Friday, January 28, 2011

{this moment}

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

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Playroom!

2011 has brought (another) opportunity to rearrange and "optimize" our home.  Whenever I tell Matt I have an idea, his first question is always "will I have to move furniture?"  Well, yes.  This time, yes.  Most times, yes.

Both kid had their own room, but for various reasons, from heating to sharing, we decided to take those two rooms and make one into a sleeping room, and one into a playing room.  We were a bit apprehensive about how the sleeping would go, but it has been fairly successful.  The playroom, however, has been WILDLY successful.

We are firm believers that the fewer toys you have out, the more in depth each one will be explored.  Too many choices lead to one game- the dump-it-all-out game.  To this end, we limit the number of toys we have out at any moment.  They are not deprived- we still probably have 20 different types of toys available at any moment, but believe me, this is pared down!

We keep the toys easy to access and easy to clean up.  Toys that are not currently in the rotation are hidden in the top half of the closet by a curtain- out of sight, out of mind,

Right now, we have out:
a bin of Legos
a bin of Brio trains
a bin of baby dolls
a bin of animals
a bin of cars
a puzzle rack with 3 puzzles
a box of books
a box of stringing beads
a ball
a CD of stories to listen to
As well as our usuals:
a bouncy horse
a balance beam
a climber/slide

Certainly nobody will be bored around here, but cleanup takes less than 10 minutes.

We are enjoying our new-found, newly-painted space!  And I am enjoying having my living room back, and even a few moments to myself while the kids play together!

Friday, January 21, 2011

{this moment}

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Poem for Today

I Have Found Such Joy

Grace Noll Crowell

I have found such joy
in simple things;
A plain, clean room,
a nut-brown loaf of bread
A cup of milk,
a kettle as it sings,
The shelter of a roof
above my head,
And in a leaf-laced square
along the floor,
Where yellow sunlight
glimmers through a door.

I have found such joy

in things that fill
My quiet days:
a curtain's blowing grace,
A potted plant upon
my window sill,
A rose, fresh-cut
and placed within a vase;
A table cleared,
a lamp beside a chair,
And books I long have loved
beside me there.

Oh, I have found such joys

I wish I might
Tell every woman
who goes seeking far
For some elusive,
feverish delight,
That very close to home
the great joys are:
The elemental things
--old as the race,
Yet never,
through the ages, commonplace. 

I found this lovely poem over at Provincial Homemaker today and wanted to share.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr.

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day!

Each year on this day, I am taken back to a small Kindergarten classroom in rural Iowa where, as a student teacher, I witnessed the saddest display of "teaching" I've ever seen.  It was a lesson on Martin Luther King Jr, complete with coloring sheet, misinformation and blatant, yet unintentional, racism.  Perhaps the worst affliction is to hold a bias we don't even know that we have.  This teacher had good intentions, but her life had never allowed her to intersect with those who were different from her, and this had led her to grave misunderstanding and fear of others.  I swore that day that I would go out of my way to intentionally expose myself to a rainbow of people, and this led me to some wonderful years of teaching, some wonderful friendships, and the chance to be inspired by people, black, white and in between, who do truly work tirelessly towards justice.

"I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." Martin Luther King, Jr.

 "A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 14, 2011

{this moment}

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Handmade Holiday

For Christmas, we tried very hard to give gifts that were handmade (either by us, or others).  I thought I would post a few of the "big hits" of the holiday...

Santa brought Matias a geoboard.  It is a simple piece of wood with evenly spaced nails and a package of rubber has been a big hit (and not just with the little people, either)

For Miss Violet, Santa brought a balance beam.  We believe his elves must have gotten this great idea from Amy over at Simplicity Parenting.

These wonderful tree blocks came from my Aunt and Uncle up in beautiful Bayfield, Wisconsin.  We can't keep our hands off them!

This sensory tub for Violet can be filled with all sorts of goodies.  Right now, we have cotton ball "snow", pinecones, walnuts, cinnamon sticks, spoons and a wooden bowl in there.  Counting Coconuts offers lots of fun sensory tub ideas, which we will be borrowing, no doubt!

Not the best picture of any of us, but you can see the crowns I made for the kids (sort of).  I used this pattern by Jessica Levitt.

Some felted rocks add a fun touch to the tree blocks (and are currently serving as the flames on the candles for the block-birthday cakes that Matias is making for us).  Each child also got a jar of homemade playdough, inspired by a post at The Artful Parent.

Lastly, no picture for this one, but for Matt, I promised to make him a homemade lunch every day for the next 6 months.  "Hairnet Helen" is back in business!

Christmas is always a lot of fun, but we had fun for the months leading up to it as well, planning and creating for our friends and family.  This will surely become a tradition!

Friday, January 7, 2011

{this moment}

If you want a good view of an active lion, stand next to the woman with the seeing-eye dog.  That lion wanted at that dog!

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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Water Painting- Violet Style

I decided today that Violet might like to color on some big paper on the window.  Well, like so many things with our independent little girl, she made it clear that she could decide what she would enjoy so much better than I could.  So our coloring turned into sticking, and then painting.

She was intrigued with the way I taped the picture to the window, and brought me the roll of masking tape, saying "DIS.  DIS" and pointing to the window.  After using up much of my dwindling roll of tape, I thought to get her a sheet of stickers, which she ever so carefully patted up onto the paper.

We left the paper and I thought she had finished...and disappeared...until I found her about 5 minutes later with a paintbrush (which she must have gotten down by standing on something- I don't want to think about it), exclaiming again "DIS."  So I got her a cup she could hold herself with about 5 drops of water (following one of my favorite rules- don't give kids more than you're willing to clean up when it spills), and let her "paint" the paper.  Because the paper was up against the window with the sun shining through, the water looked really pretty, and even though she spilled her "paint" about 5 times, it was no biggie to clean up and replace.

I think I will let Violet plan all of our art projects from now on- she had a much better idea than I did!
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