Friday, February 27, 2015

Cate's Kindergarten :: Exams, Term 2

Hope you can bear just a bit more exam chat today! ;)

As I've mentioned before, my kindergartener is not one to be left out.  She has been looking forward to exams for weeks--too cute.

Like last time, she joined the big kids for questions in Italian, picture study, music study, and recitation.  But she was very pleased that I prepared a few questions just for her too...

Math:
Form three patterns with your colored tiles.
Form the following numbers with your number cards: 347, 56, 92, 18



Fine Motor Skills:
Draw a picture of any bird in your drawing book.
Cut out this as carefully as you can.
Copy your name, forming each letter correctly.




Reading Skill:
Draw a picture of an object that begins with each of these letters.
Write the letter that these words start with.
Spell these words using your letter tiles.
Read these sight words.



Religion:
Tell me all you know about the Nativity.
Put all the mysteries of the rosary in order.


Handicraft:
Empty the dishwasher, for inspection.

Natural History:
Tell me about the life cycle of the mosquito, using illustrations if you like.
What was your favorite nature study outing this term, and why?
[And then she insisted on drawing a "new discovery," just like the big kids.]



Literature:
What was your favorite part of The Long Winter?
Why didn't you like Ms. Minchen in A Little Princess? [She couldn't stop talking about how much she disliked her while I was reading it. :)]
Which folk tale did you like reading about best this term?

From The Long Winter: "I really liked the part when it was snowing and Pa went to the other house, and the men there made him pancakes and pancakes.  He kept eating and eating and there was syrup and brown sugar."

From A Little Princess: "Ms. Minchen was very mean to Sara and she kept making her go out and get things again and again even though it was cold and wet and her clothes were dirty and her shoes had holes."

On which folk tale she liked best: "Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  But I get worried when she has to run away before the bears see her."

And that's one more term of kindergarten finished for my sweet "middle" girl, who turned six last month!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Third Grade in Our Home :: Exams, Term 2

I'm finally getting around to sharing our Term 2 exams for AO's Year 3, which we finished up over six weeks ago now!  (By the way, the thing that always bogs me down in popping these right up is transcribing the audio-recorded narrations.  I only do a few, and I do like to have them for my own purposes, but it's hard to find free minutes to listen and type.  So if anyone has a reliable speech-to-text suggestion for Android, please do share!)

As always, below are all the questions and then a sampling of answers.  There are more questions than you might usually expect because I have two children in Year 3; they didn't both answer all of these questions.  If you're looking for questions to use for your own exams, check out the wonderful exam page over at AO!

Yes, this is really how they sat to narrate together! LOL
The Questions

Italian:
Let's talk about your birthday!  Translate the following sentences:
I like when I celebrate my birthday!  I play games.  I eat cake.  I choose a special dinner.
List three actions you do at the park.
Recite "Stella Stellina" or sing "Con I Rami d'Agrifoglio."

Poetry:
Recite one of the poems you memorized by Sara Teasdale.
Besides the ones you memorized, what was your favorite poem that we read this term and what was it about?

Piano:
Play a Christmas song you have learned.

Physical Education:
Do ten burpees.
See how many pushups you can do without stopping.

Math:
Write two long multiplication problems and two long division problems for your sibling to solve.  Then switch papers and solve the problems!
See how fast you can do your 7s Wrap-Up.
Find the area of the living room carpet.  Be sure to account for the fireplace and air vents.

Free Reading:
What was your favorite book read during free time this term?  What did you like best about it?
Draw a scene from one of the stories in Crossbows and Crucifixes or The Little White Horse.  Describe briefly which scene you have illustrated, either in writing or orally.

Recitation:
Sing "Holy Holy Holy" or "O Come, All Ye Faithful."
Sing "Panis Angelicus" or "Adeste Fideles."
Sing "Barbara Allen" or "Home Sweet Home."
Recite the parable of the Good Samaritan  or Luke 2:1-7.
Recite Blessed Henry Newman's Prayer for a Holy Death.

Penmanship:
Write the following sentence in your best printing:"Two people meet, both bound on the same business, both going to the same rendezvous, and for three days do not venture to trust each other."
Now copy that sentence in your best cursive.
Now identify what book that line is from, and describe its context.

