Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snowy Days

I don’t often make references to my own geographical location on this blog. I kind of like it that way. Makes it seem like I’m right there with you…and that you are right here with me wherever you, or I may be. I do like to think about my dear readers in Australia once in a while…you see they are enjoying their sunny beaches and exploring the warm outdoors right now. Thoughts of piles and piles of cold white fluffy stuff everywhere must be a laughable phenomenon. As it is to us as we sit in the sweltering heat of August and try to imagine the patio furniture covered in snow. But August is a long way away…and the patio furniture is surrounded in a sea of white.

February 121It is pure magic. Heavy, wet, car entrapping, roof stressing magic! February 127February 128

Yes, those sweltering days of August, and those sunny beaches of Australia seem impossibly far off. But I won’t rush them here. I will be content. (Even if it takes reminding myself to just “be” every once in a while!) It is beautiful, all this snow we have in New York. We’ll enjoy it while it lasts and welcome Spring when it is ready to arrive…with open arms!!!

Here’s to a contented February day…wherever you may be!

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Friday, February 26, 2010

The Process

I love to knit.  I am definitely still learning…and tear a lot of things out…and am lost in regards to many techniques.  But I love to knit.  It’s steady and constant and meditative.  I love to feel the fiber through my fingers and watch something slowly and steadily take shape.  The process is ever present…and is comforting.Thanksgiving 009

I studied art in college.  It was competitive and grueling in many ways…and fulfilling beyond measure in others.  My first semester in the art program I took an observational drawing class from a German professor who studied at the Bauhaus.  His methods and teachings were pure and intense.  One of our first assignments was a pencil drawing that I spent countless hours working on.  At the review for the assignment we were asked to stand and display our drawings and point out everything that was wrong with it…in case anything was left out the professor and class were then able to point out anything else we had done wrong.  Nothing positive was to be said.  Only criticism.  It was horrifying and obviously impactful!  Among the many skills I learned that semester was the ability to scrutinize each detail of my work.  I fine tuned the skill of detecting imperfections.  I learned to recognize and analyze the shortcomings in my skills and my work.  

I did well in art school.

I learned to make beauty with a simple tool.  I use those skills daily, treasure them, and endeavor to grow them. 

Yet each day I work to fight the self scrutiny and rejection of imperfection that I fostered within myself while in school. 

Mothering, schooling, creating, are all processes.  There are not always end products that can be placed on display and judged.  When the focus is on results the potential for joy is dramatically stunted.  But, oh, if we can only focus on the processes. Oh the joy of the fleeting regular day-to-day with our little ones, the hours knitting, sewing, painting, creating.  Embrace the process! 

I love to knit. 

I love to do so many things. 

What do you love to do?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

This Boy!

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Sometimes there are no words!

No words for the exhaustion, joy, laughter, fatigue, fulfillment, frustration, and bliss that come with a boy like this.  You know when he was an infant we thought he was so calm and sensible like his dad…turns out there’s a whole lot of his not so calm and sensible momma in there too! 

I am so in love…and so so tired! 

He’s sleeping now…I think I’ll go play blocks under the table with my girl…(it’s been a recent (and very frequent) favorite) and finish up the armband on a vest for my mancub.  February

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Our Little Bumblebee!

This year for Christmas our little gardener was given an Amarylis bulb from her grandparents (who also happen to be her gardening inspiration…see here, and here, and here!)  We had a lot of fun together planting it and tracking its growth in a little journal.  We drew pictures and measured and described, and just marveled at the amazing growth potential in one little bulb.  And oh the exclamations and excitement when six gorgeous blooms appeared.  February 025

We have also been having a marvelous time learning about bees lately.  We would love to make our own hives this spring and watch their miraculous lives more closely.  (And eat some yummy honey and gather delightful beeswax of course!!!) We watched this video together during one of our friday night family “pizza and a movie” nights and were fascinated. 

We had our own little impromptu bumblebee lesson when the blooms were first smelled!  Turns out we have a pro pollen collector!!!  It was a great little learning experience…! 

 February 024

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Paper, crayons, and … yarn!!!

