Saturday, January 31, 2009
Weather: Is it spring yet? We have been frozen for ages and I'm miserable- Superman and I actually had a somewhat serious conversation a few days ago about moving somewhere further south just to have warmer weather! Yesterday we had a little hint toward spring with a push into the upper 50's!
This Week: I'm finishing up interviews for students who are hoping to join the studio next fall in addition to my usual teaching schedule. I'm desperately hoping that Little Bit will change his mind on this sleep thing and start sleeping through the night again.
Current Fiction Read: Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Current Non-Fiction Read: Bountiful Container by McGee and Stuckey.
Craftiness: I was given a few skeins of cotton in a variety of bright colors, so I'm knitting some new dishcloths in the evenings until I find a bit of time to buy yarn for more socks. Yes. I'm addicted to the sock making.
Learning at home: I sorted through our puzzles yesterday and I put two big floor puzzles out that we don't have available to the boys all the time. One is a rectangle shaped ocean scene and the other is a firetruck shape. The pieces of both puzzles are very thick and large, so they are perfect for young hands. For Little Bit I put the puzzle together except for 2 or 3 pieces then help him learn to turn the pieces in order to find the right fit. As he gets better at this I'll leave more and more pieces out.
Big Kid is learning about time and money words this week. He knows penny and quarter, so we're working on identifying dimes and nickles. He has a little piggy bank with an easy opening on the bottom to dump the coins. We're going to work on sorting the coins into piles by quarter, dime, nickle and penny, and we will also do some patterning to help him remember the difference between the dimes and nickles. This is an activity we will use only when Little Bit is in bed because he still puts a lot of things in his mouth.
Big Kid is also working on time words this week. He is always pointing to the digital clock on Superman's side of the bed and saying the numbers in order to tell me the time. It has been good for him to work on the vocabulary for numbers over 20, so we're going to continue to talk about what time it is this week.
New Work: The money work listed above is new, and I've also cut strips of paper to use for cutting. It isn't new to us, but we haven't really worked on cutting in the last several week so Big Kid will feel like it is new!
In Other News . . . I'll be done with my 30 day declutter this week! The house feels so much lighter now that some things have been moved out of here. I've been finding new homes for the things that have needed homes, and I'm happy to have my counter space back in my kitchen.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I make crazy amounts of lists- absolutely everything must be written down. Just about everyone that knows me knows that if I don't write it down or enter it into the calendar on my phone it's like it never happened. I might vaguely recall the conversation, but rarely details- I blame this on mommy brain. Even my 3-year-old will say, "Mama, did you write it down?"
I didn't write down 2 appointments for yesterday, therefore they weren't attended. I'm feeling like a giant dork and wondering why I can't remember simple things like that. I used to have an excellent memory and now all my brain power is taken up with remembering the last diaper change, the last snack, how much milk has been consumed in the last 24 hours, what chapter are we on in our read aloud...
I'm getting ready to order seeds at Pinetree Garden Seeds. I'm trying to start small so we're going with tomatoes, spinach and broccoli. I've been considering a lettuce mix and onions also- we'll see though. It depends on how brave I am on the day that I order. I'm still not convinced that I totally know what I'm doing, but I'm to the point that we will just have to jump in and try. It will either work or it won't- either way we'll learn a lot.
I love this cute little hostess apron! I found it through The Apronista, a site that makes me want to sew more every time I visit. I'm mentally digging through my fabric stash to see if I have suitable fabric to replicate the look. Maybe, yes!
Another pair of socks is finished- that's right- finished! I started on Saturday night, finished the first sock on Monday night, started the second sock between students on Tuesday and finished up last night. It certainly helped that Little Bit was up so many times. I'd put him back to bed and knit a few rows until I knew he was settled back in, then sleep awhile til he woke again. There's nothing worse than thinking he's been settled and just barely getting your eyes closed before he starts up again. So I knit.
I used the same pattern as for the first pair of socks- I know I should branch out and try another sock pattern... maybe this? Pictures of current socks to come. :)
I found this link via Kara. Have you heard about the James Challenge? This is something I have been prayerfully considering over the last few days. I worry about being disciplined enough to follow through, but discipline has been one of the foremost thoughts on my mind in the last several weeks. This may be a way to see prayer answered. Note #1 though- my memory is sketchy at best.
I've been looking for a good craft to do with Big Kid for Valentine's day this year. We have plans to paint some valentine's cards over the weekend, and I have a heart shaped mold to make candy or ice cubes or something heart shaped. I found this craft that we're going to try- Big Kid is learning to make stitches in a row (the child loves to sew with me- hooray!) so I think the little sewn felt hearts will be a fun thing for us to sit and do together during one of Little Bit's naptimes.
