Beaver Camp on Hannah Branch

About 4 years ago, preschool enjoyed visiting a beaver working site. The beavers had built a dam across a creek about 10 feet long. We were not sure about their lodge, but it was so fun to visit and see the shavings around stumps where they had gnawed. C.E's parent informed me that there is a new beaver site by a nearby creek. Where the creek meets South Toe River you could see the trees marked by the work of beavers. How long did it take to cut down the trees? Where did they take the trees? There were many questions to answer. We also wonder if beavers would sharpen our coloring pencils.

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Beavers are supposed to be active building dams in fall so that they can store their food under the lodge for the winter. Beavers eat the leaves, inner bark, and twigs of aspen (a favorite food), alder, birch, cottonwood, willow, and other deciduous trees. Beavers also eat shrubs, ferns, aquatic plants, grasses, and crops, including corn and beans.

On the same day C.E. brought the woodchips gnawed by beavers for Show and Tell, A. brought her tooth that she accidentally broke when she fell off a step stool. We passed around woodchips with beaver's toothmark and a human tooth that was white and had a long root. Bob Johnson in Celo said once he found a beaver tooth. I had to ask him if it were orange because C.E. and O.F. who have been studying about beavers informed me that a beaver tooth is orange due to high iron content. Bob said it was indeed orange, and it curved like a hook because beavers keep growing their teeth as it gets worn from using. How convenient if our teeth can keep growing as needed!

Very unfortunately, about three weeks ago, one of preschool assistant teachers, Peg fell and broke her wrist. Peg showed children her big cast that went all the way to her forearm to stabilize her wrist movement. We had to learn to hold Peg's hand very gently at circle time.

As it is introduced by Waldorf education during the first week of December I have been thinking about tooth and bones which are both minerals. For some reason, children started to play with shells at preschool too. When we do our footbath after a cold walk, we have a salt block (which is another familiar mineral) that Amanda gave us to rub back of our feet. How interesting that without any effort, the presence of minerals seem to surround the children already. We are thankful for the minerals on our planet which support and give us structures. Hopefully no more broken bones and teeth for a long time.

Sisterhood and Brotherhood

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A and O.F. were being very sisterly to younger friends. Helping the younger ones happens naturally when it is obvious that older children are more capable than younger ones. It empowers the older ones when they realize that they have so much to offer. Often the older children bring younger ones "cup and napkin" at snack time and pour some water in their cup. Sometimes an older child would initiate offering a bit of bread to the little ones who keep reaching for a sandwich while waiting for everyone to find their seat at the table. With a little explanation, everyone understands. During the indoor time, whenever little ones walk away from the table with a pair of scissors or put their toys in their mouth or rolling out the toilet papers (the list goes on), older ones are sure to alarm the teachers.

DSC05660 DSC05505We function so much better as a mixed age group. It is particularly helpful when older children help the younger children outside during our walk. When R was exploring the woods he started to follow a child sliding down a hill covered with slippery leaves. I said, "C will you look after R. I think the hill may be too steep for him". C proudly went to R and helped him come back to the main area where we were playing.

Rita and Soccoro are sisters from Mexico. When they come, children are very excited. O.F. enjoyed getting her hair braided by Soccoro. Rita stood behind and twisted the yarn and Soccoro wove it into the braids. We are thankful for the sweet sisterly time shared at preschool.


Lantern Walk and Martinmas






DSC05540 Under the clear evening sky in November, we had our annual lantern walk and Martinmas hosted by Gretchen and Jona. We gathered around a delightful campfire.

We enjoyed the story of St. Martin told by Sherry Lovett. We heard about the humble heart of Martin wanted to help the poor. Sherry tells the story in the way that moves and inspire the audience. We would like to thank Sherry for coming to bring her gift of storytelling.

We sang songs of St. Martin and other songs about lanterns. The songsheet was complied with a beautiful illustration by Heather Waters.

