thoughts

Random Questions

So here is a random question for all of you out there…..what do you like to see here? Do you like to see Montessori posts? Family Posts? Creative projects? Let me know! I am just curious what you like to read here! Another question¬†I had for you is, how hard is leaving a comment on the blog? I haven’t been able to figure out if all the spam guards are making it really tedious for you! I wanted to make sure it wasn’t too hard! So if you have a moment, I would love to hear some thoughts! I am so thankful to have great readers and would love to hear from you!

 

What Really Matters

I have been floundering a bit with the direction of this blog and about even keeping it going. I just feel like we are not doing anything interesting or “blog worthy” and that makes it hard to write posts. I mean, do you want to see the little stuff that is going on here or do you just want to see school stuff? The school stuff is happening, but really sporatically and honestly with so much book work happening here it seems silly to show too many school days posts. After all they all start to look the same! So today I thought that with all the busyness and lack of projects, the grils needed some fun with mom (and I needed a blog post)! I have seem montester cookies all over Pintrest and I just knew that this simple Halloween snack was going to be a hit! ūüôā The recipe that I saw used cake mix (which I didn’t have). So I just made a chocolate chip cookie recipe with out the chocolate chips!¬† It worked out really well! The girls loved it and we made green and purple monsters!

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After making cookies it was off to bed. While Bunny was getting into bed, she told me that she was just so happy. Happy that we got to make cookies. Hmmmm….she was so happy that we got to make cookies! She got me thinking that this was a really simple, little thing. Honestly it only took a few minutes of time with them, but the impact was much bigger then I realized. She was happy about the cookies. I didn’t need to go anywhere special, or do anything big, just something little. After all that is what we remember most about life. When it all comes down to it, our most treasured memories are simple. A look, a moment, a hug, a walk….all simple things that mean the world to us. The same is true for our families. Why do we torture ourselves to create a perfect¬†moment for our kids, filled with projects, learning opportunities, and¬†a million things?¬†I am slowly learning that kids are going to learn, play, and grow no matter what¬†I plan out for them. So long as they have access to things that allow them to grow, and can come to¬†me with questions, they will learn and be happy. I don’t see each thing that happens, but I do know that things are being thought about. I have been trying to make sure that I am taking more pictures of their daily moments, but I don’t always remember to. That make it hard to share. So how does this connect with my blog thoughts? Well, I don’t feel like I am doing things here that you are going to be interested in reading. I am not making awesome themes, we aren’t taking trips out and about too much, and we have done a lot of crafting or projects. So what is there to share with you? Not much….unless you want to see pictures of kids playing outside, building blocks, or other unrelated things. So while I am not doing anything note worthy by internet standards, we are doing simple things that are going to make memories for my girls. So I am going as you all to send some prayer and good thoughts to little ol’ me while I am working out how the simple things translate into my blog.

 

What we have been doing!

Today was the start for a great week! The girls worked really hard at all their work and we got a lot done. However, there are not a ton of pictures. Why you may ask, well because their work is getting pretty boring to photograph. No offence to the girls, but work books, and reading just starts to look the same no matter what day I take the picture. So that leads me to wonder about what I can share here on the blog. Do I talk about the day to day work that is really rather boring unless there is new discoveries and adventures. So I think that is what this is going to be about. New discoveries and adventures, with just a smattering of boring same old same old! After all, Montessori work and homeschooling Is ever evolving so there is bound to be lots of all of those things! So what are some new discoveries that have been happening here? Well Pup have been beading her own jewelry, Bunny has been learning to drive the tractor, and I have been learning all sorts of things about how to take better pictures! Here are some pictures:

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These are the little things that are making life our own special adventure. The girls are learning things as they find joy in their own projects. Pup is practicing her coordination with her beading along with sorting and patterns. Bunny is learning about how things run and how to drive (with Daddy’s guidance of course). These are real skills and real learning. This is Montessori learning at its best. Child based, interest led, and exciting! Sometimes I find it really hard to see what we are doing or if we are really doing ANYTHING. Its that feeling that says we haven’t done anything pintrest worthy here in a long time. After all¬† we haven’t don’t a craft project, or cooked an amazing meal together, or gone on a hike together. We are just here, doing normal everyday things, and it is enough. It is learning, it is special, and it is discovery moments here in our house! How does discovery happen in your home? Does it look Pintrest worthy or is it just plain everyday stuff?

