The power of simple water play never gets old.
Whether you have the kids working in a process table, standing on a stool at the kitchen sink, the bathtub or the beach, there is a giant value to this activity.
Water is a huge part of the human world. Playing and experimenting with water develops and builds relationship and comfort level with the basic element. Children are able to practice pouring and dumping, basic concepts of math and measurement.
The options for tools you use in the water are endless.
What stands out for me the most about open play with water is the story-telling that’s born from the interaction.
I add some dish soap to the bottom of a process table, add warm water in a shower spray to activate the bubbles. Here is a bit of dialogue I overhear as my 2 boys play in the water with cups, large spoons and medicine dispensers.
“pretend this is bubble soup that you always wanted
i made it cause you wanted it for a whole day, such a long time
so i made it for you
I don’t want it, it’s too yucky
someone told me it was yucky
what about pineapple soup
no answer, kiki is focused on his own work.
this is chicken juice for me to make for a customer
this one is blueberry, i made it for myself
friend, i made some pineapple
sorry i already made blueberry
pretend i wanted to drink it for a whole week.
happy face, dump it back,
i already drinked it all
do you want me to make more
I’ll make more tomorrow.
pretend you the chef and I make the soup
this store is closing
mom, the store is closed now
time to rest up for tomorrow.
pretend all the customers are leavin’
pretending to lock up the doors of the kitchen.
cock a doodly doo
time to go back to the store.”
I lovingly pin, plan and prepare my family’s every meal and snack every day.
We have a rotation of easy, healthy, familiar favorites like black beans and rice and pesto.
Sometimes, I want to branch out and try something different, adventurous,
a meal Big K and I might like better than fruit salad, string cheese or sunflower butter and jam sandwiches.
I’m discouraged lately, to be hearing an increase in complaints and whining over every plate.
Raise your hand if you sometimes feel bummed about your culinary efforts going under-appreciated.
It’s a common problem for the cook of a growing family.
One day, I made a beautiful home made salsa with no hot spices and no chunks, per Little J’s tastes. I shopped for the ingredients, peeled and chopped with Little K, put everything in the food processor. I made a lovely display of salsa on a plate with everyone’s favorite tortilla chips for an after school snack. Little J took one taste and proclaimed it “Disgusting!” Oh, my heart was broken.
Looking for a way to make the situation better, I googled, “how to reduce the complaints at meal time.” I found this post by Sellabit Mum. We decided to create our own list of meal rules that would minimize the negative comments, help me around the kitchen, and hand over some accountability when it comes to food and family, without meal time becoming a battle every day. We shared these rules and agreed on them; the rules aren’t meant to be militant. I’d love to keep meal time playful and enjoyable.
1. Mama is not a restaurant cook. One meal is made for the family. If you choose not to eat your meal, there will not be another meal prepared for you. If you’re hungry, eat more of your meal next time. Mommy wouldn’t be a good parent if she allowed you to have more dessert than healthy food, so you must eat a good meal to have a dessert.
2. Sometimes, you’re not going to like it, but you must try everything.
3. Negative comments are not welcome, keep comments positive or you will be asked to leave the table.
4. You say thank you when you are served and when the meal is over.
5. You should ask to be excused to leave the table.
6. Clear your place when you’re done.
7. Be polite at the table: Use utensils when appropriate
Use a napkin to wipe messy fingers and mouth
Eat over your plate so food doesn’t end up in your lap or on the floor
Don’t spit food out if you don’t like it.
8. Food and drinks stay in the kitchen so we don’t have spills and plates and old food all over the house.
Ice play is a perfect exploration/activity for a snow day, after the family has shoveled the driveway, gone sledding, built a snowman, made lots of snow angels, drank up their hot cocoa.
I put ice cube trays on the back porch on a cold night, ice cube trays full of water and generous squirts of food coloring.
In the morning, I popped out the ice, put it in the bowl, filled the ice cube trays again, repeated the freezing on back porch sessions, until I felt I had enough for a good building session.
On a snow day, I set up the ice, baking trays and gloves.
The kids aren’t sure what to do with the ice at first, so I start to build towers.
The ice is starting to melt and is too slippery to successfully stack.
The kids fill a round baking sheet by circling the out to the inside.
Then they’re done.
I see a post from Nurture Store that mentions the use of salt to fuse the ice blocks together!
How could I have forgotten!
So, the next time, there will be ice AND salt.
I asked Little J, “What kind of ornaments do you want to make for our tree this year.”
