Monday, August 15, 2011

3 Favorite Books from our Farm Theme

We did a lot of "farm" themed reading the first couple weeks of August.

I love Margaret Wise Brown's books, and "Big Red Barn" is no exception. 
It was one of the books I was loath to return to the library this morning. I love the way Margaret Wise Brown writes. Her style is like no other author I've read. This book has the same charm of "Goodnight Moon" with a very different mood. It's a beautiful, age-appropriate book that decidedly captures a busy toddler's attention. In it we follow a cow, a duck, a horse, sheep, geese, and other farm animals as they go through an entire day without a single human around. Instead of seeing farm life through the eyes of children or the farmer, we see a barnyard day through the eyes of the animals themselves. I also love how at the end of the day the animals all curl up or roost or whatever each animal does for the night. The other thing that makes this particular book stand out is how unlike many age-appropriate preschool books it does not talk down to them. If you are looking for a farm-themed book that is different from most on the market, "Big Red Barn" is the book for you.

Many children, given the opportunity, naturally imitate. They imitate Mommy, Daddy, the child next door, the baby squeeling accross the grocery store aisle, their dog, the goat at the petting zoo- they just love to imitate. Marie Hall Ets captures this preschool tendency beautifully in her award-winning picture book "Just Me". "Just Me" is the story of a child on a farm. The child explores the barnyard and the nearby woods, imitating the animals he meets. I thought it rather beautiful how it captured childhood. T found himself imitating the pages sometimes himself!

Now this is hardly a book you'd expect a 2 year old to devour. Or is it? It's all about cows and milk after all. What gets Sean and me is the book can be fairly exact at times. Talking about the 4 stomachs, naming them, discussing the various breeds of milk cows. Yet T loves it!

Perhaps it's the whole journey he enjoys so much. "The Milk Makers" by Gail Gibbons takes you on the journey your milk takes before it reaches your cereal bowl (and yes, that's where the story ends). The book begins with a stop at a dairy farm where we see some cows grazing in a meadow. The various kinds of milk producing animals are mentioned (from cows to reindeer!), as well as the various breeds of milk-producing cows and which breed produces the most milk. From there the author explains what starts a cow producing milk, how she's able to maintain her supply, what she eats during the summer and winter, how it's digested, and the various ways the farmer milks her.

Then we follow the milk on a road trip, through the pipeline to a cooling tank, into a truck, and to the dairy plant. At the plant we continue to follow our milk as it passes from the storage tank to the clarifier, eventually is packaged into cartons.  Sealed the milk's then driven off to the stores where a family buys it off the shelf and enjoys it for breakfast.

I know my son would recommend you read the book- and you might find him climbing on your lap to listen as well!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Home Decorating: Living Room Before & After

Living Room Before (this pic is from when I moved in, 3 years ago)

You can see in the first picture how the colors were very muted. I felt like it had a cold look to the room. While I loved that it had a faux finish (something that helped me decide on the place) I didn't like the color or tone. Only morning light would make the room bright. Cloud cover, afternoon sun, the room felt dark.

Finally I did something about it. After playing around with paint colors, buying several sample size paints (100% sold on doing that, over picking a paint chip & ordering a gallon without trying), I found just the right colors.

Living Room After. Behr's Honeysuckle White is on most walls and Valspar's Fresh Bread is on the far wall. It adds depth and dimension to the room. A very pleasant tan color, and the name very aptly describes the look. Now I just need to figure out what to put on the wall behind the sofa.