Sunday, February 14, 2016

January: Week 1

At the beginning of January we began using the Whole Family Rhythm guides as an addition to our days and the first week was fantastic. I could see an obvious change in Iz and could tell she was feeling more fulfilled by the new rhythm to our days and the activities we were doing together. We also decided to slow down our weeks by having less time with other people and focusing in more on our own tiny family and home life as I sensed that is what I was needing more of. This was a hard choice, but a necessary one and has paid off as I have seen the difference it is making for all of us.

The guides encourage implementing a rhythm to your days and to your weeks with a cooking day, watercolor day, modeling day, crafting day, and coloring day. Like anything else, I've chosen to take what works for us, leave the rest, adapt as necessary and add in other things as I see fit. There are also weekly finger rhymes, stories and a caregiver meditation relating to each weeks theme, but I will never be sharing those here as I know the work that had to have gone into putting together 52 weeks of these themes and would encourage anyone wanting to follow them to purchase the guides. Rather, I just want to share some of the things we've been up to each week, reflect on what went well and what we could use to focus on a bit more in weeks to come and to just generally have a place to look back on it all.

For our cooking day we made banana nut muffins using the recipe from The New Farm Vegetarian cookbook, but switching out some of the all purpose flour for whole wheat and adding in oats as well. Iz loves to bake and was happy to make these, along with herbal tea to enjoy and to bring some down to E while he worked.

The theme for the week was stars and frost with the rhyme and story focusing on Jack Frost and winter and we were lucky to find that Jack Frost had visited, leaving frost on our patio table. Also, for our watercolor day we were using blue, sprinkled with sea salt to create "frost" and that went well with our morning discovery. Such a treat. Later we decided to cut the watercolor painting into stars to add to our Winter nature table (which is also a new thing for us and something we've been enjoying adding to.)

Another component encouraged as part of a daily rhythm is outside time and it is also something we've chosen to focus in on as a family. Our rhythm isn't as dependable as I would like as O's napping is also less dependable than I would like but we sneak in outside time whenever we can and I know we are already getting out more than we did last winter. We were lucky this week to take strolls around the neighborhood, see a young hawk flying over us multiple times and to spend plenty of time in our backyard where Iz spent a long time planting her imaginary seeds in soil (sand) and pretending to water and care for them after placing them in the sun. It's always so interesting to see what she comes up with and see how our family lifestyle is rubbing off on her.

Iz also really wanted to make snow cones with her new machine my brother and his family gifted her for Christmas and that went really well with our theme and was pretty tasty with some grape juice on top.

For our crafting day we were set to make window stars but our kite paper didn't come in the mail on time so I came up with something different with what we had on hand. I cut a star shaped frame from cardboard, cut clear contact paper to size, and cut a bunch of tiny squares of tissue paper in shades of blue and white to stick to the star. We then taped it onto the frame and placed it in front of the window to make a "stained glass" star of sorts. This was a lot of fun for Iz and something we will revisit again in the months to come. I'm thinking shades of red and pink in hearts in February.

For modeling day I made a big batch of blue play dough and catering to Iz's age and interests broke out a rolling pin, star cookie cutter and bag of plastic animals we keep on hand for these purposes. We ended up cutting out a bunch of stars and she picked an animal to place on each one.

By the weekend our kite paper had arrived so we were able to make our window stars. This ended in me assembling the stars while O napped and Iz and E squirted glue all over their hands and peeled it off. At least everyone had their own sort of fun!

We were also greeted with our first dusting of snow and while E and O played inside me and Iz went out to enjoy it, throwing snowballs out at the yard from our garden getaway and making a tiny snowman on the patio table, along with lots and lots of snow eating from the one in the pink coat. She couldn't get enough.

Our first week was a great kickoff to this new rhythm and made us all excited to continue. One thing I really enjoy is that it gives Iz something that she can take ownership of and pride in. Most of her friends and cousins are in preschool and since we don't plan on doing so I am happy we have our own thing going on now and can see that she is as well. She typically isn't one to want to share or "perform" for others and we don't expect her to but on a visit to my sisters last Thursday for cousin playtime she decided to share her rhyme with her cousin and aunt all on her own. I love that she took pride in her learning and wanted to share and that it was something unique to her experiences that she could share with them.

It can be a bit tricky to keep O happy while doing these things with Iz and I am looking forward to O being able to participate more, but we will keep chugging along in our wonky rhythm until then and enjoying our days together. We are so lucky and happy to do so.

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