Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Cousin Love

This morning Cameron's seven-year-old cousin headed home to Connecticut.  It was just such a delight to see them play together and thoroughly enjoy each other's uniqueness.  So, I'm sharing a bunch of pictures.  They make me smile and feel warm fuzzies :)

Goofing off in the back seat
Enjoying Teriyaki... she doesn't share Cameron's love of sushi

Helping in the tried-and-true game of Squash Cameron
Sea cliff exploring together
Chair snuggles 
A park visit with Andrew and me while Cameron was at school
Couch snuggles
True companionship

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tracker's Bend in the Road!

We started raising Tracker for Guide Dogs for the Blind when he was seven months old.  I hadn't raised a guide dog puppy since high school, but it was a fun experience and a great way for us to try out having a dog for our family.  When he went back for training, I was a properly teary mess.

Right before I crossed the bridge to bring him back for training.
But, then I started getting excited.  He was advancing through the training!  I could see what phase he was in each week!  It was really exciting!  I couldn't wait to attend the graduation and see him succeed! He got to phase 7 out of 8 and I was expecting a call from the guide dog club leader any day to let me know he'd been matched with a blind person.   I got a different call from the club leader.  She said that he'd been dropped!  

This is my summary of what she told me that I shared at the time with friends/family:

Tracker Update :(
I just got off the phone with the club leader and found out they dropped Tracker from the guide dog program!  He’s always been very lick-y (which isn’t a problem, they just match lick-y dogs with people who like it).  Apparently, once he nibbled a little when very excited.  No big deal and certainly something they can train.  Last week he was licking upward when the instructor was putting on the harness and his tooth caught her lip.  They say is was clearly an accident and part of the licking, but it’s now a liability issue for the school.  If anything happens in the future, it’s considered as potential evidence of having a history and the organization can’t graduate a guide that opens them to liability claims.  Apparently the instructor is newer and was also devastated because he’s such a great learner and guide and she was looking forward to his graduation too.  So, we’ve been processing for the last hour.  Andrew and I have been chatting about the possibility of accepting him back and how that would work for our family or, the other option, encouraging the school to place him with a different program.  We’re both feeling stunned.  I’m going to take a day to think and a night to sleep on it at least.  Andrew is leaving it up to me, Tracker would be my dog and my responsibility.    Wow, I was expecting I’d write next to say that he was in phase 8/8.  As of yesterday, he was in phase 7, almost a fully trained guide dog!  He would be a perfect dog to help Cameron with everything therapy dogs can do… I’m leaning toward becoming a pet owner, but I do want to be cautious about rapidly making a ten year commitment; it’s time to do some thinking.  Definitely feeling topsy turvy :)

This was the official dog drop notice that the leader forwarded to me:

DOG: 5J35 - Tracker M\LGX\Yellow - TRN\REL  DOB:5/26/2013
SUMMARY: Tracker is a tall, yellow Labrador Golden Cross. He was an eager learner, but could become overly stimulated in challenging areas or when learning novel concepts. Therefore, he benefited from a relaxed, casual teaching environment with an emphasis on positive reinforcement.  He was able to progress through all the phases of training and was an attentive, willing worker.
Tracker tends to have low body awareness, especially in moments of excitement. He also has oral tendencies and enjoys showing affection by licking, however in moments of excitement this can result in his teeth briefly making contact with his handler. It is important to note that Tracker is good-natured and has shown improved self-control with maturity and clear boundaries; however he demonstrated this inappropriate contact on multiple occasions, especially with new handlers. This behavior is the ultimate reason for his release from the program.
It is recommended the above information is considered when making a decision about Tracker’s placement. He has an affectionate, playful side and enjoys lying on his back to get belly scratches.  While in formal training, Tracker was placed in Commuter Foster Care with a couple who had two other pet dogs. Tracker did exceptionally well at their home; he was responsive to all verbal commands and had no incidents of inappropriate mouthing behavior. A similar “forever home” that provides clear but fair rules and can enjoy his spunky, playful side would be an ideal match. It should also be stated that while vocal in the kennel environment, he had nice house behavior and settled well on tie down in the Training Office. 
Tracker is healthy and is only on preventative medications for fleas and heartworm. He is eating 4 cups total of Natural Balance Lamb and Rice (split-feed).

Here he is getting in the car as I picked him up from the school.

