Easy Valentine Crafts For Children (And Adults).

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“What is love?” I ask Freya every so often. When she was a lot younger she would say “hugs” and then “kisses” but this week she said: “It’s when two hearts kiss.”

Awww.

“Who do those hearts belong to?” I questioned further.

She listed herself and grandad, daddy, nan, grandad Arnie, Grandma, Uncle John, half her nursery class and then, finally, me (I was grateful to be included, eventually).

To Freya, love is all around (that should be a song).

As I’ve mentioned in past years, Valentine’s Day is NOT a favourite of mine but, as it’s impossible to avoid, I’m starting as I mean to go on by trying to make it a positive for her. To me that means celebrating every kind of love rather than just romantic love. Wouldn’t it be great if it could stay like that?

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A forest of love for her grandparents and great grandma.

This year, we’ve made things for her grandparents and great grandma as well as other people of her choosing (we didn’t do her nursery class because it’s half term but also because I am lazy and I figured they might do something themselves).

As always, Pinterest is my saviour. I’ve pinned a few more easy crafts, if you are in need of some inspiration. Long live Pinterest!

Both the tree hands and the sun catchers were fun and easy to do. As an added extra I got her to paint a sheet of white paper red for the stick on hearts for the trees (with brushes, hands and feet) which was probably the best part for her.

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How do you feel about Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate it? 

Book Review: The Road To Enchantment.

kayamclarenKaya McLaren’s latest book, The Road to Enchantment, made me feel like I was a child curled up at my grandmother’s feet, listening intently as she told me the story of her life – or at least the first part of it.

The book blends story and information on a range of subjects, such as wine making, music and Native American culture. She weaves words to make a rich tapestry full of colour.

Here’s the (rather long) blurb:

As a young girl, Willow watched her mother leave their home in Washington State in a literal blaze of glory: she set the mattress of her cheating husband on fire in her driveway, roasting marshmallow peeps and hot dogs before the fire department arrived.

And with that, she and Willow set off to New Mexico, to a new life, to a world of arroyos and canyons bordering an Apache reservation. Willow was devastated. Her eccentric mother believed in this new life and set about starting a winery and goat ranch. But for Willow, it meant initially being bullied and feeling like an outsider. Today, as a grown woman, Willow much prefers Los Angeles and her job as a studio musician. But things tend to happen in threes: her mother dies, her boyfriend dumps her, and Willow discovers she is pregnant.

The DeVine Winery and Goat Ranch is all she has left, even if it is in financial straits and unmanageable back taxes. There is something, though, about the call of “home.” She’s surprised to find that her Apache best friend Darrel along with the rest of the community seems to think she belongs far more than she ever thought she did. Can Willow redefine what home means for her, and can she make a go of the legacy her mother left behind?

Told with Kaya McLaren’s humor and heart, The Road to Enchantment is a story about discovering that the last thing you want is sometimes the one thing you need.

The chapters switch between past and present, which takes a bit of getting used to but actually gives the story the energy I think it needs to keep the reader interested.

It’s clear Kaya is very insightful – not least on what it must be like to feel like an outsider in your formative years, with never any chance of fitting in. I got a real sense of Willow’s loneiness and frustration not just with her mother but also when she visited her father and his new family. Thank goodness for Darrel, who was her saviour. It was also lovely to feel the community gather around her, as an adult, and make her feel safe and wanted.

I became quickly invested in Willow’s story and by the end I was willing her to make it.

If you’re looking for a sweet, gentle and endearing read, this one is for you.

Format: Kindle.

My rating: Three and a half stars.

I received this book as an ARC (via NetGalley) in return for an honest review.

Remembering Classic Books From Childhood.

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“That’s going to cause bad dreams,” I thought, after pulling this school library book from Freya’s bag.

We’ve got into a nice routine at bedtime where Mark reads her four books of her choice before snuggling down for Guess How Much I Love You.

I actually flinched when I heard her request the new book last night. Having dipped into it earlier in the day, I already knew it mentioned death approximately 56,000 times – and that’s just on the first page – but I figured it’s in the nursery class bookcase, how bad can it be?

“One lion bites the zebra’s throat and holds on until it stops breathing,” I heard Mark try and read in his calming bedtime voice.

Freya is a big fan of The Lion Guard, the spinoff series from The Lion King, and knows about the Circle of Life, sort of, but I generally like to send her off to the land of nod with books that are a little less…nightmare inspiring.

As it turns out it wasn’t a problem. For her. It was me who woke up in a cold sweat thinking I was being crushed by a snake while attempting to wrestle my duvet off me.

Freya and I always start the day asking about each others dreams.

“What did you dream about, mummy?”

“That snake from your new book. How about you?”

“Ballerinas.”

How lovely.

Freya’s school puts a lot of weight behind them picking their own book and being able to bring it home to read together each week. I have yet to come across one I’m familiar with.

She also has a lot of books of her own – although in general Mark and I have picked them for her (there are NO SNAKES in any of the books I have chosen). The most requested are  by Julia Donaldson at the moment but Freya will mix in some Dr Seuss, Mog and even some Babylit books, such as Wuthering Heights.

Looking at her bookshelf got me thinking about my own childhood favourites. I still remember certain books with a great fondness – although I was several years older and mostly able to read for myself by then.

The Famous Five.

Anne of Green Gables.

Black Beauty.

Little Women

All chosen for me by my mum. I’m sure many of the books she got for me were her childhood favourites too. Timeless classics – or are they? In a few years will those titles grace her book shelves? Do older children today still read them? (I hope so because I have at least two of them in a cupboard waiting for Freya).

I wonder if Freya will look back and remember Dangerous Animals among her favourite books?

What was your favourite childhood book?