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October 2011

September 2011

Earlybird's Little Lantern


Lanterns are lovely at this time of year, as the light fades and the days grow short. This was a very quick and easy craft for Earlybird. He absolutely loves doing crafts, but if there's glue and a paintbrush involved he's especially motivated!

So yesterday, Michaelmas, was a gray and damp day. It started early, with us driving Bookworm up to a library a few towns north from here, where he participated in an all-day biology lab. We (the younger boys and I) came home to a rather quiet house - Crackerjack got started on his math, while EB and I dug into his art project.


As I mentioned yesterday, I bought this little pastic paint bucket at the craft store. It is meant to be decorated as a wedding or shower favor but happens to be the perfect shape for a small lantern!

EB spread the bucket with glue and then stuck bits of colorful tissue paper all over it.




Since he finished the lantern pretty quickly, I allowed him to "decorate" the plastic plate which had served as his workspace. 

Good fun!


Once he was finished, we left the projects to dry in the windows and started in on our baking activity ...


We made jam thumbprint cookies - very easy and quite delicious!


Most of the cookies were filled with blackberry jam, but some got a dollop of maple pumpkin butter.

The cookies were left cooling on the counter (protected from kittens by light dishcloths) and we headed out to pick up Bookworm. Here's the CityLab bus in the library parking lot!


It just so happened that beside where we parked there were a whole bunch of Michaelmas daisies growing! Since I had my camera out, I snapped a quick shot:


(I also snipped a couple of blossoms to bring home.)

On our way home we got caught in a rather fast and furious storm. Thunder, lightning and drenching rains ... quite dramatic! But once we were safely inside, the storm rolled over and then the skies cleared for a while ...


By nighttime, EB's little lantern - with a battery operated tealight tucked inside - was shining its cheerful light from the window:


And now, as I finish this post, it's the next morning, and our Friday - this last day of September - is dawning bright and clear. Crackerjack had to have four teeth pulled this morning, and I just got the call from Bill that all went well and they are on their way home. Cj will understandably need a restful day, so our plan is just be home and catch up - on lessons and housework - because it really was a very busy week. I'm still trying to find our "groove," working around a fall schedule filled with outside classes and commitments. Gone are the long lazy days at home when everything seemed to fall into a neat and tidy rhythm. Now it's more like fitting things in when and where we can. I will post very soon - probably not this weekend, but certainly next week - on how things are shaping up for me on the "organizing" front. I think a file crate post is long overdue ...

In the meantime, this weekend will bring Saturday soccer and lunch with Bill's folks who are leaving soon for a trip to China! There will also be some yard work, housework, a trip to the farmstand, and of course, Sunday Mass - followed by a parish pancake breakfast. It will fly by so fast, this weekend, as the days seem to do at this time of year. Tomorrow brings the first of October! I can just feel that holiday "rush" lurking around the corner. ;)

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Friday and a very nice weekend. Thank you so much for stopping by ... I will see you all again very soon!


Devil's Food Cupcakes and Blackberry Punch ...

It must be Michaelmas!


And a very happy Michaelmas to all!

We started our celebrating a little early this year ~ we had some dear friends over for a visit yesterday afternoon, and so, in honor of the feast day upon us, I made up some sweet, symbolic treats.

The "devil's food" cupcakes are topped with buttercream frosting and pierced by colorful cocktail swords. (Miniature replicas of Michael's own valiant weapon.) At the top of the tier I placed an image of the archangel himself (something I found online and printed out on cardstock), and at the very bottom of the arrangement, lurking beneath, you see one of our (many) dragon toys. 

Then I mixed up some blackberry punch ...


This is simply an Ocean Spray 100% juice blend (cranberry-blackberry-blueberry), mixed with ice, fresh blackberries and a splash of club soda. It was very refreshing on this warm autumn day!

If you're familiar with the legend of St. Michael, then you know blackberries are no longer fit for consumption after his feast day. And this would be because the devil, as he was cast out of heaven (at the hands of St. Michael), landed in a thorny blackberry patch. He spat upon the berries, thereby poisoning them for the rest of the harvest year.

My boys get such a kick out of this feast day! They always have and I hope in some way they always do. :)

Later today Earlybird and I will make a small Michaelmas lantern ...


