A Letter to Pika Bird

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Another letter this week to feature, and once again not addressed to Annie or I. This one actually came in a while ago and was sent from a little boy who has just turned six. Everytime we open the mailbox and see one of those shaky lettered notes, my heart just melts. What we aim to do is so much more than just send a story to your child in the mail. We really want to help grow and nurture their imagination. As adults it is hard to sometimes grasp how just a simple thing as a short little story can really inspire a child. We read it with adult eyes and it appears to be a simple, sweet story. However, for the child, it is a world to be created in their minds. The characters and forest can look however they like. In their minds, they can interact with them, they can see them going about their adventures. This is what we want to deliver to your child each month. So when we get a letter addressed to Pika Bird with a little boy of just barely six expressing his love for her, we know we have done a good job fulfilling our goal. Thank you for sharing with us little one and Pika Bird thanks you as well!

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How about you? Do you receive our stories? Feel free to drop us a note and let us know how they are being received in your house. They don’t need to be child written, we have many from parents, grandparents, and teachers telling us how the children in their lives are enjoying Mariposa Forest. We love getting mail almost as much as we love to send it!

Splish Splash…

Hands down my favorite thing about spring. Puddle jumping. It was my favorite thing as a kid too. A close second was ‘getting the bikes out of the garage day’. Or new rubber boots day might win. For the puddles. And this year, armed with new rubber boots of my own, I’m splashing lots.

What’s your favorite spring thing to do?

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We’ve been sharing articles and such on this week our Fabebook page — are you following us? have a look — you can even see the Easter eggs the kids and I dyed this week-end using red cabbage & turmeric for fun! Please stop in here or on our facebook page and say Hello!

Oh — and please stay tuned for lovely fan mail we’ve received in the last few days — we’ll be sharing in the next few days! So nice to get feedback, especially when it comes from the kids themselves! (though to the grownups: yours is incredibly valued as well!)

First day of Spring.

WinterToday is the very first day of Spring. And it’s a gorgeous one. But not one that reminds you of spring in the least. This morning Elizabeth said ‘Mama, I think Mother Nature must love Winter more than Spring and that’s why she’s keeping Winter around longer.’

it’s hard to not agree with that logic this year. Or Alexandre’s thoughts that the groundhog must have accidently checked his shadow AGAIN and caused us six MORE weeks of winter.

Perhaps. Or perhaps next week Spring will arrive. But you better believe that between now and whenever that happens — I’m going to soak up the new snow and glorious sunshine. The combination of the March light, morning fog and the fresh snow is a rare treat for me. We’re expecting a few more centimeters this week I believe — and we will keep staring in amazement at the sparkles it leaves in the morning.

Plink, plink, plink

Here in the Forest, the snow is finally beginning to melt. Mind you we still have snow drifts 6 feet high, but that is an improvement from the 8 foot ones last week! As the snow melts and the sun grows stronger, there is another bit of magic that happens here. One that is hidden within the mighty giants that surround our house. A few weeks ago we felt the warmer temperatures during the day and noted the colder temperatures at night. We dug out the buckets and hats, the taps and the pots. We ventured through the thigh deep snow with drill in hand, selected a south facing spot low enough for the little ones to reach and drilled a hole in our mighty Maple. My oldest son hammered in the tap, my youngest hung the bucket. Sugaring season had officially begun.

Maple sugaring season happens only a few weeks of the year in Early Spring. We are lucky enough to live in a place that provides majority of the maple syrup produced in the world. We are also lucky enough to have a few Maple trees to tap on our property. Sugaring is a commitment though. The sap collected has to be kept cold and out of the sun until it can be boiled, and it has to be boiled within 5 days of collecting. The average boil takes anywhere from 6-12 hours and has to be done either in a sugar house that is well ventilated or outdoors. We are small scale so we do ours on a small cinder block stove that we built outside. The result of all of these hours of collecting wood, tending the fire, skimming the sap, and monitoring its progress is delicious maple syrup. It takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!

