Field Day Feed

Field Day ~ The (Late) Late Spring Edition!

Late_spring

"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."

This quote by Aristotle is perfect for today, for the fleeting and frenzied season of Late Spring is indeed a marvelous time of the year. No matter where you live, wherever you look there's something amazing to see and to do! There are gardens to plant, flowers to pick, birds to watch, bugs to catch, woods to hike, creeks to cross and ... well, I could go on and on. But instead, I will let my Field Day friends do that for me. :)

First though, please let me thank you all for your patience and understanding throughout the Field Day postponement. I am grateful to everyone who participated and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support! (And if by some chance I missed you - if you don't see your post here - please send me an email, or leave me a comment, and I will remedy the situation ASAP!)

Without further ado, let's set out for our Late Spring Field Day! There are many wonderful posts to share, and, thanks again to my friend Marcie, many gorgeous photos as well. Field Day would not be the same without them!

To begin, let's check in with Silvia at Po Moyemu as she shares Images from Her Rural Life including an undercover turtle, a nest-that-almost-was, a busy bee and some very funny chickens. Next she describes the joys of Gardenschooling with her son - what a terrific home-learning day! And finally Silvia shares her surprise when she recently discovered a Skink in Her Yard!

Speaking of skinks (a creature I'd barely heard of before, and here I now have two to admire) ...

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Marcie's husband found this fellow hanging out in their carport!

Becky at Farm School delved Into the Woods with her family and came home with a bountiful spring harvest ~ seven liters of morel mushrooms! We found some morels last year too, but we just stared at them, lol. Becky had the forethought to make the most of them, and in a most delicious way!

Rose at Pretty in Pink shares a montage of breathtaking pictures from her Victorian yard ~ and one can see why she has the perfect setting for a fabulous Late Spring Field Day. Stop by to admire her lush gardens - so colorful and interesting!

Jennifer at As Cozy as Spring also has a most lovely and lively garden - lovely for its blooms, lively for its visitors! Stop by and take a peek in her Backyard Guide Book. There are butterflies today ~ perhaps spiders tomorrow?

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A butterfly resting in Marcie's Bradford Pear.

Jenny at Wildwood Cottage has seen a rainy spring, but it has hardly dampened the spirit of her lovely gardens. She was inspired by Tasha Tudor (one of my favorite authors) to take us on a late spring garden tour of her beautiful Flowers!

As a new mother, Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen, was inspired to seek out special places to visit with her children ~ Some Breezy Open Wherein it Seemeth Always Afternoon. In her post, she remembers old haunts and treasured memories, while appreciating new memories in the making.

Joann at Ten Kids and a Dog shares many delightful photographs throughout her post describing the way Late Spring is unfolding in her neck of the northern woods.

While over at Cay's Cajun Cottage, my dear friend shares her lovely Gardens in Bloom. There's so much to see (and yes, almost smell!) with blossoms unfolding, in-waiting and in paint on paper!

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A bumblebee greeting a bright lily.

Maureen at Trinity Prep School sent her children out in the yard to explore and take plenty of Fotos for their Far-Away Father. Stop in and cast your vote for your favorite shot - they're all lovely!

Divina at The Bean Sprout enjoyed a special day by the seashore with her family and shares why B is for Birds at the Beach. That's quite a list of birds to see, Divina! What fun your Little Man must be having.

Back in the April Early Spring Field Day, Theresa at Lapaz Farm, showed us how to construct inexpensive nets for a stream nature study. In today's post, she announces "We're Back with a Splash" and shares with us all the cool and interesting things they found in their stream. Don't miss their photobucket slide show for even more exciting images!

Alice at Cottage Blessings always has wonderful activities planned for her children, and recently, after a whirlwind spring "at the theater," she found it time to announce, a Return to our Regularly Scheduled May. First up ~ a lovely, sentimental walk through the grounds of a local and beloved garden.

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A honeybee clinging to a thistle.

Spring has brought many delights for Dani and family at Artful Thoughts. In their Spring Nature Journals they have captured the sights and sense of spring itself (love the twig binding!). Her son Quinn's Spring Lapbook, filled with memories and information, will be an amazing keepsake for years to come. And I am sure Quinn will also long remember the adorable Fairy House crafted by his older brothers especially for him.

Meadowlarks, tanagers and buntings - oh, my! And how about those hummers?! Meredith at Nature's Sweetness has been enjoying myriad Backyard Bird Tales with her dear children. What a happy spring for them all, with so much bright color to behold and so many sweet songs to learn!

Mary Chris has found the joys of nature in her own Little Pocket as well as while out and about. She takes us along on a few Late Spring Field Days to see turtles, bluebells and some very smart fish. All that is quite exciting, but I have to say, I would just love to join Mary Chris for that morning coffee in the midst of her lovely backyard.

Nissa from Simple Gifts shares with us two lovely spring photos, capturing the busy-ness of spring. The first shows a nesting catbird in her family's French lilac:

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And the next shows a "most perfect" beaver lodge and dam in the sparkling spring sunshine:

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Next we have Jen at Daughter of the King, who shares some wonderful photos from a weekend spent enjoying Springtime in Maine. Beautiful flowers, scenic vistas and interesting wildlife to boot!

Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living takes us on a Sunday Garden Tour with a list of all the beauties growing in her garden. What a lovely June afternoon, despite all the rain.

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti talks about three of my most favorite things in her Field Day post. In Bird Books for Children, you will find an extensive list of literature for children of all ages. I can't wait to check them out, for you all know how I feel about birds. In fact at this very moment I am straining my eyes to see just what bird that is perching outside my computer desk window ...

And Speaking of Perching, Michelle at Living Waters has been watching a lovely pair of songbirds along with her children who have dubbed the pair Derek and Odette. Could a nest be any more romantic than one situated in a basket of fragrant spring flowers?

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Minding his own business, just being a frog. :)

Meanwhile, Leticia at Cause of our Joy has started a lovely new tradition - Sundays at the Nature Preserve. How fortunate are her children to have a father so knowledgeable and eager to share his love of nature with his family. I can't wait to see more!

Marjorie always has fascinating and inspiring nature posts at her blog, Lettres de mon Moulin. Today is no exception - as her family explores those Shelled Wonders - Turtles and Crayfish. Marjorie recounts their newly made armored acquaintances and offers excellent tips for our own study should the opportunity ever present itself. (Fingers crossed!)

Spring has arrived at long last up north, and Angela's dear family has shifted into summer mode. At Three Plus Two there are plenty of Birds, Bugs and Botany to observe and explore. I predict a very busy and happy summer for them all!

And here comes dear Waltzing Matilda who offers us some lovely photographs for Field Day, all hallmarks of the late spring season (well, maybe except for that "wolf," lol). Stop by to see a passing spring rain, vibrant garden blooms and a spectacular rainbow!

And speaking of rainbows ...

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An evening rain brought this beauty to Marcie's neighborhood!

So much of the thrill in birding lies in discovering a new bird at your feeders. Ruth and family at Just Another Day in Paradise have had a wonderful time drawing in new birds to observe. Check out her Birdwatching archive to join in their excitement!

Donna at Moments Like These is also raising several Birders in Training. A recent trip to a nature preserve yielded many sightings of several new species. Take a peek at Donna's Baltimore oriole pictures - just lovely! She offers some great birding tips as well. (Ooh, and this just in - Birders in Training Part II! What a shot!)

As you all know, I love a good nature mystery, and Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart had an intriguing Empty Nest Syndrome on her hands recently! Some thoughtful field work ensued, and the mystery was at long last solved ... what could have happened to those eggs? Stop in and find out!

