Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Cloud Heart and a Flamingo Heart

Each week we keep our eyes open to see if we can spot hearts in nature.  This week I have two very different hearts to share with you, but I think you will like them both.

First of all, one morning last week my older son captured this heart in the sky through the window of our car on the way to homeschool co-op.

 And while playing, my younger son noticed that two flamingos put together make a heart, and he asked me to take a picture.  He also made the heart with the marbles and set the flamingos inside.  He thought the flamingos would qualify for the blog because flamingos are part of nature, even if these are made of plastic. ;)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Colors

My 11-year-old son is taking a photo journaling class at homechool co-op, and "Fall Colors" is their current assignment. These are collages he put together for the assignment. All of these pictures were taken by him. He did such a good job! You can click on the pictures to see a larger version.


Lake Waughop (left) and Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (right)

woolly bear caterpillars

mink (left) and chipmunk (right)

snowberries (the white berries)

Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm

autumn crocus

Thursday, October 21, 2010

♥ Gift from a Bird

While we were searching for a pumpkin last Saturday, my younger daughter spotted this heart on a pumpkin left as a gift by a bird. I admit I feel a little funny sharing this heart, but goodness, it's a pretty nice heart, don't you think? ;)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

ABC Wednesday -- Two Poisonous "N" Plants

I think looking for things in nature that start with various letters of the alphabet can be fun! Here are two plants that start with the letter "n," and both have something else in common, too--they are both toxic if ingested.  So do be careful to just look with your eyes at these pretty plants.

Autumn Crocus aka Naked Ladies
My kids and I get quite a giggle out of the fact that one name for these pretty flowers is "naked ladies."  Here's what Wikipedia says:
Colchicum autumnale, commonly known as autumn crocus, meadow saffron or naked lady, is a flower which resembles the true crocuses, but flowering in autumn. (This is not a reliable distinction, however, since there are many true crocuses that flower in autumn.) The name "naked lady" comes from the fact that the flowers emerge from the ground long after the leaves have died back.
It's very poisonous, even to animals.

Bittersweet Nightshade
The fruit of bittersweet nightshade, Solanum dulcamara, is so pretty, you would hope that it would be edible, but sadly it's not, at least not to humans.  Birds can eat it, though!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Three October Mosaics

I just found out about Picasa's cool free photo editing software which is wonderful for making mosaics. I downloaded it today, and I have three mosaics to share tonight that I made using it. These are pictures from October so far. . . two walks, a visit to Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm, my son's birthday, and apple day.

This first one is made from pictures taken by my little boy who just turned six and got a camera from his grandma for his birthday.

This one is made from pictures taken by my nine year old daughter. She just got her camera recently, too. They both have the same type of camera.

This one is made mostly from pictures taken by me, several by my older son, and one by my older daughter.

A Barn at Fort Steilacom Park

Fort Steilacoom Park used to be the site of Western State Hospital.  In 1871, since state funding for what was then known as the "Insane Asylum of Washington" was scarce, they started a small farm to grow food for the patients and staff.

By the early 1900's the farm had grown to about 200 acres.  The farm grew crops and orchards and also had a grazing area and pens for cows, chickens, turkeys, and pigs.  Barns were built to help care for the animals and help with farm maintenance.  Hospital patients performed labor for the farm as part of their occupational therapy.

(The source for this information is from a sign at Fort Steilacoom Park near one of the barns, and I'll post more information next week.)

Here is one of the barns.  My children noticed that you could peek through an opening into the barn.  That's what you see them doing in the first picture. 

View inside the barn as seen through the opening above.

I'll post pictures of the barn in the foreground next week.

~* Old Barns *~

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Maze Shadows at Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm

Our family visited Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm in Olympia yesterday for their Apple Festival. The Apple Festival will continue each weekend until the end of the month. It was really, really busy today. The line was about 45 minutes long to buy pumpkins! More people kept coming, though! When we went last year, we went earlier in the month and arrived earlier in the day, and it wasn't as busy at all, so we are going to try to go earlier next year, too.

It's a fun place to spend the day outdoors, feeding the animals, going on a wagon ride pulled by a tractor, picking out a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.  I'll tell you a little more about it later, but for now I want to highlight their maze. It's a wooden maze that's not very big, but it's fun for the kids to run through. Here it is, and I thought the shadows that were cast inside the maze looked pretty neat.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Highway Overpass Reflected in Snake Lake

Tacoma Nature Center is a wonderful place to visit. It's a nature preserve within the city with 70-acres of wetland habitat. Our family enjoys walking the trails there. They have a newly-opened natural play area for children there called Discovery Pond which we hope to visit soon.

There is a trail that leads down near a highway overpass.  The trail has a footbridge that goes over Snake Lake and beside the overpass.  These pictures were taken from the bridge.

~* For more reflections visit Weekend Reflections. *~

Contrasting Skies at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge

I love comparing pictures that were taken at the same place. It's neat to see the changes that have occurred and to see how they look different during each season. These pictures were taken at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge at around the same spot. The first picture was taken on May 7, 2010, and the second one was taken on October 3, 2010.

To see more skies, visit Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Banded Woolly Bear Caterpillars

Back on October 2nd when we went to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia, WA, we saw many banded woolly bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella).  And can you believe it?--we only heard of woolly bears for the first time this year! This is also the first year we saw them.

The first one we ever saw was when we went hiking up near Mount St. Helens.  We only saw one there, though.  At Nisqually Wildlife Refuge we felt surprised at how many we saw.  My children were counting how many we saw.  I'll have to ask them to see if they remember how many we reached.

Some we saw on the ground while walking on the wooden boardwalk.  We saw one on a leaf along the way.  We saw a lot of them on the grass between the two huge twin barns. We tried to be careful and watchful while walking to try and avoid squishing one on accident.

Woolly bears are such fuzzy, cute caterpillars, and don't you love their name?   When picked up, they immediately curl up into a ball that is very still. If you wait patiently it will uncurl and start crawling on your hand.  It's tiny feet tickle a little as they walk around. We had so much fun gently holding the sweet little caterpillars.

For more information about banded woolly bear caterpillars, you can visit Wikipedia's page about them.

Patiently waiting for it to uncurl

♥ I thought they looked like hearts as they started to uncurl. ♥

My little boy loved to feed the wooly bear he was holding.

There were woolly bears on the boardwalk.

I also wanted to share that we 
saw a lot of "hearts" on the boardwalk!
Walking along the boardwalk. 
♥ The hearts are shared in honor of Guest Heart Thursday.♥

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just a quick note

I'm sorry I haven't had time to post to the blog much this past week.  I miss it so much!  I've been busy with other online obligations, and I'll probably continue being busy through this week with that, but also I'll be busy because my youngest son's birthday is this week (he'll be turning six!).  I'm really hoping I'll start having more time to blog (and comment in other blogs) by this weekend.  Thank you to everyone who has left comments here.  I appreciate your comments so very much.  ♥  I hope everyone has a good week.  :-)

Friday, October 8, 2010

Skies at Fort Steilacoom Park

By the way, does anyone have any ideas as to what that circle/ring is in the sky in the last picture?   It was floating in the sky and slowly descending.  It left us feeling very puzzled since it was so out-of-place and unusual and we couldn't figure out what it was.