Category Archives: drawing

Plant A Seed in a Child’s Mind

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I have a simple philosophy on children of 5 and 6 year old age.  I

believe these sweet little ones go into kindergarten as ‘babies’ and

come out of this period of time as, ‘school kids.’ I have seen both

Marley who attends one elementary school in kindergarten and

my grandson, Micah, who attends another elementary school in

the same level of education grow ‘in leaps and bounds.’

 

Every book their parents or I read to them, suddenly have become

‘brand new’ and they see such interesting new things in them. It is

almost like being ‘re-born.’  When it comes to understanding the

way children are ‘different’ or ‘unique,’ it really helps to watch the

changes first hand. I admit with my ‘pack of three’ being raised

with others I babysat, they were not given as much individual

attention. This becomes apparent when I am typing away the

‘bright’ quotes I can honestly listen to and apply to the six of the

grandchildren.  But, to tell you the truth, the kindergartners have

my full attention.

 

Take a week ago, when my grandson, Micah, was asking me about

my apartment. When did I move there? Why do I have my kitchen

table in the living room? Do I like having to do my laundry in the

laundry room?

 

About a month ago, my granddaughter, Marley was not totally

satisfied with looking at her own photo albums. She had a big

stack of them, since I put the 36 photo albums together each

season, for each individual grandchild. Marley has over 7 albums

to study and check out. She asked me first to look at her Daddy’s

baby photo album and then, moved on to her Aunt Felicia and

her Aunt Carrie’s. I was not asked too many questions, but I saw

her study each photo and it took her over an hour to move on to

ask me her next ‘request.’

 

Finally, she wanted to see my three “wedding dresses’ albums.”

This is how she named them. I told her I have only one photo of

the first wedding dress, so I showed her it. I told her “Aunt Carrie”

has the rest of the first wedding party photos. She is the ‘oldest’

and the only girl from this first marriage, I explained to Marley.

I really felt most of the photographs of her relatives would ‘mean

more to her’ than her brother, Marley’s Daddy.

 

She studied the three wedding dresses intently. She finally asked me

why I married each of my three husbands. I tried to make a ‘joke,’

telling her my patent answer to adults who ask me this question,

“This was my way of being a ‘serial monogamist.'”

For some reason, Marley looked like she really understood this

to be a cynical or sarcastic comment and used her scolding voice

to say,

“Nana, I am asking you a serious question: Why did you get married

more than once?”

 

My answer was a combination of “love” and “hope.” I gave her a

big hug for asking and told her,

“Your Daddy and Mommy will  be like my own parents, they found

the right match and will put effort into keeping their family together

and happy.”

 

When it comes to teaching young children about the variations of

life,  sometimes their lessons may come from viewing children and

families at the beach, grocery store or church. Up until they go to

school, they may think their family unit is just fine. My youngest

daughter asked her Dad years ago to come to special events, but

she found that I was her ‘constant’ and her ‘home.’

 

A valuable book with lessons, which could be a ‘tool’ to open a

discussion about class levels and economic differences has been

recently published.  It is called, “Last Stop on Market Street.”

The author of this delightful book is Matt de la Pena. The

illustrations are created by Christian Robinson.

 

You may already know the lessons held within this book, but it

has a rich diversity of subjects with a little boy who questions

what is around him. There is an element of ‘Life doesn’t seem to

be fair’ to him, in his questions.

 

The subject of why children don’t have as many choices of clothing,

backpacks, coats, shoes and those things are often brought up after

some time spent in kindergarten has passed. This book would help

to give a picture to children of a whole different lifestyle, while it

also is done lovingly and beautifully.

 

There are places which address the subject of what children may

like to have new clothes and other things for their first day of school.

Some ‘Big Box Stores’ have bins where you may purchase glue sticks

for your own child or grandchild, along with tossing some into the

bin. There are places where you can go to get new coats, as well as

other nice new things, ‘vouchers’ for new shoes and backpacks. They

may be held at your county fairgrounds or they could be passed out

at a local charity location. It is nice to hope that each child can start

the school year, with a ‘level playing field,’ so those students who

have less in their household income can still feel ‘pride’ in their

back to school clothes and other accessories.

 

The new book, “Last Stop on Market Street” started a great

discussion with my grandies. They were interested in knowing if

I knew such and such, did this child have the same situation as

the little boy in the book? I think this book would be almost better

to present before they go off to school. It would help for those who

have more than others, to be careful not to judge nor ask too many

questions.

 

I would label this book a ‘break through’ book, one which is rare to

find with a powerful, but gently expressed, understated message.

 

As a boy is leaving church with his grandmother, he sighs in relief,

he feels like going outside is ‘freedom.’ He has probably wriggled

and twitched, feeling confined in the church.  The boy named C.J.

holds his grandmother’s hand while she holds an umbrella over

the top of their heads.

 

The two head off to a bus stop. There is mention of this being

their weekly procedure or routine. Not everyone has a car, a

house or food every day. There is a subtle way of letting the

reader and listener of the story find this out.

 

As he looks out a window of the bus, C.J. sees a friend in a car

with his father.  After the car zips on by the bus, C.J. wonders

aloud,

“Nana, how come we don’t get a car?”

