Gifts Ideas (That Have Been A Hit) From A Wanna-Be-Minimalist, Mother of Four.

Here’s A List of Gifts That have been a hit in our home :


Butterfly wings, Simple, inexpensive and my girls still play with them  three years later people-  three


Product Details

Flash lights again practical, simple and my children love them. For older children Reading lights.

tooth brush


Battery Operated Toothbrushes I know, it’s terribly practical, arguably worse than socks, and maybe my children are odd but they love getting these. I also buy my girls new hair ties, clips, brushes and the men in my life may get combs & shaving supplies (lame or genius? You decide).


Water Colored Coloring pencils   for the older children and Crayons for the younger ones.  I also get new pencil sharpeners and They usually get a coloring book or a new notebook to go with them. Cute Bookbags and pencil cases are always nice to have (I love goldfish) I found this at TheCrownedRabbit (I love etsy):

Blocks, and if you already have blocks (most of us do)  just sneak some of the old blocks from the toy room, take a sharpie, and make them into buildings, and ta-da new blocks!: here's an EXTREMELY easy way to personalize some plain wooden blocks: grab a sharpie and decorate them with architectural details / window frames / etc.

Balancing toys. I love balancing toys and so do babies, toddlers and older children. The great thing about them is you can just store them with the blocks. I have bought a few sets in the past and I found these on etsy:

so cute, admittedly pricey, but cute! There are lots of other (more affordable) on etsy. (Be careful when buying online sometimes it’s hard to tell the scale and they turn out to be choking hazard size. )

Sugar Lulu Sweet Savings Bank SetPiggy Banks. The piggy banks I bought last year are still in use. I like the ones divided up into save, spend, give. You can put little treats inside too.

These Holy Heroes CDs are really wonderful for boys or girls, all my children love listening to them, and I’ve learned a lot too.

Still got nothing? What activities are they in? My girls are in gymnastics so new leotards, silly scrunches are always welcomed. Movies are also fun to get and of course, Books, I always get them Books. But that’s for another post . .


And for the record,  socks make a great gift.


-Mrs. Karl T. Cooper, Jr.


Jesse Tree Ornaments to Color


These Ornaments are now available at Marginalia Books as an instant download! I’m so happy with how they turned out. Use coupon code: advent to receive 35%off.

Gift Ideas for Children: Something to Read Edition.

Is it too early for a Christmas wish list?


Here’s ours:



I have been eyeing these two books for months. The illustrations are just stunning! And with all the weed bouquets that grace my vases and captured caterpillars that fill my Mason jars, I like to think that my children our budding naturalists. These are sure to help them along the way.

The Golden Book of Birds

The Golden Book of Birds, 1945, Little Golden Book

I have been thinking of getting this one for my youngest naturalist. Such a dear little golden book!


The MouseWife

We are big fans of Rumer Godden in this household. My girls’ favorite so far has been The doll’s house. But Fu-Dog, The Kitchen Madonna, Impunity Jane and The Mouse House are also much loved by them. We have not read The Mousewife yet and it looks like an endearing tale.

The Magic Nesting Doll 

We have the Lion and the Lady which is such a beautiful book.  Jacqueline Ogburn and Laurel Long make an extremely talented team both the storytelling and the artwork are arresting.

What’s on your wish list this year?

Children in Dystopia


Dystopian fiction is a genre I avoid. So is science fiction. However I found myself allured to Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go, despite its classification as science fiction, and unwitting of its classification as dystopian literature. Why did I read so far outside my usual preferences? Because (perhaps because the classroom was such an exotic world to my homeschooled childhood) I often have a strong pull toward school stories. A book about a unusual school for gifted children proved irresistible.

Never Let Me Go is charged with the pleasure of unwrapping surprise after surprise. True, there is a gradual unveiling of a dimly understood horror. But there is also the miraculous development of friendship and love, of complex and beautiful characters. The true texture of childhood, with its concomitant menace and tensions, is given here: the piecing together of clues about the adult world, sometimes very wildly; the significance of “games” as apparatus to interpret the universe, to reconcile it with the interior world where we know what *ought* to be.

Ishiguro’s novel, as few do, meshed with my own thought processes to the extent that I dreamed about the book regularly during the period in which I was reading it. However, the other recent read that affected me that way was also oddly a dystopian school story, the kid lit book The Mysterious Benedict Society. It has some striking similarities to Never Let Me Go, being about gifted children, in a “privileged” school setting, working together to unmask the real motives of the adult authority figures they deal with.


As a high school age reader, I absorbed a lot of Sozhenitsyn’s writings. These too are dystopian but they are dystopian literature of witness. Like the two books already mentioned, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich took over my dreams during the week I read it. It lingered in my mind a long time afterward, as if the prison camp had been a personal memory.


School is for many children a dystopian experience: a totalitarian system, a social concrete jungle, an indoctrination camp. Within and outside this world, the growing soul struggles for its nourishment. Joseph Brodsky, who grew up in Soviet Russia, relates the experience of childhood behind the Iron Curtain to the lives of school children everywhere in the closing words of his essay “Less Than One.” On his way to school, “if he had two extra minutes,” the little boy would pause “slide down on the ice and take twenty or thirty steps to the middle. All this time he would be thinking about what the fish were doing under such heavy ice.” Then he runs the rest of the way to school and gets settled in his seat. “It is a big room with three rows of desks, a portrait of the Leader on the wall behind the teacher’s chair, a map with two hemispheres of which only one is legal. The little boy takes his seat, opens his briefcase, puts his pen and notebook on the desk, lifts his face, and prepares himself to hear drivel.”

It is those two extra minutes the authorities have disregarded that will be their downfall. It is that fleeting experience of what is real that exposes their entire project as “drivel.”

-Mrs. Aldertree