Excited to Tears

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One day, when I was a little girl, about seven years old, I held a baby lion at a shopping mall in Gadsden, Alabama. It’s somewhat hard to believe that this was ever a “thing,” but it was. That day, I happened to run into my best friend, Amy, from a grade or so ago, which was kind of crazy because I didn’t live in Gadsden, and neither did she. Our parents decided to pay for us to have our picture taken holding the baby lion. I never saw Amy again, but I still have that photograph. And while I don’t agree with using wild animals in that way, as a little girl it felt like a dream come true.

Over this past weekend, I had a similar experience with an orphaned fawn. Though this time it was a “not for profit” deal. We spent a few moments with the baby before she was driven to a wildlife rehabilitator. I kept it together, but honestly, on the inside I felt a little like Kristen Bell when she realized she was going to meet a sloth. (That’s a youtube link) Once the little fawn left, I told Jonny that I might burst into tears. Not because she was gone, but because I had the opportunity to interact with her for those few minutes. I just have this thing for spotted fawns. I LOVE them. It’s part of the reason we try to go to Big Meadows at least once every summer. You’re almost always sure to see them on the meadow during the summer months. Anyway, that was the best day I’ve had in a long time. I felt like a little girl again. I know I’m super corny, but I’ll never forget that little fawn.

Of course, I also get really excited about things like homemade mayo. I made some over the weekend, because I’ve been buying the healthy stuff made with avocado oil for the few of my kids that eat mayo, but it’s just too expensive. Making my own was easy, and since I used a yolk from one of our free range chicken eggs, it was yellow like butter! Gabe didn’t get my excitement. He said he’d rather have white mayo. (I followed a recipe from this cookbook.)

Jonny and the boys have been working hard at our old house, getting it ready to sell next month. It’s bittersweet watching all the unfinished projects of recent years getting completed. On the other hand, I get excited thinking about making it all fresh and pretty for a new family. We love that place so much. It’s still hard to believe that we are going to sell it. The elderberries I planted there last year are blooming. I gathered a bunch of the flowers a couple of nights ago and made a tea with some of the flowers. The rest went into the dehydrator. I honestly didn’t care for the flavor of the tea, but it’s supposed to be good for treating illness, so we’ll save the dried flowers for this winter.

Silas’ birthday is this week, and I’ve been working every night on a gift for him, but it’s a surprise and my kids look at my blog, so I don’t want to risk posting a photo. I’ve posted a couple of progress photos in my Instagram stories over the past few days, and will keep doing so. It’s not a big deal, but it feels good to be working on something in secret for him. I’ve also been planning for Mabel’s first birthday which is in less than a month now! I dyed fabric and yarn for a friend to use to make her a little baby doll, and I’m making progress on a little knitted top for her. That’s practically a Yarn Along photo up there, isn’t it? I’m knitting this pattern, and after a few fiction reads, I’m now reading this book.

 

 

Sharing Nature

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I was at Lowe’s picking up paint last week and decided to save Jonny some time and buy myself a few Mother’s Day gifts. We have an area behind the sink here perfect for houseplants, so I bought a couple small ones along with a violet. Amidst my childhood memories of places and events, there are fond memories of specific plants. The banana shrub at my grandmother’s house in Gadsden, and a potted violet at my dad’s house on Missionary Ridge. A few years ago I planted a couple of banana shrubs, but I think we are just too far north for them to thrive here, and neither made it. I’m not sure why I’ve never bought myself a violet, probably lack of a good spot for it, till now. When I arrived home from Lowe’s, I whispered to Jonny that there were some surprises for me in the trunk of the car, and he should move them to a hiding spot. I looked forward to potting up those plants and setting up my little space behind the sink for the next few days. On Sunday morning, I was surprised with my gifts and then Jonny took the kids out for a couple of hours. I potted my plants and tidied the kitchen and then worked on birthday gifts for Silas and Mabel. It was a lovely morning. My younger kids are still a bit confused by the whole thing and keep accusing me of buying my own Mother’s Day gifts. I guess at some point they’ll read this post and my secret will be out.

We just wrapped up our homeschooling co-op year and for my last class I chose to focus on nature study with my kids, despite the fact that my class is based on stories, mainly historical fiction. It was a free day though, so I thought it would be fun to share something different, something that comes more naturally for me. It’s always most fun to share what you love, isn’t it? This is the reason my children know how to identify trees better than they can name state capitals. To prep for the class I took my own children on a walk to gather anything of interest that I might share with my class. We filled a couple of baskets and had so much fun spreading everything out on the table and discussing our finds. The next day at class, I read one of our favorites, (affiliate link) A Year Around the Great Oak, and then shared all of the bits and pieces that we had gathered the day before. Then I took my class on a nature walk and we did a lot of observing. I think that it is good to teach children to slow down and actually observe their surroundings. It’s easy to race around and play outside and never take notice of the diversity of life that is all around you, and that is okay. But it’s a wonderful thing to pause and really notice and study all the tiny pieces that make up the big picture of our beautiful Earth. I taught the kids how to tell the difference between a maple and a sweet gum, explained to them that those beautiful lichens are actually a combination of two organisms, but maybe most importantly, I demonstrated an enthusiasm for nature. Not everyone gets excited to identify plants, but children tend to be easily affected by an adult’s example. We really had a lovely class, a wonderful way to end the year. And now my children at home are asking to take nature walks every day and it makes me happy to hear their shouts of excitement over the simplest and most common of things found on the forest floor.

In other news, I’ve been working on a project with a close friend that is making me really happy. It involves Scripture, and journaling, and my photography: specifically flower photography! I haven’t felt quite this excited about something in a long time. I’ll be able to share more in a couple of weeks! I think that many of you will love it. I hope so!!!