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August 2015

Weekend Pics: Goodbye August!

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a nice weekend! :)

Well, here we are at August's back gate ... tomorrow we step onto September's path! I can hardly believe it, as it feels quite summery here! Lots of heat and humidity - we'll be over 90 later today! I am still working on a few "meatier" blog posts but since life continues to be hectic, and writing time scarce, here are a few pics from the weekend. :)

New bookcase

Nothing like a "new" bookcase in the dining room to make your homeschooling heart go a-flutter! I love organizing bookshelves ... and boy, do the cats love to help! Actually, this is an old bookcase (originally Bill's Grammie's) but it's been in storage since we moved here. I have resisted putting a bookcase in the dining room - I finally have myself an actual dining room and I didn't want to turn it over to homeschooling! - BUT. This is where we keep our homeschooling stuff - usually spread all over the table - and we don't actually use the room for family meals, aside from large gatherings like Thanksgiving. So it just makes sense. I will do my best to keep things "presentable," lol. I am thinking the top of this bookcase could serve as a display shelf for our weekly seasonal themes.

Summer dinner table still life

I just snapped this picture last night as I sat around the kitchen table with my family - our last quiet family supper before the school year gets into swing. I just loved how this all looked - the colors, texture and overall coziness ... :)

Cornfield 3

Here's that cornfield I mentioned in my previous post ... we did swing by this weekend to take a look. Boy was that corn tall and majestic! I love how it sounds as it rustles in the breeze - even if those breezes are hard to come by in this hazy summer weather!

September page 2

And finally, here is some lovely September scrapbooking paper ... goodness, those apples look perfect, don't they? I bought myself a whole new pad of that vintage, seasonal paper I showed you back in January. I am so in love with it and was very happy to see it back in stock at my favorite paper shop. Amazon has it too - here is a link if you're interested. :)

Well my friends, I'd best be off - I've a lot on my docket today! But I wanted to pop in and say hello and share these little snippets of my weekend with you. I hope you are all doing well and getting your week off to a good start! Thanks for stopping by ...

I'll see you here again very soon!


Creating Seasonal Themes: Corn Week!

Corn 1
(Plus a bit of book news at the end!)

Happy Wednesday, my friends! Sorry I've been a bit out of touch lately ... we've had a lot going on here at the house these days!

We're gearing up for a new year of home learning, and we're getting Bookworm ready for his move back to BC, and we're starting Earlybird on a new, daily, home-based, fairly intensive, behavioral therapy. All very good things, but all things requiring a lot of time, energy and attention. (And did I mention, energy?) Also, as August winds down, we're trying to squeeze the very last drops of goodness out of this fast-fleeing season ... we'll have warm weather here for several more weeks, but for all intents and purposes, Summer pretty much ends after Labor Day.

So I thought I would share some of my notes for this week with you all! As I have mentioned before, I enjoy shaping my family's year by assigning seasonal themes to each week. This helps me weave in all the little comforts and joys of the season I might otherwise overlook. And though I really get into planning these themes out with all kinds of details, I try not to set my expectations too high. Because real life often runs over my plans, and a particular "theme" might not get explored very much ... so some years we might manage something small (a special recipe, perhaps) while other years we might go all out and really work that theme into our homeschooling and home life! Either way, I think it's always good to have a plan. And to be aware ... I think as seasons pass, the beautiful rhythm of the year truly wraps itself around my family however much attention we pay it. That is my end goal! :)

Anyhoo, this current week is devoted to the very timely topic of CORN. In New England (and I suspect, across much of the country) corn is in its peak season these days. Corn-on-the-cob is just heavenly right now - partaking daily is not out of the question - and cornstalks will factor into our home decorations in the coming weeks ...

But enough gabbing on my part! Here are some of my thoughts:

The Full Green Corn Moon will rise on Saturday, August 29th @ 2:35 p.m., and it's a Supermoon this month! We'll have to be sure to look for it after dark and plan a special farmstand supper - starring corn, of course! - for that night. 

