Monday, April 30, 2018

100 Days of Science #24-- Signs of Spring

 It was really starting to feel like spring was never going to arrive in New England.  We had snow and snow flurries into the middle of April this year and our temperatures were so cold that we weren't even seeing any signs of spring.

It warmed up a day or two here and there but my boys and I were beginning to think that we were going to miss spring altogether this year.  That's when I challenged my boys to find some signs of spring; any signs of spring!

We brainstormed what kinds of things we might see:

  • birds; especially new species we didn't see in winter
  • green sprouts and buds coming up through the ground or on the trees
  • possible flowers we might see
  • sounds of the birds, peep toads, and other things waking up
  • we've been hearing a lot of woodpeckers knocking on the trees
  • pollen collecting on the water or blowing through the air

Then we used the camera to record what we saw and while I took most of these pictures some of the birding ones are all thanks to Evan and his ability to creep up on our bird feeder without scaring the birds away.

A black capped chickadee 

A bird's nest we found in the woods

A pile of frog's eggs

Snakes; a sure sign that warmer weather is arriving (just not a sign I like!)
The sun turtles are back

A busy beaver heading home

A sparrow

We saw two swans on the lake

The first flowers poking up out of the ground!

We have watched male and female cardinal prepare a nest and sneak food from our feeder

The trees are budding!
Brown headed cowbird 

We watched this cardinal and his mate most of the morning one day last week.  He came to the feeder, got food in his beak, and brought it back to her.  We could actually see her take the food out of his beak.  

Red winged blackbird; one of my favorite birds! 

A baby snapping turtle 

Flowers sprouting in the garden

Flowering blooms

Bleeding heart flowers 

We've also seen yellow finches at our feeder too and are hopeful that we can put up our hummingbird feeder real soon.

We're hearing lots of bird calls and peep toads.

We've seen swarms of may flies and noticed a lot of bugs (even ticks) out and about while hiking.

I guess spring is on it's way after all.

Others in this series:

2.  Field Trip to the Ecotarium 
3.  Learning About Air Molecules

by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

What I Read in April

I, somehow, managed to read 5 more books this month.  I'll fully admit that a few of them took me longer than I'd like to get through and while I enjoyed them all the one that stands out most in my mind is The Storyteller.  There is just something so compelling about that whole World War II era and how Jodi told he story that I just could not put it down.

The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher-- I just love books about family secrets and sibling rivalries and this book was packed with secrets and silent fights.  When Maggie marries Nico she feels pretty confident that she knows what she's getting into; raising a surly step- daughter and being treated like the help from her mother- in- law but she has no idea what secrets lie beneath the surface of this family.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult-- When I picked up this book at Christmas I had no idea that I was going to love it so much!  I have always loved Jodi's books but this book was mainly about the Nazi concentration camps and the story was told from several different points of view.  It is the only book about World War II that I have ever read that also included a view of the camps as being told by a German Officer.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett-- It's quite rare for me to read a children's book but I enjoyed this story so much as a young adult that I actually chose to paint a scene from the illustrated book my grandmother bought me and I thought it might be fun to re-read an old favorite book from childhood.  It was just as cute of a story as I remember!

Lauren Graham From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls Talking As Fast as I can by Lauren Graham-- I enjoyed this autobiography so much!  I just loved Gilmore Girls and watched almost every episode and I'm currently enjoying watching Parenthood on Netflix so it seemed fitting that Laruen Graham's biography would be the one I would choose to read for the 52 books reading challenge.  Lauren writes just like she talks and her personality really shines through. Now I want to re-watch all the Gilmore Girls episodes and the Seasons specials.

Only The Rain by Randall Silvis--  While I have not yet finished this book I have enjoyed it tremendously.  I loved that the whole book was written as an ex- military man confessing how his life in the states managed to get so screwed up through a series of e-mails to what I am pretty sure is a dead friend he worked with overseas.  Every now and then his e-mails take a mini detour to something that happened when he was working overseas; an explosion, an injured mate, etc. and his pain, fear, and loss are so obvious to the reader.  I can not wait to see how all this plays out.

What have you been reading?

Books I read this year:

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What to Read Wednesday

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Pasta Salad with Grapes, Broccoli, and Olives

My husband loves pasta salad. He asks me to make it just about every week in the summer so over the years I have experimented with many, many different recipes.  

My personal favorite includes sweet fruit, crispy vegetables, and a tangy sauce; which is why I was so happy to make this quick and simple pasta salad with grapes and broccoli the other week.  


1 box tri- colored rotini; cooked until al dente
1 jar black olives, drained
1/2  cup grapes; washed and sliced in half
1 cup broccoli florets; washed 
1 jar Italian dressing (we used Good Seasons packet with balsamic vinegar)

While the pasta is cooking I combined the olives, grapes and broccoli with the dressing in a medium bowl.

Once the pasta was finished cooking I strained it and ran it under cold water.

Then I tossed the pasta into the bowl with the other ingredients and gave it all a good stir.  I like to make my salad in the morning so it's nice and cold by dinnertime and all the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Reminds me of summer at it's best!

What's your favorite pasta salad recipe?

