lightbulbs aligning

After reading my previous post, my mom said to me "Favorite daughter, you should check out Montessori ideas and techniques."  (that's almost a direct quote)

I added that comment to my mental shelf of things that pinged (real word...to me) my interest.

This morning as I was perusing Pinterest, my new obsession to finding cool ideas/crafts/decor (basically online bulletin boards that people create to store/organize/share ideas), I stumbled upon a blog written by a woman that had the coolest toddler play areas throughout her house.  Low and behold, she mentions incorporating Montessori ideas in her home.  I immediately bought one of the books she recommends. Lightbulbs are aligning.

Then I did a Pinterest search of "Montessori" and though I don't know why all the toddler bedrooms consist of mats directly on the floor, a carefully chosen selection of a few toys, and lots of books, I can tell you that that is EXACTLY the way I arranged my toddler's room last month when I re-organized.

Right now, this short video is about the extent to my knowledge of Montessori.

Hmmm... I'm definitely intrigued.!  For the record, I am fighting my inner "go public school" speech until I finish my research on this idea.


Stay at home mom... in need of a curriculum?

I am proud of my education.  I know a lot of things, but mostly I know how to learn, how to study, how to find my own answers.  Most of you have supported me as I've weighed my options between working at staying-at-home.  I am the child of a stay-at-home mom... until we both went back to school (me as a student, mom as the teacher).  Of course I don't remember those early years, but my mom has lots of stories of crafts/activities/groups/baking bread.  So I'm absolutely positive that my early years were full of creatively rich experiences.  Full of love, books and healthy foods.  I've never thanked my mom for those years... I never even thought about it.  However, now it seems so important!  So, THANKS MOM (and Dad for working really hard in order to put food on the table and raise a family on one income!)!  I don't know what differences those early years made on my life, but I'm so thankful that you gave me the best start you could provide.

So now I'm in those shoes.  Hazel is old enough to start doing crafts, learning the difference between bees and flies, picking berries, stirring batter...  I don't want to spend this time ignoring her while I blog, clean, cook or read novels (ok, I kind of just want to read novels).  So this article written on a homeschooling blog really caught my attention!  I had no idea that there are curriculum for the pre-K crowd!  (To clear up any questions:  I have NO INTENTION of homeschooling my kids.  I read that blog for the other content:  photography, farm life, cooking, etc.  Three cheers for public education!!!)

The Oak Meadow curriculum caught my eye and I just read the sample pages.  You can read them here.  The last page of the introduction to the curriculum discusses the idea of socialization of preschoolers.  A topic I think about A LOT!  I was encouraged and surprised to read their view on socialization...

This is an excerpt regarding the number of children your kid should play with:

A good rule of thumb
to follow in the early years is not to allow children to interact simultaneously
with more children than the number of years in their age (1st year - one playmate,
2nd year - two playmates, etc.). This ensures that they will never be
exposed to more children than they can handle comfortably.

And the impact that a large day care center can have on your child's development:
children in the kibbutz (ie day care) “do not even have a time or place
to cry alone without the other children looking on and possibly making fun. So
they accommodate. And they grow up, more and more dependent upon their
peers in all social and emotional respects. Initiative and creativity are stifled. By
adolescence the experience of making decisions on their own, without group
approval, becomes traumatic, or they cannot make such decisions at all. Indeed,
they make very good soldiers.”

Certainly, day care is a necessity for many families and I wholly believe that children can attend day care and still develop positively when that is paired with quality parenting.  However, the article/curriculum does strike a chord with me.  As a former Junior High School Counselor, I have puzzled upon the dependency kids have on group approval and wondered why some kids are more affected.  Now I want to do my own study to see if in fact those kids were placed in large day cares... the parenting piece is obvious!

What do you think about a pre-K curriculum?  Do you have any good resources that have been helpful in your toddler-filled house?


teddy bear picnic

This week I got to take Hazel to the annual Teddy Bear Picnic.  I have vague memories of this event from when I was a wee one.  For me, the highlight was always making sand art in baby food jars.  The wonder of layering rainbows of sand was so totally tubular.  Totally worthy of my fluorescent pink coolness!

And now... totally worthy of Hazel and her teddy bear wearing a matching dress.  LOVE!

