Listen to me retell my previous blog Traveling With Kids.
We look forward to the time of year when we can start getting our seed packets out and organized. The kids love gardening. In general they like that they can get dirty and I actually encourage it. In the early spring we like to get certain seeds started indoors. The kids look forward to it because they get to dig in the dirt and it isn’t frozen solid. When the weather starts to warm up a little more than we like to start planting the rest of the seeds outside. I want to share some of my tips and tricks to having fun while gardening with your kids. I have said before but we are a homeschooling family so I take every opportunity I can to try to teach them something even if it is very informal.
Tip 1: Get ready to have some messy kids. Between digging in the dirt and then watering the dirt this can become a mud mess (to me that is the best part) but for some not so much. We always have a “cleaning station” set up so that when we are all done before we go in the house we can clean off muddy feet and hands. I usually just put some old towels and a bucket of sudsy water with a old rag in it. Then I have the kids stand in it while I wash their feet and then dry them off. They love it to because who doesn’t like the idea of getting bubbles everywhere.
Tip 2: Make sure to have a plan in mind. I like to organize my seeds since some will be started inside and some will be directly seeded into the soil. I also like to have the kids help me lay out what seeds are going where and putting them in the appropriate row etc. Since this day usually ends with a hose squirting contest I like to accomplish what needs done first.
Tip 3: Plant what you are going to eat (if you are planting an edible garden). BK (before kids) I would plant all of these lovely vegetables that my husband and I would eat. Then came kids and sometimes picky eating habits so now I plant things that I know are a hit and then occasionally add some extras since I can sometimes get them to try it since they helped create it and that is neat to them.
Tip 4: Incorporate a fun little science experiment while you are at it. The kids love learning about how things grow from such a tiny seed. It is also fun for them to imagine when it will start to sprout out of the ground. They love when we start seeds inside because they can watch them form from out of egg cartons. We also do fun measurements and “observations” of what we think will happen next and what won’t. Since gardening to our family at least is a learning curve, it is nice that the more they do this the better they will get at it.
Tip 5: As I had said in my last blog Plant for the Future . I do believe that when we are planting we are planting for the future. The small things we do now can make a big difference down the line. Think about yes we will plant this flower now but in a few years it will become something even more wonderful.
Tip 6: Composting fun. We compost and reuse a lot in our home. It is fun for the kids to put kitchen scraps into a bowl and than at the end of the day take it outside to our compost pile. When are compost is ready to be spread around our gardens and planting containers filled with it the kids love finding the worms and making sure “they have a good home” in the new area. Composting is a great skill to pass on to the next generation since it is great for the Earth and your gardens.
Tip 7: If all else fails and all the planning ends up being nothing but a garden full off weeds, crops not growing right, loosing plants etc just remember that you and your kids had fun in the process. There is always next year with more new ideas.
When you stop to look up when walking what might you see. Now maybe try looking down do you see something different. On your journey can you look up and down to see the whole picture or can you look at just part and see it all. When life gets hectic do you stop and take in the big picture or maybe just a glimpse of something. Sometimes it’s just time for a new point of view. When I find myself being overwhelmed with something I stop what I am doing and take a deep breath, then I look at something new to focus on. Even if that focus is just a small bit of my time. As you know by now from reading my blog we go hiking and do nature walks a lot. When I was doing some nature photography on my last walk instead of just focusing on the sky or on a leaf on the ground I decided to point my camera straight up a pine tree. Then I stopped and thought after looking at my shot I had took. What a magnificent thing this tree really is. This tree has existed long before any of us were around. It has seen many changes in life good and bad. It has been chewed on and climbed on. Had nest built in it. It’s bark holds many stories of its life. Lines on the palm is what the trees bark is to me. Without it many things wouldn’t have been possible. A bird couldn’t had stopped to rest. A squirrel couldn’t have had a home to raise its young. Many possibilities would have been lost if it wasn’t for that tree being there. To look with such detail at a tree when one is in a forest it makes you see how every tree is unique and is important. It’s nice to give yourself a different point of view. That view could be anything that you need in that moment. Sometimes its good to stop and give yourself that breathing grace to focus on something new. Or sometimes just to take in the scenery and get a different perspective.
Where we live it is colder more of the year than warm. We try to spend as much time outdoors with our children. That is hard to do though when someone is cold or gets wet etc. I have some tips and tricks to help get your kids outside to enjoy the weather year round.
- Don’t make a fuss about the whole thing. If you fret about every little detail you will most likely just irritate your child than help them. Children are more resilient than their parents. Growing up it would be freezing outside but you would have to bribe me to get inside since I wasn’t coming in willingly.
- Dress to be prepared. What I mean is you can always take off layers, but you can’t put on more layers than you have. We are a family of winter lovers. We do a lot of recreational sports outside. Growing up I use to run a small team of sled dogs. I also use to cross country ski and do skijoring. My kids if they could would live in the snow. My sons one dream is to stay in an ice hotel at some point. We dress for the weather. We put a lot of layers on, we start with thermal layers under our jeans and sweaters. Than we put on our current outfit which usually has a polar fleece zip up. Then its snow pants ( wind and water proof) and winter jacket ( also wind and water proof). Then its the layers of fleece for our necks, hats and two pairs of mittens or gloves. First layer is always a knit and the top is water proof snow gloves. If we get over heated from running etc than we take off a layer.
- Next is my distraction technique. Sometimes with toddlers after what feels like 100 years getting ready to go outside they are instantly board and want to go back in. This is when I use my distraction technique. All it is , is you try to stimulate the imagination by showing them a cool thing. For my daughter we usually show her little cut outs in the tree and tell her I wonder if fairies live in there. Then she goes on these missions to find more cool trees and hidings.
