Everyday Nature

The boys and I are having a great time participating in Dawn’s Everyday Nature for Families workshop! It’s a ten day workshop and every day we receive a pdf with different ways of connecting with nature, easy ways to connect in our busy world. Even though we are often outside I found that doing this workshop has me thinking about what we do and what we see in new ways.

Today Dawn encouraged us to take another perspective and imagine what it must be like to be a bug out there in the world. Life is completely different from their point of view. So, tonight we all went outside and got down low to the ground or up close to the plants and trees and we found some very cool things!

Forget Me Nots have hair on their buds!

IMG_6010 IMG_6018A bug walking on lichen on a tree must be like us walking barefoot on gravel.IMG_6019 I recently planted grass seed and it’s begun to sprout!IMG_6020 Moss everywhere! I love moss!IMG_6022 Samaras are just beautiful.IMG_6024 After the rain…IMG_6025 The bark was peeled off a downed tree and this was what was underneath. It looks like skin to me.IMG_6028 The beginnings of moss or lichen in the medicine wheel garden. I think it’s lichen…we shall see…IMG_6031 Love those dandelion seeds!IMG_6033 This sowbug looks like it’s traveling in a dense rain forest! So, so cool!IMG_6037 I found this as well in the medicine wheel garden. It was attached to a downed twig and when I moved it it release some spores into the air and on me!IMG_6040 A fern frond with…eggs?IMG_6042 A columbine bud. Such rich colour and all those hairs!IMG_6044 This wee little guy was in our herb garden walking on legs that look very translucent (and a bit hairy).IMG_6047 I was surprised to see dew from this morning still hanging on the Lady’s Mantle by dinnertime. Can you imagine being an aphid trudging through those hairs?IMG_6048 I had to see up close how our Virginia Creeper holds onto our maple tree. Amazing!IMG_6056 Prickly raspberry buds!IMG_6059 Our first ladybug larvae of the season! Yay! IMG_6063A busy ant. I love how cute it looks..and that fuzzy body!IMG_6071 Soil still clinging to the new grass. IMG_6074

If you would like to learn more about getting outside yourself or with your kids you can visit Dawn’s website as well as Mud Puddles to Meteors, run by both Dawn and Annie, where you can sign up for newsletters and join their Facebook group.



Global Big Day – the bird count!

On May 9 (yes, I’m a little behind in my posts because I greatly detest editing photos!) we had an amazing time outdoors counting birds for Global Big Day.

Global Big Day happens once a year as part of Cornell Lab of Ornithology events. The goal is to find and record as many bird species possible worldwide. The boys had the binoculars and their phones for the app and I had my camera while Stephen took note of species spotted and how many.

The first place we went was Porter’s Lakes Trail just across the street from our library. There are so many trails in Nova Scotia you don’t have to drive too far at all to find one – many are in the city!

I think this nest belonged to the American Goldfinch that we heard and spotted nearby.09May2015_Bird Count_01 We had seen this osprey nest from a distance many times on our way to the library for years but never went on this trail. We were excited to get so close to both the mother and father! They were clearly used to all of the people walking on the trail – they just ignored us all.09May2015_Bird Count_30There were also many signs of beavers…
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The Merlin Bird ID app was extremely useful in not only identifying bird species but also in matching certain bird calls to the bird before we saw it! At our first location I heard a bird call I did not recognize and the boys used their app to find that it was the Red-winged Blackbird. I was so excited because when I lived in Wisconsin as a child they were my favourite bird. I had heard that they spent time in Nova Scotia but I had yet to see one so I was very excited to know that the bird call was indeed a Red-winged Blackbird. This picture is the bird reacting to the call on the app!

09May2015_Bird Day_63 There also just happened to be a geocache in the area so why not find it?!09May2015_Bird Count_83 And of course a wooly-bear caterpillar!09May2015_Bird Count_85 I am not sure what tree this was as there were yet to be any leaves but it reminded me of an oak.09May2015_Bird Count_88


From here we went to another location about 20 minutes away. We were totally psyched after seeing the blackbird and osprey, plus a Yellow-rumped Warbler whose was camera shy. I was told of a place where there was a blue heron and osprey so we crossed our fingers…

09May2015_Bird Count_161As we walked onto the trail there above us hovered an osprey searching for fish in the waters below. It was quite an experience to watch and were awed by its ability to just float in one spot in the air, catching the currents.09May2015_Bird Count_18209May2015_Bird Day_218Of the times I caught the osprey with my camera diving for fish, I’d say 85-90% of the time it came out with a fish.

09May2015_Bird Count_189 09May2015_Bird Count_19009May2015_Bird Count_191 09May2015_Bird Count_195 09May2015_Bird Count_196The tree swallows were so fast that it was very challenging to get a decent picture. They were also hanging around the osprey as you can see in the photos above.09May2015_Bird Day_187A Common Grackle. Part of the Crow family but with this beautiful blue/purple neck.