The computer is here! It arrived near the end of the work day Thursday, so I'm trying to get to know it. I'm brand new to Vista and it's annoyances quirks. I'm downloading all the things it needs- printer drivers, business files, PICTURES... and will get quilt pictures posted on Monday. Speaking of the quilt, it's on it's way to the quilter this morning. I'm not sure of the exact time-frame she'll need to finish it, but my mother says she usually has them back within a week. I am so happy with how the color schemes turned out, especially since it is made completely of unplanned fabric. I can't wait to send this off to Reed's mother!
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Have you seen Dawn's Year-at-a-Glance Bulletin Board Idea? It makes for great memories AND it's low maintenance!
Here is a great Montessori activity posted over at Chasing Cheerios: Color Box 3 on the cheap! Using the paint chip cards you can find for free at your local paint store you can create your own shade matching activity!
This is an excellent drawing activity we will be trying later in the week- Drawing Fruit From Real Life. I'm not sure what Big Kid will think of it at first, but it will be great practice for starting our nature journals this spring.
Here is an old post from Elizabeth Foss that I'm using to help plan the garden unit study we'll be doing in late February/early March.
I'm thinking about knitting these next. I'm always cold while I practice piano so I think these might be a good solution.
Anyone else have fun links to share? Post in comments!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
The basis for my studio is that I do not teach to try to raise up brilliant musicians. The truth is the great majority of music students will not play after they reach adulthood. Of the few that do, most will not be professional musicians. My job is to help my students love music, understand what music means, and to know how it works. I deal with people, particularly children, not master technicians. Trying to make each student into a professional musician misses the point of what music is about- emotional connection and shared experience.
Why Should I Consider Teaching a Newborn About Music?
Above all else, I believe music is a way to communicate and bond with people, and who better to do that with than your newborn? Music is a way for us to share with each other and communicate emotion in a way words can't express. The purpose of introducing music to your infant is to share the emotions that music brings. It won't make your child smarter just by listening, but as your child grows and develops they will learn important skills in observance and listening. As they come to study music with you or in private lessons the analytical skills and fine motor skills that will come with study are extremely useful. Music study is connected to improved reading and math skills, and a generally more observant child.
When Should We Start?
One of the most common questions I'm asked is "what is the right age to start music?" My answer: Whatever age your child is right now! You don't have to do things one certain way, you don't have to be a musician or even have musical experience to be able to teach your child about music. Don't worry that you're too late or too early, there is no perfect time for your child to start, no window to miss. It all starts with listening, and you and your child can do that with a CD player and a few CDs.
What Kinds of Music Should We Play?
Your child is ready to hear all types of music, so play it! When my boys were newborns we played softer music and mostly classical- Chopin preludes, some Debussy, and some Handel along with the Suzuki method violin and piano CDs. Keep in mind that newborns enjoy more peaceful sounds, and use that for your framework in selecting good music. Your child will not get bored listening to the same music over and over, so play the same CD for several days in a row. Very young children learn more and more with each repetition.
As your child starts to roll, creep and crawl, choose more active and exciting music. Bach, Vivaldi and Kabalevski are amoung our favorites. Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is especially popular with my boys, the sounds and textrues vary widely from piece to piece. Encourage movement to the music as your child is able to sit up independently and crawl, and as your child is able to stand on their own, encourage bobbing along to the music or even dancing if your child is able to stand on their own. My younger son was not very eager to learn to stand and subsequently to walk, so we often took him by both hands to help him stand and would "dance" with him to music to encourage him to stand on his own.
Try to choose CDs with true instrument sounds. CDs produced specifically for children usually use a more electronic sound, or use what they deem "child-friendly" instruments. Listening to these kinds of CDs isn't bad for your child, but it doesn't help your child to learn about the sounds that different instruments make.
So You Only Listen to Classical Music?
No. We *mostly* listen to classical music. That is the music that I love more than any other kind, and I find a lot of beauty and meaning there. We also listen to Faith Hill, Steven Curtis Chapman, Josh Groban, Third Day, They Might Be Giants, Carrie Underwood, Jason Mraz, Charlotte Church, DC Talk (getting into old stuff here!), and musicals of all sorts. Superman is a trumpet player and he really loves jazz so we often listen to jazz in the evenings if he is home for dinner. We try to listen also to music I don't personally enjoy (like some 20th century composers) and it gives us the opportunity to talk about concepts like tonality and dissonance.
So What Did Music Education Look Like In Your House with an Infant?
Much the same way it looks now that my kids are a little older. When we go downstairs in the morning to have breakfast I flip the CD Player on and music plays in the background through chores, breakfast and free play time. I turn it off while they do Montessori work and we turn it on again when I start to make lunch and through the meal time. We listen again at dinner. I point out things that I notice as we listen- that a note is very high or low, or I might say something like, "the exciting part is coming up!" There are no projects or certain things to note. There is no guide for this age group- it is all about the enjoyment of listening to music together.
