Snips and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

Tot SchoolMister Blue Sky is 28 months old.

We have a new addition to our family. 8 week old Worf. He is a rottie-mastiff-English shepherd mix (aka mutt) and we’re expecting that he will be a giant compared to our other dogs, Poppy Seed and McCoy.

Worf and his very big paws!

Most of our learning right now is focused on how to play nicely with a puppy. MBS and Worf love each other but right now they are not good playmates, as they both play much too roughly. We’re working on it. For the most part Worf is getting along well with his canine siblings, they both enjoy and find him annoying– just like any little sibling.

We’ve been reading books featuring puppies. So far MBS’s favorite is

Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. This is a very simple book about a mother dog looking for her pup. MBS loves lifting the flaps.

Happy Birthday, Biscuit! by Alyssa Satin Capucilli & illustrated by Pat Schories features Biscuit the dog celebrating his birthday. It has cute pictures and the text is nice for a beginning reader.

A Little Puppy by Jane Feder & illustrated by Amy Schwartz is a very short and simple board book. Perfect for my little toddler, he loved seeing the cars in several of the pictures.

Love is You & Me by Monica Sheehan is a book about love showing a dog and a mouse. I think older kids might enjoy this but MBS was not interested at all, the only part of the book he liked was when they were in a car.

Dog Biscuit by Helen Cooper is a wonderful story about a little girl who eats a dog biscuit and then believes she is turning into a dog. It was a little long for MBS but I just loved this and I’m sure he will too when he’s a little older.

The Best Thing About a Puppy by Judy Hindley & illustrated by Patricia Casey is the perfect puppy book, listing all the wonderful things about a puppy and all the not so wonderful things too. The puppy in this book is so cute! We’ll definitely be reading this again.

Other tot activities have mostly been car and train related. Inside the house MBS really likes lining up all his vehicles in a row. Outside he likes to cover the cars in dirt and then wash them in his pail. On our few sunny days that is how he has spent his time– digging in the dirt with his cars while the dog pack races and wrestles around him.

Linking up with Tot School and the Picture Book Challenge. Please visit them to see what other tot’s are doing and reading. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Well Phooey

For some reason I had it in my head that the link up for the Garden Challenge was this Saturday. I am so glad that I decided to start writing my post tonight since the link up was actually YESTERDAY! So a recap, The Homeschool Village is hosting a Garden Challenge and last month I posted about our planned spring planting.

We finally did get some non-rainy days (not many!) and we were able to get our strawberries and mint plants started in our Earthboxes.

Strawberries and mint plants (garlic in the next box).

MBS didn’t actually help with the planting, he played with rocks and empty planters in the background while I got the planters set up. On another non-rainy day MBS helped Ryan dig up last years garden bed. He had lots of fun playing in the dirt. He especially liked finding an earthworm.

Digging in the garden.
The chickens wanted to find some worms too!

The next week we had another dry day and it was actually pretty warm! We got some seeds planted in the garden. We planted lettuce, radishes, and leeks.

I found a rock Daddy! (I just love his boots!)

Nothing has sprouted in the large garden bed yet but we’ve checked on our strawberry and mint plants and they’re doing fine.

He really likes pulling out the planter tags.

While checking on our plants we also look at bugs and frogs. Little frogs love to live in the Earthboxes watering tubes and we’ve found that our dandelions are quite popular with bees!

Checking on the frogs in the tubes.
Hi froggy!
Happy honeybees!
Our little froggy friends. We have LOTS of tiny frogs on our property.

The weather hasn’t really been cooperating with our gardening this spring. It has been extremely rainy and cold— we even got some snow! Not our normal April weather, hopefully May will be warmer.

Since we planted strawberries in our planter I picked out 3 strawberry books for MBS.

The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Bear by Don and Audrey Wood & illustrated by Don Wood is about a little mouse who finds a big strawberry but must find a way to keep it from the big bear. This story had cute illustrations but I just didn’t care for it. The narrator trying to trick the mouse of the strawberry just bothered me when I guess most people find it charming, oh well.

Sweet Strawberries by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor & illustrated by Rosalind Charney Kaye is a folktale about a couple where the husband is grumpy and thinks everyone else is always the problem but by changing his actions he changes how other people react. I usually love Naylor’s books but I could not stand this one. There is a lesson in the tale but the husband never realizes that it is his own actions that change things and that really bothered me.

