Learning Spaces Feed

A November Tea & Some Advent Thoughts!

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Hello my friends and Happy Wednesday! Can you believe that a week from tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day? And a few days after that is The First Sunday in Advent? I know it's become cliche to say, but truly - time just flies when you're having fun - or wait, scratch that - time just flies period! 

I have a few things to share on this dark, damp, Novemberish day ... first, some tea, cake and cozy goodness, as seen above. :) In our seasonal homeschooling we focused on "dens and nests" last week (it's "autumn bog" this week) and one of the activities was to decide where our own winter nests will be this year. Several spots were discussed here and there throughout the house but I'm migrating back to the library because it's a warm room in the winter and plus, this is where our Christmas tree will be. We'll amble out there in a minute, but first let me show you the breads I made with my little guy this morning - or cakes as Little Bear calls them!

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It's all about cranberries this week - which grow in the aforementioned bogs and are native to our region ... plus of course, a staple of the Thanksgiving holiday! And tomorrow being the feast of St. Elizabeth (patron of bakers) a cranberry-pumpkin bread sounded just right. Made with eggs from my hens, no less! I used my favorite mix-and-match quick bread recipe which makes two loaves - handy when you have a house full of hungry boys and young men!

In the background you see our colorful family "flock" - a paper turkey for each person joining us for Thanksgiving dinner. (I didn't cut these out, fyi - found a package of them at the art store!) These will be used for writing out a special kind of blessing come dessert time next Thursday ...

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And now into the library where I have this lovely basket stuffed full of our favorite holiday stories:

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And a few special books and pretty greeting cards on display ...

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More books on the coffee table - our latest library crop. :) Nests, bogs, beavers, dens ... these are things we've been talking about lately!

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But when I think about my own cozy nest, there is nothing I like better than a cup of tea by my side, a basket of books by my feet ...

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... and a little one in my lap! 💛

But can we talk for a minute about how cute my new autumn tea mug is?

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Found at HomeGoods for $3.99  - a generously-sized, wide-mouthed, solid mug ... perfect for a BIG cup of tea. Plus, how could I resist that face? :)

Now, some of my long-time readers might recognize this post as one of my "Teas" that I like to share every once in a while, especially at the holidays. So, yes ~ I will be returning to those Teas beginning this week! I'll sit down for another "Thanksgiving Tea" next week - in between pie-making and glass-washing - and then my Advent Teas will begin. More on all that soon, and how you can join me if you wish, but here's a link to last year's Advent Tea series if you'd like a look!

And speaking of Advent ...

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As I recently "teased" on Facebook and Instagram, I am finally getting my Advent Planning sheets assembled and ready to share! I'm just tinkering with a few final edits and then tomorrow - or Friday at the VERY latest - I will have them up here at the blog in PDF form. I really enjoyed putting these together and I look forward to sharing them with you! I will also share in that post where I'm keeping them and how I'm using them - or will be. I'm really trying to keep focused on Thanksgiving for the time being, but I do like knowing my Advent season will be ready to roll once the last bit of turkey leftovers is gone!

So please stay tuned friends - expect another post in a day or so - and as always I thank you sincerely for joining me here today. I hope you too are having a nice week ...

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones and I will see you here again very soon!


A Tour of My New(ish) Desk!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Friday! Today I'd like to give you all a little tour of my new desk. :)

Well, I call it "new" because I've only been using it for a couple of months, but the desk itself is not new. Actually, it's been here since the house was built back in 1985! (We've been here since 2013.) It's a great spot for sure, but I resisted situating myself here because, A. up until recently I had a (portable) laptop computer and, B. "sitting down time" was pretty scarce. (If I found myself sitting down there was usually a Little Bear in my lap!)

Also, I really didn't want to clutter up this corner of our family room ... it's the main gathering room in the house and it's hard enough to keep it neat without adding my own parpahernalia to it. And if you know me, you know I am someone who has a tendency to amass a bit of clutter - nice-looking clutter if I may say so, but still, clutter indeed. Ahem.

Anyhoo, when my beloved Macbook died in August (thankfully leaving behind its hard drive), circumstances lined up in such a way that I "inherited" my 17yo son's computer. (He was building himself a new PC per his dearest birthday wish.) So now I really did need a desk for my desktop computer (as opposed to a kitchen counter where I usually parked my laptop) and I suddenly saw this built-in desk in a whole new light. Sure it's smack dab in the family room where all the FAMILY usually is - but it turns out that's OK. It's hard to sneak away and get stuff done for any length of time on my own, though I had a good run there for a while when Little Bear was napping regularly (I'd work on my laptop in a chair parked next to his crib). But these days if I'm going to sit down and spend some time working (or let's be real, surfing) on my computer, it's going to be accomplished with my kids all around me. So these days - case in point, this day - I'm sitting here at this desk while Little Bear and Earlybird play with trains and Matchbox cars and there may be an episode of Peppa playing in the background ...

(Side note - there is a matching desk on the other side of that window seen in the above photo. This desk is used by Earlybird and that too is getting spruced up for his computer time and homeschooling! More details in a future post.)

Now, before I get on with the tour, I want to note that I am still getting settled in, so things may get moved around a bit. I like how things are working so far though ... and I do find myself sitting here quite comfortably when the opportunity arises!

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So the monitor is parked in the middle, natch. Along the wall I have a month-at-a-glance calendar on the left - and to be completely honest I don't really need a wall calendar but I loved the look of this one - crisp white with LINED boxes and soft gold dots. (Plus, you know me and calendars.) I got it at Staples. On the right side of the monitor is a bulletin board which I will discuss in more depth in a moment. (Martha Stewart brand, also found at Staples.)

I bought the decorative boxes recently at Joann Fabrics where they were on sale and I could hardly resist. The artwork is so pretty and the shades complement the desk nicely. (Speaking of color, another side note - I do love the painted woodwork here. All through the house actually. The former homeowners did a bang-up job choosing paint colors and this green, as well as the green in my kitchen, is probably my favorite - mostly because I know I wouldn't have thought of it myself!)

Inside those boxes I have extra office supplies like pencils, pens, hi-lighters, post-it notes and washi tape. These are the ones I use the most ... my main stash is just beneath in a cabinet - along with stickers, binder clips, glue sticks and clothespins. (See below.)

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(You might recognize that yellow ball as our Michaelmas meteor ... yes, that had to go into immediate hiding once the younger boys wouldn't stop fighting over it. I had forgotten I stashed it in there when I went to take this picture, lol!)

Back to that corner for a moment, though! 

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I also have a small index card bin here (with monthly dividers and a card for each day colored according to the liturgical season) ... favorite mini binder clips are perched on the edge of the bin and my new daily prayer book sits just behind. :)

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If I'm going to be working at my computer for any length of time, I take my Day Designer (my daily planner) with me. I park it in the space to the left of my keyboard. (I usually keep my DD at the kitchen counter so I can check in with it frequently throughout the day.)

Above the monitor is a banner I made recently - an important reminder! - and an overhead light that doesn't work presently. (We're working on getting the right bulb for that fixture and then this whole work area will be much brighter!)

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So a bit about the screenshot, lol, because I know you're probably wondering! That is a very pretty planner I puttered around with on the Blue Sky website. A spiral-bound, monthly-weekly affair one can personalize and then order online. I REALLY don't need another planner, but oh ... isn't this pretty? :)

Ok, to the right of the monitor is my bulletin board and more storage ...

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Fyi that bulletin board is very easy to put up with adhesive tabs on the back. I found some shimmery copper push-pins to use here - to hold some visual inspiration (I tend to hoard lovely greeting cards and so display them with the seasons) as well as a few notes re ~ library password and Bookworm's class schedule, etc. Also here (beneath the owl card) is Little Bear's most recent pediatrician's report which gives his vitals, doctor contact info. and dosage information.

Beneath the board is another pretty storage box (I'm a sucker for these can't you tell?) and in this one I have craft materials for current or upcoming projects. Right now there are vintage Halloween cards to send with Earlybird, a set of paper turkeys for a Thanksgiving project and materials for our Advent countdown. The trick is to remember I put these things here, lol - but it's vital to keep these things out of the line of my younger boys' vision. ;)

In the rectangular basket I keep bills to pay, statements to review, correspondence to answer, a plastic pouch for monthly receipts and my little shopping notebook. Also tucked in here is Mama's Pink Stapler, and all my business/appointment cards held together with a binder clip ...

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Tucked in the very corner of this desk is my Catholic reference book-of-the-moment and two lovely notebooks I bought at the Paper Source recently. Let me show them to you a little closer up ...

New notebooks

You know how sometimes you find - and I'm talking to my fellow paper-nuts here - a notebook that just works really well for you? The size, shape and feel of it is perfect and you just want to find all kinds of uses for it? Well, this is what happened to me with these little beauties. I bought the blue one a few weeks ago and have turned it into a "to-do" kind of journal. I then ordered the pink one online (did not dare visit that store again in person - too tempting!) and am turning it into a daily joy journal of sorts.

Ok, back to the desk ...

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When I established myself at this desk I realized I needed a writing/work space as well as a computer area. I had Bill move an old table of ours (originally my grandparents') to the right of my desk chair. I like to turn to my planner/binder as I work and this is a fairly efficient set-up for me.

So on that table ...

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A lamp, which casts a very cozy if not very bright light on the area! My favorite page-a-day calendar, my stack of current magazines (piled in order of read first to last, favorites on bottom!), my homekeeping binder, file crate and an in-basket.

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I will have to do a separate post about how I'm using my binder as part of my overall planning system. I think I've finally found a daily-weekly combination that works for me! (Monthly-weekly-seasonal planning in the binder ... as well as my daily journaling ... but the daily nitty gritty planning takes place in my Day Designer.) 

My file crate sits nicely here on the table ...