I know I’ve said it before…but I’m going to say it again!  I believe children should have an unlimited supply and constant access to creative art making materials.  The basics of these being plain old paper and crayons.  There is an unparalleled magic that occurs when children create peoples and worlds in bright bold colors on the wide expanse of clean white paper.  Pure magic.  I picked up a few rolls of “end rolls” of paper from the local printers the other day.  We have had many wonderful hours coloring around the dining room table together.  It’s just so fun to have an entire table turned into a drawing surface!! 

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(The local printers (they print brochures and pamphlets, etc.) recycles the ends of the rolls of paper as the machines cannot pick it up when the roll is “nearly” empty.  In reality there is hundreds of yards of paper left on the roll.  So it’s ours for … free!  Check out a printing company in your area to see how you can help with their recycling efforts!!!)

Yes…that’s yarn trailing out of that knitting bag.  I’m going to see if I can polish it off tonight and share a great tutorial soon!  That is if I haven’t made a total disaster of it…!

   February 041

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hanging Around

We’ve had a sloth hanging around these parts with her little one the past little while.  Turns out they are quite wonderful little house guests!  Once in a while she leaves while her jaguar friend (who it just so happens looks remarkedly similar to the sloth!) is on the prowl…but she always returns when things quiet down! 

February 014 February 015 Happy weekending friends!

Friday, February 19, 2010


This week has been full!  Full of cousins to play with.  Full of snow games and adventures.  Full of sisters and popcorn munching and Olympics.  It has been (and will be for a while yet) very full.  But it is a very good full!!! February 035

Do know what is always full?  My project wish list!  Sometimes I feel that I will burst with all the things I want to be stitching, sewing, carving, painting, etc.  It takes a lot of will power to remember to simplify…pare back…and remember that for everything there is a season. 

That being said….I saw this today and believe I lack the will power to resist making it.  Maybe I’ll cut down on the “munching popcorn during the Olympics” and vamp up the “stitching during the Olympics”!!  Yup…I think some deep blue yarn will be cast on soon…!  First I have to finish a vest for the man cub! 

Wishing you full and happy winter days.   

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Wow! The love is spilling over quite a ways this year! We had a lot of fun one afternoon experimenting with paint and card designs. It was wonderful. I love making art with my children. I love seeing their ideas and creativity and expression take form. It is truly amazing to see. Oh, the love!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A New Ride!

In the effort to live a financially pared back life, issues of practicality sometimes trump issues of aesthetics.  But not always.  In fact, I work very hard to mesh the two in all I do.  My recent successful merger of practicality and aesthetics: the “new” high back booster!  It was practical all right…but lacked pizzazz!  My girl needed a bit of pizzazz!  I think she got it!!!

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I took apart the cover at the seams and used the pieces as a pattern and sewed the whole thing back together with the new fabric laying directly over the original pieces.  To ensure the safety and integrity of the seat you must keep all original padding and construction.

January 075 January 078(Warning!: Take pictures of the “before”, once those pieces are all taken apart it all of a sudden is quite a mystery of how they go back together…and I’ve put together quite a few things before.  I’ll admit a had (two!) sit-down-on-floor and ask “what-have-I-done” moments in the midst of this project!) 

February 002We are all very happy with the end result! 

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Monday, February 15, 2010


I caught a glimpse of this fantastic tutorial a while back and just had to give it a go for my own little loves. They were a lot of fun to make. Very straight forward tutorial. (I’ll admit it requires exactness…but a bit of OCD sewing is good once in a while!!) I’ll also admit that I had my eye on one or two (okay…let’s face it they were all great prizes!) of the prizes! No such luck this time…but I think I have found a bit of a new love! Making these cards is a lot of fun! And the possibilities are literally endless!

Here are a few photos of the card I made for my little man!!

V Day Card 012V Day Card 017V Day Card 019 V Day Card 020

My daughter loves the softest of fabrics. (It really goes back to a truly beloved blanket (“soft-blanket”) that she received from an inspired aunt when she was born. It has been an essential sleeping companion and comforter since then, and has spurred a deep love of all things soft.) With this in mind I designed her valentine to suit. It is made of the softest fleeces and is…of course…heavily weighted in pinks and purples!

