Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Things Kids Say

This morning my 3-year-old (who has not enjoyed bug bites this summer) said, "Mommy, when winter comes the bugs turn into snowflakes."

Friday, August 30, 2019

Good Morning, Sunshine!

I tried to capture the beauty of the sunflowers as they saluted the golden morning sunshine, but I failed. I hope you enjoy the picture anyway.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Neglected Summer-- Spider Webs

When I was younger, I walked back and forth on our dirt road to the school bus stop almost every day. I didn't live in town, and I was constantly surrounded by the beauties of nature, but I can't remember ever noticing them.

Now, however, it's as if I've awakened to the wonders in this world. My children often point them out to me, but just as often I notice things first.

I don't always make the time to run inside for the camera, and I certainly don't know enough about photography to capture the wonders wonderfully, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Back in June it was my turn one morning to take our dog Calvin outside for his first walk of the day. I tried not to hurry him inside so I could capture the beauty of the spider webs which covered everything. There were hundreds all over the field, in the grasses and weeds, on our fences. I wonder why this morning?

I learned something about photography that day; spiderwebs are tough to bring into focus! If I ever think about it when I have a moment, I'll do an internet search about taking pictures of these delicate works of art.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Neglected Summer-- Growing Things

The title of this post might be a bit misleading because I feel like I've truly enjoyed my summer so far. However, I've neglected to post about it. I found a few snapshots of my summer that I wanted to share.

1. Snow peas.  We had an overabundance of them. My children may never want to see them again.

2.  Garden with new electric fence. Everything newly planted and few weeds. I definitely need to update this picture!

See the not-quite-completed yet bike shed in the background?  It's still not completed, but it does house a little bird's nest complete with eggs.

3. Clematis in full bloom. I love this every year and must always take a picture of it.

4. Butterfly weed. This one has such pretty blooms. It will be featured in a less glorious state in an upcoming post.

 5. Rose. This is a less glorious state of a rose if I ever saw one. I need to read up about taking care of them. I'll bet the library has a book for that.

 6.  More from the flower bed. Why, yes, that is my mum peeking out from between the lavender blossoms. It over-wintered quite well. Perhaps I'll be smart and take a picture of it now that it's flowering.

 7. Blueberries. Almost ripe. This little miniature blueberry bush is not the only berry-bearing plant for us this year. The blackberries outdid themselves. We were able to get a few pies out of them plus plenty for eating. There's still not enough for putting up without robbing us of the joy of eating them fresh. No complaints.

After writing this post, I realize I need to get outside with my camera for a few before-and-after pictures because these were taken in June-ish, and it is most certainly July-ish. What a difference a month makes!

Monday, July 8, 2019

Belated Birthday Cake and Pie

I thought summer was supposed to be slow and lazy. Not so around here. My mother was in the hospital for over two weeks, and she continues to need extra care. The garden needs weeding-- always. We've had a few small building projects (fence and shed). We've started visiting the pool for some swim time. So I've missed posting several pictures I would normally would post.

First up, a birthday cake. An easy birthday cake-- yay! My daughter (whose age is now in the double digits) wanted an artist's palette cake. Voila!

A few weeks later, my eldest turned 15. Fifteen?! What happened? Anyway, it seems 15-year-olds have more mature tastes. He's interested in making cheese and trying new cheeses-- even the ones I consider gross. You know, the ones with fungi. We allowed him to pick out some "fancy" cheeses for a meal with just our family sometime around his birthday, and he prepared our cheese tray. 

For his actual party, he picked vinegar pie for a dessert. However, I considered that our guests might be more likely to eat pumpkin pie, so I made some of that, too. However, they tried the vinegar pie and liked it. If you've never had vinegar pie, you should try it; it tastes much better than its name sounds.

My son didn't want wax on his vinegar pie, so the candles went on the pumpkin pie.

Now that our internet is working again, perhaps I can post a little more often. Have a lovely week!

Saturday, June 22, 2019

And Then There Were None

A little over a week ago, it was my turn to take our dog out first thing in the morning. This is the sight that greeted me.

In case you can't tell what that is, here's a closer look:

Yep, those are feathers. Lots of feathers. Guinea feathers, to be exact. I knew something was very wrong in guinea paradise. 

