Photography Feed

Welcome, February! ❤


Good Thursday morning, my friends! I hope your February is off to a great start! We've been busy here with homeschooling and home projects and some of us are nursing a head cold, while a couple of others are just getting over feeling unwell. (I'm happy to say, I'm in the latter group!) Currently I am working on a post about the February section of my planning binder but computer time is a wee bit scarce right now ... so it might be another day or two. Still, I thought I'd pop in and share a few photos from our week so far. This is one of my favorite weeks in the year because it's just rich with "deep winter" goodness - St. Brigid's Day, Candlemas, Groundhog's Day ... not to mention, the Superbowl! (Go Pats!)

Anyhoo ... as I type up this post (late on Thursday, nearing teatime) the snow is flying! It's been sunny all morning (though chilly), but just now the skies got very dark and then suddenly the flakes were falling fast! We're all home now - including Bill (the one with the head cold) - so I don't mind one bit. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow ... seems the groundhog was right after all!

Speaking of groundhogs ...


I made this for the boys today and they got such a kick out of it! (Not to mention they were thrilled for a cake out of the blue!) I saw a variation of this idea on Pinterest and had to add it to the week's "crafts and comforts." It's just an 8x8 vanilla snack cake (Trader Joe's) topped with homemade cocoa frosting - mounded in the middle to resemble a groundhog's den. Then I stuck a Teddy Graham in the middle (taking on the role of the groundhog here, popping up to look for his shadow) and sprinkled the "ground" with crushed chocolate cookies (dirt), green sugar (grass) and tiny white candies (snow). Cute to behold, but even more importantly ... really delicious with a cup of milk after lunch!

Also in the kitchen today ... I have several potatoes baking for tonight's shepherd(ess) pie. Don't potatoes in the oven just smell amazing? In a bit (meaning, once I finish this post) I will put the kettle on and get the younger boys to help me make a loaf of Irish soda bread to go with tonight's dinner. And do you know what we will have on that bread ... ?




Yes, our very own homemade butter!


We've been making butter on the feast of St. Brigid (patroness of Ireland, dairymaids, cattle and midwives) for many years, but this was Little Bear's first time with the project! And he was pretty impressed - if not much help with the actual shaking. He's only three, so I cut him some slack!

Also for St. Brigid's Day and Candlemas (yesterday and today, respectively) ... winter citrus candles!


I like to melt beeswax and make candles on Candlemas, but this year I kept it a bit simpler. As crafts go, this was pretty quick and easy! The trickiest bit is getting the orange flesh away from the orange shell neatly. So I just hollowed out an orange and split it in half ... pressed a small star-shaped cookie cutter in one end and stuck whole cloves all around the opening. Then I placed a beeswax tealight inside ... smelled SO amazing. Even after the orange peel started smoking. Oops!

(Of course, it goes without saying, I keep burning candles well out of reach of the children and I never leave them unattended. It's nice to light them while you say a verse or prayer - then quickly snuff them out.)


I thought the star shape was reminiscent of Brigid's cloak as described in this story - one of our favorite February books! There are so many wonderful picture books to enjoy all through the year ...


I try to organize mine by seasonal flavor. I have huge baskets in our basement with books filed by season. Right now we have our "deep winter" books up in the schoolroom ... and I must admit - as much as I enjoy them, I'm itching to get to those "early spring" titles!

But there is joy and value in every season, and winter certainly has us in its grip ...


Now that I have a "real" camera again (a birthday present from Bill and the boys) I am always hoping to get outside and snap photos. I particularly love the early morning ... although this (pre-sunrise) picture is dark, I like how it represents the harsh beauty of winter. I also just love rosehips, period. :)

Back out in the learning room (aka the sunroom), I have a nature corner set up and this is our verse for the month ...


Lovely words from Be Blest: A Celebration of Seasons, one of my favorite poetry books. 

Another family tradition at Brigid's Day/Candlemas (nevermind what the groundhog says!) is to organize and bless our spring seeds ...

DSC01736 (1)

I have all kinds of grand plans for the gardens this year! Last year it was all about building the coop and settling our hens, but this year I hope to expand our gardens - flowers, herbs and veggies. Maybe some fruit bushes. Clearly, there will be plenty of morning glories ... ;)

Another quick craft for February ...


