Monday, August 26, 2013

What mama learned at forest school...

So, every two weeks we are joining with some other outdoor loving homeschool families in the forest of Big Cottonwood Canyon to have forest school ! What is "forest school", you ask? Well, in this case it is a group of families coming together to provide outdoor education, and primarily, to let our children explore the outdoors. The organizer of our group lives in the canyon and chose a wonderful, open meadow type area with a creak nearby and surrounded by forest. Beautiful. 
Today was the second meeting, and our first experience. 
*It was raining and chilly. I couldn't get the Chariot stroller with a rain cover to collapse to fit in the back of the van. 
*Jubilee doesn't have rain clothes, but thankfully some hand me downs from friends to Ollie contained some Patagonia wear that fit her (crazy Patagonia, size 3-6 months!). 
*Ollie. What to do with Ollie? I grabbed an outdoor blanket that I bought off Babysteals a long time ago that was supposed to be water proof and tie over your baby carrier. "We'll find out!" I thought. 
We drove up the canyon and the rain really started in. We parked and geared up. I nursed Ollie, my friend Steph helped me get him in the carrier (Beco) with the blanket tied on and finally we were set to walk down. Steph carried Jubilee as it is a pretty long walk and the big kids were ready to get there to the covering of the trees. Travis, the organizer, had found a great, dry spot under trees for us to gather. Unfortunately, it was as we reached this spot that I realized I had forgotten Ollie's binkie in the car. Oh man. He was ready to sleep and needed his binkie! I tried letting him suck on my finger, etc. but he was not a happy camper. Meanwhile, Jubilee decided she no longer wanted to have on her too big rain boots and was  fussing and taking them off. Thankfully, I had her Keens in a bag and put them on her as everyone tried to have introductions and a discussion about weather, respecting wilderness, etc. above our fussy crew's noise. Sorry guys! Oh, Sam also had a shoe meltdown in there as well. Eventually, all settled down and we went to explore the creek area, which was so very beautiful. The kids explored and I walked with the littles (Ollie was asleep by this point) and tried to keep a very sleepy Jubilee from melting down. We sat down and had a snack a bit later, the kids explored some more and then we started back up to the van. All in all I think we were there about 2 hours. On the way back up Jubilee had reached her breaking point. She was crying, "Niggggh, nigggght". 
I must interject here that I guard nap times pretty fiercely, but as this is our only commitment during nap time and it's only once every two weeks, I deemed it ok. Wowsers, it was tough. 
We got to the car with my arms literally shaking from trying to carry both babes, got everyone in their seats, and Sam sighed and said, " I really love forest school!" I inwardly smiled/grimaced at how clueless kids are at how much it takes a lot of times to provide these opportunities for them. And yet, how wonderful that he loved it. That they love to be in nature!! 
I have dreamed of doing some sort of outdoor school with the kids since they were babes. Dreamed of it! And here we are! Today was a reminder that good things, things we dream of, are still grounded in reality and reality is often tricky. Full of logistics. Hard work to get to the magical. Still, it is something so important to me, so central to what we want for our children, for them to explore and learn in the wild, beautiful outdoors, that I will figure out how to do it better. I will learn from our experiences, laugh at our misadventures, and try again the next time. Tonight I will go to bed with weary arms and a happy heart. We did it, kids. And we'll do it again. 

What I learned:
1. The ROSK blanket over my Beco carrier works GREAT! Oliver stayed dry and warm, thank goodness! Also, the Tuffo picnic blanket with waterproof bottom worked great on the wet ground. Both blankets purchased off of (just FYI:). 
2. Patagonia gear, though ridiculously expensive, also worked GREAT on Jubilee. She was toasty warm and dry when we got back to the car. Thanks Amanda for the great hand me downs! 
3. Don't forget the binkie in the car!
4. Figure out how to more easily get Chariot loaded in car and bring it. Period. This will help with walk to and from the meadow and also may provide a place for Jubilee to nap. 
5. Bring even more food. 
6. Get Sam a bigger size in Bogs. Bogs boots work great for rain and snow. We love them. Jubilee has a pair on the way!
7. It is worth it for us. All the crazy misadventures (yesterday I *sort of* accidently pushed Sam off a log while trying to reach a bottle of sunscreen Amelia had dropped out of her back pack into a pond. Sadly, I did not reach the bottle and Sam was very muddy and sad. We got through it.). We learn from them. They are just part of having adventures, right? 
8. Being outdoors with children energizes me. It really, really does. LIke, from the inside out, you know? Thankful for that. 
Here are some pictures from the forest and from the Ogden Nature Center the day before (such a fabulous place! We will definitely visit again soon, and not push Sam into the mud:). 

Ogden Nature Center...

 Postscript: Turns out Jubilee had a tummy bug and didn't feel good at all on Saturday. This makes Friday make a lot more sense re: how fussy she was! Poor babe. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

"The fairytales from Amelia Hunt"

*Told in rapid succession with barely a pause in between, other than to say, "next story!" :) 

"There once lived a happy fairy and she knew a little girl and the girl was not happy because she did NOT get teached how to be nice and the fairy helped her how to learn to be nice. The little girl loved how she helped her and then she helped the fairy when she was in needs. Now she just helped everybody in needs. Other fairies and little boys and girls who needed help. 

Next story

There was a little boy. He was really kind and there once lived an old witch. Now this witch did not like the little boy but the little boy even helped ones who didn't like him. There was one thing about this witch. She is trying to cast a spell on him but the little boy already knows that. 

Next story.

There once lived an old little bird and there was a fairy on her back! The fairy loved watching little boys and girls. One little girl knew that the fairy was watching her and she really liked it because she believed in fairies. She loved that she had a little friend fairy who talked to her every night and every morning. The fairy had golden clothes that shimmered in the morning light. The little girl was wearing a pink dress with flower designs on it and a straw hat. She was a really generous one and gave away all of her toys and the fairy knew she was the right one to make a friend with and they lived happily ever after! 

Next story.

There once lived a little teeny weeny bug. He loved fairies and he likes to talk to them and give them rides. Now, he said to one of his fairy friends, " Don't you want to fly and feel the wind and see how many birds are in the air?" So the fairy flew and he loved it and then he became a bird fairy because he loved the blue jays and all of the birds!

Now for a song...."

Sunday, August 04, 2013

"Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from the masters."        – St. Bernard St. Clairvaux

Joel took the kids camping last night...beautiful mountains! Ollie and I had a lovely time enjoying the peace and quiet of a home all to ourselves, but I can't wait to hear of their adventures and kiss their dirty faces. What a treasure to have a daddy that loves to take them to the outdoor goodness, where they indeed learn things that textbooks never could teach. Hope you enjoyed your weekend!