August Daybook

Outside my window…there’s a whole lot of fun going on in the pool.

I am remembering…a visit with The Fabachers.  And to think it all began with a dinner at Bennigans

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I am thankful for…time spent with my sister.

I am watching…this squirrel.  I just about had a scare when I first saw him sprawled out like that…I thought I was going to have to scrape him off the front walk.  Apparently he was cooling off.

I am wondering…what these two were thinking.  It almost seemed as though they were looking in a mirror.

I am hoping…for rain.  It’s been a dry, dry summer.

I am pondering…the idea of another herbal make-and-take.

I am laughing…about this photo…

I am planting…medicinal herbs.  My sister found us a place in Austin that grows herbs…medicinal herbs.  And they have tons of transplants.  Now I just have to see if I can keep them alive.

I am reflecting…on the idea that all boobs are good boobs.

In the schoolroom…It’s always rough starting a new school year in July when everyone else is still lounging by the pool but it sure feels good when I start seeing first day of school photos and know that we’ve already gotten 6 weeks done.

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Around the house…reading.  I’m reading.  They’re reading.  We’re reading.  It’s all good.

I am wearing…a bathing suit.  Because who can resist a dip in the pool with so many eager little people?

We are preparing for…the Redwoods.

Someday I am going to miss…lizards in this kid’s pockets.

I am reading…a whole lot of random books.  Random only in that I feel a little all over the place as far as what I’m reading to stay ahead of my kids.  Not random as in unplanned.  All of the books on each of the school shelves this year are there on purpose…lots of thought and love went into planning book lists this year thanks to my ADE consultation and any tweaks I made using The Plenary’s form guides.   (These photos do not do credit to the rich and beautiful education my children are receiving.  Charlotte Mason is about so much more than just a list of books.  Thanks to the suggestions of wise folks like the ladies at ADE and Rachel over at A CM Plenary, our year is bound to be a journey that takes us all a little deeper in our educations…it is full of the good, the truth and the beauty.  The books pictured here are only the tip of the iceberg for us.  )

One of my favorite things…the sun coming in through the school room window in the morning.

A peek into my day

Please visit The Simple Woman’s Daybook for more daybook entries.

Nature Study: Cicadas

I love the sound of August in Texas.  I walk outside into still damp heat and hear the loud hum of cicadas all around me.  It marks the peak of the summer season for me.  It’s so hot and sticky and loud and it almost makes me agitated but there’s something magical about the song these cicadas are singing.  And it’s just as I get used to their raucous music that they disappear as quickly as they came.  Summer ends and so does the daily serenade.

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My first encounter with a cicada was years ago when I discovered its exoskeleton hanging on a tree in my front yard.  At the time I knew nothing about cicadas, mistakenly calling the thing a locust, the crop eating, Bible swarming insect that is native to Europe and not even found in America.

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Cicadas, on the other hand, are gentle creatures who don’t bite or sting.  They simply hatch, burrow underground to grow and then emerge only to mate and die.  Most cicadas have a life cycle of 2 to 5 years, but some have 13 or 17 year life cycles.  But that knowledge came much later for me.

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My interest in cicadas was peaked when I read David Rosenberg’s book Bug Music.  The idea of periodical cicadas and their growth underground captured my imagination. Rosenberg’s poetic description only sparked my interest more, “It’s the slowest sonic beat in the animal world. It’s a sound that can be used to mark the phases of a human life. It’s a mathematical conundrum, an unearthly wonder of animal sound. The cloud of insect music you can barely recall. When you last heard it, you were just settling down. The time before that, you were a teenager. Before that it was the year you were born. The next time you hear it you might be a grandfather. This time the song arrives, you are smack in the middle of your journey through life.”

I can only imagine the surprise of early colonists when the cicadas appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.  Governor William Bradford said, “… all the month of May, there was such a quantity of a great sort of flyes like for bigness to wasps or bumblebees, which came out of holes in the ground and replenished all the woods, and ate green things, and made such a constant yelling noise as made all the woods ring of them, and ready to deaf the hearers …”

Last year we visited the Oso Preserve on a Tuesday morning and joined in on a guided nature walk.  The cicadas were loudly humming and the nature guide that morning was full of cicada trivia.  He taught us which cicadas were making which sounds.  Here in South Texas we have annual cicadas (as opposed to the 13 or 17 year periodical cicadas).  Annual cicadas have a life span that typically spans 2 to 5 years but because they appear every summer, they’re considered annual.  The kids and I were fascinated.  We began trying to identify the summer backdrop noise everywhere we went.

