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November 2008

A Very Happy Thanksgiving to You!


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am thankful for so many blessings this year ~ and I count my friends here among them. I hope you all enjoy a day filled with peace, joy and love. (And lots of good food, too!) I'm off to start cooking! :)

Turkey Day is on its way ...


I'm sorry I've been out of touch the last few days, it's been one crazy-busy weekend around here! Lots of running around: dropping things off, picking things up and cleaning the house top to bottom. Moving furniture, making room in the fridge, shampooing rugs - those kinds of things. But we made time for fun, too! First of all, I got to shop with my mum, which is always nice (we treated ourselves to holiday coffees while we were out) and I also went to a movie Saturday night with my girlfriends. (Loved it, by the way, and ridiculously happy to hear they're making the sequel!) And yesterday Bill and the boys went to a semi-pro hockey game with friends. Needless to say, they had a blast. :)

So here we are Monday morning, and it's already Thankgiving week! Did I mention we're hosting dinner again this year - and we expect 22 people? Give or take? :)

So lots more to do today (and tomorrow and the next day) ... but for right now I'd better get going. I have boys, cats and birds to feed, and that's just the start of the list. I'll be back to post more Turkey Day details soon!

Thanksgiving comes but once a year,
But when it comes it brings good cheer.
For in my storehouse on this day
Are piles of good things hid away.
Each day I've worked from early morn
To gather acorns, nuts, and corn,
Till now I've plenty and to spare
Without a worry or a care.
So light of heart the whole day long,
I'll sing a glad Thanksgiving song.

       ~ Thornton Burgess

November Nature Club: at the Salt Marsh


It was the coldest day of the autumn so far, and our group headed north to the salt marsh for a two-hour nature walk. A beautiful day - but hoo boy was it cold (34 was the day's high)!

More photos - and details - to come later ... once I've figured out this new posting format Typepad has cooked up. Any other Typepad bloggers having trouble?

Eyes on the Sky

I've been a little particular about letting the boys use my new digital camera since the last one bit the dust a few months ago. (It fell victim to some rather rigorous "Lego" filmmaking.) So now when they ask to use it, they know they have to have a pretty good reason for it - not just that the cat is being really cute or because the crazy squirrel's climbing the windowscreen again.

So, last evening, when Bookworm bounded up to me all excited and said ...

"Mum, can I please use your camera for a quick minute - PLEASE? You just can't believe the sunset tonight!"

... well, what could I do but hand it over? :)


A few minutes later Bookworm returned the camera to me (unscathed), but first he showed me the image he had just captured on the digital screen. As you can see above, it truly was a breathtaking sky.

My son looked at me proudly and said:

"Now that one's making the blog."

(But of course.)

You know, we mothers get all excited when our children show an interest in something. We can't help ourselves - their enthusiasm is catching! It's fun to watch, to wonder where it might go. It gets our parental wheels turning. So of course I found myself wondering - maybe Bookworm will be a naturalist some day, or a professional photographer? Perhaps he'll be interested in meterology, or maybe he'll develop an eye for color and become an artist?

Any of those things could happen, but maybe it's simpler than that. Maybe, he'll just grow up feeling in tune with the world around him, conscious of the day's subtle rhythm. As he matures and his life gets busier and more complex, I'd like to think that these little things will still grab his notice. That something as fleeting and ordinary as a sunset will still give him pause for thought.

It's not part of any lesson plan per se, but it is something I hope to pass on to my boys - an appreciation for the simple, little beauties of life. They're free for the taking, and they're always with us. You all know how often I post pictures of the sky here at my blog - whether it be sunny, snowy, shadowy, or somewhere in between. It's a constant that's always changing and it's always, if nothing else, interesting.

Well, I guess someone has been paying attention - I guess a few pairs of eyes have been following my own to the sky. And I guess, maybe, my own enthusiasm has been catching.

By the way, this evening's sunset is just as striking - Bookworm just called my attention to it.

Have a wonderful evening, my friends. :)

Game Night, Anyone?

