Yes, it’s a play-on-words! I’m bussed–in the Old English “kissed” meaning of the world! I love the VW Bus! The much-overused word “Iconic” was possibly coined just for this marvelous vehicle. My love affair started young–with the collection of Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels that my brother and I shared growing up in the ’60s and early 70s. His kids, and now his grandkids, play with those same cars. One of them was an olive green VW Bus–like this:



These vehicles became cult classics in the 1960s and 70s–and not just because the Kennedy family kept one at Hyannis Port to haul around Caroline, John and all their cousins. These were the de-facto Hippie Van to end all Hippie Vans. Back in my childhood though, they were vehicles on which you’d see a decal for a prep school or an Ivy League college as well as for US Army or Air Bases in Germany. You just knew that kids riding in those knew how to play soccer or row in a crew. Back then a lot of folks took possession of a VW in Europe, drove it on their vacation (or while posted to Germany with the military) and then brought it home. It was way cool to leave the European plates on when possible. This one is especially swoon-worthy:




When we were traveling I always liked to spot what I thought of as “bus-trucks” or, in today’s speak, maybe “bus-hacks.”

Source 1   Source 2   Source 3  Source 4   Source 5

In high school I envied a friend whose family had a VW Bus Camper. That would be how I would camp! But it was so unique a vehicle that they made it into the local paper. In the interview, his parent’s stressed how  practical it was. I just thought it was cool. Ah youth….



Back when I was in college, and dreaming of my future married life, I thought if need be I would be willing to drive the “new” version of the Bus–the Vanagon. Not as cool as the original, but preferable to a huge Buick Woody-Wagon if I ever had too many kids. (This was before mandatory child seats).

Source left   Source right



Sadly, in spite of all the VW Buses shown on travelogues and in Marlon Perkin’s Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, by the time I got to Malawi in 1989, Toyota Vans and Dual-Cab Pickups had replaced the beloved Bus. This made me sad. They were way cooler than something a suburban housewife back home might drive.

What could be better for a fun road trip than a VW Bus? Well, perhaps an aging VW Wanagon. On Amazon I discovered this fun lite read and just had to buy it. Order it! Read it on your next road trip.


Saving Charlotte by Kat Wiechert

Recently I read that VW is coming out with a re-born Bus. I’ll tell you something. I have no need for a mini-van, but if I publish my novel, I will buy one of the new buses and wrap it with my book’s cover art!




Finally, I picked this book simply for it’s cover. It’ll make a good second book for that road trip in the VW Bus–or take it VW Camping! Sky Beneath My Feet by Lisa Samson.

Today the front of the VW bus is probably as well known as the White House. It adorns gourmet sugar cookies, purses, t-shirts, dressers and recycling cans. The bus “body” has been made into coolers, baby cribs and children’s beds. If it has a flat surface that surface has likely been considered for a bus image! Here is my Pinterest VW Bus Board





An Introvert’s Fourth of July!


I’m a very proud American and make no apologies for it. But holidays tend to stress me out. I’m a big-time introvert. I enjoy a lot of “alone” time. Oh, my kids and my Mom and I will cookout this weekend. We’ll have our standard menu of bratwurst, German potato salad, Kraut salad and some desert. (Yes, it IS odd that a Scots-Irish-Ukranian family celebrates America’s birthday with a German meal, but it works for us!) I do love fireworks and could be persuaded to go–if they are on the actual 4th of July. Today that’s hard to find because in every city some radio station has taken over the fireworks and made them a big gigantic crowd thing with synchronized music, having to go way, way early to get a spot and Port-a-Potties. I like normal, hometown fireworks with smaller crowds. It goes without saying that I don’t like Port-a-Potties.

So, without further ado, here are my suggestions for a good Fourth of July alone–alone-alone or alone with your significant other if you are birds of a feather on this issue.

First a few good books:

Continue reading “An Introvert’s Fourth of July!”


When the empty nest houses a single bird…..


