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March 2011

Making "Roses" for Rose Sunday


Yesterday afternoon - after all the hawk drama died down - I sat down with Earlybird to prepare some "roses" for "Rose" Sunday.

You see, we're hosting a spring lunch this weekend to celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent. This is known as Laetare, or Rose Sunday - the day when we take a little break to rejoice, and the church is adorned in pink, instead of purple. I had planned to buy tea roses for the table (and to give to the ladies attending) but on a last minute whim, decided to do something a bit different. We've had such success with tinting carnations before, I thought it would be fun for EB to watch our plain little flowers turn a joyful pink just in time for Sunday.

So the other day we bought a bunch of white carnations at the market. (This might work with white roses instead of carnations, but I've never tried tinting roses before.) Because this experiment works faster if the stems are cut short, I used several short glass votives for "vases." And because I wanted the color change to be a surprise, I covered the votives with a bit of scrapbooking paper.

Now, for EB this was pretty much all about scissors practice (a fine motor skill we are constantly working on). He loves to cut paper, but this was his first time cutting stems AND his first time cutting with one hand for any length of time! At first I held the stem for him, but soon he was cutting them all on his own. In fact, he got so absorbed in his work he settled down on the floor and just went at it. 







And while he cut, I arranged. :)


I placed the blooms in the cups, added water and a drop or two of red food coloring. Then I placed them up and out of the way in a window till Sunday ...


The photos above were all taken yesterday afternoon, but here is a peek at our flowers today - and as you can see they are already "blushing" a bit!


I'll be eager to see if Earlybird realizes what made the flowers turn color. Though I didn't mention I was adding dye to the water, we've done this experiment before - so I bet he looks into the vase to check the color of the water!

I'm repeating myself, but this would be a nice Easter (or Mother's Day) craft to do with the kids. They could make little bouquets of multi-colored pastel flowers for moms, nanas, aunties, cousins, etc. Start a week ahead or so, and once the flowers are tinted, bunch a few together, and add a ribbon and safety pin to make a nice corsage. Or fashion a little cone from a doily or pretty paper to hold your flowers for a very charming presentation!

Well, as night closes in here, we're watching the rain (and the snow) start to fall. March is on its way out but there's nothing at all lamblike about our weather right now. In fact, a Nor'easter is blowing in overnight - mostly rain for us (phew) but high winds and flooding are never fun. Oh well, tomorrow the calendar will say "April" and that's good news to me! 

So we'll forge ahead with our Spring plans, come what may, snow or no. Next week EB and I start our April themes and first up is "eggs and nests." We have a few projects to do, some recipes to try and plenty of neat books to read ... more on all that very soon. :)

Have a good night, everyone!

Raptor at Recess!

Look who visited our "classroom" today!


I love living by the woods, but never so much as on a clear spring day, when things are just returning to life - there's so much to see, smell and hear! But what I really relish about the woods (especially as a homeschooler, and mom of three boys) is that they are such neat places for kids to explore and befriend ... they feel mysterious and homey at the same time.

Well, today we had our first woodland adventure of the new (natural) year. The boys were out having "recess" and I had just stepped onto the deck to call them in for lunch. Suddenly a large shadow moving swiftly through the woods caught my eye. Sure enough it was a huge bird of prey; it soared through the trees, landing near the river - just within eyesight (and camera range). Needless to say, we wasted no time getting a closer look!

(Though Crackerjack - mindful of our songbirds and squirrels - totally called me out on my questionable priorities: "Really, Mom? You're taking pictures before scaring it away?")

Bookworm already had the camera on him, so we all crept quietly (more or less) towards the river. For a moment - because he was so large and round - we wondered if we were looking at an owl. But as we got closer, we realized he was a hawk of some kind. (Thoughts?)


Isn't he just gorgeous?

This is the river above which he was perched ...


As you can see in these next photos the raptor at one point turned his attention on us. Most likely towards the (incessant) snapping noise coming from my camera. 




He does look rather disgruntled doesn't he? I think I was wrecking his "game" lol.

Crackerjack was actually getting a bit anxious - worried the bird might take aim and come after the camera (and therefore me) ...


Yes, that is his trusty "Super Soaker" by his side - I'm certain had the bird actually attacked, my honor (along with my camera and person) would have been valiantly defended. ;)

After giving me the stink-eye, the hawk started to pace on the branch and fluff his feathers. Next thing we knew he was in flight once again - his destination this time, the underbrush on the far side of the river.


