Sunday, July 11, 2010

4th of July

It's 4th of July which is a great holiday for celebrating our independence--and Booster and I have been doing that by reading books about the American Revolution and the Declaration itself (There's a great version of the Declaration illustrated by Sam Fink. That uses humor to help elementary aged children make sense of document that can be confusing at times to say the least). She can now tell you who said, "Give me liberty or give me death", she can tell a story about Paul Revere's midnight ride and is still a bit perplexed about what all this commotion had to do with taxes. It's hard to understand the pain of taxes if you have never had a job.

One thing I am loving today about the 4th of July is that I don't even have to give lip service to the idea of going to bed at a reasonable hour. The fireworks don't even start until 9:15 so we don't even need to pretend that we are going bed at a time that would seem reasonable during the school year. The girls have been staying up way too late this summer; we are not doing too well in the maintaining a consistent schedule category.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sandy, Messy and Happy

"It's not so important to know as to feel when introducing a young child to the natural world."

Rachel Carson

Montessori Papa and I make an effort to get our children outside. We bike often. We take them to swim (in a pool, okay, so not that natural of a setting), we garden, but really nothing compares to the experience of camping for allowing our kids a chance to experience their lives in a different way.

Both Thumper and Booster love camping. Unfortunately, as I get older, I've come to like it less than I did as a younger woman when I spent months camping across the western United States and Canada. I LOVED camping back then. Now I can really see the appeal of staying at a nice bed and breakfast; however, when I see their reactions, I know that we've chosen the right kind of family vacation.

This time, newly three year old Thumper went wild. Within a minute of arriving at our sandy campsite, she was naked and in the sand. Really IN the sand. She rolled around, attempted a slip n' slide maneuver, twisted her body into yoga poses, and covered herself in it until she was a dusty, sandy mess.

At the beach, she jumped and giggled and screamed with the ocean. She was a sight to see.

Booster made a campfire all by herself and rejoiced in flying her flag on a very windy beach. The second day with her kite, I saw her using the techniques her father had shown her with confidence. I was so pleased for her. She was having such a wonderful time.

Unfortunately, we might not be able to camp again this year since we will be vacationing with my parents in July and moving in August this year. Throughout the trip, I kept thinking about Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. I was feeling more committed than ever to giving them natural experiences like camping.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Down on the Farm

We are the proud owners of an ant farm. Booster received one for her birthday way back last summer. It took me awhile to reconcile myself to keeping ants, which under other circumstances we would seek to kill if they were in the house. By the time I got organized enough to order the ants, it was way too cold for the company to ship them.

So seemingly out of the blue, we received a small, test tube shape container full of ants last week. Excitement! Both girls were dying to get a look at the corps of ants crawling around in this very small container (I can't imagine what the ants were thinking during their journey, crawling over one another and nibbling on a little green food pellet.)

Since it was spring break, Montessori Papa happened to be home. This was a good opportunity to see our two styles in action. I like to read directions and plan out a course of action. He likes to experience the intensity of the moment. I had Booster place the ants in the fridge as the directions indicated and was prepared to wait the full 15 minutes for the ants to became placid and easy to work with. Montessori Papa was raring to go so we actually only waited a few minutes before our ants were out of the shoot and racing all over our coffee table. Quick as a jackrabbit, Montessori Papa was scooping up ants as we all tried to shepherd them into their habitat.

Happily, all ants were found and only one was lost due to his injuries.

Both girls have been fascinated with the ants, and we've had many questions, some answers and lots of observation time. The great thing about ants from a teacher's perspective is that they very clearly illustrate the three body part areas of an insect (head, thorax and abdomen). They're a good examplar of an insect.

More ant education will be coming to our house as the questions must turn to research at the local library. We can't resist; we have absolutely no self control at that place.
This post is written in honor of Why Mommy of Toddler Planet with great admiration for her love of science and learning, always questioning, always seeking to understand.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Homefront

So, Booster is fascinated by the homefront during WWII. The Big One is not a topic that I wanted to go into any great detail with my seven-year-old, but here we are. She started with Welcome to Molly's World. (Molly is the American Girl character that represents the generation that grew up during the war.) For some reason, Booster was extremely curious about the need for blackouts and how they were organized.

I remember my grandmother talking about her experiences during the war, including getting around during blackouts (Americans during the war were evidently very cautious because my midwestern hometown participated.), painting on nylon seams, and going to the USO to wait for her serviceman husband. Now through conversation with Booster's paternal grandfather we know that her great grandfather was a warden. (She knows that her great grandfathers on my side all served in the Pacific Theater.)

So, we've read a lot of Molly's World and then moved on the war years' books in the Tomie DePaola 26 Fairmount Avenue series (which by the way is a great chapter book series for kindergartners up until the War Years books which are clearly marked as such). These nonfiction books very clearly illustrated to Booster how a child would have been affected by the war and the changes that happened at home from colder schools to gas rationing to having family members leave for the service.

I was reluctant to follow her and encourage her on this journey because some of the issues that WWII bring up are quite difficult to explain and painful to contemplate, most notably the Holocaust. Last week, Booster asked me in the car who Anne Frank was. So we had a brief and truthful conversation about concentration camps without her asking too many detailed questions about them which was a huge relief to me.

