Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Return to reality

Yesterday was our first day back at school after the break and it did not get off to the best start.  I left my keys in the house and of course had locked the door behind me as we headed out to the car so I had to call Charles to come let us in.  Since he works all the way downtown (and had just gotten there) we had about 40 minutes to kill.  It was chilly but not too terrible while we sat in the car and waited.  The girls were wonderful about the wait and we played I Spy for a while then they both decided to read for a little bit.  Our Knight in Shining Khakis arrived home and we made it school 35 minutes late (but only five minutes after school actually started). 

My assistant Carol had the children settled (she is wonderful!) and was reading to them, one little girl was working on putting her coat away, she is very into "I do it myself" so we have learned to give her space until she asks for help.  I don't know if it was coming back after a nine day break or she was just in a mood as she sometimes is but I walked in and she burst into tears.  So before I had a chance to put my own things away and get settled I stopped to offer a hug and get her calmed.  Under normal circumstances this would have been no big deal to me but because I was feeling frazzled I hadn't had the chance to leave my emotional "stuff" at the door so I am not sure I was as comforting as I would have liked.

But we both got settled and the rest of the day went well.  Thankfully Charles was still home when we left this morning so if I had forgotten my keys again he was here to let me back in.  The thing that bothers me about all of this is that this was the second time in less than a week that I locked us out of the house, my mom had to come to my rescue last week.  Prior to these two incidents I think I have only locked myself out maybe three or four times in my entire life.  Early onset Alzheimer's?  Brain still on spring break?  Mommyhood rearing its ugly head?  Perhaps a little of all three...all I know is from now on I'm keeping an extra house key in the car.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Really snow, really???

Monday it was 83 degrees, we were at the park riding bikes. Today we are supposed to get anywhere from 2-5 inches of snow, we currently have the two and it doesn't look like it's going to stop anytime soon. Now I like a good snow once or twice a season but we have already had our fill and then some, I am done with winter!!!

Not really the way I wanted to wrap up Spring Break, but I guess I can't really complain, we had some beautiful weather early in the week, really only Thursday and Friday were yucky. Still, I was ready to pack up the winter coats and clothes but I guess we'll hold on to them for a couple of more weeks...sigh

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Breaking

We are on Day two of Spring Break, other than me locking us out of the house as we were trying to get to the library things have been calm. We have been blessed with some beautiful weather so far and so we have spent a lot of it outdoors. Belle has officially figured out how to ride her bike sans training wheels which is exciting, she needs help pushing off but even that she almost has the hang of. Boo of course is tearing around the parks and the neighborhood at break-neck speed, to think last summer we had to fight with her to even get on her bike...confidence is a powerful tool. Once my mom came to our rescue we made it to the library where I paid my ridiculous fine (not ridiculous that they charged me, rather the fact that Boo reminded me on Thursday to renew the books online and I still managed to forget and with 16 books at 10 cents a day for three days overdue...well, you do the math) and we had a nice lunch together.

The girls go between playing nicely and getting on each others nerves, I am working very hard not to step in unless absolutely necessary, I worry sometimes about Boo bossing Belle too much but I think we are finally at the age that Belle can advocate for herself. It's hard though when I hear them fighting, I am a "fixer" by nature as well as an only child so I always feel like I have to step in but I'm learning that like with the children at school, unless they are getting ready to hurt one another (and thankfully the girls don't do that) they need to learn how to resolve conflicts between themselves and see if they can come to agreement mutually. It's a dynamic I just don't always get.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Curse of the Leprechaun

Our celebration of St. Patrick's Day was going well until this evening. Belle found gold on the playground at school with the rest of her class, the leprechaun had been busy and scattered pieces all over and she and I went to have corned beef and cabbage with her Bubee and Zayda while Charles went to go pick Boo up from a friend's house. While we were gone the leprechaun visited our house and the trap that the girls had set this morning didn't contain him so imagine our surprise when we got home from dinner. He had scattered Lucky Charms and green Mike and Ike's (or as we were calling them, leprechaun poop), scattered pieces of the girls wooden food, overturned the ottoman and knocked pillows onto the floor. Unfortunately the mess was so big, Belle thought someone had broken into the house and made the mess so she got really upset and wouldn't calm down for about 15 minutes. Even though I carried her all around the house and showed her that he had also left some goodies, she was inconsolable. Finally once Charles and Boo got home I got her to come back downstairs (but I had to carry her) and she was able to laugh at the mess and enjoy her surprises. It was certainly not the reaction we were expecting.

