It’s morning, Mama! (Some sleep deprived wanderings)

I just passed a night of attempting to sleep with a congested toddler whose idea of sleeping with me is to push herself as close as possible and then proceed to squirm in peaceful bliss for the remainder of the night. She slept well. I imagine Dan also slept better than I, down on the couch (Not that I begrudge him, he’s been doing his fair share of night time caregiving). I then awoke to two tousled heads peeking through the door asking if they could give me breakfast in bed. A little later I crunched on some daddy fried bacon and eggs with a hot cup of tea. Of course I shared many bites and sips with a toddler and almost four year old, however, Kathleen later shared her bacon with me, partially chewed, so it all evened out in the end.

It’s Dan’s day off so I didn’t have to hurry out of bed quite as quickly this morning. So I’m sitting typing with Cecily leaned against me coloring on one side and an unclothed, still potty training Kathleen “cuddling” on the other side. I add quotations simply because her idea of cuddling is much like her sleeping. She believes that cuddling is a constantly in action experience so she squirms in closer here, needs to find a comfy place for her head, perhaps she should sit on me, now the blanket on, now the blanket off. “MAMA!! I need go PEE!” After a few cycles of rinse and repeat, both girls have made their way downstairs where I will also soon be joining the fray of another day. Soon.

Last night amidst the head bashes to my nose and kicks to my gut, I had a detailed dream about parenting with a couple that we were acquainted with a few years ago. They wanted to know what kind of parenting philosophy I believed in. My dream explanation was a scattered at my real life explanation would be. I don’t think they were impressed.  I think I dreamt about this because I’ve been thinking about my parenting a great deal the past few days.

Before I had children, I was quite a patient person. In fact, I’m embarrassed to say that I somewhat impressed myself with my ability to interact with my students or other children with relaxed, even temper. And then I had a child. I realized that in my quest to raise a perfectly delightful daughter, I easily became frustrated, annoyed, and oh, yes, even mad. But, I had the tools to control myself as I responded to my daughter in appropriate ways.

Then life got hard. I found myself fighting against revealing the angst inside with my reactions and responses to my girls.

And then life became really hard. As I felt helpless and hurt by things unrelated to my kids, I began to feel rage boiling inside of myself. More and more it began to spill over in how I parented. I no longer found that I had the tools needed and I could see the effects beginning to show in my relationship with my daughters. But, I sought help. I wasn’t willing to allow more time to pass before I faced the issues that needed facing and allowed someone else to advise me in how to parent beyond my frustrated, impatient and even angry responses.

A year after taking that step, I’ve seen my relationship with my daughters flourish beyond what it had been before when I was only learning to control myself. As I learned to accept the grace given to me, I became a much more grace full mother. I’ve eased into a role of more patient responses, non-reactive discipline, and a more loving attitude that has done much to build trust within my girls. They really do trust me.

But then, there is nothing like a period to test all of that. We’re going on three weeks of sickness, our entire little family is. With flu, cold, and nasty cough for the three girls, mama and daddy alike, sleep has become a rare commodity. We’re just limping through the days so that we can have another nights sleep disturbed every hour or so by one of the three children vomiting, coughing, or asking for a bath at 2:00 am. During the day, lots of shows for little ones who rarely have screen time, copious amounts of nose wiping, and dutiful ingestions of cod liver oil, elderberry syrup, and hot lemon and honey. And in the midst of that, I’ve realized that I haven’t totally been rid of my old self. The annoyance is still there. The frustration at the whining or other petty behavior still exists. The anger at unkindness shown or mean actions still tends to reveal itself in words and looks that are also unlovely.

But I’m getting there. Not perfectly. Not quickly. But getting there. I don’t imagine that my daughters will ever be able to say that I never got mad or annoyed. They will probably never rave about my perfect patience. I hope though that they will say that as I encouraged them to make appropriate choices in their anger or frustration, so I also did the same for myself in my responses to them. I hope that they will say that my love for them was revealed in my actions and reactions.  And I hope that as they grow and change over these next years, so will I.

But for now, as a snotty nosed two year old rotates between “cuddles” and wrestling with her equally snotty nosed older sister, it’s time for me to stop thinking and writing so that I can get to it. She’s laying across my arms now anyways so I think that’s probably a signal to stop my sleep deprived wanderings. Where ever you may be in your own parenting journey, I wish you much love and grace this morning.

The Practice of Advent: 5 Ways to Embrace Hopeful Anticipation

Photo Credit: Dan Froese Photography

Several years ago as we were beginning our little family, how we would celebrate Christmas was part of many discussions. We wanted to establish traditions that celebrated the coming of the Messiah and the gift of his birth. At the same time, we longed for something deeper and more meaningful than the stress, overspending, and self-focus that so easily comes with the Christmas season.

Our desire to establish our celebration of Christmas as a response of worship led us to the practice of Advent.

At that point, my only familiarity with Advent was that of advent readings and candle lighting each Sunday morning during the month of December.

We chose to bring Advent home to incorporate the season of hopeful anticipation in the weeks prior to Christmas, or ‘Christ Come’.

Seven years ago, we had no idea just how meaningful and central to Christmas the weeks of Advent would become to us, not only as a marker of the birth of Christ but also a hope filled celebration of our, indeed creation’s, reconciliation to Christ on his return .

I have always loved Christmas with its bright traditions, gift giving, and time spent with family, but I’ve found that the practice of Advent is something I greatly anticipate as a time to focus and open my heart to the mystery and love of Immanuel, God with Us.

As we’ve tweaked and changed and enjoyed developing how we do Advent, I’ve realized that it’s very possible for it to be very simple while still being incredibly meaningful for both adult and child alike. I’ve realized that it is possible for the deeply spiritual practice of worship and contemplation to be a source of childish delight. While there is an aspect of the Advent season that includes that awareness that “whole creation has been groaning” as we wait for the glory that is to come, I think that is also a vital part for our children to see in a life of following Christ.

Intrigued but not sure how to start doing Advent with your family? Some simple suggestions:

To read the rest of this post go to www.redandhoney.com

Dull November

Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.

Susan Coolidge

 

Dull. As Aneliese’s rhyme of the month describes, that about sums up November for me. It’s quite honestly a difficult month for me.  It’s grey, grey, grey with only brief glimpses of sun a few times in the month. All of the garden work is basically done and I have a hard time shifting into the season of slow and cold. Then too, it’s a slowdown time from all the summer bustle and visitors and when I face that Christmas won’t be spent with our family but instead we’ll be mostly alone here. So I mostly just feel sluggish, grey, and well, lonely.

 

Not to worry though, I rarely express those thoughts and I’m done now. Besides it’s almost December when I get wrapped up in the wonder of the Advent, our little family traditions, and the warmth of the season. And just because I’ve felt a little dull doesn’t mean that November hasn’t been a decent month. I’ve been busy trying to get products ready for the Christmas market that is in two weeks and we’ve been getting ready for the cold days of winter.

 

The first real snow fall came on Sunday and the temperatures have officially dropped below freezing. That means we’re packing water from the house a couple of times a day for the animals and putting away the hoses. Did you know that a lactating cow drinks anywhere from 25 to 50 gallons of water a day?

 

Our chickens are nice and cozy in their new, smaller house. Dan built it so that it rests on the bars of the dog kennel that is our new chicken tractor. We still need to attach wheels, but come spring we’ll be rolling that baby around the field and have pastured chickens that can’t destroy my gardens. Hah. For now, they are happy and snug, the coop is cute, and we’re getting four eggs a day from my downsized to fifteen hens flock.

Sugar and Copper have pulled out their Highland coats and are getting all furred up. Copper is cute, Sugar is a wee bit hairy for milking. But with a good brush before milking, we’re making it work. We ended up not being able to get a barn built so have a three sided shelter that I also milk in. Makes me super thankful that we have a hardier milk cow.

You know what’s funny? Almost everyday, twice a day, I wish that I could get out of going out in the cold to take care of the animals and milking. I dread the cold. But I bundle up and honestly, the instant I set foot outside the door I’m so glad that I did. I love the animals. I love the outdoors. I really mean that. Needing to take care of them forces me out because there is no option; they are waiting to be cared for. And it’s what clears my brain fog and strengthens my body.

Even the other night when it was cold, snowy and incredibly windy, I felt revived. The chickens made their peaceful night sounds while I scrounged for eggs and closed their coop. Copper tousled his hay and chewed contentedly. Sugar rustled around for her grain as the milk spray struck a rhythmic beat in the bottom of the bucket. As I walk back through the blowing snow, seeing the light glowing from the kitchen window I feel that yes, I can do this.

A Day in the life of a Homesteading Mama

In the spring and summer months, our days are filled with gardening, chickens, riding, milking, building, visitors, photographing weddings, and the occasional day at the beach snuck in.

Right now though, while Dan is still going hard with family and grad photography, I’m more in maintenance and winterizing mode. I woke up thinking that I would work on getting products ready for the upcoming Christmas market while doing kindergarten with Aneliese. She would help me as part of her learning. As you will notice, that isn’t exactly what happened. Often when I look back on a day, I think, “what exactly did I do?” This day wasn’t an exception. And yet, it was such a good day, filled with beauty and challenges and community.

I hope you enjoy this peek into a day in our life.

To read the rest about a day in my life, come visit me over at  Red & Honey !

No Sew Cloth Menstrual Pads

I’ve been using cloth menstrual pads for six years now. A few years ago I was organizing a pad making party to make
cloth menstrual pads for a group of school girls in Uganda. It was something
that I shared on my blog and I am still getting emails from individuals and
groups who have read that blog post or been given my email and who are
organizing a pad making party of their own. I personally haven’t organized one
in quite a while but I love knowing that the group of women (and a couple of
awesome men) who were part of the first little sewing party have contributed to
other people serving and loving other girls and women in the same way. It
seriously gives my heart hope each time I hear from some one or think about it.

Well, as part of that effort, I shared my original pad
pattern
so that others could use it as a template. I’ve heard from a few who
use it that they find that it works really well and is super simple to make. I
think it is pretty great myself and have preferred that pads made from that
pattern to any of the others that I used. Until recently.

Even
though it is a simple pattern, it does require sewing which not every one does
or feels like doing or has a sewing machine. So I’m going to share with you my
super amazing no sew menstrual pad tutorial.
I feel like my grandmother would
probably be rolling her eyes in heaven if she knew that I was sharing this as
if it is so amazing. Ever wonder where the term “Rag” came from? Well from the
cloths and “rags” that women used for menstruation before the era of tampons and
disposable pads of course! I’m not going to get into another tirade of why I
don’t like those things, but you can go read about it in this post if you like. But, I’m getting off track from my new no sew method using my
favorite material, wool.

Now before you think “ ewww, wool!! Itchy!!”, hang on a
minute. While a lot of people believe that they are allergic to wool, they
actually are reacting to the chemicals used to process the wool
. I personally
couldn’t stand wool for years but now love it and I’m pretty sure that is
because I wash almost all of it which seems to get rid of the irritation for
me. So if you are willing to give wool a try, this tutorial is for you.
Otherwise, give cotton prefolds a try, they work as well just more costly.

 

Before I jump into the tutorial, let me tell you a few other
reasons why these are my new favorite pads.


These pads are a true reuse program on multiple
levels because not only are they reusable but they are made from old wool
sweaters.


One of my complaints with pads is that I find
them too warm, but because wool is body temperature regulating, I find them way
more comfortable that way.


An amazing think about wool is that it is
antibacterial.
When I started making cloth pads and especially the ones going
to Uganda, I wanted them all to have wool cores because of their antibacterial
properties. I’m blessed to have a clean water source and detergent for washing
my clothes so it isn’t such a worry health wise for me, but the antibacterial
properties also help with any odors that often are part of menstruation.


These pads are also easy to clean.


They stay in place without any irritating snaps.
I usually just wear snug fitting cotton or cotton/nylon underwear and
seriously, they stay put.


And most importantly, they are comfortable and
absorbent.
Most  heavy days I combine a Diva cup and wool pad but some days, just a pad feels more comfortable. I find them to be just as effective as the rest of my pads, including the ones with the waterproof backing.

 

 

Now,
on to the tutorial! I prettied up my method a little just to make it look more legit
for a tutorial. Really what I generally do is walk in to my sewing room grab an
old sweater, eyeball it for the size I want, take my scissors and cut what I
want, fold, and good to go. You can do that too but for those who like a little
more order, I’ll pretend that I always use a system.

You will need:

Old Wool Sweaters: 100% wool is best but at least 85%.
Minimal raised patterns such as cabling is preferable and a smaller knit is
best. Cashmere is particularly luxurious.

Scissors or Rotary cutter

Measuring tape or quilting square: Unless you want to
eyeball it.

