Monday, March 29, 2010

Today's Moments

Instead of keeping our normal routine today, the girls and I went on a shopping trip with my mom while the boys ran errands with their dad.  We had a fun time together!  It was our first official shopping trip with my mom and we enjoyed it.

Instead of finishing up my nightly routine I invite Bo on a nightime stroll.  It was a cool, crisp night.  The moon was full and a few stars were visible.  We held hands in the moonlight and talked about what a wonderful creator we have.  The talk quickly turned to a lesson on our solar system and stars and planets.  We even located the Big Dipper.

we came back inside and Boo had tears...he wanted a stroll

Instead of telling him to wait till another time, I take Boo on a stroll and we look at the moon and stars and find the Big Dipper too.

we came back in and LouLou wanted to see the

I take sweet LouLou out to see the moon and stars and we talk about how the same God who made the moon and stars made her too.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Enjoying The Littles Sense Of Wonder

Spending time enjoying God's creation doesn't always come easy with four little ones.  There is always one more thing to clean, one more room to straighten, and one more load of laundry to fold.  It seems someone is always just waking up or about to take a nap.  The days I decide to just get outside and enjoy nature with the little ones end up being wonderful time spent together.  We enjoy going to parks, but I prefer more wild places with no play ground option.  So the other day we decided to venture to the spring behind our house for some playtime.  We went about 4:00 in the afternoon and stayed about an hour.  The day was beautiful and we had recently had a few inches of rain.  I was hoping for a small waterfall.

I have recently started reading The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson and this book reminds me of the importance of experiencing nature with our children.

A child's world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.  It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.

A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.
Now I know that for children, too, nature reserves some of her choice rewards for days when her mood may appear somber.

If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder...he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.

It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.

And then there is the world of the little things. seen all to seldom.  Many children, perhaps because they find themselves are small and closer to the ground then we, notice and delight in the small and inconspicuous.

With your child, look at objects you take for granted as commonplace or uninteresting.

I was so happy to see the first signs of spring on our walk.

The above quotes were from Rachel Carson's book The Sense of Wonder.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour #8

Outdoor Nature Hour #8 took us to the local TSC this morning.  All of our chicks that hatched out a couple of weeks ago have disappeared.  We think they all fell prey to a hawk.  The mommy hen turned them loose very early and she had not been the most protective of mommies.  I'm still glad she went broody on us.  Maybe her mothering skills will improve next time around.

Anyway...I wanted to finish up our observation of baby chicks.  I had planned on taking a trip to the park and observing some ducks.  I thought we could compare and contrast the chickens and ducks.   So we stopped by the local TSC  to buy a fruit tree and what did we hear when we walked in the door...peeping

So following the sounds we discovered chicks and ducklings.  A perfect oppurtunity for nature study!  We held the chicks and ducklings and compared the beaks and bills.  We looked at the tiny webbed feet of the duckling and compared them to the toes of the chicks.

Before going into the store Bo asked me if he could take some of his birthday money in to spend.  I told him that would be fine.  He had been looking at the model animals when we were in the store last week.  Well today we left with 6 baby chicks.  These were no models!  He wanted the real thing.  So maybe we will have six baby chicks to study for a long time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our Little Man Is Six

Today our oldest turned six.  He is such a blessing to our family.  I am so proud of the young  man he is quickly becoming.  He has taught me so many things over the past six years. When we think back over the favorite ages of our children, we can't pinpoint a favorite. We always love them so  much at the age they are in.  I am sure six will be no exception.  Here are six things I love about Bo:

I love to listen to him read a new book and watch him look at the pictures and laugh when he understands what he has just read.

I love that he will sit at the table waiting to pray before he puts one bite of food in his mouth.

I love to watch him set up battles with his army men.

I love the way he tries so hard to protect his little sisters and make them smile.

I love the way he always wants to snuggle at bedtime.

I love the way he helps me by doing his jobs without complaining.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Moments to Enjoy...Gifts to Celebrate

Since the beginning of the year, I have been making more of an effort to slow down and enjoy the moments that I have with my little ones.  It takes effort to walk away from things that need to be finished, but I am always thankful when I have chosen to spend time with my family rather than complete a to-do list.
Here are a few more of those moments that I have taken the time to celebrate as gifts from God.