We lit our hand made lanterns and started our walk around the neighborhood. By then it was starting to get dark and our lanterns glimmered beautifully just like the song we were singing. The sound of a creek that run nearby accompanied our singing.

From time to time children needed their lanterns to be relit. When the candle wax was spilled and there was no way to re-light the candle, Rita gave her candle out of her lantern and put it in G's lantern. G's lantern started to glow again.

We enjoyed our shared supper of warm soup and bread. Thank you everyone for your contribution. It was wonderful to spend the evening with you. We embraced the cold and dark winter together with the light of our lanterns and our warm friendship.

Apple Sauce Making

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The leaves are green and apples are red They hang so high above our head Leave them alone til frosty weather And they will all come down together

From October through November, we sang apple songs. After some heavy frost, the apples were so much sweeter. It was time to make the applesauce.

The steam was still rising from the cooked apples, and the sweet smells of apples filled the air. A. helped assemble the applesauce maker on the table. We looked at all the interesting parts that had a particular purpose. The spring, the funnel, the "slide", the handle, the spiral piece, and the metal piece with lots of tiny holes.

After we put the pieces together, children were very curious how it was going to work. Plop! Went the cooked apples into the funnel. Crank! Went the handle round and round. Ooze! Went the applesauce squeezing through the tiny holes. Wee! Went the applesauce sliding down into the bowl. We took turns with different jobs. We sang "We are working as a family", and also the taking turn song. C.W. was spotted for dipping his finger into the bowl to taste (or just to feel the sauce).

After we finished making the sauce, we took apart the machine and washed the parts in a hot soapy water. Hand brushes were handy to get small bits of apples that got stuck in the tiny holes. A. handed me the handle and said, "Here Mari, I washed the hitch for you". She had gone on a camping trip recently for her mother's birthday. I thought "hitch" was a good name for a handle which moves the whole operation.

We served the applesauce at snack time and sent a little sample home for the families to enjoy.

Many hands make light work





The past 6 years or so, we have been selling flower pots to raise money for the preschool scholarship fund. It has been an important fundraiser in order to financially assist young families with the tuition payment.

Some years, I had alumni children help me plant the bulbs. Other years I have done it myself. Last year, a staff member suggested that the preschoolers be part of the planting.

I remember it being a fun and learning experience because preschoolers love to plant the bulbs, but sometimes the bulbs were pointing down into the soil. I had to go over each one to make sure it was upright "to shoot towards the sun".

This year, I realized we needed more adults for this type of activity. I invited parents for the "Potting Party". Parents responded willingly and stayed to plant.

I could not believe how quickly the bulbs were getting planted. Many hands make light work. Under the late October sunshine, the parents and the children were cheerful and content giving their time and energy for potting the bulbs.

Now three and a half weeks later, the first shoots are up and looking very attractive. May these flowers bring people the same happiness and contentment we felt planting them.

Halloween Pumpkin

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The preschool was given a beautiful pumpkin by our friend and a former teacher, Anna. I think it was grown by a homeschooled child. It was perfect because my pumpkin seed did not get planted in time so the vine frosted on the first frost before pumpkins grew on them. Older children were ready to draw the eyes, nose, and mouth. The children surrounded me with curiosity when I cut the top around the stem and lifted it up. Healthy looking seeds were dangling from the "lid" (each attached by orange stringy things). O.F. said, "It looks like a jellyfish". I moved the "jellyfish" like it was swimming in the air above them. M.came over and watched me pull out rest of the seeds with hands. He wrinkled his nose for the impressive mess that continued to be scooped out of the pumpkin. Older children took turns drawing eyes, nose, and mouth. We sang:

Once I had a pumpkin, oh pumpkin, oh pumpkin Once I had a pumpkin with no face at all. With no eyes and no nose And no mouth and no ears Once I had a pumpkin with no face at all.

So I made a Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern, Jack-O-Lantern So I made a Jack-O-Lantern with a big funny face. With big eyes and big nose And big mouth and big ears So I made a Jack-O-Lantern with a big funny face.