In all of these conversations, she really doesn't have a good comprehension of politics and why one country would want to take over another one so she comes back to wondering why it all happened. How can I explain it to her? Do I want to?

During this time, for the first time in her life, she asked me if we were at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I didn't lie, yet I tried not to get too detailed about it because I don't want her to feel scared.

All of this really makes me think about how distant the war experience is for most of us. I only distantly know of people who have served or are serving overseas and nothing is requested of most of us in our day-to-day lives to support the war effort--there is no draft, no rationing, no war bonds.

We have a new book from the library called The Homefront which will provide more detailed information. Now that we have over 100 items checked out from the library, I can only hope that we end up reading something else.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Every Day She's Growing Up

This is my school
My place to work and play
My friends and I are living out each day
Washing a table
Polishing a cup
Every day I'm growing up. . .

Most Montessorians probably know this common song by Sanford Jones. I remember one mother telling me in a conference that she got tears in her eyes every time that she heard her son sing this song because she knew that he was, indeed, growing up.

Now it's Thumper's turn to grow up. She's not a toddler anymore. In fact, she is truly 2 1/2 now, officially old enough for a primary program (although I persuaded the head of school where she's at to start her in a primary program just a smidgen before). She is getting more mature and articulate every day, although she still looks as petite as ever. Tonight at dinner she was able to tell her paternal grandmother that she was going to see her maternal grandmother on the train. She tells her older sister off in very specific terms, which is hilarious (sometimes).

I've had to up my game with her, realizing that it is time to choose different books at the library. We're reading a lot of Denise Fleming right now which is my attempt to lure her away from her other growing up choice Olivia Form a Band. Oh my, how many times have a read that book in the last month.

Although I will miss the little toddler that she was, I look forward to the possibilities ahead. I'm very hopeful that she will get into sewing so that Booster and I can really get into the quilting projects that we have in mind. I imagine that next year's gardening will also be a lot more fun for all of us, as Thumper will understand so much more of what is going on.

Onward and upwards, Thumper. The world is your clover patch!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Grumpy Mommy

Recently I've found myself falling into a grumpy mommy rut. It's very depressing to me because this is certainly not the kind of mother that I want to be. I've been grumpy at the grocery, grumpy at Target, grumpy in the car.

Part of this I am sure is that I am adjusting to new routines and getting less exercise. I do need to find a way to make more exercise happen in my life even if that means that I get up at an unpleasantly early time to make that happen.

Part of it is that there are times when I REALLY want my pre-child level of efficiency back in my life. I just want to pick up a few things at Target. I don't want to be barraged by a half dozen requests, be told that the ice cream I've picked is not the preferred flavor and/or kind, and then have my children fight over who gets to swipe my credit card in line. All I want is to by dishwashing detergent, razor blades and laundry soap.

I just want the logistics of my life to run smoothly. It's hard for me to be relaxed about getting to work on time and the like. I've been getting up at 5:45 in the morning to take care of packing lunches, making breakfast and doing some cleaning. This way, we all can have plenty of time to eat a nice breakfast together and have a somewhat easy, relaxed time getting ready.

As a side benefit, I've actually been enjoying this quiet morning time in spite of the fact that I have more of a princess metabolism. I'd prefer to get up at 9, breakfast at 10, etc. During these early mornings, I feel very productive and organized. Also, it's really the only time that my house is quiet and serene.

My older daughter, however, is determined to thwart my efforts by fighting bedtime, fighting waking up and then procrastinating until the last minute to leave. Now that she's seven, I'm really going to have to get more creative of how to deal with it. When she was four, I would just calmly put all of her clothes in a bag and cart her out to the car. I'm not so sure that technique would work now.

In any case, the grumpy mommy rut is one that I will have to break myself out of with exercise and adjusting my expectations.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What a Difference a Month Makes

The last time I posted to this blog, I was just beginning a new job. Now, I am just beginning a new job. Suffice it to say, that the first job did not go well.

Fortunately, I've been able to swoop into a new job, complete with Montessori spots for both Thumper and Booster. I'm working in a support role this year, so next spring, I'll be back almost to square one as far as looking for a job is concerned. First things first as I always tell Booster. This job solves certain problems, namely getting out of job #1 while still being able to make some money and provide the little ones an opportunity to continue on a Montessori track.

The last month has been full of a multitude of changes, I haven't even had time to process them which is why I've been unable to sit down to write anything here.

I started a job that I had hoped would be my dream job, that would lead to unique opportunities. Instead, I spent a month growing increasingly anxious as I came to the realization that the job was simply not a good fit for me and never would be. Well, that's over now.

Booster started public school. I put money in her lunch account, joined the PTA, went to back to school night, almost bought spirit wear. Well, for now, that's over.

Thumper started a new school for which I spent weeks searching out uniform clothes in her size. She adjusted to the staff, spoke about her classmates at home, and one night, even packed her lunch toddler style and said that she was off to see a little girl in her class right as bedtime rolled around. Well, now, that's over, too.

That's that.

On more upbeat note, I am really delighted that both girls seem to be settling in well to their new school. I seem to be surrounded by competent, relaxed, confident co-workers. I can't help but feel that somehow or another all of this has happened for good reason. I've learned valuable lessons that have given me quite a lot to think about both professionally and personally. Although there are aspects to my current situation that I would change if I could, I do feel like I've ended up in the right place for now.