We've made lots of lanterns through the years - some made from glass, some from paper, some from tin. Some were quick and easy - some were more ornate. Well this time our lantern will be very child-friendly. I found this little plastic "paint bucket" at the craft store. (It was near the wedding paraphernalia.) Today we will cover it with a thin layer of glue and some torn bits of colorful tissue paper. Once dry, and as the light fades from the day, we will pop in a battery-operated tea light and place it in a window to shine.

Simple, seasonal fun.


Have a great Thursday, my friends ... see you again sometime soon!

Autumn Feast Fun

First let me say thank you for all the lovely comments on my travel journal post ~ I'm so glad it made nice reading for some folks! It's hard to believe it was just a week ago today I was returning home from Maine - how time flies! And now here I am a week later, juggling a change of season, as well as a whole new set of books, schedules and plans ... we've been quite busy, but so far our year's off to a good start. :)

So in truth, I should be lesson planning right now ... but instead I'm sitting in my comfy corner chair looking over photos from the past few weeks. The following pictures were actually taken on September 14th ~ Holy Cross Day. We had some "faith at home" fun that afternoon, but I never got around to posting about it!

The first thing we did was to haul out the cross-shaped cake pan and whip up a simple box mix: 


(Unfortunately the cake split as it cooled, but that just prompted a whole bunch of interesting thoughts and analogies.)

I also had this little craft project waiting in the wings for some time ... a very simple prayer box.


You know the saying, "Give it over to God?" Well, that's just what this box is for. Often I'll say to the boys, "Let's make sure to remember [name or need] in our prayers" ... or ... "Let's give that problem to God and see what He comes up with." I thought it would be nice - especially for Earlybird - to have a hands-on activity to go along with those prompts. It serves as a gentle reminder for them *and me* to pray and trust in God.

This is a small unfinished wooden recipe box and a small wooden cross craft piece (both purchased at the craft store).


We didn't bother with painting the wood - though I did have some neat glittery, golden paint on hand ... "plain" just seemed to fit with the project itself. (Not to mention most of our learning room is adorned with unfinished wood ... and paint fumes and EB don't mix well.)


Inside I attached a prayer card on the left (a bit of the Serenity Prayer) and then set up some pieces of index card to use for prayer notes. (Any scrap paper would and will do - it's just that I had all these colorful index cards leftover from planning projects gone awry.)


And so that was a neat and easy little project - EB helped glue the cross, attach the card and cut up the index cards. And then we added our first prayer note - for a dear friend of mine, a fellow homeschooling mom, who suffered a heart attack on Labor Day. (She's home now and doing better, but of course we're still praying for her continued healing. I'd be grateful if you'd remember "Debbie" in your prayers.)

With the craft project wrapped up, it was time to embellish the cross cake ... 


... with good things like fresh whipped cream and homegrown raspberries!

Delicious and (hopefully) memorable. A little bit of faith at home, a little bit of chocolate ~ a very nice way to spend an autumn afternoon.


And so now we're heading into one of my favorite weeks on the Catholic calendar - we have Michaelmas (or the Feast of the Archangels), the Feast of St. Therese (special to Bill's beloved late Grammie) and the Feast of the Guardian Angels. And peeking into next week we have our family patron saint day ~ the Feast of Saint Francis ~ and it so happens our church is holding a "Blessing of the Pets" next Sunday. A wonderful activity for sure - but there is much debate over whether or not our Archie and Ollie would tolerate such an event!

(We'll probably skip the parish blessing - though I'd love to do it, I don't want to stress out my cats. We'll come up with something simple at home.)

So many fun things to honor and celebrate with the children all year round, but Autumn brings so many wonderful days like these. I'll be posting more on our plans for the coming season in another day or two ... for now though, I'd best wrap up and be off.

I hope you've all had a very nice weekend, and thanks so much for stopping by!

I'll see you all again very soon ...


Travel Journal: My Weekend in Maine

Dear readers, I must warn you ... this is a ginormous post! Even for me, this is a very lengthy post - so I must apologize if vacation photos are not your thing! I attempted to set up a photo album for my "travelogue" but it was taking me too much time to organize - and my free moments were precious and few this week. So instead, you've got the whole shebang here in one ridiculously long post! I do hope you enjoy the pictures, and I can't tell you how much fun this weekend was - though, I'll certainly try! ;)

So my dear friend, and college roommate, Kathy, set this whole adventure up - a "moms"  getaway weekend for our group of college girlfriends. We hoped to have as many ladies join us as possible, but in the end, there were just five of us. As I mentioned, we all went to college together (and roomed in the same house) and have happily stayed in touch all these years! Twenty at last count!