It’s a holiday tradition to have an ornament project. Last year we dried spiced oranges and strung them with beads, hanging some on our tree and giving lots away as gifts.
The year before, we made cinnamon-applesauce ornaments.
He said, “I’d like to make yarn balls.”
I didn’t really know what he meant by this, but the image that popped into my mind was a pom pom.
I was in an after school program when I was school age, and one of the teachers was super crafty. Her name was Mrs. C. You could always find me tinkering away at Mrs. C’s table, under her wing, she nurtured and encouraged my artsy side, and I think is one of the reasons I went into teaching art. She taught me how to make a pom pom. At age 7, I knew how magical and genius this process was.
This project can be entirely experimental. Play with colors and thickness of yarn. You can make really dense, puffy pom poms, or really wispy, shaggy ones.
1. Cut 2 circles out of cardboard. How big that circle is, depends on how big or small you want your pom pom.
2. Cut another smaller circle out of the middle of your cardboard circles, so that it look like a wreath.
3. Fit your cardboard wreaths together like a bagel sandwich.
4. Tie cardboard pieces together with yarn, and start wrapping yarn around the “wreath.” You can change yarn if you’d like your pom pom to be more than one color.
5. When it wrapped enough, wrap it more. The more yarn, the thinker your pom will be, but feel free to experiment with amounts. A pom pom with less yarn might be fun and shaggy. A thick wrapped wreath will give you a carpet like pom pom.
6. Wriggle and Fit your scissors in between the two circle pieces of cardboard that’s now buried in yarn.
7. Cut the wrapped yarn around the outside of the circle.
8. Tuck a stray piece of yarn between the 2 circles of cardboard and tightly tie off the pom pom.
9. Slip the pom pom off of the cardboard wreaths.
10. Arrange the pom pom by fluffing and trimming, until you’re happy with the result.
Little J approves these yarn balls for the holiday tree, but you can use these for anything, in any season. They can be used as pretend ice cream in the summer and snow balls in the winter. You can make a garland out of them. There’s no end to the ideas. What would you do with a pom pom?
Happy Pom Pomming!
“The whole world wants to be golden
like you, sunflower,
to rest in the cool air,
listening to the cricket songs…”
The spring of 2012 starts with 2 store-bought packages of seeds. One package holds pumpkin seeds and the other, sunflower seeds.
We plant both indoors, using recycled, cardboard egg cartons, a blend of soil that was part our compost, and we watch the sprouts break through the soil, growing into the sunlight outside of the kitchen window, nurtured by our water and affection.
When the time is right, we transplant the sprouts into the outdoor soil and they flourish.
We have three giant sunflower stalks and 3 giant pumpkins at the end of summer.
The fall arrives and with it comes wilting sunflower heads and pumpkins ready for carving.
We take the seeds from both, dry them on the kitchen window sill, and put them in baggies.
As the sunflower seeds dry, they change from white to white with a black stripes.
Next spring we’ll have our own seeds to begin again.
Here are a handful of beautiful and HappyLittleMesses approved children’s books about sunflowers:
Gift of the Sun, A Tale from South Africa by Diane Stewart
Mortimer’s First Garden by Karma Wilson
What’s This? by Caroline Mockford
This Is the Sunflower by Lola M. Schafer
To Be Like the Sun by Susan Marie Swanson
This is the sanctuary, where all the magic happens. Yoga on and “off the mat.”
In a nutshell, IQI is like a year’s worth of therapy in three days. (I thought this description of the IQI was so brilliant, and then, I googled IQI and got the same words to explain the experience from other bloggers…at least it’s accurate.)
We dance and move, we are read to: poems, prayers, funny stories, we connect with others in the workshop, dialogue with the whole group, in dyads and triads, we discuss intensions, ride the wave, center ourselves, meditate, breath…we do a lot of ommmmmmm-ing, a lot of sharing, a lot of crying, and we experience an abundance of acceptance, joy and laughter.
There is so much substance to the weekend, that I couldn’t possibly begin to describe it all without changing the whole concept of this blog and going on for a quite some time. I’d like to get back to the fun artsy fartsy kid stuff at some point, so I’ll share a few of the most meaningful aspects of our IQI work.
Co-Listening is a huge part of the inner quest. There are guidelines and specific questions / ideas that we are asked to explore with partner dialogue.
At first, choose one person to be the listener and one to be the speaker.
The speaker begins to share, not filtering any thoughts or feelings, merely allowing a stream of consciousness to flow from the mind out of their mouth. The words do not have to make sense or follow any order. The speaker has about 10 minutes: you can choose to time it if you wish. There can be spaces of silence during the course of the share.
