Category Archives: Winter

Cold Winter and Blankets

It has been a very cold winter here in Indiana so far with several nights of single digit and zero degree temperatures.


We have had some nights with wind chills as low as  -19 degrees.  That is just too cold!


I have been usually starting most days with a hot bowl of oatmeal and a mocha (hot drink for me, though the kids still ask for smoothies too, brrrr)  to help us get warmed up in the mornings.  It is really hard for me to drink something cold when I am cold.  So my stove has been working overtime to keep warm beverages and food ready throughout the day!


A precious lady we met at church a couple of years ago stopped by this winter with some beautiful homemade blankets for our family.  This is one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever shared with our family.  She grew up in a farm house out in the countryside and she remembers how chilly it can get in the winter.

IMG_1737 IMG_1738

It must have taken her many long hours of her time to make a special blanket for each child.

IMG_1733 IMG_1735

I am so touched by her kindness and generosity to my family.

IMG_1734 IMG_1736

She also made one for my husband and I to share.


All these lovely colors were patiently put together by loving hands and given to us.  We are keeping warm, even in this cold winter, with these beautiful homemade blankets and I am grateful.

Please share.

Snow But Hoping For Spring Soon

Hoping for spring to come soon!  Even though the snow is pretty, I am ready for a change.  I need some warm sunny days.

Here are some beautiful snowy pictures around the homestead from Saturday, March 1st.   I came outside to snap a few pictures, hoping to say goodbye to winter.


Pretty, yes!  Practical, no!  I am so over winter.  The driveway is a solid sheet of ice.  My van has been in the same spot in the drive way almost all winter. My husband has a truck and can get in and out just fine for work, and can take several kids on daddy dates to go get groceries and supplies, but my van is the only vehicle we have big enough to take us all out at the same time, and it is not capable of making it down or up the driveway when it is covered in ice.  Oh it has been a long winter!


We spend our days doing schoolwork, then playing games indoors, reading, baking, building with Legos, making crafts, bundling up in serious winter gear to play in the snow outdoors, etc. But the kids long to play in the grass again without having to wear their heavy winter gear.


I can’t wait until the snow is gone and the kids can ride bikes and play in the green grass again.


I love how the pine trees embrace the snow.  I felt this way back in December.  But it is March and I am over it now, lol.


The older boys bundled up to build a snow fort and throw snow balls this afternoon.  “Please don’t throw one at me, I have a camera!”


Serious construction going on here Mom!  This one absolutely loves the snow.  He could live in it year around I think.  Alaska or even Antartica wouldn’t bother him a bit.  He could live in any weather anywhere as long as he got to build something I think.  He loves to stay busy building.  And if he can’t go out, if it is too cold or too hot, or pouring down rain, then he builds with his legos and Lincoln logs too.  He tells me all the time he wants to be a builder like his daddy when he grows up.


Building his wall for his snow fort.


The kitties followed me everywhere I went.


They stayed on the trail, but they were all about the little walk around.


There is five of them: George, Boots, Lion, Precious, Camo, plus their mom: Tiger, and they follow us everywhere.  They are as big as their mom now, but we still call them kittens.  They still act like kittens too.  They are such a joy to our family.  We truly love these precious cats.


Here is a picture of the chicken coop, outdoor rabbit hutch, and the old barn.


The goats choose to stay in the barn most of the winter eating their hay. They go outside a little when the sun comes out from behind the clouds, or they stand in the doorway, but they agree with me about winter and I think they are saying “we are tired of the snow already and want some sunshine please!”


Even the chickens won’t walk in the snow.  All winter they venture out of their house about two feet and then turn around and go back in. They say “no more snow, we wont go, no more snow”, ha, ha!


This is Boots and he is hanging out in the barn today.  He loves to explore!


We had to move the rabbits inside as it is too cold here to leave them outside in the winter.


We were given these wonderful rabbit cages and feeders just after the snows began this winter by a sweet elderly couple who no longer needed them. My husband hung them in the barn.  It reminds me of my grandma’s rabbitree . She had rows and rows of these hanging in her barn.


The old farmhouse.  Indiana winter’s are cold, snowy, and everything stays frozen. I am thankful for this old farmhouse that shelters my family. Some youngins stepped onto the porch to ask me what I was doing in the snow, lol! I told them “I am saying goodbye to winter and praying for spring!”


Please share.

Snow Science The Rate Of Snow Melt


For this experiment our second and fourth graders measured the rate of snow melting in jars, inside our house that was 67 degrees fahrenheit.