To Do:

  1. Felt the wool sweaters by washing them in hot water with
    laundry detergent and then drying in the drying. Ignore anything the tag says
    because right now you want to felt them.
  2. Measure a pad or yourself if you want an exact length; it’s
    easiest to just cut one first, try it and go from there. I usually like to have a few longer, thicker ones for
    night/heavy days so those are about 9 by 9 inch squared. That folds into three
    so for a really thick, long one do 9 by 11 inch. For smaller, thinner ones, I do
    about 7 by 7 inch. It also depends on the thickness of the sweater you are
    using.
  3. Now cut the squares out using a rotary cutter or
    scissors.
  4. Fold and voila, there you go. I get about 8 pads per large
    felted sweater.

For cleaning care, I just store them in a stainless steel
can with a lid until washing. Do a quick cold water rinse and then a warm wash with
laundry soap. I just toss them in with a load of regular laundry the way I do with all of my pads. Either hang to dry or dry in the dryer. If you use the dryer,
they will continue to felt somewhat so use a lower heat to avoid that.

* If you are the sewing type and would like to try out my pattern, you can find it here .

 

31 Days of Nature Walks: Nature in an Urban Setting (Guest Post)

I know, it’s the 31st and I haven’t posted 31 Nature walks. I’m a little behind in a lot of things. Make that a LOT behind. I’m not sure if I’ll get to the rest of the posts on my list but for today, I’m delighted to share a guest post from my friend Beth  .

The
above photo was taken, believe it or not, in a somewhat urban setting.
It’s not in a downtown area, but it is a nature reserve within the
greater metropolitan area in which I live.

My city has been deemed
the fourth most populous city in North America, behind Mexico City, New
York, and L.A. I guess you could say I have a bit of experience with
city living. I live in the suburbs, but it’s not really much different
from the downtown city proper. It’s densely populated, it’s full of
commercial property, it’s polluted, and it’s busy and loud.

Living
in a setting like this presents challenges to getting connected to
nature, to be sure. Nonetheless there are lots of ways to get up close
and personal with nature in its many wonders and glory, even in an urban
setting.

So what would a nature walk in the city look like for us? It might include the following elements:

1. Meteorology

What’s
the weather doing? Living with a pilot (who is trained in meteorology)
can be pretty helpful at times. Like when we’re driving along the
highway and see some cool clouds, and he says “Kids! Look over there!
Check out the cumulonimbus! Do you see the virga underneath? Looks like
we’ll be passing through heavy rain in about 3 minutes.”

Sun,
rain, clouds, fog, frost, snow, rainbows, hail, thunder and lightning
are all fun and fascinating ways to observe nature, even in nature!

2. Seasonal photos in the same spot

I
came across this idea on a homeschool forum and I think it’s brilliant.
Pick a spot in your yard, and with each changing of season, take a
photo of the kids there. Pick a spot that will have obvious changes (not
hard to do, usually!), like in front of a tree that will be green, then
red/golden, then naked and snowy, then finally have buds for spring. It
will so fun to look back at the photos and observe the various changes
between the seasons.

3. Bugs

There
are bugs everywhere – city and country! Each place has their own native
types. You need only go out to your backyard to find a plethora.

4. Building Materials

This
may not be a traditional nature study idea, but it will definitely be
an interesting lesson for the curious child, leading to more study later
on. When you are out walking in the city, talk about the materials you
see around you that are used for man-made structures. Glass, metal,
wood, plaster… all of these things are made from things in nature!
Talk about it and help them see the connection. The discussions that
might follow are endless, really. Everything from rock-mining to
conservationism to the logging industry!

5. Birds

The
city is somewhat famous for many bird images, isn’t it? Pigeons are a
dime-a-dozen in the downtown areas, and suburban backyard bird feeders
can attract dozens (if not more) of varieties to observe, admire, and
study. Sketch them, look them up, and dive into learning about them!

6. Trees

It
seems that cities are somewhat intentional about inserting ‘green
spaces’, nestled among the concrete buildings and high-rise towers.
While they may not be out in the ‘wild’, city trees are still trees, and
are useful for all kinds of study and exploration. Teach your kids to
identify leaves, recognize different types of bark, and differentiate
the various varieties. They are also great to observe in the changing of
seasons.

7. Grass

You see a
lawn to be mowed, but there’s really a whole microcosm down there,
waiting to be discovered! Anyone remember “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”?
It’s a world unto itself. A magnifying glass and a leisurely afternoon
in the sunshine are recommended.

8. Gardening

Gardening
can be done in the city, no matter how small of a space you’ve got!
Even apartment dwellers can grow things in containers. It’s the perfect
opportunity to study life cycles, biology, and – of course – botany!
Make a point of also observing other gardens when you are out walking in
your neighbourhood. Compare and contrast them. Discuss the different
varieties of plants, and the methods required for care.

9. Growing things inside

Going
outside to observe nature up close and personal is always best, but if
you really can’t make it happen due to weather or other mitigating
factors, then don’t be afraid to bring nature to you! Stick a bean seed
in a clear cup with some water and observe what happens. Bring in a
snowball, place it in a bowl, and record your scientific observations.
Look up youtube videos or watch Planet Earth movies. Do what you need to
do to instil a love and appreciation for nature, no matter where you
are.

10. Parks, nature reserves, etc.

Most
cities are good about having parks available. This is because they
recognize the intrinsic need of people to be in nature. Take advantage
of these, and when you are tired of nature walks on concrete sidewalks,
surrounded by suburbia or skyscrapers, hop into your car for 5 minutes
and find a larger green space to enjoy.

Living in a city
does not have to equal a lack of opportunity to interact with nature.
You just have to know where to look!

Do you live in a city? How do you interact with
nature?

 

Beth blogs at Red & Honey,  a lifestyle blog for
the naturally-minded homemaker. She recently began a passionate love
affair with coffee and her life will never be the same. She has had
three babies in less than four years, is a professional laundry-avoider,
and loves to stay up way too late making weird stuff from scratch that
normal people tend to just buy in a store. Hence, the coffee.

 

31 Days of Nature Walks: Rainy Sunday

It’s a wet rainy Sunday where the cozy living room and warm fire is far more inviting than the great outdoors. Rainy days during a Nova Scotia autumn have a way of seeping right into my bones in such a way that I’ll admit that other than the time spent slogging through the muck, rain dripping down my back, to feed, milk, and care for the animals, I rarely venture outdoors. But today, my little family is calling and so with the break in the drizzle, we are headed out. We’ll pull on rain boots and coats, quickly get wet and muddy before heading back in to the warm fire and a Sunday supper of bread and baked beans. I’d rather stay by the warm fire it’s true but happy voices are promising me that sun is briefly shining through the clouds and so out I go.

How do you get outside during the rainy days?

31 Days of Nature Walks: Let’s Climb Trees

We
were out collecting acorns to make acorn coffee, which is a whole other story,
and the girls were running like little squirrels to fill their baskets. Before
too long, Aneliese dropped her basket at the base of the oak tree and began
scurrying up the branches.  Higher and
higher she goes, pulling herself up on this branch, testing her weight on that
branch.

When
she has reached a spot that she is comfortable with, she begins to search for
acorns that she drops down for Cecily to pick up. When the acorns prove too far
out of her reach, she begins to shake the branch above as well as the one she
is standing on. This effectively shakes loose the few acorns that are still
clinging tenaciously to the branch.

She
laughs and calls down to us as she enjoys her view. I laugh with her and feel a
story, a life application, stir within my soul.

I
encourage the girls to climb trees, I love it when they swing themselves up.
Rarely do I tell them no higher. Aneliese has already fallen a time or two. I
know that there is a risk to their tree climbing ways. But they are learning how to climb, how to catch
themselves, how to test the branch before they put their weight on it.

We
have a guideline in our house that if you could climb up that high, you can
climb down. That’s not set in stone though because everyone needs a little help
from time to time. And sure enough there are times when they climb much higher
than they are prepared to climb down. Always I respond to their fear by
acknowledging that it is real; it’s true that they could fall, true that the
branch might break. Sometimes, we support them from the bottom of the tree,
“Hold onto that branch. Now set your foot on the lower branch and grab branch
right next to you”.

We
don’t lift them down but we offer supporting hands to catch them if they should
fall. We reassure with our voices that we can see where they need to step or
grab. We remind them that they can do it.

It’s
just climbing a tree but it’s just preparing for life. It’s learning to be
brave and take the climb. It’s learning to ask for help. It’s learning to fall
and get back up. It’s learning to trust in the face of fear.

 

 

I
know from experience what a demanding, unfaithful companion Fear is. I know
what it means to be so tangled in its grip that it sucks every bit of joy out
of life. I know what it means to be held back from the life I’m meant to live
because I’m so afraid.

I
also know what it means to learn to trust, to be led by One who is True and who
is Good.
I know what it means to say “That is real, that it bad, that is horrid
and I am afraid, but that does not hold me, it does not define me.” I know what
it means to take one brave shaky step to freedom and that one brave shaky step, when
bathed in Light, is followed by one more and then one more and then one more.

I
like to think that when I stand at the bottom of the tree or offer a supporting
hand, I’m doing so much more than teaching my girls how to climb trees, though
that is a important skill, I’m teaching them how to live life.

31 Days of Nature Walks: Close to Home (Guest Post)

{Guest Post by Lola Brown}

This year, our summer was full.  Jammed to the absolute max.  We moved,
renovated our old house, settled in to our new farm house, built fences,
accumulated animals (rapidly), raised and slaughtered our food and then
quickly changed gears and prepared for our homeschooling year.

While
my days usually follow somewhat of rhythm and routine, this summer was a
bit of a free for all.  It was fun and exhausting.

It’s fall now and day by day, meal by meal, bed time by bed time, we are
gradually falling in to a bit of a rhythm that I was sure would never
come, and though it’s cooling down and we are lighting up our fire at
night, we still spend a good portion of our day outside in the beautiful
Nova Scotia air.

My kids still play like wild monkeys, swinging from trees and homemade zip lines and twirling around on the tire swing.

My cheeks still glow from midday sun most days.

Our life is a nature walk… thankfully a more orderly and less chaotic one than this summer.

I
thought I would share a video to go with my thoughts.  One that would
fall under the nature walk category.  I have so many from this summer
that would qualify and you can watch any of them on my vimeo page
(I recommend “hay”), but I want to leave you with one in particular
from a week or so ago that has the sort of nature walk feel to it that
I’ve been craving for months.  A more settled adventure.  Always
outdoors… but this time, close to home.

https://vimeo.com/76493831

 

31 Days of Nature Walks: On a Sunny Afternoon

 

We are getting to the end of the really warm days of fall and still haven’t even close to finished ticking off our list of to be done before winter. Monday is Dan’s Saturday where we putter around the yard and house working on the various jobs that need doing. Sometimes together, sometimes apart. This afternoon, I was working on dividing our Dahlia tubers that we picked up yesterday while Dan working on a new, smaller chicken coop for our chicken tractor(more to come on that).

I feel so thankful when I see my girls working with their Daddy. The truth is that he gets way less done than he could and projects take double or triple the time but I just know that he is adding so much to three little girls lives by letting them help, by slowing down for them, by inviting them to go with him to the hardware store or to tramp through the bush, by chatting with them while he works. We may not have everything as tidy as we’d like or every job done before winter but I wouldn’t trade the love and security that my girls gain through afternoons spent with their Daddy for anything.

31 Days of Nature Walks-Little Buds Bouquets

For well over a year now, Aneliese has been asking to have a table at the market selling flower bouquets. She loves to run out to her garden or around the pasture and yard gathering flowers for the center of the table and she really does it beautifully.

At this point, I’m not sure that she cares so much about making money by selling her bouquets as it is that she wants to share them with other people but she does like the idea of saving up for a puppy. Then too the market is one of their favorite places so I think she like the idea of being part of it.

After quite a lot of discussion, she and I (with some help from Daddy, Cecily, and Kathleen) are going to go into a little flower business together, selling fresh cut flowers. Little Buds Bouquets. We love flowers, we love being in the garden together and I like encouraging her endeavors so we are going to try it out.

Today we went and picked out many beautiful tulip and daffodil bulbs for our spring bouquets. We had also heard of a lady who was selling Dahlias for a great price so we went there as well. Even though her Dahlias are nearing the end of the season, we were still awed by how gorgeous they all were. We may have ended up with more than we had intended and tomorrow will be spent getting the tubers ready for storage.

Today we went and picked out many beautiful tulip and daffodil bulbs for
our spring bouquets. We are hoping to have flowers for spring, summer and fall so are working on collecting what we will need. We had also heard of a lady who was selling
Dahlias for a great price so we went there as well. Even though her
Dahlias are nearing the end of the season, we were still awed by how
gorgeous they all were. We may have ended up with more than we had
intended and tomorrow will be spent getting the tubers ready for
storage.

Next year, come and buy a fresh cut bouquet from us!

