The Baby Bird and the Snail: Nature Storyboarding Acts of Kindness

Collected natural treasures nest story of bird and snail

Today is International World Wildlife Day, last year I shared some ideas about how we can help conserve and protect wild plants and animals. I hope you’ll read that post when you’ve got the time.

This year, in honour of World Wildlife Day, I am sharing a story Ro wrote and storyboarded when she was 8. It is a story of a baby bird who lost her mother and made a new friend, the snail. The image she created that inspired the story is shown above (my photo, her arrangement).

During the warmer seasons, when snow and ice do not cover the ground we are always picking up little pieces of beauty as we walk about the city from one place to another. We are, as many of you know, pedestrians by default. Being walkers, slowly moving through the city, we always come home with a variety of pretties: feathers, shells, pinecones, flower petals, and so on. One day when we came home Ro decided to story board with the treasures. Ever since she was quite young she had played with a felt story board, which she loved. On this summer day, she decided to translate this activity into a new context using natural treasures. To begin, she used some white chalk to make a framed background on our porch and then went to work creating. When she was satisfied with her creation she called me over and shared her story.

The beauty she had created visually, and more significantly the beauty of the story itself, was so touching I had to take a few photos and transcribe the story. It’s been 3 years now, and finally, the right day has arrived to share.

Here is Ro’s story:

The Baby Bird and the Snail

“One day a baby bird’s mother went out as usual to find food, but did not return. An accident took her life.

The baby bird was heartbroken and cried in the nest for many days.

Others heard the cries and figured out what happened, so they began bringing gifts of food and beauty to sustain the baby bird.

The nest became surrounded in gifts, but still the baby bird did not emerge.

And so, a young snail decided to risk it’s own life and go into the nest to comfort the bird.

The bird was so touched by this (risky) act of kindness that she realized others cared for her and that she would have a friend to go through life with.

The end.”

I hope this story will touch your heart, inspire acts of kindness and connection across species and ways of life, and that you’ll be inspired to create beauty with natural, sustainable materials.

Today is World Wildlife Day, so hug a tree, kiss an animal, and love all life. Find, make and share the beauty of the natural world and simple acts of kindness. Raise yourself, raise others, raise positive change. Together we can raise a generation of global guardians.

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Stitch and Forage: A Seasonal, Natural Guide for Summer

Guest post by: Melanie Barnes

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If you are interested in making the most of the Summer months in a seasonal and natural way, and on a budget, the ’Stitch and Forage’ E-course is a brilliant guide. Created by Hannah Bullivant from Seeds and Stitches and Herbalist Natasha Richardson, it also has some wonderful contributors, Sara from Me & Orla, Kate from A Playful Day, Laura from Circle of Pine Trees, Rachel from The Foraged Life, and myself from Geoffrey & Grace.

The section I created was a guide to self care focusing on meditation, including the benefits, why you should meditate, and how to begin. We look at breath, Mantra and energy flow (Prana). Plus, there are two meditations for you to try and practice.

I really love this quote on meditation, I find it to be great inspiration….

“In the beginning you will fall into the gaps in between thoughts – after practicing for years, you become the gap.”  – J.Kleykamp

Let me tell you a little bit more about the course…

Stitch + Forage is as self paced e-course, made up of four core modules; ‘Forage’, ‘Make’, ‘Gather’, and ‘Tend’. You will receive a beautifully designed PDF with all the tutorials, planning tools, resource links, and printables you need for the course.

The modules contain features covering:

  • How to survive hay fever with herbal remedies
  • The joy of camping; both maximalist and minimalist
  • Styling a Summer dinner party
  • A guide to Summer beers
  • Simple, useful Summer crafts
  • How to make your own Summer sour
  • Recipes for seasonal foods
  • Taking care of your skin in the sun
  • Nature meditation
  • The best holiday, garden and beach reads
  • Simple ways to entertain kids
  • Ideas to have a more mindful, eco-Summer

The cost  is – £30  – However there is 50% off until August 31st.

