Saturday, January 31, 2009

Beyond Homemaking Daybook

Weather: Is it spring yet? We have been frozen for ages and I'm miserable- Superman and I actually had a somewhat serious conversation a few days ago about moving somewhere further south just to have warmer weather! Yesterday we had a little hint toward spring with a push into the upper 50's!


This Week: I'm finishing up interviews for students who are hoping to join the studio next fall in addition to my usual teaching schedule. I'm desperately hoping that Little Bit will change his mind on this sleep thing and start sleeping through the night again.


Current Fiction Read: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke


Current Non-Fiction Read: Bountiful Container by McGee and Stuckey.


Craftiness: I was given a few skeins of cotton in a variety of bright colors, so I'm knitting some new dishcloths in the evenings until I find a bit of time to buy yarn for more socks. Yes. I'm addicted to the sock making.


Learning at home: I sorted through our puzzles yesterday and I put two big floor puzzles out that we don't have available to the boys all the time. One is a rectangle shaped ocean scene and the other is a firetruck shape. The pieces of both puzzles are very thick and large, so they are perfect for young hands. For Little Bit I put the puzzle together except for 2 or 3 pieces then help him learn to turn the pieces in order to find the right fit. As he gets better at this I'll leave more and more pieces out.


Big Kid is learning about time and money words this week. He knows penny and quarter, so we're working on identifying dimes and nickles. He has a little piggy bank with an easy opening on the bottom to dump the coins. We're going to work on sorting the coins into piles by quarter, dime, nickle and penny, and we will also do some patterning to help him remember the difference between the dimes and nickles. This is an activity we will use only when Little Bit is in bed because he still puts a lot of things in his mouth.

Big Kid is also working on time words this week. He is always pointing to the digital clock on Superman's side of the bed and saying the numbers in order to tell me the time. It has been good for him to work on the vocabulary for numbers over 20, so we're going to continue to talk about what time it is this week.


New Work: The money work listed above is new, and I've also cut strips of paper to use for cutting. It isn't new to us, but we haven't really worked on cutting in the last several week so Big Kid will feel like it is new!


In Other News . . .  I'll be done with my 30 day declutter this week! The house feels so much lighter now that some things have been moved out of here. I've been finding new homes for the things that have needed homes, and I'm happy to have my counter space back in my kitchen.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Seven Quick Takes

Go visit Jen to read other quick takes!



I make crazy amounts of lists- absolutely everything must be written down. Just about everyone that knows me knows that if I don't write it down or enter it into the calendar on my phone it's like it never happened. I might vaguely recall the conversation, but rarely details- I blame this on mommy brain. Even my 3-year-old will say, "Mama, did you write it down?"

I didn't write down 2 appointments for yesterday, therefore they weren't attended. I'm feeling like a giant dork and wondering why I can't remember simple things like that. I used to have an excellent memory and now all my brain power is taken up with remembering the last diaper change, the last snack, how much milk has been consumed in the last 24 hours, what chapter are we on in our read aloud...



I'm getting ready to order seeds at Pinetree Garden Seeds. I'm trying to start small so we're going with tomatoes, spinach and broccoli. I've been considering a lettuce mix and onions also- we'll see though. It depends on how brave I am on the day that I order. I'm still not convinced that I totally know what I'm doing, but I'm to the point that we will just have to jump in and try. It will either work or it won't- either way we'll learn a lot.



I love this cute little hostess apron! I found it through The Apronista, a site that makes me want to sew more every time I visit. I'm mentally digging through my fabric stash to see if I have suitable fabric to replicate the look. Maybe, yes!



Another pair of socks is finished- that's right- finished! I started on Saturday night, finished the first sock on Monday night, started the second sock between students on Tuesday and finished up last night. It certainly helped that Little Bit was up so many times. I'd put him back to bed and knit a few rows until I knew he was settled back in, then sleep awhile til he woke again. There's nothing worse than thinking he's been settled and just barely getting your eyes closed before he starts up again. So I knit.

I used the same pattern as for the first pair of socks- I know I should branch out and try another sock pattern... maybe this? Pictures of current socks to come. :)



I found this link via Kara. Have you heard about the James Challenge? This is something I have been prayerfully considering over the last few days. I worry about being disciplined enough to follow through, but discipline has been one of the foremost thoughts on my mind in the last several weeks. This may be a way to see prayer answered. Note #1 though- my memory is sketchy at best.



