this and that



“Did you ever try to calculate in dollars the pleasure that you receive from seeing or hearing the first spring migrants?  Birds are interesting to most people because of their mere presence, their songs, their colors, or their habits.  Persons engaged in nature-study are led outdoors and thus have opened to them many other nature fields.”

~Handbook of Nature Study, Anna Botsford Comstock (a wonderful book)


When Rich came home last night, he found Jacob watching Seth at the swingset and Seth’s mother wandering around down by the stream, camera in hand.  I was outside during the last of the evening hours and discovered a pair of ducks.  Aren’t they pretty?  Do you see the female duck in that picture above?  If it wasn’t for that spot of blue on her wing she would be almost invisible.  We wonder if they will live by the stream this spring, to hatch out babies.


The weather has been so beautiful and it is supposed to be near 80 degrees today.  I want to be outside, but it has proved to be rather difficult with little Seth…..who is very busy, fast, daring, and curious about everything.

His new thing is climbing the ladder of the playset all the way to the top, which really stresses me out.  I don’t want him to fall.

Look at his bright face.  He’s just so happy to be growing and doing big boy things, like Caleb.  And anyway, we are both sleeping like logs at night from all the adventures.



These are the books I picked out for the little boys when we were at the library yesterday.  Spot is always a favorite character, along with the Beatrix Potter books.  Sausages is a book we have borrowed and read before, and David was so pleased to see it when he came home from school.

Jacob’s read:  The Return of the Shadow.  He has read all of The Lord of the Rings, and this book is great for him because it shows the different text revisions that Tolkien went through, before the final book was completed.  He keeps reading parts of it out loud to me because he finds it so interesting.  I think it is good for him because he is learning about the process that authors go through as they write literature.


Ethan is reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond.  It is a book I chose for him and told him he had to read.  I have seen it on several book lists for his reading level, and it is one that I read as a teenager.  He also picked out a book about trapping and a book about falcons (inspired by his last read, My Side of the Mountain).



Grace picked out a book about identifying animal tracks, and an animal story.  My pick for her was The Red Fairy Book, and she is devoring it.  She reads so fast I wonder if any of it is staying in her mind!

It makes me happy when they enjoy the books I pick out for them.  By the time I am done raising children I am sure I might enjoy being a librarian!  In a way, I’m already one.  Isn’t motherhood grand?  You get to try all sorts of jobs.



Next is a photo of the kitchen table, for the lovely lady who said she likes seeing pictures of it.  I remembered her note this morning as I cleared the breakfast things away, and I was inspired enough to wash it off good, and lay down a small square tablecloth from my friend Bridgette, a crocheted doily that I bought at a tag sale, a circle doily from Ireland (a gift from Joanna), a rose scented candle that I lit only for the picture (Seth climbs on the table at every opportunity), and paper butterflies that Grace and I folded (I got the idea from another blog).




This is David’s special drawing lately.  I have seen many many versions of this brick house.  This one is extra nice because of the bird feeding station.  And I love the blue bird that’s flying stiffly up by the roof.  David is a real artist, you know.  (He told me.)

Something funny:  Yesterday I was making chicken divan for dinner, and I was pulling meat off a rotisserie chicken to use in the casserole.  Seth was hanging off my legs, fussing at me, so I put a piece of meat in his mouth and said, “It’s CHICKEN!”  Off he went, running to the window in the livingroom, to look for our chickens!  He was saying, “chicken!  chicken!”  in his baby talk voice.  I had to laugh and feel sort of bad, I wonder if he’s going to be confused for a little while, seeing chickens outside and eating chicken at the table?

An example of why my brain becomes overloaded:  Yesterday, I was making dinner in the kitchen, while talking on the phone with my sister.   Seth was with me and kept grabbing my skirt and fussing.  Caleb was also by me, saying “Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Mom?  Can I have a jellybean?” The next thing I know……in came Ethan and Grace with a wriggling SNAKE, so I could admire it.  Now that I think back on it, I kinda wish there was a hidden camera in the kitchen, video taping it all.  I’m sure it would be really funny to watch.



