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March 2010

A Beautiful Bargain

Januaryschild 

I don't know if this will be available nationwide, but I had to tell you about January's Child , a  lovely, lyrical book I found yesterday at my local Staples store for only $3. The illustrations are so sweet and the prose is soothing. A wonderful book for little ones, or a special gift for a new baby. Every month's child is assigned its own animal and admirable qualities, for instance:

January's child is vibrant as wind, whispering dreams as the new year begins.

You whirl like the breeze through leaves of a tree. 

You are lively and hopeful and eager and free.

And then a positive affirmation to remember:

I inspire. I listen. I breathe. I unfold. I receive. I believe. I adore. I am bold.

Though he's a bit older than the intended audience, I'm reading this with Earlybird as another way of reinforcing the months of the year. The bright colors and baby animals really appeal to him, and he especially likes it when I read his own December birthday message ...

I am honest. I promise. I reveal. I learn.

I endure. I lead. I follow. I yearn.

Wonderful words and so very true ... :)


A New Journal, The PWD, and Library Books

In other words, a bit of this and that. ;)

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone! Can you believe Easter is only a week away? Are we ready? Not by a longshot, but I'm so glad it's on its way. :)

It's a quiet day here ... Bill is installing our new kitchen flooring (Earlybird is not a fan of super loud power tools, fyi) and I'm working in my planner, organizing book piles and making photocopies for the week ahead. Ran to Whole Foods earlier today to stock up on EB-friendly Easter candy (shhhh) and assorted sundries like geranium hand wash, our favorite coffee beans and a pound plus of fresh rhubarb. (A crumble for midweek, I think.)

Another thing I did this weekend was to make up a new journal for myself. My old one was bursting at the seams (see picture below) so it was time to decorate a new notebook for the coming months ...

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Old journal on left, new journal on right (above and below):

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 Depending on how actively I journal, my notebooks get filled within a few months. Here's a glimpse at a recent spread, just for kicks: 

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A smattering of magazine clippings, a bit of yarn from a skein I purchased online, a pretty sticker and a few random notes.

Yesterday was quite busy for us ... I sat on a panel of homeschoolers as part of an information session at a nearby library. My friend Leigh organizes these discussion panels for our local homeschool group as well as our statewide support group. It's a great way for veteran homeschoolers to share information, experience and encouragement with local parents considering their option to home educate their children. But it's a lot of fun for those of us who sit on the panel as well - to talk about some of our favorite topics - home education, parenting, books, friendships and children. I came away from our afternoon chat refreshed and invogorated!

While I was at the library, Bill had Crackerjack at his very first Pinewood Derby. Here is our proud Webelo with his car, The Pinpoint:

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He had a lot of fun and is already thinking up design plans for next year. :)

And last but not least, I though I'd share what came home in our library bag this week:

A Natural Sense of Wonder

The Story of Yankee Whaling

The Scrimshaw Ring

How to Speak Dragonese

and

The Proposal (for the parents, not the kids)

We also have a whole bunch of books on Louis Pasteur on request - Bookworm is doing a report on this famous scientist for his French class next month. They should be in at our local branch later this week.

OK, the boys are outside now and things have quieted down. Bill is now working on our gutters - we're expecting more rain this week so keep your fingers crossed for us! And as always, thanks for stopping by ~ I hope you have a good week!


Adventure in the Early Spring Woods

MNC3 

On the lookout for Spring ...

First off, we have pretty much recovered from the flooding. We have a dumpster in our driveway filled to the brim with assorted things - various items ruined by the water, random stuff that should go out anyways as well as the old kitchen floor (a project long in the making). So things are pretty much back to normal ... :)

Last week we attended our March Nature Club meeting - this month's theme was two-fold, a discussion of nature photography and a search for the very earliest signs of spring. The kids were quite eager to talk about taking pictures - several children owned their own cameras in fact. I was thinking I might organize a photography club for our group in the fall - I'm thinking, a monthly meeting, possibly a shared blog, and a photo show at the end of the year? Well, I'll be starting a project plan for that idea sometime this week, but back to our meeting for now ... 

So, after a quick chat we spread out over the park (a local wildlife reservation) to look for signs of the season. I handed out a scavenger list for the kids to work off of - it was pretty early in the season to find everything but they did really well. 

Here are some pictures from our walk - and by the way, the weather could not have been lovelier - 70 degrees and sunny, with a cool eastern breeze.

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Lots of buds on the treetops ... 

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One of the many brooks running through the woods. There was a lot of excess water (and tree damage) from the recent severe weather.

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I wish I could share with you how soft the air felt and how fresh it smelled. Early spring in the woods is just magic.

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Most of the green we saw was moss - there was lots of moss! The boys thought this gnarled stump looked like a river troll rising out of the mucky water!

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Another bit of green - fungus growing up an evergreen tree. Not sure of the variety, though we've seen this kind before. 

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A mallard pair by the shore. 

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A pretty view ...

