simple

waxing the play kitchen

Sometimes, in my bag of parenting tricks that I've gathered from here and there, I tend to forget things. It's a big bag of a lot of randomness, with some Montessori thrown in, a dose of Waldorf for good measure, and a good amount of attachment parenting. And yes, some may find the bits of granola dispersed through this parenting bag a bit messy ... even funny. But it works, and that's how we learn to be parents - by throwing past experiences and good ideas into that bag, hoping that we can a.) find the bag when we need to pull something out, and b.) rifle through it to find that particular idea among a sea of others.

waxing the play kitchen

Lately I've been thinking to myself that I need to clean out this disorganized mess. I'll be the first to admit that I'm addicted to parenting books. I need to break that. There's just too much information coming in. 

waxing the play kitchen

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that I'm rediscovering the value of Montessori's Practical Life exercises in my home, after nearly forgetting about them. I gave up the idea of being a Saint-in-Residence a while back, ;) a character trait that some believe Montessori and Waldorf parenting necessitates. Yet, even though I got rid of those unrealistic ideas from my parenting bag, that didn't mean that I threw out some simple tools - dare I say the backbone (at least a supporting leg?) - of the philosophies themselves. 

waxing the play kitchen

I've written about Montessori Practical Life before while I was teaching, and here's something I happened upon recently from a Waldorf perspective.

And you know what? Even if neither of these two philosophies truly resonate with you, the idea of giving young children meaningful work to do in the home is an amazing parenting tool. It calms nerves. It centers children. It gives them confidence. It develops their capacity to concentrate. Out of it will come content for creative play. It allows you, the parent, to get a few things done while they work. Setting up activities for your child makes you feel like a capable parent (when I often feel like I'm floundering in the murky waters of sibling messes.) I love me some Practical Life.

waxing the play kitchen

I thought I'd share with you some of what we're doing around here in terms of meaninful "work" for Finn.

Today, I had some pictures of this recent beeswax-fest on my camera. You will need some polishing cloths (I made mine from Little Folks flannel), a very small spoon for applying the wax to the cloth, and some yummy beeswax/jojoba oil blend from my go-to practical life resource, Montessori Services.

waxing the play kitchen

Wax anything that's unfinished wood - from the play kitchen to toys to tables. It helps to have a smaller container of beeswax so there's a limited amount and it is used more judiciously. You see the whole jar here because I forgot my own advice. Next time, next time. Now our kitchen is super-waxed! 

Best of all? Thirty minutes of contented work. For all of us.

Oh! P.S. The apron pattern (including the template for all of the embroidery work) can be found here!


sponsor giveaway :: megan nielsen patterns

Maternity survival pack1
Another fun giveaway for you today! I was thrilled when Megan Nielsen of DIY Maternity contacted me about sponsoring Sew Liberated. I found her site when I was pregnant with Lachlan, and was eyeing all of her uber-stylish maternity patterns. (Then we found out about Lachlan's heart and - well, sewing was on the back burner for a while! ;)

Maternity survival pack2

But I'm really excited that Megan is giving away a Maternity Survival Pack, a collection of four of her most popular mama-with-child patterns, as well as her non-maternity Darling Ranges Dress. Darling Ranges pattern1

A bit more about Megan Nielsen Patterns

Megan Nielsen Patterns are created with the intention of making sewing a more enjoyable rewarding experience, by completely rethinking the way patterns are currently produced. All patterns are full size and come on sturdy semi translucent paper. They are accompanied by a instruction booklet complete with easy to follow directions & diagrams, ideas for how you can customize your design to be more unique (complete with sketches!), a pattern log and place to take notes on your projects. Everything comes packaged in a roomy and sturdy envelope that is easy to close.

Darling Ranges pattern2

Leave a comment to enter! The winner will be drawn at random on Sunday, Jan. 29th, and announced on Monday, Jan. 30th. Good luck!

Comments are now closed!

Use discount code SEWLIBERATED at checkout for 20% off your order.


a kid's day

DSC_1500_3401

Waking up. Sometimes I need toothpicks to prop open my eyelids. I don't drink coffee - it never became a habit, and it gives me the jitters. My dad always used to say that cofee tasted like licking concrete. (We always wondered how he found out what licked concrete tasted like.) 

All of this to say that mornings are not the easiest time of day for me. It's always too early. 

Along came boys. Two of them, who are up-and-at-'em, ready to eat and play about three nanoseconds after their eyelids pop open. 

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Several months ago, we were fortunate to receive a visual activity chart from A Kid's Day. It has greatly smoothed the wake-up ritual for both myself and Finn.

