A few things the boys found in the (finally, mostly snowless) backyard yesterday ... an owl pellet (ew), a dead robin (aw), leaves fossilizing in the sandbox (neat!) and a snowdrop growing by the chimney ...
The weather is quite seasonable this week - partly sunny, with temps in the high 40s/low 50s. And as of this morning they're calling for a sunny, mild Easter Sunday! That would be so lovely ...
A bit later today Soon I will post our Easter Dinner Menu ... just have a last few nuts and bolts to work out with my mum.
(I was going to make this a "Wordless Wednesday" post, but I'm too excited not to babble a bit!)
So today's big news - since the smoke was black and not white :) - Earlybird and I just spotted the first chipmunk of the year! As I'm sure most of you know, chipmunks go into hibernation in mid-fall, and emerge at winter's end. We like to keep track of when they leave and return - and it's always a cause for celebration when they are spotted sometime in late winter/early spring. We're big fans of chipmunks around here!
So take heart my northeastern friends - spring can't be too far away! And boy is it ever a lovely day here in New England - the light is bright and the ground is nearly clear of snow. And the air! Oh, the air ... soft and cool, but not cold. I have a few windows open because the temperature is near 50 degrees!
Can you tell I'm just a wee bit excited for spring?
(And no, I'm not paying any attention to those snowflakes in next week's forecast. Nope. None at all.)
Is March arriving like a LION where you are (as the saying goes)? It's actually quite mild here - temps in the 40s and just a little breeze. Not so bad!
I took this picture yesterday afternoon with Earlybird. We were on our way to pick up Bookworm from class and on a whim, I decided to trudge through the snow and check the ground beneath the big maple out front where we usually spy our first crocus. And sure enough - there they were! Lots of tiny green shoots poking up through the winter debris ... we were absolutely delighted. In fact, EB was so excited that upon returning home with Bookworm he dragged his big brother over to "come see the crocus!!" I love instilling an awareness and appreciation for nature in my kids. :)
If you, like me, are perhaps itching for spring and looking for some ideas and inspiration, here are a few posts I've done in the past:
And before I go, here's a great recipe for refrigerator bran muffins - I spied this online just this morning, but I have a similiar recipe somewhere in my files. Have you had these before? My grandmother always had a big bowl of batter in her fridge - and the freshly baked muffins were oh-so-delicious! I'm going to make up a batch this weekend ...
(In fact, I'm kind of wishing I had one right now - I have my glucose test this morning and, while I don't have to fast, I am trying to keep my blood sugar low. Of course naturally, I'm starving, lol!)
Have yourselves a good day, my friends ... and here's to a happy new month!
I know robins do spend their winters here in New England, but they're really not seen much until spring. (When those spring rains begin they come out in droves!) But since this is the first one I've seen in some time, I'm convinced he's a good sign - a sign that perhaps winter has turned a corner. (That's what the groundhog said, anyways.)
So I spotted this handsome guy in our front tree very early yesterday morning and since then I've seen him a couple of times - again in the tree, and hopping about on the front lawn. I'd like to imagine he's getting on with his spring business which is to mark his territory and start scouting out a bride ... just in time for St. Valentines Day, of course. :)
Here in Massachusetts we had "Focus on the Feeders" last weekend, a bird counting survey sponsored by the Mass. Audubon Society. We take part in this every year and it's always such fun. I was a little upset with myself this year because we've been lax with our feeding lately so I knew our counts would be down - but still, we counted! And our tally results were as follows:
blue jay: 1
black-capped chickadee: 2
carolina wren: 1
dark-eyed junco: 6
downy woodpecker: 1
mourning dove: 1
northern cardinal: 1
red-breasted nuthatch: 2
tufted timouse: 2
white-breasted nuthatch: 1
Do you feed birds in your yard? Have you seen any new birds at your feeders this year?
Well, I hope you're all having a nice Tuesday ... take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I'll see you here again sometime soon!
We've just returned from the library - driving through snow of all things! So beautiful, how the tiny flakes mingled with falling leaves on this dark and windy day. Also beautiful - and quite surprising! - were these brilliant pink roses still in bloom, just outside the library itself. Just a tiny cluster, at the top of a thorny, hip-laden bush. How many people stopped and noticed them I wonder?
