Did you ever read the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, The Long Winter? In reality, this winter has had little in common with that title, as we haven’t had blizzard after blizzard for month one end, and our whole town isn’t in danger of starving to death (or freezing to death), because the trains haven’t been able to get through. But compared to other winters we’ve had here, it has been a very long winter.
I know it doesn’t look like much in the picture (certainly nothing compared to the foot and a half of snow we had in that one January storm), but we have snow on top of sleet on top of ice right now, to go with our bitterly cold wind chills. That’s a pretty good metaphor for what the whole winter has been, and to be frank, I’m tired of it! Come July, however, I’ll probably have forgotten that I ever felt this way…such is life in the Midwest!
This is the view from our front door this morning:
Even though it looks like snow, it’s all sleet (on top of a thin layer of ice). It’s quite slippery out there, although, I suppose it could be worse…it could be all ice! We’re not done with winter weather for the day, however…the snow isn’t even supposed to get here until later!
We had some freezing rain yesterday. I didn’t think there had been that much, but based on the sheet of ice covering our driveway this morning, and the icicles hanging from our tree, I guess there was more than I thought!
There’s more possible ice in the forecast for Monday, but I’m hoping that maybe that ends up just being rain. I like snow, but ice is the worst!
We only had three days of school this week. We couldn’t be normal and do school Monday-Wednesday, though. We had school Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. I know, we’re weird. Monday was a regular day of Christmas school, because I had six days worth of lessons for Christmas in England, so we couldn’t cram everything into one week. That day’s theme was Christmas in present-day England. We read The Jolly Christmas Postman and A Child’s Christmas in Wales, as well as looked through Christmas in England, to compare a modern English Christmas to our own (they’re very similar!). We had math and writing assignments, as well.
Tuesday was our annual “Nutcracker Day.” We read what is now my favorite picture book of the Nutcracker…I’m so glad I borrowed it from the library! We already had one very short picture book that is also short on details (but does have nice illustrations), and one full version of both Nutcracker stories, which is a bit ponderous to read in one sitting, but is very detailed, and lacks illustrations. I’ve looked at many other versions in bookstores, and never found one I really liked, but I grabbed this one at the library, and it’s just what I wanted. The length of the story is just right…it took about a half-hour to read, which meant I still had everyone’s attention at the end, but it was full of good detail. And the illustrations were wonderful! I’ll be adding this to our permanent collection before next Christmas, I’m sure. We also read The Day Before Christmas, which is a bittersweet story about a little girl and her grandfather, who go to see a performance of the ballet together, just as the grandfather used to do with his daughter, the girl’s mother, before she died. The story perfectly captures the excitement of going to the ballet, especially for the first time.
This year, we watched two productions of the Nutcracker, instead of our usual one. Of course, we had to see our standard (and favorite!), version…the San Fransisco Ballet’s interpretation of the classic story. To go along with Christmas School this year, we also watched the Royal Ballet production, which isn’t quite as captivating as the San Francisco Ballet, but comes close.
Today we had our much-anticipated Christmas tea party:
We also did our first day of winter activities, which included reading several winter-themed books (I love the copy of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening we got this year!), and doing a fun craft:
Now we’re on vacation for a few weeks…I’m really looking forward to the break! I love Christmas and homeschooling, but when you put them together, it’s exhausting!
Last year, I posted a list of books we read for our “Christmas in American History” unit. I decided to re-organize that list of books, removing some that we don’t normally read, and adding a few new ones for this year. Later, I’ll be creating a seperate list, which will contain the books we’re using this year for “Christmas in England,” but won’t necessarily use on a yearly basis.
- Jotham’s Journey (This and the following two books are part of an Advent series by Arnold Ytreeide–we read one of them out loud each year)
- Bartholomew’s Passage
- Tabitha’s Travels
- The Jesse Tree Kit (This is our other daily religion read-aloud for the Advent season–each day has a short narration as well as a corresponding Bible passage to read.)
- The Very First Christmas
- Three Wise Women of Christmas
- The Visit of the Wise Men
- Fear Not, Joseph!
- The Crippled Lamb
- From Heaven Above
- The First Christmas
- Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
- Lucia, Saint of Light
Christmas in America
- Christmas in Williamsburg
- Felicity’s Surprise
- A Surprise for Caroline
- Josefina’s Surprise
- Kirsten’s Surprise
- Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury
- Addy’s Surprise
- Samantha’s Surprise
- O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi
- Kit’s Surprise
- An Orange for Frankie
- The Carpenter’s Gift
- Molly’s Surprise
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- The Day Before Christmas
- Degas and the Little Dancer
- The Story of the Nutcracker Ballet
- The Nutcracker
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and the Tale of the Nutcracker
Book Basket Books–(These are any Christmas books we happened to have in the house, some from past “Christmas Around the World” units, and some from previous curriculum, or just for fun!)
- The Family Under the Bridge
- The Light at Tern Rock
- A Christmas Carol (This is a wonderful edition, with beautiful illustrations, and a bonus short story!)
- Nutcracker and Mouse King and The Tale of the Nutcracker
- Christmas in the Trenches
- The Kingfisher Book of Classic Christmas Stories
- The Lion Storyteller Christmas Book
- Too Many Tamales
- The Twelve Days of Christmas (There are many lovely, illustrated versions of this song out there, but this one is my favorite)
- A Child’s Christmas in Wales
- The Autobiography of Santa Claus (This and the following book, although Santa focused, are actually great stories, so I make them available for Turkey and Bunny to read during the Christmas season.)
- How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas
- A Pioneer Christmas
Winter Books (As long as winter begins during the Christmas season, I’ll include the books we always read on the first day of winter)
This is how I’m feeling after the amazing end to the Cardinals baseball season:
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” Rogers Hornsby
This has been a very confusing weekend.
It looks like winter–snow covering the trees, wintry mix falling from the sky, roads kind of slushy…
But are those flowers under the snow on this bush?
And tiny, brand new, green leaves on this tree?
And this poor, snow-covered magnolia…I don’t think magnolia flowers are used to weather liked this…
And the daffodils…they could barely hold their heads up under the weight of the snow.
Yesterday, we broke out the winter coats again, and now we’re wondering if the trees will even finish blooming this year, or if the hard freeze will bring an end to our beautiful spring.
March weather can always be counted on to be totally weird!