Blog o' Graysmiths

Letterboxing December 10, 2008

Filed under: Nature — graysmiths @ 1:58 pm

A few weekends ago we went on our first Letterboxing adventure.  For those of you who don’t know what letterboxing is, here is the quick explanation from the Letterboxing North American website:

LETTERBOXING is an intriguing pastime combining navigational skills and rubber stamp artistry in a charming “treasure hunt” style outdoor quest.

You start out with a set of clues leading you to a hidden letterbox (the ones we found were plastic containers with lids)  – there are a number of websites where people have posted their clues.   You bring along a rubber stamp and journal.  If you find the box, inside there will be another rubber stamp, an ink pad or pen and a journal.    You take the stamp out of the box and stamp in your journal – sort of like a passport stamp to show that you found the box, and then use your stamp to stamp in the box journal.  You can also write about yourself or your journey in the journal.  It was a lot of fun to read about all the different people who had found the box, many of whom were from out of state!

We had a wonderful time – the weather was chilly, the walk was beautiful and searching for the box was lots of fun!  Atticus very excitedly found two of the boxes himself.  Here are some pictures:


If you want to go, here is the website we used for clues: Atlasquest.   My only advice – bring your own ink pad or pen – the ones we found were pretty dry!


Letting Them Go April 2, 2008

Filed under: Nature — graysmiths @ 2:31 am

The weather was warm last week and since I wasn’t sure the butterflies would survive our weekend away (visiting friends in DC), I asked, then begged, then basically cajoled Atticus into letting his butterflies go free. He was devastated, and I am not overstating this one bit. He cried for at least 1/2 an hour, and still, if you mention it, will say “let’s just not talk about my butterflies.” I told him the story of Mother Bear and the Robin from Little Bear, but it did not sway his heart. He loved holding his butterflies and misses them daily, if not hourly. A few pictures:



Butterfly Project March 4, 2008

Filed under: Nature — graysmiths @ 12:39 am

Ever since Atticus first encountered butterflies at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science‘s Butterfly House, he has loved butterflies. His favorites there are the Paperkite and Blue Morpho. He can also identify at least three others and we will often spend an hour or more inside the butterfly house, sitting on a bench watching butterflies fly by and using the museum guide to identify them.

For his fourth birthday, we gave him a butterfly “pavilion” from Insect Lore. You can see what it looks like here. The package consisted of the butterfly house and a certificate for caterpillars which I mailed off prior to his birthday. dscf4374.jpgA week later, the caterpillars arrived in the mail – ten of them in two plastic jars. Their food was inside and watched as they grew from around one inch to around three inches over a period of two weeks. They then started to form chrysalides. After all were formed, we placed the chrysalides in the butterfly house and waited.dscf4349.jpg Two days ago, they started hatching. We now have seven Painted Lady butterflies and are waiting on two more to hatch (one died). Atticus is totally in love, constantly telling me how beautiful they are, and how happy he is. He has learned to carefully take them out of the house and hold them and he spent at least an hour doing so this morning. We’re going to take them into his school tomorrow to share the butterflies with his friends – at his suggestion.


For the Birds February 29, 2008

Filed under: Nature — graysmiths @ 7:52 pm

Remember those birdfeeders you made when you were a child from pinecones and peanut butter? Atticus made one of those in December at the Emerson Waldorf Holiday Festival (they used cream cheese instead of peanut butter). When we got home, Luke had the great idea to hang it outside his window so he could see the birds while playing in his room. It worked wonderfully and we would often hear delighted whoops from him as a new bird came to feed. After replacing the seed twice, I decided to make things a little less messy and relocate our bird feeder to outside the window. Now many many birds visit every day. Here are the birds that have visited us so far (and that we have identified):

  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Carolina Chickadee
  • Cardinal (male and female)
  • Downy Woodpecker (male and female)
  • Dark-Eyed Juno (identified 3/3/08)

We’ve got a bird book, but also use this great site to help identify birds:  I’ll keep updating this post as we identify more birds!

– Nicole