Abby Sunshine

Duck Toller

1-1-11 Welcome 2011!

What is everybody talking about this time of year? New year’s resolutions, of course. “I will exercise every day. I will only eat healthfully. I will knit one sweater per month. I will tidy the house every night before going to bed.” You’ve heard these kinds of statements once if you’ve heard them 1000 times.

Listen to this 3 minute speech as Derek Sivers presents new research suggesting that you may wish to think twice before you talk too much about your ambitions.

OK, so what are your resolutions for 2011? Tell me!

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12-31-10 New Year’s Eve

A Year with Abby Sunshine, Reflecting on 2010.

Listen to music (simply press the “play” arrow) while remembering this marvelous year.

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January 2010, Playing wildly with cousins.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Cousins6

February 2010, Taking Some R&R (rest and relaxation)

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine

March 2010, Spending Time with Her Best Friend/”Sister”

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - With her Best Friend - March 2010

April 2010, Healing

Nova Scotia Duck Toling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Soaking in Epsom Salts - 4-18-10

May 2010, Sharing

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Eating Granola Bars - 5-9-10

June 2010, Inspiring Artwork

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Original Watercolor - 5-9-10

July 2010, Swimming in Lake Superior

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Lake Superior - July 2010

August 2010, Visiting Babe the Blue Ox

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby and Babe the Blue Ox - August 2010

September 2010, Sitting with “Mama”

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby at a Soccer Game - September 2010

October 2010, Enjoying Fall Colors

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Autumn in Pool - October 2010

November 2010, Loving Life

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Relaxation - November 2010

December 2010, Weathering the storm with “Daddy”

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby and Daddy - December 2010

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12-25-10 Stocking Stuffers?

When christmas comes already yet,

Mit presents large and sweet.

The tings I like in mein stockings best,

By jiminiy, are my feet!

Christmas stocking

Merry Christmas!

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12-24-10 Twas the Night before Christmas

Twas the Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(or A Visit from St. Nicholas) by Clement Clarke Moore (1823)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (except Thorndyke and Abby Sunshine),

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Thorndyke and Abby - December 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby and Renae - December 2010

while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.

And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Ballerina jumping

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

gave the lustre of midday to objects below,

Snowy Christmas Tree

when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

Christmas Yoda

More rapid than eagles, his courses they came,

and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!

Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid!

On, Donner and Blitzen!

Twas the Night Before Christmas3

To the top of the porch!

To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away!

Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky

dry leaves

so up to the house-top the courses they flew,

with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

reindeer on roof

the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head and was turning around,

down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.


A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.

Christmas Yoda

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.


A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.

Christmas stocking

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Thanks for a good story, Clement.  Twas the Night Before Christmas2

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12-23-10 Christmas Yoda

Abby is posing for a traditional photo by Christmas Yoda in front of a decorated tree. Isn’t this your tradition?

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Christmas Yoda2 - December 2010

Well, as Ebeneezer Scrooge once said, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

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7-4-10 Abby and the Big, Red Ball

Happy Independence Day!fireworks

Abby would much rather have a quiet day with this big, red ball than listen to fireworks. She doesn’t even want to fetch when she hears the pop of a firecracker. . .

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby with red ball 1 - July 1, 2010

There once was a fluffy red dog,

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby with red ball 3 - July 1, 2010

Who panted right after her jog,

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby with red ball 4 - July 1, 2010

She turned to her right,

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby with red ball 5 - July 1, 2010

That red ball is “tight!”

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever - Abby Sunshine - Abby with red ball 2 - July 1, 2010

Now a  limerick is here on the blog.

What kind of a limerick can you write about these pictures of Abby and the big, red ball?

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5-9-10 Happy Mother’s Day

Mother Dog

Here’s wishing you a happy mother’s day, with wonderful, cozy memories!

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2-14-10 LOVE Sonnet

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever Puppy - Abby Sunshine Puppy Love

I can’t think of a better day than Valentine’s Day to do a sonnet. I recently found a sonnet that I wrote while studying Shakespeare (some years ago). In fact, that class was my all time favorite. It was taught by an incredible, enthusiastic and inspirational professor, Dr. Gordon Lell. Sadly, he passed away last year, but will live on through the many students he taught. His passion for Shakespeare was contagious.

First, maybe you’d like to read a sonnet or two. Click here

I had to memorize this one for my class. Try it!

Sonnet 116

by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove.

O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never write, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnets may seem a bit confusing, but there is a pattern. They are most often about love, but one could write one about any topic. There is a method to the madness, so try it! I’d love to read your sonnet.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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1-18-10 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today is a United States holiday, honoring the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To learn more about Dr. King, consider reading A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler. This book highlights his childhood and family. It’s an excellent story that reveals his life and legacy in a manner interesting to a K-2 reader.

Martin Luther King, Jr book.

Following is a video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, August 28, 1963.

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1-1-10 Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

Some people believe black-eyed peas will bring good luck to those who eat them. This delicious Southern dish mixes them with okra, corn and bacon for a very lucky combination indeed. It is a traditional New Year’s dish! Try it.

Black-Eyed Peas with Okra, by Stella Zedman


* 4 strips bacon, diced

* 1 large onion, chopped

* 4 cloves garlic, minced

* 3 cups (750 mL) fresh okra, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch (.5 cm) rounds

* 2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen corn kernels

* 1 or 2 fresh chili peppers, chopped (optional)

* 1 can (19-oz/540 mL) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

* 1 cup (250 mL) chopped fresh or canned tomatoes

* 6 green onions, chopped

* 1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley

* 1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt

* 1/4 tsp. (1 mL) black pepper

Cooking Instructions

1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon pieces from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat behind. Reserve the bacon bits in a bowl.

2. Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook over medium heat until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add okra, corn and chilies and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until okra is tender but still a bit crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes, green onions and reserved bacon and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Servings: 4

How kids can help

Trim and cut up the okra.

Stir the ingredients in the skillet, with adult supervision.

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