Outdoor Sketching

Decca is studying Monet and Impressionism right now, so I decided to take him outside to do some sketching. Tru decided to tag along with us, and so I loaded the boys up with their paper and water-color pencils. I grabbed Kingsley (we can’t ever leave him behind), and off we went.

We walked for a while trying to find the perfect scene to sketch. Every time I suggested something one of the boys would object. Apparently my ideas, such as a grassy field or wildflowers, were not what they had in mind. They finally agreed to sketch this wonderful area (yes I am being sarcastic).

Apparently something about the rocks and dead grass attracted them to this. Not to be one to judge, especially if it is a creative difference of opinion, we stopped, and the boys began to sketch. I thought they would get bored with this fairly quickly, but to my surprise, they worked on their drawings for almost twenty minutes.

Sketching outdoors is a great way to spend a day. Decca, who usually has very little patience, enjoyed it the most. I am going to try to carve time into our days for sketching/drawing/painting  “en plein aire”.

It made for a great day.

Nature Deficit Disorder

I remember hearing this phrase a few years ago when Last Child in the Woods
came out. I think many people are skeptical about whether Nature Deficit Disorder is real, and I imagine most people hear the term and laugh. However, in today’s world, there is a change happening in regard to kids and nature. More and more kids are growing up disconnected from the natural world, and that is a shame.

My kids are lucky though. We live on a nature preserve in a nice neighborhood. The view out our windows is wonderful, and outside our door are many walking trails. There are trees, flowers, birds, insects, and wild animals all around us. We are out in it everyday, and I am so grateful for that.

I have noticed in our neighborhood though a very strange phenomenon. The grassy fields outside our door are often empty, the trees are never climbed, and the voices of children are often unheard. I see the kids walk home from school, and then I hardly see or hear them until the next day when they are again pushing their heavy book bags back to school. In the summer I hear and see even fewer children, as they are no longer walking to school. Where are all the kids? Why aren’t they outside enjoying this wonderful nature paradise.

I know the answers to that question, and it makes me sad. My kids enjoy modern life. They love their video games, the computer, and their iPods, and I am happy for them to have all those gadgets, but I know it is my job to balance that out for them. They, and I, are much happier individuals because of the balance, because of our contact with the natural world. I hope we, as humans, never get too far from that truth.

Back to Nature

Because of the holidays it seems that it has been forever since we had a good walk out in nature. I have missed that special time with the kids exploring the outdoors, so this morning I decided to take everyone down to the beach.

The boys were not to keen on the idea at first, but Autry was very enthusiastic about it.

She and I convinced the boys (actually I just told them to get in the car) that it would be a fun adventure, so we all piled in the car and headed down to Crystal Cove. It was a cloudy morning, a little chilly, but we had a wonderful time.

The kids allowed me to take some photos of them. Sometimes a mom with a camera can be very annoying (especially if you are 12).

Then we explored our surroundings, and everyone tried to find something interesting.

Tru found this stick that he wanted to use as a sling shot.

Autry and I loved this shell.

I thought this pod looked like a cool creature.

Decca explored the roots of this washed-up tree. He loved that there were rocks stuck in the roots.

It was such a beautiful morning at the beach.

  I am so happy that we made time to go.

A Morning Hike

I have withdrawn my oldest son from our charter school, and the freedom we feel because of this is wonderful. I use to be stressed about all the requirements we had to meet, and I would pressure him to work, and then we would have very little time for anything else. I finally grew fed up with all the requirements and standards we had hanging over us, which seem to have gotten harder this year because he is in 7th grade, so I pulled him.

This means that I am more relaxed and so is he. I no longer feel the need to stress about his work, and we suddenly have plenty of free time to do what we want. In our new-found freedom, we have re-discovered our love of morning hikes. Kingsley is quite happy about this and so is Decca.

Here are a few pictures from our morning hike this morning. It was a great way to start the day.