Instead of napping right on schedule, we go outside after lunch.  The sun is shining, puddles are glistening and the wind is blowing a warm breeze.  I swing the girls listening to giggles and squeals of delight.  Their smiles so sweet as the wind blows their hair.

Instead of letting the little ones watch a movie alone before bed, while I get a few more things accomplished, I sit down and we watch a movie together.  Such sweet fun laughing, and snuggling together.

Instead of letting LouLou go to sleep on her own at naptime, I have been rocking her.  Such a sweet face, she's growing bigger each day.  I sing and rock and stare at her face drinking in those chubby cheeks and eyes.  Enjoying those pudgy little fingers and toes.

Instead of walking on by my nursling, I bend to sweep her up into my arms.  She sits on little knees reaching for me as I pass.  I cannot walk by without stopping to marvel at my baby growing and learning each day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Outdoor Nature Hour #7

Continuing with our outdoor hour challenges, we examined the baby chicks eyes and ears today.  Bo held the chick and we all took a close look at the chick's eyes.  We noticed that the eyes are on the sides of the chick's head.   The boys turned their heads and showed us what it might be like if our eyes were on the sides of our head.  We noticed when the chick closes his eye his bottom eyelid comes up, but when we close our eye the top eyelid comes down.  We looked at the chick's pupils and iris.  The pupils were black and the iris was brown and green.  The ears are lcoated behind the chick's eyes.

Here is Boo showing me where his eyes would be if he had eyes like the chick.

After looking at the chick's eyes and ears the boys drew a picture of a chick in their notebooks and labeled the eye, ear, pupil and iris.

We added duck, Canadian goose and buzzard to our list of birds.
We added some beautiful duck feathers from the park to our collection.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Reflector Oven That Didn't Work

I picked up a copy of The Long Ago Lake at the thrift store one day.  It's one of those books that had been sitting on the bookshelf just waiting to be enjoyed.  So when I organized our own version of workboxes I included this book in one of the file folders.  My plan was to read a couple of pages and do the craft/project ideas as we came to them.

Bo wanted to choose from the workbox file folders the other day and this book was the one I had placed inside.  We read the first few pages and came to a project.  The project was building a reflector oven.  We were building a campfire that night to roast hotdogs and marshmallows on so I thought it would be a great night to experiment with a reflector oven.

Chris helped the boys build a reflector oven following the plans in the book with an old piece of tin we had outside.  Lou Lou helped me mix up a blueberry cobbler to cook in our oven.

We built a fire and set the oven on a cement block and put the cobbler on a cement block between the oven and the fire.  The heat is supposed to reflect off of the oven back onto the cobbler and bake it.  The cobbler sat for a couple of hours and was just barely cooked.  I wondered if it was because the tin was not shiny.  Chris suspected because of the dampness our fire just wasn't hot enough.  For whatever reason, we finished our cobbler in the real oven.  It was very tasty, but I really wanted this to work. 

We will try this again when we have another campfire.  Here is a link about reflector ovens and some recipes

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Our Last Picnic

I'll never forget the last converstaion I had with her.  It was a warm, fall day one of the last of the year, if I am remembering correctly.  I had packed a picnic lunch and promised to take the little ones to the park after we ran our errands.  We finished our to-do list and headed to the park, but the park was closed.

I suggested to the little ones we go visit with MaMaw.  We could even take our picnic with us and see if she felt like finding an outside table to visit with us in the sunshine.  When we arrived at the nursing home she was not in her room.  The nursing assisstant told me she was getting her bath and would be out in a few minutes.  We patiently waited and inside I was hoping she was having one of her good days.  A good day where she would recognize me and the littles and visit with us without saying things that did not make a lot of sense.

I heard the nursing assitant bringing her down the hall, explaining that she had company waiting on her.  When she rounded the corner, I could immediatley tell that this was a very good day for her.  She recognized us instantly and seemed so excited to see us.  We found a comfortable table outside and ate our picnic lunch with the sun warming our faces and the breeze blowing gently.  She felt well enough to hold my nursling while I ate and she was very content in MaMaws arms.  Each of the children talked with her briefly and hugged her before skipping off to play around the flower beds.  I turned her around so she could watch them play and sat down beside her. 