Filed under: Well, whaddya know? :)

You Are Boggle
You are an incredibly creative and resourceful person.
You're able to dig deep and think outside the box to get things done.
You are a non linear thinker. You don't like following directions
You draw your inspiration from the strangest places sometimes. You're constantly inspired.
Hat tip ~ Donna

These cold dark evenings set the perfect stage for a regular family game night, don't you think? While personally, I've never been a big fan of games (except for crossword puzzles which I find quite addictive), I do have fond memories of playing them as a child. My favorites were Sorry, Yahtzee and Life.

In this age of electronics and iffy economics, it's good to remember the value and joy of simple board games. What would be your family favorite?

~*This Year's Gratitude Tree*~


I'm sure many of you are doing some variation of this Thanksgiving activity with your children this month ~ it's a fun and thoughtful tradition. :) Last year, you might recall, my boys made acorn blessings for the windowpanes, and the year before that it was a handprint tree.

This year, I decided to change things up a bit - same theme, new materials.


I took a small amount of clean aquarium pebbles (you can also find river pebbles at the craft store) and filled a small glass to the top. One afternoon while the boys played outside, I gathered some branches from a tree that grows just behind our fence. Snipping them to size, I "planted" the branches snugly in the cup of pebbles.

I happened to have a small pad of scrapbook paper in autumn shades and a ball of similiarly hued yarn. Using an oakleaf shaped cookie cutter I stenciled a shape on several pieces of paper. Cut them out, hole punched the top and threaded each shape through with a short length of yarn. I placed the "leaves" in a basket an placed it next to the "tree." Each night at suppertime we ask ourselves what made us feel grateful that day - I write each of our blessings on a leaf, date the leaf and hang it on the tree ...


Before long it will be filled with an abundance of blessings!

Speakng of gratitude, I'd like to say thanks once again for all your kind comments and support. Thank you, too, to the folks who nominated me for a Homeschool Blog Award. I am honored you feel my blog is worthy of an award. :)

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

You are all so very kind ...


I am completely overwhelmed by the many lovely comments that were left after my last post. I feel so encouraged, inspired and humbled by your constant support ~ THANK YOU all for being so sweet! You really are the very best readers any blogger could ask for, and I am lucky to have you. :)

It's well after lunchtime here on this cold, gray November day. It's just Earlybird and I this afternoon - Bill has the older boys off to an MIT class. (Well, technically, just Bookworm is attending the class - a Lego Robotics lesson - Crackerjack is spending the afternoon at a friend's.) And as you can see from the picture above (my view from where I sit as I type up this post) I am spread out at the table with all my Thanksiving planning stuff. As well as a hot cup of tea, and my cat - who, honestly, does know better than to get up on the table, but still - she's a cat. Cats go where they please, don't you know.

So a quiet afternoon stretches ahead, and then tonight a little treat for me - after supper, I'm meeting a dear friend at Barnes & Noble for coffee. I can hardly wait! It will be fun to browse sans children, and it will be good to catch up over a small gingerbread latte. Of course I'll let you all know if I pick up any good books. ;)

Thanks again, everyone - you've all really made my day. I certainly don't plan on giving up blogging anytime soon - and I don't plan to change how I blog either. It would be too much like work - I can't be anything else but me. Thanks for letting me know that's a good thing.

Blessings to you all ~ I will see you again soon!

A few random thoughts on blogging ...

... because blogging is a very strange thing. :)

If you blog, or if you read them, then the whole blogging phenomenom makes sense. "Knowing" people you have only ever "met" online (whether or not you've actually exchanged words) seems normal, in a way. It can be hard to describe this to people who don't participate in the blogosphere. They might think it's kind of crazy to communicate in this way.

On the one hand - and depending on your own personal blogging style - writing a blog is to share of yourself - some might say bare yourself - to total strangers. And it is a very strage thing when you stop to think about it.

Two and a half years ago I decided to share my ideas, my thoughts and, to a degree, my life in a blog. I did it because I missed creative writing, but also because I wanted to share the reality of our homeschooling life with our family and friends.

Before too long I realized it wasn't just the people who knew us who were reading about our life - it was all kinds of people. This was (and still is) so exciting! Some, possibly most, are homeschoolers like us - looking for ideas, information or maybe a shared laugh. But I would guess there are lots of people who stop by - perhaps following a link - who have little in common with me. That's neat, too. You never know where you might find inspiration.

Now. While I share nothing here that is not true - I don't share everything in my life here.

