Thursday, October 31, 2013


I have no idea why I'm writing this. I guess because while sitting here it just wouldn't get off my mind. If you spend any time on this page you are probably left confuse as to what the heck the direction is. Honestly I don't know.

It started as an outlet for me to discuss my "offbeat" parenting choices. Now that most of those have been compromised the name may not seem to fit, but to me it does. This life always has been offbeat and even though my life may be the norm I just don't feel it. So really it's just my jumbled thoughts for my girls. Our daily life that happens to consist of learning. So at times a blog on learning. At times my hopes and thoughts written down for them so they don't get lost in the busyness of life. One thing I always wanted to write about was just my life. Where I've been. Important moments. For the same reason. Just so it's written down for them. I just felt like that would be one more odd thing to throw in here. But who cares because in all reality this is for me and for them. So from time to time if i want to talk about lessons learned I think that's ok.

So Arizona...

About five years ago I was stuck. No plans. No hopes. Just living through the days and spending some sad nights. The nice thing was I wasn't spending the sad nights alone. I had made a really good long distance friend. I think as people we feel that the best connections are those made in person. I disagree. It's nice sometimes to be able to hide behind a computer screen. To be real and not have to save face. There isn't that pressure to be the person you think that person wants you to be or the person you feel you should.

I've always been the black sheep. The outsider. Any connection I had was built on a guise of the person I thought people wanted me to be. Or a person I thought would be likable, but the honesty wasn't there. This was the first time I felt like I was being seen, and accepted. So when the offer to move to Arizona came around I jumped. I saved up my very small income for a couple months and loaded my beater truck, worldly possessions, and cat to head to a new life. A better life.

If you ever get the opportunity for adventure then the best choice will probably be to take it.

You may be thinking why are you not still in Arizona? A lot of reasons. All the enlightening things an adventure should teach you. A lot about the world and about yourself.

Arizona was perfect. It was beautiful and life was happening. I never watched TV. I never went to Walmart. It was full of art loving free thinkers like I thought I was and am. It was everything I dreamed my home to be, but it wasn't really.

I went from being an outsider to feeling like a poser. With all these people around that I thought I was just like I couldn't form one deep friendship. Not only was I outside, but I was playing dress up. I was left feeling hopeless. If this wasn't my place than what place could be?

Right before I moved home I found this little magnet in an artsy boutique that says "Sometimes right back where you started from is right where you belong." It's on our fridge now. It's what sparked this post.

I didn't just find that magnet and have an epiphany. I didn't move home and realize all the things I needed to know. It took several years before things fell into place. When they did I accepted and realized this. Why things where the way there were here. Why things weren't the magical answer I thought they would be there.

I would rather be myself and alone than a lie and surrounded by people. I would rather be in this small town I use to hate than in a big bustling place full of like thinkers, because this is where my family is. The ones who never cared how weird I was.

There is a difference in me now. I don't have a deep need for acceptance. I have peace in the love I have for this person. When you have that your connections with those around feel so much more real, because the are genuine. I'm not surrounded by people who think they know me. I'm not surrounded by people that I think I want to be.

Places and people can't make you happy. Not long term. Even if they are new. True, long lasting happiness starts within yourself. It starts with thinking, believing, being the person you are despite what everyone else is doing. If you have those things than you can be happy any place even with no one.

Sometimes right where you started from is right where you belong..

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mom Who Doubts Herself

Don't. Of course we all do it. There isn't a mom out there who 100% of the time 100% knows she is doing the best. The thing is we can't help but to do it because in a way doubting ourselves is one of the ways we put our children first. We always want the best for them. We always want them to be ok.

Molly eats a lot of happy meals. Most of the time I'm ok with that fact. I know that she is loved, kept care of, and that I spend my days doing my best for her. Not just our little classroom or turning on her shows. I go in my evenings to do sessions. I'm tired all day because I stay up late to edit. Not just for me, but for them. Yet again I want them to have the best. I want the freedom to go do things with them. So yes. She gets happy meals, because in our busy life it happens. I tell myself the above when I'm paying for them. That and that she really likes the apples in them.