Have the children make a hypothesis about how fast snow melts inside your house, how fast it melts if it has salt mixed in, how fast it melts with water mixed in. 

Conduct an experiment to test their theory/hypothesis.

You will need three clean quart jars.
Measuring Cup.
Sea Salt.
Measuring Stick.
Watch to keep time.
Pencil and paper to record your observations.  I made a printout for this experiment for the children to fill in.

Collect your snow and bring it inside.

It also helps to have some great assistants!

Fill your jars with snow.

Mark or label your jars with numbers 1, 2, and 3.

Measure the height of the snow in each jar.  Be sure they are identical to start your experiment.

Record your measurements.

Take the temperature of each jar of snow. 

Record your measurements.

Now you are ready to add the other ingredients.

Into jar 1, add 3 tablespoons of salt.
Into jar 2 add 1/4 cup water.
Put nothing into jar 3, as it is your control.

Continue to take measurements every 30 minutes for the next four hours.  Some surprising temperature readings were 7 and 3 degrees below zero.  I did not expect the snow to be that cold.   (Ok, the waiting part is boring to wait for the clock to change over each time.  Perhaps a game of checkers will distract the mind from the torture.)

Each time you will remeasure the height of the snow, the height of the water or melted snow rising in the bottom of your jars, and take the snow’s temperature for each jar.  Record the time of each measurement.

Finally write out your observations and conclusion to your experiment.

We found the snow with the salt melted the fastest.  The snow in the control melted the next fastest.  But the snow that had the water added melted the slowest.  The water seemed to keep the temperature colder and slightly protected the snow from melting as quick as the other jars.

There was still a small bit, maybe a teaspoon, of ice in the cold water in each jar the following morning.   The cold water continued to help insulate it and keep it from melting completely for several hours.

This post will be linked up at

Science Sunday

Elementary Roundup

Please share.

Hot Springs North Carolina

Family Outing to Hot Springs North Carolina.

It was another beautiful day on January 30th, 2011.  The weather warmed to 69 degrees in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the sun shown brightly.  We spent the day driving around Hendersonville, NC then Fairview, North Carolina, then Asheville, North Carolina, and then a one hour trip from Asheville up to Hot Springs, North Carolina. 

View Larger Map

We meandered through lots of mountains and it was truly a beautiful day.  The tip tops of many of the mountains were covered in snow.  But the lower elevations were very clear, with only a few patches of snow remaining on some of the northern slopes.

Hot Springs North Carolina sits at approximately 1334 feet elevation in a low lying river bed between the mountains.  Several surrounding mountains rise above 4,000 feet elevation.   If you would like to read more about some of the Appalacian Trail near Hot Springs, and hiking information read here .

Here is a beautiful mountain stream we stopped at.

Two things that amaze me about mountain streams and mountain river water.  It is always freezing cold.  And it is always crystal clear.

We found this stream that was damned up and then went under buildings before joining the Laurel river.

I am not sure why they didn’t build in another location.  But they didn’t, instead they built right ontop of this lovely stream that empties into the Laurel river.

It is strange that they would want to build right on top of it.

The majority of driving from Asheville to Hot Springs is fairly easy going.  Not to many switch backs.  There are a few steep grades, but not to many.  I personally do not like some of the mountain driving.  Up and down and round and round tends to make me and several of my children car sick.  I am glad my husband did the driving on this trip, as he does for most of our family outings.

This is one of the better trips to take.  Over all, it is a pleasant drive.

There is one general section of very steep grade, so take that section slow. 

Coming down out of the mountains from the south east, this is the first sight you see of Hot Springs, NC.  It is the French Broad River.

The signs say the area was settled around the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

Just as you get into town, there is a wonderful train bridge set up for foot traffic.

The bridge was built for train traffic in 1910.  It was replaced by a newer bridge that is still used.  The current tracks sit about 20 feet or so from the old bridge.

The children are able to see a great deal of the engineering of this bridge.  The floor of the bridge is wood.  The sides and frame is steel.

The Spring Creek flows underneath.  There is a strong smell of sulfur in the air.

On the bridge, we met another family with four children.  I asked if they were local and she said yes.  I asked where the hot springs were as we had come to see them.  She seemed surprised by my question and said the hot springs were owned by the spa on the other side of the tracks.  They had built hot tubs around them and you couldn’t use them without paying for the visit and needed to make an appointment.  Wow, was I disappointed to hear that.  She said we could get near the spa by parking near the river, but we wouldn’t be able to see the hot springs without reservations at the spa.