I've been looking for a good craft to do with Big Kid for Valentine's day this year. We have plans to paint some valentine's cards over the weekend, and I have a heart shaped mold to make candy or ice cubes or something heart shaped. I found this craft that we're going to try- Big Kid is learning to make stitches in a row (the child loves to sew with me- hooray!) so I think the little sewn felt hearts will be a fun thing for us to sit and do together during one of Little Bit's naptimes.



The computer is here! It arrived near the end of the work day Thursday, so I'm trying to get to know it. I'm brand new to Vista and it's annoyances quirks. I'm  downloading all the things it needs- printer drivers, business files, PICTURES... and will get quilt pictures posted on Monday. Speaking of the quilt, it's on it's way to the quilter this morning. I'm not sure of the exact time-frame she'll need to finish it, but my mother says she usually has them back within a week. I am so happy with how the color schemes turned out, especially since it is made completely of unplanned fabric. I can't wait to send this off to Reed's mother!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Since I'm still waiting to post pictures, here are some ideas I've come across lately that we will be pursuing soon. I hope you find something that works for you too!


Have you seen Dawn's Year-at-a-Glance Bulletin Board Idea? It makes for great memories AND it's low maintenance!


Here is a great Montessori activity posted over at Chasing Cheerios: Color Box 3 on the cheap! Using the paint chip cards you can find for free at your local paint store you can create your own shade matching activity!


This is an excellent drawing activity we will be trying later in the week- Drawing Fruit From Real Life. I'm not sure what Big Kid will think of it at first, but it will be great practice for starting our nature journals this spring.


Here is an old post from Elizabeth Foss that I'm using to help plan the garden unit study we'll be doing in late February/early March.


I'm thinking about knitting these next. I'm always cold while I practice piano so I think these might be a good solution.

Anyone else have fun links to share? Post in comments!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Music: From the Beginning

My background: I've been a private violin, viola and piano teacher for over 10 years. I've also had the opportunities to teach strings in a school setting for grades 5-12 and to coach a few string quartets. I was an early childhood teacher for 5 years- most of this simultaneously- I'm not THAT old! Before children I performed frequently both as a soloist and as part of a string quartet.  This series is based on my experiences as a teacher and parent.


The basis for my studio is that I do not teach to try to raise up brilliant musicians. The truth is the great majority of music students will not play after they reach adulthood. Of the few that do, most will not be professional musicians. My job is to help my students love music, understand what music means, and to know how it works. I deal with people, particularly children, not master technicians. Trying to make each student into a professional musician misses the point of what music is about- emotional connection and shared experience.


Why Should I Consider Teaching a Newborn About Music?

Above all else, I believe music is a way to communicate and bond with people, and who better to do that with than your newborn? Music is a way for us to share with each other and communicate emotion in a way words can't express. The purpose of introducing music to your infant is to share the emotions that music brings. It won't make your child smarter just by listening, but as your child grows and develops they will learn important skills in observance and listening. As they come to study music with you or in private lessons the analytical skills and fine motor skills that will come with study are extremely useful. Music study is connected to improved reading and math skills, and a generally more observant child.


 When Should We Start?

One of the most common questions I'm asked is "what is the right age to start music?" My answer: Whatever age your child is right now! You don't have to do things one certain way, you don't have to be a musician or even have musical experience to be able to teach your child about music. Don't worry that you're too late or too early, there is no perfect time for your child to start, no window to miss. It all starts with listening, and you and your child can do that with a CD player and a few CDs.


What Kinds of Music Should We Play?

Your child is ready to hear all types of music, so play it! When my boys were newborns we played softer music and mostly classical- Chopin preludes, some Debussy, and some Handel along with the Suzuki method violin and piano CDs. Keep in mind that newborns enjoy more peaceful sounds, and use that for your framework in selecting good music. Your child will not get bored listening to the same music over and over, so play the same CD for several days in a row. Very young children learn more and more with each repetition.


As your child starts to roll, creep and crawl, choose more active and exciting music. Bach, Vivaldi and Kabalevski are amoung our favorites. Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is especially popular with my boys, the sounds and textrues vary widely from piece to piece. Encourage  movement to the music as your child is able to sit up independently and crawl, and as your child is able to stand on their own, encourage bobbing along to the music or even dancing if your child is able to stand on their own. My younger son was not very eager to learn to stand and subsequently to walk, so we often took him by both hands to help him stand and would "dance" with him to music to encourage him to stand on his own.


