Thursday, January 31, 2008

Working on Preschool Calender

With Montessori, so much of what work is done is what Josh chooses! But we also supply opportunities to learn about a variety of subjects through out the year. This is especially done with the stories I read to Josh and the craft projects we do and the new material that is available.

Here is what I have planned so far...
(Of course...adding in Montessori activities, not listed below!)

January (been there, done that!)
Solar System
Van Gogh's Starry Night
(see pic -->)

Special mini addition - SPIDERS!

Valentine's Day
Continents (was North America)
Winter Animals & Hibernation/Migration
Hendrick Avercamp (blow art activity)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

St Patrick's day
Continents (was USA, MI, Hometown)
Calder (mobile)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Picasso (collage w/ shapes)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Continents (was South America, Europe, Asia, Africa)
African Masks
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Continents (was Antarctica, Australia)
Jackson Pollock (splatter painting outside)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Independence Day
Big Backyard
Georgia O'Keefe (Flower out of felt)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Paul Klee (Crayon Resist)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Johnny Appleseed
Undecided on Geography!
Montessori Bells
Henri Matisse (Fabric Collage)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

October More to come!!!
Kandinsky (Crayon Resist)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Giacometti (foil sculpture)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Damien Hirst (spin art)
Get Ready for the Code Phonics Program

Recipe Share

You may or may not know this, but...I like to cook. And, I love to read new recipes and try new ideas. I thought it would be fun to share some of that with others. I know that many SAHM's who blog participate in the Menu Mondays. But honestly, I do not need that type of pressure ;) So, occasionally, I will share a recipe that we have enjoyed. Feel free to use and even consider sharing one in the comments with me!

Today I am going to share a recipe for a cinnamon roll coffee cake that we ate Christmas morning. Now this one is a MUST TRY! It is so easy and very yummy! Especially if you are a fan of cinnamon rolls and cheesecake!
Click here for Pillsbury recipe w/ picture! I just cut and pasted this.

Giant Cinnamon-Cheese Danish

1 can (17.5 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons sour cream
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 9-inch glass pie pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. Separate dough into 5 rolls; set icing aside. Unroll 1 roll into long strip of dough; reroll loosely and place in center of greased pie pan. Unroll second roll; loosely wrap around first roll, cinnamon side in. Replace any cinnamon that falls off. Repeat with remaining rolls, coiling dough in pan into spiral shape.
2. In small bowl, beat all remaining ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spoon cream cheese mixture into decorating bag with tip or gallon-size resealable food-storage plastic bag with 1/2-inch hole cut in bottom corner. With tip or corner of bag about halfway down into rolls, pipe mixture between strips of dough, starting at center and working to edge of pan, using all of mixture.
3. Bake at 350°F. for 25 to 35 minutes or until center is thoroughly baked and edges are deep golden brown. Cool 5 minutes. Meanwhile, remove cover from icing; microwave on Medium (50%) for 10 to 15 seconds or until drizzling consistency.
4. Drizzle icing over warm coffee cake. Cut into wedges. Serve warm.

It took us a bit longer in the oven. Also, there is a ton of the cream cheese mixture, just shove it where ever you can!


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Heads Up!

Little City Kids, a Montessori store in Wisconsin, is going out of business. Sad... BUT they are having a giant, big, fabulous, SALE! And everyone knows how I LOVE a sale.

They have 50% off most everything, plus 15% if you enter brightdays in the coupon code. I also got free shipping for spending over $200. Which actually only came to $183 because they take discounts after the fact!

I also received my entire shipment in 5 days, counting Sat & Sunday! WOW, wonder why they went out of business?!

Anyway, I am just thrilled and will post pictures tomorrow! I have opened everything and it is all just wonderful. You will not believe how much I bought!

Thanks for "listening" to my excitement! Check it out if you need any great quality children's learning tools. (Not just Montessori!)


Monday, January 28, 2008

Peter and the Wolf!!!!!!

I can not wait to show this to Josh in the morning! He had such a good time Saturday! He has been telling everyone he sees that he went to the "Symphony!" He loves music and really gets a kick out of beat boxing.