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The miracle of spring - new life unfolding!

Tiany at Less of Me ~ More of Him shares with us a collection of amazing photos from a Late Spring Field Day in her Backyard. What a habitat she has created - filled with lizards, frogs, butterflies, geese and more. Check out that butterfly bush - beautiful!

Kristen at Adventures in Bodenburg takes us along on a Memorial Day trip to a nearby creek. They had such fun and found some neat rocks! Next she shares a post about The Pumpkin Patch 2007 (and Seed Companies). I loved reading about her pumpkins which are usually thought of as a fall symbol, but part of the delight of spring is the promise it makes toward fall!

Maria at Tater Tots and Ladybug Love shares an absolutely charming photo essay, reminding us of the Lazy Summer Days in Late Spring. So true! I love how the seasons tread on each other's toes sometimes. Next she shares a family adventure which consisted of Bikes, Turtles, Blades and Burritos. What a fun day!

Beth at Woman of the Tiger Moon spends much time in her yarden (love that) with her dear little son, Larkin, a boy after his Mama's green heart! Grab a cup of coffee and join them for Reflections on One Good Spring Morning - and don't miss those bunny pictures!

Beth at Simply Sewn has lots of nature to share ~ inspiration on the farm (love the kitty!), strawberries and colorful quilts (again, love the cat), princes of butterflies and ladybugs, and a museum visit (complete with frogs) too!!

Plus Beth shares two grand photos of her kids enjoying the very best kind of Field Day - a real one!

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I just had to wrap up my post with that above shot. It is truly the essence of nature study with children - getting them out there and letting them take such JOY in our marvelous world!!

As always, I thank you all for joining me on this Late Spring Field Day. I hope you'll consider a return visit later on in the summer - right about first harvest, perhaps? Mid-August or so?

For, already spring fever is winding down, and very soon the hazy-lazy days of summer will set in ...

The afternoons will hum with the drone of bees and cicadas. The sun will bare down on us, and we will retreat to the shade and the cool of indoors. Storm clouds will gather in the west and the wind will scarcely move - nor will we. So for now, relish the fresh air, the brilliant blooms and the busy energy of spring - tuck these sweet little things away in your heart, and carry them with you all year.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.

Thus the little moments, humble though they be,

Make the mighty ages of eternity …

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,

Help to make the earth happy, like the heaven above.

          (Julia A. F. Carney, 1845)


Scenes from a Late Spring Sunday

Well, I'm happy to report that Field Day is under construction and should be ready to roll bright and early tomorrow morning! By now I think I should have been in touch with everyone who sent me an entry. But if you did, and you have not heard from me, please leave me a comment below; our connection issues are still iffy, so I might have missed an email or two.

In the meantime, here are some nature photos from our yard this morning. I still mean to update my Nature Notes (has it really been more than two weeks since my last update?) but we are all in a flurry here with getting the boys their lunch and then off to soccer and ... I get to go out for a late lunch with several dear friends whom I have not seen in ages!! I can hardly wait to catch up.

Anyhoo, see you all in the morning ... and make sure to pour yourself a really big cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer), because this Field Day looks to be the biggest one yet! :)

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A pink azalea in full bloom.

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Our first (and hopefully not last) rose bud.

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Just identified this - bittersweet nightshade.

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A honeybee on a wildflower ...

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Not sure what this is, but it's lovely with lavender stripes.

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A juvenile ladybug - a good sign for the garden!

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Not sure what this is - gorgeous color, though.

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An electric blue damsel fly ... more good news. :)

I hope you all enjoy your Sunday. See you tomorrow!


What I Did on My (Blogging) Vacation ...

1. Supervised the catch-and-release of a lot of bugs via the bug vacuum.

2. Listened to d'Aulaire's Norse myths read aloud.

3. Proofread Bookworm's creative writing and played his graph paper games.

4. Watched Crackerjack read his first chapter book ever!

5. Watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, more than once.

6. Instead of spending the morning online, I read the Boston Globe every day (ok, skimmed it), and clipped out articles to share.

7. Instead of spending the evening online, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover to cover.

8. Watched all the Martha shows I had on our Tivo.

9. Inadvertently (honestly) erased all of the Sopranos episodes Bill recorded. Oops.

10. Visited with friends we had not seen in a while and made some neat plans for the fall.

11. Found a missing library book long since paid (and apologized) for.

12. Wrote out the ed. plans for next year, including a neat alphabet curriculum for Earlybird (more on that later).

Well, I am back online, albeit somewhat sporadically. We had a Verizon technician out here yesterday for hours (hence the multiple viewings of Willy Wonka, keeping the boys out of his hair). I can now get online - but only here on the old dinosaur of a desktop parked in the family room (the one EB thinks is his, lol), but my laptop cannot connect. I have no phone (except for my cell of course). I now have access to email, however, and I have received several new Field Day posts (thank you!). If you have not heard back from me - hang tight - I will be (hopefully) in touch with you soon.

Undesired though it was, the break I had from blogging the past few days was, in a strange way, quite eye-opening. Though I missed "talking" with you all, it was, dare I say, sort of restful to just live the day without any back and forth (to the computer). I've been blogging steadily (a post a day at least) for over a year. I didn't think I was spending all that much time online, and yet, without the ability to actually connect - with the computer sitting closed and quiet off in the corner - I realized how much more time I have in the day than I thought. I got a lot more done on my daily list, I must admit.

And now I'm back, on what would have been my Late Spring Field Day, feeling a bit at odds, and not having a lot to say, actually! (Quite a lengthy post for someone with nothing to say, lol.) I will still plan to run Field Day this Monday, June 11th. I'm accepting entries up till Sunday night!

Today we have Bookworm's Homeschool Book Group meeting. We are discussing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and I'm leading the discussion. I'm bringing cream soda for refreshment ("butterbeers") and a few activities for the kids. They're such a good group, I'm sure it will be fun.

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes, and as always, for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope you have a great Thursday. :)


Poetry Friday: A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

(From A Prayer in Spring by Robert Frost)

I love this poem, a sweet prayer offered that we might remember to enjoy the here and the now, and not wish it all away on the next season. I have a tendency to do that, planner and list-maker that I am. But on a day like today ... when the sun's shining, the birds are singing, the dragonflies are darting and the grass is greening underfoot - oh, there's no sweeter moment than now.

Have a wonderful weekend! I hope you're able to get out and enjoy the fine weather, whether it be sunny and sultry or misty and mild where you are. And while I'm at it, might I remind you that my Late Spring Field Day is coming up next week? (All the details can be found here.)

I would love to have you join us! Please send me an entry by next Wednesday night and together we'll celebrate the blessed and blissful springing of the year.

(P.S. The Poetry Friday Round-Up is here!)


A Late Spring Field Day!

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It's time for a Field Day! And I cordially invite you to join us ...

Let's celebrate these final weeks of late spring, and share the world of nature around us. What's happening in the garden, woods, fields, by the pond or the shore? How about through your windows or just a step or two outside your back door? Nature happens everywhere, in ways big and little. What does late spring look like where you live? I hope you will consider telling us, for our next Field Day will run on Thursday, June 7th, rain or shine!

And just what is a Field Day you might ask? :)

Field Day is a nature-themed blog carnival. A carnival is a blogging event in which a host or hostess collects information about a particular theme (in this case nature) from other bloggers (and sometimes non-bloggers). She then organizes the information - links and photos, etc. - into one big post to share with everyone who stops by her blog on that day. It's a lot of fun - and the more the merrier - so I do hope you'll consider participating!

