March Holidays

St. Patrick's Day and Easter are very close together this year and Monkey has been asking to decorate. So today we whipped out a few craft projects around shamrocks and pots of gold (anyone ever spray paint small rocks the color gold in snow before?) Desperate times call for desperate measures...

After getting a big box from storage, we now have a few spaces, including the family room, decorated to his satisfaction. Yet I want to keep it simple this year, especially in the living room. Here is a pic of what my mantle has on it right now. Only extra is a candle gifted by a friend over Christmas because I love the scent. Green for St. Paddie's Day and bunnies for Easter. Done and done!

Manners for Children

Most recently, we've had a refocus on good manners in our home (any mother of young boys understands why the focus!)  So I was very happy to discover a series of books written by the great Wilbur Munro Leaf (The Story of Ferdinand) and boy how I love these! I first found a couple of these from the library before locating the entire collection on Amazon and eBay.

Written in the 1940s, they predate the embrace of individualism and entitlement
our culture has experienced over the last few decades. They strip it down to the valid truth that it is important to get along well with other people. None of us can thrive to our full potential alone in a bubble.

In a time where it is so easy to be plugged in and tuned out from living people,
the critical skills of socialisation and self -discipline seem lost. We want to teach him the value of a good strong handshake and the importance of honesty, fairness, strength of character and wisdom. How to Behave and Why covers these topics charmingly. We have other books on manners but these are so simple and clear, with fun illustrations.

There is so much magic that happens when people connect, support and
share their knowledge and friendship. He is already learning the lessons of teamwork but in time he will need to work on many teams with many different personalities.

Manner and good behaviour go beyond 'rules', incentives and "because I said so" - it is a personal choice that we all make and I hope he learns that manners go beyond chewing with his mouth closed or elbows off the table. It is understanding that manners are also about other people (gasp!) and the the value of actually caring what others think about us (double gasp!) and setting examples. And let's be honest, it is also a little bit about putting the cap back on the toothpaste and using a napkin. :)

Books with Boys

How I love the scent of new books! As far as I can remember I've loved to read. Biographies, novels, subjects that pique my interest (most recently my bedside table is covered with books on handwriting analysis and juicing although anyone looking for a good read should try Angelfall by Susan Ee) - there is little discrimination. Anyone visiting my home would agree that books figure prominently in my decorating scheme - and not in a deliberate manner.

The Ralph Mouse Collection (The Mouse and the Motorcycle / Runaway Ralph /  Ralph S. Mouse)
Books on shelves are in order of subject and author but those stacked on floors, tables and chairs are fair game and only in order of when they were last picked up. It is the only area that I allow a bit of latitude before conducting bi-weekly book sweeps of our home, placing everything in temporary order. And now that our son has discovered a love of reading we are finding his books all interspersed with ours. It is a lovely discovery and so nice to experience the wonder of books all over again through his eyes.

After reading many, many books to, with and by our son, he finally got the reading bug with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney. It is the first book collection that he had avidly read over and over again, on his own and just because it's fun.

After many happy hours spent with Harry Potter, Encyclopedia Brown, Ralph Mouse, the Ingalls and Percy Jackson this is the series that grabbed him the most. They are pretty funny so I appreciate his taste - although what matters to us is that he organically develops a LOVE OF READING. It will serve him his entire life and can never be forced or he will always avoid it - perceiving it as a chore, which would be such a sad shame.
Stories open us to worlds we might never explore, people we might never have known and adventures beyond our own lives. They teach us to be humble, to appreciate the vantage points of other people and teach lessons usually only learned through personal experience. Yea, reading!