Previous month:
January 2008
Next month:
March 2008

February 2008

Spring Planning ...

... is underway.

Spring_crafts

Spring_crafts2

MARCH arrives tomorrow! Now, will it come in like a LION or a LAMB?

You know, I'm so full of beans. Here I proposed a little break from blogging, and yet here I am, popping in to say hello! And with pictures, no less. (It's so hard not to post, lol!) I also wanted to let you know I hope to have my March Themes and Plans post up by early tomorrow. Also, a few people have asked if I could explain how I go about my seasonal planning, and I would be happy to, just as soon as I can. :)

And now I'm off for a bit. (Honest.) We have friends coming over for lunch and a little chemistry and then we've got Tween Night tonight, too!

So, a fine Friday morning to you (and Happy Leap Year, too)! See you all again sometime soon.


Little Break

Bumblebeeflower_3I just wanted to mention that posting might be light the next couple of days. It has been an incredibly busy week for us and I just can't see where I'm going to get any blogging done in the near future. (And schoolwork, what's that, lol? Just kidding.) The good news is, we are busy for all kinds of fun reasons - matinee movies, birthday parties, get-togethers (academic and non) and dental appointments. Ok, the dentist would not be qualified as fun per se, but the boys had no cavities! :)

I don't even dare sit down right now because that will spell the end for me, I just know it. And I really want to attend my homeschool group's support meeting tonight. A neuropsychologist will be speaking to us; she supports children with learning differences being homeschooled. (Like I would miss that one!)

But soon it will be the weekend, when I will catch my breath, and find time to post. And I've got so much to post about, too!

So please excuse a little lag in posting. Keep warm and well, and I'll see you all sometime soon!


A Few Morning Pictures

Snowcardinal

Snowmorn1

Snowmorn2

Snowmorn3

Snowmorn4

It's lightly snowing here this morning, and the birds are flocking to the feeders like crazy. (The little red squirrel too, as you can see from the pictures.) It's all just so beautiful, I can hardly put my camera down to post!

Though we're on the doorstep of March, it is a true winter's day - flurries through the morning, and then sunny and cold. In fact, it will only get into the 20s! Fine by us ~ we're off to an indoor pool party today! What a welcome respite that will be!

Have a great day, everyone. :)


Spiderwick ~ a Review by Bookworm

"Today I went with my friends to see the movie, The Spiderwick Chronicles. It was a great movie, as were the books. I will say this though, the movie was verySpiderwick different from the books. I'd also say that it was very interesting the way the movie used regular things that you find in the real world, to explain magic. Like throwing salt over your shoulder - in the movie, making a ring of salt protected the characters from monsters. I would advise that you not plan on taking kids 8 or younger to this movie in theaters. If you really think they should see it you should probably wait until it comes out on DVD as it is a pretty scary movie, especially near the end. There is a giant snake, a troll, an ogre, and a thrilling battle on a rooftop - all things that make a very good movie if you are old enough not to be scared by it all. I wasn't very scared, but then again, I'm 12. The average 8 year old would be closing their eyes and covering their ears. I liked how the characters were smart and worked best when they were able to work together. All the characters had really good reflexes too! For example, when the mom first finds out about the goblins, she immediately starts grabbing weapons. I would say this was a very brave family. In their regular life, this family had problems with anger and trust but I think after all this happened they will handle it all better.

I'd rate this movie 9 out of 10 stars."

Now it's Mum's turn. ;)

I too liked this movie very much, but I must admit, I'm glad my Crackerjack opted to stay at home! Because truth be told, the movie was pretty scary, especially considering it was rated PG. And further truth be told, I looked back at Bookworm more than once to see how he was doing, lol!

It was a good story, most importantly. The plot got going pretty quickly, and it had plenty ofFieldguide  twists and lots (lots!) of action. And since I have not read any of the books, I didn't miss the things that apparently were left out. (Bookworm has read them all but he liked the movie enough to excuse the oversights.) Visually, the movie was very appealling as well. It was filmed in Canada I was told by a young friend, and the autumnal backdrop lent just the right light-against-shadow mood. Most of the action took place in the family's big old Victorian house, and the enchanted woods all around. (Boy wouldn't I love a tour of that place!) And the field guide itself (around which the movie revolved) was so intriguing! It made both Bookworm and I want to create a field journal like that ourselves (about real creatures of nature, obviously).