Your submission can be as simple as a photo, or as lengthy as a detailed post. And if you don't have a blog, you are still more than welcome! Perhaps you have a photo to share, or some thoughts you might like to write up?

Here are some ideas to get you started. You might share:

  • a review of a great gardening book
  • what's in your spring storybook basket
  • photos of spring in your yard
  • your nature study plans for the summer
  • a trip to a farm, a pond or anywhere you've noticed nature
  • a list of birds, bugs or mammals you've seen in recent weeks
  • a spring poem

For more ideas, you could peruse past issues of Field Day:

Also, I will be posting more of my Everyday Nature posts over the next couple of weeks, and some book reviews, too.

Now, the nitty gritty - what I need with your submission:

  • your name
  • your e-mail (not to be published)
  • your blog address
  • your post URL
  • a brief summary of your post or photo/entry

Please send all submissions to me at drhanigan AT verizon DOT net. Leave a comment below, too, if you'd like. I would like to have all entries by the end of the day, Wednesday June 6th.

And I'd love help spreading the word! Please copy the Field Day button at the top of this post and feel free to use it with your post or on your sidebar. (Thanks to my dear husband for designing this latest button!)

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you soon! Enjoy this beautiful spring day. :)


A Field Day Footnote!

As is far too likely to happen, when putting together so many links for Field Day, I am apt to make a mistake here and there. (Well, I make many, but most of them I work out before I hit "publish," lol.) Broken links are one thing, but my worst fear is I will somehow forget someone's submission. It happened once before, and, it was bound to happen again.

Well, unfortunately, it did, and I am so sorry to say, it was one of my dearest friends, Cay I forgot! Dear Cay, who, I must mention, was the FIRST one to get me her post and how did I reward her? By forgetting to plug in her link!

Oh, fiddlesticks!

So, one day late, but every bit as lovely and deeply appreciated, here it is. And it's a beauty, a balm for the winter-weary heart so many of us are carrying beneath those woolen and waterproof layers. Please stop by Cay's Cajun Cottage and enjoy the breathtaking loveliness of Spring in Louisiana. Cay, you give me a glimmer of hope, as we here in New England brace for one more Nor'easter this weekend ...

And speaking of nature, and blogs, I have added a new blogroll to my righthand sidebar. Linda, from Higher Up and Further In and Earth is Crammed with Heaven, very kindly invited me to submit my Nature Corner to her new nature blogroll - and I did! If you have an online nature journal, please see Linda's post here for details on joining the blogroll!

Now, my friends, I am heading to bed, and hoping I wake up a smidgen more organized tomorrow than I was today - or yesterday, or last week!

Good night, and God bless. :)


Field Day: The Early Spring Edition!

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"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome." (Anne Bradstreet)

It's been an awfully long winter, has it not? And - I fear for many of us (me included) - winter has not quite let loose its grip. But it can't be much longer, my friends. It simply can't.

So let's bundle up (just a bit - leave the parka - grab the fleece instead!) and head out for an Early Spring Field Day! I have many friends joining me on this nature carnival, and we all have spring in our hearts ... if not yet in our yards. :)

We have photos a-plenty to share this time out! Marcie, Robyn and Heather (whose flowers grace the top of my post) have all contributed the most beautiful pictures today! For lovelier artwork, I could not have hoped. Thank you, ladies!

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Beautiful Lake Martin, by Marcie

Let's begin up north, where Margaret captures the whims of the season with eloquence and lovely contentment. Snow in the morning, sunshine at dusk? Minnesota sounds a lot like Massachusetts these days!

Our next stop is down south, where Dana is reveling in the beauty of Texas wildflowers. Such warm and vibrant colors! Matilda has similarly beautiful scenes to share, as she waltzes through a spring daze of flora and fauna.

One of my favorite young ladies had a grand time recently looking for invertebrates! In Post One (the checklist) and Two (the results), Marianna shares some terrific scientific discoveries! Excellent lesson, Jennifer!

Spring, of course, means new life ...

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Aren't these pictures precious? Please read on for Robyn's story ...

"We rescued a baby bunny from our dog, who found a nest of bunnies in our yard. We aren’t sure how many babies were in the nest but this baby was the last one left, so we found a nice cozy box filled with tissue paper and went to the feed store to get a bottle and food for him. The bunny was so young, his eyes and ears had not yet opened. We were torn between putting him back into his nest in the hopes that his mom would relocate him, and keeping him safe from the dog inside the house. He didn’t know yet he was supposed to be afraid of humans, and he let us gently hold him in our hands--- he was so small (about the size of a mouse). He nuzzled in our hands, drank a little milk and seemed happy enough in the box. The next morning, we searched online to find out more about baby bunnies. This site has a lot of information about wild bunnies: http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/orphan.html.

We discovered he was actually a hare, not a rabbit. We found out that babies this tiny do not usually survive in captivity and that the mama would come back to the nest up to a week checking for her young if a nest is disturbed.  We decided to put him back in his hole for his mama to find him, knowing that it was his best shot at survival. So we said our goodbyes to our tiny houseguest and put him back on Saturday afternoon. We kept the dog on a leash, knowing that the first thing he would do is to go back to the nest so we protected the baby hare by making sure the dogs could not have access to him. On Easter morning, we checked the nest, and sure enough—the baby was gone, and we are assuming, reunited with his mama and in a new place."

As Robyn's family discovered, we often need look no further than our own backyards to experience the supreme joy of nature. Happily, Meredith's family has rediscovered the breathtaking wilderness in their midst. Oh, to be on that swing - viewing those views!

All about her lovely home, Cay shows us how beautifully spring has sprung in Louisiana. Oh my, I can almost smell those sweet blooms and taste that fresh lemonade!

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A turtle sunning himself, by Marcie ...

Angela's family always has lots of interesting things going on in their backyard - and how neat that they tapped their own maple trees this year! What a wonderful learning experience for her gang (whom we had the pleasure of meeting recently)! They also kept a close eye on their feeders (love the chipmunk!) while inside, they worked together on a seed starting project. Wonderful!

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Seedlings growing, by Heather ...

Spring's a great season for ducks, don't you think? These fine feathered creatures have certainly caught the attention of a few of my friends. After reading a perennial spring favorite, Michaela and her children made their way outdoors for some sketching by the lake.

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Sunny daffodils, by Robyn ...

Lorri's crew also found time to stop and enjoy the ducks - in their own backyard! (Actually the ducks found them  - what a treat!) And, in pursuit of a scouting badge, Lorri's family has been keeping a close eye on the songbirds in their surroundings. Now's the time of year to see lots of new faces, as well as old favorites.

Speaking of birds, Dani shares some gorgeous photos of an egret and heron - white and blue, respectively - from her pier. What a blessing to live by the water - I can only imagine how varied and interesting the nature must be!

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A Great Egret, by Marcie ...

Divina and her family have been out to the beach already this year. They've seen a wide range of sea birds - from mallards to a loon, and plenty of other examples of seashore life. But perhaps there's no better nature study than one so hands-on as sand play

Playing in the sand is an excellent form of earth science for youngsters, and I'm taking notes for my own little boys. We'll also be studying volcanoes, and we'll need to look no further than Susan's great list of books on that very subject. I always know to turn to Susan for wonderful children's book suggestions.

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Flowering tree, by Heather ...

More spring science ideas can be found at Theresa's. Stop by to learn how to make three different kinds of nets for a stream study - the first two posts are here and here, and the third will be coming later today!

Now, on to one of my most favorite nature blogs - Marjorie's Letters de Moulin. She shares three lovely posts with us today. The first takes us on a tour of birds' nests - which are a welcome sight anytime of year, but especially so in spring. Next, it's up the mountain to explore the joys of the butterfly, another sweet harbinger of spring. And finally we look down from the heavens, and specifically under some rocks, to take delight in spring salamanders! Ooh, how I'd love to find one of those shiny little fellas.

