97. Beehive!

IMG_9972v2 Bee eggs, larvae, pupae, worker bees, drone bees, and the huge queen bee!IMG_9980v2

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My son’s fascination with bees beegan this spring and summer when we often saw them buzzing around our flowers in the backyard. We’ve been reading The Saint and his Bees and The Beeman recently.  One of the few good things about me being sick the last week has been having more time to stay home and putter in my pajamas with my son.  Using a small cardboard box, I filled it with the toilet paper rolls I’ve been saving (knowing I would eventually find a good use for them!)  We glued the rolls together side by side to create our hive and honeycomb.  Then we used craft sticks (the egg shaped ones were from Easter clearance), pipe cleaners, beads, and more to create bees in various stages of the lifecycle.  He especially loved making that queen bee! I lost track of how many pipe cleaners and beads were wrapped around her.  The craft sticks are the perfect length to pop into the honeycomb and easily take out again. We used yellow glitter gold for a bit of honey and gold wrappers from St. Nicholas Day coins as more honey. I also found bee lifecycle charts and 3-part cards at Trillium Montessori.  Now we’ve been talking about how beeswax is used to make the candles at church and I’m dreaming of a candle making session…

93. Progress Remembered

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Earlier this summer I was a little saddened to see my son’s reaction to being in the unfamiliar forest (see this) – my beloved forest! He hated it. He cried to go back. Meanwhile, his local cousins happily romped through the ferns and pine needles. Oh, my beautiful, beloved, wonderful Black Hills forest that I’d explored since my earliest days! But during our three weeks there, he began to reach out more, to touch things, to not feel so out of place. This cheered me. One day we followed a path in town lined with purple dame’s rocket and other wild flowers (and invasive weeds, if we’re being honest), and he reached out to touch things and notice them. I was so proud of him, so very happy to see him becoming acclimated to a place (the Black Hills) where being outdoors is basically a part of everyday life. We have the misfortune to not be able to live there currently, but my hope is to claw more and more time each year out for us to spend there, in the place that I love and consider home, and that hopefully he will come to love as well. Baby steps. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Even now, only November, I’m counting the weeks until we can return in early summer.


90. Seed Work

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Kids love to plant things, don’t they? This fall as I’m beginning my very first pre-k catechism class (based on this beautiful, deep curriculum), we have been focusing on seeds in preparation for learning about some of Christ’s parables.  Forcing paperwhite bulbs to grow in mere water is so easy to do and provides quick gratification.  I bought mine at a local garden center. The little white pointed roots appeared within a few days and quickly entangled the rocks they sat upon.  I also have crocus and hyacinth bulbs hibernating in the fridge and will try forcing them in water later this winter.

I also saved the seeds from our Halloween pumpkin (I’m not a big fan of creepy Halloweens but it is fun for little ones to cut open a pumpkin and see all the seeds!).  We planted them right along the side of a clear cup and had a wonderful view of the sprouting process.  Now we are watching the roots grow.

I’m enjoying this seed and root work quite a bit!

89. Leaf Wreaths

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I’ve been trying to scrape back a little time these last few weeks from our overcommitted days, in disbelief that my son is almost four and with the yearning to be home purposefully spending time with him. I am at home with him, but I take on too many projects and end up spending too much time running in circles. I miss our lazy days of puttering on projects together. Since fall is finally beginning here, today we made time to gather leaves from our backyard with the intention of turning them into wreaths. He just liked gathering leaves, happily scooping up dirt-crusted ones and fallen lime leaves off the patio. He asked to pick some Meyer lemons from the well-laden branches. He glued three leaves into the middle of a paper plate and called it good, but I decided to complete a birch wreath as planned. I glued my leaves around the trimmed edge of a paper plate and will punch a small hole in it when dry to hang it. I feel so blessed to have had that short time in the yard together and, I’ll admit, blessed to have three lovely birch trees!  When they turn, I can admire their yellow leaves on the green grass and pretend that I’m in the forest of the Black Hills again.

88. Traveling with Kids: Monterey & Carmel

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Should you? Yes. It is magic of the truest kind to watch the sea creatures swimming in front of, above, and around you and your children at the aquarium. We visited a year ago when our son was almost three and it made such an impression that he still remembered it when we went this October. Last year he made jelly fish movements with his hands for months and months afterward. This year, he’s making baby sea otter noises to call me (sea otter mama) when he wants to snuggle. The tidal wave window is wonderful. The touch pools and children’s hands-on areas up stairs are wonderful. The kelp forest is wonderful. Really, it’s all wonderful!

Of course, the beach itself is beautiful, and this year we saw dolphins, seals, and otters offshore. We collected dried kelp and pebbles to place around our sand castle just like the decorator crab places on his shell.  It was California at its best.

Monterey has a fabulous Dennis the Menace playground as well for more outdoor fun.

If you can go, you should go! The experience carries over into my son’s life for months afterward and provides countless opportunities for learning as we talk about what we saw, act out what we saw, and do art projects about what we saw.

83. Traveling with Kids: Morro Bay



It’s all about the sand for my son – a chance to dig and scoop and pile and destroy for hours. He doesn’t want to go near the waves, which is fine by me. For me, it’s about the long, flat beach, the cool air, beach combing, and walking, walking, walking. This was only our second time at Morro Bay but both times I’ve been able to collect numerous small, unbroken sand dollars, with the help of friends. For a few hours, I can pretend that I’m back in college, working on the Oregon coast for a summer, where sand dollar hunting was one of my favorite pastimes. I bring the little treasures home, rinse them, and set them out on trays in the sun to dry and bleach naturally and then use for various projects. This really is a wonderful beach for kids and families, away from the crazy crowds of Southern California, with plenty of opportunities for interaction with nature. We love the Central Coast.