There's a private farm not far from home that's a popular spot to take kids. Incredibly, I've never been there. Today one of my Las Madres group had a tour planned, and I decided to join. It'd have been smart if I'd looked back on emails and noticed that we were supposed to sign up. Or, even smarter to notice in email this morning that one family of 4 was sick and was bailing. Two stupids made a smart, and it worked out.
Gabriel's been to Hidden Villa before and was disparaging about going, but Katrina wanted to see the "aminulls," so I insisted he join us. Not much choice anyway; I really wanted to get them all out of the house once today.
In the Hidden Villa parking lot, where I discovered that my camera's battery was low, so I had to be conservative about photos.
This was GREAT! We had such a great time! The tour guide was an enthusiastic knowledgeable young woman who was great at talking with kids. Two of my mom friends had been there before, and they agreed it was much much different -- and much much better -- with a knowledgeable guide.
First, we went into the sheep and goat field. I was delighted -- thrilled to see Gabriel not only relax, but get really into it. Katrina and Julian were afraid of the friendly goats, but liked seeing a chicken coop inside the field. Gabriel had a great time, answering questions the guide asked, and asking his own questions. He's not a show-off kid, but he did seem to enjoy being the high-ranking kid there; his age (he was the only grade-schooler) and experience (from having been there once) showed.
Katrina was nervous about the goats at first, but liked the mellow sheep better. I almost had her touching one sheep, when the sheep squatted and took a big pee right in front of her. This proved to be a very significant moment later.
Next, we walked to a chicken field. The guide talked to us about the chickens and how to feed them, and gave the kids handfuls of feed to throw to the chickens. Gabriel was the only one brave (well, old) enough to take her suggestion of putting the feed on your shoes and letting the chickens eat it off your feet.
About now, an amazing thing happened. Julian kicked into student mode, and became quite serious about this visit. He asked many questions, and ran ahead to stay with the guide, almost puppy-dogging her to ask questions and listen to what she said. He got so really, really into it -- so much so that he hardly even smiled until lunchtime. I was fascinated and proud to see how studious and inquisitive he was. Gabriel too -- both boys stayed up front and asked a lot of questions, though Gabriel's were more pointed and directed. Julian just wanted the information flow to continue; Gabriel had to know about specifics, like a solar panel in the garden. This tour was for a group of Katrina's peers, but I was so so happy about not only how well-behaved my older boys were, but enthusiastic and involved.
After the chickens, we went on to see some pigs. Katrina again witnessed a pig taking a leak in its designated spot (pigs really are clean animals), and this again made a big impression on her.
Then the farm's organic vegetable and herb garden. The guide talked about the 6 parts of plants that we can eat, and picked samples for the kids to try. Julian was really in his element here, and tried everything.
A tunnel to get out of the garden.
Though my camera battery forbade taking too many pictures, thank goodness Sonia was there with hers!
After the wonderful tour, we had lunch at a picnic area. By now, it was past 1pm and I was worried about Katrina. She hadn't "gone" since we left the house, before 10:30am. I knew she must have to go, and I'd already tried to get her to use a toilet at the farm. Absolutely, no way, not.
When it was really time to leave, I packed the boys into the car and tried one more time to get Katrina to go. Lucky me, I hit upon a bathroom that happened to also have a shower in it. I stripped her from the waist down and tried to get her to pee in the shower...she thought about it, but, no. I washed her hands, hoping the water would inspire her. It didn't exactly, but she stopped screaming NO when I suggested going pee in the grass. So I carried her bare-butted out of the bathroom and found a spot behind a building where I could set her down barefoot comfortably. I talked to her, and incredibly, she agreed to go standing up. "Look mommy! I went pee in the grass like the sheep!"
This is the first she's gone outside our home or Tonya's home, a huge breakthrough. She was very proud of herself, smiling widely and saying again and again, "I went pee in the grass like the pig!"
All three kids had a really great time. Julian couldn't stop talking about it: "I really love Sue!" (the guide) and kept telling me about the questions he asked, and one he "got right" (guessed and was confirmed by the guide). It gave me a little insight into how he'll be as a student someday. He has a serious putzy side, but when he's interested in something, he gets consumed and you can practically see his mind opening and casting a net for any and all information. So different from his brother's laserlike focus, but almost as intense. Mostly, they all had so much fun. And so did I!