Monday, February 11, 2013

our saturday morning

It is kind of becoming the standard around here to get up on Saturday morning have a big breakfast and then find a new trail to tackle! We are finally all healthy which means we can really get out and enjoy some outside time. 

 There are so many reasons that we love our time on the trails. It is fun to watch our girl's personalities really come out. Sam loves to be the leader, to spot things that are coming up and help Avery down steep parts. Avery likes to take her time. She gets excited when I get excited about something and wants to learn about the things I point out. Chris gets a kick (or is totally embarrassed depending on the day!) out of my extreme excitement over little things. What, every mom doesn't burst with joy when you happen upon an owl pellet?
And now that our girls are big enough and can be ahead of us on the trail, Chris and I really get some great time to chat and be together.

 But the thing I love the most about the fact that we hit the trails so often is what we are teaching our girls. A lot of people would not think of central Illinois as a naturally beautiful place. It probably isn't most people's favorite place to go for a hike or go camping. But my girls are learning to find natural beauty EVERYWHERE! They can spot hawks and song birds in our subdivision backyard. A simple stream with a little bit of ice is as exciting as a rushing river. The little things to them are beautiful, fascinating and wild! I love that I get excited about tracks, bird songs, scat and other simple things while we hike, and I hope that my girls can hang on to that excitement as adults as well.

And when hiking with little kids it never hurts to have a brightly colored surprise waiting for them at the end! Can you spot the playground?  Because my kids did!! 

 Through her teeth Sam was saying "get closer, get closer"! So here she is up CLOSE!

Happy family time!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a winter hike

We all just needed to get outside. Cold temps with no snow (snow always makes it more fun to be outside in the cold) and illness plaguing me and Avery for almost a month now has kept us indoors way too much this winter.
Saturday we decided that we just didn't care anymore. We were going hiking! Chris looked on the map and found a spot to explore that was not too far away but looked like it had some neat stuff to check out.

We are very excited to have found this park! The trail that we hiked followed a creek and crossed over it with fun bridges an incredible number of times. Are bridges fun for all kids or is it just mine that go crazy every time they see one? It was an easy hike but still had lots to look at and having a playground at the end is always a plus!

 We had just watched the kid's movie "Gruffalo" and "Gruffalo's Child" which are books we love. So while we were on the hike we kept taking turns pretending to be the big scary Gruffalo that was chasing the rest of us around. Makes for a fun game on the trail.

 Some parts were steep and Sam was glad she had her snow pants on so she could just slide down the hills.
 Even with not much snow there were still lots of new tracks to find and some really great icicles along the creek.
 Yippee another bridge!
 Someone left some Valentine art along the trail! The girls loved discovering this and adding their own hearts to the tree trunk.
 Picture is not great but there were some neat icicles in there! Man do I need a zoom on my camera or what?!

 Who doesn't love an old fashioned teeter-totter?!
The adventure was really great and much needed by all of us. There is just something about family time spent outside exploring. Well, for me there is nothing better!

Monday, February 4, 2013

bird day

I got inspired last week by this mom to have a full out Bird Day! So the night before I did a little prep and then the next morning my girls were surprised with all kinds of bird fun.

We started out by eating like birds. I talked with the girls about how birds eat lots of different things (insects, seeds, nuts, berries, worms, etc.) and how they have to find only the things that they like even though there might be lots of food to choose from in a prairie, forest or even at a bird feeder. Then I handed them their morning snack.

I mixed together craisins, raisins, cheerios, peanuts and Chow Mein noodles. I even had the little chinese take out boxes to put it in (but a baggie or bowl would work just fine too).
Then I gave them each their own set of binoculars and explained that they were going on an indoor bird scavenger hunt. I used all Illinois birds (many of which we see at our backyard feeders) but you could find pictures of any kind of bird you wanted. I gave them a check list sheet and then cut out bigger pictures of the same birds and taped those up around the house.

The big bird pictures were taped in low spots and high spots! The girls had a really great time with this and had be re-hide the birds several times that day.

I also hung up this piece of paper by the window that faces all of our feeders. I told them that for each bird they spotted outside they could put one more sticker on the paper. It was great to see how often they came back to check the feeders! I love finding ways to encourage them to bird watch.

We made owl masks too! Which of course lead to a lot of running (or flying) around pretending to be owls.

We read a lot of bird books that day as well! I don't do fully planned days like this very often but when I do the girls always get so into each activity. I love that. I think an animal day might be on our agenda very soon.

Happy Monday!