Since we've come home, Bookworm has been telling Crackerjack, frame by frame, all about the movie, so that "when Crackerjack does see it, it won't seem so scary to him." Lol, you've got to love brothers. :)

Well, I'm off till tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone!


Notes for the Week ...

... or what's left of it, lol!

I had meant to post about our plans for this week oh, say, back on Sunday or even early Monday, but it's just been one thing after another around here. I don't even have a real firm plan in place this week - which is so unusual for me! It's all mostly floating around in my head.

What this says to me is that I'm waiting too long to start my week-ahead planning. Ideally I should start around Thursday, but lately it hasn't quite worked out that way. Waiting till the last minute to plan an upcoming week doesn't give me a lot of headway for making library requests, or picking up materals for activities and projects. So I resolve that tomorrow I will start planning NEXT week, in detail. In the meantime I'll try to pull some things together for what's left of this one. :)

To begin with, today is International Polar Bear Day! Here's a link to a post I did on this day last year. And as for our plans this year? Well, had I given myself time, I would have requested An Arctic Tale from the library. (Most local copies are out now.) But, later today I might stop in at the bookstore and pick up Jan Brett's latest, The Three Snow Bears. (Only because we'll be out anyway, and we'll be driving right by ...) If you have the book, do check out her website for lots of fun activities. In this video clip she teaches us how to draw a baby polar bear!

Usually I snap up the new Brett book as soon as it comes out (she only writes one a year) but somehow this one got away from me. We do collect her books so I intended to buy this title at some point, and of course, I'll use my educator discount for the purchase.

Plus, this book is very timely for us right now - can you just hear me justifying the purchase, lol? - the boys are completely absorbed by two sled dog movies, Snow Buddies and Snow Dogs. I feel we should take advantage of this current interest and check in with the Iditarod as some point. I believe it begins this Saturday, in fact. Does anyone know if it's televised? And how long does the race last? As usual I am coming in late on this but I think the boys would enjoy following it! :)

*Ooh, light bulb moment! I just remembered an article in the winter issue of The Old Schoolhouse magazine with a unit study on the Iditarod! And miracle of miracles, I found the clipping at the bottom of my in-box, lol!

And somewhere around here we have The Magic School Bus in the Arctic. Here's a neat activity page to go along with that story if we (or you) have the time or interest. Hot cocoa, with marshmallows, is a must for that read-aloud!

So, what else is on tap for this week?

Well, Bookworm and I are going with a group of friends to see Spiderwick today. Crackerjack decided early on he didn't want to see this, so he'll stay home with Nana and Earlybird. (He's my extra-sensitive kid, and he knows his limits very well.) I'll try to post a review later on.

Tomorrow we have a birthday party to attend, and if there's time we'll have our weekly "tea-and-a-craft" in the afternoon. And on Friday we are having friends over for a chemistry co-op we're just beginning. We're following this program, completing the "book work" at home (or I should say, on our own) and then meeting here for the experiments. There will be pizza for lunch, too. :)

And that, more or less, will conclude our home learning week!

Well, I hope your week is going well - that your plans are shaping up as you'd like. If you have plans, that is! ;)

Either way, have a wonderful Wednesday!


Cardinals at Dusk

Snowcardinals

When winter woods are white with snow,
And drifts pile high as wild winds blow,
Like
flame this torchlike bird doth glow;
  And cries, "W   w    w
                       h    h     h
                         e    e     e
                          w!   w!  w!"

(From "The Cardinal," found in A Year with Birds by Alice E. Ball, 1916)


Food Fun for New Englanders

I'm not sure how far and wide Dunkin' Donuts extends its reach outside of New England, butDunkin if you have access to one, today (2/26) from 1-10 p.m. you can get a small latte or cappucino for only 99 cents. That's a good deal! Though to be honest I've never actually tried their "specialty" coffees ~ it's always a regulah for me. ;)

Hmmm. I have to take Bookworm to the orthodontist this afternoon, and there just happens to be a D&D within walking distance ... Generally I just say no to caffeine after noontime, but maybe I'll make an exception just this once? Considering how early my Earlybird got me up this morning, it might be a nice little pick-me-up. (Thanks, Tara for the info!)

