Tuesday, April 11, 2017

{This and That}

It's Holy Week!  I'm going to have a quieter online presence this week so that I can get some Spring Cleaning and spiritual prep going here before Easter arrives.  But before I do so...

Some of my Holy Week posts from past years:
Welcoming Holy Week (from way back in 2013!)
Some Spring Arts and Crafts for your Easter season
A few Easter Basket ideas (I've got more coming below!)


Also, one year I blogged through the liturgical work of Christina Rossetti, including her poetic meditations for the days of Holy Week.  Here is yesterday's:
"The Voice of my Beloved."
Once I ached for thy dear sake:
Wilt thou cause Me now to ache?
Once I bled for thee in pain:
Wilt thou rend My Heart again?
Crown of thorns and shameful tree,
Bitter death I bore for thee,
Bore My Cross to carry thee,
And wilt thou have nought of Me?
If you'd like to read more, you can find them here.  (Just scroll down to the bottom of that search page and work your way forward through the week.)  We are reading them again this year because we're covering Year 2 poetry in Morning Basket.


While we're on the topic of Easter: let's chat about Easter baskets!  We don't do much candy and I really try to avoid the little odds and ends that accumulate when gifting baskety items for eight young kids.  Over the years, I have come up with more ideas than I could ever use! So I figured I'd pull together some ideas off the top of my head.  And if you order in the next couple days and have Prime shipping, it will all arrive with time to spare. ;)

:: We love our growing collection of Schleich animals!

:: I like to include replacement outdoor "toys" like sidewalk chalk and bubbles.  We got a couple nice quality jump ropes last year.  We also do gardening supplies like pots, spades, and seeds or baby plants to watch and tend.  (I have a black thumb, so whatever the kids grow is pretty much all we attempt.)  Also, new beach toys are always welcome!  We have particularly liked the Ikea shovels.

:: Nature study supplies are always a hit.  Binoculars are a bit pricey for a basket (but make a great birthday gift for middle-aged kids through adults!), but loupes are perfect.  Insect growing kits for a butterfly or praying mantis are great heading into summertime, or you could just get a habitat and do some critter collecting of your own!  (We're planning a snailery thanks to the Handbook of Nature Study and Pets in a Jar.)  Watercolor postcards, pocket watercolors, and waterbrushes make a simple portable art kit. You could even tuck them into a little zipped pouch.

:: Handicrafts are my favorite category for Easter baskets.  We give craft kits pretty much every year: we have done kits for embroidery, sewing, paper crafts, woodburning, and more.  My older boys are getting these Maker Kits that I picked up cheaply -- we'll see how well they work!  I like the look of these string art kits but haven't tried them yet. Older kids who already have developed some skills get extra supplies for the projects they love, like stacks of wool felt, more kite paper for suncatchers. peg peopleroving for felting, or a new project book that's a bit above the beginner level.

:: Fun school supplies work also.  Gianna and Cate have been experimenting with lettering -- gelly rolls come in every color and can be a nice addition to schoolwork.  We go through a lot of post-its here!  I buy a multi-colored package and give one color to each child to use for bookmarks.  And have you jumped on the Frixion bandwagon yet?  Erasable pens that actually work!  We use these for almost all of our lessons.

:: Small (or travel-sized) games make fun additions and tuck into a basket nicely: Set, a miniature chess set, Uno, Skip-Bo, Spot It, Phase Ten. Quirkle, Tangoes, Dutch BlitzSleeping Queens.  Mad Libs and Doodle Books fall in this same category and are nice to have in the car.

:: My kids love miniature books and they are so perfect for baskets!  A few favorites:  Elsa Beskow has lovely miniature hardbacks and we enjoy Sendak's Nutshell Library.  Another option is to get a bigger set, like the Brambly Hedge collection (or even a boxed Beatrix Potter collection!) and break them up to put one in each basket or give to the same child but over a few years.

(Links are affiliate links -- happy shopping!  Thanks for your support.)


Charlotte Mason West's next event just opened for registration last week: the Conference at Puget Sound, coming this September!

