Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finding Balance

After a lot of thinking, I've determined that blogging is important to me and it's something I truly enjoy, so I will be back to posting soon. It's all about balance though and with everything else I have going on in my life right now blogging is definitely going to be placed on the back burner.

In order to maintain the balance, here's what I'm going to do:

Fewer posts - admittedly this is going to be hard for me to stick to since I have so many things I'm always excited to share with all of you.
No more Tot School posts - this is something I've been thinking about for a while now. Now that James is nearly 3, we're completely focused on Montessori. Also, those posts were a pain in the butt to create.
Less blog surfing - I'm sure all of you can relate to how much time can magically disappear whilst reading your favorite blogs. Case in point: I have 470 unread posts in my Google Reader right now - just think if it took me 30 seconds to read each post (not including commenting on them) it would ultimately take me over 3 hours to get through all of them. And surely within that three hours more posts would be added to the list! There are tons of fantastic blogs out there, but it's a full time job in and of itself to keep up with reading them!!
Less commenting - I feel bad even writing that, but it goes along with less blog surfing. It's another thing that will be hard for me. I always have something to say and I love supporting my fellow bloggers.
Fewer replies to comments - I am so incredibly appreciative of all the sweet and encouraging feedback I get from all of you, but I'm just no longer able to respond to each comment. If you have questions about something in my posts, please ask and I will make a point to respond to them in the comment section.

So that's it. When I step back and look at this I think it's kind of funny that I have to make "blog rules" for myself! But, I know me and my type-A personality and these rules are an absolute necessity. :)

Be sure to stay tuned because I have some awesome giveaways coming up and of course with St. Patty's day just around the corner I'll have a few themed school activities to share as well!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Blogging Becomes a Burden

Last week I didn't blog much and several of you (very sweetly) wrote to me asking if everything was OK.

Truth is, I took a mini blog break because I'm finding blogging to be a bit more time consuming than it used to be and, I daresay, it's becoming a bit like work. I promised myself that if ever I felt that way about blogging, I'd stop writing and delete my blog.

Well, I don't know if I'm ready for that. Maybe. But at the very least I'm going to write a lot less often.

For the moment I'll be stepping away from blogging and commenting altogether... not sure for how long. I just really need to refocus my energies and re-adjust my priorities.

To those concerned bloggy friends - no worries, all is well. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This is a Tot School/Montessori Monday mish-mash kind of post. What can I say, I'm feeling lazy about separating them out this week. :)

We've spent the last 2 weeks taking it easy and having fun with all the V-day activities I created earlier in the month. I suppose I went a little overboard because we still have a week's worth of trays to work with!

Practical Life:James' favorites last week. He especially enjoyed the felt rosebuds I made! Hooray! ::Click here for more information about these activities.

I made some homemade meatballs and sauce on Valentine's Day (both of my guys l-o-v-e Italian food). James helped me prep the meatballs. :)

In this pic James is using the smallest cube from the pink tower to check his work. Once the tower is aligned on one side, the smallest cube should just fit along the open rim of the opposite side. I showed him how to do this quite a while ago and this is first time I've seen him do it on his own accord.

The heart size sequencing activity was thisclose from being a total flop. After completing it once he set it back on the shelve never to be touched again. In the upper second pic, James decided Grover should join in on the fun. :) ::Click here and here for more information on these activities.

Unlike every other time, James was more interested in playing with the letter objects than matching them with the correct letter. He did match them, but only once. :) And I wished I had printed more pages for the letter-heart-stamper activity; he finished it in no time. ::Click here for more information on these activities.

Math & Misc:
All of these activities went over extremely well. The top left activity I do not have posted anywhere as i came up with it at the spur of the moment. Easy and fun, it's stamping hearts onto pink paper. :) James continues to amaze me with his math skills - the quantifying activity was a breeze for him. ::Click here for more information on these activities.

And if you're not tired of clicking, check out the buttons below to see what other mamas are doing with their children!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Homemade Dot Stampers

My sweet Hubs surprised me with some gorgeous roses for Valentine's Day!After swooning over them for a while, I realized the bottom of each rose was encased in a plastic test tube which was filled with water. James and I experimented with them and came up with...
Ta-da! Homemade dot stampers!!

