That Agape Family

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Tag: earth child

Balanced and Barefoot

I started reading Balanced and Barefoot (affiliate link) by Angela J. Hanscom nearly a year ago, and I couldn’t put it down. It really spoke to my intuition that my children need to be outside. That the outdoors is an essential part of their development, and that I needed to be mindful of getting outside on a regular basis. And not only getting outside, but allowing them to explore with their whole body, mind, and soul.

I borrowed a copy from our local library, and devoured it quickly. In fact, Hanscom’s Timbernook forest play program was the inspiration behind a local forest free play group that I initiated after being a part of an established Forest school group, here in Toronto.  If you’ve been following my posts, you’ll have seen many  of our forest experiences that I’ve shared. I treasure our time in the Great Outdoors. It is calming, invigorating, energizing, balancing, and grounding.

Little Miss (4.5 years) and Sweet Pea (16 months)

The main focus of Hanscom’s book is that children NEED to be outdoors to develop appropriately, physically and psychologically. She noted that children today lack simple coordination skills because they aren’t given the opportunity to develop them. Simple things like walking on an uneven surface, rolling down a hill, and balancing on a log – things we enjoyed as children – are deemed “too risky” nowadays, depriving children of the opportunity to develop physiologically. The impact this has later on in life is remarkable. Did you know that children have started falling out of their chairs, while simply sitting in them, because they haven’t developed their core balance when they were younger? Children are more accident prone now than ever!

When children aren’t given the opportunity to “get messy and make mistakes” (thank you Miss Frizzle, of the Magic School Bus), they lack resilience later on. While we think we are protecting our children when they’re younger, we are actually putting up barriers for them later on in life.

The other component of Timbernook, and the reason I started a spin off group, was the idea of imaginative play. At Timbernook, the students are given the freedom to become pirates, astronauts, knights, and explorers. The only thing we bring to the forest is a bag of simple water toys. I have seen the children make a “hot tub”, bow and arrows, castles, etc.  When given time and freedom, children’s imaginations will blossom. and fun will ensue. We try to be as hands off as possible, allowing the children to understand their own limitations, and establish their own risk assessment. We also span a wide age range of 1 to 7 years.

I was truly inspired by Balanced and Barefoot. I highly recommend it to all parents and educators as an encouragement to make getting outside a priority. Our children will be better off for it.

Blessings,

Liz

How often do you get back to nature?

The Forest is Changing

“The forest is changing…” was Little Miss’ observation this last week in the forest.

Here she is making her observations of what she’s seen, about a month ago:

(I thought her boots were in the car. I was mistaken… Oh well! I forgot my boots, too!) The giant tree tumbled down sometime during a fierce windstorm in the previous couple of weeks. When we returned a couple of weeks later, the tree had settled substantially lower, and left a beautiful mud hole for the children’s enjoyment:

The children spent a lot of time discovering the bugs that had made homes, or had their homes recently upturned. They investigated the effects of mud on boots (sluuuurp), and the month earlier, they explored the clay that had formed deep below the tree’s roots.

But Little Miss’ observation that “the forest is changing…” was spot on, and completely spontaneous. Although a month ago we were starting to see little buds all over, this last week it was so much more pronounced. And these beautiful Trout Lilies scattered the forest floor:

I can’t wait to get back out there this week, to see what else has sprung up.

What is “spring”ing up around your area?

Blessings,

Liz

What a Load of… Oh?

When I was pregnant with Little Miss, 5 years ago, a friend of mine lent me a few books. This was one of them:

I remember, as she handed this book to me, she said “I barely had to change a poopy diaper after 6 months!” Well, the eager beaver that I was, I dove right in, with my little bundle of joy still growing inside.

I think I got to either chapter 3 or 4, and decided that it was “a load of hooey”. This might have been all well and good for a mama living in southern British Columbia, where they barely saw a snowflake, and the temperatures stayed well above 0 (celcius) the majority of the time, but for this Mama, that just wasn’t going to fly.

Well, fast forward to when Little Miss was just shy of 6 months, and I commented in my Crunch Mommy Group (it’s true, I joined it for the cloth diapering advice, and stayed for the overwhelming support and natural parenting techniques) that Little Miss tended to pee when I put her in the Bumbo Seat. I would regularly give her diaper free time, and found this to be the result. Someone commented that it was natural for them to pee like that, and that I should consider Elimination Communication (EC). Really? Well, sure. Why not? What did I have to lose?

Well, the next day, on the day she turned 6 months, we woke up, and I tried putting her on the potty (I sat down toward the back of the toilet, and put her between my legs), thinking that I looked ridiculous, and this whole concept is insane. Then, she peed. Seriously. 6 months. We gave it a go the next day and she pooped. I kid you not!