09May2015_Bird Day_110A Yellow-rumped Warbler (twice), a Downy Woodpecker and a pair of Goldfinches.

09May2015_Bird Day_12709May2015_Bird Day_264 09May2015_Bird Day_134 09May2015_Bird Count_137We saw the Blue Heron but it was on the other side of the marsh and my lens just wasn’t long enough to take a decent photo. Boo. 🙁

I cannot go to any trail without a picture of some moss these days!

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Double-crested Cormorant with a fish!
09May2015_Bird Count_177We really just couldn’t get enough of that osprey. Look at those wings!

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We did a lot walking that day and all got a bit tired. A huge overturned tree is a great place to take a rest!

09May2015_Bird Count_144My silly boys! Those binoculars were just purchased last Christmas and they are amazing! Bushnell Bone Collector Trophy 10×42’s in case you are wondering. Water and fog proof. Just right for Nova Scotia! 😉09May2015_Bird Count_155 Haha!09May2015_Bird Count_150

It’s hard to believe we saw all these amazing birds so close to home – you can see an apartment complex in the background above.

Below are our findings for the day. Can’t wait for next year!






Egg Geodes!

We love doing science projects but sometimes when they are time-based we tend to forget about them.

That’s what happened when we started our egg geodes! We had mixed boiled water with salt, epsom, and borax – each separately and added a bit of food colouring to them to tell the difference (for fun) and labeled them with tape.

For the first few days the boys were peeking to see what was happening with the eggs. The salt and borax mixtures showed changes during this time. By the second week I think the water had for the most part evaporated. But the epsom salt had us wondering if anything would happen as it stayed as a liquid with no crystals to speak of. At that point the boys started to grow less interested and eventually I forgot about them too! This was done in mid-April.

IMG_5561And here we are in June. 🙂

It was worth the wait to see the results! Okay, it really didn’t take this long but it took me this long to finally get around to posting the results! But it was probably a month before the water in the epsom salt fully evaporated.

The salt crystals reminded us of the salt deposits in caves and the crystals were cubic in shape. These eggs were also the only ones that formed deposits at the top edge of the egg.


The borax crystals were much smaller which made it more difficult to see their shape but are apparently they are prismatic – and very sparkly!

IMG_5933We all agreed that the epsom egg geodes were the coolest and worth the wait! The crystals were long and kind of spiky in shape. There were a huge pile of them in the bottom of the egg!


Here is a neat site if you want to try to grow your own crystals and really, who wouldn’t because they are just so neat! 😉

This link is for growing your own egg geodes. It’s a little more in-depth than the one we used. We got ours from the Tinkerlab book but it’s also on their website. The book is very cool, though!




Emerald Falls

Yesterday we got a chance to visit a trail we have heard about from a friend many times and seen some pretty cool photos as well. The weather has always been the kicker so myself and the boys were excited to get a chance to explore here.

I have posted a lot of pictures because I had a hard time choosing what with such wonderful new life on the forest floor and other places!

It was quite a steep trek up but the sound of the rushing water made us want to make it to the top!

03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_6803Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_06Xman was enjoying poking at the soapy froth – it was pretty cool, I have to say.
03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_09Here is a bit of it dried up on a stick overhanging the water. So glad that I brought my macro lens along! My camera bag was heavy but it was worth it – and a good workout up the hill. 🙂03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_4403Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_17 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_18 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_26 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_31

A miniature first filled with a life of its own!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_33 The boys love seeing the evidence of beetles.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_46 It’s not often I get a photo of myself with my boys! Thanks, Dawn! 😉03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_62 The walk down was somewhat tricky in spots but hand-holding made it that much easier.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_7103Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_84 I just love the little fiddleheads!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_91 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_93 Dawn spotted this spotted gall – she has an eye for them – and the oaks. 😉03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_96 …and this wing…from a June beetle. Poor dude.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_99 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_104 Love the droplets!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_109 This guy was superbusy and supertiny! and just would not take the time to pose for a portrait.03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_112 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_119 Puddles do not ever go unnoticed – so fun!03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_138 03Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_14403Jun2015_Emerald Waterfalls_146It’s a whole other world out there that amazes me in so, so many ways. Great beauty and wonder.

I just recently checked out this book from the library. I love love love moss. Can’t wait to read it!

gathering moss book



A little science and some bowling

I love it when we can fit in a science experiment using everyday items. We do need to get to the hobby shop to buy some supplies but for now it’s nice to be able to make do with what we have. So yesterday we sliced ice. It was fun to watch the wire cut through the ice and then the ice patch itself back up once the wire had passed through. Love this stuff. I always wonder why I didn’t when I went to school, though…I get to relive it now!IMG_5654IMG_5653IMG_5660Just recently a Home school Tween group was started on FB and so every week or other week this is something planned like bowling or going to an indoor play place to meet and get some good fun physical activity going. Hopefully once the weather here is a bit friendlier we can start something outside too!  There is also going to be a regular meet-up to play Magic: The Gathering!

