Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fear Not! Peace On Earth! Joy!

There is so much on my mind this Advent Season. My family has so very much to be grateful for this year and various events have drawn me closer to my Lord & Savior over the last month or so.  I still haven't gotten it all right. Never will, I suspect. But sometimes, I have had to take a step back and look at everything.
From a nature walk last month

My trials and tribulations seem so small in comparison to what so many are going through right now - not just around me, but around the world. There are wars, rumors of war, death, deadly disease, crime, you name it - and that is just the big stuff - the news can be very frightening at times (some days, I just don't want to know). We struggle against these things.  The book we are reading for Advent as a family has the angel saying, "Fear not!" on a regular basis. Fear not! Fear not! I have to commit those words to my heart. But God came to us in human form. He sent His Son!  Fear not!

I have watched my 4 year old daughter dance around to our various Christmas cds over the last week or so. One of her favorites is Gloria. Maybe because it is simple. But she is so careful when she dances to it. If our smallest ones can dance so carefully and passionately while thinking of God's gift to us, can you image what it must have sounded like when the very angels sang his praises to the shepherds in the fields? Shouldn't we be so excited?!

Our dancing angel when she was just 2.

Luke 2:14 tells us, "“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Peace on earth.

Peace: Heavenly rest; the happiness of heaven. (definition #6 from Webster's 1828 Dictionary)

I have blogged about it before, but Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells is one of my favorite poems. When I think about the words and what how he takes us through what so many think at times. When we look at the despair around us, it is easy to get sucked in to thinking there is nothing good around us. No peace. The part that strikes me most every time I read it or hear it are the last 2 stanzas.

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

But then, we have this one by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He reminds us that we were awaiting the Prince of Peace. The whole reason for Christmas - Christ's arrival in human flesh. And now, we are waiting again for His return. Peace on earth. 

A Christmas Carol 
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

The shepherds went their hasty way, 
And found the lowly stable-shed  
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:  
And now they checked their eager tread,  
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A Mother's song the Virgin-Mother sung.

They told her how a glorious light,
  Streaming from a heavenly throng.  
Around them shone, suspending night! 
 While sweeter than a mother's song,  
Blest Angels heralded the Savior's birth,  
Glory to God on high! and Peace on Earth.

She listened to the tale divine,  
And closer still the Babe she pressed:  
And while she cried, the Babe is mine!
The milk rushed faster to her breast:  
Joy rose within her, like a summer's morn;  
Peace, Peace on Earth! the Prince of Peace is born.

Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
  Poor, simple, and of low estate!  
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
O why should this thy soul elate?  
Sweet Music's loudest note, the Poet's story,
 Didst thou ne'er love to hear of fame and glory?

Then wisely is my soul elate,  
That strife should vanish, battle cease:
I'm poor and of low estate,
The Mother of the Prince of Peace.  
Joy rises in me, like a summer's morn:  
Peace, Peace on Earth! The Prince of Peace is born!


JOY! Joy at His arrival!  Pass it on to those around you! Peace on earth! Good-will toward men! Don't keep it to yourself!

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. – Psalm 27:5-7


Somehow, not only for Christmas,
But all the long year through,
The joy that you give to others
Is the joy that comes back to you;
And the more you spend in blessing
The poor and lonely and sad,
The more of your heart's possessing
Returns to make you glad.
--John Greenleaf Whittier

Even in the midst of trials and hardships, we need to find the tiniest of joys - and give them to others. God's Word says we are to count it ALL Joy.Joy doesn't have to cost money. Joy can be given freely.  Jesus gave it to us at no cost. Emmanuel. God with us. He came in human form to save us from ourselves. He took the punishment that we deserve and died....but rose from the grave. All for us. Count it ALL joy, my friends. 

When it all seems horrible and dark and despair runs amuck through your mind, remember: Fear NOT! Peace on earth (because of Him!),  Joy!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Finally - an emergence from a chrysalis

As of this morning, we have had 3 caterpillars make their chrysalis. The first one died of black death while in its chrysalis (sort of the bubonic plague of monarchs). The caterpillar had acted oddly just prior to making its chrysalis. And sometime after its wings were formed, it died before emerging. Yesterday was day 14 and we know for sure that it is dead (we had suspected for a few days, but were hoping).  However, a few days after the first one made its chrysalis, another one made its chrysalis. Then last night, another made its chrysalis. This one's tank mate, unfortunately passed away before making it to adulthood. Apparently, this is very common, but hard to watch. I also found another teeny-tiny caterpillar out on a leaf yesterday, so we are not done.