Okay, I need a Little More Guidance. Are There Specific Titles that You Recommend?
Yep, I have some favorites listed below. Remember, there is no right thing to introduce and there is no particular thing you must do. This is just a starting point.
Charlotte Church- Prelude
They Might Be Giants- Here Come the ABCs
They Might Be Giants- Here Come the 123s
Yo-Yo Ma- Bach: The 6 Unaccompanied Cello Suites
Vivaldi- The Four Seasons
Monday, January 26, 2009
Weather: We're expecting snow later this afternoon and on into tomorrow. I'll be interested to see how much we actually get this time- the last few snows our forecasters have been quite off.
This Week: I have a somewhat extended work week this week. I'm interviewing families from my waiting list for the empy time slots that will be available next year as students move away or graduate. So I'll be in the studio on Friday this week (my usual day off) conducting interviews. Superman is also moving back to a 6 day work week this week for the next month during their busy season in addition to his school schedule, so this is going to be a tough month.
Current Fiction Read: Change of Plans; Instead of Girl of the Lumberlost I'm reading Inkheart. Superman read it when it first came out and loved it; now he wants to see the movie. I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to see the movie until I've read the book, so I moved it to the front of the pile so we will hopefully be able to see the movie in the next few weeks.
Current Non-Fiction Read: MaryJanes's Ideabook, Cookbook, Lifebook by MaryJane Butters.
Craftiness: I'm down to grafting the toe on my second pair of socks (sock #1 of the pair). I started them Saturday night during a movie evening with Superman and they've been incredibly fast this time- now that I know what I'm doing of course!
Reed's Quilt is going to the woman with the machine quilter on Friday! (Pics to come shortly)
Learning at home: I made a little spot on the shelf for some worksheets for Big Kid. I pull out three or four each day and put them on a clipboard for him. If he chooses to work on them we work together. These little worksheets are a collection of things from my days as a preschool teacher and pages from Kumon workbooks. I didn't think he would be so interested in having papers to do, but he really likes them and has been choosing them every day since I put them out last week. I'm curious about how long it will last.
For Ezra I put out a sheet with some large stickers and a plain piece of construction paper. He's learning to peel the stickers off the sheet and stick them to the paper. This keeps him really busy!
New Work: Dishwashing for both boys and a tray of rice for scooping and pouring,
In Other News . . . The delivery date for my computer is supposed to be today, but the track package feature shows that it is still several states away from here. So unless a scan was missed along the way I don't think it will be here today. My new printer was shipped today, so hopefully it will be here by the end of the week. Oh yeah- I didn't tell you about that did I? First my palm pilot died, then my phone, then my printer, THEN my computer! All within 6 weeks. I'm starting to wonder if my body is a magnet that destroys any electronics that I touch.
Friday, January 23, 2009
My computer should be here by Monday! I cannot even begin to explain the level of excitement I have. There are several posts worth of pictures to share, and things will get back to normal around here! The only thing I'm worried about is learning to use Vista since I've heard such complaints about it.
I'm spending my afternoon on organizing new work for the boys shelves. I took several things down not long ago and have been re-presenting some work because of poor use by Big Kid. He was ready for the next step of the binomial cube so I presented that this week as well. I think partly he stopped using materials properly because he's ready for some new things and I haven't prepared them for him yet. I'm going to get a few things done over the weekend to present next week.
I'm diving into the basement over the weekend with a little help from Superman. I want to try to clear out a few boxes at least. The truth is that we haven't really gone in to retrieve anything since the move last April, so we probably don't need to hang on to 70% of the things in there. The things that need to stay are the seasonal items (mostly Christmas), sentimental childhood thing for me and Superman (a few boxes each) and the little kid clothes and select toys (for the someday when we have another little one).
Anyone do the whole coupon thing? I'm trying to get back into it. I did for a long time but it has been one of the things that I had to mentally let go of for the last six months or so to do other things. Well, we need to try to save as much as we can right now, so I'm trying to get back into couponing for the things we buy. I'm not the type of couponer that buys just because it's a deal, and we do try to eat as fresh as possible for our budget, but the savings on things like toothpaste and laundry detergent is amazing. So back in I dive, and it feels much easier this time around.
The socks are finished! The second sock went so much faster than the first, and oh my goodness I love them! I'm going to start another pair soon. If I thought the boys or Superman would properly appreciate handknit socks I'd make them some as well. But seeing as how I can't keep regular socks on any of them I don't think I'll put the time into a project for them!
I think I'm getting close to knowing exactly what we'd like to grow in our container garden this year, but I'm not feeling very confident that I know what to do with getting seeds started and all that. Does anyone knows of a really good reference book that is more specific to container gardening? Superman and I are heading to a bookstore this weekend at some point to look for sources. I've searched a bit for titles so I have some titles in mind, but I always like to have a referral from someone that has actually used the book before, you know?
