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Sept. 30, 2016
Waxing Crescent Moon
Lake Lagunitas

Today was a day of support in creating greater unity and friendships. So far they have buddied up and it has at times been a bit unfriendly in nature around just having ones one friend and not having the group as their friends. So, with Michelle’s inspiration, before circle we split into two groups, the Dolphins and the Whales. Each group had only one person from the “pairs” and that group went off to find gifts of kindness and care to give to the other group.
My group were the Whales of Skylar,Jesse, Kuba,,Isabella and Jake. Dolphins with Michelle, were Kai,Archer, Eddie, Ruby.
What each group came up with was so beautiful. We created a circle, like our morning circle. The Dolphins, Michelle’s group, had shared their love of their friends when they were with her and then they found kind and loving words for someone else in the group that were then given to the other person. Oh how smiles came from hearing sweet words of what they liked about the other. The Whales had found little treasures from the Earth and had put them all on two very big rocks with why they wanted to give these gifts to the other group. When my group first got together I said we were going to give a beautiful gift to the other group and then they would receive a gift. Jesse’s face lit up with a great big smile from these words.

After the groups gave their gifts we sang a song of unity about how the Redwood Trees need each other to grow tall and strong, then we sang one of our other good morning songs, heard the story from Tuesday yet with a greater emphasis on needing all our friends, and snack. From there we had a great deal of play.

Jake and Archer needed to go to the bathroom so I took them. On the way we went through the “Snake Forest” as Archer called it and Jake, with his keen eyes, found treasures on the ground. After using the bathroom some friends of mine were coming back from a walk and we got to pet one of their very cut dogs. Archer in particular LOVED petting this dog and with such gentleness and sweetness. At first Jake was scared but then, after watching Archer, I think, came down next to me and petted this small dog.

When the three of us came back we found the rest sitting really quietly watching a Raven up in the tree! We joined that game too and sat ever, ever so still.
There were some rousing chase games and then it was time to head off. We made our way towards the lake on the other side of the parking lot. Ruby, Kai, Kuba and Isabella knew where this was yet of course, it was so very different from last year.

It was beautiful to see them opening up more to others in the group and by the days end they were all playing SOOO sweetly by the waters edge. The stick play had turned into appropriate peaceful play. Sklyar and Eddie were quietly playing on some rocks next to the water with a big stick watching how the water splashed when the stick hit the water and laughing and laughing at this. Jake, Archer and I saw the concentric rings that they were being made by their sticks so we made some of our own and watched how they bumped into each other. Jake REALLY liked this. Earlier Archer was just having such a good time by himself quietly playing at the waters edge so very peacefully.
Kuba and Jesse were having fun throughout the day building a castle/fort or playing by the water. Isabella, Kai, Rubi, Jessie and by days end Skylar were all gathering “Seaweed” for their “food” in their game.

The children played in, near and around the water with total involvement. The Fisher Kings, Coopers Hawks, Crows and Ravens, to name a few birds, visited us along with little fish,dragon flies, gentle winds and warm sun.

It was really a great day towards developing greater group unity and so we will continue on with this. 🙂

Sept. 27, 2016
Waning Crescent Moon
Roy’s Redwoods

Jesse was home sick today and was missed, particularly by Ruby.
The new bus, Juniper Rose, was introduced and experienced. Not being able to play kick fighting while in the bus was a big miss, particularly for Archer and some other things were warmly welcomed! Ruby loved the name and the bus and over all it was joyfully received by everyone. They were actually quite quiet as we drove in this new friend of ours. The quieter ride I believe facilitates a bit more of this as well as the newness of it.
When we got to Roy’s there was the rushing out and enjoying this wonder filled place called Roy’s Redwoods. It is also easy now for them to get their back packs on their own because the packs fit so easily underneath their seats and there is LOT’S of room to not only get them but also not to have to bump into each other.

