Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Witch Mom's Tips to Traveling With a Toddler

As a new mom, I turned to many people and websites before this trip for traveling tips. I was unsure what the airlines were going to do, what gear I would actually need, and how my child would react to the new places and people we were going to encounter. I encountered contradicting advice in so many places, that I often had to guess what would work best. Some of my guesses were right on (after all, who knows Rowan better than his parents?), some I was wrong about. While my tips may not work for everyone, I wanted to share what I learned on this trip!

Air Travel:
1. Buy an extra seat if at all possible for your child (even if they are under 2), rather than assuming that only the adults will have seats and the child will be on a lap. While a newborn would do fine in a Moby wrap for the flight's duration, a toddler would be a melty screamy mess that way.

Find out in advance if the plane has two or three seats in your row. Our first flight was optimal for a family of three- three seats, so we could sandwich Rowan between the two of us. The second leg was not too great- two to a side, so one of us was out of his sight, causing him distress. He did not like that. Even if you cannot control the seating with your choices, you can prepare mentally and strategically for what is ahead.

2. Do not bring the carseat onboard- gatecheck it. Many people swear by bringing the carseat on board and strapping the kid in it for the duration. That would not work for us, at least on this trip- here is why: We were not only flying to our destination, but doing two quite long car trips after. Rowan dislikes long jaunts in the carseat anyway- this would have created instant meltdowns by the second leg of the trip. Additionally, the seats on an airline are so crowded anyway- and carseats are so bulky. Maybe if we were smaller people that would be OK, but I want as much space as possible. So the 3 in 1 harness worked so much better for us.

I hate the carseat!
3. Bring a non-stop cavalcade of healthy snacks and new small toys. The airlines have a ridiculous 3 oz. limit on liquids (which limit many brands of squeezer snacks- the only one I could find at 3 oz or under was Ella's Organic Kitchen. The were labeled by their colors: "The Red One", etc.). But they do not have a similar limit on solids. So we bulked up on organic yogurt drops, Trader Joe's fruityflakes, Cheerios, and of course, Goldfish Crackers. (Goldfish are Rowan's favorite, and he will do anything for them.)

4. Bring a 3 in 1 harness that folds up (link above and below). This was a great investment which we will use and keep in the diaper bag from now on. It is a small package when folded up, but flips out of its carrying case to create a harness for seated children. You can attach it to a big person chair, a high chair or shopping cart with no restraint belt, or even your own lap.

5. Make friends with your seat neighbors from the start. On the first flight, we allowed Rowan to charm his neighbors as early as the gate, while we were waiting to board. You can suss out who likes cute kids and who is a curmudgeon pretty early on, even before you are on board. You can determine who has kids themselves and is likely to be sympathetic if your kid melts down. While you cannot control who surrounds your seats, you can control which direction your kid focuses hir attention on. We sat behind two mean young women who scowled at Rowan from the beginning (even before he banged on the tray attached to one of their seats- ha!)- but behind us was a kid loving lady who made silly faces and played peek-a-boo. Guess which way we allowed him to face when he needed to stretch his legs?

Bedtimes went out the window!
6. Plan your trip for as few layovers as possible, or at least strategic layovers. Red eye flights can be the parents' friend. Of our options, we chose a outgoing flight with only one layover, which occurred at dinnertime. We ate dinner during our stay at the airport, then shipped out and hoped he would fall asleep during the second leg. Our trip home was boarding right around bedtime and was a red-eye- deliberately.

7. Find out in advance whether the airline you are using allows families with small children to board early. Ask for special boarding at the gate if you aren't sure. Most will allow that. Don't feel bad about asking for it- it is actually better for all passengers that anyone who needs extra time goes first, to keep logjams in the aisles from happening.

Car Travel:
1. Bring your own carseat, don't get one from the rental companies. Even though it is tempting not to have to schlep a big thing like that in addition to all the other stuff- don't skimp. Make sure the seat is packed in a well-padded bag so the cargo people don't damage it in transit. I considered renting a carseat from the car rental company- for about 10 minutes. When I asked the car rental folks what the carseats were, they could not tell me what make, model or year of manufacture. They would not guarantee that they had never been in an accident. Not a good sign, frankly.

2. Snack cups, sippies, bottles, and small toys on tethers. Rowan chucks his items, then has remorse. Not always can mama or papa reach it in a moving vehicle. The tethers like this one allow him to keep his items.