And sBrighams_2peaking of New England and good deals, here's a little online survey which will earn you a free quart of Brigham's ice cream if you take the time to participate. I think this is just for folks within the New England area, but I thought I'd mention it anyway. This is really good ice cream, folks - the stuff most New Englanders grew up on! (That, and Howard Johnson's of course.) I see you can mail order Brighams ice cream - to anywhere in the US! It might be worth the shipping and handling - it's that good. (Thanks, Wendy for the link!)

By the way, mark your calendars - July is National Ice Cream Month. (As if we need a reason, lol!) And while we're talking ice cream ...

You Are Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
You are kind, popular, and generous.
You tend to be successful at anything you try.
A social butterfly, you are great at entertaining a crowd.

You are most compatible with strawberry ice cream.
I was strawberry last time I took this quiz; I guess I'm evolving. :)
Thanks for stopping by!

On Blogging and Google Searches

Many bloggers have posted about the varied and often amusing google searches that Twowomenreadinghave led folks to their blog. Sometimes they make perfect sense, and sometimes they're downright ridiculous! (The searches I mean, not the bloggers!) I'm afraid I don't have anything wacky or weird to share, but I did track my google searches over the past few days, just so I could tell you all about them. Lol, it's not like I don't have better things to do - or blog about - but good golly, I put in the time so here I am to report! ;)

I always enjoy hearing how people find their way here, and of course it's especially nice when somebody finds me through family, friends or word-of-mouth. I suppose I speak for most bloggers when I say that I love it when someone leaves a comment to say "Hi, I'm reading! I found you through __."

Blogging is kind of a crazy thing when you stop to think of it. A blog can be a snapshot of somebody's life, but it can also be misleading. I've had people ask how it is that I'm always "up," "so organized" or why it is that I never seem to have "a bad day."

Well, let me be perfectly honest with you:

~ I am not always up. (And my husband can verify that, lol!) But I am, admittedly, a generally optimistic and hopeful person.

~ Sure, I love to organize - read about it, talk about it, plan for it - but as I've confessed before, that doesn't always mean I am organized, lol! (As anyone awaiting an email or letter from me knows!)

~ And as for bad days, well, I would never say a day here on earth with my loved ones is bad, but I do have those days when Bill comes home to find me tired, disheveled (dare I say irritable) and ready for my Calgon moment asap. ;)

And yet, knowing the true pain and suffering many folks deal with every day I know in my heart I've got it so good. I try to remember to be thankful, I try to make joy the biggest part of my day and I try to bring the best of it here. It's what energizes me, and it makes me want to share. I don't usually feel energized or much like sharing when dinner's late, the boys are bickering or the house is a mess. (And all those things do happen - sometimes on the same day!) Though I recognize for some people blogging is a great way to manage the ups and downs, to air out those griefs and grapple with the irritations of everyday life, that's just not me. It's not what I care to write about. But don't mistake for a second that I have it any more "together" than you do.

I was talking about blogging with my friends one night last week, and we all agreed that for we mums, especially we homeschooling mums, blogs help us feel connected in a way we couldn't maintain in real life. Our time, thoughts and energies are very much tied to our homes (and all those living creatures who come with it); making time for grownup cameraderie - let alone conversation - often impossible. But connecting with other mums - sharing ideas and support - is vital, I believe. Whether you read them or write them, blogs give us the medium we need to do just that. They keep our wheels turning, they keep us inspired. They offer us a nice break when the kids are happily employed; they give us somewhere to turn when immediate prayer or advice is needed. They are, in a way, our own generation's clothesline - even though our neighbors are only "next door" in the virtual sense.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, that's anybody's guess, but let me see if I can get myself back on track. Ah yes. Google searches.

So, I decided to give it a try. To reveal these particular links, you check your Sitemeter "referrals" (if you have Sitemeter, that is) and when someone comes in via google, you place your mouse over the link and within the code you can see what terms were part of the search. (You can also open the link and go directly to the google page if you wish.)

I had to do this over a period of days because probably 9 out of 10 searches were literally: by sun and candlelight blog. :) I think that is because my URL (dawnathome.typepad.com) actually has nothing to do with the name of my blog!

