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March 2007

Everyday Nature: Pussy Willows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Kate L. Brown)

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

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

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

Poetry Friday: A Little Brown Bulb

A golden moment in every spring ... the first tiny flower to appear:


A little brown bulb went to sleep in the ground.

In his little brown nightie he slept very sound.

Old Winter he roared and he raged overhead,

But the little brown bulb did not move in his bed.

But when Spring came tiptoeing over the lea

With fingers to lips as soft as can be,

The little brown bulb just lifted his head,

Slipped off his nightie and jumped out of bed.

(A. Fairman, Spring: Poems, Songs and Stories)

*The Poetry Friday Round-up is at Chicken Spaghetti this week!

Well, allrighty then ...

It appears we all DO see wide variations on the blush-and-ivory theme! (See last night's postBlush_nest for details.)

And, depending on your computer's resolution settings (and as Jenn mentioned, your own idea of the color wheel), you might see buttery-yellow and peach (not what I had I mind) or the cream and soft blush I was aiming for.

(Which by the way, is the blush you see in the image of the nest at right. On my computer it matches my outer border ...)

Theresa pointed out something I'd noticed, too - if I tilt my computer screen backwards, the color intensifies quite a bit - things become more peach and yellow. If I bring my screen forward the color lightens to the pretty pale shades I like.

And speaking of pretty pale shades, if you pop on over to Kristen's you can see a lovely rose picture she's posted. She'd like your opinion on what color you see. I see JUST the blush shade I was looking for ... now if only I could figure out its HTML code. :)

Anyway ...

Thanks so much for your time last night helping me out! I guess my blog will always look a little different to each of us, and as Bill pointed out, the old blue template probably did too!

I might not be done tinkering, but I do like these shades for now. I'll be at the craft store this weekend, though, and I'll probably get inspired in the scrapbooking aisle. ;)

Thanks so much, friends! Have a happy Friday! :)

PS. This is where I go to tinker with my color codes. Thanks to Jennifer for the tip (and the nest stickers!). Be warned - it's highly addictive!

Blush, Ivory or Peach?

Can I ask you a very silly little favor? Can you tell me what color my blog looks to you? The background, I mean.

I think it might be showing up differently on different computer screens, which of course I have no control over, but I just had to ask.

You see, last night, as I was reading comments, Bill peered over my shoulder and exclaimed, "Whoa! Your blog looks totally different on your laptop than on mine."

"Totally different in a bad way," I shrieked asked?

"Well ... not really bad," he said, in that hesitating way husbands have when they know they'd better choose their words carefully. "Just different."

He didn't elaborate, much to my consternation.

And just now Kristen remarked that the ivory Margaret saw looked more blush on her screen, and it got me to thinking ... does everyone see something different?

I was trying to match the roses in the new banner, only with a paler blush shade. (I don't think I got it as pale as I wanted.) Then the white of the main body looked too white against the warmer blush color, so I changed the sidebars to an ivory shade. Only sometimes the ivory looks too yellow and sometimes the blush looks too peach.

I've never been good at matching, and I think that's the root of the issue here. Do my sidebars match, or perhaps I should say, complement the roses in the banner?

(I told you it was a very silly little favor.)

It's not like I'm losing sleep over it or anything but I was just curious, so I thought I'd ask all you kind readers who put up with my sillier moments.

So what say (or see) you? Blush, ivory or peach?

And does anyone still see blue, lol?


Thanks ... I Think

Overheard at the learning table this morning:

Crackerjack: You know, Mama, I'm glad you and Earlybird are feeling better today.

Me: Thanks, CJ, me too!

Crackerjack (turning to Bookworm, in a whisper): Because if they weren't, we were going to have to do everything. Daddy said so!

An Early Spring Field Day!


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

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

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

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

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

Other information I need:

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

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

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

While you do this, ask your children ...

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

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

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

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

How would it taste if spring had a flavor?

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

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

"Now where the ground was bare

Only last week,

Now where the flower was rare

And the hedge bleak,

Reach for the catkin

And stoop for the primrose,

Seek if you want your share

Of the first gathering,

Seek, where the ground was bare

Only last week."

