Off the Trail: Feb. 7, 2019

February 8, 2019

I’ve gotten a few emails recently asking for an update on my baby boy, William. He now is 2 months past his first birthday and on the verge of getting his feet under him.

William points at things now and mumbles what we think is, “What’s that?”

Besides normal baby milestones, my wife and I have been sprinkling in little nature nuggets here and there, as you might expect. Here are couple things we have been doing.

I put up a bird feeder outside our main window and try to keep it filled with seed. We prop William up on our couch so he can see, and we point out the different birds and squirrels. He points at them also now, but the magic is in his eyes as he tracks them from branch to branch as they feed and interact.

We might sit there for 15 minutes at a time observing. When I say the word bird, he glances toward the window.

For Christmas, my dad bought us a big bag of oversized plastic insects. He said, “I am not sure if these are for you or William”… both of us.

In that bag was a blue butterfly with yellow on the underside of the wings. William eats dinner and breakfast somewhat captive in his highchair by the kitchen table. The first day I took the butterfly and placed it above him and said, “Butterfly,” as he watched.

Now, each time we eat, I ask him, “Where is the butterfly?” and he points to it. It took some practice, but he knows that’s what it is.

Lately, I have been moving it to other spots in the kitchen, so he must search for it. He does well at spotting it in its new location.

We also check out a lot of books about nature from the Limestone Public Library. There, we also picked up this “bugbag” that contained not only books but puppets and a puzzle. They have bags on all kinds of topics we have yet to explore.

The bitter cold hasn’t allowed us to explore outdoors as much, but before it got cold, we would go on walks at Perry Farm and Limestone Park. We would go deliberately slow, and I’d hand him sticks and leaves to investigate. After a few minutes, he would tear up the leaf, and we’d move on to something else.

After he starts walking, I feel like possibilities are endless of what we can let him absorb. For now, I am trying to cater to his senses of sight and feel while introducing nature words regularly in his routine.

As a first-time parent, it is a fun experiment. I would love to hear any ideas that have worked for you.

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