Field-trips with Friends

Today my adventure began bright and early. I went downtown (by myself) to take part in the Sunrise Ceremony at the IRSS Legacy Celebration at Nathan Phillips Square. I was late arriving and stood back and watched, I think I could have joined in. I probably should have, but felt uncomfortable and disrespectful about being late for it. (I have this thing with time.)

But it felt meaningful and with intention, as a fairly large group gathered to acknowledge the day. Tkaronto was projected on the left tower of City Hall. 

I met my partner at his office, picked up the small human, and we went back to City Hall to take in some of the programming. And I wanted to vote in the advanced polls that started today. We got it all done.

The kiddo was a hit at the polling area, and was excited to participate in a process we’ve talked about a bit. There was also a Daniel Tiger episode about voting for swings or a slide, and voting for a class pet ( a bunny or a turtle ) so the process of selection has been touched on in a variety of ways already.

He watched me fill in my ballot, and asked me what I was doing – I told him I was selecting the person who I thought would do the best possible job. 

A friend met us with their kiddo, and we got to watch a Lacrosse demonstration from The Toronto Rock, and admire some of artistry of the commemorative teepees and play in the adjoining open spaces. 

And my favourite part of the day – watching our kids play together.

There is nothing better than that. 

A Forest School Day

This morning after my partner left for work, we quickly got ready to get outside and go to the forest nearby. We’re lucky to hour our little forest, and I feel grateful to say things like “let’s visit our trees” on a regular basis. 

There was so much to learn and so much to do. We walked hand in hand for most of the trip to the park, but once we got past the traffic gates I let him go and he asked if he could run. I’m unsure how to feel about this question, or why he’s asking it, but I told him of course, but un-fun mom had to ask him to stay out of the puddles until after we had finished our walk, and were coming back home. 

We went to visit “our” trees, but our visit there was brief because in the distance, we saw a group of kids playing and yelling, and my TinyHuman was there for it. 

He asked “can I go play with them?” – I told him we could go over there, but it would be up to all of them if they played together. Can’t escape a lesson in consent I guess. 

So we all stayed together for a while, walking through the forest, and through paths that we normally didn’t go on. I love seeing the TinyHuman with other kids, because we don’t really do that often enough. Working on it, but I could be more diligent about setting up playdates and going to them. 

Eventually we parted ways at the zoo (because free or not, we do not go there,) and me and the little one went over to the gardens. We came across a tree with a strange growth and wondered what it was – he pointed and asked “What’s that?” I took 1 semester of botany in university, and vaguely remembered that it was the result infection – it’s called a Burl. So I told him that it was because the tree had been sick. But when we got home, I had to double check that information. 

I took 1 semester of botany in university, and vaguely remembered that it was the result infection – it’s called a Burl. So I told him that it was because the tree had been sick, but that we could look it up when we got home to make sure.

Burls, ,which look like weird growths on trees, happen as a result of the tree experiencing a stress of some sort – so things like injury, infection by a virus or fungus, or other environmental factors.

I think he found the idea that trees can get sick especially fascinating – because he repeated “trees get sick” in a sort of wonderfully awestruck and curious way while looking at this tree growth. Also ties into our very recent lesson of Mom gets sick too

We enjoyed the day running around tree trunks, and walked through the gardens, towards Grenadier Pond. I spotted a wooly bear caterpillar (aka Pyrrharctia isabella, aka Isabelle tiger moth) so we stopped in our tracks to watch them zoom across the trail way. 

Wooly bear caterpillars turn into isabelle tiger moths and I think I prefer them in caterpillar form – but that’s not my call, ha ha ha. 

Another person with a toddler came by, and decided to move the caterpillar off the trail, to a tree. I’m not sure if that was the right call, but her heart was in the right place, so I guess that’s as good as can be expected. Me and the little human were keeping the fuzzy dude safe on his journey up to that point. 

