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July 2012

Morning Memo

In the Morning Garden:

Daylily in the sun


Oh, it's going to be a hot one here today ... even hotter tomorrow.


Homemade pizzas with browned ground turkey and caramelized onions ... big salads ... vanilla ice cream with homemade caramel sauce

Book Love

Summer page

 A page from a new favorite ... Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature.


Wash and hang bedsheets, pillowslips.

Address & stamp envelopes.

Harvest raspberries.

Thinking on ...

An academic planner for the coming school year.

Curriculum orders.

"Monday is the key day of the week." ~ Gaelic Proverb


For Dad, who's meeting with his surgeon today to discuss MRI results. (I will keep you all posted, and would very much appreciate your prayers.)


And now I'm off to get things rolling! My friends, I wish you all a good Monday, and I thank you all for stopping by. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again very soon. :)

A Corner of the Corner Office

Desk corner 1

Well, it's wicked hot here today (or super-duper hot as EB would say) so we've got the ole AC going ... After supper we'll open up to enjoy the evening air for a bit, muggy though it will undoubtedly be. Then, come bedtime, the AC will go back on so that sleep is easy to come by ... Triple H weather continues over the weekend, and into next week, so this will be our routine for some time. I do hope wherever you are you're able to stay cool, too!

Now, Friday is the day I clean up the learning room, so that's what I've been up to since lunchtime ... and as I puttered and pruned, I realized I never followed up on the file bin I showed you some weeks ago. You might remember I got a new desk back in January (as a birthday gift) with a drawer made just for my year's worth of file folders. (Well, not my file folders - I didn't consult the designer or anything, lol - but file folders in general.) I do like keeping the FCS in this drawer because it's so efficient and neat - and yet - I do miss having those folders at my fingertips. I do keep my "active" folder in my planner, but I often find myself filing things for the upcoming weeks, and not that it's a hardship to stoop down and open the drawer, but it somehow seems a little bit out of the way ...

I had actually been thinking about moving the files back up onto the desk (digging out that old plastic bin) but I was tousling over form vs. function - handy files vs. cluttered desktop. This issue had been pinging around in the back of my mind for some time.


When I was at Target that day, perusing their fabulous office supply aisle, I spied this sturdy cloth bin. (Honestly, what did we do before Target? Spent less money, that's what.) The bin has a frame inside, specifically meant for hanging folders and the whole thing's covered in a smooth chocolate brown canvas. I simply loved the look of it and the trim size, but what really got me were the handles!

Desk corner 3

It doesn't take up too much space on my desktop, and it holds several hanging folders quite nicely. I am using this bin to hold the current season's folders - only two months worth, or about eight or nine weeks. There is a colored folder in front that pertains to the season on the whole (not one specific week). So right now we're in "High Summer," which includes the weeks within July and August.

Just to give you an idea, the "High Summer" folder has a summer nature almanac from Mass. Audubon, a July-August night sky guide from Sky & Telescope Magazine, our local farmstand calendar, as well as seasonal crafts and recipes that I would like to do sometime this summer. (For example, I just added this cool idea.)

Behind the folders I have room for my 2012-2013 homeschool planner (currently under construction).

Desk corner 2

So the bin is usually found up on top of the desk, but sometimes it sits on the floor by my chair. Those handles make it pretty easy to tote along with you if you have the need to do so. (I recently grabbed it when I was heading out with the kids to the library.)

And it's been nice having those current folders so handy. Instead of setting things aside in a pile to file later ... I've been filing things right away - pretty much, anyways. Recently I added recipes for Monday's feast day (7/16), a doctor's appt. reminder (7/23), a recipe for Crackerjack's birthday (8/13), and information on viewing the Perseids next month (8/11).


In front of the bin is my reading basket (magazines only) which earlier today I emptied, vacuumed and reorganized. I usually keep this basket on the floor beside my reading chair ... and speaking of, I'm going to hop off the computer now - get supper started - and then sit for a bit to read. It is nearly the weekend after all. ;)

So I'll leave you at that, with my thanks for stopping by and my hope that you all have a nice weekend. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ...

I'll be back here again sometime soon!

Recent Reader Recs

Happy Friday, my friends!