Natalie is pretty clingy. She likes me and my grandpa. Dad is alright in her book. When I had Molly I felt like who she was came a lot from attachment parenting. (now as a toddler I've kind of scratched that) So now that I have a pretty clingy baby I can't help but feel at times that because a lot of things we do don't fall under the Bs she is clingy. 

When a group of moms are talking about child rearing and of course nutrition I can sometimes start to feel bad. (don't we all?) Instead of just doubting myself though I turn it into a moment for pause. Am I being silly or should I reevaluate what I'm doing? Can I learn something from this conversation or should I know that my family isn't your family?

I know tons of moms would stop in their tracks at the statement that my kid had a happy meal this week. That's fine because their family isn't my family. I know that she is a loved, caring, and getting to be well mannered little girl. So the fact that she had chicken nuggets and fries for that dinner doesn't break me. I know better. I know as a whole she is doing great.

I know at this point in Natalie's life not everyone is jumping at the bit to watch her. That's ok. She is sweet, happy, and loved. She's not the lone clingy baby in the world and I'm going to bet that the whole lot of clingy babies aren't just formula fed and sleep in a crib. So whatever parenting choices I made before were  made because they worked for our family then. That doesn't always work for the family now.

The point I try to make is to look at the whole child. Are the happy, healthy, and loved? If they are, and they probably are, then stop doubting the one small bug in your ear telling you that you aren't doing it right. There are a million ways to do it right. Just find the way that's right for you and your family.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Week 4: Camping

This week we used woodland animals to lead into camping. It was a fun week for pretend play and learning new words and concepts!

I decided to take out the usual pretend area toys and put camping items there instead. I found a water proof pack, sleeping bag, lantern, flash light, bear, jacket, and folding chair. For the discussion wall I printed off a picture of a tent by the lake, a fire pit, and a picture with camping items. The camping item picture was perfect! It spun off into so many things so easily. For the pocket chart I used a page of word cards from the printable pack. I love how she knew hot for the fire and unprompted held it up to the discussion wall fire pit. Love those connections that their minds can make!


A fun craft that got a lot of use was making a back pack! Molly used it throughout the week in the pretend play corner!

We used this printable to match shapes. I also got out her shape puzzle to add to the activity. Molly can match shapes pretty well, but the activity didn't hold her interest.
She was more into this.

...and this. Which is awesome, because pouring water is a great activity for Montessori. Which is also good because it's one of Molly's favorite things in life!

Once she had some free play time we went back to color matching. She loved these! They are still by the color tabs on the shelf. I got out the tabs to add to is. We matched the butterflies and then found the corresponding tab. She also played where she put matches into her wet case from the pretend corner. Later in the week she fed color matches to her bouncing Rody horse. A great printable!

I brought some sticks in and we sorted by size and talked about different uses for sticks while camping.

I saved some paper rolls the prior week to make this little fire for the classroom. Molly loved it! She liked to sit a little too close to the fire in her camp chair. One thing I loved about this week is the connections she made between objects. Like the fire pit picture on the discussion wall and the fire picture on the pocket chart. One thing I love about unit studies is you really see them connect the ideas throughout the week!
While I made the fire pit I tore up some tissue paper and gave her some glue so she could make a fire pit. I used some of the sticks to hot glue on.

We got a new pair of scissors this week. Next week we have a cutting activity so I let her practice some. These are so much better than our old set!

We did this printable size sorting activity. It surprisingly held her interest longer than other size activities. I was surprised that with the amount of pieces she liked it more.

We also got out our letter sets while we wait for our pre reading curriculum to come!

We also made some binoculars. They made a great addition to the pretend corner! Natalie was very interested in the activity so I got her some paint and she had a great time tasting it!

This was a good activity with a lot of parent help. Different species is a VERY new concept. This one works on insects versus non insects.

We played around with these color words. Natalie loved them!

Camping week turned heavy on bugs! So we made some coffee filter butterflies.

This size sorting activity is a great printable and will be fun in the future. For now Molly just liked playing with them since she loves butterflies.

Matching is Molly's jam. Every matching activity we have done she doesn't need my help at all. After she did this she realized the pictures matched the ones in her pocket chart. So she went over there and matched them too. Those connections again!

Distraction set in so we took a break to build. One of Molly's favorite things to do!