31 Days of Nature Walks: Kids, Apples, Ponies

We’ve done it before. All three girls riding at once I mean. Putting Aneliese and Kathleen in the saddle with Cecily in the doubler while I lead our pony, Max, means that we can leave the pasture and visit the trails. We don’t move particularly quickly but it’s a fun way to get out.

Today though, without exactly thinking it through, I suggested to the girls that we visit the farm for apples. See, I forgot that Max the pony lives for eating. He particularly loves juicy apples and is quite accustomed to the girls sharing their cores and partially eaten apples with him.

The ride there was uneventful. I grabbed a couple of pictures and we walked on the trail by the river.

Then we got our apples. We quickly discovered that three girls eating apples on Max’s back wasn’t possible. So they walked and ate apples.

Max is a sweet pony and we love him a lot. However, he has acquired a few bad habits in his lifetime. One, he is obsessed with eating. Two, being a pony he has been allowed to be a little pushy. Not such a big deal with adults, but a big problem with little people who are eating apples.

They look happy enough here, but minutes before this we were trying to navigate a mud puddle with pony, children, and apples. Trying to keep the apple out of the pony’s mouth, the pony from stepping on the baby, the baby from falling in the puddle while the eldest headed off in the wrong direction. Then I did what many a stressed out mother did, I barked an order and then snapped it again when they didn’t respond quickly enough.

Generally I’m fairly slow and low in how I talk to the girls so a raised voice or abrupt words usually causes them to freeze and assume that I’m mad. This day was no exception and so once we straightened ourselves out, there was sniffling and tears.

In times like that, it’s easy for me to just get more frustrated and annoyed with them and ultimately myself. But I’m getting better at stopping that cycle. Saying I was wrong. Saying I’m sorry. Laughing at myself. Lightening the mood. And making a note. Don’t take three apple loving children and one apple loving pony to buy apples because that ratio to one mama is bad news. The End.

31 Days of Nature Walks:Unknown Beauty (Guest Post)

{Guest Post by Dea Daniels}

Our new gift-of-a-Labrador arrived within
minutes of the phone call. Two unexpected events. One, the arrival of cheerand
energy and a new beginning. The other, the announcement of a heartbreaking
trauma; a loss forever etched in a mother’s heart.

This
wasn’t the way of Wednesdays
. This midweek day had
become a second Saturday. A mix of play and casual work and choice. But now, a
new companion within the family! Smile and cheer and focus. Yet now, my heart
breaking for my Sister, my mind’s eye envisioning her Night, my heart tearing
and bleeding with her body, with her beloved loss.

This post was supposed to be about bringing beauty in. We took a nature
walk last week. We collected acorns and rosehips and photos. There was a plan! But today, today has
not followed a plan of my own. Today has
been a mystery.

But
yet and now and always, we bring Beauty in…give Beauty back. Receive it.
Release it. Breathe.

It turns out, mysteries are entirely
suited for a walk {a breath, a prayer} within creation.

So we loaded up our gift of a puppy and I
loaded up my prayers and questions and we drove to the lake-park. The sunshine turned to shadows and we
felt the chill so deeply. We explored and ran and stretched. I slowed my steps
and watched them burst ahead; all cheer and boy; while I captured Light and
Shadow in lens and heart, and wept for my friend.

 

 

This is the draw, this is the gift. God
spoke His mysterious creation into being; us and it and all around. As we live
within it and suffer through it and lash against it and despise its limits, we
can yet retreat into it. This is the
Light. This is the Shadow.

So today, while my rosehips dry with
cinnamon oil and my Sister’s womb bleeds empty and my new pup rests near boys
without a clue, I breathe.

Breathe with me and with her: the light and
the Love, the air which some have not, the
Hope which is forever.

 

31 Days of Nature Walks-Keeping a Nature Journal

My
mom always included keeping a journal as part of our homeschooling and I still
have a couple of mine. Sometimes they are very straight forward, “Today we went
for a ride up Polar Springs. Mary Workman came to visit. We had stew for supper.”
Or Other times I pour out my seven year old angst, “Sarah and mom were being
mean to my horse Gypsy. They were making her go in the trailer when she didn’t
want to. I’m telling Dad when he gets home tonight.” Either way, it was
beginning of my love of writing.

In a
similar style, we decided to include a Nature journal in our home learning
. While this
is more specific to encouraging interaction with and awareness of our
surroundings, it’s also an opportunity to lead to deeper contemplation in the
future. Of course we are homeschooling so the nature is part of that but I think that it would be a great learning addition for children who are also going to school.

There
are so many ways to keep a nature journal based on the child’s learning style,
age, and stage.
It could be a folder with sleeves in which to tuck leaves,
seeds, bits of bark or pine cones, leaf rubbings, notes and sketches. A simple
notebook or paper stapled together in which an older child writes about what
they have observed. It could be a box or an elastic band that holds the pages
as they are added. Perhaps some children would enjoy using a camera to capture
images that later could be made into a photo book. Or for the painter it could
be a mixed media book in which to paint their observations. It can be a way of
recording the local wildlife, flora, and fauna; I remember spending hours
trekking through the woods around our home recording the location and details
of all the plants and flowers Really, a nature journal could be kept with any
combination of these ideas as well as the many other ways that I’m sure have
been used.

This
year as I was deciding how we would begin using Nature Journals, I decided to
start with something that is durable and simple, yet special. I found plain
black art books filled with heavy weight paper intended for watercolor.
At this
point, both girls are only drawing but the book is so sturdy that it will
withstand their handling and the pages discourage tearing.  Once personalized with names and a few
stickers the journals were ready for use.

 

Much
to Cecily’s dismay on the first day that they used their journals, each day is
allotted only two sides of a page. Knowing my daughters as I do, the first day
would have seen half of the book filled if we hadn’t set that guideline!

As
we walk or ride through the forest, by the water, or just around the yard, I
encourage the girls to engage all of their senses
. What do they hear? Can they
identify that chatter? What do they smell? Is that flower spicily or sweetly
scented? What do they see? What is that birds name? What does this edible berry
or that clover blossom taste like? What might happen if they ate a berry that
wasn’t edible? What does that moss feel like as they sit on it? What is the
temperature of the water?

Sometimes
we just sit still and listen and look.
At times we talk about how nature make
us feel. Other times, imaginations run wild and a small stream turns into an
ocean and a rock a grand ship.

Usually
once we arrive back home we do a little debrief about the things that we saw
and enjoyed the most. If possible, I try to have the girls draw in their
journals immediately so that what they saw and experienced is fresh in their
minds.
It’s been so fascinating for me to see the things that they often end up
drawing.  One day Aneliese sat and drew a
picture of the shingles on our roof because she had just really noticed how
they were laid. Another day she drew the pumpkins and pears that we had gone to
get from the farm near by and had me print out her little poem about them. “Sometimes
it’s more about drawing what your mind sees instead of what your eyes see.”
That was the response Aneliese offered when I questioned why she was drawing a
picture of she and her sisters on a lobster fishing boat after we had spent the
afternoon splashing in a little stream in the woods. And so while perhaps not a
scientific log, a nature journal can also be a tool for imaginative expression.

Do
you do a nature journal with your child(ren)? Have you ever kept one
personally? Please share any other ideas that you may have for doing a nature
journal!

 

31 Days of Nature Walks-Leaf Rubbing

A very important part of Aneliese’s day is doing art. Today we were short on time and so I decided to do a combination of art and nature walk.

A very important part of Aneliese’s day is doing art. Today we were
short on time and so I decided to do a combination of art and nature
walk. Armed with a basket and instructions to find about 10 beautiful leaves, Aneliese ran about collecting leaves and flowers in the yard and soon returned to the house with a good selection.

 

She laid out each piece with a bit of detail explaining why each one was chosen a we set to work with colored pencils and crayons. We tried doing leaf rubbings a couple of years ago but her fine motor skills were not developed to where she could do it which caused her to quickly lose interest. Even still, she found it a challenge to hold the leaf and paper still while coloring. She was amazed though at how the leaves showed on the paper.

Leaf rubbing is a simple yet fun way to offer a new perspective on nature. It’s a way to enjoy the variety of leaves and colors that can be found. It can be a social lesson in how the diversity of leaves is similar to how different we are as humans. We also took some time to notice how the veins of the leaves are a way of moving nutrients throughout the plant or tree so that they can live which we noticed is quite similar to how the veins work in our body. That may have been more fascinating to Aneliese then all of the leaf rubbing.

Even still I find that while she found it so neat and amazing, the art of leaf rubbing doesn’t seem to become Aneliese’s favorite activities. Perhaps because she still finds it a challenge to coordinate. But an easy activity that encourages the enjoyment of and pleasure in both art and nature!

Have you tried leaf rubbing?

31 Days of Nature Walks-Canoeing, just the two of us

For the first time in five and half years we had a night
away with just the two of us. Our girls joined the Brown clan and we headed
back to Milford House for one of the last days of their season. Given the fun
that we had together for our vacation this summer, the girls weren’t totally
convinced but were easily swayed by the idea of hours to play with their best
buds.

I’m not a get up at the crack of dawn sort of girl and I
also don’t enjoy being cold but this morning, I got up, added on more wool
layers, had a coffee by the fire with Dan while waiting for the light, and we
headed out in a canoe as soon as there was enough light to see.

Turns out that paddling is work and the morning not as cold
as I expected. It was beautiful. The fall colors in the foliage were mirrored
on the water, the quiet broken only by our paddles and occasional bird or
squirrel, and the company was perfect. It was lovely to have several hours for just the two of us to talk and dream while enjoying a bit of this splendid world together.

 

31 Days of Nature Walk-DIY Chestnut Letters

A few days ago I told you about our chestnut collecting adventures and that I suspected that we had actually found horse chestnuts. With a little leaf identifying, I conclude that they are horse chestnuts but must be a different variety than I am used to. They could be edible if prepared properly and have been called “famine food” so I’ll tuck that information away for any time that I should need it but won’t serve them to anyone for Thanksgiving!

I didn’t want to just throw them away since we spent the time gathering them and I thought I would just put them in a bowl so that we could enjoy their satiny smooth finish. Then one got placed on the floor by a small child to be stepped on by myself, I, in my pain, wanted to throw them all out. That is until I saw these letters pinned on Pinterest.
I instantly thought of our chestnuts and went to work. About fifteen minutes later, I had my word which was all I had enough for.

The site where I got the idea from is in German so I’m not sure if she gives instructions on what she did but from looking at it, I think she maybe used toothpicks. It would hold well but I don’t know how you’d get the tooth pick into the chestnut. Let me know if you try it.

I decided to pull out my rarely used glue and do a very quick gluing job. Too quick which is why after I set them up, I keep looking up to see letter pieces rolling on the floor. I think I’ve got them all securely glued now.

You don’t need anything other than chestnuts and hot glue gun.

I like the rustic, rougher look so I didn’t lay out the letters, just grabbed chestnuts and dabbed glue on one and attached it. Call it creative, call it lazy, it was quick.

The S was a little trickier to work with so I did end up laying that out before gluing.

 

Simple and quick (provided you glue it well to begin with.), I’m pleased with a new addition to decorating the mantle with bits of nature!

  What are some of the ways that you use nature in your decorating? Please share, especially if you have a blog post or photos!

31 Days of Nature Walk-Keeping our world clean

Since the girls were tiny, we’ve been teaching them the responsibilities
that we have in caring for our earth. Part of why we raise animals and
grow vegetables is so that they can see and practice ways that respect
and value what we have been given. Hopefully as they see what the land
gives to us and what we can give or take from it, they will always want
to live in a way that acknowledges their responsibility as stewards of
the world.

We also want them to choose to clean up after others and not just
themselves. Whether that is by picking up a piece of garbage rather than
walking by it or by buying well grown food from a local farmer, we try
to be good examples of how to do this. Often as we walk or are at the park, we pick up any bits of garbage that we see.
Sometimes, the girls will still say, “but it’s not ours.” to which I
respond that it’s still important that we pick it up and I notice that
the girls see and collect garbage more all the time (not to worry, we’ve
covered what kinds of garbage shouldn’t be picked up!).

One thing that our little
community group does twice a year is to do a roadside clean up of the
section that is our community. This year, although they are technically a
little young still, the three girls came out to clean up a section. In
the quiet part of the evening Kathleen was carried on my back while the
older two held our hands and collected.

While
not exactly a nature walk of exploring and enjoying the beauty of
creation, garbage clean up is an opportunity to preserve the beauty we
enjoy while contributing to the care of our community which makes this
an important nature walk to include!

 

 What are some ways that you care for or teach your children to care for the earth?

31 Days of Nature Walks-Gathering Chestnuts

This afternoon the girls unanimous wish was that we would take a picnic and go play on the hills at Fort Anne . On one of our many visits there this summer (it’s their favorite place to go play.), I had noticed a large chestnut tree and had made a mental note to return later in the fall to gather some chestnuts for eating.

I was hoping to gather some for Christmas time, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” but it seems that fresh chestnuts don’t actually store well for that long so then I thought that we could have them for Thanksgiving instead.