Just a quick post this morning ... I wanted to share a few links with you all, some recent recommendations that are really neat!

Jen mentioned The Butterfly Project sponsored by the Holocaust Museum of Houston. And it's a very meaningful concept ~ they are collecting handmade butterfly crafts through December 2012. They have 900,000 so far, but their goal is 1.5 million, to represent the number of children who perished in the Holocaust. The crafts can be dropped off or mailed, and all will be on display at the museum in 2014.

• Van linked me to a free vintage (1906!) nature diary pdf at Homeschool Freebie of the Day. Lovely resource - great site!

• Amy pointed me to this article on book suggestions for DA fans: Three Downton Abbey Readarounds, Including a New Fay Weldon Novel. (The book by Fay Weldon is actually being published next week, not January 2013 as the article states. It looks sooo good.)

• And my mum recommended a show to me: the BBC's Twenty Twelve, a comedy centered around the 2012 London Olympics. It stars Hugh Bonneville (aka Lord Grantham!) and she and my dad are enjoying it very much. I believe they watch it on Comcast "On Demand."

So that's it for now! Do you have any recs to make? Books, shows, websites, etc?

Please drop me a note if you do!


And have a great day ...


Cake Photos ...

... because I, like Penny, love cake posts. :)

So as a special treat for Bill's birthday, my mum not only brought us those lovely pineapple curtains, but she stayed with the kids while I took Bill out to dinner. The older boys were a bit envious that we were going to our family's favorite restaurant by ourselves - but honestly, how often does that happen? - so I assured them we would skip dessert and instead, "do cake" when we returned. That seemed to appease them somewhat, especially when they learned Nana was making them supper.

Now, usually Bill's birthday request is a butter-and-whiskey cake, but this year he asked for my jello poke cake. Go figure! So I made the cake early in the day and then let it sit in the fridge to chill. By the time we got home from the restaurant, it was ready to "frost."

Daddy's cake 1

Bill can't have dairy, so we used Cool Whip for the frosting - easy-peasy!

Daddy's cake 2

Daddy's cake 3

Daddy's cake 4

We used lime and raspberry jello, so I called it a "lime rickey" cake. It was indeed very refreshing!

And by the way, he did like our gifts! In fact, as I finish this post, he's enjoying a batch of fresh popcorn straight from his new popper!

Have a good night everyone - it's getting late here, so we're sending the kids off to bed and settling in with (popcorn) and John Adams tonight!

See you again sometime tomorrow ...

Pretty Pineapples!

Pineapple curtains 1

When I made up Earlybird's learning wall, I had to move out the somewhat superflous nature shelves. I pared down and relocated our nature stuff, but then was left with a small yet useful, unfinished bookcase. Never one to waste a good bookcase, I asked Bill about moving it to the dining room, as storage for the boys' schoolwork (which previously had been stashed in tote bags). The older boys do the bulk of their lessons at the kitchen island on the dining room side, so it makes sense to keep their materials nearby. And yet, we finally got our dining room looking somewhat "formal" (i.e. like a dining room), so I was hesitant to introduce the inevitable mess of school materials into the space. 

ALL THAT SAID ... we did move the bookcase to this room, and we did fill it with schoolwork (textbooks, binders, paperbacks and the like) ... and it did look kind of messy ... but then I had a thought:

What about curtains?

And since curtains usually involve sewing, my next thought was:

Call Mum.

So that's just what I did! And over the weekend we got over to the fabric store and purchased a tension rod and a yard of some pretty patterned cotton. And just a couple of days later, thanks to my mum ...

Pineapple curtains 6

We had curtains for our bookcase!

Pineapple curtains 4

Pineapple curtains 5

And we just love them!

I happy with the bookcase here, and I just love the pretty fabric against the yellow walls, but as my mum pointed out, if we move the bookcase back to the learning room someday, the curtains will also go very nicely with that room's green walls. :)

But the first issue at hand, is to make these curtains decidedly less interesting to Archie, who is seemingly convinced this is a new playspace just for him.

Pineapple curtains 2


Well, my friends, thanks so much for stopping by today. I appreciate your time and attention! And wow, it's Thursday already? That's a "desk day" here for me ... but whatever your day brings, I hope you make it a good one!

