Monday, October 6, 2014

Here We Go!

Well, actually, we are already here! Our Southern California desert scape is now filled with the October color of Autumn in Chattanooga, TN! Watching Joshua explore has resulted in his following comments: "Green, red, purple, and bugs Mama! Everywhere! Cool!" After living in mainly various shades of brown in the desert climate, the colors around us currently seem that much more vibrant. Prior to Joshua's arrival, and after that time, my husband and I searched for colorful leaves each Fall in Southern California. We thought it quite comical then, and now, as we simply look out our window to see the symphony of color around us, we laugh even more. The seasons of life have brought us to the end of our leaf search. They were right here all along. Since Joshua is going on three years young, he will most likely only remember the desert climate and the trips to the Pacific coast splendor from the thousands of photos I took of his first two years of life while we lived there. From here on in, his life will flow with the four seasons, the change of each, the rhythmic passing of time observed in how Mother Nature changes around us each year. My husband and I feel at home with the natural pace of life settled comfortably in the season. Watching Joshua experience this change for the first time will only add to our sense of home.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Throwing Rocks

There is an elegant sculpture on our school campus. We live on this beautiful campus filled with trees. The sculpture is of trees and birds. It is glorious. Every time I see my son look up at this sculpture with wide eyes and his signature smile I get chills. The best part about this sculpture though are the rocks. Joshua was playing with the ocean rocks at the base of this sculpture before it was even built. He continues to play with the rocks. He gathers shiny rocks, speckled rocks, smooth rocks, and rough rocks. He names their characteristics as he sees them and gently places them on the wall at the base of the sculpture. He does not throw the rocks. At first we were concerned, but once he was so amazed at the beauty of these rocks he naturally started treating them respectfully. This is a reminder to me of our innate sense of wonder and gratitude at nature. We all need to be sure we don't lose this sensibility as we age.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bugs and Space!

"BUG!" Joshua yells in excitement. We saved yet another spider from our indoor space by scooping him up into our officially titled "BUG CUP" and placing him gently back into the backyard grass. Joshua could save bugs all day long! He is so curious about bugs that since his first day spotting one he yelled, "BUG!" and wanted to touch it. It was a fragile ladybug. Tough enough to survive the harsh environs of the Souther California desert but not rough enough to survive Joshua's curious little hands. What to do then? We want our children to touch, feel and explore with all their senses. In fact I am sure that Joshua, very much still in an oral stage, would have explored that ladybug with his sense of taste as well. So, out of my mouth it came, "Let's give that sweet bug space." And I held up my hand toward the bug with my palm facing it, nearby, but not touching it. Guess what? Joshua did the same thing. And, this has since stuck. Not only for bugs but for a lot of things that he may do better with observing from a close proximity. Examples we have encountered lately, goose poop at the lake, dog poop in a field, and an ant covered banana on the sidewalk. All of these findings were explored with our sense of sight and for some, unfortunately, smell, as we gave them "space." We give bugs space so they can do their important work of pollinating flowers and digging holes in the earth. I teach Joshua that this is giving them respect. The cutest part of this lesson from nature for us is when I see Joshua SO tempted to touch a spider as they are most interesting to him. His hand gets incredibly close and he grunts as his face turns red with huge effort to hold his hand back. He is able though, to give that spider space. How proud I am of his respect for nature. How proud I am of his constant curiosity and love of nature!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Watering the Plants

Source: via Debbie on Pinterest

For the first time today my son watered the plants. He held his little watering can in his tiny hand, leaned it forward and smiled with pride as the water flowed out into the first plant. He loved this experience so very much that he watered every plant, every rock, and most of the sidewalk! It is amazing to me to see how all of his first experiences with nature are greeted with such joy and excitement. He loves to touch every rock and smell every plant. He simply wants to explore with all of his senses. He is playing and learning every moment of every day. I reflected back to the days, only a few months ago, when we sat, rocking in our chair, looking out the window at those plants. Those plants that he is now taking care of and helping to nurture and grow. Compassion, care, and a sense of adventure are the values Joshua learned today with the simple task of watering plants. Pride and growth are internalized in him with each new skill. The world is so much more beautiful when seen through his eyes.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Raising a Green Child

