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April 2006

Fun with Fibs

I just caught this neat post at Lapaz Farm Home Learning (as well as the cross-post at 4Real Forums). This new form of poetry, known as fibs, sounds very cool, even to a decidedly non-math person like me! Read Theresa's post for more details, but below is some background information from Math at Hand (yes the very book I posted about this morning ~ who knew it would come in so handy today?):

Fibonacci Numbers

"Leonardo Fibonacci, an Italian mathematician who lived from about 1180 to about 1250, found this pattern. Mathematicians are still finding things in nature that can be described with this series of numbers.

0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, ...

Each number in the series is the sum of the two numbers before it."

Now here are our attempts at Fibs this afternoon ...

Me ~

  • bird
  • hurt
  • watching
  • wondering
  • will he be o.k.?
  • there he goes ~ watch him fly ~ hoo-ray!

Crackerjack ~

  • bake
  • cook
  • eating
  • delicious
  • gingerbread cookie
  • he runs away from my house-pan!

Bookworm ~

  • dig
  • dirt
  • digging
  • burrowing
  • tunneling in dirt mound
  • is there an animal in there?

And for Earlybird who was napping ~

  • sleep
  • nap
  • soundly
  • wake up soon
  • awake and ready
  • what can I have for a snack please?

Math for the Math-Challenged

One of my dearest friends, Lisa, reminded me of a wonderful math resource I like to use with my oldest. I haven't thought of it in a while ~ it's one of those books you tuck somewhere special, like in a bag or on a shelf, and it slowly goes out of sight out of mind ...Math_at_hand_2

For general math instruction in our home school, we use that old stand by, the ever-thorough, Saxon Math. But a book I turn to again and again is Math-at-Hand. It is one in a series of colorful and well-organized math handbooks. These books are perfect for math-challenged homeschooling mums (like myself) who are blessed with math-happy children (like my Bookworm).

Bookworm has a real mind for math, and frequently he'll ask about something we haven't covered yet or some theory he's been kicking around. After I flash him that deer-in-the-headlights look, we get down to work and try to figure out his question together ...

We learn so many interesting things this way - and much about each other - and many's the time I can turn to this book for a clear and understandable explanation. And if I can't, we look online, call a friend with math-teaching experience, or post on the 4Real boards and ask for help. Such is the beauty of the homeschooling community today! :)

Daddy's Little Helpers

What is it they say about childhood and dirt? By the end of it (childhood) you will have consumed a pound of it (dirt)? If that's the case, then my boys have a serious head start on that old adage!

This afternoon they "helped" Daddy with the dismantling of the dirt pile. I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures to post and then pasting in a few earthly sayings I found online ... Happy (almost) Earth Day!


"Talk of mysteries! Think of our life in nature ~ daily to be shown matter, to come in contact with it ~ rocks, trees, wind on our cheeks. The solid earth!" ~ Henry David Thoreau


"A piece of the sky and a chunk of the earth is lodged in the heart of every human being." ~ Thomas Moore


"Now I see the secret of making the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." ~ Walt Whitman


"Spade! Thou art a tool of honor in my hands. I press thee through a yielding soil with pride." ~ William Wordsworth

A Wonderful Nature Story

If you've been following this blog, you know that we have a bit of a thing for squirrels. We enjoy observing the antics of several in our yard ~ including one big black, one little red and a large gray that's missing part of his tail.

A few weeks ago, after I posted my first picture of Red Tail, Alice (from Cottage Blessings) suggested a book we might enjoy. I was able to find it online, and I ordered it right away; but as can sometimes happen, I forgot all about the book that was on its way .... Chessie

So, what a nice surprise it was yesterday when our mailman brought a package to the door ~ inside was the book Alice mentioned, the one you see pictured at right: Chessie the Long Island Squirrel by Sachiko Komoto.

When the boys came in from playing outside (actually they were chased in by a persistant bee!) we sat down and read this book together. Alice was right ~ it is a great read, and packed with lots of information as well as beautiful illustrations!

It tells the story of Chessie, a young female squirrel as she spends the seasons of her first year of life in the backyard of a Long Island home. I highly recommend this book if you have an interest in squirrels (or even just in nature itself).