See you here again very soon ...

Busy Birthday Bees

So the boys and I worked on some birthday crafts today and I thought you might like to see what we got up to! We made these crafts for Bill - the person whose birthday it is tomorrow and who was told NOT to read my blog tonight! (Right, honey?) I had a lot of fun putting these crafts together ... it's been a while since I've had a quiet, crafty day like this!

The first thing we decided to do was make Bill some barbecue sauce since he loves barbecue and hot sauce (especially really hot sauce) and I found this neat recipe on Martha Stewart's website. So here are the ingredients, all gathered and organized on the kitchen counter ...

Bday bees 1

I had everything on hand except the chipolte peppers - but they were easy enough to find. :) Once I got the sauce simmering on the stove, I dug out some supplies to make a neat little gift box...

Bday bees 2

I've always wanted to make one of these "sailor's valentines" for Bill - he grew up on the water and has a real affinity for all things nautical. To the best of my knowledge, these boxes were made as gifts for sailors' sweethearts back home - using shells they collected while at sea. There's probably a lot more to it than that, but this was the inspiration for my craft. :)

I had all the supplies already on hand - lidded box, paints, clear-drying glue (Mod Podge), seashells, beach sand, twine. I began by painting the box in acrylic paints. The boys chose soft green, blue and gray - the colors of the Atlantic. We then worked on an arrangement of shells - and once we had our design, I glued the shells (and a tiny starfish) in place.

Bday bees 3

And while the shells were drying, the sauce was just finishing up...

Bday bees 4

It doesn't look like much -  but it sure smelled pretty good! I really hope he likes it...

Back to the box while the sauce cooled  - it was time to glue on the "rope" trim and dust the top with sand.

Bday bees 5

For the rope, I just braided some kitchen twine and knotted it at the ends. I used a bulldog clip as a "clamp" to hold the trim to the edge while the glue dried.

By late afternoon, our gifts were ready!

Bday bees 13

I used stickers to decorate the glass quart jar holding the sauce...

Bday bees 8

And inside the "sailor" box, there are a bunch of curled up notes ... the boys brainstormed "Daddy Saturdays," which are basically things they'd like to do with Bill when he has a free day - aka, go hiking, have breakfast at the beach, make ice cream, visit the Apple store (lol). They wrote these ideas on slips of paper and tucked them inside the box.

Bday bees 12

And the very last thing we did was to sign cards and wrap the rest of the presents...

Bday bees 14

Bill LOVES popcorn and our old popcorn maker recently kicked the bucket - so we got him a new one. The other box contains something far less exciting - he's been after me to replace our tupperware with glass storage containers, so I picked up a box at Target and wrapped it up for his I think he'll get a laugh. :)

As a final touch, the boys embellished the plain brown kraft paper with smiley stickers and Sharpies.

Bday bees 17

Bday bees 16

Bday bees 15

And now we're all ready for tomorrow!


Well, I hope you enjoyed a peek at our birthday craftiness today! I think it feels nice to make something homemade for someone you love ... just as it feels nice to receive it! We don't always have (make) the time to be so creative and hands-on with our gifts, but I'm always so pleased when we do ... :)

I hope you all have a lovely night and a pleasant day tomorrow ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Milkweed & Monarchs

It's that time of year again! There are Monarchs in the air, and milkweed blooms by the roadside ...

Here's a neat little article from the Mass. Audubon Society, reminding us to plant and protect this V.I.P. (very important PLANT), and here's a page on the milkweed's greatest fan, the Monarch Butterfly. And finally, here's a link to a post I wrote last fall on our own Monarch experience, sad though it was ...

Monarch 1

Mid-to-late summer is a great time of year to study butterflies, since they're so readily available to observe. If you don't often see them in your yard, a trip to any nature center or state park would provide you with plenty of specimens to admire ...

For nature study, a small journal could be filled with sketches, photographs, a design for a butterfly garden, a record of "butterfly sightings" and even poems collected or created. And there are so many crafts you could do!

