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A Few April Bits & Bobs ❤

Hello my friends, and Happy Wednesday! I'm popping in quickly today to share a few things ... 

First, I wanted to let you all know that our next Mitten Strings for God book study "tea" will take place this coming Sunday, April 22nd. The chapter we'll be discussing next is called "Healing," and it's a rather short, but very sweet chapter. Here's a passage to consider ...


Full (Wednesday) Disclosure - it was this chapter that inspired me to share last Friday's post, admitting to certain anxieties I have as a special needs parent. Because there's nothing quite like times of stress to inspire more frequent (and imagined) "boo-boo moments." Most of the time it's more about the need for comfort than it is a cute bandaid ... but more on all that in my Sunday post. Later this week (most likely on Instagram) I will share a picture of our own boo-boo basket, which I recently pulled together with my littlest fella in mind.

For now I would like to invite all to join me in this re-read, savoring each chapter as we (slowly) go along. Future chapter topics include: listening, nature, enchantment and grace. :)

On a brighter note though, here are some spring birds from my backyard ...

Goldfinch collage

How I love watching the goldfinches turn a brighter shade of yellow once the winter has passed. In this collage I have "captured" two males at the top and then a third male in between two females on the bottom. Their vibrant feathers are such a happy sight in the spring!

And here are a few more ...


On the left is the dark-eyed junco - a lovely "snowbird" who leaves for the north in mid-April. Every year we keep a keen eye out for their departure - often a flock of them will be ground-feeding vigorously one day and then be gone the very next. Come October, juncos will return for the winter (just about the time the chipmunks go underground). They are such seasonal harbingers and the dearest little birds - I just love them! 

The birds on the right are a white-throated sparrow (top) and a house finch (bottom). The sparrow's song in particular is a welcome and familiar sound around here in the spring!

But speaking of spring ...


This picture popped up in my "Facebook Memories" feed this morning. It was taken on this day last year and OH MY what a difference a year makes! These azalea bushes, shown here in near-bloom, have barely even formed buds yet this season! What a long, loooong winter it's been ...

But now ... I have some BIG news to share ... because Crackerjack has made his college decision!


(Soon to be seen on my van's bumper!)

As of Sunday night CJ is officially enrolled at Emmanuel College in Boston, as a member of the class of 2022! His plan is to major in Political Science and minor in Spanish. We are very proud of our young man and extremely pleased he decided on Emmanuel. I think it will be an excellent fit! 

Woohoo, Go Saints!

Well my friends, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope your week is going well. How is spring treating you where you live? Drop me a note if you have a moment, but for now I will wish you well and a pleasant day (or evening) ahead ...

Meet you here on Sunday for Mitten Strings!

Mitten Strings for God: Ch. 13 "Breathing"


Hello my friends, and Happy Sunday! I hope you are all doing well! :)

Today I'd like to invite you to sit and have a spot of tea with me, as we chat about the next chapter in our current (albeit slow-going!) book study, Mitten Strings for God by Katrina Kenison. Last month we talked about incorporating more "One-on-One Time," and today - skipping over chapter 12, for reasons explained in this post - we're moving on to the concept of "Breathing."

(Who thinks about breathing, anyway? Well, today, we will!)

Before we get started on our topic though, how about a quick look at my tea?

Today I am drinking a cup of Decaffeinated Irish Breakfast tea, which is kind of our house tea, so there's always an extra box or two in our cupboard! (I hardly ever drink full-caf tea since I limit my caffeine intake to the mornings - when coffee fills my mug and zaps my veins with the energy I need to jump-start my day!)

So please let me pour you a fresh cuppa, and please pardon the mess on the table - particularly, the cats! (Who let them up on the table, anyway??) Today being Sunday I am knee-deep in my "office hours" and trying to get a handle on what the new week will bring. The Vernal Equinox for one thing on Tuesday, as well as the start of my annual spring cleaning - and our seasonal homeschooling theme is "pussy willows." As you can see, Oliver and Archie are all-in ... because nothing invites the cats' keen attention like a little fresh vegetation on the kitchen table!

Allrighty, now let's get on with the chapter chat ...

And what an interesting thing to consider, breathing. It's something we do constantly and automatically ... yet rarely do we actually stop and think about it. Unless we've over-exerted ourselves, and/or are suffering from asthma or experiencing an allergic reaction (been there, done that) - if we are fortunate enough to have no physical ailments to impede it, our body just does what it must do ... our lungs expand, we take in oxygen ... we breathe.

And we live!

So as I read this chapter's opening passage - the description of the Kenison boys running loops around the house, exulting in the very state of being alive - I thought, what a fun and memorable story! But also ... what a lesson!

"We stand there together, hands to hearts, as their pulses slowly return to normal. Then they are off again, flying, exhilarated, reveling in their discoveries of air and speed and strength, the joy of physical experience." (p. 95)

Celebrating life comes so easily to children - they don't think about it so much, or plan it like their adult counterparts do (perhaps a tad obsessively, ahem!). No, they just happily move forward, absorbing and savoring the blessing that is LIFE. This awareness and appreciation comes to them as naturally as breathing, if you'll pardon the pun - but it's true! And I think most of us could benefit from the innocent lessons of an open-hearted and exuberant child.

"How readily our children embrace these humble lessons; how long it takes for many of us adults to relearn them!" (p. 99)

As for racing about the house, I think perhaps we adults might tire after the first quarter-lap, lol! That said, I can strongly identify with the parents here - sitting, and watching - in that first passage. How wonderful to watch our children marvel over the "inner workings of their own bodies." (p. 95)   

So when do we think about breathing, then? Well, for one thing, when we're exercising ...

Fitness walking is an excellent habit, but one I must admit I fall in and out of according to season. In the spring, as soon as the roads and walkways are clear of snow, I begin my daily morning walks. Spring is a great time for new endeavors! The air smells great, and feels great! At this time of year I feel inspired, invigorated and resolved!

But at first it's a bit of a struggle to get back in the rhythm of walking. And not just physically - making my way up the steep hill at the end of our road - but mentally, too. Beginning with motivating myself to walk out my door - making the time to walk, arranging the child care, putting on my walking clothes and lacing up my sneakers ... letting my brain move beyond the walls of my house and the issues and tasks therein.

