Monday, November 29, 2010

in defense of fall

The minute the turkey left overs are packed into the fridge, America slams the door on autumn and starts decking the halls like crazy. What? It's only November 20-something. technically winter doesn't start for another month-ish if we go by the Solstice. It seems like fall, my favorite season, always gets short changed.

I am staging a one woman protest. I will not hang lights. I will not bake (not like I do much baking anyhow). I will not start my holidays cards (which I am not even sure I will get to at all this year). I will not wrap or decorate or even dare to hum a holiday tune. No. I am giving November her full glory and giving fall a chance.
The cold northern winds may be trying to blow away our little gourds and piles of acorns. Zach may be wearing his hat and gloves when he plays outside now. The marina may have turned off our dockside water for the season (sigh). And little Naia may gasp that startled baby gasp when the wind hits he rosy cheeks. But I am hanging on. Like the last little yellow leaf on the great oak tree (a favorite fall book for late November). I am hanging on for a couple of more days. Wearing my wool socks.

p.s. To welcome winter - I will be hosting a giveaway on Wednesday Dec. 1 -- stay tuned!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

november loving

Last gasps of beach weather...
and barefoot weather...
canopies of gold...
watercolors in the sky...

clear cold water...
my little personal heater...


Monday, November 22, 2010

Bahh-Bye... for now

It's been a fabulous year of fiber farm goodness for Zach and me (winterspring, & summer). And this month was our last visit to the farm where we got a big bag of roving and hand spun yarn from our sheep... plus a little lesson in weaving for the kids.
More than anything this time around Zach just wanted to roam the farm and take in one last afternoon with the animals.
I was loving roaming the property and taking in the details of this beautiful place in the late fall light...
Considering I don't know how to knit, and considering the long drive for us to get here, and considering all of the activities we have to pick and choose from for homeschooling fun... I figured we were finished with the fiber farm. But oh no, the boy stopped Miss Lisa on the way out and said, "Can we come back and do the class again next year, please?!"
Now I really need some knitting lessons!

Friday, November 19, 2010

~this moment~ cheetah rescue team

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama

Thursday, November 18, 2010

story bones

I have mentioned from time to time here just how much we adore our homeschool science classes at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC). Homeschooling in the Washington DC area means we get to take advenatge of so many federal resources that bring the most amazing new learning opportunities right to our doorstep. And we also LOVE our teacher at SERC Miss Karen who has been mesmerizing Zach since he was 3 years old and is largely responsible for his love of science and investigating nature. He often declares gushing when love after class, "I want to be Miss Karen when I grow up." Me too!

Yesterday we learned all about bones. And it was quite the education for me as well (as the classes always are). The kids got to explore how bones can tell a whole story about a person or animal and even about a certain period in history. They got to uncover a mystery about a real man (ancient bones brought in from the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) and put together a full story about his life by the time class was finished.
Our favorite thing to do after class is go romping in the woods with friends, there are miles and miles of trails and sandy shoreline and gorgeous woods. My little scientist almost popped out of his skin when he came across this.
How wonderful it was to hear him decode this find, examining every detail and trying to piece together the story of this bone. It's a whole new way of looking at things. Another homeschool love day.

Here are some of the resources we looked at before the class. Some of these links might be a bit much for younger kids (talking about how people died), so have a look before exploring with your wee ones.

Put Together Mr. Bones
The Secret In The Cellar (comic book style story of a real bone mystery at SERC. This one might not be good for little ones)
Written In Bone (check out the sidebar)
Forensic Facial Reconstruction from Bones at SI
Brain teaser style "crime" solving games
Human Skeleton

If you have any books or resources to share on bones studies, I'd love to hear about them!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

use it or lose it

I think I have mentioned before that I have an addiction to purging stuff. I LOVE getting rid of stuff, it feels so fabulous! And we try to keep to a mantra around the boat about getting rid of thigns that don't get used in the space of a year. Or not buying a new whatever unless we are willing to get rid of an old one (more for the grown ups as far as shoes or sweaters and such).

