Alice loves science, the outdoors, and our local bird population so what better time to introduce her to the idea of citizen science? The Great Backyard Bird Count invites citizens to count birds for 15 minute increments (or more) from February 17-20th and submit observations to the GBBC website (they have an App too!). You can count birds in as many places and as many days as you like. There are instructions and bird guides available.
An article in the outdoor magazine Jared brought home from WA, OutThere Monthly, the Inland NW Guide to Outdoor Adventure, Travel, and the Outdoor Lifestyle (love it!), reminded me of the yearly bird count and I thought Alice might like to try it.
Her favorite show right now is Wild Kratts. The Kratt brothers, Kris and Martin, are super excited about science and have been creating quality kids shows for years, like Zoboomafoo which aired back in 1999. Do you remember that show? Okay, well I do. Probably because Molly was a nanny then and I’d hang with her and the kids some afternoons.
Hopefully the rain will let up long enough to observe some birds but we’ll give it a try either way. There was a break in the rain today and the birds were out and about. And we’ve actually had some glorious days with sunshine and springlike conditions. Now, the rain is turning over to snow which is exactly what we want to see.
We’ll be tuning in from our window, right here in Idaho, like we always do, and this time it’ll be in the name of Science!
One week in and we’re down a seatbelt, a dog bed, and a few toys.
Still getting to know each other, we’re figuring out what life with an adopted dog is all about. Pearl is a sweet dog. And she only wants to be near us every.single.minute. We’ve discovered she has some separation anxiety. So…we’re working on that.
Walking on (frozen) water.
Alice loves ‘ol…”What’s her name again?” She takes her role as master, trainer, and crate mate seriously. And Pearl lets Alice lay all over her. I think she may have taken her out on purpose a time or two when she’s tearing around like a puppy.
Good girl Pearl
Alice and her Pearl
But Pearl seems genuinely happy and so are we. What we’ve gained already outweighs the time and effort it takes to have a great dog.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Homemade treats, heart melting Valentine’s, and the most thoughtful packages created miles of smiles and one very happy little girl. We feel loved.
WE LOVE ‘EWE’ too GranJan!
you always know what to say
I “lichen” you a lot!
Every drink is better with heart straws.
Hand picked goodness (Ruthie!)
A rose by any other name…
Bringing the spring.
in heart heaven
Jared took to Pintrest for inspiration and he and Alice left sticky notes with sweet messages all over the house. I love them.
It’s pouring rain outside, a taste of spring in the mountains I suppose. We may be in for some serious indoor lounge time over the next few months. Good thing Alice loves to draw and craft! A big thanks to loved ones who have supplied materials and supplies to feed this girl’s creativity.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once she grows up.”
This girl loves snowboarding. Alice recently graduated from Easy Street (i.e. the bunny hill) to Bear Chair at our local Brundage Mountain. At Tamarack, she experienced her first Magic Carpet lift during a school ski day. Being the only snowboarder in her class doesn’t bother her a bit and she’s always up for heading to the hill. Now it’s time to tackle the T-Bar at The Little Ski Hill!
For Christmas, Jared reserved an overnight stay at Burgdorf Hot Springs. In winter, Burgdorf is only accessible by snowmobile. Now, we aren’t new to hot springs and Burgdorf is a favorite we frequent often. But only once have we come via snowmobile and that was just a day trip.
You should know what you’re getting yourself into before venturing out in the backcountry, on sleds, in January, to a ‘rustic’ cabin. We spent the better part of a week gearing up for the trip. Everything had to fit in a sled we pulled behind a snowmobile. Most importantly, we have a young child to keep warm and comfortable so as not to damage her desire to embark on adventures like this in the future.
The ride there was the big test. It was a bright beautiful day and the scenery was frozen in time. We stopped at Secesh Summit, elevation 6434′, and had some hot chocolate and snacks. Then by the time we dropped down and turned onto the road to Burgdorf our fingers and toes were like ice. If not for the lure of the hot springs, I would have never signed up for this.
We arrived, checked into Ann Marie, and began the process of thawing out. Ann Marie is tucked in the trees at the end of a row of cabins overlooking the meadow. We pushed open the door to a single room cabin with two beds and a big wood stove. The porch faced the surrounding mountains and the afternoon sun was perfect for soaking it up. We made ourselves right at home hanging gear from every nail.
Once we rewarmed the taquitos from the hotdogger and arranged our beverages to thaw by the fire, we were ready to hit the springs. The pool was full of people and before we even made it across, we ran into someone we knew! They were all there for a birthday party and staying the night in cabins across the way. We didn’t really expect to be the only ones there but may have hoped to be.
After a visit and a soak, we made our way back to Ann Marie to stoke the fire and have some dinner. I made broccoli cheddar soup the previous day so we could just heat and enjoy. As our cabin warmed, ice plastered to the walls on the outside began to melt and trickle down the inside. So we went to work managing water. Rustic indeed. Once settled and cozy again, we didn’t leave the cabin until morning. We pulled both beds close to the stove and snuggled up to read a chapter from Alice in Wonderland. Later from the porch we watched the light of the moon shine through steam from the hot spring, and it was beautiful.
The next morning we lounged as long as we could before facing the cold, to warm up, only to get cold again on our way to the hot spring. I felt bad for anyone in other cabins who were even a little unprepared. Luckily we have Jared, who takes good care of us. He probably got up twice as many times as I did overnight and I was up at least 4-5 times. Adding wood to the fire and pouring icy water from small containers into a large tote on the floor, which was full by morning. But if we didn’t get up we would have missed the moon through the windows, glowing on the snow and icicles. I didn’t dare venture outside.