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Weekly file folders, seasonal file folders, teacher's planbook standing up in front along with printable nature-study calendars and in the way back of my crate I have a folder for all our homeschooling particulars - any correspondence, HSLDA paperwork, town/school paperwork, etc. The in-basket holds things - any old things - I come across through the week that I want to look at during my weekend "office hours." In there right now is last month's journaling pages for review, a couple of pieces of mail to look at, a storytime craft made by Little Bear (not sure how that ended up in there, lol!), my Advent book for perusal and planning, and a "just moved" announcement from a friend.

Above this work table is a framed Tasha Tudor print ...

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My grandparents had this framed for me as a high school graduation gift back in 1987. It brings me such pleasure for so many reasons!

Oh, and while I'm here, let me show you yet another storage box I bought just yesterday and slipped under my work table ...

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This one will be for Christmas planning and prep ... I've already stashed a couple of catalogs in there!

I keep my "briefcase" on the floor ...

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(In here are this month's home learning books ... I try to find all the books we'll be using ahead of time and pull them out as we need them.)

Now, looking around my "corner office" I have a nice view out the window to my left ...

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... although that couch is very tempting!

And there's a small seating area behind me for "client meetings" ... ;)

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The table and chairs were originally my parents' and they are actually patio furniture but I love how they look here and the wicker is surprisingly comfortable. I envision having the boys sit with me here individually to review homework and perhaps talk about the week ahead, expectations etc. For Little Bear it's mostly about sharing Mama's tea and playing with puppets. :)

Above my desk are bookshelves full of the older boys' books and a few special nicknacks ... some of that aforementioned "clutter!"

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I added those pretty wooden leaf lights just the other day - they add a nice touch on gray days and dark autumn evenings!

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And if you're thinking that's a glass of wine right there in that last picture, well ... you'd be guessing right. :)

Last shot ... office motto:

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💙

Well my friends, this was a rather long post and I thank you for stopping by to read and share in my "desk joy!" Aside from needing a little more light, it's working out very well for me. I've been here at the desk all morning (well, since 6 a.m. till now which about two hours later) since Earlybird and I are the only ones up and he's out here in the family room using his iPad and watching PBSKids. I'm on my second - make that third - cup of coffee but it's now time to rally the troops and get our Saturday started! Soccer game and family lunch ... applesauce in the pot and meatloaf in the oven ... much to do and many memories to make!

Hope you all have a great weekend ... see you here again very soon!


Earlybird's Visual Learning

My goodness but I've been working on this draft for some time now ... and yet for some reason I just can't seem to wrap it up! Well, here we go anyway ... I hope you enjoy! :)

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So here at last is Earlybird's "learning line," something I mentioned last month on Instagram and promised to show in more detail here at the blog ...

This learning line is basically a simple, visual catalog of information - consisting of sheets stored in page protectors. We've had some good success with this the past few weeks, so I snapped some pictures to share here in case this might work well for someone else's child ... :)

But first, a bit of background ...

Our 14 yo Earlybird has autism and teaching him in a way that is both engaging and meaningful has been a real challenge for us as a home-educating family. We are always looking for ways to make learning enjoyable for EB, while taking into account his varying special needs. He can't really handle long lessons or a lot of one-on-one, intense instruction so I like to "sneak in" the ideas and concepts we're working on and then revisit them to assess how things are sinking in. (EB is developmentally delayed but has a fantastic memory and a bright inquisitive mind. Some subjects (like science) he readily absorbs like a sponge, while others (for example, math) he really struggles with.) My first thought was that we'd just sit down together with a binder full of the sheets shown above, but EB can be funny about this kind of activity. I could envision myself saying, "Hey, EB, how about we sit down over here and look through your lesson pages together?" To which EB would most likely say, "Um, no thanks." Or maybe even something like "Noooo, I don't wanna ... noooo!"

(Insert door slam here.)

Compliance and flexibility are things we work on every day with EB's (amazing) behavioral therapist - and we're making progress, certainly - but as you can imagine, this kind of attitude doesn't really lend itself to easygoing homeschooling moments. It's actually quite disruptive and really messes with the lesson plans!

Hence our ongoing efforts to find methods that are appealing to EB while also training him to be more accepting of requests and responsibilities. (This is also why I tend to make EB's lesson plans with a rather wide-range vision. I sketch out some general topics and themes for a month, then write up weekly goals which get plugged into the days of the week as they work best.

My October notes read like this: Explorers, New England geography/geology, Americana artists - Moses/Wysocki, music of Harry Potter (composer John Williams), autumn weather/frost, woods/leaves, soil, migration, St. Francis, All Hallow's Eve

Side note - it is really difficult for EB to sit and listen to someone read aloud to him (re ~ sensory issues) and while he can read on his own, he doesn't have a lot of stamina for it. So in come audiobooks! Funnily enough, I've never been a big fan of audiobooks myself - preferring paper as I do - but they have been a real lifesaver! And so incredibly enjoyable. I play all kinds of literature while we drive around, bringing Crackerjack to his "out of home" classes or the soccer field or on errands, etc. It seems we're in the car every day for something or another these days! So I just casually press "play" and when EB asks me to switch back to "the news" (he loves news radio, lol) I say something like, "Oh we'll go back to that in a minute, let's just find out what happens next ..."  We just finished Peter Pan, and have now begun Harry Potter ... I am so excited to revisit this with Earlybird! It's his first time, but one of many re-reads for me!

Ok, so enough of my chatter, here are some pictures of our "learning line" - and this also gives you a little sneak peek into how the learning room is coming along (Slowly, but surely! And a full tour to come soon ... )

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So the line stretches across the entire back wall of the sunroom learning room. Bill just used "Command" hooks and a length of kitchen twine for this project. Other supplies include sheet protectors, post-it notes and small wooden clothespins. The current books are on the windowsills for now but eventually - once Bill builds me some book ledges! - they will be displayed on the walls. Both the books and the sheets reflect current learning topics ...

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Some of the things I have hanging in the sheet protectors:

  • a map of the US slowly being colored in as we cover each state
  • a state bird and flower coloring page (we're starting in New England)
  • a photocopy of a colorful state map, corresponding with the state bird/flower page
  • some Peace Day print-outs
  • a corn plant with diagram labels
  • a map of where corn is grown in the US
  • some index cards with landform vocabulary terms - these are specific to New England (EB was asked to look them up and record the word on each card)
  • the weekly forecast
  • September's poem

I've since added a compilation of seed-dispersal facts and a Charles Wysocki art book page (with New England theme) as well as some coloring pages and crafts made by Little Bear at his library Storytime.

To some of these pages I might add post-it notes with questions such as:

  • According to this map, which area of the US grows the most corn?
  • What is the capital of Massachusetts?
  • What are three adjectives that describe September?
  • What day this week looks to have the best weather?
  • What Native American tribes were found in Massachusetts? Check the Giant US Discovery Atlas

Some of these pages are photocopied from workbooks, text books, library books and other resources. Some things are found online as images or printables. (How did we ever home school before Pinterest?) The index cards are in sheet protectors with divided pockets. Currently I'm just filing the sheet protectors in a binder as is, retiring last week's pages over the weekend and hanging fresh sheets before the new week begins.

(Ok, let me rephrase that - I'm actually placing all those pages in a basket until I find a binder I like for this purpose! I need a large one, but the rings need to work very smoothly for Earlybird.)

The "learning line" is something EB uses with his therapist as well. They've been working his homeschooling into their daily sessions and it has been a tremendous help! I think Earlybird likes this approach because it's visually appealing and he feels proud to see some of his work hanging up in this way. I've heard him show visitors his learning line and he'll comment on it sometimes to me throughout the day. It's a way of keeping his lessons front and center - but with a relatively low-key approach. Some items stay up longer than a week if I feel they need to "sink in" a little longer.

Note: these pictures were taken last month ... here is a peek at the line this week!

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So there's a look at one of the ways I incorporate "visual" learning into Earlybird's week. I hope you enjoyed this peek into our learning room, and as I mentioned above, a full tour will be coming up soon!

Enjoy your weekend, my friends and as always, thanks so much for stopping by ...

See you here again very soon!


It's Homeschool Planning Time!

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Hello my friends, and Happy Weekend!

So it's that time of year again - time for me to put on my homeschool-mom-thinking-cap and see "what's what." First up, I need to write reports for the school system (how we did last year, what we're doing next) and then comes the fun part - planning out the nitty-gritty of our new year! I'm actually a little behind on this (thanks, in part, to that recent computer crash) but I AM NOT panicking. Nope, I am not. Not at all. Or at least, not very much - mostly because I'm really too busy to worry about it!

(Plus, this is my 16th time "at bat," so to speak, so it really shouldn't take me too long to get these reports done ... once I sit down and just do them!)

Now, like many of you, I have a ritual I like to follow when I work on a project - for ed. planning it includes (but is not limited to): a quiet space, open windows, no children, several cups of tea and LOTS of office supplies. But one of my favorite activities is when I get to spruce up my file crate for a new year! Above you see the crate itself with a calendar hanging on its front and a couple of planners stuck in the back. In front of the crate are two piles of folders - last year's on the left (which will be read through as I write the reports) and new ones for the coming year on the right.

Now, before anyone asks - no I don't reuse my file crate folders - at least, not for this purpose. I do, however, recycle them in other ways. I like (and need) my weekly file folders to be crisp and sturdy and strong ... a year's worth of use leaves them a bit battered. 

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Let's just say, they get handled a lot!

There are a lot of stylized file folders out there now that you might use with a file crate system. File folders are kind of a "hot" product these days and some are so very pretty ... I am always tempted ... but unfortunately, since I need one for each week of the year (52 total) the price, for me, would just be too much. I do like to "pretty" my plain folders up a bit if I can - with labels and washi tape, etc. As you can see I am going with primary colors this year as opposed to the soft brown of last year's. These are actually folders I found a while back at Staples when they were marked WAY down - so I bought several packs - you know, just in case. (I'm weak like that when it comes to office supplies ... my motto being, buy first, ask questions later!)

