The date on the photo reads May 1966. But I’m positive I’m not 3-4 years old in this picture. I will guess I’m 2 or 2 1/2 because I can just see the crib in the bedroom. That means my baby brother has been or soon will be born. We are about 2 1/2 years apart. Sometimes it takes a year or three to remember to take the film for developing.
So. Already I love horses. This one is special because I am carrying it, instead of the other way around. I’m looking pretty strong, the way I’m hauling my ride. I have my rocking chair, my horse, and I’m dressed for (guessing) church. Pretty styling with my navy coat and white hat and socks.
Signs of the times include rabbit ears on the television, the television, dish used for cigarette ashtray on the side table, glass decor, and pale yellow walls. This house was a rental as far as I know. During the early years, my dad was transferred quite a bit for his job, so moving was a part of our lifestyle.
What signs of the times do you remember seeing in old photographs from the year you were born?
I was probably in first or second grade in this picture. And I can tell you, we had no nature deficit disorder in my family. We were always outside. Either the kids were out, by choice or by mom’s choice, or the entire family was off and exploring.
It seemed like our family spent most weekends in the station wagon or camper, heading off to explore and find what we could find. Though I know we also went to church on a regular basis, so maybe we spent Saturdays traveling and skipped a random Sunday now and then to camp. Life as a kid was always an adventure.
I’m pretty sure this picture was taken at Turkey Creek in Arizona. Turkey Creek was a great spot. I can remember camping there at least 3 different times. Judging by the grin on my face, I loved getting outside. And in Arizona, being outside around water was a treat. Being a desert and all. We four of kids (maybe not James, who was a baby) had a ball splashing in the creek. We did the usual-get muddy, catch critters, drench ourselves, throw rocks, find favorite rocks, go fishing with plain sticks. I remember one trip in particular when I found a snapping turtle. I was, of course, sticking my finger towards its mouth, seeing if it would snap. It did. Pinched my finger hard enough that I wet my pants! I remember crying. Hello. If you poke a wild animal in its mouth, it will bite.
Besides random attacks from snapping turtles, I remember all of us being together. That was important. The mom and dad, the 4 kids, the dog, the cat, the bird. We all crowded into the camper and dad drove us along bumpy dirt roads to get to our camp or picnic destinations. That was back in the good old days when kids rode in the camper while the vehicle was in motion. We played cards, colored pictures, ate snacks, climbed up and down from the over-the-cab bed, and I’m sure, fought like crazy. But somehow, we all made it to adulthood.
Looking back at this picture of myself standing on rocks and my sister collecting nature items, I can remember the beauty of the water, the rocks, the plants, the dirt. I can feel the sun on my back. Just look at those boulders behind me. I mean, they are gorgeous. Plenty of lichen and hiding spots for poisonous desert dwellers. But we didn’t worry too much about those. Stay away from the obvious dangers like tarantulas and rattlesnakes. Leave them alone, they’ll (most likely) leave you alone. Dappled light gives great luster to this photo. I love how the sunlight highlights my braids. And I see I am, even at that young age, wearing one of my lifelong favorite colors. Orange. And stripes. I’m still into stripes. Funny.
I’m so glad my parents instilled in us a love of the outdoors and exploring our surroundings. It doesn’t matter where you live, there are interesting and beautiful nature hot spots just waiting to be discovered. You can go as far as your backyard (welcome, gallon jars of tadpoles) or escape to a different state or country.
Hello, Arizona desert. I miss you.
How about you? Where did you go exploring when you were a child?
First we had February. Snowmageddon and all of that. The season of snow.
Next we had the melt. Flooding, slush, and slippery ice. The season of melt.
Now we have rainy April days and plentiful water. The season of mud.
Does mud bother my grands? Not in the slightest. Nearly all the kids I know love getting dirty, playing in the mud. From what I’ve observed, most of the problem with mud comes from the adults. The ones who have to do laundry, wipe mud trails off of floors, wash boots, and repair muddy landscapes.
Forget all of that worry. It’s time for the season of play!
Enter mud play. A fine mist was falling, water stood in the wagon and various items strewn about from building fairy houses, and mud was plentiful.
They dug, scooped, buried, and transported mud, rocks, and sticks. They gathered water, poured it around, and put a dead worm in the mud in case he wanted to wake up.
