I hope that Charlotte and Henry will grow up to remember picking fresh tomatoes at Turtle Creek Gardens, rolling out fresh pasta with Mom, and having the whole house smell like roasted garlic so Dad can make hummus.
This year I have been working at Turtle Creek Gardens as part of their worker-share program. In exchange for each week’s duties you get to take home a 1.5 bushel farm box full of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Here is what I have learned while working on the farm.
We returned home from a long summer trip recently and it was a learning experience for all. Kym and I discovered a new fondness for flying compared to driving. Charlotte was able to build a hotel in the sand by the beach. Her beachfront property experienced several tidal disasters before she gave up on the endeavor coined “Hotel Charlotte”. Henry discovered a new love for pasta made by Uncle Joe. By discover I mean devour.
Charlotte loved camping in Rhinelander. Henry enjoyed his time eating nature. He eventually learned that nature belongs on the ground – not in his mouth. Only a few leaves and rocks made their happy journey to the digestive system. An unforgettable experience for the leaves, rocks, and Henry. An unforgettable experience for all of us. It is amazing how nature and being away from home tends to do that.
Henry explored John Muir in the Southern Kettle Moraine recently. Don’t worry, we didn’t just let him crawl around out there. He doesn’t have the same fear of grass that Charlotte did at that age. He really enjoyed being hauled around on Kym’s back through the trails. I also noticed that he signs when he is hitch-hiking a ride. Typically he is signing milk, sometimes I wish I could read his mind. Although if I read his mind he would probably just be saying: “I want milk, I want milk, I want milk…”, so maybe there is nothing of interest at this point.
We purchased an Osprey Poco Plus and have been testing it out for our planned camping trip through Canada, Maine, Connecticut, and Maryland. The child carrier makes it easier to get out and exercise with the kids while distributing the weight well. Charlotte is able to fit in it as well, but we will reserve that for when her legs don’t want to hike anymore. She is happy to run along the trail and explore as much as possible. Most of the time hopping on rocks and touching trees.
Mother Nature has this magnificent way to keep children fascinated, active, and immediately put them to sleep when they get back in the car. I am somewhat envious of the controlled-narcoleptic hypnotism that she can cast on children at will. The best way for Henry or Charlotte to nap or sleep is to take a walk or hike outside shortly before nap time or bed time and then it is lights out. Unfortunately, all too often mother nature’s spell works on children at heart as well.
— Chris Smith (@cgsmith105) April 16, 2015
Kym and I recently attended Charlotte’s parent/teacher conference at Nature’s Classroom Montessori School. Charlotte is doing well in school and we couldn’t be happier. She is struggling with attention and has a unique way of learning something new. When I observed her I noted down that she seemed to glance at another child and “seemed lost”.
Learning by doing
The Smiths love pasta. I think it goes back to growing up in a family of nine and having several pounds of it made for dinner to feed the hungry clan. Pasta somehow changed my DNA and now Charlotte possesses that gluten loving, carb-fueled, Italian gene. Now our family of four can demolish a full pound of pasta in one sitting, and Henry doesn’t eat pasta yet. We have not reached the four pounds that Grandma Zignego makes but I wouldn’t mind if we did. I love making pasta and enjoy that my daughter can learn how to make pasta by doing it with me.
Today, Henry is a little over eight months and signed his first word clearly. “Milk” is now signed clearly! A child grows at an extraordinary rate within their first year and language is one of those growth areas.
Kym and I started signing with our first, Charlotte. Charlotte took to signing two months earlier than Henry and still signs at the age of three. As with most things in life when your child finally grasps a concept you have been showing them. You have to expose that “A-hah!” moment and take advantage as much as possible. We are now teaching Henry Mom, Dad, Eat, Diaper and other basic baby signs.
This year, you were helping Mom and Dad plant the vegetable garden. While we were planting, Dad added some coffee grounds to work into the soil. You picked up a chunk of coffee grounds and began to inspect it. I said to Dad, “she’s going to eat it.” He said, “No, she won’t.” You, of course, proceed to put it into your mouth. Dad runs over and takes it out of your mouth. We both tell you “Yucky” and you respond back “Yummy.” Not only did you eat used ground coffee off the ground, but you liked it. Gross 🙂
Charlotte, sorry that Daddy and I haven’t written you a note in a while. Sometimes as parents you forget to do things because life gets very busy and you forget the little things. You are two now and at times both terrific and terrible. You are very independent and like to do things all by yourself. You enjoy going down the “big slide” and “little slide” at the park down the street. You enjoy going for walks and playing outside. Sometimes you run away from mommy and give me a heart attack. We try to explain to you that you are supposed to stay in the yard and not in the street. Sometimes you don’t listen.
I am expecting your little brother or sister on June 19th (daddy’s birthday). You think most of the time that I am having a boy, but you also think that you’re a boy most of the time and that mommy is a boy. You are excited about mommy having a baby, but I think that you don’t understand some of the time still. You know that mommy is going to the hospital and that nana is going to watch you.
You are very smart. You can count to 10 in English, Spanish, and French. You also know your ABCs (only in English for now). You also enjoy singing Frère Jacques and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (you repeat “what you are what you are”). We are trying to get you into Nature’s Classroom Montessori School and find out tomorrow if you get in or not. That will mean you will have to be potty trained by August when the program starts. You are very stubborn with that too. You like sitting on the potty when mommy shows you a “video” little movie on my Iphone where you can watch yourself.
I guess that’s all for now. Hopefully daddy and I will write you a little more often. I love you.