Homeschool Montessori Day 1

Hello again! The past few months have been extremely busy for us! We moved (again), which was the major thing.

Now that we’re settled in our new house, we have a great space for homeschooling, and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

I found a great online Montessori training course (more on that in a later post), and I officially started building our class last night so we could begin lessons today.

Our setup is pretty simple right now. We have 2 sets of shelves and our child-sized table. I added a stool for me to sit on when presenting lessons. I used blue painters tape to create our line.
I’ve only put out 2 lessons (Object Transferring and Dry Pouring) and some mats.
Dexter was beside himself to get started on lessons. It was very difficult to hold his attention at first. We worked on some Grace and Courtesy lessons. He very quickly picked up the phrase “soon you will be able to…” and started repeating it back to me.
Even though he was antsy, he really enjoyed going through the Grace and Courtesy lessons. After I did my presentations, he would always begin his turn by saying, “Watch me carefully, and then you may have a turn!”
Presenting the hands-on lessons were more difficult. He was extremely eager to have his turn, and he talked and tried to grab the whole time. I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle that! So I’m going to have to ask my instructor about that and some of our other issues.
He did Object Transferring almost like I did it, which was encouraging. But he only wanted to do it in one direction, exercising one hand but not the other. I did wonder if I put too many of his glass marbles in the basket. Tonight, I will probably only leave 5-10 and see how that works.
So we moved on to Dry Pouring. I did my presentation, then returned the tray to the shelf. But when it was Dexter’s turn, we discovered the loaded tray was too heavy for him to carry! So he just grabbed the pitchers and took off! Later, I brought the tray to the table for him (when he wanted me to have a turn, I used it as an opportunity to present the lesson again), but I suppose we’ll need to find another solution. Either he needs lighter pitchers (those Pyrex measuring cups *are* heavy), or we need to do the lesson by putting down a mat and moving the pitchers over. I’m not really sure which is more desirable.
Overall, he did really well at pouring. He did decide to try to play in the kernels at one point. And then he went back to pouring. I think I said, “Soon, you will learn to pour without playing in the kernels!” and that seemed to be enough of a reminder for him.
I showed him to pour using 2 fingers for support on the pitcher, and he truly tried to do that, but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. So he used his whole hand. He also would sometimes rest his hand or the top pitcher on the bottom pitcher when pouring.

But he was happy with his work!

He did really want me to stay with him while he did everything, and I knew that would be an issue. So I set up my own workstation in the dining room, where I was in eyesight. Every time he asked me to come back to watch him work, I told him I had my own work to do, and he would go back to his task.
He did have a hard time accepting that we were not going to mix the 2 lessons. I explained to him that we would leave them separately, and that if he tried to pour the glass marbles they would likely break, and that soon I would give him a new thing to pour.
He was really able to work for almost an hour, which is probably pretty good for a first day. This wasn’t uninterrupted work, but he was at least interested in lessons for that long. After that he wanted to pretend the rolled work mats were light sabers and the marbles were batteries for the light sabers. Sigh.
My personal difficulty was staying positive and patient. Sometimes I didn’t know how to correct an issue without just saying, “Ok, we’re not going to do that”.
Hopefully things will go more smoothly tomorrow! I do know that it will take time for both of us to develop patience with this method.

Rotating Toys (or How Not To Be Crushed Under An Avalanche Of Toys)

We are moving (yes, again), so we’ve been using this opportunity to prioritize and purge. One of the areas that’s always been really difficult for me is toys.

I’m sure, if you’re a parent, you’ve been in this situation: your kid has a TON of toys already, most of them littering every square inch of your home, but your child acts as if he has nothing to play with. And getting rid of toys is close to impossible because you know your child has played with each and every thing in the pile (once or twice), and will again (once or twice).

Some of my friends have been really successful at rotating toys, but I just couldn’t figure out how to implement that in our home. But, thanks to Pinterest, I learned that the key is stripping it down to the bare minimum.
I found this great guide at Little Stories. She shows you how to categorize what you have and divide toys into sets that will maximize learning potential.

I really wanted to wait until after the move to start this, but seriously, we were tripping on toys constantly, and I was about to lose it. Teaching clean-up skills is likely my least favorite part of parenting so far. After starting this system, it’s SO much more manageable.

I gathered all the toys and was shocked to realize how many we really had. This is for one child, people, and this doesn’t include larger toys and outside toys, such as his kitcken, basketball goal, and sand and water table, and things like craft supplies. I don’t know if you can tell, but it’s not just one layer deep… the pile covers our entire king-size bed.

I made some tough calls, trying to be honest with myself about what he doesn’t use or need. Then I added back just a few types of toys.

(I feeled compelled to note that I did not lay out the numbers like that, Dexter did. My OCD tendencies would not have allowed me to let them be out of order!)

