Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Great Outdoors

The only thing this kid could possibly find more exciting than a swimming pool or a bowl of ice cream is a chance to play in dirt, touch frogs, and learn about animals. When I told him he was going to Nature Camp for a whole week he nearly burst. Knowing he would be ecstatic, I didn't tell him until the week prior so that I didn't have to listen to endless, "Is it the week for Nature Camp yet?"

When last Monday morning dawned, he was ready to go and couldn't wait! "Can you put my bug spray on? Should I wear sneakers or sandals? Did you pack an extra water bottle for me? Do I get to eat lunch there?"
The Nature Center where his camp was being held is less than a 10 minute drive from our home. We visit it often and the boys know their way around pretty well. He walked into his classroom without looking back and saying goodbye or offering a hug. 

Micah was very bummed when he found out he wasn't going. "But I'm a big boy now cause I use the poottttyyyyy!" I offered a trip to Target to buy a baseball helmet and the tears quickly stopped. 
One of Grady Lee's teachers, Ms. Suzanne, was all I heard about all week. She seemed sweet as honey and from what I observed had limitless amounts of patience and energy so I give the girl two thumbs up.
I wish I could have followed him around all week and observed him. Since Grady Lee is not an outgoing kid and is often unsure of himself, I'm always interested to see how he interacts with peers and how he manages himself during group activities. His teachers assured me he was well behaved and always had a hand up to answer a question. (This may be a first.)

I arrived early one day to pick him up and caught the last few minutes of a game, that according to Grady Lee, "was a snake trying to catch a mouse. We held hands to be a snake and them we had to run to catch a mouse and if we caught the mouse he became a part of the snake and had to hold our hands too."

Each day the kids learned about a new animal - its habitat, what it ate, how it had babies, etc. The crafts, stories, nature hike, games, and snack all pertained to the animal of the day. My kitchen counter is covered in painted turtles and snakes, birdhouses, a milk jug mouse, and a ready-to-die goldfish. More on that later.

When Micah, Annalyse, and I walked into his class to get him on Mammal Day, Grady Lee bounced out of his chair, ran over to us, and very excitedly announced, "Mom! Did you know that Annalyse is a mammal because she has hair and she drinks your milk?!" While I did not enjoy 12 sets of five year old eyes staring at me and two teachers laughing under their breath, I was happy that he had learned something new.

On the last day of camp, the kids explored a creek looking for "amphibens." No matter how many times I would correct Grady Lee and say, "It's amphibians, Buddy" he just couldn't get it. This was, by far, his favorite day. Running in the creek. Splashing in the mud. Looking for frogs. Catching water bugs. It just doesn't get better than that.

So about that ready-to-die goldfish. Tuesday was Fish Day and as part of their craft, the kids assembled aquariums and them went fishing in a big tank to choose the fish they wanted for their new aquarium.

This child has never been prouder. He clung to his Mason jar with pebbles and a leafy-twig and emphatically declared, "You need to drive berry, berry slow on the way home, Mom. Nemo is tiny and needs you to be gentle so he doesn't die, okay?"

We got home and I was faced with, "Nemo needs to eat. What do I give him?" and Micah whining, "I want a fish ttoooooo!" Sigh. I didn't realize Nature Camp meant new family pets.
Thankfully, both boys had received $5 in the mail from their great grandparents last week. They dug their money out of their piggy banks and we were off to PetSmart for another fish, a bigger bowl, and some fish food.

Micah chose an orange and white fish, which he promptly named Spotty. He also thought Annalyse needed a fish "so that she wouldn't be sad" and he chose a white one for her. The name? Snowy. How creative.

It's been a few days and I'm fairly certain the goldfish are on their last lap around the cloudy bowl. I expect to see some belly up activity very soon. In the meantime, the boys are happy to watch them swim and feed them twice a day.
While Grady Lee was busy learning about animals and making new friends, I enjoyed some one-on-one time with Micah. Several days we stopped at the park on the way home from camp so that he could hit a few balls on the new T. The good news is that even though it was humid and in the mid-90's, he was concerned about safety first and insisted on wearing his batting helmet. Cute and crazy.
While not nearly as infatuated with Annalyse as Grady Lee, Micah does have moments of intense love for her. Sometimes he'll randomly stop what he's doing and run to hug or kiss her. One day while we were waiting for Grady Lee's class to dismiss, Micah was running around "shooting" birds with a stick gun. He abruptly stopped, looked at me and said, "Annaweese is so cute and I just love her, Mom!" and ran to kiss her. (Or, judging by the picture, tackle her.)
Nature Camp is over and both boys have walked up to me with the calendar, on more than one occasion, and said, "Can you show me when it's time for Nature Camp next summer?" Glad to know Grady Lee had fun. Glad to know Micah is excited to go next summer. Sad to know that we have an entire year to wait and that I have an entire year to listen to them ask if it's "time for Nature Camp yeeeeettt?"


  1. Oh A&A would love a nature camp! What a great idea. I'll have to check out our nature centers to see what they have going on!

    Michelle A-Tisket A-Tasket

  2.!! I wonder how VBS is matching up compared to bugs, dirt, and frogs??? Hmm...we'll have to work on that!
    Love the pics of Micah loving on Annaylse. Must be why she doesn't seem at all phased by Jackson in the nursery! Gotta love big brothers!!

  3. What a FUN camp & SO perfect for your nature boy! Absolutely awesome! Love the sweet pics of Micah with Annalyse, too!