Our 1st Montessori Inspired Activities

montessori-activities

That’s it, I’m completely into it! Montessori has caught me, and I would like to initiate it when we play and see how it goes for us. Knowing that the critical age period is from 0 to 6, it would be too bad to wait

I have read the principles, watched videos and started following great blogs… not much, but enough to know that the Montessori education is a great way to approach life, to approach learning, to respect and trust that she knows better than anyone else what’s best for herself. Her daycare care givers are fantastic women, they are loving and caring and have years of experience. She has fun and does a lot there: she paints, she reads, she sings, she plays, she learns a lot – it’s not in a Montessori environment though, so I’ll try my Montessori activities at home.

Because Montessori approach is designed to support the natural development of children in a well-prepared environment, I have started to search for wooden toys – Montessori material –  I searched for meanings, explanations, and I tried to find the purpose of the rituals too… What is that “well-prepared environment”??? Where do I start??? I really want to try, but how??? Starting with Montessori when you don’t know much about it is pretty hard, but the good news is at least some of the principles and activities are intuitive and you are probably already implementing Montessori principles and activities without even knowing it 🙂 My Sarah loves pouring water, she just does it on her own free time, so that’s a good start.

After 8 month reading RIE and respectful parenting blogs, tips… the “freedom within limits” and “independence” concepts are understood – I’m still working on those as it takes time but at least l didn’t need any further explanation. So, putting aside the “well-prepared environment” and rituals for the moment (too advanced for me right now) I’m starting with small steps anyone can do: Use what I have at home, touch, explore, sit for a moment and enjoy without taking for granted the everyday life objects we use.

With help from Blog de Maman K, who suggested Treasure baskets, pouring water and seeds and let Sarah get dressed – undressed on her own (which she does but not always), I searched for Treasure baskets ideas and found the perfect 1st activity ideas for us: The Mystery Bag!

 

Our Mystery Bag:

  • Cinnamon stick
  • Cotton ball
  • Big soft plastic cup
  • Small hard plastic cup (pretend play object she knows well)
  • Soft round owl (because I wanted something round and soft)
  • Spinning top (she likes it and I wanted a wooden object)
  • Shell

 

I placed everything on a tray and we went outside. We sat together, touched, smelled and tasted when relevant and named every object. After naming every object, I put every one of them, one by one in the bag and closed it. I presented the bag to her. Usually, this work presupposes the child already knows the names of each of the objects, which she did for most of them except for the cinnamon stick.

It was important for me to start with this because it’s an activity we can easily do together. I concentrated on touch, smell and on the excitement of picking something and guessing what it is. Also because independence and play is not what she does best when I’m around – I wanted an activity that is she can do over and over if she wants and on the other hand doesn’t look unfinished if she doesn’t want to “work” anymore.

It worked very well for a few minutes, she was very excited and then she just took every object out 1 by 1 without guessing. Then she decided that she wanted to cut and tear the cotton ball up, and she led the activity from there. We stayed together, cutting cotton ball with scissors (not very easy actually, even pretty hard), tearing it apart, touching seeds and pouring them from one bowl to another. All this lasted for around 1 hour (very very good for us, I was very excited)

Then she made dinner all by herself: she broke eggs, mixed them, added just a bit of salt so we had a nice omelette for dinner, she gave me some cheese to add to it.

I was in a learning mood and was completely connected to her – she took a hand cream tube and opened it (which most of the time doesn’t end well). When she started taking huge amount of hand cream out and rubbed it all over I asked her what she felt. “Does it feel soft to you?”, “Is that sticky?”, “Do you like it?”… I would have never thought of asking questions like those in a million years – I would have taken the tube away, explained that she couldn’t have it and I would have acknowledged feelings because of course, she wouldn’t have been very happy about me preventing her from having fun…

It turns out that we already have “Montessori approved” toys like geometric wooden puzzles, and we could do that too together.

