January 29, 2010

Teaching Poker at a young age

I have two quick Montessori tips for you this morning (this cold morning where I woke up to a thermometer reading -10).

The first is a how-to for those of you who want your children to become professional poker players.  Bear's well on his way...

What?  You're not in to that kind of thing?

Ah, that's OK because it turns out, using poker chips with small children teaches them many skills beside when to hold and when to fold.

To do this activity you will need a box with a removable lid.  Champ made Bear's box out of wood, but even an old shoebox could do the trick.  Cut out a slot in the center of the lid sized so that the poker chips can fit through easily.  If you don't have chips,  buttons could be substituted.

Fill a bowl with a small handful of chips and model for your child how to take each poker chip, one by one, and place it through the slot.  Once all the chips have been used, demonstrate how to remove the lid, retrieve the chips and start over.

It's such a simple idea, but it teaches children fine motor skills, allows for them to practice opening and closing something, develops their pincher grip to prepare for writing AND because it's self correcting, it serves their individualism.

If you have an older kiddo, you can use this activity to teach advanced counting skills, or use a piggy bank and brush up on coin identification.  

Practical Life skills are a major component of the Montessori education.   We make homemade pizzas pretty regularly around here and since Bear loves to help, it's a great place for me to develop these skills.  If you have children, you probably encourage practical life skills without even knowing it, but I thought you could use a little snapshot of how I incorporate them into pizza night.

I give Bear his own hunk of dough and model how to roll it out.  I roll out my pizza while he "rolls" out his.  He has his own little bowls of sauce and cheese and toppings to put on his pizza while I make mine.  I talk about what I am doing as I prep my pizza and he  preps his pizza right beside me. 

I've gotta say, the first few times we had cheese and sauce everywhere, but he caught on quickly and now actually saves me time by preparing his own pizza.

Have a great weekend everyone, STAY WARM OR ENJOY THE WARMTH YOU HAVE!

January 28, 2010

You Capture: Color


Happy Thursday everyone!  On top if it being that much closer to the weekend, Thursday also means it's "You Capture" time. 

Can I get a WoooHooo?!

This week's photography challenge was color, so if you're feeling a little glum be sure to head here.  All those splashes of color will be sure to give you a pick-me-up for the day.

I live in Vermont which means to us folks, color most certainly involves red barns...

 as in old red barns.

It means stop signs more likely found on buildings than being used as traffic guides...

and construction equipment left in wide open, photographic spaces.   

This week in one of my posts I mentioned the tale of how Champ and I ended up here, so I end with one of my favorite examples of color around town...

because it reminds me of how this wonderful version of the life I'm living all began.

January 26, 2010

7 things I haven't mentioned yet

My friend Katelyn at The Bird's Nest has given me a Kreativ Blogger Award.  Yippee!  I am so very excited and honored.  It is my very first blog award EVER.   

You know I totally love coming to visit your blog everyday, Katelyn.  You inspire me as I follow your photography and adoption dreams, you make me laugh with your posts about Brooklyn and you guide me with your photography and Montessori knowledge.  Thank you, girl!  

Go check out The Bird's Nest right now and try not to drool over her pictures.

So, the rules for accepting this award are: 

1) Thank the person giving the award
2) Copy the award to your blog
3) Place a link to their blog
4) Name 7 things people don’t know about you
5) Nominate 7 bloggers
6) Place a link to those bloggers
7) Leave a comment letting those bloggers know about the award

And now... 7 things you may or may not know about me……………

1) I have tattoos and I listen to Metallica: It's true.  If I were stranded on a deserted island (you know, the kind that allows for your top 3 musicians to be piped through the trees) I'd take my 3 "Js"- James Taylor, Jason Mraz and James Hetfield.  Strange, but true. 

I have 2 tattoos: the first is the cutie to your left.  A Star Bellied Sneech of Dr. Seuss fame, straight out of my favorite storybook and plastered on my left thigh.  If you aren't familiar with the story, read it.  I try to live my life the way the book ends.  My other tattoo is camera shy, but it's on my right ankle and means "poet" in Chinese.  It's orange, my favorite color, and blue (to represent my favorite element, water). 

2) I once took being called Mrs. Frizzle as a compliment: because I taught for 7 years with 6 of those being in kindergarten and Mrs. Frizzle was my idol!  She is a storybook teacher with crazy red hair.  Beloved by her students, imaginative, compassionate and open to learning new things.  During my years of teaching, that was the highest compliment my little 5 and 6 year olds could give.  Well, that and I love you.

3) I was no Rachel Ray as a newlywed: far from it as Champ can attest, but I loved to cook and eventually through trial and error, developed in to what I am today.  Most folks say my food is quite yummy now. 