I cut out hearts from pretty scrapbooking paper and made up a garland for the library mantle ...


I had the grapevine balls on hand (they came off a string of lights) and threaded them with the paper hearts on a length of twine, then hung the garland just beneath the lip of the mantle. Meanwhile, up above ...


A boxwood wreath - the last of our "Christmas greenery," which was supposed to come down today  - is sporting several Victorian valentines. (Barnes & Noble has the loveliest, old-fashioned notecards for each holiday ... reasonably priced, too!) And just below the wreath is a message for the month (craft store letters painted robin's egg blue ... need a second coat!) and some red beeswax tea lights. I'll be making salt-dough candleholders with the boys for these tealights later this month. The jar candles on either end were made last Candlemas.

Oh, and finally!


I saw an idea on Facebook - and I cannot remember its origin now! - but it was to use post-its as little love notes for your child(ren) ... one a day leading up to February 14th. I found these cute heart-shaped post-it notes on Amazon (actually, with Lent in mind but they work well here) and embellished a plain craft board wreath with a "Love" banner. (Glittery adhesive stickers against scrapbook paper cut into a banner shape.) Each day I will add a note, filling the whole wreath, with all the different ways we love. Maybe something to love about life, about the world around us ... or maybe something we love about each other. They're not personalized but something I hope each family member enjoys reading each day. Thinking about all the ways we are blessed by love in our life!


Well my friends, I'd best wrap up now ... this post has gone on MUCH longer than I intended ... teatime has arrived and the sun is shining once again! So as always, I thank you for your time and attention and I wish you a pleasant evening (or day as the case may be). I hope all is well with you where you are ... and I hope to be back again in just a few days to talk more about my February planner ... and plans! :)

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and your loved ones ... I'll see you here again very soon!

More Q & A: journal = scrapbook?

Oliver in sunny window 1

Good morning, my friends! And Happy Monday!

I am checking in quickly this morning - it was a busy weekend and a very late night last night as we cheered on our beloved Patriots ... but I'm quite happy to say this morning that we are going to The Superbowl!! Well, not us personally of course - but our team will be there! And we'll be there too, if only in spirit, watching at home in New England.


Anyhoo, suffice it to say I was not able to watch Downton Abby last night (or TGBBC either). I hope to catch them one night this week and when I do I will get a "Masterpiece Monday" post up so we can chat - only it will probably be more like "Masterpiece Wednesday or Thursday."

So today, I'm a bit sleepy-eyed and slow-moving (much like my Oliver up top), but I'm going to do some catch-up here as I find time. So many of you have left wonderful comments and I can't wait to read and digest and respond. I will also continue working on several upcoming journal/planner drafts, and while I don't have any of them quite ready to post yet, I will answer this quick question from Kelly, because I think I have a pretty brief answer.  

I thought of one additional question, Dawn - could your journal be described as a scrapbook? I love the idea of it but as I mentioned, I tend to keep parts of my life organized differently so I'm having a hard time seeing how this fits in. Understanding it as a scrapbook helps me to understand this better.

Kelly, my journal is a collage of memories and observations, mostly about family, current events and the turn of the seasons. I don't, however, include photographs or stickers ... and it's not all that planned ahead or thought out. And I don't really show other people (though I certainly could and hope I might someday).

So I consider my journal habit to be a form of scrapbooking, just maybe not as formal or clever. I dabbled in Scrapbooking, as a hobby, many years ago when Bookworm was little. I attended "Creative Memories" parties and subscribed to Creating Keepsakes ... and collected TONS of scrapbooking supplies. I remember when I started blogging I called it a kind of "online scrapbooking" ... and that's when my love of photography and capturing memories really kicked in. I couldn't seem to sit down and create pages, but I could upload photos to my computer and write (rather lengthy) texts to go along with them.

Our photos now are stored here at my blog and on my (personal) Facebook page as well as on our home computer. Oh, and my phone. Bill just offloaded about 1100 pictures because I'd used up my storage space - in about a month, lol!