Letting Go and Moving On

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It seems that I have been thinking a lot about the materials that make up a huge part of the Montessori way of educating. They seem to¬†quickly becoming less and less necessary and I have say that makes me a little sad. Plus a little unsure if I did it all right. Since we didn’t use all the materials,¬†I am afraid¬†that I missed something really important. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bunny is doing really good and understands everything in her math work. But she didn’t do the memorization sequances because they bore her horribly. She began to hate math and that is what I didn’t want to happen. So I switched to doing what she thought was fun and that was worksheets. So we went with that. She would rather use her hands and head to work things out and I think that the memorization will come with time. However, it means that all those materials I bought are now sitting on a shelf and have been replaced with an $18 workbook. We do use them, just not often. Pup…well she is DONE with so much of the 3-6¬†sensorial and practical life¬†work that it worries me a bit! After all she is only four!¬†I managed to get her interested in the knobless cylinders, but it is forced and not something is wanting to do. So I ask again, when is letting go of materials good and when is it too soon? After what is the goal of the materials? The goal is to get the child to a place where they can know the information and apply it on their own without the materials! So if Bunny is applying her math skills without the beads and boards, then that is ok. She is learning, abstracting and understanding math. Pup is pouring her own water, sweeping the floor, and easily grading and sorting things. So maybe its time that I let go. Some materials are needed long term and some,…..well some just aren’t needed any more. I think that we are there. They are growing, changing, and so should I. Nothing stays the same and if the materials accomplished their work, then its time to make way for new learning opportunities! Plus, if we missed something I can always grab then back out right? ūüėČ What do you think? Weigh in! I would love to hear how you handle this issue of moving forward and maybe what you do when the materials aren’t working! Happy Schooling!

Technology and Montessori

Where do you stand on technology? Some moms are against all of it. Some are all for it. And some, like me, and somewhere in the middle. But it is something that I think all of us are forced to address in this high tech world we live in. How much is too much? How much is helpful? How do we incorporate it into our school rooms in a responsible way? These are the questions we face, and I doubt that there are any really clear answers. I have found us using more technology bits as time goes on here and I know that that is not going to go away. So what do we use and where do I draw the line? We don’t have ipads or¬†smartphones, but we do have computers! So here is what we do:

1) Research: I use the internet to help the girls look up things that they want to know right now. It is often my first resource go to and the girls are now asking me to look certain things up as they have a question. However, it is not our only source for research. After find the initial information, if there are more questions or more interest, we will head to the library to learn more. I want to make sure that my kids know how to find information for anything that they want to know. In my opinion, education is nothing if you don’t know how to find the information for things you want to know. I think that this hybrid of research materials will help them learn this skill.

2) Inspiration: Sometimes you just need a good dose of inspiration! We have used pintrest for a long time and I know that the girls love to scroll through the pictures and they also love the projects and recipes we find there to do together. I use it to find all kinds of learning ideas for when I am in a rut and generally want something fun! ūüôā However, anther interesting use I have found is to inspire the girls to do new work! Today for example, I showed Pup some different extensions for the knobless cylinders and she was excited to try them! Hmmm….funny how showing her these things a few weeks ago didn’t interest her. but looking at pictures of them online made her get to work! Bunny has been know to try some different work after seeing someone else on a blog working on it! One of the great motivators in a Montessori classroom is peer work. Watching someone else do something always makes it more fun! Since we don’t have that, the next best thing is to use the extended classroom of the internet!