 

Later, he notes a young man listening to a digital music player

and he displays the classical example of  kid’s  ‘I want. . .’ or

wishing for something obviously out of the grandmother’s

budget.

 

Each time his Nana responds with positive words. She makes the

bus ‘come alive’ for C.J. as if it were a ‘dragon.’ She reminds him

of the bus driver’s ‘magic’ trick he plays when they get on the bus.

She mentions that the young man playing a guitar on the bus,

is entertainment enough. A blind man teaches C.J. a lesson on

senses. There are wonderful elements in this book which you

will become enchanted with, too.

 

The colorful illustrations display a myriad of views of the

community on the outside of the bus, as they pass different

sights.

 

The lesson of life being full of excitement without any technical

devices or modern conveniences is not told directly but indirectly

shown through the unfolding tale.

 

As they get off the bus, C.J. wonders why they always have to go

on Sundays to the soup kitchen for their meal. This will help

open a discussion with children or grandchildren.  In this lovely

book, it reminds us that in the “Land of Plenty”  or America, we

may not always have neighbors, friends or people living one

short block over, with as much as we have. There is a sense of

global understanding, in the diversity of characters and culture

in this book.

 

A children’s book reviewer, Julie Danielson, expressed this:

“It’s not often that you see class addressed in picture books in

ways that are subtle and seamless, but in “Last Stop on Market

Street,” the affectionate story of a young boy and his grandmother

does just that.”

 

There is a new Valentine’s Day book to recommend. It is one of the

bunny books by author Jutta Langreuter and illustrated by Stephanie

Dahle.

“There’s No One I Love Like You.”

This German author has a series of “Little Bear” books and there

are a few in her native language, too.  One which looks interesting

and magical in its illustrations with German expressions  is called,

“Frida and die Kleine Waldhexe.”

 

If you have a favorite book for children and wish to include it,

please feel free to tell us about the book and its message, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conversation With Cliff

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We were talking about his boys, Cliff and I. It led into a new subject

for me to research. He had suggested in the 1800’s, President Ulysses

S. Grant had been one of the founders of the idea for National Parks.

We had had a few recent conversations about President Theodore

Roosevelt, his past and the post I had written. This was the one about

his personal tragedy of losing his wife and mother on the same day.

Which took Theodore out West to find an ‘escape’ and tranquility. The

area he had chosen to find refuge in, led him to his pursuit of natural

wonders and supporting National Parks.

 

Hiram Ulysses Grant was born on April 27, 1822 and lived until July 23,

1885. He had throat cancer and died at age 63 years old.  He was born

in Point Pleasant, Ohio. He met his wife from a classmate during the

years after he attended military school. He had four children and his

legacy as President and during the times of Civil War and following

peaceful times, is with mixed reviews.

 

Time has slowly improved and healed some of the negative aspects

of President Grant’s memories. Historians and biographers have

become kinder over the years.

 

As a boy, Hiram’s father had Abolitionist sentiments. The family

did not have slaves. Later on, wife’s family did. When there were

times of financial hardship, Grant released his wife’s slaves. This

was despite the fact he could have made money by selling them.

He had enlisted their services on the farm they had owned and they

participated in helping to care for the land. Grant named his family’s

home, “Hardscrabble.”

 

While young, Grant did not attend the family’s Methodist church,

since apparently he was the youngest and did not have to. He chose

to pray privately all his life. He had a sensitive nature, shown in his

taking art courses from Robert Walter Weir. This artist’s paintings

were from the Romantics period. There are nine artworks of Grant’s

still surviving.

 

Hiram had a knack for handling and training horses. He was what

we would now call a, “Horse Whisperer.”

 

Another aspect of Grant’s softer side was when President Abraham

Lincoln was assassinated, he stood alone at the funeral and wept.

He said of Lincoln:

“He was incontestably the greatest man I have ever known.”

 

The only quote I could find from Lincoln of Grant was during the

Civil War, while Grant was very rough on his troops, trying to keep

them in line and some of the bloodiest battles were ones he led,

Lincoln said when others complained of Grant’s determination

and grit:

“I can’t spare this man, he fights.”

 

Going back to how Grant got his name accidentally changed. . .

When Hiram was only 17 years old a congressman who knew his

father, nominated him for the U.S. Military Academy in West

Point, New York. The friend knew his middle name was Ulysses

and his mother’s maiden name was Simpson, so he chose to write

his letter of recommendation for “Ulysses S. Grant,” to become

a military student at West Point.

 

At school, since his initials were U.S., some of his friends started

to call him “Sam” as in “Uncle Sam.” What a patriotic name this is.

Just imagine how it came to be and I like to picture him so much

more as the boy named, “Hiram.” When he went off to school at

West Point there are records of his weight and height:

He was 5′ 1″ tall and he weighed 117 pounds.

 

He was an average student who liked mathematics and geology.

 

A good friend and classmate at West Point introduced him to his

sister, Julia Dent. They became engaged and four years later,

“Sam” and Julia married.