Because I like to think of my blog as my happy place. It's where I come to share something fun or a new idea that has me excited. I don't share my sticky stovetop or my dirty dishes or that cranky first hour of the day when I binge on coffee and let Earlybird watch TV until I am sufficiently awake. I do mention all those "negative" things now and again, but mostly I like to talk about the nice things here, because those are the things I find fun.

And I blog to have fun. :)

When I share things with you all, I do it because I think maybe it might be something you'll find helpful or maybe you might get an idea from it. I don't ever mean to come off as an expert in any way. And I truly hope I don't ever make anyone feel less than. Recently, it has come to my attention that some folks feel bad when they visit my blog, and this makes me so sad. I really don't want to be that kind of blog.

So when I post pictures of my tidied up learning room, I want you to know I do it with only the best intentions. I usually (I'm pretty sure) point out that I have in fact only JUST cleaned things up (meaning it was a wicked mess beforehand) and I am so happy with the way it all turned out, I just want to share it with you all. I could certainly take pictures of my learning room when it is a mess (and believe me, it can get to be quite a mess), but where would the fun be in that?

Remember - I blog to have fun. ;)

You know, my friends IRL (in real life) have the benefit of knowing all of me. They've witnessed my cranky moments, and they've seen the cluttered, less photo-friendly corners of my home. I think they also know that - while I am no Pollyanna - I do try to be a "the glass is half-full" kind of gal. It's just in my nature to be that way.

I like to focus on the good things - these are the things I like to pass on. To me, they're like sunshine and fresh air: they help me grow. My newly neatened learning room is a good thing; my overgrown laundry pile is, decidely, not.

While I might love and respect Martha Stewart, I wouldn't want to be her. I'd really rather be me, even though I'm far from perfect. But I don't think any of us are meant to be so. I do think we can try to be our best. (Operative word try.) But remember, my best is not yours and vice versa. We all have to make our own happy place.

I guarantee you, my life is not all sweetness and light, but please don't mind me if it's the sweetness and light I share with you.

Peace and Love to you all. Thank you for listening, and thanks for stopping by. :)

~*A Book Display for Thanksgiving*~


Well, I finally got around to cleaning out the front window and packing away the Halloween decorations. OK, that's only partly true. I did clean out the window (dusting it thoroughly and wiping away the dead ladybugs) and I did remove the pumpkin lights and glow-in-the-dark skeleton - but I'll leave the packing up part to Bill. He can be a bit particular about how things get stored and where ... ;)

Once the window was all clean and shiny, I set up a new book display for the month of November. Now, our front window sits at the head of our homelearning worktable, so I feel completely justified in filling it with children's books and other happy, child-friendly things. Though I've long admired the fancy silk flower arrangements I spy in my neighbors' front windows - (OK, maybe I coveted them a bit) - books and branches and other homey kinds of things will do for us for now.

The cornucopia, of course, is a timeless symbol of Thanksgiving, and ours is overflowing with the an abundance of pumpkins we harvested from our garden this year. It is surrounded by a few of our favorite holiday books:

(Not on display, because it's part of the Nature Shelf this month, is my favorite Thanksgiving book of all, A Turkey for Thanksgiving by Eve Bunting.)

You know, people often ask me if we own all the books I show at my blog, and the answer is - yes, mostly - though I think we do make excellent use of the library. (Case in point, there are two library books in the picture above.) Sure I've bought a lot of books over time, but I've been a mother for 13 years and a home educator for nine. Books are kind of my stock and trade.

And I've always loved collecting children's books, even before I had kids of my own. I often dreamed of writing children's book reviews like you find in Chinaberry, or maybe owning a little bookshop one day. I even thought about becoming a children's librarian at one point. And so this is where the large book collection - and the urge to set up fun little displays - comes from. ;)

I must point out, hanging above our display, barely noticeable unless the light hits it right, is this adorable jingle-bell-turkey-angel-ornament (for lack of a better description):


He makes me think of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. :)

By the way, thank you for all the lovely comments after my Learning Room post! I know there were several questions tucked in there and I will do my best to get to them just as soon as I can. But right now there are three boys awaiting their breakfast (ooh, look at the time, make that lunch), so I'd better be going ...