Imagine this place back in the day! Brave souls enduring the harsh conditions of winter in the mountains. But the reward is breathtakingly beautiful and my breath was literally taken away the next morning. It was SO cold (at least -15 degrees F). The view untouched and perfect, with soft pinks, blues and yellows. The moon was still visible between the trees across the meadow. Peaks in the background stood brilliant in the morning sun.
It was brutal to disrobe in the changing room then quickly but carefully tiptoe across the edge of the pool peeling your toes from the rocks before they froze. It felt like heaven to sink up to my neck in the hot natural spring water. And you know what, worth it. All the work it took to get to this wonderful and amazing place was totally worth it. Because you have to experience a place like this in every season to fully appreciate its wonder. And for a while that morning, we had the pool to ourselves.
It’s not like we sat them down and explained it, they just know they are part of something special. A crew of friends dedicated to the cause, earning nicknames, sponsored by their parents, and stoked to shred together.
The livin is EZ on East Street
Smiles for miles
Goggles and grins
In the deep
Live to ride
And it’s not always the same mix on the same weekend, but we have the lower lot dialed. Cue up the radios, partner up and hit the lift, rack up some runs, then meet up for lunch.
Getting kids geared up for a day at the ski hill is no easy feat. We give up our own turns to show our kids how to turn. We teach them what it means to ride together and watch out for each other on and off the mountain. They totally get it. They are all on board (well, most of them are on boards…we also have a sit ski in the mix).
There’s something awesome about riding as a crew. A feeling of trust, respect, camaraderie, and a shared love of nature. And sometimes we ditch the kids for a little more…
finally earned my vest
the view from here
It makes me happy to share the love of riding with this generation and happier that they love it too.
There was a time when we decided when we were ready to participate in all the holiday hoopla. The spirit of the season usually hit me as we drove to McCall, after venting about work but feeling rejuvenated by the thought of two weeks vacation ahead of us.
Now, it’s different. The holidays have a whole new sense of magical wonder, especially when you look through the eyes of a four-year-old child.
Craft at library story time
Craft at home!
Favorite Family Game = Sleeping Queens
Dog sledding with Hoss (kind of)
I heart smiles
Roseberry Christmas Market
Counting down the days
Aubrey and Alice with Santa
Already we’ve savored many merry festivities: Christmas books by the fire, an impromptu snuggle in Papa Noel’s lap (Alice asked him for Skunk Bingo, score!), a hunt for the perfect Christmas tree, baking gingerbread men and women to sell at the Christmas market, a whirlwind trip to Boise for Alice and I where we briefly saw a few loved ones and spotted our favorite performers doing their thing, we’ve wrapped, packaged and taped, crafted and decorated, been to the ski hill, and snowshoed in the woods at night (with headlamps)!
Maple Grove Singers perform at the Capital building in Boise.
Jane and Alice = friends forever
Sliding down the banister, very sneaky
Garden Aglow at the Botanic Gardens in Boise, always a treat.
Noble, Shadow Hills sixth grader, rocking choir and band!
Wilson and Alice = friends forever
Alice and Cypress (Maple Grove Singer) = friends forever
Helping Ken decorate their penguin tree!
Snuggling other people’s pets
But I had to slow down, I needed a break from all things holiday for a minute. It got cold, the snow paused, and the birds remained busy at the feeders. Amazing all the different birds we see in the same scene! Flickers dominate, woodpeckers show up surprisingly often, chickadees, juncos, red-brested nuthatches abound, and a single mourning dove seemed a bit out of place.
Winter is just beginning and I know not all is well in the world. But the change of season feels nice. The snow is falling again. We are hunkered down. I like the view out my window and I don’t (always) mind being bossed by my four-year-old. The birds have exposed the pinecones and we must get back.
It’s snowy now but while we were enjoying the last of the perfect fall weather, we harvested beautiful Ponderosa pinecones. We even collected pinecones one dark and rainy night. The pinecones closed up tight in the rain and remained closed until they dried and bloomed by the heat of the stove. Alice knew from forest school that pinecones do that.
Pinecones by the fire, how cozy.
Collecting cones before the weather turns.
Perfect pinecones from McCall, where the capitol Christmas tree is from!
Alice and I found a recipe for suet (lard, peanut butter, corn meal, oat meal) and the whole family got to work making pinecone bird feeders. There are schools of thought as to whether it’s good or bad to feed wild birds. We’re of the mind that especially in winter, where it gets cold and snowy, birds appreciate foods rich in energy. And we appreciate watching birds!
We felt like Santa’s little helpers as we crammed every nook with a high fat suet blend and covered every cone in calorie rich seed. “The birds are going to LOVE these!” -Alice
A pileated woodpecker right out our window!
Testing the product on the school chickens, they loved it!
It can take a little while for birds to discover your feeders so be patient, they will come. You will be rewarded when they do. Here are a few tips about feeding birds.
And so now…help us spread the word so all the little birdies of the Northwest and beyond can have a treat this winter. We have pinecone bird feeders available in our ETSY shop! They make a sweet gift for anyone who loves watching birds. AND…a portion of every sale goes to support Roots Forest School’s yurt fundraiser.
If you’re in the McCall area during the weekend of December 9-10th, check out the first Roseberry Christmas Market! Modeled after European open air markets, it should be magical…and Roots students will be selling ornaments they made!