{Day 14} Send.

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We only sent a couple of Christmas cards out this year, but it was fun to watch Marlee help me “write” the notes inside!

 

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{Day 4} Light.

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“…let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord.” Psalm 4:6

The Healing Puddle

It was late in the day.  I finally decided I should change out of my pajamas and into something appropriate.  The day seemed nice.  I decided we would take a walk.  At the sound of the word, Marlee impatiently waited by the door.  She grabbed a toy to play with outside and carefully stepped over the threshold, reminding me how well she can do things on her own now. How is it we’re just now breathing this fresh air?  The sun shone cheerfully in the clear blue skies, soft cool wind blew against our skin, the signs of Fall just barely showing: crunchy brown leaves strewn across the sidewalks, trees beginning to be bare.  We go about our usual way of walking.  She holds my hand and we walk down the sidewalk, she is barefoot and I in my sandals.  I begin to take in the day.  Our neighborhood is nothing fancy but on days like this I believe it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen.  The trees dance a little in the wind, leaves fall, I breathe in the welcome cool air, everything is bright and perfect.  I needed this today.  I forget how healing beauty is.

We keep walking, but there is always a place where we turn and cross the street.  This place on the sidewalk is littered with a layer of acorns and since we’re not big on wearing shoes, it hurts her tiny feet to walk on them.  Our street is quiet and we cross it, unhurried.  On the other side there is a place where the sidewalk is not level.  One piece of concrete juts into the air a couple of inches more than the piece next to it and perhaps because of that, a puddle of water is forever settled there.  A nearby tree sheds it’s yellow and brown leaves and they end up in the puddle too.  Marlee loves that puddle.  I have resigned to let her play in it whenever we come to it and so she eagerly steps in.  Not wanting to get wet or dirty myself, I watch her from behind splashing her feet in the shallow water, sinking her toes in and feeling the slightly muddy water with her hands.

This beautiful day just surrounds me.  I breathe in deeply.  I look up at this glorious Fall sky and watch a single leaf, wildly fluttering in the wind.  It spins and spins for a long time before finally soaring to the ground.  Today I felt like that leaf.  I just wanted to feel settled today, rested and calm, but instead I felt frustrated and tired.  It was one of those days I wished I could call in sick.  But who would I call?  Motherhood is a job that never ends and never rests and sometimes that thought overwhelms me.  But then I look at my daughter and I am once again overwhelmed with love by this beautiful child.  Her hair shines like gold in the sun.  Her milky skin is soft and warm.  I slip off my sandals and feel the cold concrete on my feet and remember how healing it is to touch the earth.  I am content.

Just then, as if somehow, she knew what I needed, my little girl backs up to where I am holding out her dirty, wet hand dotted with pieces of wet grass.  “Join me, mama,” it was if she was saying.  I looked at my clean hand but her took hers anyway and she leaded me into that dirty puddle of water.  I lifted my skirt a little so it wouldn’t get wet.  The water was much colder than I thought, but it felt good between my toes.  Fallen leaves swirled around my ankles; my daughter’s hand still in mine.  We walk in and out of that puddle leaving a trail of wet foot prints on the side walk.  A few neighborhood girls are walking towards us.  Marlee steps out of the way as they gingerly step over the puddle, but when they leave she wades right back in.

My frustrations are rinsed away in that cold puddle of water.  I smile at the simplicity of my daughter’s happiness and am reminded to be happy too.  Sometimes the days feel endlessly long, but I know, just like the falling of leaves and the changing of seasons, it will soon be over and I will wonder what happened to the days when all my daughter wanted to do was play in puddles of water.

Pinecone Birdfeeder: Inviting Backyard Birds to a Picnic

Today was the most beautiful Fall day.  The air was bright and clean.  It was cool and crisp, a little chilly in fact.  This time of year always amazes me, surprises me.  I forget how wonderful it is.  Last week I took Marlee to the pet store to see the animals.  Just a little fun, free way to spend some time.  She loved seeing the birds and that gave me an idea.  Fall is the perfect time to create bird feeders for the backyard.  I found these birdfeeder crafts for kids and was inspired.  I decided we would do the pinecone bird feeder.  

Earlier in the week we gathered pinecones and I gathered the rest of the supplies.  Marlee was all too eager to go outside and play.

We just used what we had around the house: a pinecone, some string, scissors, peanut butter, a bowl and spoon and bird food.  We used oats and nuts, but I loved this website that explained what foods to use to attract certain kinds of birds.  Or you could use store bought bird seed.  

First I tied the string around the top of the pinecone and made a knot.  

Then I scooped some peanut butter into a bowl (so we could double dip the spoon and not ruin our jar of peanut butter! Or you could just dedicate a jar of peanut butter for crafts and not for eating.)  Just a little helpful hint on the peanut butter:  The kind we buy is “natural” and therefore doesn’t contain thickening agents.  I found this makes for a pretty messy peanut butter application, but still works.  Next time, I think I will buy regular peanut butter just for this purpose.  

Then I showed Marlee how to spread the peanut butter on the pinecone. 

Next I showed her how to sprinkle the oats and nuts onto the pinecone.

