Wednesday, November 16, 2016

one for the birds


when we moved into our new house one of the things i noticed right away was how many birds (and squirrels) there were in our backyard every morning. so after two weeks of an "autumn" theme in our home-forest-pre-school, we decided to do a bird exploration this week. so far we have not done much other than buy a bird feeder and make bird food. aaaaannnnndddd it turns out that none of the birds wanted the bird food we put out. but evie did! i was laughing so hard when i was stringing up the little bird food shapes that we made because she was reaching for them on her tip-toes as i was doing it, like it was a piƱata. i love this age and how evienne is not at all put off by what people around her think about what she's doing. if she wants something, she's going for it! so, i think i ended up feeding my children and the squirrels more with this bird food (j was entirely skeptical about my homemade approach and i guess he was right on this one). but! it was fun to make and a good morning's project, so to me: success!
it's not always easy to do this type of project with kids because they are invariably falling off the chairs at the counter or trying to climb ON the counter and knocking over the ingredients or trying to eat the ingredients. evienne did NOT understand or appreciate that we weren't making a treat for her to eat, haha. but i'm willing to put up with some mess and chaos to try to bring my kids more into the kitchen and awaken their curiosity and wonder. i remember as a kid being so fascinated with cooking, and was beyond thrilled on the day that i decided and succeeded in making a veggie soup all by myself. and i was going to do an art project of painting the bird house with the kids before nixing that idea, so compared to that potential mess, this was nothing! ;)
other things on our agenda this week are picking up all the bird books i've requested from our library and maybe visiting a nature center to see if we can spot any birds we're reading about. and we'll probably pull out our crayons and markers to try drawing some bird pictures. mama is not so good in the drawing department, so that should be worth a few laughs. ;)


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

my work (of art)


i have not been much of an outside person for most of my life. as a kid, absolutely—i lived outdoors all day long, all summer long. we didn't have a tv for most of my childhood (or rather, we did but it was approximately five inches and the only tv i remember watching on it was the 1988 election), but what we did have is imagination and open spaces. we had those in spades. and i cannot imagine a better childhood than one in which you have the freedom and ability to run around outside, all day long. that is the childhood i have been longing to give my own children. but after childhood, i went to high school, and i got a job at starbucks. then i went to college and majored in journalism, and nowhere in there did i spend a significant amount of time outside. and at some point, i lost my love for being outside, for exploring, for breathing in fresh air. it is the certainty, necessity, and tragedy of growing up that you lose the impetus to imagine and play pretend as you once did.

growing up involves all kinds of heartache, regret, struggle, delight and conflict. we all want to live our best lives. we all have these ideals, these halcyon-fueled dreams about what life we should be living. or at least, i do. in my mind, i'm writing every day. running every day. calm, collected. always prepared for dinner guests. composting for our garden. cooking from my bon appetit. i'm also possibly very successful in some sort of career other than mothering.

mothering, it turns out, is so very hard. no one moment is hard. waking up in the middle of the night to hold a crying baby isn't hard. taking your kids to the grocery store or park or playdate isn't hard. wiping up messes and bums and runny noses isn't hard. meticulously planning a nutritious, wholesome, child-friendly meal isn't hard. what's hard is the day after day after day (and night)-ness of it. when you go to a job 40 hours a week, there is always some relief in the evenings and on the weekends of getting to walk away from that part of your life and having a change of scene. even if you love it, or especially if you don't love it, the break is vital. and mothering has no such breaks. i would never say i need a break from mothering. but i have often felt that i need a change of scene. a break from the same old tasks done morning till night.

about every year or so, i go on this search for what i should really be doing with my life. what is my metier? is it architecture after all? or maybe interior design? i thought for awhile (before i realized the amount of school involved) i would like a degree in art/antique restoration. should i have done more with my french? should i have stuck with fashion design? is there something in business i'd be good at? will i ever actually write a novel? what could i possibly be doing other than this??? i am starting to realize it's just part of my dna, and it's fun to think of all the different ways my life could be going.
if i had it to do all over again, i often think i would choose a completely different area of expertise from what i've ended up with. but the truth is, i am doing what i've always wanted to do — building a family, a home. and mothering.