Literature:
Work together to:
Draw a map of the New Forest, complete with distances if you can manage it.  Include as many landmarks as you can.
AND
Draw a character chart outlining the story, just as we do for our Shakespeare tales.
Tell of Christian's experience with the Giant Despair.
Tell me the story of Measure for Measure or The Taming of the Shrew.  You can look at our character chart as you explain the story.
Recite Petruchio's lines regarding Katherine from Act 2, Scene 1 of The Taming of the Shrew, and describe their context.
Which story did you find most unbelievable: Johnny Appleseed or Davy Crockett?  What aspects of his character make him larger-than-life?
Describe one of the difficulties the Argonauts encountered on their journey OR What was Jason's folly, and how was he punished for it?

History:
Describe the Globe theater.
Name two  famous people during the Age of Elizabeth and give an account of them.
Pretend you are one of the pilgrims that came to America on the Mayflower, and you are writing a letter to family back home in England.  Describe your voyage, the reasons for your trip, and what you have encountered so far in your new home.
Whom would you rather live under: Cromwell or Charles II?  Why?  Explain your choice.

Religion:
Tell me the story of the tribute of the temple OR the story of Mary and Martha.
What did Our Lord say about little children?  Use biblical language if possible.
Label the bodies of water in this map of the Holy Land.
Tell me about the duties of the guardian angels.
Share with me your favorite line so far from The Story of the Mass and read it aloud in your clearest voice.
What are some ways we can overcome our "pet passion," according to Mother Mary Loyola?
What is one quality that made St. Thomas More heroic?  Describe a scene from his life that illustrates this quality.

Geography:
Tell me what you know about India, including the caste system and its dominant religion.  Describe one way in which Hindu custom is very different from our own.
Describe the geography of India.  How are its plains different than those in the United States?  What animals live there?
Fill in this map of Europe, paying careful attention to spelling for all the countries.
Identify these states by shape.

Nature Study:
Tell me what you know about hermit crab homes OR Tookhees the wood mouse.
Sketch and label the life cycle of the mosquito.  How does it compare to the life cycle of the butterfly?
Sketch one more favorite discovery from our nature study outings this term.

Art:
Complete this warm-up activity as carefully as you can.

Music Study:
Tell me a favorite scene from Opal Wheeler's Chopin.
Hum the theme from one of the Chopin selections we enjoyed this term.
According to Thomas Tapper, why is it important to have control over our hands?

Picture Study:
Choose one of Fra Angelico's paintings and describe it as well as you can or sketch it from memory.

Handicraft:
Show one of your completed projects to Daddy.

The Answers

For any written work, I spelled words for the children when asked.














I thought it might be interesting this time around to share a few side-by-side answers to the same questions.  Both kids both did a very good job on all of these, so I'm not trying to compare whose narrations were more successful at all.  But I think it's really neat to see how two children almost the same age (they're only three months apart) reading the same books at the same time can respond to those readings with different details and styles.  These narrations were done out of hearing of each other or me, into the audio recorder, and then I transcribed them afterward.

One of the adventures of the Argonauts from Kingsley's Heroes

by Vincent
Once the Argonauts sailed by a place where the Sirens lived.  These, um, girls were half-bird and half-woman.  They sang and they lured sailors to come, and then they were put to death by their sweet song.  The Sirens began to play, but Orpheus, when they reached that, began to play on his harp.  But it would not work and the men soon fell asleep.  Then Hera said to him play very loud and crashing; that will wake the Argonauts up.  The Argonauts were woken up, but one of the men jumped out of the boat and ran to the Sirens and swam over to them.  The Argonauts were sad but they knew it couldn't be helped.  He came on the shore and begged to listen to the Sirens.  He was put to sleep by their magical voice and the Sirens ran out and began to eat him.  But just as they were about to, a goddess came up and took him in her arms, and the Sirens were so angry they dashed themselves to pieces.
[Just had to add--he pronounced Sirens as Cyrenes--like Simon of Cyrene.  Ha! And he pronounced Orpheus as "Orcheus," which actually makes sense given Orpheus' special talent--I think he was making the "orchestra" connection!]

