Tuesday, November 21, 2017

On Leaves the Size of Montana and Other Things

After one of the Blossoms' most anticipated events of the year - the co-op Thanksgiving potluck, which is something like the equivalent of a class holiday party - this mama had to get her driver's license picture taken.  Mega exciting, I know. 

But, there's a little nature park nearby, that I've oft wanted to explore, so with a bark of "Throw your nature journals and colored pencils in your backpack," I kept this little idea in my back pocket as a surprise for later.

I like to think that learning can happen anywhere, in the moments that we embrace, the opportunities right in front of us, instead of hoping for a better time, a better place, or even a better method.

I like to snatch the moments of just being together, grabbing on tight to the snippets of time that we have.  

This felt like that.

A boring errand that must be done before the holidays and the perfect location to explore.  

Once my little surprise was out of the bag, grins of delight emerged and twinkles of curiosity lit in their eyes.

We meandered wooded paths, exclaiming over maple leaves the "size of Montana."  Said maple leaf is now residing pinned to the bulletin board over Blossom2's desk.  I dread the day it gets bumped, crumples and must be relocated into the cycle of life, i.e., the compost pile.

We explored the chilly marshy froggy habitats.  

Poor Toad.  He is not allowed to cross.

Savoring a short repast in this woodland throne flickered the Blossoms' imaginative stories alive.

Mama adored the wooden bridges.  Water crossings are delightful, even when the creeks are low.  Hollow footfalls and shouts of glee make my mama heart glad.

When we're out in the Great Outdoors, I like to keep an eye on where the girlies are spending the most time.  Then, we plop down and journal there.  This catch and release area, chock-full of monstrous trout, suited the Blossoms' fancy just fine.  Since some thoughtful person stocked it with fish food, they loved feeding the fish and naming the species they could see.  

We all journal, even Mama, and I'm amazed at what journalling can do for someone.  It's a processing tool.  It's practicing communication.  It aids in observation.  It's an exercise that it unique to each child.  

We packed up and journeyed home, happy in a few moments of fresh air and fully appreciating the beauty God placed around us.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Life (Hiking) Lessons

Now that the foliage is gone, you'll probably enjoy a few peeks at flaming foliage as much as I did.  Technically, it's still autumn, right?

Remember how I was so excited to enjoy this trail with the Rugged Mountain Man?  
We were happy to bring the girlies along this time.  

I love that hiking reinforces so many terrific life lessons.  

We like this avenue for teaching the Blossoms to be mindful, to pay attention, to truly observe.  

We love that relishing God's creation, points us to the Great Creator.

We love that hiking helps us learn how to do hard things, how to really persevere.  

It's practicing perseverance in little step-size bites.  

At some point in every hike, someone hits that place where they just don't want to go any further.  

We're out in the middle of nowhere though.  There's no choice.  

You just have to keep going.  

You can whine.  You can complain.  You can cry.  (Yes, it happens.)  

But, the only way back to the truck, is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

There's so many situations in life where this can apply.

Think of how many women proclaim in childbirth, "That's it.  I'm done.  I'm going home."  

It doesn't work like that.  

There's so much in life that you just gotta go through.

You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

Many times you find out that you've got a little more to give than you think you do.

You really CAN go another step.

When the Blossoms "hit the wall," we usually come along to encourage and to energize.

Maybe it's a piggyback ride for a minute or two, another sip of water or a reminder that there's ice cream at the end of the trail.  Whatever form the encouragement takes, they do not hike alone.  

Perhaps you've come upon some hard things that must be done.  

You are not hiking alone.  

The only way is probably straight through.  

Keep hiking...

...And smile a little too.

(Blossom3 and Blossom4 are each in their own way admiring 
our favorite massive oak tree along the trail.  To each her own.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Inspector McChecker Lives Here

This is one of my favorite parts of the day... all those blond bedheads chowing down on breakfast while I grab the Bible story book for devotions. 

Anyway, it seems like tips and tricks have been a bit of a theme around here lately.  Sharing what works is a fabulous part of hearing what others have gleaned from their daily lives.  I love a good tip from others "in the trenches!"

I had a bit of a revelation while we were at our cabin on vacation in August.  Lots of kids go to summer camp and many of those camps do cabin inspections.  Tidy barrack are expected and somehow the kids survive such "cruel treatment" and come back from camp, having had the time of their lives.  

Our vacation involves six people living in two rustic rooms for 8 days.  The clutter disaster that explodes in a matter of minutes after our arrival has the power to greatly subtract from Mommy's and everyone's vacation.  

This mama got to thinking and cheerfully told the Blossoms, "We're gonna run this place like summer camp."  

Enter the morning and nightly inspections.  

I explained to the girlies that they were each responsible for keeping their sleeping bags and duffel bags tidy.  If inspection was passed every day, they could earn a prize.  The Blossoms took to this amazingly well, even eagerly asking me if I'd inspected yet and if they'd passed.  Sometimes, I'd have to send someone back to re-tidy up their space, but overall, what a success it was!  