3. Travel at night if possible (So a toddler can sleep away the travel), or break up the trip for small trips of 3-4 hours with hours off driving in between. Map a course that takes longer, but makes daytime travel bearable to short attention spans.

4. You may need to be backseat company for your child. Sometimes, it is unreasonable to have both adults in the front seat and have a rear-facing toddler alone in the back. Plan to spend time back there.

5. Music is your friend. Remember to bring your kids faves on an iPod or CDs. It soothes the savage toddler!

We brought an umbrella stroller which was used mainly in the airport. It was gatechecked before we boarded. I found a great bag for just that purpose. The rest of the trip, it stayed in the rental car. But it was worth bringing it for the airport alone.

We brought a carseat, which was thankfully checked for free as baggage- it was not counted against our allowance when we flew on an airline that charged per bag it did not count as something to pay for.

We brought a 3 in 1 harness (we used this on the plane and on a booster at Nanny's house in lieu of a highchair), which straps to a seat or a person's lap to keep a child restrained.

We brought a walking harness and leash, which is great when your toddler needs to get their ya-yas out and is tired of the stroller, but you need a little more control- like in a crowd.

We brought an Ergo baby carrier, which we used when Rowan was too tired to walk on a hike, but a stroller would not have worked on the terrain.

We also brought a few of his favorite toys. Since we were visiting grandparents on the second leg of the trip, we knew there would be gifts. So just a few to get us through worked. These were in addition to small toys for the airplane (which he had never seen before). When he gets older, I plan on getting him one of these.

Boopy in his tent
We brought the Booper Tent, which we are working on getting him used to for trips, overnights and camping. While he never slept in it, it folds so small that I fit it in a suitcase. I hope that he'll get so used to it and seek refuge in it later. It was worth bringing it, even though he only played in it.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Nanny and Rowan
The original and main purpose of our trip was for Rowan to spend time with his grandparents. The rest of our travels were all about that.

So after a few days in Georgia, we headed to Nanny and Pap Pap's in Appalachia. The trip was long, and even though we were hoping that Rowan would sleep in his car seat most of the way- that was wishful thinking. He slept off and on, but it was a long drive, and he would wake from time to time, realize he was still in the carseat, and cry. Poor Booper.

We finally arrived at 6 AM and my partner's parents were up waiting for us. (How sweet!) Rowan was happy to be out of the car, and happier still to see a couple of dogs! Oscar and Felix the Jack Russell Terriers were a constant source of joy and amusement while playing at the house.

Rowan in an antique high chair
that has seen many generations
of his family.
We also visited relatives in the small town my partner grew up in as well as Columbus (which is several hours away). Rowan was a trooper meeting so many new people. He got a ride in Nana's wheelchair, ate lots of great farm fresh food, played "fetch my sippy cup" with his teenage cousin, and played with his 2 year old cousin and her tiny dog.

Rowan's grandparents were so amazing with him- he really loved them right away and he played and cuddled with them from the start. It was really heartwarming to watch them form such a quick bond with him. It made me realize we need to take this trip more often- for both Nanny and Pap Pap's and Rowan's sakes.

My one regret was that the trip was too short and we didn't have a chance to experience a lot of the natural world while there. I would love to take Rowan back there in better weather and teach him to fish and wildcraft. Next time!

Two guys with capes
It was neat to see the place my partner comes from- and see him interact with his family on their turf. Lots of childhood items were brought out- like his baseball glove from his pee wee days- they gave it to Rowan.

Another strange thing that was dragged out was a cape- Rowan was wearing his Scarlet Scourge cape, and Nanny remembered O'bee had a cape upstairs in his room, too. So we had fun snapping pix of two generations and their capes!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March Moon Madness!

The living room in the cabin.
After we left Atlanta, the Kunnings went to northern Georgia to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with our Witchy friends. There were about 15 of us in this fabulous cabin, and we relaxed and had two rituals while we were there, too. (It was Oestara and the full moon.)

Rowan was grateful to have full run of the place- in Atlanta he was jockeying between car seat and stroller a lot- so to get out and be able to run around non-stop for a weekend was precious. Everyone was really great with him, although he was the only kid there.

