Motherhood Defined

June 5, 2014

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I have an inquisitive four-year-old. He wants to learn about everything. I mean everything. In full detail. Then, he wants to pretend to be whatever it is that he learned about.

Last week it was chimpanzees. For a week he was outside cracking nuts with rocks on a log.

One day, he even refused to eat anything a chimpanzee wouldn’t eat. Because he would “only pretend” to eat the bugs, by dinner time he was so famished he ate an entire steak. I guess nuts and berries weren’t quite enough for this growing boy.

Today, I was outside trimming trees and cutting back our overgrown bushes. As I stood inside our small dogwood tree, I told him I felt like a bird.

“That’s because we are birds” he said.

“We are?” I asked, “I thought we were chimpanzees.”

“Today we are birds and we have to build a nest up really high to protect us from predators” he explained.

For the next half hour he ran around cawing like a crow, yelling “Predator! Predator!”

I didn’t think much about it until he pointed to a van driving around our cul-de-sac with their window down. “Predator!” he screamed, pointing at them. I went with it. I didn’t know who they were. Nothing wrong with a little stranger danger.

After he tired of running around, he really wanted to make a nest. I told him that birds fly around and collect things like twigs, grass, and dirt to make their nests. He looked at all the trimmings on the ground from the trees I’d been cutting and asked him he could use them. Of course I told him he could.

“We are a whole family of birds.” he told me as he began to build his nest on the ground next to me. “You can be the Mama bird.”

“I like being the Mama. That’s a good idea.” I replied.

“And then you can lay the eggs and sit on them.” he continued.

“Well, what if I don’t want to sit on them?” I asked.

“You have to. Daddy doesn’t want to do it. And I don’t want to do it.” he explained. I felt like this was all the sudden becoming a gender stereotype and I didn’t like where it was heading. I wanted him to think of mothers within many roles.

“That’s not fair. I have to sit on eggs all day while you and Daddy get to go out and do fun things?” I got a little defensive.

“It is fair.” he said, matter-of-factly.

“How do you suppose?” I asked for clarification.

He looked at me, as if I were crazy and said, “Because it’s the most important job. You have to make sure the baby is safe if a predator comes.”

And with that, he defined “motherhood” in it’s purest form. My son either has a future in politics (because he knows what people want to hear) or he has a greater understanding of the world than most adults. This kid amazes me.

 

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The Child Philosopher

May 14, 2014

IMG_1529When I was pregnant with my oldest and found out I was having a boy, I was terrified. I was just about as girly as you could get. I had no idea what to do with a boy. That was four-and-a-half years ago.

As I was outside with my both of my boys this morning, working in the garden, I had to wonder if I would even have a garden had I had a girl first. As sexist as it is, the only reason I started gardening was to make sure I didn’t pass my “girly” behaviors of running away from bugs onto my son. Had he been a girl, I wouldn’t have even thought about making her comfortable with bugs.

When I started my garden three years ago, I had to fight my inner demons to be out there, covered in dirt. Today, it energizes me to get my hands dirty, make the yard beautiful, and provide food for my family. It amazes me how much I have changed over the past few years all because I was given a boy and the opportunity to grow.

Maybe every parent grows exponentially with each and every child. I don’t know. I only know my own experiences. This boy opens my eyes to so much in life and makes me a better person every day. Today, as I pulled weeds and daydreamed about how great it would be to have software that could record our thoughts so the good ideas could always be recollected, he found a small hole in our fence, which backs up to a greenbelt. He decided it would be the perfect way to feed all the animals in the forest. He sat there for hours putting scraps of weeds and grass through that little hole.

He eventually tired of it and came to me and told me about his animals in his zoo. I asked where their cages were. With eyes full of wisdom, he looked at me and said, “Look around, Mommy. We are the only ones in the cage.”

And with that, I grew a little bit more.

Just to be clear, my younger son makes me grow too. With him, I grow more aware of cleaning up after myself and locking everything behind me, lest he ingest it and have to be rushed to the hospital.

A Knightly Affair

February 16, 2014

My son celebrated his 4th birthday with his friends today. I may have gone a little overboard with the party favors, but it was fun.

We took our kids to Medieval Times. Our older son instantly fell in love with everything knighthood. Even though his birthday was still two months away, he told me that he wanted a knight party with everything that knights had. I tried my best to make it happen. I searched the internet for ideas, created a Pinterest board, and got to work.

Felt tunics, stick horses, and shiny armor… I made everything a knight has. When my son saw it all, he was very excited, but he wanted to know where the “real medal armor” and “live horses” were.

Some people… you just can’t please them. ;)

Knight Party

Celebrating four years with a knight party

A Boy’s Valentine Story

February 12, 2014

One night I was searching Pinterest for cute Valentine ideas for preschoolers. There are only four kids in my son’s class, so I figured I could do something really cute for them. Then, it dawned on me… If I do a super-cute crafty valentine this year for four, what happens when he is in elementary school with 20?

No, I thought… I am not going to be in charge of making his valentines. I decided to use it as a teaching moment. I would teach him the importance of giving a gift to the people who are special in his life.

So, I told him we were going to go on an adventure, looking for gifts for anyone he thought he wanted to give a Valentine to. Fortunately,when I asked him who he wanted to give to, all the kids in his class and his teacher were named among others. Phew.

As soon as he heard the word adventure, he went into his playroom and grabbed a hat. You can’t go on an adventure without a hat. He emptied a suitcase and told me he’d fill it with the gifts he finds.

We set out on our search. He decided his gift of choice for everyone was going to be rocks. He carefully inspected stones along the way, picking through them and discarding any he deemed unworthy. Each rock he chose was selected for a specific recipient.

