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Planner Party Guest Post Number 10: Mary Ellen!

{Happy mid-week, my friends! Please welcome Mary Ellen to the Party!}

***

Dear Dawn,
 
I use the Catholic Mother’s Daily Planner and have done so for many years now (maybe ten?). This is where I write down all of the kids' activities, my own appointments, business trips, work deadlines, bits and pieces of my husband’s schedule and feast/holiday/family celebrations. I mostly use the month-at-a-glance section for scheduling and the daily pages for notes about the day, homeschool notes, a menu note or doodling. :)
 
Planner party mary ellen 2
 
Planner party mary ellen 3
 
My brain dump is not a planner at all. I use the Mead Cambridge Business Notebook which has a wide left margin suitable for lists and a pretty sturdy cover. I usually use one a year. In this goes all the lists I make, menus, groceries, errands, ideas for articles, party planning, field trip ideas, homeschool ideas/projects. The book ends up being a hot mess and really useable only to me because it only makes sense to me. It’s not pretty but it’s a good reflection of how my brain works, also not pretty. :)
 
Planner party mary ellen 1
 
Lastly, I have a pretty commonplace book, purchased for cheap at Marshalls where I keep quotes, thoughts and ideas that I find inspirational. Also some doodles.  For school work I use Seton planners and lesson plans with an eye towards making it work for my family. Flexible is my favorite word in homeschooling. :)
 
I hope you find this useful ...
 
Love,
Mary Ellen 
***
Mary Ellen, this was very useful - thank you! I have long admired The Catholic Mother's Planner - not sure why it's never made it into my repertoire! It is lovely to look at, especially that monthly page with all your cheerful family notes. I think the fact that you've used it for so many years is its best recommendation ... anything we return to, and use so thoroughly, is a winner for sure!
 
As for your "brain dump" - it sounds much like mine! I LOVE that you call it a "hot mess" ... that is PERFECT. And I know just what you mean when you say, it only makes sense to you. Same here ... it might amuse someone else (because sometimes I sound rather silly) but I have all kinds of information stored here, some whimsical and some important. And I know that exact notebook you are using; it is a very nice one. I have used small Mead notebooks in the past for my own "domestic journal" ... but nowadays I use loose-leaf paper filed in the front of my home keeping binder ... though I kind of miss the convenience of the notebook platform.
 
I don't have a separate commonplace book as you do - I throw it all in the same place - but I think it is nice that you store special quotes and (lovely!) doodles somewhere apart from the less formal brain-dump. Honestly, I think all this doodling and scribbling and information gathering is keeping our maternal brains fit and flexible, to capture your sentiment!
 
:)
 
Thank you so much for participating, Mary Ellen! I enjoyed seeing and hearing about your planning systems, and I'm eager to hear what our readers have to say!
Friends, I truly feel that all this planning - while often fun and sometimes frustrating - is actually quite important to our role as mother. Not just for keeping our families on track (the appointments and commitments, and such), but for laying down the good and true tracks to begin with. I have a vision (as I'm sure you all do) of how I want our time together to go ... the days and weeks and seasons, etc. But it is only with planning that I can hope to bring it into focus for my loved ones.  
 
Now, looking ahead to November I'd like to point you in the direction of Mary Ellen's latest post at Seton Magazine, in which she discusses November Feast Ideas for the Family.  A great place to start planning the new month ahead!
 
Enjoy the rest of your Wednesday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!
 

Exciting Giveaway News!

Happy Sunday, my friends! I hope your weekend is as lovely as the one we're enjoying here in New England - bright, brisk and brimming with color! We just got in from a fun family hike through the woods - and there will be pictures to share, natch - but for today I am popping in with a little update on my "Planner Party," which is coming up this Friday ...

Because I have some VERY exciting GIVEAWAY news!! :)

Now, just to refresh your memory - last week I asked to hear about what your planner (or calendar) looks like these days, and how it is (or isn't) working for you. I'm really hoping to hear your input on this subject - and frustrations are as welcome as adulations! Some people love planners, whereas some folks, not so much. But we all have a life we need to manage, and I'm interested to know how you're doing just that! Details on my "planner party" are here and you can reach me by comment box or email - and pics are more then welcome!

BUT!

Now here's the really fun news ...

Remember I mentioned that everyone who participates in the Planner Party is automatically entered in my Autumn Bliss giveaway? Well, I am about to sweeten the deal considerably!

My dear friend, Cay Gibson, author of several wonderful educational books, has been very busy putting together a beautiful and innovative series of planners ... and she is calling these planners:

The Seasonal Beehive

Seasonal beehive

(Isn't that just lovely?!)

Well, I am honored to announce that Cay has graciously donated the Winter Seasonal Beehive (cover, shown above) for me to offer as part of my Giveaway!!

Yes!! That means if you participate in my Planner Party and your name is chosen - you will win a package of Autumn goodies PLUS Cay's beautiful planner!!!

A bit more on the planner, in Cay's own words ...

"I want this seasonal product to compliment your favorite planner, not make it more burdensome or awkward. I want it to be more of a keepsake, something for you to look back on years from now and see those monthly praise reports and those intentional prayer requests and remember those moments you found yourself in nature and know how many times you turned to God and what you challenged yourself to do each season and what creative outlets you were intentional with, and what books and plans you spotlighted that season …
 
I call it a planner for lack of a better term but its primary goal is to make you focus on the things that deserve your mindfulness as you pass through each of life's seasons."

My fiends, I encourage you to take a closer look at Cay's series - I think it will be a wonderful resource for so many women looking to slow down and truly savor the seasons in a simple and meaningful way. She is currently working on the next issue (Spring), but Winter is now available (and you can see examples here). What a gift this planner would be to your busy and overwhelmed self. I think Cay's planner series will be a blessing to many!

So! I hope this makes my little "planner party" all the more enticing to you, dear readers! Remember, all you have to do is let me know what you are using for a planner/calendar these days and how you are liking it (or not). Or perhaps you are between planners - or like me, you're juggling too many planners! - and feeling frustrated as life slips through the cracks. Wherever you're at, whatever your planner looks like, I'd love to hear from you. I think this is a great topic to discuss and share ideas with each other!

You may comment here at the blog or please send me an email here:

bysunandcandle AT gmail DOT com

Pictures are welcome and I'd like all submissions by the end of the day Thursday, please. I hope to get the "Planner Party" started on Friday! I am really excited to talk about planners with you all - you know it's a favorite topic of mine, and I myself am currently somewhat frustrated with what I'm using, so I'll be eager to hear from you all!

Well I'll be off now, but I wish you all a pleasant Sunday afternoon/evening ... and I look forward to seeing you here again 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!


Nature Notes, YouTube & Long Lost CDs!

(How's that for a mixed bag?)

Well, good Tuesday morning, my friends! I hope your week's going well ...

First order of business ... Nature Notes! Remember that little log I used to keep on my sidebar over there on the left, just beneath my picture? Well, I'm going to start those back up again, now that Spring is coming and we have a new property to explore. Look for that sidebar list to reappear sometime later today (roundabouts naptime, lol).

Here's a little preview though, a happy sight this morning:

Chipmunk 2

:)

Secondly ... are you all aware that Susan Branch (of blog and books fame) has a YouTube channel? Oh my goodness, what fun!! Bill has a way of playing YouTube videos on our bedroom TV, and we watch together in the evening - after supper when Earlybird has gone to bed and Little Bear is on his way ... I'm cozied up on the bed with my laptop and Bill is rocking LB on his shoulder. Lately we've been watching British realty shows and electric car videos, but tonight he found the SB channel for me and ... I was just ... ENTHRALLED.

O watching susan branch

(So was Little Bear!)