The gorgeous porch with rockers.
He didn't want to sleep- ever. Naps and bedtimes melted into tantrums at those times, even though he was really tired. Rowan is not affected by noise- but he is by energy. And having that many Witches in one place and that much woo being thrown around took its toll. He eventually got to sleep, but much later than he should have! (This issue was corrected in the next phase of our trip, to Nanny and Pap Pap's in Ohio.)

At one point during the weekend, we took him on a wildcrafting hike- first in his lion harness, then when he dilly dallied and stumbled too much, on mama's back in the Ergo. It was there he surrendered to blessed sleep, finally! 

Mama was late to the ritual because she had to be with Rowan, who would not fall asleep (which would have allowed non-participating others to keep an eye on him). But because his separation anxiety was running high in this unfamiliar place among unfamiliar people, I could not leave him with others while he was awake.

One of the myriad animals in the lodge.
So I made due playing with my boy while the others gathered high on a hill to meet a goddess. I figured that I was left out this time. But a couple of hours later, my partner came into the lodge and told me to go up the hill, that I was being summoned. He took over Rowan duty (the stinker was still awake when I got back!) and I climbed up the hill in darkness, the trail illuminated by the full moon and small votives placed at the edges of the trail. I met her, veiled in the moonlight and she told me that I "was not forgotten". Being in Her presence was awesome in the original sense of the word and I found myself weeping and answering Her questions.

All weekend, I was watching Rowan intently- to see how he did with unfamilar people, setting, and routine. Despite the adults being inconvenienced by his refusal to sleep as much as he should- he was a trooper. He played, explored, and asked what all the new things and people were called. He charmed everyone, ate new foods, and was generally a happy baby.

At the end of our weekend, we were dropped off at the Atlanta airport, rented a car, and started our loooong drive to southeastern Ohio.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Axis Mundi's temple.
Witch Mom and her family are in Atlanta and have been for the last two days. We having been staying with Craft kin. Axis Mundi is a traditional Craft (Alexandrian) coven. They welcomed us to their covenstead and we have been enjoying their wonderful hospitality and conversation. Thanks to C. for picking us up at the airport at such a god-awful hour and driving us around Atlanta as well!

Yesterday was our full day in the city proper, and we had fun, southern Witchy style! After meeting some of our Faery kin for lunch (Ethiopian- yum!), we headed to Miller's Rexall for some southern conjure. Used to be (back in the day), many hoodoo folks bought up cheap franchises in order to get the business licenses to open up shop. One of the common ones were drug stores. You could get aspirin, bandages, and money-drawing floor wash all in one place. Miller's Rexall is the last of its kind.

You can buy online, over the phone,
or by mail order!
If you want to order some genuine southern conjure for yourself, Miller's Rexall does that. They have a paper catalogue that they handed me in the store (and can mail out to you)- but they also have a website. (That link is the drug store site, here is the hoodoo site.) If you call at a good time, Miss Bev can assist you over the phone. Unlike many establishments, she will walk you through the process if you have no experience with conjure. She also makes really great mojo hands and other items. I got one myself after holding it and feeling what it had to offer.

I heard a lot about Miss Bev before arriving at the shop (who is the resident root worker there), and she did not disappoint. When you walk in, she can read you like a book, I tell you. She often gives strongly worded advice and points out things you need to work on (even before you ask!). I watched her with several of our cohort, and it was astounding how well she can read people she does not know.

Afterwards, we toured a bit of the city, stopping in Little Five Points (Rowan had fun watching the skateboarders there while we had iced mochas) before heading to a delightful southern-style meal at Mary Mac's Tea Room. On the table, were unsweetened and sweet tea in pitchers and the server offered us some pot likker and cornbread while we waited for our food. It was salty goodness that Rowan loved.

I made the mistake of ordering too much food and had a huge pile to take home with me (fried seafood- mudbugs, shrimp, oysters, and a whole trout for crying out loud!). I had no idea a sampler would be that huge! After parting ways, we headed back to Axis Mundi house, and had delightful conversations and libations with a few of the coven (after putting Rowan to bed, poor thing was exhausted!).

Today, we head to a fantastic cabin in the woods north of here by a river. We are having a retreat where we will have ritual for the esbat (full moon) and the sabbat (Oestara) both. I'll be sure and get pictures!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Kunnings Are Hitting The Road!

