Category Archives: Nature Study

Just call me E.B. White


Confession:  I wanted to knew I needed to clean the window really well before I hung the new faux Roman shade, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  Louise has had such a good time getting to know our resident arachnid, and was even able to identify the type she is, conjecture that this thing was an egg sac, and then see the baby spiders emerge.  That’s science at its best.

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Friday’s Fave Five

1.  Weight Watchers.  I joined WW last Friday.  My mom has been a member for a long time now and has had great success with the program.  I have lost weight by following the plan, too, years and years ago.  It’s time for some discipline in my life.  So far, so good.  I haven’t felt terribly deprived, although I’ve had to fight some cravings for things I can’t have because I don’t have *that* many points left.  I expect this to be a process.  I hope to adopt this thinking as a way of life.  I’ve tried several new recipes this week, and most have been moderately successful.  Well, they’ve been successful with Steady Eddie and me; two out of three of our kids who eat food usually won’t touch anything new or different.  {Sigh}

What I got instead of full-fat ice cream at an old timey ice cream parlor with the kids

2. Family walks. On Monday night all six of us took a walk around the block. There’s not anything terribly unusual about this, but on this particular walk I really noticed how wonderful it is just to be together.  Yes, there was still bickering over the one scooter three kids had to share because two of them had left their at mamaw’s and papaw’s.  No, it wasn’t perfectly peaceful or relaxing or conducive to praying (my morning walks used to be like this).  I truly found joy in the moment, though, and took the time to realize this is what we’ll remember about our family life.  Sally would be proud of me.  ;-)  The same scene was repeated last night, only it was just me, Louise, and Benny (in the Moby wrap).  It was wonderful to just walk and converse with Louise, who rode circles around me on her scooter.  We discussed lots of things, from the sublime to the mundane.  The question of the night as we passed a couple of towering crepe myrtles:  “Are those maplewoods or dogears?”
I love my family.   :-)

3.  New interests and abilities.  The DLM has shown interest this week in building things with the various types of block-like toys we have.  This gives me hope that the upcoming school year will be a little bit easier than I have been anticipating since he’ll (maybe, maybe) be content to play alone for more than two minutes at a time.  Besides, is there anything any more endearing than a three year old rascal of a boy blossoming into an engineer?  I think not.

The DLM and his airplane

Another new development here at the House of Hope involves Lulu and a new appreciation for art.  I credit my own interest in art journaling for this.  Several times this week she has sat down at the art table or elsewhere in the schoolroom and created her own masterpieces.  I’m considering hosting some sort of little artsy group this school year, so knowing she’s growing more interested in this sort of thing is encouraging.

4.  Butterfly surprise.  Steady Eddie was cleaning up a bit before he left for work one morning when he discovered that our little butterfly habitat into which we had placed several caterpillars that came off some broccoli we got from my parents’ garden had some unexpected occupants.  I had stuck the habitat on the counter in a little closet in the schoolroom after I was convinced that the caterpillars had died.  Nope.  They had just formed tiny chrysalises, apparently. :-)  The girls turned the two butterflies loose on our butterfly bush (which is now taller than I am!), and Louise informed me that she thinks one of them just might make it.  I love science.  :-)

5.  Benny now laughs aloud.  Is there anything any sweeter?

And a bonus since I didn’t have a list last week.  Steady Eddie, Benny, and I were out of town for most of the week last week, so on Friday the big kids, Benny, and I had some errands to run.  We went to one of our libraries late in the afternoon in time for them to shop in the summer reading program prize store.  One of Lulu’s favorite prizes to purchase with her reading tickets is an orange crush smoothie from the library’s coffee shop.  She has had a couple of them.  I think they’re good, too, though I’ve never bought one for myself.  Well, Lulu and Louise pooled their tickets (Louise contributed all of hers!) to buy me a smoothie!  That totally made my day.   Isn’t it something when your kids do something good out of the blue?  :-)

What’s up with you this week?


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The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Chapter 11– “Creative Recreation”


I agree with Edith Schaeffer as much about creative recreation as I do drama, but summertime in the Deep South isn’t time for much creative recreation unless it involves a swimming pool or some other body of water.  Truthfully, though, we’ve been in something of a rut as far as finding neat and inspiring things to do as a family goes.  It likely has something to do with the stage of life we’re in, though we have been known to disregard the fact that we have a baby that will have to be carried the entire distance and hike anyway.  (This was, in fact, the last time we did anything like this.)  I like how Schaeffer distinguishes between being inspired and “recreated” by nature and doing creative things in or about nature.  I love both ideas.