We've done these coloring pages before and they are something to do, but usually end up crazy. I was really happy with how well she did! At the end of this year when I post some evidence of learning shots I'll be interested to see how much changes. She has already got the hang of a lot!

Our sensory bin this week was not well received. I express shipped this set of bugs and a couple other animal packs. It got here Thursday so we only used them today. It took her a good thirty minutes to even want to put her hands in. I kept showing her they weren't real. It was too funny.
There were so many cute songs this week! A couple favorites were:
Did You Ever Go A-Camping

Sung to: "Did You Ever See a Lassie?"

Did you ever go a-camping,
a-camping, a-camping?
Did you ever go a-camping
and sleep in a tent?

2. ...and see a racoon?
3. ...and hike in the woods?
4. ...and
fish in a boat?
5. ...and have a campfire?
Going Camping
Sung to: "I'm a Little Teapot"
I am going camping.
(point thumbs proudly to chest)
Time to pack
(point to wristwatch)
My tent, my bedroll,
(Make tent with hands; then fold hands to cheek.)
And a snack.
(Pretend to eat)
I'll sit by the campfire
(warm hands over fire.)
Its glow so bright.
(Fan and wiggle fingers to resemble fire.)
Then snooze in my tent
(Pretend to snore.)
'Til the morning light!
(Open eyes wide, forming sun over head.)
Camping Song

Sung to:
"Where is Thumbkin?"

Let's go camping
Let's go camping
Pack the tent
Pack the tent
We will all go hiking
We will all go
We will have fun!
We will have fun!
You can find the printables at this link.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Breastfeeding & Formula- Why No One Has It "Better"

If you check out mom blogs, forums, facebook, or heck even TV you are probably aware that there is some kind of opinion slinging battle going on between moms on how we feed our babies. Yes. How we feed our FED children. I have and always will be an advocate for breastfeeding, but thank the Lord I never persecuted those who formula feed, because guess what! After my first no issue breastfeeding experience I am now, as you know, a formula feeding mama.

The problem is a lot of moms feel judged or mistreated for their choice to breastfeed. Which does happen. There are always news stories popping up about moms being asked to leave or cover up. Which is heartbreaking, but for some reason when you scroll down to the comments it becomes not a back lash about how wrong it is, but a verbal assault on "lazy" formula feeding.

When I would sheepishly look around in a public place before feeding Molly I had no idea what my sister felt like as she mixed my nephew a bottle. I thought she had it so easy. Not lazy, but easy. Wrong. When I pull out my little formula holder and dump it into a bottle I feel like the noise echoes. In my mind everyone is looking and thinking "Omg doesn't she know breast is freaking best?!" I feel 10 times more judged as a formula feeding mom than I ever did breastfeeding. I was confident in breastfeeding. Even if a couple people felt uneasy in a restaurant.

By now I'd say most of the population knows that breast is best. I would love to know the statistic on how many moms chose to formula feed and how many didn't have that choice. Those that didn't chose are obviously aware of the benefits. Those that did I am positive heard it from their nurses, friends, strangers, TV, or of course the $25 week supply of formula. Do I think the message needs to be out there? Heck yes. Do I think it needs to be written on your can of formula you have to buy. No. I honestly don't.

At the same time while I was in a restaurant of course the bottle looked so much more convenient. When my nipples were cracked and raw of course formula seemed easy and so much less painful. When my supply would dip of course it was hard not to think she was starving when there was another option.

I got to a point where I wasn't as sad that we were formula feeding. Then we hit the "milestone" where she could hold her bottle. At first it seemed like even more of a convenience. At times it definitely is, but I can't help the sinking feeling that feedings are no longer a connection. She's on her own. She doesn't want me to help. At least at first I held her and she looked at me. We would cuddle and be still together. While it wasn't nursing it was still our time. Now since about 7 months that's been gone.