Oestara by Helena Nelson Reed
This month, our family is spending a lot of time traveling. We leave the Bay Area mid-month and fly to Georgia for some Witchy gathering goodness. We'll celebrate the full moon and Oestara among Craft kin and I am really looking forward to it.

After a long weekend in Georgia, we are driving to Ohio, where my partner's parents live. Nanny and Pap Pap want more time with their grandson (they came out to visit before he could crawl) and who can blame them? The kid is awfully cute. We will be seeing all kinds of relatives while we are there for a few more days and then we drive to Indiana.

Indiana is where my family of origin live, and they have yet to meet Rowan. I am looking forward to Rowan meeting his Grandma and Grandpa and Aunts for the first time. I wish my Grandma could be there, but she usually only flies out from Arizona for the family reunion in the summer and the winter holidays.

The Booper Tent.
We are wondering how Mister Boopy (yes, we actually call him that!) is going to do with all that traveling and lack of normal routine. I hope the fact that he has Roma blood helps living a life on the road! We have bought him a traveling tent to nap in, so he won't be in danger of rolling out of a bed.

Traveling with a baby is a new adventure for us, and we are trying to minimize the gear without shooting ourselves in the foot when we arrive at our destination. We are bringing a carseat, an umbrella stroller, his tent, a harness that straps him into a seat or onto a lap, a harness and leash for when he is wandering on foot, and a small portable high chair that straps to a table. This in addition of course to snacks, diapers, bottles, sippies, a few choice toys, etc etc. Whew! I am glad that we have a third seat for him on each flight- to make room for him as well as all his stuff. We will need that extra baggage allowance, fer crying out loud!

Wish us luck, and if you are so inclined, post in the comments your best tips for traveling with toddlers.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Pagan Newswire Collective, Bay Area

One of my newest projects is running the Bay Area bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective. What is this PNC project all about?
The Pagan Newswire Collective is an open collective of Pagan journalists, newsmakers, media liaisons, and writers who are interested in sharing and promoting primary-source reporting from within our interconnected communities.
Why should we ("pagans") do this work? Because if we do not start writing about us, we leave that job to outsiders, who have their own biases and agendas. Because it is time for us to control our own destinies and shape how the world sees us- so they can see a more accurate picture of what it means to be pagan, a Witch, a druid, or a heathen (among other traditions).

It's also about coming-of-age as a community and a religious movement. What we do is newsworthy- just as newsworthy as any other religious tradition.

I, for one, am sick of news coverage that sensationalizes us, dismisses us as crazy or eccentric, or misrepresents our beliefs. That is why I do this work.

If you live in the Bay Area and want to get involved, please email me. If you live in another area and want to volunteer for the PNC (we are a collectively run, all-volunteer effort), contact the national organization to start a bureau or contact a local bureau.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The March of Kindness

March of KindnessOne of my fellow bloggers, Code Name: Mama has declared this month to be The March of Kindness. She has said:
Who couldn’t use more kindness in their life? I know I could! But sometimes what’s even better is to spread some of that kindness to others. I missed the official “Random Acts of Kindness” week but that doesn’t matter, because I’m going to fill a whole month with kindness, and I want you to join me!

It’s easy (and free) to participate: for each day in the month of March, you perform one random act of kindness. Your act of kindness can be big or small, it can be anonymous or public, you can spend money or you can give freely of your time or creativity. Give kindness to your child, your partner, your neighbor, your friend, a stranger, a clerk, a blogger, a bus driver, a parent. One little act, every day.

It can be as simple as picking up the phone and telling your mom you miss her. Or holding the door for someone at the grocery store. You can send an anonymous note to your church pianist, letting her know how much you appreciate her music. You can leave an encouraging comment on a new blogger’s post.

You don’t need to plan or fuss or worry or look for the “perfect” things to do. Just be kind! That’s it.

Of course I want to hear about it:
If you are a blogger, will you please blog about the March of Kindness? I’d love for you to post about it in the next few days so we can have even more people join us. But I’d also like you to post at the end of the month. Share your story about your own acts of kindness, how they touched other people, and how you were changed in the process.
So I have been engaged in this process so far this month. It is early, but I am seeing some themes that I am bewildered by and not so proud of. I find it easy to be kind to my son, other children, animals, and even strangers. I am finding it harder to be kind to people I am supposed to be close to and depend upon- like my partner. I think I get so wrapped up in the day-to-day and rely on him so much (and depending on others, anyway), that stepping out of my "next!" mindset and being deliberately intentionally kind is foreign to me. And that mindset needs to change.