by Gianna
One of the Argonauts' adventures, and probably the most brilliant one, is how they really got the Golden Fleece, which was with the help of the King's daughter.  She helped them in many ways.  The first one was she helped them to overcome the things they must do in order to get to the Golden Fleece at all.  First he had to take some fiery bulls and have them plow and tame them (of course you had to tame them first, because what else could you do with fire-breathing bulls that you have to have plow?).  The seeds that he had to plow were the teeth of the dragon, which made soldiers spring up, and he had to couquer every one of them.  He did this by taming them with witchmaiden's charms and then he plowed the land with them, and that was easy.  Once he plowed the seeds, they started to come up, as you would expect plants to do.  He threw his helmet into the middle so each solider struck the other, and they both struck each other dead.  The last two mortally wounded each other in the last moments of their lives and lay there, glaring at Jason.  Jason was glad.  The king said he would have to overcome now a fire-breathing dragon which was under a tree.  This he did in the middle of the night with the witchmaiden's help.  He took some poison or something and killed the dragon...or maybe the witchmaiden stared into his eyes, and Jason got the golden fleece then.  But I think they just killed the dragon because he hasn't been heard of again.  Well, that's the end of that adventure!
[See?  High on style and about average on substance, if you know what I mean. :)]

An account of two figures during the Age of Elizabeth

by Vincent
Sir Walter Raleigh was a fine gentleman and once he saw Queen Elizabeth walking on a road, and he saw a big puddle, and he didn't want her to step in it, so he threw his best cloak on the ground and let her step on it as a carpet. Queen Elizabeth was greatly pleased by this and she let him become a knight.  He wanted to plan an expedition for Virginia, a great part of which John Cabot had already claimed but no one had tried to settle on it. He was one of Queen Elizabeth's favorites, and Queen Elizabeth did not want him to go in case he might die, and he had to stay.  He had one of his brothers go with the expedition, and he also built a ship, which he gave for the expedition.  It came out that each expedition failed when finally, with the fifth one, he managed to settle a colony, but this was in the time when James was king.  Sir Walter Raleigh was put in prison, for people said that he was trying to form a plot against James, and he was executed like many other great men.
Shakespeare was also in the time of Queen Elizabeth.  His father was the mayor of a town.  When he was six years old, he went to school, and when he was a young man, he married a girl older than himself.  Her name was Anne.  A few years after, he left Anne and his few children at home and went to London.  There he began writing plays.  First he began to change some plays, and the people liked them so much that they begged him to write more, and he agreed to write more.

by Gianna
The Earl of Essex was one of Queen Elizabeth's many male friends.  However, it ended up that he was thrown into prison and in the reign of the next king, James, had his head cut off.  But for the time being, they were friends.  He had to go over and help rule Scotland and that is when their enmity started.  One time he put on a play where a king was a bad king and was to be overthrown, and he and all his followers clapped at the right parts. They tried to make Queen Elizabeth act the part of the bad king and he act the part of the new and much better king.  Queen Elizabeth found it out and that's how he was cast into prison.
Mary Queen of Scots also ended up having her head cut off.  She was actually Queen Elizabeth's cousin, and they quarreled, and Queen Elizabeth got so mad that she shut up her own cousin.  Later when she was beheaded, she looked old but she was still young.

The tale of Christian and the Giant Despair

by Vincent
Christian and his companion, Faithful, were walking along the road when Christian saw a better road.  They went on that road but there was a great flood and they had to take a break in shelter.  When they awoke they found that they had been caught by a giant called Despair.  In the morning he put them in the dungeon and gave them no food or water.  The next day he said to them that it would be better if they just killed themselves instead of having to suffer so much.  After a long talk about this, they decided that they should not kill themselves because there still might be hope that they could escape.  Because once when he was beating them with a club, he had had a fit and he stopped moving.  The next day he showed them some bones and said that soon their bones would be among those.  One day Christian said to Faithful, "I forgot that I have the key in my bosom," so they pushed open the prison door and ran out through the gates.  The Giant Despair was just about to run after them when he suddenly pushed open the gates and had another fit, and Christian and Faithful escaped, and they put up a sign to make sure that no other pilgrims went there.

by Gianna
They had just gone away from the lovely meadow and river, and the walking became hard because there were stones on the way and it hurt their feet.  There was a stile which led into another beautiful meadow and they were tempted to go in, though they knew it was not in the way.  Finally they were so tempted to go in it that they did go in it. Christian said to his fellow, "Let us go in it!" until his fellow finally gave in.  No sooner had they gone in than they fell fast asleep for they were tired.  Then a giant called Giant Despair came in.  These were his grounds, and if people were found on his grounds, that meant death.  (At least he thought so!)  They were led away, and for many, many days, he tried to convince them to give in. Christian and Hopeful would not.  They said that they would never ever give in.  He, seeing this, counselled his wife.  His wife told him to "show them all the bones that are in the garden.  They will find, most likely, that it is best to give in to you.  Or else, my dear husband, they will know that it means death."  So they were shown the bones in the yard and they thought nothing of it--at least they didn't think much.  Christian did--he kept telling Hopeful to give in.  Finally on probably the sixth night, they prayed, for they were going to be killed and beaten tomorrow if they hadn't escaped by then.  Christian cried out aloud, "Look!  I have a key in my pocket!  And it can open any lock! It's called the Key of Promise."  And so they went out.  The giant, hearing them, gave chase, but he got into a fit and couldn't move his arms and legs.  To think that Christian had a key there the whole time when he was with the Giant Despair!

