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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

Friday, February 26, 2016

The National Park Service and the Philadelphia Flower Show

Only one more week until the Philadelphia Flower Show!  I am so excited because this year the theme is: Explore America - 100 Years of the National Park Service. Could it get any better among cold and rainy days?

Last week I participated in a photo shoot that will be incorporated in to the main entrance which is as though you are stepping into a NPS lodge. And from the look of it, the whole show will be spectacular. So if you are ready for a preview of the glories of spring, join me there, and bring your kids, we have some great activities for them.  If you cannot come, then follow along here and on my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter & Instagram @howthesunrose2.

Just to get you in the mood...

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow is Coming!

Finally a decent snow is coming our way. As we got ready for the morning, my youngest and I talked about sledding, snow forts, and snowmen. But it also means a lot of this:

I really don't mind. Show shoveling is great exercise!
(We'll see if my back agrees the next day.)
We will probably take time to catch & observe snowflakes if they are big enough. This is a lot of fun for all ages. Click the photo below to learn how.
Now, as the boys are off to school and I ease into the day with a warm cup of peach tea, I find myself most looking forward to a walk in the woods. The pristine snow crunching under my feet, the only other footprints belonging to animals who have stepped across the path I follow... Oooh! I can't wait. 
Tiny little mouse tracks!
But in the meantime, I turn to one of my favorite poems:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.   

My little horse must think it queer   
To stop without a farmhouse near   
Between the woods and frozen lake   
The darkest evening of the year.   

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.   

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

Now off to find the snow pants, boots, and sleds!

Monday, January 18, 2016

We Have a Dream

This past weekend we took a trip to Washington D.C.  On the drive, we listened to Martin Luther King, Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech with an accompanying, beautifully illustrated book.

After we listened to the cd, we discussed the changes that have happened since the speech.  In talking about signs that read "Whites Only"  our 7 year old said, "I would be tempted to kick those signs DOWN!" - he's a mover & a shaker who will fight for justice his whole life.
After visiting the National Archives, where we saw the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, we went to the National Museum of American History and saw the Star Spangled Banner.  To end our visit, we, along with hundreds of others, stopped by the Lincoln Memorial.  Our oldest who is in fifth grade, and passionate about what is right and fair, was happy to carry on Martin Luther King Jr's message:
May it be true.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Out and About in All Kinds of Weather

In the past, I picked a purposeful word for the new year. This year, however, I kept it simple: hike/walk year-round. My ultimate goal is to help my children experience the seasons and how they affect nature.

Here is our first walk of the new year on our local rails-to-trails path.

Sometimes the walks are just myself and our new dog, Buddy.  I love how a morning walk starts my day off in a calm breath-of-fresh-air way. Buddy loves to sniff his way as we pass the farmland.
We had a small dusting of snow last night.  My youngest was
thrilled. On our walk this morning, Buddy was just as happy.

And just as happy to get warm.
So what are your goals for this year?  Do they include outdoor activities?

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