Allowing my mind to wander along with my feet ... I find it all gets easier as the season moves along.

My breathing during these walks comes easier too as I gain stamina and my lungs get back into the swing of things. Spring and summer walking is a breeze (green flies and heat waves, notwithstanding) but by autumn I'm afraid to say - with dark days and chilly/wet weather, I start finding excuses to stay home and skip my walks. Soon enough of course, I fall out of habit. 

But to say come spring I'm eager to revive my walking habit again is an understatement! I'm ready to exchange winter's stale indoor air for spring's fresh outdoor air and take a few deep cleansing breaths! And here we are on April's doorstep, so my instincts should be kicking in again anytime now ... once the roads are passable, of course.

*glares at the two feet of snow outside the window* 

So when else do we think about breathing? Well, how about when we're trying to find calm for ourselves, or another?

Do you ever stop when you find yourself in a bit of "a state" and just - close your eyes and count to ten? (Or five, or a hundred - depending on the circumstances!) And as you count, you might find your breathing slows and whatever is happening seems a little more manageable? Even if just in a mercurial amount. Any bit of calm is welcome when the need is great.

Speaking of ...

"When I say to my boys, 'Let's take a deep breath,' I am guiding them into a safe haven, a place where they can release their pain and anger and come back to center again." (p. 98)

Throughout the book, Ms. Kesinson is quite candid about her family's choices and challenges, and as I've said before, so much of it has inspired and supported me in my own mothering. And each time I read, I appreciate some chapters more than others - because my experiences (hopes and fears) change as my children grow. 

So during my current re-read, I found myself pausing over her description of her younger son's emotional issues:

"Jack is still prone to tantrums, outbursts that frighten him and wreak havoc on the rest of us as well." (p. 98)

I couldn't help but think about my Earlybird and his struggles. When EB was very little, before he was officially diagnosed, he would have absolutely awful meltdowns. They seemed to happen all the time, sometimes for no reason, and we just felt ... so helpless. Our older boys (four and two when EB was born) were extremely easy-going children, with nary a tantrum between them. So I'm pretty sure we thought we had the whole "peaceful parenting" thing down pat ...

*rolls eyes at my younger mothering self*

And then along came Earlybird, who, by two was wigging out at the zoo, the grocery store, the neighbor's birthday party, in the car - you name it, he couldn't handle it. And for a very long time, neither could we ...

We learned of course, that Earlybird has autism, and meltdowns out of nowhere are common. They are also, unfortunately, not something he's grown out of - and let me tell you, it's a lot easier to handle the autistic meltdown of a six year old then that of a 16 year old. (Physically AND emotionally!) Thankfully though, we have learned how to help him through these challenging times and, perhaps just as important, we've learned how to make it through these tough times ourselves. Years later we have wonderful therapists working with EB and showing us the way. One of the techniques they began with him quite early on was breathing ...

So when EB is upset - afraid, mad, frustrated, whatever emotion is just too big- they encourage him to take deep breaths, for a count of five.

"Take a deep breath, EB. And again ... one, two, three, four, five."

I remember the first time I watched them do this, I thought: Right, I don't think so. That's not gonna work ...

And yet, sure enough ... he calmed down. Maybe just a little, but usually enough to get us to the next step. His attention was diverted, he could hear us again, and he'd become more aware as he slowed down his over-taxed heart.

Over time, Earlybird has learned to employ this strategy on his own. Often we have to prompt him, but now and then I'll hear him, if he's frustrated by something, muttering to himself: "Ok. Just calm down now, and take a deep breath."

How many times have I found myself (perhaps in the very next room) taking those deep breaths along with him ... ?

If I may veer a bit off topic (kind of) for a moment ...

I've been sharing more and more about our autism journey here at the blog and how we've been able to help our son, but I just want to stress that we are nowhere near perfect, nor do we have it all figured out. We take it day by day (or as we often "joke," hour by hour) and try to handle what we can, as we can. We are blessed with tremendous support, and sometimes it feels like we're on a fairly even keel ... but then something happens and we're frantically adjusting our sails once again.

For a long time we floundered, having trouble finding the right kind of therapy for EB. (Whose issues were complicated by the onset of epilepsy at age 12.) In 2014 we finally matched up with a fabulous ABA center and began home-based therapy that has been invaluable for our son. Without question, it has changed his (and our) lives. That said, we have just recently come to the decision to start him on a behavioral med. This was not a decision we took lightly - indeed, we've put it off for as long as we could. But though so much has improved for EB - there have also been some new and significant challenges for EB in the past year. Perhaps hardest of all has been the rise of an anxiety - for lack of a better word - that prevents him from fully exploring the world around him, taking part in his community and maintaining a peace within himself that allows him to benefit from the supports available to him ...

So we talked long and hard with our neurologist (a Boston Children's Hospital Autism Specialist) about this situation and while very supportive of what we've been doing, agreed with our concern that we need to do something more. So we are starting EB out on something mild and at a very low dose ... and in a few weeks we should potentially see some changes. 

So we're nervous, but we're hopeful ... because we're finally doing something, that has helped other children and adults with autism. We can only pray it will help our boy, too. As our doctor warned us, it won't make things perfect, but it will hopefully take the edge off for him and allow him (US) to live more fully.

If we can find a little more calm in our household I think all of us will BREATHE a little easier! 

My friends, I hope you all don't mind me sharing this news seemingly out of the blue, but I felt it was important to let people know that this is where we need to go. I know many people reading here also have children on medication, and I am certain it was a decision you also took very seriously. (If you feel called to comment or reach out, I'd love to hear from you.) Throughout our journey we've handled as much as we can and we try, constantly to devise ideas and strategies that help our son with his challenges, but  ... we've come to realize, he needs more help. We need more help.

I will keep you all posted and would be ever so grateful for your prayers!


Well everyone, I am going to be off now, as there are still a few hours before bedtime and I still have a few more To-Dos to take care of! I hope you are all enjoying this lovely Sunday ... blustery and bright here, but at least it's not snowing! As always, I would love to hear from you if you have a moment! Remember, all are welcome to join the MSfG discussion ... archived posts can be found here ... and we're not even halfway through the book! Our next chapter is called, "Healing" and I would love to assign it a date, but I know myself too well, and will just say, it will be soon. Ish. After Easter, for sure - but I will post a "meeting time" when we get started in the new month ... 