If you would like to sign up to the course, and for further details please see here.

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Thank you for sharing Melanie!

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Summer Trip Part 3: Philadelphia

After our day in New York City (photos here), we rode a bus to Philadelphia to visit the Sweet Luka Mo family. I had gotten to know Einav, the woman behind Sweet Luka Mo, over the last year, after I won a photo contest she had run for her brand. We quickly became friends and when the opportunity presented itself to make a short visit, we made it happen. We spent three days together exploring Philadelphia’s beautiful parks and water spots, eating delicious vegan tacos and the best coconut ice cream ever (here). Late nights chatting after the children fell asleep, which led to some over-tired eyes (mine, see below) but some great memories. Thanks for the amazing hospitality Einav, Luka and Mike.

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…first morning, Sen and Luka were fast friends playing trains while parents sleep in. Thank you, boys!

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Entrance to the park, so far, we are loving Philadelphia!

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Making plans…they wouldn’t tell me about what.

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A charming old water fountain proved very entertaining for the boys.

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Freestyling with the water fountain.

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I loved how the park was designed for mixed use, including a play structure and community garden.

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Exhaustion after the park

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Evening walk to see some of Philadelphia’s amazing murals and mosaics. This one by Isaiah Zagar, made entirely from recycled materials. To say this artist is prolific would be an understatement. The neighbourhood we walked through was covered in his work. Amazing stuff.

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Excited for what our second day has in store for us.

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We visited the downtown area around the government buildings, Sen looks unimpressed because he wanted to go straight to the water area.

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Gorgeous little park with shade and water, rocks and coffee. Perfection.

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She laid there as long as I would let her, which was probably an hour.

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Sen always helping his sister relax.

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Hashtag sibling love! I’m telling you, they do this on their own. Please make it always be so.

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Day 3, our last day in Philadelphia, it was incredibly hot, so we hit the fountain for some fun.

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Me and the kids (I have to include photos of myself for the kids memories, even if I’m squinty-eyed)

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Having fun looking at American coins. “Treasure mama!”

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Waiting for lunch at Reading Market. It was such a fun place to walk around. A mix of vendors, farmers, bakers, florists.

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Terrible photo, but a great memory. Ro and Einav swinging Luka along the sidewalk, on our way to get ice cream.

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The kids almost had more fun looking for tiny animals in the garden outside the ice cream shop than they did eating their ice cream. Almost.

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A quick play at the park before bedtime. I had to get a photo of Sen in his made-in-Philadelphia  clothing – Sweet Luka Mo – while he was in Philadelphia. Luckily he cooperated.

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Friends forever.

Philadelphia, you were fun, can’t wait ’til we meet again. And now, back to New York City for a few days. Stay tuned for my next post.

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Clothing details: Ro’s floral swimsuit by Christina Rohde; Sen’s swim bottom and feather shirt by Gardner and the Gang; Sen’s black harem’s by Baby Beast; Ro’s clothing by Kids on the Moon; Sen’s striped romper by Nico Nico from Little Heirloom; Sen’s narwal tank and striped leggings by Sweet Luka Mo; Sen’s denim shorts by boy+girl; All sandals by Salt Water Sandals from Mini Mioche; My day bag from Nena & Co.

Summer Trip Part 2: A Day in NYC

We arrived in New York City around 6:30 pm on Sunday, after a 9 hour train ride that started in St. Albans, Vermont (photos of Part 1 are here). Tuckered out from our long day, we did a little walking around Times Square and then retired to the room we had rented on the border of Chinatown and Soho.

The next morning, with 10 hours until our bus ride to Philadelphia the kids woke up early, excited to explore the city.  We kept true to our modus operandi in Ottawa, walk out the door and see what the city has to offer. But first a peek out the window…image

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…finding greenery wherever we go, Soho had a number of beautiful ivy covered walls.

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…on our way to market for breakfast we stopped to play at Union Square Park, a nostalgic place for us, as the children played there three years ago when we visited.

