Sunday, October 6, 2013

Planning For The Inevitable Fall

The day is gorgeous here, with the sun shining high in the sky and the temperatures soaring well into the 80s again today.  But the leaves have begun their inevitable fall, crisping slightly at the edges while they turn their glorious shades of flame, before letting go and diving toward the earth just in time for winter's chill.

If you listen carefully, you can hear their loss in the increasing rustle of the leaves, rattling their last songs against the coming howling winds of winter.

Bad weather is coming.  Let the planning begin.

This is the time of year where I begin to take stock of what we have in our craft closet and what I have put away in our "snow day" stash.  This is important stuff, if only to stave off the cries of "I'm booooooored" when the weather gets nasty.

I began our craft closet and bad weather craft and activity stash as an off-shoot of the "rainy day cupboard" that Sarah Ban Breathnach discusses in her Mrs. Sharp's Traditions book.  It is such a fantastic idea, and a lifesaver for momma's everywhere -- especially those with young children who get impatient about being stuck indoors for more than five minutes at a time.  As she says in the book:
...What can be of enormous benefit to both parents and children is a plan to help them realize it is never really the weather that is disagreeable, only our attitudes toward it.  Even the stormiest hours can be made bright if there are special activities that are enjoyed only on rainy days....
This is true not just for rainy days at our house but, especially, snow days that stretch beyond a single day away from school due to inclement conditions.

At our house, the craft closet is always open for perusing and using.  It includes a fairly constant assortment of colored cardstock, glue sticks, construction paper, scissors and other hole-punch goodies, drawing books, drawing paper, colored pencils and crayons and markers of all sorts, and a whole host of other goodies that my wee girlie (and me, too!) love to doodle and color and play with on bad weather days and for school projects alike.

The "Rainy Day Cupboard" portion, though, is kept separate and is only brought out on the worst weather days or when we are in the throes of an extended bout of sickness, when boredom is at its peak and cabin fever has begun to set in with a vengeance.

This I stock with:

-- Special coloring books -- like these from Ruth Heller, who has a wide variety of complex designs for coloring that are wonderfully intricate and absolutely beautiful.

-- DVDs of movies we've never seen before (harder and harder to find, thanks to Netflix, but still something I can occasionally scrounge out of the $5 sale bin -- The Last Starfighter was a big hit this past year).

-- Craft projects that do discreet things, like little sewing samplers, "make a bracelet" sets, painting projects, model kits and such.  I find a lot of these in the sale bin or the clearance section at the craft store and stash them away in a basket in our hall closet, so I always have something we can complete in a day at the ready.

--  New puzzles and books of crosswords and other mental puzzles that we can work together or that The Peanut can tackle on her own.

This year, we're going to start something new, that I hope will bear fruit for the rest of her life.  I've gotten a set of cookbook subject divider tabs that fit into a three-ring binder. My goal is for us to pick out one recipe a month, over the next few years, that we can make together, the recipe for which she can stash in her own cookbook. We'll build it recipe by recipe, eventually working up to entire meals worth of recipes, so that when she graduates from high school and moves on to college, she'll be able to feed herself with nutritious and homemade food.

I've heard far too many horror stories from friends with older kids who fed themselves on ramen noodles, cereal and take-out ick, and I would love for The Peanut to pick up some culinary skills and an expectation or two of healthier lifestyle before she leaves our roof.  When Mr. ReddHedd and I first got married, we were still in law school, and we were able to manage decent food on a very, very tight budget because I learned to cook when I was younger.  I want to give The Peanut that same gift, which can truly benefit you for a lifetime.  I'm also secretly hoping that it will broaden her food palate a bit, especially with regard to veggies.

We may work up to a recipe a week if she enjoys it, for a "family night" meal of sorts.  But, for now anyway, I thought we start with one recipe a month and go forward from there.

Do you do something similar at your house?  I'd love to know how it has worked for you!

Think about starting a craft closet and a rainy day cupboard at your house before winter winds begin to blow.  It truly does make a difference between barely getting through a snow day and thriving during a whole week of storms.

(Photo via Orlando Contreras Lopez.  Lovely shot.)

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