They painted small pieces of logs by using a stick as a paintbrush, using the stick to smear mud across the flat surfaces. And then they decorated the wagon and fairy gardens with mud-encrusted artwork.
I love it when I see preschoolers and children (and even adults) use their creativity and imagination. I love it even more when nature and messes are involved!
I’m not sure if the parents agree, but playing in mud is excellent for sensory engagement and exploration of nature.
So…put on some old clothes, just in case, plop on the wellies, and head out for some messy fun.
3 grands arrived at 7:30. 1 grand forgot her shoes for P.E., so we had to make a quick return trip to apartment to get shoes and socks. But before that…
Grand 4 (surprise mama!) was not ready to leave home yet, due to unexpected need for early departure. But quick she was. Footie jammies, breakfast bar in a baggie, jacket, plastic princess jelly shoes, baby and kitty, and curly golden locks adorned the youngest.
After car seat number 2 was buckled in, the 2 youngest clambered in and were secured in place. The 2 oldest took their places, smushed with backpacks and jackets.
To the apartment. Retrieve socks, shoes, and reheat cup of tea.
To school. After all of this, 15 minutes early! So the Nana bus went on a road trip. Cook Road is very scenic.
To school, still 5 minutes to spare. Nana and the 4 visited then dashed through the drop off line, sending the eldest off to school.
Then the 2 youngest plus Nana made a quick trip at the store to purchase yogurt for grands, yogurt for Nana, nuts for Papa, cans for kitty, and spinach because it has sounded good.
Never mind slippery plastic princess shoes, colorful footie jammies, and two helpers chattering away nonstop. Food on faces? Please ignore. Hair undone? Curly locks is too cute to bother, all those ringlets. Harried adult guiding two littles? You never know what HAS been going on (hence jammies and slippy shoes) before shopping trip.
Despite the crazies, a grand time was had by all, the list was checked off, and the Nana bus made it home with time to spare before loading up to go back to school to pick up the 2 oldest grands and race home to meet number 5 who waited in driveway with auntie. Alas, Nana bus only seats 4 grands.
Early release week=adventures! Nice weather and all afternoon outside playing and using imaginations? Wonderful.
So whenever you visit a store and see an elderly woman (OK, not that elderly yet, but older than a teen) with messy bun, mismatched clothing, jammie-clad kiddos, and a crazed look in her eyes, don’t judge the book by the cover. One never knows the events leading up to a shopping trip.
And the grands? Perfectly adorable and helpful the entire way.
The winter snow melt in our area is unseasonably late. Parents, drivers, workers, gardeners, spring sports players-even school children-are hoping for blue skies and warm temps to thaw the concrete ice mountains and fields of white covering our valleys.
We LOVE snow. But it is time for green and insects and baby animals and flowers.
Love, Z is a great example of a robot tale about the meaning of love. I grabbed Love, Z from a library display and checked it out. Simplicity, good story, nice interactions, clean and beautiful illustrations, and great examples of love help Z (and young readers) understand love. I fell in love with the adventures of Love, Z.
Love, Z is the perfect book to springboard conversations about love and how it looks to different people, even robots.
Blurb from Amazon:
When a small robot named Z discovers a message in a bottle signed “Love, Beatrice,” they decide to find out what “love” means. Unable to get an answer from the other robots, they leave to embark on an adventure that will lead them to Beatrice—and back home again, where love was hiding all along.
Build a Love Robot
Materials: construction paper, scissors, glue sticks, markers
1. Cut shapes from construction paper-hearts, circles, rectangles, triangles.
2. Arrange shapes on a table until you find the perfect design for a love robot. Use glue stick to glue edges together. Don’t forget to add arms, legs, and faces (eyes, nose, mouth, ears).
3. Use a marker to add details to your robot. Give him or her a name! As you create, think about what love means to you. Tell your mom or dad your thoughts and let them tell you what they think about love.
4. Find a nice spot to hang your robot where you can see him or her. May I see? Ask for help and take a picture and add it to the comments. We’d love to meet your new friend.
In our area of the northwest, we often have winter snow days or late start days when the roads are slick early in the morning. Just recently, an overnight heavy wet cold snow fell, causing slippery roads and perfect conditions for a late start (for school to start). It’s only 2 hours late, but one can have plenty of fun in those 120 minutes.
First up was sledding down the pasture hill. The 5 grands did a wonderful job sharing one sled, pairing up with each other and racing to see who could travel the longest distance down the slope.