It only took a matter of about two minutes before he found a stick, suddenly, our world morphed. We were no longer looking for gifts. We were searching for treasure. We turned into the woods and he told me about the “bad guy” who was after the same treasure. The treasure was a special rock for his teacher. It was a “singing golden rock” and there were two of them. He fought off bad guys as we walked through the woods and we barely made it home in one piece.

As he painted his rocks for his friends, he asked me to write down his adventure. I would start a sentence and he would finish it.

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This is his story.

Bad Guys and Good Guys

The great explorer, Louis, set forth to find a pair of singing golden rocks. But, lurking in the distance was the evil Lord Cannonball! He too had his eye set on the magical stones.

Louis’s watch navigated the way. He journeyed through the dark forest, collecting stones as he went. With Lord Cannonball on his trail, Louis used his mighty stick to protect his treasures. 

Barely escaping the evil Lord Cannonball, Louis discovered the location of the Singing Golden Rocks. To his surprise, Lord Cannonball followed him! In a daring battle, the courageous Louis fought off Lord Cannonball’s army. 

He returned home, safely, and the people honored him as a hero.

The End.

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A while back I gave my son an old camera of ours to play with. Then, for his 2nd birthday, he was given a camera from his aunt and uncle. Recently, I decided to go through his cameras and see what was on them. It gave me a glimpse into the world through a toddler’s eyes.

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We visited the tulips fields in Mt. Vernon, Washington earlier this Spring. As you can see, below, I am taking a picture of my son taking a picture. I was quite pleased with the way my photo turned out, but I think I may like his better.

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Most of his pictures are of me with the camera, because that is when he wants to use his camera, too.

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I am particularly fond of this photo of an “angry” Daddy.

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I’m sure he wasn’t really angry. We were at the zoo that day.

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And there you have it, the world, as seen by a toddler. I think we may have a budding photographer on our hands.

Kelsey Creek Farm

June 21, 2012

copyright 2012 Bona Fide BitesOur latest exploration took us to an unexpected place. I grew up in Ohio, so I am used to seeing farms everywhere. A farm in the middle of the city, however, surprised me.

Kelsey Creek Farm, located in Kelsey Creek Park, is a wonderful place to take young children in the Seattle area. And, it’s FREE! Complete with cows, goats, pigs, chickens, bunnies, and horses, visitors are free to wander about independently. They offer all types of classes (at a cost) for children, including horsemanship training.

Since I have a 2-year-old, the choices of classes are quite limited, though they do offer a “Little Farmers” class that is a parent/child class. I plan on checking that out.

During our visit, I had an opportunity to capture some images of the animals and thought I’d share them here.

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I’m not going to lie, the cows smell. That should come as no surprise, they are cows after all.

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The farm is home to four little piglets, born in January 2012. They were all asleep while we were there.

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The horses seemed friendly. As I said, Kelsey Creek Farm offers horsemanship courses, starting at age 4.

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The surrounding park is a wonderland for children to explore the good-ol’ outdoors. They loved climbing on the old trees.

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This is one bird I am glad was behind bars. I don’t like the look I was getting from this one.

 Kelsey Creek Farm offers the “Little Farmers” class (for ages 2-3) next month. It advertises that children will actively participate in animal care and feeding, barn chores, cooking, gardening, and arts and crafts. I’m on a mission to find out more information on it. I think this may be a good one to explore.

See my Flickr page for additional photos.

Knee-High Naturalists

June 13, 2012

Exploring Nature with ToddlersI try to expose my son to a variety of interests, even if I don’t particularily like it. Like bugs. You see, it is my belief (as sexist as it may be) that all men should protect the women in their lives from bugs and rodents. It is their duty. So, in raising a little man, I think it is important to expose him to those things so there will be no fear. As long as I am raising a boy, chivilery will not die!

When I saw the opportunity to sign up for a toddler workshop called “Knee-High Naturalists” I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to expose my son to something I naturally wouldn’t want to do myself. The program advertised walking along the water and discovering all sorts of nature; birds, rocks, plants, and yes, bugs.

The morning of our adventure, as I was getting ready, I attempted to create excitement. In my peppiest voice (which, I must admit isn’t all that peppy and sounds rather unnatural on me) I said, “We’re going to do something really fun today! We are going to go walk along the water and find birds and plants and bugs!”

Then I remembered that my son doesn’t like bugs the way most boys do (surprise, surprise). When he sees them outside he normally says “Go home bug!” and proceeds to tell me he doesn’t “really like that bug.” So, I quickly tried rewording our morning outing and said, “Doesn’t that sound fun?! Do you want to see some birds!?”

To my surprise he responded, “And bugs!” with excitement.

“Yeah! And bugs! How fun!” I said, trying to keep the excitement going. He reached his hand out toward me and said, “I’m going to touch them!”

That surprised me. “You are?” I asked.

Then he took his hands and pretended to hold a baseball bat. He started to swing it. “And hit them with my bat!” he proudly exclaimed.

And there we have it. He wants to torture the bugs, not explore them. I think it’s a step in the right direction. At least he’s not running away from them.

Cedar River Education Center- North Bend, WA

If you live in the Seattle area, the Cedar River Education Center at Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend offers the Knee-High Naturalists program once a month, throughout the summer. We ended up having a blast. We learned about weather as our guide helped point out different aspects of it on our nature walk. The program is designed for children three and under and is only $5 per adult. The Education Center has a whole slew of things to explore. It is a mini, hands-on science center. That, by itself, is worth the trip.

I’m so glad I found this, because we will be returning. Next month’s topic? Bugs. Time to put my big-girl pants on.

 
 
To register for the program you may email CRWProgram@seattle.gov or call 206-733-9421.  Rattlesnakek Lake is located off of I90, exit 32. 
 
 

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