🌽

We'll visit a local corn field ... we drive by it often and always marvel at its size. This time we'll stop the car and get out - observe the field, its sounds and smells. What wildlife is flying overhead or scurrying underfoot? What do we hear? (Is that the corn making that sound?) What can we smell? (Vegetation, earth?) How does the air feel right now? (Hot, humid?) Now, we won't touch these stalks because we don't have permission, but we might visit a local farm and ask to do just that. I'll see what our schedule allows and how much interest has been piqued. Before we go, we'll take pictures of the cornfield from various angles. 

🌽

We'll visit our favorite farmstand and buy plenty of ears of fresh corn. We'll ask where the corn comes from and how many ears they sell each day. We'll buy some to eat and some to use for exploration/activities ...

At home, we'll pile some ears on the table and take out our colored pencils and sketch pad: "Still Life with Corn!"

🌽

We''ll enjoy some nice books from the library all about corn:

Corn book 2

The Life and Times of Corn

Corn book 1

Corn

Corn book 3

Corn is Maize

Corn book 4

The Popcorn Book

Corn book 5

Raccoons and Ripe Corn

(These might be in a basket or set up as a display on a nature shelf.)

🌽

We'll play some pretty lullabies ... and discuss how/why corn was so important to Native Americans

Corn music

Under the Green Corn Moon (Native American Lullabies)

For craft day we'll make a corn husk candle - a small glass votive surrounded by corn husks with a tiny beeswax tealight tucked inside. That will look nice on our table! (We could also try making this or this ...)

Or we could try making a corn husk doll (and research the history behind it) ...

We will pop popcorn for snack ... and we might even make marshmallow popcorn bars for a tasty treat!

We might do a taste test: boiled corn vs. grilled corn. 

On baking day we will make a pan of corn bread, and serve it with honey butter.

🌽

We'll learn a poem called "A Green Cornfield" by Christina Georgina Rossetti. We'll add that poem to our nature journal, along with our pictures/sketches.

 The earth was green, the sky was blue:
I saw and heard one sunny morn
A skylark hang between the two,
A singing speck above the corn;

A stage below, in gay accord,
White butterflies danced on the wing,
And still the singing skylark soared,
And silent sank and soared to sing.

The cornfield stretched a tender green
To right and left beside my walks;
I knew he had a nest unseen
Somewhere among the million stalks.

And as I paused to hear his song
While swift the sunny moments slid,
Perhaps his mate sat listening long,
And listened longer than I did.

🌽 

We'll consider "Kansas Corn Field," a painting by artist John Steuart Curry in 1933:

Corn 2

***

I also have notes for some Indian Corn activities but I'm not sure if I can get it at the nursery yet. Also, those might wait for a later week in the fall. This week is really more about fresh, or green, corn. :)

So there, in a nutshell (or a kernel!) are my simple ideas for celebrating the goodness of corn during this last week of August. Remember - they're all just possibilities! I can't imagine fitting them all in in any one given year.

How do you enjoy corn at this time of year? Perhaps you grow it yourself or have a favorite recipe ... let me know in the comments below! In the meantime, and before I go, I wanted to mention my book briefly, because I've had a few people ask recently about how my progress is going ...

So, I have been working on it this summer - here and there, not as often as I'd like! - but it took me a while to get going because I wasn't entirely sure WHAT I wanted to write about. I have a few subjects I enjoy very much and there are a few topics people ask about more than others ... well, I finally found my focus! And that enabled me to get rolling ...

I am going to do a book about the file crate system - describing how I do it (and why) and the basics of setting a system up for yourself. That will be the first half of the book ... the second half will focus on seasonal learning (and living) ... and how I use my FCS to manage my family's year. So my hope is to have an outline of 52 (weekly) *seasonal* themes to present  along with activities and books and observations. And tips for using the folders to make it all happen! (Or most of it ... some of it ... well, you get the picture!)

Sometimes when I describe this it all sounds so straight forward and simple - these are my two favorite topics, after all! It seems like the two sides of the equation should work well together ... I need the folders to make the plans happen! But it's possible I may need to separate the two topics ... goodness knows I can get wordy!

(Case in point, this post.)

I will most likely be self-publishing so I'll need to do a WHOLE lot of research into that. I have my eye on a neat contraption that will allow me to bind things at home ... and I am looking into permission for using things like scrapbook papers and poems, illustrations, etc. 