Once the proper bright red noses and cheeks were acquired, we trooped inside for a snow day tea party, all ages included. This was not the traditional apres snow play hot cocoa and cookies, as both Nana and mommy (Auntie) were fresh out of hot chocolate mix. This was find what’s in the pantry and enjoy it to the fullest. So tea it was.
Tiny tea cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pots were filled with tepid herbal tea. Honey dripped stickily into cups and was stirred in. Spills were mopped up with place mats and towels, and peanuts stood in for tea cakes. For one young girl, those tea cake peanuts tasted marvelous when they were soaked in tea and scooped out with a spoon.
A fun time was had by all. Pinkies up for the next snow day late start!
Once the 3 older grands went to late school, the 2 younger ones had another type of snow day.
Despite my love for cats, I adore birds. I just can’t put feeders out. That’s like saying, “Here, kitty, kitty! All you can eat buffet!” My Monet is a great hunter on her own, without my baiting traps for her.
So, I enjoy the birds that fly beyond her reach or call from barns, trees, and migration routes. She can’t get to those. In my car I keep a falling apart copy of a bird identification book. It’s amazing how many birds I can spot, research, and identify while my honey is driving over rivers and through woods. I’ve learned much about birds on our road trips.
After reading this post via Writers Rumpus, I discovered more bird books I need to read. Just in time for winter birding! I’m sending a big thank you to the authors, illustrators, and Kirsti Call (Writers Rumpus). Thank you!
The grands are getting older, and therefore much more able to decorate gingerbread houses. For the older two, decorating is the goal instead of consuming vast amounts of sugar from the icing and candy. The younger three, well, sugar is the main goal.
Nana got smart this year and combined gingerbread house decor with Thanksgiving Dinner and Smashing of the Pumpkins. Once December hits, the schedule goes from zero to 100 mph and Christmas festivities cut into my attempts to gather all 5 for my Nana tradition. This seemed the best bet. Plus, a good meal was had, so some sugar was counter-balanced with turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
Before and after shots of grands and houses.
Tips for Your Gingerbread House Decorating:
*Gingerbread kits can be found in all variety of sizes, configurations, and number of homes included. Coupons and sales abound in a variety of stores. I found one set with 5 homes. Done. 5 grands equals 5 homes. Though I think some parents wanted to participate. Maybe next year I will need 2 sets.
*Hot glue houses together. This saves tons of time and keeps the houses steady for little hands. And who really eats gingerbread houses anyway?
*Cover cardboard with foil and tape to secure. Hot glue houses to foil. These bases provide plenty of room for landscaping and home decor.
*Purchase cake decorating pieces like our Christmas lights and snowmen. The grands loved adding them to their houses.
*Use tub frosting. The royal icing is soooo stiff, only the oldest 3 could manage to add it to their houses with the tube included in the kit. Soft frosting is just fine for adhering candy.
*Give each child his/her own plate with treats, decorations, a plastic knife, and a glob of icing. If they lick the knife (safe to lick, plastic!), it’s their own germs they eat.
*Limit sugar consumption by making sure home decorators have first eaten a meal. Divvy up candy between all involved decorators, thereby spreading the (sugar) wealth.
*Take lots of photos! Who knows what will happen once the houses go to their respective homes!
*Have fun! Messes are expected, so don’t worry about the small stuff. Everything washes off with a wash cloth.
Merry Christmas and Happy Traditions to You! Happy Gingerbread House Decorating!
1. Cut a generous length of yarn that will fit easily over heads.
2. About 4 inches from end, thread and tie a piece of cereal in place to keep cereal loops from falling off the end. On the opposite end, form a needle by tightly wrapping tape around the yarn and cutting off the tip at an angle.
Tip: For really young crafters, I love to tape the end of the yarn to the table. This keeps the necklace from falling off the table and helps them know which end to use.
3. Fill a bowl with circle cereal loops. Show how to thread cereal on the necklace, pushing it down to the knotted cereal. Let crafters add as many cereal loops as they want. I always tell them they get to eat the broken ones!
4. Tie the ends together and trim off the ends. Ready to wear! Snack on the go.
For older crafters, use colored cereal circles and challenge them to create a pattern as they make necklaces.
SAFETY: ALWAYS remove necklaces before sleeping or playing on playground equipment.