We decided to take him back and I delved into doing research about autism service dogs.  I also spoke with a school that trains them.  The director was clear that I can privately train Tracker as a service dog and he'll have all the legal protections of any service animal.  Most of the work in training a service animal is the raising and socializing.  There are a handful of specific commands that I can teach, but the autism service dog’s job is to be perfectly behaved in public and to offer a few tricks as conversation ice breakers and some deep pressure (head on lap) when the kid needs it.  I need to teach Tracker several of those specialized commands to help my son and then teach my son how to be a dog handler (likely the longer step).  So, now I have a service dog in training jacket and I can privately make him an autism service dog for my kiddo!  It was definitely a time of feeling topsy turvy for for awhile, but now we're getting used to it and... Tracker is definitely feeling at home :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Gluten-Free Baking... Rediscovering a Hobby

I've taken a huge break from my baking passion since I found gluten was a trigger for more migraines for me.  Recently though, I've been tinkering with baking again and having success!  I've had plenty of flops too, so I wanted to share the two resources for gluten-free baking that have had the same feeling of warm, cozy goodness as wheat-flour-based baking.  I most wanted a gluten-free biscotti and googled my options and... had three flops in a row!  Not to be discouraged, I tried a fourth and it was a success!

I substituted almond extract and added sliced almonds, bits of dark chocolate, and diced, crystalized ginger.  Yum! I've also tried cinnamon rolls from her website which were yummy.  Brittany Angel has a lot of free content, but I would have purchased a subscription if not for my new bible of gluten free baking!

I've enjoyed America's Test Kitchen in the past, but their cookbook on gluten-free baking is spectacular!  I have made successful: flaky biscuits, coffee cake, pumpkin bread, lemon pound cake, blueberry muffins, ginger molasses cake, and oatmeal raisin cookies!  Some of them have disappeared so quickly that I haven't had a chance to get pictures, but here are two:

So, those are two resources that I have found really helpful in rediscovering this hobby that used to give me such pleasure.  Back to the aromas of fresh baking pampering our household each week... tonight, fluffy dinner rolls to match the chicken pot pie that's our new favorite!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Further Introductions

Before I forget, I must make two more introductions to friends along my walk "to the white fence and back again".  First, allow me to present the Ivy Ladies.  They are a ring of redwoods draped in robes of ivy.

Aren't they just so delightful in their cozy circle :)

And, my other introduction is to a venerable, old gentleman the "Shake hands?" tree.  His branch goes all the way from his trunk, up through the branches of another tree, and down to about four feet above the road, just at the perfect spot to...

(bottom right)

(lower left from the middle, just above the road)

... shake hands!  He's so friendly, every time; I hope you get to shake hands with a tree soon :)

One more thought on publishing that article...

As I was working with that potential co-author for the article "Parenting for Independence, we tried our hand at writing a blog post for The Objective Standard first.  The idea was that we wanted to focus on the tool of "Engaging a Child’s Cooperation by Appealing to Self Interest" or "Motivating Children by Self Interest: Parenting Tool Box".  We hadn't picked an official title, but we thought this was a a good start. We also considered it as a potential series and perhaps something that would help us work toward making a full length article for publication in the journal.  We didn't get to something super snazzy, but this is how far we did get and I'm putting it here with her permission because it may be of some use.  I did most of the writing after the diagram phase and she hasn't tweaked it in ages, so please consider all the faults mine and we can share the positives.  In any case, I hope you find it fun to employ the tool of appealing to children's current values as a way to achieve a win win in some tricky situations.

IntroParents make many seemingly reasonable requests, such as “clean your room,” and “do your homework.” We find it obvious that cleaning helps a person enjoy his property and studying is essential to mastering subjects.  But, children often prefer making messes and goofing off!  Why don’t explanations that make so much sense to parents work? Are parents and children bound to win-lose conflicts until the children grow up? There is a way to often side step that confrontational approach; parents can help a child to discover the short-term, concrete benefits that will appeal to his rational self-interest. In essence, they can ask themselves what is one benefit of this activity that my child might love right now or one he is capable of imagining happening soon?

While it sounds good to have children happily cleaning because they see a benefit they want right now, what benefit could possibly be so exciting for cleaning their rooms?  Finding lost toys can be powerful!  Finding Pocahontas behind the bookshelf after she was lost for two months can be an extraordinary experience for little ones.  Even if a child isn’t missing something (or aware of missing it), finding it easy to locate items quickly when you want to grab them is fun.  No kid likes searching for the fifth Yahtzee die when friends or family are waiting, or missing out on an impromptu baseball game because he can’t find his glove in time.  It’s also nice to have a space ready for coloring or lego castles or other new projects without needing to clean up first.  These are things that children can notice and thus they’re cleaning because of a benefit they want, that they see as in their best interest now.  

