Hunkered Down

December 18, 2012 · 29 comments


Snow is nice because it covers up all the mud and piles of junk and other unsightly things. It sort of smooths out the world, giving the illusion of tidiness. I like that.

It snows up here more often than it does in the (Willamette) valley. We’re up around 800 feet elevation, so we get a little extra winter weather. As long as I don’t have to leave our property (which would entail driving down our extraordinarily steep driveway and semi-private road), I’m pretty happy when it snows.

We had a crazy wind storm here on Sunday night. I barely slept all night, partly because the wind was so dang loud as was the barrage of tree debris pelting our metal roof and partly because I couldn’t help but have visions of giant trees falling on our tiny house (or one of the trees below our house tipping over and upsetting the pseudo-foundation, throwing the whole cabin totally off kilter). Henry got up two or three times in the night to make sure that no lids had blown off bee boxes, which would leave the poor buggers exposed, but thankfully with the help of heavy cinder blocks, the lids stayed secured. Monday morning came without the loss of any big trees or major damage, but the whole place was littered with tree branches and bits of arboreal ephemera. I do not like windstorms, not one little bit.







The kids and I stayed indoors for most of the day, cleaning, playing with Legos, having impromptu dance parties, and snacking. Yesterday, I finished reading Little House in the Big Woods (clichéd, I know) out loud, and today we started in on Farmer Boy. I think I may need to pre-screen my children’s literature a little more thoroughly after unexpectedly encountering more than a little of what I would deem offensive/violent/unpleasantly old-school content. The kids seemed unscathed, but still…

Reading chapter books aloud is something newish for us, although now that we’ve started, we love it. The last one we read together was Charlotte’s Web, which left me in a heap of tears, but the kids thought it was great. I’ve been wracking my brain to remember what I like to read/hear in early elementary school (or pre-K), but somehow, that bit of my past is a little fuzzy in my memory. I’d love to hear your suggestions.


And then, of course, I made a pie because that’s what one is supposed to do to ward off cabin fever, right? I used frozen blueberries and peaches with some turbinado sugar and flour for the filling. The crust wasn’t my best effort, but no one complained. Actually, the thing kinda tasted a little like summer. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t seem like summer has been gone that long, maybe because we’re just getting started in on our supply of canned and frozen goods, but with snow on the ground and Christmas just around the corner, I guess I’ll have to accept this very definite changing of seasons. *sigh*

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

ga447 December 19, 2012 at 4:03 am

We are expecting our first snow storm, tomorrow and we are ready for it. I live in the midwest and I hate the wind, you never get any sleep and you don’t know what damage is outside. Your pie is wonderful, I have been wanting a piece a pie for awhile now and I think it is time. Reading out loud is wonderful and I am so glad your children are enjoying it.


Sasha December 19, 2012 at 7:15 am

Gorgeous!! My Mom used to read to us at night – We always enjoyed reading the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes together – The Speckled Band was my favorite story!


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Sherlock Holmes is one of those classics that I’ve heard of but never explored. I’ll put it on the library list.


Abby December 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

I remember being read a copy of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows at that age. Or, more than likely, I remember being told I was read the book. There was a whole series, I think, if the kids decide they like it.


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I think I read The Wind in the Willows as a kid and wasn’t that thrilled. That said, I also was not impressed by any of the Little House books in my early years either, so maybe I should give it a second go.


Tonia December 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

The Laura Ingalls Wilder books were my FAVORITE as a child. Also everything/anything by Roald Dahl. My parents also read us the classic Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales.


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I also loved anything Roald Dahl as a kid, but I’m wondering if those stories may be a few years ahead of us now. His story telling is so creative that I fear the kids might miss a lot (though I guess that’s not a big deal).


laura December 19, 2012 at 9:05 am

Wonderful photos! And I also read out loud to my boys. We all enjoyed it!! And I know what you mean about pre screening. One time my husband and I found the most beautifully preserved copy of Robin Hood in a used book store. We could’t wait to start reading it aloud. About 8 words into the book (we never look prior to reading that night) we realized it was a story about a private eye, drugs, and murder! The cover slammed shut instantly. The one series we read aloud and they later re-read to themselves is “the borrowers”. There are a few books in the series. Very imaginative!


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Never heard of The Borrowers, but you’re the second person to suggest it, so I’ll have to check it out.


Colleen December 19, 2012 at 9:59 am

I remember reading James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Mouse and the Motorcycle. I might have to dig these up and read to my kiddos!


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:43 pm



Lisa December 19, 2012 at 11:30 am

I have been thinking a lot in recent months about chapter books, wondering when we’ll get to start reading them together. I reread all the Little House books during my pregnancy, and I know what you mean about some of the stuff, but I was still enamored of them, and can’t wait to read them with Arlo.

Loving everyone else’s suggestions!

I have a a couple shelves on one of our bookshelves stocked and ready to go with some favorite chapter books from my childhood — I’ll have to go have a browse and report back with a couple suggestions. One thing off the top of my head — my parents got me Newberry award box sets for Christmas for two or three years, and I LOVED those. So of course those were when I was reading chapter books on my own, but I wonder if any of those would be good read-alouds too?


