Thursday, June 11, 2009

Life and Wonder

What a full and joyful week this has been, friends! Life continues to give an abundance of beauty and love in every direction I turn.

Yesterday, Katie and I had the delight of meeting the beautiful Madeleine Jael Bergon, the newborn daughter of Tim and Lauren. Lauren continues to inspire me with her commitment to Life's goodness and her faith that all things happen in the way that are supposed to happen. She birthed Madeleine entirely at home with no pain medication and through 24 hours of intense labor. Kate and I were so lucky that Lauren and Tim are so welcoming and generous to share the joy of their baby girl with their friends, and I got to hold her for almost an hour. Babies are meant to be celebrated and shared and welcomed. She has the cutest dimples... Anyway, I loved hearing Lauren's birth story and her strength is inspiring. I am thankful that she has demonstrated in fullness the type of labor that our bodies were created to do, and that she has contributed to the preservation of an art form: the ability of midwives and doctors to deliver without meds and without Caesareans. I do not judge these measures, but I also don't want natural childbirth to become a lost art in our culture: women should retain all of their birthing options. The natural childbirth movement is finally picking up steam again in some of my circles, and all I hope for is that it doesn't die out completely so that women can have babies in the way most appealing to them. What I very much respect in Lauren is that she really is a testament to everything she believes in. I think Madeleine is definitely her much-deserved reward.

Anyway, in exchange for the dinner we brought, we received a beautiful bouquet of mint leaves that I hope might last until Monday's birthday tea for Nana.

This morning Kate and I decided that, despite the June gloom, we were going forth with our pinecone project at long last. I've been dying to do this lesson plan and prepped many days ago, but I usually like to do outdoor crafts when it is sunny. However, seeing as the June gloom has no end in sight, it was time to learn about making pinecone birdfeeders:

Katie holds up the second pinecone, ready to begin after watching me model the steps
We used her baby spoons instead of knives to spread the peanut butter

She pinches the birdseed and sprinkles it over the peanut butter...

We made two feeders to hang in one of our trees...

Part of our lesson plan was talking about all the new birds in our neighborhood and how we wanted to make friends with them. We looked at the different seeds and talked about why the birds might like peanut butter, too. We are also trying to predict how long it will take the birds to find the new treats and to eat them clean. We checked a few times today...
We definitely get "messy" in our house on a regular basis, but I love teaching Kate so much, and I really believe children need to be outdoors running around, digging through dirt, splashing in water, and exploring and creating. I so want to give Kate the inspiration to embrace her natural curiosity, and I want to give her a zest for living, a passion for so many things. She is currently not watching any television (sometimes Bill has the news on before dinner, but she is usually busy with me anyway), and that means I am not watching any television either---except a few recorded things after she sleeps. We definitely are seeing this have a good effect... As an experiment a couple mornings ago, I turned on a program and could immediately hear her trail off in her vocal imagination play with her figures on the coffee table. I shut that TV off so fast... We are happier without much TV---life is so abundant and there's so much to do together, so much to learn. I am not anti-Sesame Street or anything; in fact, we have enjoyed that program at times, and I love the "old school" episodes I have on DVD. But the trick is to talk about it and watch it together, I think. Unless we watch together with constant interjection by me, there is no certainty that she is engaging actively with the program. In fact, until I can be certain that she is not a passive watcher, I don't see much TV in our future unless it is something we are actively discussing as we watch. My goal everyday is to see how much I can talk and talk and talk to Kate. The TV, we believe (both intuitively and after reading quite a bit of literature about it), can never be a substitute for that. Whole baby product capitalist empires (yes, you know who you are) have been built on the convincing of parents that TV can be a substitute for parental interaction...which is really frightening. Not to mention: whom do you want to have in control of your child's values?
So far we are noticing rapid gains in her language acquisition, and she is even putting together proper sentences now and then, "Climb the ladder," "Let's go," and "I need Mommy" for example. Granted, this is not often...we still hear more phrases and gerunds than anything else: "do helping," "bunny eating," etc. Watching her sure is thrilling....
Sooo...after the birdfeeders, Amie/Grandma came by to watch Kate for a few hours while I went to lunch with some friends and former colleagues. I loved having the chance to catch-up with the five of them and brought back memories of all that I loved best about my job. They are amazing women and talking about education is exciting for me. I do love teaching---I am putting all of that love into Kate right now, so teaching has a different form. I also took my heart's delight of being with them off-campus and just chatting about life... I miss them on a day to day basis (I often, often have dreams about Sandy and I teaching/lesson planning together), but I also know where I need to be right at this moment. Our restaurant choice was Journey's End at Pechanga---delicious! I had the seared fish tacos, the best I have ever tasted. And we all shared a molten lava cake...yum, yum!
And more excitement ahead: over the next few days I get to dedicate myself to preparing for Nana's tea. This will be the first birthday party I've ever hosted for her, and we have most of our fam on that side coming. I love love love cooking/planning/nourishing/making a to-do over the people I love, so I am excited!