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October 2013

Bits-n-Bobs: Blessings

Counting my blessings tonight ... thought I'd share a few happy things with you all!

It was rainy here this morning, quite dismal and gray ... but roundabouts noontime, the skies cleared and all that autumn sunshine poured forth ...

Autumn sunshine yard

Looks even prettier glinting off that rain-soaked foliage!

(As we took these photos, Earlybird and I, we heard off in the distance, of all things, a train whistle. Well, as some of you know, EB is a HUGE train buff so he first went absolutely still - then his wide eyes swung to mine and we both exclaimed, "A TRAIN!" We have no idea where the nearest tracks are, but they're near enough we could hear that whistle! So very exciting.)


Had a lovely visit today with Nana (my mum) and two special aunties. We shared cups of tea and recipes, sitting by the sunny kitchen window. Visits with dear friends and family do so much to refill the tank, do they not?

Uncle Matt (my brother) sent along some delicious "pumpkin toaster pastries" - which will make a perfect Halloween breakfast tomorrow morning!

Pumpkin toaster pastries

And a lovely surprise! A houswarming gift from a dear friend ...

Hearth 1

(A peek at our family room hearth, as well!)

Blessings plaque

Blessings, indeed!

And some yummy magazines arrived in the mail today ...

Yankee + magazines

That's the Yankee with the Susan Branch article I mentioned a few days ago ... cannot wait to sit down with a cup of tea and dig in!

And finally, nothing quite so beautiful as a sleeping baby ...

Sleeping baby

(And nothing quite so crazy as the mother who wakes said baby when she snaps that must-have picture!)

Have yourselves a lovely evening, my friends ... see you tomorrow on All Hallow's Eve!

Weekend Journal ~ Fall, Food & Furniture

Hello, my friends, and Happy Sunday!

First let me say I'm sorry my posting has been slow lately - to be perfectly honest, I've been pretty slow myself! Little Bear has been waking every two hours at night for the past couple of weeks and frankly, I'm exhausted! Lol.

Anyhoo, I have a few minutes to pop in to say hello and share a few things with you all.


First of all, how is the weather where you are? It's been quite nice here in New England - very autumnal with brisk air and bright skies. I'd say the foliage is just past peak now ... the wind has been littering the streets and yards with droves of crisp, crinkled leaves. All the subdued color, bared bark and dark chilly afternoons make me think of Thanksgiving ...

*3 quick links*

A lovely article at Susan Branch's blog about a "behind the scenes" article in the upcoming Yankee magazine. Lots of pictures to drool over - her home on Martha's Vineyard is so cozy, all decked out for the holidays.

Another web article, this one about grocery savings. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but I find it helpful to remind myself on these points from time to time. How are you all doing with your meal planning and marketing these days?

And for my last link ~ how about some Spiced Ghost Pancakes on Halloween morning? 

And finally, remember my beloved red furniture from the old house?

Cozy corners 2

Well, we finally sold that dear old house this past week so that meant we could move up the final bits of furniture we'd left behind ("for ambiance"). Feels so good to have my Mama's chair back! We've arranged the set in the living room, a room that's slowly becoming "my room" as it's filled with my desk and reading materials ...

Cozy corners 3

(Yes, I went a little nuts with the subscribing when we moved!)

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... please know I'll be here just as much as I can. I'm always thinking about posts and things I want to say (new ideas or answers to comments) but those free moments are not as plentiful as they once were!

Enjoy your evening, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Lunch with the Guys

Yesterday, Bill and I took the younger boys out for lunch at Earlybird's favorite restaurant - Wendy's! He can eat some of the menu items there - most notably, "natural french fries with sea salt" (which is exactly how he orders them, lol). He was so happy to do this and to show his baby brother "the ropes." Naturally we took some pictures to mark the milestone - Baby's first "fast-food" experience. ;)

Owen at wendy's 1

(The paper napkin was a makeshift bib - not that he had anything, mind you! I brought a bottle but he didn't need to have it.)