But now I have a good size list, so I'd like to share ~ the google searches that lead people to my blog:

  • What is Lent?
  • Taggerung chapter notes
  • Lenten stories and tales
  • Where can I find pussywillows?
  • Lent clip art
  • Winter field day games
  • Crafts for the 3rd week in Lent
  • Sunny window
  • Lent
  • How to make a bookmark for the one eyed giant by Mary Pope
  • Holy Wednesday (this one came from Wikipedia)
  • Free Lenten crafts for children
  • Lionboy lesson plans
  • What is Lent? (Again, unless it's the same person!)

I was kind of hoping there might be some really funny search terms, but I guess I write about mostly the same kinds of things, and from this list I see it's often about Lent!

So if you are someone who comes here regularly, I say thank you for making me part of your day. And if you are someone who just happened upon my blog through a google search, let me say welcome! I hope you find what you're looking for here, but if not, I hope you enjoy your time here anyway!

And to everyone reading tonight, I say keep warm, be well and I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. :)


On PBS Tonight ~ Buffalo Bill

Thanks to my handy-dandy Entertainment Weekly, I just learned that the PBS show AmBuffalo_billerican Experience will feature Buffalo Bill tonight. I'm not sure if they know how great their timing is, but tomorrow, February 26th is his birthday! (I learned that fact in this book, a favorite of mine for calendar planning.)

The show is rated PG, and I'm sure it's quite tame; still I'll watch it first before showing it to the boys. You can see a preview at the PBS site and there is a teacher's guide available, too. I missed the program on Kit Carson which aired earlier this month; but it seems you can view it online here. There are plenty of resource links, too.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love PBS? :)

Of course like any red-blooded homeschooling mum, my wheels start turning furiously when I stumble upon an interesting resource. And these programs look really good. But, knee-deep in ancient history as we are this year, I'll have to keep my gears in neutral. We'll watch these shows and enjoy them and then we'll move on - because of course I'm already thinking "unit study" with a capital U. ;)

I'll keep them in mind for next year when we turn our attention to America circa 1850 onward. I've already started a folder for gathering ideas. (Natch!) And as for books, well, I already have a few in mind ...

For the younger grades, I really like the Steven Kellogg books, (Pecos Bill, Mike Fink, Paul Bunyan, etc.) as well as the excellent books by the D'Aulaires, such as the the one pictured above. In the past, we've enjoyed the detail-rich Holling books, but we've yet to read Tree in the Trail, a cowboy story. Old Sam and Brave Buffalo Fighter will make good reading for Bookworm, and these childhood biographies will be perfect for Crackerjack. Jim Weiss's American Tall Tales will warrant a listen, and then there's that Disney movie all about American folk heroes ...

Oh, there I go getting carried away with Americana when I need to stay focused on the Greek gods! Still, we'll take a moment to honor Buffalo Bill's birthday tomorrow, maybe even with some "cowboy chow" for supper: wagon-wheel pasta, cornbread and giant cowboy cookies for dessert ...

(I guess we're not called eclectic homeschoolers for nothing, lol!)

Have a great Monday, y'all! :)


Sunday Fun ~ Rock Painting!

Here's a quick idea for your Sunday, if you're looking for a simple family activity, perhaps oneLeopardbutterfly that ties into today's liturgy. Maybe you have an hour or so this afternoon to devote to painting rocks with your children? :)

Having just celebrated The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, we are reminded of the Scripture from Matthew 16 ~ "And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." And now, here's a neat idea proposed at Open Wednesday which also ties in the readings today:

"Good week to learn something about rocks! Both the First Reading and the Psalm mentions rocks. Go rock hunting. Choose the best rock you can find and paint a Cross on the rock. The Psalm refers to our Lord as "the Rock of our salvation." Talk about a rock making a strong foundation."

And wouldn't it be doubly fun to make a real adventure out of looking for "just the right rock?" I'm sure there are rocks lying in wait just outside your back door, but how refreshing it would be to take a leisurely Sunday walk together - in the woods, at the beach, or just down the street. Weather permitting of course - this is February, I realize! ;)

Perhaps this is something Daddy could do with the children while Mother prepares the worktable at home (or vice versa!): acrylic paints, paintbrushes, cups of water, newspapers (or oil cloth) and paper towels (or sponges and rags). When the children return, no doubt quite rosy-cheeked from time spent out-of-doors, the craft is ready to go.