So please stay tuned and take care! As always, I thank you sincerely for stopping by ...

See you here again very soon!

My Podcast with Pam!


Good Tuesday morning, my friends! :)

Oh my goodness, I am so excited to share this with you today! And maybe a little nervous too. Well, I was nervous at first, but it was SUCH a fun experience and Pam made me feel so welcome and asked some great questions and as we talked I realized  - we're chatting away here like two old friends! (Who, you know, happen to have just met and live in opposite corners of the country!)


So, what am I rambling on about you all must be wondering? Well, recently I was invited by Pamela Barnhill at Ed Snapshots to chat with her about homeschooling and my family and the file crate and nature study and ... well, all kinds of things! Now, I think I might have talked a little fast - maybe that's a New England thing, or maybe that was the nerves! - but I really had such a lovely time talking with Pam, who is a very gracious hostess. I felt so comfortable and cozy, all settled in with my big cup of tea and Pam on the phone ... I probably could have talked on and on! 

Anyhoo - here is a direct link to the podcast so you can check it out. (If I was tech-savvy I'd link up that neat image above but alas, I am not.) I hope you enjoy our conversation, and if you have a moment, please leave a comment (or question) for Pam or myself!

(Also, if you're new to Pam's Homeschool Podcast series at Ed Snapshots, I urge you to head on over and take a peek (or a listen)! I am just so honored to have been asked to participate in this wonderful community ...)

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

22 years ... and counting!

In a planner post comment, Barbara mentioned you all might like to see a wedding pic, and since I was just getting them organized on my laptop ... :)

Wedding pic

Here you go!

It's not staged or formal, but it's one of my favorites from that day ... we had just arrived at the reception hall and, as you can see from our faces, we were feeling pretty happy!

Gosh, it's hard to believe that was TWENTY TWO years ago!

And just for fun, here we are last night - in a very different car! - when Bill and I "snuck out" to celebrate our anniversary ... all on our own!

Anniversary dinner date

My mum is so good to us - she came over to watch the boys - cook them supper, see to meds and pajamas and bedtime and all - and Bill and I spent a nice few hours together, riding in his car, driving through old haunts, swinging by the church where we were married and ... oh my gosh, actually sharing complete thoughts!

We culminated the evening with a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant. There was also going to be coffee and window shopping afterwards, but we just decided to get home!

(We're such a couple of old fogies, lol ... )

You know, our day yesterday was so nice - but of course I couldn't help but think about how different things were from 22 years ago. For one thing, we woke up together! And then spent the bulk of our day doing things like washing dishes, and changing diapers, and cooking meals, and raking leaves, and feeding pets and paying bills and bagging up trash ...

Yes, quite different from how we spent that splendid day back in 1993!

But, how grateful we are to be here, together - even more in love if I may say so - and enjoying what we could only envision and hope for back then. God is SO GOOD and I pray He blesses us with another 22 years - PLUS. Because ... this whole "married to your best friend" thing?

Yeah, we kinda dig it.


Thanks so much friends, for always being so nice to stop by and check in - whatever it is I might be chatting about - and goodness knows, from day-to-day, you never know what it might be! (Lots of planner posts lately, and continuing on into next week! And a menu planning post is in the works, too ...) I know most of us have never met in real life, but I deeply appreciate your visits and kind words, and I always remember you all in my prayers ... 

But now I must be off as we are in the midst of a pressure-cooker experiment ... this is only our second time using this amazing contraption! Chicken and tomato rice soup! Nice for a Saturday night supper, I think. 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

Hello, and Happy Friday!

(Flashback) Feline Friday!

Archie and Oliver 1

One of my favorite photographs of "the boys," it was taken when they were very young. And it was recently chosen to appear on a local feline rescue group's annual thank you card!


My friends, I'm sorry to have been MIA for so long ... it's been a very long week of illness here but we finally are on the mend. It was just a cold/cough virus - though a particularly nasty one that felt very much like flu. We were all down and out (even the baby) for a while!

But I'm quite glad to say we are over the worst of it and feeling better every day. Little Bear and Earlybird, who had both been waking throughout the nights (coughing), actually slept very well last night and straight until 6:45 a.m.! What a blessing is truly good sleep! Lots of fluids through the day and extra vitamin C, too.

I have a post in the works answering some of the questions that came up about the housekeeping calendar and I will get that up hopefully this weekend. (I am still loving the calendar but not surprisingly those cards didn't do much for me last week!) I also thought it might be fun to share what my cards next week say ... to give you an idea of how the cards play out in a given week.

So please stay tuned, and as always, thanks for stopping by (and for your patience!). Are any of you celebrating Super Pi Day tomorrow? We'll be having homemade pizza pies for our supper, and perhaps a fruit pie for dessert! :)

Enjoy your Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!


Mama at her office

My friends, I am checking in quickly just to say hi and let you know, I am still here! All is fine - I'm just not finding the time I'd like to post this week. Firstly, Bill was quite sick with what turned out to be, thankfully, nothing worse than a middle ear disturbance. (Water in the ear = vertigo + nausea, which, fyi, does not pair well with strenuous activity like say, roof shoveling.) He's doing much better, I'm happy to report. :) And today we had Earlybird's neurology appointment, which is always a bit of an ordeal. EB is not one for doctor appointments - or long rides into Boston! - but I am happy to say it went very well. My dad accompanied us (taking the edge off and providing EB with comfort and support) and my mum was here to babysit the little guy so we didn't have to drag him in with us. Crackerjack was a huge help to her on that front! So EB checked out fine and was so well behaved at his appt. ... and it just feels so good to have it behind us! As for the weather, we haven't had a lot of snow this week (relatively speaking ) but the temps have been extremely low and we're readying for more snow followed by rain - this weekend. New Englanders are being warned to remove snow from our rooftops (in fear of roof collapse) ... so there's the weekend project!