Arithmetic over video games?  Spelling over lego wars?  How could a parent ever appeal to a child’s immediate self interest when it comes to homework?  Since we’re not talking about distant goals like getting into college and getting a good job, how can we expect a young kid to do homework because he sees the benefit now. Parents can help a child imagine the near-term benefits of a homework assignment. For example, calculation skills offer more independence with managing money to get a desired toy. Vocabulary opens up a wider range of fascinating books to explore. History is filled with exciting stories of what people have done and what has or hasn't worked from which children can find inspiration and explore dilemmas like whether to appease or to take a stand against a bully.  Parents can also use their own creativity to make make a challenging topic more immediately fun.  For example, if a child doesn’t understand negative numbers, a parent can make a game to move the child’s body along an imaginary number line: plus two, minus six, plus negative three, minus negative five (and of course it’s cool to switch off too so the child can direct Mom or Dad).  Spelling words can be incorporated into goofy paragraphs and typing practice into software games.   

While no tool works in every situation, it is easier to avoid parent-child conflict when parents focus on benefits that children find engaging now.  Their cooperation is then motivated by their own self interest. With practice, tasks seen as chores (cleaning a room or studying for an exam) can become enjoyable as children recognize the immediate benefits. Over the years, the longer-term benefits become more and more evident too, but with a few less battles along the way.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Parenting For Independence

During the summer of 2012, I noticed that I had all sorts of wonderful resources for specific parenting skills.  I had great books for engaging cooperation, communicating effectively, and understanding both sensory and temperament issues.  But, I didn't have a resource that covered all my pillars of parenting.  There was nothing out there that I could point to and say, "That's it! That's the big picture for me."  So, I thought, wouldn't it be great to write a scholarly article and get it published so that I'd have that reference and hopefully share something useful.  Thus, I wrote the editor of The Objective Standard with my idea, and then the requested outline, and then my first draft.  When he first read the draft, he said it sounded like a blog post.  In hindsight, I wish I would have just listened to him!  But, he gave me all sorts of fascinating guidance and intriguing suggestions for ways to make it into an article attractive to his journal.  We had multiple calls and and discussions and I was determined to keep tweaking and trying.  When I felt like I had maxed out my skills, I tried recruiting a co-author with better writing skills to help.  

So, I spent about two and half years trying to make this into more than it is.  It is a blog post with some references and it fulfills my purpose.  It states what I find most important to me in guiding my parenting. 

I know implementing principles involves tons of individual judgement and I deeply appreciate that every kid is unique and parents know their kids best.    These are the principles that I find most fundamentally valuable, the ones that I notice most when I mess up and find most powerful when I nail them.  I hope they are useful to you.  Please do leave a comment and let me know.

Foundational Elements of Parenting for Independence
Rachel Miner
The challenges of parenting—especially parenting well—become pressing as soon as a mother gives birth. There is a new life, a child, who urgently needs parental care to survive. Children are dependent. They are born utterly incapable of surviving even a few days without parenting, but their dependent status changes.  Newborns rapidly become toddlers who are filled with a desire to be independent. That desire only intensifies as they grow to adulthood.  Parents can nurture or hinder this process. They can raise children to think for themselves or they can dampen that independent drive and nurture dependence on peers or authority.  Parenting for independence involves four key elements: granting children freedom consistent with their given stage of development; helping children learn to reflect on their efforts and successes; teaching children to recognize and effectively engage their personal temperaments; and fostering good communication skills, primarily by modeling them in one's own life.