Once out of the bus they are learning where to put their back packs before circle time begins. From there we played chase and bouncing on the bouncy tree. There was great talk about how to be with sticks. However that was still not working out well so by the time, and when, Michelle came another circle was created around this with the grown up decision that the sticks would be put to rest for a time and not even little sticks would be picked up for now. Our hands would be free for gathering other things.

This was taken in yet not met well by Archer for sure and it took a bit to let go of playing with the beloved sticks. Even hard for Michelle and I to do yet, in the end, it worked out quite well. A slow integration when their skills get built up more will come. And now, back to circle time….

We gathered on our mats and they really love finding their symbols on their mats. And oh yes, before circle Trilly Trully, and Trippy Troopy went galavanting off for the children to find them. Jake finally found them sitting sweetly in a tree and brought them back to circle. There they shared a story that they had heard that I then told for them. It was a story, another story, about how the seasons came to be only this time it was a game between Grandmother South/Summer and Grandfather North/Winter. They hold a pebble behind their back while the other sings a song. While the other is singing they move the stone back and forth, back and forth between hands. When the song stops, the other guesses what hand the stone is in. If they guess right they take one of the 12 sticks ( for each month) that the other has and puts it in their pile. If Grandfather North wins a stick the days get colder. If Grandmother South wins the days get hotter. It turns out that they are both rather evenly matched so that this is why about half the year is warm and warmer and half the year is cold and colder. And that is why this story is told this time of year because….. 🙂 yes, you guessed, our days keep changing!!! Hot, cold, hot, cold, hot cold……………until we finally settle down into a season.

After story and snack we played a bit longer then off on our adventure we went. We took a different, longer way to get back to the place we went before through the woods, over logs, under tree branches and then, we found our place and remembered the houses we were building!!!

They found the Cathedral of Redwoods and there we had our lunch in a circle. Michelle told a story of how the lambs were born where she lives yesterday and I told some funny stories about my cat Sam. They loved them all and were involved in the stories.

Then it was time to settle down in this place, explore, revisit and play.
Kuba found “chalk” to make and he scrapped and scrapped a small piece of wood to make “chalk.” Eddie and SKylar took off most of their clothes because it was so hot and they LOVED this. Eddie decided to get dressed again a bit later. Kai came a bit fiery about a lot of things on this day yet still had a great deal of fun with Isabella. Isabella was quiet and was happy to play with Ruby since Ruby did not have her close friend Jesse with her. Archer’s day started a bit hard as he REALLY wanted to play with sticks yet it was clear he does not, at this point, have the skills to notice who is around. After awhile though he settled in to other things that one can do without sticks and had a grand day! And Jake, he seems so happy to be running around outdoors that at times he is tripping tripping, yet all with a smile because he loves it so.

It is clear that everyone is still in a time of getting to know one another and staying close to those children they know the best. And with that, as we work to provide more opportunities for connections wth each other it was very nice when Ruby found a bay nut and wanted it cracked open because she went and asked Archer if he could do it for her. And, he was happy to try and figure this out!

After bouncy tree time with Michelle, building little houses with sticks, playing the game we learned from the story and poop and pee time in different groups, the day got hotter and hotter. Then they all wound up settling down and listening to Michelle tell a gentle version of: The Three little Pigs. They were very present with this tale and then, well we had to pack up and leave.

As far as we can tell your children are happy and deeply involved in their days at Tender Tracks. It is all new, even for the ones that were here last year and great growth and development comes about each time we are together. It is an exciting and precious time as we all build greater and greater unity and care one for the other.

Sept. 22, 2016
Waning Half/First Quarter Moon
Sorich Ranch

Today was the official Autumnal Equinox and the last day in the beloved 9 year old Ganesha bus. A memorial day! Michelle was away getting trained in advanced Wilderness First Aid and our dear friend Sukaynah came to join us. The children took to her kindness and warmth with grace and ease and we received a beautiful text message from Michelle to send us off on our day with more love in our hearts.

