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Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Life in Pictures: Fall Break Beach Trip

Experience Nature: Hermit Crabs Galore!

Oh, my, how we experienced nature on our beach trip!

This time at the beach, perhaps because of hurricane Isaac, there was a fantastic sandbar that created a calm place for us to swim most days.  And in this little calm place before the sandbar, we found dozens of tiny little hermit crabs burrowing into the side of the sandbar.  We collected a good many in our bucket to study them, and they were fascinating!  A little rowdy and rude to one another, actually!   I'm hoping my video uploading skills will work and you can see how neat they were!

We also befriended a fluffy seagull who watched over us each day, saved a few butterflies whose wings had gotten wet, marveled at the thousands of giant dragonflies by the sand dunes, saw a few pelicans close up, saw a stingray jump out of the water a few times (and rushed out of the ocean to be sure we were out of the way of whatever was chasing that ray!), and even got to see a few dolphins swimming off the shore one afternoon.

Then, once we got back to my parents' house to rinse off from the beach each day, we got to hang out with 3 frogs we found living near the outdoor shower.  I wish I had gotten some pics of those frogs--they weren't very afraid of us, so we got to watch them for a while outside (and even saw one try to eat an earthworm--yuck!).

It always makes us happy (my mom, Flanna, and me, too!) to experience nature, and it really did add to our fun at the beach to get to study all those neat creatures in their own habitats.

How have you experienced nature this week?  

Provide Yourself with Margin

building the moat for our sandcastle at high tide
I just got back from a wonderful vacation.  It was just me, Flanna, and my mom, and we went to the beach for a few days for Flannery's fall break.  We had such a nice time!  

I think the best thing about our trip was that it was unhurried.  We didn't plan anything we "had" to do during the trip.  We just woke up, had a lazy breakfast on the screened porch, got ready for the beach, spent several hours on the beach, then packed up and headed back to the house whenever we were ready.  In the evenings, we made simple dinners, hung out a bit, and turned in to bed pretty early.  It's funny, it sounds boring as I write it up, but it was so nice to have such unhurried time, such a measure of margin to our days.  That's not typical of our everyday lives for sure!

But I think I'm going to work on that--adding more unhurried time, more margin, to our daily life.  I'll have to think about how to make that happen--maybe by getting up earlier in the morning myself so that I don't feel rushed, or maybe by planning my meals more often ahead of time so that I'm not scrambling for ingredients.  Any ideas for building in more margin to everyday life?  I'd love to hear!

Do you have much unhurried time in your routine?  If so, how do you keep it that way?    

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Say Yes

Today was quite the social day for our family! 

I got to see two dear friends for a quick lunch out--my friend Sara (who lives here in GA) and my friend Laura (who is visiting from Oregon).  It was so nice to catch up with them and to get to hear some of the ins and outs of their daily lives.  You may remember meeting Malcolm on the bloggablog a while back when he was born, and now he is 4 months old already!  He's such a content little guy--he just smiled and babbled to himself while we lunched! And sweet Laura was so kind to make time to see us--it's a whirlwind to try to see all your family and friends in one visit!

Laura with baby Malcolm
Also today, Flannery and I went to our first neighborhood playgroup for our road.  It was just lovely--kids of all ages running around in a neighbor's back yard while parents of all backgrounds chatted and laughed.  What a charming group of folks!  I'm so happy to have gotten to meet them, and glad that I made myself push through being tired at the end of a long work day.  I had to tell myself to be bold and, "Say Yes" and join in, even though we didn't yet really know any of the families yet and it had been a long day already.  But I'm glad I did.  Turns out the parent were very kind and laid back, and they were planning Halloween festivities, which you may know is my very favorite holiday of the year, so yay!  Anyway, Flanna very quickly warmed up to some of the little girls and can't wait to play with them again.  She is such a friendly and outgoing little thing! 

What did you "Say Yes" to lately that brought you happiness?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Experience Nature

We're so lucky to get to experience nature every morning on the way to school.