Of course your children can paint the rocks any way they wish to! There's a great book my mum bought for the boys called Painting on Rocks for Kids by Lin Wellford. It gives lots of ideas and instructions for turning plain old rocks into all kinds of artwork. Even a simple word or phrase could be painted on a particularly smooth-sided stone. When the rocks are dry, they could be placed at your nature table or prayer corner, or even tucked in your garden.

To be honest, my own boys won't be doing this activity today, but rather, tomorrow. This morning they are off to Boston for a special outing with Bill's parents. And when they all return here later today we will enjoy some cake and ice cream to celebrate Grandma B.'s birthday. But I still wanted to post this idea here today in case it might be something someone else can use. :)

Well, whatever your plans today, I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!


Just for Fun

You Are a Comma
You are open minded and extremely optimistic.
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark
Hat tip to my friend KC, a colon. :)

The Cherry Cobbler Recipe ~

This was sooo good last night, served piping hot with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. I must confess, when I found I was out of all-purpose flour, I had to use a white whole-wheat flour instead; it got rave reviews all the same, and was possibly a tad healthier to boot! This now has me seriously tempted to buy that whole grain baking book I've had my eye on ...

Slow Cooker Cherry CobblerCobbler1

  • 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coat the inside of your slow cooker with cooking spray. Pour in the cherry pie filling. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter, milk and vanilla. Mix until well blended. Spread evenly over the cherry pie filling. Cover, and cook on high for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until a toothpick inserted into the topping comes out clean.

(Recipe found at Allrecipes.com)

So now the weekend is here at last and my to-do list is as long as my arm. ;) Saturday morning is so full of promise, isn't it? Crackerjack was feeling better yesterday (100% I'd say) and then this morning he woke with a fever and headache. A dose of Children's Motrin seems to have done the trick, but he'll have a quiet restful day just the same. We're hoping we all stay healthy so we can have a visit with Bill's folks tomorrow.

Stay well and warm, my friends!


Tea & a Craft for The Chair of St. Peter

Chair4

For this week's tea & a craft, we focused on today's feast, The Chair of St. Peter. For "tea" we had hot milky cocoa in celebration of the snow (still falling fast and furious as I type) but no other treats were served. (We were all saving our "one sweet a day" for the cherry cobbler bubbling away in the crockpot!) We first read today's gospel, and then we read ahead for Sunday in our Magnifikid. And then, much to the boys surprise, I opened up my laptop ...

... for an online tour of St. Peter's Basilica!

Chair10

The boys were fascinated by this floorplan:

Chair7

We quickly found the Cathedra Petri on the map and opened its link:

Chair6

The image of The Holy Spirit, in stained glass above the Altar is so striking.

I then remembered we had a great picture of the Basilica in one of our Discoveries books - it happens to be a fold-out multi-page section.

Chair8

Next I pulled out a fun little paperback story, Lost in Peter's Tomb. Bookworm read this last year (and its sequel Break-in at the Basilica) but not Crackerjack. In fact, I had forgotten we had these books until just today! (You know, as much as I love to plan, half the time I'm making things up as we go, lol.)

Bookworm remembered a passage about the Chair of St. Peter in the book:

Chair3

"There's another picture of a dove at the end of the church," observes an excited Delaney, pointing toward the very end of the basilica.

"Is that a giant's chair?" Delaney asks, seeing what looks like a chair floating in gold and silver clouds beneath the dove. Now Delaney is sure giants live here.

"That is the very famous and sacred 'Chair of Peter' or Cathedra Petri in Latin," says the workman.

"Did Peter actually sit in that chair?" questions Riley. "It looks awfully big. How big was Peter?"

"No, he wasn't a giant. Just a normal-sized person. I don't think he ever actually sat in that chair," answers the workman. "It looks to be about ten feet tall; much too big for the average man to sit in. That big chair more importantly symbolizing that this is the place where the head of the Church belongs. However, a chair that Peter really did sit in is enclosed inside that big bronze chair."