SB has all these short videos posted - little vignettes she narrates, showing us her home and beautiful surroundings. Making sugared pecans, collecting bittersweet, sharing favorite mugs and angel chimes at Christmas ...  and her trip to England!! If you are a fan of Ms. Branch, you will absolutely love watching these videos, I promise. They really bring her books to life. 

I took a picture of this scene just to show you what I mean ... 

Susan branch channel 1

This video was entitled, "Petals." So lovely.

Over the years I've had folks ask if I might consider doing YouTube, but I've never really seen how that would work. Watching these videos last night, though has opened my eyes. Not that I'd have even a fraction of what SB has to offer, but I can see how fun it would be to show "in person" some of the things I try to share through photos and words. I'll have to think on this one a bit more, but with Bill's help I think I could do it ... so stay tuned!

And finally, I am so excited this morning because I just found a long-lost, much beloved CD of baby music and I can't wait to play it for Little Bear! I'm actually listening to it right now on my laptop, as I just uploaded (downloaded?) it to my iTunes ... and oh, the memories! I listened to this disc over and over and OVER with my babies and it is such a sweet reminder of baby-days-bliss. I thought this CD was lost, so just the other day I ordered a new copy - and then this morning I found the original! How funny ... but I bet you know what that means ... I'm going to do a giveaway!! I will post all the details very soon, but it will be such fun!

**

Ok my friends, that's all I have for now ... Little Bear's morning nap is ending (as the noises from the monitor suggest) and lunchtime is nearing ... but I'll be back again soon! As always, thanks so much for stopping by and have yourselves a great day ...

Blessings to you and your loved ones!


A Quick Question for Subscribers ...

(Or those who might be trying to subscribe.)

My friend Chris recently informed me that she's been unable to subscribe to my blog's feed, and I just can't figure out why. She's just getting an html code (in a pop up) when she clicks that Subscribe button (see above). So, I was was wondering if anyone else has had trouble doing this ... I know a lot of folks use blog "feeds" to keep track of new posts.

Now, I must confess I don't really know how the whole process works. I used to use "Bloglines" to keep track of blogs I was reading but no longer do so. On my Macbook I have an application called "Reeder" which keeps track of website feeds I wish to follow. By clicking on a site's "subscribe" button my "Reeder" app opens and an "Add a subscription" menu pops up with the chosen site's feed and a "Subscribe" button. I click the button and the feed is added. (I just did this with The Pioneer Woman's site to test it out.) When Bill set this "Reeder" up for me, it imported all my old feeds, so I can't check my own blog's feed because I already get it! Lol, does that make sense? But I can see the "By Sun and Candlelight" feed is working all right in my Reeder - all my posts are up to date.

(I apologize if I'm using any incorrect terms here - I'm really not well versed in this subject!)

Dear readers, if you've had trouble with my "feed" - at present or in the past - please do let me know. Maybe I can check in with Typepad and see what is what. Or if you have a different way of following my posts, please do share!

And as always, thanks for any help! Enjoy the rest of your Sunday ... I'll see you here tomorrow morning so we can chat about tonight's FINAL Downton!!

**


And Speaking of Giveaways ...

My friend Charlotte alerted me to this absolutely adorable giveaway just now and I wanted to share it with you all here. And not just because it will enter my name in the giveaway (wink!), but because these things are so darn cute you really all must take a peek ...

Hosted by Jessica Thornton @ HousewifespiceA Diaper Cake $25 Gift Card Giveaway!

These cute little confections are created by ediapercakes, a home-based business, and how brillant! I've never seen these before, but of course, I've been out of the baby loop for some time. ;)

Which cake is your favorite?

Sunshine cake

I'm quite partial to the "You are My Sunshine Cake" myself. :)

The winner of the giveaway will be announced at Jessica's site next Friday, December 14th. Which happens to be my Earlybird's birthday, so I consider that a very lucky day.

* Whoever wins the $25 gift certificate will be lucky indeed! *

And you know, this makes me wonder ... I've been chatting up my pregnancy here for a few months now, but I'd love to know how many of my readers are pregnant as well, and if so, when are you due? It seems from the buzz I hear, here and there around the internet, there are plenty of us pregnant this year!

***

Well, my friends, I must be off. Apparently there are hungry mouths to feed and that means I'd best get off this couch! But I hope you all have a nice weekend, and thanks so much for stopping by ...

I'll see you here again very soon!

**


Jane Austen Fans: Take Note ...

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

KGappleblossoms

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!


A Lovely Little Painting

Sons and heroes painting 1

You might remember a while back I did a Spring Package Giveaway here at my blog. Well, the winner of the contest, EK White, sent me her own little "thank you" package in return! It arrived just the other day, a happy little parcel sticking out of my mailbox - and OH, how it made my day! Inside the package I found (in addition to a lovely note), this beautiful piece of artwork, which EK made herself. It's a mixed-media painting, done in soft blues and greens, and featuring a truly wonderful quote:

 "You don't raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they will turn out to be heroes, even if it's just in your own eyes."

~ Walter M. Shirra, Sr.

EK, thank you so much for this gift - I will treasure it always!

I'd like to mention, dear readers, that EK has a lovely Etsy shop where you can find paintings like this (and many other pretty things, too). You must take a look!

:)

And speaking of pretty things, may I direct your attention to the brand spankin' new banner at the top of my page? I'm so excited about this new banner! And let me tell you why. I have always admired photo banners, but I have never taken the time to figure out how to do one properly. So up till now, when I do a photo for my banner, the dimensions are such that the image gets tiled. Not quite the look I was going for, but the best I could do! Well, today I explained this issue to Bill and, as he is known to do, he took over and within five minutes had the whole thing figured out! He showed me what to do (with pixels and whatnot) and ... voila! I now have a full photo banner JUST as I've always wanted! I'm tempted to play around with new images, but I really like these pale flowers for now. I bought them at Trader Joe's this morning, where I was picking up some fresh edamame (our new favorite snack). I could not resist these lovely blooms - so delicate and sweet - I love the way their petals catch the sun.

Well, my friends, I hope you are enjoying your weekend. It's a lovely one here in New England - sunny and unseasonably warm. (Marathon Monday may hit 90 degrees!) Tomorrow I will be catching up on blog comments (I'm sorry I've once again fallen behind ...) and then, look for my "Masterpiece Monday" post to focus on this weekend's Titanic, more so than MC's Edwin Drood. I do plan to watch Edwin Drood at some point next week, but this weekend I'm all about Titanic.

 So have a good night, everyone ... take care and God Bless!

I'll see you again sometime soon ...



Homeschooling: It's only Natural!

HSBAAwards2011Nominatedcopy

I'd like to just take a moment to say thank you to the very kind reader(s) who nominated me for a couple of Homeschool Blog Awards! It was brought to my attention that By Sun and Candlelight has been nominated in two categories: "Homeschooling Nature/Field Trip Blog" and "Special Needs Homeschooling Blog."

I was completely surprised and so very honored to be nominated ~ especially in these two categories. They are both near and dear to my heart!

Because firstly, nature study plays a HUGE part in our homeschooling adventure! I have always been quite passionate about nature, and Bill and I are trying to raise our children with an awareness of - and an appreciation for - the natural world. In an ever-advancing "techno-savvy" civilization, it's just so important that we instill in our children a healthy respect for the earth and all of creation. That we teach them how to know and observe what might otherwise, and too easily, be ignored. And most of all that we foster in these young hearts a friendly familiarity with their most intimate surroundings: to begin with, their very own backyards!

Now, what's also been fantastic about "homeschooling nature" as we do, is that it provides a framework for education that all children can benefit from - but especially so a special needs child.

