Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Suddenly Snow

It's Wyoming and November, which means unpredictable weather. Actually, Wyoming in ANY month means unpredicatable weather. So it shouldn't have surprised me that yesterday I was outside barefoot and this morning I woke to steadily falling snow.
At first I was disappointed since the past few beautiful days were spent recovering from a nasty stomach virus. But the excitement of the boys, especially that of Asa who may as well have been seeing snow for the first time, soon carried over to me. So we scrounged my moms house for snow clothes and headed out.
We couldn't find any gloves for Asa, so he donned a pair of socks on all his extremeties.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stroller Adventuring and Secret Forests

Since we have such little time left here in Southern Illinois, Ari has been spending alot of time at his dad's hosue, leaving Asa and I large spans of time together while Tim is at work. The dynamic is different when it is just he and I, and this time together has been really sweet. We enjoy taking adventures together with the stroller, doing errands on foot, jogging periodically, exploring neighborhoods, and discovering new places.
Here is a special spot only a few blocks away from our house. It is definately someone's personal land, but there is a path and open area mown through it, without any "No Trespassing" signs. Plus I cleaned up an enormous amount of trash from along the edges where the woods and road meet, so I feel like I have use of the land as long I use it respectively.
So Asa and I come here to play in the leaves. We come and spread a blanket, lie down, and look at the trees. We come here to find the best sticks for pretend sword fights. We come to enjoy the peacefulness that comes with being in the forest.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Freedom and Children

Freedom, I have recently come to realize, is very important to a child's developement. I'm not talking about freedom for a two-year-old to wander the neighborhood unsupervised, or freedom for an eight-year-old to eat as many cookies as he wants. But age-appropriate freedom in a controlled, fairly safe environment is really priceless. Of course we have all seen the damage done by parents who never supervise their children, but just as damaging can be well-meaning parents who constantly hover over their children, watching and commenting on the child's every action. How can a child learn self-confidence and good decision making skills if they are never allowed to make those desicions by themselves? Sure, they will encounter tough situations and probably take part in a good deal of fairly dangerous play (climbing high trees, oh my!), but if they are never allowed these opportunities then how will they learn to think for themselves? To make too many free-play opportunities off-limits is to tell the child that they cannot be trusted to make good decisions. To supervise their every move is to teach them to be dependent upon the attention of others. To correct every minor mistake prevents the child from learning from their own errors, and more importantly, constant corrections send the message that the child is inherently bad. Again, I am not talking about shirking our parental responsibilities, or denying them our assistance when it is needed. Rather, I am talking about refraining from assistance when it is NOT asked for, and trusting our children more. Our most important job as parents is to nurture a sense of compassion, self-worth, and independence in our beloved children. Obvoiusly they will need much guidance, but they will also need enough freedom to develop their individual souls in their own time and in their own way. My guess is that this sort of growth best occurs in an environment free of overbearing parents.

June Bug climbing a tree without shoes OR prying eyes! (except to come out and take the picture of course)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Gift of Motherhood

The challenges of mothering are great, but the rewards are far greater. For every sleepless night there is a smooth day. For every mundane boredom there is an exciting adventure. For every tear there are fits of crazy laughter. For every frustration there are blessed moments of perfect harmony. Every mess made has something nourishing in it's background-- hearty playing and art projects to nourish the soul, or wonderful meals to nourish the body. Come to think of it, I suppose these opposites, this balance, applies to all of life. But mothering offers something even more, something difficult to put into words. Birthing and raising a child fills us with a sense of something bigger than ourselves; something more important and more fulfilling than we ever imagined. Finally we are forced to look beyond our own needs and wants to give our hearts completely to our children. We may resent this at first. We may feel like we've given up our Independence, our sense of self, our freedom. But over time we come to realize that these notions are false and we are, in fact, fuller than ever. As our children grow, so too does our sense of purpose, our striving toward positive actions, our patience, our compassion, and most importantly, our capacity to love. This is the gift of motherhood.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Two Boys