(Eleanor Farjeon)

Spring Learning at Home

When I tried to think of a title for this post, I kept coming back to the phrase spring learning. It sounds kind of silly, but actually to us it makes sense. One of the great advantages of home education is immersing ourselves in the day - the natural day. If it's sunny or rainy or perhaps that gray and mellow kind of day, we feel it. It is part of our day and it becomes very much part of our learning. I am so glad for that for my children. I love it that they watch goldfinches while they work on sentence structure and listen to bird song during math. I can only imagine that the fresh air coming in through the windows does their expanding brains a world of good. It certainly does mine.

Here's a snippet of our spring learning today. :)

Note #1: We got a bit of a late start. EB found himself in a rather messy situation so a morning bath was in order. The older two kept themselves busy while I oversaw EB's bath and then threw in a small laundry. While EB bathed we played with the small plastic animal collection. We sorted out the animals that would live in water, and practiced saying their names. 

Roundabouts 9:30 we were back on track:


  • The boys completed their lessons while munching on Honey-Nut-O's and listening to the birds in the woods.


  • Catholic Spellers A and E - check.


  • Language of God A - check
  • Lessons in Writing Sentences Book 1 - check
  • Spent some time admiring the bright yellow goldfinches just outside the window (see photo below).

Note #2: EB threw up, and that confirmed it; he has a stomach bug. Got it all cleaned up (him too) and readied his bed for a nap. Postponed the backyard nature study until after he was asleep.


  • SOTW2: The End of the World (The Plague)
    • mapwork - check
    • wheel of transmission - check

Note #3: Took a break to look all over this site recommended by Theresa. Printed out the light saber cross section to show Daddy. Mail came: Bookworm's Cobblestone (D-Day issue) and a Disney Movie Club offer that the boys pored over while I made lunch:

  • Whole wheat pb&j's, chopped dates and salted peanuts, cheddar crackers, lemonade and sugar-free pumpkin pie for dessert

Nature Study

  • We took a nature walk around the yard. (See photos below.) We were looking for signs of change. It was bright and windy, still pretty cool. A nice fresh early spring day.


  • Read "Jesus Enters Jerusalem" in Children's Bible; discussed Palm Sunday.


  • Read Our Wet World while CJ sorted plastic animals by water habitat. Tomorrow we will make a poster of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Also read "Foods from the Sea" in this book and brainstormed what to serve this Friday for our Home Fish Fry (we'll miss our parish Fish Fry - long story - so we're doing one at home):
    • clam chowder
    • scallops
    • fish sticks
    • onion rings
    • french fries

We finished up by 1:30 and now the boys are watching Zoboomafoo (you bet I count it as science!). The red squirrel is under the feeders right now, and two beautiful mourning doves are nestled in the sunny grass nearby. The wind is howling all around the house and the sun is splashing across the floor. I just love these early spring days (can you tell?). :)

And last but not least, here are our photos from today's nature walk:


Tiny crocus shoots pushing up towards the light.


The goldfinches are getting so bright!


Couldn't resist posting one more finch picture.


A forsythia bud shows promise ...


As do the very tips of this large tree.


We'll have to look up this fungi in our field guide.


The river out back. Wish I had sound to go with it! 

Poetic Personality

I am the sonnet, never quickly thrilled;
Not prone to overstated gushing praise
Nor yet to seething rants and anger, filled
With overstretched opinions to rephrase;
But on the other hand, not fond of fools,
And thus, not fond of people, on the whole;
And holding to the sound and useful rules,
Not those that seek unjustified control.
I'm balanced, measured, sensible (at least,
I think I am, and usually I'm right);
And when more ostentatious types have ceased,
I'm still around, and doing, still, alright.
In short, I'm calm and rational and stable -
Or, well, I am, as much as I am able.

What Poetry Form Are You?

Hat tip: KC

Spring Things

I don't have much to post tonight, but I did take a picture of my Easter folder just now. My two-week alarm went off today (the snooze button had been hit a few times) and I realized there is much to do to prepare for this beautiful day!


I used a plain file folder, but pasted a pretty Victorian image on the front. That's as far as I got. Tomorrow I'll fill it up with checklists, recipes and ideas I've torn out of magazines. Tonight I'm just going to enjoy how lovely it is. :)

Crackerjack had CCD this afternoon. I can hardly believe he only has two or three classes left before First Holy Communion! Today the kids watched a video on going to Mass and then practiced receiving Communion up in church. (We used Cheez-its and grape juice, lol.) The children are really well prepared, and CJ is quite excited. We finished up class with stories of Holy Week.