Dear readers, as most of you know, our nine year old Earlybird is autistic, and if you've been reading my blog for some time, then you know how much he loves to learn and play and LIVE right alongside his big brothers! And if you are blessed to know special needs children yourself, then you know that despite the many challenges they may face, they are absolutely amazing children - filled with love and trust and faith and a true eagerness to know the big wide world around them ...

In other words, they're just like any other child.

:)

Sure, they may have a harder time with some things, but they have needs that can be met beautifully with homeschooling: 

With patience,

 and persistence.

With encouragement.

and companionship.

With challenging conservation,

and easy peace and quiet.

 With rest when they need it,

and activity when they're up for it.

With fresh air and exercise,

and materials just right for them.

With all kinds of new experiences,

and all the comforts of home. 

With respect and reverence, 

And lots and lots of love.


I thank God every day I was blessed with three healthy children, and I love each one of them so much. I love that they are all so different and that they each challenge me in different ways. I love that they have taught me things I never knew about - or expected of - myself.

And most of all, I LOVE that they are growing up together - as brothers big and small, and happily, as friends.

:)

Ok, well, this post got SO much bigger than I thought it would, lol! But you know how I ramble, and once I got going I just had to roll with it.

I thank you all for stopping by and I thank, too, whoever it was that so kindly nominated for those awards. You've given me something to smile about tonight ... and a little bit to think on, as well. 

Have a great night my friends ... I will see you all here again soon.

~**❤**~


Notes from my Blogging Meeting, Part 3

And now for the final minutes from my meeting last week. This is part three of three ... part one can be found here and part two, here

Organizing your blog ...

Well to be perfectly honest, I felt a little funny discussing "blog organization" with my guests since my own site had been completely out of date for some time! Still, we went over the general layout of a blog -Typepad's offerings at least. I like a 3-column design, but there are several others to choose from - and we also discussed how sidebars or "Typelists" can be used for various types of information: book lists, web links, previous posts, photo albums, personal notes, etc.

I showed them my category list and how I assign my posts with specifically themed tags - so as best to find them later. In my "category cloud" you can see at a glance (by text size) what themes I post about most often: family, nature, home education, food and drink, etc. The more specific your post tags are, the easier it will be to find a specific post down the road. For instance, my Nature category is HUGE ... but if I'm looking for a post about Trees, I have a separate category for that.

My Book Typelists help me keep our reading well organized. I try to update what books the boys are reading (haven't in a while, though!) as well as what book our Book Group is studying each month. I also like to post what books I have sitting on my bedside table as well as favorite book collections - for homekeeping, crafting, nature study, etc. If we're studying a certain subject - owls or Mexico or amphibians, for instance - I have book lists for those too.

Organizing our seasonal reading is particularly easy using Typelists. In my Typelist Index I have stored all the lists I've ever published. So when Spring is approaching, I can grab my "Spring Book Basket" Typelist and add it to my current blog content (removing it once Summer is upon us). I make sure to update the list with any new book titles before posting. It's a great way to remember what books we have in storage (because yes, I can easily forget!). 

I've also posted seasonal household lists - for example, a pre-Easter cleaning schedule, a back-to-school supplies list and this month's January to-do's. These are helpful in keeping on top of things around here (relatively speaking lol).

Another way I use my blog is in keeping my nature notes organized - in fact, this is my favorite Typelist of all. At the top left-hand side of my blog you'll find my Nature Notes corner. This is a "notes" style Typelist, meaning it's used primarily for notes, or text. (They can also be used for pasting images such as the birds nest at the top.) As most of you know, we are real nature nuts here - and we enjoy keeping tracks of the changes that come with every season - the flora, fauna, weather etc. On any given day I add an item to my List, dating it and writing out some observations - a migratory bird we spotted, the first rainbow of the year, how much snow fell overnight - and then post it to the List. After several days, or sometimes a week or two depending on how much I write, I scoop up all those notes and make up a post for my other blog, The Nature Corner. What I have now is a wonderful journal of a year (more than a year now) of our New England seasons and our experiences with nature. I find this to be a very easy way to "nature journal" regularly, and these collected notes make up a handy personal almanac of sorts.

Making money with your blog ...

Unfortunately I didn't have a lot of useful information to share on this topic but I felt it needed to be addressed. I am not a professional blogger, but I can see how someone can use a blog to appeal to a targeted market. It's certainly an interesting and easy way to connect with potential customers or clients. Private bloggers can also make money by hosting ads at their site - this is not something I am familiar with, but again, I know it can be done. (If anyone has links or tips on this subject, please feel free to leave me a comment below - I'd be happy to pass on information to my readers.)

Now, the way I can and do profit from my blog is by being a member of the Amazon Associates program. I know there are various ways to profit from this program, but I have only used it in one easy way. The links I post to books (in my posts and on my sidebars) take you directly to Amazon.com. If you buy *anything* when you are at Amazon (it doesn't have to be the book I recommended) I earn a referral fee. Because you came to (and shopped at) Amazon from a link at my blog, they reward me with a percent of your purchase. At the end of each month Amazon Associates sends me a gift certificate to be used at Amazon. I believe there are other options for your earnings, but this worked out best for us. 

On a final note on this subject, if you are toying with the idea of writing a book (as *big breath* I am) it is wonderful to have a blog base to feel out ideas and opinions, as well as a potential readership. I have had thoughts for a book for some time, and it's interesting to see what posts capture the most attention here at my blog. This helps me hone my focus and tweak my ideas. So a perspective writer can certainly get a great boost from blogging (if for nothing else than for writing practice!) but as with any business venture, you just never know where and when you'll make a great connection or "meet" someone who can be helpful to you in your endeavor ... and blogging is definitely a fabulous way to meet people!

Types of blogs, including kids' blogs ...

There are so many uses for blogs - the template can be used for a personal diary, a homeschool record, a travel journal, a family reunion project, a housekeeping manual, a photo journal on any and all subjects ... 

A neat way to involve blogging in your kids' lives is to give them a blog to play around with. Their sites can be password protected (meaning only people who have their password will be able to find and read their blog). Blog writing is fun but it's also a great way to work on writing skills. Ask your kids to write up a movie review or a book report at their blog - or let them post pictures from a field trip. Recently, Bookworm attended a science lab and I asked him to post a recollection of what he learned from the experience. If you are planning a family vacation, let the kids start a blog in which they can post all kinds of things from their shared experience. They'll get great writing practice as they preserve their journey in a fun and memorable way.

Blogs can also be shared by multiple authors. One blogger must own a pro level account (this is at Typepad, other platforms offer similar packages I am sure) and then invite other bloggers to join her or him in posting about a certain subject. This would be great fun for any group - including a Teen Group or a Drama Club or a Cub Scout pack, etc. The possibilities are endless!

****************

At the end of my meeting I gave my guests a link to my original post in which many kind readers left comments with links to their blogs. I also shared links to two other bloggers in my homeschool group - both friends of mine and terrific ladies - Leigh and Jenney.

It's so much fun to check in with other homeschoolers (mothers, homemakers et al) and see how things are going for them - what ideas work, what struggles we share in common, how we are feeling about this place we find ourselves in at this time in our life. I enjoy sharing ideas with my readers but more than anything I am thrilled to have four years worth of memories from my family's life. I KNOW without a doubt I would never have this much saved if I didn't have this blog.

In the end, I hope my guests went home with a better feel for blogging - what it is, how it can help a homeschooling mom, and how it can be done by anyone (trust me - if I can do it, ANYONE can!). I know for myself, this meeting left me feeling so invigorated about blogging and determined to find a way to fit it back into my life once again. I know I say this all the time, but I truly appreciate all my readers - especially for your patience and support. Thank you for sticking by me, for all your kind comments and for encouraging me when I can't seem to encourage myself. :)

Blessings to you all - have a wonderful Monday - and I'll see you back here just as soon as I can!