Now, a couple of years ago - the year most of us turned 40 - we went to Newport, RI for a long weekend. This time we set our sights (and navigation systems) on Cape Elizabeth, Maine ... 


The Inn by the Sea is located just about 15 minutes outside Portland. It was very easy to find, and I am very grateful to my friend Lynne for driving me there and back (not to mention chauffering our group around Portland), and I deeply appreciate all the research and legwork Kathy did in finding this inn and booking our cottage! 

So, we arrived at the Inn around noon on Friday ~ and we were just overwhelmed by its loveliness - not to mention quite impressed by its eco-friendliness.

Here is the central lobby in the main building. To the left are the check-in desks (not shown) and the restaurant entrance ("The Sea Glass") just beyond. To the right is a handsome little lounge - all dark, shiny wood and a large crackling hearth.


Tired from driving and ready to chat, we opted to have lunch on the deck - and here I am, soaking in that glorious Maine sunshine!


I could not pass up a lobster roll - this was Maine after all, and nothing says Maine quite like lobster!



After lunch our lodging was ready, so we ambled over to the "Beach Cottage." As the mother of boys I had to laugh at the sight that welcomed us on our way up the stairs ...


Our cottage had two levels ... here's a glimpse of the upstairs loft where I slept:


And here's the view from our deck!


I must tell you, this was the perfect weekend for our visit. Not only was the weather amazing - mid 60s, crisp and bright - but Saturday just happened to be "Open Lighthouse Day" across Maine. The ONE day a year when lighthouses are open to the public!

The Inn's gardens were beautiful and seasonally-inspired ...



And a short walk through the September woods ...


... brought us to a secluded beach.


One thing I love about New England beaches - the craggy coastline.


Beautiful to look at, but not always comfortable for bare feet!


The colors in the water are striking ...


... and the wildlife is plentiful (and oftentimes, pushy). These gulls however, were quite well behaved.


After a long afternoon walk, we made our way back "home."


(Lynne took this photo. It was a very silly moment.)

The woods were just brimming with late summer bounty ...


Michaelmas daisies, rose hips, goldenrod and cattails ...


Oh, and spider webs! They were everywhere!


In the evening (this is Friday), we headed out to scope out the local lighthouse locations. This here is Two Lights State Park.


Here's a group shot of our "gang," from left to right: Dionne, Nancy, Lynne, me and Kathy.


 I have to point out - our colors very nicely tie in with the park habitat!


Sunset was closing in so we got ready to head out  ...


Interesting sculptures at The Lobster Shack, located at the end of Two Lights Road.


We did a quick drive-by the Portland Head Light, but the park was closing.


We picked up pizza for supper and enjoyed a movie before bed (a "chick flick" Bill would call it). We needed our rest for a busy day ahead!

And not surprisingly I was first up ... here is my sunrise moment on the deck:




Watching the light come across the marsh was amazing!


After a delicous breakfast (Lynne brought a wonderful egg casserole) and "Good Morning" calls home, we headed out bright and early to see ourselves some lighthouses!

First up - Portland Head - only we were denied immediate access, and instead assigned a time to come back. So we made our way to "Bug Light" instead.


Which was tiny but oh-so lovely!


Gorgeous Grecian architecture!


All the lightghouses had precarious staircases - the only way to gain access to the towers.


But so worth it!


Another group shot ... don't we look well rested?


Next up - Spring Point Ledge Light:


At each lighthouse we were welcomed by some really wonderful people - very knowledgeable in Maine maritime history - full of stories and that true Yankee spirit.

We were also met at each lighthouse with something like this:


But again, the steep and somewhat scary climb was totally worth it!


Such a view!

Of course, nature nut that I am, I couldn't help but notice this tiny black creature nimbly nativagting the rocks:


(According to the lighthouse representative this is a mink!)

During our visit, we each got to try on the lighthouse keeper's hat:


And learned about the workings of the lighthouse system in general, and Spring Point Ledge in particular:




(Needless to say, all kinds of "unit study" bells were going off in my head!)

 Finally, it was on to Portland Head!


One of the most iconic Maine sights:


Another climb, not as narrow, but quite a bit higher ...