3) Communication: My girls don’t type their own emails yet or have a facebook account or anything like that, but we still manage to stay in touch with friends and family that we don’t see much. They scroll through facebook and see pictures of their cousins, hear about “bloggy” friend’s work, and share pictures with family of what they are doing! I want my girls to slowly realize that the internet is a means of communication, not just a place¬†for¬†entertainment!

4) Entertainment: Well everyone knows that the internet is entirely entertaining! ūüėČ There are games, movies, and places to shop! However, in all honestly I don’t let the girls play much on it. With the exception of a few apps on my sisters Ipad, the girls really don’t get much play time on electronics. But I am sure that as they get older it will become a part of our school routine. We do however watch a lot of TV, especially using Netflix. However, they have pretty strict set of shows that they are allowed to watch. They are not allowed to watch shows that I think are crappy tv. Why? Well…honestly when the girls watch those shows their attitudes start to change and they get snippy and mean. Seriously! So they watch mostly PBS shows and a few other things! But that is about it.

So those are the main ways we are using technology here in our school room. What about you? How do you utilize or not allow technology in your home? Do you have rules?

 

Cutting Montessori Corners

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Ok, do any of you look at the sheer amount of work that some of the traditional Montessori presentations require and balk a little bit? I know that I do! Especially when it comes to language materials. There are about a million three part cards, grammar farm labels, grammar boxes, object boxes, sound bins, and the list goes on! Not only do I not have time for all of that cutting, laminating, and printing, I also don’t have that much space. On top of that, sometimes we never even use the materials! So I have learned over the past few years of Montessori homeschooling how to cut corners. Bunny hated most of the work to be done with three part cards, and I really could not keep up with making a million boxes for just about everything! Soooo….enter simplicity! I have gotten rid of grammar boxes and Bunny and I do the work together on the chalk board and practice it with the grammar boards. Simpler! I don’t make eye spy boxes for practicing sounds, we do it where ever we are! Beginning sounds, ending sounds, middle sounds, rhyming….it turns out that this a perfect car game! See simple! Another thing that I have done, is use those pink series cards for more then just learning to write. I used them for rhyming games, beginning sounds, and lots of other little things for Pup. Why keep making a hundred boxes for one kids, when the lessons can be done with some simple stuff. I know that it really isn’t traditional, but I think that it works for us. Sometimes I think that we over complicate the Montessori Method with stuff. When I really think about what Montessori was able to do with poor kids in poor parts of the world, I wondered how we ended up with a method that requires so much stuff for each and every step. After all the goal is to teach using small steps and hands on materials an lots of free time to practice, So, I am going to cut a few corners to keep things easier here. After all, simpler means easier for me, and easier for me means that I am not so stressed, and when I am less stressed I can be a¬†better mommy and wife! So what’s not to love about that? So do you cut corners? Be honest! What do you change?

I am linking up over at Montessori Monday, so be sure to stop over there for lots more Montessori fun!

The Pain of Perfectionism

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Ok…so I have been rediscovering my love of Pintrest! I don’t know about you , but I love that place! It is full of great ideas, awesome projects, and a sense of inspiration! However, I really think that it also brings a sense of failure. Sometimes I find it leave me thinking I don’t craft enough, play with my girls enough, or make enough learning moments. Does anyone else think that? Well I do. It is awful and I know that I should really just keep myself sane, but really it happens. I don’t feel like I am doing a very good parenting job. After all, we¬†really aren’t¬†having amazing play time with them, I am don’t tell them that its ok to cry all the time, and I sure¬†as heck¬†make sure that the house is clean (which it taking time away from them right?). But then I stop. My kids are happy, smart, creative, and engaged. I don’t do everything right, in fact I don’t do a lot of the things that all those beautiful parenting articles on Pintrest tell me I should. But I love my kids and I think that they know that despite my not being the perfect mom. Then I thought that the thing that I am being plagued with is perfectionism plain and simple! It is something that has plagued man since the beginning of time and I don’t why I should be exempt from it. Perfectionism….the irony of this is that I have been thinking so¬† much about how to help Bunny not worry so much about doing everything perfectly in her school work! Yet here I am doing the same thing. Ok….I am not throwing a fit that I didn’t do it right, but I may be cringing, even crying on the inside. So I guess we are more alike then I thought. So what do we do? I will never do all the amazing art projects and take hours a day to play with my kids. You may never spend hours making Montessori materials or cooking homemade baked goods. But does it really matter? Just like I try to calm Bunny down by telling her that she doesn’t need to do everything right every time, I should also realized that I am not going to be perfect…..ever! And its ok. I think that we really over pressed to be a perfect mommy by making sure that our kids have every opportunity and be that in the back yard or in a class, we are all trying to kill ourselves to make it happen. Why? Does it matter? We are moms, doing our best to love and care for our kids…..the best way we know how for us! So here’s is all to you hard working moms out there! Here’s to not letting perfectionism make us (or our kids)¬†crazy! Here is to parenting! Its the best!