Superman has been doing very well sticking with his health goals so far this month- he's been to the gym at least two-three times a week and he's been drinking mostly water and tea. My big goal for right now has been keeping off of caffeine, and drinking mostly water. I've replaced my morning coffee with orange juice or cranberry juice and I'm eating a better breakfast so I do well through the morning most of the time, but by afternoon I crave soda. Keeping it out of the house has mostly worked, but I've had soda three afternoons this week, and then couldn't sleep until midnight or later. I'm not trying to give it up completely, but I'm trying to stop thinking of it as an all-the-time beverage. I'm going to try to treat those afternoon cravings with some decaf coffee this week and see if that helps.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
First, I work too much. I am usually finding little moments to work all through the mornings with my boys and the evenings with my husband. Since it's such a hastle to find a time when Superman's computer is available to me AND get it set up with my files, I just haven't been doing it. Instead I've been knitting and watching TV with Superman and last night we even played cards. Shockingly, nothing exploded at work.
Second, I've been having a long period of, well, I haven't really been sure. I was starting to think depression since I've been down that road before with PPD. I read something a few days ago though, that gave a name and a reason behind how I've been feeling:
If we shatter time into tiny fragments we cannot be fully present in it. We cannot be conscious that our work is a prayer and find the sacred in the ordinary. We cannot feel the presence of God. To go even further, if we bustle along at this pace, we are not readily available to the people in our lives either. And, finally, we are on the shot track to burnout, the inability to see, or hear, or feel, or sense the joy that is abundantly present in everyday life. We are simply too tired, too stressed, too preoccupied.
- from Elizabeth Foss and her book Real Learning.
People have tried to tell me this. My husband telling me I work too hard, friends and family (both in person and online) telling me I do too much, my son asking me to sit with him, and I can't just sit without feeling like I should be getting something done... I got to this portion of Elizabeth's book and handed it over to my husband. "Seems pretty fitting" he said. Very true.
The last few days I've been really working to do one thing at a time, to be completely present for my husband and my sons. It's actually a lot harder to do than I thought, because there's this voice in my head telling me over and over to get up and do something, that if I don't I'm being lazy. This is why I've enjoyed knitting so much- I'm forced to stay in one place and concentrate on one task- my mind isn't so busy. I've often wondered if my strange drive to multi-task is some kind of ADD- I feel obligated to multi-task and to structure my day in a very tight schedule or else I'm not "Getting Things Done"- I don't know what that means exactly because I never feel like I'm really getting anything done!
So today instead of doing laundry and vacuuming and all those things I usually do in between school with the boys and playing, I sat and *really* played with them for the entire morning, rather than ten minutes here and there. I know those other things have to be done and they will be done another day. But this morning I was with my boys, and my presence there was more important than the clean house.
I've been making a few changes to the system this past week and it reminds me of why I love the cards- all I have to do is re-sort them into the new system! Life has shifted again and superman is working 6 days for awhile in addition to his school schedule. It's good for our budget, but hard on family time. So the one day he is home I don't want to spend the day cleaning as the schedule currently calls for. I've reshuffled my routines in order to keep that one day clear of housework, save the daily "must be done" cards, like cleaning up the kitchen.
I've added a morning card and evening card for Big Kid. It's not actually for him- it's for my forgetful brain so that I will remind him of the things that need done.
His morning list includes:
* Get dressed
* Brush teeth
* Set the table for breakfast
* Help unload the dishwasher (he sorts silverware while I do the rest)
His evening list includes:
* Pick up the toys in the living room.
* Put on pajamas
* Brush teeth
Big Kid picked out florescent orange cards and I can spot those cards from across the room! He helps with other things as asked, but mostly we want him to take responsibility for some self-care and helping the family out. We've talked about rotating jobs as he gets older and we can drop the self-care items from his list.
I also added an orange card that I'm leaving at the front of my file box. On that card I have written the habit we're working on right now, and right now that word is Obedience. It is just as much for me as it is for my kids.
Ever had a problem with being distracted while working on a cleaning or organizing projects? Let's say you're working on organizing a particular kitchen cabinet, but then you notice the floor needs swept so you go to get the broom only to notice that the closet is a disaster so you work on that for a few minutes before going to put something else away... and on and on until you end up with a dozen half-finished jobs and what feels like zero progress made. I've been struggling with this focus problem lately, so I chose some nice lavendar cards and decided to use them for these kinds of projects- I'm calling them Special Projects, because they are not part of my regular routine.