But it also reminded me of the struggle I have internally between not encouraging "fantasy" because I know how hard it is for children under the age of six to separate it from reality, hence why Montessori is reality based but at the same time the other side of me remembers how much I loved the wonder of Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy as well as regular faeries (not Tinkerbell thank you) and as an only child with a very active imagination I often played in fantasy, I think it made my childhood that much better and I don't want to deprive my children of that same joy. But it is hard when you see a reaction like that, was she just tired and so it was harder to deal with, do we do this again next year and hope that it is better received?

Boo is getting to the age of questioning, we had the Santa discussion this past Christmas, a friend in her class said that he knew someone who had caught his Mom and Dad putting the presents under the tree. We simply told her that if she chooses not to believe it was fine but not to ruin the joy for Belle but in the end she decided she does still believe. I was about 10 when I figured out the truth, we have another year if that hold true for Boo as well. I don't remember being disappointed when I found out the truth, I just hope she isn't as well (and that we have lost all of our teeth by then so we don't have to ruin the Tooth Fairy dream as well!). I love the excitement in them when they find a treasure in a fairy trap or when the Tooth Fairy leaves them a note, I'm not sure I'm ready for them not to believe but I know the day will come.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Outdoor Learning

Last week my assistant Carol had mentioned to me how she had seen on the news a school in Washington, D.C that held its classes outdoors no matter what the weather or temperature. Families are apparently lining up to get onto the waiting list for this school. Today I found an old article from the New York Times that I had apparently saved but never got around to reading about a Waldorf school that also holds classes on 325 acres of a State Park and how no matter what the children dress accordingly and spend their three hours at school outdoors exploring and playing. The children at the school are ages 3 1/2 to 6 but I am intrigued...would this be able to happen with toddlers as well?

We have a wonderful wooded area behind our school with trails and fallen logs for climbing and further back there is a wetlands area. We often take walks on the path when the weather is warm, stopping to play and explore here and there but what if we were to spend an entire morning in the woods just letting the children explore? I am thinking that we may try it out and see what happens and if it works out we may start doing it once a month or maybe more. There is so much learned in the classroom but so many children are not getting the chance to be a part of nature anymore that I think there is much that can be learned out of doors as well, we will see how it works!

Monday, March 14, 2011

No Thank You Snow!

Imagine my surprise when Boo exclaimed this morning, "Wow, it's still snowing!" and sure enough we had about an inch covering everything. My Dad had said something last night at dinner about the possibility of snow but there wasn't supposed to be any accumulation. Well, four inches later here we are and while I like a good snow, by Mid-March I am ready for warm temperatures, sunshine and to be able to spend more than a half hour outside with my class. We are really needing to be able to go for a good long walk, thankfully it looks like it's going to be 77 on Thursday, I am holding the National Weather Service to that!

Friday, March 11, 2011


I apparently started a blog and didn't remember, nor does it appear that I ever posted anything so here I am, inspired by other blogs I have been reading (mainly Montessori but also some on the journey of parenting as I am). My purpose is to share about my life as well as at school.

To start I have been lucky enough to be married to a wonderful guy for a little over 10 years now and we are together the very proud parents of two wonderfully empathetic full of joy girls. Boo is 8 and a half and Belle is 5 and a half. Rounding out the family are our dog, two cats and several fish, though at present I am not sure how many are still in the tank.

I have been a part of Montessori education since 1994 when I began working at an infant-toddler community in St. Louis shortly after I decided that going to college in Minnesota wasn't working out for me (I am not meant to live in -30 degree weather I have discovered). At that time it was supposed to be only a summer job, I was planning on going away to school again in the fall and, while I knew I wanted to work with children, toddlers were not the age group I was going for. But fate apparently had other plans for my life and I had the privilege to work with an amazing woman who not only became my reason for becoming a Montessori educator but also by best friend and my daughters Godmother.

I took my Assistant to Infancy training in 1999 in Chicago and returned to St. Louis where I spent the next four years working with infants from six weeks to about fifteen months. While working in the infant class I became pregnant with Boo and suddenly Montessori took on a whole new meaning. I quickly learned that while everything I had read and been taught seemed so easy to put into practice, once I had a baby of my own, the world became less black and white because it wasn't. I moved into a toddler class in 2003 and that is where I have remained to this day save for four months in 2005 when Belle joined our family.

Over the last few months I have begun to go through a personal transformation of sorts, a "re-invention" if you will. I am trying to change the way I interact not only with the children in my class but my own beautiful young ladies at home. Just as toddlers are discovering the world for the very first time and through their eyes everything is bright and exciting, I am learning to try to see things from their perspective and I am loving what I am re-discovering this year. So that is what has inspired me to blog, to share the wonders I am seeing, to hear how others are moving through the world and to share the beauty that is Montessori, for it is truly beautiful!