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A mockingbird - just after a bath! by Marcie ...

Brooke and her boys have a fun and educational spring ritual - birdwatching! They spent an amazing day at a national wildlife refuge - looking for eagles! She shares great tips for spring birding in her post.

And on with the hunt for spring! Joann and her kids spent some time looking for signs of life ... and what did they find? Tune in here to see. Sherry, too, took her gang out in search of spring - and a little patch of nature did the trick. Crisanne takes us on a tour of flowering trees - spring beauties that bring thoughts of God's love.

And speaking of love, what more joyous feeling can there be than a walk in the spring rain with our dear ones? Beth shares beautiful images and feelings from her day.

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A Nutria at Lake Martin, by Marcie ...

Spring brings its own mysteries. What will this seedling be? Where did we plant the tulips? What was that flash of orange in the trees? Helen's daughter has made a mysterious treetop discovery - please stop by and check it out!

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Yellow Iris, by Marcie ...

Spring sneaks up on us, in fond and familiar ways we must not overlook. From petals to pollen to screen doors wide open, MaryBeth has noticed all those subtle signs, the ones that tug at our heartstrings, and assure us that really, spring has returned home after all.

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Robyn's front yard is the pinnacle of early spring beauty.

Thank you for joining us on this Early Spring Field Day! I would like to thank each and every person who contributed in some way - whether by post, by photo or plug. :) I appreciate your participation and I hope you will consider joining me again in another month or so for the Mid-Spring Edition!

For now, let me leave you with these timely words by Robert Frost:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill. Early_spring_07
You know how it is with an April Day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off the frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

How true!


What we found when we looked ...

... under those leaves, like I talked about yesterday. I have to admit, I got a bit ahead of myself on that one. Because it wasn't what we found that made news, it was what we didn't.

Zip, zip, zippo, as Crackerjack said.

Nope, not a whole lot of anything going on under there. Just a lot of dry dirt, old leaves, cracked and scaly seed hulls and, pardon my French, cat droppings.

(Darn neighbor cat.)

So we didn't so much "muck around" out there as scuffle. Things are still pretty dry and cold. So, we note the conditions in our nature notebooks, and we wait a bit longer.

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The boys did very much enjoy the investigation, as well as the cool air and bright sunshine. It's wonderful to "do" science out in our backyard while a robin hops by but a few feet away and the woods are whispering their spring song.

But you know, I was hoping for more. We are on the brink of yet another little snowstorm here (we won't mention the nor'easter due Monday), and we really could have stood to find something under there. More than that one tiny wiggly thing. Some little bits of life to encourage us that, truly, spring is here. Somewhere around here. I was sure of it.

So that's the lesson for today, my friends. We must have faith. And we must find the beauty in the here and now. It's the gift we've been given today.

Looking back over our photos we realized there's not a whole lot of color here. Mostly browns, and pale shades of green. But that's exactly the palette of early spring in New England. We won't see bursts of bright color till May when the lilacs and azaleas and cherry trees begin to bloom. And when it happens, it will be a feast for hungry eyes.

For now, we will content ourselves with the subtle signs of earliest springtime.

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Tiny ferns growing under the leaves! So pale and lovely.

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New chrysanthemum shoots finding their way to the sun.

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Tiny but mighty crocus shoots! Theyr'e lifting the mulch as they grow!

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The one wiggling thing we found - some kind of beetle larva, we guess.

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No idea - but we love the color - like purple cabbage!

That's the thing about nature. You can't package it up all neat and tidy. Sure the calendar says April 12, but nature ... well, it's just going to do it's own thing, isn't it?

On the positive side, we are home today, and we have our Thursday tea planned. On Thursdays we read the Sunday gospel and eat some cookies and drink some tea or cocoa. I was hoping by now we'd have moved onto lemonade, but no such luck. No, a hot cup of cocoa sounds just about right. I think I will whip up a cup of spring cocoa - it's white and creamy and hot and just right for a blustery April afternoon.

In the meantime, please remember that Field Day is tomorrow! I am busily working on my post and having a grand time reading all of yours! Thanks to all who have sent me an entry - you make Field Day what it is! If you'd like to participate, you still have plenty of time - I'll be working late (ish) into the night. ;)

Also, tomorrow is the last day for voting at The 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards. When you stop over there, please read this post first, and keep Heather in your prayers. She needs them dearly.

Blessings to you, my friends. Breathe in, have faith and go give your loved ones a hug.


Button, Button ...

Two quick things before bed:

A reminder that Field Day: The Early Spring Edition will run this Friday, April 13th. (I told you I'd be nagging reminding you!) There's still ample time to get me a post or a picture about nature. Anytime up till Thursday evening (say 8-ish), is fine, though you know I'll surely make room for any latecomers! Check out my original post with all the details here, or you can click on the button on the right and that will take you there, too. By the way, help yourself to that button, to use as part of your post or to help spread the word. :)

In more button news, just below Field Day is the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards button. It, too, is a link - one that will take you over to the voting page. I am humbled and honored that my blog has been nominated for a few awards: blog design, crafts/projects/plans, encourager and (goodness) super homeschooler. (I feel a little funny mentioning which awards, but there are many categories ... and I figure, if you were so inclined to vote for my blog, you'd probably want to know where to look!) Again, I say a BIG thank you to my nominators! Happily, many of my friends have also been nominated and ... I now have many new blogs to explore! And I must say the Awards site itself it just amazing - it's like a shiny, well-oiled machine over there. Voting ends Friday!

Allrighty, so that's it for the buttons for now! Take care, all!


Everyday Nature: Pussy Willows

I thought I might post a little nature activity every day (or so) leading up to The Early Spring Field Day. Just to keep spring nature fresh in my mind and yours. ;)

So for this weekend, I'd like to suggest that it's a perfect time to look around for pussy willows. For one, they are in bloom (or almost, depending on where you live), and for two, they are interwoven with Palm Sunday tradition!

When I was a little girl, there was a small brook running through my parents' backyard, by which a small pussy willow grew. I don't think it's there anymore (the brook has long since dried up), but every year at this time I think of that lovely tree. How I loved to play with those soft pretty catkins ...

"The species most beloved by children is the pussy willow, which is often a shrub, rarely reaching twenty feet in height ... These are favorite objects for a nature-study lesson, and yet how little have the teachers or pupils known about these flowers!" (Handbook of Nature Study)

So, to begin with, we must go on a bit of an adventure to find some pussy willows growing nearby. Bill is taking the boys on their Saturday woods-walk and he thinks he knows where he might find some.

"The best place to look for pussy willows is along the banks of a stream, near wet ditches, around the edges of a pond or marsh, or anywhere the ground stays wet." (From The Beginning Naturalist by Gale Lawrence)

Hopefully they'll find some, and if they do and they're not yet blooming, we'll set the branches in warm water and keep a close watch throughout Holy Week. If the branches are already in bloom, and I am so inspired (i.e. I find the time) I might make them into a simple spring wreath for our front door.

Either way, sketches can be made for the nature notebooks. :)

If you find pussy willows growing somewhere nearby, make a note in your calendar where and when, and then make plans to return through the seasons. The Handbook of Nature Study has wonderful lesson plans for studying willows all through the year.

(Now, I'll give you a little tip. I've seen branches of pussy willows for sale in my grocer's florist department. A walk in the countryside sounds lovely, but if all else fails, commercially grown pussy willow is a fine substitute.)