The face made the pumpkin have a humorous characteristic. G. kept putting fingers in the mouth. We pretended to save her fingers from getting eaten by the Jack-O-Lantern. She thought it was a fun game. We put a candle in it to see it glow. Happy Halloween to everyone!

Sweet Potato Digging with Matt

Digging potatoes with farmer the children work joyously at harvesting sweet potatoes Tilman with Sweet Potatoes Tilman learns about digging potatoes Tilman, Cosmo and Opal V help the farmer On a beautiful autumn Thursday, we were on our usual walk. Children are so observant and often talk about the changes in fields and gardens. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by well-maintained gardens, and over the year, we can see full circles of planting to harvest, and harvest to rest, and rest to new planting.

Out in the field, children spotted Gardener Matt and children said a big hello. Matt was busily collecting something from the ground, but when he heard us, he stopped and invited us to come and join the sweet potato digging. Children were very excited to this opportunity to dig and look for the "treasures".

Matt told the children that they need to put them gently in the crate like they are real babies. Children followed Matt's instruction and carefully lowered the sweet potatoes with both hands.

When we were finished digging, we washed them under the garden water spouts. As the dirt got rinsed off, we could see the warm orange color of a sweet potato. Some children needed to wash them until every speck of dirt was rinsed off.

We laid them under the apple tree in a single layer to air dry. Matt told the children that they are not supposed to stay in the sun because they will turn poisonous.

We really enjoyed the spontaneous digging activities, and thankful for Matt and all the farmers in Celo for growing healthy food for the community.

Fall Fundraising Meal

DSC05439 DSC05440 DSC05441 DSC05442 DSC05444 DSC05446 DSC05445On October 23, we had a successful fall fundraising pasta meal at Celo Community Center. The parents and staff prepared delicious sauce for the pasta and baked lovely bread and desserts. The kitchen and dining room crew worked cheerfully and the children ate and played happily. This year we improved our meal by making sure we have caretakers for the children during the meal. Children's artwork was displayed all around the dining room. We served around 66 neighbors and community folks. Many of them left warm comments towards the program. It really felt as we all are a part of the childcare community.

Fall Field Trip to Arthur Morgan School

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We had a wonderful Fall Field Trip to Arthur Morgan School on October 14th. It was wonderful to take the woodland trail across several hand built bridges. The trails were covered with a carpet of red and golden leaves. Children enjoyed stopping and visiting the creeks.

We were welcomed by the AMS students who were pressing apple cider. Children helped put the apples into the funnel and as a student turned the wheel on the side, we watched the apples crushed into small bits. Some children took turns turning the wheels, but realized that it is not as easy as it looked. Then a big wheel on top was turned to squeeze out the apple juice. Younger ones wanted to dip their hands straight into the cider as it trickled down into a pot. The air was filled with a sweet smell of apples all around mixed with wood smoke coming out of school's chimney. We were so grateful for the rich experience.

We jumped on the leaf pile. We had no idea that a student was hiding completely under the pile and we almost jumped right onto him!

We settled at a picnic table and enjoyed our snack. Brad brought us warm apple cider enough for everyone to enjoy the taste of autumn! It was lovely.

We went to say hello to turkeys and gave them some compost from the kitchen. They made lots of sounds that children imitated while we watched. We wondered what they were saying to each other.

We tried digging for potatoes, but we did not find any, but we had fun anyway getting our hands in the dirt.

We had such a fun day, but it wasn't over yet. Students hid cute little pumpkins along the trail on the way back.  Everyone looked and found their pumpkins! When we were at a creek, F's pumpkin went floating down the creek. It got stuck on a big rock so the older children tried to save it. In a mean time, C got stung by a yellow jacket. While caring for him, the pumpkin flowed down the creek. T said, "Where did it go?", so I said "Maybe all the way to Granny's beach".  (I heard that later T. and mother went to the Granny's beach and T was looking for the pumpkin). We sang "Once I was a pumpkin" song on the way back to the soccer field where were met the parents.