On the way home we passed the marsh - the one we check for wildlife on the way to and from church. It was not only snow-free at long last, but filled with red-winged blackbirds! I wonder how much longer the juncos will stay? And I wonder when the chipmunks will reappear? We discovered many new crocus shoots under the front hedges (yay!) and the first bee of the year floated by on the almost-mild breeze.

Ah, Spring!

Roses for Mary, Rocks for the Pond ...

"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb." (Luke 1:42)


Ah, Monday morning ... a new homeschooling week and a beautiful Feast day upon us.

Feast typically brings to mind the image of much food and frivolity, and, while it can certainly mean both these things - and more - on occasion, many's a feast when just a few simple things bring a touch of grace to our homeschooling day.

Such was the case, today.

To begin with, because we are home in the mornings, our day unfolded rather nicely. We took our time waking up. (Thanks to Earlybird, I am always given a three hour head start, lol). I nursed my coffee and asked the boys if they remembered what day it was. We'd talked a bit ahead, and so yes, they remembered - the Feast of the Annunciation.

"Waffles!" yelled Crackerjack.

Laughing, I reminded him that we needed Daddy's help setting up the new wafflemaker (waffles are a traditional feast food). CJ was satisfied instead with PB&J Nutrigrain waffles, but the boys were surpised by the mini crumb cakes I set out at the end of breakfast! (Round coffee cakes are another traditional food on this day.)

On display at the head of our home learning table we found our morning read aloud and this month's artwork from CHC's Liturgical Masterpieces. We read the story of The Annunciation as presented in Tomie dePaola's Mary: The Mother of Jesus - or rather, I read while the boys munched away on their crumbcakes.

Just before we began math, we remembered to light the candle in our prayer corner ...


It glows at the foot of our Blessed Mother statue and beside Earlybird's Hail Mary board book. We made this candle back in October, when we celebrated the Feast of the Angels; the blue ribbon symbolizes Gabriel, who visits Mary in today's Gospel story.


Later, on our way home from speech, we stopped by church to bring roses to Mary. There is a beautiful statue of Our Lady beside a small pond, and we like to visit it on Marian feasts. This is the first time Earlybird has ever done this. Usually he's too likely to run near the street, but today he did well.

"Who's that?" I asked EB, pointing to the statue as we pull in.

"Ma-yeeee," he said.


It was a good start, but EB dropped his rose immediately upon exiting the van and made a bee-line for the water. He promptly began tossing in any stray piece of foliage or debris he could find. Once he began with small pebbles, Bookworm, Crackerjack and I said a short prayer and placed our roses by the edge of the pond. Just as EB heaved one of the small flagstones into the water I decided five minutes devotion was better than none, and we headed home for lunch.


They were such lovely five minutes, though, on this quiet March morning. A little hectic, keeping the boys focused and the rock tossing down to a minimum. The wind was quite chilly, but the van was nice and toasty when we got back in. We took the long way home, as EB called out:

"Ma-yeee rocks!"

Yes, my love. In her own beautiful and gentle way, Mary does, indeed, rock. :)

It is now eveningtime and we've finished our lessons for the day. Bill is home, the house is filled with the good smells of supper and the rain is falling hard against the windows. It really was such a nice day, and celebrating our faith took no more than a few simple gestures, a few familiar words.

Days like these are sweet blessings. Simple but memorable. Easy but meaningful. As I turn in tonight, I will say a prayer of gratitude for these "everyday" days of my life. And I will say a prayer that each one of you has a peaceful and blessed tomorrow.

Good night!

What Would Your Holiday Be?

In addition to the The Annunciation of Our Lord, today also happens to be Make Up Your Own Holiday Day. No kidding! What a neat creative writing opportunity this presents ... the kids can brainstorm their own holiday idea and write all about what it would entail:Balloons_door

  • What activities would one do?
  • What special foods would be served?
  • What symbols would represent your special day?
  • Design an invitation to a holiday party!

So what would your holiday be? How about your kids? Leave a comment if you have a holiday to share! I'm going to ask my boys to do this today (they're sound asleep right now - it's only 5 a.m.!).

And many blessings to you on this beautiful feast day. We have some special things planned today to honor Our Lady - post to come later today. :)

Take Me Out to the Train Show!

