Field Trips Feed

Food, Flowers, Friends ... and a Day at the Fair!

(But not in that particular order ...)


Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope your weekend is going well, and to my Canadian friends ~ I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving (tomorrow). :)

As I write this post it is raining steadily here ... and OH MY is it chilly! I had to run out for groceries a bit ago (not my favorite thing to do on a Sunday) and I am so glad to be back home again, sipping my tea and typing away at my desk. I hear the Pats game on in the kitchen where Bill, God bless him, is filling the dishwasher (with Little Bear's "help"). I'm thinking about so many things - things I need to do, forgot to do, want to do - and feeling grateful we have a holiday tomorrow (Columbus Day here in America). It's one of those weekends when I really need just one more day of weekend!

Anyhoo ... I thought I'd share some pictures from last week. We had some very nice days, including a trip to the Fair, and a Nature Club meeting held here at our house. Please read on and I hope you enjoy!

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Here we are Tuesday morning at the Fair ... it was a little damp to start, but things dried out nicely throughout the morning. I will admit, I was a little anxious about this trip, as it had been several years since Earlybird had been to the Fair. As you can probably imagine, a large and crowded fairground is a rather challenging place for a child with autism. There's just so much stimulation - so many sights, sounds, smells - and way more people than he's used to being around. Previous fair visits had not gone so well, but we planned this year's visit with EB's behavioral therapist (who joined us during this outing). We hoped EB - who was really excited to go - would be able to handle it ... and happily, he did handle it! It was overwhelming for him at times, so we found quiet corners and simple things for him to do ...


First up, EB and Little Bear got to make apple cider the old-fashioned way ... 


These guys were SO nice, letting EB turn the wheel over and over again and patiently explaining the process to him. People like this - who take a few extra minutes and show a little extra patience - well, they just have no idea how much that means to parents whose children have special needs. For us it meant a quiet 10 minutes where EB could calm down and focus on something interesting. He felt a part of the Fair instead of outside of it.

A bit later on we found ourselves in another quiet spot ... inside the poultry barn, where even the loudest roosters and hens barely ruffled our feathers. Plus, the boys got to hold baby chicks!


The nice man in the cap pictured below noticed my boy needing a little distraction and said, "Hey, hang on a minute - let me get you a chick to hold." Well, Little Bear and Earlybird sat themselves right down on the bench and waited patiently (EB's beloved therapist right by his side) and true to his word, this kind gentleman placed a tiny chick right in their hands!



Catching our breath we moved on to enjoy our snacks outside the arena ... whoopie pies from a favorite bakery!

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(EB's ate his too fast for me to get many pictures, lol, but here is LB enjoying his.)

A stop in "Kiddieville" on our way out, and a train ride for Little Bear ...


Once with Daddy ...

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And once with Mama. :)

(Earlybird almost got on the train but changed his mind at the last minute. Maybe next year!)


Now, here are some pictures from our Nature Club meeting on Friday. Some of my longtime readers might remember years ago when I'd post about my homeschool group's Nature Club and what fun we had on those monthly adventures. Well, after a several-year break, I am happy to report the club is back up and running! This first meeting was just a gathering to get organized and so there were a few nature crafts set out for the kids and plenty of refreshments for all ...



These next couple of pictures have nothing to do with Nature Club - I just want to show you some more of my autumn decorating. :)





It was such a nice day so we were able to set up the activity tables on the  patio ...




Activities included: making leaf fossils, autumn suncatchers and leaf-creature pictures as well as rock painting and a backyard scavenger hunt. I think the kids all had a good time! (I didn't share pictures of our friends in this post, but there were about 20 kids in all, I believe.)

And hey, here's an idea ... how about we form some kind of "online" Nature Club? I often have friends and readers comment that they wish they had something like this club for their kids and while we obviously couldn't get together and explore nature "in real life," we could share our ideas and experiences with each other here at my blog! I will have to think on this a bit, but let me know if you think you (and your kids) might be interested ... I'd run this something like I have other group projects in the past ... like Field Days, Book Party and Planner Party and the like. Maybe a monthly theme and then folks could "report in" and share pictures and observations, a little bit about the nature where they live? I think that could be fun ... :)

Have to share this one, too ...


Our Earlybird is learning to ride a bike! :)

This an adult "trike" and so far he's taking to it pretty well! And just to note, he will wear a helmet once he starts really riding. This picture was taken in our driveway and he doesn't pedal further than a few feet at a time. The helmet will be a bit of a sensory challenge, but I know he'll wear it if it means he gets to ride around the neighborhood!

Last pic from Nature Club ...


Beautiful zinnias and cosmos! How lovely to be brought flowers from a friend's garden? I am resolved to grow a cutting garden next year...


New books on my desk ...

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The one of the far left is on loan from the library (it seems several friends are enjoying this story so I want to check it out!) while the other two are recent "splurges." The middle book will be my Advent reading and the book on the end is just FULL of wonderful information. Really nice layout, too. I am taking that one very slowly, reading a few pages every morning ... :)

And lastly ...

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I had to share this picture - taken on Main Street as I made my way home from the store. A horse and buggy making its way (slowly) down the road! Such is life in a small town ... :)

Well my friends, I'd best be off for now - I've kept you here quite long and so I thank you for your time and attention! I do hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend, whenever it might end, and I also hope and pray all my friends here are safe and sound. Especially those in the path of Hurricane Matthew!Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will see  you here again very soon ...

Maple Sugaring ~ Little Bear's 1st Field Trip!

My friends, what a nice day we had yesterday! It was bright and brisk as only March can be - perfect (if perhaps a bit chilly) for getting out of the house. So in the late morning we packed ourselves up (in multiple layers) and joined our homeschool group at a local state park to see how maple syrup is made. This was Little Bear's very first field trip, and I'm happy to say he enjoyed himself very much. :)

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 All bundled up and ready to go!

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 Very interesting demonstrations, the kids asked great questions and offered thoughtful answers.

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Little Bear was absolutely fascinated by the bark on this tree. I think that's a good sign, don't you? ;) Another little nature nut just like his brothers (and Mama)!

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The woodsman demonstration is always a hit with the kids - learning about how wood was handled through the years (and today). They especially like the part where they get to try out the two-man saw!

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 This picture is actually from 2008, but it shows that two-man saw in action. That's our Crackerjack in green and Bookworm in red - how little they were back then!

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I just liked this view. :)

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 And this one ...

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And this!

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In March, there are maple sugaring tours all over New England, and we've been to a few different operations over the years. This one was run by a state park located just outside of Boston. A really beautiful place that offers a lot of family-oriented programs.