Now, I've never done this before, so I hope it works - but I'd like to share a little video to give you an idea of what the woods sounded like ... see if you can guess what this sound is:

Spring Woods Movie Clip

 Wondering what's making all that ruckus? Well, the answer is in the picture below:

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Look a little closer ...

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Tis the season for peepers! Actually I'm not sure what kind of frogs these are but they were awfully loud as you can hear from the clip. The woods, chock full of vernal pools, were absolutely ringing with frog song

And by the way, did you catch Bookworm's exclamation at the end of the video there? Look what we found practically underfoot:

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Zoom in ...

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I think this garter snake was listening to the frogs as intently as we were! ;)  

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This was a new bit of growth - not sure what it is - another thing to research! And look at all those acorns - they were everywhere!

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Lots of running water, impromptu waterfalls here and there ... 

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The mini-figs had quite an adventurous day - as did we!

 Well, thanks for stopping by and checking in! I hope you all had a nice weekend. I'll be back again just as soon as I can. :)

Oh, but before I go ... here is the scavenger list in case you'd like to try it with your children:

signs of nest building

buds

a spring flower

three shades of green

a fresh smell

mud

a new bird sound

an early spring insect

a fiddlehead (young fern)

Good Luck!


An Irish Wish from Me to You ...

The holiday is not until tomorrow but as our next couple of days are busy* I wanted to put this up now and wish you all a very Happy St. Patrick's Day! I hope you have a little something fun planned ... maybe a special book or an old favorite movie? Perhaps a fancy feast or a little something sweet? Or maybe just a nice cup of Irish tea, and a quiet moment to yourself? Well, whatever your day entails ... 

May God Bless You and Keep You ... and Thank You for making my blog a small part of your day. :)

May love and laughter light your days,

and warm your heart and home.

May good and faithful friends be yours,

wherever you may roam.

May peace and plenty bless your world

with joy that long endures.

May all life's passing seasons

bring the best to you and yours!

~ An Old Irish Blessing

Shamrocks 

*Busier than normal even... our basement flooded last night, just before we went to bed. Bill has been up all night trying to manage the situation. It's such a mess - there is water everywhere ... all throughout the laundry, utility and storage areas, even trapped under the flooring in the boys' playroom. Water is still coming in, but thankfully the rain has stopped. I'll be offline for a bit while we take care of this mess, but will pop back on when I can. 


This Week's Homekeeping Journal Notes

Weather Notes: Rainy ~ incredibly rainy and windy and raw! We've had quite a stormy wet weekend here in New England and there has been some serious flooding in areas. Conditions are so bad in fact, some towns cancelled school! My boys wondered if that meant they got the day off from their studies ... well, you can imagine my answer to that. One of the benefits of homeschooling: learning can - and does - take place anytime, anywhere. ;)

Nature Notes: Despite the stormy weather, Spring feels closer than ever. And, after today, our week looks very promising: sunny with temps in the higher 50s. I can hardly wait to see the changes that take place after all this rain and a good dose of sunshine. I bet there will be plenty of Spring activity to observe! The robins have been having a field day of course, hopping all over the lawn, snatching up the earthworms just under the surface. Also this week, I am starting some research on how to attract Eastern Bluebirds to our yard.

Kitchen Notes: Tonight's supper will be grilled chicken sandwiches with tossed salad and roasted potatoes - and for dessert, homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. For St. Patrick's Day (this Wednesday), I plan to serve beef and potatoes with a crusty brown bread, and on Friday morning I am going to bake some homemade donuts for St. Joseph's Day. I will probably make plain vanilla donuts, but whip up a maple-flavored icing as a special treat. This weekend brings the First Day of Spring (hurrah!) and in celebration we'll have spring veggie omelets with home fries and chicken-apple sausages - YUM!

Housekeeping Notes: Fresh linens for the beds today - I'm holding off on storing away the flannels. Nights are still nippy here through the end of April. I have much clean laundry to fold and put away and still more laundry to start. I'm working on a Spring Cleaning checklist for myself - culling advice from several books and online sources. 

Miscellaneous Notes:

~ Nature Club April Meeting this week: our theme this month is "Nature Photography" and the kids will search the woods for the earliest signs of spring.

~ Moms Movie Night at a friend's house later this week. We'll be watching "The Proposal" starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

~ The movie "New Moon" comes out on DVD this Saturday! :)

~ And my blog turns FOUR years old this weekend too!

Candlesontable 

 Well, that's all for now ... hope you all have a great day!


Tuesday Tidbits

Just a few things that have been rattling around in my head (and my camera) ...

Marnature 

Above you see our March Nature Table ... still pretty bare, but hopefully that will change over the next few weeks. For now, we have a small bouquet of daffodils (the March flower), a shell found at the beach a few weeks ago, a slab of wood from a felled tree in my late grandparents' yard (it came down in the recent windstorms), and our Spiderwick Field Guide open to the section on leprechauns ... of course. ;)

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Earlybird's March Bulletin Board ... there's lots o' green to be seen, but still a bit o' the white as well. As March tends to be around here.

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Remember the Paperwhites Bill and the boys planted for me on Valentine's Day? They are doing beautifully in our sunny front window.

