Oak Canyon

Tuesday is one of my favorite days of the week! Tuesdays are my built in days-of-solitude. Well kinda. I’m still in Mama mode and surrounded by a group of kiddos and other mamas, but that doesn’t deter from the fact that I get an up and close personal encounter with God on Tuesdays. Last year during 2nd semester we joined a group of homeschool moms that intentionally set aside every Tuesday to go out exploring in nature with their children. They’ve been doing so, every Tuesday, for the past 7 years. Wow! I am so incredibly grateful that they welcomed us with open arms into their group. My heart is filled to overflowing on Tuesdays. It doesn’t phase me at all that we spend an hour or more driving to our nature destinations. It’s a beautiful feeling driving away from the urban jungle of concrete, cars and jam-packed homes and buildings…..to the great outdoors. It’s a delight to my mama heart to hear my kiddos squeal with delight that it’s “Adventure Club” day! To watch Jacob and Natalie eagerly pull out their hiking shoes and pack up the car with a whole pile of books to read on our drive out to our destination, makes me so happy.

This morning had all sorts of delights….

I loved being able to sit on the couch this morning at 7am with my kids eagerly listening to a story about the famous composer Tchaikovsky. Then moving into the dining room with them, where we sat listening to his music, while making our first entry in our Field Journals. I’ve been inspired by these other moms to set aside this time and let my kids reflect on their findings while being out on the hikes. Last week we went to Crystal Cove. Jacob came back with a piece of an abalone shell. Natalie came back with this weathered rock. They were their treasures. Watching them carefully sketch and try to recreate the colors of their treasures on paper was such an incredible treat. I can’t even begin to describe that feeling. They were searching our oil pastels, coloring pencils, crayons, water colors for just the perfect hue to match what they had found in nature. Oh how I loved, loved, loved their desire to try as best they could to mimic the colors God had created in these items. How exactly do you show on paper the pearly-iridiscent color of the inside of an abalone shell? Watching Jacob carefully study it and try, try, try to get that color on paper brought me to a closer appreciation of the richness in letting my children study God’s creation. They were examining the finite details of these natural treasures. What joy!

Then we headed off to Oak Canyon. I do realize that being a part of this Tuesday homeschool group will cost a pretty penny in gas. But you know what? I’m happy to do so. And so thankful that my husband gets excited for us on our adventure days. He came home from work today to see our dining room table sprawled with acorns, bark, leaves and all kinds of art supplies. The first words out of his mouth? “It looks like you had a fabulous day! I’m so happy when you get to go out with the kiddos to do things like this.” Yay. Yay. Yay. This is seriously a win for everybody! Steve is thrilled we’re going out on these nature field trips. The kids delight in it. My soul gets replenished being immersed in God’s creation for 4+ hours on Tuesdays. It’s just an amazing day- these Tuesdays. So thankful.IMG_9016

The joys of today’s nature adventure included….

• discovering the various colors of oak tree acorns….green…..green with brown….brown…..super dark brown

• doing oak tree bark rubbings and realizing that the older oaks have very, very rough bark that is very difficult to rub!

• Jacob whispering into my ear…..”look Mama….Wren Trail…..like Jenny Wren”. Ohhhhh sweet boy! Yes! Just like Jenny Wren, the chapter we read in the Burgess Book of Birds. He remembered the chapter dedicated to familiarizing children with wrens. Love it when my kiddos carry over their knowledge and make connections!!

• watching two butterflies flutter this incredible dance in the air……the kids and moms stood there watching for minutes on end. The beauty continued on and on. We stood there right in front of a sign marking “Tranquility Trail”, 8 kids and 3 moms in complete silence and reverie at the sight we were beholding. At times one or both butterflies would stop and rest on the tip of a branch. And then they would begin again. Once one butterfly rested on the dirt and the other one waited in the air, fluttering, to then pair up with it as it returned to the air. Once one landed on one of the girl’s heads. Oh the sheer delight. The kids were ecstatic. My heart and soul were at peace. This is beauty. Thank you God for all that you have created. Thank you that I have days like these to cherish with my children.

• having a picnic lunch under the expansive canopy of very old oak trees

• watching my Jacob be the trail-blazer for a group of 20+ kids, when last year he was always at the tail end of the group. My mama heart is so glad that he went from feeling like the ‘new kid’ and feeling awkward about that, to being eager to lead up front and chat it up with all the kids. So thankful! And yet, he was also so conscientious of being in conversation with the new kids to the group. He remembered quite well how awkward and shy he felt last year, trying to make an inroad into the group. And today he cared for the new kids. Oh the compassion! Thank you Lord! IMG_8999

• watching my Natalie hike all day long holding our newly purchased Tree/Flower field guide and a bendy, blue ruler. She would stop and measure so many things! She measured the circumference of branches, the width/length of signs on the trails, the length of leaves….and on an on. She was in her own little world of measurement- it was soooooo stinkin’ cute to watch! Her joy was through the roof when I showed her I had purchased a field guide for us. She was now like the other kids in the group- in possession of her very own field guide. She was SO excited! And eager to determine what particular species of oak were along our trail.

• finding seeds we can’t identify. Natalie exclaiming “Oh Mama, can I please put them in my baggie of treasures!!!” Cupping them in my hand and discovering they make a beautiful wooden sound as they were jostled around. Perhaps we’ll make an instrument tomorrow! IMG_9022

An incredible day.
Oh how I live for Tuesdays. Can hardly wait for our next outing!

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