Hope you enjoy! Gotta love youtube!


Weekend Fun!

We had a fun weekend despite the weather! We are all truly getting sick of COLD temps and SNOW!

However, we had a neat opportunity to take the little man to a production of Peter and the Wolf performed by the local symphony and ballet company. It was geared to 3-6 year olds and was really fabulous. The conductor was great with the kids and explained a ton. I really loved how the different parts of the orchestra were wearing different color t-shirts. It really showed the children the differences in the instruments etc... And to top it all off, the tickets were only $5 a piece, so it was very affordable. There is another production next month we would like to catch, this time The Three Bears!

We also had a fun game night! Josh received a cool game for Christmas that I have been saving. It is called Rivers, Roads and Rails and was very fun! We actually lost track of time and forgot to get dinner ready! link here! The game is for 5 and up but Josh really did fine. We were very impressed with how much better he has gotten at taking turns.

Sunday we headed to the lake shore for a family birthday party. Nice to see everyone but those gatherings can be hard with a 3 yo in tow! He gets sooo excited. Not to mention the whole no food dye thing is almost impossible with birthday cake! It worked out okay, I just scrapped off the 4 or 5 different colors! I really have never seen such a colorful cake! I laughed right out loud when I saw it!

So hard to know how to handle it. If you let people know, they go out of their way and make unnecessary sacrifices. But not telling makes it hard too. Hmmmm! And they all thought my no red meat was a challenge! We just appreciate that they care!
Hope you had a nice weekend too!

Friday, January 25, 2008

BRAT diet!

Have you heard of this? This is the diet our Pediatrician recommends whenever Joshy gets tummy trouble like he did yesterday! It really works great and sort of eases him back into normal food.

The BRAT diet (BRAT is an acronym)
B - Banana
R - Rice
A - Applesauce
T - Toast (White)

At our house this looks like...
We generally have bananas and Josh loves them. With the rice, we just go with some sort of rice cereal, like Special K (DRY). Josh does not care for applesauce so we leave that out. Finally, we never have white bread so either make do or send someone out to buy a loaf. The softer whole wheat that we buy seems okay anyway.

So anyway, give it a try next time you need to. It works for us!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dropping by...

I just have a moment to say I am not really MIA.

Little man has the flu and I am spending most of my day rubbing a tiny back as he vomits and fetching different items to keep a very active 3.5 yo entertained while lying down. Not to mention extra loads of nasty laundry and various yucky clean up tasks.

Off to figure out a plan for dinner that won't be too tempting for Joshy. He thinks he needs to eat constantly when he is sick. I think he mistakes queasy for hungry.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Busy, busy, busy!

Just thought I would post a quick update to what we have been up to lately. We are having a quiet Saturday today because we are being BLANKETED with snow. And it is 10' with a wind chill of -10 which if I understand correctly makes it feel like 0'. Therefore, I am NOT going out unless I have too!

So...anyway...back to that update.

In preschool we are working quite hard. The way Montessori works is that I present Josh with new material and then he may choose it at anytime during the 3 hour work time. The presented material (works) are left on the shelves.

So this week, among other things I am not remembering right now ;P, we worked on the following.

Culture: This month we are focusing on the Solar system and an intro to the continents. So we did many activities with those subjects including creating our own moon with a cardboard circle, bean and peas glued to it to make craters etc... then foil wrapped over the top and a flag toothpick stabbed in for a nice finish.

We also are working on making a moon book that involves Josh cutting, gluing, and counting.

He is beginning to identify the continents and learning the Continent song. (All using our new felt map.)

Lots more fun things including reading themed books and sorting 3 part cards.

Ooh, I almost forgot! He chose to use the fruit cards that were still on the shelf from a previous theme. He played a memory game with them and when he finished, I showed him how to play Snap, which is a game similar to War. We had a lot of fun with this and he really started to remember the names of the fruit by the end of the game!

Practical Life: I presented the zipping frame as well as encouraging him to zip his coat before we go out.

He also learned to use an eye dropper by dropping tiny colored water drops on the back of a suctiony soap holder. suctiony soap holder

He spooned rice!

