Backyard Adventures

I have been toying with the idea of just quitting this blog and moving on… but, after blogging for over twelve years, I find it difficult to just quit.  A friend suggested that I chronicle our backyard adventures and create learning activities for others to access on this space.

So as I consider this, enjoy some photos of our backyard from the last couple of weeks.  Yesterday, in the span of one minute, we saw a fawn, a hawk and an owl in our backyard.


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If you don’t like snakes, you might want to stop reading here.

Welcome to North Carolina.

Liebster Award

I was nominated by Jenny from Adventures With My Kids for the Liebster Award.  This is an award designed to share blogs with others.


You’re asked to share some facts about yourself then answer the questions posed by the nominee.  Here are some facts about me:

  • We just moved to North Carolina and I love it here!
  • I never imagined I’d have a large family.
  • I used to be completely against homeschooling (I was a High School English Teacher).
  • Since I have a hard time sitting still, I took up crochet when I began homeschooling David.
  • One of my favorite things is going on road trips with my husband.
  • When I follow a recipe, the food comes out alright, but when I just make it up as I go along, the meal is excellent but I have trouble duplicating it (even if I write it down).
  • I am terrible at baking cookies but make delicious breads, cakes and pies.
  • Fresh air is my favorite thing in the world.
  • I am ready to move into our new home and begin our life again!!

Questions posed by Jenny:

1. Why do you blog?  I began blogging over a decade ago and it is just something that I do.  When I don’t do it for a while, I miss it.  I used to blog all.the.time, but now it is hit and miss.  One of these days, life will calm down a bit and I can get back to it more.

2. What draws you to read others’ blogs?  Simplicity, beauty, applicability to my life, inspiration, helpful information and friendship.

3. What is the last book you read? What did you think of it?  I am currently reading Simplicity Parenting.  It is excellent thus far and I hope to really implement what I have read in the new home.

4. What are your family’s Pascha (Easter) traditions?  We converted to Orthodoxy in Kentucky and attended the same parish for almost 10 years before we moved.  There, we attended services, broke the fast in the middle of the night with friends at church, and then went home to sleep.  Our children always woke up early regardless of going to bed late, so we would munch on things from the Pascha basket and the kids would get to open their own fun baskets that morning.  Then we would go to Agape Vespers and Parish Picnic at a beautiful park nearby.  I do not know what this year’s traditions will look like, but I am looking forward to making new ones in our new home.

5. If you were offered an all expenses paid trip to somewhere, where would you go and why? I would love to take my husband and travel to Greece.  I love the food, culture and faith.  I also really love Great Britain, and I would love to go visit my sister-in-law’s family in Wicklow, Ireland.  And, I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska.  Can I squeeze all of those into one trip?!


I will admit that I do not read blogs nearly as much as I used to.  Some of my favorites have already been nominated by Jenny, but here are a few more for you to check out.
Below, I’ve linked to some lovely blogs that I nominate for the Liebster Award:

Cassie of Hallowed Be This House
Matushka Anna of Praying with My Feet  
Laura of Many Mercies   
Heather of Audrey Eclectic  
Amy of The Crafty Contemplative   
Emily of The Children of God

My five questions for the nominees (if you choose to accept the challenge): 

  1. How long have you been blogging?  And why do you keep blogging?
  2.  What are you favorite types of blogs?
  3. if you had an entire day to yourself, what would you do?
  4. Do you or your family have any Lenten traditions?
  5. What is your favorite meal to make for your family?

Some Time Away


Right before my husband traveled to Europe for business, we got word that his grandmother was not doing very well.  We knew that she probably wouldn’t be with us much longer.  He was gone for 10 days, and on the 10th day, his grandmother passed away.  Rather than continuing his travels back home, he stopped in Newark and met the family there.   At the same time, my mother and I drove up with the children.

We spent the weekend with family and said goodbye to Grandma.  She was such a wonderful, beautiful woman.  She was married for 62 years to her husband and was always helping others, putting them before herself.  We will all miss her very much.

While in New York, the children had the opportunity to play in the snow.
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Here is a cute little video of the fun time they had with Grammy, Papa, and Aunt Lu. My sweet sister organized all sorts of games for the kids to play while we were there. After a difficult week, it was nice for them to be able to relax.

Common Care Needs YOUR Help

In the past 19 hours alone, Common Care has had over 140 requests for Care Packages… and they keep coming!