Much to do, much to do! But I'm excited ... so I wanted to update you all .. and I will of course keep you all posted. For the time being, if you have a prayer to spare, or good energy to send, I would be grateful ... I'm desperately trying to find the time in my new schedule to just ... get 'er done!

 :)

Thanks so much for stopping by my friends ... enjoy the rest of your Wednesday and I will see you here again very soon!


My New Daybook! (post two)

Dayplanner 6

Well, as promised, here is a second and closer look at the daily planner I am now using. The story behind this recent purchase is here, but just to recap - this is a $20 Blue Sky "Day Designer" daily planner which I found at Target last month. I had been looking for something I could use for planning the details of my day ... large enough to write it all down, but of a size that would be easy enough to tote around. This planner seemed to fit the bill - and it was awfully pretty to boot!

I'll get into how I'm actually using it in a moment, but here's a look at the basics ...

Dayplanner 4

Overall dimensions are 8.5" x 10" x about 1" thick and the binding is a metallic coil. It all feels very sturdy, the pages so far have resisted any ripping and the paper itself offers a smooth writing surface. I have yet to do much with the cover - as you can see the gold and white stripes are pretty shiny! Metallics are not really my style, but I have seen other DD users add full-page stickers to change the look. Hmmm ... There is a plastic cover (and backing) that mutes the glare a bit (and protects the cover from scuffs, spills, etc.).

Here is the inside title page ...

Dayplanner 5

There are some goal planning pages in the front section; I haven't done anything with them yet, but they offer good food for thought ...

Dayplanner 5 (1)

In addition to the daily pages there are monthly calendars, with each month displayed in a nicely-sized, two-page spread. I really appreciate the lined boxes!

Dayplanner 3

(Sorry some of these pics are a bit dark - it was a dreary day so the light was not great for photo-taking!)

And I will say, the teal blue palette is not my favorite, but it's growing on me. We planner junkies are wickedly picky, aren't we? ;) I am thinking of shading the monthly grids to reflect the seasons ... either natural or liturgical or both. Seasonal stickers would be fun here, too.

But here's how I'm using the daily page itself:

Dayplanner 7

 (Note: This is a dummy copy of an unused July page adorned with colorful washi tape so I can highlight the different sections in this post ... I don't actually use this much tape on my pages!)

Top:

The pink sticky note at the top of the page is for reminding me what our seasonal theme is for that week. (I have one for each week of the year, natch.)

Along the top of the page I jot down the weather for that day. I'm also a bit of a weather junkie ... :)

Left-hand column:

Here is the basic agenda for 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. I have designated 8 a.m. as breakfast, 12:30 p.m. as lunch and 6 p.m. as supper. We don't always eat exactly at those times, but close enough. Here is where I'll plan what we're having for those meals. Otherwise I use this column as it's intended - for appointments and activities, drop-off and pick-up times. I may try color-coding here but not sure ...

Middle column:

I'm using "Today's Top Three" for what I feel is "of note" about that day. Like, if it's someone's birthday or if it's a holiday or feast day or a full moon or meteor shower or something.

Under the "To-Do" column I use the first lines for my day's housekeeping chores. (My weekly routine, a la Monday is bedrooms, Tuesday is bathrooms, etc.) After those first lines are filled, I add the other to-do's for that day ... things that really should be done TO-day. (As opposed to sometime this week or month ...)

In the "Tonight" space I jot down if there's anything that will take us (and who) out in the evening or if there's something on TV or something I'd like to work on once the younger boys are asleep.

Right-hand column:

At the top there is a daily quote which is really nice. I add the title of a new book I'm starting here.

The Notes section is spacious and handy, but because I have my whole domestic journal I don't need to confuse myself too much with where to put random bits of information. So here in this space I am keeping only notes that pertain to the "to-do's" column - for example, any extra tasks that go along with the housekeeping calendar. (Eg. this Monday's extra bedroom chores are cleaning baseboards and registers, shutters and blinds.)

In the bottom space, labeled, "Gratitude" I am currently writing down things I want to reflect on or pray about.

I also keep a small post-it note somewhere on the page for this week's blog ideas.

