in the company of trees

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“Popular attention has been caught by a concept from Japan and China called Shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’.  It is a common practice that began in the early 1980s, involving spending time in a wood or forest to ‘bathe’ in the atmosphere for the benefit of mind and body….In recent years follow-up research aimed at understanding the Shinrin-yoku phenomenon has shown that walking in a green space has a direct positive effect on several systems in our bodies.  Blood pressures decrease, levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop, anxiety is alleviated and pulse rates diminish in subjects who have spent time in nature and particularly among trees.”

A Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

– Joyce Kilmer

Since college I’ve wanted to visit Joyce Kilmer memorial forest and when we realized Lake Santeetlah was right next to it we knew we had to go for a hike there.  We weren’t disappointed.  It truly is difficult to capture the largeness of these mighty giants and it was amazing to walk amongst them and be dwarfed beneath their canopy.  I can only imagine how beautiful it would be to go visit again when the leaves are changing.  Truly, there is something restorative about walking in a forest, bending low to notice the smallest of creatures, the tiny microcosms juxtaposed by the mighty trees beside them.

California (pt 1): farmer’s market + half moon bay

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We had an unforgettable, extravagant week last week, quite out of our usual ordinary if you couldn’t tell from the photos!  Brandon and my dad were doing some remodeling work for the week at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the Bay area in California.  My parents generously offered for us to all come along, and we couldn’t pass it up!  It was quite an adventure for us and required a good bit of planning on my part to be sure Phoebe would have what she needed (food-wise) for the long day of travel and the time away.  Being that we don’t usually do this sort of thing, I was a bit overwhelmed but it was such a good experience.  I’m hopeful that it communicated to Phoebe that she doesn’t have to be limited by her (celiac) disease.

It was so much fun and such an incredible treat for all of us!  To see the children experience the thrill of taking off and landing on an airplane alone was neat.

We flew out the day after my birthday, and on my birthday Philippa suddenly had a high-ish fever, so on top of last minute packing and prep I had to squeeze her in to the doctor to make sure it wasn’t something that would inhibit travel.  Thankfully, she woke up fever-free the next day.

The first day there was a Sunday (Father’s Day), and the only day we had planned to take off together (with my parents, too) to do some sight-seeing.  First we went to the local farmer’s market to get our fruits and veggies for the week.  So fun to explore a local farmer’s market any old place, but especially in California!  Afterwards, we drove to Half Moon Bay and happened to see horses along the way and then again on the beach.  Phoebe was in heaven and also very jealous that she wasn’t on horseback herself.  The beach was windy and cool, but very pleasant.  We walked around a bit, had a bite of sushi for lunch while watching a couple of seals in the marina.  Everyone felt a little groggy and off due to the time change, but they all did remarkably well!  I was blown away by the wild eucalyptus and massive nasturtium all along the roadside, as well as the beautiful garden at my aunt and uncle’s home, complete with avocado, lemon and fig trees!  It’s so incredible to explore a different part of the country.

a horse girl’s dreams come true

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I never want to forget the way she smiled.  How full and happy her heart was on April 23rd, the day she had been counting down toward for weeks in advance.  My mom offered to treat Phoebe to a horseback ride on the Biltmore Estate nearby, and of course an adult had to go with her so I also got in on the treat!  (I haven’t been on a horse since college I do believe, and it felt really good.)  It was one of the sweetest days of Phoebe’s life, so she says, and I was grateful to be able to snap a few photos to remember it by.  I hope to get a few printed for her bedroom. I was on a huge white horse named Pepper.  She rode a horse named Scout, and she still thinks and talks about him regularly.  She hopes he is well and wants to own a horse just like him when she’s grown up.  It makes a momma’s heart very full and grateful to see their child fulfill a long-held dream, and I am ever so grateful to my parents for their kindness and generosity in gifting us this unforgettable experience.  We are truly blessed beyond words to have parents who love on us and our children so well!  Thank you thank you thank you, mom. ❤

fresh mountain air

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Ps. Wren is wearing a sweater knit and gifted to me by Natural Earth Farm.  They make beautiful things and she has similar baby sweaters in her shop right now for such an affordable price, if you’re interested!  She gifted me some of her hand cream too and it is the nicest I have maybe ever used.  Also, wren’s hat was gifted to me by Ruby.  Knitters are such generous folk. 🙂

 

signs of life

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Last Friday as well as today we’ve gone for little hikes because both days have been unseasonably warm, sunny, and beautiful.  Actually the last few days this week have been so spring-like and warm, it’s hard to believe it’s mid-February.  Part of me is enjoying it, because who can resist being outside on days like this?  Part of me is a bit sad.. it feels too early, and I still wanted a few more blustery winter days.  Maybe we’ll still have some.  I know everyone seems to love spring the most, and it is irresistible with its bright colors, blooms, sounds and abundance, but I still love dreary winter most of all.  I guess I was assuming this baby would be born in the midst of cold days and nights and somehow it feels wrong for everything to be so warm already.

Anyway, the children are loving it and have been outside as much as they are able during the day.  I’ve noticed the days slowly stretching longer and longer, and what a good effect it has on all of us to have a little more light to enjoy.