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We recently attended a porch talk out at the Oso Preserve and had the opportunity to learn about some common cicadas here in South Texas and how to tell the difference between males and females.  It was a fascinating talk complete with resin casted cicadas and sound recordings to train our ears.

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The males are the noisemakers.  Most insects that make noise do it by stridulation which is the act of producing sound by rubbing together certain body parts.  Crickets and grasshoppers use stridulation.  Not cicadas.  They have membranes in their abdomen, called tymbals, that allows them to make noise.  ThoughtCo explains it as follows:

The adult male cicada possesses two ribbed membranes called tymbals, one on each side of its first abdominal segment. By contracting the tymbal muscle, the cicada buckles the membrane inward, producing a loud click. As the membrane snaps back, it clicks again. The two tymbals click alternately. Air sacs in the hollow abdominal cavity amplify the clicking sounds. The vibration travels through the body to the internal tympanic structure, which amplifies the sound further.

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Cicadas are true bugs.  True bugs are an order of insects that have a probiscus, a long tube-like mouth.  Cicada is a latin word meaning tree cricket.  Cicadas are notoriously bad fliers, often bumping into things.  They remind me of the armadillos that we saw at South Llano but unlike armadillos who have bad eyesight, the cicadas faulty flying appears to be linked to the design of their wings.

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The life cycle of the cicada is truly fascinating.  The female cicada makes a groove on the tree branch where she lays her eggs.  The eggs hatch and the cicadas look like tiny white ants.  Once the young cicadas are ready, they crawl out of the groove and fall out of the tree and burrow themselves underground where they feed on tree root sap and stay for a period of time…anywhere from 1 year to 17 years.  When they’re ready, they crawl out as nymphs and finish their metamorphosis.  The nymphs crawl to a nearby tree where they shed their exoskeleton.  Now adults, the males begin to sing to attract females.  They mate, lay eggs and the cycle begins again.

 

There are over 100 species in the United States, with at least 50 of those here in Texas.  Some of the common ones seen down here in the south include the Scrub cicada (Diceroprocta azteca), the Little Mesquite cicada (Pacarina puella), and the Superb Dog Day cicada (Neotibicen superbus).  Texas does have periodical cicadas but they’re seen mostly in north east Texas.

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For more information regarding cicadas and to hear the different species, be sure to check out Cicada Mania!

*I am fortunate to have amazing naturalists here in my area and some of them were consulted in writing this post, including Texas Master Naturalist, Justin Quintanilla, and Caleb Harris, education coordinator at Oso Preserve.  Caleb led both the guided nature walk and the porch talk…guided walks are an ongoing event that take place on Tuesday and Saturday mornings; porch talks are a summer thing that happen on Wednesday mornings…there are still a few left this summer so be sure to pop out there and soak up the knowledge!  Websites I used to research cicadas have already been notated throughout the post.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

 

Nature Study: Old Man’s Beard

It’s hot these days in South Texas.  Really, really hot.  But waiting for perfect nature study weather is nothing more than a perfect excuse to stay indoors.  And I can’t stand being stuck indoors.  So we load ourselves up with tons of water, our favorite nature journaling supplies and off we go.

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We were out at Hilltop recently and I noticed the seeds on the Old Man’s Beard were maturing and leaving behind long feathery plumes.  With some flowers still in bloom and some with feathery plumes, it seemed like an ideal time for an object lesson so off we went (with friends in tow) to study Clematis Drummondii up close and personal.

{An object lesson, part of Charlotte Mason’s nature study philosophy, is a perfect opportunity to allow our children to become more observant.  We call upon them to carefully observe and examine an object using their five senses.  Object lessons should appear to be by-the-way, somewhat spontaneous discoveries where we are out and about and come across something fascinating.  Considering the fact that I am not well-versed in nature study and I am learning alongside my children, I tend to keep an eye out when we’re on a nature walk for items that I can use in our next lesson and then I prepare my object lesson before we head out.  I aim for one object lesson a week so my kids have time to absorb what they learned and to notice it in future nature walks.  I do require them to make a drawing and write down a few notable facts in their nature journals to help cement the object in their minds.  You can read more about object lessons here and here.}

Clematis Drummondii, also known as Old Man’s Beard or Texas Virgin’s Bower, is a vine in the Ranunculaceae (Buttercup) family.  To identify a flower as being a part of the Buttercup family, look for multiple simple pistils at the center of the flower.  You’ll also find that the pistils have hooked tips.  Clematis is a word from ancient Greek meaning “climbing plant.”  It can grow as a shrub but is most often seen as a climbing vine.