The benefits so far:

  • There are less toys in the floor.
  • Clean up is a breeze because he’s not overwhelmed.
  • He actually plays with what he has.
  • He plays with things he never tried before and gets creative with what’s available.
  • I’m able to monitor what he’s still not playing with so I can remove it from our home.
  • Our time is spent more productively than before, when he wasted time whining and being bored, and I wasted time trying to force him to clean.

We are in our second round of rotation so far, and it’s still working well. When he asks for a different type of toy, I have him gather up something he’s willing to trade before I give him the new items. Otherwise, I plan to rotate the entire set about every 2 weeks.

I’m really excited to be able to really sort and store my sets when we move. Right now, all the extra toys are still in my bedroom because there was no better place to put them during the move.

If you have other tips and tricks, definitely leave me a comment!

Postage Stamp Quilt-Along Update

I’m a little behind on my post this week. I was stressed out about it because I thought I’d solved all my technology problems from the past few weeks. I was wrong. I think technology hates my blog. I was so mad the other day that I almost swore off blogging. But my husband helped put things into perspective: “No one is wailing and smashing their computer because you haven’t posted in time. They’ll see it when they see it.” Oh, Alex, you keep me grounded in reality. My response was, “Well, they *should* be.”
But, I’m still here, and (dare I say it??) think most of my tech problems are solved.

I’m excited to say I have already completed my February Postage Stamp Challenge! I solemnly vowed to sew all of quadrant 1 into sets of 4.

Sewing is done.

And ironing is done.

It was pretty awesome to iron these out. I started getting a feel for how things are going to look!

There were some sad ones. Several are like the one below, where the seams just don’t quite match. I didn’t have any tragically off-kilter ones, but I’m a little concerned about how it might throw things off. Of course, I’m worrying too much about it..

And I found a fabric I sewed on backwards. It’s the orange in the upper right. I *almost* took it apart to flip it, but I realized that it just doesnt matter and that I may like the backside better anyway.
And then there’s this bad boy… He’s more than a little snaggle-toothed. I am going to see if this block can be salvaged, but I suspect I will have to take it apart and maybe replace a couple of the squares. It might be for the best, all those lines going in different directions make me a little nauseated and anxious lol.

But overall, I was really pleased with how they look. I definitely have some favorites! The one below just makes me really happy for some reason.

A few produced some color combos I’d never really considered. In the future, I may look to these for inspiration:

I really liked this one with the frog.

I definitely have a weakness for aqua, red, and black together. All my favorite blocks turned out to contain green/aqua, red/orange, and black and white!

Now I’m going through and squaring up all my blocks. Does using a rotary cutter make everyone’s elbows burn, or am I doing something wrong??

Bring on March’s challenge, Mary!! I’m ready!

 

Quarantine. Boo.

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Well, someone in our family now has croup. And it’s not me, and it’s not Alex. We were excited to start getting out after the crazy tornado day, but for the next several days are in quarantine. Thankfully he should be fine in time for his birthday next weekend!

In the meantime he will have to be content to play in his laundry basket choo choo train (when isn’t he??).

Speaking of Dexter’s birthday, I have been plugging along on his lion pillow! I lost a few weeks when I couldn’t find my crocheting stuff. Why am I not more organized?? But now I’m back on track and I have a week to get it done!!!

I’m on the second circle, and it’s just in a blah stage where you don’t know if it’s going to look good or turn out to be a big embarrassing mess.

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Although, I’m certain he won’t care either way. He’s just going to be so excited to have his own pillow, and double excited if he can tell it’s supposed to be a lion, so that takes a lot of pressure off 🙂

On another note, I want to start a new project!!! Almost anything will do. I love starting things and finishing things, it’s the middle part that’s not always fun 🙂

But I really can’t start anything new, I have SO MANY things going on. I’m finishing Dexter’s pillow, I have his birthday party in a week, and then a week and a half later I’m having jaw surgery (boo again..), so I have too much on my plate to think about starting something new. Not to mention all the other unfinished projects I have in the queue.

I’ve also started an herb garden, and I’ve been trying to keep that alive. They really should screen better before they just hand plants over to people.

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Don’t they know how much I have going on???

Work-In-Progress: Crocheted Lion Pillow

One of the things we plan to give Dexter for his 2nd birthday is his very own pillow! This may not be so exciting to some of you, but he loves pillows and we haven’t let him sleep with one yet. I figured we’d just find something at Target when the time came, but then I saw this pillow on Anna Maria Horner’s site and it is perfect for Dexter’s room!

anna maria horner pillow                  A special thanks to Anna Maria Horner for permission to use her photo!

We decorated with the NoJo Jungle Tales set. The colors could not have matched any better, and thankfully I was able to find almost the exact same colors at Hobby Lobby.