Right now I have a daily lavendar card for my 30 day 15-item declutter. As I work in different areas of the house I notice things that need to be done when I get to my deep cleaning next month and write it on a purple card. Right now I'm grouping those cards by room and when I get closer to starting the deep clean I'll assign those projects to certain dates and organize them accordingly. I have about 15 cards so far- we'll see how many more I collect in the the next 2+ weeks. This way I don't worry about not getting to those jobs right away; I know they've been written down (therefore remembered!) and that they will be assigned to a day when they can be done appropriately.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
This Week: Regular work weeks for me and Superman, plus school for Superman. We're still trying to get back into a more structured morning routine like we were before Christmas, but I've been really worn out lately. I'm trying not to get sick, so I've been trying to get to bed earlier and take it easy over the weekend. I'm hoping for a little more energy so I can work with the boys this week.
Current Fiction Read: Nothing right now, though Girl of the Lumberlost is next in my pile.
Current Non-Fiction Read: Keeping House by Margaret Kim Peterson.
Craftiness: Finishing the binding on Reed's quilt, and also knitting the second sock in my first pair of socks!
Learning at home: I cleared off our shelves on Friday, so there is no work out right now. I'm going to reset everything tomorrow. There was too much dumping of materials by Little Bit and not enough proper usage, so there is nothing on the shelves at the moment. I'm going to start with 2 presentations to each child tomorrow, and see if we can get back to laying mats properly and taking care of materials. It is my fault that this slipped, so we are correcting and moving on. If they do well with those presentations and treating things well I'll re-present a few things.
New work: Nothing this week for Montessori. We started reading the Mouse and the Motorcycle though, and Big Kid is enjoying that.
In Other News . . . I'm really really really trying not to get sick. The boys have been passing a nice runny nose and slight cough back and forth and Superman came home from work last night with a fever and all the cough and cold symptoms. My head feels full of gunk and I've got an awesome headache (maybe becoming migraine?) that I'm hoping to get over quickly. On another note, I started working on the first of the music education posts. Hopefully the first will be up later this week- all pending the potential cold of course. I just keep chanting, "I can't get sick, I can't get sick..." Off to bed for me
Friday, January 16, 2009
– 1 –
This week stinks- I have very limited internet, can't load pictures, and don't have access to many of my files. And the worst news after that is that I won't have a new computer for at least another week, probably more like 10 days- 2 weeks. It's been ordered, it's just not supposed to arrive for that long, which upsets me a bit. (Though it upsets me only because this whole "my computer died" thing has been highly emotional for me for some reason, not because the company is doing something wrong!)
Work has not been great this week for me or for Superman and weather has been bitterly cold so there has been no outside time- I was hoping for some today even if it was just to get to the store, but it has been snowing for awhile, school is canceled and Superman called a bit ago to tell me not to go anywhere because of how bad the roads are. Bleh. I haven't been out of the house in awhile- that's what stinks about working at home, you know?
– 2 –
I'm putting the binding on Reed's Quilt this afternoon during naptime (and maybe into this evening depending on how quickly I'm able to work this afternoon. Pictures to come as soon as I have a computer to load them on.
– 3 –
I was given a few books that have been on my home education wish list for ages- Keeping a Nature Journal, The Read-Aloud Handbook and Drawing with Children. I just started into them last night- I'm so excited! Just glancing through the pictures of the Nature Journal book and the Drawing book have been inspirational, but a little scary. I can barely draw a stick figure. I remember my mom using the Drawing book with me one year- maybe second or third grade? I entered school in fourth grade and art there was a lot of clay modeling in 20 minute segments twice a week. I want to at least attempt an art education for my kids, though it's hard to do since I'm no artist when it comes to drawing or painting.
– 4 –
I caved and had a giant Dr. Pepper with vanilla (no ice, thanks) from Sonic last night. It was the best tasting soda I've ever had! You have to understand- I haven't had soda since something like December 28, and for someone who typically drinks soda and coffee every day I'm counting it a victory moderate success. Back to water today- I'm already tired from last night's little indulgence- part of why I cut caffeine is that it was contributing to my sleep problems, and I've noticed a big change in my sleep habits. I had a cup of coffee last week in the morning and I noticed that even by bedtime that night I felt a little more hyped up and couldn't get to sleep as well.
– 5 –
We've done nothing that would count as formal education this week. Big Kid has been running a low grade fever on and off all week with no other symptoms except that he's unusually tired and listless. He's spent his days playing for 5 or 10 minutes and then resting on the couch with something quiet for a little bit. He's napped every day so far, and he usually only naps about once a week. We did read our first bigger chapter book together- My Father's Dragon. We loved this book! We finished it and started The Mouse and the Motorcycle last night.
