Minimalist minded family of five enjoying the seasons of life. • Travel • Crafts • Wild + Free • Read Aloud Family

Four Calling Birds - I normally love the sound of birds chirping and calling to each other! It is a sweet sound in nature. . . One year a mourning dove set up a nest right outside my bedroom window. For hours each day, I heard the dove calling to its friends...woke up to it most mornings, in fact! It was so loud! I had never realized before how much of the day birds are communicating to each other. . . Now, me, I am more of a texting person most of the time. And, had the mourning dove taken up texting too, I would not have minded...especially around 5 am! . . How about you? Call or text?
3 French Hens - We do not have any chickens but some friends of ours do (and goats!) and have enlisted my children to take care of them several times when they are on vacation. It is perfect! They get the joy of learning about and caring for animals at a time when we aren't in a position to have any of our own! . . Do you have chickens or pets that your children help care for?
Two Turtle Doves - In our previous home in the city, we had a surprising amount of wildlife! Each spring we had at least one nest of doves in our backyard. One year, a baby dove left the nest early and spent a day or two before it learned to fly right outside one of our big windows. My children watched hourly to make sure it was safe from any neighborhood cats and cheered it on as it learned to fly. It was such an interesting lesson from nature that we will never forget! . . Have you observed anything interesting in nature lately?
If you have followed this feed for awhile, you already know that my hobby is making paper hats and occasionally I post them on here. Several years ago, we had just moved to a new city and were far from family. My husband came up with the idea of fun party hats to celebrate our son's birthday! Since then, we often make hats to celebrate. . . I will still be posting photos of our outdoor adventures but...I will also be sharing paper hats for the 12 Days of Christmas! I really enjoy making them and seeing my children's eyes light up when one is completed. And, while I am a little nervous about sharing them here - not knowing how they will be received, I really hope they help spread some Christmas cheer! . . A Partridge in a Pear Tree - Pears are such a lovely fruit. Their colors and their shape. However lovely as they are, I much prefer apples. Crisp, sweet and juicy - which could also be used to describe pears! In fact, during each of my pregnancies, I had horribly strong food aversions for the first 5 months. Apples were one of the very few foods that I didn't mind eating! How about you? If given a choice - pears or apples?
The rock formations in Bryce Canyon are so beautiful but also just so...strange! They are orange. They are bumpy. They're tall and spindly. Just perfect for imaginations to run wild with stories of distant lands and mythical creatures! I mean, doesn't this look like a castle?! . . As we hike along, more often than not with my youngest catching a ride on his dad's back, my husband and kids make up collaborative stories. My kids usually pick some characters, describe them, and then my husband spins a tale as we hike along. . . I don't think he ever knew he had this talent until becoming a parent! Isn't it funny the amazing things you find out during this parenting journey?! . . What is something you've learned in parenting that has been a complete surprise to you?
This weekend we got our first real Christmas tree! We have always had artificial trees. When we moved into a smaller place we gave our tree away because we lacked a place to store it. We kept three tiny trees, one for each of our kids to decorate. . . The thought had never occurred to me before that we could get a real tree but now I am so glad we did! Such a fun time picking out the perfect tree at a local nursery. We were the only people there and the staff was so sweet. Seeing the big tree in our small space, decorated with all of the handmade ornaments and paper garlands, makes me smile. . . How about you? Do you have an artificial tree - just the right size - that you set up year after year or is picking out a fresh cut tree part of your Christmas traditions? Or, do you chop down your own?! (Really hoping to try sometime!)
GIVEAWAY CLOSED Books make such wonderful gifts and with Christmas nearly here, I've joined with some amazing book-loving ladies to give away a copy of each of our favorite Christmas picture books! . . One lucky winner will receive: Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston Reindeer of the Year by Rosie Greening Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado The Smallest Gift of Christmas by Peter H. Reynolds This is Christmas by Tom Booth . . To enter, simply: 1. Like this photo . . 2. Follow all accounts @simplefamilylifestyle @thewaldockway @justashleyreed @thestayathometeacher @wendyloverofbooksandstories @figmentcreative . . 3. At @simplefamilylifestyle account, tag anyone you think would love a collection of Christmas picture books or tell us your favorite Christmas picture book. Each comment is a separate entry! . . Giveaway runs through December 5, 2018 EST. Not sponsored or endorsed by Instagram. Must be 18 years or older to enter. Open to US residents.
The rock formations in Utah always amaze me! From the almost out-of-this-world hoodoos of Bryce National Park to all of the natural arches in Arches National Park to the random rock formations just driving along outside of the parks. . . We decided to learn more about some of these rock formations and while researching with my kids, learned in the process that hoodoos actually used to be arches. When the top becomes too thin/unstable it drops and hoodoos are born. . . What's something new you learned recently from or along with your kids?
Bryce Canyon National Park has the largest concentration of hoodoos anywhere in the world. We visited the park for the first time recently and although it is a smaller park, it is really beautiful and I'm so glad we went! . . What is the last National Park that you visited?