There is no processing, interpreting, problem-solving, analyzing, helping or judging during or after the co-listening process. The listener allows the speaker to have their clearing experience.
Then, the listener becomes the speaker.
Every dialogue begins with the same clearing question:
What do you need to say to help you be present in this moment?
Then the question / idea to explore:
What do you wish to get out of IQI? Why are you here?
Do you hide?
Talk to your partner as if they are a person with which you have unfinished business.
Talk to your partner as if they are you at a young age.
Talk to your partner as your adult self as if they are your inner child.
What did you need as a child?
What do you wish to take home from the IQI?
Write a letter to yourself from your “angels.” Read it to your partner.
And, every dialogue ends with the same closure:
Share anything that might help you to feel concluded with topic.
Another very important part of the workshop is music and dance and movement. There is a fabulous soundtrack that is exquisitely paired with the activities through the whole weekend. We stomp our feet, move to the music through the space of the sanctuary with our eyes softly closed, we hold hands with strangers and connect with our inner selves using our bodies and music.
Here are some of my favorite songs played that weekend:
Help!, Howie Day
Look At Me, John Lennon
Calling All Angels (with Jane Siberry), k.d. lang
The House That Built Me, Miranda Lambert
Unwritten, Natasha Bedingfield
At length, we discuss an IQI concept called, “Riding the Waves of Sensation.” It’s a practice. The basic idea of “Riding a Wave” is this:
*An Incident, Life Occurs, could be road rage, could be an argument with a spouse, could be nerves or worry: any big feeling.
*Sensations build. When these feelings become uncomfortable, we use behaviors (addictions, food, sleep, technology, cleaning, running away, suppression, etc.) that get us off the wave. Instead of getting off the wave, hang in there with the experience.
*Practice Being Present: Breathe. Relax. Feel. Watch. Allow.
*The wave crests, a timeless moment. Transformation is happening.
*Integration, the learning moves from the unconscious to the conscious level. Ah Ha!
*Commitment and Practice.
We spend a great deal of time meditating. This was my favorite meditation, the one that resonated with me the most, the one I can remember with ease and take home with me when the retreat is ended.
The Inner Quest Metta Prayer
May I Be Healthy
May I Be Happy
May I Ride the Waves of My Life
May I Live in Peace
No Matter What I am Given
Affirmation to My Body
I recognize you are the temple
in which my spirit and creative energy dwell.
I have created you from my need
to have my spirit manifest on earth
so that I may have this time
to learn and grow.
I offer you this food
so that you may continue to sustain
my creative energy, my spirit, my soul.
I offer this food to you with love,
and a sincere desire for you
so that you may remain free from disease and disharmony.
I accept you as my own creation
I need you
I love you.
The four of us, weekend away / yoga retreat ladies, fall into line as we arrive at 2pm, check in, leave our bags in the luggage room and grab our first cup of herbal tea. There are no labels indicating what kind of tea it is, but it is warm and earthy. I add a little slice of lemon and let it warm my throat and belly as we wait for whatever will come…the official workshop doesn’t start until 7pm.
We take our first of a series of wonderful, gentle yoga classes and report to the cafeteria at meal time. There is a buffet the size and quality of a king’s banquet. All the choices are healthful and lush. Salads, vegan pastas, pesto chicken, hearty breads, sweet breads, panini station and more.
The program begins.
Our first “undisclosed meal,” is light. Remember the sense of timelessness, there are no clocks for us to see and the meals shed formal tiles. We walk into the cafeteria in social silence and see that all but one section is emptied of choices. It’s all Basics Bar for us, Baby.
My journal entry from that day:
“There are lots of simple whole food choices, some not typically considered breakfast. We are asked to be mindful of eating and to start the meal with a affirmation to the body. Each person has a candle and small quote in front of their plate setting. The choices are a steamed broccoli / kale mix, raisins, nuts, steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, boiled eggs, apples, oranges, corn flakes, soy milk, brown rice, Indian yellow rice, miso soup and veggie broth. It was a quiet meal, put down the fork between bites, tasted my food and it was good.
I wouldn’t normally prefer or choose these simple, healthy, whole foods in everyday life because I have so many choices.”
Breakfast, or the first undisclosed meal of the day, is by far the best meal because of the fresh fruit. Fruit has never tasted so sweet when paired with such basic foods. Later that night, when I go to sleep, I find an apple stashed at the foot of my bed. We’re already turning into squirrels.