Upon further inspection, my son and I confirmed my suspicions-- the remaining two guineas had been brutally murdered by some nocturnal beast. I guess, technically, we could be wrong as we never found the bodies (only a few small chunks attached to feathers), but really, what nocturnal beast that drags guineas through a smallish hole in chicken wire would leave the bodies around as evidence?

As violent as this was, it wasn't heartbreaking to our family because these only two who were left were male and driving us crazy by fighting with each other. 

I guess that's the end of our first fowl experiment. We liked the eggs. We did see a decrease in ticks on our bodies; no Lyme disease while we had the guineas. My favorite thing about the guineas was just watching them; they are so funny!

The downsides to guineas? Well, when we wanted to vacation or visit family for a few days, we had to find somebody who was willing to take care of them. Also, they were not good for our garden; they either dusted and killed plants or ate my greens. We also didn't care for the meanness; they weren't mean to us, they were mean to each other.

In the end, we do plan on getting more fowl-- but not until spring probably. We all want different birds-- guineas, chickens, and ducks. I guess you'll have to tune in next spring to see what we settle on.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Good-bye, Emu

On Saturday morning we met the emu's owner who brought the trailer that would (we hoped) return our emu to its friends.

So how would this emu be caught? Well, not easily, that's for sure. It was lured with food, but it did take a few go-arounds and some corralling. And struggling. And coordination. And strength. And patience.


Predictably, the emu was not thrilled to be in the trailer. It tried to poke its head out the back to escape. It failed. My littlest one told me later that the emu was "saying goodbye with him head."

Then, ever-so-quickly, it was all over, and the emu farmer was saying goodbye with his hand.

And that brings us to the end of our little emu drama. There are no more installments. This story will not be continued.

Unless. . . 
 (I did tell you there were more emu sightings the next valley over, right?)

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Emu- Up Closer and More Personal

My five-year-old woke me up on Friday morning with, "Mommy, the emu is still here!"

At a decent hour, I called the farmer and let him know the emu was back. I left a message, but he was in business meetings all day and couldn't get back to us until the afternoon. He was going to pick up a  friend's trailer to retrieve the emu, but he wouldn't be able to get to our house until Saturday morning.

Most of Friday the emu amused us with his antics. Once again, he disappeared in the later afternoon and came back in the evening. Once again, he was there in the morning. On Saturday morning early, Mr. Emu decided to hang out even closer to the house and even on our front walkway. He even strayed down near the cemetery again.

One thing we learned about emus when all was said and done was that emu feathers have one central quill (?) that has two floppy feathers attached. 

Tune in tomorrow for the final installment of our riveting emu drama!

To Be Continued. . .

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Angles of Emu

The farmer came on Thursday afternoon, but by then the emu was gone. He left some food for it. Later in the evening, the emu was in our backyard again, but that was not where the food was. In an effort to keep that bird around until its owner could come get it, we gave it food (scratch grains, corn, oats) and water. It seemed to like it.

Emu--from the side

Emu- from the side and closer

Emu- from the back- because everybody wants their rear end plastered online!

Emu- from the other side

Man, that bird was hungry! I wish I had snapped a good picture of it drinking the water; that was a hoot to watch as it scooped up water and then stretched its long neck up. Sadly, most of our pictures were blurry through the windows and in the darkening evening.

But that's not all!

To Be Continued. . .

Saturday, May 11, 2019

What Happens When. . . Emu Vs. Guinea?

Next the emu began walking around our house in a counterclockwise direction. However, one of our three remaining guinea fowl began walking around the house in a clockwise direction. What happens when they meet?

Emu decides to investigate guinea.

Guinea decided it doesn't want to be investigated by a much larger bird.

Guinea makes haste to deliver himself.

In the end, the emu wasn't interested enough in the guinea to chase it too far, and the guinea wasn't scared enough of the emu to run too far. While we had fun when the "chase" got a little fast-paced, the entire episode was rather short-lived.

But this emu episode is not over!

To Be Continued. . .

P. S. While learning about the emu online, we learned that this week is considered National Emu Week. What a coincidence!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Emu-- Up Close and Personal

If you thought the first emu post was something else, read on, my friend, read on. 

You see, the emu wasn't content just hanging out in the cemetery. It decided it needed to pay us a visit.

Certainly you have figured out that by this time, excitement levels in our house were quite high. The phrase "bouncing off the walls" comes to mind.

