Showing posts with label outdoors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outdoors. Show all posts

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Gray January Adventures



Winter comes with ice and snow
Covers over the seeds below
Stark the trees and cold the air
King Winter rules the land, beware!
-Betty Jones from "A Child's Seasonal Treasury"

This one is getting adventurous. She wants to be leader.

Picking out the perfect picnic spot!

"Please Mommy take a picture of us and then show me!"

On their animal hunt...

My big strong boy who is refusing to let me cut his hair!

Jonas helped Brynna climb up. She was thrilled. 

Story time!!

Firstly, THANK YOU. All of you. From the blog, to facebook, to email, to even pinterest- thank you. The love you've injected into my life since my last post, before and after, continues to just BLOW me away. In some of my darker moments, I feigned from sharing because I feared judgment and that no one would care. You all have proved this wrong over and over again. I really need to stop over thinking the impulses of my heart and learn to share freely more. You all have given me a lot more courage to do so, so once again thank you...

Now on to the happy stuff :) 

So far this year, we've had no snow. Some ice and cold temperatures, but there has also been many unseasonably warm days. Two weeks ago I actually broke out my favorite summer dress because it was in the 70s. Regardless, it's a bit chiller now and my body is full on into hibernation and soup mode.

We're back from our holiday break and onto our January. This month our theme is snow and our book is Ollie's Ski Trip. However, like last year, focusing on snow is proving hard when there is none. This week were also studying stars in honor of Epiphany. Ultimately though, I think I am going to blend in snow with winter animals, because we keep finding lots of them- or at least evidence of them. I never thought wide open fields would have so many little critters in them!

Today we took a filed trip back to the kids' new favorite place, the Yorktown battlefield earthworks. I explained to them what earthworks were, why they were there, ect... but the kids call this place their 'earth playground' and are fairly convinced that dwarves made the hills and the holes we see all over are the entrances to their mines. Ha! Needless to say I haven't pushed it.

So off we went. We had a picnic and then circle time. We read the Mitten and brought along the mitten Jonas and I made (he surprisingly really likes to sew). Then we hid the animals all over the hills and took turns finding them. Lastly, and this is my favorite part, we went on an adventure. And boy was it an adventure today.

Look what we found in the woods!!! 



Bits of nature we found. I take photos and then we all look it up later in our books or on the "puter" as Jonas calls it. 

Needless to say the kids were overjoyed. I have no idea who built it. The kids added to it and we played with that little shelter for over an hour. I could not get them to leave. They wanted to camp there. I was tempted to at least let them nap there. But then we meandered about some more and saw neat bits of nature. By the end of our adventure all of our pockets were full of moss, rocks, twigs, and leaves.

I could just go on and on about what I 'taught' today or what they 'learned' but the more and more I think about it, the more and more I believe that's not really the point. I don't think that's the point of Waldorf anymore either- but then again I never thought that was the point anyway (which is why I was so drawn to it). This process, this journey, that all of us are on together- myself included- is the goal. I'm sure I could wax eloquent more on that, but I will leave you all here with this photo. I am not sure why it warms my heart so, but oh it does.


Love & Light,

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Family Time :: Back Creek Park








Osprey and her chick!
Since our move back in December from Newport News to Yorktown, we've slowly been discovering our new surroundings. I had lived in Newport News since August 2005, when I first began college at Christopher Newport University- now my alma mater. When we got married and had Deirdre, we stayed in Newport News as well. We've moved 5 times since then but they all we within that city, until now. Granted Yorktown is not far from Newport News. All of the cities in Hampton Roads are pretty close to one another, but it does change our rhythm a bit. I have been struggling to dive in to my new city and love it for what it is versus coveting other places for what it is not.

So since it has warmed up, we've been going out and driving around and getting lost and finding our way home. I call it having an adventure. I usually pack a picnic dinner and trow a quilt in the trunk and off we go.

In upper Yorktown, there are lots of little rural areas that seem to go on forever until you hit water. One of those places is called Dandy, and in Dandy there is a lovely little park called "Back Creek Park". It's small and it doesn't have a playground. But what it does have are boats and docks which are teeming with marsh life.

Before I discovered my love of history and language, I really wanted to be a marine biologist and worked quite hard to that end. I volunteered and interned at the Virginia Aquarium for 4 years as well. While there was another plan for my life, what that has left me with is a good knowledge of sea life as well as a decent knowledge of our local marsh life. Being able to share that with my children is indescribable. It just makes my heart burst in love and thankfulness.

At times I really miss being close to the ocean. A part of my soul is tied up in the sea. But being so close now to this water and the York river has been a nice affirmation that this is where we ought to be right now. And I am at peace with that.