Thankfully Good Job, Oliver! by Laurel Molk was a winner! Oliver is a small bunny who wants to grow the biggest and best strawberries ever but the bigger bunnies tease him that little bunnies can only grow little berries. Oliver has to face lots of obstacles in growing his berries and uses his brain to solve the problems. I loved this story and the illustrations are great, sadly it is out of print.

Since we have lots of little ribbity guys in our garden I thought we should also study them.

Tadpole to Frog by Camilla de la Bédoyère is a great lift and flap book about a frogs life cycle. I really wish I could find some tadpoles for MBS to study.

Frogs, Toads, and Turtles by Diane L. Burns & illustrated by Linda Garrow is a neat little field guide but it didn’t really interest MBS at this time.

To say that Little Quack’s New Friend by Lauren Thompson & illustrated by Derek Anderson was a hit would be a major understatement. As soon as MBS saw Ryan take it out of the library bag he asked for it to be read, then read again, and again! He absolutely loved this story of Little Quack and his duckling siblings meeting their new froggy friend! We own another Little Quack book so he already knew the characters but his reaction to this book completely surprised us— he’s never asked for a book to be read over and over in a row, not even Thomas the Train books!

We’ve had fun working on our garden and can’t wait for the weather to warm up so we can spend more time outside. I’m linking up to both the Garden Challenge and the Picture Book Challenge. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Spring Planting…

with no actual planting due to rain, rain, and more rain!

We are planning a garden in our yard and while I know that Mr. Blue Sky will love to help out with it I thought he’d also enjoy having his own little planter boxes. So two of our Earthboxes, leftover from our apartment years, are going to be his own little garden area. In one we will be planting some seeds, (lettuce, kale, radishes) but I also wanted him to have some instant gratification so we bought 4 strawberry plants (two different varieties) and 2 mint plants. The plan was to get everything planted so I’d have photos for this post but it has been pouring down rain for days so the little plants are just sitting  outside waiting for sunshine (or if not sunshine at least no rain).

rain, rain go away

We’ll be putting the planters on our side patio. I don’t have any recent photos because of the rain but it looks pretty much the same as this, though MBS is older now (nearly 27 months!) and there is a fence along the end to keep the dogs and chickens off the patio.

So wobbly on his feet back then!

MBS had fun walking around the garden department choosing plants. Okay, so actually he had fun racing around playing chase while I did the actual plant picking, he is only 2. I chose strawberries because he just LOVES them so I knew they would be something he’d enjoy growing and harvesting.

To celebrate spring and start our garden project we read a few books.

garden books

It’s Spring by Samantha Berger and Pamela Chanko & illustrated by Melissa Sweet is one of my favorite books. It has lyrical text and charming illustrations. It isn’t a non-fiction book teaching you anything about the change in seasons but a cheerful poem welcoming the spring.

My First Garden by Wendy Lewison & illustrated by Miki Sakamoto is a cute little book about a young girl and her mother planting a garden and then harvesting the vegetables. The book is shaped like a basket and as they harvest the different plants the basket gets filled up. They harvest a “big GREEN cabbage!” and “pretty PURPLE turnips” etc… making this a nice book to talk about colors. Plus my toddler just likes carrying it around by the basket handle!

Ten Seeds by Ruth Brown is sadly out of print. This wonderful counting book is about a little boy planting 10 sunflower seeds. One by one the seeds get eaten, some make it to seedlings, and to plants, but in the end all that is left is one sunflower and the boy harvests 10 seeds. The illustrations are fantastic, showing the seeds sprouting and sending their roots into the ground, becoming a beautiful sunflower, but being from the Pacific Northwest my favorite illustration is the slug eating the seedling.

To go along with our garden project we are making some flowers out of an egg carton. So far we’ve only gotten the painting done but I’m hoping to finish them this weekend. MBS loves painting and had a blast with this craft.

Painting is serious work

Linking up with the Garden Challenge and  the Picture Book Challenge, follow the links to see what other families are doing. Thanks for stopping by.

Put Me in the Zoo

Ryan and Mister Blue Sky reading.

MBS loves to be read to and the other night he brought this book over to Ryan. Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire is the first book I was able to read all by myself when I was little!

It’s about a leopard who wants to live in the zoo but the zookeepers don’t want him. He tries to convince some children that the zoo is the place he belongs by showing them the wonderful tricks he can do with his spots. I still love the story and am so happy that MBS loves it too!

