We’ve Been Nominated!

liebster2

What a pleasant surprise I had recently in finding out my little blog had been nominated for a Liebster award! If you aren’t familiar with it (like I was), it is an award given between bloggers to recognize and discover new bloggers. What a nice way to connect and find wonderful new blogs to follow. I feel quite honored to be a part of it!

I received my nomination from the lovely A Little Pinch of Perfect! I love following her adventures in being a mommy and all the fun ideas she shares.  She recently posted The Very Hungry Caterpillar Fun Food Ideas for Kids (Kid Activity & Snack) that I can’t wait to make with my daughter! She LOVES the “munchy, munchy catabutter,” as she calls it! 🙂  If you haven’t already, please hop over and follow A Little Pinch of Perfect for great kid friendly fun!

As part of the award nomination, I received 11 questions to answer about myself and blog:

1.  Why did you start your blog? I originally started my blog before I had my daughter. My goal was to share positive words, images etc. and inspire others to live joyfully and in gratitude. It has since morphed into a journal blog about my family and our adventures and also a place to share my photography.

2. Who should read your blog? I figure just about anyone can find something they might enjoy here, but I think I would mostly interest crafting-homeschool-preschoolathome-toddler-momtographer-mamas.

3. What is your favorite post you have done so far? I really had fun with Picnic With the Ants 

4.  Where is the most interesting place you have been? Hubby and I traveled to Finland the year we met and I loved Helsinki!

5.  What other interests do you have? History, ancient history and gardening.

6.  What’s the best present you have ever received? I have to say it’s my hubby and my daughter, since I definitely consider them gifts from God! ❤

7.  What’s your favorite dessert? Bananas Foster

8.  What is your favorite t.v. show? Right now I really love A Taste of History.

9.  Who would you most like to have lunch with? Charlotte Mason (if time travel was not an issue)

11. What makes your house feel like home to you?  Our family photos.

And now it’s my honor to nominate a fellow blogger who inspires me.

The lovely Mama Goose over at Live and Learn 

And here are my questions to my nominee. I know you are a very busy mama, so I’ll limit my questions to five. I completely understand if you don’t have time or aren’t’ interested in playing along.

1. Why did you start your blog?

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

3. Do you have a special talent?

4. What is your favorite Disney movie?

5. What kind of music do you enjoy? 

I’m so thankful for all of the connections I’ve made with such great bloggers and mamas! Thanks again! 🙂

 

Our Butterfly Unit Study

I have found that my daughter really enjoys learning with a unit study. She is engaged and attentive and retains so much of what we learn. I also enjoy them and find I really like the process of designing a specific study for her and I to do together.

For the month of April we focused on learning about butterflies. We were planning a trip to the San Diego Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit and I thought learning about some of the insects we would be seeing would be fun for J. Well, it was so successful that our one week butterfly study turned into a whole month of material.

We started with the lapbook, Insects: Butterfly Speedy Lapbook from Homeschool Bits. This is a quick little book to print and assemble with facts that are short and to the point. It was actually the perfect amount of information for my three year old to understand and learn something from. I decided to work on a little part of the book each week so she could really focus and absorb what we were learning.

Butterfly Unit Study

We discussed the butterfly life cycle first. We used our Safari Ltd. Safariology figures to match up to the coloring page. It also gave J a good idea of what the actual things we were talking about look like. She really enjoyed this part of the study. I also printed out several coloring sheets of specific butterflies and we found as many butterfly/caterpillar stickers as we could for her to embellish her book with.

Butterfly Unit Study

We broke out the Playdoh one morning and made butterfly impressions with the life cycle figures. They turned out very pretty!

Butterfly Unit Study

Butterfly Unit Study

As I mentioned before, the highlight of our unit study was our trip to the Butterfly Jungle. We picked a few butterflies from the handout to study and learn about the week before. J chose the Blue Morpho, Giant Owl, Orange Julia, Monarch and the Zebra Longwing. She learned their names and to identify them by sight. Her expression was adorable when she walked into the atrium and saw the actual butterflies we had spent so much time talking about! She knew every butterfly she was looking at! It made this mama quite proud!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Butterfly Jungle

I’m really happy with how our little unit study went and I think my daughter enjoyed it too. It was lots of fun and learning for us to do together and that’s the best part!

