August 8, 2007

Great Outside Days

The kids and I have been braving the hot and humid weather to be outside enjoying nature. Yesterday we had a nature explorers session and we went to a small local pond that is right in the middle of a busy suburban area. Originally I was not even going to add it unsure there would be much there for us to see. But the kids found so much reminding us parents that it often takes very little to capture their imagination.

Yesterday was all about bugs. They found lots of grasshoppers, dragonflies, moths, spiders and other creepy crawlers. The most interesting find were these huge clam shells in tact. They were like ocean size clams and very unusual for where we were - had all the parents scratching their heads. The kids had a great time and were very into it - a nice group of kids and a fun time. As an extra treat they got frozen custard afterwards, it doesn't get much better than that.

Today the kids and I headed down to our favorite pond and walked around. Today was all about turtles. We must have seen 30 turtles in our little pond. It was amazing how many there were swimming, sunning and diving into the water. Ciaran was determined and kept trying and right before we reached the end of our walk he managed to catch a small box turtle as it was burying itself into the mud. He was so excited, I was just thankful it was not a snapping turtle. He also caught a frog (for once overshadowed by the accomplishment of the box turtle), a big caterpillar (thought they were mostly past season) and had a great time getting all muddy and scratched up.

Rhiannon found a great surprise. We were walking down a dried up creek bed (since it hasn't rained here forever it seems - how many of you have not had to mow your lawn since mid June?) when she stopped to examine some rotting logs. She spotted inside one a "cache" as in geocaching. It was a small tupperware covered in camo tape and she recognized it from when we went geocaching with our friends. We still do not have a GPS so she found this just by accident. The kids were super excited - though we did not have any trinkets to leave behind so we did not take the little frog that Ciaran fell in love with. Still it was great fun to find one without a GPS or even looking for it. Now their desire to geocache is even greater. We are having a garage sale in the hopes of raising enough money to purchase a GPS and begin geocaching. I have no doubt it will be an instant favorite with the whole family.

It was hot and it was humid but we all had a great time. Even Sirah managed to walk for a little over an hour without complaining or whining. She was so proud of herself when we got home that she had done it all by herself.

Everyone was in good spirits and the kids decided to build a small fort in their closet and tucked themselves in their with a book on tape of magic tree house and some snacks while I picked up and made dinner. Then we read stories over dinner. Our current family read aloud is a Sugar Creek Gang book and they are really enjoying them. We also read Make Way for Ducklings in honor of the ducklings we saw today.

I headed back outside this evening for a three mile walk at the arboretum alone and it was wonderful to have time in nature alone. I even brought my sketch book and enjoyed sitting and drawing. I never realized how hard it is to draw until I started trying to do it myself. Still I am getting better and I enjoy the quiet activity and representing what I am seeing in a way that will be memorable to me - just wish I had started when I was younger. Still better late then never. Part of why I decided to teach a Nature Notebook class for our homeschool co-op. Let them start early and maybe some of them will continue on through life. Then to look back over the years and see all that you saw and how you improved. Kind of like looking back on your favorite books and reading lists.

Hope you can get outside and enjoy the days of summer - even if it is hot where you are. The air conditioning just feels like heaven when you return home and get to cool off.


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