural Parenting Carnival  (I am sorry to say that in the end I missed the deadline to submit. ::sigh::)  the first thought that popped into my mind was that natural parenting means saying "No" a lot.

The Vinegar List

  • No to CIO.
  • No to hauling my child around in a baby bucket.
  • No to disposable diapers.
  • No to the typical CDC vaccination schedule and suspect suspensions.
  • No to refined sugars.
  • No to hormone-laden meat.
  • No to pesticide-sprayed produce.
  • No to the highly perfumed, super-duper, poisonous household cleaners.
  • No, I'm not [yet] weaning my baby/toddler.
  • No, we don't want those plastic/branded/TV-themed toys in our house.
  • No, I don't feel my toddler needs to watch any "children's" television programs.

It gets discouraging, saying "No" all the time. Not to mention people start to think of you as The Cranky One who is No Fun.

But then I realized that my parenting ideals weren't chosen by me because I love everything barren and harsh and bitter. Instead, my goals align with many of the NP philosophies because they create opportunities for closeness with my daughter. They provide me an opportunity to learn more about our community. They are in line with my hopes for the environment and the future of our world.

I don't need to view my parenting ideals in a negative light. Instead, check out the same list from a positive viewpoint:

The Honey List

  • Yes to responding to my child when she calls out for me.
  • Yes to carrying my baby in a sling, heart to heart, able to kiss her little head.
  • Yes to reusable (and so cute!) cloth [or EC].
  • Yes to educating ourselves and nurturing our bodies and their natural, amazing defenses.
  • Yes to enjoying the natural sweetness of whole grains, dabs of honey, nectars, and ripe fruits.
  • Yes to local, organic, sustainable farming.
  • Yes to our backyard garden and compost.
  • Yes to homemade, inexpensive, non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Yes to breastfeeding for as long as my daughter and I desire.
  • Yes to imaginative, well-made toys from companies who pay their workers a living wage.
  • Yes to reading aloud to my family every day.
There is a time and a place for Vinegar arguments, certainly. Vinegar is a good, strong, cleaner. Shines your windows, cleans your fridge and doesn't poison you. But I'm hoping my daily attitude more often reflects the Honey list's joyful spin and its eagerness to enjoy the natural world with home and family. 

I've been inspired at one point or another by others who have shared their excitement about various pieces of Natural Parenting, and I'd like to think my own household may someday inspire others as well. So I'm rearranging my thoughts to focus on the positives that inspire me versus spouting-off about all the things I'm trying to avoid. Anyone want to join me? 

Happy Outlook, Summer 2010

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