Monday, July 30, 2012

paper leaves for the summer tree

Even filled with felt butterflies and bees, our seasonal tree has been looking a little scant this Summer.  To give it the fullness of the season then, each day we've been adding a few more paper leaves to its boughs.  These are super simple and have been a great way to use our water colored paper scraps.
This was an old card we never used that was painted using the wet-on-wet method.  (For wet-on-wet water color painting instructions click here.)
From the card stock we cut leaf shapes with long stems.  Some were cut with one leaf while others had leaves on both ends.
We folded the leaves down the middle to give them that classic shape and then curled the stems either around a pencil before hanging them from the tree or curled them directly onto the trees branches.
 The curled stem holds them loosely to the branches and no adhesive was applied.  (However, should they frustratingly keep prematurely dropping from the tree, we may resort to a dab of craft glue.)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

jokes for five year olds - II

Why do sharks only swim in salt water?

                  Because pepper water would make them sneeze.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

praying mantis

A little over a month ago we bought this praying mantis egg case at the Farmer's Market.  I thought it would be fun for Naiya to see the wonder of birth in the insect kingdom.  The egg sat in the covered jar on our kitchen counter and we were all pretty sure nothing was going to happen.  Then, this morning (after a few weeks of warm weather...just like the instructions promised) I looked over and thought, what's all that stuff in the jar?
They hatched! 
We couldn't believe they all came out of that little egg case.  (The case is that brown blob in the lower right of this picture.)  There must have been about 70 or 80 of the little critters.
Pretty immediately we noticed that some of them didn't make it, so we quickly released them out in the garden. 

Likely, we'll never see them again.  I understand that that's usually how it goes, but perhaps we'll be favored with a glimpse of some adults in the months to come...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

walking stick medallions

   I remember seeing pictorial medallions like these in Europe (and didn't know they existed here) but, on our recent trip to The Tetons, we happened upon a woman with a walking stick decorated with them from various National Parks and other locations around the U.S..  Turns out you can get these things everywhere.

 I thought they would be great mementos of regions we explore with Naiya and fun collectibles that wouldn't take up much space or cost a whole lot of money.  (Collecting seems to be a huge interest at this age.)

 At a visitor center in Grand Teton National Park then, we picked up two (two since they were our first and we couldn't decide on one).

 When Ryan recently brought home a great driftwood staff, Naiya and I shined it up with a little beeswax and she helped tack on the medallions herself.

A new hobby is born.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

grand teton national park - part 1

I have been remiss in my blogging.
With hundreds of Teton vacation photos resting in my computer just waiting to be let out, all else is backing up.  I know my folks want to see them and I know most everyone else probably doesn't...  A little voice in the back of my head keeps crazy whispering "No one likes vacation slide shows!!"
I am at an impasse.
Friends, I apologize.  I just can't ignore such a beautiful chunk of our summer.  The crafts and seasonal goodness are going to have to wait.  Come on now, grab yourselves a barcalounger and a can of beer.  This summer we took a trip to Grand Teton National Park...
(Many thanks again to our good friends Lisa and Jeff who pretty much planned this whole trip.  We're glad we were able to travel together and so enjoyed all of our time with you.  It was great for the girls to try out siblinghood with each other I think and Naiya so adores you both.  As do I :)  Can't wait to try it again some time!)  

 Our two combined families (one five year old girl each) stayed for a few days at Dornan's Spur Ranch Cabins.  Dornan's is a 77 year-old family-owned resort in the middle of Grand Teton National Park.  It's a 10 acre complex with about a dozen small cabins, a restaurant/bar with a view, a gas pump, a small store/gift shop, a very well-stocked wine shoppe (their spelling, not mine), a few outdoor adventure rental places and a "chuckwagon".  Yup, a chuckwagon.  That's how they advertise it.  I was expecting to be served my all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast from an actual wagon but really it's just a covered outdoor grill...and then there's a giant teepee.  (?)  Go figure.
 Chuckwagon confusion aside, it was a great place to stay.  Beautiful views, convenient location and cozy cabin to boot.

 The day after we arrived, we took a float ride down the Snake River.  Unfortunately I didn't take my camera on this adventure but we saw quite an array of wildlife which, following our already exciting beaver spotting on the drive in, set us up for a grand animal viewing week to follow.  We witnessed a herd of elk (including one swimming across the river), spied a number of bald eagles, a few white pelicans and some yellow bellied marmots.
(This moose shot was taken on a different day.)