so instead of spending all my time lamenting what could be, i've been slowly (re)awakening to the idea that what i'm doing here is itself a priceless work.

it isn't that my kids are too needy or too active or too accident-prone. it isn't that i hate folding laundry and doing dishes and planning menus. it isn't that i would rather be sitting in meetings and going out to lunch and having clients and making money — although, sure, those all sound pretty great some days. it's just that i've lost sight of the fact that this is what i wanted all along. and that there is really nothing i would rather be doing with these years of my life, no matter how much i might think it on the 1,316th day of sticky fingers and twinkle, twinkle, little star and interrupted naptimes.

i love the idea of my kids growing up simply. fewer screens. more fresh air. fewer artificial ingredients. more real foods. fewer toys. more imagination. i really believe that fresh air, dirt, sunshine, open spaces and imagination are the life blood of childhood. i believe they are vital to all human beings, but even more potently so for children. i also believe in the dusty shelves full of books and muted, sacred sounds of libraries. i believe in words, in games, in exploration, in learning, and in the human connection. i believe these things constitute the art of childhood.

and it is to this work of art that i am (re)dedicating myself to.

so, i am embarking on a homeschool preschool type of thing, and i've been doing research into forest schooling. i'm not interested in strict schedules or curriculum or lots of activities. but i am interested in focused explorations. in partially guided discovery and learning. in education through nature and in the kitchen and through books and songs and art. we won't be doing any kind of alphabet emphasis, because if you know my first-born at all, you know he has been obsessed with the alphabet since he was 18 months and he really doesn't need any more support or encouragement in that area. plus, it's kinda boring. we will, though, be checking out and reading lots of library books (my favorite thing!). we will also be exploring all our local outdoor areas and learning all about the physical universe. i love the idea one of my friends shared with me that: "preschoolers mostly need to be active and to be loved. they will learn automatically and without much effort." i'm quoting her because i just love those words so much. they ring so true with our family experience and with what i am aiming for with this—love and freedom, wonder and adventure, encouragement and imagination. and all the outside time we can get.

so, wish us luck! and if you have any tips or local resources for forest schooling, send them our way!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

at the pumpkin patch


we got to the pumpkin patch at the very end of the season this year, going back to the pumpkin patch we found two years ago. it was evienne's first time doing any sort of activity like this, and if you don't know evienne, i just have to say this is this girl's element. apart from the fact that we asked her to give the goat the goat food which she wanted to eat and that i wouldn't let her climb into the pens with the animals or pull all the flowers off the bushes, she was in heaven. and i just kept thinking about how the last time we went, evienne was still in my tummy (we didn't even know she was a girl yet!) and wilder kept saying o-na-see-goat in the car because papa had woken him up that morning to tell him we were going to go see goats at a farm, and how he was yelling goat! when we saw the goats... i'm repeating myself again, but it's impossibly crazy to me how fast the time is going. it feels like just yesterday we were doing this with wilder (although in my memory somehow i've forgotten that he wasn't always as verbal as he is now). sometimes i can't believe that i have two kids running around, much less that evie will soon be talking as well as wilder is now. i especially can't believe that evienne is already the age wilder was when we had her. i mean how do you even cope with watching your babies grow so quickly?

also, i can't believe it's been four months since i posted anything! on the one hand, life has been so full (from visits to the er with evienne to potty training to losing the best dog in the world to selling our house and moving) to the point that i just didn't have the time and energy to even take pictures, let alone blog. and on the other hand, i needed the break to just be. i can't believe so much time has already passed, though. it's a little strange to me that i missed four months of photos of my babies and writing down our memories, but also, i think we are at a stage where we just can't be behind a camera or in front of a computer as much. and i'm okay with that. i'm just going to document and record our little lives as much as i can for as long as i can.

and i just want to say: thank you. thank you to you all who have inquired about me during this unintended yet conscious break from social media. the care and concern means so much more to me than you will know, and i appreciate every word sent my direction. thank you for being here. for caring. for laughing and weeping and praying with me. just, thank you.