Our second undisclosed meal: tofu, brown rice, lots of veggies, carrots, salad with a basic oil and vinegar dressing, cabbage, peas.
“The tofu was good, reminded me a little of steak. I broke social silence and whispered this to my neighbor at the table. She said, girl, you are just really hungry.”
“Dinner was similar to lunch, rice and beans, tofu, steamed veggies. Not much along the line of salt or seasoning. You taste the food for what it is. I clear my plate. We’ve done a lot of work today and my body is telling me I’m hungry. I’m starting to notice the people who don’t like the food and aren’t really eating anything. One woman put her chin on her fist the whole meal and was near tears.”
But Dude, if someone is cooking food that’s healthy for me and I don’t have to do the dishes, I’m happy. Simple.
Second meal on Day 2:
“Lunch was quinoa, Sagg, apple, orange, kale, broccoli and for dessert, ahhhhhhh, a glass of vanilla soy milk. To this lady, it tasted like melted vanilla ice cream: affects of sugar detox.”
Last undisclosed “dinner”
“whipped yams, brown rice, curried veggies, green salad, apple, miso soup, more vanilla soy milk. The social silence is becoming more challenging, especially at meal time, because the group is starting to bond. We giggle through the meal. I catch Heather putting an orange peal in her teeth and turning to Jill who sits behind her at another table.”
Saturday and Wednesday are dessert nights at Kripalu. All day we smell cinnamon wafting through the windows from the bakery and kitchens right below us. That night, the facilitators ask us to close our eyes. When we open them, there is a big basket of oatmeal cookies for us. I’ve never savored a cookie as much as I did this one. I tasted every single crumb.
Last undisclosed “breakfast”
“boiled eggs, grapefruit, rolled oats, raisins, nuts.
After the weekend of the Basics Bar, Heather says to me, I won’t be eating rice for a very long time.
“Feeding yourself is an act of self love.”
“As you begin to chew, chew consciously and with awareness.”
“Ask yourself if you can feel the prana, the life force in your food, feeling the warmth of the food as it travels into your body to nourish you.”
“Chew well and chew slowly. Chewing well reduces cravings for sweets and allows enzymes in your saliva to mix well in your food and begin the process of digestion.”
“Simply observe any thoughts that may arise, not needing to change your thoughts, just returning your awareness to chewing, tasting, breathing.”
“Eat with joy and entitlement.”
“Release past experiences with food and eating. Let this experience be new and pure.”
Oh Gosh, Not sure why it’s so difficult to begin to describe this experience.
I’ll start with the workshop description the way it appears in the catalogue.
“The all-inclusive price includes open-dorm housing & meals. Participants sleep in dormitories or the program room along with other IQI participants of the same sex, and are served a simple and moderate diet.
The Inner Quest Intensive (IQI) is a life-changing personal-growth program that has been offered regularly at Kripalu for more than 25 years. Distilling some of the most powerful techniques Kripalu has to offer, the IQI is designed to offer participants simple strategies for skillful living. These strategies-the principles of yoga off the mat-help us to release struggle in our lives so we can live more fully.
Each intensive day is a blend of activities to help relax and release the blocks that keep us from being fully alive. Tools and teachings carefully chosen to foster transformation help you to see, accept, and let go of limitations as you explore underlying beliefs and emotions. Guided introspection, partner dialogue, integrative breathwork, play, and dynamic yoga are all included in this effective—and fun!—intensive.
Aruni Nan Futuronsky has guided thousands of people in the IQI to step beyond old fears and facades into the vitality, wholeness, and joy that is their birthright. Set your spirit free and discover your most authentic self in Kripalu’s longest-running program.”
Sweet. Right? Who couldn’t use some personal growth.
My friends and I are looking for a weekend away, just the girls…
We have a choice between staying at my parents’ house for a long weekend or going to this yoga retreat.
The tickets to FL are upwards of $500. That doesn’t include meals, gas, extracurricular activities.
We wouldn’t have to waste lots of time with travel and there wouldn’t be any extra costs at Kripalu.
So, that’s what we pick.
Cocktails by the water…or…very early morning yoga, all-you-can-eat kale, brown rice, tofu and ommmmmmmmm.
It’s a personal choice. (My friends might claim that I conned them into this retreat, but don’t believe a word they say.)
Here’s what we missed in the “small print,” in this case, small print is non existent until you’ve registered and paid:
(I don’t think they were trying to doop us, I think we just weren’t paying attention, this was a lady’s weekend adventure, after all, we were up for anything, really.)