It truly is wonderful to know just what they will love!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Gingerbread Houses

V Day Card 005

We were in the right place at the right time recently and received two Gingerbread house kits from a friend.  Nothing beats a fresh project for to quiet a restless afternoon!  I would say that we had a blast working together on this project…but in fact little hands were quite particular about each detail, and really all that I was used for was structural support!  It was a great project though and it was a lot of fun.  V Day Card 002

We were given royal icing to work with.  I have a gingerbread building trick that I rely on…but knowing that many love to use royal icing I gave it a try.  It really did work great for the decorating…and I’ll admit the icing wasn’t fresh when we used it.  For construction though…I’ll stick with my trick!  The icing works…but it was touch and go at times.  With little ones a sure-fire quick as a wink building technique is a real life saver.  So…the trick?!?!!V Day Card 003

Pour 1/4 – 1/2 cup granulated sugar into a wide shallow dish.   You will be dipping the sides of your house into the dish so make sure they fit! 


Melt the sugar slowly on low-med heat.  Keep an eye on it and stir regularly.  It’s a real nasty mess if it burns…! 

When it has melted (keep the heat on low) dip the two sides of the gingerbread that you want to stick together in105_3965…then immediately join together and hold in place.  105_3963They will harden together very quickly….and very permanently!!!  Enjoy!

I like the idea of gingerbread houses finding their way into each of our seasonal celebrations.  I’m already thinking of spring houses!!  Oh…the possibilities!! 

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Thursday, February 11, 2010


I have noticed big changes in our little man cub recently.  Somehow 18 months is so much different than 17!  We have been reading a lot of books together lately…all the way through…again and again!  I really love this phase.  I love to sit and read with my children.  And I love to see them “reading” together! 

 January 120January 123

Here’s to a day reading with a little one!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toys to Love

Do you mind if I take a moment to tell just how good it feels to make toys for my children that inspire free, creative, imaginative play.  It is a beautiful thing.  I highly recommend it. 

The castle has seen some serious playtime the past few days.  The location changes, the story changes, the players change, sometimes they’re not in pajamas even!  But it is always so good to see. 

Have a wonderful day of creative play.  It is the best way to learn after all! 

January 114 January 093January 095January 115    January 099 January 113

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Schooling in the Kitchen

January 147Naturally much of my day as a Mama is spent in the kitchen planning, preparing, serving, and cleaning up (yuck)  from all that yumminess.  With two littles running along at my feet each day it makes the kitchen a pretty happening place!!!  I don’t take it lightly…having kidling helpers.  For one thing, once it’s taken lightly you likely will have a ridiculously enormous mess on your hands.  (I know…I’ve seen the mess!)  No…it’s serious business including my littles.  The true magic of the kitchen for me is all that there is to learn and gain from simply helping.  Little hands learn to measure carefully, pour steadily, stir with control, all while the incredible changes to ingredients, and so much more.  It really is magical.  And it all happens by simply letting them help.

 January 126

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January 130          

Recently we made absolutely fantastic cupcakes inspired by my friend Brittany’s post

We made some slight changes:

We used this chocolate cake recipe for the cupcakes:

3 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoons salt

2 cups water

3/4 cup oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons vinegar

Bake at 350 for 25-30’


We stuffed them with the buttercream filling Brittany describes and the simply frosted them with chocolate buttercream frosting. 

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They were divine!!!

January 140

Monday, February 8, 2010

Montessori Home Evaluation

I have not been able to find the origin of the Home Evaluation to link to.  I will, however, share the evaluation itself.  I am almost positive that it came from …but for some reason can’t find it there!  Definitely go check out her site though…there’s tons of wonderful resources there that I can find!!! Enjoy!

 January 064

(Dry Soy Beans sorting, sifting, measuring, pouring, discovering activity)

Principles by which to Evaluate our Montessori Home…What are we doing well?...What can we do better?...What needs to change?...What do our children need?

Selected 5 qualities that we strive to encourage in the child in the Montessori environment:

Independence- self esteem comes from being able to carry things out on ones own.
Socialization- your child learning to manage himself in increasingly greater social environments.
Communication- the human need to communicate clearly, to understand and be understood.
Order- addressing the human need for patterns and structure. Applied both to the external world (your child's world) and the internal world (your child's mind). The mathematical mind.
Curiosity- The scientific mind.