Updates on Life

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Well I had plans to write a beautiful, fun post all about our making ice cream the other day, but I really am feeling pretty down and I thought I’d share a bit about why I have been less then chatty lately. You see, May hit me with a pretty lovely case of burnout. I had been warned all year that it would hit if I kept going on with all the commitments I had and I didn’t listen. Everything needed me so much! And I did finish up all the commitments I had to the best of my abilities, but that took a huge toll. That toll was that I was DONE! I needed a break. There was nothing left to give. We finished up school work, I got their test scores back, I closed up the Atrium for the summer, and I crawled into my house with intention to hole ourselves up for a summer of nothing. And that is what I did here. In the my own words to the director of the church I just wanted to “pack it all up and burn it all down”. Now that isn’t a healthy attitude is it? So we stayed home and I did the only that I felt was calling to me….scrapbooked. I had a whole year and half of photos that were not in albums and that really bothered me. Now I hear some of you saying that you have years, maybe even decades out there to do, but I was really avid scrapbooker a few years ago. I had a whole album scrapped and ready for Bunny before she was even born. I just needed photos. So for me to have 18 months of photos just irritated me to no end. So I sat down and while the girls played to their hearts content, I sat on my¬†computer and put together page after page of pictures. It was refreshing and yet the guilt clawed at me. I was literally spending hours on the computer. Not exactly the mom of the year. However, the more I thought about it, the more I saw that if I didn’t do something that was not just for me I was never going to get out of this horrible burned out, drained feeling. While I was battling this, I also realized that I have about all of the symptoms of a thyroid disorder. Sigh….I have always battled with keeping my hormones balanced and I take a replacement pill as it is, but this was taken to a whole new level. I was SO exhausted and incapable of getting my body to move. Right now I feel like I have run a marathon and all I did today was clean the house. It is a total body weariness that permeates down to every muscle I have. (Much like being pregnant, but without the sweet baby). It slow my mind and my ability to think and react. I am forgetting words, dropping things, and my typing is horrible! The effort of maintaining normal things like laundry and dinner seem like big accomplishments and it bothers me that I am like this. However, since I cannot afford all the tests and specialists to fix this, I am just learning to work with it. Some days are really good, others not so much. Today, not so much. My sister has been helping me research some natural helps. Exercises is a good one and there are some food that make it better/worse. So I am working on it. But all of this combined has led me to a very low key type summer! We have played a lot with friends, done a lot of art (12 straight days of rain requires some creative indoor fun), and had lots of watery fun! But there has been nothing too exciting, and “blog worthy”, plus by the time I start to blog at night, I am too tired to think it all through. So that is why I have been really quite here this summer! I am however starting to come out of some of the burnout and learning to work with the hormonal lows! Thank the Lord God! I was able to start my school planning, and start planning ideas for the Atrium next year (It will be far less days a week for sure)!¬† I am staring to get excited and I am so happy to feel like there are some normal bits coming back! So if you are the praying type, send up a prayer for me! I am striving to get back on track and be normal. I know that this is a kind of a downer post, but I wanted to share what is happening here! Its days like this I wish I really was super mom! I will be back to tomorrow with Ice Creaming making (which is always yummy)! I hope to see you back then! I will be back to my happy self (more or less)! Happy Summer to you all!

