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Category Archives: Childhood

A Golden Birthday for a Three Year Old

When your soon-to-be three year old says that all she wants to do for her birthday is walk on the Golden Gate Bridge, what do you do? Well, you walk that bridge!

She began requesting it in earnest as her birthday “party” after this trip, and only increased her pleadings with gusto, so we loaded up the car on her birthday weekend and made the drive down to the Bay area.

We stayed overnight in San Rafael on Sunday evening {so much more affordable than SF!} and drove down towards the City after the commuter traffic had subsided. It was a smart move driving in right as the parking lots opened at 10 as they quickly filled up within minutes of our arrival. It was also a wise decision to circumvent the weekend traffic — causes a lot less congestion headache!

Lucie jumped from the car, eager to begin the trek! {That pose is all her own.}

Her interest in bridges {and lighthouses} piqued by this book, after being introduced to it over a year ago, has not abated. She still squeals with delight each time she spies one as we pass by. This one is no different and now holds an even more special place in her heart as she walked across it!

We love making these memories with our girls.

And we couldn’t finish off the day without a sweet birthday treat. That banana split was a huge hit! What a goof.

#write31days ~ day 6: camping with young children

calaveras big trees camping

I’m no pro at this camping game, but I can say, without a doubt, taking the girls outdoors overnight several times this summer has been an excellent decision. The family/friend camaraderie is bar none when one is able to wile away the hours in the wild.

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

We eased in with our first trip in July, staying just one night with some close friends at a state park we had been to before. I am glad that we only committed to one night this first time because it was relaxing to know that if things didn’t work out, we’d only be missing out on one night’s sleep.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

Shortly after our camping trip to the coast, we began looking at other possibilities for a second trip this summer. We chose a spot none of us had been to, and invited Steve’s parents to come along for the fun. Our spot was the Calaveras Big Trees, not too far from Yosemite. This state park was a little closer to home than the last, allowing for more play and less driving.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

A few days before we left, we decided to extend our stay an extra night. We were only inconvenienced by having to move sites the second night {and the first was our favorite, boo}.

camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

Evelyn continued her tradition of searching for “mysterious creatures” in the woods with her little headlamp. She also brought along her camera again this time and was capturing snapshots of all the things of interest–moss, bark on trees, a camp chair, the dirt on her sister….

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

calaveras big trees camping

Lucie got dirtier than anyone I’ve ever seen, announcing at the end of every meal, “I’m done. I go play in the dirt!” It’s a little hard to keep her out when it is everywhere. She took advantage of mama allowing this unbridled freedom by spending every possible minute in it.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}
calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

The BIG trees were truly spectacular. They soared to the sky–there was certainly some neck craning to catch a glimpse of the top. In one spot, we were able to stand on top of the stump of one that had been cut down. It was big enough to host a party on!

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping {photo by Jan}

We went on a little hike through the woods, and had planned on coming back the next day to the series of trails for another, but never made it. There are many trails to explore at this park, for various levels of experience.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Jan}

There was so much for the girls to be involved in, including food prep, dish washing, journaling, tree identification, and, of course, plain, ol’ playing in the dirt, which I demonstrated as Lucie’s greatest strength when it comes to camping. 🙂

We actually got the girls to sleep for a nap {despite the neighbors practicing a hip-hop dance to some loud beats–who does that in forest?}. They needed that rest to make it through the evening with s’mores on the horizon.

calaveras big trees camping

calaveras big trees camping
{photo by Stephen}

My favorite part of the trip was witnessing the girls with their hot chocolate and mugs of oatmeal first thing in the morning. It seemed quintessential camping and they looked so cozy bundled up in their warm gear. That and s’mores roasting. They took to the camping traditions like fish to water.

If you’re on the fence about taking the leap with your family, I’d say, Go for it! At least one night. It’s an excellent adventure that’s great to have in the family memory bank.