Have a great day!

0 thoughts on “this and that

  1. I LOVED “My Side of the Mountain” when I was younger!! There are actually three books… also “On the Far Side of the Mountain” and “Frightful’s Mountain.” Great reads 🙂 I also just re-read the “Witch of Blackbird Pond.”It’s great that your children read so much, and also that they are outside in nature so much 🙂

  2. The candle is beautiful! 😉  It’s warm and cozy.  I love books.  I am reading once again, Charlotte Mason. How inspiring she is, how much she makes me want to sit down and read, and read, and read!  My kids love Beatrix Potter, we usually read one of her stories before bed each night.  The Tale of Two Bad Mice is a favorite with the girls….it’s the pictures rather than the story I think. What little girl wouldn’t love a doll house like that?!  Have a lovely day. =)

  3. The duck photos are fantastic!Fun to see the books, every single time we go I think that I should write down what we check out so I can remember.  We love the Beatrix Potter ones as well.Yes I can imagine the snake scene and it would be hilarious to have a video!!  Seeing the doily brought back memories! 🙂

  4. I enjoyed The Witch of Blackbird Pond…although, I didn’t read it until COLLEGE!!!!I saw it on the bookshelf in my English teacher’s office, and asked to borrow it….and it was a great book…

  5. hi shanda…….so funny, as i started reading your post, i saw a duck outside my window!!  we live right near a lake, so we see them walking around sometimes.  my boys affectionately call them mr. and mrs. mallard.  i also love all your books.  we are big readers around here, too, and i’m so thankful for that.  love the butterflies and david’s drawing, too!!

  6. Um, I’m not sure if our dinner would be edible if a live snake was introduced during the cooking process.  NOT a fan of snakes (one of the things I like about living here- no snakes outside).  The ducks are so pretty!  I really like the blue spot on Mrs. Duck’s wing.  Great pictures of your kids reading.  I love seeing my kids read.

  7. Wow the ducks are very pretty~ Seth climbing the ladder reminds me of Wes last yr and how scared I felt, bet by the end of the summer you will not be so stressed about it! Have not been outside today but I do have all my windows open and the is all cleaned 🙂    ****And Sisters Version of the phone conversation ***SILENCE, CONFUSION, LAUGHTER, “Ummm a snake in the house? EWWW***PS the sox game was awsome last nite even though they lost still nothing like being in Fenway watching a game with my “boyfriend”. Got home at 2am and was up with children by 6am and its naptime here so I am going to go throw myself on my bed and try to rest cause I am working 4-9 at LC tonight….Cant wait to hang out tomorrow and talk and walk and chat and have tea in the sun. (i will paint your toes for you) and tell Gracie that Naomi is bringing her Bitty over for a play date.  LOVE YA ~sis

  8. i adore the pictures of your children reading. I hope my daughter enjoys reading. It was such a disappointment when our two older sons just outright refused to read anything. I just couldn’t understand their disinterest in anything literary.  It is refreshing to see that there is hope; children DO still read.

  9. Beautiful pictures of the Ducks. The colors are so golden. Bob has called me “the Librarian” before Both picking out books and knowing where all the different ones can be found in our home. Reading is so pleasant, and it is a blessing to know that it is great for them as well. Jacob must be quite the reader to get through all the Tolkien books. David loved My side of the mountain and all the others by that Author. He first read those several years ago when we lived in a big house backed up to a hillside and I used to look out and find him in a bush or tree living out the books in the “wild”. I love the fun stories and the pictures in the younger books. Mary, as an artist, knew all the best illustrated books in the children’s section of our library. I have always like Beatrix potter books. Love that cute little face as Seth is climbing. Can you all take turns running after him? David learned to climb up this huge tree in our backyard when he was little…oh my. Your story is funny. I think I was just asking Bob about snakes in your part of the country. We have to watch out for rattle snakes here in the west. Do you have poisonous snakes? David had a slim gopher snake for a year or so when he was about 8 and it was an amazingly good pet. It made me not so afraid of snakes. Tell Davey I like his brick house!