We read Lois Ehlert’s “Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf” a few times, which I hadn’t noticed was about an urban transplanted tree when I put it in my bag this morning – it was a bit funny to be reading it in this forest full of old trees – albeit still relevant because there are also many transplanted trees in High Park and the book has a bunch of more in depth (but simplified) information about trees and leaves.

We have a really lovely book about why leaves change colour appropriately called…. “Why Do Leaves Change Colour” (by Besty Maestro) which of course, I haven’t been able to find in the house yet this fall.

There are lots of really fantastic resources online about why leaves change colour, but I like this one.

One final thing before we went home – there was a sign near Grenadier pond, and the Tinyhuman asked me to read it. It’s a wordy, but interesting background on how Grenadier Pond came to be – history of waterways and shorelines and I learned what a weir is. (A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the horizontal width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level.) They suggest visiting their website to learn more – so we totally did. Well, I did. The tiny human was already napping.

We walked back around, up a very tall staircase, around the High Park children’s teaching garden, and behind Colbourne Lodge, and walked back on a well worn trail to our trees, to play and build nests and watch fat squirrels diligently collecting acorns for the winter. 

It was a lovely morning of hiking, learning, and fun.

Mom Tiger is Sick – Rest is Best.

I’ve been sick for a few days and I feel bummed out about it – there is so much I’d like to do, and so much I’d rather be doing, but I’m trying to rest as much as possible.

The sad thing is that I’m conscious of how much I’d love to be cleaning or doing laundry or all the things I normally and eagerly set aside – in favour of this deeply exhausted feeling in my muscles.

On the bright side, I am generally able to focus on a book or to attempt sentence construction, so I’ve been working on some Coursera courses, and have finished a few books in the past few days. 

The last time

I was reading a comic I like recently and it made me burst into tears. How Baby Comic talked about an ask reddit thread where people talked about the saddest sentence they could think of, and the author quoted:

 “one day, your parents put you down and never picked you back up again.”

We are in that zone now, things are shifting away slowly to a different stage, he’s ready to be more independent, and I am working on let go. For the first 2 years, he wouldn’t hold his bottle by himself, and I was happy to snuggle him anyway. A few months  ago, he started holding it entirely by himself.

Where a few weeks ago, he would still fall asleep on me for his afternoon nap, now he’s getting to the point where he wont need us to snuggle him anymore. Sometimes he falls asleep in his own bed, all by himself. These things are bittersweet. I am excited for his journey towards independence, but it’s that clear sign that he is growing up and out, and part of me just wants to hold him close as long as I can.

It’s been important to us to let him go at his own pace, if he was feeling more independent, we would encourage him, if he was needing more help, I was happy to support him. We play every day by ear, because everyday is different.

Fostering Tiny Humans – Step One

A couple of weeks ago I filled out the form on the Children’s Aid Society website indicating an interest to become a foster home. They sent back a message checking in with me, asking whether I was aware of the different religious and cultural based foster agencies in the city, and confirmed whether we wanted to proceed with them (we do).

So now we wait. Our next step is arranging a mutually amicable phone conversation – which I’m already nervous about, but also ready to do anytime. I’m not sure what the questions will be, but we’ll see! I am excited. I am nervous. I am curious.

Even before I had our son I knew that one day I wanted to foster or adopt. I feel like our little family is perfect just the way it is, but I think that feeling would apply no matter what. But I would like to be part of helping kids have a safe supportive home while their parents or families are working through some stuff. So hopefully we get approved to proceed, or realize early on (before being placed with a child) that it’s really not for us – either through talking with more foster parents, or as we go through the training.

I feel like I’m in that strange middle space where I’m filled with what ifs and too much information and simultaneously not enough information. I’m reading people’s experiences, and reading people’s opinions, and blogs and all of that, but I still don’t know what it will be like. Before becoming a parent, I read a bunch of people’s experiences, I played with the idea in my head, I consumed all the information I could handle, and while that helped prepare me, everything changed the moment we actually met our son. That said, I realize previous experience should remind me to remain flexible and curious.