So when my boy looked at me out of the blue the other day and said, "Mommy, let's give a bunch of these toys to another kid who needs them. I don't think I need them anymore," I nearly burst with excitement. I dropped everything (except the baby, I gently put her down) and jumped right in to his toy cubby with a bag next to me for packing away the giveaway stuff.

He made some really good choices about what he really plays with and what he doesn't play with so much and what we could save for Naia when she is a little older. The best toy, he decided, was the empty space forming in the under the table cubby where he could hide. 
He wanted to keep some board games, the blocks, the cars, the bag of animals, the bag of playsilks, and of course his tea set.  Now the real trick will be keeping this space clear for hiding with the holidays around the corner.

Anyone else doing a purge this time of year?

Monday, November 15, 2010

little lights

This is the first year we managed to celebrate Martinmas. It started with Zach and I making water color paper lanterns follolwing this excellent tutorial by my pal Nicole at Gardenmama.

Zach used his toys to act out the story of the soldier who shared his cape with the poor man.
Then we gathered our friends together for  a last minute lantern walk around the marina. Our tribe of friends range from public schooled to private schooled to radical unschooled to school-at-home types. But no other Waldorf-ish families. So we weren't sure how Z's little friends would react to making lanterns and telling the stories about keeping our inner lights shining in these dark days. Much to our delight, they loved it!
We provided tissue paper and glue and jars for the kids and I printed out a few Martinmas poems and stories on card stock to pass out to everyone so they could get the jist of it. The kids loved parading all around the marina with their glowing lanterns well into the cold, dark hours of the night.
It made my inner light glow just hearing their laughter float above the firey lanterns as they danced in the night air. Thanks to all my other bloggy friends who post about Martinmas each year for the inspiration!

Friday, November 12, 2010

~this moment~ sleeping with rainbows

A Friday ritual. A single photo capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. - via soulemama

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

everyday life: folding laundry

Most liveaboards do their laudry at a marina laundry room somewhere on the property. That's the deal we have here, basic coin operated machines a short walk from the boat. (see here to read about that)

Then we haul the bag (which is often stuffed bursting at the seams and resembles a body bag) to the boat and proceed like any other household to sort, fold, and put away. Naia gets to be right in the thick of it. She coos and gurgles like the Queen of Clean on the top of the mountain of laundry, watching he colors and textures pass around her.
And I sit on the floor next to her, pulling out a shirt, and then some pants, and a skirt -- like playing baby Jenga seeing what I can snatch out of the pile without toppling the mountain, baby and all.
Usually by the end of the process, she is passed out, and I end up making a laundry bed for her to rest on while I move on to the next chore.

It's a rough life for this litte pupkin.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

little and big

Why is it that the presence of this little person...

...suddenly makes this person seem so big?
He adores his sister. In all the right ways, and in the ways that make mama nervous as he full body hugs her and sticks his grubby 6-year-old-boy-filthy fingers in her face. He rises to the occasion so often -- being my ever willing gopher around the boat, carrying bags from the store to the car, keeping himself entertained and fed when I am sitting through a marathon nursing session. So I have to check myself when I raise the bar too high. He's only 6. I keep saying this to my own brain and outloud. And just because he's adjusting amazingly well, and helping out so much, and welcoming this new member of our family with such unbridled love... doesn't mean he's big. It means he's big hearted, and a big helper, and a first class big brother overall. But he's still a little guy, and he still needs the little things... the lap time, the stories, the one on one attention, the forgiveness when he spills glitter and glue all over the ultrasuede cushions. Just because he is growing up fast doesn't mean he should be swept past all the time he needs to be little. My big little boy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

mountain getaway

We disappeared somewhat spontaneously for a mountain weekend get away.

Unfortunately my ankle is still a bit gimpy, so hiking the beautiful Shenandoah Mountains was not in the cards for me. The fellas ventured off to find waterfalls and beautiful vistas while the little Miss and I cozied up with a good book in the national park lodge where we were staying.
Zach and I did some exploring closer to the lodge, short walks and romps in the leaf piles.
And just as the sun was setting on the last day, we spotted a friend.
Zach was so taken by every sight and sound and smell up there. It was all new to him. From flushing toilets (he is still amazed by that), to full length mirrors (another novelty), to bear tracks and rocky ledges. I loved seeing it all through his eyes and hearing his enthusiastic exclamations about everything.

