Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween homeschooling

Here and here are some old posts of mine with favorite Halloween books, activities, music, and more, including over eight pages of Halloween copywork!

And here are my Halloween Music Monday posts from past years.

How are you celebrating the spookiest day of the year?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Life in (very) brief

Whew!  It's been quite the few months around here.  I'm planning to get back to regular posts starting Right Now, and will be catching up with the blogs I follow, as well.

A quick recap of life since my last post:

I'm eating Paleo and dressing my truth, and I spent the summer trying to get the children's chorus I direct some more visibility to increase the number of singers.  Jazz is having some growing pains at his charter school (they don't call it the sophomore slump without reason) but due to the overwhelming support and kindness of his teachers I know he'll come through this time even stronger.  Jane is about to enter the world of neuropsych evaluations and will have some of her larger issues addressed.  JJ continues to be happy-go-lucky and seems to be enjoying homeschooling despite a complaint or two here and there.  In all, I'm grateful for the fact that, even when life is not smooth sailing, I have the resources and support (i.e., friends!) to help me make course corrections.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Book Sharing Monday - Chirrup, chirrup!

This spring we've heard (and seen) a lot of crickets on our property, and it seemed a fitting thing to read about these musical creatures.  The books we enjoyed--

Chirping Crickets (Let's Read and Find Out Science Level 2), by Melvin Berger and with illustrations by the fabulous Megan Lloyd (Too Many Pumpkins).

Oscar and the Cricket: a Book about Moving and Rolling, by Geoff Waring (a Start with Science book).

Old Cricket, by Lisa Wheeler and with illustrations by Ponder Goembel.  This one had an old-timey American children's cautionary tale (think Brer Rabbit) feel to it.

The Cricket Warrior: a Chinese Tale, by Margaret and Raymond Chang with illustrations by Warwick Hutton.  This one was JJ's favorite.

The Cricket in Times Square, by George Selden.  Jane still prefers her books to feature animals as main characters, and this was one of my favorites when I was about her age.  She loved it and is moving on to other books by Selden.  The next animal book I plan to throw her way that was much beloved by me as a youngster is Margery Sharp's The Rescuers.  Book bonus: BraveWriter has an Arrow (language arts) unit based on this book, which we used to wind up formal homeschooling for Jane this year.

Any other favorite "cricket" books out there?  I almost pulled out The Cricket on the Hearth, but decided to save that for a cold day in December when we have a fire in our own fireplace.

Alex is hosting Book Sharing Monday from her new home!  Best wishes to her and her family on getting settled in one of my favorite places.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A good book day

Not only is Massachusetts greeting the month of May with heavy cloud cover and showers, making it the perfect day to snuggle in and read, but look what just arrived in the mail!

The sequel to Divergent by Veronica Roth: Insurgent.  If you are a Hunger Games fan and haven't read Divergent yet, what are you doing?  Get thee to a library or bookseller posthaste!

Bitterblue is the third book by Kristin Cashore, and is the sequel to Graceling, which both Jazz and I read and loved a couple of years ago.  While Fire is a little fresher in my memory, it didn't feature the same characters as Graceling and Bitterblue, so I think a little reread is in order.  Jazz will be happy to grab this one away from me while I reacquaint myself with Graceling.

And, while I'm a huge fan of Rick Riordan's Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson series, there's just something about the Kane siblings that made The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire so much fun to read.  The Serpent's Shadow is sure not to disappoint!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Easter leftovers, or I venture into the land of curry

For the first time ever, I cooked a leg of lamb for Easter.  Since DH and I are the only ones who would eat it (my kids have boring palates to put it mildly), we had a ton of leftover meat.  What to do, what to do?  Like any modern gal, I Googled, "What to do with lamb roast leftovers."  The resulting ideas were largely from the UK, but since I'm attempting a somewhat modified (due to a long list of food allergies) primal diet, things like shepherd's pie and pasties wouldn't work without a lot of changes (if then).  But then a suggestion for lamb curry appeared before my eyes.  A-ha!  Curry, made with coconut milk (very primal friendly), is something I could go for.  I have made (and loved) Sri Lankan Slow Cooker Chicken in the past, which is (I believe) a curry, but this was my first time making a stovetop version.  Most of the lamb curry recipes I saw called for tomatoes or tomato sauce (allergy), so I decided to make my own recipe up as I went along.  The result was very tasty, and not too spicy for DH, who isn't a big fan of hot peppers.  Here's what I did--