The thing I’m finding surprisingly difficult is finding secular support communities for fostering, even locally. Perhaps we’ll find it while we’re actually doing things, but perhaps we will have to build our own. (though I am already getting ahead of myself.)

I’m hoping to post something regularly about the process and what we’re learning.

Sick Mama, Sick Baby

We’re feeling a lot better now, but we’ve been sick for about a week – before us it was my partner that was sick, then the rest of us caught it eventually. My goal was to take it as easy as possible – and to encourage my son to do the same. The weather was pretty mediocre as well, so it lent it self well to staying indoors for the most part.

Who knew how lovely it could be to feel crummy and to snuggle on the couch with a tiny human – I had no idea how cuddly and precious it could be. We spent a lot of time with books – both individually and separately, but also, eventually a lot of screen time in the form of puffin rock, a puffin documentary with the Nature of Things, and then more books.

I’m feeling a lot better today – and I think the tiny human is too, so we’ve already done more activity than we did on most days during the past week. It was an interesting experiment in screen time self-regulation as well, as there were times when my son asked me to turn off the television. But I am hoping we can get back to our previous level of not-so-much tv and lots of outdoor fun and I’m hoping we can have a nice adventure this weekend and make the most of it.

The way people treat children

I’m not alone in how I see children, there are people that inspire me to be better and more thoughtful and more patient – folks like Robin Enzig of Visible Child and Teacher Tom.  Having expectations are developmentally appropriate and fair make things a lot easier.  Boundaries are created and kept and gently supported. Feelings are allowed. Children are supported and set up for success instead of pushed towards one thing or another. Children are spoken to as people, not play things or cute puppies.

We tried a class today that ended up being vaguely stressful for me, and I don’t think we’ll do it again for a while. I’ve been curious about circus school with jumping and climbing and bouncing and stretching. But we went to a program for the under 4 set, and it was so structured and was full of false praise and expectations, and it seemed so out of step with reality. They were pretty flexible though, so they still seemed reasonable about it, but the words they used, the tone of their voice, their actions, and developmentally inappropriate expectations didn’t work very well for me. Or my son.

I’m not sure what the solution to this is – I can’t change the world, and I cannot change how I feel about disrespectful behaviour towards children, so we’re likely just not going to go back there – because for now, while I can’t change the world, I can change the world my son is exposed to and hope for the best.

I think of it as developing a framework of respect at home – you scaffold a positive sense of self – encourage empathy with others – and build on that. Once he’s a bit older, I hope our efforts leave him with a positive foundation to build up from as he interacts with more and more people. Together we make a good team, we interact, he seems to know that my rules and boundaries are not arbitrary, and have some kind of reasoning behind them. I find that I can remember how I felt as a child, and that has greatly influenced how I see things – maybe people have forgotten what it was like and are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, but so am I.

new year, same great us

Yesterday morning we bundled up and got ready for the ymca. It’s become a regular thing, this guaranteed Tuesday morning visit to the Y – why? Because we have a regular cleaner now, and it’s nice to get out of the house and get out of their way. I’d rather spend time with the TinyHuman than spend anymore time organizing, cleaning, scrubbing, over and over and over again, Instead, we leave, and come back to a nicely organized, clean house – then it’s nap time, and I get to take care of dinner things or read books or watch movies or some combination of those. They’ve been coming for approximately 1 month, and It has been really really nice.

The Tinyhuman seems to like his visits to the YMCA – I take him over to the childminding folks (that don’t particularly like me – but they do like him, which is all that matters) and I get some time to run or weight lift or aquafit. Then I scoop up the kiddo and we go swimming together – something he really seems to love too.