Anyhoo, look how neat they are inside!

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So inside each folder there are pockets that allow you to separate folder contents by type. How cool is this?! I LOVE this idea and I really hope it works out. I keep a lot of things in my folders and it's a bit jumble-y, I must admit. (Lesson print-outs, recipes, receipts, craft ideas, invoices, reminder cards, greeting cards, invitations, etc.) I sometimes use a paper clip to hold things together (or various color-coded clips) but then there's that annoying bump from the clip(s) ... yes, I really am that persnickety about my file folders, lol!

I will have to do a follow-up post about what the folders look like when full - and how I use them as part of my weekly planning. I'm still ironing out a few details and fleshing out a few new ideas ... so more on my file folder system in the near future!

Before I go though, I want to share a couple of photos of our next project ...

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So yes, this is the sunroom, which I know a lot of you have seen in previous posts, and you're thinking, "What is she on about here?" But here's the thing .... I've finally decided to make it our ... HOMESCHOOL ROOM! :)

We've lived here in this house for three years now, and I just couldn't quite decide where to "set up shop," for homeschooling. I kind of wanted to see how we'd end up using the different rooms and where it would make sense to commit shelves and wall space to educational pursuits. This sunroom has been fabulous when we're entertaining - we often set up buffets and dining tables here - but otherwise it's usually a catch-all playroom of sorts. I recently cleaned it out, top to bottom and decided this really would make a great spot for homeschooling ... there's lots of room and natural light. Not a ton of wall space, but enough. And it's situated right off the family room so it's pretty convenient. The one drawback is, it's only a three-season room (i.e. it gets COLD in the winter) so we'll have to figure something out on that front. 

But I'm excited! I'm really looking forward to getting this room all organized and arranged. I have Bill lined up to make some shelves for me and I'm trying to envision the learning areas I'd like to make available to my younger boys. On the other side of the picture window in that last picture is my new desk, by the way ... and that will be another post for the future! :)

***

Well, my friends - I'd best be off now. This was supposed to be a "quick" post but you know how I can get. I do hope you all enjoy your weekend, and as always, I thank you sincerely, for stopping by to read. Thanks, too, for all the chicken advice! The girls are doing well ... they seem much more settled now and goodness are they dears! I will post a bit about them in an upcoming post as well.

So have a good evening, everyone! Don't forget to look up at that beautiful night sky tonight (or early tomorrow) and watch for those Perseids, so spectacular this year. I myself am just hoping to stay up late enough to watch The Great British Baking Show season finale!

(Anyone else watching? Who are you rooting for then?)

☄️☄️☄️

See you all here again very soon ....


Book Party: More Books & Nooks!

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Happy Monday, my friends! I'm a bit behind on things, so here is the post that was meant for the weekend and tomorrow I'll report in on Downton. I will be studiously avoiding Facebook today lest I be spoiled! ;)

Now, today we will visit two friends and their own lovely book nooks ... please welcome Denise and Valerie to our party! Many thanks to both ladies for joining in the fun! Remember friends, all are welcome to share their pictures and thoughts here (via drhanigan AT gmail DOT com) and you have another week to do it! Next Monday is the Book Party deadline, and on Tuesday (March 1st) I'll announce a winner of my giveaway, a pretty little package filled with some pre-spring goodies. :)

But, without further ado, here are more books and nooks for you to peruse!

**

First we hear from Denise!

Dawn, What a wonderful party to host! I have enjoyed seeing the posts thus far! I wish I could just visit each one personally & peruse, visit, read, sip tea!! This is a great way to share though, and is most enjoyable!

I have always enjoyed reading, since I was a young girl. It is a favorite pastime of mine. You could say I'm addicted. My husband would definitely say I'm addicted. I suppose my favorite series as a child was The Boxcar Children series. :-) I have tried to share my love with my children, grands, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, nephews, etc! Curling up in our big chair, with a read aloud, and some of my grands around - one of my favorite things. Much harder to do now that I don't see them on a daily basis. My standard baby shower gift is: books. :-) (And baby nightgowns, boy or girl, makes night time changes so much easier!)

I have a homeschool bookshelf, it is tall and has a 'ledge' about 24" from the ground. This set up is actually a shelf that sits on a cupboard. (Homemade by a friend of my brother-in-law.) I usually have several kids' books laid out on that ledge! I put seasonal books on our table in the sitting area. I didn't take a picture of that because it is *full* of the
winter village (that will be taken down soon) that a certain, dear grandtwin girl (10) loves to play with! It is a disaster right now because I am not homeschooling this year and so I didn't do the summer clean & clear of the shelf unit!  I am procrastinating on addressing it, it seems, probably because I don't want to admit that season is over. :-)

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Above is a picture of books at my bedside, this changes. The Bible remains, but other books change. :-) (The cute little snowman is supposed to be a hanging but the dowel I hang it on broke, so ...) These sit on a sewing machine (my first, at age 17) cabinet Dad built me! I love that piece!

I have a short bookshelf that is dedicated to fiction books. It is also in my bedroom, in a little nook. I have a rocking chair (my Mom's chair she used to rock her babies, and I used to rock my grands!). I pretty much stash books wherever I can. I didn't take pictures of my many stashes, the ones by my "nest" (as we shared a while ago) which changes with my current reads. I'm actually looking at flea markets (one of Mom's favorite things to do, about the only thing I get her to do these days ~smile~) for an old magazine rack, which is wooden & has a handle. Then I can put all my current reads (books, magazines, articles people give me) in it & tote it with me to wherever I want!

The shelf in my office, I have sent a picture before, I'm sure. It holds my current journals. Some favorite books, books I keep on hand to give away. As I look over at it right now it has numerous titles relating to prayer, which happens to be my Lenten focus! I need to select a couple to move out to my current stash, I see!!

Thank you for opening your blog for this wonderful party! Happy reading, friends!
~ Denise

Wonderful post, Denise! I love hearing about your book traditions and how you share your love of reading with your family. Those dear children are certainly blessed (in many ways) to have you in their lives! I smiled when I read of your flea market hunts - Bill and I adore combing through "antiques" found at flea markets. An excellent source of book displays (and books!) of all kinds. We have a great big rambling market up here in the next town over that runs from April through December ... I have quite a wish list tucked in my purse - things to "look for" when we're there. :)

Thanks so much for joining us, Denise and sharing your books and nooks with us!

**

And now, we'll hear from Valerie!

Hi Dawn!
You inspired me to go snap some pics with my phone. I may even tidy up!

Book party valerie 1

A favorite sight - a boy reading on the couch. These shelves were built for us by my father in law and were originally more for display, but as our book collection grew, well, you know! Among the books and photos are my dad's baby shoes and my great grandmother's Bible.

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In the same room, a rather messy book shelf - but well used! The corner cupboard was originally home to a collection of Victorian mustache cups but I'd rather let my kids play nerf basketball in that room now.

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Oh my! I can't believe I didn't tidy this one up before taking the picture. 😀 This is directly behind my desk and houses a lot of our homeschool books. (Believe me, we have more!)

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My older son's school work area on the other side of my desk. Books they use every day stay in the red baskets. 

Book party valerie 5

And lastly, a closer view of the living room shelves. Our wedding picture and me with each of my boys on the first day I was able to go out after breast cancer surgery. Reminders of God's great blessings!!
~ Valerie

Oh, Valerie, this was a fantastic post! I love all your book nooks ... and I know exactly what you mean about shelves meant for display being filled up with books! I am always thinking, "Well, I could arrange a few pretty/meaningful items here on this (or that) shelf ... " but then I find I rather prefer using the space for more books! I think you've created a nice blend of both here, between the beautiful photos and beloved objects. I really like those red baskets, too - the ones holding the resources your children need everyday. I use a similar approach, with large tote bags. :) Thank you so much for taking the time to photograph these lovely corners of your home ... it was so fun to "visit!"

**

Well friends, I hope you'll drop a note below for Denise and Valerie - how nice to see how they encourage an atmosphere of reading in their homes! I hope you enjoyed our post today and I also hope you might consider adding a post of your own too! You send me your pics and thoughts and I'll do the rest ... :)

I will be off for now, but as always, thanks to all for stopping by! Enjoy the rest of your Monday - hope your week gets off to a great start!

See you here again very soon ...

 


Book Party: Dawn's Books & Nooks

Vintage books

Hello again, my friends! It's time for another Book Party post! I've had such fun reading all the posts so far, and today I'm excited to share a few of my own book-filled nooks ... :)

**

Like many of you, I have books all over my house - beside my bed, in the kids' rooms, on the family room shelves, stored away in basement bins - but the best reading spots can be found in the library. Now, one might call this a living room, or even a parlor, but we are optimistically coining it "the library" because we hope to have lots and lots books stored in here one day! And by "stored" I mean - arranged in a way that is well organized and inviting. I want this to be a room that celebrates books and encourages hours spent in joyful reading, whatever the season or time of day. This room is on the west side of the house so it gets fair natural light (as well as a nice view of the sun setting behind the woods), but good lamps and overhead lighting are important! As, of course, is comfortable seating ...

SO here we go!

Book party dawn 1

These are the two larger bookcases in the room and they are situated to the left of my writing desk. They belonged to my husband's dear grandmother and we have beautiful glass doors for the front of each - something for the future when our littlest is no longer little! The one on the left holds books we use for homeschooling: history/geography, science/nature study, myths/legends, picture books and classic literature, poetry/fingerplays and some of my general homeschooling resources (Charlotte Mason and Waldorf, for the most part).

A closer look at the shelves (which, it should be noted, were neatened specifically for the purposes of this post):

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The bookcase on the right is known as "Mama's," and holds books about homekeeping, seasons, crafts, nature, New England, Tasha Tudor, gardens, vintage style and, well ... many of my favorite things! My novels, however, live elsewhere: (most) in storage and (some) in a basket at the foot of our bed.