This is just the beginning for me, and I think that this is just another way to bond with her for the moment, because Montessori really made me realize the importance of every moment. I wish the best for her: independence, self-confidence, self-esteem and self-pride. I wish that she could trust herself in everything she does and knows that she is capable – because she is! I am working very very hard on myself not to step in and get in her way with my fears, I am working very hard to just let her be and working very very very hard to let her do what she does on her own.

Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.

Maria Montessori

 

Sarah’s chocolate cake recipe

Sarah's Chocolate Cake Recipe

Sarah’s favorite cake is tasty, very simple to make (she bakes it), doesn’t cost much and doesn’t take long. Why don’t you try it?

Because it’s that simple, it’s not a strict recipe… in fact it’s not even a recipe at all, it’s something I once tried.

 

Ingredients:

– 200 gr chocolate (we use dark/bittersweet chocolate)

– 6 eggs

– milk (a bit for the chocolate to melt)

– butter (not a must – to add to the milk and chocolate)

– sugar (not a must – to add to the egg yolk)

 

Recipe:

– 1st, take your toddler with you and have fun 🙂 – then preheat oven to 180 degrees C

– Break the chocolate bar/bars into a bowl, add a bit of milk (or water if you prefer) and a bit of butter if you want (it can be dairy free if you’d like) and melt it (Bain Marie or microwave oven – we use the microwave oven). We usually save a bit for Sarah to eat 🙂

– Separate egg whites and yolks into 2 separate bowls

– Add a bit of sugar into the yolks and beat the mixture

– Mix the chocolate and the yolks mixture together into 1 bowl

– Beat the egg whites

– Incorporate chocolate/yolks mixture into the egg whites

That’s it, you’re done!

Pour into a prepared pan – you can choose the shape… and bake the cake for around 20 minutes (180-200 degrees C)

 

bon-appetit

The day(s) I completly lost it

Sarah cakeI’m trying, I’m trying and trying to be mindful, I really do – every second I’m with Sarah (now 2.5 years old). Most of the time it works, we can do great things together or just do nothing together and we’re happy – but sometimes nothing helps, I just can’t get it right…

It was one of those days when I couldn’t get it right: My Sarah was sick, needless to say that during those hard times, super “mindful powers” are needed, extra connection is a must to remain available and tuned to her needs. Where were those super mindful powers when I really needed them the most? Here’s what happened: When Sarah is sick, mama’s on duty: I leave everything (work in the middle of the day, most of the time) and pick her up from day care. I was at home with her for 3 days (then came the week-end). She had trouble breathing, she had fever, had lost her appetite and was on medication… poor baby, that must have been horrible!

Clingyness is of course understandable, but staying home with a sick baby has never been my cup of tea… I thought I was a “bad mama” for a long time for not being able to cope with the situation – when sanity and a good spirit are a necessity – and especially for not being able to be – fully – available for her during those days.

On Thursday (the 3rd day), she felt much better: fever was almost gone, still no appetite for anything beside ice cream/popsicle (I promised she would get one when she feels better) so she would take a chair, move it next to the fridge, climb and open the freezer, then take the popsicles, pick one, taste it and put the popsicles back. In the morning we went out a bit for a walk and came back home.

She fell asleep for a nap earlier than usual, but had trouble breathing again so she woke up after 15 minutes… She had no nap! NO NAP!!…

From that point I completely lost it, it was horrible, I had no patience, and of course, I reacted immediately when she pushed my buttons, it’s amazing how many buttons there are to push in those situations… I lost the ability of “feeling acknowledgment”, even after a 7-8 months practice (although I became quite good at it thanks to Janet Lansbury’s blog and Peaceful Parents confident Kids) – I wasn’t able to do anything, I yelled, yelled and yelled… I felt so bad about yelling that I apologized, but my attitude didn’t change – I still had no patience, I was tired and I was not able to be the strong mama that she needed at that time, I was not able to put her needs 1st.

