Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Simplicity in Playtime

     It has been awhile since I have been on my blog. Life kind of got the best of me. Once we had seen the glimpse of spring after a long cold winter we got started on outside work. The garden was better then last summer, lots of canning happened this year and baby is toddling around. We are still working on keeping life simple... goals towards minimalism. Lately I don't like that word because it makes one think of stark white rooms and only owning a few possessions. We are now a family of 5 so we own more then a few.
    This winter we decided that each month starting with November we will tackle a new room to continue simplifying life. As a family we will clean, repair, de-clutter and organize each room only keeping what we really want or need. We want to use all that we own and keep it in good repair. The more stuff you have the harder that gets. We live in an old home so some repairs and paint are needed this winter. We also have limited closet space so we are evaluating how best to store the items we want to keep so they are handy to use. 
    So in the mean time I will show you what Eli's play area looks like. Having a baby at 43 and having a 16 year old and a 12 year old already; I can say I am wiser about many things. One of them being toys. After my second child I learned that a cardboard box and some washable markers could be more fun then expensive electronics. So when we found out I was pregnant last year we decided that this child would be raised more like we were. Simple things like riding bike, playing in the dirt, building tents inside on rainy days and forts outside on long summer days was what we did.... was what made us who we are today. Imaginative, creative, grateful for simple things, not afraid to get dirty to get the job done..... working towards something we could be proud of. But what does that look like when a child is so young. Simple toys that excite the senses and fuel the imagination. Child size items for everyday chores. Below are photos of Eli's play area in our living room. We live in a small home(1500 sq ft) so the living room acts as school room, family room, play room and office. 
This is our reading/nursing corner, all the children's school books, play area and basket of blankets/pillows.
Here is a close up of his play area. Eli has three shelves with toys and books.  He also has a basket next to our bed since he co-sleeps with us.
This basket contains colorful toys. The wooden toys have movement, some are shakers and in the bottom are colorful links that we snap together.

This basket contains high quality animals. We have a bigger bin of them but for this age we put out this small basket to explore. Many are black and white but some are momma and baby.

The soft basket is one of my favorites. It contains some small dolls, a small blanket, a soft book, a small silk bag and some finger puppets.

The natural basket contains Montessori wooden baby toys, two rattles, a soft brush, and some teething rings.

I love these wooden stacking bowls! They are high quality. We play with them by filling them with other toys for Eli to empty. He loves when we stack them for him to knock down.

The bottom shelf contains some first sounds blocks, shape sorter,  Two metal bowls, textured plastic balls, a few large piece puzzles, and some soft toys like the crocheted stacking baskets.

    As we get new toys and he grows out of some of these then we will change them out. Under our ottoman is a bin of blocks/stackers and a bin of animals. These shelves will change as he grows. As Eli's area of exploration expands to other rooms then we will very purposefully add items for him to participate in everyday life. In the kitchen we will add a little wooden kitchen and cleaning tools. In the bathroom a seat reducer and tray of Eli's hygiene tools. His clothes are kept in a basket to make it easy to teach him how to dress himself. We will have a water and sand play area in the garden. Next spring we have plans to build a tree fort with slide, rock wall, swing and stairs to share with his brother.
    So now that you see our main play area can you see how simple it is to teach clean-up! It is not overwhelming for me or for him. It is a joy to play, sort and learn together.  

Below a few links to some favorites sites. 

Wonderful wooden toys made by Grimm of Germany but also lots made right here in the USA. Also the small baskets for storing toys were purchased here- http://www.atoygarden.com/

I also like to buy wooden toys on etsy.com to finish myself.... I will share that in a future post. 

Amazon also has lots of wonderful toys and books. 

Not just toys but tools for everyday life and educational materials. http://www.forsmallhands.com/

This site also has a great blog with healthy recipes and fun ideas. I love their book and browsing the seasonal catalogs. http://imaginechildhood.com/    

Monday, February 24, 2014

For the love of spring

    The other day as we drove to pick up chicken feed... one of our monthly errands this winter; I smelled a skunk! Yes, a skunk. I also took notice of the variety of birds making song... could it be, right around the corner is SPRING! I can't remember feeling quite this exciting about breaking free from our snowy den. Maybe it is having a baby in the colder months, or maybe the fact we got so much snow this year, or that I am homeschooling a high schooler. Well what ever the reasons we are excited to see the snow starting to melt(yes, I know there is a little more to come) and the temperatures starting to rise during the month. So do you see signs of spring yet?
    Even though the temperatures aren't where I would like them to be for being outside for hours with a baby they are however warm enough to take him for a walk to the mailbox and back. All the way we listen to the sounds we did not hear just a month ago. A month ago it was so still, quiet and very white with snow. What do you hear?
    Things to do at the end of winter- make bird treats with mealy worms, put out suet cages with yarn scraps so they can build nests, look for signs that animals have broken hibernation, take a walk, build a rain catchment to water plants over the summer, make a garden plan, clean out bird houses so they are fresh for the season, etc. What things do you like to do at the end of winter?
Finn and Willow, our two weimaraners waiting to run free in the spring grass!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Embracing the Rhythm

   So this crunchy momma(google the term if you want to know more) has been busy snuggling with the new baby, homeschooling kids and trying to embrace the winter rhythm. I didn't realize how blessed I am with this till this past week. Someone mentioned how calm the baby and I are... it must just be me they said, that I am calm. Oh it was not always that way.... at least inside it didn't used to feel that way. My life was over-run with stuff, my day was over scheduled, I never felt like I had enough time, relations were strained and we were lucky if dinner made it on the table. As we made deliberate choices in life to live a certain way we could see ourselves getting more centered with all areas of life; spiritually(grounded/connected), mentally(calmer/less-stressed), physically(healthier/more energy) and our life in general.

    So what do some of those choices look like...

  • growing more of our own food(this is a work in progress)
  • buy as much organic as possible(offers more nutrition and less chemicals)
  • grouping errands so we only run once a week
  • limit children's outside activities so they can actually have time to be kids and become less stressed adults
  • embracing and investing in who God made us with our unique personalities(activities we are involved in reflect this like my daughter spinning wool, raising rabbits or my son with building) 
  • limit tv and video games(as they get older this has been a little harder)
  • making things at home like foods, cleaning products, toiletries, cloths, baby items, gifts, etc.
  • homeschooling(a routine and not a strict schedule)
  • lessening our consumerism(buy less, buy local, buy natural, buy quality so it lasts longer, etc)
  • Refuse, Reduce, Repair, Reuse(upcycle), Recycle
  •  embracing the seasons by going with the cycles, eating seasonally, seasonal activities(bird watching, playing in the snow, knitting, quilting, snow shoeing, etc.)  and gratitude for those changes 
  • sustainable practices like heating and/or cooking with wood, using less gas, taking fewer showers, buying food in bulk, canning, eating wild foraged/caught/killed foods, recycling oil for use in the tractor, etc.
  • using natural whole food supplements, homeopathics, herbals, other natural remedies and getting plenty of rest 
So why do I share this with you... to inspire, encourage, educate, and an affirmation of what your already doing. You might also ask why bother, isn't that a lot of work? Well, I am worth it, my family is worth it, my community is worth it, YOU are worth it and our planet is worth it. Yes it is work but work that is purposeful and fulfilling! We don't have it all figured out, it didn't happen overnight but we do what we can and always have the goal to improve as we grow. Embrace the rhythm of the season!