I'm not organizing this Seattle-area event, but a lovely group of ladies are heading it up and the wonderful Nancy Kelly is giving all the talks!  I've heard that the retreat center is quiet and beautiful, right on the Sound.  I'm not sure if I'll be attending yet -- it depends on how I feel after baby arrives in July, God willing -- but if I end up going, I'd love to see you there. Either way, it promises a great time. Head over for more details!


This week is our last week of the school year!  We will have exams during Easter week and then we'll be off for summer.  I'm making a monster list of projects that I'm hoping to take on with my free time during naps. Only half of it will likely get done, but I should at least have nesting energy helping me along because I also just entered the third trimester!  Hitting lots of exciting milestones over here.

Speaking of exams, I haven't shared any of our exams for this year yet. I'll be playing a little catch up on those posts at the end of this month because I like to have them "filed" here for my own records.


Our nature study outing was rained out again this past week, so I contented myself with catching up on the March wildflowers in my nature journal, painting from my photos from previous weeks.

A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


Wishing you a blessed Holy Week, friends!  I'll be back after Easter -- or you can catch me over on Instagram sharing some peeks into our devotional observances.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Nature Study Outing :: Early Spring Adventures

Fall is my overall favorite season of the year, but spring is hands-down my favorite season for nature study.  The wildflowers, the waterways, the cool temperatures and bright sun, and all that green...

A few of our most common wildflowers for March:


red-stemmed filaree

wild radish

first lupines!

shining peppergrass

blue dicks

unopened yarrow, i think


johnny jump-up

baby blue eyes

persian speedwell

bladder parsnip

purple sanicle

shepherd's needle

cut-leaf geranium

checker mallow

california buttercup

western bittercress

Our nature tray from one March outing:

And that week's nature journal entries -- can you tell we are inspired by the season?

xavier (6)

cate (7)

gianna (10)

vincent (10)

and mine!

Every week there's something new blooming: I have friends texting me pictures of hounds tongue, sticky monkey flower, shooting stars and more.  (I have great friends. :))  Lots more wildflower photos to come in the months ahead, so be warned!

What blooms in March where you are?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Nature Study Outing :: After the Floods

I'm going to spend this week catching up on some of our nature study adventures from the past couple months.  Enjoy!

Back in February, our area was hit with historic rain that turned our dam spillway into a waterfall and our creek into a flood zone all the way through the city.  Our home was unaffected, but our local county parks were.  Our nature study group headed down to the creek a few days after the water level had partially subsided to take a look.

The ground was littered with dead wildlife: crawdads, toads, fish, and more.  I'll spare you the photos, and it was rather sad really, but it was also neat to be able to examine so many intact specimens that we don't usually see.  (You can probably tell by the downed grasses we're all standing on that the waters had just a couple days before stretched over all that area, and even wider than that.)

But it wasn't all dead bits -- one of the girls found a geode, and a boy found a tiny partial skull, dried clean.

This creek is usually a quarter of this width, at the most, at its widest time of year.

We had to stop here -- the trail was flooded past this point!  So our loop became an out-and-back, and the kids spent time climbing trees instead.

 Despite the damage, there were hints of spring:

buckeyes -- all already opened!  i usually bring home a cutting to force indoors, but i forgot this year

wild cucumber

yarrow -- early to bloom!

A funny story: as we were gathered in the parking lot after our little hike, the nature center staff called us over.  We saw that the tiny center there was closed for renovations, so we had passed it by, but the manager said they had literally just finished setting it up and would love to invite our group in as their very first visitors.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time!  They gave us a very short tour and then let the kids explore.

While we looked around, Gianna and Cate called me over to see -- US!  The kids and I just happened to be in the photo they used for the display, taken at an outing with a park docent years ago.  Such a funny coincidence!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Keeping Company :: April 2017

Hi friends!  It's officially spring now, which means this link-up will soon explode with nature journal photos, just like it does every year. (I'm going to have a post like that up tomorrow, as a matter of fact!) One of my favorite parts of peeking into your notebooks is seeing those seasonal shifts, happening in all kinds of families, all across the country (and world!).  But at the same time, I have some fun pictures to share of history notebooking, maps, commonplace books, and more below.  Because we're not just aiming at seasonal habits but year-round, lifelong companions as well.  It's a wonderful blend.  I'm excited to see what you're up to this month!