A closer look at these shelves:

Book party dawn 13 (1)

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The bottom shelf holds my most current issues of Martha Stewart Living (I have all of them actually, going back to her premiere in 1990!) as well as an assortment of favorite magazines I'm keeping (rather than clipping).

Book party dawn 2

I have to share a couple of pictures of the "nest I built" under the south-facing window. The foundation is a rather large beanbag type of chair that is actually meant for the family room (where the tv is) but for various reasons we moved it out here. The gray suede-like cover was not a good fit for this room so I covered it with a beloved afghan in the coziest of colors. To make it even more enticing, I placed a pillow and a couple of Little Bear's soft toys here as well. Crawling into this nest - which easily fits two of us - is a joy! All the books are at our disposal, and there is such nice light ...

Book party dawn 17

This is not the most flattering of pictures, lol - but I had to share it. It was snapped this morning by my Crackerjack, as I read to Little Bear in our nest. It's such a snuggly space ... 

Now, in the center of the room, on the coffee table, I have my personal reading basket:

Book party dawn 3

I've always had a reading basket for current magazines and books I'm trying to spend time with ... if not everyday, then at least a few times a week when I find a little downtime. On Sundays I clean it out a bit and refresh the selections if necessary. Not shown is the book I'm reading in bite-size pieces each night before falling asleep - the one I wrote all about in this post. That book I keep on my bedside table.

Now here is our Catholic bookcase on the other wall ...

Book party dawn 4

The bottom shelf is for display, set behind these lovely sheers which I change up according to season (purple for Lent at present). The two bookshelves above contain my liturgical resources - the very top shelf contains books for grown up use, while the next shelf down holds books for the younger children. To the right of the tiny tote bag are the story books that we use throughout the year (after year) - for feast days and such. I try to keep them organized by date.

Now, below you see Little Bear's main book basket - which is now at the perfect height that he may peruse and decide which book he'd like read. Most often these days it's a book about trucks. :)

Book party dawn 5

There are even more books on the other side of the chair!

Book party dawn 18

In the smaller basket in front of the curtain I have our various field guides. The larger basket under the table holds oversized picture books. And the very small basket near my mug has LB's most requested reads. :)

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(Different day, different mug!)

On the opposite wall from "my" chair is the fireplace, and in front of it we have our nature puppet collection, our peace basket (slowly filling up) and the seasonal board books basket. 

Book party dawn 7

Tucked behind the loveseat is the larger seasonal book basket ... these are titles for January through March. I use these books with our weekly seasonal themes, pulling out what I need when I do my weekly planning ...

Book party dawn 6

Fyi this week's theme is "windowsill gardens" and the books I'm using, Linnea's Windowsill Garden and Linnea's Almanac, are actually not in our basket - but on request from the library! :)

We've collected a lot of wonderful books through the years and I find it very helpful to organize them, as much as possible, by season. Off-season baskets are kept downstairs in the basement. Books are often set up on display in the front windowsill, or perhaps on the top of a table ... 

Book party dawn 12

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Oh, and before I go, here are my cookbooks - kept in the kitchen!

Book party dawn 11

I keep my favorites here, and I will confess, I often read them more for pleasure than practice! (I use Pinterest for recipes nowadays.) There are more cookbooks in storage downstairs ... in fact, there are quite a lot of books still in storage downstairs! It will be three years since we moved here this June and it really is getting ridiculous that we still have boxes to unpack!

**

Well, my friends, as usual I've gone on longer than I intended, but I hope you enjoyed seeing all (or most) of my books in their special nooks today! I would love to see yours - to hear about where you keep your books, how you encourage your family to read and make time for reading yourself! If you'd like to join our Book Party, please send me your thoughts/pics at ...

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

I'll pick one of the party guests to win a little Pre-Spring Giveaway (just a package of goodies I'm putting together). I'll draw a name randomly and announce a winner on Tuesday, March 1st ... So there is plenty of time left to join in our Book Party. I do hope to hear from you!

But for now, thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your day ...

I will see you here again very soon!


Book Party: Kelly's Books & Nooks ...

Vintage books

Happy Wednesday, my friends! How's your week going so far? :)

I am so pleased to bring you our second Book Party post today! This one is from Kelly and she has lots of creative book spaces to show us, along with wonderful notes on how books play a part in her family's life. I do hope you'll join in our party - we're discussing how we share our love for reading with our families and create (convenient, interesting) spaces where our books may live alongside us. Or maybe you - like me - are in a state of disarray. Too many books and not enough space! However big or small - a few words, a couple of pictures, or something even more - all party "submissions" are welcome. :) 

Remember, I'm collecting Book Party contributions by comment box or email or a link to your blog - and everyone who participates will be entered in a little pre-spring giveaway. (And that sounds cryptic, I know - but I'm still collecting things for the package: a few pretty magazines, some note-paper, spring stickers, etc.!) A name will be drawn on Monday, February 15th so there is plenty of time to add your two cents on the beloved subject of books ...

You can reach me here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

But enough from me ... now let's hear now from Kelly!

**

Hi Dawn,


In our home, books are top priority. About three years ago, I became intentional about building up a large home library. I have it in the back of my mind that maybe some day I will have a homeschool lending library, but only God knows if or when that will happen. In the meantime, I love to provide great books for my boys, 10 and 7! 

Book party kelly 1

We use all available wall space in our two main living spaces for bookshelves. All of the books are in a database - around 4,500 or so - and they are all labeled based loosely on the Dewey 100s.

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I am in the process of adding special labels for some of the seasons and holidays, but I do keep our large collection of Advent/Christmas books in tubs. Even if I had the shelf space for them, I would keep them put away so they are a surprise for the season. :)

Book party kelly 3 

I am pretty picky about books for my kids; our collection allows them a lot of variety but I am able to make sure the books meet a certain standard. I have acquired most of these used and it has taken awhile! I am still adding books but at a much slower pace than the last few years. 

 I just created this area (below) over the weekend - the basket holds our seasonal books and the shelves hold beginning reader books (for easy access - my son put them there!) and our oversize atlases and coffee table books.

Book party kelly 4

Below is my personal reading basket. I keep it on my desk during the day and try to grab snippets of reading time, even just a page or two! It then goes upstairs with me at night for reading before sleep. I am currently reading: The Mysteries of Life in Children’s Literature by Mitchell Kalpagian; The How-To Book of the Mass by Michael Dubruiel; Home Education Volume I by Charlotte Mason; and I just chose The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot for my next fiction read. I don’t read on the Kindle normally, but have found it to be a great way to read on the treadmill - I am reading G.K. Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. (Behind the basket is our collection of Beatrix Potter tales - we are reading through them all in order!)

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These are some of our current read-alouds and lesson books, kept on the mantle:

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This cabinet houses lesson books read a bit less often, as well as some of my seasonal planning resources. The basket holds my boys’ daily individual lesson materials.

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This bookshelf is under the counter in my kitchen! It holds my cookbooks and binders (in need of some re-organization), and many of my planning binders.

Book party kelly 8

And these are some shelves in a cabinet next to my desk. They house some of my personal reading (when I get some extended time for study), my commonplace book and books awaiting entry. I also have an extensive collection of books about books (I just love booklists!).

Book party kelly 9

Book party kelly 10 

Thank you for letting me share!

 Take care,

Kelly

**

Thank YOU, Kelly, for sharing with us! I so enjoyed seeing all your books and how you organize your vast collection! I think it is wonderful how you have them all cataloged and that you may one day offer a lending library to your homeschooling community. What a terrific and generous service that would be!

I like how - and I try to do this, too - you have dedicated spaces for the many categories of reading resources. I think when one's book collection is quite large, it's easy to lose track of what books we actually own and what's being read - or unfortunately, overlooked. Too often I'll find a bunch of books stashed somewhere (in the basement, since our move) and there will be titles I wish I had pulled out sooner ... it would be a huge undertaking (as I'm sure Kelly knows) but I would love to index all our titles someday!

Kelly, this was such a wonderful tour of your home and the books you love - thank you for taking the time to put it together! Dear readers, I hope you will leave a comment if you have time ... do you have any questions for Kelly? Do you have some ideas or strategies to share? Please let us know in any of the ways described at the top of this post.

In the meantime, I will wish you all a very pleasant day and hope to see you here again very soon! I will be posting about our Lenten cross  (the purple post-its project) in another day or two. :)

Be well and blessed, my friends!


Book Party: Gill's Books & Nooks ...

Vintage books

Happy Monday, my friends! I am SO excited to kick off our Book Party today! This morning I have some pictures and thoughts to share from a lovely friend and longtime reader, Gill. I loved seeing how Gill has her books displayed in her home, and I know you will too! Such wonderful inspiration here ... Bill peeked over my shoulder as I was reading her email and said, "Would you like me to build some shelves like that?" I almost fainted, lol. We NEED more bookshelves, that is certain. Where to put them though ... ? That is the question.

Now, remember, Book Party is running all month and you can read all the details here. All submissions - thoughts, ideas, pics - are welcome, and will be included in my pre-spring giveaway ... so I hope you'll join us!

*From Gill*

Books ... How do I love thee? Let me count the ways ...

Books have travelled the world with me as essential companions and have been carefully inscribed with my name, date and place of abode upon acquisition. I have always bought fiction written in or about the place I am living if possible, and with the cookery books and nonfiction, my books tell the story of my life and of my family. Raising my children, I found that Charlotte Mason's "living books" added many volumes and filled gaps in my library. I liked Ambleside Online's suggested reading list.

Books I "need" - that would be my Desert Island books in addition to the Bible and the Complete works of Shakespeare- would be those that tell of everyday family life in a small community ... I seem to have several sets of the Anne of Green Gables series!