Special thanks to Brad for making it possible for the Fall Field Trip at AMS.

Monarch Butterfly

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We hosted Monarch caterpillar for 1  week at preschool. The caterpillar was found by Celo soccer field. It was carefully transported to preschool for children to have a close observation. We have not had Monarch caterpillar for several years so we were very excited. We have watched it grow bigger every day. We have seen it eat the milkweed and drop many frass on the table.  Children got a small brush and a dust pan to sweep up the frass . Children were very curious about this colorful caterpillar, it was challenging to have them not to touch the delicate creature.  We sang songs to them instead. After one week, on Friday, September 18, we noticed that the caterpillar was attaching itself on a top of the butterfly cage, and forming a "J". We saw it hanging upside down. At circle time, we sang "Caterpillar Crawling By". We pretended hanging upside down like the caterpillar.

The next two weeks, we had to be very patient and as we watched the light green chrysalis. We observed the tiny golden dots on a side of the chrysalis. At circle time, some children got light green silkies and wrap themselves up like a chrysalis. At clay table, we made caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies. We were wondering if a butterfly was going to be a boy or a girl. We left the chrysalis hanging very carefully so that it will not disturb during the metamorphosis.  O. F. said, "It is in a process".

Over the weekend of October 2, I checked the chrysalis frequently. On Sunday night, the butterfly was born! It happened quietly and peacefully. Rachel (a Meeting caretaker) said as butterfly pumped the fluid from the body to its wings, orange fluid dropped on the counter. Rachel carefully moved the cage to the sunny window for the butterfly to warm up and dry its wings.  I left a bouquet of flowers in case butterfly was ready to eat.  Children were so excited to see the beautiful Monarch butterfly on Tuesday morning. We noticed when it flapped wings that it had little black dots on the lower part of the wings which indicates that our butterfly was a boy! Should we call him "Chuck", "William", or  "Jo"?  We set him outside the preschool when we were ready to go on a walk. It did not fly away, so we just watched it moving on a cage. We sang "Happy Birthday" and gave him a wish for a safe travel to New Mexico/ Mexico. When we came back from our walk, Rachel L. walked up to check the cage. The butterfly had flown out of it and it was gone!



First Week Back to Preschool!

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We had a wonderful first week back to preschool. The returning children were excited to see everyone, and the preschool rythem seemed to comfort them. The new children seemed happy to be at preschool. Everyone enjoyed the time when we sat together to share the snack. The lights in the main room were turned off so that we can all relax in the natural light. We found a seat to sit and held hands to make a circle around the table. First, there was lots of busy noise of chairs, cups hitting the table, children talking and making sounds all at once. When we held hand together, we took a big long breath, and tried to be quiet. It is only a brief moment or two, but very sweet time to have children join in the silence. Finally after the silence, we sing our grace, and "yum hum". We spread love all around with "butterflies". We have lots of rituals before the snack. Opal Violeta wrote me a note both in word and picture so that I would remember to bring matches to light a candle for snack time.


Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 001 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 010 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 020 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 028 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 031 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 039 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 037 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 038 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 048 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 054 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 082 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 120 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 130 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 138 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 135 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 158 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 151 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 165 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 167 Childrens Garden (Vera's Graduation) 166These are pictures from the graduation in May. We had Vera's graduation. Vera is in kindergarten now. We had a bridge decorated with flowers on the side and rose petals for Vera to walk on. It signified that love is guiding her path of life.

We sang "Rainbow Vera" as she walked on the bridge. Vera walked slowly and gracefully. She knows lots of virtues and she used them well at preschool. Everyone was so happy for Vera.

After Vera opened the present (a big girl backpack!) and flower dedication to the teachers, all the children walked over the bridge to celebrate their wonderful year at preschool.

Children picked some flowers and went back to preschool for the graduation cake. Congratulation Vera and happy summer to everyone!

Thank you for the video and pictures, Ryan.