#write31days ~ day 3: BIG painting

big painting

With two little people who are super inquisitive, I decided to glean a little extra help with a structured, yet very loose, curriculum from The Homegrown Preschooler this school year. It’s called A Year of Playing Skillfully. I am very much into play-based learning, hands-on experiences, etc. and this curriculum fits that to a ‘T’.

big painting

big painting

Last year, I read The Homegrown Preschooler, written by the same authors of the curriculum, Kathy H. Lee and Lesli Richards. I appreciated their educational philosophy and incorporated some of the activities offered into our day. Between this and Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven {which we LOVED and are supplementing with again}, we had a great thing going last year.

big painting

big painting

But I could tell this year that Evelyn needed a little something extra. I was faced with the decision of, essentially, putting together my own curriculum or seeking a bit of help. I chose to do the latter because I was feeling a tad overwhelmed at the prospect this time around.

We’re a month in, and although we didn’t get to half the prescribed activities in September, we had a great time with the ones we did. It’s a great program because Lucie can easily get involved too, even though she is only a fresh two years old. {She’s much more interested in kinesthetic learning, so she truly has no problem diving into many of the activities!}

big painting

big painting

One of last month’s activities was BIG painting. We took out a large roll of paper, cut about 15 feet off, and got to work on it with paints, sponges, paintbrushes, and a few other natural items we found in the yard {Lucie really liked stamping with a large rock}. Evelyn surprised me by instigating the body painting, which she is usually hesitant to try.

big painting

big painting

They had the best time working together…and individually when they each needed a bit of space. It easily allowed for that.

big painting

big painting

Since we used washable paints, clean-up was relatively easy. Even mama got some on her shirt and it washed out. 🙂

painted

painted

Looking forward to sharing more of our projects with you as the year progresses!

Floral Identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

flower identification

The girls and I have been fortunate to spend some time in the mountains the past couple days, in the cooler air and away from the smoke. This morning, we went on a long walk and spent the time finding as many wildflower varieties as we could. We came back with quite the array.

The remainder of the morning we spent with the flower identification book attempting to figure out each flower. {And I had some fun photographing with my camera!} Here were our findings.

Flower #1 : Yarrow – achillea millefolium

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #2 : Couldn’t get this one — it appears to have small seed pots on the stem.

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #3 : Sierra Daisy – erigeron algidus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #4 : Checker Mallow – sidalcea oregana

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #6 : Sierra Gentian – gentianoposis holopetala

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #7 : Sierra Stickseed – hackelia nervosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #9 : Sticky Cinquefoil – potentilla glandulosa

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #10 : Spur Lupine – lupinus arbustus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #11: Sierra Penstemon – penstemon heterodoxus var. heterodoxus

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #12 : Parish’s Yampah – perideridia parishii

flower identification

flower identification

Flower #13 : Mountain Dandelion – agoseris retrorsa 

flower identification

flower identification

Can you tell we’re in the Sierra Nevadas? 😉

 

Linking up with {pretty, funny, happy, real} over at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Springtime Snow at Serene Lakes

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

Serene Lakes - May 2016

We’ve been going, going, going around here lately, so when we found ourselves with an empty weekend, we seized the opportunity and ran up to the cabin for a quiet weekend on the lake. This time of year is more of an off-season so it was quite ‘serene’ save a few year-round locals.

We took a long walk around the lake with the girls who impressed us with their endurance, making it at least three-quarters of the way {about 2 miles} around before asking for assistance.

The snow was still abundant so Evelyn was happy to begin her notorious snowball fights with us. Lucie especially enjoyed finding streams of snow melt to throw rocks and pinecones into. There was ample opportunity so lots of stop-and-go as we went along.

We found many groupings of daffodils just beginning to bloom, which was rather funny to us as they bloomed in our area about mid-February. But, there, they are just now having the opportunity to peek through the ground as the snow melts away.

Large sections of the lake have melted, which Evey was rather disappointed about as she wanted to ‘skate’ across again. I’m rather looking forward to the summer season, to taking boats and paddle boards out, splashing on the shore with the girls. It’ll be here soon enough.

Wings of Their Own

We are huge fans of play silks. They fire the imagination better than most of the toys that reside in our play corner. Evey, especially, tries every configuration she can come up with to make a beautiful, flowing dress from the cloth. Princesses are certainly on her radar these days.

Lucie loves to see them fly. We play ‘pop the bubbles’ frequently or throw it high in air to watch it gently glide to the floor over her head. Giggles flying high too.

