Saturday, January 14, 2012

Stopping Time


Oh how I wish I could make time stand still. These little ones of ours are growing up so fast and I fear that one day I will forget all the things that make them so uniquely them at this very moment.

Kinsley inventing games like “Squibby and the Blue Mermaid” and teaching her sister how to jump on the bed. Kaitlyn’s cheesy grin she does when she is so proud of herself for mastering something new and for you understanding just exactly what she’s telling you. The way Kinsley wrinkles her nose when she is concentrating on her drawing or how she still doesn’t like to have her hair rinsed under the faucet. The way Kaitlyn throws herself into you when she’s giving you a big hug or the fact that when I pick her up she pats me just like I do her. Holding hands with Kinsley when she crawls into bed with me in the early morning and hearing Kaitlyn yelling “Sissy where YOU?” whenever her sister gets out of her sight for even a second.

These are the moments I want to hold onto forever. Some days I wish I could have a camera following us around all day long so that these moments are never lost.

Kait 4

Dec zoo trip Pic 4



Dec zoo trip Pic 2

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter nature table

Our winter nature table is finally started. We took a bit of a decorating break after taking down the Christmas decorations and our nature table sat empty. Though it became a favorite doll playing platform which was nice.

Nature Table 1

It's still a bit bare as I was having a hard time coming up with things to add. This is such a tricky age with Kait because most of the more elaborate and delicate details will have to wait until she is a bit more careful and less destructive. So for now I am sticking with items that can survive her playing with them and ultimately throwing them on the ground.

Nature Table 2

We're sticking with nice solid wood that can withstand some rough playing. I added these little wooden peg dolls last night. The girls are getting quite the collection and they are getting lots of playtime. (much to this Mama's delight)

Nature Table 4

Kaitlyn was immediately smitten with this one and refuses to let anyone else play with it declaring "mine" if she thinks we are considering it.

Nature Table 3

This one is my favorite and I want very much to create an entire family of them, and might before the season is over.

Thanks to the ideas of a friend we're going to hopefully be adding a Cardinal and maybe even an igloo to our table soon. I also have some wooden penguins sitting and waiting to be painted. The trees and penguins came from ClicketyClack on Etsy. I have bought lots of cutouts from them and have never been disappointed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Television TIme


A couple months back the girls got a television in their playroom. I wasn’t excited (to say the very least) and had always said that there would be no TV outside of the one in the living room. I had already caved and put a DVD player in the van to make traveling to visit family less of a nightmare (which I am thankful we did) but I was not ready to embrace this change. The girls loved it; they could watch their dance movies and thought they had their own little movie theatre. It didn’t really affect our daily lives and I even had to admit it was nice when I didn’t have to watch Bella Dancerella for the hundredth time. After a while I started to notice a negative influence though. Kaitlyn quickly became addicted to the television. It seemed as though all she wanted to do was sit on her little bench in front of the screen all day. She’d wake up and want to turn it on; she stopped hanging out with us in other areas of the house and would even knock on the screen when it wasn’t on. Even if we were watching a Christmas movie together as a family she’d want to go sit by herself in the playroom and watch her TV. When we got back from Christmas and it was still all she wanted to do I’d finally had enough.

One of the very first acts for the New Year was to take the television back out of the playroom. We took it out while the girls were napping and put up the teepee they got from grandma and grandpa in its place. Immediately upon waking Kaitlyn went straight to the playroom then began asking “Where go?”, but we told her it was gone and within a minute she was fine and had moved on. We both breathed a sigh of relief that there wasn’t going to be an issue adjusting and life could get back to normal. The girls haven’t missed it at all and I am happy to have a little less television in our lives.

I’m not trying to say that television is evil and bad for kids (though I know a lot of people do). The truth is we like TV, maybe not as much as the next family but for us it still has its place in our daily rhythm. The girls and I like to ease into our mornings by watching a little PBS together in the recliner. We enjoy watching Super Why and Dinosaur Train and that is perfectly okay, for us. Television time is one of the things we’ve chosen to make a non-issue in our home (which is how I was convinced to allow the television to ever be put in the playroom to begin with) but I do place a limit of sorts on how much is viewed. By only have one television in the main area of the house it is much easier to control what and how much is seen. We also don’t have cable or satellite so that means when we are watching it is on PBS. Once we have started out day the television goes off and we go on about our business. We turn it back on in the afternoon to watch Wild Kratz which Kinsley and I both enjoy watching together. We actually learn quite a bit from these shows and they have given us several topics to research and learn more about. I think, if used properly, television can be a great aid to a homeschooling (or not) family. We choose to view it as a learning opportunity in addition to a source of entertainment.