And again ... that view!








This plaque reads:

"Henry Wadsworth Longfellow often walked from Portland to visit this lighthouse. The Keepers were his friends, and it is believed he sat here for inspiration for his poem, The Lighthouse."

(More information can be found here.)

Our next stop was downtown Portland - a place I'd never visited, but had heard lots of wonderful things about!




We were all stah-vin so we found a neat little pub for lunch ...


My Saturday lunch: a turkey/smoked cheddar sandwich, and a cup of clam chowdah ...


So, so yummy. 

Some fun window shopping ensued ...


The prettiest pottery/candle/soap shop I've ever been in:




A shop entirely devoted to cupcakes!


And another, all about hot sauce!


(I bought Bill a bottle of "Thai Monkey." One step hotter than he's used to - a kajillion steps hotter than I can handle!)




The one place I parted with some of my pin money - Stonewall Kitchen:



I bought some Halloween treats for the boys and some autumnal delights like Maple Pumpkin butter and gingebread latte mix. 

I kept myself in check and soon we headed for the parking garage - passing a very neat building on our way ...


Once home, we changed up and headed to the beach for some "book" time.

First, Nancy and I took a moment to pose in the gazebo ...


Thanks to Kathy for the picture!

My girls, enjoying our Saturday together:


My view ... I sent this picture home to Bill and the boys via my iPhone. I called these two "Mabel and Madge."


On our way back to the cottage ... where a lovely wedding had just taken place.


Our Saturday night involved eating by the hearth, a nice bottle of wine, and some s'mores by the fire pit. Fun and relaxing!

Sunday morning sunrise ... a bit more subdued at first sight:


But then the sun broke through ...


We had brunch at the Sea Glass and having had my fill of coffee back at the cottage, I opted for a mug of "seasonally flavored steamed milk."


I chose "caramel" ... 


It was a little bit of bliss.

I also had Maine blueberry pancakes - and they were spectacular - though as I told Bill, not quite as good as Daddy's Flying Flapjacks. :)

After brunch we packed up and headed home. Home to our hubbies, our homes and our kids. Feeling rested, rejuvenated and just relishing the relationships we've kept current these many years. It's so easy to get carried away with our repsonsibilities these days - we're all so busy and our kids are so busy and it's so easy to forge on and forget. I am as guilty of this as anyone. My life is absorbing - I love my children and my husband and my home, and I love this path we've carved ... but I also love my friends, these dear women who've known me since I was a girl. I am truly blessed to be friends with these ladies - they have shaped me in so many ways and I treasure their support, their friendship and love. 

All that said, it felt so good to get home. :)

And here is my favorite souvenir ...


Something I'll use all through the fall, winter and early spring - sipping tea and coffee and cocoa ... and remembering this very special weekend.

Next year is already in the works ... our 2012 destination?


Thanks SO much for reading, everyone. I hope you enjoyed a peek at our "Maine Moms Getaway." If you've never been to Maine I hope I piqued your interest - it truly is a "vacationland" for all seasons. There are many memories to be made here ...

I cherish the ones I brought home with me!


(See you all again sometime soon!)


Good Morning!

Just popping in quickly this morning to say "hello," and let you all know my laptop is all fixed and I will be back to posting this week! Thanks for all the concern and caring thoughts ... it was a simple fix (a cable leading to the hard drive was crimped and needed replacing), and thankfully the work was covered by our "Apple Care" insurance.

(I must make a plug here for Apple ~ we have had nothing but excellent service from this company! Not only had our insurance expired, but it was actually meant for my previous MacBook (remember the one I spilled wine on?). The rep who helped Bill not only transferred the insurance to my new machine but he also updated our coverage to be current. All this to say ~ in the end we didn't pay a thing for the repairs! And, most importantly, I didn't lose a thing on my hard drive!)

Now, my other new "news" is I just got home from a long weekend in Maine with my college girlfriends and I have lots of nice pictures to share! We had a wonderful time and the weather was just beautiful! We walked the beach, toured a few lighthouses and shopped in Portland ... I have lots to show and tell, so I'll be back again soon for more on all that!

In the meantime, have a lovely Monday, my friends ... I'll see you again very soon!


A brief interruption ...

At least I hope it will be brief!