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…outside Union Square park there is a fantastic farmers market where we grabbed fresh fruit for breakfast, and, of course, enjoyed the flowers and colours inspiration.

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…walking past the Flat Iron Building on our way to the flower district (is that’s what it’s called?)

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…plants in the alleys of the flower district, Ro found a fallen hibiscus and put it in her hair.

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…colour and texture inspiration sitting on the sidewalk.

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…headed back to our room to pick up our bags for our bus trip, walking back slowly via the High Line.

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…it was a hot day, popsicles for a late afternoon lunch. Ro had hibiscus and Sen had lemonade.

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…getting wet in this fun water feature on the High Line, the kids also played here three years ago when we visited. Ahhh, memories.

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…Sen trying to keep up with his summer list “Swim Every Day” commitment, laying down in a half inch of water. I’ll allow it!

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…off the High Line, walking through Soho and inspired by the texture and pattern of this grate.

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…quick stop in at Purl Soho, enjoying the colours, patterns, textures, and Ro in search of the perfect teal colour for her mood board for the dress she is designing with Mimolab.

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…Sen fascinated by the winder.

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…she found the perfect teal colour.

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…and now to grab our bags, rush over to the bus terminal, on our way to Philadephia. Stay tuned for Part 3.

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Clothing details: Sen’s honey bee organic underwear from Underables; Sen’s swim bottom from Gardner and the Gang; Sen’s striped romper from Little Heirloom; Ro’s top from American Apparel and skirt from Little Heirloom; we all wear Salt Water Sandals from Mini Mioche.

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Love Your Mother in Luv Mother

“We wanted a name to represent more than just the collections we put out, something that truly defined the spirit, integrity and intention behind the brand. The two words ‘love’ and ‘mother’ are packed with positive meaning and we tip our hats to all moms, mother earth, the mother of invention and the idea that with a little luv anything you put your mind to is possible.”

Kevin, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Luv Mother

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We were fortunate to receive samples from a new Canadian brand, Luv Mother, just before our trip to the United States, where we travelled to big cities, small towns, a peninsula, an island and beaches. I know, from my husband’s experience that merino wool is a very versatile and a durable material for clothing, and that it also transitions well from cold to warm weather. So I was excited to test it out with the kids, especially for our beach days when the warm sun would give way to cool windy evenings on the beach, best enjoyed with a bonfire, s’mores and good friends.

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Luv Mother makes merino clothing for children. My husband, Matt, has worn merino almost exclusively for his tops for the last decade. Having read about the durability of merino wool, and some of the amazing stories of people wearing a single piece for 40 or more days straight without washing (or 100 days in a wool dress shirt), he was sold on their light environmental touch (imagine how much water and energy are saved when you can wear something 10, 20, 100 times before washing it!), which was only made better by the durability of wool. Add to all this, that being a natural fiber, wool is biodegradable once there is no life left in clothing, it gives new life by nourishing the soil.

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Luv Mother’s clothing is designed and sewn in Canada, and the merino is sourced from Australia and New Zealand. As many of you know, I am very particular about bringing animal products into our home. But I also consider the durability and environmental impacts of my purchases. This is why we opt to buy durable leather shoes over plastic or foam ones that may be kinder to some animals, but breakdown more quickly from use and yet ironically live on in landfill forever (plastics will eventually breakdown into plastic ‘dust’ but they don’t actually biodegrade), thereby harming many animals in the long run. Wool is another animal by-product that we include in our home, on occasion, when we can be assured that it is from an ethical source, where the sheep are free roaming, are treated well, are not mulesed, and are from farms that are monitored and certified to treat their animals according to animal welfare principles (RSPCA and the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act). Fortunately Luv Mother is a company that sources exclusively from ethical producers.

It makes sense, then, that Luv Mother’s tag line is “sourced in earnest.” For them this phrase is all about being conscious about every decision they make. And they really do follow through on this, every aspect of sourcing and producing their clothing is done sustainably and ethically. For example, Luv Mother: has carbon neutral shipping (they purchase carbon offsets/credits for the emissions resulting from shipping their clothing); all paper products and hangtags are printed on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper; working with their clothing factory to reuse and upcycle fabric scraps through creative partnerships.

