Monday, June 27, 2016

It's summertime!

During the first three weeks of June, the girls chose to go to the summer school classes that are offered for free at the local public school. We are not usually early risers but they had no problem waking up every weekday around 6:30 to get ready because they genuinely enjoy summer school. Camille took a beginning German class as well as a class that brought the teens to explore places around town. They played bingo at a senior center and volunteered at a daycare. They visited a cemetery and a goat farm, went geocaching, and swam at the town pool. 
a 'pop-up' Father's Day card in German

Sylvia took an advanced games class and a tie-dyeing class. In advanced games they tossed water balloons and eggs, played basketball, volleyball-tag, ran obstacle courses, and did team-building exercises. In her other class, besides tie-dyeing many pieces of clothing, Sylvia was able to create and play with clay, copper, beaded jewelry, batik, paper marbling, cupcake decorating, and making a colorful tube pillow.

In Ayla's first class, they rehearsed daily to prepare for performing a play. The kids learned songs, dances, and memorized lines for their play, It's a Pajama Party.  It was her first time on stage in front of a large-ish audience and she really seemed to enjoy it. She also took a crafty class and was so happy to have one of her good friends in the class along with her. Ayla's teacher had so many sweet things to say about her and Ayla proudly showed me her creations each day.

Classes were done each day by 11:00 am, so we still had time to embrace all of the other summer activities that we enjoy. Sylvia got a flower press and gathered pretties from around the yard try it out.

 Who doesn't love an early evening fire and roasting marshmallows for s'mores?

...even if it's a bit smoky

strawberry picking with a friend

sister shenanigans

Camille has also been participating in summer band and running club. She mostly prefers not to be photographed these days.
a rare Camille sighting

While the girls were in their classes I had a couple of quiet hours each day. Some days were spent working in the garden or catching up on chores, but many were spent creating in my art journal or spending time alone in nature. This replenished my reserves of gratitude and patience!


art journal cover, work-in-progress 

There is currently a free Women Unleashed Online Retreat happening that has inspired me to play with mixed media journaling. A listing of the many creative video sessions is available here and sign-up for the retreat is available here, if anyone else is interested. All free sessions are available through July and I probably still won't get through them all. (I have no affiliate interests, just passing on something that I've been enjoying.)

  chicken love for Papa and Ayla

  park play date

pool play date

 Camille volunteers weekly at the library and occasionally also helps with the summer kids' reading programs and events.
 hopscotch at the library

 exploring along the bike trail

While Camille was at the teen group at the library, Sylvia, Ayla and I explored the nearby bike trails and creek. They are both ready and willing to get sopping and/or muddy anytime, anywhere. We improvised a skirt for Ayla from a tank top so that she didn't have to soak her corduroy pants and into the creek they went.

What do you think? Do your kids love to get wet and muddy? Do you let them? I love, love, love summertime and spontaneous adventures. In the summer, my house is usually messy, my feet are dirty, and my laundry pile is high. I'm good with that.

Can you see Ayla on top of the monkey bars in the background? She is fearless lately, and oh-so-capable.

One more thing. Look at this beautiful bottle lamp that my friend made for me. Isn't it cool? I love it!

Signing off for now. In my next post I'll share some of my art journaling pages if I'm feeling brave. Thanks for visiting!

*all photos are from June 11 - 23

Saturday, June 18, 2016

June days and growing girls

My babes are growing up. They don't need my attention as often or as intensely as they did when they were younger. They are becoming more capable and more independent every day. That is the goal anyway, right? So, this is a season for me of finding my own way as they find theirs. Of course, since my youngest is only six, we're not in the full swing of that yet, but it's very different than the baby-wearing, night-time-breastfeeding, and washing-cloth-diapers days.

I started working one day a week in a certified kitchen out at the beautiful Echo Valley Farm, baking lovely goods for sale at local restaurants, grocers, and farmers' markets.

The girls are helping out more and more. Voluntarily, I might add. Sylvia wanted to help shave Carly and her coat might be a little patchy, but she is so much cooler in the summer weather without her thick coating of fur.

I don't hover or worry when they climb to the tippy top. They have practice knowing how far they can manage on their own.
On this day at the park, Sylvia asked me which was bigger, 2/5 or 3/7? That was her estimate of how far up the climbing wall she had gotten at Mt. Olympus. We figured it out together. It turns out that 3/7 is 1/35th bigger than 2/5.
On my birthday (39!) we went to Northwoods Orchard and Farm Market for some extra plants for the garden. It was a mellow day with the family and just what I wanted. I know I'm kinda boring. We did go out to Hillsboro Brewing Co. for pizza in the evening (one of the places that we bake for at the farm).

*photos by Sylvia

"Look, Mama! The worm is making an infinity symbol."

Sylvia made homemade whipped cream to go with those fresh-picked strawberries.
We were graced with rainbows on the way home.

Ayla likes to draw and tell me elaborate stories and I listen, intently, because I know that she won't always want to tell me her stories. With an almost-teenager in the house, I know how quickly it will go 'til Ayla won't want to hold my hand when she skates at the roller rink. One day she'll just want to get dropped off there with friends, and maybe hold hands with a boy (or girl). She'll put a bandaid on her owies herself, and maybe mention them in passing days later. That's all well and good and as it should be, but it's not always easy for a tender-hearted mama.

My almost-teen is an elusive photo subject, but she is great at caring for our animals, for watching over younger siblings while Papa and I walk miles up and down the hills surrounding our property, for a thoughtful conversation about devastating current events. Plus, she voluntarily does her own laundry!
These two offer to help cook, help plant, help hang laundry, and if I'm feeling sad I can count on extra spontaneous hugs. The rows might be a little wonky and I might not remember where the carrot seeds got planted, but I like it just fine that way.

Can you spot the muskrat in that photo? Apparently they are semi-aquatic omnivores and are the only species in their genus. I learn something new every day.
friends and kittens are a good combo

warrior girls on the trampoline
 with friends, helping plant potatoes

Ayla and I were watching a nature documentary and she told me that I was "beautiful as a scarlet macaw". That's high praise from my little animal lover. She also told me in the car yesterday that she hopes she would be like me when she grows up, that she would love her children like I love mine. She is good for my self-esteem. :) Beyond that, I know how loved she feels and how beautifully she can express it.

Sylvia has been working on a kid's cooking tutorial for a YouTube channel she'll be launching soon. I help as much (or as little) as she wants with the filming and production. It's all her gig. It promises to be sweet and entertaining.

I love these girls and their Papa and this stage in our lives sooo much, but I'm feeling a bit bittersweet about them growing up. It feels like one of the many turning points in this parenting journey, with all of the delightful promises and moments for reflection that that can bring. I am ready and grateful to be here.

With extra time on my hands as the girls become more helpful and less needy, I may not have gotten any better at keeping up with the laundry or the weeds in the garden or decluttering the house, but I have time to read books of my own choosing, to work outside the home, to create an art journal, and to paint at my easel. These are worthwhile pursuits. Perfection has never been my goal, but joy and connection, both in the parenting role and outside of it.
Dreamscape, work in progress. I don't know where it will go from here.

*all photos on this post are from the first week in June