And that's it! In the back of the planner there are plenty of lined note pages. I have no immediate plans for how I'll use those - probably just for random thoughts if I'm out and about and need someplace to record something quickly. 

***

Here's an actual page from last week ...

Dayplanner 2

 I keep my Day Designer in my command zone (aka the kitchen countertop), right next to my homekeeping binder (which is kept open to my current journaling page). It's all parked right in front of the file crate bin.

Now, there is a whole Facebook group devoted to talking about their Day Designers and how they use them/decorate them/love them, etc. I am amazed at how much people play around with the pages, and even the tabs themselves. Some folks add a lot of inspirational stickers and even punch things to fit the binding (like a small strip that shows the week at a glance). But for now I'm keeping things pretty simple.

I will say, I think this is a genius daily planner and from what I understand it is hard to find - so I guess I was pretty lucky to have found the one I did that Sunday morning at Target. It was a bit of an impulse purchase, but I'm glad I went with my instinct. And before you ask, yes, I am still also using a seasonal planner and a weekly planner as well ... but there is a method to my madness, lol! There are things I can't really plan in this daybook - lesson plans for example. Which is why I am spending THIS weekend finalizing my homeschool planbook - with a pencil, ruler, and an old notebook I had on hand. I will absolutely be sharing about that in a future post ... perhaps next week if I'm able. I'm thinking a post about our command zones would be a fun idea, too ... I think most of us are organizing ourselves and our work zones for the new year ahead, whether we homeschool or do school or not!

But lest I get ahead of myself, let me wrap this up here and thank you all, as always, for stopping by. I hope you all are having a great weekend! Just about a week left to August ... how crazy is that?! I'm just not ready for Summer to end ... though I am looking forward to Fall. :)

See you here again very soon!

p.s. I had my phone interview with Pam at Ed Snapshots last week - and it was SO fun! What a lovely conversation Pam and I had. :) The podcast will be up sometime this Fall, and I will of course keep you all posted ... but in the meantime, check out the many podcasts already in Pam's archive. There is much inspiration to be found there!


Thoughtful Thursday: August Gardens

August garden 1

"There is no lack of produce in August gardens, the best of which is saved for the fairs and reunions. Jars of golden mustard pickles and crisp green cucumber slices wait in rows in the cool cellar. String beans and corn relish are counted by the dozens of jars. Jams and jellies in sparkling colors await such special occasions. Herbs are hanging from the rafters in the warm, dry shed, soon to be pulverized for winter's use, but green herbs are plentiful in the garden for fresh salads: lettuce, parsley, tarragon and chives, savory, thyme and chervil. There is no lack of garden stuff for family reunions, no indeed. Even the tomatoes are ripe, the better to flavor a casserole of summer vegetables."

From The New England Butt'ry Shelf Almanac by Mary Mason Campbell (illustrated by Tasha Tudor) - one of my FAVORITE resources for seasonal planning. I have all those pulled out right now, in a lovely stack in my workspace ... :)

Speaking of tomatoes and casseroles of summer vegetables - here's a recipe I pinned this morning and can't wait to try ... sounds delicious! :)

And here's a bit more from the August chapter, if I may share ...

"Summer falters. Mornings taste of autumn; evenings close in earlier, quietly, no longer filled with melodies of garden birds. Only the thrush may still be heard singing, or a robin calling. A cricket chirps at the door-rock and cicadas forecast first frost ("six weeks from the first song of the cicada"). Swallows gather on telephone wires and sweep through the late summer air to gather such feasts as they may. Elderberries and blueberries are dead ripe. Goldenrod lifts its fringed blossoms over the stone walls. Butterflies hover over the hollows and ditches where joe-pye weed blooms in soft purple drifts. In years gone by, to cure fevers tea was made from joe-pye weed and its sister plant, the white boneset. In the woods' damp shady places, Indian pipe rises in its ghostly white and we stoop to examine it in wonder and delight ... "

(Remember when I showed you our Indian Pipe growing by the mailbox?)

:)

Well my friends, I hope you are all having a nice week. It's flying by is it not? Thursday already ... I am taking pictures right this minute (or in just a few) of my daybook's Thursday-Friday page so I can share how I'm using it. Really having fun setting up my lesson planner for the new year, too ... there's so much promise at this time of year!

