Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Snow Day January 2, 2013

My mother tells me that I used to roll in the snow all the way to preschool when we lived in Michigan. I do not have that affinity anymore. A few days ago I woke up to this:

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It has snowed in New England several times in recent months, but I always had some legitimate excuse (school, homework, fatigue) to avoid going out in it with my girls. I’d promised them though, that the next substantial snowfall would not be ignored.

Going out was unavoidable, so I tried to make the best of it. I got the girls all suited up and put on my normal stuff. I can no longer zip my 3-in-1 coat because of my growing bump so I wore a sweatshirt beneath it. I don’t have snow boots or waterproof mittens so really I was not protecting myself nearly enough, but I layered as best I could.

The girls looked so cute in their snow pants and jackets 🙂 They really had a wonderful time outside in the snow. Maybe one day they’ll think it’s just a nuisance to be around, but for now they absolutely love it. I enjoyed being able to watch them enjoy something so simple. Thank you Nature!

And then she ate some off of the table

And then she ate some off of the table

Terra wondering if the snow will taste good

Terra tasting the snow

After deciding that snow is delicious she ate some off of the bench

After deciding that snow is delicious she ate some off of the bench

Then she made snow Angels

Then she made snow Angels

Amara made a slide out of the snow plowed from the parking lot

Amara made a slide out of the snow plowed from the parking lot

She slid and slid and slid

She slid and slid and slid

 

 

I almost hope it doesn't melt so quickly this time around...almost.

I almost hope it doesn’t melt so quickly this time around…almost.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Zoo Day August 29, 2012

It was tradition to take Amara to the zoo on every one of her birthdays thus far because she adores animals, but this year, as her main interest is learning everything possible about the human body, she chose to go to the Museum of Science instead. We aren’t used to living so close to a zoo, so our yearly trip would usually be the most we could do, but now it’s only a reasonable drive away. Last week we were given the opportunity to visit the zoo with a friend who has an annual pass. This means that we saved nearly $50 on what would’ve been admission, and another $12 on the Zoorassic Park exhibit (which my dinosaur lovers were dying to explore). You could say it was like having Christmas in August. We were so grateful for her generosity and had an amazing time!

We absolutely love being surrounded by animals, especially when they seem happy in their natural habitats. Visiting the zoo gave us the chance to learn new facts about various furry friends; I didn’t know that a kangaroo can jump farther than 20 feet, which is the same length as a tall giraffe’s neck! We always get a big kick out of the gorillas, staring into their eyes is eerie and spiritual; I cannot help but to imagine humans living in glass cages someday, staring out at the evolved versions of ourselves. Amara nearly cried when we had to leave the flight cage. I thought $2 was a bit expensive for the little wooden stick with seeds stuck to it, but since we hadn’t paid for anything else all day I decided to get one. I’m very happy that I did; I’d have paid the fee a million times more to see the smile on her face.

The zoo had the largest playground I have ever seen! It was a wonderful break from the monotony of walking and reading the signs, a good break for a tired and pregnant mommy, but also an amazing change of pace for two young girls exploding with energy. The playground was not devoid of animal references; from the top of a climbing tower you could see the giraffes at eye level, the stairs to different platforms were shaped like fish scales, and every aspect was animalesque. What fun it must have been to be a zoo playground architect!

Going to the zoo was one of the greatest days we’ve had in a long time. It was wonderful to have the chance to teach the girls outside of our typical environment, they had so much fun that they forget they were learning and I enjoyed it so much that I was able to think about something other than our problems for a while.

 

Beach Day August 15, 2012

The plan was simple. Go to the beach, enjoy the serenity of the ocean, play in the waves, collect shells, and try to spot birds that we’d studied in the A Bird’s World exhibit a few days ago at the Museum of Science. How quickly plans change when you have young children and their minds are full of curiosity.

Other than the seagulls, we didn’t see one identifiable bird, but we did do some unexpected learning. After several trials we learned the consistency of wet versus dry sand needed to make a castle tower which didn’t instantly collapse, and I found out how wonderful of a workout building a sandcastle could be. We got into a conversation about sand particles that ventured into an explanation of quicksand that quickly became a discussion about drowning.