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At the end of the tour, which brought us through the woods and into a working sugar shack (where the sap actually gets boiled down into syrup), visitors are given a pancake and/or popcorn soaked in pure maple syrup. I gave Little Bear a tiny taste ...

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And it may not look like it here, but he really did enjoy that tiny bite!

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It was so amazing to watch his little face take in all the different people and new sights ... the feel of the wind and the sway of the trees. There's nothing quite like experiencing the wonders of the world through the eyes of a child ...

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Crackerjack had a great time, too! He got to catch up with friends he had not seen in some time. :)

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One last shot at the park - a selfie of Mama and her Little Bear. I'm going to tuck the memory of this lovely day in my heart for safe keeping - and future reference. :)

Back at home ...

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I had our "maple-themed" books displayed in a bright window ...

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And I also opened up a favorite book to these beautiful pages depicting an old fashioned maple sugaring scene ...

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I bet you can tell who drew these charming pictures!

There is so much to see in these pages, so many lovely details in the borders - like red-winged blackbirds, chipmunks and pussy willows - all spring harbingers we ourselves "encountered" last week. :) If you love seasonal stories and illustrations, Springs of Joy is a book you will want to include in your family library!


Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed hearing about our maple sugaring trip! I'd like to mention that many of these photos were taken by Crackerjack, since I had my hands full (of baby!) most of the time. I think he did a fine job. :)

Enjoy your Wednesday, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon! 

Throwback Thursday ~ Thinking about March

(And maple syrup!)

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Well, I am just thrilled! This morning we signed up for our homeschool group's annual maple sugaring field trip - a sure sign that spring is not that far away. We haven't been on this tour in years, but it's always been a favorite event of ours. It will take place in mid-March which is a fickle month in our parts - some years we're walking though snow or ducking in and out of the freezing rain - but it's such a wonderful seasonal tradition. The sap starts to run in late winter, when the days (at least some of them) get above 50 degrees, and the nights remain below freezing, signaling those beautiful sugar maples to start doing their stuff! 

Anyhoo, for "Throwback Thursday" I thought I'd look up an old maple sugaring post - this one is from way back in 2007! If you're planning some maple-themed activities for your family next month, search my archives for "maple sugaring" and you'll find a lot of ideas and activities! (The search box is on the lefthand sidebar.) I also just put up a maple-month booklist over there on the right.

Oh! And those cupcakes shown above are featured in the aforementioned post. They are absolutely deeeelicious. :)

Enjoy the rest of your day, my friends!


When you take a kid to Whole Foods ...

Whole Foods Market is Earlybird's favorite place on earth (aside from his Nana and Papa's, of course), and he asks me constantly if we can go there, when can we go there, who can come with us and whose car we'll take. We usually have the whole trip discussed, imagined and planned out days - even weeks - before we even step foot in the store. ;)

Well, it occured to me that such an avid interest presents a wonderful learning opportunty for Earlybird! Building on what appeals to him - with simple, relatable activities - makes learning easier and more fun (for us both). So I started brainstorming some ideas for a little "Whole Foods Curriculum" and thought I'd share my list here in case it's helpful to somebody else with a child who just loves to food shop!

*Quick disclaimer: I'm a homeschooling mom, not a curriculum expert or special needs pro. I don't mean to present this as anything other than a humble and hopeful collection of home-grown ideas. I'm just going by what might work for my own son and his particular interests and learning/life needs.


27 learning activities inspired by Whole Foods

β€’ Make a list of things we need to buy.

Practice spelling and penmanship, expand vocabulary. When we check our pantry and fridge/freezer before making our list we practice good food management and decision-making while taking responsibility for our family's needs (all important life skills).

β€’ Try to find items on a prepared scavenger list.

"Made from oats." "Came from the sea." "Smells good." etc. (reading practice, creative/logical thinking)

β€’ Look over store flyer and organize coupons.

Good reading practice, and discerning information (what's on sale, what's fresh?). Using coupons to save money - sorting, organizing, budgeting. Simple subtraction (item price minus coupon amount).

β€’ Use a calculator to add up a small order.

I wouldn't try this with a big shopping trip, but for a basket-ful of items - using a calculator to predict how much the cashier will ask for. Math - estimation, addition, calculator-use.

β€’ Make reusable shopping bags.

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Earlybird with his own reusable bag, a birthday gift.

  Using inexpensive cloth tote bags (from a craft store), decide on design/colors. Great creative/art experience. Discuss why reusing bags makes good sense (environmental science).

β€’ Draw a map to Whole Foods from our house.

Creative project using all kinds of skills - geography, measurement, memory, arts & crafts. Use a large sketch pad and colored pencils. Write out directions to go along with map.

β€’ Whole Foods A and Whole Foods B - which is closer?

We're lucky enough to live near(ish) not just one, but two Whole Foods stores - I know which one we prefer (size, selection, layout) but which one is closer? Observe odometer at start and finish for each trip, record travel times.

β€’ Practice clear and polite communication.

Think of potential questions and ask for help, make conversation with staff and other patrons (language skills, social skills).

β€’ Practice good cart management.

Earlybird loves to use the cart himself, but this takes a little skill sometimes! The store can be busy, aisles can be crowded (gross motor skills, social skills, patience).

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Little Bear is amazed by all the sights to see!

β€’ Learn: What does organic mean?

Look for the word "organic" on labels, store signs, flyers. Ask someone to explain what it means (call ahead of time) and/or research at home. Visit the library to research further - ask the librarian to help us look up information: How is organic healthier for us? For the earth? Make up a short "report" with Mama's help. (environmental science, research skills, clear communication, observation, composition/grammar/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Tour the store.

Ask for a tour with a store manager (or other store staff). Call ahead to ask. After tour, narrate experience (Mom types in) and add drawings, photos. Write thank you note afterwards. (patience, attention, social skills, penmanship/spelling/vocabulary)

β€’ Film a pretend commerical.

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Little Bear is all business when discussing yogurt.

Ask manager for permission to take video (on phone) while walking around the store. At home, make up a "script" and signs/props for commercial. Talk about what we like about Whole Foods. Record commercial to share with friends and family (language skills, reflection, creativity, oral presentation, diction).

β€’ Look for products from around the world.

Make a list of all the countries we find represented, and write down what products came from where. Use a world map to mark discovered countries. What country has the most products? Find out if there are available statistics for that information (ask manager). (geography, observation, communication/language, simple math, research skills)

β€’ Where are Whole Foods stores located across the US?

Research store chain locations - which state has the most stores? Look at US map as we research. (geography, observation, simple math)

β€’ How do receipts work?