The other day, one of our neighbors (we greet each other in passing but don't know well) knocked on our door. I was making supper and the kids were running around wild. With him was a gigantic telescope! . . He said he hoped he wasn't disturbing us but wondered if our kids might like the telescope. There was no way he could have known that we have been studying the solar system and his timing was perfect! . . Sometimes I wonder how our neighbors feel with three active (and often loud) kids running around. Over and over again we have been so fortunate to live by people that show delight in their enthusiasm. So grateful for that and so thankful for thoughtful neighbors! (And the lesson in kindness that he showed that day.) . . Any shout outs for your awesome neighbors? And, thank you to my sweet friend @chickieandroo for these lovely constellation cards! . . Additional Resources: Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman, Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, activity - pipe cleaners and beads to make constellations.
A stick, some sand. Water and a handful of stones. Reminding myself that - especially during this season of gift giving abundance - it's the simple things. . . A good book to read together. Time outside exploring. Sitting down together and drawing or coloring. These are the things I hope they look back on and remember as their childhood. . . I do love seeing their excitement over new toys and presents under the tree. Reading their Christmas lists and the joy of opening presents. We are trying to keep our gift giving simple this year, trying to purchase just a few things that we think they will really enjoy for the year (and hopefully much longer). . . What is a favorite gift you remember receiving from your childhood?
"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind." Albert Einstein . . "What are you thinking about?" It's a question I ask this girl often because I know she is going to have something interesting to share. Whether it is a joke, a poem, a story idea or just an observation - her imagination is something I treasure! . . Being outside and marveling at the beauty of nature provides such a wonderful opportunity to think. To just be still and reflect. . . During this busy season, how do you find time for quiet stillness?
Getting excited for Christmas and doing a little Saturday morning crafting! My friend Hannah makes the cutest little Dress-Me Notepads and we are turning them into gift tags - just adding tape around the edges, a hole punch and string! . . The @little_biscuits_notepads come in a variety of illustrations and are so fun! Always love supporting small businesses! (Closer look at my daughter's designs in stories!) . . What other small businesses do I need to check out today?
White Christmas is my all time favorite holiday movie. The story line, the humor, the dancing and songs - all so good! In my childhood, I watched it with my mom and have carried on the tradition with my husband and kids, usually the day after Thanksgiving. . . Each year my husband and I wonder why it has never been remade - like so many other movies. We discuss who we think should play each part if it was remade. We agree that Bing Crosby's character should be played by Michael Buble. Danny Kaye's (absolute magic, in my opinion) character should be played by Justin Timberlake. And, Rosemary Clooney's character played by Zooey Deschanel. We are undecided on who we think should play Judy Haynes (originally played by Vera-Ellen). . . What are your thoughts? Would you like to see it remade? Agree on our casting or would you pick someone else for the parts?
There are so many reason to give thanks! . . Do you spend Thanksgivings with family? Maybe you live nearby or travel to see them at this time each year. Have you ever spent a Thanksgiving with only your immediate family or even alone? . . For more than a decade, a restaurant owner in my town has opened his restaurant each year just before Thanksgiving offering hospitality and a free Thanksgiving dinner for all - residents, those without homes, and visitors. It is so sweet to see strangers sitting next to one another at a table and enjoying fellowship and a good meal because of the generosity of a kind man. . . I just want to take a minute to give thanks for all of the wonderful people that extend the gift of hospitality - whether to your own extended family hosting at your home or to people who are far from home or loved ones and have no family near or bringing some pumpkin pie to a neighbor. You are a blessing! . . So, all of that to say - whether you are celebrating with 50 of your relatives, with your own little family or maybe over coffee with strangers in an airport - wishing you a very happy Happy Thanksgiving!
"Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile." William Cullen Bryant . . Christmas is my favorite holiday! Just the thought of it makes me happy. And, while I am excited to switch into Christmas mode, I am really trying to slow down and enjoy the seasons. Taking time to appreciate that it is still autumn. Yesterday, while out walking, I saw the most brilliant red and gold leaves on trees when most of them have long since fallen to the ground. . . There is so much excitement this time of year. Hustle and bustle over Christmas coming. Excitement for the new year. Trying to savor the season. However, we will be putting up our Christmas decorations the day after Thanksgiving! When do you put up your tree?
The weekend just flew by, didn't it?! If you are in the US, are you busy prepping for Thanksgiving? Such a lovely time of year, thankful for so many blessings, and anyone else looking forward to pumpkin pie? I suppose we could have it at other times of the year but we only have it at Thanksgiving so it's always a special treat! . . What is one dish you are most looking forward to this Thanksgiving?
Candy, science experiments, and rainbows this morning! It was so fun watching the candy colors spread out on the plate! . . We really try to limit candy so my kids know this is the one time of year they get to eat a bit more. For the older two, we mostly leave it up to them if they want to eat it quickly or savor it and make it to last longer. . . Now that we are a couple of weeks past Halloween, do you have candy left? Did you find it hard to resist the clearance candy this week? (I mean, 75% off - soooo hard to resist!) . . Resources: Fun Skittles math and science pack @thewaldockway , My Color is Rainbow book @hellowonderful_co .
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