Thursday, February 12, 2009

Seven Quick Takes


 Go see Jen for more Quick Takes!



We've been working on a lot of Valentine's Day related things around here- heart collages, chocolate-y treats, and heart shaped sandwiches are just the beginning! Today's project? Stained Glass Hearts.



I'm trying to figure out a good way to hang and store the boys' art work. I want to be able to hang it for a little while but still switch it out every few weeks for new work, so I don't think I want to go with framing. I do want something that will look nice though, not something that looks like we just pinned it up on a bulletin board or something. Any thoughts on this? As far as storage, right now I have a rubbermaid box that stores under my bed, one for each boy. Is there a better way to store their artwork?



I've been off most of this week. I gave 2 afternoons of makeup lessons and taught 2 large group classes, and it was a really nice break. We spent Wednesday in the kitchen, and today I plan to stay in the kitchen too. Can you believe I haven't baked any bread in a month? Big Kid loves to measure ingredients for me, and Little Bit is an excellent taste-tester, there just hasn't been much to measure or taste around here lately! I stocked up the pantry and the fridge on Wednesday in preparation for a big baking and cooking weekend. Mmmm...



I haven't sewn in a few weeks, but this post at Angry Chicken got me thinking in that direction again. Sew my own underwear? Make it fit however I please? Definitely intriguing.



I've been getting interested in embroidery lately. I know, I know- like I need another hobby, right? I can't help myself. Projects like this make me fall in love! I'm not even sure what exactly it is about those pillows that make me return again and again to the photos, but they are exciting to me.



Big Kid and I have been playing War a lot lately just with numbers 2-5.  It has helped him to better understand higher and lower numbers, and he loves it when our cards match and we get to have a war. The one difficult thing is that he's really disappointed if his card is lower than mine, so I suppose he's also having one of his first lessons on being a good sport, learning not to whine if his card is lower, but also not to gloat if his card is higher.



I had been doing really well with drinking water all week and keeping track of sugar and all that until Superman brought home a 12 pack of Coke. I've had 3 cans in the last 2 days. If it's in the house, I DRINK IT ALL! It's like it calls my name or something. I haven't even been drinking coffee in the morning! I asked him to take it in to work or something, or store it in his truck- anything to get it out of the house so I won't drink it all over the weekend.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Montessori in Our Home (Part Two)

I wrote here about the reasons I was drawn to Montessori and how I feel it fits our family and specifically the boys. I touched a bit on how it fits me, and I'd like to continue that today.


One of the things I like the most about Montessori is the sense of order and routine that it introduces to the child. The reason that appeals to me is that that is the way that Big Kid is built. He has a natural sense of routine that he relies on to make his world work. This is the way Superman works too, and frankly it's something I've had to get used to. My upbringing was the opposite of routine and organized so this is a skill I've had to learn throughout our marriage. I feel like Montessori's approach to routine, but still giving the choice is very important. Big Kid takes great comfort and satisfaction in the ordered portion of his work (always laying a mat to work on, putting things away before getting other things out), and the choices he has to make encourage him to reach out and take steps forward.


One of the things I've loved everytime I visit a Montessori classroom is the organization of the materials. Less on the shelves, very beautiful and inviting materials, always using a mat or carpet to work on- all these things organize not only the room but the child's thoughts and actions as well. The emphasis on using higher quality materials has been interesting. The idea is that the more beautiful the item the more irresistible it is to the child, but I wasn't sure that that would be true for my son. In fact, it is! It was a surprise to me, but we're making a big shift in the direction of investing in fewer items, but items of higher quality.

This kind of organization and reasoned placement of materials has affected how I organize all of my home. I've started organizing my own items with these ideas- having fewer things out, but more beautiful inviting things.


Practical Life

Presenting practical life skills to the child blew my mind a bit. The idea that you can show a child to wash a table with water and a sponge at 15 months old? I thought that was a little silly at first, but I tried with my youngest. He not only could do it, but he thought it was great fun and laughed much of the time. It's still one of his favorite works! Not only is it fun for him, but it improves his coordination and gets my table cleaner than it was before. I think that's a great combination!

For my 3-year-old some of the practical life skills are things we were working on anyway- dressing himself, working on buttons and zippers, and other kinds of personal care, so that part of seems to have fallen in place naturally for us. Some things, like pouring his own milk or water, had me a little nervous, but he does very well, and I can see the pride he has in being able to do it on his own. I was especially nervous about allowing a glass pitcher for him, but he treats it very carefully; I think if it was plastic he would not pour as accurately as he would treat the entire process a little more carelessly.


Montessori almost fills a need within myself in these areas, and that is admittedly part of the appeal. It has helped me to understand my older son a little better since he is so very ordered and structured in his personality. I'm understanding the whys behind his decisions in every day life now that I'm looking at it all from a more structured place. For my younger son, the "choices within limits" structure has been a good thing so far as well. He will learn to sit through an entire work  when he is able, but still to choose what interests him most.

I can't wait to see where Montessori takes us.

Monday, February 9, 2009


I'm working on some new work for the boys this week so I thought I'd share some of the inspiration I have for activities for Big Kid: 


Crystal posted about her day-of-the-week boxes at the end of this post. What an excellent suggestion for preschool quiet times!