Goodness, I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining, I just wanted to explain why this week has been a little "off" and it's been difficult to find time to post. I am working on a rather large (ok, very large) post about my new cleaning calendar ... and I really want to post that one next. So once I finish that up (nearly there now!) I'll be back. In the meantime, wishing you all a very nice weekend ...

I will see you here again very soon!

p.s. Photo of "Mama in Her Office with Her Trusty Assistant" by Bill.


Our Earlybird's 13th Birthday!

Paparileybday 5

It's hard to believe, but the little boy who was just four when I started this blog, is now 13 years old! Earlybird shares his birthday with my dad, and so we always celebrate these two special guys together. On Sunday we had a lovely brunch and I thought you might like to see how we celebrated this happy day.


First of all, up top is the "snowy marshmallow mountain" cake I made for our two train buffs. My dad is a model railroader and Earlybird has loved trains since he was tiny. He loves them as much as - if not more than! - the planets! As most of you know, our EB is autistic, so while he may be 13 in physical age, he's developmentally much younger. So even at this milestone birthday, it's hard for me to say - "Oh my goodness, my boy is a teenager!" - because really, he's not. He'll get there someday, I know he will ... but this is not that day. And that's OK - I pray to God daily that it will be. 

You all know this is a positive place. And I don't mean to sugarcoat things, because parenting a special needs child is very hard at times. (Many of you understand that, I know.) But I mostly try to share how joyous our life is with EB ... how well he does in certain areas. We struggle with many things, though - make no mistake about that. It's easy (easier) to be home in our comfort zone, working together on simple projects - baking, crafting, playing, asking and answering, observing - and learning about life at his speed. But things like outings, restaurants, road trips, community events, church and parties - not to mention doctor's appointments and testing and meltdowns and rigidity and extreme emotional behavior is not. The list of things he (we) struggle with is long, but we take it all day by day (and sometimes hour by hour).

It's hard sometimes not to wish things were different, but what I try to focus on is that we love him, dearly, for all he is right this minute. And for all that is inside him even when he can't get it out. We try not to worry about where he's not - but we work on addressing his challenges while cherishing all of his strengths.

Ok, enough of the heavy - on to the pictures!

Paparileybday 15

 Getting ready to make wishes! As you can see, EB is a bit apprehensive. He does not like the "Happy Birthday" song (we have to promise not to sing) and only recenly became comfortable with the candles.

Paparileybday 6

Here I am with my dad, who is so important to me - to all of us. He jokes that it's no longer his birthday - that he's given it to Earlybird, but I am so grateful to celebrate both of them together. Every year is a blessing.

Paparileybday 2

My brother making funny faces at Little Bear. (With a half-decorated tree in the background!)

Paparileybday 1

Three of my best guys - Crackerjack, Little Bear and Bill. Bookworm is in his finals week at BC -  we'll have him home for break later this week! (There may have to be another cake ...)

Paparileybday 3

The boys gave their Papa a "Papa Bear" mug for his coffee. So cute! :)


And for Earlybird - some dvd's, a book, a Monster Truck, a terrarium kit and this jacket - a gift from my folks and us. He can't stand wearing zippers so we're always on the lookout for a "button-up" (or snap-front) coat. This one will do nicely - thank you, LL Bean!

Having family support makes such a huge difference - not just in the life of a special needs person, but to his immediate family as well. We are so grateful for our support system, and that we never feel alone on our path. This was a lovely day, a memory to treasure - certainly not perfect, but really and truly good.

And remember yesterday's post? I count it all joy.


Enjoy your Tuesday, my friends - thanks so much for stopping by!

HELLO! My Name Is ...

But first:

Happy Thursday, my friends!


And I'm happy to say, I am writing this post using my very own laptop! Which means that it is finally back in action and I feel like I can breathe again! Lol, first world problems, right? Honestly, there was a bit of a "free" feeling not having the (all too) easy access to the internet to begin with, but that got old, real fast. And not only is my laptop restored, but it seems *knock on wood* we have all our old pictures still intact!

Anyhoo ...

I thought I'd take a few minutes of your time (if I may) to re-introduce myself and my family. I know many of you have been reading here for several years but there are (happily) always new readers and I shouldn't presume you all know what (or whom) I'm chatting about!

So, to begin with, I am Dawn, a 45 year old wife to Bill and mama to four boys, ranging in age from 19 years to 17 months! We live in a suburb of Boston, and have been homeschooling since our oldest was five, which - wow - is 14 years now! That hardly seems possible ...

I've been a stay-at-home mom from the get-go. Before I was married, I was an assistant editor at a small Boston-area newspaper and had lots of fun writing articles about food, families and holidays. Once Bill and I were married I gave freelancing a shot, but then motherhood took over and I've never looked back! I've been very fortunate to be able to stay home all these years. Living on one income is not always easy - as many of you know! - but we've done what we had to (and had lots of support) to make it possible.

I enjoy reading (on my own and TO my kids), writing/blogging, journaling, photography, crafting, baking and all things "organization." Not that I'm the most organized person you'll meet, lol. Hardly! I just love caring for my home and family (honestly, this "job" is a blessing) and trying to find ways to make it all work! I also love the rhythm of the year and all of the seasons - both natural and liturgical - and observing them with my family in everyday (and big day) ways. I would love to write a book some day ... if I ever find the time!

I have a weakness for magazines and library books, coffee and comfort food, calendars and pretty paper. I don't watch a lot of tv, but I love the Today Show and PBS and Patriots football. I'm on Facebook quite a bit and recently I found (and fell for) Pinterest. I also love our two cats, red squirrels, red foxes, songbirds, and though I'd love to visit many other places in the world, I'll always be grateful I live in New England! The winters may be fierce, and the summers dang hot, but I love experiencing all four seasons so distinctly.

Ok, that's enough about me - now here's a bit about my boys!

Bookworm, our oldest son, is 19 and a sophomore at Boston College. He is a Computer Science major/Math minor and is enjoying his college experience very much! He comes home on weekends quite often so we get to see him and he gets some home cooked meals, laundry "services" lol and quiet(ish) study time. He's also able to stay connected with his brothers, including the (quickly) growing baby which has been very nice for us all. He loves gaming and reading and photography - though he doesn't have as much time for those things these days!

