May 1st saw the sun shining brightly and cheerfully for our May day celebration! This has been a long awaited celebration by the girls, especially after reading of the May Day Celebration in the book, More All of A Kind Family. I admit, I love planning parties and I love having lots of friends in our home so I’m a pretty easy one to convince. Right now we’re in a bit of upheaval with a new roof in progress, a septic system being replaced, and a basement being insulated but we decided long ago that if we waited until our house and yard were ready to host parties, well, it just wouldn’t ever happen. So we go for it and with some tasty food, warm sunshine, super cute kids and great friends, how can you go wrong?
Most of the adults hadn’t been part of a May Pole dance before and very few of the children had either. I think there may have been a little cheerful skepticism as to how it would all work out but it all worked out great. Dan fiddled the may pole parade to our little pond side paddock and through a jig for the dance. The idea is that each person holds a ribbon and moving opposite direction of the person next to them, weaves over and under to make a woven braid of ribbons on the May Pole. The older kids did that for their pole while the younger ones kept with the same direction. I figure that by the time they are in their early teens, most of these kids will have it perfected!
And so May has arrived and we celebrate everything becoming green and vibrant with life once again. We celebrate warmth and friendship. Tomorrow, I turn to my freshly turned garden and begin the work of seeding and growing. Happy May, Friends!
Our sweet Aneliese turned eight today. Our girl, our first born is growing up fast.
Months ago, Aneliese asked for a pie party for her birthday; pizza pie, apple pie, and banana cream pie. And so that’s just what we did.
Then she asked if we could have supper, picnic style, by our little stream which has become a magical place for them. She’s been wishing for a birthday picnic there for the past four birthdays. And so today was the perfect day for it.
While I made pies and pizza, they spent all afternoon getting the picnic party spot all spruced up and it was adorable.
They then loaded all the pizza and plates on to the wagon and worked together to haul it across the pastures.
It’s on days like this that the richness of life almost overwhelms me. We have so much love in our life. So much enjoyment of simple pleasures like shared pizza with dear friends. A strong healthy, vibrant little daughter who told me in the morning when the day wasn’t unfolding the way we had planned, that she didn’t mind if I couldn’t get pie made, even the pizza but that she was just so happy to share her birthday with friends no matter what we ate.
She fell asleep a tired, happy, very loved little eight year old.
Quite a while back I started reading about Forest Kindergarten where early education is spent almost exclusively outdoors. We spend a good many hours of our lives out of doors but there was still something so intriguing to me about the intentionality of this type of learning. Basically, the idea is that in whatever weather, children are encouraged to play, explore and learn in a forest or natural environment with the adults there to provide support and to assist. So for months now I’ve been wanting to have a more “formal” day of this once a month and finally today, we had our first “Nature School” day. “Nature” because we hope to spend these days in environments other than forest, such as at the beach. “School” because well, our daughters often tell people that we don’t do school because for some reason unencouraged and unbeknownst to me, they’ve decided that “school” is really only the things that they don’t like doing. The many pleasurable learning opportunities that Dan and I help bring about aren’t considered school thus we’re trying to help them understand that it’s all part of their “school” experience.
This morning, only an hour after our intended time, appropriately dressed and with food and other essentials such as Dr Bear, we headed out to a near by lake that we’d never explored before that we all agreed was a good first location.
Part of this idea is to allow the girls a lot of freedom to set the pace and to not really have my own plan of the direction the day will take. We want to give them lots of time to explore, play, imagine, ask questions while we offer our own observations here and there. Today we’d intended to discover a lot of animal tracks to identify and read about later at home, however the rain from the previous night actually melted most of the snow forcing some adaptations. We crossed streams, climbed rocks, played with ice, examined and discussed various trees, Lichen, and fungi, checked out holes, listened to the wind, and only one child got wet right at the very end. Even Penny was ecstatic to join us.
It was a great first Nature School. We hope to eventually invite some of our friends who are home educated to join us and we also intend to eventually spend close to six hours or so exploring and playing whereas today we managed about three which was still really great.
On days where we do this and it’s dry, we all want to bring our nature journals and some identification books but for today we took pictures of things that we wanted to remember for later, both for drawing and for looking up information about.
I love that we can do this together. That together, we’re learning so much about the things and places that we love. I love that the girls have the opportunity to play and explore in the forest, to take risks that mean things like sliding off a rock or slipping in a stream. I really believe this is teaching them resilience, courage, boundaries, and creativity, along with so many other life skills. These are the glorious days of educating the girls at home, the ones where it all just makes sense. It’s days such as this that make the days where not much seems to makes sense or flow smoothly just a little easier.
I admit, by the time mid December finished the steamroll that began flattening me in November, I was ready to find a cave and hibernate until Spring. But I didn’t. I love traditions and I love all the festivity around Christmas but this year many things were just too much. So they just didn’t happen. Or they happened late. Or they were modified. More than ever, our girls just want us, our time, our attention, and our affection. All things that I struggle to offer when life feels too full of other things. So I tried to pick the things that offered what we all needed most, a few times totally missing the mark but sometimes spot on. They loved the “candy cane” porch, the Zimsterne (cinnamon star cookies) for hanging on the tree were a highlight for Kathleen, and our tree that was blown over onto our fence in a preChristmas storm was made memorable by its Ogre like shape and made beautiful by lit candles on Christmas Eve/morn. Between dolls from Grandma, pjs and slippers and art supplies under the tree along with the traditional stocking of treats and the years supply of socks and undies, they were much delighted with their Christmas treasures as well as the ways that they were able to share with others.
And now we are in the new year with a few more days to spend, just us, before we get back at regular life again. In my totally imperfect way, I’m trying to savor these days. The moment that is right now. This morning that was a snowball fight and while this mama has surprisingly good aim, my arm is still tired.
Wishing you a hopeful, love filled New Year, my friends.