I thank my fellow blogger for helping me find this out about myself. I will work on this during the month and report back at the end of the month as well. I urge others to join in this project- it has been illuminating for me thus far!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Top 10 Reasons to Co-Sleep

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Co-sleeping at naptime with daddy
I was asked to make a top 10 list of anything about natural parenting, and co-sleeping was the topic that pulled on my heartstrings. It is the bread-and-butter of natural, attachment parenting (right after breastfeeding) if you ask me. As someone who did not make enough breastmilk to sustain my son (and then had my supply dwindle too early), I take solace in the fact that Rowan has co-slept since he came home with us. It has made him securely attached, in my opinion.

There are myriad benefits to co-sleeping: some practical, some reinforcing the bonds of parent and child, and others just plain selfish:

1. More sleep. When your baby wakes up in the middle of the night, wouldn't you rather roll over, tend to her/him, and after a few minutes of nursing or soothing, have them (and you) back asleep? Or would you rather not hear the baby til it has been crying for a minute or so, get out of bed in a dream-filled stupor, possibly trip over something, check on a baby in another bed or room (a baby that does not want to be alone in the first place so needs picking up and cuddling and reassurance of your presence), who has by now cried enough that they are full-blown awake. I am a sleep glutton, so I know what my answer is!

2. I see and smell my child as my first sensory experience of the day. I wake to the smell of his hair, which smells like a combination of cedar and strawberries for some reason. What a delicious way to wake up!

Rowan always slept better with one of us.
3. It's easier to nurse at night when your baby does not yet sleep through the night when they are right next to you. Wear a loose top (or no top at all) and voila!

4. My son is more adventurous, confident, and secure- because he knows I am there for him, even when he is unconscious. I attribute his gregariousness to getting his needs met when he "asks" (meaning cries, points and says "eh?", or snuggles up to me in the dark).

5. He curls into mama's spoon like a little cashew nut baby in the night. He is probably the best cuddler and snuggler I have ever known. (Bonus- during the day, he gives the most awesome hugs!)

6. My son wakes up cheerful and squealing, which is more than I can say for me. It's hard to be cranky when you see a beaming toddler, laughing and saying mama, ready to play with you.

7. I sleep better when I sleep with Rowan. I don't know what primal forces are at work, but when I am not sleeping with Rowan (My partner and I started taking turns- one night on, one night off to ensure both of us get a decent night's sleep and dreams. We assumed the person whose night off it was would get a better night's sleep, but both of us have found that is not exactly true. On a regular night when he is not sick or teething, the person in bed with Rowan seems to relax more fully and gets a better night's sleep. The person in the next room tends to toss and turn and have a restless sleep. We think it is nature's way of telling us where we should be!)

Rowan, age 3 months.
8. The bed is not a bad place. I have babysat for so many kids who think of their bed as a punishment, exile, or the last place that they want to be. "Go to your room!" should never be a punishment in my eyes. After showers, we have nakkie time on the bed. We dress him and change him there. It is a regular fixture- one that means family time, not exile from the family.

9. Less "stuff". Being a parent means lots more baby gear invading your space. If you are an urban apartment dweller like me, that can take its toll. But co-sleeping means less furniture crowding your space, along with all the other benefits!

10. That is what he told me he prefers. I listen to my son and try and meet his needs. He prefers to sleep with us- he has made that quite plain.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Navigium Isis

Today, the 5th of March, is the ancient Egyptian festival of "Navigium Isis"- a fete honoring the goddess Isis, also known as"She of Ten Thousand Names"

From Wikipedia:
The goddess Isis (the mother of Horus) was the first daughter of Geb, god of the Earth, and Nut, the goddess of the Overarching Sky, and was born on the fourth intercalary day. At some time Isis and Hathor had the same headdress. In later myths about Isis, she had a brother, Osiris, who became her husband, and she then was said to have conceived Horus. Isis was instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris when he was murdered by Set. Her magical skills restored his body to life after she gathered the body parts that had been strewn about the earth by Set.[2] This myth became very important in later Egyptian religious beliefs.