Unfortunately, the girlies were slightly disappointed when they realized they couldn't get a (real) (live) sheep as a prize, but they did eventually settle for some new Littlest Pet Shop figures upon the completion of the goal.  

The end result:
Our cabin was SO TIDY and I was SO SURPRISED.

Ya'll, we simply do not expect enough of our children.

Then, we came home and Mama thought, "Why can't we use this for bedrooms?"  I helped the Blossoms with an initial, overwhelming cleanup.

The Blossoms are now working on a chart for earning some little garden statues that they want for spring time.  

I'll admit, now that we are four months into this "thang," I only remember to inspect about 50-75% of the time, but they often remind me.  However, it has helped their rooms to stay mostly tidy.  

Two things surprised me about this new "regulation:"

#1 - The Rugged Mountain Man noticed and commented that it made such a difference in the overall feel and look of our house.  There's no longer junk bursting out of their rooms.  It helps with the "calm" at night and in the morning.

#2 - The older Blossoms commented that it was SO MUCH NICER to go to bed in a clean room.  It was a relief and helped the next day to start off better for them.  

Right before I plop myself in the schoolroom to kick off our school day, I take a gander through the bedrooms.  At bedtime, we continue to try to start the bedtime process early enough to allow for a quick-clean and then, an inspection.  

It's something that's really helping us and I sure am glad for that.  

Go ahead, mama, I'm giving you permission to run your place like summer camp... or the military.  I'm pretty sure your kids will survive just like mine did.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Bring It!

Good morning, friends!

It looks like the real November weather is here to stay, or at least it has finally convinced me that summer is really gone and the temperate and scenic aspects of autumn are over as well.  As the Rugged Mountain Man fired up the wood stove for the first time, it triggered the mama-prepper in me. 

You know getting out the door with coats and shoes can be quite a process, so I had the girlies each pick a hat and gloves for each vehicle.  (They are more apt to wear them when I tell them to, if they choose them, though I always retain my veto power.)  I approved their choices and stashed them in our van and truck.  Those hats and gloves reside there all winter long.  Additionally, I grabbed hats and gloves for my man and me and stashed them too.  Since our hat and glove drawers are often exploding, even after I recently thinned them out, I was quite pleased that my winter prep had an added benefit - de-cluttering!  There was a much more manageable amount in the drawers afterward. 

Taking the preparations a step further, I rounded up a few warm blankets for re-homing in the back of our vehicles too.  This is the Northeast, ya'll.  It's cold and we should be prepared in the event of our vehicles breaking down!  I was also quite pleased to see that my linen closet inventory became more manageable as soon as I'd swiped a few for the vehicles.  De-cluttering is great, but sometimes you just don't have time to deal with what was culled!  I like it when de-cluttering is a surprising side benefit from another task.

'Tis the season for ice-scrapers too!  I dug them out from the garage and put them on the front lines. 

Part of a homemaker's job is seeing that her family is ready for the next season. 

Don't freak out, mamas.  That's not a guilt trip.  Snatch five or ten minutes and throw some hats, gloves and blankets in your minivan.  You'll be glad you did!

I'm heaving a satisfied sigh and saying, "Bring it on" to the cold weather now. 



Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A Little Bit of Life Lately & Laughter

After a stressful evening on the phone battling customer service representatives that dearly loved their scripts, I've decided a little "life lately & laughter" is in order. 

When I was canning beets and beet jam, Blossom2 utilized the beet juice creatively the other night. She painted her entire face in a vicious war pattern while doing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen. I actually let her wear her Indian war paint for a couple hours before making her wash her face. I can't figure out if that means I'm growing or digressing as a mom.

Apparently, "we don't put rubber bands on our heads" is something I say now.  

Apparently, "we don't whittle in the house" is also something I say now.

You know you're a football family when you specifically go out to eat on Sunday afternoon because your teams have a bye and/or don't play til Monday night.

Also, you might be a football family if your 4 year old argues against bed time
because she's "missing the game."  

The thing that earned me the most super mom points lately is the fact that I gave the Blossoms a huge cardboard box.  They've been occupied for well over twenty-four hours now.  Though their fast food restaurant is pretty cool, I've personally been enjoying Blossom4's jack-in-the-box performance.  Who knew a box could be so entertaining?  And it was F R E E.

Coming in at a close second, I let the Blossoms and a friend make homemade wax and cotton ball fire-starters and build fires in the woods near their fort.  Since I supplied some marshmallows and later hung out near that fire, I also earned some pretty serious mama points.  The Blossoms are coming in to the house, filthy and smelling like smoke, but ecstatic over some concoction they've been cooking over their fire.  Now, THAT'S childhood, my friend, simple and endearing.