So while the adults are working, what are the little ones doing? Lots. They collect the sap, collect the wood for the fire, they are always there to help you taste it, and they are outside all day. The thing is, what they are learning is huge. This year, my oldest who is 6, recognized that the sun was stronger and the days were growing longer about 2 weeks before we tapped. He felt the season beginning to change, not by reading it on a calendar, but by feeling it with his senses. He understands the reason that the sap is rising, he understands it means the trees are starting wake up, how they use the sugars in the sap to make food to grow the leaves. He knows that this means Spring is close, that the Earth will soon be dressed in green again, and that the birds and animals will be returning from their Winter’s retreat any day. All of this just from hammering a simple tap into a tree. Nature is amazing that way. She has the ability to teach us so much if only we stop and listen.

Not everyone has this opportunity, but there is something, no matter where you live, that signals the change of seasons. By connecting our children to nature, they can read these signs, they feel their place in this great big world, and they learn how to quiet down and listen to what Mother Nature has to teach them. Our reward for stopping to listen? Jars of sweet liquid gold, yum!

Winter– My thoughts.

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So while Annie proclaims her love of winter, I am a bit more hesitant. Don’t get me wrong, I get out there. I sled and skate and ski and I build snowmen and snow forts with the best of them, but do I say I love winter? No, not really. I am the type of person who is always cold. Even in summer, I have a sweater on. The thought of going out into -20C temperatures for a day of fun is, well, not my idea of fun. So why do it? Because where we live it gets cold. It is just a fact of life and so I make the most of it. Sometimes as grown ups we have to because I have two little faces that look up at me excited to see snow, even in February, despite having snow for the past 4 months. I want them to love being outside. I want them to love every season. I want them to never look at the thermometer and say, “Oh too cold, we couldn’t possibly go outside”. There are treasures to be found, tracks to be followed, paths to forge, and adventures to be had Spring, Summer, Fall, and yes, even in Winter. I am trying to push myself to see this, to see the beauty in every season and not the limits of temperatures.

As adults we do what is comfortable. It is warm in front of the fire, why go out into the cold? Think though of what that says to our children though. To deny them the experience of each and every season. Even if your only seasons are dry and wet, you still have them. Who doesn’t remember splashing through mud puddles as a kid and staying outside in Winter sledding until your cheeks were frozen? These are moments my children deserve to have and so, out we go. Oh sure, I have on 3 under layers, 2 pairs of socks, the puffiest, warmest coat I could find on the market, but I am out there, enjoying every flake, every gust of blustery, cold wind.

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I won’t lie, I am constantly checking for signs that perhaps, maybe Spring will be soon arriving. I don’t hide my complete relief when at last the birds return and the snow starts to melt, when green starts to take back the white landscape. I will admit, though, that I am always slightly sad to see it all go. Does this mean that I love Winter? No, but it does mean that come October, I will tip my hat and welcome its return once more. You see, we have an understanding Winter and I. I promise to enjoy its beauty and get outside everyday to take in all I can from it, and it promises not to freeze me too much.

Favorite Season?

Winter Play

What’s your favorite season? It’s a game I love to play. Because I can’t figure out the answer. All I know is that I would be lost without my four seasons — my body has come to heavily rely on these time markers and my soul loves different aspect of every season. Often times, my favorite is the one we are currently in at any given time. Except summer. Then I’ll think long and hard and come up with another answer. It’s never summer. (i love parts of summer… but in no way is it my favorite.)

Actually, by the third week of July when I’m absolutely done done with the heat and humidity and hear somebody say ‘this is so much better than minus 20oC!!’ I realize that no, it’s not at all better than that. Give me SNOW anyday. Well, perhaps not – then I wouldn’t have my four seasons would I? but let’s just say I’m a happier camper when I get to spend five hours in the great outdoors in the middle of WINTER vs the middle of SUMMER.

and sometimes, it’s more than five. This week-end for example, we completely lost track of how many hours were spent outside.