Notes from my Blogging Meeting, Part 2

Continuing on with the minutes from my homeschool support group meeting last week, these were some of the other topics we covered:

  • Privacy and publicity issues
  • Finding an audience/connecting with other bloggers
  • Maintaining a good attitude re blogging (i.e. the "grass is always greener" syndrome)
  • Finding the TIME to blog

Privacy and publicity issues ...

My blog is public - meaning anyone can read what I write - but if I wanted to, I could protect my site with a password. This would allow only invited guests to read my posts. I decided to make my blog public but I wanted to keep the details of my personal life - and my children's lives - as private as possible. So to begin with, each of my three boys got a blog "alias." Choosing these nicknames was fun - each of their names reflects a bit of their personality - our oldest IS a Bookworm, our middle son IS a firecracker and our youngest is very much an EARLYbird. :)

I guess what you need to do is decide for whom you are keeping your blog - yourself? Your family? Like-minded women with whom it will be nice to share ideas? If it makes you uncomfortable to post pictures of your children, you can obviously refrain from doing so, or you could elect to post only pictures that show profiles or the children from a distance. Another thing to consider are the feelings of other parents whose children might be in the photographs you take. Always be sure to ask for permission to post pictures of other people's children.

Finding an audience/connecting with other bloggers ...

Now, assuming you are making your blog public, you might be eager to establish a readership for yourself. Of course to begin with there is good old word-of-mouth - tell people about your blog! Send an email out to family and friends with a link to your site, inviting them to check in when they can. Invite other bloggers to visit your blog by linking to their blogs in your posts. Ask if you can add a blogger to your "blogroll" (a list of blogs you read on your sidebar) and most often they will return the favor. If you belong to web forums (chat boards and the like) add a link to your blog in your signature. (You can add the same kind of link to the bottom of your emails.)

If you are reading blogs you might come upon a blog "carnival" in which to participate. This is a fantastic way of joining in the blogging community. I showed examples of my old Field Day posts to illustrate how a "carnival" works. Basically, one blogger hosts the carnival (a collection of links to other blogs) centered around a theme. She announces the carnival at her blog, asks people to spread the word, and invites other bloggers to send links to posts about the chosen topic. On the designated day, the hostess posts the carnival, filled with links to other blogs. It goes without saying that contributing to a carnival is a great way to get lots of new readers checking out your blog.

If you are curious to see how people are finding your blog, you can follow your stats to see who is linking to you. Typepad has a feature that allows me to see who is linking to BS&C - and I used to use Sitemeter to track stats as well, but I found it took too much of my time (it can be rather addicting to follow stats). Keep in mind, other bloggers are doing this as well - so if you link to somebody, they can easily trace it back to you. 

Maintaining a good attitude re blogging - i.e. the "grass is always greener" syndrome ...

As mentioned in my previous post, I came into blogging by reading other women's blogs. I found them interesting to read and beautiful to behold - those blogs inspired me to start my own blog. I hoped to create something similar - a quiet corner where I could share happy things and (hopefully) some useful information. It was never my intent to air my dirty laundry (both the literal and figurative kinds) but just because I don't describe in detail all my downfalls and daily frustrations doesn't mean they don't exist. It's just not the tone I am going for here. 

As a blog reader you know how addictive reading blogs can be, and as much as we love to borrow ideas from other bloggers, we can't help but compare our life to the lives of other women doing what we do - raising children, home educating, cooking and cleaning, celebrating holidays and decorating our homes. 

There are so many blogs out there, and as you read you'll find yourself drawn to certain blogs that nourish you - inspire you, help you out in some way. It's important to decide for your own peace of mind, if reading blogs is feeding you or frustrating you. 

As a blog writer yourself, you''ll find that people respond to your blog in different ways. I've had people read my blog and tell me they enjoy it - they like stopping by to see what I'm up to. But I've also had people read my blog and then tell me they won't read it again because it makes them feel like a bad mother (i.e. like they're not doing enough with their kids). I know they didn't mean it as an insult, and I don't mean to disregard those honest feelings but I can't let this change how I blog. I can't control how people perceive things, I can only control my end of the bargain.

Keep this in mind as you find your blogging niche - write and share what you want and try not to worry about how it is perceived. It sounds cliche, but stay true to yourself - blogging should be fun and fulfilling for YOU first and foremost. :)

Finding the time to blog ...

This was the biggest concern of my guests last week - how on earth does one find TIME to blog? Before I got into that (which you all know has been a real challenge for me lately) I offered this piece of advice ...

If you want to blog but feel you don't have the time, go ahead and try it anyway. When you have a little time on a weekend or one quiet evening, set up a template for a blog. You don't have to tell anyone about it - as long as you don't link to other blogs you can remain in anonymity for a while. Next time you have a moment, try a quick post. Jot down something that happened that day - a funny thing your child said, your dinner menu, a recipe you like, a list of the day's lessons, a quote you found inspiring - and just post it. Maybe on another day, upload a picture you took recently. Add a quick note for description - or not. Do this over a week or more and before too long you'll get the hang of it and see it's really pretty quick and easy to blog. Eventually you'll find a rhythm and a spot or two in your day (or week) for blogging. It seems overwhelming at first, but as with any hobby, the more you do something the easier it becomes. And sometimes you just have to jump right in and get things rolling.

As for me and my blogging "rhythm," well, I reminisced on how easy it once seemed to blog regularly. Generally speaking, I would complete a post about once a day. I have a laptop, which I keep open at all times on my kitchen counter, or at my spot at the worktable, depending on time of day. In the early part of the day I would be thinking about what my next post might be. (Often I would brainstorm over the weekend, along with my general planning, what posts I might write in a coming week.) I would start a draft and keep it open in a window on my browser. In fact, I might already have a draft saved - if I think of a post idea I always start and title a draft to return to at some point.

Usually around lunchtime when the kids were taking a break (and I'm taking a breather) from lessons, I would work on my post - put up the pictures I had on file OR take the pictures of the subject at hand. (Midday light works best in my house.) Sometimes late in the afternoon I'd find another 30 minutes or so to spend tweaking my draft. By the time I went to bed I had a post mostly ready for publishing, but I'd leave the final edits for first thing in the morning. Most of my new posts would go up in the early morning hours of the day.

It was a very efficient system at the time ... but as life rolls along, things have changed here for me lately. I am still homeschooling three children - but my oldest is now a high schooler and my youngest (who is autistic) is ready for a lot more "work" than he was in previous years. Suffice it to say my work load has increased all around. For a time it was just easier to break away from blogging in order to focus my attention on my new workload ... but now that things are settling into a rhythm again, I am finding my way back to blogging. 

Finding time to blog is a challenge for sure, but it can be done. Sometimes it's easy to fit into your life, other times you have to carve out time to make it happen. At one time I found it easy, these days I'm looking (hard) for that extra time in my life.

So ... once again I found I needed to split up a very long post, so Part 3 of my Blogging Notes will include the final minutes from my meeting

  • Ideas on organizing a blog
  • Making money with a blog
  • Types of blogs including kids' blogs (more homeschool opportunities)

As always, thanks so much for stopping by - I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I'll be back again before long! :)


Notes from my Blogging Meeting, Part 1

Last week I hosted my homeschool support group's monthly meeting, and as hostess I got to choose the topic of discussion. I chose the theme of blogging and, more specifically, how blogging can be used as a homeschooling tool. It was fun to explore the reasons - especially my reasons - for blogging and to share the ways I fit blogging into my life as a busy homeschooling mom. Here are the minutes (embellished with hindsight and reflection of course) from my meeting.*

(*Note: I decided to break this post up into two parts because Part 1 got entirely too long!)