How much money do we spend at Whole Foods? Look at receipt from recent visit, what does it show? Use cash to show the amount of money spent. (math skills, life skills, money management)

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Earlybird and Little Bear on a recent trip to Whole Foods.

β€’ Visit a local farm that supplies food to Whole Foods.

Ask the store manager for a list of local suppliers. Visit one (or more) of the farms in the spring and ask about the farm-store connection. Calculate distance from farm to store - ask about how the food/items are transported. Take pictures and write up a "report." (social skills, communication, language, math, geography, community, environmental science)

β€’ Tour the individual store departments.

Visit the store and write down the name of each store department. Over following visits, investigate just one department at a time. What is the seafood counter all about? What can we find in the dairy? Talk to a staff member associated with that department - have some questions prepared. Make up a booklet at home describing the information and communication. Use photos, drawings and narration. (observation, list-making, language, organization, communication, social skills, creativity, memory/reflection)

β€’ Make up a Whole Foods cookbook.

As we visit the store through the year, keep note of what is in season when. Devise/collect recipes for seasonal foods (baked apples in winter, grilled corn in summer, etc.). Ask for a seasonal list of foods (if available) and use that as a guide. Keep all these recipes and information (along with pictures we take as we cook) in a binder. (observation, list making, language, creativity, communication, life skills, environmental science)

β€’ Make a well-balanced meal.

Plan out a healthy meal and write out a shopping list. Talk about how much we'll need, think about how many people will be eating the food. Make sure to include all food groups and talk about why that is important. Talk about the connection between good health and healthy food. Discuss how we feel after we eat a nutritious meal (energized? full?). (list-making, organization, language, decision making, science, healthy habits, self-awareness)

β€’ Practice time management.

Plan a very early trip to the store (like, 8 a.m.) and devise a plan for getting there on time. How early do we need to get up? What things have to happen before we can leave the house? What do we need to bring with us? Make a list and post it. On the day of the trip, time each activity that leads up to leaving the house. (life skills, time management, independence, responsibility)

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 EB can be a big help with his little brother. 

β€’ Rules are important.

Does Whole Foods have rules? Look at the entrance for any signs (no shirt/no shoes/etc.). Talk about why rules are important. What are some of our family/household's rules? (life skills, responsiblity, community living)

β€’ Write a poem about Whole Foods.

Brainstorm words about Whole Foods - nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc. Print out the words and cut out so that we have lots of single words on little pieces of paper. Play around with the words and make up rhymes. (language, creativity, grammar)

β€’ Conduct a taste test-survey.

Choose a sampling of foods (perhaps WF store brand vs. name brand or another store brand). Invite friends/family to try the foods (decide how best to do this - blindfolded?) and make a note of reactions. Tabulate "votes" and make up a graph to show survey results. (decision-making, organization, communication, math skills, creativity)

β€’ Host a Whole Foods party.

A nice late spring/early summer event - decide on date/time, plan out guest list, make invitations, devise menu, write out shopping list, create decorations, etc. (calendar skills, decision-making, communication, language, creativity, patience, social skills)

β€’ Have a meal at Whole Foods.

Our local Whole Foods has a cafe where patrons can buy drinks and snacks and enjoy them at a table. Plan an outing with Daddy for an early weekend morning (before it gets busy). What do we need (money)? How shoud we behave? After eating, give Daddy a tour of the store. (social skills, patience, money management, hygiene)

β€’ Plant a Whole Foods garden.

In the spring, notice the gardening items that Whole Foods offers: seeds, plants, tools. At home, plan out and create a small garden plan (pots, easy-to-grow items). Purchase seeds and small seedlings at Whole Foods. Peruse tools and other garden implements and decide if they are something we need or not. (list making, organization, environmental science, nature study, creativity, exercise/fresh air, decision making, money management)

β€’ Write a letter to Whole Foods.

Find out how to contact the "head' of Whole Foods (look online) and write a letter expressing our fondness for the store, as well as any suggestions or ideas. :) (language, creativity, research, social skills, life skills, US mail)


Well, I guess I'd better stop there, because this post is getting awfully long! Thanks for letting me share all of this ... I hope maybe someone else finds it useful! Lots of ideas, and some of them will work better than others ... we will try them out over the next several months as opportunity (and energy) presents itself! And of course, I'll let you all know how it goes ...

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... have a good one, my friends, and I will see you all here again very soon!

Ever Wonder about Wolves?

Good morning, everyone! Did you know it's National Dog Week?

I myself had no idea, but it very conveniently coincides with our current dogs/foxes/wolves study. :) Another happy happenstance, we were kindly invited on a field trip to Wolf Hollow this week! Long time reader and friend, Melissa R, arranged the visit for her homeschool group and invited the boys and I to attend. I am so glad we were able to make it - it was great to meet Melissa and it was nice to be reacquainted with the wonderful wolves of Wolf Hollow.

This morning, if I may, I'd like to share a few photos from our visit with you ...

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(Bookworm and Crackerjack, standing beside the info board.)

Despite his current interest in wolves, Earlybird declared this field trip, "kinda too scary," lol. So he stayed home with Nana. He's been loving all the pictures, though, and has said he might want to go "next time." Baby steps ... :)

Shown below is the Alpha Male, Weeble.

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Isn't he gorgeous? He is getting on in age, but quite obviously held a position of respect. At the same time he seemed quite gentle, and he was the only one to howl for us.

A few of the wolves were quite feisty ...

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The black male on the right is Grendel, who will most likely be the next Alpha. (All these wolves are "gray wolves" despite the variation in fur color.)

In a confrontation such as this, the wolf with a higher pack position holds his tail higher ...

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Below, on the right, is the Alpha Female, Nina - aka "Mom."

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(You can meet all the Wolf Hollow wolves here.)

In a wolf pack, it is the Alpha Female who bears the puppies. One very interesting (and slightly shocking) thing we learned, was that a female wolf is able to sense the overall pack situation (food availability, etc.) and only birth a managable amount of pups. Apparently her body will reabsorb any extraneous pups. That's kind of incredible! o.O

Another interesting thing we learned was that wolves have evolved to have an inborn fear of humans. As our speaker pointed out, if we happened to be walking in a forest where wolves were living, we would never see them. They would steer clear of us - our smell, our sounds, our very existence.

They really are amazing animals, and they live very much like a family - looking after, and out for, each other ... It's disturbing how misunderstood they've been through the years and continue to be in this day and age. 

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We truly enjoyed our visit to Wolf Hollow, and came away with a renewed sense of respect and responsibility. I look forward to exploring wolves (and their brethren, foxes and dogs) more at home with the boys. If you'd like to learn more about wolves, please check out the Wolf Hollow website.


Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you all have a nice Friday ... see you here again very soon!

Silence is (apparently) golden ...

Eb at Petsmart

A trip to the pet store was part of our science study this week (current topic: classification). So we're walking around Petsmart, observing all the myriad species and how they differ (fur/scales/fins/feathers), but Earlybird totally catches on that I'm trying to make this a "teaching moment."

EB: "Mom, look! It's a Nemo fish!"

(EB points out a bright orange fish of some kind or another.)

Me: "Wow, that's so cool. Yeah, that fish is a lot like a clownfish because it's small and orange and its fins are kind of ..."

(EB sighs.)

EB: "Mom? Don't talk about it, ok? Just don't talk about it."

Me: *zips lips*
Do you ever find yourself making everything a teaching moment? It's hard to resist sometimes! Do your kids ever call you on it?
Have a great Thursday, my friends! See you here again very soon ...

A Summer's Day by the Sea

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Not at the shore, exactly, but rather, above it - in the woods that run alongside it. Today we spent some time exploring the rugged beauty of our coastline and learning about quarries and the New England granite industry. I'd like to share some pictures from our day, if I may - we had such a nice time and the weather was so beautiful.

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Crackerjack was signed up for a geology class run by the state DCR (department of conservation and recreation), which is the oldest regional park system in the country. They always offer amazing programs and their rangers are just wonderful. This class, organized by my friend Kristen, was a follow-up to a geology class we took last month with our homeschool group, at yet another state park in the area. The earlier class was set deep in the woods (unraveling the history of the rocks found in our area) while this one took place alongside the sea and above the remains of an old quarry.

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So while CJ and I took the class, Bill (who took the day off from work) and Earlybird explored the park, while Bookworm visited with friends.

More pics ...

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In that last picture, our ranger, Megan, was demonstrating how to split granite. The kids were just enthralled ... you could hear a pin drop as she worked, because everyone was listening for the "crackle" that granite makes when it's stressed. But wouldn't you know it, just before she cracked that block open, my camera battery exhausted itself. (Quite literally - the message on the screen said, "battery exhausted." So unfortunately I didn't get a final picture of the split block!

(But I promise she did spit the block, and the block did crackle just before it gave way ... very exciting stuff, I must say!)


It was a real treat to have Bill with us today - he drove us in the RV, so we really arrived in style. ;) It made the longish drive (made even longer by that darn summer traffic) a little more comfortable ... and having Dad with us made today's experience all the more fun and memorable - because all five us got to enjoy the beautiful weather and breathtaking views.

So I hope you all had a nice day, too. Thanks so much for stopping by and allowing me to share our Monday with you ... have a good night, and take care ... I will see you again sometime soon!


Our Afternoon Farm Stop

While Bookworm was at Art Class yesterday, Crackerjack and Earlybird and I took advantage of the gorgeous spring day, and paid a visit to a long-favorite farm. 

I say "long-favorite," because when Bill and I were first married we lived up in this area and this farm holds many fond memories for me. I would bring a baby Bookworm here once a week (at least!) to visit the animals and have a snack at the bakery.

Their main greenhouse is so lovely ...

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And their bakery has many fresh and tempting selections. (Happily, the apple cider donuts are always in season.)

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(Doesn't Crackerjack look so much older in this picture? It's hard to believe this kid will be 13 in August!)

At EB's request, I gave the boys pennies to throw into the farm wishing well bucket.

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(I love that they still love to do this.)

And just look at all the vibrant dahlias!

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I will definitely be returning to this farm over the next couple of weeks (before Memorial Day anyways, our traditonal planting time). There were so many wonderful annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, etc.

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I was particularly thrilled to find out they will have morning glory plants for sale in a couple of weeks. I will definitely snatch up several of those!

Now, once EB spied the play area, we settled ourselves in at a picnic table, because we knew he'd be a while. And that was fine, because we had at least an hour to kill. EB absolutely LOVES playing in sand (or dirt) with trucks, STILL at 10 years old. (Because he's developmentally delayed, he still enjoys toys, tv shows and activities that appeal to younger children.) But I have to laugh at this picture, because look at the little fella just behind EB, all hands-on -hips and furrowed brow ...

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You see, when EB appoached the wooden play structure there were several younger children already engrossed in play. He wanted to use a couple of the sand trucks (which had been piled up on the caboose) and his "intrusion" was not so warmly received. At least, not at first ... after a few tense moments, EB had won the crowd over.

Because this is my child, when he first walked up to the crowd (my homeschooled autistic child, mind you) ...

"Hi guys! How are you doin'?"

"I'm [Earlybird]! Who are you?"

"What are you playing? Can I help, too?"

"Hey, guys - let's work together!"

And so forth ... :)

("Socialization" is highly overrated, lol.)

Meanwhile, CJ and I sat and chatted at the table for a bit ... I have no idea what I said to him here that prompted that face, lol. 

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I guess he's just reaching that age where he's not all that keen on having his picture taken.

While EB played on, CJ and I checked out the farm animals ...

The goats ...

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The chickens (and turkeys and rooster) ...

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The pigs ...

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And the bunnies - though I didn't get a picture of them, because next thing I knew, EB had had enough of playtime and wanted something from the bakery. So back inside we went ...

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My guys ... how I love spending my days with them.

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EB had a cider donut and CJ picked out a muffin - one for his older brother, too. I myself had a tall, creamy iced coffee ... which SO hit the spot!

Before we left the farm, we weighed and purchased our rhubarb, which I used to make last night's souffle. I LOVE the experience of buying food from a farm and then serving it that night at our table. We are really enjoying our farm "studies" this year. 


Well, my friends ... it was a much quieter day for us today. Not so much in-and-out ... and as much as I love truckin' about with my boys, I do relish those days when we can just get our stuff done here (theirs, mine) with few interruptions. I myself got a lot of housework done, in anticipation of a busy weekend. I loathe wasting weekends on housework, so whenever possible Friday is a big "catch up" cleaning day for me.

I squeezed in some fun though - I worked on my newsletter and my clippings journal. Catching up with my creative side is a priority, too ... whenever I can manage it!

And as I finish this post, the day's wrapping up, and it's practically the weekend! So I'm going to sign off for now ... but you know I'll be back very soon ...

Have a good night, my friends!


Spring Nature, Spring Books

Happy Wednesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well. :)

Earth day library corner 1

I put the learning room back together today - meaning, I moved out the "table for four" from Easter Sunday, and returned the loveseat to its rightful place. (Mama's reading chair, too.) It felt good to sweep up, sort out, and then settle things back where they belong. :)

The library corner needed to be set up again, so I retired the "March" books and set out the April nature-related books. Our theme this month is "our marvelous earth."