A bit like squirrels, we scampered around collecting nuts and breaking them open.

We played some games such as guessing how many nuts would be in each shell and decided that we wanted to try to growing some trees of our own. Kathleen was determined that she wanted to keep adding to the bag even after the other two had decided to run around on the hills with their daddy. After much collecting by her little hands, I convinced her that we had quite enough and could continue on.

It wasn’t until I started looking up on Google about how to store the chestnuts that I started to wonder if we had in fact gathered horse chestnuts which are generally considered inedible and potentially toxic. Although probably not desirable to eat in the way that sweet chestnuts are, apparently they are edible if prepared properly much like acorns or other similar nuts.

I’m still not sure though if these are horse chestnuts or not as the outside looks nothing like the green spiny shell that I’m used to on horse chestnuts but neither do they have the same fine, sharp spine of the sweet chestnut that I’m seeing in pictures. So it remains a mystery until I can ask someone who will be able to identify them better than I can from an internet search.

While it’s not quite so exciting as just roasting these up next weekend its a good lesson on the importance of accurately identifying plants/fruit when “wild crafting”.

Have you ever gathered nuts for eating? What do you think we have here? Are they horse chestnuts?

 

31 Days of Nature Walks- In Memory of Opa

Today will be my first
spontaneous post of the month; the previous ones hurriedly written and
readied for posting before Dan took his work computer (and our only
working computer) with him to Ontario. I’ll just tell you ahead of time
that it’s not totally nature walk related but a little. Dan’s
grandfather died and so he went to spend the past week with his family. Dan’s
family has truly become my family and I have especially treasured
having grandparents. It was hard not being able to go with Dan and yet I’m
so glad that we were in a place that he was able to go. Before Dan left
we went through some of the photos of our visits with his grandparents.
I smiled and sniffed my way through the photos of Opa’s beaming smile
as wee baby Cecily rested on him after his afternoon nap, as he and two
year old Aneliese grinned at each other while riding a mechanical horse
and elephant, and then again as Kathleen grinned at he and Oma cuddling her this past Christmas when we had one last visit.

When
we were married in BC, both sets of grandparents were able to come for
our wedding. Oma and Opa Froese spent the week prior to our wedding
visiting in the valley where I grew up and where we were married. It’s a
beautiful place and often we would notice that Opa had disappeared;
usually off exploring some new spot. I’m pretty sure that he explored
most of the places that I and my siblings spent hours playing as kids.
And he’d come back quietly grinning with the enjoyment that he had had
climbing up some trail or following the river a ways, even finding our
“secret” caves. He told me more than once in the years after that he really enjoyed that trip to BC. In a way, especially now, it’s like a little gift that I could give, sharing my little valley with him.

When
someone has lived a long, full life and in the end suffers with pain
and illness, I’d not wish to keep them from going to where there is
life, joy, and Jesus but I will miss Opa’s sincere “welcome” as we walk
through the door, I’ll miss hearing him chuckle as he walks with the
girls or watches them run up and down the hallway of their apartment
building. I’ll treasure the walk to see his old barn and bush, the walk
to the park because he wanted to see Aneliese laugh on swings, and I’ll
always be thankful for the nine years that I had a grandpa.

31 Days of Nature Walks-Keep it Simple

As a mama with three little
ones, I know that especially in the cooler months it can be hard to get
everyone dressed and out the door. We are blessed to be just yards away
from hours of exploring in our own backyard but I know for many it just
isn’t that easy. Perhaps you live in the city and have to walk or drive
a distance get past concrete and buildings. Then too, with the official
title of Nature Walk, suddenly it sounds more complicated. Add in the
desire to make it educational and suddenly a nature walk doesn’t happen
as much.

I do love the
days where the girls ask questions and when I can teach the girls about
something new because I actually know the answers. If we end heading to
the library or the internet to find some answers that’s even more
exciting. There are also days that we head out with a plan of something
we are searching for or something specific that I want the girls to
learn about and that is actually a very important part of how we want to
home school. Many days though, what matters most is just getting
outside and finding some spot that allows us to enjoy and learn from
creation. Maybe it’s just sitting on the steps to look at the clouds, or
a bug on the sidewalk, or a rock at the edge of the forest. Maybe you
don’t explain anything and maybe no questions are asked. And that’s okay because sometimes what is really needed is a space to breath, a moment to play, or a gaze of silent wonder. For a 22 month old, it’s all about standing on a mossy rock all by herself!

 

31 Days of Nature Walks-Seed Saving

There are just some days when the rain and the cold weather don’t cause
one to spend much time outdoors. Oh, it’s true that we can pull on our
rain boots and coats with a warm bath at the end of our walk and at time we do that. Some days we choose to enjoy nature indoors. Through out the summer we have been saving some of the best blossoms such as sunflowers, calendula, and cosmos so that we will have seeds for next years flowers.

It’s a great way to save some pennies and is such a hands on learning experience for the girls on the life of plants. On sunny days we collect the blossoms where the blooms are spent and the heads are drying out. It’s a bit of a timing game because they are best dried on the stalk but need to be picked before the wind or birds get to them.

Sunflowers are particularly fun because after the heads have been hung and dried they can be wildly banged and shaken to remove the seeds. It’s not exactly a tidy method but fun.

There is something so exciting for me about seeing all those flowers and seeds lined up in their varying stages of drying!

 

Do you save seeds?  Which ones?

 

31 days of Nature Walks-Marking the Boundaries

We’ve been working on getting our back woods fenced in for our cows. Highlands are especially good at foraging and we’ve noticed that they often seem to head for the rougher growth before tackling the green grass. We’re hoping that in time they will even create paths through the dense undergrowth of our neglected forest.

Our property  line is by no means straight and so we weave with by following the marks on the trees that indicate which is ours.

The girls were absolutely fascinated with how the tree had healed and grown around the mark that they discovered on this tree. This tree in particular was marked to identify the land just outside of our property line.

With the lines marked, fences strung, and the cows now enjoying their forest grazing, the girls have continued learning about respect, land care, and ownership through a simple walk through the forest.

31 Days of Nature Walks

I just realized that it has been one year of this blog, so Happy Birthday to my happy little space! October was also the month that I joined in the 31 days of blogging challenge which is what I’m writing about today as well. Last year my 31 days was on my blogs name, Becoming Kindred – Exploring & Celebrating Connections. It was a blessing and a challenge with some of the posts that I chose to share. So much so that at the end of the month, I said something to the extent that if I joined for 2013 it would be on something like 31 gluten free breakfast recipes or some such thing. I haven’t got 31 recipes so I had to come up with something different to share.

I belong outdoors, truly I do. It’s where I feel most alive and where I can breath and think clearly. I notice the same to be true for the girls; they are much more relaxed and happy when they spend hours playing outdoors. Part of how we are doing kindergarten at home is by basing it off of learning through/in nature and part of our daily rhythm to actively learn from and observe creation by going out on “nature walks”.

So friends, I’d like to invite you to join me for 31 days of Nature Walks. I’m a teeny bit more organized than last year, although no more certain how I will manage to post daily, and I’ve a bit of an outline for the month as well as some few guest posts lined up. I’ll have a few activities relating to nature, ways to bring nature indoors, lessons that I have learned from nature, and other days will be just pictures of some of the ways that we enjoy nature.  I am continually in awe of the beautiful place in which we live with
such diversity in nature to enjoy and this month I’d like to share some
of it with you. And perhaps you will be encouraged to enjoy nature
wherever you are as well.

Day One: Marking the Boundaries                                                                                         Day Two: Seed Saving
Day Three: Keep It Simple                                                                                                             Day Four: Silent Wonder
Day Five: In Memory                                                                                                                      Day Six: Gathering Chestnuts

Day 7: Keeping Our World Clean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I

Memories at Milford House

We’ve been waiting until Dan’s busy season eased a little to take advantage of some days at Milford House. About 30 minutes drive from us, it’s a perfect distance for us to take a few days. We’ve been the before while Dan was doing photography work and knew that it is a lovely place but this was our first time there totally as guests.

On our first day there, immediately after unloading we headed out on a much anticipated canoe trip to our friends cabin on a nearby lake. We were perhaps a little too adventurous as it ended up taking a few hours more than we had planned but with a picnic lunch and our friends meeting us halfway in their kayaks, the beautiful scenery was more than worth it. And since they kindly took Dan back for our van, we only had to paddle one way and made it back in time for supper!

The rest of our days were much more low key although with plenty of canoeing and exploring the woods tucked in between lots of resting and relaxing.

On the day that we were getting ready to leave for Milford House, I woke up with a horrid headache and so didn’t exactly supervise the clothing selections. Generally the girls tend to go barefoot but on cold mornings Cecily pulled out her mismatched wool socks and golden dancing shoes that she packed special for such times.

Without any distractions of work, internet, or phones, Dan even had time to read a Narnia book while I did needle work. I’m pretty sure that we need to make more of a habit of doing things like this at home.

Aneliese especially thoroughly enjoyed canoeing and learning how to paddle. One of the highlights was definitely canoeing to the main lodge for breakfast and supper (did I mention that I didn’t have to cook even one single meal? That was a rest in itself!).

We spent some cozy hours by our fire, cuddling Tutti (Cecily’s kitten who couldn’t be left behind), playing find the acorns, and the girls made good use of the old cast iron tub in the bathroom.

The girls fell asleep quickly and slept soundly each night and I was happy to go to bed at the same time. Unlike Dan who got up in the middle of the night to put wood in the fire and take the following picture, I enjoyed the stars before going to bed.

On our last morning, Aneliese got her wish for an early morning canoe around the lake. Kathleen found a rock next to our cabin to sit and wait for their return.

And then we all took one last canoe ride to go for breakfast. I honestly could not have asked for a better three days of vacation. I didn’t realize how tired I was until we were resting and I had no idea how much I would enjoy having all our meals made and even our cabin cleaned each day. Milford House is uniquely perfect that way, it’s very, very rustic which we love but still has hotel like service that was exactly what we needed. A few days of just the five of us (plus Tutti  & Molly) enjoying being together was amazing. It was a gift that has me feeling energized and more ready to “keep on keeping on”.

An Early Fall Mantel

‘Tis the season for pumpkins, apples and sunflowers so the girls and I kicked off our regular fall trips to the nearby apple orchard for some apples and pumpkins. On our way home, we wandered the laneway, eating a few last blackberries and gathering bits of fall wonder to bring indoors.

The mantel in our dining room is one of my favorite features of this old house. It’s the first thing that sees seasonal decorations and gives me a place to fill my need to pull the woods through our door.

 

Last year I planted some heritage sunflower seeds and left the heads out for the birds during the winter. This year there is an abundance of sunflowers that reseeded themselves!

For some reason this year there aren’t a lot of acorns growing on our trees but still enough to add a few here and there to the fall decor.

And then just one picture of our old dresser turned buffet after two of the drawers fell apart. Our family pictures fits fall decorating so well, don’t you think?

 

Starting Kindergarten

We’ve officially dove into homeschool kindergarten! Last
week as the first day of school came and the big yellow buses began to pass our
house, I had a mini parenting crisis. Could I really teach my girls? Was this
really the best thing for them? Is Aneliese missing out? How will it work to
have friends if she doesn’t go to school? What if all my theories, however well
backed, researched, and read, don’t play out well for my girls? What IF?????
I’ve chatted with a few people, had a couple late night talks with Dan, gone
back over my original reasons, and as always prayed for wisdom. And I’ve come
back to the same place; for us right now the best place for Aneliese is at
home.

And so we begin our home school journey. I’ve shared before that
we are in favor of delaying education in that we are waiting until about age
seven to formally teach reading or writing. We are continuing to follow on that
path and while it at times makes me nervous, I’m also really excited. While we aren’t going to be doing work sheets or
letter drills and have always had times for art, music, imaginative play and lots
of reading, I know that Aneliese (and I) will benefit from a more structured
rhythm of learning. Actually, our whole family benefits from it as we will all
be participating.

 

Because at this point, our focus is mainly on learning through play and daily life, I’m mostly trying to weave our “kindergarten” activities within our day. I’m thinking that a bit more tweaking is required as some parts of today felt rather stilted. My hope is that as we tweak and get comfortable, we will have more of a natural feeling flow from work to play where there isn’t such a distinct line between “school” and not.

After the morning responsibilities of getting ready for the day, tidying room and caring for pets, we plan to check the weather and Aneliese will then decide what goes on the weather board (my rather last minute but kinda cute felted wool weather board). Based on the weather, she will take part in deciding what our nature walk/activity will be. Again just something that we try to do regularly but something I want to be more intentional about.

My girls love many art forms but especially painting, drawing and music. Their day isn’t quite complete without doing at least two of the three. I’m honestly never super eager to pull out all the paint stuff but I’ve found before that if I schedule it in our day I’m so much more prepared for it so I’m trying to plan on painting a few times a week at least. Even just today, Aneliese was learning more about secondary colors as she asked how to get the colors she wanted by mixing the primary colors.