But now that the milkweed is blooming, perhaps a focus on Monarchs would be fun? Their fall migration begins next month, so the time is ripe for monarch observation. I spotted several of them yesterday at the state park (though I only got one fuzzy picture). They're so large and striking - a bright blip in the blue sky, like the fiery summer sun itself.

You probably have your own favorite butterfly books, but here are a few of our favorites:

Monarch books 1

Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost

Monarch books 2

Monarch Butterfly by Gail Gibbons

Monarch books 3

An Extraordinary Life by Laurence Pringle

Monarch books 4

Hurry and the Monarch by Antoine O Flatharta

(That last title we've actually not read - but I just made a request at the library!)

Well, my friends, I hope your week's going well. Is it Tuesday already? Goodness, time flies - especially summer-time it seems. We'll be busy at home today, preparing a few gifts for Bill - whose birthday it is, tomorrow. Something to cook, something to craft ... I'm sure you'll be hearing about that before long. :)

But before I go, may I ask you a quick question?

What was the last butterfly you saw? And where did you see it? If you have time, please leave a comment below!

Until next time, I leave you with my sincere thanks for reading, and a promise to see you again soon!


A Summer's Day by the Sea

Halibut 1

Not at the shore, exactly, but rather, above it - in the woods that run alongside it. Today we spent some time exploring the rugged beauty of our coastline and learning about quarries and the New England granite industry. I'd like to share some pictures from our day, if I may - we had such a nice time and the weather was so beautiful.

Halibut 7

Crackerjack was signed up for a geology class run by the state DCR (department of conservation and recreation), which is the oldest regional park system in the country. They always offer amazing programs and their rangers are just wonderful. This class, organized by my friend Kristen, was a follow-up to a geology class we took last month with our homeschool group, at yet another state park in the area. The earlier class was set deep in the woods (unraveling the history of the rocks found in our area) while this one took place alongside the sea and above the remains of an old quarry.

Halibut 8

So while CJ and I took the class, Bill (who took the day off from work) and Earlybird explored the park, while Bookworm visited with friends.

More pics ...

Halibut 11

Halibut 12

Halibut 9

Halibut 14

Halibut 15

Halibut 4

Halibut 21

Halibut 16

Halibut 17

Halibut 18

Halibut 3

Halibut 19

Halibut 22

Halibut 20

In that last picture, our ranger, Megan, was demonstrating how to split granite. The kids were just enthralled ... you could hear a pin drop as she worked, because everyone was listening for the "crackle" that granite makes when it's stressed. But wouldn't you know it, just before she cracked that block open, my camera battery exhausted itself. (Quite literally - the message on the screen said, "battery exhausted." So unfortunately I didn't get a final picture of the split block!

(But I promise she did spit the block, and the block did crackle just before it gave way ... very exciting stuff, I must say!)


It was a real treat to have Bill with us today - he drove us in the RV, so we really arrived in style. ;) It made the longish drive (made even longer by that darn summer traffic) a little more comfortable ... and having Dad with us made today's experience all the more fun and memorable - because all five us got to enjoy the beautiful weather and breathtaking views.

So I hope you all had a nice day, too. Thanks so much for stopping by and allowing me to share our Monday with you ... have a good night, and take care ... I will see you again sometime soon!

Just Loving those Cork Tiles!

Dawn to dusk board 2

So when I posted about Earlybird's routine cards last week, a few people mentioned (here and elsewhere) that they liked the idea of a "to-do" board for themselves ... and that got me thinking! I had actually picked up two packages of corkboard, so I had an extra four tiles just hanging around ... waiting for me to do something with them ... ;)

And then the other day my friend Leslie posted a picture of how she used her tiles - in the kitchen, as "to-do" boards for herself and her kids - and I loved it! So today, in the midst of a major bedroom cleaning spree, I suddenly had a flash of inspiration and knew just where to hang my own board, and how to use it:

Dawn to dusk board 5

So my "reminder" board displays my daily routine, with to-do's separated by colored time cards (early morning, midday, afternoon and evening). Instead of flipping around like EB's cards do, my cards will stay put. I just listed out the tasks that need doing in that portion of the day.

