On why bug repellent is so important on a hike

First of all- there is no picture of my hiking horror… I was in panic mode and the last thing I thought about was being calm and taking a picture!

With that said- I will tell my story!

The older kids and their friends took an archery class today at the conservation department. Another mom and I took Eli and two other children for a hike. I encouraged everyone to put on bug spray- but I didn’t use any because I don’t get bit by mosquitoes. (Yes, I’m lucky!)

Anyway- we were walking along a dirt path and I looked down… and there were at least 50 tiny ticks crawling up my both my legs! 

I about lost my mind! 😩

I wanted to crawl out of skin! 😡

At the sight of my very polka-dotted legs I almost vowed never to walk in the wild again

But I didn’t do any of the above things! 

I pulled out my library card and scraped the little boogers off! And my friend came to the rescue and sprayed me with her bug spray! I was checking my arms and legs for the rest of the hike – I found a few stray ticks trying to hang on- but in the end- I got them all off (I think)! 

The moral of the story is: 

Wear bug repellent on hikes!!!!!

(Ugh – I know I’m going to have nightmare tonight!!) 😱


Front yard birding

This isn’t our first time birding in the front yard, nor will it be our last!

We have an extensive bird feeding station that we keep full of tastey treats! And we are rewarded daily with a large variety of feathered friends! (But of course, none would pose for their pictures this morning!)

Simone drew a House Wren, Eddie drew a hummingbird, Andre drew a Kinglet, and Eli drew a sandpiper.

We were outside watching, listening, and drawing for an hour!

Simone’s House Wren is our favorite resident bird!

We have an apple birdhouse hanging from our magnolia tree where the mother House Wren is raising her second brood of babies! 😍

The House Wren sounds like a rattle snake! She was yelling at us all morning as she was feeding her babies!! We were able to watch her bring insects to her loud babies and then she would grab some of their poop from the nest and carry it away! Such a good  housekeeper!

House Wren yelling at me

I’m reading a new book “H is for Hawk”.

I read the first chapter yesterday and was intrigued by this paragraph, “Have you ever seen a hawk catch a bird? I’ve not, but I know it’s happened. I’ve found evidence… “(p.4).

I read those sentences and was instantly jealous! I’ve seen plenty of hawks, but none in action! Of course I don’t want to see a dead bird- but we all know hawks eat other animals! It would be really cool to see evidence of a hawk hunting in my yard!

And what do I see this morning… evidence of a predator!

I am sorry for the bird’s loss of life- but I love seeing proof of wildlife in my own backyard! 

And how neat that I experienced this obersavtion in relationship to reading the book! πŸ“šπŸ˜ŠπŸ’œ

My first nature journal entry πŸ““ 🐦 

This morning, we went and ate donuts at the park! (I highly recommend this!!)

Well- while we were there, I took out my binoculars to look for birds!

At first, I was very unsuccessful- I could hear the birds… I just couldn’t see them!

But then- I saw two birds hopping under a tree. I looked at them through my binoculars and initially thought it was a pair of Mourning Doves… but then… I saw red on the head…

I got to watch a mother Northern Flicker feed her fledging! I couldn’t contain my excitement!!Β I was ecstatic!

I felt like a “real-life” bird watcher πŸ˜€!!!!

The first thing I did when I got home was make a journal entry!!

I would consider this my first nature journal entry because I didn’t just draw a random generic picture- I actually tried to draw what I saw and record the events that occurred in the wild!

In order to be prepared for our daily outdoor adventure/nature journaling, I got some supplies together!

  1. A cute suitcase bagΒ 
  2. Bird, insects, flower, tree books
  3. Oil pastels (wrapped in aluminum foil for safe keeping)
  4. JournalsΒ 
  5. Pencils
  6. Binoculars

I laminated my journal entry to use as a front cover to remind myself of the joy I felt today!! 😍

Fun times today

We squeezed in a hike today- the weather was perfect, the park was perfect, and attitudes were perfect!

Eddie discovered a catfish head…

…and Andre wondered aloud…

 “do you think it drowned?” 

(#homeschool 😝) *Andre was immediately embarrassed 😩 and we all had a good laugh!*

We got to touch cattails for the first time! They are stiffer and a lot harder then they look!

Eli caught a large frog 🐸 which immediately peed on him… hence his look of disgust in the picture!

Naturally – a simple photo-op turned muddy…

(We had to stop at the Salvation Army after the park trip to get clean outfits -so we could go to the library for a science presentation! These boys!!)

We were very sad to see a dead snake in the path 😭

And we found a random swing and tree ladder off the beaten path which was super fun and proves YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’ll FIND IN THE WILD!! 😜

Hiking in the rain β˜”οΈΒ 

It’s raining today! β˜”οΈ but that didn’t stop us from hiking! 🌲🌳🌿

The boys chose to just wear hats 🎩 but Simone and I wanted umbrellas πŸŒ‚ !

We didn’t really see or hear a lot in terms of animals… but the hike was relaxing and fun! 

Such a great way to start the day! 

Eddie found animal tracks- possibly raccoon. 

Eli saved a snail from a flooded ditch!

And of course Andre couldn’t resist playing in the mud!

The kids drew and wrote a nature journal entry today- in the comforts of our living room! πŸ˜†

making nature journals a habit

Today marks the beginning of a lifelong habit… purposefully going into the wild -daily- to journal about nature.

We brought our art supplies, clipboards, sun umbrellas, and a blanket!

I set the timer for 15 minutes and we all drew and colored what we saw!

After 15 minutes we were dripping in sweat! I would have liked us to write in our nature journals but it was sooooo hot… It would have made the experience miserable! So, we took everything back to the car and set off on our hike.

