Saturday, September 28, 2013

Rain or Shine: A Childhood In Nature

A few days ago I told a Mom who has teenaged children about Rafael's picky eating, and she said: "You know what I think kept my kids healthy when they were little? Getting outside every day no matter what weather we had. Even if it was pouring rain, we put on rain coats and boots, and got out into nature."

This made me smile, because it's exactly what we do. Unless one of us has a fever, we are out in the woods every day, jumping in puddles, building stick forts, looking for mushrooms and salamanders, and balancing on fallen trees. 

My floor is covered with little leaves, burs, and bits of earth just hours after vacuuming, but it's part of the deal. My son and I get ticks, bruises, wet toes, and mud in our hair. That's fine. 

Recently I had the opportunity to sign Raffi up for daycare, and I considered it for a few days. I thought about what I could do with the time he would be there...creative projects, exercise, gardening, photography. I considered what it would mean for him: learning to integrate into a group of children; learning to be apart from me for longer periods of time; playing with children and making new friends. I wondered if he would eventually get bored staying home with me and if I was possibly keeping him from socializing with children his age. 

Then one morning we were out in the forest, lugging big sticks for a fort, when I stopped to show him a cluster of mushrooms. As he knelt down and began asking a plethora of questions, full of enthusiasm and curiosity, I finally made a decision. He would stay home with me another year.

I was reminded that this opportunity I have, staying home with him, able to raise him and spend time with him, is so incredibly precious. There are many years ahead when he will learn what teachers and other children have to teach him. Until then, nature and I have quite a bit to share with him. 

I had a silent, inner dialogue with my son...saying to him, "These years are for you. I am dedicating them to you." And it felt so, so right. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Rafael's Second Birthday!

(( Good morning birthday boy! Here's Raffi and I, still in our pajamas, opening his first gifts ))

(( Here's Raffi eating his favorite breakfast, his Dad's oatmeal pancakes with butter and maple syrup ))

(( Let the party begin! ))

Yesterday we celebrated Rafael's second birthday. We kept everything very simple, just snacks, cake, and balloons, and it was wonderful. Raffi had so much fun with his friends and family. In fact, this morning, when I asked how he had enjoyed his birthday party, he answered, "More birthday!"

I made a delicious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, and also a little smash cake just for Rafael, like I did last year

These photos don't really show the whirlwind of fun and play that was going on, but only because Ramon and I were so busy hosting and keeping Rafael in check that it was hard to take photographs. 

So, this is the end of another amazing year getting to know and love my son even more. And the beginning of another! I feel so incredibly fortunate to be Rafael's mother. How did I get so so so so lucky?!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fall Begins

Mornings are cold and crisp. Bushes and branches are edged in pink and gold. There are fallen acorns and beechnut hulls along the path, and everything is glistening and wet from night rains. Rafael loves to go on what he calls 'adventures,' off of the main path and up little cleared ways into the wooded hillside, where he 'works,' with a toy saw and hammer, mimicking the lumberjacks he sometimes sees in the forest. He also likes lifting heavy fallen branches and tossing them into a pile down in the ditch.

Sometimes Raffi's two cousins join us on our nature walks. Together we built a little stick-house, which we decided was either for a hedgehog or a gnome, and filled it with acorns and a walnut shell bowl with wild flowers for whoever moved in to eat. We caught a little golden frog and put him in the house, and he did stay there for a while (probably to hide from us). I always check up on our stick-house and add moss, ferns, and bark to the walls. We made big plans about constructing a whole village of stick houses before winter. 

The forest smells strong of mushrooms but I've only found a few small ones so far. I really hope to finally discover and photograph some amanitas this year. 

So now begins the most beautiful season of them all, and what always seems to feel the shortest: Autumn, gorgeous savory delicious misty colorful cozy autumn! 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Images from Rafael's first trip to the Viennese amusement park 'Wurstelprater.' His eyes were wide the whole time. It was almost too much. We didn't stay long. But he loved that we went with his aunt and two cousins. 

I loved eating cotton candy again after years! 

It was such a perfect way to say farewell to summer. The most amazing summer I've ever had, because it was shared with my funny, sweet little boy!

Thank you for reading....I read and appreciate every comment. There haven't been many lately, and I wonder if it's because I'm so bad at responding. I hope you all know that I really love hearing from you, and if I don't answer, it's because I often check on my iphone...then I'm not signed in, and can't answer without being signed in, so then I always think, "I'll answer later when I'm signed in." Then days go by and I realize I once again haven't communicated to you how happy I am that you stopped by. 

So I'm saying it here: I am so happy that you stop by and take part in this journey of mine. Watching my little one grow up, sharing in my love for nature, comforting me through hardship and rejoicing in my blessings. Thank you! You are appreciated!


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Rainy Days

Happy September everyone!

Fall is spreading bit by tiny golden bit throughout our village and forest. We've been having some rainy days, which Rafael likes much more now that he is old enough to enjoy indoor activities, or throw on waterproof suits and boots and head out into the woods for some muddy adventures. 

I've been getting back into baking. Cold weather just makes me want to get dough between my fingers and spend time in the warm kitchen with apples and cinnamon. 

As we grow together as a family, and feel at ease in our daily rhythm, I begin to long for a sibling for Rafael, a new addition to the family. A brand new being to love.



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