Two Boys, so different from one another
yet so completely whole in their own way
Two boys, so different in age
yet so in love with one another
Big Boy, so smart, adventurous, sweetly sensitive
Little Boy, so curious, playful, determined
Big Boy, lover of drawing, animals bikes
Little Boy, lover of music, juggling, water
Two Boys, separate but connected
Two boys, beautiful independent lives sharing the same road
(One Mama, so different from her boys
yet made whole by their presence in her life
One Mama, lover of dancing, art, the forest, music
separate but connected
gratefully sharing the road)

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Candy" Necklaces

One of my biggest challenges in homeschooling the past year has been finding time to do projects with June Bug while his toddler brother rampages about. Little Sprout's nap time is really the only time we can get out materials, but it's also often my only chance to exercise, rest, or do chores. Today's project was one both boys could participate in.

You know those cheap candy necklaces maade compeltely out of sugar and artificial colors? We made our own version with Cascadian Farms "Fruitful O's" cereal. Similar to Fruit Loops, but less sugar, naturally colored, and made with organic ingredients.

I threaded two darning needles (which are big and blunt) and gave each boy some cereal to work with. June Bug worked thoughtfully to arrange his colors.

Little Sprout ate most of his cereal, but made a concentrated effort to get a few onto the string. More than once he tried very hard to thread a piece, only to give up and eat it out of exhasperation. On the flipside, he once started to eat one, only to take it back out of his mouth, slobbery and sticky, and THEN thread it onto the string!

June Bug models his necklace which we will save for an outdoor adventure or park trip.

Little Sprout, who had lost interest in the project and so had his unfinished thread taken away, sees June Bug wearing his necklace and demands for his own back. (Demands = grunts and points) I give it back, and he promptly puts it around the back of his neck, needle still hanging off the end-- at least it wasn't sharp. He smiles proudly as he shrugs his shoulders to keep it in place.

Wishing You Innovations in Inclusion,
Mama Randa the Cereal Lover

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Water Play and Recollection

It had been no ordinary day at the park. We were there for an event jointly sponsored by the parks district and fire department. It's called "Chill Out in the Park" and happens four times throughout the summer at various parks. It has been going on for several years, but this was our first time attending. Now that we've been, we won't be missing one ever again!

The photos are from my friend's phone so bear with the blurriness! There's the fire truck spraying the hose and Little Sprout in the white hat

It's good simple fun. A fire truck comes and sprays water from it's hose into the air over a park's field. The water rains steadily down, pounding you in a slightly stinging sort of way. The water then pools up in many splash-happy puddles, some as deep as calf-level. So simple, yet so very, very fun. I was not ashamed to be one of only two parents to play right along with the kids (the other was my friend we came with)!

Little Sprout loves water in all forms. He asks for water to drink all day long (though he won't drink it from a sippy cup), we can't keep him from splashing and trying to stand in the dog water (or putting the dog's food in the water), and he absolutely LOVES to play in the wet stuff wether it be water tables, beaches, puddles, or rain. So needless to say, he LOVED 'Chill Out in the Park'. Who cares if the water pressure is a bit painful? Who cares if you're shivering? Who cares if Mama takes away the big dangerous stick? Well maybe he cared for a bit about the stick, but otherwise it was completely worth the absurd amount of fun that occured.

That night, Sprout was laying in bed, cuddling me (which was a first since he associates me laying down with nursing and refuses to lay down without it). He lay calm, occasionally changing position. His calm non-nursing behavior was very strange and I reveled in being able to cuddle him without having to be physically attached. Quiet. Calm. Dark. Sweet. Finally he said "Water... water". Half statement, half question, I was unsure if he was asking for a drink of water or. . . could he be recalling the events of the day? I suspected that the latter was the case, though I've never been sure if a very young child was capable of thinking about past events. Typically they live for the moment, thinking only of what is presently going on around them. Had he been resting there thinking about our day? I began to talk about the details of our adventure and the concentrated look on his sweet face made it obvious that he was thinking very hard.