The books you see above are as follows:

Little Farm by the Sea

Grow It, Cook It

Wildlife Gardening



Miss Rumphius

The Golden Guide to Endangered Animals

A Guide to Northeastern Butterflies

Respect the Earth Flashcards

Mother Earth's Children

The Nature Connection

First Nature Encylopedia

Whoever You Are

This Year's Garden

Wonders of Nature 

 Naturally Fun Parties for Kids (I just got this book the other day and Earlybird is enthralled! I can hardly get it back in "my" pile, lol.)


Now, yesterday we met up with some of our homeschooling friends and took our kids on an informal nature walk. ("Informal" in that, the parents walked and talked - the kids mostly ran ahead.) I provided a "scavenger" list of things for the kids to look for at this time of year, and I'd like to share it here with you all in case it might be something you can use. :)

Take a look around and see what you can find ... use all your senses to β€œSearch for Spring!”


signs of nest building


a spring flower

three shades of green

a fresh smell


tracks in mud

a new bird sound

an early spring insect

a fiddlehead (young fern)

a migrant bird

an amphibian or reptile


running, dripping or trickling water

a cold spot

a warm spot

something red

something yellow

something blue

something purple

something that has more than 3 colors


Have fun, and remember to be gentle with Nature!

I hope this list might inspire you and your kids to go outside and "search for spring." We had a lot of fun finding it for ourselves!

BR nature walk 2


Have a wonderful evening, my friends ... I will see you here again very soon!

We took Nana to Neverland!


Our Advent Tree note this morning read:

Today we're taking Nana into Boston to see Peter Pan!

And oh my gosh, was it a wonderful play! 

(Sorry for the blurry pictures - for some reason my old camera just wouldn't cooperate!)

Now, many years ago, my mum took my brother and I to see Peter Pan - back when Sandy Duncan played the principal part. It was 1979, so I was 10 years old, and I still remember that experience ... it was magical. This new "three-sixty" production originated in London, back in 2009, and is currently traveling the world; Boston is hosting the show through New Year's Eve.

Now, unfortunately the weather today was just awful - we had chilly downpours all day. So instead of taking the T in, as we first planned, Bill volunteered to on drive us there and back. EB came along for the inbound journey - and we had a nice ride around downtown Boston admiring the architecture and Christmas decor (as well as the many construction sites and general midday chaos).

The show was held inside a newly constructed tent on City Hall Plaza.


Inside the tent was a lobby (with snacks and souvenirs) and a circular hallway that ringed the inner theater itself. Here we found a series of interesting posters exploring the history of the Peter Pan tale - its author, origins and many dramatic interpretations through the years.







We were not allowed to take pictures inside the theater itself, so I have nothing more to show you, but I can say it was a fabulous production and we all enjoyed it very much. My favorite parts of the play?

Bringing 'Tink' back to life with a theater-full of fervent whispers:

"I believe in fairies."

The adherence to original text.

The ramshackle crocodile - what a fantastic roar!

The Neverbird and the Mother song.

The singing scalliwag pirates.

And, this:

"To live would be an awfully big adventure."


Leaving about 4:30 p.m. Bill waiting, van idling, on nearby Tremont Street - here's what we looked back at as we drove away:



And now we're home safe and sound, with another wonderful memory to tuck away.

I hope you all had a nice Wednesday - is it mid-week already?!

Thanks so much for stopping by ... I will see you all again very soon.


Poinsettia Day!


Today's Advent tree note read:

"Daddy's home today! We'll bake biscuits for breakfast and read about The Legend of the Poinsettia. Later we'll visit the nursery and bring home a plant for our mantle."

(Officially, National Poinsettia Day falls on December 12th, but as we were busy that day with a family party, I decided to schedule our own "poinsettia day" for one day this week.)

Well, the biscuits were delicious (stuffed with cheesy, scrambled eggs) and EB half-listened to me read TLotP while working on a coloring page I found online ... and after breakfast we all bundled into the minivan for a family field trip to the nursery. (Lol, the older two never know what's coming next. What? Close our math books, grab our coats? Happy faces all around.)

To be honest, Earlybird was more enthralled with the Christmas trees for sale in the lot (and pushing the oversized nursery cart up and down the aisles) than he was with the multicolored* plants inside, lol. (Poor Bill got outside duty with EB while I savored the steamy warmth of the greenhouse inside with the older boys.)

*Oh, and by multicolored, I really do mean multicolored! There were the expected red, burgundy, pink and white plants of course - but also - purple, blue and fuschia! 


Now, maybe I haven't been poinsettia shopping in a while, but this really struck me as odd! I insisted on purchasing traditional red plants, but the boys talked me into one sparkly blue plant as well. Crackerjack said he wanted it for their bedroom - he has plans for a Star Wars Christmas corner I think.

Here's our Earlybird marveling at the pretty Christmas plants ...


... and Crackerjack and Bookworm, smiling for Mum's camera. :) 


As you can see from their garb we're in the midst of quite a cold spell here in New England; the balmy greenhouse was a nice escape from the frosty weather. (A quick weather note here ~ a major snowstorm is predicted for Massachusetts late this weekend. Maybe we'll get a white Christmas after all!)

Well, from there, our day got quite busy as we grabbed a quick lunch and headed out to our December Nature Club meeting (a homemade suet feeder activity hosted by my friend Ketylina at her lovely home - more on that later!).

So we're home again at last, and supper's bubbling away on the stove. Bill's getting some work done, the older boys are playing Wii, and EB and I are watching "Dogs 101" (a favorite show of his). Obviously I'm also working on this post! 

As a final touch to our poinsettia day, I had planned to pull out our sweet little poinsettia fairy to hang on our tree, but - gasp! - we can't find her! I made her a few years back (details in this post) and I just can't imagine where she's disappeared to ~ but if I can't find her, I may just have to make her again. Hmm ... an excuse to stop by the craft store tomorrow? Maybe that's not so bad after all ... ;)

By the way, in a comment today, Lynn B. asked if I'd share all my Advent tree notes sometime - and yes, I'd be glad to! I'll write up a post (possibly this weekend) with the notes we've done so far and my plans for next week. I must say, this has been my favorite Advent countdown yet. :)

Well, thank you very much for stopping by today; I hope you had a nice day too. See you all again very soon!

Through the Woods, Down a Cave, Up a Tower ...


