Saturday, December 31, 2011

One Last Post for 2011

"I think it's important to have a good, hard failure early in life."
Walt Disney

"...human nature needs the discipline of failure 
as well as of success."
Charlotte Mason

"It is good for a man 
that he bear the yoke in his youth."
Lamentations 3:27

We visited the Walt Disney Family Museum on our Christmas trip home to California this past week.  The first quote is displayed in the museum.  Disney's story is inspiring.  If you are ever in San Francisco, you should take half a day to visit.

Look at the similarity of the three quotes.  The verse from Lamentations comes from a chapter that describes what I have heard termed the "dark night of the soul".  The CM quote comes from Principle 17 which deals with the Will.

At the Turning of the Year

A couple of weeks ago I sat down to list the year's happenings month-by-month, thinking that this year has been difficult.  No doubt it has.  2011 began with a warning that the Warrior Poet's job might be in danger, proceeded with disability and job loss, and is ending with spiritual battles I will not detail here.  But as I made my list, I noticed that the goods outweighed the bads.

Funny how the hard things always seem so much bigger than the blessings.  I tend to discount the good stuff and wallow in the bad.  I need to adjust my perspective!  We will be cleaning up this year's messes well into 2012.  I hope the Lord will bless us to flee temptation and focus on obeying and honoring Him. It is all raw material for glorifying God.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

List: Indoor Nature Study

I am not really a nature person.  Even when the weather is tolerable, I'd rather stay inside and improve my mind or my indoor environment than go on a trek down the hike-and-bike trail.  As a result, I have collected many ways to avoid going outside while still studying something from nature.  Since my kids are 17, 14 and 11, I am more oriented toward those ages, so some ideas are more suitable for older kids:

  • Observe the flowerbed, grass, tree, etc., out your window at intervals over the period of a year.  How does it change?
  • Grow a potato, avocado or carrot plant.  You can plant it outside in the flowerbed when it gets too big for the house.
  • Study rocks and minerals using pictures from a book or online and/or a collection of purchased rocks.
  • Purchase a flower (or a bouquet of flowers) from the store.  Note its features, sketch it, label the sketch, search online for poetry about that particular kind of flower.
  • Grow flowers from bulbs.  Sketch at intervals.
  • (Did you know that simply looking at something from nature, whether in real life or in a picture, actually reduces stress?)
  • Catalog and label photos from previous nature walks.
  • We live in Texas, and winter is a prime time for bird watching.  Leaves are off trees, and we live enough south that we still have a variety of birds.
  • When leaves are gone, it is also easier to pay close attention to tree bark.
  • Keep a record of the weather over a period of weeks, or note the weather once per week for a year.  What are the changes?  WHY are the changes?  Study the tilt of the earth-- its relationship to the sun at different times in the year.
  • Grow lettuce indoors.  It grows fast, and then you can eat it.
  • Catalog nature finds collected on previous nature walks.  We have leaves, rocks, cones/burrs/seed pods, dry flowers, dead insects, etc.  How are they the same?  How are they different?
  • Buy several different fruits and see what is inside.  Sketch.
  • Read books about animals you might never see in real life except at the zoo (ie., polar bears, elephants, emus, monkeys).  Note characteristics you didn't know about before.
  • Look at a map of your area.  Pay close attention to the waterways.  Do you have a lake or river nearby?  Where does it come from?  Where does it go?  Is it part of a larger system?
  • What is the soil like in your area?  Take samples from different places, mix thoroughly with water, and let each sit until clay, sand and silt separate.  Note the different combinations in each sample.
  • Choose a favorite piece of clothing.  What is it made from?  Where did the cotton, etc., come from, I wonder?  If the material is man-made, what natural things were combined to make the new material?
  • Make a terrarium from an oversized pickle jar.  Find instructions online.  Add plants and a bit of water, close up the jar, and watch the water cycle work.
Most of these ideas came from other people, books or our yearly foray into the science fair.  I will add to this list as I think of other things.