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In addition to the sustainability and great usability of the clothing, I love how “packable” their merino clothing is. The clothing is  very lightweight and easily packed into my minimalist travel bag (an oversized purse from Nena & Co). What little wrinkling occurred while the clothing was in the bag fell out quickly as the children wore it. Great, because fussy clothing is banned while on travel! (Merino is machine washable and can tumble dry on low, but really it dries so fast it’s easy to air dry it and save some carbon emissions). Oh and did I mention the merino is soft? The kids didn’t complain of itching at all. Win-win-win-win.

The merino proved itself to be an exceptional fibre. But, then again, nature doesn’t often get this stuff wrong. Thousands of years of evolution has led to smart hairs growing on sheep. They are able to keep you warm when you need it, but keep you cool when the sun is out. We used the tops to transition from afternoon to evenings at the beaches, on windy ferry rides, and even an impromptu dip in the ocean — I forgot Sen’s swim suit on one occasion, so he went in with his merino top on. I would have let him swim naked, but he was too quick to run into the waves. I was delighted to find that his top had completely air dried within about 30 minutes, his cotton pants, on the other hand, were still soaked hours later. It was a good lesson for me: on those occasions when the kids might get sweaty or wet, dress them in wool!  While I didn’t know it at the time, I’ve since learned that wool is also considered a firesafe fabric and is self-extinguishing, it won’t melt or stick to your skin. Winning!

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All in all, we loved the clothing and found the brand name quite apt. The children played in  the sand and sea, climbed rocks and dunes, enjoyed the wind on a blustery ferry ride, enjoying the elements mother earth offered them in this part of the world. While their spirited childhood hearts would have fueled the fun and enjoyment no matter what, I’m pretty sure comfortable clothing helped them extend their fun a little longer.

Clothing details: Ro wears top and skirt from Luv Mother; Sen wears top from Luv Mother and organic cotton leggings from Mabo; best, most durable and stylish sandals around Salt Waters from Mini Mioche.

Find Luv Mother on Instagram @luvmthr

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Have you subscribed to the Global Guardian Project yet? These are monthly learning capsules for children and their families to learn about global stewardship. Each month features a different country’s wild life, landscape and challenges, and includes art projects, activites, meditation, recipes and more! Use my discount code:HIPPIEINDISGUISE for 10% off and read more about it here.

Summer Lists: Of Sun, Sand and Strawberries

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThat first day of summer vacation is amazing, right? There is so much time ahead of you, so much excitement and anticipation about all the fun and adventure that will be had.

My mind always spins a bit with all the things I want to do with children during my few weeks off with them. So, a few years ago Ro and I decided to make ‘Summer Lists’ of our top 10 things we didn’t want to finish the summer without doing. I don’t like to pack our days with activities, but I do want to make sure that we feel as though we’ve had the chance to do our favourite things, and while summer is a time to relax, we still have a sense of accomplishment, even if our accomplishment is making a mud pie. The lists worked really well as a way to orient our summer, with just ten things each, it left time for serendipitous activities, and on days when there was nothing obvious to do we turned to our lists. With a sense of success that first year, we’ve continued making them each year since — however, without limiting ourselves to ten things.

Our five weeks together start next week, so with that in mind we worked on finalizing our lists last weekend.

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Sen painted the background, and I wrote out his list

This is Sen’s first year making a list. We talked, in the weeks leading up to summer vacation, about all the things he loves about summer and these activities turned into his list:

  • build a sand castle
  • make a mud pie
  • ride a zoom boat
  • visit a cottage
  • go to Gramma and Grampa’s beach house
  • collect shells
  • make a toy boat out of supplies
  • save animals
  • eat pizza at the park
  • go camping
  • sleep in a tent
  • eat s’mores
  • dance a lot
  • play hop scotch
  • make brownies
  • build a fort
  • swim everyday

And he wanted to make sure we left some room on the page to add things as we go. No problem, Sen!