(All that said, I think digital photography has made true, in-your-hands photo albums, a rarity these days. And that's a shame, because those types of memory books are wonderful to display and share with friends and family. That might be a great topic for a post - storing and sharing family photos - though, come to think of it, we might have done that already, lol ... )

Well, this wasn't as brief as I thought it would be, but I hope I've answered your question, Kelly. Please let me know if that cleared things up for you, and if it didn't, feel free to ask for more clarification. Thanks so much for reading and caring and sharing!

One more shot of Oliver because ... well, just because:

Oliver in sunny window 2


My friends, I hope you will excuse a bit of a pause as I get my gears going this week - we're heading back to formal lessons and everything else that comes with it! (I've made note of several homeschool-planning questions and have a draft started!) And I think I might have found a solution for my weekly planning sheet/clipboard conundrum. Photos to come! 

Enjoy your Monday, everyone ... see you here again very soon!

Thankful Thursday: Small Things, Great Joy

Bc sunset moon

Bookworm texted this picture to me from the BC campus about an hour ago ...

Here at home I had just said to Bill, "Wow, look at that sunset!" (which looked much like the one from yesterday's post) when a few minutes later my phone buzzed with BW's text. He was on his way back from class and was similarly amazed by the striking evening sky. He snapped a picture and sent it home through cyberspace.

It makes me so happy to think that my years of "teaching" my kids to slow down and take notice of nature have made an impression. That I've instilled in these boys an awareness of, and an appreciation for, "the small things" ... things like full moons and first frosts, warmly lit windows on a rainy day ...

Bc gasson hall

... the surprise of sunlight and shadow ...

Bc bench in sunlight

... and of course, that beautiful night sky.

Bc sunset 2


I try to always be mindful of those small things that bring such great joy ... how blessed I am to have children who mirror and magnify that joy. 

(All pictures by Bookworm.)

Enjoy your Thursday evening, my friends ...

Friday (Frigid) Photo

Frosty sunrise 3

Sunrise through a frosty bedroom window ... another cold day upon us!

Taking a breather from our daily survey posts ~ stopping in to say hello and check in ~ and wish you all a happy weekend!

Any special plans for this bitter winter's day?

It's "Burns Night" in the UK (and elsewhere), a time to toast the beloved Scottish poet, Robert Burns. I'm American of course, but I've got a good deal of Scottish in me, and I love to share that part of my heritage with my boys . My beautiful grandmother would always make sure people knew she was Scotch-Irish when discussing her ancestry - her mother, my great-grandmother, was from Scotland, in fact. :)

Now I don't go so far as to make haggis or even neeps and tatties, but I can make a fairly nice shortbread ...

Shortbread 1

In fact, Jamie Oliver has a lovely sounding recipe here for a "Cranachan Sundae" which I may have to try. It involves berries, cream, oats, honey, shortbread and a splash of whiskey. All marvelous things on their own - all the better together - and all things we just happen to have on hand ...


So I'll be putting myriad male hands to work on that dessert (following a typical American supper - sloppy joes, waffle fries and corn) because it's a few days more "rest" for me.

And while I rest (by the fireplace, I might add), I'm knitting and sipping cup after cup of warm earl grey tea (decaf, natch) ... I'm also catching up with all your wonderful comments, working through my reading basket and writing out a layette list for the wee babe ...

And I'm focusing on all the blessings in my life ... the baby's doing great and I'm very fortunate to be able to relax, surrounded by the comforts of home and the support of my family. "Going slow" and "letting go" can be hard for me, but like any mother, my children come first - and right now this little one needs for me to go slow. So I'm enjoying these quiet, homebound days ...

Quiet being a relative term in a family of three (soon-to-be-four) boys!


So I wish you all a bonny day, and I thank you for stopping by. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones, and I will see you here again very soon!

O my Luve's like a red, red rose,
That's newly sprung in June:
O my Luve's like the melodie,
That's sweetly play'd in tune.

(Robert Burns)


Friday Family Photos

(Presented to you not on Friday, but Saturday, which is par for the course these days.)

Oct mime 1

Here's Crackerjack with his Mime Troupe at a performance in Salem earlier this month. This was a very funny piece called, "The Musem." :)


Came across this the other day. This was taken my first year in cheerleading (pop warner football). I think I was 10. And I promise I was happier than I appear in this picture, lol. I loved cheering. :)

Fall foliage 1

Fall foliage at its peak - I think it will all be blown away by the "Frankenstorm" this week!