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The variation of Clematis that we have growing around here, in abundance, carries the name Clematis Drummondii in honor of the Scottish botanist Thomas Drummond who was an early plant explorer in Texas.

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Old Man’s Beard is a dioecious plant meaning the male and female parts grow on separate plants.  The flowers have four petal-like sepals that sport a light greenish-yellow, almost white, color.  The stamens on the male flowers are clearly visible whereas the female flowers grow more upright like pineapples.  Also, upon comparison, the male flowers appear larger than the female flowers.  The flowers bloom sometime between April and October and when the seeds on the female plants mature, the vine will appear to be covered with great masses of silky, feathery plumes.  The plumes are actually referred to achenes (covered seeds).  The achenes will last until December.

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While Clematis Drummondii is a climbing vine, there are no tendrils.  The leaves serve as hooks for climbing.  The leaves are opposite, pinnately compound and deciduous, with the blade divided into 3 to 7 stalked leaflets.  The plant itself is a perennial that thrives in full sun (just in case you want a fence climber in your backyard).

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The sap of the plant is caustic so while the foliage, stems and roots can be used for dye, they should be used with extreme caution.

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Clematis drummondii is host to the fatal metalmark butterfly.  The fatal metalmark butterfly is a common, tiny little butterfly.  It uses the vine as a larval host and as a nectar source.

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{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}

Nature’s Bounty

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We take our food for granted.

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Not just the food itself.  But the whole idea of food.  Growing it.  Harvesting it.  Sometimes even preparing it.

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I love gardening (please note I did not claim to be good at gardening).  Ever since my kids were little, we’ve always had a patch of the yard dedicated to growing food (or at least attempting to grow food).

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I have always wanted my kids to feel the dirt beneath their fingers.  To understand that food comes from somewhere much more complex than the grocery store.  To see that some foods we eat grow underground, others above.  To watch a tiny seed sprout into a gigantic plant.  To see how much water it takes to keep plants thriving.  To see how long and how patient we must be to reap the harvest (in a world of instant gratification where we can have anything we want at any given moment, this lesson is crucial…some things really are worth waiting for).  To see that nature has a balance and sometimes destruction is beyond our control (like the year all of our pomegranates molded from too much rain).

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Life’s lessons are often just waiting behind the garden gate.

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But sometimes life is messy.  It’s not in organized rows like our garden.  It’s helter skelter with wild grapevines twisting around the trunks of willow trees.  It’s hemlock growing alongside black raspberries.  It’s poison ivy slowly creeping up a mulberry tree.  It’s a tiny patch of lamb’s quarter mixed in a field of wildflowers.

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Sometimes we have to step out of the garden and into the wild to teach our children valuable lessons.

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Today was one of those wild days.

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A life lesson hidden amidst mosquitoes and humidity.  A lesson that sometimes the sweaty work is worth the sweet jelly waiting at the end of the day.  A lesson that nature provides if we just know where to look.  A lesson that sometimes the sweetest things are a little out of our reach and we just have to get creative in our attempt to capture them.

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If you’d like to learn more about these incredible wild Mustang Grapes, please see my previous Nature Study: Wild Grapes post.  If you happen to be in the South Texas area, these grapes were found out at Pollywog Pond. 

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If you do decide to brave the mosquitoes and forage for your own delicious grapes, I recommend Jennifer’s recipe (I did use the butter but left out the lemon juice)…it really turned out delicious.

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Perspective

We are all so very broken.  And our human spirits tend toward self-pity.  Sometimes what our souls crave, more than anything, is perspective.  The ability to see outside of ourselves to understand how incredible our lives actually are.

The universe has a way of bringing perspective into our lives when we need it most.

I have the most beautiful friend.  She is a light on my dark days.  She is funny and kind and thoughtful.  She adores my children, delights in my presence, and relishes our time spent together.  She has managed to capture the essence of intentional living and wholehearted living.