Well, I'm sure you're not surprised I simply had to get out and take a picture. :) And in another part of this bush (not shown in my picture) ... sat one solitary, plump-breasted robin. How very dear! He let me get close and chat with him a moment ... but he just would not sit still for a photo!
That's ok, though - it was enough just to see him - for I'll carry this happy little moment in my heart until Spring.
Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... I'll see you here again very soon!
(Presented to you not on Friday, but Saturday, which is par for the course these days.)
Here's Crackerjack with his Mime Troupe at a performance in Salem earlier this month. This was a very funny piece called, "The Musem." :)
Came across this the other day. This was taken my first year in cheerleading (pop warner football). I think I was 10. And I promise I was happier than I appear in this picture, lol. I loved cheering. :)
Fall foliage at its peak - I think it will all be blown away by the "Frankenstorm" this week!
Two of my favorite guys. :)
Bookworm's pic from a recent photo class ...
And a few more ...
He's learning a lot about my camera! :)
Little pumpkin lights lining our walkway.
And finally, with sincere apologies to New York family and friends ... we pass this funny Halloween decoration a few times a week. I finally had to pull over and get a shot! ;)
I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... and if you're in Sandy's path too, I pray we all keep safe. Batten down and tuck in ... I'll see you here again very soon!
I was wishing I still had my "nature notes" column up, because Earlybird and I observed the funniest little nature "story" yesterday!
It was a lovely afternoon, golden and breezy - and we were sitting in the learning room, with a couple of windows cracked open. EB was at the computer, and I was reading in my chair, when the sound of rustling leaves caught my attention. I thought it might be an animal of some sort walking by, but every time I looked outside I saw nothing. I did notice some rambunctious blue jays hopping around, so I dismissed the "ruckus" at that.
But, next thing I know, I start hearing little "pops" and "bangs" on the roof and windows. Now I'm kind of freaking out because I truly can't figure out what is making all this noise! I'm thinking perhaps some early Halloween "tricks" were being played on us!
Finally I figured I'd best take a closer look ... so I walked out front and when I looked back at the house I immediately noticed a flurry of movement at the top of the HUGE spruce tree that stands beside our house. The branches were swaying like crazy!
Glinting in the sun, and weaving in and out of the branches, was a bright ball of reddish-brown fur, and a closer inspection revealed this:
A tiny red squirrel was perched way up high in the tree (and let me tell you, that is one super tall tree!) and making quite a business out of "harvesting" spruce cones! He'd climb onto a branch and nibble at the cone till it fell ...
... and THAT was what we were hearing!
Cone after cone being dropped from the tree by the squirrel. They'd hit the ground, the roof, the windows ... like little bombs, lol! This went on for over half an hour - such an industrious fellow!
Archie was quite taken with the whole procedure:
EB and I walked out to the feeder area to take a closer look and we were amazed by how many cones were covering the ground!
So we'll be watching these next few days to see how many cones disappear and who all is spiriting them off. (One squirrel or more?) We often find cones half-stripped looking like this ...
And these have been quite nibbled as you can see.
On the diet of red squirrels ...
"His food is far more varied than many suppose and he will eat almost anything eatable; he is a little pirate and enjoys stealing from others with keenest zest. In spring he eats leaf buds and hunts our orchards for apple seeds. In winter he feeds on nuts, buds, and cones; it is marvelous how he will take a cone apart, tearing off the scales and leaving them in a heap while searching for seeds; he is especially fond of the seeds of Norway spruce and hemlock."
(From the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna B. Comstock)
So Earlybird and I are starting the "squirrels and other rodents" portion of our animal study this week. We already have lots of great "field observation" to report! Throughout November we'll be covering the general topic of hibernation as well.
Well, my friends, I hope you're all having a good week. I'm almost caught up with Call the Midwife ... made it about halfway through the show last night, and hope to finish up this evening or next. When I do, I'll pop back into Monday's post to catch up with comments. :)
In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!
Squeezed in a little teatime today ... a cup of orange-spice herbal tea (very autumnal and soothing on a dark and rainy afternoon). This brown and white mug, in its rustic simplicity, seemed quite Fransiscan to me. :)
Tonight for dinner ... Italian, of course! Stuffed shells and sauce with meatballs, fried zucchini and soft crusty rolls. All of it from a local (and favorite) Italian market/bakery. A splurge to be sure, but very welcome on a day like today.
Here is our Nature & Faith Corner, as it looks this week ...