Also, Please try and do a test comment on this post for me. A few friends have said my comments aren't working. I think I fixed the problem. But I need someone else to check!!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Family Time :: The Norfolk Botanical Gardens





My husband works interesting hours and days since he is in the restaurant business. It is how it has always been since we've been married, so I am used to it now. It also is one of the bigger reasons why we home school. A normal shift for him goes from about 2 pm from anywhere to 11 pm or 2 am (depending on the season). His days off usually are Mondays and Tuesdays but this summer we've been blessed enough to also get him most of Wednesdays too. If the kids we're in school or even pre-school, they not get to see him very much since he works night shifts and isn't off evenings. But I digress! 

It's made for an interesting social life for us but we make it work. Our other couple friends have more 9-5 jobs. But the one happy benefit is that we get lots of time together. He also is able to be a part of the kid's home schooling. We try to devote one day each week to going out somewhere with the kids. Then once a month we try to go somewhere extra special, like cherry picking. 


This past week we all packed up and headed to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. My Grandmother's house- and my mother's and father's childhood homes- are super close to the gardens. I went there a few times as a child but was wholly unimpressed. But a few years back we went again with Craig's family and man had it changed! It is seriously is a Waldorf homeschoolers dream land. They have a dirt factory, sand mountain, water play area, edible garden, Tee-pee village, desert village, farm play area, butterfly house, and enchanted forest. I am sure there is more and that those names aren't the correct ones, but you get my drift!! 

Our monthly theme is berry picking and we were able to pick and eat a few blackberries while we were there in their edible garden as well as plant some seeds, among many other things! 

What did you all get to do this week? How do you work in family time together? I'd love to know!

Love and light,
Nicole

PS: Don't forget to enter my $75 Nova Natural giveaway. I am extending the entry deadline until Sunday at midnight! A few working Mamas emailed me and asked about an extension since they don't get to use the computer much during the week. I am happy to do so! 





Eating lunch next to the worms in the compost bin!! 



Monday, June 25, 2012

Grace Enough and Some Summer





Pool Playdate Party celebrating Summer at our house this past Friday

Our summer nature table


Dancing to music at a local summer concert

Ah it seems summer in in full swing here. Since my last blog (I believe it's been two weeks) we have been having lots of fun, with some tribulation. I think I am beginning to hit my stride with three children. Don't get me wrong, I have tough days. Days where I feel like I get nothing 'constructive' done. But I try not to let that get me down or define my day. In the end, loving and connecting with my children is more important than stressing myself out by cramming our schedules or cleaning like a maniac. A friend recently told me that as long as nothing is growing then we're doing OK, and so far that hasn't happened yet! 


And in all honesty I think now I have the perspective to know how fleeting these days are. I'd rather remember playing, cooking, and cuddling with my kids, than dusting. But that's just me. 


Right now my family is in an interesting state. We are trying to plan out our 'school' for the next year. Our intention was to home-school all the kids until at least the 1st grade, and we'd still like to do that. However in recent weeks, my husband and I have come to realize that Jonas is having some real issues with speech, versus just taking his time. I am not going to get into too many specifics because at this point we just don't know what exactly is going but we do knot that something is awry and that he needs help. Help that I alone cannot just give him. So he is going in for an assessment on July 22nd. 


In the meantime, my husband and I are in a big 'what if' stage. Since it is looking like Jonas is going to need us and our help a bit more, what about Deirdre... and homeschooling? Will I have the time to do it? What is best for her? What is best for Jonas? Oh yes and the baby? Ah, as you can see there are many questions. I think I change my mind 3 times a day about it all. Not to mention the whole gamut of emotions I am feeling about Jonas and the hardship he is going through. I had some really low points recently. Nothing brings you low like when your children experience hardship, as I am coming to find out. 


The upside is that it is just speech that Jonas is having trouble with. He understands everything we say, interacts, and is just such a loving fun guy. Last week we started potty training him and I am happy to say he is now trained, and he did it himself mostly! 


So all in all, things are going well. I am enjoying the kids and this time, even if I don't have all the answers and everything planned out. But then again, I never did before now either. I have faith that God has grace enough for me and my children and the Craig and I will make the best decision we can for them and our family. And quite frankly that's pretty freeing. 


So I'll leave you with some photos of the past 2 weeks. And please remember my family in your prayers. We could really use some discernment and peace. 

Until then, 
Nicole 

Making homemade icecream

Making pie-crust for our blueberry cream pie

Potty training, woo-hoo! Also yes Jonas got a much needed haircut in the past two weeks. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Virginia's Peaches: Picking and A Canning Recipe








Hello dear friends! I am so excited to share with you bit of our peach picking trip that my family took this past Tuesday. As I mentioned in my last post, Summer for us is fruit filled. Beginning with strawberries in May and ending with blueberries in August (plus apple in September),  we spend our summer picking and day tripping. 