A few things I’ve started to encourage in the house are random spontaneous dance parties. I’ll turn on a song on our Sonos, and declare a dance party, and go to the centre of the living room and dance. This will invariably (so far) encourage other members of the family to join me. It’s a fun break to occasionally sedentary time at home, while also encouraging silliness, laughter, and getting our heart rates up a bit.

We went outside and other things

The Tinyhuman had a swimming lesson this morning – he went with his dad, and I slept in until the glorious time of 9am. I’m getting pretty into these Saturday mornings where I sleep in, and then do some housework while they go play in the pool. In my head, I thought maybe I would start going to the gym, but I end up doing things I have a hard time doing while the kid is at home instead.

Maybe that’s fine. It doesn’t give me anything in particular to brag about, but I do get it done. I’ve been working on a 30 day declutter challenge from Clutterbug, and it’s already made a really positive impact on our house. I don’t think I ever thought I’d become so domesticated.

I’m hoping we can return to the gym together next week now that most of the signs of his cold have disappeared.  I’ve so missed Aquafit and I’m thinking of doing more weight training on future visits since I used to love it so much.

One thing that was great was putting together another For The North box while they were at lessons – this one is going to a low income parents support group in one of the Northern provinces/territories. I don’t believe in reiki or the like, but i still like to visualize a lot of good energy going into every one of the boxes I pack up. It’s been such a thrill to be able to do this. I hope it’s helpful.

The almost-1-year old we were matched with under the Northern Birthday Box project got her birthday supplies last week, it’s been eye opening to see how expensive things can be for people that live there – boxes of really basic cake mix or icing sold here for 1-2$ are 10-15/box. I’ve got a bit of a birthday complex, so it’s been deeply satisfying to be able to send people the things the need to celebrate a birthday. We’ve done two so far, but now they have more people interested in sending than they have applicants, so the next time is probably far off. I signed up to be a last minute box sender incase someone flakes out.

This weekend we went to a different forest than our usual spot, and explored a little. Our intention was to play in the playground, but wouldn’t you know it – the kiddo wanted to run in the trees. No surprise there! He’s wearing a new-to-us hoodie from Maxmorra I picked up from a mama on a BST group. I was excited, but he was even more excited, it was so darn cute. He really loves cars. And he was thrilled.

This time of year I’m a little at a loss as to what to dress him in – it’s kind of cool, windy, rainy, sometimes warm, sometimes wet. Snow makes more sense to me, winter makes more sense. Though we’ll see if I’m still saying that once January rolls around.

What We Learned – Owls, Trucks, Nature programming, more owls

Every Wednesday we watch the garbage or recycling  truck from the front window – conveniently we have been reading Digger, Dozer, Dumper, an amazingly fun and wonderful board book with a couple pages focused on a garbage truck.  When we hear the familiar rumble of the waste disposal truck  –  my son looked at me, and I looked at him, and I suggested we go look out the window at what they were doing. He ran to the front window, and stood on his tip toes to peek at them and their big truck. I put him on my shoulders and he was thrilled to see the trucks driving around and the workers picking up our boxes.

As the truck drove away, the Beeboo waved bye bye.

Our next topic was Owls. We have two primary owl books on rotation over here – Owls from Usborne Books, and Owls from National Geographic. Right now the Usborne Owl Book is winning. It has a great overview of Owl body parts, methods of eating, finding a mate, different types of owls, and more. There is a lot of overlap in the information in early reader books about owls, so I know I’m learning a lot just by repetition. More than I ever knew I wanted to know.

His interests have now made me pay attention to owl news and events – there was a Raptor of High Park event with the High Park Nature Centre not too long ago, but had to miss it because it’s during prime nap time – but just knowing that they do these kinds of things makes me expect we will catch one of them one day (assuming the Beeboo continues his Owl fandom beyond toddlerhood.)

We are thinking about signing up fro the Nature Centre’s Waddlers program. I wonder how we will respond to the structure of it all. Because we love running through the forest on our own, but more of a free form wandering. I feel optimistic. Cautiously optimistic.