I'm "borrowing" the kids' computer this morning to post this because, sadly, my Macbook "died" last night (or at least, the hard drive did). Bill is calling the Apple store today to get advice and see what can be done. Thankfully I do have a "time machine" application that consistently backs up my hard drive (to an external device) so I'm hoping I haven't lost too much. I'm thinking of - worrying for - all my pictures, documents, bookmarks and emails ...

Please keep your fingers crossed for me that there's an easy - i.e. not too expensive - fix for my predicament! In the meantime, I hope you all have a nice week ...

I will be back here again just as soon as I can.


p.s. It's the Full Harvest Moon tonight - don't forget to take a peek!


Late Summer Garden

It was one of those foggy mornings when everything was damp with dew, and wrapped in cottony webs. 


Such as the hydrangeas.


And the bees were loving the sedum.


A funnel web spider tucked inside his hidey-hole.


A stray bit of bramble - these are "Fall Gold" raspberries.


This red-bodied dragonfly looks gorgeous against the deep purple hyrdangeas.

According to folklore, when morning lawns are dappled with spider webs, the day will clear up and be nice. This proved true on this day ~ I took these pictures around 8 a.m. and it was still pretty misty ... by 10 it was brilliantly sunny and warm.

Well, I hope you are all having a nice weekend ... it's beautiful here - clear and warm - but the air has that cool edge. Thanks so much for stopping by ... I'll be back here again just as soon as I can.


Labor Day Nature Walk

Labor Day ushers in some of the nicest weather we'll see all year. There's a hint of fall in the air (and the landscape), but still much light and warmth to enjoy.

Earlybird and I took an impromptu nature walk during a cookout this weekend at my folks'. Here are our pictures - a little September sampler. :)


He's hard to see, but there's a super-huge crow in the distant background (to the left of the gazebo). He was making quite a racket before we even entered the backyard. Crows, crickets and cicadas ~ the late summer trio.


These tree stumps were covered with the most interesting mushrooms!


Some big, some tiny ...


Lots of milkweed - delicious food for the Monarchs in migration. (They'll be fun and fluffy in another few weeks ...)


Prickly, purple thistle.


 Such an interesting shape!


Goldenrod ... I absolutely love it. Its mid-August appearance is the first sign that summer is waning.


And the tangly, pretty jewelweed, another childhood favorite. (I remember "popping" the swollen seed pods when I was a kid.)


A strange tree growing at the edge of the property. It had all these long green-bean like pods dangling from its branches!

And finally, another late summer friend ~ the grasshopper:


He let us take plenty of pictures before leaping into the spirea bush!

I'm glad we got this walk in since we've had raw, rainy weather ever since. I had lots of outdoor activities planned for this week ("farm chores," etc.) but instead we've been indoors, settling back into a "schoolday" routine and enjoying the cozy corners of our new learning room ...


I hope you're all having a good week. I will be back here again just as soon as I can.


And off we go!

It's our first official day of the new year! 


And Archie insists on being part of the homeschooling. If he's not on top of the counter, chewing on papers or whacking stray pencils onto the floor, then he's hiding out in the school bags.

He thinks he's so cute.

(We tend to agree.)


Thank you to everyone for the wonderful pepper recipes and advice! I have so many great ideas to choose from! And thank you also, for the honey input. We've tracked down some local honey and Bill is game to try this treatment. I'll let you all know how it goes!

Have a great day, my friends, wherever you are and whatever you're up to ...

Blessings to you and yours!


Salsa, anyone?


As you can see we have a bumper crop of jalapenos this year!

I myself can't eat salsa - though I do like it very much, if it's on the mild, sweet side. Bill absolutely loves salsa - as in, he could it eat it with every meal of the day, lol! He though, with his cast iron stomach, is able to eat it hot - and he actually prefers it hot, but he also likes it sweet. (His favorite store-brand is Newman's Own Pineapple Salsa.)

So, I was thinking I'd try making salsa for Bill - but I have never made it before, nor have I ever cooked with (let alone grown!) hot peppers before. If anyone has a salsa recipe to share, I'd love to hear about it! Or even if you have another way to use up my plentiful peppers!

(I also have LOTS of basil, mint and rosemary. This was a great year for my deck garden!)

Now, I have another quick question for you all ...

I was working on autumn learning themes for EB yesteday, and one I came up with was honey. I started brainstorming how to explore honey (bees, beekeeping etc.) and where to buy local honey. This jogged my  memory of something I read (or heard) somewhere that eating local honey can help you with your seasonal allergies. Does anyone know anything about this? I was thinking it might help Bill who has suffered so badly this year.