We spent a little more time meandering about. I handed Bookworm the camera, Earlybird tossed rocks into the river and Crackerjack looked for pine and spruce cones for his science project.

 As we made our way back to our yard, a man who had biked past us a couple of times stopped to say hello and commented, "This is a pretty great classroom you have here!" 


I'd say I'd have to agree!

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I hope your day was nice, too. :) I can hardly believe March "goes out" tomorrow! Not quite like a lamb around here, if the forecast is to be believed. (And at the moment, it's quite unbelievable.)

Oh, and before I go! I want to thank everyone who helped out with yesterday's bird mystery. I was considering the wood thrush as Balisha suggested (because of its size and speckled breast), but after reading through your comments, I agree it is a fox sparrow. Which is pretty neat! Apparently this species is an uncommon migrant in these parts - so it's cool that we notice it every year in our yard. 

Well, I'm off. Have a good night, my friends ... hope to see you again soon!

This, That and Another Thing

Good Tuesday Morning, everyone!

Well, this last week of March is off to a flying start. We had a very busy weekend so I didn't get much "plan-and-prep" done. And maybe spring fever is setting in, I don't know - but I'm feeling a bit scattered today. Before I address my pressing "to-do" list, though, I thought I'd share a few random thoughts here this morning ... 



First of all, this is great news. Our prayers continue, Sue!


On Friday we say goodbye to cold and wintery March and welcome a - fingers crossed! - mild and gentle April. I recently bought the cutest book for Earlybird - it was just published this month, and I showed it (albeit in shadow) in my last post. You might remember, we focused on the whole lion/lamb theme this month so reading this book will be a perfect way to change months on Friday. I also picked up some EB-friendly marshmallows at Whole Foods this weekend, so we can make a little lamb craft/snack together. (Ironically, the forecast is calling for a raw, windy day on Friday - so it looks like the lion will hang on a bit longer.)


Speaking of big grizzled felines, our cat Smokey turns 20 on Friday. Twenty! A birthday cake has been requested (by the boys, not the cat) and EB and I are working on a handmade felt catnip toy. :)



Bike season is almost here! Our family loves biking - and this spring our homeschool group is forming a Bike Riding Club. We're kicking it off with a field trip to a local cycle shop this week. The kids will get a tour of the shop and hear about bike maintenance and road safety.


I'm planning a spring family lunch for Rose Sunday. Details to come ... lots of good food of course - I'm thinking rhubarb for sure - and I can tell you EB and I are making our own little Sunday "roses." (More soon on that too - it's our craft for later today.)


And finally, below is a bird (photo by Bookworm) that we are trying to identify. He's bigger than the average sparrow, with long legs and orange-brown coloring. He's very shy and easily startled, and we only ever see him this early in Spring. But we see him *every* year without fail! We're thinking he might be a migrant? Any help would be much appreciated!


Well, I'd best be off. Those calzones are just not going to make themselves, and the boys are now ready for subject changes. Actually, I think I'm going to let them run around outside for a bit before lunch. It's too nice a morning not to enjoy - bright sunshine, fresh air and nearly 50 degrees ... plus, it will give me some time to correct and clear the math off the island and maybe get my baking done. ;)

Hope your week is going well ... I will see you all again very soon!


Happy (Quiet, Lazy) Sunday

What a gorgeous day! Pretty darn cold, but bright and blustery too. Bill just took the boys off to run errands - a brave man he is, I hear Toys R Us is on the docket - so here I am just tinkering around the house. Just uploaded (downloaded?) some photos from the camera and thought they'd be fun to share ...


Our front door all gussied up for the upcoming season ...


Some new spring books for Earlybird (purchased with "pin" money from Nana), the new edition of my favorite nature study catalog (tucked under Crackerjack's Book Group selection for April) ... and in the foreground, you see the wooden letters I picked up for the learning room windows next month. (Can you unscramble them and guess the "theme?" :))


From Friday's nature/faith lesson ~ EB hard at work planting seeds. Two days later, there's already a small sprout!


And this last photo was taken by Bookworm. He has developed quite an eye for nature photography lately. Since spring has sprung, he's been outside in the yard, down the bike path, all around - looking for things to photograph. This picture here shows the clusters of red leaf buds on the top of our maple tree. Set against the dark bark and vivid sky you can almost feel that March wind!

Ok, one more from Bookworm before I go ...


