Friday, December 1, 2017

A Book List for (last minute!) St. Nicholas Day Giving

The great thing about this list is that these books are available through Amazon Prime, and even if you've sort of let Advent creep up on your again, you can STILL manage to get these in time for St. Nicholas morning (Dec 6, btw...)  (Thanks for clicking through and using my affiliate links.  I get a few pennies if you buy something, and by book-loving family thanks you <3) 

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Do you give your children books for Christmas?  Yeah, us too!  We also give each of our kids one or two books for St. Nicholas day - usually a book to add to our collection of picture books about saints, and another to add to our Advent/Christmas book collection.  

I love it when we pull out our holiday books each Advent!  It's such fun to look through all the favorites we haven't seen for nearly a year!  We've been collecting books for a while now, and I've got a few new titles that we particularly like that I thought I'd pass on to you :)   (Also, PLEASE check out this post on our favorite Advent/Christmas book from a couple years ago, as the books listed here are have only been added to our collection in the last two years and there are many other great titles in my previous lists <3 )  

Picture Books About Winter and Christmas 

Ooh, I sure do love a pretty picture book!  I've already written once about a book by Teagan White (check out THIS POST, or THIS BOOK) and she's done it again with the beautifully illustrated Mice SkatingThe illustrations are so sweet, and Lucy the mouse knits hats for her friends and fashions handmade ice skates out of pine needles.  I mean seriously, she's like me if I was a rodent in a picture book......  erm..... anyway....
Anyway, the story by Annie Silvestro is as sweet as the illustrations, and I think you and your kids will love its celebration of the joys of winter <3  

Finding Christmas, Lezlie Evans.  This is a lovely story, sort of reminiscent The Fourth Wise Man, or Papa Panov's Special Day (both of which we also love!). This book (again, delightful illustrations of woodland critters!) speaks to the joy of generosity.  It has an overtly Christian theme, and indeed, includes Christ's exhortation "whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me," at the end of the book.  

Christmas Farm , Mary Lyn Ray.  Well, how have I not heard of this one before?!?  It's simply lovely!  It tells the story of the care of a Christmas tree farm, a chore shared by an older women and her young five-year-old neighbor.  It's just delightful!  And the double spread illustrations of the farm and rural life are beautiful!

Babushka: A Christmas Tale, Dawn Casey.  I love the legends of Russian Babushka and Italian Old Befana, so we have several books about her :)  This is our latest and it doesn't disappoint.  It's fun to get different author's and illustrator's takes on the story!  

Mr. Willowbby's Christmas Tree, Robert Barry.  Oh man, this book is funny.  James (who is almost 4 this year, but was almost 3 last year) asked to read it nearly ever day during Advent.  It begins with the wealthy Mr. Willowby's impressive tree... that doesn't quite fit in the hall.  Bits of the tree make their way through the servants quarters, the local wildlife, and back into Mr. W's home where the very very tiptop decorates the home of the mice in the wall.   It's cute ;)


Room for a Little One, Martin Waddell.  This is a lovely gift for little ones in board book format.  The illustrations are soothing and pretty - animals gathering in the stable one by one, and even though it's full, there's enough room for The Little One.  

Apple Tree Christmas, Trinka Hakes Noble.   My daughters especially love this story.  It's an old-time, feel good, down-on-the-farm story about the beloved family apple tree and the year it doesn't survive the winter (hmmm, should I have put a "spoiler alert" there???)


A Dozen Silk Diapers, Melissa Kajpust.  Now I have to be fair here and tell you up front that there doesn't appear to be Prime shipping available for this title, but it's still worth checking out and you could get it in time for Christmas morning if you'd still like to buy it :)  This book -- delightful story and illustrations - is another favorite with my little kids.  I even like it, and I don't particularly care for spiders (main characters here...) ;), but quite frankly, it's hard not to like arachnids when they're caring for the Holy Family <3  

Cobweb Christmas: the Tradition of Tinsel, Shirley Climo.  Spiders again.  And tinsel, which I make it a habit to avoid as well.  And yet, even I can read this story without cringing!  Tante cleans her home thoroughly to prepare for Christmas, but Kris Kringle lets the spiders back in!  Ack!

The Gift of the Christmas Cookie - Sharing the True Meaning of Jesus' Birth,  Dandi Daely Mackall.  This is a sweet story about a boy and his mother who practice generosity even though they themselves have barely anything to give.  

