Living naturally, most of the time.

Unfolding into nature: May Carnival of Natural Parenting

Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I moved twelve houses down the block so that my son could have the woods as his backyard.

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, as there were a whole lot of other considerations to our intra-neighborhood move two years ago this July. But it’s true that backing up to county property was a big draw over the busy corner where yellow school buses were the most predominant form of wildlife. By contrast, this winter we had six deer looking to nibble on our remaining nubs of kale.

We are just entering our second summer in this house, and the effects of this location are pretty powerful for me. The ability to look out and watch the seasons change so clearly and profoundly makes me feel so much more in tune with nature. We don’t have acres in the country with a corn field, fruit trees and two huge vegetable gardens like my parents did when I was young, but we do have a nice slice of non-suburbia to retreat to every day. Since we’ve chosen to live in the hectic, Type A, chaotic area of Metro D.C., I hope the site of our home helps my son feel grounded in the natural world.

Even before we moved, I was determined to find my green thumb so my son would not grow up afraid of gardening. I hadn’t absorbed a whole lot of knowledge since we moved to the suburbs when I was ten, so it really has been a full learning curve for me and my husband both.

Picking a strawberry with grandpa in 2008

Dressing the part (age two)

Playing with water, er, container gardening at the old house (age two)

Now that we have a more secluded space (and since this summer, I’m not pregnant!), I’m finally breathing into filling that space not just with some veggie attempts, but with beauty, too. I knew I couldn’t plant any flowers in concrete-like clay beds, so just this past week I’ve gotten help to turn them over.

In preparation for that, for the past few weeks, my son and I have been planting all the wildflower and sunflower seeds I had lying around in pots to transfer when they are big enough. We also started lots of peas inside a few months back and some other veggies. Normally the type of mom who takes months to send thank you cards and says the phrase, “Yeah, we really should finish…” way too often, this year I am walking the walk and literally getting things off the ground by getting them in the ground.

I’ve also started participating in a Waldorf-based homeschool group called “Nature Place” so that I can start to really live into some daily songs and rhythms and seasonal rituals that will help us feel connected to nature in our daily lives and our larger lives. Maybe by the time my daughter is her brother’s age (5), I will have less to learn and more to just enjoy with respect to a home life of calm that is based in a reverence for nature.

As for food, this year we have fenced off the garden so hopefully we’ll feed ourselves more than the wildlife.

Our garden this year, in front of the forest back yard

Throughout the year, we buy about a third to a half of our produce from a local farm that delivers once a week, which I find works a little better for me right now than a CSA. Our meat, milk, and eggs come from a local farm (a collaborative delivery/drop service), and last year my son and went to visit Polyface Farm to see a truly sustainable operation. It’s important to me that he knows what a farm should look like and how cows, pigs and chickens can and should live: out in the open, on pasture.

Having been a vegetarian for a long time, I now think it’s important to support sustainable farms that produce meat, especially since the genetically modified soy and corn and the mass-produced grain I consumed by the boatload to my detriment as an undiagnosed celiac are not doing any favors for the planet, either.

My husband and son do occasionally eat out (I can’t right now because of the GAPS diet I’m on), but when we talk about meat and vegetables we bring into the house, we try to point out when we know the farmer. I also sometimes refuse to buy food if it comes from too terribly far away (especially if we can get them locally) or really isn’t in season. We’re not purists, but eating seasonally and locally is certainly the goal.

We seem to have had some pretty busy weekends lately and have been missing the farmer’s markets, but I hope that the summer months will find me there more than the grocery store. I love for my son to talk to the people who grew his food!

Although I thought I was a conscious consumer before I had children, it was the goal to overcome infertility that got me to make changes in my diet and it was the goal to grow a healthy family that has helped me find my way to making the kind of natural home that sustains me body, mind, and spirit.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn’t think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family’s simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don’t like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer’s Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer’s Market has become her son’s classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment‘s hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature’s Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter’s blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it’s a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children’s generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family’s food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don’t have a garden? “You can still grow food!” says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she’s doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer’s MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it’s important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn’t Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it’s never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse “bean teepee” and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin’ (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.


7 Responses to “Unfolding into nature: May Carnival of Natural Parenting”

  1. Funny how kids can inspire our desire to nurture our green thumbs. It sounds like you are having lots of fun and have some great plans in place. I agree that making gardening ‘normal’ for children is so important 🙂

  2. Nena says:

    Wonderful post!!! That last photo of your container garden looks a lot like what I have going on! I find at times it can be hard to raise environmentally responsible kids in the city. Short of dropping everything and moving to some remote farm in the middle of nowhere, I am doing much the same as you! Your lot sounds absolutely serene! Good for you making such a big decision! Your family will be blessed because of it! I absolutely love to watch the seasons change as well. Thank you again!

  3. Sheila says:

    I think you and I would agree a lot about food! Though I can’t afford to eat locally as much as I like, I’m trying to get into it and figure out who’s selling good food around here. I believe in eating meat, but I think it should be as sustainable as possible … watching Food, Inc., made me want never to eat grocery store meat again!

    If I can reach your level of eating a third to a half of your produce from local farms, I think I’ll be doing pretty well! Though I think our own garden is likely to make the big difference … organic food for “free”!

  4. Your last paragraph says it all! What a great post; your kids are lucky to have such a dedicated mama. Up here in Maine we haven’t put anything in the (sort of still frozen) ground yet….

  5. I haven’t studied Waldorf extensively, but I do love what I’ve read about their emphasis on connecting with nature and having daily/seasonal rhythms. What a great idea to incorporate farmers markets and farm visits into your rhythm. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Wow! What a great move…same neighborhood, different environment 😉 How VERY inspiring that you let something like infertility guide you to healthier and eco friendly eating lead you to greener parenting in the end. Wonderful outcome and great pics!!

  7. I really admire how you focussed on your goals and values and then you adjusted your lives and lifestyle to reflect what really matters to you. I find it is so easy to just KEEP GOING in our lives even when we are aware that our lifestyle is in conflict with our values. Such courage in you, sister! It is often only fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck in our ruts instead of pursuing our goals and values.

    Freedom and Joy to you!


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