autumn days

Thursday, March 29, 2012

one step forward, one step sideways

In holding myself accountable, I flashed back to the list I made on my second blog post 15 months ago.  This blog was started for a few reasons: to record adventures with my children, to communicate with adults while spending my days and nights attached to those children, and to hold myself accountable in moving with my family towards a more sustainable, simple, responsible future.

What to accomplish with Hannah's Healing Hand blog, as written to Hannah:

  • help your papa's business run without chemicals or excess waste (garbage, water, etc.)
  • make and share only beeswax candles
  • raise bees to provide beeswax and honey
  • raise chickens for family pets, garden fertilizer, and meat (name them Stew, Roast, etc.)
  • buy more of our goods second hand
  • buy more foods in bulk without excess packaging
  • stop using so much refined sugar and flour at home
  • bake own bread
  • walk or ride bikes to most destinations
  • have one family car instead of two
  • take the train to far away destinations instead of driving
  • have virtually no garbage and very little recycling
  • use biodegradable cat little for garden fertilizer after use
  • clean home with towels and rags instead of throwaway wipes
  • buy as much food local and organic as possible
  • barter with friends and neighbors
  • talk with others on solutions that work for them

  • I see my family has been talking and moving toward solutions, yet we have so far left to go.  Let me state my main goals here, so I will focus on the most important.
    1. Raise my children with kindness and thoughtfulness.
    2. Raise my children in a loving compassionate community of friends and family.
    3. Use fewer resources (driving, buying, etc.).
    4. Grow and glean as much of our own foods as we can.
    5. Get outside in the fresh air regularly.
    6. Keep it local when possible.  Love our location and all that it offers.
    7. Find a way to laugh with my family each day.
    8. Keep moving in the right direction and be amused by the side-stepping.
    9. Forgive others who have good intentions.
    10. Forgive myself when my imperfections feel exaggerated.  
    This is a shorter broader list, but one that feels true to the original directions of this bloggy blog.  Thank you for sharing this learning adventure with my family and me, dear reader.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    Mount Talbert Nature Park

    We were thrilled to head out for our third nature day last week.  And this time we went to Mount Talbert Nature Park with friends.  The kids trekked up the mountain, stopped for a snack, and then found a quiet "sit spot."  The kids sat quietly to listen and watch the world around them.  They reported back to the group that they'd seen purple flowers and heard music and birds and some crunching sounds.  They heard a red-tailed hawk, saw a foraging deer, and discussed the tagged lone wolf that traveled to California looking unsuccessfully for a mate.  We discovered the big kids prefer hiking, the little kids prefer being carried, and the in-between kids don't love long hikes.  (Next time we'll hike less and explore more to accommodate those shorter legs.)

    Hannah's neck started getting itchy halfway through our hike and this opened our eyes to the world of poison oak.  The mountain is apparently covered with it, dormant this time of year, but thankfully Hannah's itch went away.  The lesson we took from this is to identify poison oak in its various stages and to learn with the kids how to avoid touching it.  We also made a plan to get together for more outdoor exploration together.

    As my children learn to explore the beautiful local flora and fauna around them, I am trying to say less of "be careful" and more of "pay attention."  These two words feel like I am giving them permission to take more calculated risks.  I've heard it is best to take those risks while young while the consequences are relatively small.  The more my children use their bodies and pay attention with their senses, the more they will know their personal limits.  Getting out into the nature just outside our doors truly helps us to be more relaxed and excited and creative.  Rain or shine, snow or hail, we are getting up close and personal with the seasons.  Including all eight dark months of rain.  We are having so much fun paying attention to our great outdoors that we want everyone to experience it.

    getting out during an unusually dry day

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012

    Mill Park (Johnson Creek Watershed Council)

    Over dinner last week, Hannah told us about erosion and how you can stop it by planting more trees.  With her Nature School friends, she found that stabbing sticks ("pretend trees") into a mountain of dirt kept the dirt from washing away.  It's pretty cool when your first child can tell you about erosion over a shared meal.  Last weekend we joined the Johnson Creek Watershed Council to control creekside erosion in Mill Park.  Along with 400 volunteers in nine parks, we planted shrubs and trees, pulled weeds, and laid bark.  Hannah made a new friend who she continues to talk about.  We had such a great morning digging in to the work with other volunteers.  As volunteers, we have found we learn things for free that other people pay to learn.  It is amazing what a four year old can learn in a short time.  Her new skills include getting a plant out of a pot, loosening the roots, placing it straight up in the ground, gently filling in and tamping around the plant, shoveling dirt into a wheelbarrow, moving an empty wheelbarrow, collecting pots and weeds from volunteers, and finding other odd jobs to help out.  I was so impressed by how helpful she could be.  And she truly delighted in her new skills and independence.  We would like to do more activities like this to help out in our local community.

    loving her time in Mill Park

    testing out the hole before the tree is planted

    homemade saline solution

    My 16-month-old son Liam has been sick with another cold while he cuts four new molars at the same time.  Poor guy.  We find a children's saline solution in the nose so helpful to dry up mucous and congestion.  Hannah used to squirt it into her own nose when she was sick, but this guy doesn't like it one bit.  He breathes and sleeps so much better after a little dose.  When we recently ran out, I found this simple recipe for homemade solution and put it into our old saline bottle.  For adults, I have heard rave reviews about daily washes with the neti pot, though I am sure this saline solution would also work.

    Homemade Saline Solution for Children:
    Boil one cup water and one teaspoon salt in a pan for 10 minutes.
    Cool it and then put into a dropper or small dispenser.
    Put a few drops into child's nose while they lay on their back, then suction out mucous.

    Two Old Potatoes and Me

    A week after first reading Two Old Potatoes and Me, we found some potatoes hiding in our cupboard making crazy eyes at us.  These old potatoes that could have become garbage have become our newest potato crop, once we get them into the ground.  We are planting our scraps, just as they did within this thoughtful book.  Hannah enjoyed studying and describing each eye.  When she was ready, I chopped them up into small eye-full pieces and put them into a paper bag for a few days, where the raw skin will slightly harden.  Then it will be planting time.  I haven't yet found a place for them in the garden, so it is time to commit myself a bit more to gardening and get these little eyeballs growing into a new crop of tasty treats.  Last year it seemed our potato yield was too small to make it worth planting and watering and digging them all.  But after realizing we have free seed potatoes in our own kitchen, and remembering the adventure of Hannah and her cousins digging up last year's crop, I knew we must plant potatoes again this spring.  So again we'll plant potatoes, and soon, but perhaps make it all a bit simpler by growing them in large pots.  Speaking of potatoes, we love them baked, mashed, souped.  How do you like to prepare your potatoes?

    potatoes looking in every direction

    tasting bits of clean raw potatoes, a favorite from my childhood

    new crop on the right, new potato leek soup on the left