Thank you for visiting the home blog of Caliso Learning, a natural science-based business celebrating the beauty and ecology of our natural environments. Our goal is to connect you and your family with nature--actually, we want you to fall in LOVE with nature!

Here you will find nature-inspired articles and posts, family activities, personal stories, resources, and more--all with the goal to connect you with the benefits of nature for family fun and inspiration! Please enjoy and let us know what you like :) Follow us on Facebook for even more resources, more frequently!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Little Bird Told Me...

I was stumped on what to share this week for a different blog/ezine, my deadline coming down to the wire. I found myself staring out my window to watch the birds when I noticed some feathers flapping about in strange way on the ground, next to our driveway. It looked like a bird was trapped by something. I decided to go and take a look and found a baby bird stuck inside a broken bottle, unable to back out because of the glass. (I use upside-down, bottles filled with sand as plant borders. The sand protects the glass from acting like a fire-starting magnifying lens in the summer.) One of the globe bottles had broken and the little fledgling was inside, beak first into a hole in the sand. A male and female verdin were flying about me, chattering in distress. I quickly realized I couldn’t just pull him out, his little legs and a wing were snug against the sharp edges of the glass. The tiny bird was trying so hard to free himself. I waved my husband out to take a look and he quickly went back into the garage for some pliers and pair of gloves.

He carefully snipped a piece of glass out of the way. I was able to support the tiny verdin’s legs and then his body enough to guide him out rather easily. He remained calm the entire time. The parents were watching from the roof next door. We checked him for cuts, the little guy looked good, he was just a little shaky. I showed him to his parents and put him on the ground where they could see their little fledgling. He immediately hopped closer to the base of the palm for cover, I replaced some bird seed on the ground nearby and then I went inside to watch the reunion unfold by the kitchen window…

It felt very good. It’s so hard to watch any living being in distress, especially when it’s tricky to communicate that you are there to help. I knew we were there to help the verdins, but was that their experience? I was more likely seen as an instinctual threat to their offspring more than anything else. Like our own mothers, Mother Nature is once again perfect and subtle in her unique teachings. So often we find ourselves in our own struggles. The tricky part is communicating to ourselves or to others when we need help. Sometimes we find ourselves watching someone we love in distress and we are torn between figuring out a way to show them support and encouragement—without hurting them further; or lovingly waiting for them to find a place within, where they are open to accepting our help. That can be tricky too.

I think the best we can do is to be kind to each other and stay watchful, to be aware of when others around us are in pain or struggling. We should try to help whenever we can in the smallest ways—it feels very good to do so! And we should try our best to be there for those who will need our love, support, and encouragement in the biggest ways. Many times we just need to be present. We need to keep in mind that whomever or whatever we are wanting to help may also be afraid or cautious or not in need of our help.

The opportunity presents itself daily. Today my husband and I helped a baby bird and filled the opening of the broken bottle with a rock so that nothing else can get stuck (I will remove it over the next couple of days, when the baby verdin is not around). My only regret is that our preschooler missed the whole event, as he was peacefully napping. It was have been a wonderful learning opportunity for him as well.

How will you manifest your kindest qualities toward others today? What will you choose to do today to pay-it-forward, or do good?

Image: Artist Nataska Wescoat

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recognized at Last – Healing Clays

Interesting post discussing the benefits and healing factors of good, natural clay. Read more about their initial findings and what qualifies, as well as the scientific study (at end of article)...Recognized at Last – Healing Clays

16 Tips for Wildlife Gardening with Kids

Found via Twitter, this is a great article with ideas for making gardening safe and fun for the WHOLE family (see previous post!). Wildlife gardening has many benefits like helping native wildlife survive habitat fragmentation, providing spontaneous and natural learning opportunities for your child, wildlife watching, and raising awareness for the value of our connection to nature.

"One of the best things you may ever cultivate in your yard is a gardener; share your love of nature with a child" read more here: 16 Tips for Wildlife Gardening with Kids - National Wildlife Federation - StumbleUpon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Secret Garden

The Family Garden
Spring is upon us and many gardeners are harvesting their spring gardens and beginning to prep the soil for summer garden delights. Establishing a family garden is a great way to get your children and even nearby grandparents, or aunts and uncles into the experience of a family garden. If extended family is too far away, consider planting their personal seasonal favorites and have your child keep in touch with family members through updates on their “crops.” At harvest time you can plan a fun dinner by inviting family over for a visit with a special meal that is made with everyone’s garden contributions. Or you can prepare food like salsa, preserves, nuts, baked and seasoned sunflower seeds, or muffins that use your family member’s favorite garden veggie or fruit as the main ingredient that can be sent to them to enjoy!