Thanks for stopping by, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

*image from Let's Grow a Garden by Gyo Fujikawa


Wordy Wednesday*

*So named because this post was meant to be wordless but as usual, I can't help myself ...

Ww sun in stairwell

 The stairwell as I walk down to get a second cup of coffee - so pretty, I had to snap a pic! (My first cup was brought to me by Bill - he gets up with Earlybird, I stay in bed with Little Bear.) There are a few moments each day when the rising sun hits the east-facing windows just right and the house floods with morning light. I love this time of the day - a moment filled with quiet, light and promise.

Ww temp reading

 The weather app reading on my phone - it's been a scorching few days here in New England!

Ww red squirrels

 Two of our tiny red squirrels, enjoying seed I scattered on the deck in relative peace - usually they don't care to share!

Ww lesson plans file crate

A close-up of my file crate - love all those snappy folders! - with my homemade lesson planner stashed in back. I am trying to tweak the folders a bit to do more for me this year ...

Ww learning room

Getting things organized in the learning room ... for a day-after-Labor-Day start! I relish this time of year ... need to get maps up, bags organized, books arranged and supplies re-stocked!

Ww baby days

And my little fella. :) He found this "old" toy when we were downstairs at the laundry ... he trucked it upstairs, placed it up on the table, and got himself into a chair so he could play (work). I love how hard he's concentrating here ... :)


Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends! See you here again very soon!


We're Celebrating Crackerjack's 16th Birthday!

Which means, I have a whole lotta pictures to share! But first, a little throwback, just to keep it all in perspective ...

Cj bday 2

Some of you may remember this wee fella from way back when I started blogging ... ten years ago (almost)? Well, as hard as it is for me to believe - let alone say - this little laddie is now a young man of SIXTEEN!

And let me tell you - though I know some of you know this - what a different experience it is planning a birthday party for a six year old as opposed to a 16 year old! There's far less planning and preparation involved - for example, there are no pinatas to hang or favor bags to fill, lol. Anyhoo, what we did this weekend was to have Jack invite friends over on Saturday to watch movies in the cool man cave ("cool," as in escaping the heat) and then on Sunday our family gathered for a simple cookout to celebrate our young man.

Jacks fam party 16

The Birthday Boy himself!

Jacks fam party 5

And the family gathered: my folks and Bill's folks and all our boys!

Jacks fam party 8

August means farm-fresh corn at every chance. Seriously, we eat it several times a week at this time of year! And baked beans are traditional New England fare in any season, but I love them at parties, and they are always a Little Bear favorite!

Jacks fam party 27

And here are some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from my friend Debbie's garden ... like jewels in the sun, so pretty in this bowl.

Jacks fam party 11

And voila the birthday party spread! Hot dogs, burgers, (sliced sweet onions, tomatoes and crispy bacon), sausages, potato salad, garden salad, corn on the cob, baked beans, chips-n-dip ... and crabbies (a family favorite)!

 Jacks fam party 7

The liquid refreshments and pretty glassware were set up on the kitchen jetty ... lemonade, sodas, iced tea, and wine. 

Jacks fam party 26 (1)

A tiny pumpkin from our garden! I love how it looks amongst all the summery-ness - a glimpse of things to come ...

Jacks fam party 14

Bill and I with our boys - a bit of Christmas card practice!

Jacks fam party 10 (1)

And here's our Bookworm, talking about his new TA position at BC this fall. He'll be quite the busy undergrad this year!

Jacks fam party 21

I just love this picture of Mum and I with Little Bear. I love that we laugh so much as a family ... we have a lot of fun. :) 

Jacks fam party 2

My brother Matt had to work all day but came up to the house after he got off of work a bit early. Earlybird was so thrilled he ran to the doors to let him in - with a big hug, natch. :)

(He brought some amazing grapes, by the way - he works at Trader Joe's, fyi - they are absolutely the sweetest I've ever had!)

Jacks fam party 3

My brother (aka Unc Matt) and the birthday boy.

Jacks fam party 26

Little Bear enjoying his bubba with his Papa. How sweet is this picture?