Book party gill 1

In our home there are books in every room! My husband has built bookcases for me in the schoolroom and in the hall that take most of the nonfiction and I have a special bookcase for seasonal/holiday books so that they are easy to find.

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One day(!) I might find that I alphabetise my fiction, but I can generally put my hand on a book if I want it; mostly it is double shelved, jammed in, and lucky not to slide off a too tall pile! More and more I find that I purchase an ebook or even audio if it is a new "paperback" kind of novel, but I definitely prefer a vintage hardback for any other kind of book! 

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The schoolroom is gradually becoming a sewing room for me now!

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My eldest son is a book addict just like me, but as he is severely dyslexic we have done a huge amount of reading aloud and audio books together. (Boy was I told off 😉 for not getting the Harry Potter voices just like Stephen Fry's when he couldn't wait for the last epic book 7 to come out on audio! And goodness, have I struggled with Ancient Greek in Percy Jackson!)

My daughter has filled notebooks, and now data files, with her ideas for writing her own stories, and my 12 yr old son has finally taken off into reading and is now devouring books hungrily to seemingly catch up on the long years he resisted even listening to stories!

We (I) have just as much an addiction to magazines too, and the children have each enjoyed their own subscriptions, from My Big Backyard and Aquila to Donald Duck! Whatever would get them eagerly turning the pages!

Book party gill 5

So my children do seem to have absorbed my love of books. I make them part of our everyday life; whatever we are interested in, doing or learning about, I try to find books about it to extend the subject. At the moment I have out books on winter cookery in the kitchen, snow and winter wildlife on the nature table and a variety of bird books for the annual garden bird count this weekend. I am just starting to put out books for Shrove Tuesday and Lent, too. 

What am I reading this month?

A Redbird Christmas by Fanny Farmer, the Thrush Green books by Miss Read, The Edwardian Lady (a biography of Edith Holden) by Ina Taylor, The Dawkins Letters by David Robertson, In the Palace of the Khans by Peter Dickinson, Acts and Omissions by Catherine Fox and the Collected poems of Rupert Brooke.

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And here is the waiting pile for next month!

Happy Reading 😀
Gill

**

What an absolutely wonderful, cozy, and joyful atmosphere you have in your home, Gill! I could pore over each photo (and have done so) to see all the lovely details. I agree so much with what you said about making books an extension of our everyday life - setting apart those books that reflect the current season or domestic "goings on." I also enjoyed hearing about how your children each followed their own path to love reading as well as the books you yourself enjoy most!

I spent a good amount of time in our own library yesterday, attempting to clean out and reorganize bookshelves. It will not be a quick job, I'm thinking - as I took books out and made tidy (ish) piles all about me, the younger boys kept diving in to check things out. But that's a good thing I suppose - there was a definite atmosphere of "excitement" about the project and I hope they are equally eager to delve in once I get them arranged as I'd like them. 

But the bottom line seems to be that we do actually need more shelves. I have so many books still in tubs down in the basement and though I think cycling books in and out of rotation is a good idea, it seems that is a task that does not happen often enough. Children grow so fast and windows of opportunity - when books are just the right size/shape/subject - open and close so fast!

Well my friends, I hope you enjoyed this first Book Party post! Many thanks to Gill for taking the time to show us how she enjoys books in her home ... I can't wait to take some of these ideas and run with them in my own home!

Remember, if you'd like to join in the Book Party fun, please send me an email at your earliest convenience:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

And thanks so much for stopping by everyone, I will see you here tomorrow with a Downton Abbey recap - I did not catch the episode last night but will plan to do so tonight, for sure. (I'm getting spoiled on Facebook, I'm afraid!)

See you all again very soon ...


It's a Book Party (with a Giveaway!) & You're Invited ...

Book party baskets 3

Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! :)

This past week has found me in the midst of my mid-year homeschool review, an annual event which generally panics me spurs me into reorganizing our home library, so currently I find I'm in the mood to talk about books! And since there's so much to SAY about books, I thought this would make for a fun posting series, much like my Planner Party last fall. So I'd love to have some input from all of you! Or most of you, or some of you - as many as can join us, anyway! :)

Here are the details ...

Please send me your thoughts on the topic of storing, displaying, and/or sharing books - in other words, how do you live with books at home and encourage your children to enjoy them? Oh, and please send pictures too, if you have them! Visuals are so helpful and fun. If you have a blog, I'd love to have you post about this and link up with me, or perhaps send me a link to an older post you've written about books and/or joyful reading. That would be lovely and you are welcome to use the "baskets" graphic I have at the top of the page if you'd like.

My email:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

(Be sure to leave off the "light" ... that handle was already taken!)

I will share everyone's input - however brief or comprehensive - as "guest posts" as I receive them, and at some point I will also share my own library pics. And just to make it a little more interesting, I have a little giveaway in mind for one of you, a kind of pre-spring "goodie" package will be sent off to one of my readers later in the month ...

All you have to do is join our book party and your name will be part of the drawing. I will draw a winner on Monday, Febuary 15th ... so that's two weeks from tomorrow! Plenty of time to join in the fun ... and please help spread the word if you have a moment. Thanks!

So I will see you tomorrow with our first guest post which is FULL of awesome book pictures, but for now I wish you well and I do hope to hear from you soon!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends ... see you here again very soon ...


Weekend Pics: Goodbye August!

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend! :)

Well, here we are at August's back gate ... tomorrow we step onto September's path! I can hardly believe it, as it feels quite summery here! Lots of heat and humidity - we'll be over 90 later today! I am still working on a few "meatier" blog posts but since life continues to be hectic, and writing time scarce, here are a few pics from the weekend. :)

New bookcase

Nothing like a "new" bookcase in the dining room to make your homeschooling heart go a-flutter! I love organizing bookshelves ... and boy, do the cats love to help! Actually, this is an old bookcase (originally Bill's Grammie's) but it's been in storage since we moved here. I have resisted putting a bookcase in the dining room - I finally have myself an actual dining room and I didn't want to turn it over to homeschooling! - BUT. This is where we keep our homeschooling stuff - usually spread all over the table - and we don't actually use the room for family meals, aside from large gatherings like Thanksgiving. So it just makes sense. I will do my best to keep things "presentable," lol. I am thinking the top of this bookcase could serve as a display shelf for our weekly seasonal themes.

Summer dinner table still life

I just snapped this picture last night as I sat around the kitchen table with my family - our last quiet family supper before the school year gets into swing. I just loved how this all looked - the colors, texture and overall coziness ... :)

Cornfield 3

Here's that cornfield I mentioned in my previous post ... we did swing by this weekend to take a look. Boy was that corn tall and majestic! I love how it sounds as it rustles in the breeze - even if those breezes are hard to come by in this hazy summer weather!

September page 2

And finally, here is some lovely September scrapbooking paper ... goodness, those apples look perfect, don't they? I bought myself a whole new pad of that vintage, seasonal paper I showed you back in January. I am so in love with it and was very happy to see it back in stock at my favorite paper shop. Amazon has it too - here is a link if you're interested. :)

Well my friends, I'd best be off - I've a lot on my docket today! But I wanted to pop in and say hello and share these little snippets of my weekend with you. I hope you are all doing well and getting your week off to a good start! Thanks for stopping by ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


Wordy Wednesday*

*So named because this post was meant to be wordless but as usual, I can't help myself ...

Ww sun in stairwell

 The stairwell as I walk down to get a second cup of coffee - so pretty, I had to snap a pic! (My first cup was brought to me by Bill - he gets up with Earlybird, I stay in bed with Little Bear.) There are a few moments each day when the rising sun hits the east-facing windows just right and the house floods with morning light. I love this time of the day - a moment filled with quiet, light and promise.

Ww temp reading

 The weather app reading on my phone - it's been a scorching few days here in New England!

Ww red squirrels

 Two of our tiny red squirrels, enjoying seed I scattered on the deck in relative peace - usually they don't care to share!

Ww lesson plans file crate

A close-up of my file crate - love all those snappy folders! - with my homemade lesson planner stashed in back. I am trying to tweak the folders a bit to do more for me this year ...

Ww learning room

Getting things organized in the learning room ... for a day-after-Labor-Day start! I relish this time of year ... need to get maps up, bags organized, books arranged and supplies re-stocked!

Ww baby days

And my little fella. :) He found this "old" toy when we were downstairs at the laundry ... he trucked it upstairs, placed it up on the table, and got himself into a chair so he could play (work). I love how hard he's concentrating here ... :)


Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends! See you here again very soon!


The Week on the Wall

Hello everyone, and Happy Thursday!

Chalkboard 8

So, this is something I'm very excited about ...

Above you see our "learning wall" in the kitchen ... you might remember I had my Susan Branch wall calendar here (and a homemade calendar before that), but I found that no one was really looking at those big month-at-a-glances. (Not even me, lol!) There was just too much information to take in at once, I think. So I decided it might be better to focus on one week at a time - as I do with my planner.

I had seen these chalkboard wall panels in a catalog sometime before Christmas and I was VERY intrigued. But I have a thing about chalkboard - as in, I cannot STAND to be around it. The sound - even the threat of a sound being made - on that surface drives me absolutely batty. It's why I can't hang a traditional chalkboard in my "schoolhouse" much as I'd like to. But these "panels" are not made of that dry, scratchy (ugh, I'm freaking myself out even typing these descriptive words) material ... they're a vinyl kind of thing. Adhesive backed, and reposition-able. I bought two packages (eight panels in all) and a package of liquid chalk markers that sounded neat. I had Bill help me position the panels in the center of our kitchen "learning wall," right between our large maps ...

Chalkboard 1

 And I wrote the name of each day with Saturday/Sunday sharing a "weekend" panel.

  Chalkboard 2

The chalk markers are WONDERFUL. They write smoothly and are quite vivid against the black. I purchased a pack of eight bright colors.