– 6 –
I've been keeping up on my decluttering project- 15 items a day for 30 days. I've been through the laundry room cabinets, the book cases and our closets. I'm way above my goal- by today I was supposed to have 120 items, and I have 138, mostly clothes. I've finally given up on jeans I had from before Big Kid was born- I'm back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but my hips are permanently a little wider, and I'm just a different shape now than I was in my early/mid twenties. So I'm giving up those clothes. I also got rid of several of my heels and things I used to wear when I worked at a school. I don't need as many of those kinds of clothes anymore, so I kept my favorites and let go of the rest. I even got Superman in on the deal- he collects t-shirts like crazy, so It was time to ask him to decide between some- he hasn't had enough room in his drawer for all of them for awhile, so he had a pile of about 10 folded t-shirts on top of his dresser at any given time. He got rid of a lot more than I thought he would, and even went through his side of the closet and got rid of some things!
– 7 –
This has actually been a good week. No internet has meant more time taking care of the smaller cleaning jobs that I tend to avoid, and my house has generally just stayed cleaner. I've been reading more, knitting more (finished my first sock and I'm about 2 inches into the next one!), and getting to bed a bit earlier. I've been able to check in on things online in short amounts of time, but it's been a good break.
- BONUS -
I do realize the name of this post is SEVEN quick takes, but since I haven't been able to post this week I have something extra to say. A few years ago before I had kids one of our local teacher associations asked me to write a few handbooks about teaching for the association. They were between 24-36 pages and just on paper stapled together- nothing fancy, but I was paid for my work. I've been asked to write something on composing with young kids and about teaching young children music- I work with children as young as two in my studio while most teachers will not begin a student until they are either 7 years old or in first grade. I like to have them as early as possible. I've been thinking about adapting this information for the homeschooler, and possibly an additional source that would present it in a Montessori fashion. Anyone interested? Leave a note in comments, so I'll know to get it up sooner rather than later! The project isn't due for my association until May, so I'm not planning to work on it until April, but if you would like a copy I'll get it done earlier and posted here.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Weather: The weather has been strange here the last few days- very cold to start and end the days, but warm enough to go without a jacket for a few hours each afternoon. Today is certainly starting cold, so we're bundled up tight.
This Week: Superman and I have our usual work weeks and Superman is back at school. Big Kid has piano lessons later this morning, Little Bit has a well child doctor's visit tomorrow, and the boys are having their pictures taken this weekend for their 3 year old and 18 month pictures.
Current Fiction Read: Still Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey.
Current Non-Fiction Read: Keeping House by Margaret Kim Peterson.
Craftiness: Still working on Reed’s quilt top, but finishing very soon!
Learning at home: Big Kid is still fascinated with those mazes he started working on last week. I thought he would like them, but I didn't know he would like them this much! We started reading My Father's Dragon a few days ago, and Big Kid really likes it, although he isn't used to a longer format yet and wants to know why we can't just read the whole thing in one sitting.
We also have a big cardboard box that a family member passed on to us. We cut a door in it, and it's the most exciting toy in the house right now!
New work: This isn't really new as of this week, but I keep forgetting it! We made a calendar out of regular paper and an old 3 ring binder. Each morning we write the date at the top of the page, then the day of the week. At the end of the day we talk about what happened that day and Big Kid dictates to me what he'd like to write on the page. It's been really interesting because he chooses what is important to him to include. I make notes on the back of the page about school type things we did that day (books we read, mazes, pages, coloring, etc. that he did, which montessori work he chose that day, etc)
In Other News . . . My computer is fried. I spent most of the weekend trying to recover photos, work documents and other documents. I was able to save my pictures and work stuff, but a lot of my other things are lost. My brother works on computers and he's coming into town next weekend- he promises to try and recover some of my files, but there are no guarantees. The computer will barely start up now, and even then it's only into safe mode with very limited function. So if I'm not on much you'll know why! Superman takes his computer with him for work and school, so I'm without a computer most of the day, and then we'll be sharing it in the evenings to do the things we usually do. There will be no pictures for a little bit until I'm able to either use a different computer (Superman's is ridiculously old and won't allow me to open my photo editor for some reason) or until my new computer comes in.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
– 1 –
Have you seen Dawn's binder system for her seasonal ideas? I'm so stealing her organization method! I have tons of seasonal ideas from my preschool teaching days that I want to use with the boys, but I'm an out of sight out of mind kind of gal, and these binders will help me tremendously!
– 2 –
You guys have made me feel a lot better about the possibilities of container gardening! I'm still looking at information and figuring things out, but thank you so much for your ideas and thoughts on this. I asked Kara a little bit about this a few weeks ago on her blog and she gave me a whole post of information from her brother!
– 3 –
It is so hard to figure out what is best for your kids, and it doesn't help that other people have their own ideas about that. We're struggling with one side of the family feeling like we're not doing enough with Big Kid to encourage his learning, and the other side of the family that has a "better late than early" kind of philosophy. We'll do whatever we decided to do of course, but it does keep my brain stuck on one particular worry- "Am I doing too much or too little?" I'm hoping that because I have that in the back of my mind all the time it means I'm averaging out just fine with him.
