Simplifying with kids

A few weekends ago, I decided it was time to pair down some of JP's toys.
We do not buy him that many toys as experience as shown me that we would buy them mostly for ourselves but still, there are always toys coming inside the house, courtesy of the grandparents or friends, and they easily add up.

We don't have a playroom, his toys are scattered through the house: in his bedroom, the living room, the office and the kitchen, roughly contained in baskets or boxes. This may sound silly, and I certainly understand the appeal of confining the toys in one room, but it's what makes sense to our family as we try to integrate play into our home and into our lives and spend time together.

It also makes it easier for me to see what toys he plays the most, and I was noticing there were a lot of untouched toys for a while, so I told him we would go through his toys and choose some to pass  on to other kids.
I've briefly  considered doing this without him, worried that it would take forever with lame results but it felt wrong, so and I decided to at least try and see how it would go.

Well, the kid is a tidying pro. I followed kondo's advice of making him touch the toys and he had a great pleasure to hold all his plush toys. In the end, he decided to give them ALL. He was so keen to let go of most of his toys, that I myself was feeling a little scared he was not fully aware of what was happening and started to question him a lot about his choices. The most common answer was: "I don´t play with it anymore" but there were some other valuable arguments mentioned:

On playing tools, which he has two sets (wooden/plastic):
 - I don't need two of each and these (from the wooden set)  will last longer I think. Let us keep this one.

On playing sword:
I don't need this (you won't play pirates anymore?) Of course I will, but a have lots of swords outside! (please read sticks that serve like swords...)

On car with a broken wheel:
- I like the car but it doesn't work anymore... if daddy can't fix them I think we can put it in the garbage.

He felt very strongly about toys to keep (lego, train track, cars, puzzles, piano, animal masks, art supplies) and resolved his doubts in a lovely way:

Play kitchen
- I don't play with it anymore, but it holds toys and S (daughter of friends who visits us at times) loves to play with it when she comes, so I guess it's better to keep it here for now.

Plain / M&M's chocolate dispenser:
- I'll keep this one because I'm hoping it will grow M&M again...

random thoughts and a poem

I have been absent from the blog, but I surely haven´t been absent from life. Warm, bumpy, hard and fulfilled life.
I have been spending the daytime enduring high temperatures at the office, the evenings taking care of my garden and preparing delicious salads from our goods. At the early night, when I finally can breed the fresh air that comes from the mountains, it's time for walking or just laying around the garden.
My son is enjoying time alone with his grandmothers, at turns, he is beyond happy and it truly makes me happy as well, despite feeling his absence very strongly (the right term in here would be the Portuguese word: saudade).
His absence made me notice how much a child changes the dynamic between a couple, as we realise all our talks are about practical things, it seems as we had lost the ability of a meaningful conversation, without even noticing it. So, after a few days of enjoying the silence (we are both very quiet, opposed to our small creation of a tornado of stories and questions and opinions...) we slowly began to talk (truly talk), and it feels nice.

I hope you had a nice July, and if you're in the mood for it, here is a little poem for you *!

* Inspired by this Portuguese moment.
** You may have to set the volume high (I guess I was shy and afraid of hurting your hears...)

Six pictures for an (almost) wordless story of June

( freshly picked roses from our garden for my mother )

( a short family trip to Alvão )

( harvesting )

( little happy garden helper )

( my new best friend for productivity and on-line awareness )

( savouring fresh goods )

I hope June was nice to you too!

May memories

On the morning the First day of March, I was awakened in bed with a question: Is today Sunday? Yes, It is! Finally - I have a song for you! (his educator taught the class a beautiful song about growing seeds/ human beings and instructed them to sing it on Sunday - mother's day in Portugal- to their mothers. A lovely surprise and the sweetest awakening for March to unfold).

Since ever that everybody would tell him he was the son of the rain. But this smart boy, made of cheerfulness and at the age of more or less, did not need to be told who his mother was.
He knew her better than the matters he knew really well.

José Luís Peixoto, A Mãe Que Chovia 
( The Mother That Rained, roughly translated by me) 


When your favourite author writes his first children's book while you are pregnant, naturally, you can't wait to read it with your child... so this book has been sitting in my son's library since he was born, quietly waiting for him to show interest in it. May of 2016 it was, and it was as special as I imagined it to be.

We enjoyed a few days off in May, so we extended our walks a little bit...

to the sea (always so restoring no matter the threaten of the rain...)

to a place where I worked for five years... (the fact that I worked in a real boat seems to be astonishing to my son, I'm not sure if he has a hard time accepting I had a previous life before him or that life was so different... )

We returned home to find new life...

No lessons learnt in May, just life and good memories.

The unique work of nature...

... that transformed an artificial pound in a perfect wonder: 

Shortly after our move from the city into this house, we find a special place really close to us,  which quickly became an extension of our backyard, where we would go every evening with our dogs.

There are no signs leading you there and back when we first found it looked like an abandoned, nonetheless beautiful, place. I soon found out it was actually an artificial pond made by the Mines to pump water to the furnace. In the mid-twentieth century, the mining industry in this Valley gave employment to over a thousand people, in a very poor region. With the failure of the Mines came unemployment, emigration and the progressive destruction of the mining complex.

But this artificial pond, which began as an environmental dissonance, gained life and all the surrounding site has become a true biodiversity treasure, attracting a variety of species that can be observed there.

Recently, the place was integrated with the biodiversity program of Vila Real, and a Centre for Biodiversity was installed here, making it the  starting point for the discovery of plants, butterflies, amphibians, birds and dragonflies in the area.

It's all part of the game

He's playing with a balloon, trying not to let it touch the floor (simple tip... it's a great exercise for us adults too.. silly but funny. I'm proud to say that I was his inspiration for this little game).

He's finally controlling the balloon in the air for a good amount of time, so he calls me to show off:

Mama, come see what I can do!

I had noticed what he was doing, but he likes me to stay still and look at him sometimes, so I do it. Only, of course, the time I am sitting still watching him, he looses control of the balloon after the 6th or 7th touch and it falls to the floor. I smile and comment, slightly amused:

Well, that one didn't go so well...

But mama, it's all part of the game!

Oh, I'm sorry, I hadn't understood that.

Well, it is. Sometimes the balloon stays in the air, sometimes it falls. It's just the way things go...