Last Friday we went for a short, easy hike at a place nearby called Jump Off Rock.  It was truly beautiful and a great picnic spot, so I was glad I had packed our lunch.  Afterwards the kids stretched out with bare toes in the sun and then climbed around the rocks, finding a little passageway/cave through them.

Our weeks have felt really busy lately, even though I can’t say we have a ton of “activities” going on, per say.  Weekly OB and chiropractor appointments for me, as well as trying to get in our weekly grocery trips (I usually go to at least 3 different stores), homeschool co-op, library trips, other random errands, and school work/house work seem to fill up our days to the full.  I’ve been nesting like crazy, too–working on finalizing things in Noah/baby’s room, like having Brandon make and hang those shelves for me (which I haven’t finished organizing quite yet), organizing boxes of stuff in the school room, etc.  You know, the important things.  Meanwhile, the car seat is still not installed in the car and I don’t have a hospital bag ready or anything like that.  We are delivering at a different hospital than we have with all the other children, and we still haven’t done a hospital visit.  I think we vaguely know where to go.  I’m still trying to knit a few items before baby comes, too.  I feel like my brain is all over the place and I only have 10 days left before due date.  Nothing much is happening yet and I feel mostly normal, just increasingly tired and big.  Something must have changed because now everywhere I go people look and smile and somehow know I’m due any day.  Lots of “ready to pop” comments from strangers.

I am trying to get as much school work done with Phoebe as I can before baby comes and throws a wrench in things.  I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be able to accomplish or how much time we’ll need to take off before I can get back in the rhythm with her, so I’m trying to diligently get in a good solid 4-5 days a week while I can.  She and I seem to have hit a hard spot with math, which has historically been her favorite subject, but as it gets harder she has been “dreading” it, she tells me.  We’ve started doing it first thing in the morning versus the copywork/language arts we normally focus on first thing, but it doesn’t seem to be making much difference.  Maybe having Brandon teach her and fill in a bit while I’m recovering with new baby will be refreshing for all of us?  Reading with her, history, science, art–these are all a breeze and enjoyable for both of us.  Hoping she and I can still spend a good bit of time snuggled up reading while new little baby girl sleeps.

Today we went to a local historic home, the Carl Sandberg home, which we have really enjoyed visiting in the spring/summer months for picnics and to see new baby goats.  With all the flu going around rampant in our area, I’ve been trying to avoid public places so our hikes and walks have been more in the woods and less at parks/playgrounds.  Our hike today was just lovely, and I told the children to be looking for signs of new life.  They saw a pilated woodpecker, new little buds forming, and heard lots of birds singing.  The first set of twin kid goats are due in about a month, so we’ll be back soon to see and play with them.  We’ve been seeing daffodils and crocuses pushing up through the soil on our neighborhood walks, too.  Just before I snapped that picture of the three of them holding hands, Noah had asked Phoebe, who had come back to me to tell me something, to keep having a little conversation with him, and they ran off holding hands.  A sweet little moment.  They spend a lot of time together and there is always a lot of friction between them because of it, but they really adore each other too.  Its always encouraging for me to see the good moments happen.  Don’t worry, the hike ended with its fair share of whining and weariness, and we squeezed in a library visit afterwards, which was probably pushing it being everyone was already “starving.”  But we survived and recovered this afternoon with naps + quiet time spent with fresh library books.

 

 

we took to the woods

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The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

winter birthdays

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For the kids’ birthdays we try to do something fun or different on their day, sort of let them decide what activity they want to do (within reason).  At this age it’s so cute because they have no idea what options are available to them, so they ask to go on a bike ride or do a special craft.  I sort of hope it stays that way.  Simple is best!  The hard part about winter birthdays is that there’s not much you can do outside and we don’t want to pay and arm and a leg to play somewhere indoors, either.  We decided to pay for a family day pass to our local YMCA and take the kids climbing and swimming for the morning of Noah’s birthday.

It was such a hit for everyone and a great way for us to play together as a family!  Every one of us had a chance to climb (well, Noah and the littlest only bouldered around) and it was refreshing for B and I to share something we love with the kids.  Phoebe did really well and seemed pretty fearless, so we hope to take her again and let her try going a little higher.  Of course, she made friends immediately with another little girl that was there bouldering around, and they had a blast.

After naps and snacks, Noah wanted to go out for a walk + bike ride.  He saw the moon over head and said, “Look!  The moon is coming with us!”  We came back for dinner and gifts + cake, just us.  He is the shyest birthday celebrant ever.  He didn’t want us singing happy birthday to him, though we did anyway, and he didn’t want us to watch him blowing out his candle or opening his gifts.  We got him a sleeping bag (thanks to my older brother for his pro-deals) and some new pj’s, and that stuffed Captain America (who he called “Jackson America”), because he kept asking for Superman for his birthday (Superman was unavailable, so Capt America stood in).  He was probably most excited about the Lightning McQueen sticker book from his cousins.

This little guy is so fun and special and different from the girls, and it’s such a gift to get to raise a little man child.