(It's such a dark day! I took this picture at noontime while I made the boys lunch.)
Well my friends, I must be off. I'm sorry I've been so slow in posting and commenting lately - I'm really dragging this week and finding it tough to keep up. I hope you are all well and are enjoying your autumn so far. Thanks so much for stopping by today ... I'll be back here again very soon!
I myself had no idea, but it very conveniently coincides with our current dogs/foxes/wolves study. :) Another happy happenstance, we were kindly invited on a field trip to Wolf Hollow this week! Long time reader and friend, Melissa R, arranged the visit for her homeschool group and invited the boys and I to attend. I am so glad we were able to make it - it was great to meet Melissa and it was nice to be reacquainted with the wonderful wolves of Wolf Hollow.
This morning, if I may, I'd like to share a few photos from our visit with you ...
(Bookworm and Crackerjack, standing beside the info board.)
Despite his current interest in wolves, Earlybird declared this field trip, "kinda too scary," lol. So he stayed home with Nana. He's been loving all the pictures, though, and has said he might want to go "next time." Baby steps ... :)
Shown below is the Alpha Male, Weeble.
Isn't he gorgeous? He is getting on in age, but quite obviously held a position of respect. At the same time he seemed quite gentle, and he was the only one to howl for us.
A few of the wolves were quite feisty ...
The black male on the right is Grendel, who will most likely be the next Alpha. (All these wolves are "gray wolves" despite the variation in fur color.)
In a confrontation such as this, the wolf with a higher pack position holds his tail higher ...
Below, on the right, is the Alpha Female, Nina - aka "Mom."
In a wolf pack, it is the Alpha Female who bears the puppies. One very interesting (and slightly shocking) thing we learned, was that a female wolf is able to sense the overall pack situation (food availability, etc.) and only birth a managable amount of pups. Apparently her body will reabsorb any extraneous pups. That's kind of incredible! o.O
Another interesting thing we learned was that wolves have evolved to have an inborn fear of humans. As our speaker pointed out, if we happened to be walking in a forest where wolves were living, we would never see them. They would steer clear of us - our smell, our sounds, our very existence.
They really are amazing animals, and they live very much like a family - looking after, and out for, each other ... It's disturbing how misunderstood they've been through the years and continue to be in this day and age.
We truly enjoyed our visit to Wolf Hollow, and came away with a renewed sense of respect and responsibility. I look forward to exploring wolves (and their brethren, foxes and dogs) more at home with the boys. If you'd like to learn more about wolves, please check out the Wolf Hollow website.
Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you all have a nice Friday ... see you here again very soon!
Bookworm recently enrolled in an eight-week photography class and these are a few of the photos from his first class ...
(That shot reminds me of the tree ents in LotR!)
That last picture was taken by me, actually. This is a gorgeous (and ginormous!) orb weaver spider that lives in our backyard. We've been watching it all week and we are just fascinated! Bookworm helped me pick settings on my camera so I could get a fairly clear shot. :)
I'm looking forward to watching Bookworm catch the "shutterbug" as I have, and I am excited for him to learn more about using my camera! (He's using my Sony Nex 5 for this class.) I only use the very basic settings so we both have a lot to learn!
Well, have a great Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!
Just before Bill left for work, we took a little turn about the yard ... it was a beautiful morning, the light filtering softly through the garden as the sun rose behind the woods ...
These interesting plants are in the birdhouse garden, and for the life of me I can't recall what they are!
Can you help?
And here are the lovely purple coneflowers, which naturalized beautifully this year ...
These are some of my favorite summer flowers, because I just love orange and pink together. But I suspect they are also a favorite of the bunnies - not for their color, but their taste. Note the frayed petal edges? I don't mind really, as long as the plants are not harmed further. But speaking of bunnies, as I took these very pictures, a good-sized rabbit flew out of the raspberry hedge, tore across the road and into our neighbor's yard! Little white tail bouncing behind him ... :)
So after Bill left, Crackerjack and I headed out to the deck to fill the hummingbird feeders and check on our herb plants. We were thrilled to see (and hear) two gray herons fly over - we've never seen them travel in pairs!
(At least, I'm pretty sure they are herons - it's kind of hard to tell from this angle.)
The herb garden is certainly feeling the effects of this hot weather (aren't we all?) so we watered and checked over the plants. One of the plants - the Chinese Lanterns - was riddled with tiny, bizarre, crustacean-like bugs ...