 Our first hike attempt was a little rough with our not-so-keen-on-hiking five year old, but Phelps Lake was beautiful and on that escapade, some of us saw our first ever bear in the wild - a grizzly!  (She was about 50 yards downhill from us and we didn't get any pics of her before she turned and wandered back into the trees and we quickly headed the other direction.)

 Our second hike followed a boat ride across Jenny Lake.  After side tracking for a letterbox on our way up, we made it (this time without carrying our daughter once!) to beautiful Inspiration Point.
(Not that interesting a shot until you notice the squirrel peaking out from a hole in the trunk.)
 Inspirational indeed.

 On another day we rode bikes (7 miles) to this same lake and enjoyed a refreshing swim and picnic lunch.
The Tetons loom over every pleasure one takes in the park.  They're a gorgeous range and, apparently, the third most photographed mountains in the world.

(More to come with part 2!)

grand teton national part - part 2

Oh, it's not over yet!  (But I'm thinking blogger can only handle so much.) 

 Our last stop on the bike ride was at a visitor's center where the girls took solemn oaths as new Junior Rangers.  (This is a great program hosted by the National Park Service that both educates and entertains.  And there are badges!)

 Since we hadn't had enough lake after our two trips to Jenny, we took a cruise out onto Jackson Lake and had dinner on Elk Island.
 Our tour guide told us lots of interesting tidbits (which may or may not have been true).
(The number one cause of premature deaths for the bald eagle?  Drowning she said.  Apparently, bald eagles cannot release prey from their talons once they have grabbed it without some external anchor to pry their claws open.  If they take hold of a fish that weighs more than they can lift, the fish will pull them under to their deaths.  You can find lots of pictures of this on the internet she said...  We couldn't find any.  Nor could we find any scientific data to back this story up.  It still sounded cool though.  And she was a fun guide.)
When Naiya was able to answer lots of her questions about the natural world, the guide asked our dear one how she knew so much.  "My Opa is a Master Gardener," our daughter replied.  We must have heard this phrase at least a dozen times on our trip as Naiya spewed all kinds of facts about natural phenomenon, bugs, trees and animals.  (It is, in fact, true that her Opa is a Master Gardener, but I'm guessing her knowledge comes not so much from Opa's "Master" title as from the many books he likes to read her while she sits with him for hours in the library in my mum and dad's home.)

 After several days enjoying various corners of the park and all the wonders it has to offer, we went to stay with our friend Lisa's sister in Jackson.  (Thanks again KK and G!  You're such accommodating and gracious hosts.  We love you!)

 We found another letterbox at the Greater Yellowstone Visitor's Center and took in yet another gorgeous vista at the Elk Refuge.

 Just down the road, we could count on the presence of bison in the same meadow every day.

 Over at Snow King Resort, we found out that Naiya is keen on speed.  She couldn't get enough of the 2,500 foot Alpine Slide.

 For our last vacation day, we headed over to Teton Village just 12 miles NW of Jackson.  I think it's more a winter ski destination, but they had some fun summer stuff and Naiya had her first go at bungee trampolining here as well as a quick 15 minute, 4,139 foot vertical rise ride up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain on the tram.

 The view at nearly 11,000 feet, oddly, wasn't nearly so grand as that from the valley floor but I think you can see a couple of states from up there and, in the distance, a forest fire.

 We all had a great time and couldn't get over how much there was to do and how gorgeous those ever present mountains are.  We never did make it up to Yellowstone.  Maybe next time.
 Naiya most loved all the animals and I know that's the part she would most want us to share.  For posterity then, these were all the animals we saw in the Tetons: beaver, osprey, bald eagle, moose, elk, bison, grizzly, marmot, wolf spider, ground squirrel, coyote, grouse, stone fly, garter snake, deer, chipmunk, blue heron, pronghorn, all kinds of raptors, magpie and a pair of sandhill cranes.

 Lastly, I should mention that on this trip, Naiya finally learned how to blow a bubble with her gum.
So many firsts.  So many more to come.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

there's an owl in that thar tree

We're back from vacation!  (Not that anyone was aware of our absence other than my mum and dad.)  I'll soon have oodles of photos from The Tetons (and plenty of summer crafts to share) but, until then, let me just reveal this owl that we discovered in a tree in my parents' back yard. 

It's been there all along.  Watching day and night... right off the patio in the shade of the shrubbery. 
Who knew? 
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