Sharing Nature

untitled-7181

I was at Lowe’s picking up paint last week and decided to save Jonny some time and buy myself a few Mother’s Day gifts. We have an area behind the sink here perfect for houseplants, so I bought a couple small ones along with a violet. Amidst my childhood memories of places and events, there are fond memories of specific plants. The banana shrub at my grandmother’s house in Gadsden, and a potted violet at my dad’s house on Missionary Ridge. A few years ago I planted a couple of banana shrubs, but I think we are just too far north for them to thrive here, and neither made it. I’m not sure why I’ve never bought myself a violet, probably lack of a good spot for it, till now. When I arrived home from Lowe’s, I whispered to Jonny that there were some surprises for me in the trunk of the car, and he should move them to a hiding spot. I looked forward to potting up those plants and setting up my little space behind the sink for the next few days. On Sunday morning, I was surprised with my gifts and then Jonny took the kids out for a couple of hours. I potted my plants and tidied the kitchen and then worked on birthday gifts for Silas and Mabel. It was a lovely morning. My younger kids are still a bit confused by the whole thing and keep accusing me of buying my own Mother’s Day gifts. I guess at some point they’ll read this post and my secret will be out.

We just wrapped up our homeschooling co-op year and for my last class I chose to focus on nature study with my kids, despite the fact that my class is based on stories, mainly historical fiction. It was a free day though, so I thought it would be fun to share something different, something that comes more naturally for me. It’s always most fun to share what you love, isn’t it? This is the reason my children know how to identify trees better than they can name state capitals. To prep for the class I took my own children on a walk to gather anything of interest that I might share with my class. We filled a couple of baskets and had so much fun spreading everything out on the table and discussing our finds. The next day at class, I read one of our favorites, (affiliate link) A Year Around the Great Oak, and then shared all of the bits and pieces that we had gathered the day before. Then I took my class on a nature walk and we did a lot of observing. I think that it is good to teach children to slow down and actually observe their surroundings. It’s easy to race around and play outside and never take notice of the diversity of life that is all around you, and that is okay. But it’s a wonderful thing to pause and really notice and study all the tiny pieces that make up the big picture of our beautiful Earth. I taught the kids how to tell the difference between a maple and a sweet gum, explained to them that those beautiful lichens are actually a combination of two organisms, but maybe most importantly, I demonstrated an enthusiasm for nature. Not everyone gets excited to identify plants, but children tend to be easily affected by an adult’s example. We really had a lovely class, a wonderful way to end the year. And now my children at home are asking to take nature walks every day and it makes me happy to hear their shouts of excitement over the simplest and most common of things found on the forest floor.

In other news, I’ve been working on a project with a close friend that is making me really happy. It involves Scripture, and journaling, and my photography: specifically flower photography! I haven’t felt quite this excited about something in a long time. I’ll be able to share more in a couple of weeks! I think that many of you will love it. I hope so!!!

Sometimes Eating Dirt

Small Things-5930 Small Things-5903Small Things-5184 Small Things-5200 Small Things-5545

(this post contains affiliate links.)

After being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease back in January, I made some major changes to my diet. In addition to the gluten free diet I have been following for years, I eliminated a few other foods that might be causing me problems, mainly eggs and dairy. Six weeks later I attempted to add eggs back, and realized that I definitely can’t eat them at this time (I’ll try duck and quail eggs in the future, but not yet.) Sadly, even without eggs and dairy, I was still battling more than a normal (for me) amount of anxiety and still not sleeping well. Inspired by the book I’m reading right now(which I love–common sense, great advice, no super crazy stuff,), Eat Dirt, I eliminated a few more foods (all grains, seeds, nuts, nightshades, and legumes). Per the author’s advice in the book, I am now on a month long diet of mainly organic meat, vegetables, unsweetened coconut milk, and a little bit of fruit. I don’t think this is the most sustainable way for me to eat long-term, but the idea is that my gut should do some healing and then maybe I’ll be able to eat a wider range of foods again. Right now I’m eating a lot of chicken soup made with bone broth, and having a coconut milk smoothie every morning with collagen in it, which is supposed to be super good for you (It is flavorless and easily dissolves in liquid). What’s crazy, is I feel amazing. It only took a couple of days for me to notice some major changes. About a week ago, I gave up my one cup of caffeinated tea per day by accident. I just forgot to make it for a few days, had been wanting to cut it out anyway, so haven’t gone back. My anxiety is currently under control, and I am sleeping way better too. Seriously, it’s CRAZY!!! The only downside is all those foods I can’t eat. But honestly, at this point, it’s not that difficult to avoid them. It takes a lot of planning, but as long as I have acceptable foods around, I am just fine. My current favorite is zucchini sauteed in coconut oil with a chicken breast. All dusted with lots of Herbamare. Simple things taste so good now.

Baseball season is here, so Jonny and I took Mabel and our little guys to watch Gabe and Keats play last weekend. A friend whose son is on their team commented, “Now it will be Mabel eating dirt instead of Job!” So true. I laughed, and told him about the book I’m reading right now, and about all the beneficial microbes that we are exposed to when we get our hands and feet dirty. The average toddler supposedly eats a teaspoon of dirt a day! And that’s a good thing! I can’t say that I am going to stop interfering when Mabel puts dirt and other objects from the ground into her mouth (mainly because I’m concerned about choking!) But I do feel a new sense of intention surrounding getting outside and getting dirty. It’s good for me and good for them!

Seth is spending a lot of time turning wood on the lathe. He is working on candle holders, and I am the lucky recipient of all his practice pieces. I am trying to utilize candles more often. One thing I have been attempting is to light a candle on the table while my younger kids work on their lessons. Sometimes it seems to help them focus. Other times it’s a total distraction and I just have to put the candle away. Whether I get to light them or not, I just like having candles around. They make things feel cozy, which I still don’t often experience in our new house. It must take a long time to feel at home somewhere new! Maybe especially if you loved your previous home as much as we did!

p.s. Thanks for all of your orders! I am working to get everything shipped out in the next day or two, in plenty of time for Easter if you wanted Easter basket play silks! There are about a dozen play silks left in the shop if you missed getting one. There’s also still some goat milk soap. I fell out of my soap making rhythm, so I won’t have any more ready for about six to 8 weeks. I did make labels for all the soap going out this time, and all future bars as well!