As we wait for breakfast to cook, I pull out the custom-made labels and hand them to Finn to attach to the tree chart. It gives us a moment to talk about our plans for the day. Transparency in routine has been helpful for Finn, and this little chart has helped me to maintain a predictable rhythm to our days. 

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I try not to put *every* little thing we do on the chart - just the bigger "events." On a typical week day, I might pull out the following labels: inside play, outside play, errands, lunch, nap, tea time, art activity, dinner, music time, bedtime. That's plenty for us.

I do find that I need to put the chart up on top of a dresser ocne the labels have been placed, or else the temptation to completely rearrange our day (the labels are magnetic) is just too much for Finn! Here's a video of how Traci, the creator of A Kid's Day, uses their chart - I like how she has it stuck to the wall.

And the good news - A Kid's Day is giving away a Regular Tree Chart with 20 customized activity labels to one of you! Just leave a comment below to enter, and if you love their charts, earn extra brownie points for "liking" A Kid's Day on Facebook. What a wonderful home business, don't you think! Let's help spread the word!

Comments close on Sunday evening, January 29th. The winner will be drawn at random and announced on Monday, January 30th. Good luck!

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little red wagon

Thanks a whole bunch for all of your photobook suggestions! Now I just have to decide which service to use and jump in. I also love that many of you have been using photobooks to document a year in the life of your child, giving the gift as a birthday present. Lightbulb moment! I happen to have a little guy about to turn ONE in almost exactly a month. ONE! And it's a big one. 

the wagon

If I could afford to give a little red wagon at every baby shower I was invited to, I would. It's the one toy that I think is worth having around for the older baby. (Other toys? Especially for this age? Let's just say that the world is their playground, and I think it better to give kitchen utensils if you can't afford the wagon! ;)

We've had so many good times with this wagon of ours. (Oh my heart. I just found these pictures of when Finn was the same age as Lachlan is now.) We never put it away - it's been in constant use since Finn was about eight months old. The wagon and the kitchen.

the wagon

It's proven to be an agent of mischief, 

the wagon

of many laughs,

the wagon

and even of sibling connection. This is the big one right now - Lachlan can push Finn around (slowly) and Finn can push Lachlan around (quickly) and they both think it's just the bee's knees. Finn also enjoys following Lachlan around and helping him turn. As he says, "Lachie, you're always bumping into things! Let me help you get unstuck." Yay! I like hearing that. It's better than "Mama, help! HELP! Lachlan wants to play with my tractor and he CAN'T! He's going to EAT IT!

the wagon

Thank you, little red wagon. You're a toy that they're likely to remember when they're being nostalgic about such things when they're in their twenties. 


gifting

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

sparkly googly-eyed softdough

We had a birthday party to attend this morning. This certain big three year-old has been in our lives since he was just starting to crawl around. Such a big boy deserves sparkly blue softdough with googly eyes, don't you think?

Softdough with a twist has become our go-to gift for other children. I like to involve Finn in the gifting process, and predictably, he always chooses blue softdough with sparkles for his friends. Aside from turning on the stove, he can be involved in every step. I thought his idea of putting googly eyes in the jar was great! He was proud and excited to give this to his friend today.

Unrelated - I'm trying to figure out what in the world to do with all of my pictures from our vacation. I'll be honest and tell you that pre-mama me is like a little devil on my shoulder, telling me that it would be awesome to make a traditional scrapbook a la Ali Edwards. But man, I just dont' have the time. I do have a serious case of hobby envy, though. But I do want a printed record of our trip. Do any of you know of a less time consuming way to get these photos printed? Digital scrapbooking templates? Just print a book via shutterfly? Looking forward to your advice!

 


a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

a mountain vacation

We had such a good time. Sometimes I felt like pinching myself, certain moments were so dream-like. But then a baby pulled my hair or a two year-old needed help turning on the light in the bathroom, and I remembered that I was, in fact, still in reality. A neatly transposed mothering reality tucked in a cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

We hiked a lot. We even did something crazy - crossing the suspension bridge atop Grandfather Mountain in what must have been tropical storm-force winds. Seriously. The wind was blowing so hard that I hardly had to breathe, it was entering my nose of its own accord. That, combined with my ever-so-slight fear of heights. I felt giddy, baby strapped to my front. It was like I was in high school again, jumping off a thirty foot rock into the river below (blowing out my ear drum, as my mother will surely remind me. Pshaw, Mom. It wasn't that bad. :) 

I got to thinking about fear, and the thrill of pushing yourself just out of your comfort zone, and the confidence you gain, along with the sigh you breathe out, when it is done.