Isis is also known as protector of the dead and goddess of children from whom all beginnings arose. In later times, the Ancient Egyptians believed that the Nile River flooded every year because of her tears of sorrow for her dead husband, Osiris. This occurrence of his death and rebirth was relived each year through rituals. The worship of Isis eventually spread throughout the Greco-Roman world, continuing until the suppression of paganism[3] in the Christian era.
Isis, while an Egyptian goddess, is revered by many modern neo-pagans as well. She is the Goddess of many things, including Magic, life, rebirth and death, and is considered by many to be the absolute ultimate in goddesses, (she is referred to as "The Mother of All Goddesses"). She served her people as a midwife and physician, teacher and friend.

Her awesome powers, which included the resurrection of her husband (and the subsequent invention of the dildo, a former teacher of mine never fails to point out), were recognized in the titles of "The Giver of Life" and "Goddess of Magic".  She is known both as a creator and a destroyer, as most powerful Goddesses are. 

Unlike gods and goddesses that come later (who are distanced from humanity) in history, the goddess Isis is an older Goddess, one that spent time among her people, teaching women how to grind corn and make bread, spin flax and weave cloth, and how to "tame men enough to live with them".

In a move that would be repeated over and over in history in multiple cultures, Isis, who is a moon goddess, gave birth to Horus, the god of the sun. Together, Isis and Horus created and sustained all life and were the saviors of their people. This is a familiar tale not only in polytheistic religions, but also is foreshadowing of the patriarchal, monotheistic religions that came after them.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Witch Mom is busy!

These days, I am keeping myself pretty busy. So busy, that sometimes I get a little overwhelmed. I am in school of course, and going 3/4 time with two classes. My classes this semester are fascinating: "The Jewish Liturgical Year in Diaspora" and "The Sacred and the Substance".

For my final papers/presentation in the Jewish class, I am presenting a "Jewitch" ritual, including a seder. While I am not of Jewish ancestry (that I know of), I know many many folks who identify as both Jews and Witches and will be presenting my theological ideas to them before presenting the final product to class. In the Sacred and the Substance, I will be writing a paper on the use of substances in modern witchcraft- from entheogens and flying ointments to herbs for oracular divination. You know, ordinary master's degree topics?!

My son is getting huge and he keeps me busy (I had to pause just then for a toddler dance and cuddle break). He is walking (or should I say running), starting to communicate with us in earnest, and understands simple commands like "bring the keys to mommy". I am astounded at his progress. He is tall for his age and walked early, so many people assume he is older than he is. This is fine until he tries to poke their kids eye out or slap them on the top of the head (we are working on the concept of "gentle"- especially when he is excited). He goes to Pagan Playdate a couple times a month (I host one a month, and his daddy takes him to another). He also sees his best pal, Esme, several times a month (travel and such has kept it from being  weekly lately). We got him a membership to the zoo for his birthday, and we have taken him there several times since. He still loves all animals.

I started several new projects: I am the Bureau Coordinator for Pagan Newswire Collective in the Bay Area. This means I recruit volunteers, edit the content submitted, assign stories, facilitate meetings, keep the project going, as well as write stories myself. I have written two stories so far (we started the project in January). Both are on pagan parenting- this time at PantheaCon.

I have also started a "completely for me" project: I am studying to be a wildlife rehabilitator and get certified! I plan on working with corvids mainly when I am finished. The place I am apprenticing to gets mostly birds (lucky me!) but also some mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. They have a museum attached to the hospital and have several animals that are educational because they cannot be released for one reason or another. Their collection includes many owls (ooh!), a raven (yay!), and even a bald eagle and coyote. I go every Saturday for a while to learn, then I will volunteer regularly in the hospital.

Wheel of Fortune, by Watts
I have been volunteering at the local UU in the kids department. I start out each Sunday in the nursery (where Rowan plays), then go up to be with Club UU (4th-6th graders), then I go to worship myself. It's been great working with kids again, and it has made me consider doing it professionally again.

I continue with my Witchcraft studies and am working with my teacher toward initiation. She often gives me work to do independently, and I also have pet projects in this regard: this year I intend on honing my divination and oracular skills.

I am going to create my own runes (finally!) and re-do a project I did oh-so-log-ago: color my own deck of BOTA tarot cards. Both projects help because you spend a week or so with each card/rune- learning its meanings, meditating on it, and finally coloring or etching it. I will also be working with my mask and other tools to help me be a good, skilled oracle.