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  • Why didn't you make me?

    “Mom, my throat hurts. I don’t want to go to school.”  How often I hear those words throughout the school year. Sometimes it’s, “I am NOT going to school today.”

    As a mom who’s spent the past few years transitioning from preschool to grade school, I’ve run the gamut around convincing, pleading, bribing, giving in, and sometimes forcing my girls to go to school. Don’t we all do things we don’t want to do? Perhaps they don’t feel like going to school yet I am saying…”don’t listen to your body listen to me.”

     Needless to say, I kept Ja Ja home. She wasn’t sick but she needed a day to recoup and adjust (to life). At 8 years old she’s working to expand her pallet and cease sucking her thumb, her mouth full of metal. These are big deal things, and even though the pot-bellied orthodontist kept saying “kids are so resilient”, my therapist’s words were ringing louder, “often times we overlook things because kids are so resilient.”

     Dropped my younger daughter at school, making it through the “No Fair why does she get to stay home” by offering an episode of Elena – Disney’s version of a Latino Princess tv show -- after school. Ja Ja and I headed up to one of the local recreation areas near us in LA. The park was built in the 80’s when the 1988 Olympics were happening. It’s showing its age now, the crumbling faux rock waterfall and the stairs that had been blocked off as NOT SAFE finally ripped down. Surrounded by oil fields, yes, right here in our back yard this little piece of wilderness thrives. This time of year it’s got more brown than green but nature, as we know, finds a way. I chose this spot because Harold the dog gets to run and play off leash if we go early enough. 

    Ja Ja has brought along her fairies and before we are even on the path one has fallen out of her pocket and she’s had to go back and look for it. Harold runs wildly back and forth between us not sure who is more exciting to be with. As we wind our way up into a grove of shrub pine we come across some fine silt dirt, made so by hundreds of feet matting and grinding it down to a powder. Without hesitation Ja Ja plops down and runs it through her hands, pushes it with her arms.  “Mom, it’s SO soft” she says. Harold has run ahead and I say, “let’s play on the way back.” We go a little further, the path gets narrow and the trees a little bushier. Out through the trees we see the city below us. I walk into a giant spider web. This time of year in Southern California with no rain to wash their webs away, spiders are holding court. I think nothing of it but suddenly Ja Ja stops and says, “Mom I want to go back, I don’t’ like the way it feels here.” 

     We’ve been here before. Ja Ja gets spooked by something and can’t let go of the feeling and return to the present. Having dealt with panic on and off my whole life, I am no stranger to the feeling. We’ve found ways to work through it in the past, when I have time and patience we figure out how to make her feel safe so she can breathe and relax and it’s not as overpowering. But today I make the smallest effort and it doesn’t work. So, we turn back.  

     

    As soon as we see the powdered soft dirt she asks if she can take some home in one of the dogs poop bags. She sifts through carefully and finds just the right amount. Holding the weight of the dirt in her hands, she says “Mom, you’re mad.”  I reply with “I am bummed out we didn’t get to go on our walk.” “Well why didn’t you make me go?” she says. “I didn’t feel right” I say without looking at her.

    Back at the car I’m waiting for her to get in when she says from across the lot, “Mom, I’ve found some chocolate sprinkles for the cake I am going to make.”  “We have that same dirt at home” I reply, hot and still a little bothered about the no walk. “This same dirt mom? The very same dirt from this place?” I take a deep breath, “Ok, here’s another dog bag.” 

     

    At home she busies herself gathering baking tools to construct her cake. She spends the next half hour mixing and measuring and making. I think back to her question on the trail, “Mom, why didn’t you make me?”  and I realize that my long answer would be...I understand that today was a day for you to feel comfortable and safe amongst all this change and what you really wanted to do was run your hands through soft dirt and make mud cakes with water. It may not be what I needed but I’m grateful you are putting boundaries around what you need.

    I take my pretend bite of the mud cake and feel grateful for this moment.