Raising a “green” child is actually not as much of a challenge as I thought it might be. Yes, he is currently only going on seven months of age, nowhere near “I want what the other kids have” territory, yet I feel we have gotten off to a positive start. This start is already increasing the neural connections necessary for growth and learning for our son. First, we have provided a routine during which he says, “Good morning” and “Goodnight” to the sky, grass, birds, breeze and flowers. He sits outside each morning while we play ‘I spy’ and ‘I hear’ to identify the different sights and sounds in nature. And, we get ready for bed by taking a walk through a wooded path and around a beautifully rural campus. These early imprints of nature will bring about a greater respect and awe of nature for our sweet son. What we have found as well is that he genuinely enjoys nature. And, why wouldn’t he? He himself is a part of nature, the rhythm of life. He has grown during his own seasons thus far and will continue on as he develops through the winters and springs of his life. Children have an innate curiosity for and love of nature. When our son stepped his little toes into the enormity of the ocean for the first time, he was overwhelmed by its mass. By the third time, he understood the peace and pace of the ocean waves and dug his teeny toes in the sand as if to ground himself in this special place. He looked out at the water with a smile. Our son reaches out to plants to touch the leaves, laughs when his feet are placed in the dewy grass, and gasps in delight at the sunlight dappling his hands when we look out the window. This joy of nature is inborn. This joy of nature can grow as our children grow. As long as we nurture their curiosity, safely, then they can explore and have fun in their natural surroundings. A child who spends hours digging up sand to build a sandcastle has learned and interacted much more with his environment than a child who has spent hours passively watching the television. What child doesn’t love to lay on a blanket at night to look up at and name the constellations? Again, this love of nature is innate. Our plans with our son as he grows is to: plant a garden and harvest the vegetables, pick pumpkins this Fall, learn how to swim, go camping, hike through the forest, bicycle and feel the breeze in our hair, be nature explorers, and so much more! What is more natural than simply following the lead of our children’s love of “green” learning?!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Free Green Family Activities

Blogs, tweets, Facebook updates, internet articles, commercials, and news posts come at us at a rapid pace every moment of every day. It is challenging to sift through the wealth of information firing at us, especially in the middle of cooking dinner, listening to your child talk about his day, and planning for your important meeting at work tomorrow. Where did those seemingly endless summer days go? When we were young children, played outside all day with friends, and built tree houses? As adults, we are now faced with the dilemma of finding the time to help our children experience those precious, long summer days. How do we fit that into our adult days? Does our family budget allow for such experiences? Here are easy, simple and fun "green" activities for you and your family. These suggestions are meant to enhance your life, to bring balance to your family's life, and not to overwhelm you with more tasks. First, take a walk in the local park. When was the last time you went for a walk with your family? You and your child have energy, and physical movement will actually give you more energy as it makes you physically stronger and lifts your mood. While you are on this walk, depending on the age of your children, ask them to find three different living critters in the park during the walk. You can add to this activity for older children by asking them to photograph or draw the three new critters they find. This simple activity will provide quality time, laughter, and will refresh you all for re-entry into your busy lifestyle. Second, get the most out of your day and your family time with a green project such as planting and tending to a vegetable or flower garden. Skills learned from planting a flower are much more than physical. Children and parents increase their level of compassion, ability to nurture, and capability to focus. All of these benefits to children and parents are possible and likely with the simple tasks of planting a seed, watering, providing sun and attention. As you model nurturing skills, your children reap the reward of learning how to grow and nurture in return. Just the simple act of planting a flower creates not only a more beautiful landscape in your yard, but also a more compassionate child. As the seasons change, more free and green activities will be shared here for your family. Please remember to keep it simple, keep it quality, and have fun.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Green Mother's Day

The greenest, most natural Mother’s Day gifts are simply about being together. If you are a mother you have a deep appreciation for the most coveted gift - time together with family. If you have a mother, your best memories are of those with your mother. Our mothers are all different. Some of our mothers are biological, some are adoptive, and others came to us as a neighbor or Earth angel. Our mothers, at the end of the day, have never asked for more than their kids’ happiness. Our mothers have always been thankful for the hand-painted crafts we gifted to them as children and the milestones we reached throughout our lives. Think about the smile and glow on your mother’s face as she saw you walk down the aisle toward your diploma or toward your husband - pride in her children is indeed the greatest gift of all. The first gift of time together this Mother’s Day involves nothing more than laughter. My mother is the one person in the world that I laugh with more than anyone else. Even if your mother lives far away, as does mine, skype with her for free and spend all day laughing together if you have the time. Chat about anything and everything that brings you joy and smiles. Another fabulously natural, and free gift, is the gift of food. Think about all of the meals your mother provided for you throughout your childhood years. It is estimated that by the time we reach the age of eighteen our mother has provided for us a total of twenty-thousand meals to ensure we grow healthy and strong. This total doesn’t even include snacks and treats such as fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. So, how difficult would it be for you to prepare a scrumptious meal for your mother? Even in the middle of your busy life, with kids and a job, it is possible and will be much appreciated. Invite your children to cook with you to create a uniquely tailored meal of all of your mother’s favorites. Imagine her surprise when you invite your mother over and she sees you and your children standing at a table of fresh-cut flowers and her favorite hot meal. When was the last time you and your mother took a short or longer trip together? Does your mother love to walk or hike? Does she love to go birdwatching or to garden? Maybe your mother enjoys the ocean and the spa? Whatever her adventurous side loves, indulge her in that experience. A picnic and walk at a local park is not only fun but inexpensive. A trip to the spa may be costly so you can always create an at-home spa experience with candles, music and all-natural facial masks made from produce straight out of your refrigerator. No matter what she loves, it is the time together enjoying that experience that will make your trip with her memorable. If your mother has physical or cognitive challenges, time together is even more important. Doing artwork together, writing a book together, or recording a duet of just the two of you singing her favorite song, will provide for you long-lasting treasures to cherish. If your mother is only able to sit with you, then simply sit with her. Enjoy that time, that precious time, where all that needs to be is gratitude for your mother.