Though there are definitely times we use it just for fun. We’ll pop some popcorn and put in a favorite Disney movie and cuddle up on the couch (or a “port” in the floor) together. I’ll also admit to the screen being on a lot more during the winter when we can’t get outside nearly as much and I’m okay with that too. For us it was simply a matter of finding a balance that worked for all of us. How do you handle screen time with your children?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Winter Reading

Winter books 2

With the nasty virus that has been going around we've spent a lot of time avoiding leaving the house and a lot of time reading some of our favorite winter books. Once we packed away our Christmas books I realized our Winter reading stash wasn't as large as I had originally thought but we have some old favorites so we don't mind too much.

I keep our seasonal or themed books separate from all the other books on the bookshelf (in the girls' bedroom) so we can find them easily and they become part of our seasonal decor that way too.

Winter Books

We moved them off the coffee table onto the bookshelf in the front room to give us more playing space but to still have them easily accessible for lots of use.

In the basket right now:

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner

Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root

First Snow in the Woods by Carl R. Sams

Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams

The Star Child by J and W Grimm

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

One Winter's Day by M. Christina Butler

Such great books and perfect for snuggling up by a cozy fire on a blustery winter day. Do you have a winter favorite that you could suggest to us?

I linked to Amazon just for the simple fact that it is easy for anyone to find them that way. I wish I had a terrific local book store I could point people (and myself) towards though.

Friday, January 6, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

This Moment

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Rhythm

Weekly Rhythm

I hope everyone had a fantastic start to this new year. I know we are looking forward to seeing what this year holds for our family but first we need to get back on track and into our rhythm. The rhythm in which we live our lives is crucial to the happiness of our family. I’ve realized that the holidays were getting in the way of our natural rhythms and could see the effects in the faces and actions of my girls. When things get too hectic and shaken up everyone gets overwhelmed and overly emotional. We’re at that stage right now and it is time to center ourselves and get back to what we know works for us as a family.

There is a natural ebb and flow to our daily lives which we embrace, but never force. That is the beauty of being a homeschooling (and unschooling) family, being able to live our lives without worrying about what the calendar or the clock is telling us. We are free to follow our hearts and imaginations wherever they may lead us. That isn’t to say that we don’t have a bit of structure to our days but simply that we aren’t on a rigid schedule dictated by the numbers on a clock or a list of tasks that we must complete to call our day a success.

Those of you that really know me know that I am a list maker and a planner so of course there is a chart. Kinsley is a bit of a list maker herself and thrives on knowing what is in store for her day and feels much more secure when she can predict what comes next in her day. That doesn’t mean we always follow the plan, in fact most days we don’t. But the chart gives us a jumping off point and serves as an inspiration for us all. I didn’t just sit down one day and pull these ideas out of my head, instead I stepped back and watched our natural rhythms as they presented themselves and went from there. I learned that the girls, though they wake early, aren’t ready to jump right into the day’s activities but prefer to gradually ease into their day and are often awake for more than an hour before they feel ready to eat breakfast. I learned that cleaning up right before nap gave us a clean slate to start with in the afternoon. I learned what worked for our family. That I the important thing to remember about establishing a rhythm in your home, what works for one house likely isn’t what works for another. You have to find out what works for you. Though there isn’t a magic printout that will bring calm and order to your house there are several excellent blog posts on rhythm like this one or this one here.

Our daily rhythm is ever changing, especially now that Kaitlyn is old enough to really participate so I anticipate doing a lot of tweaking as we start the new year and find what works for us where we are now.

We also have a general rhythm to our week that gives us sort of a “theme” for the day.

Rhythm Pic 2

Rhythm Pic 3

Weekly Rhythm:

Monday: Music Day
Tuesday: Baking Day
Wednesday: Painting Day
Thursday: Crafting Day
Friday: Adventure Day

That isn’t to say that we only paint on Wednesdays or if we want to bake cookies on a Friday we can’t, just that on these specific days I make a concentrated effort to focus on that daily task. It works well for us to have this activity come after nap time so that the girls are refreshed and ready to focus. It also gives me the opportunity to use naptime to get supplies out and ready beforehand.

We don’t really have a planned activity for our weekends as we never know if Daddy will be working or home with us on Saturdays so we play it by ear. They are our dedicated family days though, where we try to get outside (weather permitting) and just spend time together as a family.

I just recently found this post over at Play At Home Mom and fell immediately in love with the Daily Rhythm Charts she links to. I'm thinking we'll definitely need a lady bug or bumble bee one for this spring and summer. Such a good way to help the kids visualize their day.