Crackerjack is 15 and a (homeschooled) high school sophomore. This year he is taking several "outside" classes - and by that I mean, in small groups of homeschooled teens who meet with a tutor. His classes include Chemistry, World History, World Literature, Spanish I and Art. At home he is working on Algebra and Composition. His course load is a heavy one but he's adjusting pretty well. CJ is thinking very seriously about art school (and has been for years) so we'll start investigating that option soon. He is also in his final year of Confirmation prep at our church ... he'll make this Sacrament next fall.

Earlybird will be 13 (!) next month! He is our very sweet special-needs boy. He is autistic, developmentally delayed and, as of last year, epileptic. He is on medication to control the seizures as well as a vitamin supplement to help with the side effects of that med. We are having him re-evaluated this year to see where he's at and what more we can do for him (outside the home). He is (we are) enjoying his home education so much. At home we are able to work at his speed (which varies day by day, hour by hour!) and with his sensitivities (which also fluctuate). We build our learning activities around his interests and into real-life experiences whenver possible, as this almost always makes concepts more meaningful to him. For instance, this year we are learning American history through a multi-subject study of the railroads (he is a huge train buff, just like his Papa). Science right now is all about tunnels and earth engineering - rocks, landforms, soil. We listen to audiobooks and jump down rabbit holes to explore subjects like crickets (last month) and burrowing animals (this month). Life skils is perhaps our most important subject and that's something we work on every day, all day. I can blog more about EB's "learning adventures" at a later date if anyone is interested.

And then finally, we have our littlest man, our Little Bear ... who will be 18 months old on Thanksgiving Day! My how time has flown - it seems I was just announcing my pregnancy here at the blog. As you might know (or can guess) LB was our very happy surprise - a true gift from God who knew better than we what our family should look like. I thank Him every single day for entrusting us with one more little soul! 

Little Bear is a very active little boy these days - running and climbing and playing all day - especially with trucks! But for as active as LB is, he loves to slow down, climb up in his Mama or Daddy's lap and read books, and I am so grateful for that. Not just for the time spent sitting down (rather than running behind!) but for the fact I have another "reader" to raise on all these wonderful books we've gathered through the years! He's also my little nature boy (another particular joy for me) who loves nothing better than being outside "puttering" about - picking up sticks, rocks and leaves. He adores his big brothers and he in turn is doted on as the little prince. :)


Well my friends, I have kept you long enough, so I will wrap up and let you go! I didn't mean to go on so long but you know how I get when talking about my favorite subjects ...

Now, I would LOVE to hear from you, if you have a moment to say HELLO! Tell me as much or as little as you'd like ... how you found your way here, what you'd like me to blog about, prayer requests if you have them ... and I always love to hear about weather around the world! (Rainy and raw here today.) I am always eager to "greet" friends old and new here!

In the meantime, thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read. I hope you and yours are all doing well, and enjoying these early days of November ... 

Take care, and see you here again very soon!

A New Year's Eve Note ...

Floral banner

Dear Friends,

On this quiet and bitterly cold New Year's Eve, I'm taking a look back at how my life changed over the past year. 2013 was quite a year for my family!


On January 1st, I began the year unexpectedly, but joyfully, pregnant ...

And a couple of weeks later I turned 44!

With our help, Bookworm navigated his college applications (no mean feat for a homeschooler!) and anxiously awaited replies ...

MIT said no (rats!) but Boston College said yes - hooray!

Go Eagles!

We welcomed our precious Little Bear at the end of May ...

Making me the proud mother of four boys!

In early June, Bookworm made his high school (homeschool) graduation.

One down, three to go!

In late June, on what felt like the hottest summer days ever, we moved into a new home and a new town ...

Two days later we discovered our dear cat had a serious and mysterious puncture wound in his belly.

Archie miraculously survived!

One July day we attended college orientation with Bookworm - and that night I came down with mastitis only to break a toe the next morning!


In September we moved Bookworm into a dorm at BC ...

And Crackerjack began his first year as a (homeschooled) high schooler.

How time has flown ...

In October we sold our old house.

A bittersweet moment, happy though we are in our new home.

In November Earlybird had a frightening seizure and a new reality set in ...

We're still trying to get a handle on all that ...

In December Bill's father was diagnosed with cancer, and prepared for chemo before the end of the year.

This still doesn't seem real ... prayers are so appreciated.

By Advent, I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, but actively sought out peace and joy through mindfulness and prayer. With family and friends by our side, we had a truly wonderful Christmas.


Our year was filled with so many changes - sometimes it was hard to keep up! But with support from those who love us, we embraced - or at least handled - all those changes.

The best change of all is that on this New Year's Eve, we are now a family of SIX rather than FIVE, and for that I am truly grateful. My greatest joy in life is in motherhood and to be honored with it one more time? To be entrusted with the care of one more precious soul? I feel like the luckiest woman alive ... 


My friends, the gift of another year lies ahead ... let's be grateful for our blessings, hold each other up through our challenges and rejoice in all the possibilities!

Wishing you all a very Happy & Healthy New Year ... May God's Love touch your life and fill your heart with the comfort you need and the peace you desire ...

With Much Love,

~ Dawn

a new day

Sunrise through cedars 2

On any other morning this would be just another sunrise, but this morning it feels special to me. Because I watched it from the family room with Earlybird by my side, and boy, was it extra glorious.

Yesterday I watched the sun rise over the highway as we drove from one hospital to another. Though my thoughts were not so much on the sunrise - striking as it was - but on my dear little boy who was somewhere further up the road in the back of an ambulance. A reality I could hardy wrap my head around.

And so as you can imagine I am deeply grateful to be here this morning with my Earlybird, watching the sunrise, making our biscuits and eggs, running down the drive to get the paper. Doing all those things that are too easy to take for granted, simple things we do every day ... but in light of yesterday's traumatic events, I'm relishing them all the more.

Thank you all SO much for your prayers and messages of love and concern - they mean the world to me, honestly. Last night I was up with Little Bear around 2 a.m. and when he wouldn't settle easily, my mind started wandering ... my ears were pricking for sounds/silence from EB's room ... and my nerves began fraying just a little. To distract myself, I opened up my blog and read through your comments ... and my friends, your words soothed me, your prayers lifted and calmed me.