Ro really enjoys making her list each summer. It’s like a Christmas list, but way more exciting, because she is imagining memories instead of things. The first few years I had to talk her off of things like “take a trip to Paris” because this is too far outside our means, so I expected the same this year, but was happily surprised there was no trip to Bora Bora or a theme park on her list.

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Ro painted a lotus for her background

Ro’s list:

  • make strawberry rhubarb turnovers
  • dye hair with beets
  • visit NYC
  • write a book
  • go to a water park
  • wear a rainbow outfit
  • read Nimona to mom and Sen for bedtime
  • get a mani-pedi
  • surprise a stranger with a bouquet of flowers
  • leave cookies on neighbours porch
  • go to Gramma’s cottage and get a pie from the pie shop
  • cross the Rideau River
  • get dad to make the treehouse
  • make a stick fort
  • do some sewing
  • make a doll
  • learn a new way to draw
  • learn to write with right hand

Once Ro had finished her list she realized she had forgotten to include “make kale chips.” Noted!

And finally for my list. There is nothing extravagant on mine, it is mostly filled with simple activities, but things that will fill the summer with fun and my heart with memories.

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My list:

  • go strawberry picking
  • try paddle boarding
  • organize an IG meetup
  • press flowers
  • keep a nature journal
  • wander
  • get lost
  • swim in an ocean, a lake and a river
  • visit Nantucket
  • watch the clouds
  • take the kids stargazing
  • find a new wildflower field
  • visit a farm
  • sail paper boats at the pond
  • visit Philadelphia
  • send snail mail
  • explore a new part of the city
  • spread love

For those of you who are paying keen attention, I included “organize an IG meet-up” on my list. Anyone living in the Ottawa area, or who will be in Ottawa on July 9th (2015), is welcome to meet up with us (me, Ro and Sen) for an informal picnic and play at Vincent Massey Park. I will be posting more details later this week, but wanted to make the date known so those who are interested can plan to be there. Please send me an email or leave a comment below if you are interested in meeting up, and especially if you have ideas for the meet-up, in terms of activities, food and so on. While my inclination is to keep things minimal, simple food and free play, it may also be nice to have something special to mark the event. Please be in touch!

What’s on your summer list? I would love to hear, leave a comment below or on Instagram.

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Urban Adventures or Wanderlust with Kids

With spring weather around the corner, the children and I are getting excited for our first urban adventure of the year. We’re pedestrians year round, walking almost everywhere we travel to in the city; however, in the cold weather months the walking is more for the purpose of transportation than it is an activity unto itself. In the winter we walk with a destination in mind. In the spring, summer and fall, walking is the destination. Wander, weave, flounder and flow, the streets, alleys and parks around us form a patchwork of sights, sounds, smells and sensations underfoot.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve craved walking: wandering without purpose throughout the city, the countryside, just exploring and waiting for the unexpected to present itself. I suppose I had wanderlust, though I certainly hadn’t heard of the term when I was a young teen who wished to spend her off hours wandering aimlessly, rather than shopping or hanging out at coffee shops. It seems wrong to say “aimlessly” or “without purpose;” certainly the walking restocked my energies and delivered inspiration by way of silhouettes, architecture, graffiti, street performers, weeds growing rampant under a loading dock.

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Sen’s rabbit tee by KLT works and organic harem pants by Mini Mioche

Aside from wanderlust, my environmental preoccupations motivate me to move around in the least harmful way I can. Using my own motor is not only healthy for me, but healthier for the planet. When I met my husband, Matt, he was similarly disenchanted with moving himself through space using anything other than his own body as a motor. He loved to explore and find new spots in the city and its rural outskirts. However, he wanted to move and explore by bicycle. He had no interest in going for an after dinner walk, or leaving an hour early for school so we could take a meandering detour to get to class. We spent many years separately doing our own after dinner ritual. Now after a decade or so I’ve worn him down…or rather he’s learned to love a good wander. He still rides his bicycle at least three times a day though!

