Did I mention that the hens came home last weekend? Our backyard feels alive again. The end of wasted food scraps is here. Hooray!
And while I'm on the topic of chickens, I should announce that we've got four little chicks all piled up on top of one another, sleeping quietly, in the laundry room right now.
In an effort to simplify, I am going to experiment with this little space. I've limited energy or time for words right now. Life is so full and somedays it feels as though it is all I can do to nourish the hungry mouths and beaks around these parts. Home is where I am needed. Tending, nourishing, replinishing, cleaning, washing, tidying, listening, playing, hugging, kissing, loving, cherishing, and enjoying. I am needed. It's where I want to be.
Life is busy, though thankfully, not too busy to snap photos of it. I'm thinking of posts that include a photo or two, here or there - a few times a week, likely less. Maybe a sentence or two - or a paragraph. I tend to ramble if in front of a keyboard. We'll see. It's an experiment. I wonder!
First, let me say, that I feel really fortunate to be able to write about the little one's new work and play spaces. As a Montessori guide, over the last few years of my parenting journey, I've had to reconsile between my ideals and my reality in regards to our own creation of child friendly spaces for Beatrix. True, then and now, I know in my heart that what children need above all else, has very little to do with the look of their art shelf, playstands, or organic wool Waldorf dolls. I think so many of us know that their needs are much deeper than that. How simple yet humbling it is to realize that what they really need comes from within our very own souls - that is, to be in the presence of someone worthy of imitating. Still, from my own perspective, an environment can not be ignored. An environment is a powerful influence. Being in the presence of beauty can certainly inspire energy and love for the world around us.
Our previous homes were small - 800 square feet or less. And though I admit to having a knack for organizing and using space wisely (my mom taught me well), I did eventually feel that we had maximized our living quarters to the best of our abilities. Quite frankly, allowing Beatrix to choose, move, and work independently didn't always work perfectly in our well loved but tiny homes, because we were limited by space. This was fine. We have no regrets. Children are adaptive and forgiving. She is, I'm sure, all the better for it.
Now, we have the space we need. It's not gigantic at all, but I must confess, this home seems luxurious in comparison. When we moved into our home last month, Beatrix's bedroom was the first room of the house I "completed". I love children's spaces. They can be so cheerful, bright, innocent, and timeless all at once. I've loved creating hers, tweaking it as she has grown. The majority of her belongings are either hand-me- downs or thrifted. I love the patchwork this piecemeal collecting has created.
Also, I can not write this post without talking about Beatrix's response to her little nooks in our home. Beatrix is fiercely independent. She absolutely thrives on being challenged to do things for herself. From her earliest days, she has exhibited this force to care for herself and her environment. It has truly been an awakening for both Byron and myself - to watch her bloom. I know this statement sounds so generic, but it's so true! What a profoundly interesting notion to think as well: how much of a person is the result of nurture and how much is the result of their being - their own spirit. We'll never know with certain, but I find it hard to believe that we created this little person and her habits - her ways. My intuition tells me that she is in control. She is who she is and she has been the one in charge - creating herself.
She is still very much the same child I've written about here and here. That is, who she was is who she is still. If Beatrix has a task to do near Byron or I, she's a happy, content little one. She works and sings. She works and dances. She works and imagines. She works and plays. She flows. So throughout our home and our outdoor space, Byron and I strive to design our lives in a way that can include her. She is, afterall, so very capable and so very willing.
Her bedroom is a place that she mostly sleeps in. Yes, she's slept in her own bed since she was six months old. It was her choice, not ours. We literally followed this child to her very own floor mattress! Lots of times, she'll take her toys to the living room or kitchen and play with them near wherever we are in the house. She'll play in her bedroom if we are near her, before or after sleeping, or with another friend!
The little art shelf near the kitchen mimics the art shelf at The Natural Child. Bea loves school. She loves the Montessori environment. She loves choosing her work and putting it away. It works very well for her. The Montessori environment speaks to her orderliness and independence. She feels empowered by the decision making. As one can imagine, her little work shelf has been a real hit. Though basic in what it offers, I think it's just enough to inspire her. Right now, she can choose from cutting, drawing, water colors, and pasting. The bottom shelves also serve as the home to some of her play kitchen materials.
Her play kitchen is also a much loved area. Though unless there is someone to play with her there, she usually prefers to participate in the real meal preparation and cooking as opposed to pretend kitchen play. Lately, she's been using her play kitchen as her work station. She'll grate cheese or chop vegetables there.
Throughout our home, there are little accessories that we've added to help serve Beatrix's drive for independence and participation - a good step stool in the bathroom, a coat hook at the front door, hooks for her broom, mop, and dustpan in the mud room, a low kitchen cabinet to place her dishes and napkins. These little adjustments make a world of difference to her sense of well-being. More than a bin full of toys or the business of extra-curricula lessons, she discovers the world and thus discovers herself through meaningful work with her hands near the ones she loves and trusts the most.
Oh, and if you haven't discoverd Pinterest. Please check it out. It's an addictive source of inspiration to all of ones creative endeavors! I've had the most fun discovering and sharing with like minded folks there. Enjoy!!!
This weekend was all about:
Yep, apple crisp.