– 4 –
I've been working really hard to drink more water, have less caffeine and eat home-prepared foods rather than convenience foods. I've done really well this week- 1 cup of coffee total, at least 60 oz. of water a day (up from under 20- bad, I know!), and we've done well with foods. It all comes down to planning ahead and being prepared. If I take the time at night to think through what we'll be eating the next day, I'm prepared as soon as I wake up. I get right to making a good breakfast (rather than resorting to cereal every single day or worse- nothing) and I get most of lunch and dinner prepped while the boys eat breakfast and play first thing. It cuts down the actual time it takes me to make dinner significantly once all the chopping, defrosting, and finding of ingredients is done. Now I have to see if I can keep up with the planning part. I already know how helpful it is- now I just have to be diligent to complete it each week.
– 5 –
Big Kid is really loving these Brain Quest cards. He does a few cards with Daddy each night, and they've really enjoyed them. They're great little questions for him to think through- patterns, noticing things in pictures, vocabulary, etc. Plus it's something special he does just with Daddy- they've had some pretty interesting conversations over those cards.
– 6 –
I'm starting my 30 day declutter today. The goal is to toss or donate 15 items or more each day, 450 items total. I'm planning to start in the cabinets in my laundry room- I'm pretty sure there are things in there from when we first moved in that haven't been touched ever since. I'm trying to get rid of anything we haven't used in a year or so, except for seasonal items. I'll work in the bedrooms, living room and kitchen first, and when I've run out of things to get rid of I'll head to the basement where there are unopened boxes from our move 9 months ago. If we haven't opened it by now we probably don't need it. I'm going to look through boxes in the hope of getting rid of a good portion of them. I know I'll find most of my items to get rid of in the basement, and I'm hoping that from there it'll lead to a good cleaning of the basement. That's something I have to work up serious excitement for, because it is scary down there.
– 7 –
I'm almost done with my first sock! I have about half an inch left before I start decreasing for the toe. I've been knitting in every spare minute- I'm so excited to finish this one and get started on the other!
This is what he's been doing with the moveable alphabet lately:
And moving on from that he occasionally wants to write words. He picks a card with a word, I write it first to show him how to stroke each letter, then he copies the word letter by letter. You'll notice that his letters look very shaky- he strokes each letter extremely slowly still, and he erases constantly if he doesn't think it's good enough. That's my little perfectionist for you! It's still early for him to be stroking letters, so as he gets older we'll put real work into letter formation. Right now he writes however he likes and whenever he chooses to do so. The only thing I really correct is the grip he has on his marker. If he's going to write he may as well do it with the correct grip.
And just for cuteness sake:
Ender received that chair for his birthday in October and Ezra has completely taken it over.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Weather: Cold again. I can't get used to the weather here and I've lived here for over 10 years now. On Saturday it was 66 F in the afternoon- we took the boys to the park sans jackets. We went home, had dinner a bit early and went out to do our shopping and when we came home around 7 it was 39 F!
This Week: Back to work for me. I'm back to a full teaching schedule this week, plus 1 new student and an interview with another potential addition to the studio. This will be a difficult week since I've been off work for two weeks and the boys have gotten used to that schedule. Superman starts his Winter term at college on Tuesday evening, so it's back to the grindstone for him as well.
Current Fiction Read: Still Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey. I'm making progress, I promise!
Current Non-Fiction Read: Still Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss. I'm really studying this book and taking my time with it. I find myself nodding along and agreeing every step of the way. It's almost exactly what I want to do with my boys.
Craftiness: Still working on Reed’s quilt top.
Learning at home: I'll have some pictures to share with you of work that has gone well for us lately. I bought My First Book of Mazes for Big Kid earlier this week and it's all he's asked to do for a few days now. Superman was really into puzzles and mazes when he was a kid so we were interested to see if Big Kid would be too. He definitely is!
New work: Nothing new for Big Kid this week. Little Bit has a new work with a salt shaker and toothpicks, and also work with spooning beans. I presented the salt shaker and toothpicks to him on Saturday and it kept him busy working at it for a solid 15 minutes. This child sits still for nothing, so I was impressed! I also presented spooning to him this weekend and it didn't last long before he started pouring them back and forth between the two little jars. Maybe I should do pouring first with him?
Saturday, January 3, 2009
It's not so much an "I'm going to totally remake myself this year" but a realistic, "I'd like to accomplish this or work towards a new habit" kind of thing. Let's just say we keep each other honest.
I won't share superman's personal goals here, but I'll share mine. My goals revolve around clearing out clutter, both in my home and my body. I don't need to lose any weight per se, but I do want to feel better, and I have had some problems with food allergies resurfacing that I haven't had in a long time. I need to take care of that, and it requires a pretty strict diet change.
1. Plant a garden this year and hopefully end up with edible produce. If not we'll at least have learned a lot about growing green things this year.
