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I returned home…I hope you’ll come with me!

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September is quickly coming to an end. I can’t believe it. Here are some of the things that made me happy this month:

Bountiful Harvest:

Window Color:

Library Treasure:

Elegant Spiders (we watched every day, to and from the beach!):

Bedroom Math:

Toothy Smiles:

Humor: Tommy said, not wanting to wear his “Chuck Taylors”… “Mom, please dont’s say I have to wear my ‘truck-trailers!’

My Bee Man:

and delicious honey…

Ocean Fun:

Brilliant Sunset:

Startling Moon rise:

Read Aloud:

“Mommy, Look What I made For You!” (From Sam):

Grandma’s Science Class:

Old photos rediscovered (Ben helps Emily color- 9 years ago):

A well-loved pup:

And A well-loved girl:

Pyramid Laughter:



He (my fifteen yr old) is still excited about a newly discovered insect…he gets out the camera…

Riverwalks, falling leaves, a gentle rain, my dear friends, Mass together, my new blog, babies on the way (sisters’!), making wine, there is so much … ABUNDANCE!!!
Thank you, Lord!

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Praising God on The “Net”

In an effort to share some of the beautiful prayers I have stumbled upon, and to network with friends through prayer, I have started a “prayer” blog. Please visit us for a quiet moment on the web!

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The Crow’s Club 2010

We had our annual meeting of the Crow’s Club at the beach. Aunt Maureen, in her characteristic enthusiastic manner, taught the children about ocean life and did some wonderful art projects with the children.

The children painted pictures to place in custom-made mugs. They also used pastels and colored pencils. Some of the children even used decoupage to decorate their mugs. Maureen always encourages the children by reminding them to “remember…there are no mistakes in art!” Each year she makes a nature notebook for the children to complete. She also takes them on the “crow’s club” bike ride, that ALL the children participate in- even Will and John Paul. This year they went Kayaking instead.

Maureen, pictured leaning over the table (above) is an art techer at Free Union Country School in Virginia. They are so blessed to have her for a teacher!

Every year Maureen packs up all of her art supplies and brings them to the beach! The children eagerly await the special “crow’s club” day. While they are all busy with their artwork, Maureen quizes the children about ocean life. It is a magical moment, seeing the children so excited about learning.

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Snapfishing Granola Mountain

I love this picture of the three oldest boys with their Aunt Maureen. They had the pleasure of riding home from the beach with her!

We had a great trip to the beach; we survived Earl and had many happy moments with the whole family. As my camera is being recharged, I’ll have to wait to put up beach pictures. In the mean time, I had fun signing up for Snapfish tonight. You can see my first little family album if you want! I will never get over how amazing the internet is. Remember the days of sending rolls of film off to the photo lab, hoping some of the pictures were a success…We’ve come a long way, baby!
Tonight I realized the breakfast pickings would be slim in the morning, so I whipped up some granola. I discovered the unfortunate fact that the kids’ favorite cereal (Honey Bunches Of Oats) has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. So I modified my mother’s recipe for granola, and I made my version of Honey Bunches Of Oats with pecans. Here’s How:
Combine in large mixing bowl:
4 cups of oats
2 cups of wheat flakes (look in the health food store)
2 Cups chopped pecans (raw)
1/2 Cup Flax Seed
1/2 Cup Coconut (shedded or flaked )
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 dash Nutmeg

Combine in microwave safe bowl:
1/2 Cup Canola oil (I like Spectrum), 1/2 cup honey, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1 Tablespoon vanilla
Warm mixture in microwave for about one minute. Stir. Pour over the oat mixture and combine until all the oat mixture is coated. Spread out on baking tray and bake at 325 for 40 min. Allow to cool before breaking into pieces and storing. I like to serve this topped with fresh fruit or dried fruit (when fresh is unavailable). Enjoy!!

This coming Monday is our “back to (home) school” day here. We are all yearning for a little more structure and rhythm to our days after the carefree days of Summer. I find that when I take the time to plan, we accomplish so much more than when we allow the days to unfold on their own. Someone once said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” I tend to agree. Of course, everything can’t be planned, nor would I want to miss exciting opportunities because they weren’t “planned.” I don’t think I ever to have to fear being too much of a planner!

Every day I feel so blessed to marvel at the beauty that surrounds us:

As much as I am soothed by the ocean, my heart was stirred, coming home to my mountains.

The rolling hills, the green, the gentle light filtering through the trees, the merry breezes are all a balm to my soul. And I feel like All is right with the world, if only for a moment.