She loved playing with the peanut butter on the spoon and made a big mess! We got peanut butter everywhere!  With toddlers it is not the end product that matters but the experience, and for this project it is definitely true.  There were many different textures and shapes for her to feel, and mediums with which to play.  In the end, I made sure the pinecone was bird worthy and I hung it proudly in our backyard.  

Afterwards we stayed outside for a little picnic and waited to see if any birds might join us.  Unfortunately they didn’t (although we did hear a nearby woodpecker) but Marlee didn’t seem to mind.

Approaching the “Terrific Twos!”

Yesterday my baby turned 18 months old.  But truly, she is not my little baby anymore!  Just these past couple of weeks she has started shaking her head “no” when she doesn’t want something.  She can run and walk, and she lets us know what she wants.  She can eat anything that we eat and almost has all of her teeth.  Her many creases in her chubby arms and legs have smoothed and she looks more and more like a little girl.  In no time at all, she will be 2 and, no doubt, talking up a storm.  As she approaches this important time in her life; this time when she will learn that she is independent from mommy and daddy, a time when she is going to exercise her self-will, there is something I’m determined to do.  

I am determined to see the best in her.  

I am determined to speak well of her, to see what she could be and to encourage her potential for good.  This is something I was sure of since the day she was born.  When she was a little baby in my arms, I would whisper to her “you are a good girl…”  “you are my sweet baby…” 

Those seem like innocent phrases enough, but to me they had power behind them.  I resolved, as a mother, to always make sure that my children heard me speaking well of them- to them and in their presence.  I never ever wanted to latch onto an idea that my child was less what they could be, or so many of the things you hear parents call their children.  For example, “Oh, he’s just a trouble maker…” “She’s my little diva, always gets her way…” or “it’s just that age, you know, the terrible twos!”  I have never shared in other parent’s humor at these statements.  I’m learning words have life to them, and children often begin to form their identity around their parent’s perceptions of them.  I think we need to believe the best about our children, no matter what we see in them at the moment, and then encourage them to that end.  

It’s amazing how often this might come up.  A stranger at the store complimented Marlee, but then commented “But I bet she’s a stinker!” To which I politely replied with a smile, “Oh, she’s good!”  But I know there will be time in the near future where she will demand her own way, throw a fit, or any of the other things that toddlers do (and yes she has done) and I will be there not telling her what a bad girl she is (Lord help me if I ever call her a “bad girl!”) but reminding her what a sweet polite girl she is, and helping her to behave that way.  And I know the “terrible two” comments will abound more and more as she reaches that mark.  But what’s so terrible about it?  Attaining independence is a normal part of life.  It is not her job to instinctively  know how to behave in a way that brings honor to her, us and to God (and yes I believe little children can be taught to honor God!) but it is our job as parents.  

I know parenting holds a lot of challenges, but I hope by always seeing the best in my child she will she the best in herself and instead of hoping for it, she will simply walk in it. 

 

 

 

 

This Week At Home

Here are some of the fun things we’ve been up to this past week…

I made Marlee homemade play dough (her first experience with play dough!) and she seemed to enjoy this new sensory experience, but became very upset when she tried to eat it and realized it did not taste good!  Thank goodness it was homemade and I knew exactly what was in it- a simple mix of water, salt, flour and cornstarch. I got the recipe from The Toddler’s Busy Book by Trish Kuffner.

She discovered stickers…

Friday I took some friends along with me to the natural dairy farm I discovered about 30 minutes away, Gramen Farm.  We talked to a passionate farmer about health and dairy and the benefit of raw dairy products (I know what some of you are thinking…) He gave us kefir grains for free and I began making my own kefir with goat’s milk.  The above picture is my finished kefir smoothie (with banana and mango to take the edge off the tart flavor of the kefir) it was really good!  While I have many doubts about the benefit of commercial and processed milks and cheeses, homemade natural cultured/ fermented dairy has an ancient past and a long list of health benefits.

Saturday we went with a couple of friends to the farmer’s market where I bought some nice Texas peaches,

and a parsley plant for $1.00.  I was told this is not a Summer plant so it stays indoors, gets a bit of morning sun and lots of water. We’ll see how it does!

With the peaches I made a peach upside down cake in my cast iron skillet (sorry the lighting in the picture is a bit off I made it at night) also really good! The rest of the peaches I sliced and froze to use in smoothies.

We went to the library and borrowed books all about camping.  I’m using loosely the Joyful Learning curriculum for 2’s and 3’s (adapting it for my 1 1/2 year old).  Every month there is a theme and a Bible verse and themed activities.  I thought it would give us some fun things to do through out the week.  Her attention span is super duper short so we just do what we can. I’m not big on heavily structured days anyway.  Every month there is a play dough recipe and a sensory tub. This month the theme is camping, beaches and the ocean.  It helps that we went camping just a couple of weeks ago.  I know she is taking it all in even if she can’t tell me yet!

I love that in the midst of our very routine days of sleeping, waking, eating and cleaning we can find simple pleasures (like that peach cake, Mmmm) and memories.

 

 

A Day at Victoria and Westburn Parks in Scotland

There are several parks in the area here, two very close walking distance from our apartment, and what better place to be than at a park with a toddler?  It’s a great way for us to gt out of the apartment, even on chilly days.

Westburn park is just down the road from Victoria park

their version of a merry-go-round

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