Sunday, November 29, 2009


Here are some pictures of our little turkeys from Thanksgiving. They have started entertaining us with songs from the hearth. Their favorite song right now is "ABC." Though they are also partial to "You are my sunshine" and "I have a little turtle."

I heard over the Thanksgiving season a sermon where the word Thanksgiving was changed to ThanksLiving. I liked this play on words and have thought about it each day since. We should giving thanks everyday, live our lives with a gracious and thankful heart for all we have.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Christmas Tree Farm, II

Here are a few more photos from our trip to the tree farm. Last year we never got any ornaments on our tree, just lights. If we get the tree decorated this year, I'll post a picture.

Christmas Tree Farm, I

Here are some shots of us at the Christmas Tree farm on Friday. It was a chilly day and we had a wonderful time walking around enjoying the different trees.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Poem #8

My pattern is to read one substantial biography a year. When I taught school, I usually read it over the summer. A few years back I read Savage Beauty by Nancy Milford, her biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I loved it and have loved Millay's poetry ever since.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

The railroad track is miles away,
And the day is loud with voices speaking,
Yet there isn't a train goes by all day
But I hear its whistle shrieking.

All night there isn't a train goes by,
Though the night is still for sleep and dreaming
But I see its cinders red on the sky,
And I hear its engine steaming.

My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take
No matter where it's going.

Monday, November 23, 2009

It was a What?

A while back I took Lu and Elliott to the eye doctor and Mazie went to work for the day with Mama Bee. H works with the babes' Aunt Donna. Aunt Donna taught Mazie the "Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" song. Mazie loved the song and has been singing it ever since. Below is the version she "heard" and now sings almost everyday.

"She wore an itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot zucchini."

Friday, November 20, 2009


At any opportunity Lucia will transfer. Transfer is the term early childhood educators use that basically means to pour or spoon a material from one vessel to another. H and I first took note of her love of transferring in the spring when she would squat in the sand and shovel sand into pails for long periods of time. When we took the girls and Seth to the day care for the Easter egg hunt, Lucia found about three eggs and then started pouring sand into her basket.
In the first picture Lucia was supposed to be washing her hands. When I went to check on her, she'd pulled three bowls out of the other side of the sink and was using a measuring cup to (over)fill them with water. In the second picture she is pouring her drink into a small bowl she'd found.
In several of the books I have, the authors suggest letting your child play with dried lima beans to practice transferring. I gave Lu two bowls, a pitcher, a spoon, and lima beans and let her go to town. She loved it, occupied for a long toddler time.

Sometimes I have the babes take something I call IPT--individual play time. When we started IPT they would get to choose a few toys and go play in their cribs for fifteen or twenty minutes. I'd usually play music and open the shades to make the time feel different from naptime. They really loved having IPT. Now I am trying to incorporate IPT on mats. We are using the quilts our friend WEW made for the babes.

One Montessori principle is for children to play with their toys on rugs. Toys with lots of parts, like puzzles, are easier to focus on when they are contained in a boundary. Also, I really want the children to be able to play by themselves and not be bothered by their siblings if they want to play alone.

We've played with our beans on the quilts several times. I want to keep working on having IPT on the quilts. Eventually I want the children to go get a quilt and play with their toy on it if they don't want to be bothered by their siblings.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Green Beans

I've told Elliott he can eat the entire green bean; I really have. I've even picked one up off his plate and shoved it in my mouth, demonstrating the proper (efficient) way to eat green beans. The lesson will not stick though. Elliott peels open each green bean on his plate and eats the little inside beans, piling the outer casings on the table.

I wonder what this says about his personality. I like to think it means he is diligent. I am not sure though, if that is what this behavior means.

Stall Tactics

The children are trying to incorporate stall tactics into their nightly routine. Tonight after several other attempts to delay us leaving the three in their cribs for the night (needing socks, needing the Cheerios book), Mazie cried that her nose was itchy and she needed ice on it. When H relented and brought her a small piece of ice, Lucia's nose was all of a sudden very itchy and she needed a piece of ice for it. After all that, I went to tell Elliott good night. He was standing in his crib trying to tell me something. I asked him, "What is it, Baby? What do you need?" He very quietly said, "Dessert."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Amazing Children

I just finished reading How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin. Because there is so much in the book that I underlined and because it took me so long to read the book (two years--not because it wasn't good, just because I have read it on and off), I thought I would go back through the book and record some of the things that were especially helpful.

Chapter One: Why Montessori?

The Highs and Lows of Parenting
Montessori is a comprehensive, systematic approach to parenting.
Montessori principles are based on a holistic approach.

What is Montessori?
Little Children experience a sense of frustration in an adult-sized world.
Children have their own logic at each stage of development, along with certain preferred activities and natural tendencies in behavior.
Children respond positively to a calm and orderly environment in which everything has its place.

Sensitive Periods for Learning
Montessori recognized that children go through stages of intellectual interest and curiosity (occurring from birth to age six) and she called these stages Sensitive Periods.
Parents need to watch and respond to their children individually because the beginning and end of each sensitive period differ from child to child.
Given the right stimulation at the right time, children are able to learn almost unconsciously.

The book lists 12 sensitive periods. I am only going to comment on the ones that pertain to the age of our children.
Movement--birth to 1 year
Language--birth to 6 years
Small Objects--1 to 4 years
Toileting--18 months to 3 years
Music--2 to 6 years
Order--2 to 4 years
Grace and Courtesy--2 to 6 years
Senses--2 yo 6 years
Writing--3 to 4 years
Reading--3 to 5 years
Spatial Relationships--4 to 6 years
Mathematics--4 to 6 years

Seldin's comments
Language--begins with cooing and goes through to words and sentences.
Small Objects--they adore small objects and their details as they refine eye-hand coordination.
Order--Everything must have its place. Children love routine and desire consistency and repetition.
Music--When music is part of his everyday life, the child will show spontaneous interest in developing his pitch, rhythm, and melody.
Toileting--As nervous system develops, child will be able to control bladder and bowels.
Grace & Courtesy--Child will love to imitate polite conversation and will begin internalizing these qualities into his personality.
Senses--From 2 years old, child will become fascinated with sensorial experiences.