Some Thoughts

:: Speaking of narrations, as you can see, Vincent is my one with the nearly photographic memory, but his vocabulary is a bit more stilted, and Gianna remembers less but tells it back with more style. ;) And what you can't tell from these transcripts is that Vincent's narrations are much slower and more measured but also more careful and methodical.  Gianna's are more fluent, but she gets ahead of herself sometimes.  I'm curious to see how this all will play out when we begin regular written narrations next year.
:: They loved the collaborative questions, so I'm going to be doing more of those!
:: They thought it was funny to be comparing Cromwell and Charles II, both of whom they thought were pretty terrible.  I'd like to have asked them to compare two good rulers, but they are so few and far between during this era.  Vincent, grasping at straws, actually mentioned that he'd rather live under Charles II because at least the fire swept the plague out of London when he was king!  That had me laughing out loud--you know it's bad when a citywide fire is the highlight of your reign. ;)
:: We didn't get through as much Italian as I was hoping to this term, but at least they remembered what we did work on.  To be honest, I don't think much will change in that area until summer, when I have a little more time to pull new resources together.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Organizing My Commonplace

Usually on Wednesdays, I try to share a recent entry {from my commonplace}.

Well, today, I'm actually going to share a few recent entries and I'm going to chat a little about how I organize my commonplace selections.


I currently have four** commonplace books because I decided to organize my Keeping into four rough categories: 

:: School readings. I include here everything I read-along or read-aloud with the kids (except for our religion studies).  So far this year, MacDonald, Kingsley, Burnett, and Teasdale have featured most prominently.  This is the book I show to my children when they ask--they enjoy seeing the quotes that have struck me from our reading together.  They choose their copywork from their readings as well, so it's also fun to see if we ever overlap.  (We usually don't. ;))  I also see this commonplace as a potential resource later on, as my younger kids come through the AO years: to refresh my memory on the scheduled books, to use for copywork or dictation selections, and so on.


:: Personal free reads.  In this book, I note selections from any fiction and poetry I'm reading on my own.  I actually don't do all that much reading these days, despite having always enjoyed it.  I read a book a month for a local book club and usually have at least one other fiction and a poetry book going in addition to our school books.  I stay caught up for the book club but usually crawl through the others.  Sometimes, I think that might actually be better than the binge-reading I used to do, though!  The combination of my slower pace and my Keeping of favorite lines or passages has definitely helped me remember what I have read a bit better.


:: Spiritual reading.  I keep here Bible verses or passages, prayers of the Mass or from Catholic tradition, and selections from my spiritual reading, of which I always have at least one book going.  This commonplace is becoming like a personal prayer book, and I absolutely love that.  If I'm in need of spiritual inspiration, I can pull it out and I am sure to find something that will bless me.  And as a sidenote: don't you think it would be lovely to have your mother's or grandmother's book of favorite selections from spiritual reading?  It would be a treasure.


:: Education and parenting.  This category includes my non-religious, non-fiction reading, which pretty much all have to deal with education in some way these days!  Miss Mason herself is the star of this commonplace, though passages from Consider This, Ten Way to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, The Living Page, and other recent favorites pop up too.


Right now, I'm using four of the blank Moleskine Volant notebooks, which are available as two-packs and come in lovely shades of solid colors.  The paper is a bit thin for my Prismacolor .005 pens, but that makes the book itself thin and smaller to store, so I'm fine with that trade-off.  I love that these are the size of a large paperback, so I can pop one my purse for an hour reading and Keeping at the kids' piano lessons, for example.  There are lots of great notebooks and pens out there--these are just the ones I currently like best.

I make entries by date, mostly, though I like to keep the passages from running on to the next page, so sometimes I'll sneak in a small one in the blank room I've left behind.  I add the date at the bottom of each page, and the author, title, and page number at the bottom of each entry.  I've left the front couple pages of each notebook blank for inclusive dates and a list of books quoted for ease of later reference.