Leaf pile 1

Two of my favorite guys. :)

Photo class 1

Bookworm's pic from a recent photo class ...

And a few more ...

Photo class 2

Photo class 3

Photo class 4

He's learning a lot about my camera! :)

Pumpkin lights

Little pumpkin lights lining our walkway.

Shark with jets fan

And finally, with sincere apologies to New York family and friends ... we pass this funny Halloween decoration a few times a week. I finally had to pull over and get a shot! ;)

I hope you all have a lovely weekend ... and if you're in Sandy's path too, I pray we all keep safe. Batten down and tuck in ... I'll see you here again very soon!

Friday Photos by Bookworm

Bookworm recently enrolled in an eight-week photography class and these are a few of the photos from his first class ...

Bw class 1

Bw class 2

Bw class 3

(That shot reminds me of the tree ents in LotR!)

Orb web spider

That last picture was taken by me, actually. This is a gorgeous (and ginormous!) orb weaver spider that lives in our backyard. We've been watching it all week and we are just fascinated! Bookworm helped me pick settings on my camera so I could get a fairly clear shot. :)

I'm looking forward to watching Bookworm catch the "shutterbug" as I have, and I am excited for him to learn more about using my camera! (He's using my Sony Nex 5 for this class.) I only use the very basic settings so we both have a lot to learn!

Well, have a great Friday, my friends ... see you here again very soon!

A Boy, His Cap and His Cat

CJ and ollie

{Just discovered some cool photo editing tools at Typepad ... they've probably been there forever and I'm just noticing them now, lol. The above photo got the "old style" treatment.}

Anyhoo ... I hope you're all having a good day. I am SO enjoying all the picalilli responses! You are all so good to pitch in and help me out with my "research." It does seem like picalilli is a familiar dish to some - and I think, mostly here in New England - but it does seem mostly unkown. Thanks so much for all the help. :)

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

Friday Photos & Newsy Nature Notes

Good morning, my friends. :)

I am sorry I have not been around much this week - things have been somewhat hectic here on my end. On top of all the "usual" hubbub, and all the house "work" we've been up to (cleaning/painting/flooring/etc.) Bill has been feeling rather unwell. For months now, he's been fighting an allergic reaction (to what, we're not sure) that affects his eyes, and now it seems, his sinuses as well. His eyes have been itchy, swollen, red and very painful for some time now - between high pollen levels and now our renovation work, he's just been miserable. When Bill's having an episode (because the reactions come and go) his undereye area gets all dark (like he's been socked in the nose!) and the skin all around his eyes gets puckery and wrinkled. Originally, he saw an opthamologist (who told him it had nothing to do with his eyes) and later a dermatologist, who prescribed creams and drops - which helped - but did not resolve the situation entirely. He's seeing his dermatologist again this week to address this current flare-up, but he is also seeing a nurse this morning because the sinus headache that came on yesterday was just awful. Honestly, I have never seen Bill so sick as when he walked in from work last night, and truly, I was considering a trip to the emergency room. Intense headaches and nausea are not something to fool with! Fortunately, the "Sinex" he took (a decongestant with pain reliever) as soon as he got home eased his pain within an hour. He also steamed his head (over peppermint-scented water) and applied ice where it hurt the most. Thankfully, by mid-evening he was feeling much better - the congestion had eased and the pain was completely gone.

All of this to say - if you would, please keep my Bill in your prayers, and if you have any home and/or natural remedies for sinus issues, I would appreciate suggestions. My mum gave Bill a neti pot, which, depending on what the nurse says this morning, he plans to try tonight. Although he had no fever I'm wondering if he might not have developed a sinus infection and possibly needs an antibiotic to clear things up. We're not big fans of antibiotics, but at times they are warranted. We'll see what he finds out today ... and later this week at his dermatology appointment.

Anyhoo! So I'm very glad it's the weekend, and though our plans were to install the wood flooring (we chose white oak - it's very nice) we may give ourselves a rest from "hard" labor and allergen-stirring activities. (Sawdust, sanding and paint fumes, etc.) I say all this like I'm working alongside Bill, lol, and I'm not - not really. I help move things and clear things out and take measurements and give my opinion. Otherwise I'm mostly on child duty (aka keeping kids out of the way!) and actually Bookworm - in all his teenage vitality - has been a huge help to his dad.

