Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Occoneechee Mountain and We're Going on a Bear Hunt

There are times in our lives when things seem so easy ... carefree, light and fun.  Other times that seem heavy and dark and scary.  I feel like I've been bouncing around between easy times and hard ones over the last few months.  So much going on.

In the midst of the trials, I'm reminded that my worries don't accomplish anything.  Its an opportunity to place my trust in God.  (Not saying that is an easy thing at all!)  Its an opportunity to allow others to love and pray for me.  Its not that the weight or the situations magically change.  Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't.  And I don't mean to say that things just become easy.  They don't.  I am thankful though to know that I'm not alone.  God is always with me.  There are things in this world that just are hard to make sense of.  We all see that around us.  I'm thankful that in the midst of a world filled with contradictions that there is One who never changes and who loves us completely.

Sharing about the challenges we have been facing has been hard because it is not just my story.  It involves others and is private in some ways.  Its different to share something face to face and another to put it on the web.  I can share that my Dad's health is not doing well.  He is in a very hard place right now and I know would appreciate prayers.  

And yet in the midst of the pain and heartache that we experience and see around us, life continues to go on.  There are happy, sunny days and moments.  Things to be thankful for each day.  Sometimes the things are small.  Learning to be thankful though is a sweet exercise indeed.  Its one that I want to cultivate in my own life and encourage my children to do as well.

In that light, I wanted to share a sweet time with you.  This was one of our last field trips and it was indeed a happy day.  Its something I've been planning and hoping to share for months now and yet life has just gotten in the way.

The day started out bright and sunny.  We met at Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area for a field trip.  For this outing, we had rangers doing programs for us.  They were able to do 2 programs.  The older students went on a geological hike to an abandoned quarry.  

This link has a neat picture (see below) and more information.  

The middle age children (elementary) went on a nature hike to a pond where they spent time looking for frogs.
This left our youngest children with nothing much to do.  This happens on occasion and we just usually make the best of it.  Sometimes using an activity box provided by a site or doing a hike.  This time however, we planned something just for them!  It was so much fun too!!!  We are looking forward to doing this again in the future!

We planned to read a Before FIAR story to them ... We're Going on a Bear Hunt.  What a delightful book!
After reading the story, we had a craft time.  The children colored and glued and made pictures of the various places in the book using these story patterns.

Love seeing my sweet girl joining in and having fun.  :-)
We used the pictures that they made to help set the stage for out next activity.  Acting out the story.  This was my part of the day and I was so excited about doing it.  I wasn't sure how well it would go over though as this is a new thing to be trying with this group.  It was so much fun to see their reactions!
I started leading them in the chant/rhymes of the story.  The first thing that we came to was the long wavy grass.  I had brought easter grass for them to swish between their hands for the "swishy swashy" of the grass.

Next came the river.  "You can't go over it, can't go under it.  I guess we'll go through it."   I gave water bottles to the moms who spritzed the children as they walked through.

Next was the mud.  I mixed several colors of paint in ziploc bags to get brown.  My goal in this activity was to create a sensory walk through the story.  I had imagined them picking up the bags to squish them.  I think they liked stepping on it to feel it on their feet better.  Thankfully the bags were strong.
I couldn't think of something great for the forest - other than walking through the real trees.  I did have an idea for another fun sensory piece though and I went with that.  They didn't question at all the connection and just had fun with it.  Bubbles!

Next was the snowstorm - whirling all about.

I chose cotton balls which they loved throwing up into the air.
Isn't this just a fun picture?!
Lastly, we made our way to a cave.  (A large tarp pulled over two picnic tables.  Guess what they found inside?
I'm not sure you can see much of the bear in this photo, but he's in there.
And did they have fun running back out - squealing - as we ran back home.
It was so much fun!  I loved seeing their smiles and hearing their delight.  When we finished, they wanted to do it all over again.  And so we did.  Until the sky grew cloudy and threatening.
We quickly gathered our things and made it into the vans before the clouds let go of lots of rain.  While our day ended a little more quickly than we had planned, it didn't put a damper on the fun that we had and the memories that we made.

I'm thankful for friends to have fun with and am looking forward to doing this again.  For anyone who wants to read more, we are planning a very informal Before FIAR co-op this year.  We have met once this summer and plan to meet once per month during the year.  Our time frame is simple.  First is story and discussion.  Second is craft and Third is  hands-on activity.  That's it.  :-)  I'm glad for Eliana to have this opportunity to learn and have fun with friends too.

Thanks for reading.  Thank you for praying for my family.

with a grateful heart,