So on her suggestion, we took the children to the river at Hot Springs instead of the “spa”. 

This is the French Broad Rive.  This beautiful river is wide and shallow and it criss crosses its way through the Blue Ridge mountains of North Caroina and the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.   The water was icy cold and crystal clear.

The waters splashed against the shore in waves.  The waves just seemed to roll right up to you.  This was exciting.

We found lots of sea shells, minnows, beautiful rocks, a crawfish or crawdad skeleton, and many more treasures as those waves would roll in and out along the shoreline.

On this mountain, above the river, and not far from the hot springs, I found strange rock formations that were not on the other mountains.  Lots of rocks seem to rise high and twist out of the ground, spiral like on this mountain.   In the photo they kind of look like tree trunks, but really they are spiral shaped colums of rocks.  One of the locals told us that you can follow a trail to “lovers leap” on the side of this mountain.  You can read more about “lovers leap” at the hiking link mentioned above.  There are also several campgrounds all around the bottom and through out the area.

Lots of neat discoveries……..

Leftover seed pods…

Rocks that resemble eggs, rocks that are smooth and marbled, and more seed pods.  The seed pods looked like small canoes.  My son wanted to bring a few home to build a diorama.

More odd rock formations were near the hot springs spa.  These clusters of rocks seem to rise out of the ground, in an upward push from the middle.  The middle makes a deep circle, like a crater from a volcano.  Trees were growing on top of some of the rocks.

We stopped in a small local store to use the bathroom and get a snack before leaving town.  They had some brochures from the Hot Springs Spa and I picked one up to read.  Tickets range in price from $12 to $40 per hour during the day and $30 to $50 during the evening.  They also had several additional fees ranging from $40 upto $115 if you want a message or other spa treatments to go along with your dip in the hot springs.  They also have overnight accomodations ranging in price from $145 to $200 for a room or from $45 up to $200 for camping or house rentals.  The hot spring mineral water has an average temperature of 102 degrees farenheit.  The brochure says you will feel rejuvinated after 1 hour by the setting and the water.

We journied home at sunset.  The sun was going down behind the mountains at around 5pm.  Mountains and mountains, in every direction, as far as they eye can see.

We will go back and do the “spa” things and see the hot springs someday. Lord willing.  

It seems sad that someone (the spa) has taken over and owns such a special natural piece of the world, and this amazing creation is not able to be shared freely by all.  So many families with kids obviously do not get to enjoy seeing the springs because of how they require reservations through the spa.  It would be very expensive for our family of seven, to get to do that.  

But even without seeing the hot springs, today was fun and filled with lots of discoveries, and wonderful family memories.

Please share.

Snow Sensory Discovery Bin

We have been observing our winter weather and landscape here in mountains of North Carolina.  Though most of our observations have been outside, our recent snow fall has provided us with some fun indoor winter sensory activities.

Just look at those faces.  Can’t you just feel their anticipation?

They are so excited that we are building this winter snow bin. 

It is a sensory discovery bin filled with props for a winter wonderland adventure on top, and hidden treasures to find down below. 

How COOL!   (pun intended)

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how I could build the kids a winter discovery bin with cotton balls and such, and decided why don’t I just bring the snow into the house.  There is so much we can study and learn from our snow “school work”. 

Yeah, its a little cold on the fingers, but again, we are talking about sensory folks.  Snow = cold, wet, messy, very messy.  And did I mention cold?  But not too cold, as my daughter enjoyed playing in this snow bin in her summer shorts!

So I searched the toys and crafts and dumped out a deep storage bin and here is what I came up with.

Into a plastic bin/box we put glass square and round beads/rocks in shades of blue, aqua, and clear.  This kind of represented frozen water iceberg under the snow.   Then we added some plastic snow men, penguins, bears, deer, plastic rocks, etc.   Disclaimer: The stuffed animals were not harmed during the filming of this and were not added to the bin.  Hee Hee Hee Haw!!!!

On top of this we added lots of snow.  Then made a winter scene with some plastic pine trees, deer, plastic rocks and real rocks, plastic bushes, snowmen, penguins, and a hunter.

Didn’t my 2nd grader do an awesome job helping set this up?  He is a great assistant!

On the kitchen floor, we laid out a blanket and set the snow bin on it.   Here the kids could play in their winter wonderland with all the props, and I didn’t have to worry about the mess.