Charles Schulz

The kids are gone. There is no “significant other.” What do you do to keep from becoming emotionally dependent on your cat or the ladies of The View?


This is your time! Embrace it and rejoice!


Get Your Family  and Your Home Into Shape

The Single Empty Nest can be a time of mourning, but don’t drag it out. Kubler-Ross’s every stage of grief shouldn’t be necessary–after all the kids are alive and well. They’re just doing what they were born to do: live their own lives. Now is your time to spread your wings and fly the way you’ve always wanted.

Quilt         Shadow Box

Get Their Memories Sorted Out:  Let them take those treasured memories with them–make or have a t-shirt quilt made so they won’t need to store so much stuff at your house. Have those swimming medals framed in a shadow box. Make a scrapbook of those JROTC drill meets or Robotics competitions. Use this as a way to let go–for both of you.

Get Their Rooms Re-purposed: Feel free to re-purpose a kid’s room for your own needs. It’s YOUR home now, not “our” home in the day-to-day sense. Nothing says “I trust you are doing this right” like turning their bedroom into your office. (Ok, nothing quite says “Burn the Ships,” like taking down the Eminem posters and putting away the high school detritus, but still….)

Continue reading “When the empty nest houses a single bird…..”


A Day at the Pool


Poolside Reading for Grownups




Herman Koch is a master of plotting and pacing and writes  some of the funniest trains of thought ever written attributed to characters. (I’ve always thought some men think and operate just like Mark does in this book.). Part vacation novel, part marriage novel, part psychological thriller, and part who-done-it, this one has something for everyone. I listened to the audio and it was pitch-perfect. Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch.





Diving Pool: Three Novellas by Yoko Ogawa. Jun is a competitive diver for his high school. His foster sister realizes she is in lust with him and stays after school daily to watch him practice, loving the beauty of his body as it slides into the water. This lust cannot be consummated, so instead, she turns to a strange way of releasing the pent-up emotions. There are two other very short novellas (long short stories?) in this collection. The writing is very beautiful.




I can’t wait to read this one! I can’t offer a review since I haven’t read it, but here’s a link to the fabulous Elliott Bay Book’s review. They liken it to Unbroken which I can recommend without reservation. The Three-Year Swim Club by Julie Checkoway.

Poolside Reading for Kiddos




Who says orangutans don’t swim? See Suryia defy her specie’s stereotype and swim–sometimes with his doggie-pal, Roscoe. A nice, gentle book to encourage reluctant swimmers. Suryia Swims!




This award winning book might appropriately be subtitled: Introverts Go Swimming. 

Pool by Lee Jihyeon

Continue reading “A Day at the Pool”


Let’s go for a picnic!


Cartoon Newtwork


Back in the day….



When I was little my family used to drive up to my Great-Aunt’s summer camp in northern Wisconsin. Along the way we’d stop for a picnic. The menu was always the same: A cooler full of fried chicken, potato salad, “relishes” like olives and pickles, a tomato or two to slice and a big “picnic jug” thermos of iced tea. My family  being MY family, they had to have table for their picnic. I always wanted a “real” picnic on a blanket. Possibly due to this book–which I loved and still have. Plus, I was part of the Yogi-bear generation. Picnics had style back then.




A proper picnic needs a blanket–ideally an itchy wool Pendalton stadium blanket like my parents had from their college days. Ours was like the one on the right–it lived in a plastic tote bag made specially for it. Apparently this is how people tried to keep warm at college football games in the 1950s. It didn’t cover much, but would have looked great for a picnic.




Continue reading “Let’s go for a picnic!”


Have you started packing yet? I have!


I love to fill shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. In the photo above you get an idea of where I’m at with this year’s boxes. Since the oldest boys are the ones few people want to do, I generally do more of those, but usually do at least one box per age/gender category. I watch clearance racks for suitable clothing, but always ask “Would I have bought this for my kids?” first.