My Thoughts
Language--Our three are definitely talking in sentences, building their vocabulary, making connections among words and objects and relationships.
Small Objects--I notice the girls attending to details more. But, for example, today when I was changing Elliott's diaper, he played with the movable eyelid of a doll that was lying next to him.
Order--Yes, I really notice this one. They very much notice when something is out of place. I really need to write an individual post about order. It is one of my weaknesses. This is an area I need to attend to for my three's sake.
Music--I am glad to see this stage doesn't begin until two because they haven't shown much musical interest. In seeing the parades lately, they have become very interested in marching bands. They also will pull out the drum every so often. Their musical instruments are not where they can be accessed easily. I need to move them to a better location. Also, the other night I pulled out my guitar and played the three chords I know. They enjoyed listening as I played, though they mostly enjoyed climbing on the guitar case.
Toileting--Here again, I need to do a full individual post on this subject. They have such an interest in going to the bathroom. Elliot, surprisingly in leading the way.
Grace & Courtesy--This is one I need to pay attention to. We are repeating, repeating, repeating things like, "How do you ask nicely for something? Say, 'May I please have...?'" I know one day it will (may?) sink in, but for now they are demanding more that either of us would like. They do okay though with please and thanks.
Senses--I feel like we do okay with taste, but I need to give them more textures to consider. I also try to balance playing music with having quiet. I don't do much at all with smell.

The Magic of Montessori Schools
Children who are treated with respect and who are encouraged to try new skills learn more readily to do for themselves.
A child who feels respected and competent will develop a far greater level of emotional well-being than a child who is simply loved and doted on.*
Success in school is directly tied to the degree to which children believe they are capable, independent human beings.
When children develop a meaningful degree of independence, they set a pattern for a lifetime of good work habits, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility.
Children are taught to manage their own community.
Children are expected to put the materials back.
If you create a welcoming but orderly space for your children and allow them to work and play freely, their confidence and independence will blossom.

"A child who feels respected and competent will develop a far greater level of emotional well-being than a child who is simply loved and doted on." This statement may be my favorite tenet of Montessori. I certainly do more for my children than I should. I once read the statement "Never do for a child what she can do for herself." I think about this statement pretty often, but frequently I let the "need" to keep moving forward rob my children of time to practice new skills (putting on their own shoes, taking dishes to sink). Something to work on.

I am not going to comment on the sections
Right from the Beginning
Your Growing Baby
Planning the first perfect bedroom.

Making Your Home Child-Friendly
Design a home that conveys a sense of beauty and order.
Organize your home to help your child become more independent and self-confident.

Adapting Your Home to a Growing Child
Children have a tremendous need and love for an orderly environment.
Have accessible shelves.
Avoid having too many toys and books out at a time.
Have two or more sets that are rotated out of a closet every month or so.
Have small rugs for your child to set out when they are playing on the floor.
Avoid clutter.

in the kitchen
Set aside the bottom shelf in the fridge for your children.
in the bathroom
Child should be able to reach the sink, turn on water, reach toothbrush and paste without help.
in the hall (or entry)
Have a low bench where child can take off shoes and clip them together with clothespin. Have low hooks where they can hang coats by themselves.
in the bedroom
Put extenders on light switches so child can turn them on and off.
Hang a bulletin board low so child can hang own art work.
Provide a simple stereo and teach child how to work it.
arts & crafts area
it is important to provide the best materials you can afford.

Watch and Follow Your Child
There is no better way to begin using Montessori principles in your home than by sitting back and observing what your child is looking at, what he is saying, and what he is doing.
Children have so much to teach us about their needs and interests if we will take the time to pay attention.
Keep a notebook or journal where you take notes and record observations.
Make notes every so often about what you see.
This will help you notice patterns.
Try to interpret what your child's behavior means.
When you notice a new fascination, try to think of ways to introduce some new activities that will feed and extend this interest.
Focus on what is happening right now.

Wow. So much in this first chapter. I noted many more posts I need to write about concerning these subjects. I think writing down my thoughts about this book will help me to implement some of these practices into our routine.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's in the Air

We are starting to feel the holiday spirit around here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Rainy Day

We had a little visitor named Ira (or Ina or something like Ivan but with only three letters) this week. Really this tropical storm just brought us 3 or 4 inches of rain and enough wind to blow the trees back and forth. But, all the schools around the area, including our day care, were closed for the day Tuesday.
My friend Rachael gives me lots of good ideas. One recent idea was for me to cut out pictures from the (way too many) catalogs we get in the mail. Then let the children pick out pictures to make a collage with. I put the glue on the back of each piece and they place it on their paper.
It was fun, especially for the girls. They worked on their collages until they were full. It was fun to see what they chose: everything from soccer balls to baby dolls to paints to trucks. Elliott only lasted about ten minutes. Then he picked out all the cut outs of bugs, wadded them into balls and through them out of the front porch. (The door was open so we could get some fresh air, and he loves looking for real "buggies" on the front porch.)

Here is Mazie holding up Elliott's collage. When I asked him if I could take his picture with his collage, he said "no" and ran on to the porch. I decided not to fight it. Mazie was happy to help.
Here he is with his wadded up bugs on the porch.
Thanks for the suggestion, Auntie Rach. Keep them coming.