Then we created a story to enjoy our winter scene.  They imagined “the deer were looking for something to eat, when a hunter came along and found them in the woods.  The deer climbed the rocks and up the mountain to safety behind a high pine tree way up on a cliff.  Then the hunter went looking for more animals and came upon a great big mammoth.  But he knew not to kill the mammoth, so he let him go.  The hunter was bored, and made a snowman, and then sat down and ate some snow soup with his animal friends.”

After their fun on the first level they were ready to go to work hunting for buried treasures in the iceberg.   (Yeah, I know, we should have buried the mammoth in the melting iceberg for a discussion on fossils, extinction, and global warming, but he has some electronic gizmo inside and we couldn’t let him get very wet.  Plus that is more of a discussion for the older kids.  So the mammoth stayed dry and alive on top of the snow).

I gave them some measuring scoops, recycled plastic fruit cups, and a large bowl,  and they went to work.

If you could call it work.  They laughed and giggled all the way through until the last object was found.

When they were done with their sensory bin, the older boys wanted to play in it too.  Some activities with them included more imaginative play, but also measuring and counting scoops of snow and talking about compaction, melting, temperature, and more.  

So we put in more snow and animals and recreated the hunting scene for them.  This time the deer wasn’t so lucky to escape the wise hunter who had learned from his earlier mistakes.  He ate dinner that night and went to bed with a full stomache.  Made jerky with the leftovers.  Hee Hee Hee Haw!  Snort!  Ha ha ha!  Ok sorry about that, but kids are just so funny! 

The kids all had a really good time.

Finally, our kindergartner took advantage of the used, melting, sloshy snow bin, and built a snowman.

He packed the melting snow into snow balls, and used broken crayons for the eyes and nose.  He put craft sticks in for the arms and stuck on some yellow buttons.   He used the hunters hat for the snowman’s hat.  He said the hunter had forgot his hat when he took off chasing the deer.    

When he was done playing with it, he stuck the snowman outside on the front porch.  It stayed frozen just like the day he made it for three days.  He enjoyed checking on it to see how long it took to melt.

He did a great job!

Clean up was much easier than I thought.  The blanket went into the dryer for a few minutes.  The toys in the bowl, and the bin, dried on a towel for a little bit before being put away for next time. 

Easy, fun, learning adventure, and free!

How are your kids exploring the winter?  Do your kids enjoy using sensory and discovery bins?  Please leave us a comment below and share what you are working on with your kids.

This post will be linked up with
ABC 123

No Time For Flash Cards

Tot School

Preschool and 5K too

Play Academy

We Play

Best Toys For Toddlers


Please share.

Snow Day

We had a winter storm two nights ago.  Woke up that morning to 10 inches of snow on the ground.  This is our second big snow storm of the season.  The last snow was on Christmas Day.  Since then, we have had some really nice weather.  The snow was all gone between these two storms. 

We live near Hendersonville, North Carolina in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It is beautiful here year around.  But, everything closes down due to the snow.  Curvy, narrow, mountain roads are not safe to travel on during these storms.  Elevations can change by a thousand feet quickly in a short distance on these roads.  Where we are at, it is about 2500 feet elevation.  But all around us it goes from 1,000 feet to 4,000 feet in any direction. 

My husband got up early and shoveled the sidewalk and cleared off his personal truck.  It has four wheel drive.  The company work truck, which he normally drives to work, is only a two wheel drive. 

He started his truck 15 minutes before leaving to be sure it was warmed up.  As he was headed out the door, my husband’s work called, and said they weren’t working due to the weather.  They are a construction company, and when the weather is this bad, it brings everything to a stand still.   But he had lots to do, and decided to take the four wheel drive truck in to the office anyway, and get some paperwork done.  He is managing seven projects right now, and the paperwork can build up fast.   Later he told me he was glad he went in, and between the snow holding up construction, and a quiet office, he was able to get everything done.

Driving his own truck to work was also a good excuse to get to play in the snow, big boy style, with the four wheel drive.

But my van isn’t so easy to get around and the kids and I stayed put.  My van seemed to almost disappear in the snow.

My boys couldn’t wait to get outside and shovel some snow into a tall pile. They said they were building a snow fort.  This sure was handy to clear the driveway.  This was their idea, I came outside to find them busy (clearing the driveway) building their snow fort.

They are in the 4th grade, 2nd grade, and kindergarten.  This was good practice for working together to accomplish a goal.  It was good motor practice too.  Young boys enjoy using their muscles and being active.  Thankfully, they had good eye hand coordination and as they flung the snow off the shovel, no one was hit.  But instead, they were concientous of each other and stuck to their plan to build this great monument of snow.

