Peek in through our window
(Northern Marquette County, Upper Peninsula of MI, USA)
Holy Wah! What an inspiration to thoroughly clean the Playroom!
We live nestled among the hemlocks near the Yellow Dog River. We are so blessed to have, at our fingertips, the biggest, most creative and natural play space available to us right outside our door! However, there are those days (and nights) where it is nice to play indoors, so, we have created a space specifically for our children, Kiah, age 8 and Milo, age 4 ½. When we first moved into our built-by-hand timber frame home in 2001, we had separate spaces for play. A little space here, a little space there…wherever we could fit a play space. Another child growing big and a new home-based business later, we were quickly outgrowing our small timber frame house. We decided to add an 8 x 16 foot addition to the West…the West wing. In creating a shop/office space downstairs for creating all of our handmade, natural playthings, we were also able to create a unique space upstairs too.
The room upstairs is different from the rest of the house. Its walls, ceiling, and floor are all shiplap pine boards, creating a warm, natural feel to the space. The room’s one window serves several purposes…to let in necessary light and fresh air. It also serves as a fire escape, as we have a ladder bolted to the side of the house for a quick escape if need be. If the window is left open a crack at night, we notice evidence of tiny visitors...we often will find treasures from the forest faeries left in the windowsill!
Inside this play space you will find laughing children, magical treasures, wooden furniture and natural toys. The furniture and toys in this room are either handmade by myself, Papa, or my children, bought (rarely) from a natural toy catalog, or given to us as a gift by relatives or friends.
In the photo above you will see a little kitchenette, stocked full with all the necessary ingredients for a healthy, pretend meal…wooden vegetables, bread, and fruits. For dessert, we have wooden cookies and tea bags. Next to the kitchenette, there is a small heirloom highchair (and cradle, not pictured) for the baby, passed on to us from Great Grandma. The babies and balls on top of the crate are either hand knit, felted or made from
recycled wool sweaters and stuffed with wool. We do have a water baby, who, alas, is plastic, but oh, great fun in the River! Inside the crate is a basket full of play silks (hand-dyed by me and my children) with play clips to make forts. There is also evidence of knights and pirates! On the floor, under the window is a basket with wooden swords, staffs, wands, and streamers made by Papa and the children. On the crate, you will see a treasure box crafted by Papa. When Milo and I decided to stop nursing at age four, we had a full moon party for him and part of the celebration included the treasure box full of booty! Next to the box you will find a basket full of beautiful shells and rocks from nature with a little journal to catch any thoughts on paper. Inside the purple crate lives a small train set, nicely stored in the wicker basket, along with a Milo and Papa made wooden boat and airplane.Above the window you will find silk prayer flags, hand-dyed by the children.
Oh, only if I could fit the entire room into this photo! On the East wall, there are wooden crates of books and puzzles. On top of the crates there is a cash register, equipped with a basket full of paper and pencils for making price tags and signs for the pretend store. Also on the East wall, there is an old chest, semi-full of blankets, dress-up clothes (hand-made by me and others)…i.e. Pirate’s garb, a Knight’s outfit, Faerie wings, a Princess wardrobe and some extra outfits for the baby.
The vision I have as a mother is to nurture my children, to give them the necessary tools for creative development. Open-ended and cooperative play indoors and out is essential. Even though we have all these beautiful wooden and natural toys to play with, I oftentimes find my children playing together with very simple items…a stick, a karate belt from the thrift store, or a cardboard box. As these simple items and other natural toys come and go, one thing remains constant…my children and their interactions with others remain strong, imaginative, and healthy. This base gives them reverence and respect for life and the environment among other things.