Saute a chopped sweet onion over medium-low heat until translucent.  Add 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic, about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger, and two minced jalapeno peppers and saute a few minutes more.  Add 1 T. coriander, 1 T. mild curry powder (mine was Madras), 1 t. tumeric, 1/2 t. salt (maybe a bit more), and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  Pour in about a cup of coconut milk--add more if the pan appears too dry. Then add cubed leftover lamb and any cooked vegetables you might have in the fridge (I had some cauliflower and broccoli from the night before), turn the burner down to low, cover, and let simmer for about the amount of time it takes to microwave pasta for the kids and pour a glass of wine, or until the lamb is throughly warmed.  Serve with rice if desired (DH desired; I did not).

No pictures, as it disappeared too quickly!  Will be making it again the next time I have leftover lamb, or even before.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter 2012

We strayed quite a bit from traditional Pysanky designs this year!

But we had lots of fun.  ☺

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Supporting the Arts

Many of you are probably familiar with Kickstarter.  The Boston Globe recently had an article about how funding non-profits or even for-profit ventures is no longer truly in the hands of the 1%, due to organizations such as Kickstarter that allow donors to get in on the game for as little as $1.  This young, very talented, Fulbright-awarded composer is writing a concerto for a group that is dear to my heart.  Please consider helping fund his commission fee!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Unfurling

Photos taken on the eve of the vernal equinox, in Massachusetts, where the day is more often marked by snow, or at least brown, brown, brown, all around.

Maple leaves! About a month ahead of schedule.  It's unbelievably warm here, and I couldn't appreciate it more.

Happy Birthday, J.S. Bach

Classical New England is playing Bach every hour today in honor of the composer's birthday.  I'm planning to have the station playing (I've got it streaming right now--follow the link and click on the Listen to Live Stream button) as much as possible all day long.  One of my favorites so far this morning:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Secular Homeschool March Giveaway

Hurrah, it's spring!  Hop on over to and enter to win a set of Growing with Grammar, Winning with Writing, or Soaring with Spelling & Vocabulary.

Book Sharing Monday - First Dog

My kids are crazy about animals in general, and dogs in particular, so whenever I see a new picture book about a dog, it usually ends up in our library bag.  This one was a real winner!  The main canine character travels all over the world, meeting dogs in different countries (Shar Pei in China, Chihuahua in Mexico, etc.), and then coming back to the U.S. to find a very special home on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Short on text but easy to read aloud and with great pictures, First Dog gets a thumbs up from my family.  Written by J. Patrick Lewis and illustrated by Beth Zappitello.

Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Alex at Canadian Home Learning.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday : The Private Eye - Week 1

Gathering items for The Private Eye curriculum


One of the mosses we found as seen through two loupes

A split hickory nut as seen through two loupes

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My Hero

Dr. Seuss Quotes
[Via: 30 Dr. Seuss Quotes to Live By]              

Thanks to Alex whose pin caught my eye this morning on Pinterest.  I haven't found a button yet to place here on the blog, but if you'd like to follow my boards on Pinterest, this link will take you to them.  Update: found a button and added it to the sidebar.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Book Sharing Monday - Food, Glorious Food

I've missed Book Sharing Monday and am so happy that Alex has started hosting it again!

My kids, especially the youngest, are all pretty picky when it comes to eating.  The older two have become more adventurous as they've gotten older, but the youngest keeps deleting foods from his diet and not adding to it.  In an effort to expand his palate a bit, I've checked out and requested books from the library that have to do with food and nutrition, and, for a bit of a science tie-in, food chains.  So far we have the following books on hand:

 The Edible Pyramid--Good Eating Every Day by Loreen Leedy (a Reading Rainbow book).

The Monster Health Book--a Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active & Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids by Edward Miller.

Who Eats What?  Food Chains and Food Webs by Patricia Lauber; illustrated by Holly Keller (a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science book).

Food Chain Frenzy--a Magic School Bus Chapter Book by Anne Capeci; illustrated by John Speirs.