 

At the time after the Civil War, Grant and his family traveled to

Washington, D.C. He was in Cabinet meetings and was given the

authority to be in charge of cotton and its sales in the district

where he and his wife’s family lived.

 

Grant was invited to join President Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd,

for an evening at the theater. Instead, Grant and his wife and family

went to Philadelphia for entertainment and a vacation. When he

was called back to Washington due to the assassination, Grant

was bereft.

 

Some of the negative reports about Grant include that he may have

had a drinking problem during his academy and military career.

 

Grant also made a ‘bad decision’ in judging the Jewish people who

were involved in the district he was responsible to monitor cotton

sales in.   He “threw all the Jewish cotton dealers out” and this

Anti-Semitic decision has been often listed as one of the worst ones

he made.

 

Positive relationships with the African Americans post-Civil War

and the Native Americans have made President Ulysses S. Grant’s

memories and tributes less harsh over the years. When he threw

himself into the Civil War battles, Grant “found renewed energy in

the Union cause.” He led volunteer army he tried to rally and

discipline the Northern troops the best he could.

 

While President, Grant chose to create a position in his Cabinet

and nominate someone to be the “Commissioner of Indian Affairs.”

He wanted Peace among the tribes and Grant publicly ‘castigated’

Custer for his massacre of the Indians in the battle known as,

“Custer’s Last Stand.”

 

Cliff is my coworker who has two sons who are on the precipice of

being teenagers. He is struggling to find ways to continue family night

and enjoying all sorts of activities together. His wife is often ‘left at

home’ but he insists she prefers her personal space and encourages

the boys to spend time with their Dad.

 

Cliff has been trying to capture their attention by taking them to

parks, renting canoes, hiking in various places around the four states

of Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Indiana. He has been considering a

trip to Pennsylvania, but has not decided if this is where they will go

for a summer vacation.

 

Cliff is the one who told me about Grant’s positive decisions to help

Native American relations and also, the Gold Rush. While people

were out West, panning for gold, some stumbled upon the lovely

Geysers and other notable natural beauties.

Cliff was also ‘sure’ that Grant helped to denote the land around the

Geysers out West, as National Park. He was also ‘sure’ that Yellowstone

Park was part of President Grant’s plan of becoming a National Park.

 

Cliff is a ‘simple guy,’ but an extraordinary father. I give him plenty

of positive encouragement, while not flirting or trying to take too

much time away from my order filling.  He is in Cycle Count, so is

often ‘in my way’ and  by talking to him, he follows me while I pick

the warehouse products and place them in the bins or hampers.

 

I had written a post some time ago, last winter I believe, talking about

his interest in the cartoon which had content for young people, “Johnny

Quest.” There were no copies of the series in his local library. He found

some, I believe on YouTube. He ended up showing his boys several

episodes and getting them hooked on “Scooby Doo.”

 

So was Cliff right? For someone who admits he only got “C’s” in  his

high school Geography and History classes, he has come a long way!

 

On March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant passed the legislation

for National Parks in an area about the size of Rhode Island and the

state of Delaware combined. “Yellowstone Park” and all of the area

is intended to be held as a National Park, preserved and protected

by the United States Government. This law that was passed into a

Bill made the Northwest Corner of the Wyoming Territory part of

the beginning of many other areas known as National Parks.

 

Some quick facts about Yellowstone National Park of note:

~Home of 1/2 the World’s geysers.

~Large mountainous region.

~High elevation lakes.

~Numerous species and abundant game and wildlife.

All are protected and preserved, due to President Ulysses S. Grant.

 

Just for extra information, Cliff shared with me that in Ohio we

only have one National Park. It is called Wayne National Forest

and is located in the Southeastern part of Ohio. It is an area of

240,101 acres. It is located on the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau

and is part of a ‘reforestation program.’

 

Isn’t it amazing the things you can learn from a coworker?

 

Hope the research and information about President Ulysses S.

Grant showed you a different picture than the Civil War leader,

making him a more well-rounded character.

Trio of 2014 Children’s Books

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When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming

and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing

home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on

top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes

and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.

Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would

cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along

with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children

I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents

whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count

on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which

included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations

they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my  ‘back up’

babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I

‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the  7 years, 9 summers  watched their kids.

When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were

planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get

our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics

and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine

included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the

water would be nice and warm in the morning.

I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget.  I did

not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their

Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher

conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go

wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys

have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.

I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,

which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many

more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She

listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.

The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in

their bedroom.

My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means

they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four

children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter

books.

The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested

in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include

Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is

a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one

that is quite dramatic!

 

1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated  by

Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,

“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes

was quite beautiful and artistic.  Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the

movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys

and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle,  mentioned the quote, “Actions

speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt

this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,

using descriptions and  her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her

preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she

thinks.

 

 

2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,

was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book

which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town

in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri

feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery.  In the

true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set

out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to

inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been

added to every scene. Glorious!  This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an

‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring

Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.

Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone

of the story told in simple prose.

 

3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure

his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This

book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had

read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.

He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very

lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come

alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates

in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of  ages 4-8. I also

was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the

phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.

 

What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?