Part of integrating learning with nature will include their (Cecily has
one too) sketching journals where they can draw something that they saw.
Cecily is a little peeved that she isn’t allowed to fill as many pages as she pleases but I’m holding out on this one.

And that was the first day of kindergarten. Aneliese was thrilled. She is always eager to learn and at times I find it nearly impossible to keep up with her hunger to know more and to understand. Last night as I was preparing, I felt the same butterflies in my stomach that I felt as I prepared to teach my first class of junior high students. I really am so glad that I am able to be the teacher for my girl.

  I know that some of my readers have or do home school and I know others are considering it so I would LOVE to hear any advice, thoughts or questions you might have!

My girls in September

After a cold, rainy day, it warmed up in the evening and we all needed to get outside. We’re trying to slowly get all of our seven acres fenced in to give the cattle more grazing space so that was the evening plan for Dan and we all decided to join him whether to offer our help or hindrance. The light was gorgeous so I grabbed my camera with hopes of getting some shots for a future project that I’m working on. Those will keep but these ones of my darling growing girls made me smile. Sometimes we attempt an organized photo shoot since we do have a professional photographer in the house. Usually though, the pictures that most tell as story of them are the ones where they have unwashed faces, random clothing such as a nightgown and inside out sweater, and the zest of life shining out of their eyes as I snap a picture mid moment, no posing. It can’t be posed, photo shopped, and it doesn’t even need to be perfectly taken to capture who they are.

Post Edit : Please ignore the Dan Froese Photography and Design, that surprised me in the resize process but I’ve run out of time. These aren’t his photos, they are mine:).

Hello September

Oh September, how did you come so suddenly?

We finished off our full summer of visitors with Dan’s parents and Oma. We seem to have a gift of packing way too much into a few short days, but it was really wonderful to have them. Oma came bearing Irises from her garden and so the tradition of her Irises at each of our homes continues on. She gave morning cuddles and helped can peaches. Her visit is something we will always treasure.

Between canning, picking blueberries, hot dog roasts, and chats, Grandma Helen did some work on Aneliese’s quilt that I’ve been working on for…oh, just two years.

And then the Tickle Monster (aka Grandpa Tom) came determined to build a play house that was approved by building inspector Aneliese who pays fierce attention to details. He managed to work on it along with tickles, stories, and stacking cords of wood. He built a beautiful little house under the oak trees and the girls have fittingly dubbed it Acorn Cottage. They’ve also decided that it will on occasion be home to the Acorn Cottage Cafe.

Perhaps it’s because I have just a very few memories with my only grandmother that it means so much to me that my girls get to have these times and memories with their grandparents. Especially because we live so far from both of our families it is truly a gift that we were able to have both of our parents visit us this summer.

And now Fall is in the air. The peaches are canned, blueberries frozen, and tomatoes are ripening on the vines. I’m making my list of canning for this month; applesauce, tomatoes, squash. The woolens are starting to beckon from their summer storage. I’m ready to welcome Autumn. Every change of season leaves me feeling that I love it best but I think it’s really the newness and fresh feeling of each one that delights me.

New Studio & A Kitchen Party

The days of summer are moving quickly; sometimes I want to cling to them and enjoy each one while others see me waiting for Fall with the hopes of a slower pace. Between lots of amazing company, including two families at once who brought the number of little girls in our house up to to nine for a week, a malfunctioning computer (that happens to be charging at the moment), and an amazing business step, I’ve honestly had absolutely no time for posting.

So the big business news is that Annapolis Royal has a new photography studio! A bit of a scary step but mostly we’ve come to the place where we realize that in order to make our life work financially and even practically, we need to take some bold steps. When a beautiful space in a prime location came up, after a bit of dreaming, we decided to go for it. On August 1st, Dan Froese Photography & Design Studio opened it’s doors. The response has been amazing and we are really hopeful if a little exhausted. Much to learn and many kinks in the workings of a business to yet be smoothed out, but already it has been adding a needed structure to our lives as well as a needed business presence that couldn’t be attained working from home. I know, at this point only Dan’s name is on the sign but we’re working on it together as is the way that we roll. I’m having trouble adding a video but if you’d like to see the studio, you can view it by clicking on the link to Dan Froese Photography & Design. It really is beautiful.

And finally, when I feel like life is just too crazy for me to keep up, I’m really thankful for reminders of some of the gifts that we have in our life. We were able to have a kitchen party couple of weeks ago while family and friends were visiting. My friend Lola made a video of some of the night and honestly it makes me happy every time I watch it. It’s not a reflection of every part of our life but it is a glimpse of a part of it.

And with that my friends, I’ll wish you a good night.

 

Jam session from Lola on Vimeo.

7 Lessons I’m Learning About Gentle Parenting

I’m a gentle parent but I haven’t always been that way; I’m not always that way now but I always want to be.

I’m a gentle parent, but I’ll just be straight up and tell you that
not everyone would consider me that. When I began my parenting journey I
brought my own baggage and expectations that continually caused
friction with my parenting ideals.

We committed to parenting our daughters with gentleness and loving
respect because that is our understanding of how Jesus has told us to
live in community with others, including our children.

Yet, even though that conviction has been clear in my mind, I don’t always know how to apply that principal. It comes way too naturally to bark orders because I’m the parent. I have a tendency to get uptight and impatient.

I ask myself questions like, how can I parent gently with
consideration while still helping my girls be little people, and
eventually big people, that others actually are able to enjoy being
around?

– See more at: http://redandhoney.com/#sthash.N2ALJbT4.dpuf

 

The Art of Preparing for Guests- Dea Daniels

In the wee quiet hours of morning, I’m sitting sipping my
morning coffee. I, who never really drank coffee, now sip a morning coffee. I
attribute it to being able to pour thick, lovely cream from Sugar the cow in
it. Anyways, I digress. With the arrival of my parents this week , we’ve kicked
off a truly full summer that will see a steady come and go of guests until
sometime in September. Mix that with Dan’s current schedule of wedding
photography, a music tour, music gigs, an art show, as well as my gardening and
canning and we might need to hibernate for the winter in order to rest up for
next year. I’m excited though because I love having company. Part of why we own
this house is because it’s a duplex that we hope to one day turn into a working
guest house. I’d hoped to have it running this summer but despite considering
many options, it’s just not a financially viable plan at this point. And so the
guesthouse waits with it salmon colored entry, Micky Mouse wall paper, and
countless other “features”. At times when I think of everyone who will be
sharing our home and space this summer, I wish that I had more to offer beyond
the potential of beautiful resting spaces. Then I remember that many of them
are coming to see us, to share life with us for a brief while. They are coming
to enjoy the beauty of Nova Scotia and to experience a few days of life on a
little farm. In some cases I can’t offer much more than an air mattress on the
floor and hopefully enough pillows to go around. I may not always offer gourmet
meals but I can send children out to pull peas and lettuce from the garden. I
can offer homemade bug spray for a traipse in the forest. We can offer
ourselves as we are to share in love and community.

As I was thinking about the summer and how I wanted to make
the most of our time with everyone who is visiting, I thought of my friend Dea.
I have spent time with her as she has prepared for guests and I have also had
the pleasure of being a guest in her home. I’ve always been inspired by her
ability to prepare for and welcome guests. I’ve asked her if she would share a
few of her suggestions here on this space.

When Marissa mentioned the topic of this
post I was both thrilled and chagrined. Thrilled, because it really is a topic
dear to me. Chagrined, because it remains an exercise in growth and discipline.
Overall? The ‘thrilled’ won out and I agreed to share my experience and
perspective.

I love opening my home to others. Love it! I am the kind of person who would rather fill my house
with guests and meals and motion than trip about to fill the homes of others. I
love the energy and the treats and most of all…the planning.

Given my desire and interest to open my
doors and share the table, I have picked up a few practical tips to apply when
preparing for guests within your home. My hope is that they will be a help and
encouragement to you. If not, hopefully they will give you some perspective for
those blessed days when you have the opportunity to be a guest in the homes of
others.

1.     Deal with your mess first.

For me, my mess is…a mess. Laundry, dishes, floors,
counters, etc. Housekeeping remains an area of weakness and a focus I desire to
strengthen. Lest you be tempted to comment about perfectionism or “at least
you’re…” please don’t! Without excuse or justification, I really do find that I
need to DEAL WITH MY MESS FIRST before I can adequately prepare my heart for
the bodies and souls of others.

That said, your mess might not be “a mess”. Perhaps your mess is finding a place of
calm hospitality of spirit
. If so, you need to deal with your messy spirit
before your guests arrive. Or, perhaps your mess is food prep. Get on it! Do it
first, before the ‘fun’ stuff!

Whatever your
‘mess’ is, it needs to be tended to early in the planning.
This allows you to really enjoy the parts in which you find peace
and pleasure, while also inviting you to move on in preparing your home and
heart in other practical and unseen ways. If you neglect the mess, you will
likely find it pressuring you in those last hours before your guests arrive. Skip the frantic fuss and get the mess out
of the way well in advance.

 

2.     If it can be done before
the guests arrive…do it! {especially meals!}

If I’m given enough notice, I sit down and plan meals
well in advance. Through much trial and error, I have found that there are a
few meals that are both worthy of company while providing ease of preparation.
Surprisingly, they’re not all ‘easy’ meals, but most of them allow for
preparation to be done well in advance. When
possible, do any chopping, crushing, soaking, etc., BEFORE guest walk through
the door.
It is possible to prep several day’s worth of fresh, quality
meals {ie. Not take-out or solely out of the freezer!}without spending hours of
precious friend/family time hunched over the cutting board. Meat can be
portioned and marinated in glass containers. Many veggies can be sliced and
diced, then labeled in ziplocs. Brunch casseroles can be in the fridge. Soup in
the freezer. It really IS possible to
put on nourishing and satisfying meals while savoring good conversation and
dealing with a minimal of cleanup

Likewise, towels can be set out, snacks portioned, the
car fueled up. If it’s going to be used during the visit…get it ready.
{I know I’m beating this horse, but seriously, this is THE key for me when it
comes to really enjoying my guests. I remember one time when I had a houseful
and knew I wanted to just soak up every moment yet cater to their ‘foodiness’.
I spent a solid day chopping and bagging and prepping, and it was tough, but
once they arrived it was a breeze!
The meals were fantastic and there was a sense of flow and rhythm which just
supported the whole visit. Sure, it’s not always possible to get every meal
prepped ahead. But if you can get a few steps on it, do it! Slice the yams into
fries. Dice the onions. Shop the greens. Ziploc bags and a fridge drawer were
created for such a time as this!}

 

3.     Next, If it promotes
community or conversation…share it!

Given the above, you’d think I’m saying that everything should be done ahead of time.
Well…no. There are certain activities and interactions which lend themselves to
conversation and community. Maybe it’s the daily farm chores: mucking, milking,
feeding. Invite your guests to participate, embrace the fumbles, and breathe
through the laughs to the place of story. Perhaps it’s the daily reading time
with the toddlers or homsechool session: invite, share, feel the flow.

Every home and
family holds a unique rhythm
. Sometimes we lose our
rhythm and fumble into the frantic…especially during the ‘upsets’ of guests.
There is value in preserving the rhythm of the home and embracing the unique
vibes that our guests bring to the greater picture. You might need to move
slower or adjust some details, but where
there is Welcome there is Home, and where there is Home…everyone dwells in
peace.

 

4.     If it has nothing to do
with them and isn’t urgent or necessary to the rhythm of your home…leave it!

Moving on from ‘inviting to the rhythm’, be honest with
yourself. Must you attend that
particular event while you have guests under your roof? Should you tend to that project while he or she is sitting in your
kitchen?

There are activities and commitments which support the
rhythm of the home. There are others which add color and flavor in season, but
which detract from visitors. Choose wisely. Reflect value to your guests. Move slowly, with depth; rather then
quickly, through the shallows.

 

5.     Enjoy what you enjoy…and
don’t apologize

At the end of the day, at the end of the visit, you are
who you are. Not every guest and gang is going to appreciate your lifestyle.
Not every head resting upon your pillows will understand your philosophy of
parenting or food or church or what-not. Not everyone will love that meal. Not
everyone will see how cute she is. Not everyone will understand just how tired
you are the last hour before they leave.

And that’s alright. It’s fine. It’s even Good.

Live well and
within your beliefs, no matter who is beneath your roof
. Live the same way when you’re alone. Believe the same things when
you visit them…and then be open to seeing their story as well. Just breathe and
realize these homes are just houses, for now.

 

Home is where we all shall
be, when we are all guests and Heirs, forever.

