Mid-winter amusements: books, a game, and a cowl

Belén and Susanna go through fairy books like they do toilet paper.

It’s hard for me to tell one book from another with all their shimmering covers and cookie-cutter sketches. Sometimes, during a library run, when I see their armfuls of fairy books I wonder if I should intervene, but then I remember my Sweet Valley Twins days and remind myself they won’t be reading them forever.


I found Susanna “playing” in her fort. Bélen tore herself away from her books; she’s shoveling in the background.


This morning, I noticed Belén was halfway through Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women (an abridged version). Trying to appear non-partisan, I asked her how she liked it. Then I asked her how it compared to one of her fairy books. Was it dull or more interesting?

“Well,” she said, “I can imagine it better.  Every page makes pictures in my mind.”

I wanted to do a little victory dance in the kitchen, right then, for literature beyond fairies!

Of course, when we read out loud to the girls, it’s mommy’s and daddy’s choice. And fairy books don’t stand a chance–especially when it comes to Daddy.

The following two books have been our favourite read alouds in recent months. These are the kind of books that can engross two girls, a 35-year-old woman and her 41-year-old husband.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  No matter what your age or gender, I recommend this one. (If you click on the link you will see a review recording a 10-year-old boy’s enthusiasm for it.) In our home, this story of adversity and courage inspired several intense discussions.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin is an adventure story, weaving Chinese folklore and a bit of philosophy into an entertaining read.


Last week, during an unexpected trip to the city, I found myself wandering through the aisles of a quaint wool shop. I’m not sure what overcame me. Perhaps it was the cozy fireplace in the corner; the finished products displayed around the store; or maybe the inspiring conversation I eavesdropped on between two experienced knitters. However it happened, I arrived at the cash register with my hands full of wool. When the cashier gave me the total, I had to ask her to repeat it.  Surely that can’t be right, I thought. I wouldn’t even buy an outfit for myself at that price… all I’m getting is a scarf–and I have to knit it yet!

The woman behind the counter repeated the same amount, so I grinned weakly and handed her my credit card.

Once I brought the wool home and started working with it, I wasn’t sure why I bought it. The colour combination isn’t my favourite–I never wear pastels, and I didn’t have a plan in mind for it. I think wool stores tend to do that to you.


By the way, I’m not a real knitter. I’ve knitted all kinds of novice projects over the last 15 years and I’ve had to look up how to cast-on every single time.  In fact, I don’t know anyone–who actually knits–who does it as poorly as I. Forget about flashing needles and flying fingers.  After doing it all these years, I can still make knitting look hard, maybe even painful.

But despite the cost, the colour of the wool, and my clumsy hands, I’m still itching to wrap my hands around the needles. I feel like a poser saying it’s therapeutic (see above paragraph), but it really is! I wait all day, until evening when Stan starts reading to the girls, to pick up the knotted mess of a torn-apart skein and get into a rhythm.  A stuttering, labourious rhythm, but a comforting cadence nonetheless.


I’m hoping a chunky-looking cowl will come out of all this.  I’m not using a pattern–just knitting and purling whenever I feel like it and switching it up to give it some texture.  I might make it long enough for two loops, then finish it up with some large wooden buttons. It’s the perfect project for my knitting personality: easy, quick and freestlye!


In our family of four, one of us has a lot of trouble with losing. Competition is great when this certain person is winning, but when she isn’t–everyone is miserable.  We played telephone pictionary (see how to play here) with our friends this weekend and I remembered, again, why I like it so much. Everyone wins, it involves a little storytelling, a lot of laughing, and all you need is a few pieces of scrap paper and some pencils.

friends and a rip-roaring game of telephone pictionary

A weekend sleepover with our friends Kent, Shalain, Makenzie and Lake

What are you all reading? Knitting? Playing?



4 thoughts on “Mid-winter amusements: books, a game, and a cowl

  1. I love recommendations for good children’s books and I love elibraries and of course real libraries too! We’ve just checked out A Little Princess to start reading before bed!

  2. yes, yarn stores can make me weak in the knees… the possibilities … the dreams … I have many unfinished projects but always feel the need to start another. Thankfully I do manage to complete something once in a while. God bless you during these weeks of Lent.

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