    **Emily Hart Roth is a storyteller, photographer and on the path to becoming a Forest Therapy guide.  Growing up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, she now splits her time between Los Angeles and the shores of Lake Superior.  As a photographer, Emily’s clients include non-profits, food/restaurant and fashion stories.  She self-published a book titled Art; a lifestyle.

    Emily shares her passion for nature medicine with her community, husband, two daughters, and Harold the dog.

    You can follow Emily @emilyhartroth  and view some of her work at www.rothpictures.com

  • A little bit of hard.

     

    My husband got the clothes line up in the backyard this summer while we were away. We moved our washer and dryer outside last spring; an opportunity to create more space in our small home and also because, in southern California, the impulse to live inside/outside is strong.  At our home in Inglewood, doing laundry is simple, 100 or so feet from the house there’s a washer and dryer and right next to it the clothesline. As I was hanging my sheets on the line today, I got to thinking about how, living with our two girls at the cabin all summer in the woods of Wisconsin, doing laundry had a very different feel. 

     When we all ran out of shorts or underwear I’d grab the red flyer wagon from the shed next to the cabin. I’d usually have to clean out blankets or other kid items before tucking in the overflowing basket. I’d just get the handle in my hand when the door from the cabin would fly open and the new puppy, Harold, would come darting out and run straight for the wagon, jumping up to grab a pair of someone’s undies that were hanging off the side. Right behind Harold would be my six year old daughter who is at a point in her life where she needs to be right next to me most of the time.  “Mom, wait, I’m coming too.” “Mei Mei” I’d say, “I am not going to be able to take you in the wagon.” “I know but what about Harold, can I put Harold in?” She’d scoop him up and toss him into the wagon wherein he’d immediately grab the undies I’d just unhooked from his sharp little teeth. “Nope,” I say, taking him out, “Harold needs to run.” “Fine” she shouts, clearly irritated. I brace myself internally for an explosion. This could easily turn into a major battle of patience while she processes that she cannot do what she wants. This time it passes and we are on our way. Mei Mei runs along behind picking up any pieces of clothing that fall into the driveway as we bump along, climbing the hill. Past the sugar shack where my parents make maple syrup in the spring and past the piles of composting hay that’s used to fertilize the large vegetable and flower garden.  This time of year the bee balm is showing off its perfect violet/purple flowers and I stop with Mei Mei, “Do you hear the buzzing?” It sounds like an electric amp that’s letting off feedback. The smell is intoxicating mixed with the lilies and roses that grow along the garden fence. Mei Mei darts after Harold off the driveway and onto the walk path. The walk path leads from the driveway up to mom and dad’s house. A few large tree roots threaten to upend the wagon but I level out just in time. And by the time I get to the swing that hangs from two giant Maples in front of my mom’s house, Mei Mei has decided it’s a good idea to give Harold a turn on the swing and he needs rescuing. 

            

    “I’ll wait here mom” she says, jumping into the sandbox with Harold to dig holes and make sand pies.

     


     

    I offload the basket of laundry and lug it up the stairs through the screened porch where I tiptoe past my dad, passed out on the couch with hands folded on his chest, taking a break from building his new garage. Laundry loaded, I say a silent prayer that my parents finally invested in a modern washer that I can turn on and walk away from. I look at the blinking number, 45 mins til I have to come back, load it into the basket again and walk through the woods to the fruit orchard where the clothesline is. Sometimes just getting to the washing machine is enough and if I’m lucky my mom will hang it for me. Then I just hope it stays sunny so I can get it off the line and folded before the dew comes creeping in at dusk. 


    This whole experience, hard as it is sometimes, makes me realize how laundry becomes a mindless task with little to no thought when our laundry machines live conveniently near or in our homes. Back in Inglewood as I load the wet clothes into the dryer and pull out select pieces for the line I think, perhaps, my husband putting up the clothesline has given me a little of the “hard” back to keep me present in this experience of doing laundry.