Yesterday, I hit one of my favorite OCC shopping spots, Gabriel Brothers (aka Gabes). The photo above (minus the two bags, the 2 balls and 1 polo shirt was $23.00). Another great one is Old Navy–yes, a fashionable brand name, but with super clearance racks. Target is yet another. Some Wal-Marts are good, but I’ve found their stores near me rarely go below $3.00 for a nice enough shirt. I do not load my boxes with tacky left-over St. Patrick’s Day shirts and the like.  I’m giving a GIFT and treat it as such. Dollar Tree is great for a few things like party favors, pencil bags and a few toys. Oriental Trading Company sells bulk toys, water bottles and all kinds of things for super-cheap prices. How about co-oping with a couple of families to buy bulk items?

On Saturday, November 12th I’m hosting a virtual packing party! Come by and post links and photos to your own packing party–vitual or otherwise!


How to pack a shoebox.

Here’s a link to OCC’s month-by-month shopping guide.


Sorting and packing last Christmas


Here are my thoughts on what to pack and even on how to pack.

Remember, each box requires a $7.00 donation for shipping. You can also “pack” a box online. You can pay online for the s/h and have your box tracked, too. Last year our boxes went to Columbia.

  1. Most of the world has never even seen a washer and drier. Knits get really, really stretched in aggressive hand washing and line drying. If in doubt, go with woven fabrics or high quality polo shirts. T shirts with lots of iron-on type embellishment work well too–all that plastic keeps it from stretching as much, but be mindful of what the graphics could say in other cultures. Right after Easter and right after back-to-school are great times to get woven boys shirts, cotton dresses or good quality polo shirts for a very good price. Remember: Camo is a no-no. Military items are not allowed.

Continue reading “Have you started packing yet? I have!”


Bridge Club Days



Saturday Evening Post .com

Growing up, I remember my Grandmother’s love of bridge. She was a typical 1930’s young matron–wife of a successful young electrical engineer, so bridge went with the territory. By the time I remember, the late 1960s, she was the wife of a successful senior executive who traveled regularly to multiple foreign countries. Bridge, the country club, all that elitist, stuck-up “Eastern Establishment” stuff (as it was called back then) mattered.



There was a way to do a bridge party–whether hosting your regular bridge club for lunch or hosting an invitation only party. It could be for lunch,  tea time, dinner or just desert and, in the evening only, could be a couples party complete with cocktails and dinner or coffee and desert. (By the way, where I grew up Euchre was done this way as well). Bridge Table or What’s Trump Anyway by Maggy Simony offers a fun look at the bridge club days. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal said about her book.

(Images:  Ebay, Waneelo & Etsy).

My brother and I, or my cousin, would give our grandmother sets like this for Christmas–pretty playing cards and a score pad.


Card table linens, with matching napkins, were a big deal, too, though my grandmother wouldn’t have had the wonderfully colorful Florida one, unless someone in the group had given it as fun gift or she’d won it as a door prize perhaps.


Lunch was likely to be something like a tomato stuffed with tuna-chicken-egg–salad (one of those) served on a leaf of crisp ice berg lettuce. There’d  be iced tea or, sometimes, iced coffee. This “frosted” sandwich loaf, which Buzzfeed recently and wrongly called awful, was a popular item, too, back in the day. It is not “frosted” with cake icing, but with cream cheese. It’s delicious.



Desert, always served with coffee, could range from simple cookies to a lavish desert. It was served on the hostess’s best desert plates or on card-themed desert plates. My grandmother always liked her “bite of sweet,” but in those years she had to “watch her figure.”



All the ladies carried these cigarette cases with the little lighter. Like cell phones today, they were always present. They matched her wallet and little change purse. The ash trays were also nut or mint dishes. A hostess often had a set for both.



I once accompanied my Grandmother to bridge club. Sadly it was memorable to me for two reasons: I couldn’t breathe from the cigarette smoke and I disgraced myself being too shy at 6 years old to ask for the bathroom. I do recall the ladies how was immaculate–something I still admire all these years later. Today I know she probably had a cleaning lady who came out on the train from Chicago certain days each week.  The Help was like reading about my grandmother’s bridge club in a bad way.