 

 

Garden; July 4, 2013

Between rain, chickens, weeds, and sun burn, the garden has been a bit
frustrating this year. I’ve lost track of how many things I’ve had to
replant since my first update but it’s more than I like to think about. That said, with the sun from the past couple of days, a lot of stuff is really taking off so hopefully in a couple of weeks everything will be well on its way. And we’ve already been enjoying greens, pea vines and garlic scapes as well as a few herbs so we really aren’t doing too, too badly.

Yesterday after everything had dried up a bit we spent several hours weeding, replanting, and of course building little dirt houses.

I lost most of my tomato plants that I had started so got a few plants from the markt and this attempt is doing better. I’ve never had much success with peppers for some reason so it is pretty exciting to see that a couple of little peppers have started. We really enjoy peppers and since they are one of the most heavily sprayed vegetables, I love be able to eat our own every summer and have some roasted for winter.

I’ve got the watermelon under glass because this is the second planting after the first planting was totally chewed by something to the last leaf. I’m hoping this will get them established.

The Miss Rumphius garden is really starting to grow and I can hardly wait to see the flowers. The pole bean teepee has lots of beans starting and should begin putting out climbing vines soon. So fun!

I’ve been so peeved with my chickens because they have destroyed the three sisters garden (corn, beans, squash) far too much. Argh. The cages are my sad makeshift attempts at keeping them out. It really does work but I just don’t have enough odds and ends to do each hill. Chickens, enjoy it while you can cause next year the entire garden is going to be fenced! Take that.

And that’s the garden thus far. What’s happening in your garden? I hope you aren’t fighting a losing battle with chickens the way that I am!

Sometimes Love- Celebrating Eight Years

Sometimes love looks
like two people gazing into each others eyes; just the two of them in the world

Or sometimes love
looks like a coffee date for two joined by hot chocolate for three minis

Sometimes love is
like six white roses and a pair of white flip flops

While another time
love is a clean bathroom and tidy bedroom

Sometimes love looks
like making up after a fight

Yet sometimes love
chooses not to fight because it doesn’t matter who is right

Sometimes love is a
fancy dinner and all the right words

More often love gets
up in the night with the fussy baby

Sometimes love flows
in laughter and whispered sweet nothings

Then love also flows
in tears, renewed trust, and respect

Sometimes love shouts
itself to the world

And other times, love
writes sentences for one set of eyes only.

Sometimes  love is the most glorious of feelings

But then love remains
when feelings tell a lie

Sometimes love seems
so easy

Although the love that seems the
hardest is the one that is worth everything.

 

8 Ways to Encourage Adventurous Eating

 

Our kids like food and they
like to eat. I wouldn’t say they are big eaters exactly but they
certainly enjoy their meals. They each have things that they really like
and things that they would prefer not to eat. I’m not going to say that
there are never complaints about meals. In fact, I actually got
thinking about this post because the girls had gotten a little
complain-y about food; to the point where it was becoming an unhealthy
habit that I’d sort of let slide for a time. But, for the most part,
everyone eats and enjoys most foods and we eat quite a variety. The
girls have been known to gobble the entire pot of green beans or say
between each bite of tomato soup how yummy it is. The truth is, we don’t
take lightly the ability that we currently have to provide our family
with nourishing meals. That is a gift that many, many families around
the world don’t have and we are pretty determined to use it with
thankfulness, hopefully encouraging our daughters to do the same.  They
aren’t going to learn to eat well with a thankful attitude by us harping
on them about how many other children would be glad to have that food
but we do try to help them understand that not everyone has food the way
that we do whether that is by adding purchases for the local food bank
to our shopping cart, making food for someone in need, or sending money
for those who are hungry in other countries. There are times that we
financially also need to eat very simply and we try to approach that
with gratitude as well.
**Disclaimer**
I know this list maybe seems a little simplistic and doesn’t
include a lot of the fun, creative ways to get kids to eat healthy foods
(check Pinterest for ideas, there are some great ones.).
I do at times serve fun meals where I cut cheese into shapes or serve
lunch in muffin tins. I’m not against tucking zucchini or carrots in the
spaghetti sauce. I just want eating well to be something that my kids
understand rather than do by accident and being really up front with the
girls, even with things like food, seems to be the most effective. I
also know that there are many cases where children have a variety of
reasons and needs that make meals a challenge. Believe me, I haven’t
forgotten the days of a screaming, flailing, hungry 2.5 year old at
every. Single. Meal. That was before we knew she had Celiac Disease and
little did we know then that it was because the food she was eating was
slowly destroying her.  I did know that often I just was happy to have a
meal where she was putting the food in her mouth without sobbing
because she was hungry but didn’t want to eat. So I really do get it. If
you are working with a child with specific needs, you might just want
to ignore this post.

With
that little disclaimer, we encourage the girls to eat well and these
are some of the things that have been practical for our family.
1.  Give kids ownership.
I
find that the more the girls participate in food preparation, the more
they enjoy food. It also seems that awareness of the process that is
required for a meal actually encourages a deeper thankfulness for it,
even in little ones.
–  let them help plan meals.

–  take them grocery shopping and have them find things that you need.
If they see something that they would like to try, consider getting it.

–  Have them help with cooking. Even Kathleen helps put ingredients in
the bowl while Aneliese is now able to handle a knife (with supervision
and instruction).
– Enlist help in serving the meal by having your child place a serving of part of the meal on each plate.
–  Plant a garden, even if it is some herbs or greens on a pot, that they can help tend and harvest.
2. Teach biology and nutrition.

– It’s easy to say, “Eat this, it’s good for you”, but I’ve realized that it’s
more beneficial to be specific. The girls enjoy knowing what food
does what for their body and how it helps them grow or be healthy.
Cecily was tired of eggs until she heard that there were vitamins and
minerals that would help heal her leg; then she gobbled.

Rather than calling certain foods “junk” or “bad”, I try to explain the
ways that it affects their bodies and why we therefore only eat it in
small amounts or not at all.
3. Green Eggs and Ham

– If you haven’t read that Dr. Seuss book, you need to.  Sometimes the
girls hesitate to try something that looks, smell, or has a different
texture than they are used to but now we only need to say, “Green Eggs
and Ham” or “Try it, try it and you may,” because they have read and
loved the book since they were tiny. Just try it and you might like it.
Or try it a few times and you might learn to like it. We encourage a
good, decent sized bite but if it’s something new or very different and
they really didn’t enjoy it, they can leave the rest of it.
 4. Honesty & Courtesy

– I don’t mind if the girls say that they’d rather not eat something
but I do want them to tell me in a polite and kind way. We discourage
words such as “yuck” although that is just Kathleen has now started
saying about food since I taught her “yuck” for putting her hands in the
toilet. Really, if I’ve made a meal and they say things like that, it
hurts my feelings and I say so.

– There are also things that aren’t my favorite and I sometimes will
say so even though I am preparing it to eat. It seems to help the kids
realize that they can just eat something because it nourishes them and
that they don’t need to love every bite.
5. This is what we’re eating.

– Yes, I am that mom. They are kids and there are times when they’d
just rather eat ice cream instead of the nourishing stew. Or maybe they
had the stew for supper and don’t want it for the next days lunch. In
those cases, they are free to wait until the next meal to eat. We don’t want to have food wars where we are trying to force them to eat.
– The
next meal being breakfast, lunch or supper; whichever happens to come
next. Snacks or dessert only happen if a meal has been eaten; this isn’t
punishment or bribery, it’s simply that even if I offer healthy snacks
or dessert, they still aren’t getting the nutrition of the well rounded
meal that I will be preparing. There are times when they opt to wait and
honestly, the next meal usually is the most delicious they’ve had in a
while because they are truly hungry for it.
   6. Cut down on sugar.

– It seems that children (and adults) who eat less sugar tend to have a
more adventurous palate. I’ve read a bit about this but not enough to
give a scientific explanation other than that it seems that often when
sugar is cut out or reduced within a diet, other foods become more
appealing even to children.
7. Practice what you preach.

– Both Dan and I enjoy a variety of food. Since neither of us are picky
and will eat most things, I think that probably goes a long way to the
ease in which the girls will eat with variety. If one of the parents is
picky…well, I don’t know.
8. Make food an experience.

– Make trying new foods a fun part of what you do as a family. We all
need to eat so it might as well be something we learn to enjoy together.
Try new recipes, share meals with friend who cook different foods, eat
at ethnic restaurants if you can or make it at home.

What works for you in getting your kids to eat well? What doesn’t work well for your family?

Joining Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways

Farm Journal Edition: A Broody Hen

  I actually have a note book that has a section to journal my garden and a section to journal farming. I thought that it seemed like a fun idea to share bits of that here every now and again. Baby animals are a particularly delightful part to share. Much more romantic than the notes about a sick cow and flooded garden, though that is an important part of the journal too. Sugar is healthy again but I can’t say the same for my garden, it’s a little sad and drowned looking with all the rain. 

May 21, 2013

I set a broody hen to next today. After several days of her
gathering up the eggs that the other hens lay to sit on and I removing them
much to her distress, I decided to give it a try. She is a just a red “Co-op”
bird which is basically supposed to have nesting instinct bred out of them in
order to get more egg production. Way to go against the norm, Henny.

She is nesting on eight eggs right now and is separated from
the other hens. We kept our original little hen house for the use of nesting
hens. Last time one of the hens (that was a heritage breed) set, we didn’t remove her from all the other hens and
they ended up forcing her off the nest and breaking a bunch of her eggs.  So now, we’ll keep this one completely separate with
her own food and water and tiny little yard so that she can leave the eggs to
eat, drink, and poop without her eggs being disturbed.

If all goes well, in about 21-23 days, she will hatch out
some chicks. Otherwise, she’ll get nesting out of her system and go back to
laying an egg every day. It’d be great if she did hatch out some because we
want to add to our flock and would like have hens that have come from our
Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster.  Since
she isn’t sitting on only her eggs, I made sure that she has a mix of eggs,
including some from the Russian Orloff mix that I was given by a friend.

June 4, 2013

Everything seems to be going well. Henny is very determined and doesn’t like to leave her nest for any reason. I had to force her off a time or two because she actually pooped as she sat and that just doesn’t seem right.

 

June 10, 2013

I
hear chirping!! Henny wants to be left completely alone and ruffles up
to almost double her size if we open the door. Right on schedule.

June 11, 2013

Upon
opening the door this wet, dreary morning, I was greeted by the
sweetest sight. The hen was nesting as usual and out from under her
popped a fluffy yellow head that peered up at me. Then joining that one
was one, two, three, four more! Aneliese says these are special chicks
that are particularly cute. I have to agree that they are adorable. From
the eight eggs, she hatched out five chicks, two being from the Russian
Orloff mix which is great. It’s been so wet that we are keeping them
closed in their little house for now but on the first sunny day, I can’t
wait to get photos of them as they follow their mama. Well done, Mama Hen!!

 

Linking up at Frugally Sustainable

To the designers of children’s bathing suits

Dear Children’s Clothing Companies,

Today I went looking for a bathing suit for my five-year-old daughter. The warm weather is here and we realized that last years was too small. I loved the bright colors and patterns that were available, just beautiful. My delight was short lived as I pulled bathing suit after bathing suit off the racks though. I’ve heard it said that clothing companies design according to the consumer wishes so even though I’m just one mom, I thought I’d add my voice.
See, my daughter is only five and she hasn’t developed breasts yet so she doesn’t need a plunging neckline or anything to support what isn’t there. Strapless and off the shoulder really don’t work well for the five year old. She also won’t require ruching on the sides to accentuate her curves, because, well, she’s pretty lean and lanky right now. And the high cut of the legs? Frankly, the only thing that does is give, ya know, a “wedgie”. I’m not even going to get started on the impractical little bikini tops to be matched with a selection from an array of shorts. The shorts were super cute by the way.
So that’s what my five year old doesn’t need in a bathing suit this year, but I thought it might be helpful to also know what she does need.
She needs something that is high enough cut and fitted on the chest that the straps aren’t constantly falling down. That’s super annoying during swimming lessons; she’ll be trying to get her salamander level this summer and she’ll pass if she can swim two metres. I’m always so proud when I see how much fun she is having. The bottom is best low enough to prevent the aforementioned issue, you know, the wedgies.  One pieces stay in place for active five year olds so they tend to work best. Bows and ruffles are really great as long as they aren’t over the top, we want cute but practical. I think that’s it.
My daughter loves the beach and has many plans of building sand castles, being buried in the sand, practicing her swimming, and collecting shells and sea glass. She’s also eagerly awaiting going on a water slide; that girl loves a rush. Really, she’s just a little girl who wants to wear a nice bathing suit that was designed specifically for a little girl’s body. She just wants to be comfortable. She doesn’t need a suit that looks like a miniature of a grown woman’s suit with a childish print. She isn’t trying to make it look like she has curves where she doesn’t because she doesn’t even know yet that our culture puts such value on those things. I’d like to keep it that way for a long time.  She has many, many years to be a woman and only a short few to be a carefree little girl. Please don’t rush those short years by making clothing that sends the message that she needs to grow up quickly. I’m doing my very best as her mama to teach her now that there is so much more to her beauty and value than what she looks like so that when she becomes an adolescent, teenager, and then an adult she won’t succumb to the immense pressure to be “sexy”. I want her to play freely in the sand with joyous abandon this summer and I’d love to see her clothed in a way that allows her to do that.