Speaking of kids, this post was meant to share photos taken by the boys last week. So without further ado, let me show you a few of their "summery" sights: 


This is a thunderhead heading our way. The storms that moved through on this evening (an evening I was heading out for coffee with friends, no less) were brief, but brutal! We had intense lightning, flash flooding, and when it was all said and done, a big and bright double rainbow. Amazing!


Bookworm caught this lovely little lace-winged bug in our house and before setting him free, he grabbed a few pictures. He thought it looked like a katydid, but after checking our field guide, we think it is the (aptly named) lacewing.


Now this odd looking insect (fly? bee? wasp?) spent all day on our deck. (And sadly, it perished there.) The boys gave it wide berth in case there was a stinger attached in any way, shape, or form. Any thoughts?


Yes, this hungry little (big!) fella came back. He seems to approve of our menu selection, lol - black oil, suet and peanuts. I should note, he is not actually baring his teeth at us in this photo - we just caught him in mid-chew!


Now, this picture takes a little explaining (as well as a good zoom - click on it to get a closer view). The birds you see here are a mother sparrow and two of her brood, however, if you look closely, the bird she is feeding in this shot is not actually a sparrow, but a baby cowbird ...


Have you ever heard of brood parasites? The cowbird is a species that uses the strong nesting instincts of other birds to its advantage. Basically, it drops its egg in another bird's nest (in this case, a sparrow's) and leaves its young to be hatched and fed by the "adoptive" parent. (Meanwhile it can move on and follow the food supply as it wishes.) We've actually seen this sparrow feeding two baby cowbirds at once! And they're very demanding, lol ... the poor mother sparrow can barely keep up!

Well, that's all we have for you this week. I hope you enjoyed a peek at our most recent nature photos. I've been lax on the upkeep of my nature notes column, but I can say, in our yard we've been watching that shy bunny, the cheerful chimpmunks and the feisty red squirrels. Along the wayside, the queen ann's lace, toadflax and goldenrod have started blooming ... and you should see the goldfinches visiting the spent lavender bed - they are so bright and lovely! Just like a Marjolein Bastin card come to life.

Ok, I'm off now, but first a quick update on Bill - I just spoke with him and the nurse confirmed a sinus infection (though she doesn't think it's connected with his eye allergy in any way). She started him on amoxocillin (blech, that stuff kills me!) and advised him to keep taking the decongestant. Thanks again in advance for any advice, your prayers, and as always thank you so much for stopping by!

Have a great weekend, everyone ...


Friday Photos

Sorry I haven't had much time to post this week! It certainly was a busy one, and I, for one, am really glad it's the weekend! :)

So ... any big plans for you and yours? Tomorrow we've got soccer playoffs (did I mention our team earned first place this year?!), a few errands to run and many to-do's to get done ... and then the next day is Pentecost Sunday. If it's a nice day (the forecast is iffy right now) we hope to cook-out. And I might be persuaded to bake something nice. :)

Here are a few pictures from the memory card this week:


Storms moved through just about dinnertime last night.


A slightly blurry, but beautiful, damselfly resting on our herb plants.


Bill spied this handsome brood as he pulled into his office parking lot yesterday.


A Friday task: neatening the pocketbook, readying it for running errands.


Our William Shakespeare rose bush.

Well, I'm off for now ... I hope you all had a nice week, and I also hope you enjoy a safe, happy weekend. See you all again very soon!


Friday Photo by Crackerjack

"Hello there world, here I am!"


"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind." ~ Dr. Seuss

Sometimes sharing ourselves takes a good bit of courage. It's revealing ourselves in hopes that someone finds encouragement and that nobody ever takes offense. It's a balance of give and get ...

We can't always predict what people will think of us, but we can always share honestly and sincerely. We can only ever be ourselves.


Crackerjack has just discovered the joys of blogging and has decided, not surprisingly, most of his posts will be about Legos. He loves to create little stories surrounding Lego creations like the one above. I laughed out loud when I saw this picture on my camera this morning. Talk about risk and reward! That minifig may be in peril, but he sure looks like he's having fun!