The Downy Woodpecker - a frequent guest at our feeders. These birds are quiet friendly once they get used to you. This guy (and he is a guy - note the red patch on the back of his head) really enjoys our window suet feeder. And lately he's been making such a racket - an incessant, high-pitched chirping we can hear even when he's deep in the woods. I'm assuming at this time of year it's his mating call. So ... best of luck, little fella!

Well, I'm off for now ... I think I might take advantage of the quiet house and catch a little shut eye while I can. I'm not usually a napper, but we were up much later than usual last night, having attended a lovely dinner with a group of our college friends. (I think I've mentioned it a time or two before, but Bill and I met in college. That in itself was a blessing of course, but we truly made the most wonderful friends all those years ago.) And it may have been years since we'd been together - but as happens with very dear friends, time and distance are no matter once we all get chatting - catching up with life now and reminiscing over life then ...

Great friends ~ good times!

So have a nice Sunday evening, everyone ... I'll see you again here very soon.


Friday Facts, Fun & a Few Photos

Happy Friday, my friends!

Today marks a very special day on the Catholic calendar: The Feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel visited Mary and announced the Lord's plan for her. ("Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee ...") Her answer - her yes - became Mary's hymn of praise, the beautiful Magnificat ...

And nine months later we have Christmas!


Our plans for today? Earlybird and I will paint and prepare a small pot for planting (some quick-growing radish seeds). We'll explore our yard and look for signs of new life growing ... and I'm baking an "angel" food cake to serve after supper with fresh blueberries and whipped cream.

It's also International Waffle Day! (As opposed to National Waffle Day which falls on August 24th.) This is a great day to have waffles for supper! We'll have ours at breakfast, though - Bill makes fantastic waffle dippers, but those are reserved for leisurely weekend mornings. Today we'll just have some Nutri-Grain toaster waffles, a favorite staple in our freezer. 

Well, I hope you all have a lovely day ... before I go, here are some random early spring photos from the past week or two ...








Thank you so much for stopping by ~ see you all again very soon!

Thoughtful Thursday ~ Rachel Carson

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~ Rachel Carson

What do you find beautiful in nature? 

Here are some of my favorite natural things (not surprisingly, many have been popular post subjects through the years):

a quiet snowfall

autumn leaves

dinnerplate dahlias


the full moon

red squirrels


orb weavers


an apple orchard in May

morning glories






tomatoes on the vine

deer in the woods


birch trees



Just reading this list makes me feel easy inside ~ and I'd imagine a small journal devoted to such simple, earthly pleasures would be both a comfort and joy. A page devoted to each item ~ with notes, photos and/or sketches. This might be a fun and meaningful project to do with the children - a unique and quite personal nature notebook for the year.

Happy Thursday, my friends!


"Well if it's a birthday, then there must be ...


... CAKE!"

So decreed Crackerjack once I told him it was my "blog" birthday. And so (twist-my-arm), I baked a cake for my blog yesterday afternoon. ;)

Pressed for time, I used a simple snack cake mix from Trader Joe's. And whipped up some plain old (but plain good) buttercream frosting for the top ... But what of the decorations, CJ asked? Well, I'd run out of the EB-friendly, natural food dye so any "sunny" color was out. Instead I used almonds to shape a "sun," yellow candles to represent "candlelight" and added some little leaf cookies just because they looked pretty ...

After supper we lit it up - though as usual, per EB's demands instructions, there was NO singing ... 


Pretty, yes? It tasted good, too!

Before I go, I want to thank you all - SO, so much - for all your sweet blog-birthday wishes! I am honored and humbled by your very kind words and encouragement - and it means the world to me to think my blog has meant something to you.


Have a lovely Wednesday, my friends. I hope to see you all again very soon ...

Happy Birthday Little Blog!

Well, I just realized that as of today, I've been blogging for five whole years! Wow, has time flown! But yes, it was March 22, 2006 that I posted my first few tentative posts, dipping my shy little toe into the vast blogging waters ...

So this morning I dove into my archives, looking back at those initial postings, and I had to laugh a little at myself, how cautious and self-conscious (but excited) I sounded!

Basket flowers

Hello! This is my very first post in my very first blog ever. Don't have a lot to say yet, but this should be a lot of fun!


Colors Having trouble with the colors for this blog ... This lavender/mauve theme is not really me ~ I like yellow and perhaps blue, but the colors I'm playing around with just don't come up right. Hmmm ...