Chalkboard 9

I haven't completely ironed out how I'll use them, but for the purposes of my post, I filled them out as I envision they might work: different colors for different aspects of weekly family life. I may end up changing this around a bit, but for the time being ...

Green = Classes/activities

Red = Suppers

Blue = Housekeeping

Yellow = Seasonal/Natural

Purple = Seasonal/Liturgical

White = General

(The package also comes with pink and orange.)

Chalkboard 6

I LOVE the way it looks!!

Bill was a bit skeptical when I first showed him the panels (in the package) - as he usually is when it comes to hanging things on the wall, lol - but he conceded the end result is neat and pretty. :) And for the record, the chalk wipes off easily and neatly with a damp paper towel. No residue left behind ... Anyhoo, I wanted to share this with you all because I know many of you are organization "junkies" like me. These are worth the money in my opinion!

Ok, then - on with the day! A snowy one here (natch) and a busy one, too. I hope yours is a good one, wherever it takes you ... thanks so much for stopping by!

See you here again very soon ... 

p.s. Next post: Answering Helena's question, "What do you mean by "give each day a story?" 

 :)


More Q & A: homeschool planning?

Lesson planning 11

Continuing on with our Q&A series, a few ladies asked about my homeschool planning methods, so I thought I'd tackle that subject today. :)

From Leah:

How do/did you give your boys their assignments? Did they each have a planner or did you print out assignment sheets? Or, did they just do the "next thing" in the curriculum? How did you keep track of your side of it (read-alouds, projects, etc.) or is that part of that FCS cover sheet?

From Helena:

How/where do you plan out your homeschooling? I don't mean the outside classes you have scheduled, but the lessons you do at home.

From Tanya

Meant to ask you where you keep your home learning plans? Are they in your planner or do you have a specific place where you lay out what subjects you want to study and then specifically how you will study them? 

As you might expect, over the past 15 years of homeschooling, I've used all kinds of methods for managing home lessons - in planning them, assigning them, reviewing them, etc. I've used separate planners (both commercial and homemade) and I've worked the plans into my file folders, and/or my main planner. Each year was a bit different depending on what we were using for curriculum. What I can do here is tell you about what I do now ...

These days, Bookworm is at college and Crackerjack takes several outside-the-home classes (in small groups of homeschool peers). I don't have a hand in those assignments but I am in charge of overseeing his schedule and how he manages his workload. (We also decide together which classes mesh with our goals.) Math, Religion, and Geography/World Events are home-taught. (He is also enrolled in monthly Confirmation prep at our church.)

With Earlybird (who is developmentally delayed), I'm basically designing my own curriculum - using a few workbooks and a wide variety of educational materials. We rely on his interests and simple activities - immersing ourselves in (hopefully) memorable experiences that involve his head, hands and heart. It is child-led learning, but not too unschoolish, for lack of a better word - I need a real plan to work around, but I gave up scheduling assignments firmly a long time ago.

I usually do my lesson planning over the weekend, though I'm trying to work it into my Fridays instead. It would be much more efficient if I could. But whenever I do it, I begin in the dining room where I pretty much take over the whole table, lol. Holidays and Summer aside, it looks like this pretty much all year:

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I know not everyone can - or wants to - use their dining table in this way, but it works for me. I am a visual person so I like to have piles of books that are grouped by theme/lesson. It helps me focus and organize ideas. I keep even more books in nearby tote bags, including my own general "teacher" resources, as well as Crackerjack's books and notebooks ...

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This table displays periodicals and seasonal books ... this is done mostly for me. :)

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I start the planning "process" by first making a hot cup of tea ... moving the cat off my chair ... retrieving a pencil from the toddler ... neatening the table ... and pruning those book piles. Some books go back to the library bag (or storage downstairs), once I've made note of them in our portfolio. Actually, "portfolio" is probably too formal a word for what I'm keeping right now, but at the end of the year I hope it applies!

Next, I open up my planner and fill in our agenda for the week ahead:

What classes/activities/appts. do we have?

What things do we need to turn in or remember to bring?

Are there library holds in or books due?

What days are of note? Will we work them into our home learning?

(This week we have - Grandma Barbara's birthday, National Chocolate Cake Day, St. Thomas Aquinas, National Carnation Day, Days of the Blackbird, St. Brigid's Day, February begins, Parish Breakfast, The Superbowl)

What's the weather looking like this week?

Anything special happening at Church?

I then have Crackerjack sit with me (or he stands beside me, eager to get back to whatever he was doing) while we go over his work for the week. His classes were a bit overwhelming last semester, so he came up with an idea to make himself an assignment board. I thought it was a great idea and left it entirely up to him to create and maintain. He found an old white board downstairs and unearthed a dry erase marker (which we mostly hide because EB does bad things with them) and set this up ...

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I transfer CJ's assignments to my own grid ...

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(As you can see, I didn't retrieve that pencil from the toddler quickly enough!)

 The top side of this sheet is for Crackerjack and the back side (seen below) is for Earlybird. I'd been writing these notes rather randomly, but have decided to keep formal weekly lesson planning in a new section of my journal binder. (One of the reasons I love doing these Q&A posts is it gets me to assess what I'm not doing well!) This is just a trimmed down piece of legal pad paper - I like how the yellow paper stands out.

(I will post more about this new journal section later this week, but here it is pictured below.)

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Also, the index card seen on CJ's  planning page is another "system" I've used from time-to-time: daily task cards. I'm giving it another go to see if I can get us back on a steady track. (The holidays kind of derailed us ...) These cards, as their name implies, are for assigning daily lessons and other tasks ...

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 I have a little plastic basket that fits index cards perfectly and I have one per day per child. Right now, though, I'm just using this system with Crackerjack. Each day Crackerjack gets a card that details what he needs to remember to do - like, put out trash, finalize art project, complete math lesson, fill birdfeeders, pray for a specific intention, etc. We have this neat little photo holder from Disney World and it holds the card of the day perfectly - CJ keeps it next to his computer in the living room. 

Ok, back to the planning ...

I then look through my in-basket, book piles and journal pages for things to record:

Videos watched - lately it's been Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Liberty's Kids, and Popular Mechanics for Kids.

Magazines read - Skywatch, Highlights, Trains, and The Baker's Catalog.

Books read/chapters listened to - currently we are reading Little House in the Big Woods and we are LOVING it. It's the perfect book to listen to at this time of year.

Any papers done, printed out, drawn/colored ...

Any things EB said or did that demonstrated a new skill or comprehension, independence, his sweet sense of humor, etc. I'm usually jotting those things down in my daily journal.

As I plan for Earlybird, I don't use a subject grid like I do for Crackerjack (though I'm trying to come up with a life skills goal sheet that would be a bit more formal). Rather, I brainstorm miscellaneous ideas for the week ahead ...

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Here's a closer look in case anyone is curious ... :) 

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Then each day I decide what might be a good fit for us (for him). I make sure my book requests are made at the library (it usually only takes a day or two to get them in) and I make note of any materials I need to pick up at the store. (Seems we'll be doing some baking this week!)

(Note, we've just learned a blizzard of "potentially historic" proportions is heading our way for Tuesday. So, first of all, YIKES - but second of all, this would be a perfect opportunity to look at the science of snowstorms and research record snows in New England ... so I've added these notes to my list.)

So it's not all that organized, and there's certainly no guarantee we'll get all of it (or even most of it) done ... but it's been working pretty well for us this year. I just need to remember to sit down periodically and revisit the overall goals I made for the year, and see which areas need attention. For instance, EB listens and comprehends literature quite well - if I have him "trapped" in the van, lol. At home, he's more "free-ranging" so I try to catch his attention when I can. He can be very resistant to seatwork so I struggle between making allowances for what are legitimate issues and pushing him a little ... do I make him get used to it or will it make him hate it even more?

That, however, is probably a post for another time: How do we work with our special needs children at home? How do we make learning enjoyable for children who struggle with rigidity and extreme sensory issues? And still make progress? Idea-sharing would be wonderful!

***

Well, ok then - I think I'd best wrap up or I'll never hit "post," lol. I am sure I left a lot unsaid - which seems crazy after this mammoth post, but I could have talked more about planning a year in advance (generally speaking), keeping track of progress (weekly/monthly) and other assessment/review methods ... mind you, just the way I've done it! Not as a "how to" guide by any stretch of the imagination. I may be a "veteran" homeschooler, but I'm still figuring things out as I go along!

Also, before I forget, I wanted to mention two other post ideas that were suggested to me by my friends Shirley Ann and Emma. I have these in queue as well ...

* How do we keep our Sundays special, for our families and ourselves?

* How do we find time and create space in our daily routine for quiet contemplation, personal prayer and spiritual goals?

*

Thank you you all so much for joining me today ... I'd love to hear about your lesson planning methods if you'd care to share. If you have a moment, please leave a comment below. :)

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends. If you're in the path of nasty weather - hold tight and stay safe! I'll see you here again very soon ...


Sweet Little Red Tables

Happy Friday, my friends!

I wanted to show you a couple of neat new things in my home office space ... both are gifts from my mother. The first is a pretty red and blue skirt, tailored to fit around an old table that serves as a second desk in this room.

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This table is actually the bottom half of a little white hutch we had in our very first kitchen! The skirt dresses it up a bit and hides the age/wear and tear. I picked the fabric out and Mum sewed it up for me - we attached it with sticky-back velcro dots!

Red table print

Next is this tiny and cheerful red table, just the right size for Little Bear ...

Red tables 1 

Long ago, it was once mine (though it was a soft yellow then) ... and before that it was my mother's ... and before that, it belonged to my Great Aunt Frannie! We think it's about 80 years old or more. Clearly it's well made to have lasted so long!

For now I placed a favorite puzzle of LB's and a few books on it. Eventually I'll add a small chair and he can sit and draw/color etc. while Mama works at her desk just beside. 

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(And p.s. I know it's been some time since I followed up on that Desk Do-Over post ... it's a-comin' I promise!)

