indoor fun – Busy!

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Let’s begin by sharing that I’m not a fan of mindless activities for children that simply keep them “busy” and out of our hair. Sure, I’m guilty of putting on a show from time to time so I can get something done without Wren needing something from me for twenty minutes (or two hours). But as far as our every day activities, I want them to mostly be meaningful, thoughtful, and creative. I felt I needed to preface this post because of the name of this activity book we are loving with all this indoor time on our hands these (short but LONG) winter days.

Introducing… Richard Scarry’s Big Busy Sticker & Activity Book! We picked it up at our local JoAnn store several months ago as an impulse buy for Wren. It seemed a bit expensive at almost $13, but in the cart it went. Well, I’m here to tell you that it was worth more than $13. Although she can’t do all the activities in it yet on her own, she can do a lot of them and a lot of them we happily do together.

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There are a lot of stickers (over 900!) so there are a lot of sticker-based activities, dot-to-dots, mazes, counting and letter work, etc. She loves it.

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The book itself is obviously not a Montessori-inspired book. But I have to give credit to Montessori’s focus on allowing the child the time and space to immerse herself in an activity and stay focused. It’s incredible to see this develop. I think Wren spent about three hours of the morning buried in this book today. Three hours!

Anyone else have any fun indoor activities you’ve been enjoying this winter? Taking recommendations on favorite games, books, crafts…

drinking like a Montessori, revisited

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I have such a vivid memory of the time Wren learned to drink from a real cup (instead of a sippy cup). I don’t think I had even considered it, but she was going to enroll in a Montessori school a couple mornings and she had to know how to drink from a cup. I was surprised at how quickly she learned to drink from it and I was thrilled to see how proud she was of herself. It was one of the first times that the basic idea of Montessori hit home: independence promotes confidence.

Now that the second child is here, parenting is a lot more intuitive and involves a lot more watching and learning from her. Phoebe has been putting a cup up to her mouth and drinking in the bath a lot lately, yuck. When she’s in the kitchen, she’ll often reach for a cup and pretend to drink. Today Wren and I decided that she would help Phoebe learn to drink water from her cup. They both were so proud! And wet.

I had an “aha!” moment today with these two. I’ve been struggling to find things the three of us can do together. Usually it involves Phoebe getting into Wren’s stuff (paint, stickers, puzzle, book) and Wren screaming at Phoebe. Fun! And then I listened and watched and quietly directed, but it didn’t take much from me. Voila! Birdie number two begins to drink from a cup, thanks to her sister.

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I’m so excited to explore this more: empowering Wren to help Phoebe explore the world in a meaningful way. Nothing is forced, just a natural relationship that needs a bit of nurturing from Mama.

an amazing little girl

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We received Wren’s first “report card” from her Primary Montessori class. Her teacher’s comments made me cry so I wanted to share them with you too. So proud!

“Wren is a wonderful addition to our room. She makes us laugh and brings such joy to our days. She enjoys “writing,” artwork, practical life, getting snack ready, and the sensorial area. She is beginning to learn to share her friend Maddie with others. Wren demonstrates great excitement and passion for life that is contagious! She is an amazing little girl.”

She has “mastered” the following areas:

  • demonstrates self-confidence
  • demonstrates curiosity about the world

Proud Mama. Sniff, sniff.

 

stepping up

Next fall Wren will move up to the Primary class at her Montessori school and they honored the adorable graduating toddlers with a Stepping Up ceremony. There was lots of singing and waving. Ahh, toddler energy!

There were also some serious moments. Wren took her work during the ceremony very seriously. She also comforted her buddy by holding her hand. These kiddos really know how to tug at their Mama’s heartstrings.

Onward and upward to Primary we go!

planting a rainbow – January edition

We “planted a rainbow” this fall with a few different kinds of bulbs, said good night to them as we tucked them in their blankets of soil and now are patiently waiting for spring to warm the soil… But who doesn’t love some fresh flowers in the midst of winter too? Actually it doesn’t really feel much like winter here in northern Michigan. I didn’t even wear a coat yesterday, but it might just be hormones? Or maybe because of the fever from the mastitis that’s got its angry grip on me again? Oof. Regardless of the blue skies and grassy yard out there, I know better than to think Old Man Winter won’t visit soon and poor Chris will have to be shoveling the roof off again. Sigh.