Next we set about making our craft for the day, our own "stained glass" dove:

Chair5

I've shared this craft method before - it's a very common one, and a favorite of mine. Easy for the boys to do too, if I prepare things ahead. It's just bits of colorful tissue paper stuck onto clear contact paper, around a printed out image, and all set within a construction paper frame.

Our finished product:

Chair1_2

Which we added to our Lenten cross:

Chair9

So far we have a panel for St. Valentine, and now one for the Chair of Peter. Over the next four weeks we'll add the rest of the panels, colorful images representing special days of the season. Come Easter Sunday our cross will be filled with color and light!

Well, our day has now come to a close. The snow is still falling, and here we sit together, savoring these steaming bowls of cherry cobbler and watching a wonderful movie. A fitting choice for this time of year, as we long for the return of the spring. :)

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!


Do Homeschoolers Have Snow Days?

This is one of those questions I get asked once in a while in regards to our homeschooling.Winterscenes1 Sometimes its asked rhetorically, with a wink and a smile - but sometimes the person asking the question is honestly curious. And in general, my first instinct is usually to smile in return and acknowledge that no, snow days are not really part of our life as home learners ...

But if I stop to think about it, snow days (like rainy days and sunny days and foggy days etc.), are actually quite a big part of our lives. Just not in the way one commonly thinks.

As I mentioned in my nature notes, we have a snowstorm on the way today, and as you can probably guess, we're all a-twitter here. :) The skies have just now lightened and we can see they are very gray. Snow skies, for sure. But the winds are still calm and so too are the birdfeeders. In a few hours that will change, and over the course of the day - as we read and talk and eat and learn - the snow will begin to fall, and the world outside our windows will turn white.

Though the snow will not change our day significantly, it will play a part; more than just a delightful diversion, it will spark that connection with nature, it will remind us what living in New England means. We'll remember ~ this is what February feels like. As we learn at home, day by day and season by season, we have the freedom to invite nature into our lives, in an easy and natural way. And I believe our days are much richer for it.

So then, I guess homeschoolers do have "snow days," just in our own way. Schools are closed when it's snowing because of poor traveling conditions - teachers and children cannot safely make it to the building in which they teach and learn. That is obviously not a concern for us - our learning can (and does) take place anywhere, and at any time, and most comfortably and conveniently at home. Of course, many homeschoolers (ourselves included) participate in activities that take place out-and-about: classes, field trips, co-ops, etc. And these things are subject to weather concerns; case in point, Bookworm's Tween Movie Night scheduled (and now most likely cancelled) for this evening. And possibly there are homeschoolers who do cancel lessons on "snow days" - I certainly don't mean to speak for us all.

But for the most part, a snow day means something entirely different to us. I don't "cancel lessons" because of weather - instead, I usually work the weather right into our plans for the day. I capitalize on it, you could say. :) I make sure there's a comfortable spot by the fire for reading. I ensure the feeders are filled so we might spend time watching the birds. Upon learning of a storm on the way, I might pick a poem about snow for the week, and I check the hot cocoa supply. And as the storm approaches, we watch the skies, we smell the air, we observe the behavior of the wildlife outside our windows ...

All of this transpires as we move our way through math, language, history and science, and once the snow starts falling, we take a break to quietly (or sometimes not so quietly!) watch in wonder. Before long we'll be out in it too - the oldest will shovel the walkways and then join the younger two for a romp in the yard, looking for tracks and throwing snowballs. Fresh air is so good for the mind and the soul, and the warm embrace of home is only magnified by it.

At every turn of the year, the weather is part of our day; sometimes in small ways and sometimes significantly. Surely it's a small thing in the scheme of things, but I'm grateful for the freedom our lifestyle allows, to let nature be a part of our lives. Because there are many gifts I wish to impart to my children as we journey together through life - a love of learning, a love of our faith and a love of nature to name but a few. Being at home, and at home in nature, affords us time and endless opportunities to increase our love for all of these things.

Well, as I finish this post, the first flakes have started to fall, and now the boys are milling about asking for breakfast - so I'm off. I hope this February Friday finds you warm and well - wherever you are, and whatever your weather! :)


For Washington's Birthday (Tomorrow) ~

Cherryhatchet

A link to my post on this day last year: Cherries and Good Cheer. :)

"Let us try through the week's talks, stories, lessons and plays, to draw a clear picture of Washington's impressive character. Let us tell those stories of his childhood, youth and manhood which will enable the children to see for themselves some of his strong and noble traits, instead of merely memorizing the fact that George Washington was a good man from our assertations. The impression upon their minds and hearts will thus be deeper and truer.

