WFMW: Cheap Montessori Shelving

In a child-centered environment, short, open shelving allows the child easy access to activities or toys. You want the shelves low enough to be reachable by little hands and open so that the child can see the activity and get to it easily. The shelves should also be natural or white in color so as not to distract from the activities displayed, either. Ideally, Montessori materials should be made of natural materials. I found some great, cheap shelves at Target that meet *most* of these ideals. (They’re not made of natural materials.) These were on sale for $9.something for back-to-school. I stocked up! I have one that is still not in use, but I have three ideas for how to use it and where to put it. I used one as Caroline’s kitchen and another as our math center. Cheap and educational and organizational — works for me!

For more Works for Me Wednesday Tips, visit Rocks in My Dryer.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Perhaps it is because of the hype and the closure since this is the last in the series, but I must admit that I LOVED IT! I’ve enjoyed all of the books in the Harry Potter series, but I wasn’t moved by them necessarily. This one really got to me. I won’t give any “spoilers” but will just say that, if I were still teaching, I would love to create a unit (well, with seven books, I guess it’d be a whole course) exploring the motifs, the symbols, the themes. What a way to draw kids into the world of literary analysis and appreciation.

MY DRY, SPOILERLESS COMMENTARY: I enjoyed the JC connection, really appreciated the resolution with Neville’s character, didn’t like the epilogue, was broken-hearted for Teddy. Loved Luna’s dad, Xenophilius Lovegood (love of strangeness) — my kind of guy!

Vacation Wrap-Up

We decided to go easy on the ozone and our our wallets and vacation close to home this summer. We drove to downtown Houston for three days and two nights of food and fun. Then we headed south to League City for a couple of days with Poppy and Nana. Some observations and points to remember for future trips are

1. plan, plan, plan (but be flexible!) — I mapped out our itinerary carefully, I thought, then realized in the car that I scheduled us for the zoo in the heat of the afternoon. We just flip-flopped activities to keep us indoors in the afternoon and moved the zoo to a morning. We also had a nap problem when we got lost driving to our room for naptime, causing Caroline to fall asleep in the car. My toddler doesn’t transfer well, and if she falls asleep in the car, even if it is only for ten minutes — that’s the nap! We just had to be flexible again — we moved our evening swim to the afternoon, ate dinner a bit earlier, and put the tot to bed early that night.

2. toddlers love animals — The zoo was an obvious hit. The dog at the Bed and Breakfast was an unexpected delight as was feeding the fishies at the Kemah Boardwalk. All future vacations with toddlers must include animals.

3. Bed and Breakfasts are great — We’d never before stayed in a B&B, The Lovett Inn. It was just fabulous!! Nice and cozy, not too busy, great location. The first night, John said, “From now on, let’s stay in Bed and Breakfasts on vacation.” I agree.

4. spend more time at the Contemporary Arts Museum — I put the Contemporary Arts Museum as a maybe stop on our itinerary. Admission was free, and I thought we might want to stop in for a few minutes. The current exhibit features Texas artists. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Modern Art can be a bit of a joke, I know, and my first reaction was just that. This is art? But then the old English teacher in me came out and I began asking, what does it mean? I want to go back sans toddler some time (she did GREAT at not touching the toy trucks and bicycles that were right there on the floor for her to play with, though), take plenty of time to examine the exhibits, and then discuss them with my hubby or friends over a bottle of wine.

5. always get recommendations from friends who have lived or been there
— My fabulous sister-in-law Carlye, mother of Georgia Peorgia, lived in the Montrose area for a few years. She emailed me a list of recommended restaurants and spots that was just fabulous. She knew that John would appreciate THE HOBBIT CAFE and that I would love THE CHOCOLATE BAR. (We did!) EMPIRE CAFE was also really neat.

6. I am a 70
— I now know my Sleep Number. Our room had a Select Comfort Sleep Number Bed, and with the same sense of curiosity and adventure that made me beg as a child for a quarter to put in the vibrating bed in our motel room, I had to fully experience the Sleep Number Bed. I laid on the bed, which was set around 60, and moved the dial all the way down to its lowest setting of five. I felt the bed slowly deflate under me. And I wondered why on earth would anyone want to sleep on such a soft gushy mattress. Then Caroline hopped onto the middle of the bed and rolled right into me. Nope, let’s move the dial back on up. I decided that 75 was a bit too stiff, so I eased back down to a 70 — a nice average number. I sleep better at home, and I’ll stick with my individual coils and memory foam.

My Laundry Room

It’s so exciting to organize a room, or an area, in your home! Today, I organized my laundry room — recycling cardboard boxes I had saved, I guess, to put items in for storage (I tossed a booster chair box, various toy boxes, etc), moving around shelves, and adding some special touches. I put my french memo board with some photos and things up in there, and I hung a cross that says “God danced the day you were born” — a gift from John’s grandma.

I just love it now! I smile every time I step in there. It is just so satisfying to have a clutter-free (at least for a couple of days!) room, and I’m really happy to have added a little bit of personality to my laundry room.

I’m most proud, though, that I didn’t spend much money. I bought one shelf to add to some that were already up — $8 for shelf and brackets. Usually, my organization sprees cost me a lot more money! I just used things I already had in that room or around the house.

Tuesday Teach ’ems: Nose Blowing and Other Thoughts

Caroline had a runny nose yesterday, giving us the prime opportunity to work on a Montessori lesson in nose blowing.

I’ve been questioning my choice of alliterative name for these Tuesday posts, thinking that TEACH is not the term I truly intend. I’m not teaching Caroline. I’m creating an environment that allows her to learn–not an environment to learn the alphabet or mathematics, either, an environment to learn to learn, to learn to concentrate and focus, to learn to take care of her body, her environment, her home.

But, I did teach her to blow her nose. And even found a lesson plan online for doing it. Maybe Tuesday Teach ‘Em is appropriate.

WFMW: Parenting Advice Edition — Don’t Watch the Clock; Watch the Baby!

It started as breastfeeding advice that I heard in a La Leche League meeting. “Don’t watch the clock; watch the baby.” Great advice for nursing to make sure you establish a good milk supply and meet your baby’s ever-changing needs rather than putting your child on a rigid schedule. It also seems to work well beyond nursing — sleep, solids, potty-training, weaning, new experiences. As a classic Type A personality, I like to be in control. I like to PLAN. I like to read the latest research to support my choices. That’s all great, but it all has to come down to what *my child* is ready for. Are bedtimes or naptimes becoming challenging? Perhaps her sleep needs have changed and it’s time to reevaluate our routine. How do I know she’s ready for solids? Is she showing signs of potty readiness? Should I put her in a playschool program or keep her at home with me? No book can have all the right answers for every child. As parents, we have to watch our babies, know our babies, and read the signs from our babies (however old those babies) to know what they need.

Watch the baby.

That’s the advice that has WORKED FOR ME. I hope it works for you, too.

For more Works for Me Wednesday Ideas — specifically “parenting advice” ideas, this week’s theme, visit Rocks in My Dryer.