In my Mom’s generation, the 1950’s, girls were said to major in “bridge” in college–her Purdue yearbook and photo album both show groups like the one shown here. The “girls” then graduated with their “MRS Degree,” and continued playing in bridge clubs of their own. My Mom, however, wasn’t big on that. You had to clean and talk about nothing. Neither were her thing.

Image source.


Early in the 1970s we moved to a new town. Mom and Dad, in an effort to meet people, joined a Newcomer’s Club and took bridge lessons. Both had played in college, but needed some refreshing. To practice, they taught my brother and me the rudiments. Too much like math for me, but my brother later was proud of winning money off my grandmother’s friends when he stayed with her in Florida one time!

Sadly, bridge isn’t that popular anymore, but I suspect a come-back. Why? Well, the ladies of Downton Abbey played it, but that’s not all. An excellent new memoir I just read might rouse people into trying it again. (FYI: For a look at how ladies in the early 1900s enjoyed the game, download this free little gem, Lady Christy’s Bridge Party on your Kindle.)



The author, Betsy Lerner, grew up with a mom in a bridge club in the same era I recall my grandmother’s bridge parties. The Bridge Ladies, as they were known to her, were her mothers social life, her networking, her support group–her 1960’s Facebook friends, if you will. They weathered babies and teenagers, navigated kids with radically different moral standards and rejoiced at graduations and first jobs together. They became grandparents together and navigated long-term care, medicare, widowhood and all things aging, too.

A privileged group in a Connecticut suburb of New York City, they were always perfectly groomed, many continued to follow theater, art and literature by going into the city for events into their 80s. All read and traveled widely. With one exception, none worked outside the home. All were well educated, but all realized that their lives would be marrying Jewish men , taking care of their homes and raising the children and doing most of it pretty much without help from the man.

I have tremendous respect for these women. Unlike the generation Betsy and I inhabit, they “bloomed where they landed.” They knew how to be content. “Content” and “complacent” or “passive” are not the same thing. They did not comparison shop for a lover before acquiring a husband and have no reason to suppose they got it wrong.  Aside from possibly too much booze, they didn’t experiment with drugs–at least not until that first middle-aged over-stressed mom’s Valium Rx. They may have yearned for a career, but made the best, pardon the pun, of the hand they were dealt.


They did not cheat on their husbands and didn’t look too carefully for any hints that he might have cheated on them. They did not need to find themselves because they knew who they were–Mrs. His Name in the very best sense of that. Like my mom, Betsy’s mom lost a child and was told to focus on the children she had. It took it’s toll–as it did on many such mothers in that era. But these were steely women. They could pilot a station wagon full of untethered kids into the city a rush hour, or cook and host a buffet for 50 on a day’s notice. They took their “signature dish” when someone died or was ill. Appearances mattered, manners were observed and obeyed. (Image source).


Like me, Betsy has struggled with depression. There was so much of her presence in the book, though, that I found disrespectful to her subject. Her fruitless quest for validation (which I share) of her choices came across as spoiled. Who asks their mother if their father was faithful? That was too far for my comfort. Ditto trying to wrangle out of her mother if she’d had premarital sex. The generations who came of age before Oprah keep those things to themselves because they are no one else’s business. It is a lost art today, but one our country and the world badly needs to remember. I got pretty sick of the glib/hip “cool Mom” references to smoking pot and the rest, but that was never me. To each her own. This is small stuff. The book is excellent and will certainly be favorite of book clubs and ladies of all ages.