"One of my little pupils gave a very appreciative estimate of Washington in answer to her little sister's question as to whether Washington was a king. 'No," said Anna, thoughtfully, 'he was not a king. He was a president; but I think he was a king in his heart.'" (Emilie Poulsson, In a Child's World: Morning Talks and Stories, 1893)

One more quick note before evening sets in. :) Crackerjack's rebounding nicely - his brand new cherry-red backpack arrived via FedEx today ~ that sure perked him up! And so far the rest of us are feeling a-ok. Thanks for your well wishes and prayers, and thanks, too, just for stopping by. See you all sometime tomorrow ...


Thursday Thirteen: Miscellaneous Thoughts

Thirteen (little) things on my mind this brisk winter morning:Birdstophat 

1. SO much to chew on after our first book study meeting last night. It was wonderful, just as I knew it would be. These ladies are so dear to me; I am blessed by their friendship and support. Stay tuned for details about the online MFG discussion. I'm thinking maybe we can start with chapter one ("Dailiness") next week ...

2. As of 5:30 a.m., Crackerjack is laying in bed with a sippy cup of water and a "yucky" stomach. I'm hoping he just got up on the wrong side of the bed.*

3. We have Nature Club this afternoon at the park. Nature Sketching is the theme, and Bookworm is eager to use his fresh package of colored pencils. :)

4. A moderate snowstorm is on the way for Friday afternoon. This might put a crimp in our monthly Tween Night (movie showing: Far from Home ~ The Adventures of Yellow Dog).

5. Earlybird's speech therapist had her baby yesterday ~ a little girl! I can't wait to pick out something pink! We are very fortunate he will be seen by another therapist who knows him very well (from his social skills group) while D. is on maternity leave.

6. Re-assessing (and hopefully streamlining) my organizational tools. I really need to manage less stuff! I mean, how many planners can one mother have? ;)

7. Hippotherapy ~ we're looking into it for Earlybird.

8. Spring! (Wherefore art thou?) Making plans for a "kinder" garden, and combing through my Sharon Lovejoy books for ideas.

9. Tweaking our two-week menu plan to be more practical and varied. The Shaws flyer comes today so I hope to sit down and make a thoughtful list for my Saturday shopping. One of my main issues is I don't account for leftovers.

10. Late spring/early spring nature study plans. Making sure everyone has boots and slickers. (And that includes me.)

11. Our faith@home tea this afternoon (or tomorrow depending on Crackerjack's stomach). We'll be making a stations-of-the-cross notebook and watching more of The Animated Passion Trilogy.

12. Easter Sunday ~ it's just about a month away! I am sorely tempted to make up an "Easter" planning notebook, but trying to keep things simple (see #6). Stay tuned. :)

13. Shamrock Shakes are back at McDonald's! Bookworm and I love to indulge (once, maybe twice) in these annual treats. I see there's a homemade alternative ~ with natural food dye, this could be a treat for Earlybird, too!

*Update to #2 ~ Crackerjack officially has a stomach bug. So to this list I add clean the bathroom thoroughly. (When all is said and done, of course.) Nothing brings the state of your bathroom so sharply into focus as spending a half hour on the floor beside the toilet. (Ugh!)  CJ's one request before he crashed asleep ~ "I want Nana. Tell her to come at 12:00." And by golly, you can just bet my mum will be here today, Gatorade in hand, ready to comfort her boy. :)

So scratch #3; I'll have Bookworm sketch his ladybugs instead ... and I will be back when I can!


Without Words

I have so much on my mind and even more in my heart right now, but very little time to blog.Prettybouquet I would like to quickly thank the kind folks who have e-mailed me in regards to the "states" postcard exchange. I will be back in touch with you all shortly. :) In a few hours I'll be leaving for my first MFG book study meeting, and having just got in a little bit ago, I have lots to do for my family here at home ...