This is the little yellow bridge we cross on our way to Flanna's school each day.  There's a tiny creek running under it.  There are also apple trees to watch each week, to see how the apples are growing, and flowers that are in various stages of blooming, and dogs and cats and squirrels to see along our way.  And there's a little koi pond at the back of the school beside where Robi parks his bike before we walk Flanna into the building. We have so much nature to see and experience--it's such a nice way to begin our day!

Usually, after we walk Flanna into school, Robi leaves from her school to bike into work.  I usually walk back home, then hop into the car to head to work!  It seems silly, and sometimes I wonder why I don't just drive her to school on my way into work!  But then, I'd miss the chatting during our walk, the meeting of all our neat neighbors, the trek across the bridge, all the beautiful natural things we get to see, and most especially the little bit of exercise!

And what's more, the one time last week when I did drive Flanna into school rather than walking her in (it was rainy, and I had an early meeting to get to), she got a note on her behavior chart that she had a bit of a hard time staying on task during their morning meeting.   So I think the morning walk and being "in nature" is good for her, as well!

Flanna by her school koi pond

What can you do to build "experiencing nature" into your daily routine?  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Speechy Sunday: Activities for Karma Wilson's Bear Books

Don't all you teachers and SLPs (and parents/aunts/grandparents!) just love Karma Wilson's wonderful "Bear" books?  She has written so many lovely rhyming books about Bear and his friends (the raven, the wren, the mouse, the hare, the mole, etc.).  My favorite of her books is "Bear Snores On," which is about a hibernating bear whose friends come by while he is sleeping and basically have a potluck party in his cave, and the craziness that ensues when he wakes up!  It's a great little book, and my daughter Flannery has loved it from the time she was 1 1/2, and she still enjoys it (and she's almost 6 now!).

I love these books because they typically include some wonderful more challenging vocabulary for young children (ex:  cuddle, heap, howl, flutter), and the books are usually very sweet stories about a group of animal friends being kind to one another in different ways.

But best of all, I just discovered that Karma Wilson has some free teaching materials and ideas for how to tie her book into other activities throughout the school day.  She lists some really great activities such as an imaginary potluck, a glitter activity to help children learn about how germs are spread, a seasons coloring page featuring Bear, and many more cute ideas.

Check them out, and let me know how it goes if you end up using them with your own students or kiddos!

What resource have you just discovered that you're excited to use or share?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Connect to Your Neighborhood

Today was the long-awaited Decatur Book Festival!  We got up early, had breakfast with some new friends from our neighborhood, and then wandered around Decatur for several hours to see all there was to see.

We heard several children's authors read their books at the Children's Stage, and I have to say that I was again blown away by Mac Barnett, who is just so funny and engaging.  (We'd seen him last spring when he visited Flanna's preK to read "Chloe & the Lion".)  His book, "Guess Again!" was new to me today, and so great.  I'm also excited to read his chapter books once Flannery is ready for those!

Flanna enjoyed Patrick McDonell, too, who wrote "The Monsters' Monster," as well as a cute children's book about Jane Goodall called "Me, Jane."  (He also writes a daily cartoon called "Mutts."  McDonell had visited Flanna's school yesterday and read The Monsters' Monster to her grade, and so we just had to get our own copy of the book and have the him sign it today.

Patrick McDonnell 

Flanna got a word search book from one of the used book sales, and
here she is searching away while we cooled off at Starbucks for a bit!
Karma Wilson reading her books - we love "The Bear Snores On"!
We also got some wonderful ideas for books to put on our list to check out from the library!  The Lunch Lady series (graphic novels about a secret spy lunch lady!) by Jarrett Krosoczka are definitely on our list, as are "Olivia & the Fairy Princesses" by Ian Falconer, "Bear Says Thanks" by Karma Wilson, and "the Gift of Nothing" by Patrick McDonnell.  Such fun!

We've only lived here in Decatur for about a year now, but we are slowly feeling more and more connected to our town and neighborhood.   As a speech-language pathologist and literacy coach, I have to say that I am really excited to live in a community so excited about literature and with such a culture of reading for fun.  I feel like we have found a nice niche here in this little corner of Atlanta, and can't wait to become more and more connected to this wonderful community!

What do you love about your neighborhood/community?