Thank you for any and all advice! And if I don't get here again over the weekend, I hope you all have a wonderful - safe, happy and rejuvenating - holiday.

See you all again very soon!


p.s. Tracy and Holly, thank you so much for your nature shelf suggestions! I love your ideas - the jars, the cake stand and the plate shelves. I'm going to toss them around a little - maybe back and forth with Bill - you've got my wheels turning!

A New Year, a New Room!

Happy September, my friends!

And thank you very much for all the wonderfully kind comments about our "new" learning room! I'm so very happy with it, and I'm glad to think you all like it too. :)

So, as promised yesterday - in that post that kind of got away from me, lol - here is a little tour of the learning spaces in and around our "new" learning/sitting/keeping room.

Now I have always liked this corner - it's been my corner of the learning room for years now - but sitting at the table was never very comfortable. I really like having a (soft!) chair here where I can work on my laptop (as I am right this very minute!) or read or even write and plan, if I use a lapdesk. We left the "teacher" bookcase here because it provides great storage and fits this wall space really well. I tried to declutter the shelves a little as they had really become an eyesore - a catchall for extraneous books, magazines, papers, and random craft supplies, etc. 


And here's how it looks now!


What I have here is:

At the very top of the bookcase is a basket filled with my seasonal craft supplies - things I will need on crafting days, but don't really need out in the open. As much as I love the visuals, it can get messy pretty fast - and I can just see the kittens having their way with all that stuff! 

On the top shelf is my collection of Everyday Food, my favorite cooking magazine. The next shelf has a basket which holds my camera and the binoculars. (I make sure to keep those long, dangling straps well *out* of sight and tempation!) Then I have my beloved birch logs standing behind a sweet little cross reminding me of something I try to think about every single day. :)

Next I have a small birch bucket filled with unsharpened pencils, a couple of Sharpies, two pairs of very sharp scissors and, oddly enough, some twisty little silk flower vines. (They just look so lovely poking up through the golden pencils.) Next is the iTouch for listening to music or, more often, newsradio. And tucked in the corner are two pretty boxes holding personal stationary (bottom) and prayer slips (top).

Next shelf down holds a pretty jar (not yet filled with treats) and my books of the moment: Jamie at Home, The Gardener's Community Cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa's How Easy is That?, Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and What to Cook & How to Cook It. Finally, there's a basket filled with our field guides.

On the floor next to the chair is my reading basket:


And just to my right is my "work" countertop - where I park my calendar and computer, etc. 


You may remember, a while back I showed you how the cabinet directly beneath this counter now houses my file crate - so far that's working out well - but, I also made better use of that old tea drawer:


All (or most) of my desk supplies are now stowed here: scissors, stapler, tape, stamps, mints, binder clips, paper clips, pushpins, rubber bands, hole punch, favorite pens, pencil sharpener, glue sticks, highlighter, post-it notes, mouse and mousepad (when not in use), camera stick, lip balm and hand lotion.


It gets really nice light and lets me feel in the middle of things and yet, kind of in my own little sanctuary at the same time. :)

Moving on, I used an old desk from the boys' room as a console table under the windows here:


I borrowed lamps from the front room and filled the drawers with a few of EB's things - i.e. his LeapFrog Explorer, a collapsible magnifying glass, a new stash of crayons, etc. On top of the table I placed a basket filled with our standard containers of pencils and child-friendly scissors. Also on display, some of Earlybird's magazines ... as well as two dear little owls that may or may not remain here. They belonged to my grandmother and they are ceramic - absolutely precious - and pretty much in the line of kitten fire. So far they (the kittens) have been good about them (the owls) but just to be safe, the "breakables" retire to a safe location roundabouts 7 p.m. every night - just about the time kitty "happy hour" kicks in. ;)

Speaking of kitties and happiness, here's EB playing with Archie earlier today:


Beneath the kitten window seat - which they love - is the old book-bag bench, redisgned to hold some of EB's educational materials. 


Maps and atlases in the corner, and then three baskets with placemats beneath each designating the subject within - science, social studies and math (L-R). I'm slowly filling these baskets in but so far we have things here like whale models, planet puzzles, birdsong gadgets, math picture books and "good manners" flash cards.