You see, this morning I attended a funeral for a loved one. I had hoped to blog about it in some meaningful way, but I find I am truly at a loss for words. Amy was my cousin Mark's wife, a beautiful, funny, sweet woman - a loving wife and mother of two precious young children. She passed away suddenly last week, and as you can imagine we are all just in shock. If you could remember Amy in your prayers I would be very grateful.

I wish you all a good night with your dear ones, and I'll see you all sometime tomorrow ...


Special for Sundays ~ Homemade Donuts!

A few readers have asked for my donut recipe, and of course I'm glad to share! ActuallDonuts2y, it's really not mine - the recipe I use is found on the back of the donut pan packaging. And truth be told, though I've had my pan a few years now, I have only made donuts twice! It's just one of those things I think is going to take more time (and work) than it actually does. But the payoff is just so great ~ freshly baked donuts for my family!

Now first off, I must link to the pan for baked donuts. (I know you can prepare homemade donuts in deep pans of boiling oil but that is not something I'm going to attempt -more for safety reasons than fat content, lol!) I ordered the standard size pan, but you might prefer the mini-donut pan.

I also must admit that donuts are a treat and I know many of my readers have given up treats for Lent. But Sundays are always a day for rejoicing, a day to take a break from the fast ~ and warm homemade donuts are a memorable treat to come home to after church! And more than anything else, I love making memories for my boys. In fact, I often think those that involve food "stick" with them the best. :)

So without further ado, here are the two recipes, one for chocolate and one for plain:

Chocolate Cake Donuts

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 325. Combine the four, cocoa, baking powder and salt. In separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick. Combine milk and butter. Alternately combine egg mixture and milk mixture with flour mixture and mix until smooth and soft. Spray pan lightly with cooking oil. Fill with batter 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes. Cool. Carefully remove. Repeat with rest of batter. Frost or glaze.

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tablespoons HOT water

Cake Donuts

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray donut pan with cooking oil. In bowl mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt. Add butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Beat until well blended. Fill each donut hole 2/3 full. Bake 8 minutes or until tops spring back lightly when touched. Cool. Remove from pan and dip into glaze.Donuts may also be dipped into cinnamon and sugar instead of glaze. When the pan has cooled, wipe clean with cloth or paper towel and repeat process. Yield: approximately 36 mini donuts.

I must say a quick word about glazes and whatnot. :) First of all, the donuts are quite delicious plain, but they are fun to "decorate." I made up the glaze described above and lightly drizzled it across the tops of the donuts. It was rather thin, so I'd like to play around with the measurements a bit, to make more of a frosting. I think maple-glazed donuts would be perfectly delicious in March, don't you? (Those happen to be my favorites at Dunkins!) And at Eastertime, a white chocolate glazed donut would be festive - sprinkled with pastel jimmies of course! The mini donuts would be a lovely teatime treat for the children, especially if they are allowed to choose their own toppings!

Of course there are all kinds of ways to make Sundays special, and that's a project I'm working on just now. But something warm and fresh from the oven brings my family such joy, and that's just the mood I hope to foster on this day ... and when it's something really special, something reserved just for Sundays - such as coffeecake or fruit danish or homemade donuts - it's even more of a treat. :)

I'd love to hear what your favorite baked goodies are! Is there something you love to bake ~ any day or especially on Sundays? Please drop me a note below if you have a moment ~ I'd love to add to my Sunday collection. :)

But for now, I'm off. I hope you have a happy evening, and I'll see you all again sometime tomorrow.


Sundaes on Presidents' Monday

Sundaes1

And to cap off our President's Day ~ bowls of vanilla ice cream topped with homemade butterscotch sauce. Mmm, mmm, mmm! I'm not sure that ice cream sundaes are particularly patriotic, but no one raised an eyebrow when I passed these out. ;) (Hang on ~ here's a connection. And a recipe too! Don't you just love Google?)

And now Bill and the boys are waiting for me in the family room with "National Treasure" all queued up. I think we just found a new President's Day tradition! :)

But before I go, here's our family recipe for that scrumptious sauce ...

Grama's Butterscotch Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter (I used unsalted)
  • 1/2 cup Karo syrup
  • 1/2 cup cream or evaporated milk (I used heavy cream)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix and boil first three ingredients to the soft ball stage. Add cream or evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir. Serve over ice cream (or maybe bread pudding).

Have a good night, my friends. :)