The Family

The Family

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

My Favorite Poems for Younger Children

I've come to relish the almost daily rhythm that poetry has created in our lives in the two plus years I've been reading it aloud with my children.

We have three standard anthologies we use. I typically read one to two poems from each anthology every weekday. Once we finish all the poems in a book, we simply start over.

And having read the same poems again and again, I'd say the following constantly stand out as crowd pleasers in our home:

1. Amelia Mixed the Mustard by A. E. Housman - My daughter loves this poem. It makes her laugh every time. If you've read it you probably understand why I can't decide whether I should be amused or anxious!

2. Me by Walter de la Mare - We read this poem just this morning, and what always strikes me is the encouraging tone for total acceptance of one's self.

3. Daddy Fell Into the Pond by Alfred Noyes - this silly and entertaining poem always puts a smile on my face.

4. maggie and millie and molly and may by e.e. cummings - one only has to love the sea to understand the beauty and depth of this poem (though cummings lack of capitalization always throws me). This is one we all know by heart.

5. Bed in Summer by Robert Louis Stevenson - this poem perfectly captures what children truly feel in relation to bedtime.

6. If Little Red Riding Hood by Jeff Moss - this witty poem hits the nail on the head when it comes to disputing the classic fairy tale.

7. Bad Morning by Langston Hughes - short and completely on point about how a bad morning is one of the most frustrating things on earth.

8. Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer - this classic is long but, oh, so worth the read.

9. Casey's Revenge by Grantland Rice - this lesser known poem leaves you satisfied. It also includes one of my favorite lines in all of poetry: "And Fate, though fickle, often gives another chance to men."

10. The Cremation of Sam McGee - it's an odd one, and some would argue not for young children, but mine are often rapt by the long, bewitching story.

11. Hunting-Song of the Seeonee Pack by Rudyard Kipling - the cadence and rhythm of this poem is mesmerizing.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Picking Time

After three years participating in a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, things have changed a bit.

Gone are the days when we drove to the farm and the farmer handed over the fruits and vegetables. This spring and summer, we must do the picking.

Things have also been much more spread out this season, and we haven't been going on a weekly basis as before.

We've received about 4 dozen eggs every other week since January. The farmer does still collect those for us, which is a win!

We went twice to pick strawberries and were hoping to go more, but rain ruined the crop.

I went out one Saturday to pick eight heads of lettuce, which is a task to eat before going bad even when you share some of those with neighbors and family.

I also picked leeks, which I wasn't too sure we'd like. To my surprise, we found them quite tasty sauteed and paired with mushrooms to top a steak several weeks ago. Most of the leeks I chopped and froze for later use.

There's just one thing about picking during the summer that has me a bit apprehensive: the idea of coming across a snake. AAAAHHHHHH!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Week at the Beach

I haven't posted in a while because I teach at a local university, and with end of the semester grading and final exams, we weren't out adventuring much.

But this past week we did take a week-long beach trip to Perdido Key, Fla. We went with my husband's mom and sister and her 7-month-old twin boys. My husband joined us about mid-week, and a few other family members were there from time-to-time.

Considering the last trip we took was a whopper of a drive, the four hours to Perdido Key flew by!

The kids and I spent most of the week dividing our time between the beach and the pool. We would usually head out about 8 am and come back in around 11 or 11:30 each day. We'd stay in for an hour or two and then go back out to do all over again - swimming, playing in the sand, running from the monstrous waves and walking along the beach looking for shells.

After about three days I realized the sun and I just aren't friends anymore. Actually, I've known it for about 12 years now, but I hoped between the 30 and 55 sunblock I kept on the entire time, I would have better luck.


When I spend more than three days in the sun for long periods of time, my skin breaks out in a rash. It first happened years ago when I was on a cruise, but I was on an antibiotic at the time and thought I was having a weird reaction to it. It happened again several more times in subsequent years when I was at the beach. This time, the rash appeared on my upper thigh first. By the next day it was on my chest and then by that evening on my feet. On Wednesday night I had to borrow some Benadryl from my sister-in-law because I was itching so bad I couldn't sleep.

We spent Thursday at a local putt-putt/arcade riding go karts, driving bumper boats and playing a round of 18.  And Friday we went to lunch with a family friend I've known since childhood that has both a house and condo there in Perdido Key.

Those last two days we headed out late afternoon to the pool so I could avoid the sun. We wanted to spend Friday night on the beach with our flashlights hunting for crabs, but a thunderstorm rolled in just as we were getting ready to search.

All in all it ended up being a trip for the record books. I know it's one my children will always remember and cherish because of the memories made last week.

There's just nothing quite like a week at the beach with family.