Try to choose CDs with true instrument sounds. CDs produced specifically for children usually use a more electronic sound, or use what they deem "child-friendly" instruments. Listening to these kinds of CDs isn't bad for your child, but it doesn't help your child to learn about the sounds that different instruments make.


So You Only Listen to Classical Music?

No. We *mostly* listen to classical music. That is the music that I love  more than any other kind, and I find a lot of beauty and meaning there. We also listen to Faith Hill, Steven Curtis Chapman, Josh Groban, Third Day, They Might Be Giants, Carrie Underwood, Jason Mraz, Charlotte Church, DC Talk (getting into old stuff here!), and musicals of all sorts. Superman is a trumpet player and he really loves jazz so we often listen to jazz in the evenings if he is home for dinner. We try to listen also to music I don't personally enjoy (like some 20th century composers) and it gives us the opportunity to talk about concepts like tonality and dissonance.


So What Did Music Education Look Like In Your House with an Infant?

Much the same way it looks now that my kids are a little older. When we go downstairs in the morning to have breakfast I flip the CD Player on and music plays in the background through chores, breakfast and free play time. I turn it off while they do Montessori work and we turn it on again when I start to make lunch and through the meal time.  We listen again at dinner. I point out things that I notice as we listen- that a note is very high or low, or I might say something like, "the exciting part is coming up!" There are no projects or certain things to note. There is no guide for this age group- it is all about the enjoyment of listening to music together.


Okay, I need a Little More Guidance. Are There Specific Titles that You Recommend?

Yep, I have some favorites listed below. Remember, there is no right thing to introduce and there is no particular thing you must do. This is just a starting point.


Charlotte Church-  Prelude

They Might Be Giants- Here Come the ABCs

They Might Be Giants- Here Come the 123s

Yo-Yo Ma- Bach: The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites

Vivaldi- The Four Seasons

Monday, January 26, 2009

Beyond Homemaking Daybook

Weather: We're expecting snow later this afternoon and on into tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how much we actually get this time- the last few snows our forecasters have been quite off.


This Week: I have a somewhat extended work week this week. I'm interviewing families from my waiting list  for the empy time slots that will be available next year as students move away or graduate. So I'll be in the studio on Friday this week (my usual day off) conducting interviews. Superman is also moving back to a  6 day work week this week for the next month during their busy season in addition to his school schedule, so this is going to be a tough month.


Current Fiction Read: Change of Plans; Instead of Girl of the Lumberlost I'm reading Inkheart. Superman read it when it first came out and loved it; now he wants to see the movie. I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to see the movie until I've read the book, so I moved it to the front of the pile so we will hopefully be able to see the movie in the next few weeks.


Current Non-Fiction Read: MaryJanes's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook by MaryJane Butters.


Craftiness: I'm down to grafting the toe on my second pair of socks (sock #1 of the pair). I started them Saturday night during a movie evening with Superman and they've been incredibly fast this time- now that I know what I'm doing of course!  

Reed's Quilt is going to the woman with the machine quilter on Friday! (Pics to come shortly)


Learning at home: I made a little spot on the shelf for some worksheets for Big Kid. I pull out three or four each day and put them on a clipboard for him. If he chooses to work on them we work together. These little worksheets are a collection of things from my days as a preschool teacher and pages from Kumon workbooks. I didn't think he would be so interested in having papers to do, but he really likes them and has been choosing them every day since I put them out last week. I'm curious about how long it will last.

For Ezra I put out  a sheet with some large stickers and a plain piece of construction paper. He's learning to peel the stickers off the sheet and stick them to the paper. This keeps him really busy!


New Work: Dishwashing for both boys and a tray of rice for scooping and pouring,


In Other News . . .  The delivery date for my computer is supposed to be today, but the track package feature shows that it is still several states away from here. So unless a scan was missed along the way I don't think it will be here today. My new printer was shipped today, so hopefully it will be here by the end of the week. Oh yeah- I didn't tell you about that did I? First my palm pilot died, then my phone, then my printer, THEN my computer! All within 6 weeks. I'm starting to wonder if my body is a magnet that destroys any electronics that I touch.
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