Am I comparing vacationing with two small children to jumping off a cliff? Oh yes. Excuse the hyperbole. But it is sort of like that, for a homebody like myself. I am an odd kind of homebody. I would much rather hang around the house than go out, and I guard our out-of-house schedule perhaps a bit too fiercely, not wanting to be over scheduled - pushed out of my comfort zone and into the not-as-predictable social world. But I do like the big adventure trip. I've taken many a leaps in my life, putting the homebody in me aside - living abroad twice, backpacking, jumping into water and swimming across large expanses of it, and even walking across aforementioned bridge. 

Somehow, for me, a bigger, more symbolic move out of my comfort zone is easier than the everyday little ones. But I learned something about myself and my family on this, our first trip away from home as a family of four - the comfort zone is important to my family and my children, but so is pushing ourselves out of it every so often. 

This week, we connected, we learned about each other, we laughed, we cried, we talked about the future, and we did things that I didn't think we'd been in a position to do before. We hiked nearly every day with Finn and Lachlan, each of us sporting a baby carrier just in case. We each conquered fears - our adult worries that everything would fall apart away from home, and Finn's smaller fears of standing up while peeing (!) and going tubing, to name a few. 

We conquered fears, and we made memories. The best kind of vacation. We need to make such time together a priority. 


number two

first painting

Sometimes I worry that my second child fits a little too cozily into that number two slot. I wonder if he gets read to nearly as much as my first, if he gets his fair share of uninterupted mama gazes. Because, well ... everything is interrupted around here, a majority of the time. Yet, he seems content to do his own thing while I once again direct my attention to his older brother.

first painting

But yet. He is not the first. He does not nurse to sleep. He does not nurse all. the. time. like his brother did. He does not struggle with strong feelings. He does not need to be carried. These are not his issues. 

first painting

He comes along. He rides on my back, he crawls, he pulls up. He wants desperately to walk. He smiles at his big brother as his big brother cries in frustration, not knowing how to handle a baby who wants to play with his toys, touch his books. If he is dealt a brotherly blow (real or perceived) he recovers quickly. He forgives.

first painting

It's such a challenge, isn't it? Mothering two very different little people, providing each one with what he needs, balanced by what you can realisticly give. As the youngest of four, I did not grow up with my brothers in the same way that Finn and Lachlan will - my brothers are much older. This sibling "balance" is one of my biggest challenges as a parent, and it makes me feel raw and vulnerable. (And often very tired.)

Sometimes, though, I realize that I have already learned a lot - I can call on past experiences, filed away in my mama's mind, to respond to my second child with an ease that wasn't yet natural with my first. Sometimes, the first pretends to be a mama, helping the second. Sometimes the first smiles along with the rest of us as we watch the second blossom in some mundane-yet-marvelous way. Sometimes I think about the blessing of being a recipient of more love, more play, more talk, and more rambunctious moments.

In those times, I know that being the second child is a special and unique experience, just as being the firstborn is. 

I thought about this moment as I watched Lachlan "paint" for the first time. These are moments to remember.

Also, I wanted to draw your attention to the book recommendations in the right side bar. I've added links to books I am currently reading with both boys, which I will change as we rotate through our collection. My intention this year is to keep only 4-6 books out per boy, and rotate them weekly. An attempt to simplify

We are getting ready to go on our first vacation as a family of four! My in-laws were so kind to gift us a week of their time share and we are heading to the North Carolina mountains for a week. We're hoping for snow. I will be away from this space to fully enjoy the week with my boys. Enjoy your week, too!


thoughts

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

pruning

~ With one on my back and the other enjoying the carnival of activities available in our yard (digging, throwing, pretending, running), I was suprised at how productive I was. Pruning, gathering, hauling - all accomplished. Two reedy bushes by our little pond, looking wintery-dapper with their new buzz cuts. A productive yard sesson like this every day and maybe, just maybe, we can keep up. 

~ I've been thinking a lot about our garden. A deer fence, to be precise. The fencing quote was way out of our league. Build a six- to eight-feet tall fence ourselves? We've built a fence to keep animals out before, except this one was meant to keep out neighboring pigs, cows, and goats. And as lovely as cob is, I think fence 2.0 will be wire. At the rate we go with with the boys in tow, it would take us 18 years to build a cob wall for our garden. Post and wire it is.

~ Finn has been asking about chickens and goats. We have the perfect coop/spot for them. Too bad we can't just fence in our entire property, which is mostly open space, and let the goats roam free. I raised goats when I was a little, and I'm sure they wouldn't heed my warnings about the road that borders our property. Unless I danced around with alfalfa, making goat-ish noises. Not that I've ever done that. Nope. Wink.

~ Feeling thankful for my Dad and his recovery, and feeling optimistic about this Spring, when he will be able to be out in the garden with us, sharing all of his gardening know-how with me and my boys.