Whether we have snow to play in or not, one of our winter traditions is to plant paperwhite bulbs and watch them grow right in our midst. Last year we had some beautiful ones and are hoping for some hope-filled blooms again this year. Wren did most of this year’s paperwhite planting work and it made this Mama so proud to see her engrossed in her work. At one point when I tried to add some stones too she sternly looked at me and said, “Mama, this is MY work.” Montessori!

What traditions do you have in the winter to keep you from going too stir crazy? Especially when you can’t really play in the snow… Other than TV or some other electronic device… Truth be told, we’ve been enjoying enduring some Strawberry Shortcake too. A little bit can’t hurt, right?!

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At first I was a bit annoyed that the little birdie emptied out all the raisin boxes, but she was just so proud of her work. And when I thought about it for a minute, I too was proud. She opened up all the boxes, emptied them out into her little pan and (eventually) put the boxes in the recycling bin. At least she’s thorough! She might even have eaten a few along the way. A few.

How’s your week going, lovelies?

water painting

One of Wren’s favorite activities is painting. She loves to paint when she’s at school and in the basement of our nest too. She refers to the entire basement experience as “weasel!” because of her easel. I don’t dare correct her because it makes me laugh every time she stands at the top of the stairs and yells, “weasel!”

But when we’re upstairs, away from the bottles and tubes of color, she loves to paint with water. My brother and his family gave this Japanese water painting set to the little birdie for Christmas and it’s proven to be quite a hit. It’s quite popular with this Mama too because all you need is water. Easy clean-up!

So how does it work? It’s simple. Just dip the brush into a small amount of water and paint a stroke on the “magical” surface. The brush strokes become black and then disappear within a few minutes, leaving the canvas clear for a new painting. Voila!

P.S. I’m amazed at the little birdie’s fine motor skills: the way she holds the brush? Wow. We have Montessori to thank for this.

birdie 1, egg 0

Where oh where did my baby go? Just recently (yesterday?) she rolled over for the first time and now she’s begging for another hard-boiled egg so she can crack the shell, peel it, cut it in half, put a dash of salt and pepper on it and eat it. All by herself. Makes this Mamma so proud! But oh, so bittersweet. Sigh. How many eggs can one little birdie safely eat in one day anyway? Yesterday’s total egg consumption: 3. Any food obsessions in your nests lately, lovelies?

drinking like a Montessori

This week started out with me sniffling in the car while trying to distract myself with the book Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It: And Other Cooking Projects. Recipes for crackers, marshmallows, strawberry jam and even limoncello couldn’t quite make me stop thinking about my little birdie’s first (partial) morning at “school.” I knew she would be fine (well, at least part of me did) and I knew in my heart that she would thrive in the Montessori environment, but I still had a hard time leaving her. Someone could’ve handed me a million bucks and I still would’ve been sniffling in the car, checking the clock every few minutes until the two hours had passed. It made me think of what Wren’s Grandpa Jon likes to say about parenthood: once you have children, you wear your heart on the outside. Sigh.

So how’d she do? Well, according to her Guide, she did OK for the first hour and then another baby started to cry and that upset her. Babies. They can be so empathetic! So for the next (almost) hour, she was sniffling too. Never full on crying, trying to hold herself together, be a big girl and all. Egads, that didn’t make me feel any better. So she goes back again today for another round and with a work meeting on my agenda, I won’t have the opportunity to sit in the car and sniffle so things WILL be better, right? I’m not exactly sure what Murphy’s Law of Parenthood has to say about that logic, do you? Don’t answer that.

Two mornings a week didn’t sound like much, but it’s been weighing heavy on my heart. Eventually, I know she’ll love it and I’ll be sad because she’ll cry when she has to leave school one day. Can’t win, can we?

So in the meantime this week, we’ve been having a very fun, wet week with a cup. Who knew that learning to drink from a real cup could be so much fun!? At school, the kiddos only drink from real cups. No sippy cups allowed. But she’s only 13 months old?! Yes, a cup. It’s been amazing and hilarious to watch her progress this week with the cup. It’s empowered her; she is so proud of herself with a real cup just like Mamma and Dadda. In the beginning of the week, most of it ended up on her lap. Like a bath at the dinner table. But now, more of it ends up in her mouth. So very cool!

And how cute is a baby drinking from a real cup? SO CUTE. Right?

I’m sending lots of good karma into the world today, hoping it will bounce back (is that how it works?) and make Wren a happy little birdie today at school. Will you send out some good karma too, dear readers? Pretty please? With a cherry on top?

I hope things are happy and healthy in your nests. Have you been enjoying the first real week of summer?