Thanks so much for your time and for listening to my concerns,

Just one mama of a five year old.

 

The unromantic side of farm life. (A post without pictures)

I had many plans of posting this week, really I did. We took a beautiful trip to PEI to celebrate the marriage of our friend Erin. An absolutely beautiful wedding, Dan did the photography so if you want to see some photos, go here, they are pretty gorgeous.

Once we got home, it was full swing back into what is a very busy life according to Aneliese in a phone conversation with my mom. I’ve spent many minutes this week, getting the garden in and doing yard work, just trying to keep the weeds somewhat at bay. I got impatient and didn’t harden off all my tomatoes and peppers long enough so they got sunburn and I’ll likely have to replace them all  And currently, I’d like to turn all of my chickens into stew. We’ve got them successfully shut out of the main garden for now but they dug up the Miss Rumphius garden. I planted my squash in the patch that I’m doing a three sisters garden and wasn’t worried because last year, they didn’t go anywhere near the squash plants. This year, they dug up every single one and destroyed them. Plus pulled the pansies out of my herb garden. My dream for next year is to have a chicken fence up to keep them off my porch, lawn and all the gardens. One thing at a time.

To make matters worse, most of them are laying their eggs who knows where so I’m having to tell customers that I don’t have eggs for them. Stew, I tell you.

Then my poor Sugar dropped in her milk supply and I just thought it was because she was out of routine until yesterday when we realized that she was definitely unwell. We’ve been getting advice from several people and have vet ready to come if she doesn’t continue to pick up which she seems to be doing. Thankfully, she was her chipper self tonight and drank lots of water so I’m starting to relax a little and praying that tomorrow, she’ll be back to normal. In the meantime, I’ve now got a thermometer specifically designated for cow use only and have assured Dan that I would never take his temperature with the same thermometer (yes, he did suggest that I would!).

And it started pouring last night so every thing is absolutely soupy, everywhere. Max the pony refuses to stand under the shelter so he is out in the rain constantly. Our creek is bursting at the seams and the pasture is a puddle as is my garden. Veggie soup.

No, I haven’t lost my quirky sense of humor although I will admit to being snappy to Dan this morning and then impatient with the girls tonight because they weren’t getting themselves ready for bed smoothly while I tried to make vet calls etc.

That my friends, is the honest, unromantic side of farming. Sick animals, flooded gardens, and egg hiding, plant destroying, porch pooping chickens. On the next sunny day, I’ll try to take some pictures and restore the romance. It really is there, its just a little soggy right now.

 

Planting a Miss Rumphius Garden

When Alice Rumphius was a little girl, she vowed that
when she grew up she would travel the world and live in a house by the
sea. “ There is a third thing you must do,” her grandfather told her. “
You must do something to make the world more beautiful.” Miss Rumphius
fulfilled her dreams. She saw the world and returned home to live by the
sea in Maine. But she wondered what she could that would make the world
more beautiful.

We gave the book, “>Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, to Aneliese for her fifth birthday
and she was delighted. Birthday gifts in our home are often quite
simple but we try to make it special towards a current interest and
development of the birthday child. We love seeing how they respond and
interact with their gifts and although we have definitely had a flop or
two, Miss Rumphius was most certainly not one.

You see, Miss Rumphius makes the world more beautiful by planting lupines in the rocky ground of her garden.

Today, I’m sharing a way that we can teach our children earth stewardship over at Red and Honey where I am a monthly contributor. Please join me over there to learn how to plant your own Miss Rumphius Garden.

http://redandhoney.com/2013/05/teach-your-children-earth-stewardship-by-planting-a-miss-rumphius-garden/

Miss Rumphius

Hardcover

Garden: May 26, 2013

I’ve been meaning to take some photos of our gardens so that I could share their progression as they grow and finally got to it today between the rain and some planting. Then I got the idea from Soule Mama of sharing a weekly progress update and photos; I probably won’t manage weekly but I’m going to plan on a least a few updates through out the growing season.

We’re a little behind with what we had planned on having planted by this time but in the main garden I finally got peas, some beans, kale, spinach, and lettuce in between all the rain that we’ve been getting lately. Eventually, I’d like to fence in the whole back yard that I intend to convert from lawn to garden to keep the chickens out. Right now they are totally freely roaming every where and while that is great for them, they did a number on a good portion of my garden last year. This year at least the main garden is fenced in.

Herb Garden:

It’s looking sparse now but this will be full of perennial herbs mostly as well as a few things such as pansies that I also like to toss in salads.

Miss Rumphius Garden:

This is mostly a flower garden and it has been planted with a variety of seeds by the girls, the chickens have full access and so we’ll see what happens with it. The teepee with have beans growing on it. Dan and I had a friendly disagreement on how tall it should be, he won since he was making it and now I think it is great.

Everything else is still inside waiting for better weather so they can be hardened off or for seeds to be planted. I was a bit slow getting going and now it has been cool and very wet but so far I’m really enjoying the garden this year. The girls love it out there and I feel more relaxed even though I’m planting more than I have in the past.

What’s happening in your garden this week? I’d love to hear about it and see pictures if you have a blog.

A morning with Kathleen

A few weeks ago, when we dug out the spring/summer clothing, we found the little rain boots that were just Kathleen’s size. It didn’t take her long to catch on that they allow her to march through even the muck comfortably. With this discovery, she has become an eager helper in the morning chores. As soon as she hears the clank of the milk bucket, she rushes for her boots and sweater while yelling bye over and over. I’m not sure if this is her version of “wait for me” or if she just wants to let everyone in the house know that she is headed outside. The mornings of her slowly helping really only work on a day that Dan is not working because it takes us quite some time. And she loves every second. I love having a chance to spend time with just her, this little one so quickly leaving baby ways behind. One morning I decided to pull out my camera for some of it; it wasn’t quite the same as just enjoying the time with her but I know that some day, I’m going to treasure these pictures. I wish I’d had a camera in my eye when she plunked her self on the milking stool and reached to milk Sugar as if she knew exactly what she was doing.

Life within Social Media

I want to thank each of you for your kind words and
encouragement after my last post, learning to love. As usual, when I get a
little more personal, I hovered over the publish button wondering if I really
should. I don’t (or try not to anyway) write for the response but every email,
facebook share or message, and comment truly meant so much to me.  Thank you.

I always find it hard to follow up my more personal post; it
always seems like an awkward…”and now back to the regular posting schedule,
here’s a new recipe.”. Maybe no one else thinks of it, but that’s always how I
feel. Anyways. This post is one that I’ve been sitting on for a time as I’ve
been chewing over some questions related to social media. I’d love to hear your
thoughts on the subject as well.

How do I respect my children’s privacy within the use of social media?

This
is something that I have always been somewhat mindful of and I’ve tried to be
really careful about how much I share of their lives via my blog or Facebook.
Perhaps it is because of my own desire for privacy, but right from the
beginning of my venturing into “social media land” I’ve felt this strong
conviction that I need to respect the story that is growing in each of my
daughters, one that is only theirs to tell. Sometimes though, as I look back on
status updates, blog posts, or even photos, I realize just how much of an
online timeline I’ve created for them.  There are a few that I’ve even removed.

I’ve never talked in depth about discipline or personalities
or character because those are things that I feel belong to us as a family
trying to wade through this life together. When I do talk about those things, I
try to keep it positive so that someday my girls will know that I chose to see
the good in them. I’m sure it is probably clear that I find my daughters
amazing and delightful but I also try not to over inflate that or paint
inaccurate pictures that are not only dishonest to them but that would also
only serve to put unfair expectations on them.  They aren’t little angels, they are kids who
are learning and growing. They have great depth for good and the same ability
to do wrong as anyone else. They are bright, imaginative, and gifted while just
being ordinary children who don’t excel (or need to) at many things.

Now, my girls are getting out of the baby, oblivious to the
world stage and I’m starting to wonder what respecting their space in this next
life phase looks like. I’ve been in the habit of sharing bits of our days and
snapping photos of them and have thought nothing of something like telling
about a broken leg or a birthday activity yet the girls have asked me why
people knew it was their birthday or how so and so knew Cecily had a broken
leg. Suddenly what didn’t seem like a big deal to me has been put in a
different perspective because of how they respond in surprise to people knowing
these details.

I’m actually not really sure where to go with it. I’ve been
slipping back in time to hikes through the bush with my mom and brother. Or the
endless hours that we spent riding with her and the picnics we took
together.  There are the days that she
was teaching me to cook or sew; how would I have felt if she had been blogging
those moments or status updating them for all of her friends and relations?
Would I have felt like a project or that her attention was divided? I don’t
know that I would have but I’ve been wondering.

I do enjoy processing through writing and I like to share
that with others. I really think that we can be encouraged and challenged together through
our use of social media. I do want to keep sharing about life with my family
because that is a huge part of who I am but I also do want to write with
respect and care of them; I want to honor my relationship of trust with them. I
don’t want my kids to grow up thinking that in order for something to have
enjoyment, meaning, or worth, it must be shared in a blog, status update, photo
or whatever they come up with next. I don’t want to use my camera or written
words to invade time or space that only belongs to my daughters.

It’s been changing how I write and at times keeping what I
write in a folder on my computer. It seems to me I’m only just beginning to
understand the scope of social media and how far reaching it can be. I find
that the blogging world especially often seems to push the idea of “being real”
and with that comes a pressure to reveal and share things that one might not
generally share. I think it can also cloud my judgment on what I share of my
family. Sometimes there are things that I really, really want to write about
yet something holds me back. How do I blog while maintaining the sacredness of
a family? Please understand, I’m absolutely NOT bashing these ways that we have
of connecting with others. I’m not indicating what I think others should do and
I don’t actually know what it means for myself. Please, please don’t read any
“should” for yourself in this.  But I
think it really is something worth thinking about and maybe it will be helpful
for you too.

Is this something you
have thought about? How do you balance social media and the privacy of your
family? Do you have suggestions or wisdom that you’d be willing to share?

Learning to Love

I heard this song, Just Give Me A Reason, last week and rolled my eyes at the first
couple of lines. But then the lump in my throat grew as I heard these words,

Just give me a reason
Just a little bit’s enough
Just a second we’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again
It’s in the stars
It’s been written in the scars on our hearts
We’re not broken just bent
And we can learn to love again

That’s us. That’s probably a lot of others as well. It’s my friend, Beth’s 10th
anniversary today and she wrote a beautiful and honest post, New Kind of Sexy, that I’d love for
each of my readers to read. I don’t want to take away from her post and originally,
I wrote what follows below for Dan while listening to the song that I mentioned; it wasn’t
something that was going to make it to my blog. After I read Beth’s post (where she
included this song) several times this morning though, it made me realize
that there are so many of us struggling in our marriages. Struggling to keep it
together, wanting so badly to love and to make it work, and feeling so very alone in the struggle. Often we don’t see the broken pieces in a marriage until they are irreparable. Sometimes in
the past, I have felt like I was going to choke under the perfection that others seemed to indicate that they
saw in our togetherness. Few, very few, will ever hear the details of our
story; there’s no need really. But I/we will never choose to put up a front
that is not us and we’ve been blessed with some who will guard our story as they walk with us. Many will never see beyond the Christmas card smiles to see the
fight, prayers and determination that have gone into those clasped hands, that
loving smile. There will always be those who believe that love has been easy
for us. And that’s okay for perhaps on a scale of comparison it has been. I
don’t know. I only know that staying together, choosing love, and choosing one
has been hard. And good. And worth all the fight because we’ll keep learning to
love. We aren’t meant to do this alone, we need the support of others if we’re
going to make to the next fifty years. I hope that this little glimpse into us, into our story gives hope to another in their story.

We talked and talked. We laughed. We touched. We fought and
we apologized. We made babies and laughed through tears as each one was placed
in our arms. We wiped each others tears as they fell for the loss of one baby
and then another. We told our secrets, some in the choked murmur of shame in
the passing years. And the battering rams began. We were alone, just the two of
us trying to raise our babies, trying to live our simple life, trying not to
drown in fear, in lies, in hurt, and in the darkness that seemed so thirsty for
our light. There was nowhere to go. Nowhere to turn. Never enough time, enough
sleep, enough money. Never enough. Just two broken people standing across from
each other at a kitchen island in hopeless defeat. There was an ultimatum. One
so broken, wanting to please, wanting forgiveness, and quick to say, “I’m
sorry”. One so broken, steeped in anger, filled with fear, determined to live
in honor, and wanting to forgive. It doesn’t really matter who made the first
step, who picked up the phone, who made what m
istake. What matters is that
hands met and made new promises, that there was wisdom and grace answering the
phone call that’s been repeated many times since, and that Love can make right.

