Wednesday, June 29, 2011

P.O.P. Nature Study: Picnic at the Seashore

It is Carol's birthday and the children have made homemade cards for her. Her husband gives her a book about John James Audubon, complete with illustrations and some of Audubon's color prints.

They pack a picnic basket and head to the seashore. Couple of summers ago I did a piece on Summer Eats for Donna Marie's Domestic Church blog. It's always nice to open the basket and spread the banquet on old blog posts. :-) I've packed it for you below.

A lovely day is spent swimming in the water, building castles, finding sea creatures. The picnic lunch is shared with the seagulls. The picnic basket is packed with shells collected along the shoreline.

Michael and Carol discuss their future plans while the children play. They complete the day with ice cream cones.

Black-bellied plover---pluvialis squatarola
herring gull---larus argentatus
laughing gull---larus articilla
hermit crabs---pagurus armatus
northern sea star---arsterias vulgaris
sand crab---emerita
sanderling---calidris alba

Have you taken your children to the beach yet this summer? If not, don't feel discouraged. There's still all of July and all of August. There's still 4th of July weekend and Labor Day weekend. Summer has only begun! In the meantime, join us at the beach for a dip...

Live by the Currents, Play by the Tides, Follow the Sun

Nothing Like Gladness

What have you found on the beach?

Has anyone read about the life of Audubon?

Summer Eats by Cay Gibson

The summer sun has not yet smoldered the southland in a bleached cloud of heat. The nights are still cool, gentle, forgiving. The grass is refreshing to bare feet newly freed from their winter’s foyer. The summer solstice is in prenatal form but fixing to give birth. It is pulsating with life. Why would we miss a moment of it?

The outdoors was God’s first vision of our preferred home. Trees protect us from rain and sun. Flowers offer the first air freshener.

Crops barter the first food. In keeping with our homes being the domestic churches, surely, our yards are the bowers into the home.

They serve as a glimpse into a once beautifully spiritual garden.They welcome guests to our home. They leave pleasant memories in our children’s mind of a better time, a better life, a better summer.

Susan Hill instructs: “In summer, the kitchen is not for lingering in, only for preparing food quickly, wrapping it or dishing it up, and taking it outside.” Until the evenings become uncomfortably hot and unpleasant, I plan to take these domestic instructions to heart.

Do you have a simple patio table outside? What about a picnic table? If not, perhaps you have a card table you could set outside under a nearby tree.

Find an old table cloth, curtain, or bed sheet…preferably of fabric and with a floral print. Spread it on your table. Set a vase in the center. Have the children pick fresh flowers to go in it.

On a corner, set a large bowl or tin bucket. Fill with cold cans and ice cubes. Or fill a pitcher with lemonade or water and set in bucketful of ice.

Fix a simple tray of po-boy sandwiches. Layer them around the edges. In the center, spread lettuce and tomatoes. Present a bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It’s that simple. It’s that inviting. It’s that summery.

Alice Cantrell's Lemon Pound Cake Recipe to take to your next picnic!

Friday, June 17, 2011

When Other Children Vacation at Your Home

  • your menu ahead of time
  • shop ahead of time---don't forget four things: (1) box of popsicles, (2) rotating yard sprinkler, (3) popcorn, (4) movie
  • don't sweat the small stuff (including the popcorn)
  • plan one fun activity per day
  • send them outside with waterpaint, sidewalk chalk, and utensils to cook in their mud pie kitchen
  • buy extra rolls of tiolet paper
  • throw a blanket on the ground under a shady tree, put food in a picnic basket, and declare that lunch is served
  • eat on paper plates at suppertime
  • tag a fresh cup daily for everyone
  • pick up stray cups in your yard...and count it as your daily exercise

You Will Find Out that...
  • other people's children open and close the refrigerator as often as yours do
  • other people's children argue with their siblings as often as yours do
  • brothers are known as "the devil's advocate" in all families...not just yours
  • you don't need extra rooms and extra beds...children are perfectly happy bunking together on the floor in one room
  • only four things are necessary: (1) a box of popsicles, (2) a rotating yard sprinkler, (3) popcorn, and (4) a Netflix or RedBox movie are cheap entertainment and keeps everyone happy on hot summer days

Saturday, June 11, 2011

P.O.P. Nature Study: Strictly Wildflowers

Carol's husband, Michael, brings her wildflowers of buttercups, purple vetch, oxeye daisies, white yarrow, yellow and orange hawkweek, honeysuckle, and yellow mustard. They find a spittlebug on a stem and examine it.

It's a lovely, yet hot, June day. You know the feeling. When we all become human popsickles.