Yes, my girls are three and five, but I have always been completely honest with them about existence, and they know that all life involves death. They are very curious about death and I tell them what I can when they ask questions. I know that things are scarier when you don’t understand them, so I figure it’s best to just be candid (on an age-appropriate, scientific level).

Talk about death lead to lots of hypothetical questions which I answered for a good amount of time before finding them redundant. We searched along the beach for shells and discovered  dead crabs and sand fleas, we picnicked at the state reservation’s playground and I had to beg the girls to eat, then had to motivate them to go back down to the beach. The waves were terrifying to Terra, no matter their size, and she clung to my neck the entire time we were in the water. Amara found the water enticing until a large wave knocked her under and she took a panicked breath beneath. “How can waves be so strong?” Amara asked me. “It’s just water!”

The day was simple. The weather was perfect, we enjoyed the ocean, the conversation was flowing, and we left the beach a more unified team. So much for the hours we’d spent at the Museum of Science memorizing the features of birds that we’d planned on seeing. Sometimes it’s better when things don’t go as expected. Everything came together perfectly.

 

A Family of Foragers August 1, 2012

Filed under: Ecological Education — Jet @ 5:00 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Today has been one of those unexpectedly fruitful days.

The girls and I planned to spend most of our morning outside. The air was cool and inviting, the sun not shinning too brightly, and everybody’s spirits were well-aligned. We went outdoors with the intentions of feeding the ducks and the groundhogs, collecting leaves for future identification, and running around with no shoes on.

We did feed the animals, and our shoes were far behind, but as we started looking for leaves to identify we made a wonderful discovery. Blackberries!Blackberries I ran inside to fetch a strawberry container from the recycling bin and we began filling it with yummy, plump, finger-staining, wild blackberries.

The girls had a blast learning which berries were ripe for picking, getting the hang of pulling them off without squishing them, and going around the yard trying to find more patches of berries. We found about 30 total patches of blackberries growing along the edge of the woods behind our condo. Save for a few thorn scratches and mosquito attacks we wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience.

Upon returning inside and attempting to rinse our stained fingers we piled onto the computer chair to research berries that grow in our area. Sure enough, wild blackberries are most prominent in New England during the months of June and July, and those delicious looking plump red berries that Terra kept trying to pick, but didn’t due to my apprehension, were in fact poisonous.

We had a great time foraging, learning more about berries, and even more fun eating them.

 

Close to Nature July 18, 2012

One of my biggest fears about moving to New England from southern Illinois was that we wouldn’t be close enough to nature. Back home, I was used to seeing deer on the lawn, http://www.visitusa.com/illinois/images/giantcityparkpic.jpgbonding with the bunnies that’d stop by to steal from our garden, enjoying the long stretch of yard between our house and our neighbors’ (but also enjoying and knowing our neighbors), and the short, scenic drives to wilderness trails, sandstone bluffs, fishing, hunting, and camping spots.

Since the entire move was based upon my attending graduate school in Boston, I wanted my commute to be reasonably short. I wound up sacrificing close proximity for trees, a peaceful neighborhood, and backyard buddies.

We are awakened by the quacking of the ducks; when the blinds go up they waddle over to the window expectantly, awaiting their pieces of wheat. A decent amount of our day is spent feeding the flock, the squirrels, the groundhogs, and the chipmunks, looking for new bird species, and curiously witnessing the animals’ interactions.

Our bird watching, animal feeding, and constant observation make exciting nature lessons for the girls. They are eager to learn more about each of our furry and feathered friends and I have a fun time teaching them. The carrot-loving groundhogs had babies recently, and one of the female ducks (the only duck successful at keeping her eggs safe from the opossum) had 11 ducklings! This has given me another convenient opportunity to explain the difference between birds laying eggs and mammals giving birth to live babies.

We discuss migration, the birds of prey, the differences between the red and gray squirrels, the way to behave around the animal babies, the way to avoid getting sprayed by the skunks, the reason why the blue jays scare the sparrows away, the purpose of the red-bellied woodpecker’s pecking, and many other teachings. It’s like having a nature show out our back window!

It takes me over an hour to get to school, and thus far I have only seen one lonely deer, but my daughters get to run free in the grass behind our condo, there’s a patch of woods that conceals us from neighboring streets, I am enjoying the various hiking trails, there are plenty of places for fishing, and the scenery in this area is amazing. In fact, it’s a lot like home!