Which is just where we spent the day yesterday! My folks took us out Saturday morning to the Greenberg Train & Toy Show and the boys, as you might imagine, had so much fun!

Now a bit of background. My father is a model railroader. For all my years growing up we had a huge train layout in our basement. It filled the whole room, from east to west! In fact, as the story goes, when my parents were looking for a house of their own, the requirement was that it have a basement large enough for Dad's future layout, lol! Sometimes my mum and I will drive by a house in a neighboring town and she'll say "Oh we almost bought that house, but the basement was too small." :)

Well, Dad now has three grandsons - and the youngest appears to be a budding train enthusiast! Earlybird loves all things trains - his train table, train books, train shows and whenever possible, real trains. We manage to catch the commuter line at least once a week (watching from inside my van!).

But as much as EB loves trains (not to mention going anywhere with Nana and Papa), he doesn't love crowded places so much. So much noise and stimulation can be too much for him, but he did very well. I don't think he could believe his eyes - which were just about level with all the layouts. He would stand and squeal, "Wook! A treen! A treen!" and jump up and down. He was very good about not touching anything, too. Crackerjack and Bookworm enjoyed the day as well - and I think they got a kick out of seeing their youngest brother in his element. :)

I'd like to share some pictures I took of our day: 


This is the first table we stopped at. I think EB could have spent the whole day here! He loved the tractors in the foreground. (Tractors are a new vehicle favorite.)


Spellbound. Just spellbound.


The layouts with lots of little details were the most fun to look at. It was amazing just how detailed they were.


So many things to look at ...


You could stare for hours and never see it all!


This was a beautiful layout with intricate scenery. These were European trains (if I remember correctly).


The boys thought this was neat with the construction site and mine shaft.


Crackerjack could not take his eyes off the train, but Bookworm had a smile for the camera.


I think the older two boys enjoyed the Lego train layout the most. How about that ferris wheel? (Yes, it was spinning!)


It might be hard to tell in this picture, but these are those tiny Lego characters! (The whole layout was filled with them!)


You couldn't miss the Lego skyscrapers ...


And here we have a very busy Lego city scene.


That must be some deep water - look at the shark!

We came home with a new train video for EB, aptly named "I Love Toy Trains." He loves it so much he has taught himself how to operate the DVD player, lol!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing in our happy day. I hope you all had a nice weekend, and here's to a good week ahead!

Got Cookies?

Because we do!


At long last I scored Girl Scout cookies! As you can see, I took no chances and bought one of each kind.

There were so many to choose from - new and familiar flavors. But I miss those old names - Do-si-dos, Tag-alongs, Samoas and Trefoils. When did they go out of fashion?

(I'm dating myself, aren't I?)

You know, I was a Girl Scout for a good many years, but these days, I'm completely out of the loop. I never remember to order the cookies at the appropriate time. I have no reliable resource. All of a sudden it's March and I'm begging Bill to ask around at work for a connection. That never pans out, so then all I can do is wait for the sidewalk sales.

Well, the kind troop leader who set up shop outside my local grocer's today explained to me that orders begin as early as Christmas week. So as soon as I got home I pulled out my December folder and wrote in bold letters, Order Girl Scout cookies. I also wrote the name and number of a homeschooling friend who, I just learned, is a leader. At last! A connection!

(Now, if only Girl Scouts sent reminder cards, like dentists and vets.)

Well, before I go, I have to ask ... what's your favorite kind? Personally, I'm partial to the new Lemonade flavor. Growing up, though it was all Trefoils and Thin Mints. :)

Listen to the Children ...

For they have much to say ...

This morning we brought Earlybird to speech. For the past few weeks I've been leaving my older two at home with my mum while EB and I sneak out for the hour it takes to go to, and come back from, therapy. Today, however, I had all the boys with me.

Now, give or take a reschedule or two, I see the same parents there each week - we're all Friday morning regulars. We know each other's stories by now. Recently though, there has been a new woman in the waiting room, a grandmother, who, (I overheard) is a retired reading teacher. Sure enough, this woman was there today, and, sure enough, I noticed her noticing my (obviously school-aged) children with an air of keen interest. I could feel her trying to catch my eye.

Here it comes, I thought. The "Why aren't your children in school?" conversation that can go well, or ... not so well.