Hazel had a good time simply because Hazel enjoys everything (as long as she's rested and fed).  However, I was a little let down... just didn't live up to my memory :)  As we all know, it's really really hot outside.  So, partner that with wearing an infant in my Sleepy Wrap and whooa doggie!  Fortunately, my mother came with us and helped me juggle babies, diaper bags and teddy bear crafts.

Hazel did not enjoy the face painting booth.  My mom talked her into getting a turtle painted onto her leg... but after a few green blobs, Hazel had had ENOUGH!  The ironic part is that once she was free from the scary paint, she was so proud of the turtle and walked with her leg extended so people would notice.

Speaking of crafts, here's a tip to anyone planning a crafty event for the pre-K crowd:  TODDLERS ARE SHORT!  So using regular tables does not work.  This silly mama was in a skirt and had to flash the crowds repeatedly in order to make a knee-stool for Hazel!

Due to the heat, crowds and exhaustion of all appropriate activities, we left the event early... someone had had ENOUGH!
actually, more than one of us had had enough... but fortunately, I was the only one with the camera :)


an article to make you smile

This article was on my CNN homepage today:

Top 10 Bad-A*S Wives.

Now I'm off to spend my day thinking about how I can up my bad a*sness... without ruling a country, getting in a fist fight, or donating billions of dollars.


the end of an era

I am not one of those parents who hopes her children will roll/crawl/walk at an early age.  I'm perfectly fine with them being late bloomers.  Granted, I am blessed with two preemie babies (35 weeks... barely preemie!) who have perfectly average development and are very healthy.  So it makes it easy to be laid back about their milestones.

Speaking of milestones, this is what Heidi is doing right at this moment:
roll baby roll (so far just back to front).  in fact, keep rolling till you can reach all the toys stuck under the couch!
She is lying under her IKEA play gym.  What?  It doesn't make sense to lay her on her stomach under this play gym?  Correct... I didn't!  Oh my.  Goodbye to the freedom of plopping her (ever so gently) anywhere I please without worrying about her moving or rolling off.  (Three cheers to Jake for snapping this pic before he left for work today... we actually got a pic of her first roll!)


wild man...wild emotions... wild life

 A week ago we joined Jake's family to celebrate and honor the life of his Aunt Kathy.  A year ago, many of you joined us in blowing bubbles to fight Kathy's cancer.  Last week Kathy ended her fight and is now dancing ... and probably blowing bubbles... in heaven.

Grief is a slippery beast.  My husband claims to have been prepared for Aunt Kathy's death.  I think he was, however, grief hits us at odd times and we fall victim to it.  Tonight Jake graciously gave me a night off from dinner and pulled out the last of his elk meat.  Then he pulled out this great cookbook... and I watched as the grief hit him like a sneaker wave.  You see, Aunt Kathy gave him this awesome cookbook.

To wrap this up (without going too deep), the elk tenderloin was DELISH... and yes, prepared or not... we really miss Aunt Kathy.  That IS the gift of life... to love and to be loved in return.


complementary relationship

finger paint + toddler pool = pure summer joy!

I'm letting the pictures mostly speak for themselves today.  However when I uploaded the pics for today's blog, this little gem was included.  Matching dresses for 2 gorgeous little girls AND their baby doll :)  It's official, there's no such thing as too much matching... at least at these ages.


not "Good Girl"

When I was a grad student, I took a class called "Counseling the Child and Adolescent".  I learned a lot in that course and apply many of the ideas to my parenting.  One thing that really struck me was the idea of removing terms like "good girl" and "great job" from my vocabulary.

At first, that may seem cruel and wrong.  But think about it... does using a potty make someone a good person? (answer:  even Hitler used the toilet.)  Does every drawing warrant the title of a "great" work?  No!  By always using these terms, we create people who need constant validation and praise.

Instead, we need to foster self-motivation and self-acceptance.  Though I slip up ALL THE TIME... I am much more likely to say "Good listening", "Thank you for making a good choice", "Look at all those colors you used!". By commenting on the action, I am letting Hazel know that I am paying attention and I'm encouraging the types of behaviors that I want to see more of.  But I'm not teaching her that if she does not do _____ (fill-in-da-blank), she is BAD!  