- Compromise….in the end what you are trying to accomplish is fresh air and a change of scenery. Sometimes the day is just a bust but I always look at it that they got X amount of time outdoors. Sometimes we spend almost all day on adventures and sometimes they are done after 30 minutes. The fact is I feel getting children outside and into nature is more of an accomplishment than a defeat, even when the day doesn’t go as planned. Now that my youngest is 4 yes he tires before the other two but he still tries to keep up with them. I can see his little mind at work while he figures out how to climb that tree or get over that rock. That is something that he learns on his own with very little assistance. I know when I had two under two our days spent outdoors were limited. The thing is though we still went out and gave it a try.
Whatever adventure your family goes on make it a fun experience so that next time everyone is just as excited as you are.
Another weekend and another hiking trip. Did I mention we go for nature walks and hikes often. Something about getting back to our roots is a comfort. The primal instinct to go walking around in nature and to be apart of it. Lets think at one time human kind didn’t know that there was a possibility of living inside the way we do today. To never leave ones home or just sit outside to get some fresh air. Our life is not designed to always live a life of recycled air from a building ( I love AC when it is super hot outside). We are meant to be apart of the Earth’s pulse. That is why when no matter what is going on in our family life. When we step out onto that trail it gives you a sense of clarity. My mom always use to say to me ” go out and get some of that vitamin D.”
Our trip was a beautiful sunny day. It has been very cold and wet lately so it was great to finally see the sun. Though is was sunny the wind still had a bite to it. My family and I bundled up and hit the trail. It was so peaceful. We only came across one other family when walking. You can imagine how quiet the woods was. My kids explored some of the tree bases looking in their nooks and crannies. My daughter has this amazing wild imagination ( I hope she always has it). She was imaging that those were little fairy homes. When she got home that night she of course had to draw some of the tress with fairies coming out of them. The woods even though it was sunny they still have that deep shadowing. It has that effect of pulling a blanket close to your face to bring you comfort at night. Where we hiked the whole forest is all pine trees, so there were millions of pine needles lining our path. Oh and the aroma of those pine needles every step released the smell on the ground. It was a moment of clarity that my family needed. To just step out into the world and explore the big and little things it has to offer. I was able to do a lot of photography ( I will share that throughout this month on my Instagram) which is one of my many outlets in life. I love being able to capture that moment in time and to look back at it years from now and appreciate it even more. I have always loved photography. It wasn’t until I was in collage and majored in art was I able to get better at getting that great shot.
You know how when you first start out on the journey of parenthood. However you got there: adoption, surrogacy, birth, foster, etc. You had all these big plans of my kid will never do this, my kid will never do that. Then it happens that big moment when you realize oh that’s right I was ” the best parent ever before I had kids.” Lets just say you knew a lot about parenting before you became one and then when you became one you were just like “oh now I get it.” Sometimes it’s just survival mode. The baby or toddler is up all night. You haven’t slept in days and at this point you will just be happy to have a quick shower to feel human and a 2o minute power nap. The thing is though as parents we are all in it together. The end goal is help shape these little humans to grow up, do something, and be happy. I know some of us have these dreams of what we want our child to become whether that be a prodigy piano player, or a life altering doctor. My hope is to one day have my children grow up to be happy adults. Happy with the outcome in the choices they make. Happy that they know how to work through difficult situations. I want them to have a great foundation so that while they are out there building themselves to become who they want to become that they have a good base to start with. Yes some walls do get pushed down in life and some walls never get rebuilt. It is their story and since every person is unique so is that path.
Our house can sometimes be a chaotic, noise filled place. Through all that noise though one thing I hear above all that commotion is laughter. Yes nothing turns out the way we see our paths starting. Yes sometimes our paths take us in a completely 180 way. I hope for my children though is to grow up and know how to find that happiness.
My family tradition growing up was Christmas was always celebrated in my neighbors house. I grew up in a very small country village ( it wasn’t even a town because it was to small). My parents had moved away for my dads job so we were nowhere near any immediate family. Christmas Eve was always doing Vallejo ( it’s a polish tradition ) in honor of my grandmother. Then we would go to a candlelight Christmas church service. I grew up in a small area so there was maybe 20 people in this mass. Then we would go home and hope that Santa would arrive. In the morning my mom would make a massive breakfast or potatoes, spicy potatoes ( we would get different spices from all over the world , we traveled a lot when I was a child), snausages ( yes that is what I called them), and my mom would make her famous cheesecake. We would pack up baskets and sing Christmas carols while walking down the street to our neighbors house. Usually the whole village was invited so there were maybe 15 of us. My neighbors owned the old inn that was built in the town. They had a great big serving room to host everyone. We would all pile in with our food for the offering table. Then we would eat, sing Christmas carols, swap books and talk about movies. It was tradition afterwards to go see a movie. My favorite ones were Little Women ( 1994) and The Lord of the Rings all three. Then after eating and dividing up the leftovers we would walk back to our house. We did this every year since I can remember.
Now that I have children of my own family traditions have changed a bit. Neighbors move away and life goes on. What is exciting with change is the possibilities of new traditions. Now my husband and I have become expert gingerbread architects. We also still make my grandmothers family recipe of poppy seed. My daughter and I now keep the tradition going with a lot of help from my mother. We also do a big Christmas breakfast but this time my parents host it. When my sister isn’t traveling ( she lives a pretty awesome life) she also comes and joins in the festivities. If you read my other blog Hiking With Kids you would know that we also always do a new years day hike. The thing that is beautiful about change is you get to start new things. I have such great memories of my childhood Christmas but I love the new ones too. I can’t wait to see when my kids have grown what traditions they start.