We live in the downtown of our city, so there is a lot to discover within walking distance. And by walking distance, I mean we can walk somewhere (at a child’s pace) in 2 to 3 hours or less. Most often, we spend more time getting somewhere than the time we actually spend there, because the walk is just as enjoyable. This ‘breaks’ the common rule that when you drive on a trip somewhere you need to spend at least triple the time there to make the ‘car time’ worth it. Unless, of course, you are a road tripper, and the drive is the destination. But I digress….

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Sen’s monochrome rainbow tee by Sweet Luka Mo

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One of the first thoughts I had when I learned I was pregnant was that I would have a new excuse to spend hours wandering the city while pushing my baby in the pram — which is a very common way to ‘nap’ your child where we lived at the time. As my children got older I wanted to find a way to nurture a love for wandering, admittedly to serve my own interests, but also because I think there is a lot to learn from wandering. Both learning from the space in which you wander, but also to learning about ourselves. Wandering cultivates a sense of curiosity in and reverence for the mundane, which I think are necessary capacities to develop and nurture, particularly in a fast-paced and over-stimulated world. I could go on and on about all the positive things that wandering teaches us, but I will save some for future posts, since I’ll be posting about our urban adventures over the coming weeks and months. (I need to save some goodies so you’ll come back for more!)

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While off with the children for a few weeks during the last two summers, we would alternate days at the pool park, with a picnic to last us the day, and days wandering the city. At first, Ro would ask “when will be there?” She was focused on a particular destination: the river, the bakery, the gallery. But over time, she began to enjoy the walks themselves and became a more keen observer, looking down streets and alleys, finding dirt paths that could be interesting, and taking an interest in leading us toward discovery.

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Sen’s owl raglan by Pop Kids USA and organic striped leggings by Sweet Luka Mo

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For Sen, being much younger, he still very much lives in the moment, so he enjoyed the wandering and didn’t expect to “get somewhere.” He especially enjoyed our walks when I called them adventures. “What will we discover today, Sen?” I found it really helped, for both children, to give them a few things to look for: a flower they’ve never seen before, a sculpture, a spot for a picnic. It gave them an orientation for the walk and raised their sense of observation. As the summer went on, they no longer needed prompts from me, they would just let loose and see what struck their fancy as they walked along a sidewalk or path. I was very happy to see they had come to love wandering. So much so, that at times I found myself trying to usher them along more quickly, for they wished to stop to greet every snail crossing the sidewalk or count all the different varieties of wild flower on a hill — not to mention the childhood classic: picking up every single stick to bring home. Perhaps I’d gotten a little too much of a good thing going. But seriously, I couldn’t fault the activity of letting children roam, discovering, spending endless hours outdoors, learning the map of their city through the movements of their own body. We have gotten to a point where can be a great distance from home and Ro can always lead us back. And Sen can lead us about half the time. As a parent of urban children, I think it is a great asset for a young child to know how to navigate the city themselves.

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All in all, I’m pretty happy that my children enjoy my favourite pastime. But more importantly, I see the great benefits wandering provides them. Chief among these is appreciation for the path as much as the destination, which brings about the potential to reframe everything we do.

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Sen’s organic leggings by Mini Mioche

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Drawing a Day: A Summer Drawing Project

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Drawing a Day

On the first day of summer vacation I gave Ro and Sen each a fresh new sketchbook, a small soft covered one that was easily portable so they could take them around town to parks and on our daily adventures. Ever since I can remember an empty sketchbook was a thing of delight to me, offering endless possibilities of how it would be filled, how it would become “my” sketchbook. I was happy to see that both Ro and Sen were excited at the prospect of empty pages waiting to become records of their creativity.

Drawing a day project

I am definitely a parent who believes wholeheartedly in the benefits of unstructured play and days without plans aside from walking out the front door. At the same time, I recognize that children can crave structure and that summer time is a chance to develop those skills in your children that may not be cultivated at school. So, in the interest of creating a beautiful record of our days and in helping the children see how practicing something daily could be very rewarding, I set the children the task of doing one drawing a day over the summer.