Well, Happy Friday, everyone! Looks like we might be off to the doctor's today, as Crackerjack's cold has settled in his eyes. (Yikes!)

Never a dull moment, is there?

See you all again sometime soon ...

Best-Ever Belated Birthday Gift!


Yes, I have myself a brand new camera! :D

I knew it was coming, but Bill surprised me yesterday evening! He had run out to do some errands and came home with what you see above! (A local electronics shop is going out of business and he was able to get a great discount.)

Back on my birthday last month, he had given me "a picture" of a camera - he/we wanted to do some research to figure out just what to get before making such a big purchase. I'm very much a creature of habit (and comfort) so I've been using the same Sony Cybershot for five years now (as long as I've had my blog, more or less). It's been easy, dependable and the pictures it takes are pretty satisfying. 

Now I have this new camera to get used to ... it's very, very cool, and I'm very, very excited. It's a lot more complex than my old camera, so I do plan to read the instructions manual for this one, lol!

And happily, the old trusty Cybershot is still in perfect working order, so the boys will inherit that, while I get used to the Nex 5.

Here are the first few pictures I took on my new camera while we ate breakfast on this fine President's Day morning ...








(These are "Presidential Pancakes!" Blueberries inside, raspberry sauce outside, covered in whip cream and topped with a little flag heart. Yum!)

Well, I hope you all had - or are perhaps still having! - a great weekend. It's steadily snowing here this morning - a few inches have already settled on the ground. Those warm temps were nice last week but it feels very "February" again ...

Oh, and before we part, if you have a moment, could I ask you to please say a little prayer for our Earlybird? He's going in for his physical tomorrow, and though I'm sure all will go fine, after our experience last week (and the simple fact that doctor's appointments are never simple for EB) we could use a little help staying calm and mindful tomorrow.

Happy Monday, my friends ... and Happy President's Day, too! 

See you all again very soon ...


Light and Shadow at the End of the Day

I was thisclose to finishing my next "FCS Question of the Day" post but since the supper hour is upon me I think I will plan to wrap it up in the morning. I couldn't help but notice, though, as I sit here at my computer, how lovely the setting sun is today ... and how the light and shadow spreads through my house at this time of day ...









And now the light has moved on, slipping beneath the edge of the day. I am surrounded by a somber shade, whereas just moments ago the room was alive with playful shadow.

Have a wonderful winter evening, my friends.

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! :)

First Pictures!

My new camera came yesterday - and I feel like I've recovered a lost limb, lol!
On my way down to grab the morning paper I took a few trial shots:

Clover glistening with dew.

Does anyone know if this is evening primrose?

Sedum, just starting to blush its autumn shade.

Did anyone see the Full Corn Moon last night? It was glorious!
(If you're wondering why this year's September's moon is a corn moon, as opposed to a harvest moon, read here.)

Labor Day plans ~ a cookout tomorrow with friends, and lots of puttering around the house otherwise. We start our homeschool year on Tuesday and I still have lots to do to get ready. I hope to get our front steps decked out tomorrow in mums, asters and mini pumpkins - possibly a cornstalk or two. Earlybird is quite excited for the premiere of Dino Train on Monday.

Not making picalilli this year but I may cook and freeze some spaghetti sauce if I have time. And I think a savory slowcooker chicken served with noodles and an apple cobbler will make a fine holiday meal. :) 

Hope your Labor Day weekend is safe and fun. See you all again very soon. :)

Good Wednesday Morning!

A couple of things while I have a moment ... 

A few readers have asked what kind of camera I am getting, so I wanted to post a link ~ it's basically the same camera I had before (a Sony Cyber-shot) but with a few more pixels this time. According to Amazon it should be here any day now. :)

Also, I've had lots of folks comment on the grapevine ball lights we have in our learning room. They are available again at Target and currently they are on sale



These twinkling lights will lend a cozy feel to our home as the days grow shorter and darker. I have them intertwined with an ivy garland I purchased at Michaels earlier this year.

Hope your week's going well! Don't forget the full "corn" moon on Friday ~ speaking of which, I have a "corny" little post to put up later this week. :)