Natural Playscapes.

Moving from California to Canada has gifted us a real backyard--the fenced-in, green-grassed, tree swing kind of backyard--the kind of yard that inner-city and beach ranch living just don't make possible. Any plans to settle into our backyard oasis last year were a bust. Just 6 months after moving in, the birth of Fern in late May combined with summertime travels put a kibosh on planting a garden, composting, rain barrels, clothes line, hammock hanging and any other kind of backyard cozy-up. We built a sand box, hung a tree swing, and that was the extent of it. But, since spring has met us early this year and the warm temperatures have lured us back out for patio dinners and long swing pushing sessions, we have begun to ponder once again all that we'd love to do with the space.  

Aside from all of the functional uses mentioned above, I have also been envisioning ways to incorporate inspired playscapes--something in lieu of the traditional purchased play structure--and imagining what I could do with stumps, limbs and branches and began scouting out viable sources for wood. Luckily, a neighbor of ours was in the process of removing a tree to make way for a garden of their own and offered the wood for my outdoor endeavor. It's still very much in the making, but it's a start and already a hit with Noah. Stump jumping, reading and snacking in the fort and constructing roads and towers with cut wood blocks has been added to his list of favorite backyard past times. The imagination and ingenuity that a natural playspace has the ability to encourage with its limitless possibilities of creation is what draws me in the most. I love its impermanence and fluid construction--the ability for it to be one thing one day and something entirely different the next. I hope to add large stones, a fire pit (for the family), tree house and perhaps large logs on their side for sitting, balancing, etc. It's clearly been as much fun for me as it has been for Noah.

Happy Playing!


Ward's Island Love: Toronto, Can You Get Any Better?

Dean's work space has experienced radical shifts over the years--from a Sunset Boulevard recording studio, to a home studio on the cliffs of Malibu, and most recently to an Industrial Park in the White Oaks neighborhood of London, Ontario. While his current gig does leave a stealthy lot to be desired in the aesthetic department, it does occasionally bestow trips to Toronto in business' name. This time it was to speak, mingle and schmooze at Canadian Music Week, again--and the kids and I tagged along to hit the streets and sights.

We found ourselves staying harbor-side for this visit instead of a hustling city center spot as per usual. Cityscape, construction, and harbor views from our window kept Noah engrossed for much of the stay and our proximity to the water required that we venture to the islands just on the other side of the bay. We took the late afternoon ferry after kissing daddy adieu on the first day only to find ourselves swooning on the shores of a quaint and cozy little finger of land just spitting distance from the towers and skyscrapers of downtown. With not a car in sight--only bicycle and walking shoe cladded locals--and charmingly understated, and in some cases brightly painted, cottages it looked and felt a lot like the tiny island in the Bahamas that Dean and I honeymooned on. The locals were just awakening from a long winter's slumber as the summer-like temperatures had everyone out raking leaves and otherwise preparing the earth for spring's fresh buds. A few crocus and daffodil were already peeping from beneath the heavy moss. As we made our way down to the beach on the opposite side of the island, I was plotting how we could establish a permanent homestead on this newly discovered paradise. The rest of the day was one for the history books. Noah splashed and played in the frigid and eerily still waters of Lake Ontario, collecting smooth stones and digging holes in the sand while Fernie and I soaked in all of the afternoon's rays. It was by far one of my favorite days in Canada so far.

A stop for a wee bit of window shopping and tacos on the Danforth and exploration, albeit tiredly, at the Science Museum with friends who came up from London to join us rounded out the cooler and rainy days that followed. It was a fabulous trip and though we didn't get to see much of Daddy, it's one that we would gladly do again and again as Toronto continues to capture our hearts with each visit.


Feeding Little Foodies: Rescued, Soon Renewed + New Recipes.

Many of you read my sorrowful post regarding the purchase of my www.feedinglittlefoodies.com domain a few weeks back by someone in Spain. Well, all smoothed out just smoothly and the domain is happily back in my hands and to kick things off, there is a brand spankin' new super simple and delectably delicious recipe. So, come on over and give it a taste:  Coconut Shrimp Curry & Easy Homemade Naan.

Thanks to all of you who sent your heartfelt support and concern during the debacle. It is touching to know what a resource the site continues to be. Thank you.

Happy Feeding,

The Mama Behind, Feeding Little Foodies


Fern's Floor Bed Featured On Bedstart!

My post a few weeks back about Fern's new Montessori floor bed has brought many visitors to the blog--apparently the floor bed is making a real come back--and Anne, of the brand new website Bedstart, was one of them. She sent me an e-mail a few days ago asking if she could feature Fern's room. I, of course, enthusiastically agreed and, et voila, the site launched today! Stumble on by if you have a chance.

