Recipes for Play by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener

I am a mother that is not comfortable with mess. I don’t like noise or chaos either. And yet, I’m learning to adapt.

In fact, when I read Recipes for Play by Rachel Sumner and Ruth Mitchener (The Experiment, September 2014), I started actually getting excited about trying out some of the activities and crafts mentioned.

I’m a homeschooling mom. Another thing I never intended to do, and yet here I am. Homeschooling gets me out of my comfort-zone many times a day.

As I read Recipes for Play, which is full of play-crafts for young kids and mothers to easily recreate in their homes, I started to think of the many ways I could tie the suggested crafts in to our daily routine: some of them could be adapted for a homeschool lesson. Another one could keep my littlest one busy while I get a chance to over the math assignment with my son. The possibilities got me excited.Continue Reading

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson


The Great Gilly Hopkins is not an easy book to read. Gilly is a child in a difficult situation. She is a child without a family, moved through the foster care system. She does not make it easy for her foster parents, because she believes that her mother loves her and needs her. She dreams of the happy reunion with her mother, who she has not seen for at least 8 years.

Paterson has a way of writing tear-jerker novels that deal with difficult issues that children face. This book is no exception. It takes a talented writer to capture a difficult, cranky kid in a frustration situation and somehow still manage to make her someone we want to root for. Paterson does that in this book.Continue Reading

(Cybils 2012) Friends and Stories

This week’s Cybils batch includes some fantastic books. I’ve decided to focus on some that are (more or less) based on the concepts of Friends and Telling Stories. These are common themes for picture books, and these books I list below are some fantastic examples.Continue Reading

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (originally published serially in 1910) is a book full of memories for me. When I was a young girl, I recall staying home, sick, from school one day. My mom took our copy of The Secret Garden down off the shelf, and, just for me, she began reading it aloud.

The day when I brought my newborn daughter Strawberry home from the hospital, I pulled my copy down and began reading it aloud to her. She was about four days old. I read it during those first months when I was in a daze of sleep deprivation. I read it as I helped her calm down for the night. I read it more recently as our bedtime story. I finally finished it for her last week, when she was 5.5 months old.

The Secret Garden is a book about the magic of positive thinking. Burnett takes two cantankerous, negative, and spoiled children and places them together in a new setting: a garden that needs a bit of TLC in order to bloom back in to the beautiful and magnificent haven it once was. With a loveable animal charmer child, young Dickon, the children learn the power of positive thinking and experience the benefits of hard work in the open air. As sour orphan Mary Lennox and her invalid cousin Colin Craven resuscitate the seemingly dead garden and put in a bit of work, they too begin to blossom into pleasant people.Continue Reading