Our field trip on Monday was fantastic! Truly, one of the best we've been on. We followed a ranger through a local forest reserve and learned - not only about the local flora and fauna - but lots of fascinating New England history as well! (A tale that involved pirates and treasure and earthquakes and explosives - the kids were all ears!)

"Ranger Dan" led us deep into the woods, down inside a cave and then way up high in a stone tower! Here are some pictures I took on this glorious October day ... I hope you enjoy them!

Walking by the reservoir ...


A steep climb up to the cave ...


These great boulders were left behind by a glacier during the last ice age ...


And here we have the entrance to the cave itself ... the site of suspected pirate's buried treasure.


This is "Flat Stanley" ~ we are escorting him around the area this week. A schoolgirl from California sent him to me!


The ranger led us down in two groups - it was so dark and wet and slippery. To be honest, it was pretty creepy!


Needless to say I didn't go down to the very bottom of the cave. I left that to my braver (and more sure-footed) companions, lol.


After the cave, we walked a bit further uphill to this magnificent tower:


It was built in the 1930s for observation. A steep spiral staircase inside led us to the very top of the tower where we had *incredible* views of the surrounding area.


This would be Boston in the distance.


And the Atlantic ocean ...




After we left the tower, we started our descent back to the base of the park. As you can see it was an absolutely idyllic autumn day. 


Thanks for taking the time to stop by and look at my pictures today. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend ... I'll be back again just as soon as I can. :)

A Trip to the American Textile Museum

Last week we attended a field trip to the American Textile Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The trip included a guided tour of the museum as well as two excellent classes: "Junk to Jackets" and "Technical Tools." Crackerjack took the former; Bookworm took the latter. 

Here are the class descriptions:

From Junk to Jackets (Grades 3-10): Learn how recycling is used in the textile industry to make cloth, and consider its ecological impacts. As a colorful and educational keepsake, students will fill "ecological containers" with layers of materials showing the steps of the scientific process invented to convert plastic soda bottles into knitted fleece fabric. Students will do experiments revealing material characteristics and illustrating advances from nanotechnology research used to make modern fabrics even better!

Technical Tools (Grades 6-12): In a hands-on lab setting, work in teams to problem-solve how to overcome the technical difficulties experienced by the early US cotton industry, and experience the challenge of inventing that transformed the US during the early Industrial Revolution. Figure out Eli Whitney's inventors' success secrets as you engineer your own solutions. A world events timeline provides an international perspective.

This was our first visit to the museum, but I knew we'd get there one of these days (and I have a feeling we'll be back). Our history focus this year is the Industrial Revolution, and Lowell was one of the most important cities at that time. In fact, I believe it is known as the birthplace of the (American) Industrial Revolution.

I have a ton of pictures to share - no really, a ton - so I've made up a couple of photo albums instead of bogging down this post with jpgs. You can find my pictures in the two new photo albums on the right hand sidebar - one is called "ATM Field Trip" and this has the bulk of the pictures I took on our tour and in the boys' classes. The other album is called "Apron Exhibit" and it holds the pictures I took in the museum's special exhibit, a tribute to the 1950's and the apron phenomenon. Sorry these photos are not of the greatest quality, the lighting was fairly dim throughout most of the museum and we were not allowed to use flash photography. 

I hope you enjoy the pictures and if you are in the New England area - whether you live here or are visiting some day - I highly recommend you pay a visit to the American Textile Museum. The people who led us through the day were friendly, enthusiastic and so helpful. I look forward to another visit this spring!

Happy Advent!

I just love this time of year ...


There is something especially beautiful about winter sunrises, don't you think? It's almost as if the sky is doing it's own holiday decorating! Or maybe giving  us a bit of cheer on these bitter early mornings. Scientifically speaking, it must have something to do with the weather conditions at this time of year - cold, frosty, dry - but almost daily it seems (unless it's raining) - the sunrise is startlingly intense and varied. I think I take pictures almost every day ...

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was wonderful - bustling, happy and homey. Lots of good food, family and friends ... and lots of leftovers to indulge in this week!

Right now I am working on a December "plans" post (hoping to post mid-or-late-week), but for today I'd like to share some photos from the past month or so ...


One Saturday Bill was breaking down the yard toys and we found this little fella (a salamander) hiding in the folds of the bouncy house! Isn't he gorgeous? We deposited him safely under an old log by the compost pile. Hopefully he'll curl up and enjoy a long winter's nap.


The Blue Jays have been especially active this fall. This picture was actually a tree filled with a band of birds, but the best shot was this guy in the middle.

The following few pictures were taken on a recent Nature Club activity - we learned about a local watershed and did some percolation experiments. It was a cool, gray day ...




I really love the woods at this time of year - everything seems so bleak and done-for, so the tiny bits of color really stand out all the more. A flash of blue feathers, a bright ray or light, the punch of a red berry ...


Boston on (yet another) cloudy day ... on our way into the Science Museum.


Crackerjack and Bookworm making "their" pie on Thanksgiving eve - a lime jello cool whip variety. :)


I made the one above - a "Holiday Fruit Pie" filled with cranberries (dried and fresh), orange peel and golden raisins. I thought it came out pretty well. :)


And a little taste of Advent preparations underway ... more on the tags and ribbons (etc.) to come later this week!

Have a wonderful week, my friends ~ and Hurray for December tomorrow!

Be back just as soon as I can ...  

Boys' Club at Monsters vs. Aliens


Here we have Crackerjack (second from left) and his friends at the movies this week ...

These four friends, all 9 year-old home learners, see each other regularly at the myriad homeschool activities and social gatherings we attend, but once a month they get together on their own for official "Boys' Club." Two of the boys are the youngest of three and the other two are middle children. These monthly "meetings" (mostly casual playdates) allow the boys time to socialize outside of their older siblings' shadows. Because it was SO hot last Tuesday (the date of our April meeting) we decided to take the boys to the movies. 

We saw Monsters vs. Aliens, a funny, action-packed, beautifully animated movie. Chock-a-bloc full of "boy" humor - aka wedgies, snot and random bathroom humor, lol. As we left the theater I asked the boys to give it a rating; their scores: 10, 10, 8 and 4. 

Average score: 8. Well deserved, I'd say. :)

Nature Club this Month: Maple Sugaring


Our Nature Study Club met for our March meeting today ~ our theme this month was maple sugaring. Now, I could complain about the lousy weather (raw and rainy) but since we got to spend the bulk of our time inside a steamy sugarshack, it wasn't so bad. Also, the weather might not have been lovely but it certainly was very "March."

