homage to Children and Nature

Meeting a group of like-minded families was my goal for attending one of Janice and Ron’s Family Adventures in Nature hikes, on new year’s day 2009.  What I didn’t realize was how much of a profound effect it would have on my life over the course of the next year!  Having only lived in San Diego for a year at that time, with two very young children, my husband and I sometimes struggled to simply get out of the house, let alone find the time to familiarize ourselves with much of the outdoor opportunities in the area – hiking, tidepooling, puddle jumping, creek wading and camping.  We were already a family committed to spending as much time as possible with our children outdoors, what we were missing was a community of friends to enjoy that time with and getting it on our calendar!

What began with a simple hike for our family has turned into countless benefits for us all! My kids have learned so much about the environment we now live in, the animals and plants that are part of our explorations, and of course made friendships with many other kids from our weekly outings. Hearing my 4 year old tell another child to “look at the moss, it’s so soft and moist!” and watching my 2 year old clamber over rocks with pride on her face as I tell her “great job hiking!” are some of the simple rewards of the time spent outdoors. We often enjoy the company of our kid’s grandparents, aunt and uncle and our nephew, and it has enriched our time with our extended family as well.

In fact, I now lead a subgroup of the family nature club, and have been enjoying the company of many other families on these outings, I have also become engaged with the SD Children and Nature Collaborative, joined the board and become part of the movement in San Diego and of the national C&NN movement as well. In addition, I have formed wonderful friendships with other parents and colleagues through SDCaN and Family Adventures in Nature, and have found a real joy in connecting others to our group, and enriching and expanding their lives as well.

Finally, because of this all, I’ve become engaged in my daughter’s preschool to ensure that the kids there are also able to experience more outdoor time, in the school garden, on the arts patio, and on field trips.

This last year has been a truly eye-opening and spirit-fulfilling one because of the children and nature movement and its impact on me and my family, both personally and professionally.

happy earth month

It’s been a while, and since I last wrote we’ve traveled to and from Tokyo, Japan (all four of us, with my mom) and survived multiple illnesses.  Our trip to Tokyo was amazing, and though we all were sick, we still managed to really enjoy ourselves and see almost all of the cousins, aunts and uncles we wanted to see!   Life has been really good over the last few months.  In February Emily was in town visiting, with her little one Gus, and in March, Sarah was in town, with her little ones Ian and Andrew.  I love my girlfriends so much, and miss them – but at least they are here in town visiting their parents once or twice each year!  April was also full of showers, and the canyons are still so green.  We went on a wonderful hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve earlier in the month, and it was full of colorful wildflowers in bloom.   I’ve become involved in the San Diego Children and Nature Collaborative, and have been to a couple of meetings and been doing some volunteer work with them.  It’s been quite fun for me to engage my brain in something new and I’m actually so glad that I’ve found a little community of like minded folks.  I may even be starting up my own little section of a Family Nature Club – through a friend’s group called Family Adventures in Nature – and I’m trying to wrap my head around what it would entail and where we could do hikes and explorations!  It’s also been exactly a year since I started a book club with friends, and we are still meeting once a month to enjoy each other’s company, some wine and some treats.

Holidaze

Well, so much for the self-family-work-life balance.  Not much has changed since I last wrote.  Torrey turned 1, Aiko turned 3.  In between were Halloween and Thanksgiving and both of those were wonderful.  The girls are both doing great – Torrey is walking on her own, and Aiko used the potty to pee the other day, which surprised me!  I am exhausted, sleep deprived and unmotivated to exercise as much as I was doing in September.  For a while I was exercising 6 days a week – and now it’s down to 2 or 3.  We got a tree last weekend and it smells pretty good.  Aiko did a great job decorating the tree, and Torrey enjoys taking ornaments off it.

guilt

It’s been so long.  I’m trying to get back in touch with myself, really.  I am simultaneously writing in my journal and posting this blog, so that I can multi-task being in touch with my own thoughts – pretty sad, no?  It’s hot.  It’s summer in San Diego.  The grass is brownish.  I’m really not used to the weather here, and have been missing the Bay Area so much.  Torrey is now 9 months, almost 10 months, and is cuter and sweeter than ever.  Aiko is a fiesty 2 and a half year old, she is constantly surprising me with her depth.  I am not meant to be a stay at home mom, though.   I’m just not cut out for it, and am trying to figure out what to do as my next step.  It’s not just that I miss having a purpose outside of my family, it’s also that I don’t feel like I am a good mom when I’m always with the girls.  Hopefully the next entry will find me more at peace with the self-family-work balance.

milestones

This has been an incredible week!  Bruce got a job, at an industrial design company in La Jolla, Darin and Melissa had their baby boy, Alden Kai Busby, and my brother Dave moved out to San Diego.  That was all just last Wednesday.  Since then, Torrey has reached some milestones, as she approaches her six month birthday!  She has started to say “ma ma”, she has sat up on her own for almost a minute or so, she has gone on the swing at the park, sat in a highchair at a restaurant, and tomorrow will be having her first swimming lesson!  What an amazing time for her, she just seems to be growing by leaps and bounds.  She is also getting close to rolling over on her own, from her back to her front, and seems to be enjoying her tummy time much more than before.  So, many exciting milestones in our lives, all around April Fool’s Day, 2009.

desert camping

This week we’ll be heading to Anza Borrego State Park for our first camping trip with both Torrey and Aiko.  It will be our first camping trip since July of 2007, when we went with Aiko up the west coast, driving through northern California and Oregon and on to Washington.  I’m looking forward to seeing Bruce’s teepee tent once again, and hoping that we’ll all enjoy the trip.  It’s only for a night, but with the two little ones I know it will be interesting. I’m really looking forward to seeing the desert in bloom and going on some nice hikes with Tutu and Patu (Ken and Maile, Bruce’s parents).

I know Aiko will love her first s’more!