After we finished the book, I asked the boys what they learned about squirrels and here are their responses:

  • Squirrels move a ton of times.
  • They eat pinecones.
  • Crows might eat them.
  • The little caterpillars that drop from trees by strings aren't on spider webs.
  • Squirrels also like to eat mushrooms.

All good things to know. I too was unaware of several facts revealed in this charming book. Just another one of the benefits of homeschooling ~ you learn right along with your kids!

Yet Another Blog ...

Well, it was only a matter of time ... I've started a second blog! (And no, I didn't find a few spare hours in my day, Typepad is just that easy to use!)

Throughout the year, at Harvest Home, I hope to post about the foods and feasts of the seasons. Mind you, I'm no great cook, but I do love to talk (and write) about food! At the very least it's a way to put to use some of those old food articles I wrote years ago and keep stashed away in our basement!

Please stop by for a "cuppa" and let me know what you think. :)

O.T. with Earlybird

My Earlybird goes twice a week for occupational therapy and not only is it doing wonders for him, he absolutely loves it! When we come home from the hour-long sessions, he is just glowing and giddy from all the activity. To him it's not therapy, it's just fun.


It has been our routine that when I take Earlybird, the older two boys stay home with my mother; they continue lessons or perhaps just share some quiet time with their Nana. They have been curious, though, about what exactly goes on at this "O.T." of their little brother's. Earlybird comes home each week with a new skill or a new phrase and his big brothers are more curious than ever ...


Well, today I told the boys we could ALL go to O.T. (it's school vacation week so I knew the center would be quieter than usual). At long last the big brothers could get an inside peek at just what goes on when the youngest is out of their sight.


We had a grand time, of course; Earlybird's therapist kindly allowed the older two to enter the gym and check it all out. They were more than impressed with all that Earlybird gets to do (and can do) and now they are asking when they can go to O.T. again!


What I liked is that the therapist (who is wonderful) got to see just how well all the boys work together and how much Earlybird benefits from being with his older brothers every day. During this particular session she was trying to get him to go up two sets of staircases to a fairly high slide ...

But it wasn't until Bookworm said enthusiastically, "Come on Earlybird!" and took him by his little hand, that my youngest found his courage and made it to the top. Oh what fun he had after that! His smile could have lit up the room ... and I think it did.

Food, Glorious Food!

According to a "foodie" is a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.

Now, I don't know about refined or gourmet, but I am Earlybird_flourdefinitely a "foodie" at heart. I love all things connected in some way with food ~ big glossy cookbooks, culinary magazines, kitchenware catalogs, cooking shows, kitchen design, and yes, even grocery shopping! And then, of course, there's food ...

There are also a few wonderful food-related blogs I enjoy visiting ~ Stef's, Rebecca's The Heart of the Kitchen and now, Elizabeth's Kitchen Comforts. Beautiful to look at and lovely to read, each of these ladies makes me want to pull up a chair in their kitchen, share a cup of tea, and just talk and talk about food ...

I don't always have the time - or energy! - for scratch cooking, but I have always loved talking about food. Many years ago I enjoyed a very brief stint as a food writer. I was fresh out of college when I landed my first job at a local newspaper. After a short time as a reporter made it painfully clear I was not cut out for hard-nose news, I was moved to the features department.

Oh how I loved my time there! In features I was allowed to stretch a hobby into a career, and at long last try my hand at writing ~ a dream I had held deep in my heart since a child.

I was blessed with a patient and flexible editor (who became one of my best friends). I was such a green writer, yet I was assigned articles on everything from maple syrup to summer barbecue. With notepad in hand, I found myself attending vintner dinners, cookbook signings, restaurant openings and chocolate tastings. Let me tell you, I was in way over my head, but boy did I have fun!

Years later, I still love all things food-related, and I especially love to cook for my family; sometimes I have help from little hands (as in the picture above) and sometimes it's just me. Whatever the case, the kitchen is my favorite spot to gather with family and friends to share ~ a cup of tea, the tales of our day, and of course, something yummy to eat!

Stef, Rebecca and Elizabeth ~ thank you for reminding me how delicious it is to think and talk and reminisce about food. I look forward to stopping by your kitchens often!

A Most Blessed Easter to You!

"Easter morn with lilies fair Easter_window_2

Fills the church with perfumes rare,

As their clouds of incense rise,

Sweetest offerings to the skies.

