Window Watching (Picture Book Preschool)

I wrote some time ago about how living in the city means expecting things to get noisy now and then (okay, all the time), and like a good librarian I created a list of picture books to celebrate the sounds of city life.  For my daughter, it’s less about noise and more about our living room window.


Specifically, the constant stream of pedestrian and bicycle traffic that passes by our window.  She’s a regular neighborhood welcoming committee all by herself from her regular perch by the window.

When I came across Passing By by Yona Tepper, a picture book originally published in Israel, I had to share it with my girl.  In the book, a little girl named Yael observes life from her balcony.  She sees cars, trucks, bikes–even a tractor.  In the end, she sees her daddy who comes to take her for a walk.  It’s a cute story that I think city kids will get.  The repetitiveness of the text makes it most appropriate for preschoolers.

To go along with the book, I created a scavenger hunt with vehicles, animals, and other objects that we often see out our window.  Due to my lack of artistic talent, I improvised by cutting pictures out of magazines.  No tractors.  I can’t say I’ve ever seen a tractor driving around Uptown Minneapolis.

Uptown pedestrians, listen carefully as you walk down the street for a little voice saying “hi” to everyone who passes by.  That’s when you’ve found where I live. :)

See more posts for Parents & Educators here or follow my Kids Activities & Education Board on Pinterest for more preschool fun.

Disclosure: links are affiliate links. A portion of purchases made via these links earns a commission for this blog. Thanks for your support! (Book reviewed from copy ILL’d from my library–as you can tell from the picture!)

Looking closely in my neighborhood

I feel like I spend a lot of  energy advocating for Uptown.  That probably sounds strange to people who know Minneapolis.  Uptown is a vibrant neighborhood, full of shops and restaurants. Most people probably think “night life” or “hipster” when they hear Uptown, and they wonder why I’m talking about it on a blog that is mostly about family life.

What I tell people is this: Look more closely.  You might be surprised at what you see.  My Uptown is for families.  It is for hidden treasures.  It is for statements.

Three free ballons
These sweets are all over the neighborhood if you look.

You can find more photos from in and around Minneapolis on my photoblog.

What do you see in your community that other people miss?  What makes your neighborhood or city a good fit for you?

My Minnesota

Last spring my husband wrote about sharing an aspect of his childhood with our daughter when Porky’s closed. This past weekend, it was my turn to revisit my childhood with my family in tow as we followed the roads north for hunting season.

I am not a hunter.  I’ve never shot a gun or even went out to the deer stand to keep someone company.  For me, hunting season memories are about time off school, playing outside (wearing blaze orange) until it got too cold, then coming inside to warm up with hot chocolate and movies.  Of course, I was just a kid.  My family moved away from Minnesota when I was still young, and hunting season stopped having much meaning to me beyond the age of eight or nine.  I hadn’t even been back to my home town in northern Minnesota since I was a young teenager despite having moved back to the state almost eight years ago.

My Minnesota has shifted from childhood memories of the rural north to my everyday world of city buses, apartment buildings, and lots of people.  My Minnesota hums with excitement.  It is busy and active–full of life, people, and heart.  There are so many reasons to love my Minnesota.

As we drove north, it was hard not to look back anxiously.  It felt like we were leaving everything behind.  We passed through towns that seemed to be made up of one or two businesses and maybe twice as many houses.  My dad’s long dirt driveway twisted and turned through the trees before it opened up to the house.  As we sat around the kitchen table of my childhood home, my grandma commented at was a great location we had: “You can’t even see the road from here! Or the neighbors!”  I had noted this as well–not quite as positively.

Being back “home” meant old family pictures and convincing my kiddo that the little babies in the pictures were me or her uncle.  It meant watching out the window as my dad and my little one played outside (wearing blaze orange), and it meant curling up in front of a nature documentary with my honey after dinner.  It was just what I remembered.

It may be a bit quieter up there than I’m used to these days, but it’s no less full.  There’s always something to be done (even if it’s just remembering where you come from).  You can’t see your neighbors from your window, but they are sure to stop by.

I guess my Minnesota can stretch from here to there after all.

Life in this City

“Lulled by rumble, babble, beep,

let these little children sleep;

let these city girls and boys

dream a music in the noise,

hear a tune the city plucks

up from buses, up from trucks . . .”

–from “Manhattan Lullaby” by Norma Farber in Sky Scrape/City Scape

We may not live in a high-rise building in Manhattan, but we do live in a city.  Our city, our neighborhood, has its own lullaby, which is a bit of a controversy among some residents.

It is rarely quiet on our block.  The nearby park offers a steady beat of basketball bounces accented by the squeal of swings and lots of child-like laughter.  They constant stream of pedestrian traffic keeps us connected to our neighborhood through the snippets of conversation and laughter that float up to our windows.  This sort of noise is among my favorite parts of city life.

We don’t live close enough to the night-life for which our neighborhood is known for me to comment directly on that issue, but I will say that if you take picture books as the gauge of what city life ought to be, a high level of noisiness should be expected. :)