Butterfly Unit Study

Some of the additional materials we used in our study were:

Butterflies (Penguin Young Readers, L2) by Emily Neye

Butterfly figures 

Safari Ltd. Butterfly Toob

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Stickers

Butterfly Coloring Sheets

“Head, Thorax, & Abdomen” The Insect Song

Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

My hubby and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary recently. We never do cards or gifts but opt instead for a special trip or outing. Before J was born it used to be a weekend trip to Vegas, but now we like going somewhere all three of us can enjoy together. It worked out perfectly that the San Diego Safari Park’s annual Butterfly Jungle exhibit was in full swing. We have taken J to this every year since her birth and we decided it would be a wonderful anniversary day special trip. Thankfully, hubby got the day off from work and we spent a rare weekday at the park. It was fantastic, as all the schools were back in session from spring break. The butterfly exhibit was very quiet in comparison to the long lines and packed house that we usually fight through.  We even got a really close parking spot…win, win, win! In preparation for our visit, J and I started a butterfly lapbook. We studied three of her favorite butterflies, the Blue Morpho, Orange Julia, and Giant Owl. Before our trip she was able to read their names and identify them by sight. So imagine her delight when we walked into the atrium and all of these glorious butterflies were fluttering around her. I think she was astounded! We have worked on this book the whole month of April and I’m planning a separate post all about it.

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle   Butterfly Jungle is a photographer’s paradise! I was so happy to have my new camera there to use this year!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Great Orange Tip

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Blue Morpho

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Orange Julia

J’s absolute favorite butterfly is the Orange Julia and she wanted one to land on her more than anything. It took some waiting (around 40 minutes) and patience…two things that aren’t usually easy for a three year old…but we finally had success. The lovely little Julia perched on my daughter’s finger long enough for her to admire it’s delicate beauty and for mom and dad to snap plenty of photos!  And as it turns out one of those photos was selected as a winner in the park’s Butterfly Jungle Instagram contest! We won a cart safari for four! We have never done a cart tour before so we were especially excited by this. We are hoping to take my sister and brother in law and their little boy. Since we are all homeschoolers, I believe this will be a superb field trip! Many thanks again to the Safari Park for choosing our photo. We are so grateful!

San Diego Safari Park Butterfly Jungle

Santa Rosa Nature Walk

The weather has been beautiful and spring-like lately. We decided to take advantage of it and get outside. My little girl, J, loves nature walks, but it is not so easy to find somewhere to explore that isn’t an hour or more drive. Thankfully, we remembered a nice little Nature reserve that’s only a few miles away. Santa Rosa Plateau is a 9000 acre ecological reserve. It is home to many species of birds and plants. 

We had a nice time just strolling along appreciating the nature around us and taking photographs.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau

We took the Granite Loop Trail. Including the walk to the picnic grounds, it’s a little over a mile. I thought that was pretty good hiking for a 3 year old. She showed interest the whole way, not one complaint! That made this mama pretty proud!

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa has a lovely picnic area. It was shady, quiet and we spotted many birds in the surrounding trees.  Some of them even ventured up close.

Santa Rosa Plateau

Santa Rosa Plateau Acorn Woodpecker

Santa Rosa Plateau California Towhee

One detail I really appreciated about Santa Rosa Plateau is that they have many of the plants and trees identified at the visitor center. I love being able to note the names for easy reference when we study them later at home.

Santa Rosa Plateau

This turned out to be a great close to home day trip. I’m looking forward to our next visit and discovering some new plants and animals to photograph and learn about.

Santa Rosa Plateau

 

San Diego Safari Park 3-16-14

A beautiful Sunday visit to the San Diego Safari Park.