Stately lilies pure and white

Flooding darkness with their light,

Bloom and sorrow drifts away,

On this holy hallow'd day.

Easter Lilies bending low

in the golden afterglow,

Bear a message from the sod

To the heavenly towers of God."

~ Louise Lewin Matthews

An Unexpected Visit!

We were just cleaning up supper when dear husband called us all to join him at the back windows, the ones facing north towards the woods. I came running (with camera in hand of course), and I'm so glad I did. Standing there, in the lowering light, were two absolutely beautiful deer.

They were sniffing around at the scrappy underbrush, their ears and white tails twitching; they seemed to hear our every word and flinch at our every move. They stayed just long enough for me to snap a few pictures, and then they scampered off through the woods.

I'm sorry this picture is not very clear, but I couldn't resist sharing a glimpse - however fuzzy - of this brief, but beautiful, encounter ...

What a wonderful way to begin Easter eve!


A Holy Saturday Prayer

Dear Jesus,

Today I wait quietly ~ but I am excited about what we will celebrate this evening. You rose from the dead and gave us all new life. Thank you Jesus, for loving us that much. I promise today, to remember what I did during this Lent that helped me to grow closer to you, and I will be faithful to my baptismal promises.


(from My Triduum Journey by Kass P. Dotterweich)

A Good Friday

*First off, the day dawned clear and mild, in spite of a forecast for rain.

*Dear Melissa Wiley from Here in the Bonny Glen *finally* had her darling baby girl. And speaking of Melissa, our next two Charlotte books arrived in the mail today!

*With wonderful friends ~ and hundreds of others! ~ we walked through the woods for the living Stations of the Cross.


*Local church youth groups presented the Stations; their re-enactments were enhanced by stirring narration and music. We could only make it through the 5th Station and left just before noon, but we are sure to make this an annual event!


*A quiet time in the early afternoon was followed by some backyard exploring, looking for new signs of life. The boys were ecstatic to find and collect grub eggs. "Blech!" I say. But see below ...


The pizza was delivered, the dinner was shared. The ice cream man stopped at our house. The kids are in bed (and asleep before nine) ...

Little blessings. Big thanks.

God is good ...

The Jesus Garden

Our plans ~ to join friends this morning on a Good Friday Ecumenical Walk at a local reservation, and then come home for a quiet afternoon. It's tempting to spend today running around being busy, getting read for Easter, but my hope is we'll remain mindful of this day ...

So, just after three o'clock, I will gather my boys on the The_jesus_gardencouch to listen to a special new book, The Jesus Garden: An Easter Legend. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful picture books about Jesus I have ever come across (thank you to Jenn at the 4Real Forums for the tip).

We'll read this book today, curled up together by the open window, and we'll talk about many things ~ about what this day means, about what the next few days will bring, about spring after winter, and hope after sadness ...

Below are some excerpts:

"Once nearly 2,000 years ago, there was a small, pretty garden near a high hill called the Mount of Olivet. All who lived here, from the tiny, almost unseen insects, to the tall, proud trees, were very happy ...

And the garden had a special friend. His name was Jesus. When Jesus came to visit, he made all the plants and animals feel strong and beautiful and so very important. They knew who he was. He was the one who loved them!

Those who lived outside the garden did not know Jesus so well. They did not spring back joyfully full of brightness from his nearness, as the blades of grass under his feet were known to do. Instead they often moved away from him and walked into the shadows."


"Then came a different day, a scary day, a confusing day.

On this day the garden buzzed with terrible news. Today, certain men were going to punish Jesus because he spoke words that they did not want to hear. Today they were going to put Jesus to death!

What could his friends in the garden do?"


"Since Friday afternoon when Jesus had died, all who lived in the garden had been listless and sad, drooping in the gloomy, shadowed hours. For how could there be growing things and new life on the earth which had sent Jesus away, not believing in his love? Now, in the wonder of this morning, all the creatures felt new hope and joy.

Suddenly there was a stirring in the garden.

Jesus is back! He is back with us!

This was the excited word being passed among the trees, the flowers, the birds and the insects. The robin caught the message and flew from tree to tree, flower to flower and rock to rock, singing its joyful song: "He is here! He is here with us again!"


