Discussing Nature Challenge #2: Awakening Your Senses in Nature

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Evidently I was so excited to begin our fantastic CWDkids giveaway yesterday that I forgot we were going to discuss our Connecting with Nature Challenge #2!

Last week when I issued our second challenge to connect with nature.  I asked you to focus on awakening your own senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound) through your own interactions with nature. We talked about how we must be careful to remember that our children observe the ways that we as “grown-ups” interact with nature, so we want to model for them that being outdoors allows each of our senses to be engaged.

It is not unusual for me to sit outside on our back steps for a few minutes each morning, watching the trees light up in the golden rays of morning sun while I listen to birds chirping as I sip my coffee.  This past weekend offered me an opportunity to take up more of a challenge: my husband and I spent the weekend in Kansas City which moved me out of my normal routines and our spacious yard shaded by decades-old trees and into the city, where concrete replaces green grass as ground cover and traffic lights far outnumber mature trees.

On Saturday morning, I had the chance to explore the Country Club Plaza (our nation’s first suburban shopping district) and so I decided to try to take in nature from a more urban perspective than the lens I usually view through.

I observed that my morning coffee and the blueberry muffin on which I splurged were every bit as satisfying next to greenery that grew behind a plaza bench.

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Even carefully manicured flowers still startle with amazingly brilliant colors.

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There was plenty of noise from the car traffic driving by, but I could choose to focus my auditory attentions on the gentle, soothing splashes of water that flowed from the fountains.

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There are places where the landscaping is allowed to grow a little more wild and free.

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And though I didn’t capture it with my camera, there is nothing quite like the smell of a crowd of people caught in a summer rainstorm – would it be crass to say that the entire plaza smelled a bit like a wet dog?  After the rain had cleared, the entire area seemed to gleam in the sunshine, and the unpleasant odors were redeemed with that sparkling new smell of fresh.

If it weren’t for this challenge, I might not have taken the time to slow down and seek out nature in places that appear to have been overrun by mankind.  I certainly would not have taken note of how being outdoors in an environment that is more carefully managed than my own backyard can still alert my senses. I’m glad I took the time to capture it in pictures – they are some of the most meaningful shots from my trip.

How about you? Did you take up the challenge to experience nature with all five senses? What did you discover? Share your insights in the comments section or leave a link to your own post with thoughts on this challenge.

first photo courtesy of isado


Let’s Celebrate Simple Kids and Fantastic Children’s Clothing!

The month of June brought an exciting milestone for Simple Kids – we have surpassed the 1,000 subscriber mark! What an incredible honor to facilitate a community of people who are drawn towards the philosophies and practices of “uncomplicated parenting.”

To celebrate this amazing milestone, I am excited to be able to partner with CWDkids who is offering a very generous giveaway just for you – the Simple Kids community.

4th09giveawayCWDkids is a children’s wear company devoted to “dressing kids like kids.” Earlier last spring when my oldest daughter (age four) began wearing size 6 clothing and I had to start shopping in the girls’ department rather than in the toddler section, I was unhappily surprised by how inappropriate many of the outfits and designs are for older children.

CWDkids offers clothing that features timeless and simple designs that many parents are looking for, and much of their selection is made right here in the USA. I know I was thrilled to see the 100% cotton pajamas they carry in sizes up to girls’ 14 – do you know how hard it is to find 100% cotton jammies past the toddler sizes?

Here in the States, we are gearing up to celebrate out nation’s independence on July 4th.  CWDkids provides an extensive Americana collection for boys, girls, and families that would be perfect for wearing all summer long.

To further demonstrate CWDkids’ commitment to meeting the needs of their customers, they have started a blog called kidbits where they showcase deals of the day, feature CWDkids staff profiles, and solicit reader feedback on upcoming lines and catalog covers.

So, on to the giveaway!

CWDkids is offering a $75 gift certificate for one very fortunate Simple Kids reader! All you need to do is click over to the CWDkids website, choose a favorite patriotic or summertime outfit, and share what your favorite find in a comment here.  If you have an extra moment, you should consider subscribing to the kidbits blog so you can be in the loop on one day only sales and coupon codes.

The CWDkids giveaway will run from today, June 22 until midnight on this Friday June 26th, and I will choose a winner at random on Saturday, June 27th.  One entry per household, please, and only comments which mention a CWDkids product will be eligible for the drawing.

Happy shopping!

June 19th: SK Showcase and Weekend Links

I’m so excited to share the creation for the SK Showcase this week!

This month we have been talking about spending time outdoors, and I know many families include biking on the list of favorite outdoor activities.

Amber of Giver’s Log sent me these pictures of how she created both a reflective handlebar flower and an upcyled handlebar bag.  For those whose biking adventures continue through the evening towards dusk, being visible to road traffic is imperative!

For the handlebar flower, Amber’s secret ingredient is retroreflective glass beads:

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You can see that she covered the ends of the petal with these beads making the flower highly reflective.  This pretty and functional flower can then be attached to handlebars or to your bike bag:

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Iron-on reflective tape was the key component of this upcycled handlebar bag:

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If you think your family would like to create similar projects, be sure to read Amber’s step-by-step tutorial for the handlebar flower and handlebar bag.  Thank you again, Amber, for sharing this with us!

Now your weekend reading:

Simply Practical

Serene Journey: Household Shortcuts and Handy Hints

Inspired Projects

Family Fun: Recycled Crafts
Cluck and Tweet: Simple Nature Journal

Inspired Images

The Magnifying Glass: Dragonfly or Damselfly?
Living and Loving Every Minute of It: Anything Can Happen

Inspired Words

Zen Habits (guest post from Writer Dad): 7 Secrets to Raising a Happy Child
Psychology Today: Empowering Kids
FIMBY: Summer non-boredom

Don’t forget Connecting with Nature Challenge #2 – experiencing nature with your senses.  We’ll gather on Monday morning to discuss!