Last Summer we managed to squeeze in strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, and apples. However this year my daughter is determined to pick everything that comes in season... in our state! Sadly we already missed cherry season by two days due to a late frost that killed most of the orchard's crop but I was happy to discover peaches just came in season. So we packed all the kids up- baby too- and headed to Charlottesville which is about 2-2.5 hours away. While the weather was a bit cloudy and sprinkling on our way up, the trip was so worth it.  Once you've picked and eaten a fresh peach- all other peaches will pale in comparison. 

The orchard we went to was the same one we visited this Autumn with our co-op, Carter Mountain. I have come to really love this place. The set-up is great, especially for families. It is also beautiful. Every time I visit this area of our state, I don't want to leave. I adore the mountains.  After we picked, and treated ourselves to some fresh baked peach donuts and peach cider slush- we headed home to make peach cobbler, juice, and jam. 

I used my bread maker this time to make jam. My machine specifically has a jam setting! I was given this maker for Christmas from my mother. I use it almost daily. You'd be surprised how many things is can make. I primarily use it to make dough, so I can shape and bake my bread it myself. But I digress, I will just have to write a bread maker post another time!







I doubled and slightly modified the recipe that was included in my bread maker cookbook. You can also follow this recipe by using your stove top, just skip down and I explain that process below. 

Also if you blanch your peaches first, it makes peeling them so much easier! 


Virginia Peach Jam

Ingredients:
-4 cups of peeled and sliced peaches (if yours are not mushy ripe yet then you'll need to slightly mash them)
-2 cups organic sugar
-1 tps of apple pie spice (optional but I liked the extra kick it gives) 
-5 tps of lemon juice 
-3 tbls regular fruit pectin (optional but since peaches have less natural pectin in them and your jam will be a bit runny and more like preserves if you omit this)

If your using a bread machine, select your jam setting and sit back! Once it's done transfer your jam immediately to their jars. If you don't process them in a hot water bath, then you will need to keep your jams in the fridge or freezer. Processed jar will last 6 months in your pantry. 

If you don't have a bread machine, just add all the ingredients to a large boiling pot and bring your jam to a boil, stirring constantly. Once you've got a rolling boil add your pectin and boil for two minutes. Then remove from heat and transfer your jam immediately to their jars. As I said above, if you aren't going to give them a hot water bath to seal the jars, you'll need to put them right into your fridge or freezer. 

Cheers and Enjoy!
Until next time, 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bud the Blackberry Gnome





With Virginia's berry picking season upon our doorstep, I received some much needed crafting inspiration. I am happy to introduce to you all, Bud, our blackberry gnome. His job, according to my 4 year old daughter Deirdre, is to guard the berries from 'pesky animals' whom 'take more than their share of the blackberries'. He also keeps the 'unfriendly insects' at bay- as well as 'helps the berries ripen up just right'. 


I made him using 50/50 wool felt. I find that using blends is easier to embroider, after using 100% wool felt for awhile. His blackberry hat was made using french knots. His cloak and outfit were made using Wee Folk's pattern and a running blanket stitch. 






The blueberry bush and cherry tree behind him were made by myself last summer. If you're interested in how I did it, I wrote an article for Rhythm of the Home magazine detailing the process. Bud now resides on our Spring/Summer nature table. I plan on also making him some other berry friends to keep him company! If you'd like to read about our blackberry picking trip last year you can find it here


Summer is still officially a month away, however we are having days up into the nineties already. With a tiny baby, I am finding it hard to enjoy the outdoors as much since she can't wear bug spray or sunscreen yet. But I am making do. I set up our back yard porch (which is just a large paved area surrounded by our plum tree and fairy gardens) so that my older kids can play out there alone. 


Now when I say alone, they're really not alone. They just think they are! I am actually right next to them, since our living room sliding glass and screen door opens up right out onto the porch.  I can and hear them as if they were in the next room, yet they're outside. I have a mud kitchen, wading pool, chalk, art supplies, trucks, a table and chairs, our fairy garden, and some riding toys all out there for them. And once Brynna is asleep, I then set her in a cradle near the door inside, so I can hear her, and then join Deirdre and Jonas outdoors. Let's just say this set up has been a hit on both ends. Now they don't have to wait for me to stop nursing to go outside. 


Plus I think that this little bit of perceived independence helps build their confidence and let's them play a bit more freely. Jonas and Deirdre have been working out their sibling squabbles more on their own out there too, which is nice. 






I will post some photos of our porch soon, behind the star is a glimpse. I lost my camera for a few days but I've found it again, yippee! Oh and yes, we've been making Waldorf window stars over here. Deirdre and I are addicted! 


I also am starting up my craft for the 'Bits of Goodness' Wizardry World themed swap I joined. Thank you Kelly over at Happy Whimsical Hearts for introducing me to this group. I am making 5 wooden Hungarian Horn-tail dragons and 5 golden eggs, as inspired by the Harry Potter series. I hope they turn out well. 


Until next time, 
Nicole 


Daily Verse or Quote:

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.


– Matthew 18:2-3 (NIV)