There is nothing like a change in scenery to recharge the soul.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

everyday life - diaper changes

Another baby staple we don't have aboard is the ever present diaper changing table. When Zach was a wee sprout, we set up a proper diaper changing spot complete with the official pad and terry coth covers. It was at the foot of his bed (which he was not sleeping in, we co-slept)) and it worked out quite nicely.
(Zach's room circa 2004)
Well, now the boy is fully occupying that space. And we don't really have an equivalent space to dedicate to diaper changes. So Naia gets a towel. Oh the sacrifices of the second child. The towel also has a lovely changing pad on top that my friend Shanon made for us. We roll it up and plop it down where ever there is a clear space for the dirty diaper deed. Sometimes it's the foot of our bed. Sometimes the floor of the salon. And often it's the book nook.
That doesn't stop Zach from his book nookiness. He just curls up his long legs, scrunches up his nose at the diaper aroma, and acts like we're not there. It's not fancy, but it works.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

everyday life - snooze spots

Life with a newborn I think is the same whether you live on a boat or in a house or apartment or what have you. I've only every raised kids aboard a boat, Zach has been aboard since birth as well, so I can not speak to what regular land based parenting is really like except to say that I fantasize that it's full of long hot showers and endless free laundry. After going through the paces with Zach, I have learned this time around not to try to replicate baby set ups in a house. We make do with the space we have and it works out just fine and dandy.

The biggest difference is the lack of a crib or bassinette or even a separate room for the baby. Part of that is parenting style. Part of it is just how we're set up on the boat. At night, Naia sleeps with us in the master cabin. Zach is comfortable in his own cabin down the hall now (though we get night time visits often under the guise of "I want to check on my sister.") During the day, Naia sleeps wherever we can put her down in a clear space.

Our newest clear space is here.
This used to be the spot where our guinea pig Mookie lived. But Mookie is with a new home now (Zach decided one day that he deserved a bigger home. I jumped on that bandwagon as fast as I could. I was shocked and proud of my boy and overjoyed all at once). It's a good place for Naia to be close by but not in the middle of castle construction or a marble track in progress.

Then we have her "couch crib" on the settee. A softer alternative, we lay her on a sheepskin on the settee, bolster her in with a firm pillow (she likes to roll half way and scare the daylights out of us by making it to the edge), and hang a crystal to make rainbows from the window overhead.

Sometimes she snoozes here. Sometimes it's just a place to lay her down while I need my hands free to do something else. But as you can see the little miss is pretty flexible about her various arrangements... good thing too. We can't have a primadonna living on a boat afterall.

Monday, November 01, 2010

falling fast

Fall seems to be passing by me like scenery in a speeding car. I spent so much time with my full attention on my belly and then of course my sweet baby, that now the leaves are yellowing to brown gathered on the ground, the sun is so low we scurry in before dinner time, the wind has a definite chill that's required me to dig in the fore lockers for our woolies and jeans.

I spent the weekend trying to savor these last tastes of fall before surrendering to the cold dark season ahead.

We coated some leaves Zach collected in beeswax and hung them up alongside a special Halloween postcard from my pal Chris (MamaRoots) and a fall colored windown star.

Zach watercolored in fall colors. We plan an attampt at making laterns out of his paintings if we can pull it off.

Zach -- inspired by the postcard from MamaRoots, starts writing some of his own for his pals.

The extra leaves were pasted onto an empty pasta jar for a warm autumn lantern.

And of course some dress up and trick-or-treating. Daddy took Zorro boat to boat and to the handful of homes in our little dead end with the neighborhood kids. The 1940's Tyrone Powers version of Zorro was a family movie night not long ago and Zach was totally smitten. This costume was partially home made/ partially ebayed with a heavy helping of duct tape for the sword. Zach came back and decalred "It's tough being Zorro because everyone wants you to save the day." Ah, the burden of a hero.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And enjoy the rest of your fall!
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