Bill and I are blessed to have such a support system around us - beginning with each other and extending to our boys, our family and friends and yes, to my dear readers, too. I don't know how we'd be as able and mindful as we are without all this support - on any given day, but especially at times like this.

 I will definitely be posting updates as we go along and as life gets back to normal. We're waiting to hear from the neurologist (hopefully today) about setting up testing for EB. I'm so eager to get that underway, and see what we can find out.

In the meantime, thank you for keeping our Earlybird in your prayers ... be assured that I remember you all in my own.

Blessings, all ... see you here again very soon.


Prayers, Please, for Earlybird

My friends, this afternoon I am counting my blessings after an absolutely harrowing morning ... and I am asking for your prayers.

Earlybird had a seizure at 3 a.m. - he fell out of bed and was completely unresponsive. At first we had no idea what was wrong but they were without a doubt, the scariest moments of my life. We called 911, and he was taken by ambulance first to a local hospital and then into Children's in Boston. Everyone who worked with him/us was wonderful. So caring and kind. 

Bottom line - he's OK and we're home. There are no effects from the seizure, and he is 100% himself (and was good as GOLD throughout all of this) but we are having further testing done asap: an e.e.g. as well as an MRI. Those will come in the next week or so. I would so appreciate your prayers as we try to figure this all out and hope he has no further episodes ... he's never had anything like this happen before.


Thank you, God, for hearing my fervent and frenzied prayers this morning ... for comforting me and giving me strength to focus and "keep it together." For my husband who rode with EB and took charge of the hospitalization. For my folks who came immediately to be with us, and support us, in whatever way we needed ... and for our Crackerjack who was such a big help - especially with Little Bear.

Most of all, thank you God for our beautiful, brave and sweet Earlybird. For that dear boy who thanked every doctor and nurse who poked, prodded and queried him. Who waited patiently for hours in a tiny exam room ... and who is sitting at his computer right now, with his snacks and his comic books, just so pleased to be home. Please continue to watch over our dear son ... as well as all his brothers.


I'll of course keep you all posted, and thank you in advance for your prayers!

8 Random Things

Recently, I was asked by a friend to share 8 random things about myself. I thought it might be fun to post them here at my blog ...

Thanks for the tag, Wendy!


(If you have time, please feel free to share some random things about yourself in the comments below!)

1. My middle name was Michelle, but when I got married I officially changed it to my maiden name. 

2. I was an early education major when I started college (I wanted to be a nursery school teacher) but switched to English in my sophomore year.

3. I can say/sing the alphabet backwards really quickly - thanks to my 1st grade teacher.

4. I haven't worked - for pay Winking - since 1995. I was a newspaper writer/assistant editor before becoming a full-time mom. I'm very thankful we've been able to do this; living on one income is not always easy.

5. One of my ancestors came over on the second Mayflower.

6. I'm severely allergic to almost all antibiotics. This was discovered when I had pneumonia a few years ago.

7. I've never been to NYC and it's a dream of mine to stand outside the Today Show in Rockefeller Center with a sign and a cup of Dean & Deluca coffee. 

8. I have an irrational fear of bears. (Irrational, because I never put myself in situations where I might run into bears.)


(Bonus random fact: I did my list in my favorite colors.)

Hope you're all enjoying the weekend! See you here again sometime soon ...

Home Sweet (New) Home ...

Peony 1

Good Monday Morning, my friends!

So ... I've thrown a lot of "big" news at you recently ... a pregnancy, a college decision, a blessed birth and a homeschool graduation ...

Well, here's yet another bit of "life-changing" news, something I've kept under wraps for a couple of months now:

We've moved!

Yes, as you may have guessed from my post title, last week we moved to a new house and a new town! And since this move may seem a bit out of left field, let me tell you how it all came to be ...

When we found out we were expecting our fourth child last October, we took a look around our 3-bedroom house and did some simple math ... we "simply" did not have the room for our impending family expansion!

So we started discussing our options: move to a new house or add on to the one we already had. Our first choice at that time was to add on, because we were really happy with our home and location. I think you all know from my blog just how much joy our home gave us!

Well, I waited to tell you all about the building project, because I wanted to be sure it was really happening. And it was taking a really long time to get off the ground - working through plans, estimates and measurements etc. - but before any building actually started (and before any contracts were signed) the project stalled out. Too many major issues came up (for example, a town sewer line would be in the way of the new foundation) that turned the project into something much more complicated and hugely expensive - as in, the original estimate was doubled! It became clear we just could not add on in a financially repsonsible way.

So ... more discussions ensued, and we finally decided this April to look into moving instead.

(Let me just say, this decision was not made lightly, nor without tears on my part - remember, I was pregnant and hormonal these past several months!)

We had a very specific list of "requirements" in regard to the location and setting, etc. and after a very short search we stumbled upon a house we absolutely loved. Honestly, from the moment we drove up for the initial showing, I was filled with a feeling of home. A brand new listing, it met all our requirements and then some ... and most importantly, it just felt right.

And here we are, two months later, all (or mostly) moved in!

Now, I'm sure over time, you will come to "visit" the various corners of our new home, but for today I'll share just a couple of pictures. Considering how important it was to us at our old house, I bet you are wondering where our new learning room will be ...

New learning room 4

New learning room 7

New learning room 6

This is a sunroom located off the back of the house (off the family room), and as you can see it is filled with windows just like our old learning room. It looks out to the backyard and faces the southern sky, so it's a very sunny and airy room. I can't wait to get it all set up!

As for nature study, another big part of our home-learning space ...

Hawk in tree 4

This is the sight that greeted us this morning as Earlybird and I walked down to the mailbox to pick up our paper. He or she is without a doubt the largest hawk I've ever seen! 

Our two acres here are even woodsier than our old home's 1/4-acre setting, and I expect we'll have a lot of fun acquainting ourselves with the flora and fauna that inhabit our new surroundings. So far, in the past three days we've been here, I've seen a red squirrel, chipmunks, the aforementioned hawk ... a cardinal pair, hummingbird, nuthatch and last night I heard an owl.

Oh, and our neighbors have chickens and a rooster, goats and a horse!