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

~ The Feast of St. Martin of Tours ~

"Martin went on to become patron saint of beggars, drunks and outcasts. He was known for his gentleness, his unassuming nature and his ability to bring warmth and light to those who were previously in darkness. On the evening of Marintmas he is remembered in many French households with a festival of lanterns, carrying the light throughout the darkened home, singing songs, and sharing a simple cake, perhaps decorated with the symbol of the sun. " (Festivals, Family and Food)

For Martinmas today ...

~ We'll donate a bagful of clothing on our way home from Earlybird's therapy.

~ After lunch, and a good runaround outside (aka recess), we'll have hot spiced cider and "horseshoe" cookies for tea. (Horeshoes tie in with the legend of St. Martin.) While we sip and munch we'll brainstorm ways to be charitable this holiday season. I saved the Boston Sunday Globe Magazine to peruse with the boys - this past weekend was the "Giving" issue.

~ While the boys are playing in the yard, I'll order them warm pajamas and slippers. (I had meant to order them well ahead so I could wrap them up as Martinmas gifts today but per my usual, I procrastinated just a little too long.)

~ Around 3:00, when the light begins to fade, I'll put our Martinmas lanterns up in our front window:


~ We'll enjoy a simple supper of stew served over baked potatoes and we'll hang the first blessings on our Grateful Tree.

~ After supper, I'll head out to my monthly Knitting Circle where I plan to start work on a new scarf. Or maybe I'll just sip my tea and chat.

So those are the plans for the day. Does this all sound idyllic? Yes. Are my days always this idyllic? Hardly.

But I can try my best to bring a little peace, warmth and good cheer to my family in some little way every day. We can take a moment or two to observe a passing season, a special day in our faith. My end goal is not the new pajamas or the perfect tea or the shiny lanterns in the window - it's the memory that will be made, another one to add to the family bank. Every little deposit makes a difference. :)

I hope your Tuesday is filled with all good things. See you again soon!

~*~November in the Learning Room~* ~


I don't know about you, but I just love getting a peek into other folk's homes, and as a homeschooler, I especially like to see learning rooms (spaces, corners, etc.). Learning "rooms" come in all shapes and sizes, and they might be official or not, but basically these are the areas of our home where concentrated learning takes place. Table-time, we sometimes call it. Of course, I like to think of the whole world as a learning space, but at home I try to provide a (somewhat) organized, nurturing, and inspiring environment for my children.

I'm forever tweaking these spaces (when I'm not just trying to keep them clean!) and, since I was working in there yesterday - and because the sun finally shone, creating just the right environment for pictures - here they are! :)

We work primarily in two spaces - the living room and the dining room (in which we hardly ever dine, lol). The older boys do most of their work at a table set up in the living room, while Earlybird and I tend to work more in the dining room (as well as on the family room floor) ...


Starting on the far left, the southern wall, I have a long bench perched under the windows. I'd like to make a soft cushion for this bench, making it a sort of window seat, but right now it's mostly a "holding zone." (FlyLady followers might recognize this as a hotspot.) When I am planning the week ahead, I bring all the boys' schoolbooks (etc.) out here to look over. At the far end of the bench is a wooden tray, my "in-box" for school-related materials. In the corner of the room is my file folder crate, and just beside that is yet another "in-box" - this one for non-school related stuff. (You can see my cat loves to sleep in this basket.) Below the basket is a shelf where I keep all the teacher manuals.


I should also point out that the bench has two shelves - one for paper (construction and scrap) and the other for newspapers. The two cupboards are relatively unusable right now, though that's not to say they're empty. ;)

As you can see below, this room is my primary workspace:


Later in the day I spread out some of my planning materials, the weekly file folders, my month-at-a-glance calendar, and, seen in the background is my Holiday Planner:


Next we have the Nature Corner. Nature study is a HUGE part of our home learning.


The shelves are filled with our nature-science materials, magnifying glasses, file boxes, bug catchers, etc. (More field tools will be added in time.) (And If anyone is wondering what all books we have here, I will try to make that a separate post.)

The top shelf is where I try to establish a stage, a feeling for the season at hand. Then we can add the mementos we find throughout the season.

How about a closer look? :)


November's Nature Prayer is on display:


      Give Thanks

within the sheltered space,

for seeds and roots

and mossy space.

Contained in every

season’s end:

The blessing to begin again.