Bea discover The Sound of Music. I know she's young y'all for the whole video thing, but she adored the singing and dancing. How could she not? "Dance with me, Daddy!" she sang to Byron.
I worked on a very long application that will hopefully lead us to a child in need of a home and family. The thought of growing our family fills me with joy, but quite honestly, the application to do so does not.
Camping weather is here. We're thinking about our first overnight adventure in the forest since Bea's arrival. Bea is made for the woods and a tent. This girl is bursting with love of the outdoors and usefulness. I must say, she's just incredible - in case I haven't already made that clear!
We're also pondering potential Halloween costumes, stories, and songs, tallying up family members who will be celebrating Thanksgiving with us, and savoring this glorious season.
Oh, the coop is completely re-built and we are nearly ready to get our girls back. As soon as we can get a load of mulch in there, we will bring them home!
Lately when Bea wakes in the morning and we get to talking about her night of sleep, she tells me she dreams of pumpkins. Whether that's accurate or not, it certainly tells me that this season is leaving an impression on her.
Happy Autumn friends!
Today is sunny and warm, beautiful fall weather. We spent the day at home with a visit to the library and the post office. The town is decorated in pumpkins and mums. I love this time of year.
Byron picked this up for me at the thrift store on his ride to work this morning. He's says it my late birthday present because he knows I've been keeping my eye out for one for what seems like forever.
The kitchen is calling me to bake an apple crisp. It will be my second apple crisp in three days. I made the first one with the children at school this week. This one will be all ours!
Leftover chicken enchiladas is what's for dinner tonight. I love leftover nights.
I have to say, I think my mom gave birth to me during the very best week of the year. Good things always happen somewhere around the first week of October. When I was younger, we could count on the first true cold front to sweep through the South - the one that actually lowers the daytime temperatures to sweater wearing degrees. These first cold fronts also gave way to the first gumbos of the season which are a true and profound welcome to any good Cajun's soul. Fall never feels more present to me than at the whiff of a home saturated in the aroma of gumbo cooking on the stovetop. It's easy to "celebrate" my birthday because life is usually so good anyways at this time of the year. I just feel extra blessed that I was born right on the front steps of autumn. Thanks Mom. You're awesome.
Right in time for my birthday we enjoyed:
The little one's insistence on a purple (pink) cupcake for her mama's birthday.
Our first opportunity to dine at this wonderful farm-to-table restaurant which is walking distance to our new home. Good burgers and even better sweet potato fries.
A bike ride to a really sweet pumpkin patch.
An evening with good friends under the wide open, big Texas sky.
Watching my girl have a ball playing with her friend in the cow pasture.
And lastly, a drenching start to our Sunday morning. It was perfection. Wet, soaking, glorious rain. Nearly three inches of it.
See, good things happen at the beginning of October!!
This weekend, Beatrix and I enjoyed a wonderful honor of receiving a sweet little package from Lilli, one of my favorite bloggers, who lives with her children and husband in Norway. Her world is cold and damp. My world is hot and dry. I like to think that we understand each other's secret longings...
Lilli's words and photos are incredibly mesmerizing to me. She writes with such openness and thought. Her photos never cease to make me pause for just a moment, oftentimes longer. They are breath taking.
The package we received was as lovely as her blog. So thoughtful. So elegant in its simplicity. A true lesson to stop and slow down and to pay attention to the details of the moments. To savor the beauty of our everyday lives.
We appreciate these gifts from our friends who live across the sea so very much. Thank you Lilli!
This weekend was a busy one. But a good kind of busy. One of the motivated kind, which is a welcome change. My head is spinning thinking of all the tasks accomplished and all of those that remain on the list to conquer. We're working hard to settle ourselves into our new home and it feels so wonderful to think long term again. Room by room, shelf by shelf, and bunting by bunting, everything is looking and feeling more complete.
I even made some laundry detergent which I have been meaning to do for so long now. It took a whole five minutes. I already washed a load of whites with the homemade stuff. The verdict? Looks and smells fresh! Yay! Now I'm itching to begin making soap again. Before Beatrix and before The Natural Child, Byron and I use to have a small soap company (which is where the blog name comes from). We made six different kinds of vegetable oil based soap. Once we adopted Beatrix, we gave it up due to time and space constraints. I'm just beginning to have to buy soap again and it feels silly considering I once made loaves and loaves of it. This time around, I want to look into using local lard as a substitute for olive, coconut, and palm oil. Hmm...
My thoughts are now also focusing on the what to do with our yard. Organizing and decorating the inside of my home is so fun and light for me. I can do it easily, I think, with a little help from my husband who is the master of the drill. But the outdoors can easily throw me for a loop. Thanks in part to the drought, our yard is a blank slate, so there is plenty of work that needs to be done. There are so many variables to consider when creating a livable outdoor space. Sun, shade, soil, rain, drought, seasons, mature size of plants, and all of that un-defined space. Exciting and daunting all at once!
To help me along:
I've been re-reading this book,
researching the most drought tolerant of drought tolerant plants,
dreaming of gray water irrigation (which appears pretty doable),
pondering dwarf fruit trees (I'm determined to pick apples from a tree again in this lifetime!),
wondering if I'll ever be able to convince Byron to let me have a hive on a quarter of an acre.
What is keeping your mind and hands busy these days?