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I’ll probably try to make my face match the one on Dexter’s comforter, and I’ll probably add a few rows to the mane. I doubt I will add ears, but that’s something I’m not even going to think about until there’s an actual pillow!

I have less than 3 months now, and I also plan to make him a felt playhouse, inspired by Homemade by Jill and a few others. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Definitely. These may  turn into Christmas presents!

Dexter wasn’t feeling well the day I took these pictures. Kind of makes me wish he already had his pillow 😦

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Progress Report: Pink/Blue Owl Quilt

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I’m both excited and frustrated… I’m extremely happy because I completed all 12 of my squares!!! But I ran across lots of problems. Namely that I apparently cut my sashing strips too short, boo, and I can’t find my scrap material to add to the strips, extra boo. And by the end, I was having a lot of sewing trouble and I’m going to have to rip some seams. A break was called for.

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I am LOVING the way it’s looking with the sashing. I can’t wait til I work out the kinks. I added a little plain chocolate brown to the length , hopefully it won’t be too distracting. I’ll have to do this on every wide strip and at the end of all the border pieces.

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It’s really coming together! The tree on the back will be the next challenge 🙂

Mapping Out My Quilting Plan

It occurred to me last night that I have 5 months to finish my 3 Christmas quilts. I can be a bit of a procrastinator. 5 months sounds like forever, right??

But when I divide that by 3 quilts, that’s roughly 1.67 months per quilt! Um… time to panic!

So, I have to make myself start putting some quality time into those quilts. Not only have I taken on a gargantuan task, but I also chose to venture into unknown and potentially complicated pattern territory.

It’s so hard for me to focus on just one project. I get bored, or I get super excited about something else! But I have to harness my energy, because I don’t want to give my sisters IOU’s for Christmas. That would be jerky.

So, here’s the plan:

Quilt #1- Deborah’s Owl Quilt

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The front of the quilt will have 12 pink and blue blocks, shashed with dark brown. At least one block will have an owl. My sister wanted to think about how many owls she wanted 🙂

IMG_5217 The back will have a pink and brown striped fabric, with a strip of pieces from the front along the bottom. Then I’m going to attempt to do a tree in brown, via ohfrannson!. I probably will not do patchwork on this tree, because I really don’t think it’s necessary. And then I’ll have 3 little owls peeking out of holes in the tree.

I have 6 blocks completed. So if I could do 1 block per day I’d be done in a week.

Week 1: Complete blocks.

Week 2: Cut sashing and piece blocks together.

Week 3: Work on the back. (I’m going to call this one week’s worth of work, but I don’t actually know how long this will take.

Week 4: Sandwich quilt and start quilting!

Week 5: Quilt.

Week 6: Bind the edges and clip threads.

Quilt #2- Alisha’s Bird Quilt

I have all the fabric for this quilt, and a general idea, but it’s still mostly in my head. It will consist of some combination of the following fabrics:

IMG_5233 And it will have a design similar to this:IMG_5224 I sketched this out without really paying attention to the quantities of fabric I have on hand. Most likely I will have to play around with color combinations. So, Alisha, don’t get attached to it 🙂 Also, I’m not sure about how to put this together, so I sure hope ohfrannson! has a pattern!!

Week 1: Work on planning. Which color do I have enough of for the background, trees, etc?

Week 2: Cut fabric.

Week 3: Piece back ground.

Week 4: Piece tree 1.

Week 5: Piece tree 2.

Week 6: Piece tree 3.

Week 7: Cut back pieces.

Week 8: Piece back. Appliqué birds on front and back.

Week 9: Sandwich and quilt.

Week 10: Bind the edges and clip threads.

(Uh-oh. This plan is 4 weeks over time-budget.)

Quilt #3- Michelle’s Bird Quilt

Sigh. Now that I’ve mapped out Alisha’s quilt, I know Michelle’s is essentially the same except in different colors. So, it, too, is slated for 4 extra weeks. I can’t let this happen! I just need to remember this is just an estimate and kick it into high gear!

Michelle’s fabrics:IMG_5241 This batch is a little messy because I’m currently using some of the fabrics for another project 🙂

And for some reason, I thought it would be faster to revamp the same picture in Paint. It was *not* faster, but it was fun 🙂final painted bird quilt IMG_5224

Week 1: Work on planning. Which color do I have enough of for the background, trees, etc?

Week 2: Cut fabric.

Week 3: Piece back ground.

Week 4: Piece tree 1.

Week 5: Piece tree 2.

Week 6: Piece tree 3.

Week 7: Cut back pieces.

Week 8: Piece back. Appliqué birds on front and back.

Week 9: Sandwich and quilt.

Week 10: Bind the edges and clip threads.

Wish me luck! And the ability to focus. I’ll need it.