--but I have since come to suspect, as has most of the world, if the rise in popularity of adult coloring books can be trusted, that there is something particularly satisfying, in an almost meditative way, about just... coloring.
And that's why we often spend our time exactly here, doing exactly this:
I tend to sneakily saturate our coloring and listening with educational selections. Fortunately, the audio version of Joy Hakim's The History of Us is quite well done, so much so that Syd, my main listener/colorer, will usually choose to keep feeding discs into the stereo in order to listen to the entire book, if I start her off with it. She also just finished listening to Harriet the Spy on CD, and right this second, actually, is sitting in the playroom windowseat, petting the cat, and listening to the Land of Stories series on Playaways.
Note: I will tolerate her telling me the entire plot of Land of Stories, even though that probably takes longer than it would just to listen to them, but I require her to listen to Land of Stories on headphones, because I. Cannot. STAND. THEM!!!!!!!!!
Syd is as voracious a consumer of audiobooks as Will is of print books, so I should probably stop right here and
Yes, that list is for real. Mind you, some of those titles are ones that she chose for herself, and some are titles that I'm strewing for her to find. And that doesn't count the audiobooks that I have for myself, of course--something dry on Jamestown and an alternate history of the American Revolution. Super fun, right?
The kids are also quite tolerant of my sneaky stacking of their coloring book collection with educational titles. Here's their shelf of coloring and puzzle books:
And yep, 99.9% of those are educational. My favorite publishers are Dover, Bellerophon, and Peterson, and if I ever find a clean copy of one of those books at a second-hand shop--you'd be surprised how often that happens!--I will buy it, no matter its subject. Dover and Bellerophon are especially nice, since they have coloring books on fictional themes, but with a factual background. For instance, Will is super into dragons, and still colors from this Dover coloring book on dragons that I bought her in 2012 (Pro tip: I make my kids photocopy the page that they want to color. They can choose regular paper or cardstock, but they color that copy, leaving the coloring book clean for unlimited use!). It's got a different picture of a dragon on every page, WITH text that describes that dragon's place in mythology or culture. It's dragons AND learning! This Bellerophon coloring book of unicorns (which Amazon tells me that I bought on the same day as I bought the dragons one) is formatted identically.
Will also really likes the Color Yourself Smart book of dinosaurs, although unfortunately none of the other titles in that series are anywhere near that exciting. Get some more books on animals, medieval history, and astronomy, Color Yourself Smart!
Beyond the purely educational coloring books, the kids and I are also drawn to the often abstract, often VERY highly detailed "adult" coloring books. The kids' grandmothers have given them several of the Creative Haven coloring books, and I think that Syd and I are both working on one here:
I've actually got a few coloring pages that I'm working on. I tend to sit down to join the kids with whatever they're doing, so if they're coloring with markers, I work on my paisley page--
--and if they're working with colored pencils, I have my Harry Potter coloring book that I just started:
I started it on the road, as it was a Christmas gift from my aunt and I started coloring in it about ten minutes after she gave it to me. That's why I'm coloring this page IN the book. From now on, I'll copy the page that I want to color, just like everyone else.
Of course, one mustn't forget the internet as a source of coloring material. Syd is a BIG fan of doing a Google image search for coloring pages, because that's just about the only way that the poor little lamb can color her pop culture loves, whether it's superheroes or Barbie or My Little Pony. Will sometimes jumps in for more dragon coloring pages, but mostly it's Syd and a million different versions of Pinkie Pie's Cupcake Party or whatever.
Okay, enough about coloring. While Syd is listening to audiobooks and Will is lying on the floor reading, I need to go make a database of Girl Scout cookie booth sign-ups, organize cookie deliveries for this afternoon, wash Syd's ballet leotard, find a base pattern for her fashion show garment, start on a massive birthday candle order that I've been procrastinating on for a solid week now, steam mop the kitchen floor, and start an altered book page greeting card tute for Crafting a Green World.
I said that the kids would have a restful week this week, NOT me.