As a last note, it's been nearly a month now since we began experimenting with the new sleeping arrangements and are so very happy to report that all eyes are still slumbering seamlessly. Though the transition has signaled the end of exclusive co-sleeping with Fern, the floor bed has maintained the established sleep connection while providing a new physical space that both encourages and fosters "independence, concentration, movement, self-esteem, decision-making, and balanced, healthful development of body, mind and spirit". I can still snuggle, nurse and cuddle as often as needed--something that just couldn't be done with a crib. For more reading on the Montessori floor bed visit my earlier post, The Montessori Floor Bed: Connecting Space, Sleep, Play & Development.


Teases of Spring!

The happiest baby on the block has the blues, the teething blues. We've been in somewhat of a teething hell lately, literally. Several days following 3 days of an otherwise symptomless fever, Fern has been in worse spirits without it than with it and from what I can tell it's all due to those blasted top two front teeth that have just begun nudging their way beneath the gums. She has been a whining, fussing, crying, little wee teether who wants to be no further away from me than my butt hair, day and night. It's proven exhausting and most especially because outside of another quick and isolated teething episode she has truly been our easy peasy smiley and bright kind of gal. I guess she's allowed. But I hope she'll make it snappy--for both of our sake's.

All of this enameled agony has not kept us from enjoying this somewhat surprisingly early spring here in Southern Ontario, however. Last year, we were still shoveling our way from beneath snow and frosty temps well into early May. Think, Easter egg hunting clad mitten and snow gear. Not exactly the Easter we're used to. But this year we've already picnicked in the park twice and that Irish day of green has not even lucked on by yet. Lucky, lucky us! Last weekend found us playing in the park and hiking down alongside the river and today, at the sugar bush (maple syrup "farm") soaking pancakes with local sweetness and going on a horse-pulled carriage ride. Once we got home from syrup tapping, I dusted off the outdoor furniture and toys as I resurrected them from their basement hibernation. Noah was most giddy about discovering his red crocs from last summer. The frosting on the cake was that they still fit.


All In A Good Week's Play: Homebase.









Happy Friday, mes amis!


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back.

My mama friends on Facebook will probably meet this post with a rolling of the eyes. I just recently hashed out this very issue in my status update over the course of several days. Following my whining, their loving comments, my venting, their loving comments, I came to a realization...my little boy is growing up.

Noah is 3.25 and over the last few weeks, we have been trialing a program at the Y that requires I sit outside while he participates inside. While 3 seems to be the magic age for this, it's a first for us. All of the programs that we have ever attended have been together, so I was tentative at first but was willing to give it a try if Noah was. On the first day he joined without much urging, but came running out half way through in tears and has done so every time until last week when he flat out refused to go. He gave it a try--a real effort in my book--and while I won't go into the ins and outs of why I agree with him I will say that I believe it is very telling of our current growing pain.

Over the last few weeks he's kept closer, cuddled more and slept lighter. He's cried when I didn't expect it and has asked for me when he previously would not have. I was growing worried, filled with concern and frustration and considering "solutions" and "fixes". And, then it dawned on me--he was in doubt. And so was I. I was doubting his ability to determine his own readiness. I was choosing for him and pushing, gently pushing but pushing nonetheless, when he wasn't ready.

This new world with all of its "without mom possibilities" has only just recently begun computing in his little processor. And I have noticed that our Y experience, casual conversations about possible Jr. Kindergarten (Canada's Pre-K) enrollment this fall and my own attempts at urging autonomous play at home have triggered a pulling in rather than a moving out and away. After watching a pee-wee karate demonstration in awe this past weekend, he quickly turned to me without provocation and refused to ever take a karate class (by himself)--then it was swimming class, a yoga class and music class. Noah has always been eager to jump into social situations--excited to connect with playmates for engagement and group fun. But it's now clear that the idea of all of this without mom nearby is foreign and, therefore, scary leaving him feeling unsure and insecure. My perceptions of where he should be now that he's 3 have been clouding my observation and honoring of where he is at developmentally. As a result, I have not been unconditionally offering him what he has been needing the most as he navigates this very unsteady new territory--more, not less, of me and time.

With the addition of a little sister, more responsibilities and expectations have been tucked into his pocket. He's asked for some but others have been hashed out by us, perhaps, too prematurely. We expect that with a certain age, readiness for moving forward and stepping ahead magically appears. But as with all things readiness, too, comes best in its own time, in its own way, and at its own pace. As such, I have decided that my best and only role in all of this is not to fix or solve anything--nothing is broken--it's simply to be mom. Therefore, beginning tomorrow, I'll meet his caution with patience, his fear with reassurance, his tears with empathy and glimpses of bravery with encouragement and by doing so, hopefully, foster the courage to take the next step in his own time, in his own way, and at his own pace. 


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