The ladies who joined me last Thursday night are not currently blogging, but were familiar with blogs and are considering the endeavor for themselves. After some casual chat, and after filling up our cups and plates with some goodies, we sat down to start the meeting ...

What is a blog?

A blog is basically a type of website that provides a format for posting journal-style entries and photographs along with links to all kinds of things - other blogs, websites, book recommendations, etc. A blog can be private (password-protected) or public. It can be used for professional or personal purposes.

It seemed easiest to explore the general concept of blogging by explaining how I got into blogging myself. 

Blogging, yes or no?

About four years ago I found myself reading several blogs kept by some wonderful ladies I met at the 4Real Forums. I loved the format - and I loved reading what other homeschooling moms were doing with their families: how they were handling lessons and home life, how they were celebrating holidays and special events in their lives. The photos were wonderful, and so was the conversation. I started thinking about blogging myself ... but at the time I was a hardcore "paper" journalist. I have always kept journals - simple notebooks filled with notes, scraps of paper, clippings from magazines, this that and a little bit of everything. I am very much a paper kind of gal - technology tends to befuddle me - so I hesitated to blog ... but before long the tempation became too strong to resist. One afternoon, I just sat down at Typepad and within an hour I had myself a blog! 

Blogging platforms ...

I didn't have much information to share about other blogging platforms (Blogger/Blogspot, Wordpress, Homeschoolblogger) because I've always used Typepad. And since Typepad was (and is) so easy to use, I've stuck with it. I do use the Pro level account because I wanted to be able to create more than one blog and I also wanted greater design options. This means I pay for my blog - but I find it's worth it.

Why I blog ...

So I explained how I initially considered blogging ... but I went on to describe the appeal blogging held for me. In addition to journaling, another hobby I enjoyed (sort of) was scrapbooking. I say "sort of" because I could never seem to find the time or space to get my scrapbooks going ... I knew how important it was to keep track of our family memories, and I LOVED the look of scrapbooks - choosing colors and pictures and stickers, etc. - but no matter how many times I started an album, I would get sidetracked with "real life" and materials would get hastily put away and forgotten. As a "hobby" it was frequently more frustrating than enjoyable. Not to mention I felt foolish owning so many scrapbooking materials and having so little to show for it all. When I first considered blogging I could see it as a way to "virtually" scrapbook. I would have the ability to capture memories AND play around with design as I liked to do. And of course, I didn't need a large space or a lot of materials to make it work.

Also, in my pre-mommy life, I was a writer by profession and I missed writing for an "audience." Of course in the beginning I had no idea who would be reading my posts (if anyone!) but I found it gratifying to get my thoughts down while honing my rusty writing skills. I know a lot of perspective bloggers balk at the thought of writing for an audience, but I found the more I blogged, the quicker I found "my voice" and the more easily the words came to me. Of course it helps that I am by nature a very wordy person!

Another benefit of blogging (and this is where the homeschooling part comes in) is I have an excellent record of what we are doing each month as a homeschooling family. This is helpful to me when I report in to the school system at the end of the year, but it is also an great way of keeping family and friends - especially those who don't see us more than a couple of times a year - in the loop with our lifestyle. As long as we've been homeschooling (10 years now) and as popular as homeschooling has become - I know it's still a real mystery to lots of folks. I love dispelling myths and helping people understand how actively we homeschool. We're hardly sitting at home every day isolated from the world - if anything we're out there almost every day in one way or another. We take part in lots of classes and field trips and group activities. Sure, most of our curriculum is accomplished at home, with a one-on-one focus (which is the beauty of the home learning experience) but so much of our time is spent in social situations, learning how to get along with - and learn from - others. I relish the chance to show people all that homeschooling can be - all that it is for my family ...

And if you've been reading my blog over the years, you know I also relish the chance to share ideas, and this is where my myriad interests come into play. I guess you could say I like to hear myself talk lol, but I found as I grew as a blogger that I liked to write informative posts on a wide variety of subjects - children's books, nature, crafts, my Catholic faith, food, seasonal celebrations. So my blog became a real hodgepodge of information - eclectic you  might say - and to this day you never know what I'll be talking about next!

Through blogging I found myself another new hobby, one that has quickly become a real passion of mine. Photography was something I never really thought much about before - as a mother I owned a camera of course, and took pictures when I could - but nowadays I keep my camera close at hand at all times. The best part is I have lots of snapshots of our family life from the past year, but I find photography feeds me personally as well. Taking pictures makes me feel creative - like an artist almost. I would love to draw and paint as my mum does (beautifully, with natural God-given talent) but I don't have that gift. I would love to sew or knit or create in some tangible way, but these hobbies never clicked with me. With photography I find that I can cast a speculative eye on a subject - be it a bird or a landscape or a table setting - and find the best angle to present the image to my readers. It's fun to try and catch the light just right or to see if a tight zoom makes a difference to my shot. The world is my canvas, my camera is my tool of trade - and I never would have found this part of me if it were not for my foray into blogging.

But perhaps the biggest reward of blogging is that I now find myself looking at life with a different set of eyes - more watchful, more thoughtful, more appreciative. Little things I might have barely noticed before - a grasshopper perched on the mailbox, a startlingly bright moon, the sounds of a wren in the woods - pique one sense or another and make me itch to jot down a note or snap a picture, so as to celebrate that brief precious moment before it's gone. I'm grateful to have this sense of wonder - in every day there are so many gifts just there for the taking. I am glad my lifestyle allows me - and my children - to slow down and savor the world around us.

Well, I've kept you long enough for today, so I'll wrap things up for now ~ and if you've read this far I thank you! In Part 2 I will share the rest of my meeting notes, with information on: 

  • Privacy issues (names, pictures, passwords)
  • Finding an audience/connecting with other bloggers
  • Maintaining a good attitude re blogging (i.e. the "grass is always greener" syndrome)
  • Finding the TIME to blog
  • Ideas on organizing a blog
  • Making money with a blog
  • Kids' blogs (more homeschool opportunities)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend - it's a long one for us (Bill has Monday off) and there's a lot of "to-do's" on my list. I'll be back again soon with part 2 ... in the meantime I would love to hear your thoughts on part 1, or any questions you might have for me. I will try my best to answer them as soon as I can.

Happy Blogging, Happy Reading, Happy Living! :)


Wednesday Morning, Cold and Bright

Birds-top-hat

 Well, another crazy-cold winter's day is upon us, and I'm popping in to say hello! It's awfully early here ~ the rest of the family is sleeping, but Earlybird and I are munching toast and waiting for the birds to appear at the feeders ... actually, they're probably already out there ~ it's just too dark to see them yet!

I want to thank my readers for all the links left for me to share at my support group meeting. I appreciate your willingness to share your blogs with my friends! I also enjoyed hearing how you view blogging, and how it helps you as a woman (wife/mother/home educator) share and preserve what's going on in your life. I will be rounding up the links to include in a handout and taking your thoughts into consideration as I write up my notes. The meeting is tomorrow night so there's still plenty of time to drop me a line (a link or a thought) if you have time and inclination. :)

After the meeting concludes, if there's interest, I'd be happy to write up the minutes to share with you all.

And hey, speaking of the crazy-cold, how is the weather where you are?

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!