And now she has lung cancer.

And I’m over here being petty about how I don’t have enough time to blog.  Or that my kids use inappropriate language at the table.  Or that I wish I had a peach tree in my backyard.

Perspective is a beautiful thing.

Just like that I suddenly realize that all of my petty complaints are exactly that…petty.  And that life is fragile.  And that this moment is truly all that we have.

Sometimes we get lots of chances to mess up and try again.  Sometimes we get one chance.  It’s cliche, but life offers no guarantees.

So consider this your moment.  Your moment to love, your moment to cherish, your moment to open your eyes and truly see what’s around you, your moment to be incredibly grateful.

{A note to my dear perspective providing friend: For your friendship, for the moments we have shared, for making my mothering journey a little lighter and a lot funnier, thank you.  You are an inspiration to me.  You are strong.  You are beautiful.  My world is a brighter place thanks to your smile, your encouragement, your wholehearted spirit.  I am blessed to know you, to share in your journey, and to witness your growth.  I love you and I’m cheering you along with positive thoughts, hopeful prayers and intentional compassion.  May peace fill your heart on the road ahead and may you always know how incredibly loved you are.} 

{this moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual.   A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  If you’re inspired to do the same, visit Soulemama to leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Intention

I am overly aware of my incessant talking.  Even as I speak, I ask myself to stop.  The words spill forth regardless.  I am good at talking.

I wish I always had the right words to say.  The words to tell the world that nice matters and kindness is king.  But sometimes I don’t.  And so I just keep talking.

About stuff.

Homeschool and cooking and laundry.  The complications of raising children and balancing a marriage.  Living in South  Texas.  Things I know something about.  Because life?  I’m just not an expert on that topic.

Sometimes I try to just be still.  To sit and wait.  To listen.  I’m somewhat terrible at it.  If I stop momentarily then my mind begins racing with ideas of what I should be doing.

I remind myself that stillness and quiet matter.

Because it is in the stillness and quiet that I can connect to my actual thoughts.  Not the thoughts that spill out incessantly but the thoughts that form my soul.

And so I sit.  Quietly.  Often impatiently.  But persistently.  And my soul delights in the stillness.  I breathe in.  I breathe out.  I stop.  It is good.

We’re all busy distracting ourselves.  That’s the reality of a culture that lives with smart phones and overcrowded schedules.

It’s unintentional living at its worst. 

The way we wake up and our feet hit the floor and we’re slammed into the first moment of the day without any quiet, without any stillness.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We get to choose.  We can flow along with the mainstream culture and hide in busy, distracted ways from the thoughts that connect us to being human or we can choose to stop.  Breathe.  Be still.

It only takes intention.

Vision and Action make Little Dreams Come True

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There is a quote I like from Joel Barker who is a popular speaker and was the first person to popularize the concept of paradigm shifts for the corporate world.  He said,

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision merely passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”

The world has plenty of people who are dreamers and plenty of people who take action, but it’s a little more rare to meet people who combine the two and make real changes in the world.  It takes passion and commitment to make a difference and it is a lovely treat when someone like that runs across your path.  It’s inspiration at its finest.

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photo credit: Sebastian Rodriguez

Recently, for the second year in a row, thanks to the vision and action of Dr. Dino Mulic and his wife, Dr. Sangmi Lim, my kids had the opportunity to play on the grand piano on the Performing Arts Center’s stage at Texas A & M University – Corpus Christi and Joseph was invited to sing along with the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale in the final performance of the week.  A & M – CC boasts an incredible performing arts center – one of the top 35 in the United States so this was a pretty big deal.  The stage and piano look massive to me; I can only imagine what it looks like to a child.

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I took William and Joseph on Thursday night to watch Drs. Mulic and Lim perform in a duo concert and listened in awe as their fingers swept over the keys.  After the performance, Joseph commented to Dr. Mulic, “Sometimes I’m nervous when I play because I worry that I’ll make mistakes,”  Dr. Mulic kindly responded, “Oh it’s fine, we’re human.”  Joseph said, “But I didn’t hear you make any.”  Dr. Mulic said, “I actually did.”  Those simple words…”I actually did”…caused a massive shift in my kids’ anxiety about playing onstage.  Dr. Mulic’s words made a huge impact on my boys that day…the struggle to perform is real and Dr. Mulic never made it seem any less.  It’s those kind of people…passionate, kind, determined and driven, yet fully human, with mistakes and struggles, that I want to be around to inspire my kids.