(The school bags - those monogrammed totes we've used for years to hold the curriculum texts, workbooks and notebooks - will be kept in another location. I'll blog more about those in a future post.)


(I must take a moment to point out that the kittens heartily approve of the new digs. This here is Archie, and he is especially fond of taking his afternoon nap here, preferably on somebody's lap.) 

In the corner which used to house the nature shelves, we now have the family computer desk:


Bookworm and Crackerjack use this computer - for personal stuff (fun, games, creative writing, etc.), but also for their math and French lessons. They also do supervised internet research for projects and reports.

On the wall above the monitor I wish to hang a classroom clock (yet to be found/purchased) and a couple of picture frames I already have. In the basket beside the desk (also something of my Gram's, made by my great uncle if I'm remembering correctly) we have our seasonal books, recently refreshed with all our favorite "autumn" titles. (I'll put up a sidebar booklist very soon.)

More of Gram's owls ...


(The little red dish in the background holds our supply of wadded up scrap paper - the very best kitten toys we have found.)

By the way, you might be wondering what we've done with our nature shelves, because as longtime readers will know - they have always been a very important part of our learning room. Well, I miss them, but we have taken them down for the time being. Mostly because the kittens would claim them as a self-service snack station, I'm sure. (All those "yummy" bits of dried flowers, crab claws, dead moths and snakeskin, etc. would be absolute fodder.)

So when we emptied out the room for renovation, Bill packed up all my nature project and reference books and stored them in an accessible location downstairs; I know where they are shoud I need them. The binoculars and field guides now reside on my "teacher" shelves shown above, and as for the "treasures" we inevitably will start collecting (such as the toppled sunflower head I picked up just this morning), well - I'm working on a way to display them in a cat-friendly way. Presently, there seems to be hardly any surface these fellas can't reach!

I may set up a small freestanding shelf somewhere "safe" (if there is such a thing) or we may use the kitchen windowsill since it's narrow and (so far) they've not ventured up there. Or I may do a collection/shadow box mounted on a wall such as this one ...


For years we had a bulletin board mounted here, but lately I haven't found much use for it. I'm thinking of hanging a set of framed (educational?) prints here - OR - I may start a wall photo collage project (something like this). I'd start with September and add pictures as we move through the seasons. I think it would be a fun way to showcase/remember/celebrate our year. :) I'm excited by the idea, but it's a project I need to think about some (and discuss with Bill) before diving in.

So now we're leaving the learning room, proper, and entering the familiy room just beyond. Since EB has a nice little "work" corner here I thought I'd include it in my learning space post.

This is Earlybird's computer - and before you ask, yes he does need his own computer separate from the main family computer. It was in everyone's best interest (and peace of mind) that we did things this way. ;)


To his right is the biggest bookcase we have in the house - and it will most likely never move; it's too huge to fit anywhere else!

Off to EB's immediate right I hung a round bulletin board just for him:


There will be more here next week once we "officially" begin lessons, but so far I have a few leaves from the backyard and a "good manners" card for contemplation.

Looking at the big bookcase a little more closely, here is our "Family Faith" shelf where we keep all kinds of things - reference and instruction books, storybooks, Veggie Tales movies and miscellaneous booklets. (I'll make some sidebar booklists for this shelf as well.) I also have our statue of the Blessed Mother here (it belonged to my father's parents) as well as our nature puppets and a lovely little St. Francis doll - our family's patron saint.


I am in love with these little saint dolls; you might remember I posted about them around Easter time?


We keep EB's book baskets here ...


From left to right we have science books, social studies books and just plain good reading books. 


He (and Archie) think it's a pretty neat set up!

Honestly, we do some of our best work all stretched out (dare I say, just like a cat?) on the floor ... ;)

So there you have it, my dear readers! I hope you enjoyed this tour of our "new" learning room! We're enjoying it very much - especially on this fine first day of September. As I finish up this post I have all the windows open and the overhead fan is spinning that fresh air all about. The boys are all out here - figuring out how to install "Angry Birds" on their computer, lol! I'm hearing the dishwasher running and a cicada whining somewhere off in the woods, and the kittens are enjoying the windows, too ...


It feels like a pretty good way to kick off our September ...

I hope your month is off to a good start, too! Thanks so much for stopping by today, and taking a peek at our "doings." Until next time please take care and take joy! I will be back here again just as soon as I can.