They had big ambitions and built it about 3 feet deep, 5 feet wide, and 15 feet long before they were to tired to do more.  They cleared the whole driveway.  This was at 9am.  Where does their “get up and go” come from?  I still hadn’t had my mocha latte yet.  Whew!

They tried snow balls, but the snow wouldn’t pack.  They had hoped to sled down the hill, but the snow was to powdery and they sank.

However, it was perfect for making snow angels.

After a couple of hours of play, everyone was frozen and came inside for hot chocolate, and warmed up in blankets on the couch.

When Dad came back home, it was time to go back out in the snow and play some more.  It had continued to snow all day, and now it was a wet snow coming down and that packed even better.

Daddy had his own ideas about sledding.  The powdery snow wasn’t going to spoil his fun, no way!  So he commenced to sled “Daddy Style.” 

A sled, a rope, and a lawnmower!

Have you ever seen Tim The Tool Man Taylor from the 1990’s sitcom?  He always had to UP Size everything, bigger drill, bigger boards, bigger nails, more power, bigger motor in the washing machine (bigger mess), etc.  Anyway, my husband and”Tim” have a few things in common, bigger is better.  He is a big kid himself. 

And in the kids eyes, he is a true HERO who saved the day!

What could be better? 

Flying on the sled, with dad at the throttle, and having fun with your family! 


Now this isn’t the first time he has pulled someone behind a moving vehical.  Once, when we were dating, I rode with him and his friends as they pulled each other behind a vehicle on the ice in Kansas.  They rode trash can lids as sleds, and hung onto a rope as they pulled each other across frozen ice and snow covered roads behind a truck.  (Disclaimer: Kids don’t try this at home, injury can occur).

Well, I too did some silly things in the snow as a kid.  One time, wearing house slippers, several friends and I took turns in a similar way.  We would “ski” in house slippers behind a four-wheeler going down the frozen road.  We had lots of fun, and got a few bruises when we would crash.  But still, lots of fun. 

You just don’t think about anything, but having fun, when it is a snow day. 

How did you and your family spend the winter’s SNOWY DAYS ?

Please share.

Winter Walk

I have a playful, but serious fellow in Kindergarten, and today he is on the hunt for something special. 

Things seem familiar, yet very different today.  He decided to investigate further.

A winter walk reveals a frozen world of new discoveries.

Where is all the color?  When he woke this morning, everything had turned white under 10 inches of soft snow. 

He listens as the snow crunches under his feet.  This sound is different than walking on grass through the yard.   Though the snow feels light, his boots feel heavy as he walks.

With little sister, who is in tot school, close behind, this wintery world is an interesting place.

He shows his sister the hard seed pods he found.  Being 3 years old, she is just amazed at this new landscape as he is. 

Though they have seen their surroundings daily, today in its new layers of white, it is even more fascinating.

As they walked through the yard and into neighboring lots, they found so many discoveries.

Here is a tree by the driveway, with little upside down seed heads near the trunk.  The snow has collected in the branches.

Here was a beautiful sight.  Layers upon layers of snow covered branches in a row of trees.

Snow balls, created by nature. 
Queen Anne’s Lace capturing all the snow it can hold. 
Snow ball fight anyone?  Though they are small, there are thousands of them in this field.  Surely in a battle, this little army would win.  Amazing.

Tall grass bending, and weighted down, with a coat of snow.

Bending, yet amazingly strong, and still able somehow to stand.

Amazing little snow stars collected on tiny flower heads.

The garden boxes are sleeping under a blanket of snow too.

Zinnia seed heads on top of stems, still standing straight and tall.  They are not yet ready to release their bounty of seeds they have kept tightly clutched since fall.  Just a few months ago, they displayed amazing colors.

Rose hips on a wild rose bush.  This is welcome food for the hungry birds, rabbits, and other wildlife that pass by here everyday.

Across the road, the tall trees look like feathers, as the snow softens their angles.

Next to the house, tender green grass is visible and was protected from the snow, but exposed to the cold.  But even still, in January, its greenness remains.

We looked for animal tracks, but didn’t discover any yet this morning.  Even the birds seemed to be hiding, quietly, somewhere out of sight. 

Everything is adjusting to this new change in our landscape, a brand new world, different yet familiar. 

I wonder what they will discover next?

What have your kids been discovering during the winter season?

This post will be linked up at

Tot Tuesdays

Handbook of Nature Study

ABC and 123

Childhood 101

Preschool Corner & 5k too

Please share.