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

Saturday morning, my boys donned their suits and Katie dressed in her fanciest dress and we were off for the big performance.  It was such a delightful experience for each of them (even the one that bowed backwards and the other who had a rough time getting started).  Daxson once asked me why the kids have to participate in recitals…this is why.  They were so confident, so proud to play for an audience.  The recital was the culmination of all their time spent studying and practicing.  We are incredibly thankful to our talented (and patient!) piano instructor, Margaret Jonker.  She has been guiding my children in their piano studies for 2 years now (Andrew and Katie for 1 year) and we have loved watching them grow and blossom as musicians.

We returned on Sunday afternoon and received the treat of a lifetime.  8 grand pianos on stage, 8 professional pianists (plus a sextet and a quartet of community musicians who each played a few pieces), the Youth Chorale, and all of our favorite songs from The Sound of Music.  It. was. AMAZING.  I have never had the opportunity to hear multiple pianos played at once…when I closed my eyes, I swore the music was being made by more than just pianos!

Joseph joined the Corpus Christi Youth Chorale this last fall.  This is the first city-wide youth choir Corpus Christi has ever had and it is directed by the talented Nan Borden along with Lorri Dow, Alexis Garcia, Katie King and Nick Lopez.  Joseph was a bit hesitant to join, as he didn’t know many people in it, but this has turned out to be a highlight of his year.  He loves all of his directors and he LOVES singing (as is evident in the performance).

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

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photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

piano-celebration-week

photo credit: Sebastian G Rodriguez

The most remarkable thing about this entire celebration was the level of passion that was present.  From our piano instructor and choir directors to the founders of the program, the center hummed with passion and enthusiasm.  Sebastian Rodriguez, a music student at A & M, did an amazing job with the photography and Matt Perez, owner of The Piano Gallery, was kind enough to lend the celebration all of the beautiful pianos that you see pictured.

Next year, 2020, Piano Celebration Week is scheduled for March 27th thru April 4th.  We already have our calendar marked…won’t you please mark yours, too?  And if you believe in the vision and actions of Drs. Mulic and Sim, please consider making a donation by contacting Dr. Mulic at dino.mulic@tamucc.edu.

A Wish Come True

William once said that he couldn’t decide what he loves more…camping or being in Austin with my parents.  “If only I could combine the two,” he sadly lamented one day.

William is the kid that thrives in the great outdoors, away from the stress of everyday life.  He lives for exploring and hiking and whittling sticks.  He craves the freedom of being outdoors.  His whole face lights up when we announce we’re going camping (he once vomited on the morning we were leaving to camp and tried not to tell us so we wouldn’t cancel the trip…we found out and naively did not cancel the trip but that’s a whole different story).

He’s also the kid that relishes early mornings with Pappy where he can ask a million questions and he has someone’s undivided attention.  He loves popping up early and sneaking downstairs in my parent’s house where he knows there’s a cup of coffee waiting for him along with someone who shares all of his interests (he once asked if Pappy was coming to a birthday party we were hosting so he’d have someone to hang out with).

He loves Granny and all that entails…sweet snuggles, silly songs, and games galore.  He craves her attention and loves that she shows an interest in what he’s interested in.  He’s the kid that loves making people happy and he sees a kindred spirit in Granny…she loves making people happy, too.

So to combine the two – camping and my parents – well that would just make this kid’s dreams come true.  (And throw in their little dogs and Auntie Leslie, Uncle Dustin and Alex and well, it couldn’t possibly get any better.)

Mom and Dad recently bought a pull-along camper (which is giving us all flashbacks to the ’80s and the camper we had then), outfitted the whole thing (fancier than my house), and then invited us to meet them for a week of camping in the Lost Pines at Bastrop.  William couldn’t believe his luck.

He popped up early and dragged a brother alongside him each morning we were there so he could enjoy a cup of coffee with Pappy.  He spent the days roaming the woods and exploring with stops throughout to chat with Granny or play a game of Mancala with her.

He convinced Pappy to bake a cake with him (using the recipe they created) and he gladly accepted (on behalf of his siblings) an invitation for movie night in the camper (buttery popcorn included).