So stay tuned for more on the learning room as well as the rest of the house. We're still unpacking and settling in ... so my posting may be a bit light for a time. But I wanted to let you all know what was going on with us and explain why the background of my pictures will look decidedly different from here on out!


Happy Summer, everyone and Happy Monday, too. Enjoy your new week and we'll touch base again soon!

At Boston College ~ Admitted Eagles Day

I'm afraid there will be no MM this morning - I was out like a light very early last night! And that was because we spent most of our Sunday touring Boston College, taking part in "Admitted Eagles Day." It was an absolutely lovely spring day - typical of April in these parts. I thought you might like to see some of the pictures I took ...

Bc visit 1

(I didn't actually take this one - a BC student took it for us.)

This is me, Bookworm, Bill (holding my backpack, lol) and Crackerjack, standing in front of St. Inagtius of Loyola Catholic Church.

Bc 3

The B.C. Eagle.

Bc 4

Note Crackerjack's hood ~ the air was a might chilly early in the morning!

Bc 1

This is Fulton Hall, where Bill and Bookworm learned about B.C.'s math program (math is his intended major) and to which BW and I later returned for the computer science presentation (his potential minor).

Bc 8

(For what it's worth, CJ was advised to wear something warmer than a hoodie but he assured us he'd be "fine.")

Bc 9

This is a cool spot inside Fulton Hall - a glass cathedral ceiling and huge hanging tin lanterns.

Bc 6

The campus architecture is stunning - most of the buildings look quite medieval.

Bc 19

Bc 13

Bc 15

School motto engraved on this feature: Ever to Excel

Bc 14

 Bc 11

Bc 20

An impressive statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who founded the Jesuit order (Boston College is one of the country's oldest Jesuit universities).


So we have come down to two schools - Boston College and Gordon College - both wonderful opportunities for Bookworm, and both fit him well in different ways. We have much to talk about, think about and pray over this week, as a decision (and deposit) is expected very soon. May I ask for your prayers towards our discernment?

While I'm here I wanted to also let you know that my blogging will we be brief for the next several weeks. We have lots going on, and I'm really slowing down as I near my due date. (I'm at 35 weeks today.) I will still pop in now and again, but I didn't want anyone to worry if I'm quiet for days at a stretch. We will, of course, be announcing our big news here just as soon as we're able!

Blessings to you all on this beautiful spring Monday ~ see you here again sometime soon!


Some College News ... :)

As many of you know, this is our Bookworm's senior year, and this past fall he applied to several colleges. Well, I thought it would be a nice time to announce that we found out this weekend that BW was accepted to Boston College! And in January he received acceptance from Gordon College, which is located on Boston's north shore. We're waiting to hear from a couple more schools before he (we) make a decision, but it's exciting (and somewhat surreal) to have arrived at this moment in time ...

We've very proud of, and pleased for, our Bookworm!

Through the years, and especially as we continued homeschooling through high school, I have been asked on occasion: Do colleges actually accept homeschoolers? How does a homeschooler apply to a college? Well this was our first time out of course (Bookworm being our oldest), but through the experience of peers and general reporting of media, I knew that many colleges were in fact prepared to handle homeschooling applicants. We found the process of organizing Bookworm's credentials and application requirements - while not exactly easy, not overly difficult. I can do a post sometime on how we handled his high school years and how we organized the whole college application "adventure."


Well, I'll be off for now ... just wanted to share our happy news! I hope you all have a great weekend ... I'll see you here again very soon!


Bump Shot!

(26 weeks on Monday!)

Bump shot 26 weeks


Well, I had a lovely time today, joining several dear housemates from college to celebrate our friend Nancy's birthday. We met at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch - and delicious cheesecake, of course! When I got home, I had Bookworm take this picture for me since I was somewhat "gussied up," lol.

I feel like my "bump" is much bigger than it actually is! But I'm feeling well and baby's doing great - he continues to be very active at all hours of the day - and particularly the night. He and I have just about three months to go ...

(I should mention, those fancy-shmancy bracelets are actually "seabands" which I've been wearing for morning sickness. The nausea has thankfully passed, but I still wear them - I'm not taking any chances!)

Hope you're all enjoying your weekend! Are we all quite excited (perhaps nervous?) for Downton tomorrow night?


So, I have a little news to share ...

Well, actually it's quite big news.

Completely unexpected, rather overwhelming, somewhat shocking, to be perfectly honest ...

But absolutely wonderful news.

Ok, here goes.

Are you all sitting down?


{I can't believe I'm about to type these words!}

I'm pregnant.

I know. I know!

I can't quite believe it either!

But two home pregnancy tests and one blood test by my doctor tell me it's true.


You know how I've been really dragging lately?

Well, here I thought it was just a super-busy fall schedule and maybe even a little stomach bug passing through, but in reality I've been feeling this way because my body's working on something pretty big. Well, teeny-tiny at the moment, but you know what I mean.



So it's fairly early in the scheme of things - I think I'm around 8 or 9 weeks - but I'm announcing this now because, well - I'm rather eager for your prayers. To be honest, I'm more just than a little bit nervous to be pregnant at 43!

(Let me remind you of our sons' ages ... 17, 13 and 10!)

I never imagined I'd be pregnant at this age, how different this will be I am sure. I would LOVE to hear from moms who had babies over 40. Is it extra challenging? Very different from a younger pregnancy? I'll appreciate every bit of wisdom and encouragement.

(And oh yes, prayers. Ever so grateful for prayers.)

Everyone here is excited - I think Bill is still in shock, lol - but we're all so happy that another precious child is on his or her way to us. To our family.

How God has blessed us ... his generosity and trust is so great. Now I have to trust Him that all will be well. 


Next spring will be quite a time for us - just as our oldest child graduates high school, we'll have ourselves a new little baby! In the meantime, I'm sure there will be changes - in our household, and here at my blog - over the next several months. I do plan to keep blogging as time and energy allows. (Though there hasn't been much of either lately.) But I will certainly keep you all posted ... and in amongst the usual posts about tea, crafts, food, family, books and planners, etc. ...

There will be baby news now and again.


(Can you tell I can't stop smiling?)


