Surprised by birds!

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Guess who came to our feeder today!

The Rose Breasted Grosbeak!  He was a new bird for us, and brightened our day, as well as stopping work so that everyone could get a few photos of this handsome bird.  A1 was sad because he couldn’t focus his camera well on the bird, but we were so blessed when he made a second stop at the feeder–and stayed long enough to have his photo shoot!

This was a bird-interrupting day for us.  We finally just decided to do some research on the Rose Breasted Grosbeak and learned some neat facts, each boy drew the bird, and we listened to his call and song.  We do hope that he will return to our yard and stick around for awhile.  These birds do not normally live in Tennessee, except for our little corner, we discovered!  So, there is the possibility that he may summer over here instead of move on to the North.  We learned that the nests of these birds is very flimsy, and that you can often see the eggs right through the bottom of the nest.  But the daddy bird sings a lovely song and does his fair share of the nesting duties.  The longest lived Rose Breasted Grosbeaks have lived for over fourteen years!  All in all, we were amazed and impressed by this beautiful bird that graced our property.

Other bird visitors included a saucy Blue Jay who also visited our feeder for the first time.  He is not a newcomer to the yard, but he has never come up to the feeder before.  It was funny because he was so heavy that the feeder spun and spun under his weight.  But he seemed to enjoy the sunflower seeds.  We’ve had cowbirds frequenting our feeder as well–males and females.  I know that these are also not regarded as desirables, but we enjoy any variety of bird that decides to pay us a visit.

A Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher has been a recent addition to our mix, and his happy little nature has been a pleasant change.   We also saw the Pileated Woodpecker swooping through the yard, after he interrupted our attempts at study with his loud clucking sound.   The usual birds are an everyday treat; we never really get tired of seeing the Chickadees and Tufted Titmice, who are busily building their nests right now.  Bluebirds are settling on their nesting sites too, and it looks like they will use the nesting boxes that they used last year, so that is nice, since they will be visible from the kitchen window.  We have others, and hope that the Spring migration and Summer months will being more and more fine feathered friends to our feeder.

What birds are you seeing?




Sometimes I’m sure we run a hum school. Not humbug, not humdrum (never!), just hum along all day long!

Sometimes, honestly it drives me bananas! Three little hummers, all on different songs, in different keys! And while doing their schoolwork! Grrr…

I am a person who can’t concentrate on more than one thing at a time, generally. Too many things going on makes my head spin! So, I can’t hum and do math problems or write a letter while singing a song, or I’ll surely end up writing out the words going through my head. I’d blame that in my aging brain, but I’m afraid I’ve always been that way. :-/

But, back to the hum school. Obviously, we all tick differently. The boys don’t seem bothered by the humming distraction. Since I have to help them, I still say, “quiet”, though. During school time, anyway. A frazzled mom equals a crazy day for all!

But there are some times when I welcome the sounds of happy humming! When the house work is getting done with a song in the heart, it sure is nice for everyone!

I wish we could always say that we go on merrily through our days with cheerful songs pouring out.  Sadly, many times we give in to depressing thoughts or unkind words and actions.  It is during those times, especially, that we NEED to turn to music to lift our spirits and to drive away Satan’s hosts.  We are consciously endeavoring to notice the first entrance of the negativity, especially among brothers, and our way of combating the enemy is through changing what comes out of our mouths!  When more than one person is having difficulty getting along, I try to bring them aside, and have them sing me a nice, happy song.  It is hard to sing when you’re angry, but eventually, if we are willing to surrender our selfish thoughts, it becomes hard to be angry and sing a happy song!  Problem solved!  I find that by the end of most songs, the angry/sad/negative thoughts have vanished.  Not always, but often.  If not, we will often try it again.  I often join in the singing too, because I am just as prone to irritated feelings that need changing as anyone else.  Some days we do a lot of singing!  I do have one rule that says that if the song is sung foolishly, it will need to be repeated in its entirety.  There was one particular instance when someone decided to challenge that and ended up singing the longest song (of course–that had eleven verses) ten times!   Some learn things the hard way!   😦

Maybe you’re like me, and once a song gets into your brain, it’s there to stay–good or bad!  So, I am constantly looking for ways to get the GOOD in and leave all of the not-so-useful songs from my teenage years out!  It’s the replacement principle!  It works, if you keep asking for the Lord’s help and persevering!  Your tune will change!

We have found a neat resource for songs in our family.  And, by the way, we don’t use music exclusively for correction.  We mostly use these songs for family worship, and everyone really enjoys them.  They have bright pictures and large print to make it so easy for all of us to sing along.  I’ve posted a few pictures below of a few that we enjoy, but many are available.  These make great little gifts for children; at least ours really enjoy receiving one.

Here is where we buy the songs that we enjoy.  They have a bunch available!

Maybe this will help to give you an idea of how to incorporate a little bit of musical cheer into your home!


Happy humming!

Patience rewarded, or School in the closet

Every birth is a miracle of God’s care, and we were so blessed to witness new lives today!

Our patience has been rewarded!  Shadow did a great job, and still is in her new role as Momma.

Today, in the early morning hours, I heard a scratching sound in the closet.  After I woke up enough, I realized that my husband was not the cause.  I jumped up to investigate, and, sure enough, found Shadow.  She was hiding under my husband’s dress shirts–a cozy little den, but not where I wanted her to give birth!  I showed her the nice box, located in the dimly lit enclosure that I had prepared for her comfort.  She showed me the nest under the shirts.  :-/  Oh, well, they say if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!  So, I modified her nest by adding some towels and paper towels, and removed a section of my husband’s clothing!  That wasn’t quite what she wanted–too open, I think.  So, I added a draped sheet to close her in, leaving a little peep-hole for us!