Now, you'd think I'd know all these daily to-do's by heart now (and mostly, I do) but I'm the type of person who really benefits from visuals like this. On busy days when I'm running on fumes, I like to give my brain a break. Reminders like this help with that.

I stuck my cork board on the side of a bookcase, smack dab in the middle of "command central." When I stand at the kitchen island and work at my binder/folder/laptop - whatever -this is what I see when I look to my right. And obviously I embellished a little ... with lace doilies and a paper ribbon across the top. I used sticker letters to spell out "Dawn to Dusk," which is a bit silly, really ... but I couldn't resist.


And, because I had cork boards on the brain and I was right in the middle of cleaning the older boys' bedroom, I decided they could use reminder boards as well. :)

Cork tiles - boys room 2

I haven't decided exactly how we'll use their boards, but I like them here just on principle.

And now I have just one cork tile left ... so Bill had better look out!


 Well, my friends, I hope you've all had a nice weekend. Ours was quite nice indeed ... even more so because Bill has tomorrow off! Which is always a treat. :) Beautiful weather today - sunny and warm, but not as humid as it's been. The sun's on its way down now, and it looks to be a very pleasant evening. I'm going to sign off now as it appears dinner is here (takeout tonight!) ... but I thank you all for stopping by and leave you with a wish for a good night and a promise to see you sometime tomorrow!

Earlybird's Summer Reading!

(We begin this week.)

Summer reading 4

Recently, I sorted out our summer reading selections (see photo above and list below), and today I organized the reading journal itself. I forgot to get a picture of that, but basically we are using a standard three-ring binder filled with several tabbed dividers and a bunch of loose-leaf paper. This is where we'll keep any narrations, impressions, pictures, mementos, etc. (I'm having him make a colorful cover for it on Monday as a first-day activity.) And inside a thin reporter's notebook (purchased at Staples) EB will keep a list of all the new words he learns. 

 I hope to cover one title a week, except in the case of the final book, to which we will devote two weeks or perhaps more. In all cases, we will read the books aloud together, but EB will also be encouraged to read on his own.

Below I've listed the books I chose for EB, along with my initial notes for "support" activities.


Earlybird's Summer Reading List:


(Paris, Tour de France, geography/landmarks, routines, baked madelines, seashells)

The Little Island

(geography/geology, ferry ride, islands off the coast of New England)

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

(lighthouse history, Reading Rainbow episode, visit a local lighthouse, bridge construction/drive over a really big bridge)

One Morning in Maine

(a surprise drive to ME one morning, harbor town, map of New England, blueberries and ice cream, clam chowder, sea gulls)

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush and The Legend of the Bluebonnet

(Native American folklore and crafts, plant dye painting, sunset paintings, late summer weeds and wildflowers, sacrifice, Reading Rainbow episode)

Corgiville Fair

(a New England village, the county fair, agricultural resources, goats, homemade preserve/pickle)

Charlotte's Web

(audiobook, chapter book, movie, farm life, the fair, sacrifice, friendship, spiders/webs)


So there's a basic outline of our Summer Reading plan for Earlybird! EB is 10, but as most of you know, as an autistic child, he is developmentally delayed. He does read on his own, but he needs help with prolonged reading - patience, pronunciation, comprehension, etc. I think by including "summery," support activities and building on story themes, he will take more of an interest in - and therefore better absorb - the books themselves.

This is my hope, anyways!

But you know I'll be "reporting in" as we go along. :) Crackerjack is also keeping a Reading Journal like this. He has already designed his binder cover and filled out his tabs. His first book is Hero by Mike Lupica. Next up: Journey to the Center of the Earth ...


Well, my friends, I hope your weekend's going well. It's been a surprisingly dark day here in New England - quite humid, with sprinkles now and then - no thunder, though. Tomorrow looks to be better - less of the muggies and more sun!

Have a great night, everyone ... see you again soon!

Jane Austen Fans: Take Note ...

... of the second link down in my post. :)


Just ahead of the weekend, I like to make up little "to-do" lists for myself. Some of these tasks are rather bland - paying bills, pulling weeds or attacking bathroom mold, for instance - but some things will be quite nice ~ like framing artwork, watching our Netflix pick, and catching up on my reading - online and otherwise. 