She cried, what could she do! that was the kind of helpless tears, that kind you don’t want to hear: I felt her need to be heard, carried and hugged, but she didn’t want me to be near her. I felt I hurt her feelings so much that I would have preferred being yelled at back. “It’s OK to cry, I’m here if you need me, let’s hug until we feel better”, I usually I tell her, I validate and acknowledge feelings, but that day I couldn’t, I wasn’t able to, especially when I was the one responsible for that horrible situation! I was a complete mess for the entire afternoon.

This could have been such a lovely day, we baked a cake, and she even started to play independently for a few minutes until she saw me trying to catch that on video 😦

The day after was the same, but Friday here is the week-end, so I wasn’t alone with her anymore and I was relieved! The house was a mess (most of the time, that doesn’t bother me, I even contribute a lot to that mess), but during those 2 days it did bother me. So again, no patience…

On Saturday, I was my new ME again – the new me with all my nice parenting attitude, all the mindful sentences and attitude, all tuned and connected. I like the new ME and so does Sarah. The new ME makes a lot of mistakes, being mindful is hard in the beginning.

For the past few months, I have the feeling that she needs me more than before – maybe because I’m now willing to see. It’s amazing the difference that it makes in our lives.

The “connected mama” attitude comes with a tool kit: patience, understanding, empathy, coping mechanisms, feeling acknowledgment and validation and a yes attitude that the “messy mama” attitude switches off.

The “connected mama” can say “no” and stand for it.

The “connected mama” looks in the eyes and smiles more often

The “connected mama” jumps & sits in the mud if she’s asked to

The “connected mama”loves, loves, loves & loves unconditionally

I hope I can stick to the “connected mama” as long as I can, and forgive myself for those messy days, for those times when the “messy mama” comes out…

Quote of the week: Raise your words…

rumi

“Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

Mama, it’s a surprise for you

surpriseToday was an amazing day. Today I received an amazing present, a huge smile on a tiny face and the most important thing: a great moment to remember.

Today, my dear almost 2.5 year old daughter ran towards me with her hand full of tiny white rocks: “Mama, it’s a surprise for you”

She opened her tiny hand and poured the rocks into mine, “it’s a present” she said, with a smile on her face. I smiled back, and with an enthusiastic voice, I thanked her for having given me the present she had carefully carried and had chosen to give to me. She ran back, gathered some more rocks and ran back towards me to bring them, so I thanked her again.

I have asked her to keep those white rocks for me and poured them into her tiny hands. She looked at me and said, “those are yours, no one will take them” – “No one” i replied, “No one”.

She “played” for almost an hour, filling plastic cups with those small white rocks, preparing presents for mama, dad and neighbours.

That was a fantastic day because I didn’t interrupt her, I didn’t mind her getting dirty and just watched her having fun…

Today was a fantastic day because I was able to be thankful for rocks, for those tiny moments that make a different. By really being thankful I was able to make her happy. By being thankful I was able to enjoy all the dirt on her tiny hands and clothe.

Today was a fantastic day because this precious moment of play made other moments precious and suddenly everything was easy.

Today was just a fantastic day

Quote of the week – Bernard Werber

Bernard Werber

This is one of the best! If you understand French you’ll probably agree…

Here is the translation:

Between what I think, what I mean to say, what I think I say, what I really say, what you want to hear, what you think you hear, what you really hear, what you want to understand, what you think you understand, what you really understand, there are ten possibilities that we have communication issues. But let’s still try

Let’s still try! ♥

It’s play time

play

It’s play time… Darling let’s go to a Huge playground!

Huge Playground she says? Yes, HUGE we reply, let’s go.

She barely woke up from her daily nap, but we could tell she was excited! So, there we were, in a Huge playground – she seemed so tiny.