Environment of Freedom
Of course parents cannot control the whole world, but they do have vast control over the environment of their children.   For example, parents don't choose the weather, but they choose their response.  If there are freezing temperatures, they fully clothe their infants, but what about a toddler who demands his swimsuit or a teenager who spent his whole allowance on a single pair of designer jeans instead of including a new coat?   It is often easier to fully dress the toddler or buy the teenager's clothes, however, children need immense amounts of practice to become independent.  Independence is not just turning a child loose to do his own thing, children need guidance—they need to learn the vast array of skills necessary to become independent adults.  It is a parent's responsibility to ensure that learning opportunities are both safe and developmentally appropriate.  Toddlers can safely choose clothing color, style, and accessories (including extra clothing like that swimsuit), but not to ignore dangerous temperatures.  The school age child can try going out into a snowy front yard in a swim suit, warmth isn't far away.  The teenager can find out that designer jeans don't look quite so nice when wearing an older coat to keep warm.  Parents are constantly making choices about what choices to offer.  Only by practicing independent actions though, within this developmentally appropriate framework, can a child learn to do for themselves.  For each stage of development, children need an environment in which they are free to do for themselves whatever they are capable of safely doing for themselves; this is essential to developing both the physical and cognitive skills required for independence. 
Assuming that a parent wants to offer the best environment to foster such growth, how can a parent create the kind of environment that nurtures independence?  In the infant through preschool years, children focus on  mastering the skills of using their bodies to effectively move, speak, and manipulate objects.  They are self-motivated and enthusiastic learners.  Maria Montessori, as both an educator and researcher, wrote extensively on the powerful results of modifying the environment to allow children to learn through exploring a rich, safe classroom. For example, shelves in such a classroom are easily accessible and stocked with inviting, age-appropriate materials.  Children learn from attempting to put the wrong shape in a puzzle or from spilling a bit when trying to pour water; reality shows them what doesn't work.  Modifying the environment does not mean purchasing separately packaged drinks to avoid the pouring task; it is key that children are offered every developmentally appropriate opportunity to learn.  There are numerous books applying her methods to the home environment as well. 

As children grow beyond the preschool years, parents have the ever changing job of modifying the child's responsibilities to best nurture growth.  The first time a kindergartner folds his clothes, the shirt pile will likely bulge and lean. Even the twentieth time he gets ready for bed, he will probably need a reminder to brush his teeth.  Just so, a ten year old's challenge with completing chores or a teenager's efforts driving and caring for a car are going to present choices to parents regarding the level of their involvement.  The parenting process requires both teaching skills and gradually removing supports thus nurturing more independent actions.  This process is made easier by acknowledging that it is almost always more work to help a child learn to do for himself than it is to do for him. Anything a child can safely and developmentally-appropriately do for himself offers a learning opportunity for the child, and parenting for independence focuses parenting actions on offering a wealth of such opportunities.  
Parents As Mirrors
Children need to learn to reflect on their accomplishments to help them see their progress toward full independence. It is difficult for a child to notice his own growth; he needs help.  He needs someone to point out examples that he does not see on his own.  If children do not think they are efficacious, their motivation for further effort will be sapped because they will not give themselves credit for growth.  For example, if a child does not notice improvement in his math skills, he may feel that the next unit is a useless effort.  The parents can provide detailed, descriptive observations of real growth that children have accomplished, but often don't notice.  This factual evidence is not evaluative (i.e., it is reality based, not the parent's opinion).  In their book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish recommend describing what you see and feel instead of generic praise like "good job".  This allows a child to reflect on the reality of what they've accomplished, not an evaluation of its worth.
"One wonders how such a simple process can have such a profound effect.  And yet, day after day from our small descriptions our children learn what their strengths are: A child finds out that he can take a confusing mess of a room and turn it into a neat orderly room; that he can make a gift that's useful and gives pleasure; that he can hold the attention of an audience; that he can write a poem that's moving; that he is capable of being punctual, of exercising will power, of showing initiative, resourcefulness.   All of that goes into his emotional bank and it can't be taken away.  You can take away "good boy" by calling him "bad boy" the next day... These moments, when his best was affirmed, become life-long touchstones to which a child can return in times of doubt or discouragement.  In the past he did something he was proud of.  He has it within him to do it again."1

Verbal descriptions are one way to offer children evidence regarding growth and progress, but pictures can be even more powerful.  For example, suppose a child is having difficulty with a manual skill like tying shoe laces.  Composing a series of photos of him tackling manual skills with greater and greater success from infancy to the present can provide a powerful support for him to draw his own conclusions about his ability to succeed.  Children form their conclusions about themselves based on their evaluation of their experiences, but it is easy for them to fail to recall progress.  Parents can provide a mirror that helps the child reflect.  With this assistance, the conclusions children form can provide them with powerful, core convictions that make them emotionally stable as adults.  For example, the author provided her son with a cork board covered in pictures with the title: "moving with control".  The pictures included him as an infant unable to hold up his head, crawling, writing wobbly lines, constructing puzzles, frosting a cake, and delicately holding a butterfly.  After reflecting on the pictures of himself, he concluded: "I'm a person who: wants to learn new things, gets better at doing stuff with practice, can be safe with fragile things, can be pretty careful, works hard to learn AND wins at learning new things."  Other topics could be more narrow, documenting a specific skill like hiking or gymnastics, or more broad such as "figuring things out".  The power of this method is that the conclusion is formed by the child based on facts he evaluates first hand.  These conclusions are not susceptible to others' approval.  If the goal is a child that thinks for himself, evaluates reality, and makes his own choices without being dependent on others, providing him with visual and verbal evidence of his growth is a powerful tool toward that end.  Children who have both the opportunity to take independent actions and are nurtured in noticing their progress are primed to approach life independently.