And so I just added this blog post to my "to read" pile. In it, Susan Branch describes - in delightful prose and fantastic pics - her visit to Chawton House, otherwise known as the home of Jane Austen! I've only just skimmed the post, because I want to be sitting quietly and comfortably (and preferably outside with a tall glass of iced tea) when I properly dig in. But at first glance, there seem to be many lovely things here: quill pens and teacups and rose-covered pubs and cottage gardens and all kinds of wonderful interior shots of the very rooms inside which Miss Austen composed all those Great Works ...

(And speaking of, which was your favorite? I think the popular pick tends to be Pride and Prejudice, but I myself am awfully fond of Emma.)

Anyhoo, I wanted to share that link here this evening, because I know many of my readers share in my enthusiasm for all things Jane Austen. :) I thought you might like to add this to your weekend reading list, too.

Either way, I wish you all a good one!

Take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!

Our Little Liturgical Shelf

Good Friday afternoon, my friends! Boy did that week go by fast!

So I've been showing you corners of our learning room, but recently, Karla asked if I we had a home altar, and if I we did, if I might do a post on it. Well, to answer your question, Karla ... we don't really have a formal "home altar," but instead we have what I call our "liturgical shelf." :)

Liturgical shelf 1

This shelf is in a bookcase we have in our family room, and I must admit, I did need to tidy it up for this picture! The books tend to get rather messy. ;)

What I keep here is our collection of seasonal liturgical storybooks (for saints' days and the like) and my favorite Catholic planning/idea books. (I have a good deal more than is pictured here, I'm afraid - but they're in storage at the moment.) Also here, I keep the Catechism and the kids' Bibles as well as several saint biographies. In the mini tote bag are all those small, child-friendly, softcover books about various aspects of our Faith - prayers, sacraments, devotions and the Mass, etc. 

The brass crucifix was made by my maternal great-grandfather and the statue of the Blessed Mother (shown off to the right) belonged to my paternal grandparents. It gives me great  pleasure and comfort to display these items here.

In the front center of the shelf there is a small "intentions" set - three glass votives containing battery-lit tealights - a much safer option in our household! The set sits on a green paper mat (green for Ordinary Time - in December it will change to purple for Advent, and so forth). When we have something or someone special to pray for, we light one or more of these candles.

Also on this shelf - a blessed palm from Palm Sunday, an Our Lady of Guadalupe holy card, and a small latched box which holds a rosary and more saint/prayer cards. Behind the Mary statue are some novena candles.

And finally, I hung a stretch of white lace-edged paper here to set the space apart from the rest of the shelves. Unfortunately, Archie is particularly fond of this trim. He sits on the printer (situated on the shelf just below) and "plays" with it. But so far he's left the liturgical shelf as a whole, alone.

So there you have it, Karla! I hope this answered your question and I hope you all enjoyed this little peek at our liturgical shelf. I'd love to see yours if you have one ... please leave a comment or link below if you have time!

And have a WONDERFUL WEEKEND, my friends!

A Yankee Doodle Cake!

Jello poke cake 1

I was going to make this festive and fruity cake for the 4th of July party yesterday, but I just ran out of time! (Truth be told, I spent too much time on a different recipe that was a complete flop, lol.) But I had all the ingredients on hand, so I told the boys I'd make it today ... just for us. :)

I found this recipe in a recent issue of Taste of Home, but I'm quite familar with "jello-poke cakes" which were first made back in 1976. As a young girl, I made a red and green poke cake for Christmas several years running - it kind of became "my thing" for a while and I was so proud!

Jello-poke cakes are very easy to make - and especially fun to make with kids. Earlybird helped me make our cake this morning ... and he's such a good sport about things like this. He can't eat this cake because of the food dyes in the jello, but as long as he gets a cup of the whipped cream - and the promise of banana bread later - he's fine with it. :)

Now, my cake did not come out nearly as pretty as the one in the magazine ...

Jello poke cake 3

... but that's to be expected. ;)

It did look nice just before chilling:

Jello poke cake 2

I served it to the boys and a friend who was visiting this afternoon. It was cool and sweet and quite tender. A really lovely - kind of kitschy - summertime treat.