And we finally got out the wooden nuts and bolts for him to work on twisting them on and off. kind of like this

Language Arts: Well, we read a ton of books, as usual. But the big news is he read his first Bob book. One of these

He has not tried it again but we are thrilled at this first step. He will do it again when he is ready. Now I just need to make sure I am ready with activities for him.

We also worked a bit on handwriting; letters and his name.

Maths: He made the number 59 when he chose to work on base 10 blocks. I was quite surprised but he only needed a bit of help with it. This is not a work he has chosen too often so I was just happy he did!

Sensorial: I think the only work he chose this week was the smelling jars, he just loves to match these. I really need to present some new activities to add to this shelf next week!

This is only a highlight but I think gives a pretty good overview of what we usually accomplish. He also is expected to help with things around the house. He is my main go to guy for help with recycling. He loves to empty the refundable cans tossing them in a bag to take back to the store. He also puts the rinsed recycling into the tub in the garage. Finally, he is beginning to help out feeding the cats by giving them a scoop of dry food while I get their other food ready. This is actually my attempt to get him to seem more appealing to the cats and help him to learn how to interact with them. A CONSTANT struggle right now!

Hope you had a nice week too!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Our Preschool Room

Here are a few pictures of our learning room. As I have previously mentioned, we are using Dr. Montessori's approach to do preschool with our son.

We were lucky to have an entire (small) room in our basement to dedicate to our learning room. We would have liked to paint and recarpet but are just thrilled with how great the room has turned out.

Here is our calendar area. We do not really use it too much for a morning meeting type activity but it is used as a book area frequently!

This shelf is filled with Practical Life activities. Which include things like jar opening/closing, clothespin clamping, rice pouring, rice spooning, tweezing tiny plastic ants, and dressing frames. These all help the child learn to do for himself and train the hand to be able to write.

Now for the Sensorial shelf. These activities are based on the five senses of sight, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touch.

The Maths shelf has lots of counting activities. If you are familiar with Montessori you may notice we are using Base 10 blocks instead of the lovely beads. We are an experimental family for a local Montessori teacher who is trying to develop a curriculum based on M ideas using LESS expensive material.

We have 2 Language areas, they include insets for tracing (more hand preparation), rhyming activities, and many other "works" that prepare Josh to learn to read/write.

This is our letter center. There is a sand tray with black sand (Little man's fave color), sandpaper letter card, and letter bags that include a felt letter and several items that begin with that letter. Also, we use Handwriting Without Tears wooden pieces which is a wonderful multi sensory curriculum.

This is the last of the shelves and it houses the Cultural activities. Here you would find anything from geography to science to arts/crafts.

I store school supplies here in a shoe bag. It is great because everything is contained/organized and at hand!

Well, hope you enjoyed the tour! Feel free to ask any questions you may have. I will be happy to answer anything I can or direct you to an answer.

Proud as a Peacock!

I made this! Well...Andrew helped glue and my Dad helped plan, but...I made this! It is a map of the continents using foam for the water and felt for the land(In Montessori colors). And I am just thrilled to FINALLY have it done. This week we have begun using it to teach Josh the continents.


ht to Beth! Thanks so much for the idea! You amaze me with your creativity!

Edited to add:

First I purchased the fun foam rolls from I kind of wish I had just used felt. (I am having a hard time with where to keep it when not in use!)

Anyway...then I printed off a 3*3 map from

I roughly cut it out and taped the continents on the proper color felt. Cut it out more precisely and glued it down. I used Elmers glue-all and a Hot glue gun.

I would suggest trying something else! Maybe Tacky glue.

The hardest part is choosing what to cut out and what to pretend you are not seeing (KWIM). There are just so many islands!

It really was pretty easy. If anything is confusing just ask!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Candidate Calculator

I am not too political and absolutely not looking to debate about it. But thought I might help a few people out. Check out this website, you just click on your opinions of the issues and the calculator shows you which candidate your choices match best with. I actually got a 100% match but it was with an unlikely final candidate. Fun though and reaffirmed that I am aligned with the right party. Plus, it showed me which likely candidate I was closest to in issues. (Which I already knew, but great affirmation!)