The Inner Quest Intensive (IQI) is Kripalu’s most concentrated self-discovery program. Over the course of three full days, the IQI is designed to facilitate a breakthrough in how participants experience themselves and their lives.
Participating in the IQI requires willingness, commitment, and effort on the part of the participants.
Physical, mental, and emotional exertion is required to access, feel, and release the physical, mental, and emotional blocks that prevent a person from fully experiencing the vitality, freedom, and joy possible in life. Participants may experience temporary physical discomfort, such as headaches, tiredness, and nausea.
The schedule is demanding. Participants spend 15 hour days in a variety of activities,
including yoga postures, integrative breathing exercises, honest dialogue with other participants (or staff), guided introspections, and creative movement and play. Some participants may find this schedule physically or emotionally stressful. Participants agree to remain in the program until the end of the final morning session (at least 1:00 pm).
Participants remain responsible for their well-being during the IQI and may choose to not participate in any activity offered. They are expected to monitor each activity to determine whether it is appropriate for them to participate and at which level of participation.
The IQI is designed to facilitate the personal and spiritual growth of people who are physically, mentally, and emotionally well. It is not intended to serve as a treatment for any type of physical or mental illness. The director and staff of the IQI are not trained mental health professionals and the intensive is not a substitute for counseling, psychological therapy, or a drug and alcohol treatment program.
Participants sleep in dormitories or the program room along with other IQI participants of the same sex.
Since our intention is to explore beyond facades and externals, we ask that you not wear make-up or perfumes of any kind. Along the same lines, we ask men not to shave for the duration of the program. Please pack all personal toiletries that you may need, such as a toothbrush, contact lens
solution, etc. Bringing a personal journal and bottled water can also be useful. There will be no opportunity to read books or listen to personal music.
Three times each day, you will be served a simple, nutritious diet designed especially for this program. Please eat only what is provided; do not supplement with snacks of your own or go to the shop. The light, balanced diet will definitely support your process in the Intensive. There will be no coffee served, so we suggest a gradual reduction before arrival. We do provide green tea, which has caffeine.
The program includes a sense of timelessness and personal focus. For this reason, you will need to check your watches and other personal items (money, credit cards, car keys, iPods, cell phones, etc.) when you arrive. You also may choose to lock these items in your car and only check your car keys with us.
We request that you practice social silence at all times except when you are specifically asked to speak during the program sessions. We request that you do not make personal phone calls once the program begins.
In a nutshell (The rules that hurt some of us girls the most):
No Makeup, in fact we got 3 minute showers and could brush our teeth before lights out.
NO EMAIL, NO FACEBOOK NO IPHONES
No phone calls home to our little supportive families
…and most importantly
NO CHIT CHATTING!
What the What?! …You’ll have to tune in to see what happened…
My Little Friend A was at his first day of school during the official Mini Rainbow Warrior Dash, where when everyone was done with their “heats,” we threw around colored corn starch as warrior powder. We were so excited to use the powder, that all the bags of color were gone before we could save some.
I wanted to make more, so Friend A could have a turn too.
We take our time making more. There is no rush, and lots of fun to be had during the process.
We fill the process table with one very large container of corn starch.
We add water and lots of packets of orange kool aide, making goop and adding some fun toys, like rocks and cars.
The next day, the goop has firmed up making it really fun to scoop. We add spatulas and large serving spoons.
When the goop is dry, we hammer it to turn it into chunks.
I put the chunks into the food processor.
We take the orange powder and use it to throw around, making one happy Friend A.
The kids and I have been talking about the possibility of signing up for a karate class. We are all a little unsure, but even though they don’t know wether they want to take the formal class or not, there have been lots of pretend kicks and punches lately. The boys love to wrestle with each other and with daddy. I would love to give them the chance to learn how to “fight” without really hurting each other. There are many benefits to allowing kids to wrestle.
I come across a Tae Bo video for kids at the library and bring it home for the boys. I think it might be a nice idea for an after school cool down.
The kids start getting tired and sweaty as they try to keep up with Billy Blanks. This starts a conversation about the heart speeding up during exercise and how we are strengthening our muscles when we exert them.
The Art of Manliness has highlighted, and listed in detail, the benefits of rough housing with your kids, which include:
Rewires Brain for Learning, Increases Neuron Growth
Develops Social Intelligence
Great Physical Activity
Strengthens the Parent/Child Bond