Was I feeling on top of my game, I wondered? Ready to explain and even defend, if necessary, the merits of home education?

Honestly, I was kind of tired - it was early and I hadn't had nearly enough coffee to be my usually cheerful, can-do teacher-mama self.

So I carefully avoided her eye.

Bookworm settled himself in a corner and began reading his book, while Crackerjack and I starting paging through an earth science read-aloud, sharing a chair in an opposite corner.

Now, I've been homeschooling for seven years. I've had my share of "why aren't you in school?" conversations. Usually I am more than happy to share the why's and how's of our home learning life with anyone who'll listen.

But I also happen to be a people-pleaser who can't stand confrontation. So when I feel a conversation brewing, I worry a little. Will this person be nice, or, well, confrontational? Is she (or he) familiar with homeschoolers - in real life, or just on the news?

Anyway, while I'm working all this over in my mind, the next thing I know, Bookworm has engaged this woman in conversation. He often does this kind of thing. He brings books everywhere we go, and because he gets so much enjoyment out of them, he often laughs aloud. Because he laughs aloud, he often attracts attention and once he's caught your eye, he launches into it.

So he's over in the corner telling this woman all about Mariel of Redwall - how it's book #4 in a series, how this is the second time he's read it, how he loves these characters - and he has her thoroughly captivated. I can hardly pay attention to the pages I'm reading to CJ, I'm straining so hard to hear what they're saying.

The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Woman: "Wow, you seem to really enjoy reading. Do you read a lot?"

BW: "Oh yes, I read all the time. Things my mum assigns me and then lots of stuff I like, too."

Woman: "Good for you! I love to see kids reading. What grade are you in? Fourth?"

BW: "I'm in ... um ... (thinks a moment) ... sixth."

Woman: "And what school do you go to?"


BW: "Oh, I'm homeschooled."

Woman: "Really?"

Pause. Really long pause. I'm dying to look over, and then ...

Woman: "Well, aren't you a lucky boy!"

In my peripheral vision I can see she is looking at me now, but I continue pretending I have no idea this conversation is going on.

The pair of them go back to talking about Redwall, and other good books, like Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia. They talk for some time, BW describing, in great detail, all the characters he likes and even reading aloud a particularly jubilant passage (in his best accent, no less).

Finally she could take it no longer; she called out across the way to me:

"Excuse me ... is this your child?"

I looked up, and nodded with a smile. And she returned my smile, warmly.

"Oh, he's so wonderful! And I understand you homeschool ..."

What followed was a lovely conversation about homeschooling. The why's and the how's and the good for you's.

Today I realized I shouldn't worry so much about what someone might say - or what I should say - about homeschooling. All that really matters is what we think - my husband, my children and me.

But I also realized I have no better homeschooling spiel than my own children. Left to their own devices - given a chance to show how it is they pass the time that is so generously doled out to them - they provide the perfect answer to the question, "Why aren't you in school?"

Though I feel compelled to add:

"What? And miss all this?" :)

That New & Random Meme

I saw this at Angela's and thought, well, I'm just gonna tag myself! ;)

1. What time did you get up this morning? Oy - 4:37 exactly.

2. Diamonds or pearls? Well, Bill gave me a pearl ring when I graduated from college and my friend Kathy gave me pearl drop earrings for my wedding (or was it her wedding? I cant remember now, lol) so I do love pearls. But my wedding rings are diamond as is the cross Bill gave me a few years ago. So what is the answer to my question? Both! :)

3. What was the last film you saw at the theater? Well, um .... today the boys and I are joining friends to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Before that it was Flushed Away. Ah, yes, I am the mother of boys ... :)

4. What is your favorite TV show?  Northern Exposure. It was on in the early 90s but they re-run it on one of our sattelite channels. I watch it every night! The only current tv show we watch is Lost, but I'm getting a little tired of it.

5. What did you have for breakfast? Coffee and a whole wheat English muffin with orange marmalade. Also, a multivitamin and a B-complex, washed down with some chocolate soy milk.

6. What is your middle name? Michelle. My mum and grandmother wanted Michelle Dawn, but my dad wanted Dawn Michelle. They called me Missy when I was growing up. :)

7. What is your favorite cuisine? Actually, I get really excited about baking! Especially homemade, organic, locally grown produce kind of baking. As far as eating out, I do love Chinese every now and then.

