Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Nature Study in the Sequoias

We went camping last week in the beautiful Sequoia mountains. I love it up there! I spent a wonderful hour or so with Missy and Troubles, doing an impromptu nature study. We walked down a hill from our campsite and began looking...really looking at our surroundings.  We turned over rocks to see what may be living under them, we examined tree bark, we spied all that we could.  Here are some of our finds:

This is an ant nursery that was under a rock.  The white things are the larvae.

There was a lot of this around.  I thought it would be easy to identify, but alas, I can not find a picture that looks like it.  Any guesses?

Here's a centipede we found under a rock.  We also saw (and captured in a cup for a time) a large millipede.  Always be careful with both, since they can bite and are venomous. 

We think these might be some kind of mushrooms.

This is a net-shaped web that Missy found.  Later, we found ones closer to the ground and observed the spiders living within.  They are large, about as big as your thumbnail, and brown and black in coloration. 

I haven't been able to identify this flower.  It was coming up out of the leaf litter and bees were pollinating it and drinking nectar. It had no apparent smell to us and no green leaves.  It measured only about 5-6 inches across all of the clumps. Anyone know what it is? Please leave a comment!

Nearby, we found this.  At first we thought it was scat, despite its bright coloring.  After researching, I think it may be Vomit Slime Mold.  What a crazy thing!  

These caterpillars dive-bomb right out of the trees.  The children liked their 'horns' and tail.  

We found this weathered stump with clear rings.  Counting carefully, we got to 40 before we reached the middle and they became too small to discern. 

I took this one to show how small the stump actually was.  Think how long it takes a tree like this to reach maturity!  

The Columbines were blooming and beautiful!

The next day, our family took the beautiful, two mile hike to the Adam and Eve Trees near Shake Camp Campground. 

Here are lots of Columbine near the trailhead.

Manzanita was plentiful along the trail. 

A majestic Sequoia

You really should put visiting here high on your list of things to do before the Lord calls you home. It's simply magnificent!  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Of Climate, Phlebotomists and Deserts

It's summer.  We aren't doing any organized studies right now and it feels nice.  That doesn't mean that we aren't learning, of course.  I'm doing tons of canning and house projects, the kids are helping, of course, and practicing their favorite skills.

EmBlem is studying her drivers manual (GULP!) diligently and helping craft items for auctions and giveaways to help adopting Reece's Rainbow families with the financial burden.

GirlofGod is the chef in the house.  She'd cook every meal if I would let her!  In fact, her birthday is coming up and when I asked what she wanted, she replied, "I want to bake myself a cake and cook a full dinner!".  She's enamored with the idea of culinary school and looks forward to working in a commercial kitchen, perhaps as a sous chef.

Vic is becoming quite good at guitar and is helping to lead worship in midweek service.  He's also learning to play the keyboard. Innate musical talent astounds me and I am so glad to have a son with the gift!  I love hearing him making joyful noise to the Lord.

Trixie has such a heart for orphans.  She's a prayer warrior for Mark.  Isn't he the cutest? She enjoys jewelry making and made a very nice bracelet for the last Hidden Treasures auction.

We spent the 4th of July in the mountains, lower than we usually visit, so the landscape was different.  We drove through grassy foothills and Troubles marveled.  As the golden grassy fields stretched as far as you could see, he remarked that it felt like we were driving through Egypt! As we gained elevation, there was a moment when we very clearly left the grassland and entered forest.  I thought it was interesting how very different a few feet can be between climate zones!

Later, the Lambies were discussing vampire bats.  Polly was teaching Troubles all that she knew about them (which was quite a bit!).  He asked me if vampires (like the human shaped monster type) were real.  I answered that the only human type vampires were phlebotomists.  He then asked if they were in the same family as mosquitos.

Jack is reading more and more, which is nice. I appreciate the effort it takes him to sound things out and work out the meaning.  He's also becoming quite aware of the beginning sounds of words and working hard to pronounce them correctly.

Missy, happily, doesn't enjoy watching TV, so when it's on, she's usually drawing or copying.  She *loves* copy work!  She's growing in responsibility and remembering to do her assigned chores without being reminded.  She brings me books on occasion and asks for a story.

I miss reading so much to the children.  In the business of summer activities, daily reading sometimes falls by the wayside.  To help combat that forgetfulness, I began a chapter book with the Littles.  We're reading The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor illustrated by Phillip Reed.  I tried to find the copy we have online for a link, but couldn't.  Maybe it's an unusual one?  I will next read some of the Tales From The Arabian Nights, if they are still interested in this style of story when we finish Sinbad.

Speaking of Arabia, Troubles wanted to write a story about deserts but didn't know very much about them.  He asked me to take him into our library and find a book about deserts so he could learn about them for his story.  We pulled and read "Desert Giant" and "Cactus Hotel" since these are the type of desert that we are nearest. He really paid attention and is crafting an interesting story.

Learning doesn't stop because its summertime!