To wrap up, let me just say: it is a balm to my busy soul to sit down in the evening with one of my notebooks and copy out the passages that have struck me from that week's reading.  I'm hoping your Keeping refreshes you in the same way, no matter how you organize yours.

And speaking of, if you haven't started your own commonplace yet because you're too worried about getting it just right--just start!  Grab a notebook and a pen, and copy when you feel inspired.  It can be as simple as that!  And you'll have the opportunity to figure out what works best for you as you go along.  And remember, there are lots of examples of all different styles of commonplace books linked-up at Keeping Company--so look there for more inspiration.

** Just as a caveat: is it overkill to have four commonplace books?  For some people, it would be!  If that's you, please feel free to stick to just one, of course--organizing only by date is perfectly acceptable and was, as far as I know, how Charlotte Mason had her students keep their books.  But I have had lots of people ask me how I organize mine, and I'm happy to share because for me, this method actually feels simpler and more intuitive.  But I may be the only person for which that is true. :)

Monday, February 23, 2015

{This and That}

We began Lent this week, which means our liturgical color has changed to violet.  Our backyard blooms followed suit!



Both our hebe and our vinca bloomed this past week.  I love how our garden times itself with the liturgical seasons--how very convenient. ;)

~~~

Have you seen Brandy's series on homeshool burnout?  She didn't include my personal method for burnout: starting the school year in July so that you're halfway through Term 3 when February rolls around! But I know that's not ideal for most people, besides the fact that it might be a little hard to actually apply that immediately. ;)

So if you're in need of some freshness to get you through now until springtime, head over there and take her simple but effective suggestions!

~~~

And speaking of Brandy's third suggestion for avoiding burnout...

Saturdays are my long-run mornings, which I usually do solo around town.  But for the past couple months, I have been meeting up with a local running group for a weekly run up into the hills surrounding our town instead.  And I have to say: are you looking to kick-start your exercise routine or get some inspiration for the week ahead?  Head up some hills!



Grueling climbs rewarded with great sunrise views make this one of the most spirit-satisfying activities I do all week!  Best of all, it doesn't matter if you walk or run--as long as you get to the top. :)

~~~

Clicking around the web...

Because you know you've been dying to know: Why pigeons bob their heads.

Have you read Anthony Esolen's How to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child? A follow-up from Circe.

Audobon's Birds of America, free as high-resolution downloadable images.  I'm not even sure what to do with this yet, but wow.

A hymn to Our Lady from Edgar Allen Poe.  I'm saving this to read with the children in May.

Looking for math drill printables?  We use the free, super-easy, and fully-customizable Math Aids all the time alongside our Wrap-Ups.

~~~

Baby Drew is nine months old now!


Don't let these picture fool you: although he does indeed spend much of his day toted around by one person or another, he has somehow still managed to learn to climb, cruise, and stand on his own.  He's very eager to keep up with the big kids and I have no doubt he'll be walking soon!

~~~

Lest you think my kids spend all their drawing time working diligently in their nature journals...


Yes, they're designing their racing silks.  This is what happens when Daddy is home on the weekends!