My friends, I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... did you see any snow today? We woke to the prettiest, softest snow falling ... everything was just covered ... but then it melted away as the sun came out later in the day. Still very cold, though! Unseasonably cold through the weekend!

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... see you here again very soon!


Our Homeschool Wall ~ and Hello There!

Homeschool wall 5 

Well, my friends - I'm back!

It feels good to be posting again - it's been nearly a month! I hope you've all been well. How was the end of your summer? Or more importantly, how goes the start of your fall? We're still in "lift-off" mode here, but things are starting to settle into place ...

I have some pictures of a homeschool "wall" I'm organizing in the kitchen but before I get into that, I thought I'd share a quick recap of where our boys are now.

:)

So as most of you know, we are a homeschooling family of six. We live in Massachusetts, not too far from Boston. Bill and I have four boys and this will be our 15th year homeschooling!

Our oldest ("Bookworm") is now a sophomore in college, and our second oldest ("Crackerjack") is a sophomore in high school. Our third son ("Earlybird") is 12 years old and autistic. We don't really assign him a grade as he's working at different levels. And finally, our youngest ("Little Bear") is just 15 months old! And he's as busy as can be - running all over, curious about everything, loves books and music and trucks and to sit in the dirt and just play. He's an absolute joy and I'm thrilled to have many more years of homeschooling ahead of us!

Speaking of homeschooling, we're getting ourselves rolling with our lessons this year. And to kick things off, I set up this "wall of information" in the kitchen ...

Homeschool wall 1 

US map on the left, and World map on the right. In the middle is a homemade family calendar ...

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So I was looking for a wall-sized calendar - something with big squares for plans and notes that the whole family could view. This is something Earlybird especially looks forward to ...

What day is this? Where are we going? And how many days until insert holiday here?

:)

Since I'd already splurged on a great big desk calendar this summer (one that doesn't start till 2015), I decided to see if I could pull one together with materials I had on hand.

And as it happened, I could!

I started with a bright red posterboard purchased last month for a Red Sox game. It was Little Bear's first time at Fenway and we were going to be one of those families that hold up an attention-getting sign in order to get on camera ...

"Hey, NESN - it's my first game ever and the Red Sox have been world champs my whole life!"

(Lol.)

Well, we never ended up using that posterboard so it was all ready to go! And that was my calendar base. I then used apple-shaped post-it notes, a letter stencil and a black Sharpie to create the header: SEPTEMBER. Then I used lined post-it notes for the days of the month. The lines help me keep information neat and the notes not only stick really well, but will be easy to replace next month.

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The maps are for reference of course, but something I like to do is find news articles that we can tape on the maps for the week. We also like to watch the weather report and then check the map to see where "active" or "severe" weather is happening.

And this here is a poem display ...

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I stapled index cards to a ribbon and hung it from the top of the door. It's a great visual for Earlybird who has been reading the poem aloud each morning for me. We chose "Crickets" for the month of September. This door stands between the kitchen and dining room which is our active learning room these days - still under construction, so more on that later!

Well my friends, that's all I have time for today but I will be back again soon to share what we've been up to and what's coming up. I hope you will drop me a note when you can and let me know how things are going for you and yours!

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by and please take care of yourselves and your loved ones .. 

See you here again very soon!

 ❤


Where is Your Nature Shelf?

Nature sill

My friends, it's been a long, long winter ... and seeing tiny blossoms and greening grass in our yard makes my heart so happy I can hardly express it! Yesterday, it was quite warm here - over 70, I think - and the wind was gusting so wildly ... I imagined it sweeping all the winter dust and debris away.

I still have yet to establish a permanent nature shelf in our new house ... I can't seem to make up my mind where I want it to be. For now - now that we have "treasures" to add to it - I have set up a make-shift nature shelf on the kitchen windowsill where the cats generally don't tread. I used tiny cordial glasses to hold these early spring blossoms - scillia, dandelion, crocus, snowdrop, pussy willow, daffodil and something I can't identify but which is growing all over the yard (to the left of the daffodil).

Eventually I'd like it to be somewhere more child-accessible and friendly, especially once Little Bear gets old enough to participate in the gathering and appreciating of nature's bits and bobs. But for the time being, this works quite nicely. :)

Do you keep a nature shelf with your children? (Or perhaps for yourself?) And if so, where do you keep it? I'd love to hear about your nature collections and displays ... so if you have a moment, please leave me a comment below ...

For now though, I'll wish you all a "good day" and hope you each have a great Tuesday ... see you here again very soon!

p.s. Did anyone catch the full "blood moon" lunar eclipse last night? Little Bear had us up at 3 a.m. but it was too cloudy to see anything!


A Tour of our "Library"

Good Friday morning, my friends! And cheers to the weekend ahead!

Today I'd like to show you around my favorite room in the house - our living room, or what we now affectionately call the "library." This is where we gather to read (or type as I am at this moment) and it's also where I showcase our children's books. It's a sunny, "roomy" room, and we all seem to migrate here throughout the day to work on this and that, or just sit around and chat.

So it's taken some time, but I now have it set up to my liking - with a lot of (though certainly not all our) books, my desk and the kids' computer, as well as the baby's "stuff," because this is also Little Bear's main playroom. Not quite the "formal" room I originally envisioned, but then, our life isn't very formal these days anyway!

So, starting off at the doorway (entering from the foyer) ...

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One of my favorite things about this room is that big picture window - my "window on the world" as it were. (It faces the front yard.) It would be a great spot for displaying picture books, except that the cats like to sit up here (birds rest in the shrubbery below) and I got tired of picking up all those felled books. Also, I find it's a nice spot for parking my laptop and planner/journal, folder, magazine etc. through the day. I can peruse it all when I have a moment to stop as I walk by with a baby on my hip. :)

Straight ahead is the liturgical bookshelf, which I showed you in an earlier post, but here are two new touches ...

Purple sheers 4 

A sheer embroidered valance, in a lovely Lenten hue ...

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... and holy cards for this month's devotion (St. Joseph).

Now, just about everywhere I can fit them, I have books on display ...

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 This is an unfinished console table which will - now that it has a home - be painted a soft white this spring. It has some larger hardcovers displayed on top - illustrated by favorite authors like Tasha Tudor, Will Moses, and Charles Wysocki. And beneath the table are a couple of newer baskets I purchased at HomeGoods (around $15 each) holding seasonal collections ...

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March books up front, of course.

(Most of these titles you can find listed along my blog's sidebars.)

Now, this is the coffee table that stands in front of the red-checked loveseat seen above, but I fear this picture is a bit misleading ...

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Because I no longer display magazines here on this table, as much as I love to! I relish my magazines truly (they're my weakness, as you know), but so does Little Bear. He loves to cruise around the edge of this table and whatever is in his reach quickly becomes baby "fist fodder." So the magazines have been moved out-of-reach ...

Here's the back wall of the room ...

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(And there's Bookworm home on spring break!)

My favorite seasonal poetry books line this wall ...

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 The thin edge of the wainscoating bordering the room is very convenient for displaying books!

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A small table wedged between the chair and loveseat holds various necessities - tissues, lamp, led candle, kitty portrait, hot drink, baby monitor and, of course ... more books. Beneath the monitor are Little Bear's favorite board books of the moment.

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A couple of baskets for blankets and colorful books, and a roomy tote bag for miscellaneous toys.

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In the far corner of the room ... a playpen, another bookcase with "mama's" books (housekeeping, cookbooks, seasonal idea books, etc.), and that pretty rocker I told you about last week.

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I love, love, love the light this room gets. Such a bright, happy spot for floor play.

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Old-fashioned, softly drawn picture books to peruse together ...

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A few hardcovers I especially adore ... books that must be shared with mama (or daddy). The top book though, First Meals, I am currently re-reading since Little Bear has moved into finger foods. :) 

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More special board books, more favorite authors: Gyo Fujikawa, Sibylle von Olfers and Eloise Wilkin ... 

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My "Mama" bookcase holds my favorite non-fiction books. I love to revisit them when I can - for information, ideas and inspiration!

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The swing, parked beneath a sunny window. Truth be told, LB is outgrowing this already. He's just too "busy" these days to hang out in a swing very long. The braided rug beneath was made by Bill's grandmother, and you can see along the wall to the right of the window there are some more loverly books ... a great big hardcover all about the world of Peter Rabbit  as well as my Flower Fairies collection and a few more Tasha Tudor books ...

You know, even when I don't have time to read (and that's true a lot these days) it does my soul good to be surrounded by books we treasure. And I think (hope) it sends a good message to my children ... books are important, they are to be valued and included in our everyday life.

The curtains, by the way - or maybe they're drapes, I'm not sure - were left here by the previous owners which was very generous. I just love them, but I have no idea how to care for them - they're kind of silky/satiny in texture? - and I would never have picked them out on my own. But I'm very glad to have them. :)

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Remember my white desk from the old house? Well, here it is!

The computer actually belongs to the kids - or I guess I should say, Crackerjack since Bookworm is off at BC, and Earlybird has his own iPad. I never really sit down at this desk anyway - I'm more apt to work in a comfortable chair - though I do have it outfitted with my special things ...

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A framed picture of our boys (our Christmas card from last year), with a jaunty wooden dragon standing beside. My boys have loved dragons since they were little ...

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My basket of notecards and whatnot ... ribbons, stickers, etc.

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Page-a-day calendars, mugs full of pencils and pens ... and of course, all kinds of books! I like to change the assortment here to reflect the current season/color of the month. Green-blue-aqua are the shades right now.

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And of course, I have my file crate parked in this spot!

 Ll3 

I love this little sign, a gift from Bill's mom ... it's so very true! The vintage paper in the lower lefthand corner is my homemade lesson planner - a very simple collection of spiral-bound sheets with a pretty cover.

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Another row of books - they line every wall (just about)! 