On Blogging and Google Searches

Many bloggers have posted about the varied and often amusing google searches that Twowomenreadinghave led folks to their blog. Sometimes they make perfect sense, and sometimes they're downright ridiculous! (The searches I mean, not the bloggers!) I'm afraid I don't have anything wacky or weird to share, but I did track my google searches over the past few days, just so I could tell you all about them. Lol, it's not like I don't have better things to do - or blog about - but good golly, I put in the time so here I am to report! ;)

I always enjoy hearing how people find their way here, and of course it's especially nice when somebody finds me through family, friends or word-of-mouth. I suppose I speak for most bloggers when I say that I love it when someone leaves a comment to say "Hi, I'm reading! I found you through __."

Blogging is kind of a crazy thing when you stop to think of it. A blog can be a snapshot of somebody's life, but it can also be misleading. I've had people ask how it is that I'm always "up," "so organized" or why it is that I never seem to have "a bad day."

Well, let me be perfectly honest with you:

~ I am not always up. (And my husband can verify that, lol!) But I am, admittedly, a generally optimistic and hopeful person.

~ Sure, I love to organize - read about it, talk about it, plan for it - but as I've confessed before, that doesn't always mean I am organized, lol! (As anyone awaiting an email or letter from me knows!)

~ And as for bad days, well, I would never say a day here on earth with my loved ones is bad, but I do have those days when Bill comes home to find me tired, disheveled (dare I say irritable) and ready for my Calgon moment asap. ;)

And yet, knowing the true pain and suffering many folks deal with every day I know in my heart I've got it so good. I try to remember to be thankful, I try to make joy the biggest part of my day and I try to bring the best of it here. It's what energizes me, and it makes me want to share. I don't usually feel energized or much like sharing when dinner's late, the boys are bickering or the house is a mess. (And all those things do happen - sometimes on the same day!) Though I recognize for some people blogging is a great way to manage the ups and downs, to air out those griefs and grapple with the irritations of everyday life, that's just not me. It's not what I care to write about. But don't mistake for a second that I have it any more "together" than you do.

I was talking about blogging with my friends one night last week, and we all agreed that for we mums, especially we homeschooling mums, blogs help us feel connected in a way we couldn't maintain in real life. Our time, thoughts and energies are very much tied to our homes (and all those living creatures who come with it); making time for grownup cameraderie - let alone conversation - often impossible. But connecting with other mums - sharing ideas and support - is vital, I believe. Whether you read them or write them, blogs give us the medium we need to do just that. They keep our wheels turning, they keep us inspired. They offer us a nice break when the kids are happily employed; they give us somewhere to turn when immediate prayer or advice is needed. They are, in a way, our own generation's clothesline - even though our neighbors are only "next door" in the virtual sense.

So, where am I going with all this? Well, that's anybody's guess, but let me see if I can get myself back on track. Ah yes. Google searches.

So, I decided to give it a try. To reveal these particular links, you check your Sitemeter "referrals" (if you have Sitemeter, that is) and when someone comes in via google, you place your mouse over the link and within the code you can see what terms were part of the search. (You can also open the link and go directly to the google page if you wish.)

I had to do this over a period of days because probably 9 out of 10 searches were literally: by sun and candlelight blog. :) I think that is because my URL (dawnathome.typepad.com) actually has nothing to do with the name of my blog!

But now I have a good size list, so I'd like to share ~ the google searches that lead people to my blog:

  • What is Lent?
  • Taggerung chapter notes
  • Lenten stories and tales
  • Where can I find pussywillows?
  • Lent clip art
  • Winter field day games
  • Crafts for the 3rd week in Lent
  • Sunny window
  • Lent
  • How to make a bookmark for the one eyed giant by Mary Pope
  • Holy Wednesday (this one came from Wikipedia)
  • Free Lenten crafts for children
  • Lionboy lesson plans
  • What is Lent? (Again, unless it's the same person!)

I was kind of hoping there might be some really funny search terms, but I guess I write about mostly the same kinds of things, and from this list I see it's often about Lent!

So if you are someone who comes here regularly, I say thank you for making me part of your day. And if you are someone who just happened upon my blog through a google search, let me say welcome! I hope you find what you're looking for here, but if not, I hope you enjoy your time here anyway!

And to everyone reading tonight, I say keep warm, be well and I'll see you all sometime tomorrow. :)


Like deja vu all over again ...

I am pretty certain I did this meme before, but I'm going to do it again anyway. Besides, everybody's doing it! (Too many to hat-tip!)

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE ? I don't think so. My dad just liked the name Dawn. :)

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED?  December 17th, 2007 (I had an emergency tooth extraction; it was traumatic.)

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? Yes.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Hmmm, I guess chicken.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Three boys.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I'd like to think so!

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? I'm not that clever.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No. They were removed when I was 4.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Goodness, no.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? I'm not a big cereal eater, but I have to agree with Meredith ~ Lucky Charms are pretty yummy! :)

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? Usually. But I hardly ever wear laced shoes.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes ... and no.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Good old-fashioned vanilla. (Brigham's is the best.) With Mum's homemade butterscotch sauce, please. :)

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Like Amy said, how friendly or open they seem to be.

15. RED OR PINK? Either, but I like yellow better.

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING YOU LIKE ABOUT YOURSELF? I worry too much and I always think whatever's wrong, it was my fault.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My maternal grandfather.

18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Navy blue pants, pink socks.

19. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? It's 5 a.m. It's all about the coffee. :)

20. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? Earlybird's running commentary about The Complete Cosmos (a show we Tivo'd).

21. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Dandelion (You can see it here).

22. FAVORITE SMELLS? Balsam, almond, rose.

23. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? Our phone's been out! (Storm issues.)

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Football ~ Go Pats!

25. HAIR COLOR? Dark brown.

26. EYE COLOR? Green-blue. (Or maybe it's blue-green?)

27. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Nope.

28. FAVORITE FOOD? Well, my favorite restaurant is Legal Sea Foods. So I guess, seafood, crusty bread and a nice glass of wine. :)

29. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I can't stand scary movies.

30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Return of the Jedi with the boys.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Pink.

32. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter.

33. HUGS OR KISSES? Depends!

34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Pound cake with fruit and whipped cream.

35. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Right this very minute I'm reading How Groundhog's Garden Grew (EB's favorite!)

36. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? I have a laptop, but I love using a wireless mouse. My mousepad has a lovely blue bird on it.

37. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON T.V. LAST NIGHT? Nothing. Well, Bill watched Hardball, but I read.

38. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Songbirds, church bells, rain hitting the roof as I fall sleep.

39. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles, I guess.

40. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? California.

41. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I can sing the alphabet backwards really fast.

42. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? El Paso,Texas!

Thanks for reading my answers, and please tag yourself if you'd like! Now I'm off to get the day going. We have our Nature Club meeting today, so I'll be back later with pictures from the wintry woods ... :)


To Thank You ...

I would like to take a moment to properly thank the very kind folks who nominated me for The 2007 Homeschool Blog Awards. I want you to know that I am very honored, and I'm so glad you enjoy my blog. I'd also like to offer my best wishes to my fellow nominees ~ all 285 of them! :)Hsbabuttonnominee_4

And now I'm off to get supper started. (I say that at the end of every post, don't I? but then, happily, supper does happen every night) And do you know what? I'll have a rare evening out tonight! I'm meeting a dear friend for coffee this evening to catch up and make some plans for our new year's home learning. Fun!

Hmmm, caffeine will be necessary if I'm to make it past seven o'clock, so what shall it be? A toasted marshmallow latte or a peppermint mocha? I'll have to let you know tomorrow ...

Oh, and while I'm thinking of it, I've finally updated those sidebars of mine ~ the Autumn baskets have been packed away and in their place are all my Winter and Christmas lists. I'll be adding more before long.

Have a good night! :)


You Make Me Smile!