That evening, with everyone in bed, Carol enjoys some leisurely reading of William Wordsworth's poems...especially one from To the Daisy:

WITH little here to do or see
Of things that in the great world be,
Sweet Daisy! oft I talk to thee,
For thou art worthy,

Thou unassuming commonplace 5
Of Nature, with that homely face,
And yet with something of a grace
Which Love makes for thee!
Oft on the dappled turf at ease

I sit and play with similes, 10
Loose types of things through all degrees,
Thoughts of thy raising;
And many a fond and idle name
I give to thee, for praise or blame,

As is the humour of the game, 15
While I am gazing.
A nun demure, of lowly port;
Or sprightly maiden, of Love's court,
In thy simplicity the sport

Of all temptations; 20
A queen in crown of rubies drest;
A starveling in a scanty vest;
Are all, as seems to suit thee best,
Thy appellations.

A little Cyclops, with one eye 25
Staring to threaten and defy,
That thought comes next—and instantly
The freak is over,
The shape will vanish, and behold!

A silver shield with boss of gold 30
That spreads itself, some fairy bold
In fight to cover.
I see thee glittering from afar—
And then thou art a pretty star,

Not quite so fair as many are 35
In heaven above thee!
Yet like a star, with glittering crest,
Self-poised in air thou seem'st to rest;—
May peace come never to his nest

Who shall reprove thee! 40
Sweet Flower! for by that name at last
When all my reveries are past
I call thee, and to that cleave fast,
Sweet silent creature!

That breath'st with me in sun and air, 45
Do thou, as thou art wont, repair
My heart with gladness, and a share
Of thy meek nature!


buttercup---Ranunculus acris

Cow vetch---vicia cracca

flower spider---misumena vatia

honeysuckle---lonicera japonica

meadow spittlebug---philaenus spumarius

orange hawkweek---hieracium aurantiacum

oxeye daisy---leucanthemum vulgare

spittlebug---philaenus spumarius

yarrow---achillia millefolium

yellow mustard---brassica


1.) What are the names of the wildflowers in your area?

2.) Have your children ever seen a spittlebug?

3.) Do you have access to a large poetry anthology that will supply you with poems about nature?

Cecily M.Barker's Flower Fairy books are very good and her flower poems are great for copywork sheets or to copy into nature notebooks.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

P.O.P. Nature Study: Start of June

{Wrapping Things Up}

Carol's family packs to move from town to Blackberry Inn in the country.

Carol dwells on leaving the little bungalow, nearby library, and an accessible park.

Would you (do you) miss having easy access to what the city offers?
It is now the month of June and Carol contemplates what school subjects have been finished (something many of us are doing) and what worked and what didn't work during the school year. She plans on the children continuing their reading and Nature Notebooks during the summer months.

What are your children doing during the summer months?


Goldfish---Carassius auratus

Wild lupine---lupinus perennis



1. Miss Rumphius, by Barbara Cooney, is a lovely story about a woman who plants wild lupine seeds throughout her village and countryside. It is based on a true story. (Anyone read this?) We did a few years ago as well as another book illustrated by Barbara Cooney (written by Alice McLerran), Roxaboxen which squeakes and peeks ways to truly let your children be children for a summer without constant adult supervision and planning.

Relax. Enjoy. Let your children be in control for awhile.
Enjoy your summer with the children at Roxaboxen.

2. If your child has a pet, it could be drawn in his Nature Notebook or take a photo and put it in the notebook then have him/her write a story about his pet enjoying a day at Roxaboxen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

P.O.P. Nature Study: Face of Generosity

Memorial Day with a gathering at the cemetery.

Carol, in observing Emma Cook, hopes that one day she could be more like her "...durable as marble and as gentle as the May's mist."

They accept Emma Cook's offering of living at Blackberry Inn and walk her home after the songs and patriotic display of instruments and games of happy children. To Carol's amazement, a budding crabapple tree shades the brightly plum colored front door.

* * * * *
Crabapple Tree---Malus coronaria


Who do you wish to be more like?

Who are your role models? Your mentors?

Who shows a Face of Generosity in your world?

Have you enjoyed a day outdoors lately?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

On the Feast of St. Justin Martyr

I haven't read much on St. Justin Martyr but I was introduced to a small log of his writing at a recent class on the Holy Mass and I thought it very enlightening that what he experienced in the 2nd century (100-165? A.D.) and ventured to pass to a pagan emperor, all Catholics still breathe-in this 21st century.

How richly historic and Scriptural is our Catholic Mass!

"On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.

"The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.

"When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.

"Then we all rise together and offer prayers* for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.

"When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.

"Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.

"He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.

"When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'

"When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent. " ~ St. Justin Martyr to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (pdf file) (CCC 1345)

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