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And here's the hearth wall, another spot for seasonal decor. Right now I have a rustic vase filled with pussy willows, a little pot of shamrocks ...

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... a  new "vintage-looking" sign ...

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We love birch trees and the logs you see in the fireplace as well as on the mantel were from the river-wood by our old home. Years ago Bill found a fallen birch and collected some of the logs. The saw clock was painted by my late grandfather ...

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And of course I have my pinecone tea set here in this room! Currently it set upon a handpainted tray which is resting on an ottoman beside the fireplace. I love how it looks here, but I fear it is not going to be here much longer, because this guy ...

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... this little fella is starting to cruise around, and boy does he make a bee-line for that tea set!

:)

Ok, well we're finally done with the tour ... sorry it got so long! As you can probably tell, I do enjoy spending time in this room very much. In fact, as I finish this post I am sitting on the very rug pictured above - laptop in lap, baby by my side. He's itching for a change of venue however, so I must be off ...

But thanks so much for stopping by and joining me in my "library." I do hope you'll come again! In fact, I am planning to host a Spring Tea here later this month, so please keep your eyes peeled for your invitation!

And have yourselves a lovely Friday! See you here again very soon ...


Thursday This & That

A few notes on this fine, frosty morning ...  some newsy bits to share. :)

1. Earlybird did very well yesterday wearing the ambulatory eeg - he only fiddled with the contraption once (the itching was driving him crazy!) but we were able to get it all back in place, using gauze and tape we had at home. The hospital visit was quick - they used dissolvable glue so it all just washed off. He's not a fan of head washing - or hair cuts for that matter - so it was a little rough on him - but, thankfully, quick! So now we wait for results, and a follow-up with the neurologist next month. We're greatly relieved to have this behind us ... I honestly felt an eeg might be beyond our reach. I hope and pray this gives the doctors information that will ultimately help them help Earlybird.

Speaking of help, we are grateful to my mum who once again made the situation so much better not just for EB, but for all of us ... and to our friend, Laura, who helped get our Crackerjack home from his afternoon class. And of course, to everyone here who shared prayers and kind words - thank you, thank you, so much. I'll keep you all posted on EB's journey.

2. And now, as life gets back to "normal," we find ourselves officially in Lent. So I changed the valance on the liturgical bookcase this morning, from green to purple ... 

Purple sheers 4

My friend Debbie gave me this lovely set of sheers last year - and how happy they make me! They look perfect in the library, in the liturgical corner. (I have that "library tour" post nearly ready to go - I will have it up, most likely, tomorrow.)

3. Now, if you look over on the righthand side of my blog you will notice a sunny little "sign" for my "Kitchen Chat" series. Divina made that up for me, isn't it lovely? And wasn't that kind? If you click on that button it will take you directly to the Kitchen Chat archive ... and I'm thinking this will run longer than 4 weeks. There's so much to discuss! Even once we re-start Masterpiece Mondays, there's room for both posts, I think! 

Next week's topic (3/10) will be: Menu Planning. That seems to be another hugely popular topic. So if you'd like to join the conversation, please jump into the comments! (First post on Seasonal Eating is here.) And if you have a blog yourself and would like to link in, feel free to grab the button and share your thoughts in a post at your blog. We'll have lots of fun!

And here we have Little Bear, "helping" me get my marketing book back in order. He's great at culling those outdated coupons. :) 

O coupon help 1

4. Lastly, how sweet are these?

Peter rabbit baking decorations

A Peter Rabbit cupcake decorating kit - a real "find" at HomeGoods last week. Perfect for Easter of course, but I may save them for Little Bear's 1st birthday in May. That would be a darling party theme, don't you think?

***

Well, my friends, I hope you all have a nice Thursday ... thanks so much for stopping by, and stay tuned for more on all those things I mentioned above ...

I'll be back here again very soon!


Home Sweet (New) Home ...

Peony 1

Good Monday Morning, my friends!

So ... I've thrown a lot of "big" news at you recently ... a pregnancy, a college decision, a blessed birth and a homeschool graduation ...

Well, here's yet another bit of "life-changing" news, something I've kept under wraps for a couple of months now:

We've moved!

Yes, as you may have guessed from my post title, last week we moved to a new house and a new town! And since this move may seem a bit out of left field, let me tell you how it all came to be ...

When we found out we were expecting our fourth child last October, we took a look around our 3-bedroom house and did some simple math ... we "simply" did not have the room for our impending family expansion!

So we started discussing our options: move to a new house or add on to the one we already had. Our first choice at that time was to add on, because we were really happy with our home and location. I think you all know from my blog just how much joy our home gave us!

Well, I waited to tell you all about the building project, because I wanted to be sure it was really happening. And it was taking a really long time to get off the ground - working through plans, estimates and measurements etc. - but before any building actually started (and before any contracts were signed) the project stalled out. Too many major issues came up (for example, a town sewer line would be in the way of the new foundation) that turned the project into something much more complicated and hugely expensive - as in, the original estimate was doubled! It became clear we just could not add on in a financially repsonsible way.

So ... more discussions ensued, and we finally decided this April to look into moving instead.

(Let me just say, this decision was not made lightly, nor without tears on my part - remember, I was pregnant and hormonal these past several months!)

We had a very specific list of "requirements" in regard to the location and setting, etc. and after a very short search we stumbled upon a house we absolutely loved. Honestly, from the moment we drove up for the initial showing, I was filled with a feeling of home. A brand new listing, it met all our requirements and then some ... and most importantly, it just felt right.

And here we are, two months later, all (or mostly) moved in!

Now, I'm sure over time, you will come to "visit" the various corners of our new home, but for today I'll share just a couple of pictures. Considering how important it was to us at our old house, I bet you are wondering where our new learning room will be ...

New learning room 4

New learning room 7

New learning room 6

This is a sunroom located off the back of the house (off the family room), and as you can see it is filled with windows just like our old learning room. It looks out to the backyard and faces the southern sky, so it's a very sunny and airy room. I can't wait to get it all set up!

As for nature study, another big part of our home-learning space ...

Hawk in tree 4

This is the sight that greeted us this morning as Earlybird and I walked down to the mailbox to pick up our paper. He or she is without a doubt the largest hawk I've ever seen! 

Our two acres here are even woodsier than our old home's 1/4-acre setting, and I expect we'll have a lot of fun acquainting ourselves with the flora and fauna that inhabit our new surroundings. So far, in the past three days we've been here, I've seen a red squirrel, chipmunks, the aforementioned hawk ... a cardinal pair, hummingbird, nuthatch and last night I heard an owl.

Oh, and our neighbors have chickens and a rooster, goats and a horse!

:)

So stay tuned for more on the learning room as well as the rest of the house. We're still unpacking and settling in ... so my posting may be a bit light for a time. But I wanted to let you all know what was going on with us and explain why the background of my pictures will look decidedly different from here on out!

**

Happy Summer, everyone and Happy Monday, too. Enjoy your new week and we'll touch base again soon!


Spring Nesting: Getting things started ...

Ok, I'm pushing things a bit because really, spring is nowhere in sight, but ... Lent has begun and that naturally turns my thoughts to spring cleaning. And though I may be only six months pregnant, my "nesting" instinct has really kicked in! So Wednesday morning, with the sun streaming through the windows, and the screens letting in just a little breeze, I set to work in the learning room ...

My first stop was my reading corner which had become a complete mess.

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(Convenient, how I only got the "after" shot, isn't it?)

The chair was pulled out (not by me) and the floor and walls were vacuumed and wiped down. Everything came off the shelves - the books were sorted and the shelves dusted before they were rearranged.

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Lr 4

Lr 3

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Even when I don't even have time to crack open a book, just seeing them all lined up so prettily is enough. Sometimes. :)

Next, I cleaned up the chair itself and then had the boys push it back into place.

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I next sorted the bins in which I keep my reading materials, journaling stuff and weekly file folders ... then I washed down the desktop (oy, was that a mess), under the chair mat (ugh) and organized my end of things ...

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(The notebook on top that says, "Nov 2" is indeed my current active journal - the date indicates when I started it, and I've been slow to fill in this one.)

*Meanwhile, Archie enjoyed being right in the middle of things. Natch.*

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I cleaned out the seasons corner, and asked the boys to bring the bulk of our winter books back downstairs. I am hoping to get our spring/Lent books organized this weekend. 

These are the seasonal books (and videos) for this week ...

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And finally, I started re-working the classroom "calendar" wall.

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I love this large family-sized calendar!

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I'm tweaking it to reflect liturgical seasons and days that are important to us. (For this post, I'm showing the March calendar because it doesn't have any personal family information on it yet - e.g. activities and schedules, etc.)

After a while the room shone with sunlight and possibility ...

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I still have more to do here - the windows all need to be cleaned. Badly. But that task will most likely not involve me ... and the ceiling will need dusting, and floor will need to be washed  ...

But all in good time. :)

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(This is where I'm posting to you from, my little corner of the world.)

My friends, when do your spring cleaning urges kick in? Is spring cleaning a part of your yearly routine? Do you schedule it at a particular time, perhaps in accordance with Lent?

I like to spend time over Lent working through a spring cleaning plan - mostly decluttering and general cleaning - and then I spend the first half of Holy Week really giving things a nice polish and airing out. This year will most likely be a little different because I'll be in the last trimester of my pregnancy, so I'm slowing down a bit and getting decidedly less agile! Bill offered to hire someone in to help but - call me crazy! - I just can't do that. I figure I have three able-bodied and energetic young people here who, with a little direction, can help out in numerous ways. Spring cleaning is something I relish - feel free to call me crazy again! - and with a few adjustments and a little forethought, it should continue to be a relatively simple and deeply satisfying endeavor.

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I'll be posting more on spring cleaning over the next couple of months, so stay tuned and please share your own thoughts on seasonal cleaning. You know I love to hear from you!

Have a great weekend, everyone - see you here again very soon!