So I guess my point is breastfeeding mom you don't have it harder. Even if in the off chance some ass asks you to leave or cover up. You don't have it harder. You aren't judged more for your choice. Quit slinging insults when you feel backed into your proverbial corner. Formula feeding mom you don't have it harder. You have more than enough benefits to not feel inferior. Count the good and ignore what you are told is the bad. For all those that either have children or most likely don't have children or a vagina that judge those breastfeeding grow up. We all either have our own choice or we thankfully have choices when our ideal scenario is not optional. With either we our choosing what is BEST for OUR baby. Their should be know judgment or shame in that.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Week 3: Forest Animals

I first picked a woodland animal theme after finding a really cute printable pack. I was a little hesitant because I wasn't sure how far I could go with it. To my surprise the week was full and I found some great things online! We used the theme to talk a lot of the word 'habitat'
To start off with habitats and forest animals I made a picture to hang in the discussion area and put the word habitat in all caps above it. Each day we would go over the different animals in the picture and how they shared a habitat, but went more specifically into each ones home. Like where snakes live versus birds in the woods. Part of the printable pack had the numbers 1-10 and that's what was in the pocket chart this week. I used Jesse the giraffe to help count out the cards. It held Molly's interest more when it was a game where she had to feed Jesse the cards.

I found another online resource that had these animal cards on it. I used the laminator to turn it into a ring book. We would get it out and go over animals, but for the most part it was on the science shelf.


We also did some more prewriting practice. It was cute to see that as soon as I sat them down she knew just what to do!

This bird matching game was probably one of her favorite activities. She needed little direction or help. It was complete pretty quickly and she did it several times throughout the week. Definitely a winner!

I saw a craft online to make a squirrel with a paper roll. I ended up not having any black to make gray so I figured it would be a brown squirrel. Then I realized I didn't have the right stuff to make the tail. We changed it up to be an owl. Molly loved this! She played with it every day. One morning she showed it to Adam and told him what it was. She pointed to the wings and told him "wings, it fly!"

We also did a few coloring sheets with animal names written underneath.


I used our number cards and some acorns from the yard for  a counting game

I save a lot of baby food jars so I used this, hot glue, and some acorns to make another shaker for the music instruments.

We made a mural with some coloring pages. She liked the water colors, but asked for markers after awhile. I used the markers to practice colors. I'd ask where the green was and she would pick it out etc. If she was having trouble I'd hold up two and ask her which one was the color.

We did our first small, medium, large activity this week too. It was brief, but the bears worked perfect. She knows small and big, but medium is a new concept for sure.

For the sensory bin I just got some stuff out of our yard. I put a few of the animal figures in at for her to play with. There was definitely a lot of vacuuming going on this week.

Today after during discussion Molly really wanted to play with the blocks. So I got the animals out of the sensory bin and we built them a habitat.

I couldn't think of many crafts so we just made an animal mask. Like most art projects her favorite part is the clean up.

Another part of the pack was these two piece puzzles. At first she didn't have much interest, but I told her the animals needed to find their butts so they could poop. Of course that was funny to her so she started to play with them.

I had these tiny deer from working in preschool and they were perfect this week. She loved this activity! I told her that the deer needed to find their way home. I would hold up a deer and say "this one lives at the 2 home." She would take it and put it with the number. While I was working on these pictures she came up to me and said "deer home!" Then she pointed to the 2 on the screen and said "2" It's always nice to see them talk about something you're working on!

 During this mornings discussion we talked a lot about the bear in his cave. I told her about how bears hibernate and use the fall to store up food. It hit me that I could elaborate on this and make it into an activity. So while she was painting her mask I made this game with construction paper and the laminator. I would hand her an amount of berries and she would put them on the bear. Then she had to find the corresponding sand numeral for the berries. She loved it!

The last thing we did was a sorting game. I wish I would have done acorns instead of feathers. This was the last activity and didn't really amount to much. The feathers were way too much fun and distracting.
Some of her favorite songs this week were:
Bear is sleeping; bear is sleeping
In the cave, in the cave.
I wonder when he'll come out. I wonder when he'll come out.
In the spring, in the spring.

Birds are flying; birds are flying
In the sky, in the sky.
I wonder when they'll come back; I wonder when they'll come back,
In the spring, in the spring
"The Squirrel Song"
Squirrel, squirrel shake your bushy tail!
Squirrel, squirrel shake your bushy tail!
Wrinkle up your little nose,
Hold a nut between your toes.
Squirrel, squirrel shake your bushy tail!
You can find those printables at these links!