I was recently honored by two lovely bloggers, Cindy and Michele, with this happy award:

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Thank you dear ladies, you have certainly put a smile on my face this morning! :) And so now it is my turn to pass the award on to other bloggers who make me smile. I wish I had more time this morning - my list could go on and on - but I will begin with these five lovely women:

~ Tracy at Seaside Enchantment. I especially love her Around My Home posts. Her cheerful attitude, her love for her family and home, always bring a smile to my face.

~ Clarice at Storybook Woods. I love all her recipes and crafts, but just her banner alone makes me smile! I have especially enjoyed her whole Autumn Bliss series.

~ Nori at A New Springtime. Nori just started her beautiful blog, and I am enjoying it so much! Her Autumn Decorating post is not to be missed!

~ Eileen at Eileen's Place. I just found this blog (wish I could remember how!) and it is filled with beautiful nature crafts like acorn necklaces, and this Guardian Angel doll is so sweet!

~ Amanda at Soule Mama. I know many of you are familiar with her blog ~ and perhaps like me, are waiting with breathless anticipation for her forthcoming book! Every post at Soule Mama is a smiling moment filled with crafts, children and nature ...

Well, thanks again to Cindy and Michele for tagging me with this award! I am so glad to think my little corner brought a smile to someone's face. :)

Happy Friday, everyone!


Field Day ~ The (Late) Late Spring Edition!

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"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous."

This quote by Aristotle is perfect for today, for the fleeting and frenzied season of Late Spring is indeed a marvelous time of the year. No matter where you live, wherever you look there's something amazing to see and to do! There are gardens to plant, flowers to pick, birds to watch, bugs to catch, woods to hike, creeks to cross and ... well, I could go on and on. But instead, I will let my Field Day friends do that for me. :)

First though, please let me thank you all for your patience and understanding throughout the Field Day postponement. I am grateful to everyone who participated and I appreciate your enthusiasm and support! (And if by some chance I missed you - if you don't see your post here - please send me an email, or leave me a comment, and I will remedy the situation ASAP!)

Without further ado, let's set out for our Late Spring Field Day! There are many wonderful posts to share, and, thanks again to my friend Marcie, many gorgeous photos as well. Field Day would not be the same without them!

To begin, let's check in with Silvia at Po Moyemu as she shares Images from Her Rural Life including an undercover turtle, a nest-that-almost-was, a busy bee and some very funny chickens. Next she describes the joys of Gardenschooling with her son - what a terrific home-learning day! And finally Silvia shares her surprise when she recently discovered a Skink in Her Yard!

Speaking of skinks (a creature I'd barely heard of before, and here I now have two to admire) ...

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Marcie's husband found this fellow hanging out in their carport!

Becky at Farm School delved Into the Woods with her family and came home with a bountiful spring harvest ~ seven liters of morel mushrooms! We found some morels last year too, but we just stared at them, lol. Becky had the forethought to make the most of them, and in a most delicious way!

Rose at Pretty in Pink shares a montage of breathtaking pictures from her Victorian yard ~ and one can see why she has the perfect setting for a fabulous Late Spring Field Day. Stop by to admire her lush gardens - so colorful and interesting!

Jennifer at As Cozy as Spring also has a most lovely and lively garden - lovely for its blooms, lively for its visitors! Stop by and take a peek in her Backyard Guide Book. There are butterflies today ~ perhaps spiders tomorrow?

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A butterfly resting in Marcie's Bradford Pear.

Jenny at Wildwood Cottage has seen a rainy spring, but it has hardly dampened the spirit of her lovely gardens. She was inspired by Tasha Tudor (one of my favorite authors) to take us on a late spring garden tour of her beautiful Flowers!

As a new mother, Melissa at Here in the Bonny Glen, was inspired to seek out special places to visit with her children ~ Some Breezy Open Wherein it Seemeth Always Afternoon. In her post, she remembers old haunts and treasured memories, while appreciating new memories in the making.

Joann at Ten Kids and a Dog shares many delightful photographs throughout her post describing the way Late Spring is unfolding in her neck of the northern woods.

While over at Cay's Cajun Cottage, my dear friend shares her lovely Gardens in Bloom. There's so much to see (and yes, almost smell!) with blossoms unfolding, in-waiting and in paint on paper!

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A bumblebee greeting a bright lily.

Maureen at Trinity Prep School sent her children out in the yard to explore and take plenty of Fotos for their Far-Away Father. Stop in and cast your vote for your favorite shot - they're all lovely!

Divina at The Bean Sprout enjoyed a special day by the seashore with her family and shares why B is for Birds at the Beach. That's quite a list of birds to see, Divina! What fun your Little Man must be having.

Back in the April Early Spring Field Day, Theresa at Lapaz Farm, showed us how to construct inexpensive nets for a stream nature study. In today's post, she announces "We're Back with a Splash" and shares with us all the cool and interesting things they found in their stream. Don't miss their photobucket slide show for even more exciting images!

Alice at Cottage Blessings always has wonderful activities planned for her children, and recently, after a whirlwind spring "at the theater," she found it time to announce, a Return to our Regularly Scheduled May. First up ~ a lovely, sentimental walk through the grounds of a local and beloved garden.

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A honeybee clinging to a thistle.

Spring has brought many delights for Dani and family at Artful Thoughts. In their Spring Nature Journals they have captured the sights and sense of spring itself (love the twig binding!). Her son Quinn's Spring Lapbook, filled with memories and information, will be an amazing keepsake for years to come. And I am sure Quinn will also long remember the adorable Fairy House crafted by his older brothers especially for him.

Meadowlarks, tanagers and buntings - oh, my! And how about those hummers?! Meredith at Nature's Sweetness has been enjoying myriad Backyard Bird Tales with her dear children. What a happy spring for them all, with so much bright color to behold and so many sweet songs to learn!

Mary Chris has found the joys of nature in her own Little Pocket as well as while out and about. She takes us along on a few Late Spring Field Days to see turtles, bluebells and some very smart fish. All that is quite exciting, but I have to say, I would just love to join Mary Chris for that morning coffee in the midst of her lovely backyard.

Nissa from Simple Gifts shares with us two lovely spring photos, capturing the busy-ness of spring. The first shows a nesting catbird in her family's French lilac:

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And the next shows a "most perfect" beaver lodge and dam in the sparkling spring sunshine:

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Next we have Jen at Daughter of the King, who shares some wonderful photos from a weekend spent enjoying Springtime in Maine. Beautiful flowers, scenic vistas and interesting wildlife to boot!

Suzanne at Adventures in Daily Living takes us on a Sunday Garden Tour with a list of all the beauties growing in her garden. What a lovely June afternoon, despite all the rain.

Susan at Chicken Spaghetti talks about three of my most favorite things in her Field Day post. In Bird Books for Children, you will find an extensive list of literature for children of all ages. I can't wait to check them out, for you all know how I feel about birds. In fact at this very moment I am straining my eyes to see just what bird that is perching outside my computer desk window ...

And Speaking of Perching, Michelle at Living Waters has been watching a lovely pair of songbirds along with her children who have dubbed the pair Derek and Odette. Could a nest be any more romantic than one situated in a basket of fragrant spring flowers?

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Minding his own business, just being a frog. :)

Meanwhile, Leticia at Cause of our Joy has started a lovely new tradition - Sundays at the Nature Preserve. How fortunate are her children to have a father so knowledgeable and eager to share his love of nature with his family. I can't wait to see more!

Marjorie always has fascinating and inspiring nature posts at her blog, Lettres de mon Moulin. Today is no exception - as her family explores those Shelled Wonders - Turtles and Crayfish. Marjorie recounts their newly made armored acquaintances and offers excellent tips for our own study should the opportunity ever present itself. (Fingers crossed!)