Jacks fam party 23

LB giving out hugs and fist bumps. This one was for his Great Aunt Anne.

Jacks fam party 19

What a happy day - love spending time with these folks! With my Dad and Bill's Godmother, Aunt Anne. 

Jacks friend party 1

For CJ and his friends, I made "monster cupcakes" - aka squash muffins with a simple powdered sugar glaze. They were a hit! (And LB was a bit obsessed with the candles.)

Jacks party 2

I am so grateful that CJ has such great friends and that they've been friends since they were little kids. Note the tiny guy on CJ's lap ... sneaking in where the action is. ;) He insisted on being at the table with the big boys. 

Jacks friends party 4

Here's CJ with his friend, Kurt - and a great new Disney t-shirt in his favorite color!

Jacks friends party 5

Crackerjack is a lot of things - kind, funny, thoughtful - but I especially love what a fantastic big brother he is. I think the greatest compliment anyone can be paid in life is to earn the love and trust and attachment of a young child. It says so much about a person when little ones feel safe and happy with them ... and as you can see from this picture, Little Bear and Crackerjack have a truly special bond. Fourteen years apart, but best buddies at heart. <3

*

Well I'll wrap up now, but I thank you for stopping by and sharing in our special day! I will be back to chat more another time - and I have pictures of my Day Designer to share (remember the daybook I bought at Target a while back?) ... I think I'm liking it!

:)

Enjoy your evening, my friends and see you again soon!


Pondering Project Planning ...

Confirmation outfit 1

Next month Crackerjack will make his Holy Confirmation, so I've been scrambling about checking suit sizes, dress shoes, ties and belts, etc., but it occurred to me ... we'd need something "spiffy" for our littlest man to wear, too! Well, I happened to be at Babies 'R Us yesterday (buying - what else - diapers, lol?) and saw these dapper duds on sale ... so how could I resist? I just had to share this with you all because I thought you might get a kick out of it ... :)

But also, I'd like to ask you all a question this morning about project planning:

How/where do you plan out Projects?

CJ's Confirmation, as I mentioned, is happening next month and naturally there's much to do to get ready. He's been preparing for two years, and we've had to keep track of his requirements ... there have been papers and signatures and essays and memos with important dates. And then there's the Big Day itself! A late morning Mass will be followed by a rather large celebration at our house ... so, all in all, it's a sizeable project to plan out and prepare for!

So my question is, where would you keep a project plan for an event like this? A project that requires checklists, goals, delegation, follow-up, brainstorming, etc.?

Other project examples:

A birthday party

Thanksgiving Dinner

A yard sale ... or bake sale

A move/house sale

A vacation

A home business idea

A room makeover

Advent

A new heath regime

I'm always stumped when it comes to storing project plans, and I've tried a lot of different locations:

In a special notebook devoted just to project planning.

In a separate binder where I can also stash loose papers and whatnot.

On a clipboard.

In the file crate, in a folder marked, "Projects."

In my master binder, behind a "Projects" tab.

In the seasonal binder to which the project belongs (if it's timely).

Now, I realize - as usual - I'm probably overthinking things, but I thought I'd ask for my readers' thoughts on this topic ... because I love hearing how other people organize things!

If you have a moment please let me know where you plan your projects and all the stuff that goes along with it!

{I know I keep talking about "posts to come" about my planning - seasonal, weekly, home education, nature study, etc. - and I do promise they're coming. I'm just trying to get it all straight before I begin my "show and tell!" :) Currently I'm in the midst of re-tooling my tools and re-thinking how I use them. I do love me some binders and planners and notebooks and folders, but I'm realizing that perhaps keeping things all in one place is more realistic for me. I'm trying not to overstuff my master binder, but it is convenient to keep things right at my fingertips.}

Well, I'd best wrap up and be off and get this day rolling. It happens to be Crackerjack's SIXTEENTH birthday today ... and Bill has taken a few days off so there will be much family togetherness ... which of course means there will be plenty of pictures forthcoming!

Have yourselves a good Thursday, my friends, and see you here again very soon!


How about some Midsummer News?