  10. The details in this post (nature observations, the children and SETH, books, etc…) are exactly why we all love reading your blog so much Shanda!!!Thank you so much for sharing about the books you checked out at the library. I so appreciate personal book recommendations! You mentioned lists of books organized by reading levels; I would love to know which ones you like to use. I enjoy reading lists like that just for fun, and even to check out and read some of the juvenile literature myself (and to prepare for my own kids’ reading). Your butterflies are beautiful. A few weeks ago, Lee and I made paper butterflies on a rainy afternoon and hung them in our window! I let him paint coffee filters with watercolors, then, after the filters had dried, I folded them accordion style and used colorful pipe cleaners (as you did)to secure the middles and make antennas. I think it was my first craft project to do with my little boy. Your last three paragraphs made me laugh with delight, especially your informing us about David’s vocation as an artist. Have a wonderful rest of the week!

  11. Love the books. I think I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond myself as a girl. I’m going to see if our library has that. I totally agree with you about becoming a librarian – I would love that too. Anna loves to read about real people – and I found a series called Childhood of Famous Americans. Right now she’s reading Abigail Adams and then she’ll read Anne Bradstreet next. I’m reading them too!

  12. Hi Shanda, I would like to think I am one of your friends…….I just read your post about your blog and I just wanted to tell you it made me cry, you are an inspiration to me, your mothering and how you are with your husband.  I love reading about your life, please dont stop, I missed you last summer! I too have a large family (although not in the traditional sense) and dont really know anyone else who has lots of children and has the same values as you, (doesnt seem to be too common in the UK) you have taught me loads from your blog, and I may even start my own one! I will let you know if I do! Thank you for your blog and sharing your faith, it is beautiful, I just wanted to encourage you in your uniqueness.
    Love Beverley

  13. My favorite photos are the one of Seth from the underside of the playset and the picture of the boys on the couch reading! I love reading and am so happy that my Mikayla also has a love of reading. I hope that Emma will grow up enjoying it as well 🙂 I have a quote framed in Mikayla’s room and I don’t even have to go look at it, I have it memorized, ” You may have tangible wealth untold, caskets of jewles and coffers of gold. Richer than I you’ll never be. I had a mother who read to me.” ` Strickland Gillilan Isn’t that nice 🙂

  14. Joyful!  My eyes lite up when I saw the picture of your boys reading on the couch! I am in the process of teaching my little Man how to read! So, I needed to see that enouragment that “boys” can enjoy reading!  You always hear how many don’t!  So, thank you.

  15. I am so glad your children love books! A love for reading is such a wonderful gift to give them! (Spoken like and ex grade school teacher I am, right?) I can only imagine from the glimpses you give us how it must be at your house! WOW! A fussy little boy, dinner preparation, repeated requests for jelly beans, a phone conversation with your sis and snake viewing ALL AT THE SAME TIME! You are amazing!

  16. Your blog is like honey to my soul! I cant express enough how much it delights me to read what you and your children are up to, your exquisite photographs of God’s beauty an nature, and your true reflections of faith. Please keep up this beautiful place, a haven of peace for all of us who visit. I wish I had a blog (time to blog) so we could become better friends. Blessings in Him! Bobby Jo from Minnesota