The story isn’t over. The scars remain. The deep rooted
weeds need digging out, over and over. Two broken people. The breaking point
never seems far off. The tired in my mind is reflected in your eyes. Harsh
words flow too easily and blame is an unattractive, itchy sweater. But
somewhere between the prayers, the honesty, the words of those who’ve been
there, done that, and the choice to keep going, we remain. When I wake in the
night to face the ugliness of memories and old scars, your arms hold me close.
When you tell me that you booked that wedding job, I start the high-five.  We commit to a month of affirming each other
and laugh at the ridiculous things that we say. But it works even if it was
ridiculous. Slowly the things that we believe and appreciate of each other
begins to come out. I don’t know if two broken, messy people ever make a completely
beautiful whole in this life, but we get glimpses. And the glimpses are
glorious sometimes. Love is a word often lightly tossed around like in the way
that Cecily says, “I wuv green beans.”, when tomorrow she might not. Love is
often seen in the red roses that Aneliese pointed out to me the other day and
said “They were wayyyy too expensive to buy.”.
But Love, it drips with blood. It’s dragged through the dirt and the
rocks and is surrounded by ugly, but keeps going.  It pulled two people who felt destroyed into
each other’s arms. It keeps trying. It keeps going. Sometimes the love of two
is held up by the love of others. Love is hard. But sometimes it’s all there
is. It’s what holds us together.

The Family Milk Cow

We’ve somewhat settled into having a milk cow and I thought that I’d share a post  (or two or three) on the addition of a milk cow to our farm and I figured that I better do it before I got really comfortable so that I’d remember all those newbie, Idon’tknowwhattodonow! details. For those of you who don’t ever plan to own a milk cow, don’t care to know about how it works to have a family milk cow, or who are just short on time, I’ll give you the brief version. It’s going great and now you can look at the pictures. For those of you who are interested in the details or who have told me that you’d like have a cow some day, the rest is for you.

Sidenote: Because we already get asked regularly, we aren’t selling milk. We don’t have enough and don’t actually wish to get into the complications of that. It is illegal to sell milk here in Canada and while we fully and completely support those who choose to sell and purchase, it’s not something we want to get into.

Why a Highland Jersey?
 I’ve always said that I wanted a Jersey cow because I love their creamy milk and because I’ve always thought they were such a pretty cow. As I started reading more about cows though, I realized that Jersey’s are one of the more delicate cows to care for especially here where it tends to be cold and wet in the winter. Pretty randomly, I came across a kijiji ad for a highland/jersey cross and it all clicked into place; cross a hardier breed with the breed that I wanted. I also was drawn by the idea of getting a more manageable amount of milk as I have no plans of selling milk at this point (Yes, it is illegal here in Canada). I began chatting with a old timer farmer who told me that I’d likely have a hard time finding such a cow in this area but that he’d keep his eyes open. Then I came across the Hidden Meadow Farm blog and we began chatting as blogging friends. They raise highland cattle but also have a sweet Jersey named Ginger. Ginger is Sugar’s mama and so the story goes. Sugar is my perfect highland/jersey cross that I was looking for.
Starting out:
Sugar is a first time mama this year and she hadn’t been milked before coming here. I mentioned before that it was all a little overwhelming for me at first. I knew that I needed to milk her out once I started but she was pretty edgy and worried about her calf. I’ve only ever milked seasoned milk cows and while I realize even that is more than many people can say, I still felt like I had bit off more than I could chew. BUT, we took it slow and probably slightly unconventionally until Sugar got accustomed to being milked by us. Although she never kicked hard, I may have ended up on the ground once or twice while trying to balance on my silly stool and save the milk. Because we weren’t milking her out but her supply was increasing I was pretty stressed about mastitis as well but I just watched closely and continue to check for any symptoms each milking. So far so good.

 

Milk Sharing:

We are milk sharing with Copper the calf,
which adds a little more work to the mix. It’s more common that the calf is
separated from it’s mother and is bottle/bucket fed milk (or calf starter) from
the milk. We like to keep things a natural and stress-free for the animals as
possible for both them and ourselves so we have chosen to allow the calf to
directly feed off his mother. We might realize later that this was a poor
choice but that is what we are doing now. Our shelter set up is by no means
fancy but we have a little calf pen which allows the calf to be right at his
mothers head while we milk. It keeps her relaxed because he is near and keeps
him from trying to suckle while we milk. Calves are messy, aggressive eaters;
there is no picturesque milking while the calf feeds happening her. In the
morning, we milk three quarters and leave one full quarter for Copper that he
gets once we are finished. Then he stays with Mama until early afternoon and
nurses during that time. Then he is separated until the evening milking when he
again gets a full quarter and just before bed we separate them for the night.
Of course this means we are getting less milk, but are raising a healthy calf.

We also really like it this way because it
allows us some flexibility in milking. Should we be going out for the day, we
can simply leave them together and he takes care of the milk so that we don’t
have to worry about the evening milk. Of course we won’t always have this
option but it has been great so far for the couple of times that we couldn’t do
the evening milking.

Milking:

We have a narrow half stall with a manger in
front for the food. We tie Sugar up for milk although it has already become so
routine for her that we hardly need to. Cows usually are such creatures of
habit that if you give them a consistent routine, they’ll happily comply…most
of the time. Sugar gets her grain and hay while we milk. Ideally, I’d like to
give her a supplement other than dairy ration but am still figuring that out.
Often the practice with dairy cows is to give them more dairy ration in order
to have them produce a lot more milk. The thing is that their digestive system
isn’t actually designed for that so we are giving her a minimal amount of 1.5
c. per milking. Keeps her happy and gives her a little added boost to her hay.

When we began milking, we were milking one
handed into a jar so no milk would get wasted by her kicking the bucket over or
sticking her foot right in it. We’d put our foot directly on her foot (Always
milking on the left side) and our knee against her leg to prevent a sudden
forward motion of her foot. We leave Sugar’s back legs loose and at first had
to be watchful of her kicking the bucket but now, a few weeks later, she never
kicks or really even moves unless she needs to go to the bathroom which she
gives warning of ahead of time. Smart girl.

We’re milking into a large stainless steel
bucket now and rather than placing it onto the ground, I actually hold it
between my knees to keep it closer to the milk stream. That is what I find the
most comfortable but I’m also only getting a few liters a milking, this
wouldn’t work well with some of the other dairy breeds who produce a lot more
milk. In the future I could see considering a milk machine but for all its
positives at this point, I think of things like needing electricity for it, the
noise it makes, and the increased possibility of mastitis so at this point
I’m happy to use a bucket. The hardest part of hand milking was getting the strength in my wrists built up; it tends to work muscles that aren’t used often in a repetitive motion.

Sugar is very gentle and quiet about milking now. As long as Copper is close by, she is happy. I’ve taught a friend how to milk already and both Aneliese and Cecily have milked her as well.

Maintenance:

At this point because we have a hardy breed,
we have only a three-sided shelter which is also where we milk. We have plans
for a bigger barn and will work on that eventually. We’re working on a rotation
system with all of our animals to keep our pastures healthy and growing so we
currently have three sections fenced with electric wire. We rotate through so
that animals can graze without totally eating one section down. I also spread
their manure across the fields from time to time as a natural fertilizing
method. We also encourage our chickens to follow the path of the larger animals
by giving them scraps in specific areas. I’m getting off track here but
seriously as we read and learn, this type of land maintenance is so
fascinating, effective, and wise practice. Google it, really; rotational
grazing
.

Part of healthy raw milk, is a healthy,
mostly clean environment for the milk cow. I’m going to write another post on
how we actually handle the milk but for now, just a little about keeping the
cow clean. I say mostly clean but if you are picturing a perfectly clean cement
floored barn with a milking machine, that isn’t what we have. But I do keep the
poop picked up daily in the shelter/milking area and there is always clean
bedding spread, usually the scraps that Sugar doesn’t eat at milking. I found
that it was getting soggy so I laid a bag of peat moss that is very absorbent
over the soil, layered some hay and now I just clean the
manure right off of that. I will likely need to add some peat moss from time to time after heavy rains but
so far it has been very effective and inexpensive. All of that manure then goes
into a composting pile to eventually fertilize my garden.

As I mentioned, we give dairy ration and hay.
Right now Sugar is grazing so isn’t eating much hay, otherwise she eats a bale
or so a day. She needs a mineral and salt lick to supplement as she likely
wouldn’t get enough naturally from our pasture. That’s also something that we
learning more about for when we reseed our pasture. And then, water. She needs
lots of fresh water. Right now we are going classy style with old bath tubs in
each section. It may not be the most attractive, but it’s cost effective and
provides her with plenty of clean water.

Why
you should have a family milk cow:

If you are interested in ever getting a milk cow, I would highly recommend this book, The Family Cow.
It’s an older book but is very comprehensive and easy to read. It gives a
good coverage of what having a milk cow entails. We’ve also been very
thankful for a couple of experienced people whom we can email or call
with our questions. It has been really wonderful having our own fresh, healthy milk every day. I’ve yet
to get a good system down but at least when the milk gets old, I don’t feel bad
clabbering or souring it to feed to the chickens. I’m dabbling in cheese making
and we’ve been eating lots of yogurt, kefir, custards, and anything else that
requires milk. I love the peaceful routine of going out in the quiet of the
morning and evening to milk. Sugar is a very gentle cow with a great
personality, although she does forget that she is grown up at times and kicks
her heels up across the field, and she is a pleasure to work with. But, it is a
BIG commitment and a lot of work. Everything thing takes time and there isn’t
nearly as much opportunity for spontaneous trips. Rainy, wet days aren’t so
much fun. Right now, we are saving money because we aren’t purchasing raw milk
but there are always unforeseen costs. We have to consider things such as
getting her bred so that she will have another calf next year and continue
producing milk. There is keeping fences repaired and pens clean. It’s truly so
worth it for us though. Both Dan and I really enjoy milking and even the girls
are learning which is incredibly cute. I like knowing exactly what I am feeding
my family and it’s a way of life that while definitely not for everyone, is so
valuable.

This post was shared at Frugally Sustainable.

A three year old’s broken leg

Did I say that Cecily’s leg wasn’t broken in my last post?
Change that, it is in fact broken. Across the tibia and curving up into her
knee. They put the cast on her on Monday and then we were back in on Wednesday
because she had already destroyed the first. The second one seems to weigh
almost as much as her and is intended to immobilize her until Tuesday when she
will have a more thorough assessment at the IWK . I’ve been given more strict
instructions to keep her off of it as the fracture is on a growth plate.

The poor girl,
she doesn’t say too much but she absolutely
hates it. Every so often her face lights up and she says things like
“I’m going
to run out to feed the chickens!” or “I’m going to jump on the
trampoline.”  But then she remembers and
it is so sad. “Will I have to wear this for years and years?” and “I
really don’t love this.” (said in the most mournful voice imaginable.)
Then every so often, she has had enough and she says that she is
taking it off, well cutting it off actually. We’re trying to keep her
involved in everything as we can and
she spends lots of time playing with her little animals out in the sun
but I
know that I am having a hard time keeping everything in perspective so
for a
three year old who has no concept of time or how much worse it could be,
it’s
definitely trying.

Dan and I were wondering though, how experiences like this
are part of shaping a child’s character. How is this being forced to slow down
and watch life more slowly going to impact little Cecily? I especially noticed
it the other day when I took the girls for a walk by the water the other day.
Normally, Cecily is full speed, climbing rocks and doesn’t spend a lot of time
observing so it was interesting how much she observed while Aneliese did all
the climbing. She pointed out different things in the water, noticed shapes and
colors, and talked about sounds that normally she wouldn’t pay heed to. Will
this cultivate an observance in her that she wouldn’t have otherwise?

Cecily is generally very independent. She usually prefers to
do things herself and doesn’t often ask for help. She is however, very quick to
help others and will be the one to run to get something for another or to
observe that someone needs a hand.
Suddenly, she has to ask for help and accept help.

I feel like it also is teaching valuable life lessons not
just to Cecily but to Aneliese as well. Aneliese doesn’t have that same natural
tendency to quickly help others and I’ve been seeing that change this past
week. As she has realized that Cecily isn’t able to do things or move well, she
has become much quicker to get things for Cecily or to help her out; I came in
from milking one morning and Aneliese had actually helped Cecily use the
bathroom (not recommended but it was an appreciated gesture).

That’s my Pollyanna perspective for you and the silver
lining of this particular cloud. I’m not going to bother telling you about how
I feel about the rest of the cloud. It’d be BORING and frankly, kind of whiny.
So for the sake of my readers and my faux golden halo that gets easily
tarnished lets just pretend that I’m Pollyanna, shall we? Though you could pray
for some uninterrupted sleep perhaps for a night or two. That would be lovely.

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