Temperament As a Given
While Aristotle describes the infant as a blank slate, that does not negate the fact that all people are born with different temperaments.  Some babies respond to every touch, noise, or sound with a wail while others are curious or blasé in the same situation.  Thus, while the slate may be blank (i.e., devoid of data) there are still different slates; at birth all children have different temperaments.  A child who has been nurtured to develop independence benefits even more from parenting that helps him see that his temperament cannot be changed.  The child who is naturally persistent can learn the skill of taking mental breaks to refocus, but cannot willfully change that persistent nature.  The child who is naturally sensitive to physical stimuli can learn to bring headphones to block noise, but cannot choose to change that sensitive nature.  Parents hinder independence if they encourage a child to fight against a given temperament; for example, by telling the persistent child not be stubborn.  Parents help their children grow effectively by helping them recognize the nature of their temperament, and then teaching them skills for both dealing with related difficulties and tapping into related capacities.
Since temperament traits are not chosen, and thus not volitional, nothing about them is inherently good or bad.  A child's temperament simply is and must be taken as the given starting point.  (While temperament can change as children grow, they do not pick temperament traits; it’s the slate they are working with.)  As Mary Sheedy Kurcinka states in her book, Raising Your Spirited Child
"You don't get to choose your child's temperament, nor does your child, but you do make a big difference.  It is you who helps your child understand his temperament, emphasizes his strengths, provides him with the guidance he needs to express himself appropriately, and gently nudges him forward... By adapting your parenting techniques to fit his temperament and his style, and teaching him the skills he needs, you help him to live cooperatively with others and to be all that he can be.  To deny him his energy, his need for preparation before shifts, or any of his other temperamental traits is telling him 'don't be'- don't be who you are."2

Parents can best help their children in this area not by attempting to change an intense, persistent, or sensitive child, but by helping him acquire the skills necessary to harness his natural strengths.

Communication as Foundational  
Finally, the method of communication between parent and child is itself a pivotal aspect of parenting for independence. Good communication skills allow parents to effectively communicate as they establish an environment of freedom, mirror a child's successes, and discuss temperament.  They are also foundational for the child. Children need to learn good communication skills to function well as independent adults.  Because children learn these skills mostly from their parents, their parents need to model such skills as a matter of course.  
Good communication skills, like any skill, take a significant amount of practice and effort, but there are two guiding techniques that are useful at this broad level: active listening and observing comments.
Active listening is the foundational communication skill.  Active listening is the act of focusing attention on understanding another.  Does the child see his parents listening to each other and actively trying to understand what is being said?  Does the child experience intense listening?  When he's telling a story, are his parents respectfully focusing eyes, torso, and mind on understanding him?  It is a skill to actively listen without interruptions, seeking only clarification and understanding.  Children cannot learn this skill without seeing it modeled and without lots of practice on their own.  If a child cannot listen attentively, both his ability to gain knowledge and to interact with others effectively is hampered and, therefore, so is his ability to achieve independence.  A child who cannot listen to instruction will not become an adult who can hear his customers' or manager's or friends’ needs.  Active listening is required to gain accurate knowledge from others.

Communicating observations as factual comments allows children to focus on reality and form their own next actions.  For example, saying "I see the ice cream on the counter," is an observation, not an evaluation or an accusation like an irate: "You left the ice cream on the counter!"  Both forms of communicating will likely get the ice cream back to the freezer, but the former will help the child focus on reality and, ultimately, gain self discipline. This also applies to communicating feelings as personal facts, not accusations.  For example: "I'm feeling frustrated!" versus "You frustrate me!".  Commonly referred to as "I vs you" language, this skill focuses communication on facts.  There is no argument about what a person is feeling.  Parents are going to feel angry, hurt, sad, happy, silly, and all sorts of things related to a child's behavior.  Communicating those emotions factually, and then helping children consider ways to handle whatever contributing factor was theirs, is respectful of their process of gradual independence.  Accusatory language makes it harder to focus on facts and grow in independent self regulation. 

