Free Summer School Bonus: Concerts in the Park

I have to admit, I love summer.  One of the things I love the most is combining two of my favorite activities:  listening to music and being outdoors.  In the small towns around us, nearly every town has a few free concerts in the park during the summer.  We love to go and listen, enjoying both the music and the spectating.  After all, at how many concerts in symphony hall would you see this?

Do you see those little darlings behind my two?  Even though the crowd at these outdoor concerts is not as quiet or interested as the audience at symphony hall, aren’t you glad they are outdoors enjoying the beautiful music?

This concert included real cannon fire during the 1812 Overture, and actors dressed up as storm troopers and other Star Wars characters during the Star Wars theme.  Besides enjoying themselves very much, the kids were able to observe the reactions of others to the music that was being played.

One thing that our family gains from these concerts is the idea that someday, perhaps they will be part of an orchestra like this one.  In one of the books I read recently, the author defined amateur by its meaning of “lover of . . .” something.  He said that the amateur could be proficient at something and do it to bring joy to his life, not just “for pay” which is what being a professional really means.  I hope that my children will be amateurs in that sense of the word, and as such might be able to enjoy their music performing in various local settings.  Few musicians have the skill or the luck to be one of the very few professional concert musicians in this country.  But they can look for ways to give joy to others and themselves performing in other settings.

Have you searched for these type of concerts near you?  Do you use these as part of your summer learning?  Please leave me a comment below.


Fall in Love with the World Challenge — Day 6

Are you finding this week challenging?  I am.  It’s challenging to take time every day to think about this beautiful earth and how much we should appreciate our lives upon it.  Our lives get busy and we forget how important it is to stop and be grateful.  I hope you are enjoying the lessons you are learning by taking this challenge with me.

Challenge #6 — Do something outdoors that you usually do indoors.

Take something outdoors that you normally use in the house — for us, that meant violin, computer and house toys.   For you it might mean something different.  Eden lamented that the piano couldn’t go outside!

If you’ve missed part of our falling in love with the world challenge, it’s not too late to start.  Look back here for more information, and check out these posts as well.  Please leave a comment and a link to let us share your experiences outdoors.  Join me here tomorrow for the last post in the challenge.  Have a wonderful day!

P.S.  Today is the “super moon.”  Wouldn’t it be a great time to do a full moon nature walk?  Hope I get to!

Running Outside and Fixing Our Nature Deficit

I had a breakthrough moment this morning as I got ready for my run.  I have been reading The Nature Principle by Richard Louv, and he describes people as going out to nature for their exercise, and then dulling their senses by blocking their ears with Ipods or other media.  When I read this, I realized that I was guilty of that myself.  Instead of going on my early morning runs with ears and mind wide open, I have been building a barrier between myself and the restoration that being outside brings by listening to podcasts or a playlist while I run.

I have known for a long time that being outside is restorative for me, but since the days have been shorter and the weather colder, I have been lacking motivation when I go outside for my long runs.  I decided today to try running without any noise in my ears again, although I took along my music and earphones “just in case.”  I had a great run.  I didn’t see any wonderful wildlife, and the birds were not singing, but I was able to listen to the movement of the air, and listen to my breathing as a way to improve my running.  I also was able to concentrate my attention on some work problems that needed resolved.

I will be reviewing The Nature Principle here soon, and telling you more about my thoughts on nature deficit disorder.  In the meantime, let me share some other ideas we have used lately to get outdoors:

  • Walking when the moon is full.  We went on a moonlit walk on Monday at one of our favorite walking paths.  The kids spotted Casseopeia and Orion, and we talked about Betelgeuse and Rigel and why some stars are red and others are blue.  We also scared up a few ducks — literally, they were very scared.
  • Hiking to look at ice at some of our favorite spots.
  • Lunch at the park.  This is wonderful because the park is empty this time of year, so the kids can have the equipment to themselves if they want, or wander around playing hide and seek or other invented games.  I take along a blanket to wrap up in(along with my coat) and a book, and enjoy half an hour of winter sunbathing while the kids run around and enjoy themselves.  This is especially wonderful if you have hot soup to take for lunch.

Hope you are able to be outdoors a little this winter.  Do you have a suggestion for us?  Please leave a comment.

Today Outdoors

We were only able to spend about 20 minutes at the park today.  It was a dreary looking day, but quite warm (45 degrees.)  It was one of the days Mom wears her big coat while the kids play in their t-shirts.  The 20 minutes was definitely worth it.

We had to enjoy ourselves– everyone else in the world was chasing Black Friday sales.  I went into one local boutique that had several $5 sales advertised, and there were about 15 women standing in line.  I guess I will live without an extra scarf and hat for the winter.  People are crazy!  The grocery store was empty, by the way.  I guess everyone ate enough yesterday (and cooked enough yesterday) to last through the weekend.  Not us!  I came home and made homemade granola, and Eden put together muffins for our play-date tomorrow.

We also had cousins over to play and watch movies.  Thank goodness for cousins.  They are better than best friends, not quite siblings.

Hope you’re enjoying your November.

Get Outdoors Every Day — Our 15 minutes outside for this week

As part of my goal of living in harmony with nature, I have been trying to spend some time outdoors every day.  I usually run outside in the very early morning four or five days a week, but there’s something really special about being outside in the sunshine during these lovely fall days.  Is it because they are too wonderful to last?  Anyway – here are my goals for outdoor time for the next week:

Monday:              Very busy day, but not too busy for a quick walk around a local pond.  Fall is a great time of year to spot migrating birds.  We often see Canadian geese, Sandhill cranes,  blue herons, and killdeer.  Occasionally we spot an osprey, kingfisher or tern.  We also watch for muskrat, frogs, and garter snakes.

Tuesday:              Walk to and from work (lucky me!) with kids walking to meet me both ways.  Not so much nature, but at least some sunshine.

Wednesday:      Another lunch escape to the park, this time with a picnic of Potato Kale Soup (recipe posted later), homemade sourdough bread, and fresh veggies.  We are going to a different park, too, just at the edge of the canyon.  Last time we were here, we played hide and seek on the hillside.  I hope we can make that happen again.

Thursday:         This will be the hard day, because I am gone for work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.  I will encourage the kids to play outside during the day — soccer practice in the back yard — and I will hope for a quick walk during lunch.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday:  Hiking and camping trip planned to the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district.  We hope to hike to Druid Arch.  It is eighteen miles round trip, so we will camp Friday night before we hike and Saturday night after we hike in the campground nearby.  Plenty of sunshine on these days!

The Grotto -- Payson Canyon

Enjoy Autumn!

What a lovely fall day today was!  We just had to take a mini-vacation in the middle of the day to go play in the park.  I made a quick pot of vegetarian chili with lots of veggies – spinach, celery, onions, bell pepper and garlic.  Lulu made cornbread with no help at all except putting it in the pan and putting it into the oven.  We packed up our lunch and headed for the park.  It was the kind of fall day that I wish could go on forever!

We played on the slides.

We ran races.

We made silhouette pictures.







We went home refreshed and ready to work.

Hope your day was as great as ours!