Being in nature is truly something I love.  Nature study is a discipline that I have attempted to put in place at various times in our homeschool with varying amounts of success.  I love what Cindy says about it, and it makes me purpose to do it again this year, since last year was a year of morning sickness and pregnancy fatigue which rendered me incapable of doing much more than the bare minimum.  We’ll see what I manage with two little men to care for and corral in the midst of it all!  ;-)

As much as I love time in nature, I also love a creatively planned experience, too.  Road trips are one of my favorite diversions.  Last year for our anniversary, Steady Eddie planned a getaway himself, and I didn’t know where we were going when I got in the van.  It was so much fun!  We ended up in Crossville, Tennessee, for a musical theater performance.  We had our belated anniversary meal at a delicious Italian restaurant.  On the way back home we visited Fall Creek Falls State Park after touring a Depression era community. It was truly the best of what I enjoy–a road trip, a theater performance, delicious food, a bit of history, and being in nature.   I’d love to do this sort of thing for and with my children, too.

The last short road trip we made as a family was to the Huntsville Botanical Garden, so I guess it covered both of Edith’s types of creative recreation.  We had a very good time together.  The dynamics have changed, of course, with the addition of Benny to our family, and we’re still getting our footing.  It’s not nearly as easy to drop everything and hit the road with four children as it was with two or even three.  That day, though–the Saturday before Memorial Day–was just about perfect (except for the heat).  I look forward to many such days in the future.

Relaxing in a hammock at H’ville Botanical Garden

Letting the stress melt away. . .

We’re currently in the process of trying to sell our house.  We’ve looked at several properties in our vicinity, and we’ve settled on three that we really like.  When I think about it, all three that we’ve chosen as our top picks have huge yards.  They’re all older houses in established neighborhoods; the newer houses in our area are expensive, but even if the price were right for a newer home, I can’t abide the tiny lots they’re built on.  Give me the green space any day of the week!  If we don’t sell our house, we’ve considered remodeling it and adding on to it (if the price is right, of course).  My only hold up about this is the fact that we’d lose part of our back yard.  I crave green space, and more than that, I think it’s vital for my children to have it.

What Edith says in this chapter is something I want to keep forefront in my mind:

One needs to fight to prevent creativity being killed.  Children are naturally creative, but it needs encouragement.  They need to become aware that they were made in the image of the Creator, and are meant to be creative.  They can begin to understand that there is a difference between the infinite (like God) and the finite (like man), so that they appreciate that they cannot do everything, but they need not just give up and ‘sit’, living other people’s lives on the screen and ‘graduating’ one day to   the place where they have no interest, no enthusiasm and no excitement, like so many of today’s ‘drop outs’ who have dropped out of creativity as well as formal education.  Unhappily, many teachers, as well as parents–who are the first teachers–have ‘dropped out’ too; out of the real universe, which is one in which personality has meaning because man was made in the image of a Personal God.  The impersonal universe of man’s making is one which does not produce a base for creativity.  (178)


I know all this already.  I just need to be reminded frequently.

I’m linking up with Cindy at Ordo Amoris.  You can find my previous posts here.


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Friday is National Public Gardens Day!

For the past several years my children, my mother, and I have spent a lovely day at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens on National Public Gardens Day for free.  Go here to find out more about this year’s May 10 event.  You can read more about our adventures in these posts:

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Oak Tree Study

We needed to get out of the house last week, and the weather was mostly cooperative, so we took off for a lunchtime picnic at local park for some fresh air and some tree hunting.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I saw evidence immediately upon disembarking from the van that we were in the vicinity of some majestic giants!  I had the girls look around at all the leaf litter as we were eating our lunch if they could figure out if there might be oak trees nearby. They noticed both the shape of the leaves on the ground and the fact that there were lots of acorns around.  :-)

I had to back way, way up to get a full shot of our tree specimens.  They are huge!

We had already done some reading from The Handbook of Nature Study about oak trees, so I only pulled out a couple of Peterson field guides to see if I could identify which species of tree these are.  I consistently find myself stumped by this sort of identification.  I can usually narrow it down to a couple or three different species, but I’m rarely confident that I can pick the exact one.  That’s okay since it’s really not the point.  :-)

Children should be made early intimate with the trees, too; should pick out half a dozen trees, oak, elm, ash, beech, in their winter nakedness, and take these to be their year-long friends.
(Charlotte Mason–Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.52)

Our trees weren’t in “their winter nakedness” just yet, but their leaves had begun to change and float to earth.  It was a windy day which allowed us to hear the leaves “talking” to each other.  We compared it to the sound of rushing water.

The girls and I all made observations and sketches on notebooking pages I found in Barb’s October newletter (which you can receive by subscribing to her blog).  The DLM had a grand time with the sticks he had found, as well as the humongous rocks that are nearby.


It’s funny to me that this is a park that I’ve been visiting since I was a tiny girl–probably even the age of the DLM–but if you had asked me before if there were two giant oak trees in the corner by the baseball field, I would’ve had no idea.  Now we all know.  :-)

The Sense of Beauty comes from Early Contact with Nature.
(Charlotte Mason–Vol 1, II, Out-Of-Door Life For The Children, p.68 )

I’ll be submitting this post for Barb’s October Outdoor Hour Blog Carnival. As always, I want to thank Barb for the encouragement to get outside with my children and observe.  Just this very simple act is something that never fails to encourage me.

(Many thanks to Jimmie and her Charlotte Mason Squidoo lens for the quotes I’ve shared!)

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