We have no idea what they are! Any thoughts?
And how about your favorite non-toxic method for beating garden pests? I have several books here with recipes, but not sure which is the best.
As always, I appreciate your suggestions!
And another update on my dad ...
Well, he heard back from the surgeon's office last night and it looks like he not only *will* be having surgery next week, but most likely on both the neck and the lower back at the same time. Not sure what that will mean for his recovery time yet - my folks have a meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday to reassess and confirm all the details. In the meantime, they're starting him on a steroid to reduce inflammation ...
Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers. They mean so much to us. I will keep you all posted as best I can. I think right now we just wait ... and hope ... and pray.
Have a wonderful Tuesday, my friends. I'll see you here again very soon.
It's that time of year again! There are Monarchs in the air, and milkweed blooms by the roadside ...
Here's a neat little article from the Mass. Audubon Society, reminding us to plant and protect this V.I.P. (very important PLANT), and here's a page on the milkweed's greatest fan, the Monarch Butterfly. And finally, here's a link to a post I wrote last fall on our own Monarch experience, sad though it was ...
Mid-to-late summer is a great time of year to study butterflies, since they're so readily available to observe. If you don't often see them in your yard, a trip to any nature center or state park would provide you with plenty of specimens to admire ...
For nature study, a small journal could be filled with sketches, photographs, a design for a butterfly garden, a record of "butterfly sightings" and even poems collected or created. And there are so many crafts you could do!
But now that the milkweed is blooming, perhaps a focus on Monarchs would be fun? Their fall migration begins next month, so the time is ripe for monarch observation. I spotted several of them yesterday at the state park (though I only got one fuzzy picture). They're so large and striking - a bright blip in the blue sky, like the fiery summer sun itself.
You probably have your own favorite butterfly books, but here are a few of our favorites:
(That last title we've actually not read - but I just made a request at the library!)
Well, my friends, I hope your week's going well. Is it Tuesday already? Goodness, time flies - especially summer-time it seems. We'll be busy at home today, preparing a few gifts for Bill - whose birthday it is, tomorrow. Something to cook, something to craft ... I'm sure you'll be hearing about that before long. :)
But before I go, may I ask you a quick question?
What was the last butterfly you saw? And where did you see it? If you have time, please leave a comment below!
Until next time, I leave you with my sincere thanks for reading, and a promise to see you again soon!
Not at the shore, exactly, but rather, above it - in the woods that run alongside it. Today we spent some time exploring the rugged beauty of our coastline and learning about quarries and the New England granite industry. I'd like to share some pictures from our day, if I may - we had such a nice time and the weather was so beautiful.
Crackerjack was signed up for a geology class run by the state DCR (department of conservation and recreation), which is the oldest regional park system in the country. They always offer amazing programs and their rangers are just wonderful. This class, organized by my friend Kristen, was a follow-up to a geology class we took last month with our homeschool group, at yet another state park in the area. The earlier class was set deep in the woods (unraveling the history of the rocks found in our area) while this one took place alongside the sea and above the remains of an old quarry.
So while CJ and I took the class, Bill (who took the day off from work) and Earlybird explored the park, while Bookworm visited with friends.
More pics ...
In that last picture, our ranger, Megan, was demonstrating how to split granite. The kids were just enthralled ... you could hear a pin drop as she worked, because everyone was listening for the "crackle" that granite makes when it's stressed. But wouldn't you know it, just before she cracked that block open, my camera battery exhausted itself. (Quite literally - the message on the screen said, "battery exhausted." So unfortunately I didn't get a final picture of the split block!
(But I promise she did spit the block, and the block did crackle just before it gave way ... very exciting stuff, I must say!)
It was a real treat to have Bill with us today - he drove us in the RV, so we really arrived in style. ;) It made the longish drive (made even longer by that darn summer traffic) a little more comfortable ... and having Dad with us made today's experience all the more fun and memorable - because all five us got to enjoy the beautiful weather and breathtaking views.
So I hope you all had a nice day, too. Thanks so much for stopping by and allowing me to share our Monday with you ... have a good night, and take care ... I will see you again sometime soon!
I enjoy it so much - because I find it at once stimulating and soothing. There are things to learn and things to recall ... it's at once familiar and new.
The above little fella is the same one I posted a picture of here, but this was taken a little while later ... once he'd made a full, messy meal of that spruce cone!
