Thursday, April 22, 2010

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars review

Happy Earth Day!

I love this time of year. I love it when people are focused on the good things we can do for the planet we share. I like seeing the "greener" options brought forth in store displays.

There are so many things we can do every day to lessen our impact on the Earth. I've always thought that sounded great, but since I had kids, it means more to me. I guess it's because I actually really care about what the Earth is like after I'm gone. My babies will still be here, and my grandbabies, etc.

I have truly enjoyed making eco-friendly changes like changing to more natural cleaners, switching to cloth diapers, wipes, napkins, etc. and starting to eliminate many of the plastic containers in my kitchen in lieu of glass or steel. I am learning more every year about how to grow food, and I have been opting more for local meat rather than the stuff in the store cases.

But Earth Day, to me, is more than just buying some twisty light bulbs and a metal water bottle. I really believe we shouldn't forget this stuff once April ends. I also think we should be instilling these responsible actions in our children.

Kids aren't grown-ups, though. We can tell them over and over why they should recycle or not litter, and yes, some of it will sink in, but I think they need to really love the Earth in order to respect it. That's why I like to take my kids out into the natural world as much as possible. I want them to love it as much as I do. I want them to realize what we are trying to protect.

This summer is Logan's last summer before he starts kindergarten--the beginning of his "real" school years. I feel like I need to make this summer something really special. Not Disney World special, but more quality-time-at-home-enjoying-the-little-things special.

I recently came across a book and checked it out from the local library and I am so excited about it, I just have to share. It's a book that I think is going to help me make this summer one to remember: Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars by Sharon Lovejoy.

This book says "Grandma's Bag of Tricks" on the top of it, but really it is perfect for parents, too. It is packed with so many awesome little projects that you can do with your kids to help them appreciate nature. They won't even realize they are learning things, they'll just have fun doing it.

I have read the book, and I am going to have to purchase a copy of it for myself, because I think it's something I'll go back to time and time again. There are just so many great things to do with kids. It kind of reminds me of having a children's museum at home.

I mixed up a container of the bubble solution last night and we're going to try making some big bubbles at home today. I have also tried one of the recipes out of the book, a macaroni and cheese recipe, and it turned out so delicious. And the other day, Logan and I tackled one of the title projects: Toad cottages! You decorate some terra cotta pots and then prop them up on small rocks so toads can hide underneath. We had a lot of fun painting them, and today we will be scouting out perfect locations around our yard.

Logan painting a toad cottage

Our toad cottages drying in the sun

There are so many more projects I can't wait to try out of the book, including making paper, butterfly feeders, making (and cooking in) a solar oven made from a pizza box, baiting moths for observation, planting wheat grass name gardens and creating whimsical welcome places around the yard for any fairies that might happen to stop by. It's just impossible to mention all the special treasures found throughout this book. I got excited reading it, just thinking about all the possibilities.

Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars is arranged in an easy-to-read way, and it's embellished with photos of the author's grandchildren and some extremely charming little drawings. The amount of thought she put into every part of this book is amazing. You can tell she truly believes in sharing the natural world with her grandkids.

I strongly suggest this book to any parents or grandparents who want to nurture a love for the natural world in their children and grandchildren.

Check out Sharon's blog here.

You can find Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars here at, as well as other books by Lovejoy, which I can't wait to read!