The task was fairly open ended: draw anything. Draw something you see at the park, draw something from your imagination. Just draw.

Sen, being just a young 3 years at the time, had never had his own desire to draw, as Ro did at the same age. But, Sen does love a good challenge, so he happily set to drawing whatever happened to come to mind: a tractor or the popsicle he had just eaten. As the summer went on, he had days where he just wanted to scratch some colour on the page and have it done with so he could run and jump in the pool. And other days (when the pool wasn’t there to jump in) I could see him scanning his surroundings looking for inspiration. Tip: if you want your children to do something they may not be naturally inclined to do, make sure it’s more interesting than other options available to them, like a pool.

Sen’s drawing of a popsicle – most days Sen would carefully draw something, taking his time to thoughtfully shape his drawing, and then once the shape was done he would (un)ceremoniously colour it in, leaving it looking like a scribble, as you see here.

My favourite drawing of Sen’s was from a day we sat at a pond in our neighbourhood and Sen excitedly knew exactly what he wanted to draw. It may not seem remarkable, perhaps, but it was remarkable to me. And it was for him, because he didn’t need anyone to feed him ideas, he had his own. He couldn’t wait to sit down with his pencil and put his idea on paper. “No looking until it’s done, Mama!” But…I may have snuck a little peek. And what I saw were long green lines. Ah, yes, I thought, he’s inspired by the park, by the beautiful grass. A moment of self-approval washed over me for being that parent who inspires their child to draw the beauty of nature. “It’s done, Mama, you can look.” “Wow, Sen, that is beautiful grass. Good for you.” “No, Mama, it’s very long green hair!”

Ro, on the other hand, loves to draw. This past summer she was very interested in learning to draw from photos. Being intrigued by the curious Instagram app (that her mom paid a little too much attention to…), she asked if she could look through the photos there for inspiration on the days that we were doing drawings at home. As she scrolled through my Instagram feed, she began to understand why I was so drawn to it, with all the inspiration and creativity found in little 3X3 squares.

She ended up doing a few drawings over the summer that were inspired by photographs she saw on Instagram. I found it really interesting that she naturally chose photos from artists. A drawing I particularly liked was a fern study inspired by a photograph by artist Kajsa Wallin who goes by @kawaspics on Instagram. For this drawing, she had to really slow down and focus on the small differences between the leaves from different varieties of ferns.

On another day she drew dream catchers inspired by artist Faith Evans-Sills, who you can find as @faithevanssills on Instagram.

It might seem that way sometimes, but Instagram isn’t the only source of inspiration (note: read in sarcastic tone of voice). Something I try to do often is talk with Ro about inspiring historical figures like artists, peacemakers, politicians, and environmentalists. But just as important is talking with her about how we are all capable of great things and of inspiring others to action. One of these everyday people is Paulie Eaborn who is the creator of the Pray4Trax necklace. After hearing about the necklaces, I wanted share the story with Ro. These handmade, child safe necklaces are sold to raise money to support a boy named Trax, who is living with cystic fibrosis. Paulie and her son Tysi, have never met Trax or his mom Kassi, but they knew they wanted to help. What started as a small project selling necklaces to raise funds for Trax’s treatment, turned into a wave of support for Trax and awareness of the disease. And perhaps, most importantly, reminded us how one small action can have a huge impact. Tysi and Trax’s story really moved Ro, and she wanted to see the necklaces right away so she could draw them.

With my thoughts already, and always, drifting toward summer vacation, I am looking forward to renewing this activity while off with the children. Ro’s drawing technique has really evolved over the last few months, and Sen has finally found his own organic interest in drawing (mostly robots and ninjas, in case you were curious). I can hardly wait to see how they will fill their notebooks this summer, recording our days through the simple ritual of pencil to paper. Whether the rewards of last summer’s practice were felt by Ro and Sen, I’m not sure, I think that realization will take longer to come. And so, another summer of drawing it is!

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