By the way, it also allows you to click on each issue to read more about it. This helped me to remember which was which!

Good luck! Hope this helps those of you who are undecided.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Favorite!

Just in...
Tykelight Blue with Smart Timer by Mobi

This nightlight is SOOO great. You charge it during the day and then it lasts until, at least, sun up the next morning. And, most importantly, there is nothing on it that can be picked off, chewed, pulled, or even broken. Also, for the potty trainers and trainees, it can be carried to the bathroom.


We have a looong history of searching/finding/trying/breaking new flashlights etc... Josh is not really that destructive except when it comes to flashlights. We have no idea why that is but are planning on paying the future therapy bills ;)


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Kids Things We Like!

Well, I have been a Mommy for about 3 1/2 years now and have tried many, many products. Thought I would share with you what we like and use. I am not a big brand name user. If it is important to the product I will list it but mostly I by what is cheapest or on sale or time tested!

These are in NO particular order.

1. Triaminic Soothing Vapors

We just love this little unit. It runs on batteries and just puts that eucalyptus scent right in the air but it is not too overwhelming. This is so great when the little man has a cold. I am convinced it helps him go to sleep and stay asleep through the night because it allows him to breathe easier.

2. Toddler Flush-able Wipes

This is a potty training families life saver! Josh is 3 and can wipe his own bottom entirely on his own with 1 of these little numbers and then flush it right away! No getting called to the bathroom to help for me! As far as brand goes, we buy the cheapest we can find. Our version is sold at Walmart and is their "house brand", they are around $.88.

3. Crayola Washable products

Crayons, markers, Blank Color Wonder Paper with markers or finger paint. We do not use the coloring book version of the Color Wonder because I feel it stifles creativity and when we were given it as a gift Josh was really frustrated with it eventually refusing to use it.

4. Vick's
Whenever Josh is sick, I rub this on his chest and back. He just loves this, it helps soothe his chest/breathing and is just a comforting practice! I heard you should put it on your feet and it will stop your overnight coughing but it did not work for Josh when I tried it!

5. Glo Bear

This was a gift we received a year ago for Christmas. I loved it immediately and it really has turned out to be very useful. When we leave Josh's room before bed we generally hand him his chosen book and give this little fella's paw a squeeze. It glows just enough to light his book and eventually turns off by itself so it saves on batteries. I think we have only replaced them once in a year.

6. Tom's of Maine Toothpaste

Josh can not have food coloring so this is one of our only options BUT this toothpaste is super yummy and works great! Josh was NOT happy about using a non-super hero or character toothpaste. (especially when I squeezed a bit of this pretty bland looking paste onto his brush!) But I conned him into giving it a bit of a try, now we have to keep him from trying to eat it! It really does have a fabulous flavor and I LOVE how white it gets my teeth when I use it. I use it occasionally when I still need to drink or eat something because it does not leave that annoying minty taste half the day!

7. Dr Seuss Books

A bit naughty without being too over the top. We all get a kick out of these books. We read them over and over. (Sure hope the new movie coming out turns out better than The Cat in the Hat one did!)

8. Any books on tape/CD

This is great for nap time. He will generally lay down and listen to a story until he falls asleep with out soo much fuss. Which gives both of us a much needed break!

9. They Might Be Giants music for kids

WE LOVE THESE! So fun to listen to and the ABC one is educational. TMBG is coming out with Here Come the 123's in February. Cannot wait. We are already downloading pod casts from Itunes of the new videos!

10. Foaming soap.

This is another Mommy helper! Just one squirt will do. Especially helpful if your young one does not like to use the gooey soaps. Josh was always a bit nutty about being "dirty". (We just recently have gotten him to do bit of painting that is not Color Wonder)

11. Ikea stool

This is great in the kitchen or anywhere they need to reach. Josh helps me rinse dishes on ours. I like this one in particular because of the height and the price. It is a bit taller than most step stools and it was so cheap!

12. Lego's

Enough said!