Starting the Discussion
There are so many great posts from March, so I think I'm going to dig into that and let the ladies that have linked up share their thoughts with you instead of kicking it off myself.

Before I do that, though, I'll just remind you once again about the post I wrote on Keeping for Charlotte Mason Living last month since it's so relevant to you Keeping Company lovers.  I get lots of emails about how to get started in journaling, and I hope that post is a blessing to you!

From This Month
The March collection featured some of my favorite voices on the topic and some newcomers:

:: The lovely Carol down in Australia shows us her middle schooler's notebooks. These updates on Moozle's work are always a lovely look at what a Charlotte Mason education can look like for an enthusiastic student.  As she puts it, education is always "an act of faith," so it's beautiful to see it bearing fruit in the hearts and hands of young students.

:: Kelly from A Feast of Books (perfect name!) has a nice chatty post up about all kinds of reading she and her family are doing.  I enjoy getting to bits of the various books that are shaping a home at one time!  Lots of thoughtful reading going on there, including some of our family favorites.

:: Lucy from Stopping for Butterflies is back with a review of a book I'm not dying to read!  She also shares this lovely thought on commonplace keeping: "It is a simple and yet effective approach to raising my ordinary thoughts out of the pedestrian monotony they frequently plod into."

:: Do you have a student with dysgraphia that you're hoping to help develop keeping habits?  Freely Learned has some practical tips for you!

:: Lisa continues to share piercing bits of Amy Carmichael's writing.  The selection she chose this month is particularly appropos for this time in the liturgical year.

:: Amy of Hearth Ridge Reflections has a short entry from Volume 5 that you do not want to miss.  It went immediately into my own commonplace book, even though I usually reserve that for quotes I have come across in my own reading.  Too good not to "keep"!

And then over to Instagram...

First off, some history keeping -- maps, timelines, and more!

dawnduran8708 - jeffsjessie - gdcyrus
jenbrownsnow - vlcjrogers - rjnsix

Commonplace books...

jennyp0208 - kaypelham - brc_mackenzie - ourlivinglearning
amyofhearthridge - athena_amidstthereeds - housefulloffoxes - learninghowtolivecm

Lots of you are tracking seasonal changes...

ariellegj - aolander - ladydusk

And a peek at some nature journals, featuring everything from the birds of New Zealand to the wildflowers of Indonesia to snowflakes in California!

freelylearned - obispo98 - mariasugiyopranoto - angelaboord
stoppingforbutterflies - legendsandlace - raisinglittleshoots - amyofhearthridge
sarahjokim - lylyfreshty - h5manriquez - ambervanderpol

I thought this was too fun not to share: these two examples popped up back to back in my Instagram feed one day!  Love that these ladies are working on the same thing at the same time in two different parts of the country, and sharing them with us!

tillberrytales - oneripetomato

Last but not least: a few favorites I couldn't bear to leave out!

frannieruth19 - adventureadaycm - greenmangomama

There are lots more where those came from, so head over to #keepingcompanycm and check out what the ladies there are posting.  And link up your own!  As long as you have a public account (or I am a follower), I'll see what you tag and be able to feature it here.  And more importantly, the rest of the community can respond, encourage, and glean ideas from you.

Now it's your turn...

The Link-Up

:: For bloggers: Click on the "Add my link" button below, and it will prompt you to include the information for your post.  Once you submit it, your link will be added to the list, and others will be able to click over and read what you have shared.
:: For Instagrammers: Tag related photos with #KeepingCompanyCM.

:: Remember to link to a specific post and not to your blog's homepage. 
:: Any posts about CM-style Keeping are welcome!  The prompt is optional.  Your post can be as simple as a photo of your commonplace book or your kids drawing.
:: Feel free to add more than one post.  The link-up will be open for a month, so you can come back and add more if you are so inclined.
:: You can grab the button over there on the sidebar if you'd like to add it to your post or site.