Good Morning Well, here is day 2 ...  and I'm still playing around with the design and uploading books and other links. I am also working on finding an appropriate photo to use with the "About" profile. I will ask dear husband to help me browse our pictures. I think it is finally time to become more computer-savvy!  I will have to start a little list of things to talk about here (otherwise I will continue random ramblings like these) ...

I am hoping to be ready (to feel ready) to "go public" with this blog by the end of the weekend :)


Pseudonyms If you are at all acquainted with my boys, the pseudonyms we chose make a lot of sense:

Oldest ds, Bookworm, is just that ... reading all the time, with at least two, if not three, books going at once. (Gee, I wonder where he gets that from?)  His mind is always one step ahead of the rest of us :)

Middle ds, Crackerjack, is our sensitive thinker ~ but a fireball of fun, and quick as a whip.

Youngest ds, Earlybird, is a bundle of energy, but his day (much to his parents dismay), never starts later than 5 a.m.!

Love you, my boys!


So this is Blogging? Earlybird is napping, and the other two are busily counting their pooled allowance monies on the family room floor (don't ask), so I find myself here, once again, at the computer, "playing" with my new blog ...

I should be folding laundry. I should be emptying the dishwasher. The bathroom needs to be cleaned (co-op meets here tomorrow!) ...

I see now what all the fuss was about ... blogging is fun!

And perhaps slightly addictive.


Not surprisingly my next few posts had to do with a new bird at the feeder, favorite childhood poems and plenty of thoughts on spring ... and I have to chuckle at the term "dear husband." Not that my husband's not dear (he most certainly is!) but that I initially did not reveal his "real" name. ;)

You know, before I took the plunge, I really tussled over whether or not to A. start a blog, or B. actually share it - and even five years later I still do at times. I definitely struggle with balancing it all - making time for everything my life involves. Being a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend ... and a blogger. Even now as I type up this post (at 8 a.m.), I'm up and down - getting the boys what they need for breakfast, answering the phone, finding the cat, addressing a computer issue (i.e. argument), etc. Have I started my morning chores? No. Am I hungry for my own breakfast, lol? Yes. Do I really want to finish this post so I can start the rest of my day? Yes, indeedy! ;)

I'm so very glad I started my blog, though - for one thing, it's become a wonderful journal of our family memories. I have so many pictures of the boys as they've grown, recollections of the things we did and the places we went, as well as the many things we've explored as home learners. We simply would not have all these memories preserved had I gone the "traditional" scrapbooking route (i.e. acid free paper, stickers and such).

And for me personally, it's been a great creative outlet; I really do like to write and, come to find out - I quite enjoy taking pictures. And at the risk of sounding cheesy - I really do love my life and I love sharing that here at my blog. I feel I'm a pretty upbeat person so my blogging is mostly positive, but honestly, this is just me. I don't do deep, dark or snark very well - though I can appreciate those who do. We all have our own voice (the web would be pretty boring if we didn't!) and I guess this is mine. Not that I don't have my down days - believe me, I do - but mostly I am just looking for the light in life. And so here I am - thankful for all God has blessed me with, and grateful to have an outlet for offloading some of this postitive energy!

(And now I'm definitely starting to sound cheesy, so I'll finish with this ...)

Five years ago when I started sharing random thoughts and our family "adventures" here at my blog, I never imagined how much fun it would be. How fulfilling and encouraging it could be. How very consuming and addictive it can be! But I'm glad I tried it anyway - because I've met so many wonderful people, and I've learned some pretty neat things along the way. And now I can gladly call myself an avid, active blogger - and it fits in pretty well with all my other roles in life. 


So I'd best wrap up because I'm seriously running out of "me" time - but I want to say thank you to each and every one of my readers. Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by and see what our day's been like. Thank you for caring, and for leaving a comment if you have the time and inclination. And, thank you so much for being patient when I take a while to get back to you.

I hope you all have a nice Tuesday, whatever it brings to your world today. May you have the grace, strength, patience, faith - whatever it is you need - to make it through and to make it good. For yourself and for those you love.

See you all again very soon ...

Spring Cleaning: First things First


After writing last Thursday's post - and reading all your great comments so far - I'm determined we will do Spring Cleaning this year!