8. What foods do you dislike? Onions - blech.

9. What are your favorite chips? Cape Cod Chips

10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? In the car it's Schoolhouse Rock. At home it's American Picnic.

11. What kind of car do you drive? Toyota Sienna (a minivan).

12. Favorite sandwich? Oh, a BLT in August can't be beat!

13. What are characteristics you can't stand? Callousness. And when people try to be cool. Maybe it's because I am so uncool, lol, but I just think we should all relax and be ourselves.

14. What are your favorite clothes? A cardigan sweater over a scoop neck tee with a pair of pants or a skirt. (Pretty schoolmarmish. Not very cool, lol.)

15. If you could go anywhere on vacation where would you go? If I got up the guts to fly it would be to Ireland, definitely (with a side trip to England and Scotland). Closer to home it would be Vermont or Nantucket.

16. One random fact about myself: Hmmm ... well, I'm pretty crunchy, actually. My family is very supportive of environmental issues. At one time Bill and I thought pretty seriously about moving "back to the land" and owning an organic farm - vegetables, sheep, bees. We still kick that idea around once in a while! :)

17. Where would you want to retire? In Vermont - to a pocket farm or a B&B.

18. Favorite time of day? I love the morning hours when the day is new and the coffee is hot ... but I also really love that hour or so after the kids go to bed when we can relax.

19. Where were you born? El Paso, Texas

20. What is your favorite sport to watch? I LOVE Patriots football! I also like Red Sox games, but not as much. I used to be really into figure skating, but not in years.

21. Coke or Pepsi? Coke, absolutely.

22. Beavers or ducks? Huh, that's a head scratcher. I guess I would have to say beavers because I think this movie is the cutest thing ever.

23. Are you a morning person or a night owl? I have always been a morning person, even before I had kids.

24. Pedicure or manicure? Probably a manicure though I keep my nails short. I would like to get a pedicure before sandal season starts.

25. What did you want to be when you were little? A mother and a writer. :)

26. What is your best childhood memory? Playing in the yard. Making soup and stuff with dandelions and mud. Smelling wild grapes in the fall and wild onions in the spring. "Fishing" in the brook and collecting pussy willows. Though come to think of it, Christmas Eve at my grandparents was probably the best memory of all.

27. Ever been to Africa? No
28. Ever been toilet papering? Yes, when I was a hockey cheerleader in high school.

29. Been in a car accident? Yes. 

30. Favorite day of the week? Hard to say. I have a lot of energy on Fridays because it's almost the weekend and I'm all fired up to have Bill home and get things done. Sundays are the most peaceful, though.

31. Favorite restaurant? What's a restaurant? ;)

32. Favorite flower? It's very hard to choose. I love daffodils ... and morning glories. I also like pinks (dianthus) and foxglove. Basically anything you'd find in an English cottage garden.

33. Favorite ice-cream? Peach.

34. Favorite fast food restaurant? Does Starbucks count?

35. How many times did you fail your driver's test? None.

36. From whom did you get your last e-mail? 4Real Forums

37. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card? Oooh, this is a toughie. Could I split it between Barnes & Noble and The Baker's Catalogue?

38. Last person you went to dinner with? My husband - but it's been a while!

39. What are you listening to right now? Birds and the breeze outside the window, pencils scratching on paper, the toaster just popped, a cat is crying at me to be fed.

40. What is your favorite color? I've always liked yellow - soft and buttery or golden and warm. I also like shades of peach and orange.

41. How many tattoos do you have? None!

42. How many people are you sending this to? I'll have to check my stats at the end of the day to know for sure!
43. What time did you finish this blog entry? 10:55 a.m.

44. Favorite magazine: Martha Stewart and Faith & Family

45. Coffee or tea? Coffee

46. Do you tan easily or burn easily? This Irish skin? Burn.
47. Do you color your hair? Well, that's an awfully personal question! (The answer is yes!)
48. What was the first car you ever purchased without the help of your parents?  I think it was our Ford Windstar.
49. What is your most dreaded household chore? Cleaning the toilet. Yuck!

And Now for the Cake!

Bill also brought home pizza and salad and a bottle of wine ... all because this little blog turned one!


