Small but Helpful Hands


Knowing that Greysen is in the “why?” stage, I did a quick search on the farm that we would be visiting with friends. I quickly learned the names of the animals we would see, and memorized a few key facts, so that I could carry on a conversation with her should she be interested.


We set out to the farm, thinking that I was fully prepared to respond to potential questions.




Unexpectedly, the questions never came.




What Greysen wanted was not answers, but connection.


She and her sister spent their time on the farm feeding the animals, gathering hay from the bales, and bravely holding carrots up to the horses. They didn’t learn anything about fainting goats or Navajo-Churro sheep that day, but maybe they learned something about themselves.


I was reminded that anyone, including little ones, is capable of helping others, some much larger than themselves.



Toddler Friendly Mission Visit

Visiting local places of interest is one of our favorite ways of making connections to our community. Often times, these places are only organized for adult tours, so we make our own plan, a toddler-friendly plan.


Yesterday, we joined a few friends at Mission San Juan Bautista. With the mission’s long history, it’s hard to make sense of what can and should be shared with a toddler. Before we got there, I talked to Greysen about the mission and the things we could see while there, including sculptures, the cemetery, the church, and the garden.


Rather than talk about the valuable, yet distant, past and learn about the history of the mission, I decided to focus on trying to draw connections for Greysen.  Based on her current interests and knowledge, my main goal was for her to enjoy the trip and, secondarily, have a sense of familiarity with the place upon leaving.


She chose to start at the garden to look for worms and rollie pollies. We didn’t find any, but we did find a sculpture.


We walked up to the sculpture (a cross) and tried to guess what it could be made of. Greysen’s guess? Cookies.



We brought along Greysen’s park journal in case she was inspired or wanted to record anything she saw.



I related the sculptures to working with clay, and we started the hunt for the next sculpture. . .  and then another.


We touched and tapped each one to assist us in guessing what they could be made of, to feel whether they held heat or to determine whether they were smooth or textured.



She took particular note of the indentations representing whiskers on this sculpture. These were reminiscent of markings she makes with clay.


Aside from inspecting the sculptures during our self-guided tour of the mission grounds, we met kind tourists and hunted for insects. By finding one aspect of the mission which meant something to her, we made what could have been a forgettable visit something that she was genuinely interested in.  This also sparked some interest in using clay at home to try and make similar types of whiskers.


Since the Mission San Juan Bautista is only a short drive away from home, we will visit again soon. Maybe we will see the stables, or focus on some other interest of hers while there.


Where are your favorite local places of interest to visit? What have you found that engages your children in adult-oriented locales?


Discoveries Made at the Farmer’s Market


We are half-way through our Farmer’s Market season, which runs May through September.  At the beginning of the summer, I decided to purchase unfamiliar-to-us foods each week to help add some variety to our diet and maybe even give me some motivation to cook.


While the novelty of cooking unfamiliar foods has eventually worn out, I’m excited that we have continued to try new-to-us foods when we come across something like perrins (pictured above), which we found last week. Other foods that aren’t a regular part of our diet are well on their way to becoming so because I’ve tried to include them more regularly.


Trying to regularly incorporate new foods is taking some getting used to. I’m far less likely to cook foods that I don’t like, and it’s even tougher for me to try to model eating foods that none of us are used to.


Thankfully I have liked all the new foods we have tried, so it has encouraged me to carry on.


The Farmer’s Market has become far more than a place to buy some local produce. This street affair has transformed into a venue for discovery.  This started with food, but soon I was noticing all the other things the girls were taking in and learning about our community.


Discoveries Made at the Farmer’s Market


1. We like most of, if not all, the foods we try. Greysen and Moon will taste anything from the market. We sample foods from other cultures like falafel and samosas, as well as fruits and vegetables that aren’t a regular part of our diet, such as beets, kale, cauliflower (I’m not a fan), and chard.




2. The Farmer’s Market is downtown and amid offices, the library, and the courthouse. We walk around town occasionally otherwise, but not as regularly as during our weekly trips to the market. Greysen is connecting this weekly event to the broader context of our town.



3. Our town – our community – consists of people big and small.



4. The Farmer’s Market is a place to connect with our friends and enjoy the spirit of summer.


Moon and a friend

5. Discovery can happen, even within a familiar routine. I enjoy creating play provocations for the girls and taking them to new places, in part because of the sense of wonder that happens when they encounter something new for the first time. The Farmer’s Market is helping me appreciate the more subtle discoveries that happen in the everyday things we do, the places we go, and the people we see.