Owen at wendy's 8

Earlybird loves people-watching almost as much as he loves the food! (And for the record, he gets a plain cheeseburger, small fries and his own pear juice.)

Owen at wendy's 3

This was a very sweet moment: "Thank you SO much, Daddy. I love you!"

Little Bear just took it all in ...

Owen at wendy's 6


Now, while I'm thinking of it, Sarah recently asked me about posts I've done on food dyes and how they affect behavior. I know I wrote some posts directly addressing that issue, but for now I can link you, Sarah (and anyone else interested) to my "Feingold" archive (this post in particular is pretty detailed). Let me stress - I am by NO means an expert, but I know what works for my child. And without a doubt food dyes and some other substances really impact EB's behavior and abilities. This is why we follow the Feingold diet (not to the letter, but in our own way) as well as some other guidelines that we feel help keep EB (who is autistic as many of you know) balanced.

Well, that's all for now my friends. Thanks so much for all your lovely anniversary wishes! We are having *quite* the 20th year, aren't we?


See you all again sometime soon ...

Happiness is ...

... being married to your best friend. :)

Today Bill and I celebrate 20 years of marriage! I can hardly believe it, how time has flown. I have such wonderful memories from that day ... we were surrounded by so many people we loved! I've been uploading photos scanned in by my dad, and thought I'd share some of them here with you all.

(Side note - how different photo-taking and saving is nowadays! How much easier to store and share photos with computers and digital photography.)

First, a shot from inside the church as Bill and I made our way up the aisle as husband and wife.

Wedding 12

This is the gazebo in my mum and dad's backyard, all decked out for the autumn-themed wedding.

Wedding 9

Waiting outside the church with my dad. His friend Skip was our chauffeur for the day - driving us to the church (and Bill and I to the reception) in his gorgeous antique car.

Wedding 16

Bill's mom made these adorable "bride and groom" scarecrows. They were stationed outside the reception hall and "greeted" guests as they arrived.

Wedding 2

With our beloved grandparents ... how we miss them.

Wedding 7

Me and my girls ...

Wedding 8

Bill and his guys ...

Wedding 6

I love this picture - it was taken while two dear friends helped me with my bustle, "hidden" behind the bushes. We were laughing ourselves silly trying to wrangle that bustle!

Wedding 4

We did finally get the bustle done up as you can see in the photo below. Bill and I sharing a kiss during our first dance (to "At Last" by Etta James).

Wedding 18

A toast with the bridal party ... our tables were done up with pumpkins, candles, flowers and bittersweet vines.

Wedding 11

Our getaway car!

Wedding 15

We drove down to Colonial Williamsburg for our honeymoon, stopping at bed-and-breakfasts in Connecticut and Maryland on the way.

One more ...


So many blessings we've shared ... looking forward to the next 20 years!


Have a wonderful Wednesday, my friends!

Happy Friday, My Friends!

Here's the view outside my window right now, as I savor my second cup of coffee and the silence of sleeping children ...

Deer out front 3


A few Several things on my mind as we head into another autumn weekend ...

* Here in New England we are indeed enjoying a St. Luke's Little Summer ... it will be sunny and 70 degrees today! This calls for a cookout, I think. I was able to find Earlybird's special hot dogs at Whole Foods yesterday, so that works out nicely.

 * Thinking about this year's Gratitude Tree, an annual project which almost always catches me unawares! I get distracted by all the Halloween hoopla and then suddenly it's the first of November, and time to focus on a new season of grace and gratitude. I'm not sure how we'll do it this year, but I've got plenty of past projects to consider as inspiration: a heart-shaped wreathdangling oak leavesgrateful acorns, happy handprints or perhaps a glowing banner.

* Also thinking about our Thanksgiving Day game plan. Every year we host the family dinner and we usually get quite a big crowd. This will be our first holiday in our new home, and we have more room(s) to play with so I'm very excited to plan out our day. Recently I found a few recipes I want to try this year and that means it's time to start my Turkey Day folder/planner ... I'll pull that together this weekend.

