Monday, July 24, 2017

Outside Play

written this spring

blogger friend of mine recently shared this article from Huffington Post.  The author, a pediatric occupational therapist, recommends kids play outside at least three hours a day- and this shouldn't include organized sports.

I couldn't agree more but it's taken me more than a few years to get here.  When my older kids were pre-school and young school-age, I was kind-of a nervous mom (I can hear Jamey saying sarcastically, "Kind of?").  I didn't want them to eat too much dirt, fall on rusty nails, climb too high in the trees, etc.  Plus, I wasn't content to just be outside, so I'd start a project like weeding and then get frustrated when they'd wander out of my line of vision and I had to stop what I was doing and follow them.

Fast forward ten years.  My kids are older so they generally know how much dirt is okay to eat (wink) and they're the ones pounding in the rusty nails with hammers.  As far as climbing trees goes...well, that's a story for another time.

One aspect of this outside play that I wasn't willing to relinquish back then that I see so much value in now is our time apart.  As a homeschooling family, we're together a lot.  When they enter their own world of play outside while I'm inside, we all get a nice break from each other.  They're free to argue, discuss, make semi-unsafe plans (then rule them out on their own, hopefully) without a mother cringing (and maybe intervening) from the next room.  And for me, I get time to think.

Another thing I've learned?  Those weeds aren't the end of the world.  When the toddler who's with us now starts saying, "peep peep peep" inside, it's his way of asking to go outside.  He's giddy with excitement as I put on his socks and shoes and we head out the door.  He makes a bee-line for the chicks and pokes his little finger through the chicken wire of their cage, petting them with his finger tips until they scurry away.

Then he makes his way into the shed that houses the mower and climbs onto the seat, wrestling the ear protection off the steering wheel and placing them on his little head, grabbing the wheel and rocking, willing the mower to start (he's had a ride and now he's obsessed).  Following this little guy around outside is such a joy.  I (usually) don't notice the weeds and instead I can actually see the world through his wide eyes. For a while yet, he'll need a grown up to help him navigate it but hopefully one day, he'll relish spending time outdoors- away from grown-ups, creating his own pretend world of play, too.

"There’s so much value in kids creating play schemes on their own. Kids who are always told how to play have trouble thinking outside the box, and even answering freeform essay questions. Plus, true outdoor free play is like cross training, with the climbing, spinning, going upside down, and the like that adults don’t encourage but that are so valuable for their development." - from the author of the article, Angela Hanscon

So, nervous mamas out there, I feel you.  Take a deep breath and take just one or two steps back. There's the reward of freedom in it for both you and your kids if you're able to let go just a bit.  And there's joy in being given a tour of their newly fixed up hog-shed turned club house...complete with art on the walls, flowers, furniture they nailed together, a caterpillar habitat, a play-area for the toddler, and a floor that may or may not be swept cleaner than my kitchen floor inside.

Maybe four hours a day should be the new recommendation? Pin It

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fits and Starts and Moving a Building

It's been months since I've written here.  I still think of things I want to share all the time but not having the time and brainpower to make it happen trips me up and my intentions are abandoned almost immediately.  But writing is good for me even if I can't share all that I hope to so I'm going to try to ease myself back into things.  Bear with me, please.

We have a couple big projects going on around here all in anticipation of an even bigger project which at some point I hope to share a little bit about.  One of our pre-project projects (got that?) required us to move our smoke house to another location on our property.  This used to be a hog farm many, many years ago and the smoke house was used to smoke the pork as well as other meats, I imagine.  When we moved here (about 13 years ago), we replaced the floor and turned it into our attic since there is not a good way to access our actual attic. Unfortunately, we've never used it as an smoke house.

In order to move it, Jamey used car jacks to raise the building and created a frame underneath it which the building was then attached to.  This frame extended out the front and additional braces were put in place to allow the smoke house to be pulled when rollers were placed underneath.

We hoped the smoke house wouldn't come apart in the process.  A friend and neighbor came over with his front end loader (I think that's what it's called) and with the help of another neighbor (who helped move rollers), the building was rolled halfway to its new home.  At this point, it came off its rollers but was able to be turned and pushed (bucket against frame) into position.

We think it looks awfully sweet in its new spot. Since then, Jamey has jacked it up again, set it on proper posts and laid a dry stone skirt with some of the stones from its original foundation.  He's also started on its front porch.  For now, it's still our attic but one day we hope to move the stuff out and add a couple windows.  Our girls have dreams of turning it into a one room school house.

Summer Activity Idea for Kids:  Move an old building on your property and let your kids dig underneath.  It provides hours of entertainment as they unearth broken pottery, a few coins, lots of broken glass (which, thankfully isn't very sharp any more), and old bottles.  We even found a porcelain doll leg and a round glass (ACME Nursing) baby bottle.  Summer boredom, be gone!  Well, at least for a few days until there's no more to dig up.

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