So, what was our technique? Well, I would give her a chance to go after each sleep (nap or night), as children naturally hold their pee when they sleep. Then, as she got older, I would pop her on whenever we changed her diaper. Gradually she started having more regular dry diapers, and by 2 years (minus 2 weeks), we went straight over to underwear, and had diapers for only night time (she’d been dry after naps for a while by this point). By this time, she was having a dry diaper at night a couple of times a week, too. A month after our switch, once she’d had a week or so of dry diapers, we got rid of our night time diapers, too. Interestingly, she would wake up to pee at night quite regularly, from at early at 12 months! I knew this because sometimes she would leak right out the side and all over me when I went in to put her back down. I tried putting her on the potty, but this groggy baby would have none of it, but I found the correlation quite interesting.

Did we eliminate poopy diapers for the majority of our diapering experience? Not quite, but she was regularly doing her business in the porcelain bowl by about a year. Did we train her? No. Really, it’s more so about training yourself, and recognizing your child’s cues. There is a lot more to this, but this is my Cole’s Notes version. Although I was a complete skeptic, I do recommend Diaper Free Baby. (affiliate link). Turns out, it’s not a bunch of hooey afterall! Please note that we were never forceful, nor did we ever shame or punish her if she didn’t go.

Was this a one time thing? Well, we’ve been doing EC with Sweet Pea since 3 month. Three Months?!? Yes. It all started one night when our typically easy going, amazing sleeper of a baby was having a particularly tough night. After nursing, and bicycle kicks, and anything else you would try at 3 in the morning to get a baby to settle, I thought “maybe she had to poop? Well, let’s see if this helps…” and I put her on the toilet. She didn’t poop, but she did pee, and thus began our EC journey. She’s now 13 months, and she regularly pees, and has gone #2 the last 2 days (although it’s not as often as I remember it being with LM). Hey, when it comes to cloth diapers and laundry, every little bit counts!

Here’s what I wrote back in 2014, as my Facebook status update: So, I started to read this when I was pregnant, because a friend loaned it to me with a bunch of other amazing baby books (thank you Carolina!) and I didn’t finish it because I thought I could never do it. But, after some encouragement from some other moms, girlie started using the potty at 6 months. Here’s the update: at 11 months, today she had 2 wet diapers, all other changes were dry, and she used the potty each time. I’m very excited over here, and wanted to let y’all know that this isn’t hippie craziness, but a very useful tool. We are still using (cloth) diapers, but I just get to wash less of them  — feeling wonderful.

So, you never know, unless you try.

Blessings!

Liz

P.S. What do you think? Crazy hippy, or something to this?

The Salmon Run

Today, a friend and I enjoyed watching the Salmon Run here in Toronto, at Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, with our girls.  This is our second year going, and we had a great time. Last year, we were a bit late in the season, and only saw a couple of fish, and plenty of salmon carcasses (a  great science and philosophical lesson). This year, there were more fish fighting their way upstream.

The salmon run is where salmon swim upstream, even jumping up over waterfalls, in order to lay their eggs upstream. You can see them all along the Don River, making their way to the top. A some points, they vigorously swim against the current.

Those white splashes of water are the salmon

In addition to the river, when you first enter the park, there is a large pond, that is home to a beautiful blue heron, ducks and some curious Canadian geese.

There is a beautiful walking trail along the river, but do be careful of the poison ivy! (Thanks Jena!) When our friend pointed it out, Little Miss exclaimed “It’s a good thing I’m wearing stockings!” as she traipsed through it. She did take notice though, and was careful walking along the rocks.

Poison Ivy

Lastly, a friendly grasshopper, that intrigued Little Miss.

If you get a chance, check it out! The salmon run typically runs from mid-September (earlier in other parts of Ontario) to mid-October. The weather does affect the salmon run, and with the ridiculously hot weather last week, it has delayed it.

We plan on going to another location next week, so we’ll see if there are more or less salmon. I hypothesize more.

Blessings,

Liz

Her Journey Stick

As I may have mentioned before, we are part of a Forest School Playgroup. We meet once a week, year round, in the forest. We have a beautiful creek that the children can explore, as well as fallen trees that are great for climbing. So, if you happen to see photos of us in the forest, they are likely from our playgroup.

One of the leaders brought yarn last week, so the children could make Journey Sticks. My mom had told me about them a few months ago, so I was eager to see if Little Miss was interested in making one. The purpose of the Journey Stick is to attach items you find along your journey – a collection of sorts – to a stick of your choice. Here is hers:

She chose flowers, weeds, leaves, and grass, because she felt they were beautiful. Some children decided to attach acorns, while others wanted a rock – creativity was needed to attach those items.

A journey stick is a fun way to have a momento from the forest. However, please be aware of your impact on your surroundings. This is not an activity we do every week, nor do we regularly pick items from the forest. Some flowers are protected in Ontario (like the Trillium), and if you pick them, you can face hefty fines. We generally take the approach of take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints, but occasionally, we create something from the forest. We try to be as hands on as possible, while also minimizing our impact as much as we can.