"Jesus smiled a smile that lit the garden. He waved to the plants and animals slowly, as if he didn't want to leave. All in the garden understood that he wasn't really leaving them. His love-marks would always remind them of his hidden presence. And his beauty would remain in the world forever because of what he had given them.

They had only to BE ~ and Jesus would always be there, in the garden."

The Full Pink Moon ...

... is tonight, and here is a photo we took last evening when it was almost full, very pale, and just rising in the eastern sky. We're glad we got this picture last night because today brings rain through tomorrow!


The Moon

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;

She shines on thieves on the garden wall,

On streets and fields and harbor quays,

And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,

The howling dog by the door of the house,

The bat that lies in bed at noon,

All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day

Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;

All flowers and children close their eyes

Till up in the morning the sun shall rise."

Robert Louis Stevenson

The Riverwood Journal

I have added a new sidebar element (at right) called The Riverwood Journal. I hope to post lots of nature study photos here as the seasons progress. Eventually I hope to add notes here as well.

About the name ~ out home-school is informally called The Riverwood School because of our home's location, by woods through which a river runs ... and we have this happy location to thank for most of the nature we enjoy around here!

Easter Blessings

A recent post by Rebecca at A Gypsy Caravan about being grateful for the little things in life got me thinking about my own gratitude ... and then I tore the page off my day-by-day calendar and here is today's page:


I know what is being whispered in my ear ... slow down, pay attention and be glad.

One usually thinks of Thanksgiving as the time for reflecting on gratitude, but this week I find myself struck by the many, many ways we have all been richly blessed. And what more appropriate time of year than now to remember all that has been given to us, to recall the sacrifice that was made in our name? Life's brightest blessings are right here, all around us, and now is the time to savor them.

So here's my list, the simple and sweet. It would take me too long - and too many tears - to ponder the biggies, so here are some of the little things I cherished and thanked God for today ...

  • For this balmy, beautiful weather; the birds are singing and the air is soft and warm ...
  • For my dear generous mother who spent the whole morning helping me clean for Easter.
  • For brothers sitting together in their fort, making up "secret" codes.
  • For my dear husband who got up early to make coffee so I could jump on the computer.
  • For my family's good health and energy. (O.K. this is a biggie)
  • The phone may be broken, but it was blissfully quiet all day.
  • For Earlybird telling me he needs his nap, and then walking down to his room and taking it.
  • For Tivo, without which I would probably never watch TV, which might not be a bad thing, but that's another post.
  • For cold, sweet iced tea.
  • For the afternoon sun slanting through the trees.
  • For the sugar cookies Nana made.
  • For all the kind-hearted ladies at the 4Real Forums who encourage and inspire me daily.
  • For funny word games played with Earlybird.
  • For the last 2 toothpicks pulled from our Lenten Crown of Thorns.
  • For all the birds and little critters who feel comfortable calling our yard home.
  • For my cats who follow me around, come when I call, and curl up on my lap while I type.
  • For my youngest dear son who is jammed in this chair right behind me, oohing and aahing over a new Easter book.

As usual I've gone on too long, so it's time for me to finish up here and go spend some time with my three greatest blessings of all ...

Happy Easter everyone!

To Blog or Not to Blog ...

... and, paper or p.c.?

These were the questions I pondered for months before By Sun and Candlelight made its debut ~ 3 weeks ago today! There is an interesting thread right now at the 4Real Forums about blogging ~ doing it, not doing it, why we do it, why we don't. It got me thinking about my own reasons for blogging, and I find they are rooted in writing ...

Before I began my blog, I wrote. I have always written ~ this, that and the other thing. Nothing profound mind you; it's all quite haphazard. I keep all my writing in one place ~ a rather un-fancy 5-subject notebook. Plain cover, plain pages; I use pencil and sometimes pen. But into it I pour absolutely everything ~ notes, ideas, prayers, hopes, and sometimes my very heart and soul. And when all 180 sheets are full, I buy another notebook at the drugstore and begin all over again.


Onto these pages also goes any little scrap of material that speaks to me in some significant (or insignificant) way. Most often these are magazine articles and recipes, a label from a special bottle of wine, ticket stubs from a recent movie, or the wrapper from a favorite bar of soap. Sox scores, sticky notes, something cute the boys said, even a sketch of the cat ... you name it. If it catches my eye or touches my heart, into the notebook it goes.