* We have our Christmas picture all set which is a huge relief! Now I'm tinkering with card designs online. I also stopped at the post office last weekend to pick up some holidays stamps which are now available. (Some designs, not all. I bought some "Virgin and Child" stamps, but I am also quite fond of not-yet-released the circular evergreen stamp!)

*  Tracy asked about "Stir Up Sunday" which I mentioned in my Seasonal Rhythm post. This is an old British holiday, traditionally celebrated on the last Sunday before Advent, during which the Christmas pudding is started. I love the idea, but like to follow it a bit differently - on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I like to devote time to homemade gifts and goodies, like perhaps a Christmas fruitcake a la Martha Stewart. (Full disclosure: I've never made said fruitcake, but I still like to "bake and make" on this particular Sunday.)


* And finally ...

Owen in bib 3

My aunt and uncle sent Little Bear an adorable set of Halloween bibs. Had to share this picture of my nearly five month old cub!


Well my friends, I must be off, but once again I'd like to wish you a Happy Friday and a Wonderful Weekend as well. How are things in your neck of the woods? How is your Autumn going? Have you started thinking about the holiday season at all? Or do you put that off until later in the season? I always find myself torn - I certainly don't want to rush things, but I also need to get myself organized as early as possible!

Thanks so much for stopping by, everyone ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Seasonal Rhythm: 2014 @ a Glance

Binder tabs 2

Recently, Leah asked about feast days and how many we actually celebrate. (Because it seems as though we celebrate a lot!) So I thought I'd share my annual outline which lists special days in the liturgical, natural and secular calendars. It's a really long post, so my apologies if this is not your particular cup of tea. :)

Before I get to the list though, I'd just like to stress that we definitely don't celebrate everything every year, and most of our "celebrations" are actually very simple activities or meals that are easily woven into our family rhythm such as it might be at the time. I don't like to force things that hold no relevance or interest ... I want these activities to be enjoyable and meaningful to my family, and respectful of our time and (my) energy.

So here without further ado, is my 2014 Seasonal Calendar:

~ Deep Winter ~

 >-*-< January >-*-<

1 - New Year's Day/Mary Mother of God/World Day of Peace

3 - Most Holy Name of Jesus

5 - Downton Abbey season 4 premiere!

5-12 - US Figure Skating Championships, Boston

6 - Epiphany/Little Christmas

12 - My birthday

14 - Remembering Damee's birthday

16 - Full Wolf Moon

17 - Benjamin Franklin's birthday

19 - National Popcorn Day

20 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day

21. St. Agnes

23 - National Handwriting Day (John Hancock's birthday)

25 - Robert Burns Night

29-31 - The Days of the Blackbird

>-*-< February >-*-<

1 - St. Brigid

1-2 - Focus on the Feeders Weekend

2 - Superbowl XLVIII

5 - St. Agatha

7 - XXII Winter Olympic Games begin

11 - Our Lady of Lourdes

12 - Abraham Lincoln's birthday

14 - St. Valentine's Day

15 - Full Snow Moon 

17  - Presidents Day

22 - George Washington's birthday/Chair of St. Peter

~ Early Spring ~

>-*-< March >-*-<

1 - St. David of Wales

2 - Dr. Seuss Day

4 - Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras

5 - Ash Wednesday/Lent begins

9 - Daylight Savings Time Begins

14 - National Pi Day (3.14)

15 - The Ides of March

16 - Full Sap (or Worm) Moon

17 - St. Patrick

19 - St. Joseph

20 - Vernal Equinox, 12:57 p.m.