Now it's time for Mama to make a GOOD CHOICE by turning off the computer and TV and taking the kids on a walk!



As I sit to write this, I'm flooded with the memories of what was occurring at exactly this time (time zone change ignored) two years ago.  This year, instead of yelling "Jake... I'm leaking!" (when my water broke and flooded my hallway) and starting a whirlwind 8 hours of labor... I'm sitting in my own home, on my own land, with my own toddler asleep in her bed AND my own newborn at my breast.  I have arrived.  This is what life is all about.

In essence, this blog is a constant love letter to my children.  I write this journal to augment my memory of life and as something tangible (er...electronically) that they can come back to time and again when they want to connect with their childhoods.

So though today is Hazel's SECOND BIRTHDAY (side note, I'm writing this the night before.  just to clear up any confusion for you observant readers), I don't feel the need to regale you with her milestone achievements.  Instead, how bout a few picks?  That's what you're hoping for anyway :)

One year ago:  a happy baby

Today:  a coy toddler who understands almost everything but can't seem to say any more than the 1st letter of each word.

A toddler who believes that if she hides behind curtains or SIMPLY CLOSES HER EYES, her mama can't see her and therefore will get that dang camera out of her face.  (she also does this if she expects me to tell her to stop doing something... BAM she disappears and I have to search the whole house for her... commence giggling which DUH totally gives her location away)

A little girl who at times looks like the baby I remember and at other times (below) looks like a girl.  A real kid!  Huh, whodda thunk?

A big sister who loves "Heis" with her whole heart... even if she's spent the past week in near constant time-outs due to acts of violence against her "bb".  (the photo below is a prime example of how Hazel reacts once the "annoying" camera gives up and goes after a different subject!  suddenly, she wants to be in each frame!)

Oh man I love this girl.  I'm the luckiest person in the whole world.  For now, I get her snuggles, her kisses, her tears, her giggles.


*I took these pics last week at the park where we're throwing Hazel's play date party on Saturday (an informal, no gifts, time to play with (gasp) other kids, a chance to share some birthday cake).  The theme is cock-a-doodle-TWO.  Perfect for a girl who loves her chickens!  Perfect for a mama who thinks it's hilarious to hide naughty words on toddler invitations!

**Yup, same dress.  It IS her birthday dress made by a crafter in Oregon.  Last year it was a dress, this year it's a tunic, next year it will be a shirt.  Hey, if you pay for quality handmade clothing, best get some use out of it!  The crafter convinced me of this piece's worth once she explained that it's made for at LEAST 3 years of use!  Just need to fix the elastic on the pocket... don't hold your breath :)


Jolly July

On the farm, we've heard lots of fireworks from afar, but we haven't seen them.  Bedtime occurs BEFORE darkness settles this time of year.  However, we've had no problem celebrating our country's independence with toddler friendly fireworks (aka, SPRINKLERS and patriotic clothing from Llama, Grandma O.).

The girls and I also got to attend the traditional Jolly July 3rd picnic at our friends Ty and Amanda's house.  They throw the BEST gatherings full of gourmet foods, interesting people, laid back vibes and Hazel admirers.  I made these delightful treats.  Talk about EASY and deceptively impressive :)
photo from allrecipes.com
Happy Fourth of July to you... if you live in the US.  Actually, even if you don't, I hope you have a wonderful day and find a reason to celebrate your country :)


3 months of Heidi lovin'

The other day Heidi hit the 3-month mark.  I intended to take pics and write a blog, but a certain toddler was possessed by evil forces that day and I was kept busy trying to save Heidi's life.  For real.

Heidi is a joy.  If she fusses, she is easy to appease with a cuddle or snack.  She LOVES cuddling and it's one of the greatest pleasures in life to fall asleep cocooned around her.  She also LOVES to sleep.  If she was my only child, I would be a very well rested mama.  *sigh*

She's so good natured that it's easy to ignore her.  Not good!  However, when I finally give her some attention, she immediately smiles and starts to coo.  Last weekend we heard her giggle, but she's being stingy with that heavenly delight.

Here she is starting to share her dazzling smile.  Pay close attention to all the glorious baby rolls :)
She's gaining weight quickly and just today seems to be bursting out of her 0-3 month clothing.  WOW!  (Hazel was in NB size until about 3 months!)