Winter Play
Saturday, we spent the day at a private pond hockey tournament. Canadian winter at it’s absolute best.

Winter Play
Even the napping took place outside in the glorious sunshine. It was a grownup tournament — but the kids spent most of the day playing and cheering. Alexandre even skated a while on the third ‘extra’ rink. He was one happy boy. He had a hockey game early in the morning at the arena and then skated on the pond. While Alexandre was at his morning game, Elizabeth & Juliette were playing outside at home. Then we spent from 10:15 to 4:15 mostly outside at the pond hockey tournament. Came home and the kids played outside until 6:45. That part we couldn’t believe. Adam and I were tired (well, he played 5 hockey games. I simply chased a toddler around all day!) We let them play outside until they decided to come in – which normally doesn’t happen – we typically have set meal times! But there’s something about playing ouside, in the snow, in the dark!

Perfect Hockey Day in Canada.

Did you get out and play this weekend?

Annie

Oh, we spent Sunday out playing too — more on this shortly!
and please excuse the extreme quietness here in the last little while – both our families have been under the weather in some form and keeping up with our mailings has been our priority — hopefully now that we’re all on mend Jennifer & I will manage to blog & share more!

Fuel for a good day.

While trying to balance carbs and protein for breakfast some days (mostly on days I require more energy) I discovered a delicious breakfast. I would even go as far as saying my favorite breakfast these days. And super simple.

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Gluten Free Oatmeal

    bring one cup of water to a boil.
    add 1/2 cup of oats*
    stir in one TBSP of nut butter. My current treat: hazelnut-almond butter.
    — for sweetness, I sometimes stir in a drizzle of maple syrup
    Cook on low for 7-10 minutes, keeping a close eye on it! (the nut butter makes it want to stick!)

    top with plain yogourt and your choice of nuts + seeds.
    Today’s version was pumpkin seeds + walnut. I change this up daily.

    * for a gluten free option, use Gluten Free Oats.

and now that you’re all fueled up, step outside and spend some energy!

If you have favorite energy fueling breakfast, please do share in the comments! thank you!

Etsy shop is now open for business!

Mariposa Forest can now also be found on Etsy! Along with our subscriptions, you can also find celebration cards. Currently we have our Holiday cards stocked. They are perfect for any Winter holiday you may celebrate and can be sent to everyone on your list. Afterall, who doesn’t like a little whimsy and magic at this time of year?


If you are planning on buying a subscription of Mariposa forest for a special little one in your life this holiday season, a single card could be used to announce the gift.

We hope to be adding more things over the next few months, all of course with a bit of Mariposa Magic, so make sure you stop by every once in awhile and see what new things appear.

What do you see?

I love this quote and I find I’m often reminded of this with the kids — in many many ways. We can all use to be reminded of this from time to time!

“it’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. — Henry David Thoreau”

Please share this with others that would love the reminder!

A letter to Nissa…

Our little stories are now traveling around the globe and it is always fascinating to hear how the children are enjoying them and what each one is getting from the experience. We love to hear from our subscribers, so we have decided that every now and again we will share with you some of the feedback we get. We have been overwhelmed by the amazing response that we have received from parents, teachers, and grandparents, but our favorites are the ones we get from the children themselves. Our recent favorite was from a little boy of 4 and 3/4. We must not forget the three quarters bit!

This letter came not to Annie or I, why would they, we don’t exist to the children! This letter came addressed to Nissa fairy. It was a beautiful map of where he lives and telling her all about his surroundings. He also thanked her for her stories.

No matter how many of these we get, each one still melts our hearts. These imaginative little minds are exactly why we started Mariposa Forest in the first place, and it just makes us so happy to know that the little people that the stories are intended for are enjoying them so much!

Thank you for your beautiful letter little one and thank you to his Mother for allowing us to be a part of his childhood!