The Secret Garden
When I was a child I was encouraged to try a few different gardens, from veggies to flowers, all of which failed. It could’ve been that I was not consistent with watering and also that I was quite frequently distracted by other activities such as “planting” other items in my carefully raked garden patches; like Smurfs, cars, stick tepees, tiny plastic animals, and bark houses for my Sunshine family dolls. I also decorated the area with collected rocks and shells. I did this for hours and hours on end. If I would have thought to water my seeds as much as I played, I might have had a flourishing flower or spaghetti squash garden. At least the birds benefitted from the seeds.

The Secret Family Garden
My point to this post is to encourage you to try gardening with your child, possibly making it an extended family garden—if you haven’t already! It’s the perfect activity for even the youngest in your family. I would also encourage you to establish a secret garden for your little ones to "plant" their plastic dinosaurs, favorite rocks, collected shells, or to build fairy houses…anything they wish to carefully place just so, that will inspire them to be outside, in the garden, in the soil and water, and simply in nature to express theirs. This special garden can be in and around the sprouting family garden or in a designated area within or next to the garden. I like the idea of keeping them close or intertwined as cultivating healthy food and healthy imaginations are equally important.

Maybe you had your own secret garden when you were young? If so, please tell us about it! We’d love to hear what made it most special to you. A secret garden never fails to cultivate the seeds of creativity, and always allows imagination to blossom :)

Fairy house photo from www.spokaneoutdoors.com
more fairy houses

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Hummingbird Nest Cam

We can't stop watching this precious and beautiful little Channel Island Allen hummingbird nesting in Orange County! Click the following link to watch the nest with egg(s), read the stream to see what's happened--she's been defending her nest against a lizard!

Follow this link to the hummingbird webcam--come back to share your comments!
Hummingbird Nest Cam on USTREAM: Phoebe is a Channel Island Allen (S.s. sedentarius) hummingbird in Orange County, California. She has been laying 4 to 5 c...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Innovative Rubber Sidewalk Saves Trees and More

Have you heard of this new alternative to concrete? Easy on the knees yet strong enough for skaters, cyclists and cars. These 100% recyclable panels give tree roots room to grow, keep tires out of the landfill, save money by cutting down on labor (no constant repairs), and even reduce the sound of pedestrian traffic <--now that particularly sounds good to me :)
Check out this Green Blogger/InventorSpot post and let us know what you think: Innovative Rubber Sidewalk Saves Trees and More

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Protected Natural Area? Please Don’t Pick the Flowers :)

Yay, wildflower season is upon us here in the Coachella Valley desert! Temperatures have warmed, we received another smattering of rain and our wildflower season is starting to blossom in “hot spots” around the valley floor.

You know where to find me—in the canyons, on the dunes, in the hills, on the desert floor. I’ll be the wildflower geek showing my son how to lay on his stomach to discover all of those tiny, happy “belly flowers.”

One other place I might be…at your local library or historical society sharing my wildflower love with others. One particular demonstration everyone takes part in is the “petal pick.” We pass around a store-bought sunflower and ask each person to remove one petal. As it gets to the other side of the room, the flower is picked clean, often leaving about half the group without a petal to claim, and more importantly without any resemblance of a flower to enjoy. The whole flower represents a protected natural area, each petal represents a wildflower in that area. As you can imagine, it helps get the message across that with hundreds of visitors enjoying our wildflowers, if we each justify to ourselves, I’m just picking ONE flower, it can significantly alter the ecology by removing the resource and the beauty for future enjoyment.

If you see Caliso “wildflowering,” watch where you step (belly flowers) and come over to say, “Hello,” I would love to meet you! Yes, I will also be the mom teaching my son not to pick the wildflowers—a challenge indeed as he always grabs for flowers to give to mommy and daddy :)

We must preserve the natural world; for without nature, there would be no beauty to inspire us. ~Hap Hagood