So many people of the Bridge Ladies generation fear the end of the social and voluntary groups to which they dedicated much of their time. My next door neighbor begs me to join the local Lions Club–the average age of which is about 80 now. While purely social groups like bridge clubs aren’t as popular now as they once were, they are far from dead. A friend took up mahjong recently and plays avidly–often with ladies of the Bridge Ladies generation. A group of former co-workers still have their card club every week, 20 years on. They play euchre, not bridge, but everything else is exactly as my grandmother would have done it except they favor quesadillas over frosted sandwich loaf and salsa and chips over cream cheese mints.  Today social clubs can revolve around walking or even marathon training. Crafts make another popular “club” activity whether formally organized as a club or not. But for many moms such activities can come only at the expense of rare after work- non-kid-activity time, so Facebook, Instagram and the like must suffice with maybe an occasional wine and painting class for fun.

The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner
















Beach Week: Heading Home


Well, we’ve had a good few days at the beach. Everyone’s tanned and well sanded. Time to head home. Here are few ideas to make the trip home a little easier, if you are driving. Sorry, nothing makes it easier today when you are flying.

How to have a smoother drive home

  1. DONATE–Drop-off the old towels, sheet(s), beach toys that will just be clutter at home, unwanted swimsuits or rash shirts or beach bags and any other stuff you don’t want to haul home.
  2. TOSS–When the kids are asleep ruthlessly prune the shell collections down to under 50 lbs–you know what I mean here. Ditto that plastic cup with the crab on it or the Dollar Store fedora. Anything that can be trashed needs to be trashed now.
  3. WASH–If there’s a washer and drier where you are staying, do the laundry, fold and pack in trash bags to stay clean on the trip home. One less chore when you get home.
  4. RESTOCK–Fill the cooler(s) with ice, normally forbidden drinks (Capri Sun? Expensive Jones Sodas? Starbucks bottled drinks?) and lots of water bottles Put in seedless grapes, little carrots, mini peppers and cheese sticks.
  5. HIDE–Hide some surprises for everyone. Download some brand new music on a teen’s phone, bring out the awful t.v.tie-in beach book (preferably with stickers), download some new games to your phones (just pay for extra data if you aren’t WiFi enabled on the road–it’s worth it for sanity). There’s even an app for the License Plate Game and many, many other travel-related games for all ages.
  6. PLAN–Check the State Highway Patrol or DOT websites for new road construction or detours. Plan a pit stop for just before so you don’t have to pull over and find bushes.
  7. SEATING–Everyone is tired and tired of being together. If the only way to have peace is for Mom or Dad to ride in the back then suck it up and do it.
  8. SLEEP–Encourage sleep. New cheap fleece throws will help. Take pillows in the car.
  9. GRAZE–It’s a road trip. Ignore the quality of the food choices. Food pacifies them. Have junk food and, yes, even candy. Hand it out from time-to-time, but mix in a few carrots and grapes too. No, you can’t have Ranch–it’s the car.
  10. SCREEN–It’s ok to suffocate under a blanket or inside a hoodie to watch a movie or text or whatever. Screen time on the trip home is to be encouraged.
  11. WHITE NOISE–If the driver won’t fall asleep, instrumental music is a good choice. Something calm and soothing.
  12. MODEL–Set the example. Say Thank You to your kids for the great time at the beach even if its thru clenched teeth. If they see the effort it will help. Hand out souvenir t-shirts to wear on the ride home and don’t say a word if your teen won’t be caught dead in one. They’ll wear it. Just not when they’ll look like the Partridge Family in them.
  13. DIVERT–Let anything you can just “go,” but do plan diversion tactics with your spouse so you don’t go insane. If you are a single parent–you’ll desperately need these.
    1. Example: “He’s touching me…” You both start singing as loudly as possible “The Old Rugged Cross” or “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” or “Jimmy Crack Corn”–something that will embarrass them to silence.
    2. “This Sucks” or “I’m Bored” or “Are We There Yet” Toss a popsickle stick with a chore on it to the offender. Make sure the deadline is “After you pee, but before you do anything else when we get home” and be prepared to enforce it.
    3. Stop and switch seats (if possible) about every 90 minutes.
    4. If it gets too awful,  put on Opera. Opera will bring them to their knees.