And here's our wee bunny ...
He's been a delight to watch these past couple of weeks. But as much as I love watching this bunny, I do worry for his safety. He's always alone (where is his mother?) and we have a lot of predators around here, living next to the woods as we do. And we may live on a quiet road, but there are still plenty of cars that go by - and for some crazy reason our bunny's particularly fond of the grass that grows along the edge of the street ...
I guess I can only hope for the best and enjoy him while I can. :)
Well, right now it's raining (a rumbly, dark rain), and I'm sitting by a cracked open window ... because I love rain on muggy mornings like this. It makes everything quiet, and the air smells soooo good. The skies off to the west are starting to clear so things will dry out before long ... and then we're in for a very hot day. This is such a peaceful "summer" moment ... a moment to feel good. So many things going on around us ... our lives are so busy and full ... it's important to take time to find moments like these.
Yesterday was Midsummer's Day - also known as St. John's Day (the Birth of St. John). The weather was lovely and we spent a good bit of time outside ... I roamed the yard taking pictures of this and that. Above we have a tea rose blooming at sunset ... my pink and orange coneflower plants ... an abandoned bird's nest ... the tiny bunny who calls our yard home ... and the Midsummer Eve moon - a milky crescent perched high in the western sky.
Today brings a gray and mild morning ... it feels nice, actually - the soft breeze coming through my window as I type up this post. Heavy rain will be arriving in a few hours - thunder and all - so we'll plan our day accordingly. How I enjoy having the freedom to do that. :)
Thanks so much for stopping by, my friends - I hope you have a wonderful day! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I will see you again sometime soon!
Why yes, we did put those boxes under that bench, just for you guys. Why else would those boxes be there?
This picture just cracks me up: Archie laying on top of Earlybird's stuff - backpack, sneakers and hat. He has a thing about being smack dab in the middle of things ...
Ollie, meanwhile, likes to curl up somewhere out of the way - for instance, in the basement windows:
Today we had our last Book Group meeting of the year (June's title:A Wrinkle in Time). Bookworm gave the moms a break and led the kids' discussion this month (he's going to do this next year, too). After the meeting ended, my friend Jenney and I took the kids out for ice cream ...
A Beautiful Spring Friday - a great day to enjoy ice cream with friends. :) And while we were there we were visited by a red-winged blackbird.
Later, back at home, we spotted this cool little moth(?) in the clover patch.
And I'm very happy to report the lavender is blooming!
Friday is desk day ...
❤ I'm a little in love with my desk. ❤
And guess what this is?
It's Crackerjack's new Lego Store Lego set!
He got this "exclusive set" last Saturday at the grand opening of a local Lego Store. It wasn't free, but you would get it for free if you spent $30 - which CJ was fully prepared to do. He and Bookworm had been saving money for someLord of the Ringssets, so all in all, it was a pretty big day in this Lego neighborhood. :)
Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice Friday. Boy, did that week fly by fast! And now another weekend is upon us ...do you have any special plans? Bookworm is taking the SAT again tomorrow (prayers are much appreciated!) and Crackerjack's team (tied for 1st place) has its final regular game of the season. Also, my "little" brother turns 40 (40!) this Monday so we'll be having a special little dinner for him on Sunday.
Follow my family through the seasons of the year! I am Dawn ~ wife to Bill, and mom to 3 boys with a baby (boy!) on the way. ❤ Here I chat about lots of things - family, food, faith, nature, crafts, planning and home education. I hope you enjoy your visit!
Three beautiful deer in the neighbor's yard very early this morning! They were grazing beneath the bird feeders and my cats were positively glued to the window watching what I'm certain they thought were monsters of some kind. ;D
Another gorgeous day - after morning thunderstorms rumbled through, the skies cleared up and the sun came out. Should reach 70 today! We've been hearing peepers from the woods - really have to get out there to visit the vernal pool. :)
Beautiful spring day! Sunny and 60 degrees. Just had a wild turkey walk through the yard! Also spied a brownish butterfly floating past the kitchen window. :)
Click here! This link will lead you to a post where you can leave questions and comments on the file crate system. There is also a link to my FCS archive, which includes all the posts I've done on the system through the years. ❤
My Housekeeping Blog
Daily Bits of Domestic Bliss A place for me to keep all the nitty gritty housekeeping notes that will more than likely bore most readers, but may be of interest to some. :)