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Lessons from the Leaves

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

November has been a whirlwind. Highs and lows in weather and in life. Here are a few nature and parenthood musings from this month that you may have seen on social media.

 Fireman's Park Beach, Verona, across from our Pop-Up Play Cafe location at Rocket Velocafe

Nov. 7th: Taking a moment this morning to reflect on how far I've come in my journey of parenthood, and how thankful we are to be surrounded by supportive family and friends, whether they're near or far. Playful Acorns wants to be part of your village, too. Hope you can join us soon!

Lakeview Park, Middleton near the shelter where we held our fall 'Mini & Me' Yoga sessions

Nov. 9th: This morning Z and I bundled up to go for a walk at a park and scratched the frost off of some fallen leaves. An hour later we shed our layers and played with other leaves in puddles. It was a good reminder that, like the seasons, we are in a constant state of change.

In college I took an English class called Shadows and Illuminations (oh, hey, Dr. Neary!), and these contrasting photos brought to mind how light isn't always visible without darkness. Sometimes we don't acknowledge how good we have it until we've endured hardship. Or we don't realize what's truly important to us until it's gone or something/someone threatens to take it away.

To those of you who are struggling in this season of parenthood, in your relationships, friendships, careers, with the neverending news cycle, with your mental, physical, and emotional health journeys...I see you. You are not alone.

Take a moment to step outside, breathe the fresh (chilly) air, and give yourself a hug. Then wrap your arms around your loved ones. I'm sending you a virtual hug, too. It may seem dark now, but brighter days are ahead.

Snow near our home in Madison

Nov. 21st: Before daycare dropoff today, our daughter got a glimpse of slushy snow on the grass, leaves, and our garage. An hour later, it had melted.

What fascinated me most about the situation is that Z (almost 2) must've picked up on what I thought was our "adult" side conversation at the dinner table last night that snow was in the forecast. I think we mentioned the word once, twice at most.

This morning, as soon as she woke up and before we opened up the curtains, Z's first request was to see the snow outside. I didn't think it had actually snowed, but when we opened up the front door...there it was.

It's mind-boggling to think about the things our kids are learning just by being in our presence. Sure, they repeat words that slip out of our mouths without thinking, but they also make connections and find meaning and joy in things we'd never expect. I'm trying to bring more awareness to the fact that these tiny beings are absorbing more than we could possibly imagine. That is pretty amazing.

I'd love to hear your stories -- what's something your kid did or said that surprised you?

Morning sky from Riverside Park in Watertown

Nov. 23rd: Today, I am grateful for the sunshine. The taste of pumpkin pie. The smell of our aunts' kitchens. The sound of laughter. The feel of a familiar hug. In addition to the five main senses, the sense of place is especially present for me as we travel to our hometown.

Doing so brings up extra emotions during the holidays, because they were always spent with my grandma. Our family would gather at her home to share a meal, play games, and talk. Her house wasn't large by any means, but it was full of love. She lived there independently until she had a stroke in her nineties, and after she passed away our family reluctantly sold the place that held so many memories.

For a few years after she died, I couldn't bring myself to even drive past her house. But last year when we participated in the Thanksgiving 5K at the park nearby, I had no choice but to walk by on the route and face it. When I looked into the front window, where she always had a friendly life-size dog statue facing the road, a real dog was staring back at me. It was the first time I had to acknowledge that a new family lived there and new memories were being made there. This year when we walked by, I was so focused on getting Z situated in her stroller and talking with another family member that it didn't even cross my mind to examine the window again and imagine what it must be like inside now or bemoan the fact that Z never experienced the atmosphere of her home or one of her famous hugs. Who knows how I will feel next time, but it reminded me that grief, like parenting (or anything, really), changes over time. And that we always carry the memory of our loved ones inside of us.

Playful Acorns is an expression of my love for my family and the generations who came before me. My hope is that, together, we can continue nurturing a love of play, reading, nature, and community for future generations, too.

Thank you for sharing this beautiful journey with me, fellow acorn friends.

Indian Lake County Park hike

Nov. 24th: The sunshine and another local family joined us for a chilly morning #OptOutside hike at Indian Lake County Park this morning through Hike It Baby - Madison. We may not have made it to the top of the hill, but the view from our turnaround point was still beautiful. We got fresh air and moved our bodies, and that's what matters. Today is also Native American Heritage Day. May we honor the land that we steward and recognize the inherent sovereignty of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

Winter 2023 vs. Spring 2023

Nov. 26th: Seems like just yesterday I was pulling Z in her red wagon in spring, and today I'm tugging her around in her red sled in winter. Hope you could get outside and enjoy the fresh snow!

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