A newly emerged butterfly (imago) and a new chrysalis (pupa)

BUT, this morning, sometime after I came back from taking my beloved to take the bus to work this morning and before I came back down from my second sleep (aka extra hour before the littles drag me out of bed), our 2nd chrysalis had released it's captive!! The time of day was right (usually around 10ish in the morning...weird how they do that!). It's wings were fresh when I saw it, so we only just missed it!  Everyone was very excited.

M2 helping M3 hold it.
Since her wings were needed to harden, we ran our errands as planned. Then, this evening, when we finally all got home, the butterfly was trying to get out, so we took some pictures and then released her. Yes, it is a girl! Hurray! Little M3 is very, very sad that we could not keep her, but I told her that perhaps she will come back and lay some eggs on our milkweed for us in a few days.

She flew from my hand to the door! Ready to leave!

M2 holding her.

G2 holding her sideways.

Just moments before lift off.

Go here to see the 1st of 3 posts on Monarchs this year: (2014 Monarch Visit)
Go here to see the 2nd of 3 posts on Monarchs this year: (Monarch - the caterpillars)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Monarch - the caterpillars

So, a little while back, I posted about the monarch butterflies that had been visiting our milkweed patch that is right outside my patio door (because everyone should have some there - it grows tall, the flowers smell lovely, the deer don't like them, but the Monarch butterflies do!

So far, we have collected a whole 4 caterpillars. I can tell by looking at the leaves on my plants that there have been LOTS more that did not survive
until I found them. :(

But, here are some pictures of our caterpillars. The largest/oldest one is acting like it is ready to make a chrysalis!
Note the

A head on look.

The first 2. After the first week, they grow REALLY fast overnight!

So tiny!

This one is very close to making it's chrysalis
Our 2 youngest caterpillars. Can you see both of them?

Go here for the 1st of 3 posts about Monarchs this year: (2014 Monarch Visit)

Go here for the 3rd of 3 posts about Monarchs this year: (Finally - an emergence from a chrysalis)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


This one is more to show off the colors we have this year for a friend since she would like seeds. C, remember how I told you I had not seen any black ones yet....the plant that had them bloomed the next morning!

It is always a surprise (to me) until the first one blooms what the color is of each plants flower!  Something my friend noticed and for whatever reason, I had not -- some of them have different leaves! I had not noticed that before (probably because I was chasing M3 around the yard or my being on bed rest the last time we had really fabulous hollyhocks made it so I did not have time to dwell on them, lol!).

The leaves on this one are typical of most of my hollyhocks.

Note the leaves on this one in comparison!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

Welcome to the next edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival! What an honor for my little blog to be able to host it again! The theme for this weeks Carnival is How to Use School Books, from Chapter 16 of Miss Mason's book School Education.

Simply discusses a topic that comes up rather often in her post What is Narration? : "Narration is the act of knowing. When a student is able to tell back what has been read, then he/she knows the material. In addition, the process of narration involves an ordering of thoughts, synthesizing and sorting the material, critical thinking, sequencing, and more."

Aut-2b-Home In Carolina shares with us Digging for Knowledge: "Understanding Charlotte Mason's method requires us to dig. Because we are used to having knowledge poured into us, opening her books and studying them is a challenge. It's much easier to read someone else's interpretation of her ideas or to follow a checklist or 'how to'."

Keep On Keeping On takes you on a nature walk that goes Over the Creek and Through the Woods: "Off we went, my daughter and her 4 children and I on a nature walk; a little amble in the woods, to a nature preserve nearby. This nature area includes lake, meadow, and woods. And since the morning was rather hot and humid we preferred to stay in the shade taking the paths through the woods. We even crossed a little bridge over a little creek, a very little creek."

Journey and Destination tells us about Picture Study: Inspired by Marc Chagall: "Marc Chagall was one of the artists featured in a set of Montessori artist cards I used with my children when they were little but it wasn't until earlier this year when I was reading Island of the World by Michael O'Brien that I became interested in learning more about him and his art."