In Learning As We Grow, the authors describe a teaching method which enhances this commenting technique and works equally well in parenting. 
"There are different types of prompts we can give: direct or indirect, verbal or nonverbal.  Unfortunately, what often happens is that we resort to very specific and direct prompts in order to get students to 'keep up’ with the pace of the classroom, and stay on-track with what they need to do.  Anytime we use a direct prompt, however, we are removing the opportunity for thinking because we have directly told them what to do.  This ultimately robs students of opportunities to develop the active listening skills, thinking skills, and problem solving skills that they need to be truly successful... Unlike traditional prompting methods that start with the most support and then fade over time, the strategy here is to start with the least specific prompt and move down the list to more direct prompts as necessary... Utilizing this progression ensures that the student gets significant opportunities to think about things, as opposed to being immediately told what to do.  Over time, we should see that the levels of prompting further down the list are not required because the student is doing more thinking in response to less direct prompts.
[Least to most direct prompts]
• Verbal comment about the situation ('It looks like you're having a problem.')
• Indirect verbal prompt to think about possible solutions / actions ('I wonder what you might do about not having a piece of paper.')
• Verbalize a solution you might use ('If I didn't have a piece of paper, I would ask a friend if I        could borrow one.')
• Provide the student two options to choose between ('Are you going to ask a friend to borrow a piece of paper, or will you be getting one from the tray on my desk?')
• Direct Nonverbal prompt (make sure you have student's attention by moving closer and getting on eye level) (Point to the paper tray on your desk.)
• Direct verbal prompt with nonverbal ('Get a piece of paper.' + point to paper tray)3

Parents can actively nurture independence by communicating in ways which help a child choose his own actions.  Sometimes prompts are not enough and a parent must physically help a toddler go get a piece of paper, but the crucial point is that the child experiences gradually more and more independence.  This is precisely analogous, in communication, to the first goal discussed.  Parents nurture independence, in both communication and action, by gradually offering choices so that a child is free to do what they are safely and developmentally capable of doing alone.

Parents who want to raise an independent child are undertaking a significant challenge.  It is much easier to raise an obedient child, yet as Maria Montessori said, "Discipline must come through liberty... We do not consider an individual disciplined only when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mute and as immovable as a paralytic.  He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined."4  Freeing children to make their own choices and to learn from those choices is essential to developing an independent orientation toward life.  Such children are capable of innovating and making choices for themselves instead of looking to the authority of parents, peers, or (eventually) a manager or government.  These children can also have the self confidence necessary to learn from mistakes because their parents have helped them see again and again how they have grown from mistakes in the past.  Whatever path the child chooses, he will also have the communication skills necessary to effectively interact with others.  Nurturing a child toward independence is difficult; it is also a profoundly joyous experience as parents see their child delight in the growing abilities which they have helped him discover.

The author wishes to acknowledge Andrew Miner and Craig Biddle for their help in editing this paper.  She also acknowledges her son, Cameron Miner, who is both a spirited child and an excellent teacher.

1. Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk  
    (New York: HarperCollins, 1980), p.184.

2. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, Raising Your Spirited Child (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), pp.39-40.

3. Nicole Beurkens, Erin Roon, and Courtney Kowalczyk. Learning As We Grow, (Caledonia: 
    Horizons Developmental Remediation Center, 2009), pp.118-121.

4. Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method, (New York: Schocken Books, 1964), p.86.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To the End of the Trees and Back Again

While I usually walk to the white fence and back again because I love the varied forest and the fairly flat slope which lets me focus on the nature without the strain of climbing, sometimes I turn left out of the driveway and do our other walk, To the End of the Trees and Back Again.  

As I said, I turn left, and then I pass our giant water tank.

The road slopes up and the edge drops down, away into redwood forest.

It's almost all redwoods this direction and very little sun gets through, just little beams like on the  top right tree here... it's very shady and quiet.

As I get closer to the meadow, there are some deciduous trees and...
... you can start to see the sun and...

from the last home at the edge of the woods you can start to see...

out and over the hills...

with bright sun and...

lovely views.

Then I turn back and the line of going into the redwoods' shade is so clear.

Moss and ferns love the coolness.

And the road winds on...

past exposed roots until I see...

my home peeking through the trees...

and I pass the mailbox and...

arrive home :)