Here's a charming old poem for the children to learn (or perhaps to use as copywork in their nature notebooks):

"Pussy Willow wakened from her cozy winter nap.
For the frolicking spring breeze, on her door would tap.
" It is chilly weather, though the sun feels good;
I will wrap up warmly and wear my furry hood."
Mistress Pussy Willow opened wide her door;
Never had the sunshine seemed so bright before.
Never had the brooklet seemed so full of cheer;
"Good morning, Pussy Willow, Welcome to you, dear!"
Never guest was quainter, than when Pussy came to town,
In her hood of silver gray, and tiny coat of brown.
Happy little children cried with laugh and shout,
"Spring is coming, coming, Mistress Pussy Willow's out!"

(Kate L. Brown)

And a sweet book to request from the library, orPussy_willow - if you're weak like me - order from Amazon is: Pussy Willow

Now here I'm just planting a seed of an idea, but I know many of us are spending the next several days preparing for our family's Easter holiday. Might I mention that it would be a lucky child indeed who found the materials for a new nature notebook in their Easter basket next Sunday? A set of new colored pencils, and a spiral bound sketchbook ... perhaps even a small sized field guide or two?

However you spend your weekend, at home or afield, I hope you enjoy it and many blessings to you this Palm Sunday!


An Early Spring Field Day!

Early_spring_07

"Child, take your basket down, Go and find spring ...

The snow is melting, the air is warming, the earth is waking ... the time seems right for a field day, don't you think?

Please join us for Field Day ~ The Early Spring Edition, which will run Friday April 13th. It will be my sixth nature study carnival! (Please see my Field Day archive to read past "issues.")

If you'd like to participate, please send me a link to a nature-themed post at your blog, by Thursday, April 12th. Feel free to use the button above for your post ~ or if you'd like to help spread the word! :)

As always, non-bloggers are more than welcome to join in the fun! Send me your photos of, or thoughts on, early spring and I will write you right into my post. My email address is drNOSPAMhanigan@verizon.net (just take out the NOSPAM before you hit send).

Other information I need:

  • Your name
  • Your e-mail address (not to be published)
  • Your blog name and URL (if applicable)
  • A brief description of your entry

For some ideas to get your nature study wheels turning (though I'm sure with this spring weather they already are), please see my earlier posts Early Spring Themes in Nature and A Page from the Early Spring Notebook ...

Or just throw open a few windows and take a short turn around your yard ... I am sure before long you'll be grabbing the camera and digging out those field guides!

While you do this, ask your children ...

Do they hear it? Singing birds, dripping snow, a drowsy bee ...

Do they smell it? Fresh earth, new grass, a damp breeze ...

Do they see it? Blue sky, bits of green, an open bud ...

Do they feel it? Warm sun, a gentle wind, squishy mud ...

How would it taste if spring had a flavor?

We have two weeks till Field Day - plenty of time to gather our early spring thoughts about us - and rest assured, I'll be reminding you along the way. ;) Leave me a comment if you think you'd like to join us, or just send me your entry when you have a chance.

For now, enjoy this glorious day, my friends ... Go and find spring!

"Now where the ground was bare

Only last week,

Now where the flower was rare

And the hedge bleak,

Reach for the catkin

And stoop for the primrose,

Seek if you want your share

Of the first gathering,

Seek, where the ground was bare

Only last week."

(Eleanor Farjeon)


8:07 p.m.

Tonight. On the dot. And not a moment too soon!

SPRING will be here! Perhaps in name only for now, but still ... Spring will be here!

So, would someone kindly tell Winter to scram, because apparently he didn't get the memo:

March_woods

The Riverwood, March 2007

Now, most calendars will tell you tomorrow is the first day of spring, but for those of us seemingly locked in Winter Land, every minute counts.

Spring begins precisely, at 8:07 tonight. At that very moment, our kitchen timer will ring and we will pause in our bedtime routine to smile and shout Happy Spring! We'll go to bed knowing tomorrow it can - and will - only get warmer, lighter and greener ... 

Since Tuesdays here in the Riverwood School are science and nature study days, here are a few things we'll explore today ...Why_the_sun_rises_4

~ We will read about why, and how, we have seasons:

~ We'll do a little bird study. We'll start by reading this interesting article I found online. Next, we'll read our weekly chapter from The Beginning Naturalist. This week's subject is redpolls. We get plenty of, what I believe to be, purple finches, but I noticed this line in the book:

"The only bird that a beginning birder might confuse with a redpoll is the male purple finch. The purple finch, however, is bigger and has more red coloring."

We're not exactly beginning birders, but redpolls are not so familiar to me. So today we will keep a careful eye out the classroom windows, watching the feeders for these red-headed birds. I am fairly sure the birds we see are indeed finches, but we will observe more closely and see if perhaps there might be a repoll in the mix.

~ We will read the astronomy note from today's Boston Globe: "Look west after sunset for the thin crescent moon and, to its upper left, brilliant Venus. Remember how they look, and compare with the view tomorrow." Very curious ... we'll do just that.

~ In another week or so, we will enjoy an Early Spring Scavenger Hunt. (We need time to melt down and dry out a bit first.) I got this list from a wonderful nature resource called Let Nature Be the Teacher:

  • signs of nest building
  • buds
  • a spring flower
  • three shades of green
  • a fresh smell
  • mud
  • a new bird sound
  • an early spring insect
  • a fiddlehead (young fern)

If you do this hunt, let me know ~ I am planning another Field Day very soon. Details - and a button - by week's end! :)

By the way, if you happen to live near a Dunkin' Donuts, it is worth noting that all day tomorrow (the first full day of spring), they are offering free iced coffee! (One per customer, I believe. Thanks to my friend, Tara, for the tip!) We probably won't make it over to D&D, but I think I will brew a cup of iced decaf. at home and relish the very coolness of it! After all, it will get up to a balmy 39 degrees tomorrow, lol!

BUT! It will reach 65 on Friday, so truly, there is hope in sight. This New England weather is so wacky, you can't help but love it ... right???

Have a great day, everyone, and Happy Spring!!!


Many Thanks!!!

I just want to take a moment to say *Thank You* to everyone who helped out with Field Day! It really would not have been possible without all of you. So, please consider yourself cyber-hugged! :)

Thank you also to everyone who stopped by to visit, and for all the lovely comments! I would also like to say I am very grateful to my family for granting me a little extra computer time these past few days! (Of course, they get the real hugs, lol!) Not to disregard all that winter inspiration, but I am now happily formulating early spring thoughts for the next Field Day (just after Easter, I think). :)

Field Days always provide me with a renewed urge to study nature ... to dig out the field guides, set up the nature corner, shake out our field bags, sharpen our pencils and crack open our notebooks!

And there's no better time to begin than the present, for this weekend is The Great Backyard Bird Count! It's really very easy to participate. Explore the site - there's lots of great information and fun activities for the kids. If you do want to join the Count, you can print a tally sheet specific to your postal code here. It has links to all the birds you might see, helping you with your identification. I will share our own feeder findings at my nature notes blog later this weekend.

Other weekend plans?

  • Lesson plan.
  • Catch up on emails.
  • Pop into the bookstore to spend my Valentine's gift. :)
  • Prepare for the Loveliness of Lent.
  • Bake Chinese Almond Cookies and order take-out tomorrow.
  • (You might want to try making Fortune Cookies!)
  • Have a special breakfast on Monday for Presidents' Day ...
  • With eggs and bacon for Collop Monday. :)
  • Write out my (Pre)-Spring Cleaning Plan.
  • Work on those tricky housekeeping schedules and ...
  • Enjoy Daddy's long weekend!