If you can knit or crochet, please consider making a few hats to donate to those who have lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth. Common Care needs hats from a very tiny “penny hat”, which is about the size for an early miscarriage, to hats made for preemies.

The most needed size are the smallest ones. The smaller the better because most requests are for babies who have passed away between 6-12 weeks gestation.

These Tiny Hats mean so much to those who were never able to hold their babies or who only had a very short time to spend with their child. They make beautiful mementos and are perfect for memory book or shadow boxes. Please use gender neutral colors as much as possible.

Each Care Package costs about $3-4 total to assemble and mail.  All monetary donations are used exclusively to package and mail Common Care Packages.  Common Care is strictly a charity and all funds go directly back into the organization.  If you would like to donate, please send an email to me via Common Care.

Thank you!

Here are links to patterns:
Penny Hats (knit & crochet)
Bonnets (crochet)
10 Minute Preemie Hat (crochet)
Knitted Bonnet with Eyelet Brim
Tiny Toques (knit) (leave off the string to hang)
Wee Hats (knit)
Preemie Hats (knit)
More Tiny Toques (knit)
Premature Baby Hats (knit)
Tiny Knitted Hat with Lace Edge
Tiny Baby Cap (knit)
Tiny Jayne Hat (knit)
Mini Santa Hat (knit) (do NOT use red and white)
Santa Baby Ornament (knit) (leave off the string to hang)

If you would like to donate Tiny Hats to Common Care,
please send an email to Michelle.

Snow, Ice and Sickness

The last week or so has been a rough one in our home.
It started with John getting sick last Sunday, and the illness traveled through the entire family over the course of the last week and a half.  Nathaniel and I were really sick, which was difficult for everyone.  I have had a really hard time fighting it because the kids haven’t been sleeping well at night, so I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in… well, years… but it has been especially bad during the last week or two.
IMG_20160125_135350We also dealt with the snow/ice storm that left us without power for over 12 hours.

Thankfully, we didn’t have it as bad as others who were without power for days and those who endured feet of snow. We had our enclosed gas fireplace on and the kids slept near it, so they stayed warm enough. It doesn’t give off a lot of heat, but it was definitely better than nothing. We also have a gas stove top, so I was able to make tea and oatmeal in the morning.

We’ve experienced our first North Carolina “Snowpocalyse” …
and it wasn’t too bad.

10 Inches!

No, I’m not talking about snow.
I’m talking about hair!

Our sweet Grace asked me to cut off 10 inches of her hair and she was delighted when I told her that she can now donate it to a good cause: Children With Hair Loss. IMG_20160125_151139

I’ve been cutting my children’s hair their entire lives, but I have never been so nervous to do so! I loved her long hair, but she had been begging for short hair for at least two years. I finally gave in when we found out that she could donate it.


Grace looks adorable and did it for a great cause!   We are proud of our girl!

The Kitchen and Attic are Demoed!

The kids and I spent this very chilly day at the new house while Habitat for Humanity took apart the kitchen and laundry rooms.  After, the contractors came over to finish the job.

IMG_20160120_142859Say goodbye to the kitchen! IMG_20160120_160644

We encountered a little hiccup during demo: we didn’t know this sewage pipe was under some cabinetry.  Now my plan for open cabinets on the wall next to the windows is not quite possible.  We are brainstorming ideas tonight.

One very full dumpster after the attic demo:IMG_20160115_170619

Last week, the attic was demoed and the siding was replaced (it will be painted soon). IMG_20160115_165709IMG_20160115_165053The kids did some school while we were at the house today. For the rest of the time, they either explored the backyard or ran around the house. IMG_20160120_102543 IMG_20160120_144530

Nearly eight hours later, we headed back home, exhausted, chilled and fighting colds.  It is going to be a lazy evening in our home tonight with lots of tea and a warm fireplace. 

Free Printable: John 1:1-18 Memory Project

In an effort to combine scripture memorization, spelling, handwriting and vocabulary,
I have put together a 12-week study of John 1:1-18 for older elementary aged children.


Here is a sneak peek at what is inside: IMG_20160114_144037 IMG_20160114_144142IMG_20160114_144056

The booklet is 50 pages (which you can print 2-sided, if you’d like), and I used brads to hold it together.  I also took a long piece of washi tape and sealed down the backsides of the brads, so that the booklet does not come apart.


Here is the link to the PDF:

John 1:1-18 Memory Project

Please leave a comment below if you plan to use this.
Thank you!