First thing I did was to inform Bill of my decision. Lol, he just never knows what I'm going to throw at him next. I "sprung" this latest idea on him as he left for work Friday morning - backpack slung over his shoulder, one foot out the door. In response to my announcement I received a pair of raised eyebrows ... but an easy acceptance as well. I also asked for his suggestions for the to-do list, to which he immediately replied: "Gutters." Ah yes, the gutters. Tragic victims of those darn ice dams, they definitely deserve a spot on the list!

The second thing I did was to look at our calendar to see where we might fit in all this proposed cleaning. This will perhaps be our greatest challenge - finding the TIME to clean - and therefore this aspect of the project is still under review. ;)

The third thing I did was to look online for spring cleaning tips. Very simply, I googled "spring cleaning" and found all kinds of links. Here are a few that caught my eye:

Martha Stewart Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring Cleaning: A Complete Checklist

Organized Home: Five Easy Ways to Welcome Warm Weather

How to Organize Spring Cleaning

A Fresh Start: Natural Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning by Mountain Rose Herbs

And as much as I itched to make up a new notebook, I decided instead, in the spirit of "keeping everything in one place," to keep my spring cleaning notes in my planner. So the fourth thing I did was to add a "Spring Cleaning" tab and some loose-leaf paper to the front "current projects" section of my planner.

So what comes next? Well, most likely reading over those above links, and finding some days (a whole weekend?) to schedule with chores. And then of course, working on the list itself. I'll post more as soon as I can!

Thanks so much for stopping by today ... see you all again very soon. 


Happy First Day of Spring!


"The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven— 
All's right with the world!"
~ Robert Browning

It's finally here! We're free of Winter at last!

Well ... just about. I am pointedly ignoring the snowflake shown in tomorrow's forecast, and focusing instead on the lovely day ahead. A sunny, calm Sunday ~ the First Day of Spring. 

I had originally planned to make pasta "primavera," in honor of the equinox today, but for a variety of reasons the menu has changed. Instead we'll have an onion-crusted chicken, baked potatoes, maple roasted carrots and a spinach-artichoke spread with French bread for our Sunday dinner. Fairly springy, but still a hearty, warming meal for a still-chilly day. I foresee my boys out there cleaning the yard and working up a good appetite this afternoon. ;)

And how about that moon last night? Were you able to catch the Full Sap "Super" Moon in all its bright, beautiful glory? What an amazing sight to see!

Well, thanks so much for stopping by today ... I hope you are all having a nice weekend. Our prayers continue for the people of Japan - and especially for Sue's family. Hoping to hear good news soon, praying God watches over them through this crisis and brings them all together as soon as possible.

See you all again very soon ... :)

Thoughtful Thursday: On Spring Cleaning


"Try it once before you rule it out. It is delightful to begin the new season with a home that's been scoured top to bottom, every drawer emptied, every piece of china washed, every bit of metal polished ... This helps you feel motivated to keep things as pleasant as they are after the spring cleaning. It also means you don't have a dozen big jobs hanging over your head, getting in the way of your free time." ~ Cheryl Mendelson, in Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House

Dear readers, what are your thoughts on Spring Cleaning? Is it something you do? On occasion or every year without fail? Is it something you look forward to ~ do you romanticize it as I do? What's your biggest obstacle to getting it done?

I like having a list of spring chores to work on throughout Lent. It feels good to work a little harder on making our home really shine for Easter Sunday. And deep household cleaning makes practical sense at this time of year, too - we can rake and sweep out of doors, and it's often mild enough to open the windows and air things out.

I thought I'd start a series of posts on the subject of Spring Cleaning. Maybe some more quotes from books, some chore lists and reports on our experiences in spring cleaning at home. Hopefully this might motivate me to actually get it done this year! 

Well, I hope you all had a lovely Thursday. Beautiful weather here today - sunny and 60 degrees! We had the windows open, the boys played in the yard, and the light lingered so nicely till well after suppertime.

Have a nice evening, everyone ... see you again sometime soon.


Top o' the Mornin' to You!

 Irish angel

Posting's a bit slow this week while I'm still under the weather, but I couldn't let such a special day pass by without wishing you all a Happy St. Pat's!

These things, I warmly wish for you-
Someone to love, some work to do,
A bit of o' sun, a bit o' cheer.
And a guardian angel always near.

Have a lovely Thursday, my friends ...


Spring Signs and Weekly Plans

Yesterday I showed you the tiny crocus shoots we spied at the base of the big maple out front ... well, here's who I spotted under our feeders late Sunday afternoon:


Our first chipmunk of the year!