The next day MBS and I read the sequel I Want to Be Someone New

In this book Spot is back and now he’s tired of being in the circus and wants to change himself. I like the ending idea that the best thing is to be yourself but on the way as he changes into an elephant, giraffe, and mouse he’s told that being fat, tall, and small are all bad things. It just strikes a negative tone that I don’t care for.

After reading the books I printed out a coloring sheet that features a Spot like leopard and MBS had fun drawing.

Happy boy!
Z is for Zoo

To see what other people are reading visit

Let’s Count Goats!

I think it’s funny how you can really dislike a book on one reading and then come to like it later on. When Ryan first brought home Let’s Count Goats! by Men Fox & illustrated by Jan Thomas I did a quick read through and was not impressed. Then when I read it aloud to MBS it grew on me. I think when I was reading it to myself I wasn’t getting the right cadence to the words but when I read it aloud I got the rhythm right and the story was much better.

I really enjoyed Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers. The story of a boy and the penguin he finds is charming and the illustrations are simple but just right.

I am probably one of the only people who doesn’t like the story The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. I do not like reading it aloud, repeating over and over “do you want to fight?” and “oh, you’re not big enough”. The only thing I like about the book is the whale.

Other books we’ve enjoyed lately:

  • Plaidypus Lost written by Janet Stevens and Susan Crummel & illustrated by Janet Stevens
  • Dr. Seuss’s ABC written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
  • The Cat in the Hat written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
  • Love is a Handful of Honey by Giles Andreae & illustrated by Vanessa Cabban
  • A Wish for Wings that Work written and illustrated by Berkeley Breathed
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault & illustrated by Lois Elhert
  • A Porcupine Named Fluffy by Helen Lester & illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Linking up to There’s a Book for the Picture Book Challenge.

Stone Soup Books

January is National Soup Month and us grups (that’s grown ups for you non Star Trek fans) have eaten soup several times during the month (MBS is a very picky eater). While he wouldn’t eat any of the soups he has enjoyed reading about the folk tale stone soup.

First we read The Real Story of Stone Soup written by Ying Chang Compestine & illustrated by Stéphane Forisch. This clever version of the tale is told from the point of view of a fisherman, who describes himself as hardworking and his 3 nephews as lazy when the pictures show a different story. When they stop on a beach to make lunch his nephews fool him into believing they are making soup just from stones, when in fact they are distracting him and adding other ingredients. It is a cute story and the illustrations nice but it really went over MBS’s head, to get the humor you have to be able to examine the pictures and see what is happening and he’s just not there yet.

Our second stone soup tale was Stone Soup retold & illustrated by Jon J Muth. This version of the tale has 3 monks coming to a village that had survived many hard times, making the villagers weary and untrusting, and only took care of themselves. This story wasn’t about the monks tricking the villagers into making the food so much as them bringing happiness and caring back into the villagers lives. It was a lovely story and the author’s note at the end has information about Buddha story tradition’s and traditional Chinese folklore and culture.

Our final version of stone soup was Fox Tale Soup written by Tony Bonning & illustrated by Sally Hobson. This is the more traditional tale of the trickster getting a free lunch and it was our favorite of the three versions. The trickster in this version is a fox who stops by a farm on his travels and asks if they can spare any food, of course all the farm animals say no. So the fox decides to make himself stone soup. What made this book the best? The illustrations!!!! Oh my, these are some of the cutest farm animals I’ve seen.

The fox setting up his pot over the fire.
The animals smelling the soup.

Aren’t those chickens the cutest?  Sadly, it is out of print so we’ll just have to remember to get it from the library again.

I’m linking up to There’s a Book for the picture book challenge.

Owl Books

MBS has been having an owl theme week, it’s a theme we keep returning to since owls seem to be one of his favorite animals. Our favorite owl book of the week wasn’t really about owls, it was about sleep.

A Book of Sleep written & illustrated by Il Sung Na was a truly lovely book.  The book follows an owl who watches as other animals fall asleep. The text was brief and the the imagery of the book was charming and unique. I was really surprised that MBS liked this book, the owl isn’t the main focus and isn’t very realistically drawn but he asked for this book again and again this week.

Our next owl book was Little Owl Lost written & illustrated by Chris Haughton. Due to a good review, this book was supposed to be one of MBS birthday gifts. But it was out of stock when we were doing our birthday order, and I’m glad it was. It is a cute little story about an owlet who falls from the nest and is lost. Other forest animals try to help him find his mom but his descriptions of her keep leading them to other animals. The story is cute, illustrations clever, why am I glad we didn’t buy it? The color scheme of the illustrations and the odd font used for the text really bothered me– physically. I got a headache reading this book to MBS!