Today we went bowling and the boys had a great time!IMG_5671Spare!IMG_5675These fast moving kids are no match for my phone in a dark bowling alley! Why are they so dark, anyway. I felt blinded when we went outside! IMG_5677Good times!!IMG_5681

Earth Day

For Earth Day we were planning on collecting bits and pieces of stuff to make some nesting balls for the birdies but the rainy weather and a cold coming on for myself and Xman nixed that idea. We do still plan on making the balls but perhaps instead filling them with suet!

Instead the boys decided to make a spider’s web in the living room. Apparently, a spider starts with a ‘y’ shape and moves on from there. It took some shoo-ing of Gypsy, our curious and string-eating cat before she realized her teeth were not welcome in this scenario! The boys were well aware that the web would have to be dismantled before bed or we would end up with a very belly-achey kitty the next day!

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Gee, imagine making another web the next day and the next? I don’t know how spiders do it!

Hope you had a good Earth Day! What did you do to celebrate?



Rain Sticks

What do you do on a very rainy day? Make rain sticks, of course!

Xman was a little reluctant at first but when we arrived at our friend’s house and he saw he would be using a hammer and nails, well, he got right to it like the rest of the boys. Good fun!


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After all that fun creating the boys needed a quiet break. 21Apr2015_Rain Sticks_05 How many times does it take to get good pic of four boys? 😉21Apr2015_Rain Sticks_06 21Apr2015_Rain Sticks_07 21Apr2015_Rain Sticks_08

Seeing green

We have finally experienced some mild weather here in the maritimes! I can still look out my window and see snow but it is far less than it was a couple of weeks ago. We are still getting a bit of below zero temps at night but I can see the grass and that is a good sign. The birds are not depending solely on bird feeder food any longer after a really rough winter with many birds not surviving. 🙁

We recently went to our local park for a good walk. Yay! 10 degrees! Oh how it makes you feel full of renewed energy as the earth wakes up and comes alive once more.

As you can see there is still some snow. The boys loved that they could still easily sit on top of this bench.

12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_01 Our favourite spot – the brook! It was so lovely to see water rushing loudly over the rocks as the snow melted in the sunshine.12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_02Looking for squirrels…12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_03 There is still plenty of snow and slushy ice on the lakes but it made for some good fun. 12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_04 The boys and I threw chunks of ice into the water and watched the slush catch the chunks. I couldn’t help but take some pictures of the ice chunks. 12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_0712Apr2015_Shubie Melt_09 12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_11And to wear only a hat and a hoodie? Awesomeness!12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_10 The ducks were busily foraging for food with their mates. 12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_12Bottoms up!12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_14 Love love love the moss!12Apr2015_Shubie Melt_15

Gotta love nature!

Mild days, birthdays and Easter

This past week has been filled with milder weather to the extent that we were outside in t-shirts shovelling snow off of the back porch and sweating a bit! It was very welcome weather. That being said there is still a ton of snow around and some of the banks are very high like the one pictured here after my birthday breakfast at Cora’s (the best breakfasts ever!). Wow! That’s a lot of snow. My birthday consisted of a greek salad and suishi. I didn’t want a cake. Gee, I must be getting old! 😉

Just yesterday, L finished his first knitted hat! He was very excited and wanted to try it out so he decided to continue the clearing of the back deck. It’s just ice left so it was hard work to crack. Our shovel broke a couple weeks back and the stores only carry spring items now so he used the car window scraper. Tough job but he got some ice free and loves his hat!

The boys were so excited for Easter and although we don’t do a lot of treats, just a good quality chocolate bar each and a bag of chips, the boys love it. I also made them each a Totoro (Amanda has a great Totoro tutorial here) as he is after all, a forest spirit, so a good welcoming for Spring! The boys love them!

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Totoro Us-and-Totoro

If you are interested in how this season was originally celebrated check out these links below. Both are a great read and to me, make this holiday even more meaningful. So enjoy the sun, the season and the treats! xx





Happy Spring Easter!



Tinker Crate for March – Hydraulics

This month’s Tinker Crate is all about hydraulics! Is that not super-cool or what? The boys certainly think so and I have to agree. They have had a great timing making some cool stuff. The Tinkerzine shows a bunch of cool links and ideas, plus some background on hydraulics.

Here’s a glimpse…

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These monthly kits from Tinker Crate are so wonderful and they are something that gets the boys completely absorbed in a project where there is no planning or help needed on my part. Perfect! and a break for me. 😉 Plus, I love watching and listening to them problem solving together and learning the coolness of tinkering.