My friend Cherice set up this month's activity - a field trip to a local maple sugaring farm. I thought you might like to see some photos I took today. I don't have a lot of time right now to write a big post about what we learned (which is a shame, because we really learned a lot), but I hope you enjoy the pictures just the same. :) 

Inside the shack:





Syrup samples through the season (first to last, left to right):

Trying plain sap:


And partially boiled syrup:


Outside the shack, a tapped tree:


The shack itself:


A cold mossy creek in the midst ...


And our brand new bottle of Grade B syrup:


I have just revised our dinner plans - we will still have our sloppy joes tonight, but for dessert we'll enjoy vanilla ice cream smothered in locally grown maple syrup!

Thanks for stopping by today ... I wish you all a good night! :)

Guest Post ~ Science Saturday!

For the morning, I'm handing the blogging reins over to Bill and the boys. :) On Saturday they visited the Museum of Science with Bill's folks, and they came home with neat pictures and fun tales to tell.

So here are those tales, in their own (and Daddy's) words ~


We were extremely surprised to see that they had a Naboo N1 Starfighter from Star Wars Episode I, piloted by Anakin and R2-D2. It was one of the first things we saw and only the Dippin' Dots (the 'ice cream of the future') was more exciting.


What a lightning storm this Vander Graaef Generator (the largest in the world) made! At one point, the instructor stepped inside what looked like a birdcage that was then hit by several 1 billion volt lightning strikes. It was quite a demonstration of how lightning only travels on the outside 'skin' of metal. Grandpa recounted several tales from his years flying in the Navy that involved lightning and made the boys' eyes wide.


What do you say about this?! Bookworm says these concave mirrors are reflecting larger versions of what is real, in this case a very funny face.


Not to be outdone, Crackerjack imagined he was in an airplane and was looking out one of the windows. Hopefully it wasn't one from Grandpa's stories!


A LIFE-SIZED T-Rex ... WOW! Since 'A Night in the Museum' is one of the family's favorite movies, they felt bad for the night watchmen (or women) who work here.


This is Crackerjack trying to look scared, but the smile gives it away ... he was having fun!


We also didn't know that the live animal exhibit would feature Bookworm's favorite raptor - the American Kestrel. Crackerjack wants it mentioned that his favorite is the Turkey Vulture, which although not a raptor (as pointed out by Bookworm), is still pretty cool.


We took this picture for Mama ... anyone who reads this blog knows why.   


This is a fisher cat, probably the only creature that hunts porcupines. Its technique is that it goes for the soft underside.


2 foxes playing ... again for Mama. Cute when they are kits and not in your backyard.


Crackerjack insisted that Mama would want a picture of the sunset over the Charles River. There were a lot of Duck Boats out and about despite the overcast weather.


The machine of perpetual motion (as described by Bookworm) or chain reaction machine (as described by Crackerjack) was amazing and never stopped. There was even a wiffle ball that spun around a pole, which was an inspiring use of a New England invention.


Zakim bridge which is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world ...


On the way home, Bookworm took this picture of the sun shining through the clouds, which was very dramatic and quite a good picture considering the rate of speed.

And speaking of science and my boys, they (we) would like to thank everyone who has left us comments re ~ their favorite (and least favorite) bugs! We have 41 responses at last count! We'll be sifting through all the answers and making up that chart sometime this week. Stay tuned for results and thanks again for helping out!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Going out like a lamb ...

I hope you enjoy these pictures from a field trip we took this afternoon to a local farm. It was the perfect day for a visit - so very "March." The air was mild and the sunlight was milky. But the best part of all, without a doubt, was the baby lambs!


















Have a good night, everyone! I'll be back sometime tomorrow with our next Mittenstrings post! :) 

Themes & Plans for March

March brings breezes loud and shrill, stirs the dancing daffodil ...

So tell me friends, how does March greet you today? As a LION or a LAMB? Or perhaps somewhere in between? Pansyegg_2

Here in my little corner of the world March is most definitely a LION! It is snowing and blowing as I type away all snug by the fire. It has been a rather long and old-fashioned winter (just as I like it) but I am definitely feeling ready for spring. And though he is a fickle friend, March does bring with him spring's first tender tidings - a mild breeze, a few bits of green, and the stirring of hope in our hearts.

And so, with faith in spring's return, I offer you some ...

~ Themes and Plans for March ~


  • a quiet gray landscape, awaiting its green garb
  • the old March wind arrives to blow winter away
  • blackbirds returning (that squeaky gate sound)
  • drip, drip, drip - melting underway
  • pussywillows along the riverbank
  • mud, mud and more mud!
  • potholes that will eat your car in one gulp
  • forsythia blushing yellow
  • little pots of shamrocks at the grocer's
  • The Full Sap (or Worm) Moon (21)
  • migrating salamanders on mild, wet nights
  • robins re-appear
  • maple sugaring in the woods
  • the first tiny crocus appears
  • the sun gains warmth; the days lengthen
  • skunk cabbage in wetland areas
  • fox sparrows passing through
  • lambing time at the farm
  • a surprise snowstorm is not out of the question ...


  • March gem: aquamarine
  • March flower: jonquil
  • March comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb.


  • potatoes
  • carrots
  • turnip
  • radishes
  • spring onions
  • early rhubarb
  • leeks
  • fish on Fridays
  • egg custards
  • maple syrup
  • shamrock shakes
  • Girl Scout cookies
  • corned beef and cabbage
  • Irish soda bread
  • Irish coffee
  • oatmeal scones
  • sloppy joes
  • donuts for St. Joseph
  • fig tarts on Palm Sunday
  • Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday
  • cheesecake
  • ricotta pie
  • lamb cake
  • baked ham
  • waffles for Lady Day


  • Month of St. Joseph
  • Liturgical seasons:
    • Lent
    • Eastertide
  • St. David (1)
  • Laetare Sunday (2)
  • St. Patrick (17)
  • St. Joseph (19) (15 in 2008)*
  • Annunciation (25) (31 in 2008)*
  • Divine Mercy Sunday (30)
  • Holy Week:
    • Palm Sunday (16)
    • Holy Monday (17)
    • Holy Tuesday (18)
    • Spy Wednesday (19)
    • Holy Thursday (20)
    • Good Friday (21)
    • Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil (22)
    • Easter Sunday (23)

*These dates have been moved this year due to the early Easter. St. Patrick's Day has not been rescheduled, so we plan to celebrate it early.