Spring has arrived at long last up north, and Angela's dear family has shifted into summer mode. At Three Plus Two there are plenty of Birds, Bugs and Botany to observe and explore. I predict a very busy and happy summer for them all!

And here comes dear Waltzing Matilda who offers us some lovely photographs for Field Day, all hallmarks of the late spring season (well, maybe except for that "wolf," lol). Stop by to see a passing spring rain, vibrant garden blooms and a spectacular rainbow!

And speaking of rainbows ...

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An evening rain brought this beauty to Marcie's neighborhood!

So much of the thrill in birding lies in discovering a new bird at your feeders. Ruth and family at Just Another Day in Paradise have had a wonderful time drawing in new birds to observe. Check out her Birdwatching archive to join in their excitement!

Donna at Moments Like These is also raising several Birders in Training. A recent trip to a nature preserve yielded many sightings of several new species. Take a peek at Donna's Baltimore oriole pictures - just lovely! She offers some great birding tips as well. (Ooh, and this just in - Birders in Training Part II! What a shot!)

As you all know, I love a good nature mystery, and Kimberlee at Pondered in My Heart had an intriguing Empty Nest Syndrome on her hands recently! Some thoughtful field work ensued, and the mystery was at long last solved ... what could have happened to those eggs? Stop in and find out!

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The miracle of spring - new life unfolding!

Tiany at Less of Me ~ More of Him shares with us a collection of amazing photos from a Late Spring Field Day in her Backyard. What a habitat she has created - filled with lizards, frogs, butterflies, geese and more. Check out that butterfly bush - beautiful!

Kristen at Adventures in Bodenburg takes us along on a Memorial Day trip to a nearby creek. They had such fun and found some neat rocks! Next she shares a post about The Pumpkin Patch 2007 (and Seed Companies). I loved reading about her pumpkins which are usually thought of as a fall symbol, but part of the delight of spring is the promise it makes toward fall!

Maria at Tater Tots and Ladybug Love shares an absolutely charming photo essay, reminding us of the Lazy Summer Days in Late Spring. So true! I love how the seasons tread on each other's toes sometimes. Next she shares a family adventure which consisted of Bikes, Turtles, Blades and Burritos. What a fun day!

Beth at Woman of the Tiger Moon spends much time in her yarden (love that) with her dear little son, Larkin, a boy after his Mama's green heart! Grab a cup of coffee and join them for Reflections on One Good Spring Morning - and don't miss those bunny pictures!

Beth at Simply Sewn has lots of nature to share ~ inspiration on the farm (love the kitty!), strawberries and colorful quilts (again, love the cat), princes of butterflies and ladybugs, and a museum visit (complete with frogs) too!!

Plus Beth shares two grand photos of her kids enjoying the very best kind of Field Day - a real one!

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I just had to wrap up my post with that above shot. It is truly the essence of nature study with children - getting them out there and letting them take such JOY in our marvelous world!!

As always, I thank you all for joining me on this Late Spring Field Day. I hope you'll consider a return visit later on in the summer - right about first harvest, perhaps? Mid-August or so?

For, already spring fever is winding down, and very soon the hazy-lazy days of summer will set in ...

The afternoons will hum with the drone of bees and cicadas. The sun will bare down on us, and we will retreat to the shade and the cool of indoors. Storm clouds will gather in the west and the wind will scarcely move - nor will we. So for now, relish the fresh air, the brilliant blooms and the busy energy of spring - tuck these sweet little things away in your heart, and carry them with you all year.

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land.

Thus the little moments, humble though they be,

Make the mighty ages of eternity …

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love,

Help to make the earth happy, like the heaven above.

          (Julia A. F. Carney, 1845)


What I Did on My (Blogging) Vacation ...

1. Supervised the catch-and-release of a lot of bugs via the bug vacuum.

2. Listened to d'Aulaire's Norse myths read aloud.

3. Proofread Bookworm's creative writing and played his graph paper games.

4. Watched Crackerjack read his first chapter book ever!

5. Watched Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, more than once.

6. Instead of spending the morning online, I read the Boston Globe every day (ok, skimmed it), and clipped out articles to share.

7. Instead of spending the evening online, I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover to cover.

8. Watched all the Martha shows I had on our Tivo.

9. Inadvertently (honestly) erased all of the Sopranos episodes Bill recorded. Oops.

10. Visited with friends we had not seen in a while and made some neat plans for the fall.

11. Found a missing library book long since paid (and apologized) for.

12. Wrote out the ed. plans for next year, including a neat alphabet curriculum for Earlybird (more on that later).

Well, I am back online, albeit somewhat sporadically. We had a Verizon technician out here yesterday for hours (hence the multiple viewings of Willy Wonka, keeping the boys out of his hair). I can now get online - but only here on the old dinosaur of a desktop parked in the family room (the one EB thinks is his, lol), but my laptop cannot connect. I have no phone (except for my cell of course). I now have access to email, however, and I have received several new Field Day posts (thank you!). If you have not heard back from me - hang tight - I will be (hopefully) in touch with you soon.

Undesired though it was, the break I had from blogging the past few days was, in a strange way, quite eye-opening. Though I missed "talking" with you all, it was, dare I say, sort of restful to just live the day without any back and forth (to the computer). I've been blogging steadily (a post a day at least) for over a year. I didn't think I was spending all that much time online, and yet, without the ability to actually connect - with the computer sitting closed and quiet off in the corner - I realized how much more time I have in the day than I thought. I got a lot more done on my daily list, I must admit.

And now I'm back, on what would have been my Late Spring Field Day, feeling a bit at odds, and not having a lot to say, actually! (Quite a lengthy post for someone with nothing to say, lol.) I will still plan to run Field Day this Monday, June 11th. I'm accepting entries up till Sunday night!

Today we have Bookworm's Homeschool Book Group meeting. We are discussing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - and I'm leading the discussion. I'm bringing cream soda for refreshment ("butterbeers") and a few activities for the kids. They're such a good group, I'm sure it will be fun.

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes, and as always, for stopping by my little corner of the web. I hope you have a great Thursday. :)


Eight Things about Me

My friend Meredith very kindly tagged me for the 8 Facts Meme! I actually asked to be tagged, because I'd seen this around and it looked fun. I have no idea what I will post though. I chat so much here, I don't think there's all that much left to say, lol!

I will, of course, try. :)

Here are the rules: Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Now for my 8 random facts ...

1. We live 1.7 miles from the house in which I grew up (and where my parents still live). It was my childhood dream to one day live in my hometown.

2. Numbers are not my thing; for instance, Sudoku makes my brain hurt. But I love word games, like crosswords, word jumbles and the like.

3. Up until last year, I had never broken any bones. Then I dropped a glass juice jar on my foot and broke two of my toes! But I think 37 years is a good record!

4. I have every issue of Martha Stewart Living as well as every issue of her Kids magazine and Baby magazine. At one time I had every issue of Victoria, but lately I can only find my spring and summer issues (trying not to fret). Yes, that makes me a magazine junkie. ;)

5. My high school yearbook quote: "Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable. So remember my sentimental friend, a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." (The Wizard of Oz)

6. My high school yearbook ambition: To give my children a life as good as the life my parents have given me.

7. My career goal was to write for a magazine, like Victoria. I worked at a newspaper right out of college (an internship that turned into a job). I began writing service directory blurbs ("Value Painters offer you value work at a value price!") and eventually worked as assistant features editor. Lots of fun - very little money.

8. I cannot drive a stick shift, though I tried - once. After that Bill's beloved maroon Saab never went in reverse again - yet he still drove it for years!

Well, now I am supposed to tag eight people, but so many have already been tagged for this meme. I think I will borrow a page from Meredith's book, and ask that if anyone wants to be tagged, please leave me a comment and I'll pop over and tag you! :)