I chose this place instead of back to Roy’s because the week has been cold and I want us to soak up as much warm Sun rays as possible before the true cold days arrive. And, Sorich is the perfect place for that as it has just that, LOT’S of warm, warm Sun that warmed us deeply up.

At Sorich the big climbing rock was there to great us and they all clambered up to explore and adventure on. Some guidelines of how to be on it were made for some and others just needed assistance on how to get up. There were many pathways to figure out which way one truly wanted to get up that fit their physical needs and that was a grand process to be a part of with all of them.

After explorations we settled in to circle and snack. By 10 am someone always seems to say, “When are we going to have snack? I’m hungry!” So then we know that they are ready. Our circle was longer then usual as our snack was granola and almond milk and then at the end of the story, which was long, Pomegranite seeds. The story was a child version of Persephone and Demeter, the ancient Greek myth of why we have 6 months of fall and winter and 6 months of Spring and Summer. I also used it to emphasize how to listen to the grown up ( in the stories case, the mother) and stay with friends while wandering as well as to always stay close to the group. Half of the children are enjoying running freely. I don’t blame them AND, at Tender Tracks we need to learn how to stay together and communicate. They are doing a good job of this too by the way. Repetition, with rooted loving kindness however, IS the name of the game! 🙂

After circle they brought all their snack dishes to the designated spot and off they went to play some more. Jessie became “The most Powerful Dragon!” and Ruby was “the Most Powerful Fairy Princess!” They, Kuba and Archer and maybe by the end of the game the rest of them all joined in our game of Coyote chasing Rabbit and eating it. Well, I was Rabbit and they all had fun eating me. We ran and ran and that was what was needed and then, it was time to leave our warm coats and sweaters on the bus making our packs lighter and find our way on a new adventure; up and around a big meadow hill to the hill with some swings that are always there in one configuration or another. On our way we came across a fig tree that was not ripe. Kai found one ripe fig and showed us, by eating it, that it was just GREAT! Then we found a magick arch way to go through with our wishes and some old berry bushes that they REALLY wanted some ripe berries on but alas, not to be so.

The children climbed and climbed and had to figure out how to slide down a bit of a hill, which they did and then up and up and up until: WE MADE IT!!! Phew, drinking water straight away and then discovering the area and how the swings work. There was some figuring out of how to share the swings and off they went. The rest of the day was filled with swinging, finding bouncy trees, rocks that work as knives, buckeyes that can fall from the trees,eating together, finding places to poop and more.

Jessie and Ruby created a “Celebration” place. They were SOO sweet as they figured out how they wanted to invite Skylar and Eddie. Jessie was shy to do so. Ruby took him gently and said “You invite Eddie and I will invite Skylar. And so they did. Skylar REALLY wanted to go but Eddie was immersed in digging with the shovel that I had open from the poop kit. It was good to see that Skylar, after thought, decided to go to the “celebration” without Eddie and Eddie decided to stay and play with the shovel that she was really enjoying digging with. Kai and Isabella found a GREAT old Buckeye tree that they had so much fun playing in. Archer was in HEAVEN swinging, swinging, swinging, swinging round and round and round with this one particular swing that had rings that you hold on to and twirl around with. Jake and I had so much fun exploring the forest and Kuba was on the swing playing with me Sukaynah and the other children and actually so was Archer and Jake. These are just small highlights that I am sharing.

I had shaken the Buckeye tree for some Buckeyes to come down and Jessie, Ruby and Archer took them and went to this fun place between some large rocks where they were cutting them up with some sharp edged stones. The learned that these were the first knives that people used. The other children joined as well.

There were many games going on and then it was time to figure out how to get down and back to the bus. This took a lot of physical balancing with the inner muscles of everyones body and they all figured out how to do it without falling down on this steep and slippy hill. Jessie, Archer and Jake were up ahead and I kept giving them land marks to run to and then wait for me to get there. And, they did! When we all got back in the bus we sang songs, offered by Ruby and Archer to Ganesha bus and good words to give to the new owner. “Tell him that we love the bus!” was the gist of their loving words.