It's been unusually warm here these past few weeks, and we have really enjoyed being outside!

Making a train down the slide

One reason we've been outside more is that G needs a lot of gross motor skills practice. So after having the thought to sign up for some kind of "Mommy and Me" class, I realized I could just bring him to the playground downstairs for free, without having to travel anywhere or pack a diaper bag and without feeling guilty for having wasted money if I'm too tired to do it one day. It was a stroke of genius. So, I've been taking him downstairs to play for about half an hour every morning. It's actually a stretch to get him to play that long because his poor little leg muscles get so tired. Which just shows you how little experience he has with this kind of play. But he is gradually getting more stable and faster on the stairs, the rope bridge (which actually doesn't swing) and with jumping up and down. When we first got him, he could only barely jump with two feet! But now he's confident enough to jump off of the bottom step onto the ground.

Doesn't he look so pensive?

Also, I started reading a homeschooling book lately (this one written more than 100 years ago, if you're interested) and it reminded me of my early thoughts on homeschooling, which involved a lot of time in nature. Now, we can't really spend a lot of time in nature, because we live in the middle of a dense city, but we could at least go outside more. So, last week when the girls had a few days off of school, I took all the kids outside every day for two hours. Part of that is that we made little "nature journals" and I had them each choose a plant or bug or whatever and describe it to me and then draw a picture of it in their journal.

E adding a dandelion to her journal

The nice thing was that the whole journal bit only took about 20 minutes, and they seemed to really enjoy it. Also, the girls' awareness of the plants in our complex grew really fast! M right away was pointing out all the plants that were the same as the one she had drawn that day and which ones were different and how she could tell because of the shape of the leaves. I was shocked! Now that they're back in school, we can't do it every day, but hopefully at least on the weekends we'll be able to keep it up! I think everyone enjoyed it and G definitely preferred playing outside with his sisters as opposed to just by himself. What's amazing about having grown up in a city is that the girls don't know how to play outside. Like, if there's no playground, they get bored really fast. And even if there is a playground, they still get bored fast. I remember having imaginary safaris and clubhouses and jungles in my backyard for hours and hours as a kid. I'm convinced that the only way to cure this is to give them more time outside. So, we're gonna try to do that!