A Sunny Day Filled With Sunflowers and Sunflower Cookies

Last week my daughter and I took a field trip to Columbia Bottom Conservation Area, just outside of St. Louis, to see the sunflower fields.

The pictures we took simply can not capture the overwhelming peace and warmth that embraced me as we stood among these beautiful giants. In the middle of that field, on that perfect summer day, I knew God was gifting us with a tiny slice of heaven. For a few hours my daughter and I left the stress of the world behind and simply breathed in the beauty that surrounded us. As we explored, we observed bees and butterflies coming to the field for nourishment. We witnessed frogs hopping around our feet and discovered wooly caterpillars munching on young leaves in preparation for their own transformation. We were fascinated by the young sunflowers, rhythmically following the sun with precision and felt honored to be a spectator.

The Transformation of the Sunflower- The life cycle of the sunflower is one of nature’s many marvels. The fact that a mammoth flower grows from a tiny seed and provides food for a variety of insects during the two weeks it is in bloom is simply amazing! And it continues to be a food source when its brilliant yellow leaves wither to brown and its head droops and faces the earth. Sunflower seeds are a valuable food source for birds, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons and even people!

Sunflower Cookies– When we returned home we made Cardinal Cookies, a peanut butter based cookie with sunflower seeds as a main ingredient! Named after the Cardinal songbird (who loves to eat sunflower seeds), this delicious treat is one my kindergarten class enjoyed when we visited Little Creek Nature Center on district field trips. CLICK HERE for the yummy recipe

The Sunflower House– While we snacked on our freshly baked Cardinal Cookies, we read The Sunflower House by Eve Bunting. This delightful book introduces the reader to the life cycle of a sunflower through the eyes of a boy who plants some sunflower seeds and plays in the sunflower field with his friend all summer long. It has always been a favorite book to read but after our visit to see the sunflowers, my daughter and I could make connections while we read and the story truly came to life!

Artsy Thursday (Week of the Young Child)…Day 45

Today is Artsy Thursday and my daughter dressed in purple and blue (her two current favorite colors.) The weather was beautiful so we spent a majority of our day outside enjoying the beautiful landscape God has created.

Natural Art– We walked around the backyard gathering natural materials to use for an art project. Upon returning inside we sorted the items; counting how many we found in each group. Then we created a graph to show our results. I asked the following questions… What do you have more of? The least of? Are there any that are equal? How many do we have altogether? Then we used our outdoor treasure and created a beautiful naturalist collage.

Cat’s Colors– My daughter checked the book Cat‘s Colors, by Airlie Anderson, out of the library the day before we went into isolation. When cat finds herself in the midst of a grey. dull day, she seeks to collect splotches of color among the dreariness. This charming, deceptively simple story about making the most of the world around us and giving something back in return, is an anthem for the challenges we are facing as a result of being quarantined. Living generously and finding splashes of color in a world otherwise filled with darkness, has been our family of three’s motto during this time of uncertainty.

Lets Go Fly a Kite– My daughter got a kite for her birthday and she has been begging to fly it. Since daddy is home this week he helped her assemble it and the dynamic duo made attempts to fly it in our backyard. They celebrated the fact that they got the kite into the air but it simply wasn’t windy enough to stay in the air for long. They talked about what makes the kite fly and how the string needs to be taunt to get the kite going. The scene reminded me of the time my dad and I took a bicycle ride to my elementary school where we attempted to fly a kite. I don’t recall if we had any success but I sure enjoyed the mini chocolate covered donuts we packed as a snack and spending quality time with my dad. Keep reading to find out what yummy snack my family of three enjoyed.

S’mores– After the sun set daddy (a proud Eagle Scout) built a fire for his girls so we could roast marshmallows and make yummy s’mores for a nighttime snack. While we munched on the sweet gooey goodness, we counted the stars in the sky, located Jupiter and enjoyed hearing stories about the giant campfire daddy built at Boy Scout Camp. I can’t think of a better way to end the day!

Childhood Moments with Gary the Puppet and the Great Outdoors…Day 39

Today was a good day and at first glance it looked like a typical spring day with a preschool child and her stay at home mom. The weather was perfect, lending itself to lazy walks and carefree exploration. My daughter had early childhood chapel and this Noteworthy Mommy went to happy hour where I laughed until I cried with some of my best girlfriends! When you take a closer look you’ll see that although some things are indeed the same, they have been altered; filled with unexpected adaptation due to COVID 19.

Outdoor Fun– Observational walks around the pond in our backyard have become a staple on peak weather days. Today we heard the chirps and splashes of spring frogs as they quickly jumped into the pond, protecting themselves from our anticipated arrival. We were lucky to discover a big frog, camouflaged among the murky waters, hoping to go undetected. The picture of my daughter blowing seeds off of the season’s first dandelion is accompanied with talk of the abrupt shift to virtual learning. I am brought back to our new reality when she says, “I wish I could go back to school, I really wanted to plant lettuce. I could plant lettuce with you but it won’t be as special.”

Gary the Puppet– The early childhood classes at my daughter’s school have chapel every week and Gary the Puppet often makes a special appearance. My daughter participated in chapel today where she learned that as Christians we continue to celebrate Easter and sing our Alleluias! CLICK HERE to learn how to make an Alleluia Shaker. Even though COVID 19 has shuttered the doors of her physical school, she continues to hear the message of Jesus’s love through weekly virtual chats with Pastor Rouland and Gary the Puppet. She finds joy and comfort in them and seeing familiar faces is a highlight of her week. This will become a cherished childhood memory. CLICK HERE to view this week’s message.

Noteworthy Mommy’s Happy Hour– Occasional happy hours with my girlfriends are cherished but during our busy lives they unfortunately are few and far between. In the midst of the pandemic I am reminded how important it is to spend time with my girlfriends, enjoying a glass of wine and sharing a few laughs! Our happy hours are now more frequent (weekly) and have become virtual with iconic Brady Bunch squares, funny stories and glasses (some weeks, bottles) of wine. Taking the time to relax with friends, even virtually, is helping me navigate the weeks upon weeks spent in isolation.