Name: Annie Riechmann
Children: Mariam, who is 7 and loves ice cream and caterpillars with equal measure
Online Home: Bird and Little Bird and contributing writer for The Magnifying Glass
Annie believes the best way to keep on top of posting regularly is to post about what you are most passionate about. As a result, inspiring child-centered reading, writing and art projects fill the pages of Bird and Little Bird. As do her family's findings and adventures of being in the great outdoors. Oh, and she enjoys cupcakes once in awhile too.
How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
I think that I have been blogging for about five years. In the beginning, I started out with a really bare bones craft blog that was really designed just for my mom to be able to check in about what I'd been making. It didn't take long, however, before my blog content expanded to include more about what was happening in our family life. In the last couple of years, I think it has become more of a place for me to just write about whatever happens to be on my mind. I feel pretty fortunate to have developed a core group of readers who are incredibly supportive and seem to be willing to read almost anything that I feel the need to ramble on about!
What are your favorite things to post on?
I think I post about cupcakes with surprising regularity. And walks in the woods. My blog also has a pretty big focus on children's literature and on collaborative parent-child projects that center around reading, writing and drawing. I have been a special education and literacy teacher for the last decade, so reading and writing with children is a big part of my life. I've done a number of tutorials on crafting handmade books with children, and I also host a children's handmade book exchange each season. The exchanges have been ridiculously fun, and it is great to see how many families have come back again and again to participate. This past spring, I launched Alphabet Glue, a book themed e-magazine for families (which ohdeedoh posted about here).
What's your favorite outdoor activity to do with your family?
We are very lucky to live in an area with a lot of wooded hiking trails that are well-maintained and perfect for walking with kids. There is also a large lake here, so beach time is big. There is one particular beach that is very good for collecting interesting stones, something my daughter loves to do. We also have a garden plot in a local community garden, where we garden during the summer months with another friend of ours. Honestly though, I think that our favorite "activity" is just to be outside without any activity in mind! Hanging out in the hammock is a new favorite, but backyard bug hunts, cautious tree climbing and running through the sprinkler are all pretty popular too. Vermont is a very outdoor-oriented place, and most of the families we know seem to spend a lot more time outside than they do in!
Why is doing crafts with your kids important?
So many reasons! I think a major one is that I don't consider myself to be an artist at all. I don't draw, paint or do anything else all that well, really. But I still think all these things are great fun, and I want my daughter to see me trying them (and enjoying them), despite the fact that my "work" isn't a perfect product. I feel like it is important for her to understand that the creative process has good things to offer us, even if the results aren't necessarily something that we want to save for future generations. I also think that the time we spend making things together is a natural time for easy conversations to take place about whatever we might be thinking about. It can be so hard to find this time in other spaces in our lives, so it feels really valuable to have that quiet time together! Plus, it is probably good for kids to see their grown-ups having a good time making a big mess.
How often do you post?
It really varies depending on what else is going on in our lives but I like to post about five times per week. Sometimes it's a little tricky to find inspiration and energy for posting regularly but summer vacation begins for us this week which makes it easier. I really do love the communication that it opens up between myself and the folks who read my blog.
Any tips on managing your time?
I think my biggest piece of advice for bloggers managing their time is to do things when you feel truly inspired to them. I find that if I'm lacking motivation to do something, it takes me much, much longer to get it done. I can write a much better blog post in much less time if I'm really excited to do it. Sometimes it just makes sense to put it off until I have that feeling.
Where do you go in the blogosphere for inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration in the posts from my fellow contributors at The Magnifying Glass, an online journal about exploring the outside world with our children. It is always so much fun to see the variety of projects they do with their children and all the different places they visit. I love that we all live somewhere different around the world, so the perspectives on the natural world are so variable!
(Images: Annie Riechmann)