Spring Masquerade 2015

I don't know what happened, but I was not able to load new post on our blog this spring, so these wonderful pictures were not published. I wanted to share them even though we are already in the fall. It is so sweet to relive the moment again. After two weeks of preparation, finally we had the Spring Masquerade. We were down by the playground getting everything ready. For some reason, my assistant who was coming to help me did not appear at the scheduled time, and I wasn't sure how I was going to do it by myself. I had to get everyone dressed and stay as a group to go and wake up the sleeping parents for the spring (the significant part of this event).

Anytime when we invite parents to a preschool event, children get so excited, but some little ones have no clue what is going on. And of course in the midst of the excitement, there was a poopy diaper to change. I did not happen to have a diaper with me, so she had to go with just a tights under her dress costume. While I was attending the diaper situation, one came to tell me that he had an accident.  This was actually a blessing because earlier he didn't want to wear his costume that he made which was a pair of shorts. Now with his pants and underwear wet, he agreed that he needed to wear the costume (very cute shorts dyed in red and green).

Somehow we managed to get all the capes, dresses, hats, shorts on all the children, and we reenacted the spring part of "Root Children" story by Sibylle von Olfers. When the group procession started to spread apart and the youngest one was struggling to keep up, my assistant who was held up unexpectedly at home appeared like an angel to help with the youngest one. Parents were sweetly woken up by their children and handed a yellow daffodil.  

We held hands to make a big circle with all the parents and grandparents, and one neighbor who came to join us. We sang "Winter Good Bye", and went around to introduce ourselves. Everyone brought lovely food for the potluck. We need to thank Mother Nature for raining before and after but not during the event. I forgot to inform parents that it was Alena's last day as an assistant teacher.  Alena helped us from January through March. She was a returning staff from the fall of 2007. I remember Cosmo asking, "Alena, are you a teenager?". Maybe because of her bright whimsical hair or her light laughter. Alena had to explain that she has a big boy who is getting into playing soccer. Teenager or not, we love you Alena and want to thank you for the fun and wonderful time together at preschool.

Thanks to Ryan for great photos and videos.

Excited to wear our hand-made costume





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April Showers bring May flowers

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April sky is always full of water. Our rain gear get used almost every day. If it isn't for the rain, it is for the wet grass and mud. April shower gives us lots of hope for spring flowers and vegetables to grow. With hopes in our hearts we walk lightly in the rain. We often meet our friend, Brenda. Cosmo calls her granny. Brenda stops to admire everyone's rain suits and boots. We like her walking stick.

Spring Field Trip to the Sheep Farm

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On March 18th, we had a wonderful spring field trip to a sheep farm at Ben and Cedar's. We packed picnic lunch and children carried cup and napkins in a small sack. We took mostly Celo Community trails. All the walking children walked including Opal Claire and Ginger who were 1 year old. Forest rode on Mari's back.

Children were so excited to see the sheep on the hill. Farmer Ben McCann came to greet us. He invited older children to go in the shelter to meet the lambs. Each lamb had a name tag on his or her ear. "So we can tell them apart", Ben said. Lambs were so cute. They had curly fur and long tails. Their mothers Baaed intensely when lambs were separated from them. Ben told us that sheep like to be with each other. They don't like to be far away from the group. Children pet the lamb while Ben held one in his arms. Children watched the lambs eat corn in the trough. They were hungry. Ben let the lambs go back to their mother in the field. We watched them find their mother and nursed from her. Children loved Lulu the donkey who protect the sheep from predators. Lulu is a gentle and friendly donkey to children. She still had shaggy winter fur.

We then washed our hand with soap and water, and settled by a patch of yellow daffodils for our picnic snack. Children were hungry too after a good hike. Theo's grandfather helped fill the water and made sure every one got a good drink of water. After good visit, good food, and good diaper changes, we were ready to head back to preschool.

We said good bye to the sheep, Lulu, and thank you to Ben for the wonderful visit. We picked up our stroller to carry Ginger and Opal Claire and took Hannah Branch Rd. back to preschool. Everyone was content and happy to play in the playground until pick up time arrived.