She had a look and she said “woooowwwww, HUGE playground” she was running all over the place, as if she needed time to process what was going on, as if she needed instructions. I was a bit stressed, isn’t she too tiny to climb there? Isn’t she too tiny for those slides? I told my husband, no way – you’re going up with her! “Those are “regular” slides darling”, I told her, pointing at those that I thought were more appropriate

I know, I know: “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed”, “Independence” those are concepts I really, really but really want to emphasize and respect – but it seems so overwhelming, she’s still a baby to me I guess. I realized how important this is when another parent climbed with his son (around 2 yo I would say) and didn’t really let him run there – this always gives me the perspective that I need, like seeing a reflection of myself and this doesn’t look good when you begin to be more conscious of the parent that you want to be…

I stood up there, until my husband grabbed my hand… she ran, she climbed, she jumped, went up, went down, went right and went left… she needed some directions and at some point and she wanted us to climb with her… so I did, I went up, I went down, I went right and I went left with her for a few minutes until she felt ready for the BIG slides. She climbed, up to the big-big slide, on her own and was so happy. 1 hour before that, those big slides seemed huge and inappropriate.

“It’s time to go, darling, let’s go” – we said, choose carefully your last ride! We’ll be back next week!

 

Quote of the Week

Sarah's running

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.”

Denis Waitley

 

Have a great day ♥

The day you were born

Sarah at birth

A few month ago I saw my husband smiling in the living room and I asked him why. He was reading what he had written a few days after Sarah was born, so that one day, he could read it to her. I thought that it was a wonderful idea, and there we were, both sitting, remembering those “precious” moments  while he was reading out loud.

The day I met you is not the day you were born…

We arrived in the hospital very happy, I got prepared, I was even very pretty – I was not in pain, and I thought that if it was the day we were going to see each other for the 1st time, I was going to look pretty… and I was very pretty, very happy and not even stressed…

After filling all files, monitors and check-ups the doctors said that I was not ready to give birth, but that they couldn’t let me go home so I had to decide on whether you were going to come into the world on your own terms on whether I should decide to push you out a bit with medicine…

If I could go back and think more clearly, I would have chosen differently:Let you decide of course! but, despite on what daddy thought, I took the medicine option (I didn’t want to risk complications and infections because of a lack of amniotic fluid)

After 4-5 hours, we entered the room I was supposed to give birth into. It was bright and spacious, it looked good. 1 hour later, I received the medication and told daddy (who hasn’t eaten all day) to grab something to eat because it would take long before something happens… so he did

In 5 minutes time, the monitors were getting weird, and 4 nurses came into the room, 1 broke my water, 2 nurses moved me into another bed and the 4th one called the operation room where I arrived 2 minutes later with an oxygen mask on. Daddy arrived at that time and didn’t know what was going on, he saw me crying and said that it was the most stressful time he had ever experienced.

The operation room was cold, the nurse grabbed my hand and told me that there was no time for me to sign any paper and that everything was going to be OK. This is what I remember… the emergency C-section started at 18:14, at 18:16 you were born, I was inconscient, and daddy wasn’t allowed inside to be with you. After like 3-4 hours I woke up, and didn’t know what was happening, I rest and got moved again. During the night I saw pictures of you that daddy took

I only saw you the day after, I was detached and didn’t understand what was going on. I struggled to breastfeed, and there you were, my beautiful girl with no name yet.

We went home after a week and stayed with grandma (my in-laws – lucky enough that daddy had read about loneliness and Postpartum depression – PPD)… because it was hard, it even felt un-natural. We went home when you were 1.5 month old, and I was counting the hours until daddy returned from work, I wasn’t eating well because I didn’t want to, even though I got food already cooked with love and prepared, brought home by grandma (my in-laws)… I had PPD, a light one – I loved you, cuddled you, nursed you with love, but felt overwhelmed and had trouble coping with the new situation. I didn’t take medication because nothing on earth could have prevented me to nurse you and feel you close, nothing on earth could have prevented to breastfeed…

At that time I only thought about me, and didn’t realized what I have put you through, what it must have been like for you… and I’m sorry that it is the way you entered the world.

I’m sorry I was stressed (and still am in a way), and I’m sorry I wasn’t fully emotionally available – I’m sorry.

I can’t change what has been done but I am working on the present and hope for a bright future, full of connection between us and a bond that will never end.

I am there for you and always will be

Ima (“Mama”) ♥♥♥