In the darkness he finally said "hat, baby,"; both of which relate to our outing (he wore a hat and my friend had her young baby with her). My suspisions were correct, he WAS thinking about our trip! And from his extensive word list he was able to choose the few words that related to his experience. He was able to verbalize his thoughts! When did this ability to recollect begin? How old is a child before they stop living solely in the moment and are able to remember the past? All I know is that this ability represents a significant milestone in my little child's cognitive development.

Wishing You Water Fun,
Mama Randa Morning Glory the Woman Who Never Wants To Be Sprayed With a Fire Hose Full On Considering How Much The Water Stung Even After Being Shot HIGH Into The Sky

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fused Glass Project Part I

June Bug and I are making small fused glass pieces out of the tiny bits of glass left over from my own projects. They will be great little treasures once fired and will be perfect as unique math counters. The craft shop at our local university offers fusable glass for sale, facilities to work in, and a kiln to fire the finished products. They offer a wide variety of other materials and project kits, but this is what we are working on there for now.

assembling the pieces, next they will be kiln-fired

June Bug found what I assume to be a gumball dispenser at a yard sale and he just HAD to have it. It's actually pretty cool, but the jewels we have in it (the kind you'd buy at a discount store for fishbowls and other decorative purposes) are just a tad too big and sometimes get stuck. Hence the glass project!

Wishing You Unique Learning Materials,

Mama Randa the Fan of Fused Glass

Friday, June 18, 2010

Natural Learning, Natural Loving

Big brothers are the coolest people in the whole world. If brother reads, baby reads.

If brother learns Tae Kwon Do, baby does too!
Tough little Tae Kwon Do baby's got him by the collar. . .

. . . and he's down!

Truly playing together happily despite a 6 year age gap, building strong loving bonds between brothers, practicing acceptance of each others different personalities, THIS is what homeschool is all about!

Wishing You Sibling Bliss,

Mama Randa the Only Female in the House

(human female anyway)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Delicious Indulgence

Fresh berries and homemade pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. Mmm!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Wood Birds and Veggies

MORE wood projects completed-- I'm on a roll! I am in the process of re-establishing my Etsy shop after 2 years of not doing it. Don't know how to price these items though. Any honest opinions would be greatly appreciated.
For some reason I can't get this photo to upload right side up. The carrots are my favorite! These and the birds all have wire hangers on the back for wall display.

Wooden birds with wings and tail feather made from batik fabrics.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wooden Geodesic Dome

Woodworking has been an interest of mine for about 3 years now, however, ever since I became pregnant 2 years ago, I have been unable to work on wood projects. It has been a combination of fatigue, lack of time, and lack of good work space in a new rental house that have kept me from my projects. Well, I have FINALLY completed an idea that has been brewing in my mind! This is an encouraging victory!

We recently studied Buckminster Fuller, the man who invented the geodesic dome. In fact, "Bucky" lived and taught in my town (Carbondale, Illinois) and the first ever dome home where he and his wife lived is located a few blocks from where I previously lived.
So after attending a week of events to celebrate Buckminster Fuller, I was inspired to craft a dome of my own.

1. First I cut and sanded plywood triangles

2. Piece by piece, I attached each part with a strip of fabric on the inside. I worked from the bottom row up, waiting for each connection to dry before adding another.

3. Once all the pieces were attached together, I reinforced each spot where 6 points met with a circle of fabric.

4. After all the fabric reinforcements were dry, I used white puff paint like grout in each gap between triangles. This was quite the process: I had to add at least 3 layers of puff paint "grout" to each trench. Every time I walked past, I would add a little more.

5. I added the white paint around the doorway, and it's done! Hooray! It's not quite what I had envisioned, but that's the beauty of art, right?

I plan to create a scene with a handmade 'guy' and plants and scenery and then take a photo of it to sell as art prints.

Wishing You Completed Projects,

Mama Randa the Once Again Woodworker

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Real P.E.

Well hello there mysterious little light!

Apparently the little light just wants to climb with Ari.

Building agility, strength, and most importantly, confidence.

Now this is REAL learning-- natural learning.

Wishing you exciting excursions,

Mama Randa the Rock Climber