Shadow seemed to agree with this arrangement, but wouldn’t stay put!  She insisted on following me around, even venturing out of our bedroom into the main part of the house, seemingly seeking companionship.  I quickly tried to get breakfast for everyone and listen in on worship, but I kept watching Shadow out of the corner of my eye.  I had the strong sense that I needed to just go and sit with her.

Once everyone was eating and settled into breakfast, I slipped into the closet, taking my food with me.  It was only then that Shadow settled down.  If I had to get up for any reason, she followed me.  So, I just resigned myself to the closet for awhile, which was no real problem!

Once her labor reached its final moments, I called the boys in, and we all had the joy of witnessing the birth of the first two striped kitties.  A little orange body surprised us next, then another over the next several hours.

Since we wanted to keep a close watch on the happenings, we decided to just have school in the closet!  We had a very cozy time, reading together, studying, all between frequent peeks into the birthing chamber.

The biggest learning experience, naturally, was seeing, not just reading about, birth.  God has put amazing instincts into the mother cat so that she knows just what to do.  But the instincts in the kitten are no less amazing, the way that they instantly begin to root around for milk, and the way that their sense of smell directs them right to their mother.   We have to admire the care that animals show for their offspring.   I don’t believe for a minute that this happens by some accident.  We can see God’s love in every thing that He has created,but particularly in the motherly care of the animals for their babies.

Now the fun begins as we get to watch them grow!  I can hardly think of anything more fun than little kittens!  So glad we got to be a part of this!

Lady in waiting


Do you like that word?  How about this one?


I don’t either, much.  My boys seem to like it even less, if that is possible.

Wait for the water to boil–it seems to take so long when you’re chomping at the bit to throw in the spaghetti.    Or take a shower.  Huh?  Take a shower/wait for the water to boil?

Yes, we had to learn some patience when our instant hot water heater croaked (about three weeks ago) and my husband was gone, and no one knew how to fix it.   We learned that simple things like taking a (bucket) shower require some patience, as does washing the clothes and dishes, if you want the water hot, which I do like!   At first, it seemed like a huge deal, and it was a shift in thinking and acting, but by the end, I had kind of gotten used to having a big pot of water on the stove, ready to heat.  We made it through, but I will say that we are EVER so GRATEFUL to our good Daddy/hubby for installing a new hot water heater!  Suddenly, we can get REALLY clean, instead of getting by with a quick bucket bath.   I thought many times of the missionaries who do this every day and don’t complain, even in Mongolia!   Brrr!

Our current patience-builder, among many, is one that involves a certain kitty named Shadow.  We have had her for 3+ weeks now, and have been watching her grow, and grow, and grow!  It’s kind of a long story, but she was already expecting when we brought her home, but we had no idea how far along she was.   She literally lived in the shadows outside for the first weeks, but this week she has decided that the inside life is the place for her.  We are providing the home/birthing center for her, and will care for her and her kittens until they can find good homes, then she will actually go back to her real owners.

We have all really begun to feel fond of this quirky kitty.  She now has claimed our bedroom as her domain, and fearlessly runs off any of our own cats who dare to invade.  At least we won’t have to worry about the kittens’ safety!

She has begun nesting in earnest now, so we think the time is definitely drawing near!  I’ve checked her often throughout the past weeks (peeking under the bed to make sure she’s still there), but she just keeps holding out on us!  We even went camping this last weekend, kind of fearing that she might have the kittens when we were away, but she greeted us, more portly than ever, upon our return.  Finally, this evening, when I could not find her anywhere, I eventually located her hiding way back in the closet, right under Banana Man’s dress shirts!  :-  It’s getting near!    I tried to direct Shadow to the nicely padded box we prepared for her, but she didn’t seem too convinced that this would work for her.  I have moved the box into the closet now, draped with dark sheets all around, but we will see where she thinks a suitable place will be.  We had one cat when I was young who birthed her kittens in a dresser drawer!  Somehow she got into the back of it!

Last night was the full moon/eclipse/blood moon, and I thought that if cats go the way that pregnant women sometimes go on a full moon, she would certainly have the kittens last night!  But, alas, it was not to be!

Tomorrow is Banana Man’s birthday, and I suspect that he might get to share it with six (!) little squirmy kitties, if they wait that long!

The way of cats is a mystery!  We wait and wait, but very soon, our waiting will be done.  Will it be tonight?


Shadow, the guest cat!








Printing Museum Field Trip

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Last week our school and another home school took a field trip to the Newspaper Printing Museum.  As you can see, the focus was on vintage printing presses from our state.  This museum, although quite small, boasts the oldest printing press in the state of Tennessee.  The museum also held several other old printing presses, and one that operated up until 1981.

We had a nice time looking at the presses, but I think everyone kind of found the pieces of movable type, some wood, some metal, more interesting in a hands-on kind of way.  We could pick up the various fonts and points of type, and it was fascinating to see how much work went into making just one page of a vintage newspaper!  What work these people had to go through to get the story out!  It was actually quite amazing to think that they actually got the newspaper out in time.

Although the place was small, we found it interesting that the pieces were housed in the old train depot.  So there was some local history we could learn.

We read on the wall about the production of paper from tree to print.  Then, towards the end of our time at the museum, we found a children’s book on the life and work of Johannes Gutenberg.  That, in my opinion, was the find of the day.  The book was the link between why we wanted to see the printing presses in the first place–so we could see how people used to do print with movable type.   The book also focused on the first book printed by Gutenberg, the Bible.   We have been studying the history of the Bible and its printing, so this was a good connection to help to learn the information in a more tangible way.

A great trip!