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I really, really like to read young adult fiction and have gone through phases in my adult life of reading or rereading dozens of kids books including many off the Newberry award list. I’m just having trouble sorting out the appropriate age for some of my favorites, and my memory is better when it comes to the slightly older (in age) set.


kara December 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm

So pretty! I’m really jealous of beautiful snow photos since we don’t get any snow here… but on the other hand, I’m boo-hooing that it is ONLY 40 degrees outside, so I should probably be careful what I wish for. The bee yard looks awesome! I reread the Little House series last winter, and it was awesome. Enjoy!


michelle December 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

We read my 5.5 year old two that she really liked: Ramona the Pest (the best one to start with for young children b/c it’s where Ramona starts Kindergarten — the earliest book from her point of view) and the Betsy-Tacy books. Betsy-Tacy books are lovely and sweet and simple. They’re definitely about girls and are a bit “girly” as a result — but again, charming and sweet. In another year or two, I’m going to introduce The Penderwicks. I read it last year to see if my kids would enjoy it, and I think it’s probably best for a 6 or 7 year old. Super awesome book though. Can’t wait to read it to them.

PS I think your blog is neat!
PPS I miss bee posts! The extractions are FASCINATING.


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

Anything Beverly Cleary was a favorite in my younger years. I still remember that the first chapter book I ever read on my own was Henry and Ribsy, and I can still remember bits of it though it’s been +/- 22 years since the first go.

I don’t Betsy-Tacy or The Penderwicks, but I’ll look for them at the library. Charlotte is definitely (to my dismay) into “girly”, and Levi is also kind of a softy and probably plays with my old Barbies more than his sister.

The bees are hunkered down for the winter, too, but I did get a new macro camera lens recently, so when they’re up and about, expect a lot of (hopefully) good photos.


M. December 19, 2012 at 1:56 pm

We always loved Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, A Girl of the Limberlost (maybe a couple of years down the line for you and your little ones), Island of the Blue Dolphins (also when they’re a bit older), Pippi Longstocking, The Borrowers, the Secret Garden, and all of course all of the other Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

Great snow pictures! I can relate to enjoying the moment when the outdoor clutter becomes covered in snow and is no longer visible 🙂


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Pippi Longstocking! Love! Most of the others are new to me, but I’ll add them to the library list.


Kim December 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Lovely, lovely photos. Thanks for sharing. Even down in town we got enough snow to make things feel awfully merry and bright. The first snowfall is so magical and when it comes at Christmastime, it is such a gift.

Book suggestions:
* My Father’s Dragon (such a fun adventure story and a great first chapter book; we’ve given this as a gift to lots of 4-5 year olds and they always love it)
* anything by Beverly Cleary
* The Boxcar Children
* Stuart Little
* The Phantom Tollbooth (may need to wait a couple years; we’re reading it with our 4 year old who enjoys it, but also misses a lot)
* Catwings (by Ursula K. LeGuin; I didn’t realize until recently that she’d written books for younger children)
* Mr. Popper’s Penguins
* Pippi Longstocking
* Sarah, Plain and Tall
* Paddle-to-the-Sea (I hope you look this one up if you aren’t already familiar with it. It is such a wonderful book. Great artwork (it received a Caldecott honor) and so informative. It is absolutely fascinating. I loved it as a child and our 4 year old adores it, too. Also good for older elementary students.)

Will add more as I think of them. I love seeing other people’s suggestions!


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I forgot to mention that the first chapter books we ever read with the kids was the My Father’s Dragon set. So good and really easy to read/age appropriate!

As I was writing this post, I started thinking about the Boxcar Children. I think I read every one in 2nd/3rd grade, and there’ve gotta be at least 20.

Don’t know Paddle-to-the-Sea, but it sounds like it’s worth checking into. Is Caldecott the younger-reader equivalent of Newberry? I thought it was more for picture books (which my kids still love, by the way).


Kim December 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm

The Caldecott is awarded for illustrations, but Paddle-to-the-Sea is text heavy and written as a picture/chapter book. I highly recommend it!


Camille December 19, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Thanks for your suggestions, everyone! I could (and would love to) talk about kids books for weeks on end. Reading was such a formative and magical part of my childhood that I’m really looking forward to creating that magic again for my kids.


Jessica December 19, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Another one to add to everyone’s great suggestions … the Magic Treehouse series. They are about a brother and sister who find a magic treehouse, filled with books. The author (who happens to be my boss’s sister) was recently on NBC – you can watch these clips to find out more about her books:


dixiebelle December 19, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Gorgeous photos, pie looks delicious! We have been doing chapter books for our kids for a few years now, including The Magic Faraway Tree (my husband read that one to them, as it annoyed me!) and all the LHOTP series (I love those, so read all those to them). We’ve recently started playing cards as a family too, as the kids (at 7 and almost 5) know colours and numbers (and ‘sticking to the rules’) enough to play UNO.

Have a wonderful holiday season! It is boiling hot here in Australia…

Stay safe.


Meg December 20, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Boxcar Children (the first one had me daydreaming for weeks)
Cricket in Times Square
My Side of the Mountain (maybe in a year or two)
Ramona (Bev Cleary)
Stuart Little

I would love to be snowed into a cabin….a great chance to read.


Molly December 20, 2012 at 10:28 pm

My son is in the 1st grade and we have just finished the second book in the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series. There was just a tiny bit of editing, but mostly pretty fun. And of course there are always the fairy tales. My son’s teacher recommended anything of that kind. I too really like the classics, and was just going to start the Little House series, so good to know ahead of time. Oh! Since you did the sad already – you could try Old Yeller. If I am doing the reading (the kids can read their own choices later) I want it to be a book I can get into too. After some digging here is my new list…
The Giver series by Louis Lowry
The Wizard of Oz
Lemony Snicket series

Just found the best list EVER….I like to buy local, but have no problems using global resources 😉


Eric December 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

I loved My Side of the Mountain… along with anything else by Jean Craighead George.


Malia December 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I loved reading Dr. Doolittle when I was in 2nd grade


EcoGrrl December 27, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Holy mackerel. 800 feet makes quite a difference. Way different than here in north Portland! 🙂 Beautiful dreamy pix 🙂


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