We took a leisurely stroll through the Wings of the World aviary and enjoyed some close and personal attention from the many Golden Breasted Starlings. They were quite eager to have their portraits taken!

Safari Park Golden Breasted Starling

We watched the elephant keeper talk. It’s always very informative and fun. Showing off their stuff today was Swazi and her baby Qinisa.

Safari Park Qinisa

Swazi received an elephant pedicure.

Safari Park Swazi

And Qinisa got a little trunk wash.

Safari Park Qinisa

Safari Park Qinisa

Kastan the Caracal was the featured animal encounter near the African Outpost. He is such a beautiful wild cat and always astounds with his jumping prowess.

Safari Park Caracal Kastan

Beautiful spring blooms were on display throughout the park.

Safari Park Fortnight Lily

Safari Park

The meerkats were out and about and being cute as usual.

Safari Park Meerkats

The cutest of all, though, are the two new  lion cubs Ken and Dixie. They are currently in the zoo nursery area and guests can see them playing, eating and sleeping. They are full of lion personality and a pleasure to watch and photograph. Every time we visit they are noticeably bigger!

Safari Park Lion Cubs Ken & Dixie

 

 

Zoo Scavenger Hunt Books

We recently visited the San Diego Zoo with my sister and her boy. The zoo is large and there is no shortage of fun and interesting things to do and see. My mom suggested a great way to sneak in some learning while we were there, via a scavenger hunt.

I knew immediately my daughter and nephew would love this! A quick search yielded many great ideas for zoo themed scavenger hunts. I decided to go with this very cute passport style book from Disney Family. It was small enough to fit in our packs and easy for the little ones to hold on to in their strollers. I brought along a small bag with crayons  and star stickers to “stamp” each page as they completed it.

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

Zoo Scavenger Hunt

This little game turned out to be a bigger hit than any of us adults expected! Both kids were interested in their books the whole day and ended up finding every animal. They loved earning a star after each successful find and my daughter was excited to color in each animal as well. The coloring also provided a  little something to do during the walks between areas. When we got home the kids were proud to show Grandma their completed books and found out they had earned a prize for all of their efforts. Thanks Grandma! 🙂

This is such a simple way to reinforce sight words, animal recognition and working towards a goal…all while having a great day at the zoo. I know I will be making more of these for another visit. I’m planning on designing one specifically for the Safari Park with animals I know are there. I also told my sister I would put together one for Sea World for my nephew, since they have a season pass and go frequently. I’m sure he would love a sea creature scavenger hunt! I guess I better get busy, I have a lot of crafting to do!

San Diego Zoo 1-4-14

We visited the San Diego Zoo a few weeks ago and I am just now getting around to posting. It was a great day to go! We had perfect weather, a bit overcast, which is great for photographing the animals. They are also much more likely to be out and active with a little cloud cover. It’s hard to believe the rest of the country is in a deep freeze when we are wearing shorts and flip flops during the day. That’s Southern California weather for you…shorts in January.

The flamingos were especially colorful this day!

San Diego Zoo Flamingos

We also happened upon a beautiful peacock eating his afternoon snack. He was close and very comfortable in front of an audience. He lingered for quite a while allowing for some great photo ops. Our other bird stop was one of my favorites, the Secretary Bird. There is just something so beautiful and strange about this bird. I love to photograph it.

San Diego Zoo Birds

A gorgeous leopard was perched on a rock people watching.

San Diego Zoo Leopard

The primates were all active and having fun in their various enclosures. They are always entertaining and interesting to observe.

San Diego Zoo Primates

A cute little Sun Bear found a tasty treat inside a large tube.

San Diego Zoo Sun Bear

This camel definitely had the best animal expression of the day!

San Diego Zoo Camel

We also spent some time at the wonderful Balboa Park Carousel, which is just outside of the zoo grounds. It’s one of the loveliest carousel rides I have ever been on. Lots of fun for kids of all ages! It’s now a must visit on our trips to the zoo.

With this unseasonably lovely winter weather we have been having I hope we can plan another trip to San Diego Zoo soon and share some more adventures and pictures.