Next we have a dried hydrangea from the garden, a prayer card for St. Francis (patron of nature), and the wooden earth element ...


The centerpiece of our Nature Shelf is always the bird's nest that is filled with tiny treasures like acorn caps, dried morels, red squirrel fur and a cicada's exoskeleton. Random little things - each one a lesson learned, a fond memory to recall. It's perched on a round of pine and standing nearby is our wooden turkey, our bird of the month.


I should mention the books I have on display here, a few of our November favorites:


In the far right corner we have the last Jack-be-Little from our garden and the start of our Grateful Tree (a post describing this project will come sometime this week).

Heading over the other side of the room, we find the rather lonely-looking bulletin board:


Not much to see here right now - I may take a break and then fix it up for Advent after Turkey Day has passed.

The dining room opens up to the kitchen and is separated by an L-shaped island. It is the short end of that L that I usually have all my "stuff" spread out. It's a good spot to stand and work, which is what I do through most of the day.


In the other corner of the room I have my personal bookshelves:


You've seen my craft shelf recently, but here it is again:


Most of my craft materials are stored in bins downstairs - remember the craft bin posts? - but I like to keep an assortment of timely materials on display for inspirational purposes. (In sight, in mind.)


The next shelf holds my "bills and budget" basket, a little bag I use for stashing receipts through the month and another basket for various office supplies (stapler, scissors, glue, etc.).


Then we have my homekeeping shelf: my favorite cooking magazine collection, and all my favorite home management books. From top to bottom:

I couldn't get a shot of the lower shelves, but they contain my seasonal/liturgical idea books, homeschooling reference books, children's poetry books and my Martha Stewart Kids collection. (FYI, I keep my cookbooks beside the stove.)

Now, the living room is still not really set up the way I want it. We have two bookcases in here, as well as my hope chest (another, ahem, holding zone). I am hoping to have our world map framed and hung in this room - perhaps after the holidays. But in the meantime, we set up this old craft table for the boys in front of the bay window. It gets lots of light and is a fairly quiet corner where the older two can get their "table work" done.


As you can see, we're still working on packing away the Halloween decorations. This table will come down in December to make room for the Christmas Tree.

I guess the other learning space we have is the kids' computer desk which is set up in a corner of the family room. Here we see Bookworm working on Lego Digital Designer.


Now the funny thing is, the original intent of my post was to describe the steps I take when planning out a new week - and here instead I bombarded you with pictures of my house! Well, I'll try to work on that post for the future, but I do hope you enjoyed this tour of our November learning spaces. Next month I'll be back with the Christmas revisions. :)

Have a great week, everyone. Thanks for stopping by!

~*Friday's Agenda*~

I was thinking I have to much to do today to take the time to post, and then I thought, whyChrysanthemumbasket  not post about what I have to do? (How's that for procrastination, lol?)

On the Friday Agenda:

Activities: A rainy day at home. :)

Lessons: Math tests and writing assignments. Free reading.

Housekeeping: Laundry, neaten, finalize weekend lists/next week's menu, prepare next week's folder.

Supper: Butterfly pasta with sweet peppers, saucey meatballs and garlic bread.

Hoping to find time to:

  • Write out Thanksgiving plans/countdown.
  • Enjoy a cup of delicious holiday tea. :)
  • Look through magazine pile.
  • Work in my journal. (Paste in accumulated clippings.)
  • Pack away Halloween decorations.
  • Order boy's pajamas and slippers (use up Bean coupons).
  • Re-fill the birdfeeders.
  • Bake a banana bread.
  • Take a relaxing bath before bed.

Whatever may be on your Friday agenda, I hope your day is a good one ...

And Happy Weekend, Everyone!

~ November Book Group ~

Our Homeschool Book Group meets tomorrow afternoon at a local library, and as always weBoywithbook  are looking forward to it very much. (Sometimes I think I look forward to it even more than the boys do, lol!) I'm not leading either of the groups this month (olders or youngers) so that means I can take some time to browse for books and chat with friends ... and I might just stop on the way for a peppermint mocha. ;)

Bookworm will be discussing Peter and the Starcatchers with his group this month. This is the first book in a trilogy written by none other than Dave Barry, if you can believe it. (A funny, funny man, though not generally a writer for children.) Bookworm and I read this book a couple of years ago when it first came out, and we both liked it very much. BW went on to read the following two books in the series, Peter and Shadow Thieves and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon. Rumor has it, there will be a fourth. Bookworm says (and I quote):

"They were both very good. Not as good as the first one though; the first one was the best."

