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    And Adventure Days begin

    Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

    As part of our little home preschool, we have instituted Adventure Days. On Wednesdays we’ll head out with friends and experience some sort of adventure, be it in nature, a museum, or just running around free.

    Today’s adventure was to the local wildlife refuge, located along the shoreline. Our subject for preschool this week was birds, and oh goodness, did we see birds.

    The kids had a great time, and I think the other moms did too. I know I came away from our time outside inspired by the gorgeous color combinations and  lovely flocks of flying birds.  And I came home feeling renewed and more at peace.  Too much time stuck indoors is just no good for anyone.

    (In the third picture down, everyone is looking at a rabbit. Can you see it?)












    Your challenge, should you choose to accept it:

    Have an adventure day.

    Spontaneous or planned- just get out and enjoy something new and different. Then tell us about it!

    Letting the outside in

    Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

    Charlotte Mason, an education reformer from the early 1900s said that all children should spend the majority of the first six years of their lives outside, “with no pressure, just taking in the fresh air and impressions of nature”.  She suggested that nature was the best early teacher, and that the fresh air and pleasures of the outdoors would incline children to be happy and good.

    We try to get outside at least a little bit every day, which is sparse compared to Charlotte Mason’s suggestion of a whopping 6 hours a day.  But today…..

    Z wanted to go to the “park with swings”, so we got up and ready early and set off at 8:45. The walk to the park is really lovely, down a tree lined path, over a bridge, and across a levee next to a river.  As we walked we looked at the trees by the river, and talked about how some were changing colors, how fall is coming, how pretty red leaves are. I’d brought the camera, and Z picked things for me to take pictures of, and as we took pictures we slowed down and really looked at the bee, the snail, the dandelion.



    We got to the park and played for a bit, but while the day had started out coolish, it was getting hot.  I told Z it was time to go, and following no logic whatsoever I decided to walk the other way down the levee – something we’d not done before.  As we walked we gathered rocks to paint when we got home (anything to distract her from the sadness of leaving the park).

    After we’d walked for a little while, I remembered that there was an inlet into a nature reserve area off of the levee. I hadn’t been there in years, but the last time I had, there had been rabbits, so I was hopeful.

    Entering the area, I told Z that animals lived there, and that if we were really quiet, we might see some. It was as though I’d cast a magic spell. For 45 minutes she was nearly silent as we walked through trees and flowers, whispering questions about signs we saw.  The only sounds were the calls of birds and the crunching of leaves under our feet. It was so quiet that A fell asleep in the stroller.

    The beauty was stunning. Colors complimented and contrasted, the variety of  textures  was inspiring. We walked until Z said her legs were tired, and then she got in the stroller and we walked some more. She gestured for  me to come to the front of the stroller and whispered, “Momma, I like this place.” When I told her we could come back anytime we wanted, her smile was gigantic.






    On the way home she stopped and excitedly pointed at a pine cone.  In somewhat of a rush to get home, I brushed it off until she said that it looked like an animal – it had eyes!  Looking closer, I realized that it did appear to have eyes, and she deemed it a “pinecone animal” and named it Rosicella.  Of course, Rosicella came home with us.


    I know Z learned a lot being outside today, taking in the beauty of the world. She learned about what bees do and that some trees change colors before others and what jackrabbits do when you get close to them.  She learned the value of silence, the virtue of observation.  She probably picked up any number of things that I didn’t notice and that she can’t put into words. For that I am incredibly grateful.

    But perhaps more than that, I’m grateful for what I got out of our morning outside. Walking in the quiet, in the peace and beauty of growing things, I felt enlivened, inspired, renewed.  I came out of our walk more centered; ready to face the noise and bustle of life.

    We left the house at 8:45 and got back at 1. My feet are sore, but my soul is full.

    Sitting around, eating bon bons

    Monday, August 31st, 2009

    “To me it appears that our splendid sisters sometimes undervalue their abilities—they focus on what is lacking or imperfect rather than what has been accomplished and who they really are.”   -Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    Last week I was present at an activity with the Young Women wherein we had them write down things they were good at.  (It started out as a way to have them brainstorm for activity ideas, and then shifted gears when we saw what was happening.) The girls struggled and whined a little bit, some had a list of 4 or 5 things, the most anyone had was about 10.  When we suggested things at which we knew they excelled, they said that just because they could do something didn’t mean they were good at it.

    Then we had the girls turn over their papers and write a list of things they wanted to be better at. Pencils flew.  One girl asked for more paper.

    My heart broke.

    It’s good, great even, to want to improve. To see our weakness and want to progress, to be better. But being honest about ourselves means seeing the strong with the weak, the accomplishments with the imperfections.

    Forgetting planning activities, we took a paper for each girl and had the other girls write down things they knew that girl was good at.  Again, pencils flew, sheets were filled; this time with confidence building, truth revealing observations.

    “She always participates and makes me want to participate too.”

    “She always smiles at me and makes me feel better.”

    “She works really hard at school.”

    “She is an amazing singer/swimmer/dancer/writer/friend.”

    How would other people describe us? What would they see as they watched us going about our days?

    In that spirit, I offer this list of things I have accomplished today, as seen by the fly on the wall:

    Woke up at 5:30. Did not yell at Heavenly Father in prayer form.

    Successfully moved Z into my room so that she could stay asleep and A could go back to sleep, without A seeing me or Z waking up enough that she couldn’t go back to sleep.

    Said morning prayers while laying on the couch. Did not fall asleep while saying prayers.

    Took 20 minute nap on the couch.

    Had a smile on my face when I got a screaming A out of bed.

    Fed A and got her happily playing.

    Read scriptures and checked e-mail. Noticed something new while reading scriptures, which means I was actually paying attention to what I read.

    Noticed the beauty of the morning outside. Took  pictures of Z’s tomatoes.

    Welcomed Bruce and Z to the morning when they woke up.

    Fed Z.

    Got everyone dressed. (Bruce dressed himself.)

    Refilled my well by talking to my sister on the phone.

    Went for a walk with my visiting teacher and enjoyed the beauty of a cloudy day.

    Talked with Z about visiting teaching and why it’s important.

    Picked up lunch and watched two little girls enjoy it.

    Successfully gauged when to put A down for her nap so that she actually fell asleep rather than screaming for an hour.

    Called a dear friend to wish him Happy Birthday.

    Figured out meals for the week.

    Ordered groceries.

    Got Z down for a quiet time.

    Tidied up the house.

    Thought of something to post about.

    Did not throw a fit when Z pooped in her pants even though she was in a room with a bathroom in it.

    That’s more than 20 things I’ve done today. I’m sure there are plenty of things I haven’t done, but I’m focusing on those 20+. That’s a lot of things to have accomplished by 1 pm.

    I’m amazing.

    And so are you. Please, share. What have you accomplished today? And like I told my girls, “don’t be modest. I mean, do be Modest- don’t run around half naked- but boast, people! C’mon!”