I hope you all have a terrific Tuesday, my friends. Thanks so much for reading ... and as corny as it sounds, thank you for sharing and caring. I feel honored to have so many kind and supportive readers here. I'm glad you enjoy my words - please know I cherish yours as well.

See you here again very soon ...


Another Morning in the Garden ...

Just before Bill left for work, we took a little turn about the yard ... it was a beautiful morning, the light filtering softly through the garden as the sun rose behind the woods ...

Morning garden 1

These interesting plants are in the birdhouse garden, and for the life of me I can't recall what they are!

Morning garden 6

Can you help?

And here are the lovely purple coneflowers, which naturalized beautifully this year ...

Morning garden 2

These are some of my favorite summer flowers, because I just love orange and pink together. But I suspect they are also a favorite of the bunnies - not for their color, but their taste. Note the frayed petal edges? I don't mind really, as long as the plants are not harmed further. But speaking of bunnies, as I took these very pictures, a good-sized rabbit flew out of the raspberry hedge, tore across the road and into our neighbor's yard! Little white tail bouncing behind him ... :)

So after Bill left, Crackerjack and I headed out to the deck to fill the hummingbird feeders and check on our herb plants. We were thrilled to see (and hear) two gray herons fly over - we've never seen them travel in pairs!

Morning garden 5

(At least, I'm pretty sure they are herons - it's kind of hard to tell from this angle.)

The herb garden is certainly feeling the effects of this hot weather (aren't we all?) so we watered and checked over the plants. One of the plants - the Chinese Lanterns - was riddled with tiny, bizarre, crustacean-like bugs ...

Morning garden 3

We have no idea what they are! Any thoughts?

And how about your favorite non-toxic method for beating garden pests? I have several books here with recipes, but not sure which is the best.

As always, I appreciate your suggestions!


And another update on my dad ...

Well, he heard back from the surgeon's office last night and it looks like he not only *will* be having surgery next week, but most likely on both the neck and the lower back at the same time. Not sure what that will mean for his recovery time yet - my folks have a meeting with the surgeon on Tuesday to reassess and confirm all the details. In the meantime, they're starting him on a steroid to reduce inflammation ...

Thank you again, for all your kind thoughts and prayers. They mean so much to us. I will keep you all posted as best I can. I think right now we just wait ... and hope ... and pray.

Have a wonderful Tuesday, my friends. I'll see you here again very soon.

Well, this was quite unexpected ...

Just look what found its way home!


Yes, that's my "summer" purse - the one that was stolen Memorial Day weekend! And you'll never guess what? Everything is still inside - not one thing is missing!

It's all a bit jumbled (obviously, it's been rifled through) and a couple of things are crushed, but literally, not even one coupon is missing!


So here's what happened ...

Yesterday afternoon the phone rang and I didn't recognize the caller - now, usually when I don't recognize a number I let the call go to the machine, but for some reason I decided to pick up. The person on the other end of the line told me they were calling from a local discount store and that they had my pocketbook there - it had "turned up" in their store!

I was stunned. Stunned! Literally, it took me a moment to find my voice!

I asked them if it was ruined (for some reason I pictured it rain-soaked and tire-marked, lol) but the woman said, no, it seemed to be all right. She asked if I had a yellow wallet (to which I answered, yes) and said that she found my contact information on my checkbook. 

And there was me ... still stunned!

So I arranged to have Bill pick it up on his way home from work, and he did ... and now, as you see above, it is back in my possession again.

Crazy, right?

My thinking is that the woman who took my purse made a beeline for this store next and - realizing I had no cash in my bag - just walked it into the store, stuffed it somewhere, and then targeted someone else. 

And now, this many weeks later, some store clerk found my purse - relatively unharmed, and still totally intact - and now I have it back again!

I'd say it was an answer to a prayer, but I honestly didn't pray to get my pocketbook back. I figured it was long gone. I did however pray for peace of mind over this ... I was really shaken up by this experience. No, I wasn't mugged, or harmed in any way - my boys weren't even with me when it happened - and I didn't even see it happen, but still ... it really did unsettle me. It left me with an underlying anxiety that ruined my sleep and gave me palpitations for days. I felt guilt (and frustration!) over the endless hoops we had to jump through to protect our assets and secure our credit. The first time I went back to "my" supermarket I had a mild panic attack. I walked in just as easy as you please, and then my deli guy (the nicest man) asked how I was doing (having heard of the theft), and as soon as we finished talking I felt that adrenaline surge throughout my limbs and that restless feeling of just wanting/needing to leave; I finished my shopping quickly and got back home. The next couple of weekends were similar, but now everything feels normal again. I do feel peace and I do feel resolved (since the thief was ultimately identified and brought to justice) but I AM much more cautious with my belongings these days. This was a hard lesson learned ...

Don't be careless with your personal belongings and safety! Don't live in fear, but do be smart about things. No matter where you are - your comfort zone is not an impenetrable bubble. My little bubble got popped that weekend, that's for sure ...


Well anyways, there's my little story for today! I figured you'd all like to hear what hopefully will be the last chapter in my "pocketbook saga," lol. 

So for now, I wish you all a safe and smart Thursday ...

And I will see you all again very soon!


Eerie Light, Wicked Night ...

... but a beautiful Ascension Day morning.


We had quite a night here in Massachusetts, with some areas faring much worse than others. Severe storms were rampant across the area, but the real trouble came from multiple tornadoes that tore through the state, causing destruction and death (four confirmed, God rest their souls). We only saw heavy rain, hail and high winds here, but it was a scary evening, I tell you. My prayers this morning are with the people of Springfield and its surrounding towns. The governor has declared a state of emergency and I think many are just in shock; wild weather like this is not the norm for New England.

The picture above was actually taken last night around 8 p.m., just before a final band of storms passed through. The light that flooded the sky was so strange and yet eerily beautiful - a luminescent and pale peachy-gold.


And now it's absolutely beautiful here this morning - clear, dry, fresh. In fact, the next several days promise to be near perfect. I feel very fortunate that I'm looking out at a quiet street, pretty lawns, and solid trees - but my heart goes out to those whose morning does not feel so safe and secure, and especially to the families of those who were lost.

I hope you all have a nice Thursday, my friends. Giving thanks this morning for many things ... including thanks to all of you for stopping by!