After watching the children for a few minutes, she looked at me and said, "Holli, the most important thing a man and woman can do together is have a family.  Children are precious."  The only words I could manage at this point were,  "Yes they are, you are so right."  I rubbed her arm and we talked about the weather and how she had been feeling.  I  promised another picnic as soon as the weather started to warm in the spring. But I couldn't stop thinking about her words.  They conveyed such deep meaning to me. Because her journey on earth was quickly coming to an end.  In a couple of weeks she would be ninety.  Here is someone who has been around so many years, she had seen so many things and she was sharing a part of her heart with me.  She had taken the time to reflect on life and share a bit of her wisdom with me.

In the end, and the end will come, I want to look back with no regrets.  I want to be surrounded with family that I have invested my life in.  I want to be surrounded by my God that I have given myself too.  I want to decrease so that he can increase.  I want to prasie the Lord with each breath so that when my last breath comes, I awaken in his presence praising him forevermore.

We never got to have that spring picnic because she died peacefully yesterday. On  the subsequent visits we made to the nursing home this winter she seemed very quiet.  She hugged us and loved on the littles but she didn't say very much.  I am so thankful for that picnic last fall when she shared a peace of her heart with me.  I will treasure it always.

Some things I want to remember...
that I knew my great-grandmother
that my children knew their great-great grandmother
that she lived alone and cared for herself for 88 years
she loved children...she had two of her own and mothered many others through the years
she loved to fish
she loved to read
when I was little I spent the night with her and snuggled with her in her bed and we talked and talked and talked
sitting in the swing with her...listening to her as she told stories about where we were going as we rode our train(swing);-)
listening to her stories about the picture she had hanging in her house (two little boys playing in the creek)
we put many jigsaw puzzles together on her living room coffee table
hearing her happy "hi" when she called to talk to me on the phone
picking her up as I would go to town and spending time with her as we ran errands
picking her up for the day and letting her spend it at our house playing with her great-great grandchildren
picnics at the park
she never missed a chance to go out to eat
she never missed a chance to give a gift

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

If you ever want to check up with your priorities, I encourage you to vist a nursing home and make a few friends.  Life comes into perspective quickly and most likely you will not be the same.  I know I am changed!


Outdoor Nature Hour # 6

We continued with our focus on birds in our Outdoor Nature Hour this week.  We decided to examine the feathers of our mommy hen and her babies.  I pulled out the Handbook of Nature Study and read the sections on feathers so I would be able to talk with the little ones and answer any questions.

First of all, we picked up the mommy hen and looked at her feathers.  We noted how they were layered on top of one another and decided this must be to keep the hen dry.  We looked at the difference between back and breast feathers. 

We also compared the baby chicks feathers to the hens.  We noticed that the baby chicks are covered with down and the first true feathers to develop  were the wing feathers.  Down is different from feathers.  It lacks the quill and web.

After examining the birds we took a walk around the yard to collect some feathers to examine and tape in our nature notebooks.  We found several feathers with beautiful patterns.  Our chickens are part game and they usually have very colorful markings. 

We placed the feathers in out notebooks and the boys drew a diagram of a feather and labeled the web, fluff and web.

The smallest feathers had beautiful markings on the web

Drawing With Bo

In the fall, when we began our unoffical year 0.5 with Bo I started teaching him to draw with Drawing with Children.

I read the first part of the book and tried to brush up on my drawing skills before trying to teach him.  Maybe I should say I tried to develop some drawing skills before we began.  When we started learning the elements of shape, Bo picked up on them very quickly.  He is doing great with his drawing and he is very proud of his accomplishments.   I told him that we will practice drawing and in the fall he can enter a picture in the local fair.  I usually enter some photographs in the fair and he is looking forward to entering some of his drawings.

Bo doesn't look happy becasue his Lego tower kept falling and I asked him to take a break so I could make his picture.

I have been using the lesson plans for Drawing with Children located on this site.  This site breaks down the lessons and warm-up activities into an easy to follow plan.  I highly recommend this book.  Bo really looks forward to our drawing time and so do I!