12 reasons to take your daughter to the fair

If you’re blessed to be a parent to an amazing daughter (or, like me, four), you may know multiple ways to braid hair. And you’ve probably hosted your share of  tea parties. You may paint a really mean manicure, especially on your daughter’s dominant hand. And you’re really good at listening (because she often has a lot to say).

But as the proud parent of an amazing young lady, you also need to make sure to take your daughter to a county fair.

take your daughter to the fair

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12 Things to do With Fall Leaves

I’m always somber this time of year; sad to see summer fading. To get out of my funk, I focus on the vibrant beauty that next month will bring and think of things to do with autumn leaves.


While I realize that Sweet Summer can only offer a few more stray weekends of her long, warm days before she tucks them away for another year, I allow myself to start opening my tight grip on these fleeting warm New England days. In truth, I’m ready for a new season.

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5 Tips for Gardening with Kids

It’s dirty. It makes you sweat. It takes many months of hard work before you ever reap rewards. So is it really possible to enjoy gardening with kids?


I think Robert Brault, an American operatic tenor who must create melodies in a garden as beautifully as he does on stage, answered that question well with a query of his own: “Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden?”

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5 Simple Steps to Grow a Garden from Seeds

My father has spent seven decades–more than seventy summers–playing in the dirt. He’s taught my daughter and me a thing or two about keeping a garden.

Grow a garden from seeds

This year, the biggest lessons we’ve learned revolve around growing a garden from seeds. In New England, a gardener must know how to lovingly court seeds on cold winter months if she wants to be engaged in a sweet relationship with the garden on fleeting summer weeks.

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Blooming With a Story

There were three guys. And three flowers. But no one told them which flower was for which guy.


One white rose and two violet irises arrived that sunny June morning at the church on the hill with the tall white steeple. They had been boxed and delivered to the groom and his two groomsmen. For some reason, at least according to my husband’s memory, they just dealt out the flowers randomly, not giving much thought to who should wear the most unique flower.

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How to Enjoy Learning About Slimy Amphibians


I’m learning to enjoy a lot of things these days that are… well… pretty unenjoyable.

Cow patties, for example.

They smell awful.

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Loving science, even if you’re a Language-Arts-kinda mom

In The Book Thief, Markus Zusak describes words as “clouds, waiting to be held and wrung out like rain.”


Zusak is right. When dropped gently–like summer-day raindrops–or strung together painstakingly, on tip-toe, the perfect combination of words rumble through one moment of our life and never leave. But did you notice what Zusak did with his allegory? Much to my joy–since I’m a language-arts-kinda girl who feels inadequate teaching science to my homeschooled daughters–Zusak combined natural-science and language arts beautifully Continue reading

The Fledgling

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Yesterday, our usually quiet, docile fields were alive with noisy chaos. Teams of people were working to cut down trees and clear a pasture for rescued horses who need a home, a home that her baby sister is determined to provide. But amidst the chainsaws and sawzalls buzzing and branches and voices rustling, she heard the faint cry of a different baby. Maybe one of the recently downed trees had held his home.

She followed his petite song and found the sweet little fledgling hiding under ferns on the forest floor.


She gently cupped her hand around his meager frame and searched for me, knowing I would be her enthusiastic comrade, eager to do whatever we could for the tiny crooner in her palm. She held him gently while we researched how we could help.


We learned we would only be doing him harm if we attempted to care for him, and (we were surprised to discover) it’s illegal to care for a wild animal. We also read that, contrary to what we had thought, our scents would not deter his parents from still caring for him, and if we could return him directly to his own nest, that would be best. Since whatever tree must have housed his home was now being cut into firewood, we decided the best solution was to make him a new home and pray his momma would find him there. So we researched the best human-attempt at a makeshift nest. We found a container with drainage holes in the bottom and lined it with soft material: yarn and tissues.


Then we placed him securely in a tree near where she found him. We watched for a while, then walked away hoping our diminutive efforts would be enough. I was thankful. Thankful for her sweet caring instincts when confronted with the disadvantaged. Thankful for a chance to, once again, study nature with my daughter–the same little one who would proudly fill up pages in our family’s Backyard Book (especially ones about birds) and traipse with me through the woods with her journal and pencil in hand on our Nature Journaling days. Thankful for my now-grown daughter’s decision to trust me with her concern; ask me to again learn with her, side-by-side; and allow me to work with her to devise a solution. Together.

This morning, our make-shift nest was empty.

Hopefully his song reached his momma’s ears… Hopefully he asked for her help… And hopefully he’s soaring high on his own strong wings today.

“Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost.” Proverbs 22:6 (The Message)

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A flower awakens. A circle closes.

Our move to NH has officially come full circle.


One year ago today marks the end of an almost 6-year process that led our family to our humble New England homestead. One year ago today we became NH residents. We’re still learning our way around the state. We’re even still learning our way around our rocky, forested 14 acres. And we’re still learning our way around the New England dialect. Just last week I couldn’t decipher where someone lived–“at the end of the t-ah road.” (A phrase that is extra confusing for this southerner who has always used the phrase “blacktop” to refer to roads that were made of tar.)

But I’m thankful for the simpler, quieter life… the life that, indeed, often takes a turn onto a dirt road.


Last summer, down back roads and up winding trails, I met a joyful plethora of new wildflowers.

Having always been intrigued by botany, I felt like a giddy child introduced to new forms of sugar as I discovered unfamiliar wild flowers on every mountain hike. Although I grew up in the same time zone where we now life, I was 2 plant zones away. (If you’re curious what plant zone you live in, check out this great interactive gardening zone map.) So we added entries to Our Backyard Book often. You see, as my daughters have grown over the past 15 years of homeschooling, with my youngest now being 12, we still have a few staples that we love having randomly pop up in our days–taking school to the sand for impromptu beach days, baking instead of math once in a while, and adding to Our Backyard Book when the occasion rises.


Many new botany pages have been added about New England wild flowers, but one flower never made it in last summer or fall, because we hadn’t yet seen the bloom.

We had been intrigued by the plant’s 3 large blankets of leaves that seemed to be one with the stem, providing a green, growing canopy for leaves and ladybugs.


The canopy was topped with bright red berries. But somehow we were too busy unpacking boxes, painting, turning over and planting a garden, and refinishing our wide-planked pine floorboards to notice this intriguing plant before its flower’s ovaries swelled into berries and tossed its vibrant petals aside. I had not seen its green sepals symmetrically surrounding its vibrant burgundy bloom. Until today. The 365th day of living on this land and walking these woods.


I still almost missed it.


But once noticed, the sweet trillium–or “Wake-Robin”–can’t be ignored.


And it can’t help but have its own Backyard Page. We used this helpful site to help us identify the wildflower then did a search for additional information.

We learned that a few rare Wake-Robins do grow in our native state, but since there are less than 20 known populations of them, we had never seen one before. Here in our woods, the beautiful flowers abound. The plant earns its name “Wake-Robin” by analogy with the Robin, with its red breast, because both act as heralds of spring. Unlike the Robin, the flower requires a scent to attract pollinators. Since the Wake-Robin is pollinated by flies, well, it’s safe to say it doesn’t smell like roses. In fact, it emits the smell of rotting meat. Thankfully, it’s not an odor one will notice, unless they have their nose to the ground.

To learn about some flowers in your backyard with your own children, feel free to print and use this blank ID page.

Now I’m going to spend the rest of today–the anniversary of the day this 215-year-old homestead became our own–reveling in God’s goodness, planting my family one year ago today where we are deeply rooted in signs of his love and discovering beautiful new ones every day.


“Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you!” Luke 12:27

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