Have a great one, everybody!


Field Day: The Late Winter Edition

"Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour." ~ John Boswell

Christine3

Welcome to a brand new Field Day ~ The Late Winter Edition! So how are you all faring this long and lingering season? Are you huddled inside, or getting out and about? Are you embracing the cold, or longing for spring? Are you sporting rosy cheeks or suffering from cabin fever?

I am so pleased and proud to once again share the stunning photography of Marcie from Louisiana ~ and this time she's joined by Christine from Virgina! Both ladies have graciously lent their artistic talent to Field Day, and I am so honored! (That's Christine's January ice storm at the top.)

So, what does winter nature study look like? Well, some dear friends have helped me answer this question, and so, without further ado ... let's draw closer to the fire, sip from a hot cup of tea and explore the beauty of the late winter season.

Winter means ... snow!

Christine1_1

Christine's February road ...

Well, if it's snow you're looking for, Angela's got it - and how! A Valentine's Storm left 30+ inches and you have got to see the pictures to believe it! Winter storms have been marching across the country, inspiring Becky's dramatic and beautiful Snow Snaps. And while an icy mix fell outside, Dani shared what to do on a winter's day.

Talk about drama, wait till you see what Tracy caught on camera! It may not be snow, but you'll be blown away by her powerful example of late winter science and nature!

Whether banded together or all on their own, snowflakes are a marvel to behold. Now if you'd like an up close look at these six-sided beauties Kimberlee's son will show you just how to do it!

Winter means ... birds at the feeders.

Marcies_sunset

A Cajun sunset from Marcie's front door ...

Theresa is embracing the winter with her family, enjoying the birds who flock to their home. And Jennifer shares a whole season's worth of birding experiences in a post that's not just for the birds. :)

Meredith and her dear children celebrate one of my most favorite moments in late winter, exclaiming, The Robins are Back! And birds of all kinds are stopping by Donna's ~ those winter wings are so striking against the snow.

Dani's family has also been enjoying winter birdwatching. Their bright red bowl of seed has attracted many hungry creatures both feathered and furred. And there is more excitement to be found with Marjorie as she makes an interesting woodland discovery and offers some tips on birding by ear.

Winter means ... time to reflect.

Marcies_sugar_cane

Hauling sugar cane down south ... (by Marcie)

In a post from last year, Alice reflects most beautifully upon a familiar question posed to many homeschoolers at this time of year. Her eloquent answer - Yes, we have snow days ...

Winter brings cold ~ days and days of cold. And perhaps no one knows cold better than a Minnesotan. With her wonderful wit and warmth, Margaret reflects on the season at hand with a charming verse, Home is Where the Cold Is.

Winter means ... getting outside.

Whether it's frosty ...

Christine2_1 

January ice storm ... (by Christine)

or mild ...

Marcies_coast

Florida coast on Christmas Day ... (by Marcie)

The woods harbor all kinds of winter secrets; Marjorie's dear children made a recent discovery at the "Wolery" ... to find out more, you'll just have to pop on over for a stroll by their creek.

And at another creek a bit further north, Theresa and her Superboy spent a rare and beautiful day together - gathering garnets and precious memories.

Perhaps the winter skies hold secrets of their own? Mary Ellen's family braves the cold to stargaze on cold starry nights. And don't forget to look down! Mary's family ventures out to observe tracks in the snow and discovers who's been there.

Also making memories (and rosy cheeks!) Susan and her son braved the elements for some old-fashioned winter fun.

Winter means ... indoor pursuits.

Marcies_dog

Marcie's dog has the right idea! So comfy!

Sometimes the winter cold sends us off in search of indoor pursuits. A wonderful way to spend a frosty afternoon is to while away an hour or two at the aquarium. That is just what Rebecca and her lucky children did recently, enjoying the antics of the manatees at the Columbus Zoo!

Mary Ellen's dear children spent a recent winter's day making lovely winter crafts to hang in their windows. And speaking of windows, Alicia's family took some time to explore the beauty and wonder of their winter frosted panes.

Winter means ... spring is not far off.

Marcies_pansies

Marcie's smiling pansies await us ...

And take a look at what Matilda found in her yard ~ a perfect send off for our winter-weary hearts. Just close your eyes and you can almost smell spring ...

Well, that will do it for this Late Winter Edition of Field Day! THANK YOU so very much to everyone who took part! I hope you will all consider joining me once again in another month or so when we explore the nature of an Early Spring Field Day. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, please stoke the fire and pass me another cup of tea. I plan to enjoy every last drop of winter before it's gone.


Afterglow

Morning_glow

The glistening view from our deck this morning ...

The calm after the storm! It is bright and sunny here today - like a winter wonderland!

A few notes ...

Typepad was down yesterday so I could not put up a post about some crafts we did for Valentine's. I will try to put that up later today. It's figuring to be a busy day, so it might be much later!

Also, today is the last day for Field Day submissions! If you have had trouble e-mailing me, I am very sorry, and please do try again (drNOSPAMhanigan@verizon.net - take out the NOSPAM before sending). And/or please leave me a comment here and I will get in touch with you asap!

Oh, and if you did send me an email, but you did not hear back from me, please let me know. My email has been glitchy lately ... perfect timing, right? Lol.

Well, we are preparing for a big (postponed) Valentine's party here tomorrow with our dearest friends ... so lots to do, lots to do! :)

Blessings to you on this beautiful day!


A Field Day Reminder ...

There is still plenty of time to send me your submission for Field Day ~ The Late Winter Edition! Grab a button, Late_winter_5put up a post about winter where you live ... or dig up something you've blogged about in the past. Have you taken any neat pictures lately? Send them my way! (Please see here for all the details.)

Still in need of some wintry inspiration? Well, I should have directed you here from the get-go, but if it's nature and science ideas you need, without delay please stop by MacBeth's Winter Opinion.

And speaking of winter, we finally have a snowstorm headed our way! Sometime tonight a Nor'easter will move in and bring with it wind, snow and sleet before all is said and done sometime Thursday. I'll be taking lots of pictures, of course.

And say ... I've been out there combing through the blogosphere, and I've seen lots of neat nature happenings at your blogs! I do hope you'll consider sending them my way - or I may just start knocking on your virtual door! ;)

Let me leave you with a gentle thought, a pleasant passage I came across in one of my favorite nature study resources:

"During the morning's lessons the children listened to me read about thePocketful_of_pinecones  woodpecker. I'd like them to learn to recognize the drumming of its beak and have a chance to observe its unique hopping slide up a tree trunk. But I know that not all of what they will learn about God's creation will conveniently fit into my lessons. My students have a lifetime ahead of them in which to observe and discover - to become self-educated in their leisure, so to speak. My job is to allow their feet to walk the paths of wonder, to see that they form relations to various things, so that when the habit is formed, they will carry an appreciation for nature with them throughout their lives."

(From Pocketful of Pinecones, by Karen Andreola)

Keep warm, keep well, and take a look at nature today!


Our Cats are A-OK!

We brought our three 15 year old cats in for a checkup yesterday. It went very well! Bookworm came with me and Nana stayed home with the younger two. BW loves animals, and is very interested in veterinary science. Our vet is a wonderful doctor as well as a family friend. She sent BW home with pamphlets about becoming a vet, local educational programs, and much direction for his Pet Care badge.

So, today it was Smokey's turn:

Pooch_in_bin

This is one of his favorite sunning spots in the learning room, right smack dab in the middle of the "in-box." (He likes to take an active part in the boys' education.)

Though, sometimes he gets right down to the serious business of napping ...