Crackerjack is reading a Dick King-Smith story, The Fox Busters. We had a hard time tracking it down, and just got our hands on a copy two days ago (borrowed from a friend who borrowed it from a friend, lol). CJ is on chapter 15 as I type (there are 19 in all), and I just asked him how he likes it so far. His reply:


A boy of few words is my Crackerjack. :)

Anyway. I feel he will finish by tomorrow, but even if he doesn't get to the very end, he'll be welcome to join in the discussion. Other King-Smith titles we have liked include The Three Terrible Trins and of course, Babe: The Gallant Pig. Technically we never read Babe, but the movie version is one of our favorites. ("That'll do, Pig.")

My turn to lead at Book Group will come in January (for the older group) and March (with the younger kids). I have chosen Inkheart for the 10-14 yo's and The Secret Garden for the 7-10's. The latter I've read (multiple times) but the former I have not yet read even once. Bookworm liked it (as well as its sequels Inkspell and Inkdeath) so I'm sure I wil enjoy it. I plan to organize a Book Group field trip to the movie, Inkheart, which will be coming out later that month. (Yes, I did plan it that way.) It has Brendan Fraser in it so I'm sure it will be good. :)

Well, the afternoon is getting on now, and the light is growing dim; it's time to start thinking about supper. I'd love to know what you are reading right now ~ do you have anything good to recommend? What books are you curling up with on these dark November days?

Have a good night, everyone. :)

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
     ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kinder Themes: Stars, Light and the Letter G


Autumn's winding down ~ the days are fading and the nights are growing long. As nature's light dwindles, we must kindle our own inner lights. Well, this week we're exploring the themes of stars and light in our homeschool, and I thought I'd share a few of my ideas with you all. (Remember, I'm not going to try to do all of them! I'll see what strikes Earlybird's fancy as the week goes on.)

Fun Things to Do:

  • Watch for the Taurids (meteor showers, fireballs or aka shooting stars).
  • Gaze at the November night sky; look for autumn constellations.
  • Make window stars - like this (seen above) or this.
  • Look for star shapes in nature (inside of an orange or apple, starfish, star anise).
  • Make felt star sachets to give as holiday gifts.
  • Paint wooden stars for Christmas.
  • Hang glow-in-the-dark stars on the bedroom wall.
  • Practice drawing stars.
  • Bake star-shaped ginger cookies:


Good Books to Read:

A Pretty Poem to Learn:

I’m glad the stars are over me

And not beneath my feet,

Where we could trample on hem

Like cobbles in the street.

I think it is a happy thing

That they are set so far;

It’s best to have to look up hight

When you would see a star.

        ~ Anonymous

A Letter to Know (G):

*Cut out a green construction paper "G" and decorate with iridescent star stickers.

Science to Learn:

Thanks for stopping by today ~ I hope your day is a good one! :)

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ November 4th


~ Do stop by Peggy's for all the Daybook links this week. ~
Outside My Window ... it's a beautful morning: weak sunlight filters through a pearly fog, and it's surprisingly warm for November.
I am thinking ... about the election, of course!!
I am thankful ... for my hard-working husband.
From the kitchen ... tonight for supper we'll have leftover grilled steak and vegetables, tossed with bow-tie pasta and sprinkled with parmesan cheese ... and "Election Night" cake for dessert (which will be basically a spice bundt cake with maple drizzle).
I am wearing ... a blue turtleneck sweater and blue jeans.
I am creating ... our Christmas cards on Shutterfly.
I am reading ... My mum loaned me a mystery but I have yet to get started on it. Right now I'm working through my "slush" pile which consists of sections of the Sunday paper and a few new magazines.
I am hoping ... (naturally) that my candidate wins. ;)
I am hearing ... the heat just turned on, the shower is running, the boys are making all kinds of noise downstairs in the playroom.
Around the house ... Tuesday housekeeping: clean the upstairs bathroom, continue laundries, put out fresh towels and bath mats, neaten the living room.
One of my favorite things ... the subtle beauty of the November landscape: muted shades, frosty lawns, burnished foliage, misty skies, milky sun.
A few plans for this week ... MIT class, EB's therapies, Book Group, Kindertheme: Stars and Light
Here is a picture thought I am sharing ...
My craft shelf.
I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Our Halloween (A Picture Story) ...

