Beautiful imperfections

She is a female, because males only grow to 1.5.” She is 2.” 

Today’s subject of writing? Cookies. Not flour and gooey chocolate chips, but yellow thighs and rough gray spots, her beloved, newest ectothermic friend.

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The friendship began days ago.

“I found Cookies in the outdoor shower… She was chilling out, because she is nocturnal.” 


Her hand quickly scribbles the details of her first encounter with the gray tree frog. Then she clicks through the tabs open on the computer in front of her, making sure she has her fact correct before thoughtfully writing a simile. “Her mating call sounds like a persistant bird’s song.” 

She pauses a few seconds to contemplate her strong adjective, but this isn’t writing class, so I don’t suggest a stronger verb or correct her spelling. (She doesn’t know it, but “persistent” has been added to her spelling list for the fall.) When the screen isn’t revealing the next particular detail she is looking for, she flips through the bookmarked pages of the nearby book, beside her breakfast of generously buttered raisin toast.


I read along and warm my hands on my tea cup, on the rather brisk New England morning, as the cool June breeze carries faint scents of honeysuckle when it silently dances through the kitchen door.


She is eagerly writing the newest page in one of our family’s most valuable books. It’s summertime, not a school morning, and this was her idea. She treasures this book and loves being an author for it. The book has been in the making for 13 years, and I hope to still be adding to it decades from now. This eventual tome materialized one afternoon under a bright blue Delaware firmament, the year my oldest daughter, Logan, was in Kindergarten. The one who dissected bleeding heart blooms and dreamed of becoming a ballerina. The one who now builds robots and is studying Mechanical Engineering. She’s the one who found a bizarre caterpillar in the fields beside the zoo. She had to know more. Its name. What it would become. In the days before high-speed internet and fact-filled websites, my daughters and I paraded to five local libraries, scanned every insect ID book we could find, and finally discovered, quite to our chagrin, that the strikingly amazing larva would turn into a bland, brown White-marked Tussock Moth.


We created a page about our findings and put it in a simple, white, plastic notebook. We figured there would be a few more insects to discover that spring, and maybe we’d pen a few more pages. Today, my two youngest are still eagerly adding to our cherished book, in a new backyard, under crystal New Hampshire skies.

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Print your own Insect ID page here. Then help your children keep an eye out for an insects they’d like to know more about and have fun learning with them!

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The book’s cover—boldly announcing “Our Backyard”— is a faded chalk drawing of the path in our yard of yesteryears, in Logan’s Kindergarten days, in her Kindergarten style.


We never thought this notebook would take on a life of its own. If we had known it would still be a living book, 13 years after its conception, we wouldn’t have salvaged old office dividers, rewriting our titles over the pre-printed ones. We wouldn’t have squeezed all our extra categories under our fifth tab, but added new tabs with care.


But  I will never alter it. From my youngest’s first page about the dandelion, completed almost a decade ago…


… to today’s grammatically imperfect page about our chameleon-like frog, it is obvious that my daughters long to know more about our amazing, creative God–through His fingerprints that are ingrained in His beautifully artistic creation. It is obvious despite our worn, disorganized, hand-me-down, and mistake-laden pages. Just like He is obvious despite–no because of–our own failures from day to day. We so often mess up, even when we think we’re doing a good thing. Yet once in a while, amidst our errors, we wind up making something amazing that just may be priceless for eternity. That’s when God’s providence and love is the most beautiful. Amidst our imperfections.

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Be sure to follow along right here, on, for more nature study resources, posted often! (Just enter your email and click the “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column. A few times a month I’ll share tips on Keeping It Simple from my New England homestead.) It’s super easy, and then you won’t miss any of the fun nature study resources that I’ll share right here on And—coming soon—a complete nature study resource for even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever. Really.

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We put away our efforts and clean up our breakfast dishes, and she opens the front door, to let the warm sun stream in the front hall. Then, with her discovery there, a new page begins*…


“The more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator.” –Louis Pasteur

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As soon as you follow along on (by clicking “FollowThisBlog” in the right-hand column), you can snag another FREE 7-page, chock-full-of-information printable that will get you started on an unbelievably easy, unlimitedly rewarding journey of nature study with a child. The free printable even includes another ID page! (This one is for studying mammals.) And even the least science-oriented parent (or grandparent) ever can dive right in.

And love it.


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In captivity, they can live more than 8 years.

They change colors, ranging from bright green to pale white, to dark brown, depending on the temperature, humidity, and light. (But they are, as their name alludes to, typically gray.)

They eat (among other things) crickets and mealworms (thus, we’re reading Pet Bugs–see below–which has chapters on raising both).

A large, female gray tree frog can eat pinkie mice!



Some of our favorite nature books we’ve added to our collection over the years (because even in the high-speed internet world, we still love flipping through beautifully colored pages and holding information in our hands):

All National Audubon Society field guides

Pets in a Jar, by Seymour Simon **

Pet Bugs, by Sally Kneidel

Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study

Keeping a Nature Journal , by Clare Leslie and Charles Roth

When the girls were in elementary school, they liked The Usborne Complete First Book of Nature.

I believe if elementary and middle school students have great, living books in hand, they don’t need “textbooks,” but these textbooks are truly nothing like any I’ve ever used, and they share shelf space with all our other ID books:

Apologia’s Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Botany

Apologia’s Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Zoology 1

Apologia’s Young Explorer Series Exploring Creation with Zoology 3

(Zoology 2 was fascinating too, but we don’t have ocean creatures to ID in our backyard.)

And our most recent, wanna-add-to-our-personal-library find, which I highly recommend to all my New England friends, is Naturally Curious, a photographic field guide and month-by-month journey through the fields, woods, and marshes of New England, by Mary Holland.

* If you’re dying to know, before I get around to writing an entry about the beautiful “pink-lemonade” moth (as my daughter aptly dubbed it), it’s a rosy maple moth. More to come about that beauty on another day.

**Yes, we have kept numerous pets from our backyard, our favorite of all time being Jackie, the preying mantis who watched us when we walked around the room and even captured prey while being held in my hand.


5 thoughts on “Beautiful imperfections

    • Thanks, Christa. Our Backyard Book holds the status of a family heirloom to me. Someday I may have to make 4 copies of it all, so every girl can have her own copy. The only hard part to that is all the 3D additions to many pages, dried blooms, butterfly wings, bird feathers, etc.


    • Glad you asked, Laura, because I love the answer: “Cookies” is the title of our favorite Frog and Toad children’s story. Being such an awesome frog, he deserved to be named after an awesome amphibian anecdote. 🙂


  1. Pingback: How to Enjoy Learning About Slimy Amphibians | souly rested

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