It really is the simple little things that we do today that create the memories that we’ll be reflecting on for many years to come. 

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the week of memories you created with us ♥

Nature Study: Burr Clover

If Burr Clover (Medicago polymorpha) had feelings, it would feel incredibly flattered to know that it is being featured here today.  It is so common and so, well, all over the place that people tend to just look right past it (or walk right on it).  It’s an unimpressive, massive carpeting on lawns and fields, creeping over onto sidewalks and spreading bright green wherever it can.  BUT Burr Clover definitely deserves a mention all of its own because it’s that plant that loves to stick to your socks as you walk through the field (although they’re not the painful burrs that you might be thinking of that end up getting stuck in your finger and cause you to let out a “ewouch!”…those are most likely sandburs…still…stay focused on our oft forgotten burr clover).

The first time I stopped my kids to do an object lesson on Burr Clover and I pointed it out, I laughed because my kids didn’t even notice what I was pointing at.  This was a plant that they were literally used to running over, playing tag on and, generally, skipping right past.

{An object lesson, part of Charlotte Mason’s nature study philosophy, is a perfect opportunity to allow our children to become more observant.  We call upon them to carefully observe and examine an object using their five senses.  Object lessons should appear to be by-the-way, somewhat spontaneous discoveries where we are out and about and come across something fascinating.  Considering the fact that I am not well-versed in nature study and I am learning alongside my children, I tend to keep an eye out when we’re on a nature walk for items that I can use in our next lesson and then I prepare my object lesson before we head out.  I aim for one object lesson a week so my kids have time to absorb what they learned and to notice it in future nature walks.  I do require them to make a drawing and write down a few notable facts in their nature journals to help cement the object in their minds.  You can read more about object lessons here and here.}

I gave them some time to observe the plant and the first thing they noticed was that it had three leaves.  They observed that its leaves were not heart shaped so they ruled out wood sorrel.  William guessed that it was some type of clover.

I asked them to reach way down and pull some out of the ground.  Ooh!  They discovered that while it looked like it was a bunch of little individual plants, there were actually a bunch of stems running along the ground coming from the same taproot (hence the name of those little stems: runners).

But the most exciting part of observing the burr clover was to find the burrs beginning to form.  It was so fun to see the light go off in their heads.  First there was a puzzled reaction…what is this?  Then there was the thought process.  And then the aha! moment when they realized that it was the seed envelope they were looking at in the form of a burr…the infamous, stick to your sock, get stuck in your clothes burr.  Those little burrs start out green and soft but will eventually turn brown and harden.  (We actually loves burrs over here because of the whole idea that we are helping spread plant love just by letting those little buggers stick to our socks!)

Burr Clover has a lovely family tree.  It is part of the same family as traditional flowering clover (like red clover that we use medicinally), the legume or pea family (fabaceae) but not part of the same genus.  As for the genus, medicago, it shares that with one of my favorite plants, alfalfa.  Both alfalfa and burr clover hail from the Mediterranean Basin, and their genus name comes from the Greek word Medike, abbreviated for Medike poa, which literally translated means Median grass and since the plants were imported from Media to Greece way (way, way) back, the name makes sense.

Sadly Burr Clover does not boast of great medicinal value or shine as a foraging plant, but it does have some use.  According to Plants for the Future, the flowers, leaves and seeds are edible. Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen at Foraging Texas explains how to toast and get to the seeds inside those little burrs.

So there you have the most exciting blog post I could possibly write about one of the most mundane, unexciting plants…now get out there and show that Burr Clover a little extra love.

{Being intentional is so much easier done when we slow down and really look around us.  Personally, we spend a lot of time in nature, partly because we follow a Charlotte Mason education, but mostly because it keeps us intentional in our thoughts and actions.  I invite you, in these Nature Study posts, to join us in our intentional journey…to train your eye to be observant, to relish the intricacies of the amazing world we live in and to spend more time with the people you love stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.  If you are in the South Texas area (Corpus Christi and the surrounding cities), then you’ll find these nature lessons tailored perfectly to you and your family…see if you can find what we’re finding!  If you live somewhere beyond our beautiful little corner of the world then use these lessons as a springboard…see what we’re observing, allow yourself to be inspired and then just get out there and be intentional, observant, and grateful for all the little surprises right outside your back door.}