Recommended Enrichment Reading: Look What I Did With A Leaf, by Morteza E. Sohi, give the imagination a tickle in an unexpected way. Put this in your hat for your Wednesday Warriors and watch the magic appear.



Recommended Quilting Project: Spirit of the Northwoods . You will have endless fun with 12 unique applique blocks that bring the Northwest to life and 18 wilderness kids quilts. This beautifully illustrated 208 page book will inspire many a hikes in the woods looking for the woodland creatures. Return home to warm up with sewing these projects and save your woodland memories!

Celebration: Wednesday Warriors

By Kym Croft Miller

Every Wednesday we do something kind of wacky. The origin of this wackiness was my desire to do something that my kids would really enjoy but which would also be stimulating for me. I had to think for a while about what really jazzes me and I realized that spontaneity and learning are biggies. Also I had just read an article advising us to spend half the money and twice the time with our kids. So armed with this realization and advice, I began a discussion with my three children (2, 5 and 8 years old) about what we could do. The result was Wednesday Warriors. (I accepted this name despite the negative war connotations and have since found so many positive connections with the word Warrior such as the warrior pose in yoga, which summons energy and vitality).

The idea is simple. We have two hats, one marked "Sunny Day" and the other "Rainy Day." (Here in Portland you can imagine which one gets used more often!) Each hat contains a lot of folded pieces of paper which each have an activity written on it. I told the children when we were coming up with these ideas one afternoon (which turned out to be a fun activity in itself) that I only had two rules: 1. It has to be relatively cheap, and 2. It has to be something we have never done together before, or at least in a place we've never done it. When my oldest child has returned from school, we all eat a snack, get our shoes on and someone (the chooser rotates) picks a piece of paper from the hat and we must go do that activity.

In the beginning, I was very tempted to cheat. I felt like I knew what would be a great idea for that day, and instead of drawing I would just find the activity in the hat and we would go do it. Or some days my children (mostly the oldest) would argue for just staying at home (after all she did miss the Pokemon show every Wednesday). However, I kept telling myself that this was not in the spirit of Wednesday Warriors. So I resisted cheating and a wonderful thing happened. The activity turned out to be more rewarding than the one any of us had in mind. This continued to happen and we have now coined this phenomenon with the phrase, "the hat knows best."

A few of the crazy things we've done include: amphibian finding (try looking under rocks); wildflower gathering (even early in spring); bowling; hiking; playing in the Rose Garden; exploring a new building, touring the Japanese Garden (where we decided to find 10 different species of animals for the reward of a milk shake); seeking out a new library; and riding the train. We continue to put new ideas in the hat as we discover them and it is amazing how many new activities present themselves.

Now don't get me wrong. There are moments where everyone is arguing or whining and I think, "Why don't I have them all in some class!" But those moments are fortunately few and far between and some of the moments are magical and surprising. Like when we were trying to find that tenth species in the Japanese Garden and my five-year-old looks at her reflection in the pond and says, "Hey do I count?"

Just the other day I told my husband that I wanted this tradition to go on forever and just keep doing more advanced activities, like trips to museums, long hikes, bike adventures, etc. "Forever?" My husband said, giving me a very supportive but skeptical look. "Hey, I said, "A mother can dream." Especially a Warrior Mother!

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