  • Rake winter debris from yard.
  • Sweep porches, doorsteps, decks and driveways.
  • Inspect yard and home exterior for winter damage.
  • Clean birdfeeders thoroughly.
  • Plan garden plots.
  • Start seeds indoors.
  • Arrange for mulch delivery.
  • Purchase fresh sandbox sand.
  • Put windowboxes up; fill with hardy pansies!
  • Launder spring bedding.
  • Plan Easter dinner.
  • Order ham.
  • Order basket goodies.
  • Buy Easter lilies at the nursery.
  • Organize Easter clothes.
  • Shampoo rugs.
  • Take down storms; hang screens.
  • Polish woodwork with beeswax.
  • Re-stock craft supplies for the spring.
  • Organize rainy day play gear.
  • Start planning summer vacation time.


  • National Craft Month
  • National Hobby Month
  • American Red Cross Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • Irish-American Heritage Month
  • National Umbrella Month
  • March Madness
  • Peanut Butter Lovers Day (1)
  • Iditarod begins (1)
  • Dr. Seuss's birthday (2)
  • Alexander Graham Bell's birthday (3)
  • Antonio Vivaldi's birthday (4)
  • Elizabeth Barrett Browning's birthday (6)
  • Daylight Savings Time begins (9)
  • National Mario Day (10)
  • Uranus discovered (13)
  • National Pi Day (14)
  • Albert Einstein's birthday (14)
  • Horton Hears a Who released (14)
  • The Ides of March (15)
  • Return of the Swallows to San Juan Capistrano (19)
  • National Agriculture Day (20)
  • First Day of Spring (20)
  • National Waffle Day (25)
  • Make up Your Own Holiday Day (26)

Book Basket

Field Trips & Outings

  • Nature Club: maple sugaring
  • Visit new lambs at farm
  • Children's Passion Play at church
  • Museum of Science: Planetarium

Crafts & Activities

Now, I am compelled to mention (as I always do) that in no way do I mean to suggest that my family will be observing each and every one of these March ideas! I am keeping all these themes and plans in a notebook, however, and my hope is to refer back to them each year as I plan out the seasons for my family. I hope that you find them helpful, too. :)

And I hope your March is just lovely ~ whether wild or mild!

November at Aquarium School

There are sharks in Boston!


And I don't just mean in in the financial district! ;) They also reside inside the New England Aquarium (three in the giant tank) and, as we learned, they're outside too - just beyond the craggy coast of our capital city!

It was a fascinating class in which we learned all about these amazing and often misunderstood fish. Lots of hands-on activities, a slide show and talk from two shark experts and, a real-live (or dead, as it were) shark dissection!*

(*Now, I have pictures of that too -because, believe or not, I watched - but so as not to offend any of my readers, who probably don't expect to see fish guts when they open my blog, I placed those particular shots in a photo album parked over there on the righthand sidebar (see Shark Dissection). Please be warned - these are graphic pictures of the insides of a dog shark. Don't look if you don't want to!)

So I must point out that I begin once again with that quintessential Boston shot above. It is the first thing we see when we step out of the parking garage and today we remarked upon how different it appeared from the earlier autumn months. Yesterday was a typical November day for Boston - drizzly and gray, the fog rolling in off the harbor ...

As we arrived a bit early for class we walked about the docks, looking out at the misty gray waters half expecting to see a dorsal fin sticking up in the distance. We didn't see that of course, but we did spy some interesting boats.


It has also become our habit to stop over at the harbor seal tank to say hello to our favorite pinnipeds.



Before we knew it, it was time for class! Bookworm headed into the older kids' class with his friends and I followed Crackerjack into the younger group's room. (As I've mentioned before, the classes follow the same curriculum with variations, of course, due to age level.)

CJ's classroom was set up with some interesting work stations designed to give the kids a feel for the shark's point of view ...


This box allowed the children to peer through two sets of goggles - the top one representing the human view deep underwater (dark and murky) and the bottom set showing us how sharks are able to see (much more clearly). This underwater vision enables them to hunt their food with relative ease.


In the sunlight however, we'd have the sharks beaten by a mile (more or less). Donning these sunglasses and peering at the chart (which appeared quite blurry) gave us a good idea of how a shark would see things in shallow sun-filtered water ... it was very hard to distinguish between things like seals and people on surfboards.


We then observed shark jaws ...


Some of an enormous size:


This jaw belonged to a Mako shark, one of our most common New England sharks.

And there were all kinds of things to explore including shark skin and egg cases ...


... including skate pods, otherwise, and rather eloquently, known as mermaid's purses:


An experiment showed us how sharks are able to stay afloat - not with air balloons as do most fish, but with oil:


Hard to see above here, but those are two pouches filled with oil (one) and air (the other). Oil may not float as well as air, but it does indeed float. (As anyone who has baked or cooked pasta knows.) 

The kids were allowed to sift through a pile of shark teeth ... and try to match them up with identification cards.


This one tooth, as large as this little girl's hand, belonged to a prehistoric shark called a Megalodon!


There were earphones designed to "hear" as sharks hear:


And a box that checked to see if we humans are electric (we are!):


Crackerjack and his friends did some sketching and note-taking as class got underway ...


Here's a picture of the whiteboard with notes from our discussion. On the left is a list of what the kids "knew" about sharks, and on the right is a list of what people generally "think" about sharks.


And just before we left to meet up with the shark experts in the next room, we got to meet a tiny chain dog fish:


He (or she, they won't know for a while) was so cute and maybe all of six inches!

The shark experts gave an excellent and lively presentation. They talked with the kids about the various kinds of sharks, how and why sharks are caught or hunted and some common misconceptions as well. (Did you know you are more likely to be bitten by a person in New York City than by a shark anywhere in the world? And how likely is that? One would hope not very.)

Now, I will leave you here with a brief glimpse of the start of the dissection. The shark guys were very careful to explain to the children that this dogfish was dead, and could not feel anything. They also explained how we must treat it with respect. They described the ways scientists like themselves use such dissections to learn more about sharks - and to ultimately help people live more peacefully with these beautiful animals.


I must say, Crackerjack held his own and watched the whole procedure - though he took off his gloves early on declaring, "Well, I'm not gonna touch it!" :) As I understand it, Bookworm opted out of this portion of the class and sat off to the side with a friend. (This from the kid who wants to be a vet, lol. I guess we'll work on that.) :)

We were sent home with a nice book about dog sharks, including a model shark to build - which we'll do today while waiting for Earlybird at speech. When we get home I will have the boys write up a narration of our experience yesterday and label a shark diagram for their notebooks. We'll also look over this great webpage all about New England sharks. Wonderful photos and information there!

Well, thanks for letting me take you with us to our shark class! If you'd like to check out the dissection photos, remember they are safely tucked away in the photo album at right. I will add notes to the photos later today. I need to pick CJ's brain to remember all that was said!

Have a great day everyone, and thanks, as always, for stopping by!