But first and foremost: Happy November everyone!

It is a very November kind of day here in New England - dark, gray, cold and still. Calm for now, but a storm is headed our way later this week. We have the heat up and the lights on, making the house all nice and cozy. My friend Mary's son is here to spend the morning with Crackerjack and Earlybird (she took Bookworm and a whole vanful of other kids to a class this morning). The boys are playing with Legos downstairs and I'm making use of this relatively quiet time to put up this post!

Now, thanks to several annoying computer issues I couldn't get around to blogging much (at all) this weekend so this particular post is a few days late. I had hoped to update all my sidebar items for the month of November and the late autumn season ahead ... hopefully all those plans will come to fruition later this week. :)

Well, we had a lovely Halloween, and I hope you did too. As usual, I took tons of pictures, so without further ado, here they are ...

We started our day by the lake, enjoying our favorite gingerbread muffins:




We took a quiet walk through the neighboring graveyard. I took the time to talk with the boys about the cycles of life and death - so vividly illustrated by nature right now - and we also discussed the way to show proper respect in a cemetery.


This milkweed pod releasing its seeds made a neat picture, while providing a nice example of the life cycle in action:


Back at home, we started in our jack-o-lantern. Here are the initial designs made by the boys. (See several photos down to see which design made the cut.)


We did a little yard cleanup, and here is the very last of our Jack-be-Littles:


By mid-afternoon we were off to trick-or-treat my parents and grandmother. Here we have CJ (left, a Clone Trooper) and BW (right, Anakin Skywalker):


Some of my readers might recall that EB requested a pirate costume this year. Well, I tried my darndest - but every bit of costume I came up with he refused to wear. (Hat? No. Beard? Nope. Eye patch? Are you kidding?) So at the last minute, I grabbed an old martial arts uniform of Bookworm's and Eb was thrilled to be a "Karate Kid" instead:


Now, though we do celebrate Halloween in our family, we keep things pretty tame. I love the old fashioned child-friendly Halloween spirit, but too much of it has become so commercial - and even more has become far too gruesome. I make it a point to avoid any party stores or "Halloween centers" at this time of year

Our decorations, then, are pretty low-key - pumpkins, cornstalks, mums, a scarecrow, some orange lights. That's about it. Well, Crackerjack (9 yo) is at that age where he wants something just a little bit scary on Halloween:

"Mum, can't we have something a little spooky? It doesn't have to be creepy. Just a little bit scary? Please?"

So when I saw this skeleton decoration at the grocery store, I decided to give in a little:


It spun in the breeze, glowed in the dark, and its eyes blinked a bright green. Crackerjack was thrilled, and I jokingly suggested we use him as part of our anatomy unit this winter. ;)

Meanwhile, inside, Bookworm took this super spooky picture of our cat:


And here is our "mad scientist" Jack-o-Lantern:


After supper, my dad and brother came over to join Bill in taking the boys out for tricks or treats. Add to the mix a family of friends from a few streets over and we had ourselves quite a group!

I stayed at home to answer the door, and ready the goodies - hot spiced cider and this pretty cake:


(I love serving a special cake on Halloween - does anyone remember that scene in Meet Me in St. Louis when the family gathers together late on Halloween night? I have always wanted to replicate that gorgeous confection. One year I will attempt such a project, but for the time being, store-bought sufficed.)

The kids traded candy for quite a while, and once the neighborhood grew quiet, everyone headed home to their beds. (Note, there's no Karate Kid in this picture - true to form, EB called it a night 'round 7 p.m. Nothing keeps that boy from his bedtime, lol. Not even the excitement of Halloween night!)


So for another year Halloween is all over. Crackerjack wanted to share this picture of the lovely sunrise the following morning, as October faded to black and November dawned dusky and pale:


And now my "quiet" time is nearing its end ~ the boys are coming in from the backyard, all pink-cheeked and slightly out of breath. It's time for a hot lunch and a maybe a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies ...

I do hope your week is off to a good start. Thanks for stopping by - I'll see you all again sometime soon!