Chipmunks hibernate through the cold months, from (roundabouts) October through March. So at this time of year, when we spy a chipmunk in our yard, we just KNOW Winter is almost over. We also know the juncos will soon disappear - their time here is quite the opposite from that of the chipmunk's. In the Spring they fly north and in the Fall they return. This is why they are called "snowbirds." :)

In further "Signs of Spring" news, just look what Bill found in the shady northeast corner of our yard:


The absolutely beautiful snowdrop! These tiny flowers are my favorite of all the spring bulbs - perhaps because they're so very "British." :)

Speaking of snow, it's just about gone now, save for a few stubborn drifts. And oh, how the birds are singing these days! It's amazing how primal it is, the reaction we have to the subtle changes in season. I hardly know birdsong at all (i.e. who sounds like what), but I KNOW what I'm hearing now is distinctly, and instinctively SPRING.


Well, this is a busy week for a faith-living, nature-loving, home-learning family! We have feast days (St. Patrick, St. Joseph), random events (National Pi Day, Ides of March) and even natural phenomena (Full Sap Moon, The Spring Equinox) coming up! 

I'm keeping things simple this year, so in case I don't have a lot of crafts to share this week, I thought I'd link some older posts describing the various ways we've celebrated these special days in the past.

The Loveliness of St. Patrick's Day

Irish Brown Bread with EB and Me!

Top o' the Morning to You!

Food and Fun for Today and Tomorrow

Donuts and Crafts for St. Joseph

Poetry Friday: The March Sap Moon


As for our tentative plans this week ...

Tonight we'll be making (and eating) pies for National Pi Day - pizza pies for supper and a custard pie for dessert.


I'll be serving "Caesar salad" wraps tomorrow, the Ides of March. (As well as little baked mozzarella bites the boys can eat with "sword" toothpicks.)


I'm baking raisin-studded Irish Soda Muffins on Thursday to enjoy while reading favorite St. Patty's Day books, and I'll make a very simple shamrock craft with EB. Supper will be Irish-inspired ~ and we'll make "shamrock shakes" for dessert.


On Saturday morning we'll bake donuts for St. Joseph's Day and for supper I'm making "sloppy joes." At night we'll watch for the Full Sap Moon, and - no matter how cold it is! - we'll crack our windows to listen for peepers in the woods.


On Sunday, the long-awaited First Day of Spring, we'll take a nature walk after we get home from Mass. The boys will each receive a new nature journal and a tin of fresh colored pencils, and if the weather's nice, we'll spend our afternoon working in the yard. For dinner we'll enjoy "pasta primavera," and at 7:21 p.m. (the exact moment of the equinox) we'll have a ginger ale toast to the new season. :)


Wow, so this was going to be a very short post, but I ended up having a whole lot to say! I'm off for now - I hear signs of life from the other end of the house - but I hope you have a nice Monday. It's the last week of Winter, my friends - that is certainly something to smile about this morning. 


Spring Forward!


Did you remember to turn your clocks this morning?

Earlybird did us the wonderful favor of sleeping in till 5:40 - WHICH became 6:40 once I adjusted the clocks. That might be the latest we've "slept in" in years!


I hope you all have a very pleasant Sunday. I'm still under the weather, so Mass will be my one and only venture out today. In fact, I'm sending Bill out to do the grocery shopping for me (which should be very interesting indeed). I usually shop on Saturdays of course, but Bookworm participated in the "Spark" program at MIT yesterday which tied up our day. So now I'm especially glad I worked on my dinner plans and marketing list so thoroughly last week - I have a very detailed list to give Bill before he departs for the store. Of course, I'm sending the older boys along with him for back up. ;)

Lots on my mind this morning - it's a busy week ahead - but most of all my thoughts and prayers are for the people of Japan. There's just such devastation - so many lives lost or forever impacted - it's hard to believe what we're seeing on the news is real! There's a feeling of helplessness gripping us ... What can we do? How can we help? (Even a small voice worrying, Could this ever happen to us?) All we can do is pray and hope and help - as best we can - and ask God be with all involved in this disaster.

This was all weighing on my mind as we left for Mass this morning, so I was very happy when my dad asked if I had seen Sue's blog this morning because she was sharing the news that her husband had made it home safe and sound. Such wonderful news, followed by these words that really struck me this morning:

"We must treat every day like the gift that it is. No, not just each day... each moment!"

 So true, Sue - so very, very true!


Thank you all so much for stopping by this morning ... I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend, and I will see you all again very soon.