Evey butterfly wings

Evey butterfly wings

A little play silk search online the other day led me to this wonderful shop called Oakmoss and Ivy. They carry the typical play silks, but another item caught my eye: butterfly wings made from recycled Indian saris. With an emergent interest in butterflies blooming this Spring, I couldn’t think of a better surprise for the girls. And they are just SO beautiful!

Evey butterfly wings

Evey butterfly wings

The morning after it came, I couldn’t get them out of their pajamas before they were running around, floating with their new wings.

Evey butterfly wings

Lucie is a tad small for the wings and she doesn’t quite get the idea of holding your arms out while flying. She keeps tucking them into her chest. I think she’s afraid of letting them go.

Lucie butterfly wings

Lucie butterfly wings

She would love to soar but I think she needs a few more inches of height before it works well for her.

Lucie butterfly wings

Lucie butterfly wings

If you would like to get a pair of your own wings, Oakmoss and Ivy is offering a 10% discount to my readers with the code: MUFFIN10. They have some other great offerings too, including nursing covers, bow ties, and mini slings for baby dolls.

Quietly Preparing

It gets pretty quiet around here come November. I begin to get into Advent and Christmas-prep mode, so little time is left for writing my thoughts and happenings. The cooler weather also makes me pause and become more contemplative. The introvert in me comes out full-force. I miss writing, but I’m happy to be more reserved for a time.

Advent-light

I’m gathering bits and pieces for the beginning of Advent {just only over a week away!}. This year, I’m catching on with the tradition of wrapping a book for each day and opening it as a sort of Advent calendar. The bookworm bug is strong around here, so there is always much reading done, but now Evey also gets a kick out of opening packages, so it’ll be fun to add on that extra element. I’ll be wrapping them in old, brown paper bags as I could see purchasing enough Christmas paper to cover so many becoming rather expensive.

We also will be doing our beloved Advent Nativity. This was Evey’s favorite last year. She never forgot a day, as it was her first act upon rising in the morning. More important, even, than breakfast. 😉

nativity-advent-calendar

We’ll be following along with Ann Voskamp’s, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, together as a family and making our own Jesse Tree ornaments as we go along each day. And, of course, lighting our Advent wreath on the appropriate Sundays.

A small chocolate Advent calendar may also make it’s way to our counter too. 😉

One thing I was fairly successful at last year, which I’ve made even more of an effort to do this year, is purchasing Christmas gifts before Advent starts. It allows us to really dive into the quiet preparation for Christ’s birth. And really remember the reason for the season, without fretting over whether presents have been purchased or not and rushing to beat crazy crowds.

 

What kind of Advent/Christmas preparations are happening in your household? 

#write31days ~ Day 26: Musician-in-Training

little-mandolin-player

little-mandolin-player

little-mandolin-player

Both my husband and I love music–listening, playing, you name it– and it seems our daughters feel no differently. Steve often takes out his mandolin to play for the girls and Evey always asks to help play it. She’s been doing this since she could barely stand.

Now, she’s asking for one of her own but I think we’ll wait a bit. 😉

#write31days ~ Day 16: Ballet {in Color}

ballet-pique-color

ballet-dots-color

ballet-releve-color

ballet-balance-color

ballet-trio-color

A few more fun details from my ballet photos yesterday. These ones I left in color as those sweet shades of pink are too nice to let go of sometimes. 😉

#write31days ~ Day 15: Tiny Ballerina in Black and White

ballet-butterfly

ballet-stretching

ballet-at-the-barre

ballet-chasse

ballet-waiting

ballet-balancing

ballet-grand-jete

For almost two years now {more than half her life–crazy!}, Evelyn has been going to ballet classes on Thursday mornings. We started in the Itty Bitty Ballet class where not much formal training was done but it gave the children an opportunity to get used to rhythm, following instructions, and learning about their bodies movement in space.

About six months ago, Evelyn moved up to the more advanced Pre-Ballet class and has continued to enjoy it, including the more formal learning of ballet steps and movements. I’ve loved watching her grow and blossom in these classes. She gives her all and absolutely loves every moment of it. I’m so proud of her holding her own amongst girls who are a bit older than her. {The class is designed for 3-6 years old and she hasn’t even reached 3 yet. But the teacher felt she was ready to move up!}

Whether she decides to stick with ballet long-term, switch to another type of dance, or abandon it altogether further on down the road, I’m so glad she’s had this opportunity.

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