Here's how you can make your own set:::Go to your local florist and see if they have some extras they'd like to donate to you. :) UPDATE: My friend, Becca Jo, suggested this site as a place to purchase these tubes if the florist isn't an option.
::Fill the tubes with water, then add a drop of food coloring.
::Put the cap on* and shake gently to mix the colors. James loved this part - he enjoyed watching the colors slowly swirl together with the water.
UPDATE: I should mention the caps stay on while you use these stampers. There's a small hole in the middle of the cap that releases the watercolor when pressed against something.

For the "canvas" simply do this:
::Find a tray (a cookie sheet works well, too) and lay a sheet of wax paper on it and then 2 layers of paper towels, that way you'll get two paintings in one shot! :)
::Spritz the towels with water (for some reason this helps the stampers release their colors).

This was SUCH a hit with James. We made quite a few paintings, which are now beautifully decorating James' schoolroom!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Knitted Hat...

is finished! I am absolutely shocked that it a) actually looks like a hat, b) actually fits James' big melon, and c) actually took me very little time to knit!
So, we had a little photoshoot yesterday. You know those times when you have to snap like 20 shots so you'll hopefully get just ONE good pic? Well I was pleasantly surprised to see several cute pics in the bunch. Well, at least I think they're cute - although, I am a bit biased.

::Click on the collages if you want a closer look and my handiwork
(i.e. the knitting AND the kid)::
An excellent example of the classic "mommy/camera obsession", no?

What does James think of his pretty, warm, basket weaved, homemade with love hat?

Pfffft. A BIG thumbs down. :(

He wore it for about... 3 minutes I'd say and then he politely handed it to me and said, "I don't yike it!" Sigh.

Am I a horrible mother if I MAKE him wear it?! (don't answer that) Fortunately, the hat fits me, too! So it's mine now. No way I'm letting all that work go to waste!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Muffin Tin Meal

The theme for this MTM is - what else - Valentine's Day!
James said, "Wow! This is dewishish" (delicious) when I set the tin in front of him. :) Here's what's in it:

Chocolate milk
Heart shaped crackers (Annie's Organic Saltines - SO yummy!)
Red pepper
Ham and swiss cheese
Whole wheat bread made into a heart shape (I used a cookie cutter)
Mixed berry applesauce

Monday, February 8, 2010

Felt Rose Tutorial

I'm delighted so many of you were interested in my doing this tutorial! These little rose buds are SO easy to make!

Oh and let me just say up front that I am in no way shape or form an expert in sewing - please let me know if you have any questions.

Ok, let's get started! Here's what you'll need:
  • A 2" wide x 10" long strip of red felt (I used Eco-fi, but 100% wool would be lovely too!)
  • A 3.5" x 3.5" block of green felt
  • Red thread
  • Green thread (or invisible thread - I started using this, but had a hard time working with it since I could barely see the thread... guess that's the point though!).
  • A needle
  • A pair of scissors

:: First, take the red strip of felt and with your scissors create scallops along one side. Create small scallops first and then at about the halfway point make the scallops larger (these will be your outer petals).
:: Next, create the leaves by folding your green felt block in half and cutting out identical leaf shapes that should end up being about 2" long x 1" wide.

:: Make your rosebud by rolling the red felt strip scalloped side up, starting with the small scallops. You may need to re-roll a few times to get the overlapping petals look.

:: Using your red thread and holding the rosebud firmly in your hand, begin sewing the bottom of it. I know, my stitching is pretty random. It takes a lot of stitches to secure the many layers of the rosebud. I'm sure there's an easier, nicer looking way of stitching this, but this novice is not that skilled. Also this part gets covered by the leaves anyway.

:: After you've stitched the rosebud, prepare your leaves. Overlap them slightly and with your green thread stitch them together.

:: Next you'll attach the leaves to the base of the rosebud. First, line up the middle of the leaves with the bottom of the rosebud. Then pulling back the leaves slightly, thread the needle through the middle bottom of the rosebud into the leaves. Keep doing this until the two are well connected.