I've been reading the coin activity posts over at Moveable Alphabet with interest. Big Kid is interested in money but not neccessarily math, so I'm thinking about extending the work he's done with money to include some of the suggestions listed here. Anything to get him started thinking about numbers!


I'm using this example of Valentine's Day Tic-Tac-Toe to make a more generic Tic-Tac-Toe board for Big Kid. Small bean bags are in the works, and we're off to the store for posterboard later this morning.


I'm also planning to teach Big Kid how to play the card game War. We're going to start with 2-5, then add cards as he gets to know the game better. We'll throw a couple of decks together to have a decent amount of cards, and see how it goes.


For Little Bit, I'm putting together a basket for tearing paper, a tub for washing dishes, and some new color matching materials. I also asked Superman to think about the possibility of making a low balance beam to walk on, but we have to consider storage for it first. I'm thinking it can hide out in the laundry room.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Goal Check-In

I've posted before about how I'm feeling stretched lately. I've been spending a lot of time knitting and thinking about what I really want from my life and how to make that happen. Superman and I find this topic coming up between us every few day, sometimes from my perspective, sometimes from his. I've been reflecting on my goals from the year too, and I have to say that I'm not regretting any of the goals I've set for this year. Usually something has shown up as really difficult by now, but the one really difficult thing on my list is one I'm determined to stick with.

1. Plant a garden this year and hopefully end up with edible produce. We're going ahead as planned! I've ordered seeds for the things that we need to have seeds for, and I've got my list ready for the transplants we will buy locally. I'm as ready as I'll ever be! We're deciding on containers this week, and then we're ready. Big Kid is tremendously excited.

2. Eat at-home prepared meals only for a week. This is going to happen sometime, but not until work slows down for both me and Superman- probably over the summer.

3. Read 20 fiction books this year. 0 down, 20 to go! I'm still working on Kushiel's Chosen if you can believe it or not- that is one huge book. I'm on page 344 out of 687 . . . I know, I know- It's already February and didn't I say I'd moved on from it? Well, I did, but I had to come back to finish because I just can't get the story out of my head. I am partly through Inkheart also, it's a faster lighter read than the other book. I'll catch up a bit when Rachel Caine's new book gets here and with some of the young adult fiction I'm planning to read this year.

4. Start Bible memory with Big Kid and build it into a habit. I actually got a few cards made for him over the weekend and we are starting today.

5. Keep my nightstand area completely clear for 30 days except for vitamins, Bible and 1 current book. This hasn't happened yet, but it will be happening soon.

6. Keep/Toss/Donate 15 items each day for 30 days. Done! And the house feels lighter. :)

7. Move systematically through the house to declutter and re-organize. I'm working on our living/dining room this month, a little bit at a time. It comes down to a few big projects- properly containing all of my sewing and knitting things,keeping school related items and crafting items contained properly, and then general tidiness. I'm still trying to find a solution to our "hot spot" - the dining room table. It collects all kinds of things, and it is NEVER clear, even if I've tried to really focus on it for a few days. It has become the catch-all for anything that has no home or is in transition (needs to go upstairs or to the studio). Next up after the living room is the master bedroom.

8. Drink water. Make juice an occasional thing and soda a rare thing. THIS is the really difficult thing. I'm doing either really well or really horribly at this on a given day- like I drink only water for several days in a row and then I have a few days where practically all I drink is soda. It has helped a lot that we haven't been buying any soda to keep in the house, but I'm pretty easily convinced to stop for a drink at one of the fast food places we drive by every single time we go out anywhere.

9. Move to using as many fresh ingredients as possible in our cooking. This is harder to do right now because of the season, but we haven't bought any pre-packaged meals in the last month, so we HAVE to make meals. It has resulted in a few "sandwhich nights", but I'm getting better at planning ahead for meals.

10. Re-evaluate my goals every 3 months. I think I'm going to try to check in every month. I need to keep focused on some of these things, and checking in is what keeps me on track.

Beyond Homemaking Daybook

Weather: This morning has been a rude awakening after being treated to 65 degree days for the last 2 days! We spent a lot of time at the park on Friday and Saturday- the perfect treatment for the overabundant energy my boys have.

This Week: I'm working a short schedule this week- hooray! I teach a group performance class this week that all students attend, so the only private lessons I have are those who need makeup lessons  due to illness. This is the busy season for Superman so he's grabbing as much overtime as he can right now around his school schedule. It will help to offset the slower weeks that come toward the end of the year. He's not home very much right now- we miss him!

Current Fiction Read: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and Kushiel's Chosen by Jacqueline Carey.

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

Craftiness: Still dishcloths while I'm trying to figure out what to knit for a non-traditional baby shower gift.

Learning at home: We're focusing on Valentine's Day this week. Big Kid is going to be working on making and sending Valentines, plus we have a few Valentine crafts and treats to make.

New Work: No new Montessori work this week, though I've been thinking about adding a flower arranging work, drawing inspiration from My Montessori Journey.

In Other News . . . My brother called last night to tell us that he and his wife are expecting their first baby! I'm the oldest of nine; 6 of us are married, 1 is getting married in May, and I'm the only one with children so far. We're excited to have a cousin around here!
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