At Home

Turn them loose, get those who “earned” a chore started and then force yourself and your spouse to unpack the car and get the suitcases, trash bags of clean clothes and whatever to the correct bedroom. Empty and air the cooler. Put away perishables. Then, it’s Miller time. Relax. Let them unwind. Put those asleep straight into bed. Show Grace on a sleeping child who has earned a chore!

 The Day After

Thank you notes must be written if Grandma and Grandpa paid for the trip or if you stayed with friends or relatives or………[you know who these might need to go to]. Here are some nice cards and stationary you can use or make.


 Shell Printing;  Beach Card;  Ready-Made Note Cards

Good manners dictates that EVERYONE writes a thank you note. A few weeks ago I posted here about how happy a real letter can make people–a real Thank You note (not an email or a text) is the same. It makes people happy. It also teaches gratitude. Maybe your visited some cute gift shop with locally produced note cards and bought some. Maybe you like to make your own cards or stationary. Pinterest has more card designs than you could make in a life-time. These are just a few suggestions.

Anyone over about the fifth grade can just plain suck it up and write one! Yes, they can also take the time to hand write it neatly, to appropriately decorate the paper (or choose an appropriate blank note card).

Here’s a wonderful way to share your trip, express yourself and give a very thoughtful thank you–draw or watercolor your own postcard. Maybe you took these on your Nature Day at the beach–Grandma and Grandpa would be thrilled to receive one.


Water Colour Postcards

Here’s a cute little kit for kids to use.b667f2d3cd3b08f334a68b3718a5178e

Thank you note kit.

While the notes are being written the little ones can play this cute free printable matching game. (Remember: If you like the game, leave a compliment for the blogger who made it).


Memory Game

Once the notes are done, encourage, but do not force, getting the shell collection or the drift wood collection sorted and contained. Have a little messy crafting time. Don’t hover but be available. Help them use the field guides–yes, there are apps for that but, show them the books, too. Strew some other books on your coffee table or wherever it is they all gather to watch tv or use the computer or wherever they hang out You can get them from the library before hand but don’t let them see them. Or splurge and order a couple. Now is the time! But resist the urge to make it school-ish. If they don’t want to, don’t show disappointment, just go on with your own craft or book or look at your own shells. Model. It helps.

Ask your teens if they’ll help get the photo book started or help with making some memory piece like a shadow box. Again, don’t force. They may have their own plans for a memory item–or may not care to do that. Offer to buy reasonably priced supplies. Put up with reasonable mess.

Then find patience, life will go back to normal, vacation harmony (I hope you had it) will fade, normal squabbles will resume, but there will be “Remember that time at the beach….” all the rest of your days.




Beach Week: Learning at the Beach Part II: Science and Nature


This week we’re at the beach on an imaginary family vacation! Today we’re adding in a few learning activities. Nothing school-ish, just fun. This time we’re doing science and nature.


Be considerate. If you try any of these fun projects, won’t you leave a nice comment for the blogger who posted it? We bloggers live on comments.

Science is great when you get to see the “why” and the “how.”




This simple lesson shows shy poor little Woodstock needed Beak Lotion. Suncreen Science is a simple project from the blog Playdough to Plato and any parent can carry it off with their kids.  Here’s a great Ted-ED Talk on Why Wear Sunscreen







Maybe your trip include a diving adventure. Here’s the Scuba Diver in a Bottle from Cool Science Experiments.






What does water do to the shore line? Scientific American has a great lesson for kids.




There are countless other great simple science experiments to illustrate all kinds of things related to the beach, the ocean, marine life and related topics.

Family Service Project

Today is World Oceans Day!  It is focusing on the problem of plastic trash killing oceans. Why not make a family service project and take a beach walk and pick up trash? Don’t worry if you are reading this after the actual day–service projects like this are needed 24/7/365 worldwide. Here’s the Twitter hashtag, too,  if you’d like to learn more or see what others are doing. #WorldOceansDay



Part of the joy of any outdoor time is exploring the sights, sounds and yes, even the scents, smells and sounds. Time outdoors spent enjoying the natural world reduces stress. While there may be complaints, there maybe eye rolls, there may be downright hostility…at first…but when they realize there is no escaping the family’s plan to be outdoors, they may actually begin to enjoy it. With the teenagers, remember, this is vacation–bribes are OK!! Peace is what we want. They can have their screens when the family is done.