Blessings!

Snap Chat Continued…

**Edit: This is not a Snapdragon. It is Himalayan Balsam. Please read my follow up post here.**

A couple of days ago, I posted about our snapdragon experience. I shared some photos of orange snapdragons, and their explosive fun. Well, we went back down to the ravine yesterday, and came across these pink and purple snapdragons:

Pink Snapdragons

You’ll notice that the seed pod (the green “bean” in the top middle of the photo) is significantly different from the orange snap dragon, being larger and shiny. The leaves are also quite different (jagged, as opposed to the smooth edges of the orange variety). The large pods are also harder to pop, and you really need to wait until they are quite engorged. But, when they’re ready, brace yourself, because there is also a much larger “pop”! So much fun!

Another significant difference was the seeds:

Snapdragon Seeds

Can you guess which seeds belong to which plant? The orange snapdragon had 2-4 seeds, on average, per pod, whereas the pink and purple snapdragons had 10+! It was a really neat experience to note the differences among the species of plant, as well as practice our math skills of counting and addition. Learning happens everywhere!

Blessings!

P.S. The seed answer is: Left, pink and purple. Right, orange. We collected the seeds and will be planting them in the spring. I really hope they come up in our backyard.

The Cicada Scene

Ah, cicadas. The sound of summer. There’s nothing quite like the remarkably loud buzz of the cicada to remind you of summers past. But man, are those things creepy! It kind of throws you off, when you’re walking down the street, and you see a massive bug on the sidewalk, or an exoskeleton hanging off a tree, no?

Well, we had a great time learning about cicadas this last week. It all started in a park… The Littles and I were meeting up with some fellow homeschooling families. Little Miss C (3.5) was playing around on the playground, and we noticed that there were some wasps buzzing around something on the ground. Upon closer inspection, we found that it was a partially eaten cicada:

Neat! We’re always up for exploring dead bugs, so we checked it out, and put it back down for the wasps’ dinner. As we went back to join our friends, we discovered that they were spending their time collecting cicada exoskeletons:

They also realized that there were many small holes around the trees, where the cicadas had come out of hibernation. Did you know cicadas can hibernate for as long as 13-17 years? Cool!

Here is Little Miss C exploring a cicada hole. She was curious as to how deep it was:

Here is a recently emerged cicada, however likely not long for this world, as it has an underdeveloped wing – an excellent opportunity to discuss the life cycle of the cicada. I love the bright colours.

And here is a cicada mid-emergence! This was a very neat experience. The cicada was vibrating its body, I believe to help stretch out its wings to allow them to dry off.

What are your favourite sounds of summer?

To listen to the cicada’s buzz, click here.

Snapdragon Fun

**Edit: This is not a Snapdragon. It is jewelweed. Please read my follow up post here.**

I love nature. I love God’s creation, and I think it’s beautiful, marvelous, and I often stand, or sit, in awe of it. And sometimes (often) I interact with it. Since I was a child, one of my favourite flowers has been the snapdragon. If you’ve never experienced snapdragons, you don’t know what you’re missing! These flowers begin to bloom in the month of August. In our neighbourhood, we they are scattered along the walkway in our ravine. Each year, I anxiously await their emergence.

What, you might ask, makes these flowers so special? They are TONS of fun! Fun? How can flowers be fun? Well, because they “pop”! Take a look at the three photos below:

Snapdragon Flower

Snapdragon Seed Pod

Popped Snapdragon Seed Pod

The first photo is of the snapdragon flower itself. It’s a brilliant orange, with specks of red. The second photo shows a seed pod. It looks kind of like a bean. A ripe seed pod is longer, and rather plump. These are the ideal pods. The third photo shows a popped seed pod. That is where the magic happens!

Once you find a ripe pod, very gently squeeze it. I can’t emphasize “gently” enough. Once you give it a gentle squeeze – POP! If they are particularly ready, even just brushing it with your hand will cause the pod to explode.

It’s a little alarming at first, but it is a LOT of fun 🙂 I promise!

Do you have a different name for snapdragons?

Painted Toes

The first post. No pressure or anything, right?

The other day, my daughter (Little Miss) was playing outside (a very common occurrence), and said “Look Mommy, I painted my toes!”

Painted Toes WM

 

We aren’t afraid to get dirty in our household. My heart swells when she digs in and gets dirty. We are very blessed to have 3 older girls living next door to us, who also love to make mud pies, and thrive in the dirt. You can often find Little Miss trying to make “soup”, and if there’s an  opportunity to include water, she dives right in.

So, I invite you to follow us as we embark on an adventure (one of her favourite words), and learn and grow together.

 

Blessings,

Liz

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