It was nice to have Tilman and his mother join the field trip. I want to thank preschool's dedicated volunteers, Peg Chamberlain and Barb Perrin. We could not have done this trip without them.

Spring is happening!

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We have been watching outdoor landscape turn from winter to spring. We are also noticing there is outdoor constructions starting to take place around preschool. Pablo Cope dug trenches along Meeting House Lane and Chimney Ridge Rd. We sat and watched him control the back hoe. He allowed all the children to sit on the seat of the tractor and hold the steering wheel. On another walk, we stopped to watch the concrete mixer truck pass on Hannah Branch Rd. The driver was very friendly, and when he saw us on side of the road, he stopped the truck and got out of the truck to greet the children. Children asked questions to the driver. We found out that his name was Wayne. Children learned about the steps and handle just to climb into the cab of the truck. "Cab" was a new vocabulary for the day. The driver showed the children the panels (another new vocab) on the driver seat which showed different meters of the truck. Last thing children got to do was to pull the leather rope to honk the horn! It was so loud!

We are enjoying the neat birdhouse and colorful violet hanging baskets that Annelise's grandparents donated to the preschool. We thoroughly enjoyed their visit at preschool.

After being together over half of the year, children have gotten to know each other well. They really know strength and challenges of each other. We celebrate everyone's growths and welcoming discoveries. New friendships are forming between children. Each interaction signifies something of their relationship and careful support is given by the teachers. May all our friendship come to bloom this spring.

Costumes for Spring Masquerade








Spring Masquerade costumes this year was made from 10 large wool shirts donated by Appalatch- Theo's father's company. The dye was again from Cedar Johnson. My friend, Dari, and I had so much fun creating little capes, dresses, shorts, hats, and neck/belly warmers the night  before. We felt like elves imagining how sweet children would look in the clothes! When children saw them, they were so excited! We went right into dying the costumes. Older girls wanted dresses, younger boys wanted capes, and others chose shorts to dye. Alena took few children at a time outside to dye their costumes while Rachel and I managed the more or less normal routine inside. We had a lovely snack time eating delicious sandwich bread made with Jonah's hands. Children remarked how Alena's purple-red curls on her hair looked just like the color of the dye. We had a lovely walk outside through the air filled with songs of spring birds and laughter of children. It was Alena's last day working at preschool. Children will miss her kind words and her creative senses, and the purple-red curls on her hair.

We share food and stories at snack time.

Felting wool

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We felted some wool in soapy tub of warm water. The fluffy wool changes in texture when it gets wet. It takes lots of rubbing and rolling to make well felted piece. Most children just wanted to race through different color wool pieces. Cosmo rubbed a green wool for a long time and said, "I made a turtle!". They will become part of Spring Masquerade costume!

Fluffy bunnies!

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Fluffy white bunnies came to visit preschool from Camp Celo. They were so soft and warm. The bunnies hopped about the preschool (and children too) and ate apples from our hands. We tried to be quiet so that bunnies don't get scared. We also thought bunnies can hear much more than we can since their ears were so big. Forest's big sister was visiting, and at the end of the day, she was able to adopt the bunnies! We are so glad that Barb brings small animals to preschool for visits. We learn to be kind and gentle for the animals, and animals become more friendly with people. We sang Hop Little Bunnies at circle time.

Snowy winter

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Old man winter came out today, and said, "I am going to make this a very cold day!" We had more snow! We are getting good at putting on snow pants and woolen layers to keep us warm from head to toes. We found many footprints that belong to animals that live in the woods. Snow reveals their activities even though most of the time we don't get to see them.

Children loved sliding down the snowy bank by the bridge to Meema and Peepa's. Vera tried to cover little creek that ran under the snow and ice with more snow. The snow kept dissolving into the creek.

One day Cosmo and Vera made snow chair. It had arm rest and was very comfortable. Ginger liked the snow man "toe man". We enjoyed the nice warm foot bath afterwards.