Get the symbolism? Sun and Candlelight? That would be chocolate underneath all that buttercream. :) It was very yummy.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

P.S. Template tinkering is underway! Please bear with me while I go back and forth ... :)


Today my blog is ONE year old! Boy, that was a mighty fast year!

I was going to say it's my blogoversary, but I wasn't sure of the correct spelling. Blogiversary? Blogaversary?? Too many variables. I'm just calling it a birthday, and since it is a birthday, there must be cake. Candles too, and we will eat it by my sunny windows and call it a By Sun and Candlelight Cake. :) (Honestly, I could come up with a baked good for any possible occasion.) Really, I wish I could share a piece with you; there's plenty of fresh hot coffee, too. :)

So naturally I am feeling a little pensive about my blog today. I am very grateful for it; it's an awful lot of fun and I find I enjoy writing very much. In fact, sometimes I worry I might post too much, lol! I know myself how hard it can be to keep up with daily blog reading, especially as there are so many great blogs out there!

So I was looking at the calendar and imagining all the things I might blog about in the year ahead. Here are some topics for spring and summer:


  • Holy Week & Easter
  • Early Spring Field Day
  • Science topic: earth/soil
  • Puddles, mud, sandbox
  • Looking for rainbows
  • Listening for peepers
  • Middle Ages: Cathedrals
  • Opening Day
  • Make Way for Ducklings
  • Arbor Day (or Earth Day)
  • Divine Mercy Sunday
  • Feast of St. George (and the Dragon)
  • Sheepshearing Festival
  • Spring Soccer


  • May Day
  • Marian devotion
  • Prayer Garden
  • Kentucky Derby Day
  • Mother's Day
  • Science Topic: air
  • Kites, pinwheels, bubbles
  • Crackerjack's First Holy Communion
  • Rogation Days
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Planting at long last
  • Baltimore Orioles passing through (birds not baseball)
  • Mushrooms in the lawn
  • Pentecost Sunday
  • Rhubarb ripe


  • Trinity Sunday
  • Feast of Corpus Christi
  • Strawberry picking
  • Flag Day
  • Father's Day
  • Science topic: fire
  • Bonfires, beeswax candles and cookouts
  • Summer Solstice
  • Bookworm's 12th Birthday
  • Feast of St. John the Baptist (Midsummer)
  • Slugs, bugs and toads in the garden
  • Wrapping up the academic year
  • Lemonade Stand
  • Dragonflies and Damselflies


  • Filing the new educational plans
  • Filing the end-of-the-year reports
  • Daylilies blooming
  • The Fourth of July
  • Bill's Birthday
  • Our Lady of Mt. Carmel
  • Raspberries Ripe
  • Red Sox games
  • Christmas in July (Begin planning)
  • Beach days (tidepooling)
  • Seashore Nature Study
  • Field Day by the Sea
  • Thunderstorms
  • Crickets at night
  • Feast of St. Christopher


  • Lammas Day
  • VBS: Avalanche Ranch
  • 4Real Conference
  • Crackerjack's 8th Birthday
  • Feast of the Assumption
  • Herbs & Honey
  • The Orchard: Peaches, Plums, Blueberries
  • Patriots Preseason Football
  • The Farmstand: corn, tomatoes, melon
  • Fireflies & Shooting Stars
  • Watching Bats at Dusk
  • Our Lady of Knock
  • Queenship of Mary

Well, that's a start anyway! ;)

Seriously though, one thing I love about blogging is how it helps me focus on all the joys of the seasons as they come and go. I may not blog about each and every thing I listed above, but it's nice to remember all the good things life holds in store all year round.

Before I wrap up, I would like to mention my next Field Day (number six!) is just around the corner. The Early Spring Edition will run Friday April 13th. (No, I don't believe in bad luck, lol. My Crackerjack was born on a Friday the 13th and ever since that day has been one of my favorites!)

I hoped to have a button ready to go today, but that's yet another project on the back burner. Maybe this weekend. In the meantime mark your calendars for the 13th of April and get those nature studies rolling!

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for reading this post which I really did not mean to let get so long, but sometimes, when the kids are quiet and the coffee's hot, I really get around to thinking ...

God bless!!

P.S. I'm thinking of changing my blog topper and colors. Are you tired of the blue and pink roses too, lol? Don't be surprised if you see a different look (or two) before the weekend is up! Of course I may completely chicken out. ;)