  17. Hi Shanda :-}   For years now, I have been saying that they will never be able to design a computer that can match a mother’s brain. Espically a mom of more than three children!!     – – They would not be able to program a computer to be able to keep the necessary amount of windows both open and simitaniously recieving data/in put like a mom’s brain does.     ex. – this child requesting info. on that subject. another child requesting a cookie. your spouce commenting about something your suppose to either remind them of later, or do something about. The fact that your this far along with dinner, but you got reminded (some vague way how) that your suppose to bake something to take to …   – – The computer would also have to have pert near (<– a term my dad uses which just fits so cutely sometimes ;-p) instant recall of a mass majority of data.     ex. – a child wanting to know where a container is they can put their caught insect in. while another child is wanting to know if you know where they left such and such. and your spouce is asking you if you remember when it was that something in particular had happened. And your making dinner, which you usually make this recipe from memory, so the memory needs to pull up that recipe card.     – – The computer must be able to instantaniously cross referance all files, and install immediate reminder alarms on all materials there in.      ex. – when at the grocery store, it must remind you that your suppose to be supplying such and such for the class party at the end of next week. When your planning menus, it must remind you that while half of the family loves one side dish, the other half absolutley does not care for it, so you should have two side dishes with that meal.  When your a bit behind on laundry and only have time for one or two quick loads, it must remind you that the socceer uniforms (which are still on the bedroom floor) will need to be cleaned by the game which is tomarrow after school.     I could go on – but I have no doubts about whether or not your getting what I’m talking about.        When I have a ‘brain fart’ and miss some detail, or misremember some fact a child has in put into my brain – I just tell them they are lucky my brain crashes far less often than computers do!!! Also – adding chocolate to my operating system, is as important as running defragers are on the computer!!!!! o;-p That’s my story and I stick to it!!!!! ;-b  {your welcome to join me in doing so!}      About your ducks. One year we had a wood duck build her nest in our broken tree. She was then totally even with my bedroom window, which is on our second floor. I think it was fourteen babies she hatched. I posted all about it some where back on our xanga site. If I could remember where – I’d link you to it.      When our boys were in school, I use to thrill at the chance to order books via their Scholastic book order forms. My dream, is to someday have my own in house library like the one in the movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’. A reasonable dream, huh?!!! o       Three of our sons have varying levels of dyslexica. For one, his second grade teacher bought a mirror to be able to correct his papers. Another was so far off the charts that they finally told me to keep reading to him, but to stop trying to make him read to me. It was just frustrating the heck out of the poor child. We (and they) weren’t sure he’d ever really be able to read. He’s now 23 and reads at a low sixth grade level.   Quite the accomplishment in our perspective!!!       I use to laugh and tell about how I ‘sacrafised’ and made sure I set a good example by both reading my own books in front of the boys, as well as reading to them on a very consistant basis. Aw the sacraficing of it all o:-p       Two of my sons are currently working on their own manuscripts, hoping to get published. And one of them was the second grader the teacher bought the mirror for. What a thrill to this mom’s heart!!!!        About keeping up with ‘baby Seth’. I wish you well. On a positive note. A child whom must keep up with older siblings on their own accord, is a sign of brightness in the child. As is a child whom can taste that the meat you put in his mouth is chicken, and then run to count the chickens out the window. :-}      And as for the artist David – I would encourage you to pick up a couple of framed pictures next time your at Goodwill. Take the pictures out of the frames, and hang the frames on the door to David’s room. It is then his choice which pictures he wants displayed – and it encourages him to keep at his creativity.      Well, I have yet again rambled long enough. Sure am glad you don’t mind me doing so!Look for the laughter in today friend!Cheryl B.

  18. I read the witch of Blackbird pond a few years ago and liked it…I always have a hard time finding good books to read and then actually reading them…they seem to sit beside my bed until they have to go back to the library and I haven’t even read any of them 🙂

  19. Hey Shanda!  I just wanted to let you know that you have my FAVORITE blog.  I really love to read about your family as my  children are about the same age as yours.  It would really make me sad if you quit or changed anything about it!

  20. We’ve also had a pair of mallards hanging around our backyard. There is a small wooded area behind our house with a small stream. We have the BLUE Fairy Book. The language is a little difficult yet for my 6 1/2 year old, but I like the challenge it gives her when I read it. 🙂

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