     

    **Emily Hart Roth is a storyteller, photographer and on the path to becoming a Forest Therapy guide.  Growing up in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, she now splits her time between Los Angeles and the shores of Lake Superior.  As a photographer, Emily’s clients include non-profits, food/restaurant and fashion stories.  She self-published a book titled Art; a lifestyle.

    Emily shares her passion for nature medicine with her community, husband, two daughters, and Harold the dog.

    You can follow Emily @emilyhartroth  and view some of her work at www.rothpictures.com

  • We've been featured on Red Trycicle Blog!

    ''...Lil Bellies, an online shop created by an adventurous LA mom, is the perfect stop to outfit your adventures with explorers’ gear made for kids. Scroll down for our favorite all natural tips, treks and tools from this inspirational family.

    The Backstory
    Claudia Didomenico is an LA mom of three, but she grew up on a small farm in Brazil riding horses bareback and going on adventures in neighboring fields. Those memories are some of her most precious treasures, so naturally she wanted a similar experience for her own kids. Living in a big urban city, like LA, the biggest hurdle Claudia noticed was the lack of freedom. “These days, even living in the suburbs, children can’t run free, explore or climb the few trees on the streets unsupervised. So I took it upon myself to take them to places where precious memories could be built and where they could grow up with the freedom to explore, create, discover and connect with the natural world surrounding them,” Claudia explains. “Nature settings are the best playground for children of all ages and one with endless possibilities of amazement and growth.”

    Read Full Article here !

  • SHOP UP LA - THIS WEEKEND!!!

    Join Us at the Shop Up at the Springs in Downtown LA.
    Sunday 23rd and Saturday 24th -10 am to 6 pm
  • Birds Nest Activity

    Birds are beautiful creatures that are often all around us and rarely do we actually stop  to notice them. Their unique colors and shapes, songs and habits are impressive.
    One cool yet sunny afternoon, the kids and I were sitting on the porch when we noticed the beautiful song coming from one of the trees surrounding our house. The song was coming from a small brown bird that seemed to actually be talking to us.
    Immediately the kids ran inside to get their Bird caller.As if in unison bird caller and now birds began responding to each other forming a captivating song unlike any I have ever heard.
    Then and there a seed of interest on Birds was planted inside each of my children’s minds.
    Following the long conversation with the surrounding birds we decided to discover the names of our visitors with our Peterson First Guides to Birds of North America.

    Blue Jay was one of them and a favorite among the children due to its beautiful royal blue color.

    As we flipped through books about birds and their nests, the kids decided they wanted to try to build a birds nest of their own. As we are a media free home and rely mainly on books for research, we had to be a bit creative with what was available to us at that moment.

    So here is what we came up with !

    Birds Nest Activity

    What you’ll need:

    -From the Garden: Hay, dry grass, bendable sticks, moss, fallen leaves

    -Tin foil

    -2 Small bowls to shape the nest . (1 bigger than the other)

    -3 sticks of bees wax to be melted

    - enamel mug or pot to melt the wax

    The kids scavenged the backyard for fallen leaves, hay , grass, moss and anything that could be used as building materials for our nest.

    We used Alaia’s wooden kitchen metal bowl (the larger one) for shaping the nest and covered it with tin foil.

    Once the larger bowl is fully covered we placed our building material inside the bowl and arranged it as to make it look like a real bird’s nest. Note we used a bigger dry leaf in the bottom, than the hay  and other things on top.

    In the meantime place the bee’s wax inside the enamel mug or pot over the stove on low heat until it is completely melted. We had our Mug on top of the griddle as to melt slowly.

    Pour the melted Bee’s wax over your covered bowl and than using your hands and the smaller bowl apply pressure down into the bowl and straws then hold. As the wax dries the nest begins to harden and maintain its shape. You can place the bowl in the fridge to help cooling the wax faster if you want. We had to do that because the kids were too anxious to see the result.

    Once the wax is cooled you can peel the tin foil away and your nest will be ready!

     

     

     

     

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