25 - The Annunciation

30 - Laetare Sunday

31 - Red Sox first game @ Baltimore

>-*-< April >-*-<

1 - April Fool's Day

2 - World Autism Day/Light it Up Blue

4 - Red Sox Home Opener

13 - Palm Sunday

14-16 - Holy Week Cleaning

15 - Full Pink Moon

16 - Spy Wednesday

17 - Holy Thursday

18 - Good Friday

19 - Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil

20 - Easter Sunday

21 - Patriot's Day/Boston Marathon

22 - Earth Day

23 - St. George

25 - Arbor Day/St. Mark

27 - Divine Mercy Sunday/Pope John Paul II canonized

(TBD - "The Big Night" or Salamander Migration)

~ Late Spring ~

>-*-< May >-*-<

1 - May Day

3. Kentucky Derby

5 - Cinco de Mayo

5-12 - National Herb Week

11 - Mother's Day

12 - National Apron Day

13 - Our Lady of Fatima

14 - Full Flower Moon

26 - Little Bear's 1st birthday/Memorial Day

26-28 - Rogationatide

29 - Ascension Thursday

31 - The Visitation

>-*-< June >-*-<

8 - Pentecost Sunday

9 - Remembering Grammie's birthday

13 - Full Strawberry Moon

14 - Flag Day

15 - Father's Day/Trinity Sunday

19 - Corpus Christi

21 - Summer Solstice, 6:51 a.m.

22 - Bookworm's birthday

24 - St. John's Day/Midsummer

27 - Sacred Heart of Jesus

28 - Immaculate Heart of Mary

~ High Summer ~

>-*-< July >-*-<

4 - Independence Day

11 - Bill's birthday

12 - Full Thunder Moon

15 - St. Swithin

16 - Our Lady of Carmel

25 - St. James

26 - Sts. Anne and Joachim

28 - Beatrix Potter's birthday

31 - Harry Potter/JK Rowling's birthday/St. Ignatius Loyola

>-*-< August >-*-<

1 - Lammas

6 - The Transfiguration

10 - Full Green Corn Moon

13 - Crackerjack's birthday

15 - Assumption Day

22 - Queenship of Mary

~ Autumn ~

>-*-< September >-*-<

1 - Labor Day

4 - NFL Kickoff

6 - My cousin Kate's wedding!

8 - Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

9 - Full Corn Moon

14 - Triumph of the Cross

22 - Autumnal Equinox, 10:29 p.m.

27 - St. Vincent de Paul

29 - Michaelmas/Archangels

(NFL Kickoff, Apple Festival, Classes Begin)

>-*-< October >-*-<

1 - St. Therese

2 - Guardian Angels

4 - St. Francis

7 - Our Lady of the Rosary

8 - Full Harvest Moon

13 - Columbus Day

18 - St. Luke's Little Summer

23 - Our Wedding Anniversary

31 - All Hallow's Eve

(Topsfield Fair, World Series)

~ Holiday ~

>-*-< November >-*-<

1 - All Saints

 2 - All Souls/Day of the Dead/Daylight Savings Time Ends

6 - Full Frost Moon

11 - Martinmas/Veterans Day

17 - St. Elizabeth/Homemade Bread Day

23 - Christ the King

26 - Nana's birthday

27 - Thanksgiving Day

30 - St. Andrew/Advent begins/Stir it Up Sunday

>-*-< December >-*-<

4 - St. Barbara

6 - St. Nicholas/Full Cold Moon

8 - Immaculate Conception

12 - Our Lady of Guadalupe/National Poinsettia Day

13 - St. Lucia

14 - Earlybird's & Papa's birthday/Guadete Sunday

21 - Winter Solstice, 6:03 p.m.

24 - Christmas Eve

25 - Christmas Day

26 - Boxing Day/St. Stephen

30 - Holy Family

31 - New Year's Eve


In a future post (or more likely, posts) I will describe the rest of my "Seasonskeeping" routine, which includes brainstorming for each season, weekly planning pages (to be used with my file crate folders), favorite resources and storage of all those neat projects/ideas/recipes etc.

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by! I'm grateful for your visit and hope to see you here again very soon ...

'Tis the Season for Pumpkins!

Pumpkins on log 4

Where do you put your pumpkins? And do you carve or no?