The beach has more “nature” to offer than just sand, water, shells and driftwood. There may be feathers, rocks, fish bones, insects and plants–plants both in the water and on land.

One way to explore them is Nature Study and Nature Journaling. Kids are naturally curious–let them collect shells and rocks and whatever. Don’t try to encourage or force it. Just let it happen.  Collecting, observing, recording are essential science skills.  The collecting won’t be a problem–I promise! Observing likely won’t either. Recording–well, use your own judgement, part of the problem with recording may be not having yet learned to draw or not understanding what to draw. They can record by pressing & drying plants or by collecting postcards, by making prints or rubbings or by making a craft, too. But take a tip–try to avoid glossy packaged kid’s nature journal kits. Let the child’s own work and words be the beauty of the book. And, don’t get too hung up on appearance–any old notebook will do to see if you like keeping a nature journal.

Nature Study


All of these books are available on Amazon

Tip: Young parents–Ask for Field Guides as gifts. They are a great source for nature study and just for wiling away a dull raining afternoon. They cover plants, animals, sea shells–even weather.

Natural Journals

Here are some examples of children’s Nature Journals entries found on the blog Our Journey Westward. It’s very important that you study these before moving on the my Pinterst Nature Journal Porn Board. Remember, many of these were done by artists–the kind who make money off their art! If you have Nature Journaling Envy, I’m right there with you. On my short-term bucklist list is to take one of these  online drawing classes.


First a few resources for parents–you can skim before your trip and read over the next year if you find your family really enjoys nature study, nature walks and/or nature journaling.

Keeping a Nature Journal or the Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling both provide a good introduction to nature journaling. Basically you pick a plant or animal or flower or a scene that interests you. You study it, examine it, feel it, observe its habitat then draw or paint it (or represent it in other ways) you may add a sample by drying and pressing a flower, for example, or a small rock sample in a ziplock bag. You might make a shell collection in a shadow box, draw or photograph it, then correctly label the shells on the page in your journal. Most nature journal-ers label things accurately–some even with the Latin names. There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do this–just get out and enjoy and enjoy doing a journal.

Tip: If I said “Let’s go on a nature walk” my kids would flee. If I said “Let’s go on a drawing hike,” they scrambled to find colored pencils and sketchbooks! A fun way to get them drawing was to buy a post-card sized watercolor sketch pad. Much more fun when you can draw, then drive the Post Office lady crazy picking out a stamp and then send it to Grandma! Even better–the paper clutter is at Grandma’s house then! Be sure to take a picture!

Here are some other ways to represent the plant or rock or whatever in your journal. Obviously, clay and similar would work best if a photograph of the original creation went into the actual journal. But the same principles of classifying the item, noting the date, time and other factors could still be carried out with the photograph on the page.

Options for Little Children

Left-to-right Pound Color From Nature; Flower Prints; Clay Plant Prints

Won’t you visit these blogs and leave them a nice comment on their great nature study ideas? Things to Share and Remember,  Nurture Store (She has a Garden Art E-book!) and the Artful Parent (she has two books out!)

For Older Kids and Adults



Left-to-right row one: One, two, three. Row two: One, two.

Book of Firsts

Photo 20150119125845039

This journal is just what it sounds like “the first corn plants are up,” “the first geese flying south,” “saw Orion,” etc. Very simple. It’s a fun family activity and can be a useful dinner-time conversation starter. You could even just note them on your calendar, but  the journal is even nicer–it keeps multiple years together. Add in drawings, photos, whatever you like.  Here’s my friend Jeanne’s book of firsts on her blog, A Peaceful Day.


Tomorrow we wrap up our vacation!