~~~

After our bud-forcing of the last couple weeks, I've been itching to do some more growing indoors.  Have I mentioned I have a black thumb?  I'm terrible at gardening--it's one of my (many) weaknesses.  But I've always seen these indoor "gardens" and I think they might be something even I could manage.  I've done green onions (successfully) and avocados (unsuccessfully) before, but this list is pretty comprehensive--lots of fun roots, seeds, and cuttings to try.  Anyone have recommendations for this kind of project?

~~~

I'll be back soon to share how I organize my commonplace books and to round up our exams from Term 2 (finally!).  Until then, have a great Monday!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

{From My Commonplace}



"The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still.  Suddenly, she had a completely new thought.  The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America's king.

"She thought: Americans won't obey any king on earth.  Americans are free.  That means they have to obey their own consciences.  No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself.  Why (she thought), when I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders.  I will have to make myself be good.

"Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought.  This is what it means to be free.  It means, you have to be good.  "Our father's God, author of liberty--"  The laws of Nature and of Nature's God endow you with a right to life and liberty.  Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God's law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free."

from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie


Laura's political thoughts on America aside, it's how she came to those thoughts and where she takes them that's thrilling.  I must say that I read this passage and I "stood stock still."

The science of relations.
All education is self-education.
The mind feeds on ideas.
I am, I can, I ought, I will.

All come together in this one short passage.  The words of the Declaration of Independence and "My Country Tis of Thee" combine to give Laura one of the most profound lessons of life--in the midst of a dusty July 4th celebration, between the buggy races and the lemonade.  This "completely new thought," this connection made entirely on her own, lights a fire of action and virtue that fuels and inspires her young heart.

Miss Mason doesn't claim that her methods are new or unique; rather, she looks at natural and classical patterns of learning and uses those patterns to forge her principles.

The fact that we can draw connections across broad subjects,
that if we draw those connections ourselves they are more meaningful,
that the mind subsists on a diet of ideas such as those encountered here,
that the aim of education is virtue and right action--

Laura certainly wasn't educated at a PNEU school, but she didn't have to be to provide us a perfect example of Miss Mason's educational philosophy in action.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nature Study Notes :: Watching Spring Unfold--Indoors!

Sorry for the horrible lighting is this photo, but here's what my kitchen sink looks like right now:


Signs of a lovely couple weeks of nature study!

One of my favorite things to do with the kids is bring in twigs to force indoors, then watch the same process happen naturally outside.  It gives us a chance to see the change in an up-close controlled environment and do some extra observing and sketching.

Right now we're watching cuttings from a sycamore tree, a horse chestnut tree, and our pluot tree.

:: The sycamore

On our nature study outing last week, we noticed the sycamore buds starting to burst.  We took one cutting with all buds still closed to watch at home, and another already opened to sketch right away.  This is the first time we have caught them at this stage, and they are so interesting to look at!  Hairy bud covers splitting to reveal velvety, teeny-tiny sycamore leaves, and their familiar seed balls in infantile groups of three, still green and soft.




:: The horse chestnut (aka California buckeye)

These are really satisfying buds to watch open at home.  It only takes a couple days to go through the whole process:


I'm glad we grabbed this one when we did, because by this past week, it was hard to find a bud still closed at the park--they had pretty much all burst open.  A friend's son described it as "fireworks," and I think that's a very apt description!


You can see we did the same thing last year.  The kids really enjoy checking the progress each morning.

:: The pluot tree

We always look for the first blossoms of each year to mark in our Calendar of Firsts.  We spotted this year's just a few days ago--a few tiny white-pink blossoms high up out of reach.  I snipped a twig to watch bloom indoors that same day.  A couple days later, the buds were bright green against the dark knobby wood.  This morning, there are a bits of white peeking through the tips.  They're set to open soon!


Have you done anything similar?  Any other kinds of trees we should be watching?  And do you enjoy watching spring unfold, petal by petal, as much as we do?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Nature Study Outing :: Late Winter Wildflowers


We have spent our nature study outings for the last three weeks at the local park we know has lots of wildflowers starting to show up this time of year.  According to our nature notes from last year, they're actually popping up a few weeks early this time around.  And each week we go, there is either a new variety shooting up, or a variety that was already up has bloomed or become more plentiful.

The first of the year in our area are always yellow: wild mustard and bermuda sorrel.  On the roadsides, the hillsides, the meadows.


Another early bloomer is the fiddlenecks--two pictures here for comparison.  The one on the left was from the first week--you'll notice they aren't very "fiddly" at all.  But the next week, more blooms on each stem had opened and they took on their tell-tale curve.


Wild cucumber has pretty white blossoms but no fruit just yet.  I just love their delicate--but strong!--tendrils.



The Miner's lettuce is very leafy but not in bloom just yet.  The kids love their dew-filled cups, flowers or not.


A new one for us this year: chickweed.  The dewdrop-looking flowers with their delicate white fringe are lovely.  I brought a stem home to press for our wildflower collection.



Then there are hints of purple peeking out of the dense leaves along the ground.  Wild geranium!  We have been watching their leaves all winter, waiting for their blooms to appear, so these little purple flowers are a welcome sight.  We have spotted one variety blooming so far and a couple more on the way.


And spotted this week: poppies along the highway (that's always where I spot them first, and then I start seeing them along the sidewalks in town), wild radish just about everywhere, and shepherd's purse (which I fittingly found on St. Valentine's Day!).  Those wee heart-shaped pods make them one of my favorites despite their not being very showy.


I'll be back later this week to share the Keeping this all has inspired and a fun project we've been doing to bring a bit of spring indoors.

So what's blooming in your area?  Has the seasonal shift begun, or is it just snow, snow, and more snow?