We followed along the path and tried to listen for birds (which is difficult with very talkative kids!).

We did see a hummingbird!!! In the WILD!! It was flying all around a tree without flowers… and I explained to the kids something I learned in my teacher class last week- hummingbirds also eat insects! In fact, they feed their babies regurgitated insects not nectar!!!

I identified milkweed for the first time!! 😁 we can come back and check for monarch eggs and caterpillars πŸ›!

We got to check out water birds with our binoculars at the lookout!

We noticed a path down to the water, so naturally we went exploring!

The boys found a bunch of bones- which they think are the coolest things ever!!!

Andre connected some bones together when we got home… looks about right!

We wanted to stay longer and find more treasures but it was soooooooo hot! I would have also liked us to write in our journals and draw about our findings but it was sooooooo hot!

(Good thing there’s tomorrow!)

Things we learned for tomorrow…

  1. Go in the morning- early!
  2. Go to the bathroom before we leave
  3. Pack more water

I’m excited to go somewhere new tomorrow MORNING and put more drawings and ideas into our journals!

Chicken Math

Chicken Math is the idea that, since you can never tell if you’ve hatched a hen or a roo, you raise some extra chicks to ensure you have enough girls for your flock!

When we got our chicks from our friend, we originally wanted two or three- but we were explained chicken Math and encouraged to get four – figuring we would get 1 rooster.


If you’ve ever raised baby chicks in the city… then you know the sinking feeling you get when you first hear a little immature crow come from your babies! πŸ” especially when it’s a chorus of crows!!

Well- finding a home for a rooster is no easy thing… finding a home for two roosters is even more difficult! (Most places won’t allow roosters because the crowing is considered a nuisance.)

Thankfully – my sister in NE has a friend who said she would take the two roosters… and we offered to give one of my sister’s newly born barncats a home!

Sounds like a fair trade to us!


So- the roosters were loaded into a cat crate and took a road trip with my parents!

They found a new home in NE… a place where they can crow all they want!!

For the return trip, my parents brought back the most adorable 6 week old kitten… Tiger 🐯!

We LOVE our new kitten!!!

He’s even attended a swim meet in the pet stroller wearing a harness and leash!

I personally think we got the best end of the deal!! πŸ˜‰


But our rooster saga doesn’t end there… one early Saturday morning, I heard… another dreaded crow… and saw that it was Shadow making the ruckus!

I put shadow on Craigslist and on a backyard chicken FB page… I pleaded for someone to give him and home… and finally found a taker… over an hour away in the country… and you better believe I happily made the drive to drop him off!

The lady sent me a picture of a very happy Shadow in his new home! πŸ˜πŸ”πŸ‘

I breathed a large sigh of relief! No more roosters! I got two replacement hens- who get along well with Sunny- the last of the original chicks!

And we will live happily… ever… wait- what do I hear? A faint “cock-a-doodle-do”?!?

No joke- I heard a crow the other night… I didn’t see one of my chickens do it- I merely heard it…


Bird banding and forestryΒ 

Last week was seriously a busy week of teacher education through The Missouri Department of Conversation! 

On Monday, I – along with several other homeschool mothers, attended a workshop on how to teach the MDC’s science curriculum – Discover Nature Schools

I attended the workshop for grades 3-5 with the intent to teach these grades during our weekly coop classes!

Anyone can order the curriculum through MDC for free, and if your a teacher at a “real” school and attended the workshop, you qualify for a grant so you can have the science supplies needed… unfortunately homeschool coops aren’t “real” schools so despite our 8 teachers in attendance – none of us can apply for the grant πŸ˜ͺ hopefully someday we will be seen as “real” educators, teaching “real” students!

Anyway- the workshop was great!  We appreciate the free curriculum and I look forward to teaching it this next year!!


The real fun was on Thursday!! 

The World Bird Sanctuary was banding birds at Powder Valley  and we got to see and hear how it was done! 

There were four different birds caught in the net and banded.

I got to release the first bird- a Eurasian Sparrow!

It was difficult for my friend to get a good picture- the bird flew off quickly… the picture does show just how geeky I am and how excited I was to hold and release the sparrow!

Later that day- a master forester came and taught us about trees and forest management.

We learned how to identify trees… there are certain characteristics to look for like 

  • Compound or simple leaf
  • Alternate or opposite branches
  • Leaf shape
  • Bark design and color

We also learned how to survey a land – count and measure trees and take a core sample of the tree to determine age!

I asked a million questions, learned a ton of information and am just so excited about nature! I love becoming a wild family and I can’t wait to teach everything I learned to my children… and others 😍

Fishing 🎣 

We took a community fishing class today! And we were all successful!! 😁 🐟 





I even caught a small fish. I held it tightly while someone helped me remove the hook!! I was quite brave… but I may have squealed each time it wiggled in my hand!!  πŸ˜³πŸ˜†

I’m a BAI – Basic Archery Instructor 🏹 

I went to archery training through the NASP- National Archery in the Schools.

The class was from 8:30 in the morning and ended at 5:00- after some performance evaluations and a written test!

I have left eye dominance so I had to use a left handed bow.  It was awkward at first – my aim was off and I shot a hole through their plastic banner! I guess I’ll be remembered forever LOL!

I improved, never hit the bullseye but got close enough! I learned how to run a range and teach a class of students how to properly and safely use the equipment!

I can’t wait to start a homeschool archery club 🏹 with my certificate!

Unfortunately, even though I took the class and passed, I don’t qualify for the grant because I don’t teach at a “real” school. Teachers from an established school (public or private) can get the grant and use it for an after school club, but not homeschoolers- even if they are part of an established co-op. The MDC did say we could borrow equipment until we get funding- which will be difficult but not impossible since I can try to get other grants through different organizations!

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