Unfortunately, I can't link to the recipe on the ToH webpage (I guess you have to be a member) but if anyone would like the recipe, just leave me a comment below. I'd be glad to type it up for you.


Well, I hope you are all having a nice Thursday ... it's quite sunny and warm here, but not nearly so hot as many places around the country. (Prayers for those struggling!) And the humidity has lessened here, too, which is great for the spirits - and the hair! And yet ... as I type up this post (just about 4 p.m) there are very dark clouds gathering off in the west ... I bet we hear some thumpin' before long.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great night and I will see you here again very soon ...

Earlybird's Routine Cards

So here's what I'm doing with those new cork tiles ...

Task cards 1

Routine is good for all of us ... we talk here a lot about our household and personal routines, and how much they help us keep on track. There's a lot that can, and must, happen in a given day and it can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially so for a child with autism. So I decided to use this space as a place for posting Earlybird's routines. My hope is this card system helps him with the concepts of time, patience, independence and responsibility. :)

So the four tiles are divided by time of day: morning, noontime, afternoon and evening ...

Task cards 2

Each timeframe holds six routine cards, and on the front of each card is an action - something that EB needs to do, or gets to do, at that time of day. I've listed his routine cards at the bottom of this post, but generally speaking, these are just simple everyday things.

And as EB completes a card, I just flip it around ...

Task cards 3


I just put the cards up this morning, and so far EB seems pretty amenable. My initial plan for these cork tiles was to use them for displaying subject-related matter, but we'll see how this goes. I'll most likely change things up come September.

Here's what I wrote on the 24 routine cards:


wash and brush


make bed

feed cats


computer time



help with dishes



read with Mom



bring in newspaper/mail

clean up toys

snack/read on own

journal with mom

computer time

help make supper



wash and brush


prayers with Mom

read with Dad

say goodnights/go to sleep!


So I'll let you know how it goes! As of this moment (1:10 p.m.) we've just turned two more cards on the "noontime" tile .. and EB was the one who remembered!

Well, I hope you're all having a good week - and it's a holiday week at that! Any big plans for tomorrow?

Whatever you do and wherever you go, I hope you all stay safe and happy!

See you again very soon ...

Another Learning Room Corner ...

Because I'm on a roll!

Learning room 1

Yesterday I set up Earlybird's "learning wall" and today I reorganized his (our) nature/world corner. The map's the only new thing here (our old one was battered to bits). Everything else is old stuff - just rearranged in a new way.

I had to scooch down the loveseat a little ...

Learning room 2

You could say it looks a bit cramped, but I call it cozy. :)

Now here's how that corner looks, close up ...

Learning room 9

A basket of field guides ...

Learning room 8

Favorite nature books (with magnifying glasses lying on top), and a new family nature journal. I find it gets too scattered, insisting on individual journals, so instead, we'll keep one family book in which we can all add observations, sketches, etc. (I just wrote: Spotted the wee bunny in the front yard after a brief rainstorm. 7/2/12 4 p.m.)

Learning room 10

A storm candle - every summer we must have a storm candle! - and our Birdsong Identiflyer (currently sans batteries but I've got some charging downstairs). Also, a favorite little book of "Summer" poems and prayers.

Learning room 11

Baskets of books on the shelf underneath, and a basket of science and nature magazines. In the narrow space between the table and wall we have oversized atlas books.

Learning room 12

And of course, the world map is here, with EB's sticky notes marking places he'd like to visit. :)

Learning room 15

The windowsill holds a small cache of clutter ... a jam jar and candle pots holding nature bits and bobs ... our clamshell nature angel and wooden St. Francis doll ...

Learning room 14

(We don't open this window as there is no screen. I forget why it's down, but I'm sure there's a reason. It remains to be seen whether or not I keep these small items out on display ... so far the cats have not bothered with them.)

Looking up ...

Learning room 17

... clearly, this basket is for me. :)

And looking down ...

Learning room 18

... clearly, this basket is for Archie.


So now I'm working on the family computer corner and mama's reading nook ... making summer changes, weeding out last year's stuff ... I'll be back soon to share more on all that!

Have a great night, everyone!