Others that are on their way:

Why Do People Eat? by Kate Needham (Usborne Starting Point Science)
Good Enough to Eat: a Kid's Guide to Food and Nutrition by Lizzy Rockwell
Food & You: Eating Right, Being Strong, and Feeling Great by Dr. Lynda Madison (for Jane)
Food for Thought: the Stories behind the Things We Eat by Ken Robbins
Cool Snack Food Art: Easy Recipes That Make Food Fun to Eat! by Nancy Tuminelly
Oh the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You! All about Staying Healthy by Tish Rabe

I welcome suggestions.  Happy reading!

Music Monday - Beethoven Symphony No. 8

Good Monday morning to you!

Completed two years earlier in 1812, Beethoven's Eighth Symphony was performed for the first time on this day in 1814.

Here is Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Great Backyard Bird Count

It started today!  We'll start tomorrow.  We "decorated" our cherry tree today.  ☺

Find out more here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

TBR pile

Just got a stack of interlibrary loan requests from the library.  Wouldn't you know they all showed up at once?  Hope to be able to get through the following in short order:

All Clear by Connie Willis (speedily read the first book in the series--Blackout as BPL-loaned Kindle book--and LOVED it.  I am a sucker for time travel and Britain, combined (Doctor Who, anyone?).  Also, WWII doesn't hurt--must have spent some previous, likely short-lived life in Blitz-ridden London).

Fracture by Megan Miranda.  Probably read about this one at Galleysmith, which I get in my inbox almost every day.

Midnight in Austenland, by Shannon Hale.  (I loved Austenland.  Have read everything by Shannon Hale I've been able to put my hands on since finding that book.)

The Snow Child, by Iowyn Ivey, partly because I love the author's first name, but also because it sounds fabulous.

The Day Before, by Lisa Schroeder (probably another Galleysmith find).

Also, downstairs, so not in my read-before-bed stack, but in my read-when-alert stack:

The Entitlement Trap, by Richard and Linda Eyre

The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, by Marti Olsen Laney

and, my ongoing non-fiction favorite of the past decade:

Quiet--the Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, by Susan Cain

What are you reading these days?

Friday, February 03, 2012

Kid-friendly movies

A couple of movies that have caught my attention of late:

The Borrowers was one of my favorite books when I was ten.  Blew through the entire series in quick, obsessive succession, to the annoyance of my best friend at the time who couldn't pry me out of its pages (much like a similar episode, different BFF, seven years later with Tolkien). The movie is in U.S. theaters beginning February 17th.

And currently available as a free download on iTunes is the Academy-Award-nominated animated short film, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, written by William Joyce (the book is available starting in July and is available for pre-order from Amazon).  I'm a fan.  Thanks to Tabatha for bringing the movie to my attention.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Friday, December 23, 2011

Favorite Holiday Music No. 17 - 12 Days (the David Chase remix)

I laughed until my eyes were tearing almost constantly the first time I heard David Chase's arrangement of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" as performed by the Boston Pops and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus under the direction of the fabulously brilliant Keith Lockhart.  The maestro has this to say about the piece:

"I knew we had a winning new arrangement of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' when we premiered it in 2007, but the audience's enthusiastic response night after night was unlike anything I've ever seen at the Pops," said Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart.  "Then a flood of letters and phone calls came in requesting a recording of the new arrangement-an incredibly creative twist on one of the greatest Christmas-time classics. We knew then and there that we would make a recording of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' and that it would become a staple of our Holiday season programming." 
The piece is available for sale in various audio download formats at the BSO website.   There's a commercial for it on the BSO's YouTube channel and as a free podcast on iTunes that lets you hear little snippets, but the music is mostly covered up by the voiceover, unfortunately.

added on the afternoon of 12/23:
You might just be able to catch a live performance of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" via Classical New England online live streaming on Christmas Eve at 7 p.m., EST.  Check out this link to see what else Classical New England has to offer this holiday season.

And I didn't mention it earlier, but this arrangement of the familiar carol has snippets of music from Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Offenbach, Souza, Saint-Saens & Tchaikovsky to Rogers & Hammerstein and even an unexpected appearance by a popular seventies British rock band whose name I will not mention for fear of spoiling the surprise.  It is truly an inventive re-imagining of the original song, and David Chase gets my highest respect for coming up with it!

As an aside, the one new Christmas picture book I bought this year (I can't believe it was only one!) was Laurel Long's Twelve Days of Christmas, which is absolutely gorgeous.

Happy Holidays!