13. Play Dough (the concept...not the brand necessarily!)

I have made great play dough that seems to last longer than the commercial stuff! This is a great crafty play item. is an easy clean up and they will play a LOOONG time with play dough, especially if you give them a small rolling pin and some cookie cutters. Josh also loves to cut it with plastic scissors.

Here is a recipe to try I think this is the recipe I used, if not, it is similar!

Anyway...hope you enjoy this list! I may add to it later. Ya know...seems like we are always on the search for some solution to a new difficulty :)

Feel free to share your favorites by leaving a comment.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Please Help Me Save the Earth!

Little man had a longish nap today so I actually got to see most of Oprah. What a treat! I was thrilled to see that the subject today was one near and dear to my heart. Easy changes to make to help save the Earth. So...I was inspired to write out a list of ways in which my family and I live "green". Honestly, we are kind of lazy by nature so all of these things are super easy and take very little effort. Feel free to offer any further ideas you use or have heard of!

Ideas we use to live a lazy "green" life...
1. We recycle! This is the most time consuming but so worth it! We are fortunate enough, in our community, to have a recycling center. They have made recycling super simple. All we need to do is separate our recyclables into 3 categories. The 1st is paper, which includes: white, colored, shiny magazine, used, thin cardboard(cereal box type) and JUNK MAIL!!! The 2nd is corrugated cardboard, which is just boxes. The 3rd and biggest category is glass, metal and plastic 1-7. All we do for this one is clean out the cans, jars, and bottles and peel off any labels. I really can not complain about any of this. It is a free service and I just need to drop it off and place it in the correct giant bins.

2. Laundry! To live "green" here we wash only in cold water, dry with air only, and clean out our lint trap after every load. Also, but should be obvious, we only wash a full load!

3. Grocery Shopping bags. I try to bring my own canvas bags when I go shopping. I am not perfect with this one at all! I need to really make more of an effort here. Right now I only do it at the stores where you bag your own groceries.

4. Have Little Man refill and reuse cups all day long. You know kids, he would drink from a cup and throw it in the sink every hour. So we have him place the cups back in the fridge and I refill them through out the day.

5. We buy from Thrift stores and donate our unwanted items to thrift stores. I have found many treasures this way. You know the saying...One person's trash is anther's treasure. As an example, I recently picked up a cute little glass juicer from my fave thrift store for about $.75. Also a great place to buy books and toys!

6. Washing dishes. I have stopped running water to rinse dishes. I fill one side up with warm soapy and the other up with clear warm water. It really works well and saves so much water! Also, if I am feeling up to it, I invite Josh to help and he rinses the dishes and places the in the strainer. But warning, this takes much patience. And make sure you save knives and breakables for when they get tired of helping!

Not a bad list! But I would really like to add a few more for this new year!

so my "green" goals for 2008 are...
1. Change to compact florescent lightbulbs (CFLs). (*Just bought these at Costco today! So surprised at how much cheaper than I expected. I had heard they were about $5 a bulb, not so, only $12 for 5 that replace 100 watt bulbs.)
2. Install Foam Outlet Gaskets See this website for info.
3. Start using cloth napkins for everyday meals.

Please check out for many more ideas!

Hope you get inspired to help! It is so worth it to save this beautiful planet for our children and theirs!



I just want 5 MINUTES to myself in the bathroom everyday! Is that really too much to ask? Just 5 minutes, once a day. Does not seem a big thing.

We generally keep the doors open in our house. FIRST MISTAKE! So today, I announced my plan to "use it" and headed that way. Little man was on his way into the family room with a stack of puzzles, so I should have had plenty O' time. WRONG! He immediately dumped the puzzles and followed me right on in.

So, of course, I lost my cool (a bit) and sent him straight on out of the room. Where he proceeded to grab his new vacuum (Thanks tons Santa!) and vacuum right outside of the bathroom door the entire time I "sat".

Seriously?! Is this necessary? NO, I think not and I really need to have a wee bit of private time. Too much to ask?

Sorry about the whining! Stay tuned for a fun list coming soon of all the kids stuff we really love!