Pooch_in_bin2

I am sure, that if you were to ask my boys what they like about homeschooling, one of their favorite things would be spending time with their pets.

Here are our other two cats, Penny (L) and Midget (R):

Penny_midget_1_1

Thankfully, all three cats checked out well - each of them weigh 10 pounds, 10 ounces!! (Actually, Penny is 2 ounces heavier, but still that's pretty amazing their weights are so close!) Penny and Smokey will need dentistry next month, but Midget, who is a diabetic, should not undergo anesthesia. He did have a bad tooth and they pulled it right there! Bookworm got to take it home, and would like to show it to you:

Midgets_tooth1

It is hard to see against the orange paper, but I hope you can see how tiny it was!

Midget's BG (blood glucose) levels were fine, so we will keep him at 3 units, 2 times a day (I give him injections). He was sent home with an antibiotic for his troubled mouth.

We are so thankful for our dear kitties - they are getting old (in cat terms) but are still doing so well. I am grateful for their loving presence in our life!

Now, later today I will be posting a bit more about our bulletin board. Patty asked for more details (and of course, I'm happy to comply!) - I also noticed that for some reason the picture won't open up when you click on it. Stay tuned ...

Aaaannndd ... I will also be reminding you that Field Day will be a week from today! The weekend is a great time to get outside or if its too cold, watch nature unfold through the windows! You know what is a fun exercise? Just to listen. Crack open your windows early one morning and write down everything you hear - wind blowing, birds singing, ice cracking, trees rustling, squirrels scampering ...

For more information, please see my button over there near the top of the righthand sidebar. Click it and it will go to my original post - I can hardly believe I figured out how to do that!

Happy Friday Morning!


Saturday Links

Having been a bit out of the loop this week, I am slowly catching up with all my blogging friends! Here's a little linkage for you ...

~ I love Jennifer's Pretty Homeschooling. I am just drinking in those magnificent blooms - a breath of spring in the heart of winter! I love how she has her work table set up, too. So inviting!

~ Leonie has inspired me to revamp our bulletin board for February.

~ I just so love this post by Cheryl, in so many ways. The Valentine decor, the birdfeeders, that last part - ROTFL. :)

~ I am linking to Willa again. This post about her son Aidan, and how Charlotte Mason works for special needs is a treasure. More ideas and information here. My printer is buzzing away over in the corner. Thank you, thank you, Willa.

~ Angela's maple sugaring post will be added to my files as well. What an exciting project! Is it that time of year already? Just about! Soon it will be time to dig out that maple-oat scone recipe ...

~ Our Cardinal Sean O'Malley has a beautiful post about the Diaconate Ordination that took place on January 27th at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. We know one of the seven transitional deacons, and I would like to attend the May Ordination with the boys. Also within this post is the newly revealed Boston Archdioscese Bicentennial Logo. Can't wait to read The Pilot this weekend for all the details!

~ I am praying for Alice's cottage, Katherine and her little one, Margaret's parents, Donna Marie's family and Elizabeth, just because.

~ Thanks to dear Rebecca, I have a new blog to peruse this weekend - The Sparrow's Nest, and in particular this post about cleaning with children. Oh, yes, I need to read that. :)

~ My friend Sue has started a lovely new blog! It is called Home Hum (don't you love the name?). There will be lots of interesting things to read and see at Sue's. I can barely tear my eyes away from that little red squirrel picture!

And you know, Sue's nature study post has given me the nudge I need to say it is indeed time for another Field Day!

So mark your calendars - Field Day: The Late Winter Edition will take place here at my blog on Friday, February 16th. (If anyone knows of a conflict, please let me know.) All the details and a button will follow very soon!

And before I go, I would like to say thank you to the very kind reader who nominated me for a Share the Love Blog Award (in the category of "Happiest Blog"). You can click on the pretty button at right for the details. I don't know who my nominator is, but whoever you are, you have touched my heart and I am grateful for you - as I am for all of you who stop by here and read my ramblings ...

Enjoy your weekend everyone!


Bird News!

Over at The Nature Corner I just posted pictures (albeit blurry ones) and details fromNest1_1   our Red-winged Blackbird sighting today. These birds are not due back until mid-March, and yet here they were under our feeders today! When we looked them up in our field guide, it said the males come a few weeks ahead of their mates ~ but I think we saw females in the flock as well ... So very strange, indeed!

Have you noticed any strange nature where you live this winter? New England is seeing a very mild and wet winter so far. In fact, the top branches of our rhododendrons have already formed full buds!

(Can you tell I'm testing the waters for a possible Midwinter Field Day?) :)

Nest2Today's bird sighting was perfectly timed, as I am just starting a little nature diary for myself, modeled (somewhat, I hope) after one of my most favorite nature resources, The Nature Notes of an Edwardian Lady. (This is out-of-print, but check at your library; a used copy would be well worth the money - within reason, of course.)

Maybe I'll call mine "The Somewhat Random Nature Notes of a Suburban Homeschooling Mama," lol! I was itching to buy a new blank journal for this endeavor, when I remembered those blank memory albums in my craft bins. And the beautiful sticker set you see below (a birthday gift from a very dear friend) sealed the deal. They are just the right touch for this "fledgling" diary and will appear all throughout it.

Bird_notebook

I have barely even begun putting it together, and already I have my first entry, courtesy of today's encounter:

Bird_notebook2

I just made a few photocopies and jotted down some simple notes, but it was fun. I know you must be thinking, "Does this woman really need one more medium for nature journaling?!?" I love my blogs, for sure, but there's just something about paper and pens ...

Let me know if you think you might be up for a Midwinter Field Day ... maybe sometime early next month?


Field Day is Here!

Welcome to Field Day ~ The Late Autumn Edition!

Field_day_late_autumn_6

Can it really be the first of December? It seems we were only just stepping out together for our first Field Day journey last June. Now, autumn is coming to a close, and we are standing here at winter's doorstep. This is a time of contradictions - outside the world is coming to a screeching halt (or so it seems) while inside, all is aglow and alive. Before we rush headlong into the holidays, though, let's pause for a moment and remember how good the autumn has been to us.

Let us remember the golden sunshine, the falling leaves, and the crispness of the air. Let us drink in the colors of the landscape, so unique to this season; it will be some time before they grace our vista again. The fields are brown and withered now, perhaps a bit crunchy underfoot. But, in the scheme of it all - to everything a season, remember - autumn's empty fields are no less beautiful than the meadows so full in the spring.

A balance must be met at each turn of year. Just as in summer, when our homes graciously stepped aside to allow the out-of-doors to shine and beckon, so now must the out-of-doors bow to the pleasures of hearth and home. Of course all that said, it is certainly not a time to batten down our hatches too tightly! Oh, no, for there is still much to see and enjoy out there - if not in our backyards, than most certainly through our frost-covered windowpanes!

All we need is a little encouragement ~ the proper frame of mind, the proper outdoor gear ~ not to mention the proper refreshments to return to. (Nothing warms and welcomes like a mug of something hot after a cold hour or two spent outdoors.)

I hope this Field Day post also serves as some encouragement, with some ideas and inspiration to tide you over through these next cold and yes, even dreary months. Truly there is much to do, and always, something to remember. Let us then remember, together ...

I am pleased to be joined by a happy and hearty bunch of friends and fellow nature enthusiasts. All throughout my post, you will once again find a number of Marcie's breathtaking images. Happily, her photos are joined by a few others this time; I think you will agree, all the pictures are filled with the delight that only nature can bring.

Marcies_bayou

Marcie captured the beauty of a Louisiana Bayou.