Linking Up With: Amaze Me Monday Weekend Potluck


by Angie Ouellette-Tower for photo YoureTheStarHopLarge_zpsjbrldhcx.jpg

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Friday, April 27, 2018

Weekly Wrap- Up: The Week We Removed the Old Tree Stumps

We had some pretty nice weather this week!  The boys and I spent lots of time outside soaking in the sunshine.  We had those tree stumps to remove after last week's trees were taken down.  We also spent two days cleaning through the house; prompted by my boys!  We cleaned out the toy room (now our game room), the boys' rooms and our entire crafting/ science/ math closet.  I think we got rid of a good 12 bags of "stuff" and I just love how freeing that feels!  Oh, and we also celebrated a birthday!

Alec and I began our day on Friday baking up a cake for Ian's party.  He wanted a chocolate cake and Alec and I wanted to try a new recipe.  The boys all worked on just a small bit of schoolwork and then the younger two boys and I sat down for a sewing project.  Using needle and thread we put together some stuffed animals from a kit we had bought on Amazon.  It was a lot of fun and their animals were so cute.  We went on a nice long hike in the afternoon and found a bird's nest and some frog eggs near the a stream.  Alec moved the eggs nearer to the water since the streams are drying up again after all the rain we had last week.

On Saturday Alec and I made the peanut butter filling for Ian's chocolate cake while Ian was at work with his grandfather.  Ian was adding new gravel to the roads in the campground using the loader so he was a pretty happy boy.  The younger two boys spent almost the whole day outside playing in the woods.  Ian's new turtle filter came in and we spent most of the evening helping him set up his new tank.  It is huge and pretty amazing with a couple of waterfalls but we were told it was big enough that he'll never need another tank.  Despite being warned that the turtle would not eat for several days as he got used to his new home he gobbled up food within an hour of switching over and seems to like his new home very much.

It was a good thing he built his new stand so big; the tank fills up the whole thing!

A close up of the new filter and waterfalls.  

I had the house to myself Sunday morning.  Ian went to work with his grandfather and the younger two boys went to run some errands with their dad.  I cleaned and organized the house, made up the coffee frosting for the cake, frosted the cake, and even found time to assemble a new wreath for the house.  (I'll be sharing posts on how we made Ian's cake and how I made the wreath real soon!).  Alec and Evan played outside using their bows and arrows for some archery practice.  Ian arrived home shortly after lunch and took over in the excavator.  My husband had removed the large tree stump on Saturday and Ian wanted to try and help remove the smaller stump.  We had all the grandparents over for dinner as a little birthday party for Ian and the older boys spent a good portion of the night playing ping pong.

We had plans to go hiking with my sisters, their kids, my mom, and my mom's friend on Monday.  The boys worked on some math, reading, and writing and then we packed lunches and headed out.  We hiked for two hours and the weather was so warm! Ian had worked for a bit in the afternoon still trying to remove the smaller stump.  We really did not want to have to take down the two smaller trees nearby even though the roots were pretty tangled together. After dinner he worked with his dad and they managed to remove it without taking down any more trees.

While Alec was at karate on Tuesday the other boys and I went on a walk along the river.  We arrived home around lunch and Ian headed outside to use the excavator to fill in the hole left behind from the removed stumps.  He also needed to go and get the loader to finish.  He did a great job!  We all headed out to a family dinner at Texas Roadhouse.   We had a wonderful meal together and could not believe how packed it was for a Tuesday night!  I figured it had to be the nice weather.

Looking up at the top of the hill with the hole just starting to be filled in

1/2 filled in... 

Just about done.

We woke to cold, gray, rainy weather on Wednesday and while we did work on reading, math, and writing I mostly just sat back and let our day unfold.  I had quite a bit of laundry and blogging I wanted to work on and the the younger two kept heading outside to play in the rain. By mid afternoon Evan was bugging me to play screens and in exasperation I asked why we have so many toys in the house if no one wants to play with them.  Next thing I knew all three boys were going through the entire playroom and deciding what to keep and what to get rid of.  They moved onto their rooms and we must have gotten rid of 4 or 5 bags of toys, games, puzzles, etc.

We had nicer weather on Thursday and after spending a bit of time on our schoolwork the boys helped me tackle cleaning out our pantry.  The three bottom shelves of our huge walk in pantry were devoted to homeschooling supplies for arts and crafts, science, and math.  We pulled everything out, got rid of another 6 or so bags of stuff and it was amazing how much room we had once we put everything back in!  We set aside a lot of things to give away to family and friends but once again we just loved how much we got done and how wonderful it looked when it was done.  Evan worked on building a block tower with some of the blocks they decided to keep and Ian spent a good portion of his day working on his model toy Batman car.  I remembered that Evan had earned an ice cream sundae party for mastering all his multiplication facts and since it was so nice and sunny we decided to head to a local outdoor stand and order what we wanted.  Evan got Maine Black Bear ice cream with hot fudge and M&M's.  He was all smiles (even though he was a bit chilly!).

After the first photo he added onto the top

Cleaning out all their old school papers 

Enjoying a sweet reward 
How was your week?

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