Practical ideas for the home:

1. Independence

Care of the Person:

Teach them slowly how to dress themselves
Allow them to choose from limited outfits
Give them a drawer or space in their own closet where they can choose their own clothing from
Teach them where to put soiled clothing
A dress up box can aid in this practice for young three year olds
Let them brush their own teeth
A low cupboard in the kitchen where they can choose their own snack
They can help set the table
Let them participate in the kitchen
Provide them their own tools for kitchen use
Let them choose and make their own breakfast
Clear the table
Wash dishes
Teach them bathroom hygiene- let them do it themselves
If toilet is too high, put a step on it
Teach them how to use utensils properly, no reason why they shouldn't be able to use a knife

Care of the Environment:

Low work spaces
Tools that are accessible to them (sponges, buckets, soap, water)
Put a step up to your kitchen sink
Keep things in one place as much as possible so that they will know where to put them back
In the kitchen: measuring, pouring, stirring, spreading, cutting, peeling, grating, washing, seeding,
Watering the plants around the house
Wiping the table or counters
Washing hands
Mopping the floor
Making their own bed
Preparing their clothes for next day
Opening and closing curtains
Feeding animals
Putting dirty clothes in hamper
How to treat their toys

2. Social Relations

Practice wanted behaviors
Talk about positive things you see in them
Talk about positive things you see in others
“Catch them being good”
Let them hear you saying good things about others, including children, notice more of what you DO want them to do
Clear limits to unacceptable behavior
Talk about your values and what you find important
Model your beliefs

3. Communication

Clear precise communication with your child
Talk a lot with them, explain things
Read to them even when they can already read for themselves- they love the same books over and over
Let them see you reading
Tell them true stories
Prohibitions should be clear (and you should hold yourself accountable as well)
Give words to feelings
Introduce complex vocabulary
Stick to your own best language
Give realistic choices
Let them be a part of family meals

4. Order

Routines! Morning routines, and bedtime routines especially
Things have a place in your child's room, then he will know where to put them away
Not too many toys
Not too many activities to do- time to process the day is necessary
Limited sets of clothing to choose from
Limited work space
How to treat their toys
Tell them what happens before, and what will happen after
Make a picture schedule and talk about it
Give them real world word problems
Notice patterns with them

5. Curiosity, Creativity

Listen to what they have to say!
Outdoor provides much opportunity for exploration
Let them solve their own problems
Ask them what they think about things
Wonder with them
Expose them to art
Give them tools for expression
Open ended toys

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Evaluating our Montessori Home

Any Mother knows the reality, the constant, of change.  It seems that once a rhythm has been established and you’ve gotten the hang of certain stages and phases…things change.  Whether from outside influences or simply childhood development these changes strongly effect the rhythm of our days.  As I have come to accept the reality of this constant change I have incorporated regular evaluations of our home and days.  Sometimes formal, and sometimes “in the moment”, these evaluations have really helped us stay on top of and best provide for the new phases we are consistently entering into. 

Our daily rhythm, and even the setup of our home, is centered on Montessori and Waldorf philosophies.  As such, our regular evaluations include Maria Montessori’s, and Rudolf Steiner’s principles regarding childhood.  We have found an excellent Montessori Evaluation somewhere…! (I can’t find it’s origin in the moments I have now…but I will when I have a few more moments and I’ll share)

We have made several changes recently based on this evaluation.  In an effort to further independence and self confidence for our daughter we made seemingly subtle changes that have actually made a huge difference.  Although she can dress herself well…her outfit choice is sometimes…unique…and not always activity appropriate.  I adore her funk and flare in regard to color choice and layering (yikes!) but needed to reign in the best dresses worn for sandbox time, and painting clothes for going to visit family, etc.  We worked together to put her clothes together into outfits.  By including her we were able to keep her flare for fashion and satisfy my goals of order.  With drawers divided between playing outfits and going out outfits, and the closet separated between church dresses and play dresses we were both quite happy.  It’s organized and easy for her to find the perfect thing to wear each day…independently! 


Our other simple change was providing a small pitcher and cup in the door of the fridge so that she may safely and easily get herself a drink whenever she likes.  So simple.  So easy.  So loving it!!!  I will say she drank an incredible amount of water the first few days we had it!  (The pitcher finally was found after much searching in so many places…at IKEA.  I have to admit I do like that store!) January 132

January 133The changes are constant…and the adjustments we make because of them are just as constant.  Little or big sudden or gradual they effect our daily rhythm and keep us on the track that just feels so right for us.