Tomorrow I head back to work. By work, I mean, back to my office job. It’s been nearly two years since I left. I wasn’t sure I would last more than six months on maternity leave, and now I can’t imagine ever going back. And yet here I am.

It feels like time though, perhaps in part due to the “back-to-schoolness” of the season. Also, due in no small part to the fact that Freyja is thriving in daycare. It was clearly time for her to have the pleasure of friends, she natters about them constantly. And finally, while she doesn’t need me less, she does need me differently. Less acutely. Less immediately.

I am pretty sure Freyja is weaning, also adding to the bittersweetness of the here-and-now. While two years was our breastfeeding goal, ultimately we respect our daughter’s own rhythm. It has been a gently, gradual process, with Freyja leading the way. Now that we are nearing the end, I feel a mixture of sadness and a sense of freedom (hello, caffeine!).

In a few short hours, the next part of our life begins. Returning to work, being surplus, handing over daycare duties to Marc (along with the car), and relying on my own horsepower to get me to the office will all mix into a potent brew to make the finale of 2011 an interesting journey. No matter what happens. Or how it all ends.

Over and out for now.

Becoming Green

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Growing in the Outdoors: As a way of connecting with nature, a lot of us like to dig in the dirt — growing gardens, window boxes, or maybe just a couple house plants. How do you encourage your children to produce the food they eat or the natural elements they enjoy?

As a child growing up in a rural area outside of Winnipeg, I spent very little time indoors. Once I was old enough, I was expected to help out at our neighbour’s garden farm, picking peas and carrots (“one for me, one for the basket”). We would hunt up dinosaur bones in the freshly tilled fields (cow bones, I later realised) and catch tadpoles in the ditches to raise and love and add to our menageries which included dogs, cats, earthworms, gerbils – you get the picture.

As soon as Marc and I became homeowners, we began nursing our little patch of earth back to health. The original owner, and the one that came after her, pursued the dream of the golf green lawn, with vigorous applications of poison and pesticides. With gentle love, lots of compost, and countless hours spent on hands and knees weeding, pulling, digging and planting, we’ve created – restored? –  a pollinator’s paradise.

Last summer, Freyja was 6 months old and was happy to be parked in her bumbo chair under the maple while I puttered in the cool of the mornings. Now, 17 months old and ready to take on the world, Miss Freyja has found her happy place and it is outdoors. She does a gleeful, gambolling charging dance down the hall and back when her shoes come out. She cries like she is being tormented when it’s time to drag her back in.

Although she is still a little too young to do her own gardening, Freyja supervises while I weed, tests the temperature of the water pouring out of the rain barrel, does a little watering with her mini-watering can, and spends time socialising with the crocuses and forget-me-nots. As the summer wears on and she grows, I hope that Freyja will continue her love affair with the outside world. If I can, I will help nurture that love and celebrate it – and her.

Speaking of celebration, I planted a row of Morden Roses along our fence – every time I walk past them, I am reminded of my grandmother and her passion for gardening (and roses!) and all that she taught me about stewarding the earth. I hope that when Freyja is old enough to remember, that she will look back on our time together in the garden fondly, and with the knowledge that she is deeply loved.

***Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama

Visit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.

I believe, regardless

First off, let me say that Joanna Newsom’s ’81 has gone viral in my head. I am hearing this song in my sleep. It’s odd and haunting and drowning out pretty much everything else that I could or should be thinking about.

Secondly, whazzup?! End of April? Oh, snap! Composing blog entries in my head at night while falling asleep, chasing a toddler and trying to (somewhat)(more or less) maintain a household during the day. If I could figure out some blinding, new, fantastical technology to upload those dream entries from my tired noodle directly to my computer, I would be set. And not beset with Abandoned Blog Guilt.

So, somehow or other, another entire month has passed. And what do I have to show for it?

Well, in no particular order, we got a bike trailer and biked the hell out of the warm days (fleeting, they were but returning they are), dealt with another of Maisy Dog’s anxiety crisis (crisi? crises?), met my half-brother, reunited with my best friend’s mom (who was ma #2 growing up), did a lot of gardening, planted a bunch of seeds, completed the training to become a City of Ottawa breastfeeding peer mentor, committed to cloth diapering, not to mention playgroups, playdates, dog walking, groceries, laundry, being a wife, festival stuff, and a great big giant online project that is slowly killing me but is awesome experience.

No wonder my feet hurt.