Monday, September 14, 2009

Daily Life as Autumn Begins

These are the days of autumn whispering in the morning and evening air as Katie and I water our plants and play in one of our many backyard forts. As we hide behind trees and shrubs, we draw in the dirt, sing songs, and talk about Katie's upcoming birthday party (next month). The scent of autumn has brought peacefulness to my heart and mind, as lately I have been feeling heavier with the perpetual questions of the true nature of man, good and evil, our life purpose, the nature of reality---you know, the typical lighthearted things I like to dwell on now and then.

Our autumn routine fulfills me, and I find this to be a time of my life for renewed creativity and inspiration. Katie and I have been crafting together (with another sunflower-themed lesson planned this week), and during moments when she is napping or playing with her daddy or wanting to play imaginatively on her own, I am finding the time to pick up cross-stitching again. I have been working on a sampler---actually, a custom pattern my mom drew and then made for her home long ago. When I am finished, we will both have one. Maybe one day I will pass it on to Kate. It is not overly complex, and so I have been making satisfactory progress.

Katie and I also made this wreath together the other day. She helped me place each flower/leaf and decided where the bird should go. She was really good about not touching the glue gun and loved exploring the textures. We adorned our front door with the wreath, as a welcome to the changing season.

One of our most unexpected and biggest sources of joy has been Tuna Cat. After confirming her orphan status with the neighbors, we decided to adopt her as our own. We picked out a bowl and decorated it for her (most of Katie's decorations are on the other side in the picture below). We do pamper Tuna Cat on occasion with nibbles and treats (like bowls of milk and pieces of deli meat) beyond the dry and wet food. She seems to wander still but mostly remains in our backyard. She loves to come over near us wherever we are playing, and today, she hopped into Katie's playstructure fort and then (on her own, mind you) went down the slide. We bought a little collar for Tuna Cat and are growing more and more attached to her each day. I worry about attaching Katie to a pet, because we all know what can happen to pets. But maybe that is part of what we have to learn in life... With great love can come great sense of loss, but still you must continue to love and give of yourself.

Breakfast with Tuna Cat....

We try to get up early enough for a walk before we eat a big breakfast (this works often since Kate, like I do, takes 1-2 hours to grow hungry in the morning). Lately, Kate has been snoozing a little bit later than normal. Here she is all cuddly in our bed after her early morning bottle.

At night, things sometimes get wild!

Katie loved little figures right now, especially her Wizard of Oz people, some of her animal figures, and her Disney princesses. Here, she is playing with "Toto."

She loves playing with her daddy while I do my nighttime routine.

We also love, love, love our Toddler Time class and look forward to it on Mondays. Every once in awhile, I take Katie out to Starbucks for breakfast, which she always finds exciting. We like to eat by the fountain and meet other children/people. It is special mommy-daughter time. Here she is before breakfast this morning.

Checking out her sandwich....

Yay, STARBUCKS! And the pumpkin spice lattes are back, too!

I have been trying off and on to get a good pic of Katie at her Toddler Time class, but the only time to really do this is during a transition moment---and those go quickly. Since I am playing with her and helping to teach her the rest of the time, it is difficult to take a break to get the camera. I'll have to keep trying. This is the best I could do today---and it, like the others, is blurry. We have just been asked to get our blankets ready and then to help with the pick up. You can see in this picture how free Katie usually feels in the class. It excites her, and I have seen her grow mentally from this experience. I love having the chance to experience a mommy-and-me type of class with her and to bond with her even more deeply through learning together.

So, our fall schedule is pretty full, and I wouldn't have it any other way! Monday, Tuesday, and soon Friday will all have standing commitments (Toddler Time, Toastmaster's, and Music-in-Me, respectively) by October. We try to go to the library a couple times a week. This week we are going on Wednesday because we're visiting Nana on Thursday (usually our calling day)...but on weeks we don't go out of town, the library has morning storytime on Thursdays. We went this past week, and it was a good experience. This week, Wednesday will be our mid-week library and crafting day.
I figure if I can do one solid learning-based craft a week, that will give Katie two planned and structured ("with a purpose") art opportunities each week (as we also do one in Toddler Time). Other days, we free color, or sometimes use our fingerpaints, and sometimes our paintbox. I try to incorporate at least two "recesses" (maybe three now that the weather is cooling) each day, and we try to do something musical daily as well. We shoot for at least two big reading sessions a day, and sometimes we fit in three (Bill will read with her while I am doing my nighttime routine or sometimes he will play with her dollhouse with her). We hope so much to give her the lifelong gift of a true love for learning.
One thing I am still checking into is how to give her systematic instruction in a second language, probably French. I have studied Spanish, French, and Latin and can speak a little of the first two and read some in the third. I try to use some French with her...but it is not enough. We will introduce Latin later (we want to do a more classical curriculum for our homeschool). Anyway, I need some ideas for building her a second language---her neurons are supple, and now is the time!
I do love the autumn...and all the cozy feelings that go with it! For me, learning and studying is supreme is tinkering with fall recipes in the kitchen. Katie has been asking for us to bake an apple pie (which she learned about in a book), and of course, she is enchanted with Snow White baking the gooseberry pie... I think it is still too summery to get full autumn enjoyment out of an apple pie, but I am sooooo tempted to bake one this week or next. The beautiful thing about autumn is how much it inspires!