Good Tuesday morning, my friends! I was working on my sidebars this morning, when I came across this fun little newsletter I wrote back in 2012 ...

Newsletters

 Some of you received one of these in the mail! :)

Whether you got one of those initial mailings or not, you can still read my newsletter by clicking on the nest icon over there on the righthand side of my blog (just below my Facebook feed) or just click on the link below:

Midsummer News, 2012

I thought I would share it with you all once again since it is very timely and chock-full of seasonal inspiration! (If I may say so myself ... ahem!I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it perhaps sparks some ideas for this time of year ...

I'm working on my Early Autumn notes just now ... so many notes! ... but I must remind myself to stop and savor the Summer before it passes ... time is a-flying as always!

Blessings on your day, my friends ... thanks for stopping by and see you here again very soon!


Summery Pics & Nature Notes

Golden party flowers 2

 Happy Monday, my friends! I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Ours was very nice - we spent Saturday at Bill's folks' golden anniversary party, and what a special day it was - perfect August weather and lots of family and friends, celebrating a happy, loving couple. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it here at the blog but Bill's dad had a stroke last fall and has been recuperating ever since. It's been a very hard road for him - for Bill's mom, too - but he's come such a long way and is doing very well. We're all so happy he's home now and that they were able to celebrate this beautiful day together - they even renewed their vows on the front lawn and it was just a lovely ceremony ...

Anyhoo, the flowers above are from a beautiful arrangement my sister-in-law had delivered on behalf of all the "kids." My mother-in-law sent me home with a small portion and I just love looking at the pretty blooms sitting my kitchen window. The sweet pansy was a Sunday morning gift from Little Bear, a treasure found "for Mama" on a walk with Daddy. :)

Speaking of pretty flowers, here are some from my mother-in-law's garden ...

Golden party 10

Golden party 6

She has quite the green thumb as you can see!

Also this weekend, I found these neat plastic page finders at Staples. (Ah, the siren's call of Staples at this time of year ...) I usually make my own out of scrapbooking paper, but these are quite sturdy and fit a 3-ring binder perfectly. I have one in my home keeping binder for marking my place in my domestic journal (my daily notes/clippings log) and another marks where I have current project plans. I also stick post-it notes to the page finder for various things ... but more on all this when I do my binder tour!

Pagefinders 1

And here's a very cool - kinda weird! - plant that grows in our woodland garden. It's called Indian Stovepipe, or Ghost Plant (or Corpse Plant, ew!) and it pops up from beneath the leaf litter in late Summer. It feeds on fungus in the soil below and does not use chlorophyl as most plants due, hence its lack of color ...

Indian stovepipe ghost plant

And this might be a little more "ew," but I find it fascinating, and so do my boys ...

Snakeskin 1

A beautiful snakeskin found in one of our stone walls ... there's a garter nest in there apparently. I love how complete the skin impression is! Can you see the tiny eye marks?

(Note: I must publicly apologize to my mother who, I know, is shuddering to see that snakeskin, and who, to this day, wonders where this bug-snake-dirt-and-rocks loving girl came from, lol. I've always loved nature, but it was all flowers and fluffy animals when I was young ... but you know, I grew up to be a mom to four boys - I had to get right down there and explore with them, and flowers don't intrigue them nearly as much as an exoskeleton or snakeskin! And I find I do love all of nature, and find it so fascinating - miraculous! - even the less "pretty" parts!)

Speaking of nature, don't forget The Perseids are coming this week! (Actually, they're already here, but peaking around 8/12-13.) This annual meteor shower brings beautiful shooting stars to the dark night sky ... read more about them here.

Well my friends, that's all I have time for right now ... but thanks so much for stopping by, and have yourselves a great day! I will see you here again very soon ... :)


A Glimpse of Autumn ...

Hello my friends, and welcome! I hope your week's going well. :) I have a few fun things to share with you all this fine Thursday morning ...

Pre-autumn 1

I spied my first glimpse of Autumn yesterday as I paged through the newest PaperSource catalog ... I LOVE "seeing" fall on the pages of my magazines and catalogs, even if I'm not quite ready for Summer to end. It makes me happy and eager to plan the next season!

Speaking of planning ...