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And the smell just can't be believed!

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OK, now for a little March madness ... I ordered the above nail polish set through Amazon, just for fun! I wore the shade on the far right ("Mad as a Hatter") to the movie last Friday. It was actually very pretty - just a clear coat filled with sparkly glitter. (Tough as cement to get off though.) 

And speaking of (the movie), I liked it very much. It was a bit darker than I expected, but visually - i.e. set design and special effects - it was just incredible! I enjoyed the actors' performances as well - particularly Johnny Depp's and Mia Wasikowska (the young lady who plays Alice).

Have you seen the movie, and if so what did you think? 

Have a great Tuesday, everyone! :)


At Last ...

Crocusshoots 

Signs of Life ... taken by Bookworm on March 6th, 2010

It is the most glorious day here in New England. The sun is shining, the winds are calm and the temperature's been flirting with 60 degrees. The boys have been outside all day - playing soccer, collecting branches, running for no other reason than it feels good to run - and now my floors and carpets are tracked with mud. But you know what? I don't even mind one bit ... I'm just so happy to see Spring on our doorstep at last. Her return is worth a little extra sweeping, a little more wiping up here and there.

I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying a lovely weekend as well ...


Poetry Friday ~ The March Wind

The March wind roars

Like a lion in the sky,

And makes us shiver

As he passes by.

When winds are soft,

And the days are warm and clear,

Just like a gentle lamb,

Then spring is here.

~ Author Unknown

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 After the past few rainy/snowy/windy/cold days ... we're looking forward to a warm sunny weekend here in New England. (Warm being a relative term, of course - the lower 50s will feel so good right about now.)

Happy Friday, everyone!


Thoughtful Thursday

"People may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." ~ Author Unknown

Isn't that a lovely quote? I just came across it in the current issue of MaryJanesFarm. :)

Romantic-pink-roses 

Off now to pop a chicken pot pie in the oven - a great supper for a cold, slushy March night. We just got in from Book Group a bit ago (this month's selection, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg), and now the boys are all curled up here and there - reading (Bookworm), building with Legos (Crackerjack), and playing with monster trucks (Earlybird). It's been a good week - busy but very good. I hope yours has been too ...

Tomorrow we're seeing the new Alice in Wonderland movie ... I'll be sure to let you all know what we think. :)

Have a nice night! 


Thoughtful Thursday

"People may not remember what you said or did, but they will always remember how you made them feel." ~ Author Unknown

Isn't that a lovely quote? I just came across it in the current issue of MaryJanesFarm. :)

Romantic-pink-roses 

Off now to pop a chicken pot pie in the oven - a great supper for a cold, slushy March night. We just got in from Book Group a bit ago (this month's selection, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg), and now the boys are all curled up here and there - reading (Bookworm), building with Legos (Crackerjack), and playing with monster trucks (Earlybird). It's been a good week - busy but very good. I hope yours has been too ...

Tomorrow we're seeing the new Alice in Wonderland movie ... I'll be sure to let you all know what we think. :)

Have a nice night! 


Marching on ...

Random notes from my March planning page ...

In like a lion ... check √

Out like a lamb ... ?

Set up rain gauge at nature station on deck.

Puddle play ... mud ... melting ... thawing ... new boots.

Sweeping and raking on dry windy days ...

Nature Club theme: Photographing Nature, Searching for the earliest signs of Spring

Alice in Wonderland (movie field trip and novel)

Our Early Spring Nature Table

Our March Bulletin Board

Forcing branches in jam jars: forsythia, cherry, pussy willow ...

Maple Season: visit a local sugar shack, purchase locally made syrup.

The Full Sap Moon (3/30)

Cupcake of the Month: Maple

A big new windowbox full of pansies ...

Easter plans and preparations ...

The Vernal Equinox (3/20)

First tender shoots in the garden ... crocus, snowdrops, daffodils.

Pots of shamrocks on the table, doiley shamrocks in the windows ...

Robins hopping by the roadside and underneath the brush ...

Smelling the skunk cabbage in the spring woods ...

Watching the river rise with the snowmelt ...

Visiting the duck pond to observe melting ice ...

Seeing the new lambs at the farm, picking up some carded wool to play with.

Putting out lint and yarn scraps for nesting birds ...

Fish Fridays ...

Shamrock Shakes at McDonald's ...

Irish brown bread and beef stew on St. Patrick's Day (3/17) ...

Donuts and sloppy joes for St. Joseph's Day (3/19) ...

Crackerjack's first Pinewood Derby ...

A Palm Sunday Brunch ...

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So much to enjoy this month! What are you looking forward to in March? :)


Lion or Lamb?

It's still dark out there but from the weather report I see we're in for a rather lionish day. A messy mix of snow and rain, not quite 40 degrees, with the potential for flooding. 

All the same - Happy March! In my opinion, February is the hardest month to get through (and luckily, it's also the shortest) so this morning I am celebrating the turn of the year towards spring. :)

What is the weather like in your part of the world? Hope your week (and month) is off to a good start!

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