Monday, November 29, 2010

Seasonal Displays

I feel so lucky to have, what I consider, a perfect space for our seasonal centers. A large bay window, low enough for Tyler to climb and sit in, even when he was just a little bitty crawler, has been a lovely location. We have moved from a lifetime in Upstate NY (a place with definite seasons!) to a much more southern state this year, and I'm not sure how well what is seen outside will match some of the displays (snow?), but we'll certainly find out!

Our fall display consisted of many gourds that Tyler enjoyed looking at (and throwing!), a jack o' lantern full of pine cones found on a neighborhood walk, pumpkin and Halloween books, a small pumpkin, perfect for carrying around the house, an enlarged photograph of a fall scene that I took a few years ago, and fall leaves we collected and placed between wax paper (then ironed). Early in the fall, we cut open a small pumpkin to allow Tyler to discover what the insides are like. Tyler became quite obsessed with pumpkins and though we've recently taken down the autumn display, several items have found new homes around the house.

    The winter display replaced the autumn center on Thanksgiving, and has more of a Christmas feel to it for now. I'm sure that I'll be changing and adding to it within the next couple weeks, as I found I did with the autumn scene. For now, it includes a Christmas tree with toddler friendly ornaments for Tyler to practice removing, replacing, and arranging as he'd like. He is especially fond of the jingle bells, which he shakes furiously! I've placed Christmas and winter books in a basket. I found a small stocking which I'll be placing an item or two in soon for him to practice removing and replacing. Two Christmas-style boxes with lids to practice with also each hold a ceramic figure; Santa's workshop holds a Santa figure and the gold present box holds an angel. A miscellaneous box holds pine cones, several jingle bell ornaments (that were too small to hang by themselves for fear of choking) which I strung to serve as a sort of instrument, as well as a few long pieces of garland to play with. So far he's enjoying it very much, especially the tree!

Wouldn't you know the next morning, after a nearly 70 degree Thanksgiving Day, we woke to snow on the ground?! It was a lovely backdrop to the display before it melted soon after. Our cat Tomas sure seems to think so too!

Spooning puff balls

This activity is meant to help the child practice spooning skills. Ty self-feeds with a spoon, though often finds it faster to use his hand, so I thought he may find this activity useful and fun! The idea is to use the spoon to transfer puff balls from one container to the other. Tyler was so eager to get his hands activity as he watched me put it together, that I didn't even go to our "quiet room" with it. Thankfully his surrounding toys didn't distract him at all.

Unfortunately, Tyler became confused by the fact that I was using his spoon in the demonstration and seemed to think that the puff balls were for eating! I don't often have to tell him "no eat please" more than once, but he kept trying to stuff them in his mouth, so I removed the spoon. As with most Montessori activities, not all was lost. After a while, he enjoyed transferring all of the puff balls by hand from one bowl to the other. He then delighted in the softness of the puff balls and the fact that they were a little squishy. I then removed myself and watched as he spun the containers, bit them, and threw them, listening to the sounds they made of the floor. The most interesting part for me, and what I believe he got the most out of with this activity, was when he put one puff ball into the container and slowly tipped it to see how much tipping it would take for the puff ball to fall out.

He spent a good amount of time focused on this task, doing it over and over again. By the end, he was adding two puff balls. As always, I was amazed by his focus, one of the major goals we hope to develop with Montessori!  


After Tyler was finished, he didn't go far. I often find this a good time to expand upon the activity in some way. I decided to sit and sort the puff balls into piles by color as he watched. When I was finished, he walked over to look, and I named the colors for him several times as he listened intently. He sat on my lap to observe as I then sorted them by size, and after that, lined them up by color to count and see which lines were shortest and longest, talking about what I did aloud. I find that though he's not yet old enough to do much other than perhaps sort by color, he's very interested in the process, soaking it into his brain for later use.

This morning, he spotted this activity on top of one of his shelves and wished to play with it. I think this will stay out for a while, and perhaps I'll find a spoon that isn't so confusing for him soon.  :)

Thanks to Darla for this idea!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Let's begin...

First blog about my Mommyhood journey.

How intimidating.

Where to begin...?

I suppose an introduction will get me rolling and onto bigger things.
"The sunshine of my life" comes in the way of a bright, exuberant, funny, handsome, gloriously happy 15 month old boy who am am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother to. I'm not sure what was important in my life before he was here, but I do know that I am now happier and more fulfilled that I ever imagined I'd be. I wear smile lines around my lips with pride. I likely laugh more in one day than I did in a month's time before his birth. I've flung myself deep into Mommyhood and have done constant research and reading on how exactly I've wanted to do it, and how I don't. I have no other job, and like any other employment I've had since becoming an adult, I have given it incredible attention and effort. This is not to brag. Sometimes my intensity leaves me exhausted, in need of a break and more than not, anxious about a long list of things I need and wish to do. I don't know any other way of doing things. Changing this isn't anything I'm interested in either.

What I have decided is that I would breast feed exclusively, and when he decided to self-wean, despite my efforts to bring him back, I decided that I would pump 4-5x a day to provide him the only milk that he'll drink anyhow. After his GERD began to fade at one year, and he no longer required an incline for sleeping, I began co-sleeping, something I longed to do for months. I decided to follow Attachment Parenting. I read about Free Range parenting and it made sense. I could go on and on. 

Most importantly for my purposes here, when I read about the Montessori philosophy, a million beautiful bells went off in my head. Familiar bells, as I had been doing so much of the teachings already, and new bells that I knew would be able to guide me through so much of his childhood. This is not to say that I am 100% Montessori. Co-sleeping is something Maria Montessori would surely scold me for, but I also know what my child's emotional needs are and will always fulfill them. I have incorporated Waldorf, as I believe fantasy play is important, as well as music and art. I've begun to shun all electronic toys, taking out the batteries, and when this renders the toy useless, selling them to others. I contradict this as well, as there are a few passive toys that would be like snatching a lovie from an anxious toddler, so I've decided to let them stay. I have dreams of making my own wooden furniture and materials. I am in love with my home full of shelves and centers for toys that are easily accessible and a home that is 100% childproofed and free for my child to roam and explore without constantly hearing the word "no". I delight in a child who truly appreciates order, putting away, closing doors and cabinets, pushing in his chair, undressing, helping to sweep and rake...without prompting. Spying on him playing independently with his toys without interruption or distraction is fascinating. Watching him grow so happily into an independent child with the confidence that he can do things on his own because he knows that we believe in his capabilities and have the utmost respect for his needs, socially, emotionally, and intellectually, is incredibly rewarding. For me, Montessori is the beautiful answer. I luckily have a husband who is on board and open to listening to and learning everything that I have experienced and read. Finding a focus that fits the way Montessori does makes me and the household feel balanced, light and peaceful. 

This is the Mommy I am now. I am not afraid of evolving, changing and rearranging priorities as I read, grow, and as my child does the same. Whether this blog is updated several days a week, a few times a month, whether activities will always include photos (as I'm undecided about this as a distraction), and what will be shared in this place is unknown, but I hope that others will enjoy and maybe even find a new idea, as I so often have from others. Thanks for reading.