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Category: Nature

to a little girl who never sees fall leaves… Sorry if we always take pictures of outgoing cards before the receiver gets them, but I love to document them. 🙂

Up here at 9000 feet in the mountains, we do not get to see rich reds and oranges in the trees, only vivid gold aspen leaves. And of course we see the greens of the evergreens. But it only takes 30 minutes to get low enough to find some of the colorful leaves!

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Here’s sending some of that color to a little girl who doesn’t get to see the autumn color near her home… This is the same leaf we took a picture of a few days ago down in Lyons, Colorado, pressed and hopefully will be enjoyed a bit longer. The color faded a bit before we pressed it, but it’s still very pretty.

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Satori wanted to write this letter, I had nothing to do with the sentences except to help her spell them. (And I didn’t help too much, I seem to have forgotten a word, hehe.) She’s come so far from the time we first started sending out pen pal letters. In the spring, I will probably not have to help her do anything to write her letters!

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My memories of growing up were full of nature and outdoors. Running around with my younger brother Kenny, all day long we explored the woods and fields on our family’s farm in Wisconsin. Even though we didn’t know the scientific names of the creatures and flora (or even the normal names most of the time), we saw such fascinating things… Our backyard was a huge alfalfa field, so flowers and insects were everywhere. We’d take a walk back in the valley and our 20 dogs and cats would follow, scattering hundreds of little yellow butterflies on the road. Plums and berries and veggies from the garden made delicious treats. Corn silk made little spaghetti “meals” for our pretend play. In the fall acorns and leaves littered the ground, we could make huge leaf piles and I can still smell the old leaves… In the winter we made the HUGEST snow forts! We sledded down big hills where my dad would lay down tracks with his tractor. I loved every minute of it.

While I don’t have any photos from that time of our huge outdoor playground, here’s a few taken last year.

The house we grew up in… Which we’ll be visiting in a few weeks to see Grandma and Grandpa!

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Satori and my dad walking in the fields… All the land you see (and much, much more) was the lands we explored as little kids…

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In this day and age most kids are plugged in to their TVs and computers. We try our best, although we’re going to try harder now to get out and appreciate the outdoors and nature! We moved to the Colorado mountains and have 6 acres of land, bordered by National Forest on one end, and a mountain stream on the other, hiking trails everyewhere… so there’s no excuse.  All spring and summer I’ve been collecting Colorado bird, tree, insect, flower, etc. identification books.

It is a bit overwhelming to want to know what every single natural item is though, so that is my goal to learn together with Satori as she grows up. These four books will assist in that and be the motivation for us to take daily nature walks!

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Handbook of Nature Study  by Anna Botsford Comstock was written way back in 1911, but is just as relevant today. You can read it free online. In fact, there is a blog dedicated to exploring Handbook of Nature Study and has opened up to Outdoor Challenges for everyone!

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I want to be a bit more prepared, so I want to read up a bit, figure out the perfect nature journal for Satori and I, and then I’ll for sure start blogging about our nature studies!

We think a mountain lion was in our yard two nights ago. David recorded the sounds it was making, and it sounded like a mountain lion when we compared it to sound recordings online. I am a light sleeper who sleeps with her window open even in winter, so I estimate I hear this sound once every few months, but this time it was at 9:30pm when the entire family was still awake.

Game Camera

Game Camera

We don’t know 100% what it was, but it was some sort of big cat! Next summer, I’ll be sure we have one or two of these game cameras, so when an animal goes by, flash! It will be caught on camera. Can’t wait to see all the critters prowling around our property. So far, I’ve gotten good photos of bear, fox, raccoon on our deck, and moose and bobcat within a few miles of our house.

This one might be nice too:

http://www.amazon.com/Moultrie-Infrared-Camera-Built-Viewer/dp/B0010ER8JG/ref=tag_dpp_lp_edpp_ttl_in

People RAVE about this art program, and so I’ve been preparing to start Artistic Pursuits with Satori. Artistic Pursuits is our neighbor in Arvada, CO, so we got our materials the day after we ordered! They feature a creative art curriculum from preschool to high school. It isn’t just copy what the teacher has in mind for you, I believe it will really bring her creativity out as we get into the program. Of course, the Preschool book was the one we cracked first – for ages 3-5. “The Way They SEE It” offers 32 projects, and is a great intro for preschoolers. Peppered within the book are “grown-up talk” to help the parents understand their child’s artistic development.

http://www.artisticpursuits.com/apreschool.htm

First activity was examining a bouquet of flowers by an artist. Then Satori and I went on a short hike around our property and picked out a bunch of wildflowers. I had no clue there were so many flowers around in August! The flowers are different than the orange and purple ones that were dominant in June, these were mostly yellow and white. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies whizzed, buzzed and fluttered around us.

Within minutes we had our very own bouquet. We made a composition with a few common things around our house, lying at the foot of the vase, just like the illustration in our book. Finally, we set it outside on our deck and prepared to draw it.

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This purple thistle flower caught our eye with one of our walks with Justin and Senaca yesterday, so one bud, *had* to go in our bouquet. I’d love to revisit the batch for more photos…

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Within seconds, we had visitors! Several hummingbirds…

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One of our cheeky little squirrels…

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Ok, on to the art! We almost never use crayons anymore, but this lesson called for them, so we looked forward to working with the primitive glory and color of a bunch of Crayolas!

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Whenever I mention “ART”, Satori gets very intimidated for some reason. She can color all day long, but when I want to “do some art”, she says she can’t draw flowers. Same thing today. So I did draw along with her today, and I did some rough sketches of just scribbles. Her first picture copied my style, oops. I really did just scribble, but was hoping to show her that she could do better than me!

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Eventually she got more courageous and actually drew some flowers. 🙂 And a blue hummingbird and bee!

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“Bouquet of Flowers on a Ledge” by Satori, age 4.

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Waiting for us after we finish this book, or perhaps at the same time, is the K-3 books. There is a set of 3: An Introduction to Visual Arts”, “Stories of Artists and Their Art” and “Modern Painting and Sculpture”. We have the first two, missing only the painting/sculpture book. I will be sharing our projects as we explore the Artistic Pursuits curriculum. I myself LOVE to look at artwork by children. 🙂

Adding to the foxes, bears, squirrels as visitors to our deck is this family of raccoons who woke me up at 4:30am this morning! (Click for larger images.)

Family of Raccoons

Family of Raccoons

They were pretty loud, bumping into things and tipping things over, it is no wonder I got up to take a look. They were not really afraid of me while I snapped away photos with my bright flash. There was cute little ones and bigger ones. 🙂

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It was only now as I upload the photos that I see there were 4 total (at least, I think I heard another under the deck).

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I knew this guy had been visiting us for about a month now, but this morning was the first time we saw him! I first heard the neighbor dogs barking, which is always a clue something strange is up… Then I heard him fidgeting around with one of our bird feeders. Grabbed the camera and shot away!

Black bear on our deck

Black bear on our deck

Here he is enjoying the view on our deck.

Bear enjoying deck view

Bear enjoying deck view

Then, on to our drain our hummingbird sugar water and gobble up our sunflower bird feeders. Click on the photo to see his big claws!

Black Bear on our deck

Black Bear on our deck

We’ve been pressing flowers for a few letters so last week I decided to purchase an official Flower Press. It is a Microwave Flower Press and is just 5″ square but it suits our needs just fine. 🙂

Flower Press

Flower Press

This beautiful purple flower that I found growing in our driveway is now pressed and on its way across the United States!

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