(Many thanks to my brother for the 3 giant jacks and to my Mum for the littl'un.)

Pumpkins on log 3

This log bench is on our property, built by the previous owners. It's a great spot for pumpkins ... and a picture! We took plenty of the boys today sitting here, with the autumn colors swirling all around them and I think we actually got the Christmas card picture! Hooray!

Hope you all have a good night ... I'll see you again very soon!


"Bring Back Home Ec!"

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope you're enjoying your weekend ...

I just wanted to pop in quickly and share a link to this neat article which I read in the "Ideas" section of the Boston Sunday Globe. Very interesting stuff - lots of valid points. I would like to expand upon it, but my time is a bit pinched right now ... suffice it to say I think bringing "home ec" lessons back to the classroom (and the home!) is a wonderful concept.

And not just any old "home economics" class, but ... "a forward-thinking new kind of class that would give a generation of young people - not just women, but everyone - the skills to shop intelligently, cook healthily, manage money, and live well." (Ruth Graham, "Bring Back Home Ec!")

So take a looksee if you have a moment, and let me know what you think. In the meantime, have yourselves a lovely evening  ... I'll see you here again sometime soon!


Lullaby Magic

Train candle 1

One of the joys of having a baby again is rediscovering all the lovely little things we've forgotten through the years. So as Little Bear grows, Bill and I find ourselves remembering things like familar facial expressions ("That's Crackerjack's smile!" "That's Bookworm's furrowed brow!") and favorite toys and books ("Oh here's Elmo - or MoMo as Earlybird called him!" "Remember how much they all loved this book?") to long forgotten instincts - what a particular cry means and how to rock a wee one just so ... 

Well the other night, as I rocked a fussy baby all across our bedroom floor, it suddenly came to me - a lullaby I sang to each one of my boys, a beloved song that my own father sang to me when I was a child (often accompanied by his guitar) ... I have not thought of it in years! But with a couple of tries the words all came back to me (click the title to hear it online) ...

Morningtown Ride

Train whistle blowing, makes a sleepy noise,
Underneath their blankets go all the girls and boys. 
Heading from the station, out along the bay, 
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

*Sarah's at the engine, Tony rings the bell,
John swings the lantern to show that all is well.
Rocking, rolling, riding, out along the bay,
All bound for Morningtown, many miles away.

Maybe it is raining where our train will ride,
But all the little travelers are snug and warm inside.
Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day,
Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles away.

*Sarah, Tony and John became Bookworm, Crackerjack and Earlybird. :)

I sang it over and over to Little Bear, who crooned right along with me. (He absolutely LOVES music we've discovered.) And to be honest, I actually found myself tearing up because I was just flooded with memories of my first babies - so vividly aware of how fast time does fly - and so completely filled with love for this new one ...


My friends, what were/are your favorite songs to sing with your baby? I do love a lullaby but I'm quite partial to Beatles ballads as well. Actually, my go-to sing-a-song is this and it's another I remember fondly from childhood.


Well, enjoy your Friday evening, my friends and Happy Weekend as well!

Tuesday Tidbits

Happy Tuesday, my friends! I hope your week's going well! I have just a few things to share on this bright and breezy October day ... a little bit of this and that. :)


Well, somebody started solid foods last night! And despite what the middle picture might suggest, it was a hit!

Owens first solids 1

Owens first solids 6

Owens first solids 3

Last night he ate several spoonfuls before firmly closing his mouth, lol - but this morning he ate nearly the whole bowl! And he was grabbing the spoon and humming right along just as happy as could be. :)

(On a serious note, though ... I've seen some headlines about concern over arsenic levels in rice. Does anyone know if this affects infant rice cereal? We use Earth's Best Organic brand, but I don't know if that makes a difference ... I really need to look into this issue, just thought I'd ask if any of my readers can share any thoughts ... )


Here are some potted-up raspberries to transplant this fall. My mother-in-law very kindly dug up several shoots from our old house for us to plant here.

Potted raspberries

Now to figure out where to plant them!