It's a bit silly, I'll admit. But as I wrote all this out I realized how much I've come to rely on this humble spiral-bound book; it helps me unload my crowded mind and allows me to be just a little bit crafty even when all I'm doing is adding tape and crayon doodles.


Alas, this notebook has been neglected lately since I started blogging every spare minute I get. I used to keep it open and ready on the kitchen counter at all times ~ it was always there to receive my latest lightbulb moment. Now it sits off to the side, sometimes open, but more often closed.

When I started my blog, I thought it would step in as my new journal, and to some degree it has. But writing when you know someone's reading is a whole different story! I have found I blog in order to share and air out my thoughts; it's less about writing than it is for communicating.

Now I realize both of these journals - my log and my blog - serve a purpose; they allow me to create, consider and converse. In my blog I reflect; in my notebook I plan. In my blog I chat with others; in my notebook I chat with myself. My blog is a community; my notebook is my confessional.

Thank you for indulging me this extremely self-indulgent post; I write it for my own reminiscence more than anything else. Hopefully both of these journals will continue to grow and improve. As I shape them, I feel they will shape me.

And the best part of all, whether paper or p.c., I love looking back and remembering ... :)

A Little Something Sweet

From our Parish bulletin this week ...

"A Sunday School teacher decided to have her young class memorize one of the most quoted passages in the Bible; Psalm 23. She gave the youngsters a month to learn the verse. Little Rick was excited about the task - but he just couldn't remember the Psalm. After much practice, he could barely get past the first line.

On the day that the kids were scheduled to recite Psalm 23 in front of the congregation, Rickey was so nervous. When it was his turn, he stepped up to the microphone and said proudly:

"The Lord is my Shepherd, and that's all I need to know." :)

True Confessions

Amy at Among Women has a dear, funny post today, all about owning up to the nitty-gritty truths in our real lives. In other words, what you read here in our blogs is often the best of our best ~ the things that make us happy, the things we'd like to share. There's a whole world of information we keep safe under wraps ~ it is, perhaps, not always flattering, nor fit for the public arena. :)

So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I'm following Amy's noble lead and sharing a few "dirty secrets" of my own:

  • As I type I am eating cold macaroni & cheese from a mug (because all the bowls are dirty).
  • An added bonus: this is not my macaroni & cheese ~ it is Earlybird's leftovers.
  • I don't have a pile of laundry to be folded on my bed. I have piles of laundry to be folded on my bed.
  • I'm on the computer waaay too much.
  • I think - no, I know - I talk too much.
  • I fret over what others think far too often.
  • I take too many pictures through the window, and not enough out in the field.
  • I just sent my oldest off to read to my youngest so I could have a few minutes peace.
  • My middle has an open wound above his right eye from a (plastic) sword wielded by my oldest this morning. Should look very nice come Easter Sunday.
  • I have more craft supplies than Michaels and AC Moore combined and yet when was the last time I crafted?
  • Every crayon in this house is broken and almost every marker has run out of ink ...
  • ... because youngest went to speech therapy today with purple and green fingers (thank goodness she couldn't see under his socks).
  • My kids are eating Valentines candy for their afternoon snack.
  • I can't have plants in the house because my cats eat them, and then yes, throw them up.

There are many more items for this list, I promise you. But I'll stop here for now.

Thank you, Amy, for bringing this up. It's a good reality check ~ not just for those who read our blogs, but for us too!

Now I guess I'd better do something about that laundry. Rats!

What Does Your Birthdate Mean?

Thanks go to Cay at Cajun Cottage for this link to a *fun* online quiz. Find out what your birthdate means here. In the meantime, here's mine and ... Happy Birthday Cay!

Your Birthdate: January 12
You're a dynamic, charismatic person who's possibly headed for fame.
You tend to charm strangers easily. And you usually can get what you want from them.
Verbally talented, you tend to persuade people with your speaking and writing.
You are affectionate and loving, but it's hard for you to commit to any one relationship.

Your strength: Your charm

Your weakness: Your extreme manipulation tactics

Your power color: Indigo

Your power symbol: Four leaf clover

Your power month: December
p.s. I'm sure dh would refute that relationship comment! :)