We’ve had Wow! Said the Owl written & illustrated by Tim Hopgood out of the library before. It’s a fun book about an owl who stays awake and sees the sunshine and all the beautiful daytime colors. I want to remember to check it out again when we talk about rainbows.

Whoo Goes There? written by Jennifer A Ericsson & illustrated by Bert Kitchen is about an owl listening for it’s dinner. It has realistic illustrations and the animal life look beautiful. I was stressed reading it the first time wondering how MBS would take it when the owl caught his dinner, but the owl never did catch anything and for some reason that bothered me all the other times I read it. MBS really liked this book, pointing at all the different animals.

Oliver’s Wood written & illustrated by Sue Hendra has the same general idea as Wow! Said the Owl. Oliver stays up all day, but instead of being amazed by the colors he could see it showed what animals he could find. The illustrations are cute but this book didn’t really grab me. Okay, so I was really bugged by the fact that it shows all his nighttime friends falling asleep out in the open but when he’s awake during the day they’re gone and replaced by daytime animals. No, if bats are asleep hanging in this tree they’re still going to be visible in the daylight. I realize it is just a picture book but these kind of logic gaps really bother me, must be my vulcan blood.

I’m linking up to There’s A Book for the picture book reading challenge.


Ten on the Sled

We’ve had Ten on the Sled by Kim Norman and illustrated by Liza Woodruff checked out from the library for the maximum amount of time so I figured I’d better hurry and get a post written about it before it’s overdue. (It’s bad when your husband is the manager of the library and brings home your holds, returns your books for you, and still you manage to get overdue fee’s!)

Ten on the Sled is a countdown book with nicely rhyming text and adorable illustrations. The book starts with just one on the sled but then all ten animals climb on and they go sledding down the mountain. As they race downhill the animals leave the sled one by one.

There were nine on the sled
and the caribou said,
“It’s snowing! Get going!”
So they all got going,

but Hare hopped out.

I’ve really enjoyed reading this to MBS. The text flows wonderfully and has a great vocabulary but it’s really the illustrations that put it over the top. Of course, one big bonus for me is that this book has a sled full of arctic animals and NO PENGUINS! One of my pet peeves are penguins and polar bears together— they do not live in the same hemisphere! Thankfully this book got it right and didn’t include any cute tuxedo birds.

One through ten,
all leaped on again,
for one more run
and a little more fun
in the moonlit land
of the midnight sun.

Other books we’ve enjoyed lately:
Bear in Sunshine written by Stella Blackstone & illustrated by Debbie Harter
Bear on a Bike written by Stella Blackstone & illustrated by Debbie Harter
One Moose, Twenty Mice written & illustrated by Clare Beaton
Elusive Moose written by Joan Gannij & illustrated by Clare Beaton

To sign up for the picture book reading challenge visit There’s a Book and to see what other people have read this month visit the January link up page. Thanks for stopping by.

Read to Me

Since having Mr. Blue Sky I’ve found it hard to find time to read, which being an avid reader has been a really negative thing. So deciding that Mommy needed to get back her reading time I signed up for 3 different book challenges (Mystery and Suspense, Stephen King, and Speculative Fiction) to help keep me motivated. I’m posting about the books I’m reading for those challenges on our family blog.

Then I came across the Picture Book challenge hosted by There’s A Book. This challenge has quite a few levels. I am aiming for “Harvesting”, reading 200 books to Mr. Blue Sky.

Challenge Levels:

Reading with a Child:

  • “Planting” – Read 12 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Watering” – Read 36 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Feeding” – Read 72 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Growing” – Read 120 picture books with a child during the year.
  • “Harvesting” – Read 200 picture books with a child during the year.

Reading on Your Own:

  • “Board Book” – Read 12 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Unjacketed” – Read 36 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Jacketed“ – Read 72 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Early Reader” – Read 120 picture books on your own during the year.
  • “Chapter Reader” – Read 200 picture books on your own during the year.
While I really have no trouble getting in reading time with Mr. Blue Sky, I like the idea of a challenge to keep me motivated to introduce new books versus just reading his favorites over and over again (though I’m sure I’ll still be doing that too). Plus it will mean more posting on this site— hopefully— that’s the plan anyway!  If you’re interested in joining the challenge stop by There’s a Story and sign up.