The "ladies" were back this morning ...

Chickens on patio

I think they like our grass!


 I thought this made a cute picture ...

  Book worms

(Another homeschooler in the making!)


 And finally, a picture taken by Crackerjack of Archie ...

Archie close up

Our church does a Blessing of the Pets every year on (or around) The Feast of St. Francis. We did not take our kitties because they do not tolerate car rides/the cat carrier very well. Maybe next year we'll just bring a picture?


Well, that's all for now, folks. Many blessings on your day!

Good Monday Morning!

Hello, my friends ~ I hope you all had a nice weekend! I have just a few family photos to share on this odd October morning ...

(Odd in that it's drizzly and gray but strangely mild and muggy!)

First, here are my older boys with Little Bear ...

O with l and j

And here is Earlybird and Mama (me) with Little Bear who is sitting in his brand spankin' new "activity center." :)

O with mama and r

And now for Daddy and EB with Little Bear ...

O exersaucer 1

We had an "exersaucer" for the older boys when they were babies, but it's long gone. Nana and Papa bought this new "play zone" for LB this weekend.

But Little Bear looks so tiny in this! I think he'll get more use out of it as he gets a bit older ... he's pretty intrigued though!

Owen exersaucer 2

Hmmm ... what's this?

Owen exersaucer 3

Oh the places you'll go, little O!


Have a great Monday, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

happy little hedgehog ❤

It's hard to justify new baby clothes when one is having her 4th child of the same gender, but really ... when the clothes are this cute, how can one possibly resist?

Hedgie 1

Hedgie 3

Hedgie 2

Love the autumnal colors and I've always been quite fond of hedgehogs! Tagging Penny from VT and Shirley Ann from England on that! ;)


And speaking of Michaelmas (which I was the other day), Bookworm texted me a picture of this gorgeous statue of St. Michael the Archangel which stands in one of his classroom buildings at BC.

Michael statue

* And finally, our supper tonight has an "Octoberfest" feel: turkey kielbasa roasted with diced potatoes, zucchini and red peppers, served with crescent rolls and Octoberfest beer (for the grownups, natch).

Have a great evening, my friends!


Angels on Wednesday

Good evening, my friends! I hope your Wednesday's been pleasant ...

Here in New England it's been so lovely ... one of those days I wish I could bottle up and keep forever ... or at least until next year! Today was so gorgeously sunny and warm, it felt like Summer's goodbye kiss. The kind of day I would have loved to grab my camera and drive around town seeking out good shots. :)

* Well, today also happens to be the Feast of the Guardian Angels and it always makes me think of my grandmother, whose go-to prayer was the familiar favorite, "Angel of God, my guardian dear ... " To this day that's Crackerjack's bedtime prayer.

In fact, I have two special ladies on my mind this week - my Gram and Bill's Grammie, who were both "angels" to so many people in their lives. Gram's patron saint was St. Francis (whose feast day is Friday) and Bill's grandmother's patroness was St. Therese whose feast day was yesterday.

Grammie, Gram and Me

Both of these dear women taught me so much about living a good, holy life - about serving my loved ones and enjoying the small things in life. How I wish they were still with us.

* A sweet little book for this week ... one I usually request from the library but forgot to this year:

Angels book

Angels, Angels Everywhere

* Here's a long-ago post I wrote filled with "angel" crafts and a recipe for angel kisses. A bit of feast day fun for the littles ... goodness that seems just like yesterday.

* And here's a neat link for you: 25 Pumpkin Desserts to Eat this Fall. Oh my. And speaking of pumpkin, I am excited to try this intriguing recipe for a "Pumpkin Steamer." I adore steamed milk - Bill and I visited Nantucket many years ago and one foggy evening I enjoyed an almond steamed milk before we retired to our inn. It was so soothing and delicious! I've been a fan ever since. :)

What's your favorite pumpkin food: sweet, savory or otherwise?


Must be off now, my friends ... have yourselves a wonderful evening!