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Living Science

Today on Facebook one of my friends posted that she had to remove some Black Widow eggs off the bottom of a desk so that she could make it usable. I commented that if it had been me, I might have put the eggs in a jar to see them hatch. I don’t know if I really would have done that, but it got me excited about our ever-growing Natural History specimen collection.
A couple of years ago, at the beach, we began collecting creatures that washed up and putting them into jars with alcohol. We then started collecting insects, and our collection even houses a flying squirrel that my neighbor’s dog killed.

Now some of the kids don’t get into this, but most of them love it! My oldest son went so far as to insist we bring home a two inch octopus that came from a buffet table at the local Chinese restaurant. Now I don’t know about you, but I would rather put an octopus into a jar than into my mouth!!!

Sam even won a contest at the library with our bottled Hercules Beetle. The neat thing is, every creature has a story behind it. The Hercules Beetle (affectionately named Zeus) hit Travis head on in the parking lot at the country store. On the baseball field one night, one of the kids was “attacked” by a Giant Water Bug. Then there was the time my neighbor tried several times to reach me about the baby flying squirrel. Her dogs had killed it, and she was donating it to science!
We only preserve animals that are already dead.
This year, however, we thought we found an empty wasp nest, only to discover that the sacs were hatching in the bag. It was pretty cool to see them emerge.

Here are some of the other critters/natural objects we have: several types of butterflies (mostly found dead on the road). (On a side note- I recently gave a visiting friend a Tiger Swallowtail specimen. They don’t live in her state. She was very touched! Only a true friend would appreciate such a gesture!)…
Back to what we have: a baby snapping turtle, a locust, barnacles, a sea cucumber, fulgurite (sand hardened by lightning), birds’ nests, feathers, shells, rocks, and fossils we found at our creek:

We don’t limit ourselves to dead creatures! We are hatching Monarchs, and earlier this Summer we hatched Black Swallowtails. Then usually we’ll read a book to go along with whatever we are taken with at the moment.

Some of the kids are taken with snakes, some with spiders, and Tommy loves snails!

The fun thing about bringing the objects/creatures inside, is that you can observe them more closely. For example, look at the Lichens woven into this bird nest:

My younger children especially enjoy displaying found objects on our nature table. They rearrange it quite often!

I never intended for this post to be so long. Can you tell science is a passion of mine? Passion or not, however, most kids love this kind of thing. So what are you waiting for?…Start collecting today! Your friends may think you’re a little strange, but at least they can’t say you’re boring. In my house, the Barnacles live next to Vangogh! (There is a Barnacle right under one of Vangogh’s paintings- just noticed that!)

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Casseroles Like You’ve Never Had Before!

(This cute picture of Tommy and “Mittens” has nothing to do with this post, but I don’t like to post without a picture!)

I love the idea of casseroles, but many casserole recipes call for ingredients I try to keep out of our pantry (creamed soups, canned veggies, etc…).
This book is different! It’s called the Bake Until Bubbly Ultimate Casserole
Tonight I made the Macaroni with ground Lamb. It was delicious. The casseroles are a little extra work, but once they are made, they can be frozen for later use, as with your standard casserole!
I picked up my copy at the library. (Always check your library first!) I plan to keep it out a long time!
Happy Baking!

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“God is not found in multiplicity, but in simplicity of thoughts and words.If one word suffice for your prayer, keep to that word, and to whatever short sentence will unite your heart to God.”
~ Margaret Mary Hallahan

Today Mary Margaret dolled herself up, and Anna looked at her and said, “I want to get dressed up like Mary Margaret!” This was music to my ears, as she often shuns all her pretty little dresses in favor of “clothes,” as she calls them (shorts and a T-shirt). In Anna’s opinion, dresses are dresses, and pants/shirts are “clothes.”
She picked out this blue dress with the little rose smocking on the collar, and I took the opportunity to get a few pictures. I think they turned out very sweet. At least if she doesn’t wear dresses often, she will have a few pictures of herself in them!
I remember insisting on wearing a blue/green (seventies)plaid combo in my third grade class picture.I think all the fashions from the seventies fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down! I remember Mom not being too thrilled about it, but I have to smile when I look at that picture. I felt really good about that outfit, no matter what anyone said!

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A Delightful Afternoon

Today we met Mom at the Waynesboro playground. What a beautiful place it is! There’s a river flowing gently through the park, loaded with ducks and geese. There is a wonderful foot bridge you can cross that you can see down into the water as you stand on it. There are several play structures and sturdy swing sets to play on. Several varieties of trees adorn the grounds, which provide fodder for the enquiring naturalists in the group (I.e. me and Grandma). Mom made some delicious ginger snaps to ready us for the upcoming season (I came home and wanted to put the heat on tonight). We finished the afternoon up at the library, where Sam got his first library card. We must have checked out eighty books! Mary Margaret plans “to sit in the green chair and read all day while I wait for the beach…”

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“Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life.” ~ Alexander Maclaren

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