At this time, while children were bubbling over with crazy,* I was making phone calls to the town office (although we live 5 miles from town), animal control, and an emu farm. For future reference, if an emu happens to wander into your yard, I found the emu farm to be most helpful. 

I learned that our emu friend was likely from the farm I called which is about 21 miles away; they had several escape last summer. Recently, between here and there, emu sightings have multiplied. However, we heard from another source that another emu farmer in another directions (but also many miles away) had some escapees, too.

Anyway, the emu farmer I talked to hit the road to come check things out at our house.

To be continued. . . 

*FULL DISCLOSURE-- I may also have been on the high energy spectrum, but cut me some slack: who has an emu just show up at their house?!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Really Big Distraction

So, do you remember my last post about distractions from our books and teachable moments and wonder and learning and all that?


I'm struggling with words for this post because. . . well. . .

Why don't you see for yourself?

Why, yes, that is an emu down in the church's cemetery!  Oh, did you think the emu was native to Australia? And don't we live in Maryland in the USA? 

If you were asking yourself those questions, don't think you're crazy. It is all true. Yet an emu was wandering about all the same!

To be continued. . . 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019


I don't know any homeschooling mom who doesn't groan daily (at least inwardly) because of the distractions that keep the curriculum from being accomplished. This year potty-training kept pulling me away from the books. Meal prepping and making, because eating is one of those necessary things in life, constantly drag me away from math lessons.

Sometimes, however, I'm able to step back and recognize some distractions as a different and better kind of learning.

While this chemical reaction experiment was part of the younger kids' science curriculum, the whole family took part when it was time to light up the smoke bomb. This was definitely a fun distraction from the daily grind. It was over all too quickly.

Our home-made smoke bomb

I'm not always good about being patient with little kids who wander off from where they are supposed to be. A few weeks ago I was trying to corral kids to the table for lunch when my preschool son was missing. "Where is he?" I asked. The children told me he was with his ants. 

"His what?!"

And there I found him on our front walkway, lying down and observing his ants. He was even kind enough to feed them at the Ritz for lunch-- or at least to feed them from the Ritz cracker he'd wanted for a snack.

Peter's ants

While he's not yet tied to the books for formal schooling, this sort of learning is priceless. He observed for hours over the next few days and told me there were two groups of ants fighting.

The longer I teach my children, the more I realize that these "distractions" are the best learning. Many people call these times "teachable" moments, but I am starting to realize that sometimes I need to stop trying to teach and put on my child-like wonder and learn next to my students.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Easter Eggs

Ever since I was a teenager, I've wanted to dye Easter eggs with natural dyes, with foods and such from the pantry. This was finally the year. Although I faced opposition from some children, they eventually got on board when I assured them that it was only for this year, that it would be a fun experiment. I also showed them tons of cool pictures on Pinterest. 

These are the results.

I was quite pleased with the results. I'm not sure I'd get the exact results again because I used a few different methods and didn't measure the time or the ingredients. 

I used, starting at yellow and going clockwise, turmeric (yellow), coffee (brown), onion skins (rust), beets (tan on the outside, light pink on the inside), purplish gray (blueberries), and purple cabbage (oh-so-pretty blue!). 

The epic fail was green; I used spinach, green tea, and nettle which produced an almost totally white egg. My son, who was in charge of the green, made the executive decision to dump a good bit of green liquid food dye in because he wanted green. I agreed because there was just nothing appealing about that non-green egg.

The other experiment of the year was trying to get the imprint of flowers on the eggs by using pantyhose/tights and rubber bands to hold a flower down while in the dye bath. The results were mediocre (at best), but we think the little girls' tights were too tightly woven. However, the neat egg effect you can see below was produced where the tights were twisted and rubber-banded on the opposite side of the egg from the flower. It was a fun discovery in our little experiment.

If I were to do this again, what would I do differently? Well, I am wondering if the eggs in the beet dye were in the bath too long because they were light pink for a while. Same goes for the blueberry one; however, it was a deep, dark purple when it originally came out of the bath and changed later. I would completely avoid attempting green.

Which were my favorites? That's easy. I loved the colors that resulted from the purple cabbage, the onion skins, the turmeric, and the coffee.

Have you ever experimented with Easter egg dyes?

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Morning

He is risen! Alleluia!

Why do you seek the living among the dead? Alleluia!