Pre-autumn 2

With the school reports out of the way, I've started working on my lesson planner for the academic year ahead. It's a rather humble and homespun affair (using stuff I had on hand), but I'm hoping it will serve me well. I will share it here with you all soon.

Pre-autumn 3

And here's one of those very fine, early Autumn issues! My Victoria never disappoints, but I especially love its annual British issue. 

Pre-autumn 4

And finally, I had to snap a picture of this spot in my bedroom because it just looks so pretty and cozy. I'm in love with my "new" quilt and shams - and I must say Thanks to my Mum for her generous donation! This lovely set was in her guest bedroom until I "borrowed" it and couldn't seem to give it back. ;) And I love that the window is open - because the air is so fresh and cool this morning - and there's a bit of reading stacked on the night-side table. (There's even more in the basket sitting on top of the hope chest at the foot of the bed.) And I had to turn on the light because it was just a bit too dark for a good picture without it. I liked that, too ... that tells me the daylight is changing as we move closer to fall ... :)

Well, my friends - I must be off for now, but thanks so much for stopping by. Blessings on your day and see you here again very soon!


Homeschool Thoughts, Lists & News, etc.

(A bit of a hodgepodge today!)

Happy august 1

Happy August, my friends! It sure is hot and hazy here, but I love how the flowers just glow in the summer sun these days. And everything is so green ... I just love this time of year!

Well, I wanted to pop in quickly this morning to tell you I am *thisclose* to finishing our school reports - I just need to finalize Earlybird's ed. plan for next year. His reports are always a bit tricky because, as a special needs child, my plans must be thorough, but flexible, and his progress is not always so readily apparent. I have to put a lot of thought into what we will learn and how I will teach him these things. And because of his learning style and challenges, my methods are not always as clear-cut as just say, ordering a "Grade X Curriculum." Thankfully he does make progress each year ... I just have to really look back through all we did in each subject to remind myself (reassure myself) how said progress was made and measured.

(For example, this year he listened to audiobooks - something he didn't couldn't do before - and in this way we "read" several classic books together. I couldn't ask him to fill out a quiz or write a report, but I could - when the time was right - ask him questions about what we'd heard that day and to re-tell parts of the story, which I would write down.)

So I'm always looking for ways to "think outside the box" when constructing Earlybird's education, and one resource I have found immensely helpful are these fantastic (and free!) Living Learning Lists from Ed Snapshots. There are some terrific ideas here for experiential learning in all the main subjects! I've pinned these lists and printed them out to keep in my homeschool planner for use all year long ... :)

And speaking of Ed Snapshots ... well, I am just SUPER excited to have been invited to do a podcast with Pam sometime in the near future! (You can read other podcasts here ... so much inspiration!) I will keep you all posted about when mine will be happening ... I'm not sure what-all I can bring to the "podcast table," but I am SO honored to have been asked! I haven't "talked shop" in a while ... :)

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Let's see, what else? I also wanted to mention that so far I am really enjoying my new Day Designer! I will do a post on how I'm using it as soon as I can - I want to get some more "days" under my belt first - but I wanted to mention that if you'd like a peek at how the planner looks, DD offers free downloadable planning pages to try out before purchasing. Mind you, this is an example of a page from a flagship planner - the original Day Designer - not the Blue Sky version I purchased from Target. I'm still working out how the versions differ ... and how to personalize my own planner. More about that soon!

Ok - and here's a final thought for today - over the weekend I had my hair cut, colored and styled and boy does it feel good! (Some of you might have seen my "after shot" on my Facebook page.) And it got me to thinking ... wouldn't it be fun to do a "hair care" post here at the blog? I would love to chat about how we wear our hair, and how we care for it ... on our own at home and at the salon. Especially when we're busy with other things (kids, work, life!) or being careful with our budget. We could even - if people were willing! - share pictures. I will keep that in mind for sometime in my posting future - let me know if you think that would be fun and any other post ideas you might have for me! I'm always open to suggestions. :)

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All righty then ... I will be off now since my kids are clamoring for lunch and I'm the point person when it comes to that situation. For now I will wish you all a good week and hope to see you here again very soon!

Teach quote

(Saw this just before hitting "post" and had to share!)