:: Then move onto the edge of the rosebud. This part can be a little tricky. What I do is a little something I like to call "tuck and stitch". :) Thread the needle at the very base of the flower and "tuck it" into the leaves. Do this all the way around the rosebud, trying your best to tuck deeply so no green thread will appear on the flower. (Here is where the invisible thread would work nicely.)

:: Now that your flower is nearly complete, there's just one last thing to do. Flatten the rose petals outward to create that "opening bud" look.

That's it! You now have a sweet little rosebud. :)

I made a dozen of these to use for a Valentine's Day Montessori activity.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Valentine's Activities - Letters & Language

I highly recommend each of these books, especially Love You Forever... I challenge you to not cry - or at the very least get a little misty-eyed - while reading this book. Such a sweet story and one of my favorites.

Matching letters to objects. This is similar to one of our alphabet drawers only in this case I collected small red things to be matched with the sound of the corresponding first letter (eg. triangle begins with 't').

Creating letters with Wikki Stix. I drew the letters L-O-V-E on index cards and laminated them so the Wikkis would stick a little better. :) The idea is for James to bend the Wikkis into each letter.

Matching letters with dot stampers. For this activity, James would take a letter circle from the bowl, find the match on the sheet of paper and then use the red stamper to mark it off. Sort of like letter bingo! :)

Sequencing the alphabet using heart cut-outs. Like most kids, James has the alphabet song memorized, but I'm curious to know if he can sequence the letters visually, too.

Name spelling using foam letters, I took a photo of them spelling out James' name with the idea being he'll match the actual foam letters to the ones in the photo.

I realized I forgot to add this to my math post:

Number recognition using a "parking lot" and red, pink and purple cars! This idea comes from My Montessori Journey (can you tell how much I love her blog?!). James thought this was pretty darn cool. He's going through a sensitive period with numbers right now, so while he knows these numbers well, I want to continue to indulge his interest them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

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Valentine's Activities - Math & Misc.

Matching candy hearts to numbers. To do this work, James would lay out all the numbers and then find the corresponding number of candy hearts. I made it so there are only a set number for each color of candy hearts - for example, there is only one green heart, so James would (hopefully) see that it belongs to the number 1. PS: James has no idea these are candies - we're not big on feeding him this kind of stuff, but should he figure it out (and he will - he's a mouther) we'll be ok with it in moderation. :)

Similar idea for this activity, only it's done in a tray and with a smaller sequence of numbers. In this case I used tiny hair bands as the counters.

Matching the hearts suit from a deck of cards. I cut the cards in half and then put one half in one bowl and the other half in another bowl.

Math in a bag - this clever idea comes from My Montessori Journey. Since James showed me the other week that he can add and subtract, I thought this was the perfect thing for him. I plan on doing this every week going forward, changing the arithmetic as soon as he masters it. And I'm only putting out one bag at a time so as not to overwhelm him. Plus, I know my little guy - he'd gladly empty each bag and combine all the counters! :)

Lacing numbers 0-10. Not sure how this one will go over since James isn't much into lacing. We'll give it try anyway. :)

I wasn't sure where to allocate these activities, but all are fine motor related.

Attaching pink and red erasers to pencils. One day while shopping at the dollar store I saw these two side by side and I instantly saw potential for an activity!

Sorting buttons by either color or shape. I suppose this could've gone along with my sensory activities... ah well!

Removing and applying heart shaped stickers. I was inspired by Jill at The Shafer Family to use the adhesive background that is left over from a used sheet of stickers. I made my own variation of it by peeling off the backing and putting it on a sheet of paper. The idea is James will peel off the hearts and try to match them to the corresponding shape on the background. I think this will go over really well because while James really likes stickers, he gets annoyed about taking them off. These should be really easy to remove now that the backing is gone. :)

Number recognition using a "parking lot" and red, pink and purple cars! This idea comes from My Montessori Journey (can you tell how much I love her blog?!). James thought this was pretty darn cool. He's going through a sensitive period with numbers right now, so while he knows these numbers well, I want to continue to indulge his interest them.

For more Valentine fun, check out my other posts:
Valentine's Activities - Montessori
Sensory Fun - Valentine's Style


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