Prayers for Japan ...

... and for everyone affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan overnight, as well as those areas still under threat. I also wanted to let my readers know that Sue in Japan (a fellow blogger and frequent commenter here) is OK.

Frightening news keeps pouring in this morning, and so our prayers continue. God be with all involved in the rescue and recovery efforts.


Friday Photo by Crackerjack

"Hello there world, here I am!"


"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss

Sometimes sharing ourselves takes a good bit of courage. It's revealing ourselves in hopes that someone finds encouragement and that nobody ever takes offense. It's a balance of give and get ...

We can't always predict what people will think of us, but we can always share honestly and sincerely. We can only ever be ourselves.


Crackerjack has just discovered the joys of blogging and has decided, not surprisingly, most of his posts will be about Legos. He loves to create little stories surrounding Lego creations like the one above. I laughed out loud when I saw this picture on my camera this morning. Talk about risk and reward! That minifig may be in peril, but he sure looks like he's having fun!


Well, Happy Friday, everyone! Looks like we might be off to the doctor's today, as Crackerjack's cold has settled in his eyes. (Yikes!)

Never a dull moment, is there?

See you all again sometime soon ...

Meatless Meals, Menu Plans & Maple Cake

A bit of this and that for a Thursday afternoon ...


First of all, I want to thank everyone who shared their meatless meal ideas and recipes for Lent. I so appreciate your help! I encourage all my readers to take a peek in the comments box under my "Meatless Menus" post - there are so many great suggestions! I've been copy-pasting all the comments into a document which I will print out and file in my planner. Thank you, thank you dear readers, for always responding so faithfully when I ask something from you! You are so very good to me. :) 

As for this Friday - well, I'll admit - I'm "pulling the 'chute" as Bill would say. I didn't get my midweek marketing done, and I'm feeling a bit under the weather, so I've got little to work with - i.e. ingredients or energy! So all that to say ... Bill's picking up pizza on his way home from work tomorrow night. ;)

(We won't be doing take-out too often - but for this first Friday of Lent, it will be just the ticket.)

In the meantime, I'm working on my dinner menu for next week - organizing coupons and perusing store flyers. Next week hosts several special days of note, as you can see reflected in my menu plan below ...

Monday, March 14th (National Pi Day)

homemade pizza pies

tossed salad

(kid-made) mini fruit pies

Tuesday, March 15th (The Ides of March)

grilled chicken "caesar" salad wraps

baked mozzarella balls (served with toothpick "swords")

fruit and yogurt, sugar cookies

Wednesday, March 16th (maple sugaring tour)

(prepared) chicken pot pie

roasted asparagus

soft rolls

slowcooker Indian Pudding

Thursday, March 17th (St. Patrick's Day)

cheddar/brown bread panini (w/ or w/out corned beef)

rosemary potatoes

spinach salad

"shamrock shakes"

Friday, March 18th (Lenten Friday)

baked potatoes

homemade soup

 fruit and yogurt, sugar cookies

Saturday, March 19th (St. Joseph's Day)

"sloppy joes"

assorted chips

veggies & dip

Italian pastry from a local bakery

Sunday, March 20th (Spring Equinox)

pasta primavera 

challah (egg) rolls

lemon pudding cake

Now, before I go, I want to share this really nice maple cake recipe with you all. (See page two of that article.) It was very easy to make and absolutely delicious (and it's pictured at the top of this post). I know a lot of homeschooling families do maple sugaring units this month and this would be a nice baking activity to incorporate. Maple is really our first "taste" of spring in New England. There are sugar shacks all over the region and it's always fun and fascinating to take a tour and watch the way sap travels from tree to table.

Well, dear readers, I'd best be off ~ I need to go tend to tonight's supper! Timers are ringing in the kitchen, so my time here's up. For now I'll say goodnight and see you again soon. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Meatless Menus?

What are you serving on Fridays this Lent? I'd love some suggestions, especially as my husband does not like fish! (He likes most seafood, just not fish, lol ...)

So far I have planned:

Pasta (in various forms)

Grilled cheese/panini

Homemade pizzas

Veggie burgers

I'd love to hear what dishes you serve as meatless meals - whether it's for Lent or just for better health and household economy!


P.S. We saw Rango today - it was pretty good! Defintely not for younger kids, but my 11 and 15 yo boys though it was great.

Have a nice evening, everyone ... see you again sometime soon.