PS the pictures are some that were from the fourth of July! My dear blog deleted the post three times, so I gave up! (Yes I rewrote it three times). The pictures however are of the bike parade they had!

Artful Homeschooling

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We have been having lots of fun with art the past few days. I really love all the creativity and the happiness I see on the girls faces. This has really factored into my schooling planning for the year. In the book, the Artful Parent, she talks about how she makes art a part of her home life with her kids. She calls it artful parenting. I am thinking that we are not only going to do that,¬† but take it a step further and become Artful¬†Homeschoolers! Art is important to me girls and I love it too. I read about the Project Based Homeschooling and I loved the idea of it. However, that is based on what the child chooses to study. While I love doing that, I have the issue that my girls are going to need to do certain things in their school work, even if they don’t want to. So instead of waiting for them to choose something to work on and dig in, I am going to make the art a part of the school plan for the lessons that I am going to give. If we are learning about Africa, then they can create a map or an animal that they are learning¬†about. If we are learning about Space, then they can create planets¬† and solar systems. The possibilities are endless and they can even create with their math and language work. Make puppets to go with their story or make fractions out of clay. You see the more I think about this, the more I realized that they need to¬†create to learn thing on a deeper level. They cant¬†just read about¬†it or hear me talk about it.¬† They need to¬†discover¬†it on their own.¬†As Maria Montessori said, “Education is a natural process carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words, but by experiences in the environment”. Their work is so important. The work of their hands is really what is going to help them learn. I can see Bunny and Pup both moving away from a lot of materials. It makes me sad, but at the same time I am proud that they are mastering so much. However, their need to work with their hands hasn’t gone away! So I see some of their work this year becoming more artful. As they make things they will need to know the information to do it well. So our Montessori journey has led us to be artful homeschoolers! My goal for their education is that it inspire them to want to know more about the world around them! I want them to dig really deep into the things that mean a lot to them and to know how to find the information. So I think that our path is changing and I am excited to see where its going!

Do you see a new path for your school plan this year? What new ideas are you thinking about?

School Work Storage

Do you have a million papers and art creations all over the place? I did. I felt like it was overwhelming as the school year ended. There were stories, drawings, math problems, art creations, and a bit of everything else! So what do you do with all of this wonderfulness? We can save it, but what will they do with it later in life? Pitch it? Probably. So I decided that I would scrapbook it. I started by taking pictures of each piece of work (yes this took a while). I used a light box that I made using this tutorial. This allowed me to get good, clean pictures of their work without any shadows. Then I scrapbooked the pictures using my digital scrapbook program. I added some pictures of the girls working and some of the other fun things we did that I didn’t have papers for. My hope is that this will become a fun way to look back over what we have done this year! I made sure I wrote out¬†some of the details of what we learned for each subject so we can remember (I didn’t include any of those pages for you to see though, since they have the girls names all over them)!¬†¬†I think that they turned out pretty well. Here are a few of pages I made for the girls:

Here are some pages from Pup’s book:

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There are some from Bunny’s Book:

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This project took me weeks to finish, but I think that it is worth it. Not only was I able to save their work digitally. It also made me realize that we did a lot more work then I thought! It was so cool to put them together and see how the girls grew, changed, and learned over the year. It really was a blessing and helped me recover a bit from the burnout I was feeling. To see the great learning and the fun we had made me ready to start thinking about how to work next year too! Plus clearing things up is always a great way to feel accomplished! ūüôā So here is my question for all of you:
How do you save, preserve, and keep all those memories? Do you save them all or do you toss things out? Do you have a portfolio or just a box? I would love to hear what you do! Happy Summer!

PS. Yes I did throw out most of their work after it was photographed. They did each save a folder full of their favorites!

demarce