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Friday, January 6, 2017

Free National Park Days

The National Park Service just celebrated 100 years of caring for America's treasures.  We sure had fun visiting Shenandoah National Park for the first time last summer and even bought an annual pass to encourage us to explore even more.

This year, you have several opportunities to get out and explore over 400 National Parks, both natural and historical parks, for free on the following dates:

January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20: Presidents' Day
April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
August 25: National Park Service Birthday
September 30: National Public Lands Day
November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

If you take kids, don't forget to ask about the Junior Ranger program at the visitor center so they can earn a cool badge or patch.

(Don't forget to thank rangers and staff for their role in providing an excellent experience.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Urban Nature

I've been thinking about my role as a Park Ranger lately.  I would like a change of pace, but it will take time to make that happen. In the meantime, although I am surrounded by history in a big city, I am drawn to signs of nature.  It is there, I just have to look closely.

Sometimes it is quiet and still...
Above my head in the London Plain tree sits a hawk watching cars go by.
...while other times, nature is noisy and energetic.

This squirrel chitted at nearby birds after burying a supply of acorns.

Sometimes nature offers an unexpected surprise...

yet often provides an expected comfort during change in a rushing world.

No matter where or when, signs of nature help me regain my focus

Friday, October 14, 2016

Autumn Nights

The season is changing. Are you ready for cooler nights and rustling leaves?  Nowadays, I get home from work after the sun has set, but we keep up with our tradition of taking Buddy dog on a walk the moment I walk in the door.  It gives the boys and I much needed time together to talk about the day that has passed. Knowing I love all things nature, one of my ranger friends told me about a great app and I want to share it with you.  It is called Sky Map.   We used it on our walk last night to track the stars, constellations, moon and planets on our walk last night and my youngest loves it!  It is free and helps us to see how the stars make a constellation and shows where the planets are in relation to where we stand. Give it a try, it is free and will open a new world of curiosity.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Find Your Park - Shenandoah National Park

We had a wonderful trip to Shenandoah National Park a few weeks ago.   We definitely celebrated the National Park Service centennial in our favorite way. Camping and hiking - it doesn't get any better for our little family.

If you go, bring sunscreen, bug spray for evening hikes, and stop by the visitor centers so the kids can get a Junior Ranger book and you can get trail maps.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Teaching Them to Remember

It is Memorial Day and I have to work.  I suppose it is not all bad since I will be in the cradle of liberty helping others understand how the US was formed in its infancy, but I do miss our homeschool days when I taught my children to remember. As I look  back, I see in their questions and curiosity, that they do remember and want to know more. 

In this blog post, I wrote about how we gently taught our sons to remember the people who fought to make and keep us free.  I wish you all a moments peace to remember and be thankful this day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Nature Love - helping it grow for older children

It is Earth Day.  In years past we have planted seeds, fed our feathered friends, or made a nature craft to celebrate, but today the boys are in school and I am thinking about how to help their love of nature grow as they grow older.  It seems they are more distracted than ever. For heaven sake, how can Nature compete with Minecraft in the mind of a 10-year old boy? Well, I have a few thoughts about that:

- Get them out there!  If I do not take my boys to nature, how will they ever really care about it? I don't mean just telling them to go outside and play, but to take them to the wilderness for hours at a time. Let them explore at their own pace, wade in a creek or look for crawdads, bring a picnic lunch, and bring home a shiny rock, acorn, or bird feather for the nature table. Better yet, go camping - sleep in the wilderness.(We have a wonderful trip to Shenandoah National Park planned for the summer!) Really, how are they suppose to care about a tree if they have not felt or climbed several? How are they to cherish birds if they do not regularly hear the sweet songs?

- Have everyone keep a nature journal.  Make it lightweight and bring colored pencils. Allow children to draw or write whatever they want. They can press wildflowers in the pages or leaves can be a bookmark.  Let them see your nature journal - your love is contagious.

-Give them a variety of nature books to read and keep nature guides available in your home. One of our favorite books is Bird Songs that allows us to look up a bird according to its habitat then listen to its song.

I  think this is a good start. How do you keep your children's nature love real and growing?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Saint Patrick's Day Remembered

I have been so distracted by everything going on at work that I forgot to make a big to-do over Saint Patrick's Day.  Oh, well, the boys and I are wearing green, my mom is planning a wonderful meal for the weekend, and we have a lovely piece by Saint Patrick to read at bedtime:


Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye of every one who sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
-Saint Patrick

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