2. Eat at-home prepared meals only for a week. We've been working for the past several months to move away from pre-packaged foods and inbalanced meals, and this is the continuance of this goal. This will either take a lot of planning and prep or not much at all, depending on if we attempt this on a week I'm working or on a week that I don't teach.
3. Read 20 fiction books this year. I made it to 17 last year, I'd like to bump it a little bit this year.
4. Start Bible memory with Big Kid and build it into a habit. We'll be using the method I found on simplycharlottemason.com and starting with shorter verses. This is just as much for me as it is for him.
5. Keep my nightstand area completely clear for 30 days except for vitamins, Bible and 1 current book. This is something I am doing particularly because Superman really prefers that our bedroom be clutter free and the fact that my nightstand looks like a library/knitting factory doesn't meet his ideal. So I'm going to limit my knitting to my basket, and my books to the shelf, save the ones I will actually use that evening.
6. Keep/Toss/Donate 15 items each day for 30 days. I'm planning to start this soon, and continue straight through for 30 days, then move on to item 7.
7. Move systematically through the house to declutter and re-organize. The plan is to work 1 month at a time in each room and the goal is to get rid of the things that have not been needed or used in the last year. I did this in 2004 and I've had two kids since then, so the house definitely needs a reboot. The general rooms are in pretty good shape, but our master bedroom closet is still a stack of boxes since our move last April (including some maternity clothes I haven't needed in over 18 months) and our basement is a true disaster of boxes. Most things just need a re-organization- like the linen closet and the laundry room/pantry. The kitchen items were put into random cabinets when we moved in and I'd like to really organize them the way I'd like them to be to make them more functional for me.
8. Drink water. Make juice an occasional thing and soda a rare thing. Another health thing, but one I'm having severe problems with. I cannot have any soda in the house or I drink it all.
9. Move to using as many fresh ingredients as possible in our cooking. Another improvement on our current diets, and another step in a healthier direction.
10. Re-evaluate my goals every 3 months. This is just as important as the actual goals themselves. I need to stay on track, and check-ins are crucial to that point.
Friday, January 2, 2009
-- 1 --
Wow, the holidays really take it out of me! Last night was our last big hurrah with my sister who is currently on her way back to school in New York. Thank goodness the last party is done with! The boys have been staying up later than usual, Big Kid has been napping less often in favor of staying up to see visiting aunts and uncles, and the amount of sugar they've consumed in the last 2 weeks is probably more than they've had all year! We're definitely feeling the effects of all that. I'm eager to get everyone back to regular nap schedules and meals.
-- 2 --
The Christmas tree is still up. I'm not counting it as terrible since there was one year that our tree was still up on our anniversary. In March.
-- 3 --
I'm trying to sort out some information on container gardening for this spring, but I am totally lost on which information is actually useful and I'm starting to get really overwhelmed and thinking I absolutely cannot do this. We don't own land to put any kind of garden in but we have our deck to garden on for food as long as we can do that in containers. In front of our home we can plant flowers, but I'm not so worried about that.
-- 4 --
I have eaten way too much candy and had far too much soda over the holidays and my body is letting me know it. I am really tired even after plenty of sleep and I just feel bleh. I need to get back in the habit of drinking mostly water again and get the rest of this candy out of the house OR I WILL EAT IT ALL!
-- 5 --
I am not eager to return to work next week. This is the first time I've felt like this. Usually after a longer break like this I'm ready to get back into things, but this time I want to continue on how we've been- lots of cooking and baking, playing a lot of games, and keeping the house clean. I've been looking into a career shift for awhile, something that will allow me to work while the boys are in bed rather than during a lot of their prime waking hours. I'm really hoping that we will get closer to that this year.
-- 6 --
Superman was released from physical therapy on Tuesday and returned fully to work on Wednesday (just in time for the holiday yesterday!). Dealing with the worker's comp people has actually been a really good experience.
-- 7 --
I've been knitting my first sock over the holidays! Everytime we went somewhere where we'd be sitting and talking with family I took the sock and it's almost done. I'm so excited since this is why I started knitting in the first place. I've been using Silver's Sock Class and it has been great to follow. I especially appreciate the pictures throughout the tutorial.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Moxie put up a post yesterday about releasing the ideas you hold about yourself that are holding you back. We all think these things and they cripple us and keep us from pursuing our desires. In response to this I wrote: "I'm leaving behind the idea that I'm a researcher and not a do-er. I end up doing very little that I plan because I'm so worried about being perfect. I need to stop researching and just do it."
I worry constantly that I'm not doing the very best of everything for my kids and my husband, and it's time that I make peace with the fact that I'm human. I will be imperfect and it won't scar anyone for life.
Moxie followed up with a lovely post today- What are you? What is the truth about yourself that you will live this year?