Speaking of delight, who better than a child to seek and find the smallest and sweetest gifts in each day? When Alice sent me this darling picture of her Catherine, I immediately returned to my own little girl days - roaming my family's backyard, warmed by my trusty golden poncho. No kind of weather deters the joy of a child when she is allowed to explore and befriend the out-of-doors. 

Catherine_in_autumn

Now I ask you, does autumn get any lovelier than this?

Sometimes a field trip makes for a wonderful field day! Perhaps you enjoyed a trip to the pumpkin farm as Alice and her sweet bunch did this fall; her talented children always have the loveliest thoughts to share and Theresa's description of fall captures its essence perfectly. And speaking of talented children, Elizabeth's son Michael ventured forth into the wilderness and returned with gorgeous photos and heartfelt reflections on fall.

Krisann's family spent some beautiful autumn hours by a river and were amazed by the animal tracks they found along the bank. What a lovely day and an excellent science lesson to boot! Jennifer's family enjoys visiting the Public Gardens throughout the year and watching the seasons change. Their photos are lovely and to "hear" November through the words of a child is a true gift. Closer to home, an inspired lesson masquerades as a lively game - and reveals many of autumn's treasures!

One of the miracles of autumn is that it happens all over the world. Kira and her husband have traveled far from home to experience the greatest miracle of all. Kira writes: "My husband and I are currently halfway across the world in the country of Kazakhstan adopting a baby girl (nineteen months). This is our first Thanksgiving that feels like a traditional Thanksgiving for us even though we are far from all our loved ones and in a foreign country! This is because we have snow and barren trees here ~ as I always imagined late autumn to be like! I took this picture right outside the door of our temporary apartment building. I assume it is a common bird like a sparrow, but being from the southwest (Arizona) I am unfamiliar with birds from these colder climates. (It's currently in the mid-80s in Arizona!) This picture was taken just hours before the first big snow of November."

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A pair of lovely snowbirds, half a world away.

And let us not forget our many good friends in warmer climes - they will surely supply us with tales of sunshine and warmth throughout our long winter months.

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Marcie's son enjoys the Gulf of Mexico - on Thanksgiving Day!

Leticia's family also enjoyed the water on Thanksgiving Day, after a family hike led them to the beautiful bay. And Rebecca brings glad tidings from warm and sunny Florida! Recently she shared a nature walk with her children and a very lucky neighbor boy. Together they discovered many interesting examples of autumn nature.

And how about a trip back to the mangroves with Jennifer, Hal and Marianna? Such beautiful images, both written and photographed, I felt like I was there - and wish I was! We can always rely on the S/V Mari Hal-o-Jen for warm thoughts and fair winds.

As we all know, we needn't sojourn much farther than our own neighborhood to witness the wonder of nature. Tracy and her children spent the month of November observing their neighbor's ginko tree - and a lovely nature study followed suit. Jane and her children are enjoying the lovely fall colors down south - brighter this year than in recent memory. What a special day, Jane!

Mandy keeps close to home as well, enjoying the falling leaves with her adorable daughter. I am sure those leaf paintings will be treasured forever, as will this sweet memory.

In a moving tribute to the splendor of the season, Alice and her children created a still life ~ an absolute work of art that represents all they love about their autumn garden. This lovely creation expresses in a personal and memorable way, all the joys of the season within the realm of their beloved Cottage.

Also marrying that balance of indoors and out, Margaret explores the reasons she loves late autumn - and, oh, how they resonate with me! She writes, "We are cyclical, seasonal creatures and are wired with the desire to know our Creator." Oh, Margaret how very true! And how better we know Him when we seek to understand the world he has created for us! The seasons suffuse our very lives, and how brightly their lights shine on the path we all walk together.

Angela's family is blessed to live in a beautiful spot - surrounded by trees and fields, the majesty of the seasons cannot be missed. I loved reading of all their end-of-season plans, and I look forward to hearing more about their bird study - a subject near and dear to my heart!

Matilda shares a beautiful blossom from her garden, and its fleeting beauty before ...

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and after, below - highlighting the passing of one season to the next.

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Matilda writes: "One of the diffucult things about living in Texas is the unpredictable weather. There's an old saying that goes: If you don't like the weather just wait a minute! It will change. Well, this year summer began in March and still isn't over ... This is a Gerbera daisy that was planted by the original owners of our house and was a lovely surprise the first spring we lived here when we saw it peeking up at us. Daisies are my favorite flower and I especially love this variety. This last late bloom caught my eye when I was thinking about the Arctic blast supposedly heading our way. I will probably bring it inside tonight so that it can brighten our lives for a few more days otherwise it woud just wither away in the cold wind ... It will probably be the last bloom we will get this year if the cold front turns out to be as strong as they are predicting ...

And what a difference a day makes! From bloomin' daisies to icicles in 24 hours or less!"

There is so much to explore and enjoy close to home, as Maria and her darling children found on their sunny autumn jaunt. I'll bet that bright, lovely day stays with them all winter long - the leaves, the webs and especially that gigantic bug! Venturing a bit further out Maria's gang spent a most exciting morning learning all about salmon and trout - inside and out. A gorgeous day spent in the sunshine, learning all together - what fun!

Speaking of bugs, Mary Ellen shares a wildly funny post about wildlife! You know, there are many sides to nature, and some are rougher than others, but for the love of her son, Mary Ellen is enjoying her time spent in "Boy Country." Now that's a loving and generous homeschool momma. :)

Cay's family has also befriended a rather large insect specimen - in fact, she and her children have happily welcomed "Sam" into the family - or was it Samantha? - you'll have to check out her post to see!

Cheryl reminiscenses about how, unexpectedly, she befriended some various forms of wildlife in years past. Or rather, furred and "fungified" creatures sought to befriend her! Cheryl's post points out the delicate - if not difficult - balance that exists between us and the wildlife around us - because sometimes it just doesn't keep its distance!

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Thankfully, Marcie's white tiger is only as close as these bars allow it to be!

Autumn is a time of harvest, and for that we look to the earth's bountiful blessings, many which can be found in the wooded areas near our homes. Above us in the majestic tree canopy, we find nuts of many kinds - and Sherry celebrated the pecan all through November! I cannot imagine an autumn passing by without the smell of a pecan pie in the oven.

While below us, hidden beneath the roots and the soil, we find mushrooms - as did Susan and her son who studied many varieties, from the edible, to the inedible to the questionable. Fascinating!

As we enter the winter season, I can think of no lovelier nature study than the herbal activities Elizabeth has planned for her family. Herbs are a delight to grow, delicious to consume and a boon to the medicine cabinet. Elizabeth's plans will explore all these facets of yet another of earth's blessings.

Autumn brings with it windy days and along those winds one finds all manner of seeds making their way here and there. A beautiful example of God's perfect plan! Theresa and her children study nature in so many ways and in such a thoughtful manner, I can imagine how well they will undestand this process - and other methods of seed dispersal - when they finish this particular lesson! Their nature notebooks are amazing in detail and style!

Mary writes about their year spent focusing on owls, and shares tips for bringing depth and meaning to any nature study. Wonderful experiences and all kinds of research led her family to a familarity and better understanding of its subject. This is nature study at its deepest and best.

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Marcie saw this owl at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival.

Thank you for joining me on this Late Autumn Field Day! I am so grateful for all who have participated in these fun days a-field! This project has been such a joy for me to compose - I hope you will consider joining me again before too long! Perhaps a Midwinter Edition round-abouts January 12th?

In the meantime, I wish you the happiest of holiday seasons, and please - keep warm, keep well and be blessed.

"If you keep a green tree in your heart, perhaps a singing bird will come." Chinese Proverb