Kate Farrell Photography

Williston, VT

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Welcome Spring at Pond Academy

Yesterday spring showed up in all it’s glory and I had so much fun capturing some spring photos. A few friends have recently asked how I balance educating four children, self-care and my business. I thought that a day-in-the-life home education and celebration of spring post would be a fun change of pace. I’ll be back next week with some photo tips.

Spring Visitors

Frequent readers will know that my family’s backyard pond grounds us and tells us when the seasons change. Yesterday, our spring visitors, the Canada Geese arrived. We picked up a dusting of fresh snow over night and woke to just a thin layer of ice covering the middle of the pond. Needless to say, I ran outside in my pajamas and boots to capture some spring photos!

Two Canada Geese swim on a pond in early spring. There is a little bit of snow on the shore and some ice in the foreground.
The ice is very thin!

Meanwhile, in the front yard, the crocuses were there to announce that we’ve made it through another Vermont winter. Yes, it will snow again. And, yes, spring is here. I love winter, but the darkness and the cold get to be tough, especially these past few years when life has felt so heavy. But, the cycle continues. The dormant period is ending. New life is coming. One of my favorite annual spring photos is of crocuses in the snow. I love the way an image like this holds the hope of spring with the understanding that the cycle continues.

A spring photo -- crocuses grow through last year's dead leaves which are covered by a light dusting of snow.
Crocuses in the snow!

Routines, not Schedules

I have structured our days so that I can do an indoor bike ride (go Zwift) followed Yoga (thank you to Yoga with Adriene) most mornings. While I ride my bike in the basement, I’m usually listening to an audiobook or podcast and the the kids have a checklist of independent activities. The daily kiddo checklist includes math practice (go STMath!), enriching play, literacy work and caring for our pets.

But, Mondays are meeting days so I don’t exercise and I try to get a bit more administrative work done. I had a couple of video meetings but yesterday the time between my meetings was spent outside!

When we first pulled the kids out of remote school and started homeschool, we did what many do: we tried to do school at home. I had an elaborate schedule planned out and there were tears before 9 am on Day 1. So, we pivoted to a more thematic approach. We don’t “cover” every subject everyday, but over time learn from each core subject area often in an integrated manner. I’ve found that following the kids’ curiosity while being attuned to nature and ourselves in a home shaped by two parents who are educators at heart, ensures that the kids are progressing as thinkers. We have helpful routines, but not a rigid schedule.

Most afternoons I spend an hour or more reading to my kids, but yesterday was just too warm and sunny for that. Over lunch we decided to spend the afternoon in the yard then head out for a walk later in the day. It was a day to embrace time in nature.

A Celebration of Spring

My oldest went for a trail run and the boys hopped on their bikes. Alas, I could not be in two places at once so I only have spring bike photos today. Seeing kids on their bikes again really drives home how much they grow over the winter! And, what a joy to see my boys cruising around again. (And, yes, for some hearty souls 51F is shorts and t-shirt weather!) I haven’t been outside on my bike yet this year, and I’m really looking forward to that.

Two young boys ride bikes in the spring.

I didn’t have my camera in hand when the second set of geese arrived and had a squawking match with the first. But, my youngest and I watched the whole thing. For years I taught about competition for mates and nesting sites in my biology classes. No lecture compares to seeing it play out in real life. By late afternoon, we were back to just one pair of geese on the pond and the last of the ice had melted — at least for today.

Two Canada Geese fly away.
One pair of Canada Geese leaving our pond for the day.

Evening Walks are one of our Favorite Routines

Evening walks have become a mainstay for us lately. Since the kids don’t have to be up early to get to school, we can, and do, take advantage of the longer spring evenings. We’ve had fun watching the local stream swell with meltwater and then settle as mud season has given way to spring. The kids are learning to identify local plants and Willow, the extroverted puppy among us, has introduced us to a host of new dogs and their people.

A family heads out for a spring walk at the park with their dog.

When we arrived at the park yesterday, my boys quickly found their favorite trees and I had fun capturing a few more spring photos.

And then we were off to the river to find (err… study) and skip rocks. In all seriousness, all together they showed me at least a dozen rocks they found with varied textures, colors and patterns. Someday we’ll add some vocabulary to our discussions about rocks, but today was just a day to gather observations. I worked at my computer for a few hours after dinner and there was a little reading before the kids went to bed.

I can’t say this was a typical day, but it was representative. We don’t have a set schedule so much as flexible routines that evolve as the seasons change, the kids grow and our collective needs shift. I get to spend my days surrounded by those I love the most doing work that fills me with joy. It’s not easy, but our days are filled with ease and love.

A boy shows his mother the rock he found.
A boy skips a rock in spring.

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Kate farrell photography

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Kate Farrell is a professional lifestyle family photographer based in Williston, Vermont, serving the greater Chittenden County area.