The Story of Holly and Ivy, Rumer Godden.  This is an absolute classic by one of my favorite authors ever.  And one of my favorite illustrators, for that matter (Barbara Cooney).   It's a real heart-warming story of finding love and family - the best fulfilled Christmas wishes <3  (It's a longer story, maybe not the type of picture book you could finish in one sitting with some kids, but it's worth a few nights of reading!)  


Christmas in Noisy Village,  Astrid Lindgren.  My kiddos are Pippy Longstocking and Children of Noisy Village fans, so this Christmas story is a holiday favorite.  The Noisy Village kids know how to prepare and keep Christmas, for sure - Gathering firewood, baking, decorating, feasting and partying, with nary a TV holiday commercial or Toys R' Us SALE flyer in sight!  It's perfect :) 

The last two titles here are books that I bought for my older boys, who still enjoy listening to picture books while curled up on the couch (be still my heart!) but who also will grab a holiday book and read to themselves.  Curled up on the couch ;)  But these books aren't just for big kids.  Everyone enjoys them, especially as they're true stories <3  

Christmas in the Trenches,  John McCuthceon.    


I KNOW you'll find some treasures here, books your family will look forward to pulling out of storage each Advent!  I've made lots of other fun book discoveries lately (especially a few new series for my big kids) so if all the stars align, maybe I'll be writing another book lists again soon :)  They are, after all, some of my favorite things <3  

Have a blessed Advent and a happy (book-filled!) St. Nicholas Day!  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

That Day Last September When I Saved the Summer

In many ways I felt like last summer was a bust.  I was somewhat distracted with my recently re-opened Etsy shop.  We had just enough camps and activities on the books that it made it tricky to just hop in the car and go to the park for a day of roaming and exploring.  We usually go to the creek several times every summer, but last year a friend's son got a leech in the water and I could never bring myself to go back there.  We even skipped our long-standing tradition of going to the opening day of the county fair because it was 95 degrees and just, nope.

It was sort of a blah summer - reflected in both our lack of really enjoyable family time and my mood.

In early September we went on a field trip with other families from the study center to see the tall, historic sailing ships in port in Erie, Pennsylvania, a two hour ride from our home.  I'm not naturally spontaneous or fun-loving but I knew this was an opportunity to do something for my kids to "redeem" the humdrum summer we had had.  I told everyone to bring an extra set of clothes (because you might get wet while touring the ships...??)  I packed up lunches and water and snacks and we left early the next morning to meet up with our group in Erie for the tour.  

It was awesome!  We loved the ships and hearing about their sailing from the crew.  I think Aaron especially enjoyed it since he and I had recently watched a few episodes of  Horatio Hornblower :) We enjoyed our lunches with our friends and were finished with the last tour around 1 in the afternoon. It had been a blistering hot day - lots of sweating and re-hydrating while waiting on long lines in full sun.  We were all sticky and uncomfortable and couldn't wait to get in the air conditioned van. The kids thought we were headed home but I surprised them with a spontaneous trip to the beach at Presque Isle.  

I can't tell you how much enjoyment I received from their surprise and delight.  Mom, are you really taking us to a beach??  You're going to let us take our shoes off??  Can we walk in the water???  We know you'll probably say no, but can we swim??  They about fell over when I said yes.  I wasn't acting like myself at all.  They could hardly believe that I would  let them swim and get sandy in their clothes.  Oh!!!!  This is why you told us to bring extra clothes!!!!   I hadn't even brought towels.  They just swam and jumped and ran and splashed until everyone really was getting tired (it had been a really long day).  Even then, it was hard to convince them to get out and dry in the sun.  They were water logged.  And you can imagine the amount of sand in their underwear ;) Everyone changed into their dry clothes in the back of the van - sand and dirt flying everywhere - me trying to remain calm and in my happy-go-lucky-summer-state-of-mind.  We even hit up the ice cream stand before leaving the peninsula.  I taught my kids about ordering extra sprinkles for when the you've licked the first layer of sprinkles off your cone.  We pulled up back at home well into the evening and stayed up late telling Dad about the day and eating pizza in the driveway as the sun set.  

The kids still talk about that day.  I still think about it regularly.  It was the day that made last summer amazing.  For me, at least.  I intentionally let go of so much of my uptight, plan-everything-to-a-T ways, and we had an unforgettable day.  It meant so much to me to be able to give that to my kids, it's hard to really convey how important it was to me in words.  But I've always wanted to share some photos from that day.  They're a souvenir of one of my favorite days ever.  And they're a reminder of the sheer joy it was to make my children so very happy with a few simple "spontaneous" changes to the plan :)

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