Yosemite

We took the kids to Yosemite recently. Here are a few pictures from our visit.

The Merced River tumbling over rocks: (I was so pleased when my husband taught me how to use shutter speed to achieve that silky slow-mo water look!!):

Yosemite

Emily’s boots in the icy snow:

boots

The lower half of Yosemite Falls:

Yosemite falls

A view of the top portion of Yosemite Falls:

Yosemite Falls

A cliff near Yosemite Falls shrouded in mist:

Yosemite

Nature Study at the Wildlife Refuge

Fall has FINALLY hit our area. We went in just a few days from 101 degree temps down to the 70’s. Ahhhhhhhhh. Our family likes to watch the seasons change at the local wildlife refuge.

Tule Elk:

Elk

For the first time, we saw cranes doing a mating dance:

Cranes

Cranes mating dance

We saw a couple of coyotes. This one had really big ears!

Coyote

My husband and I like to joke how there is always a theme at the refuge every time we go there. Sometimes the theme is quail, or ducks or owls. Other times it’s sunflowers or fluffy seed pod trees or whatever. This weekend’s theme was dragonflies. There were literally thousands of them skimming and darting all over the place! This particular one was about to become a spider’s lunch and I just had to rescue it. Here it is pausing on my shirt sleeve before flying off:

Dragonfly

I love it that we’re able to hop in the car, drive about 7 minutes or so and be right in the thick of nature.

Our Trip to Yosemite

We took the kids to Yosemite this weekend for a day and had a wonderful time! I think it’s important for kids (and grown-ups!) to get plenty of time outdoors and if you can- to visit some really “raw” nature. Yosemite is one of our family’s favorite destinations.

Yosemite Falls was totally dried up! I have never seen it like this. You can check out some Google images to see how it looks most of the time.

Yosemite

The kids loved rock scrambling:

Rock scrambling

It was a hazy day, but still beautiful:

Yosemite

We all enjoyed the little, fat squirrels running around. This one was snacking on a cracker:

Squirrel

And this one was investigating Bear’s hand INSIDE the Awahnee Hotel!

Squirrel

I feel really blessed to live this close to such a magnificent place. Sometimes during the demands of daily life it’s easy to lose touch with the wonderful world God made and things can even feel overwhelming. Try to take some time, even just an hour if that’s all you can do, to devote to walking around somewhere with a beautiful vista and lots of fresh air. It will do your spirit a lot of good and make some of the day to day problems take on a more proper size.
God is always bigger than anything you are going through. It might take looking at an 8,836 foot chunk of rock to be reminded of that, but He really is!

Shining Dawn Books – Nature Explorers

Recently Shining Dawn Books had a contest give-away and I was one of the winners!

Here’s what I picked out from the 3 prize choices I was given (with Otter’s input):

Fruits and Nuts

Fruits and Nuts is an attractive, 64 page Christian based unit study chock full of different ideas like hands-on activities, writing ideas, Bible lessons, poetry, artist and picture study references, composer and music study references, Internet links, literature suggestions, notebooking pages and more.

I’ve always thought nature studies were important, but sometimes they are hard to get around to actually doing. Having a guide like this helps make the process so much easier because you are working off of a foundation with so many things already researched and easily accessible.

Recently Otter was writing a friend a letter and wrote the following:

Our God is so Wonderful

“A couple of weeks ago I asked my mom why did God make weeds? Then we went to the wildlife refuge and I saw why God made weeds they looked so beautiful and the deer ate it. Now I know that he made everything for a reason. “

I think what he wrote really reaffirms Job 12:7-9

7 “But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you;

 8 Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you;
And the fish of the sea will explain to you.

 9 Who among all these does not know
That the hand of the LORD has done this,

Observing Nature

Dh was out in the front yard this morning when he heard what he called “a propeller driven bomber” fly past his ear. He then noted this guy doing some bee grocery shopping and ran inside to grab his camera:

bumblee bee in a flower

Bumble bee loaded with pollen

The next picture is my favorite. Look at how the edges of the wings are slightly torn. Check out all that pollen! I think the pollen from these flowers is just begging to be looked at under our microscope.

Bee covered in pollen

This pic is out of focus, but I like it too. The bee’s little feet are totally covered in pollen. It looks like he has fuzzy boots on.

bee covered in pollen flying away

We took the boys to the wildlife refuge again recently. Here are some pictures of our adventure there:

I think this may be a racoon print. You can see the little pieces of fur inside the print. There were tons of tracks criss-crossing the dry creek/canal bed. It looked like the animals were going after the fish stranded in the shallow puddles and all of the stranded and dead crawfish. The fish that were left were amazing to watch. They were JUMPING partly out of the water to get the tons of mosquitoes floating above the surface of the water. We stopped and watched them for awhile (from the mosquito-proof safety of the car, LOL).

This tree that looks like it was in a snow storm is covered in white seed “fluff”.

Tree covered in seed fluff

We almost always see pheasants running around at the refuge. It’s very hard to get a picture of one because, despite the bright coloring, they have an amazing knack at getting “lost” in the ground cover very quickly. They are also very shy and skittish.

This time though we saw quite a few of them and even were treated to hearing one of them call.

The last thing we saw before leaving was this hawk. He was sitting on a fence pole and then flew off shrieking. Click here for a page of animal sounds. If you scroll down to the one for a hawk – that is just what he sounded like.

Hawk screeching

I’m going to start up a nature study with the kids using this site. Barb has created challenges with suggested activities with free nature journal notebook pages. What a wonderful resource! There is plenty of inspiration from other families who’ve completed the challenges and blogged about it.

I think it’s so important for kids to spend time outside. It’s also important to take some time to notice the details of the world around us.