Education is a Life discusses Masterly Inactivity: A Matter of Trust: "Charlotte Mason noticed that parents in her day felt a deep responsibility for the upbringing of their children. She felt this was a good thing, but that the anxiety and the "fussy and restless habit" it was causing in many parents was not helpful. (What would she have thought of the "helicopter parenting" of today?!)"

Simply also shares Beginning a Charlotte Mason Education with an Older Student: "We began implementing Charlotte Mason’s methods when my daughter was heading into the high school years. When I first began reading about and researching the CM method, I realized it would take some time. It can seem overwhelming at first, trying to figure out where to begin. I chose to focus on what I felt were cornerstones of the method..."

Silvia Cachia tells us all about Karen Glass' soon to be published books Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, by Karen Glass: "Karen Glass, -advisory member of  Ambleside Online-, surprised us with her soon to be published books,Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition, and A divulged Vol. 6, Towards a Philosophy of Education, (abridged or paraphrased rendition of Charlotte Mason's influential book), both of which I was honored to get in advanced copies, and both of which I read in the span of a few days, that hungry for them I was."

I hope you enjoyed this summer edition of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

2014 Monarch Visit

We were so excited. While my beloved was cooking and I was drinking coffee, my oldest suddenly shouted, "LOOK! A Monarch!!"  Much excitement ensued as we LOVE having Monarchs by our back door!

And, as I just looked out again, she was back laying an egg! WOOHOO!  M3 really wanted to catch her and give her a hug. I had to explain to her how important it was that we don't grab her (even though we do want to give her a hug for coming to our yard). I think it might be time to go to the museum so she can learn more about why we don't grab butterflies.


Go here for the 2nd of 3 posts about Monarchs this year: (Monarch - the caterpillars)
Go here for the 3rd of 3 posts about Monarchs this year: (Finally - an emergence from a chrysalis)

Saturday, June 28, 2014

End of June discoveries around the yard

We have seen lots of baby birds and have had a nest of baby bunnies in the middle of our garden this last spring. Juvenile (fledgling) robins are so much fun. They can fly a little bit, but they are not very good at it. They are also not yet scared of people. We have been able to get within a just a couple of feet of them for close observation.

The pictures here are one of the many young robins that have been in the yard. What was funny about this one as that it came up and tapped on my patio door window next to where I was sitting. I thought at first it was the neighbor lady, but there was no one outside the door. It tapped again at the window and cheeped at me several times when I saw it. Everyone got to see it - very cool! This was after the youngest one banged on the window to tell it high. Then, it eventually flew off.
Sounding the alarm
Go away Hawk!

We also have a very active hawk in the area. We know when it is near because all the birds go into a tizzy and instead of bird song, we get to hear bird alarm. We get the same alarm (although, not as intense) when our cat sneaks out. The birds tend to congregate at the top of the pine tree and yell at the hawk. 

Here we are at the end of June and it looks like we might finally get some summertime! How do we know? Because the Hollyhocks blossomed this morning!! Aren't they gorgeous? Thus far, we have 3 colors. The last couple of summers, they have not been very plentiful and have been under 5 feet tall. The plants are gigantic this year. The ones in the flowerbed outside my patio door are almost 7 feet tall! The pre-bloom picture shown here was taken about a month ago. Notice it is still fairly short and squat.

Milkweed plant just before it blooms
Do you see the creature in the upper left?
The milkweed is one of our favorite plants because it brings the Monarch butterflies up close for us to watch since the plants are next to the back step. The flower balls start out very small, but they open up into a sort of droopy ball. They are very pretty and the smell is heavenly. You need these in your flower beds! If you notice, there is another visitor in the picture. The milkweed also finally opened today. Hurray!

We have also been watching what we think is a vole darting back and forth across our patio from one flowerbed to the other. I catch her out of the corner of my eye rather often. I had to look because I have seen mice out
there on occasion, but this was not a mouse. They are newcomers to our yard this year.

Teeny tiny baby voles - the pink things.
How do I know it is a "she"? Because she had the middle of our lawn! Ack! I mowed on Wednesday night and since then, under a small pile of grass that was left on top, she built a nest. They are so very, very tiny. You can see the tiny bit of pink in the first picture on the right. I think that is at least 2 of them....maybe 3. Look at the size of the clover leaf next to them in comparison! To be expected, of course, from such a small creature, but still just amazing to think about such tiny creatures being born!