4) I am using an alias on my blog: you see, my name is Tina but I always, always wanted to be called TJ since my middle name begins with a J and I think nicknames are cool.  Yeah well, the name never really stuck.  I think Tina is a fine name, but when I started this blog... 

so now you know, I respond to Tina or TJ 
just not Hey You.

5) I am as stubborn as a goat: which is why I refuse to put pictures of my family in my wallet when that goat picture has been there so much longer.  I have daydreams about owning him and someday it WILL happen I tell you!  In the meantime, Philippides gets prime real estate in my wallet. 

6) We followed our hearts to Vermont: heck, I could write a whole post about this.  Champ and I previously lived in a corner house with a postage stamp sized yard in Pennsylvania.  We biked to work (we taught at the same school) on many days and all our immediate family and friends lived a stone's throw away. Everything we needed was at our fingertips and we were involved in all kinds of activities.  Sounds lovely, right?  

In a way it was, but just like Champ says about the phys. ed. activities he teaches: at the height of the moment is when it's time to move on to something new.  Then the best learning can be had.

Our move was the most wonderful, most bittersweet thing we have ever done.  The pictures on this blog tell much of it: we finally were in the right place to start a family, we have acres of land to tromp around on and there are no chain stores within an hour of us.  This, to us, is paradise.

How we got here is short and sweet: Champ applied to a bunch of schools in New England.  We finally narrowed it down between here in Vermont and Cape Cod.  The ultimate decision came when we were touring the town after his first job interview...

I keep a discovery journal.  Year's earlier we had been through this part of the state and I had saved a bed and breakfast ad that I found inspirational.  As luck would have it, Mark's job offer was in the very town of this bed and breakfast.  We were driving past the BandB's wooden sign and it suddenly hit me.  I pawed through my journal and there; on the yellowed page, was a clue I had subconsciously given to myself so long ago.

And so, I've learned to always believe when talking about God, Fate or the Red Sox.

7) I am a heck of a runner: it's strange to announce that as I'm not terribly comfortable talking about my running history, but here goes: I ran crosscountry and track all through high school and college.  I won Leagues and Districts a bunch of times and was State All Star for a few years, too. 

I almost broke the 19 minute barrier (ran a 19:01) for a 5k when racing in Districts, but I ended up breaking my shin instead with a stress fracture.  I went through hour upon agonizing hour of therapy and was told multiple times that I'd never be able to run again.

The doctors were wrong.

I ran States my Senior year with a broken leg determined to  reached my record setting goal.  I became the first individual female in my high school's history to make it to States 4 years in a row.  I truly didn't do it for glory, but rather to shed some light on the lesser known sport of Crosscountry and to inspire my fellow teammates to know their potential.

After tons more therapy, I raced through college and on in to adult life.  I've competed in marathons, among them both the Cape Cod Marathon and the Boston Marathon a few times.  I have some triathalons under my belt, but when Champ went on to do an Ironman, I decided to be the ultimate fan and not a competitor!

These days I run for pleasure, but I'm positive the racing scene hasn't seen the last of me ;) 

Phew, that was a little long, but hopefully you feel like you know me a little better now!

 On to the bloggers I’m tagging.  In no particular order:

Cherry at Tales From the Crackle Berry Bush Cherry and I began our blogging adventures right around the same time and so I felt an immediate connection to her.  Her youngest child, Blue, is a few months older than Bear, so I love having a view into the future through her posts!

Pam at Teaching Readers To Think This blog is a great resource for recommended readings!  She has book suggestions for everyone from toddlers to adults and she knows her stuff.  Pam is currently a M.S. principal and was my Assistant Principal during the years I taught kindergarten, more than that though, she is a dear friend!

Darlene at Darlene's Days  Darlene is one of the sweetest, most genuine bloggers you will ever meet!  She writes about all the things that interest me and I feel like she wraps her arms around me in a hug every time I visit her blog :)  

Shell at Things I Can't Say  Shell calls 'em, like she sees 'em and I adore her for that!  She lives in a houseful of boys who provide unending blog fodder and she inspires me to face my life head on and with a little humor, for sure! 

Jennifer at Happy 2 Scrap 4 Life  Another IRL (in real life) friend, this gal already knew about my secret #2 as she was a grade level partner when I taught.  She is currently still teaching kindergarten and I love hearing about my old stomping ground through her perspective.  Just spend a moment or two on her blog and you will see why I find her so utterly amazing.

Colleen at As Is Proper... I met Colleen through the "You Captures" that we both participate in.  I found though, that besides her photography, I was going back again and again to her blog because of her witty sense of humor, her warm yet real take on life and the fact that she is gracefully the Mama in a military family. 

Julie at A Vintage Chic Julie has been here from the beginning.  As my very first follower she offered me support and friendship when I knew no one in the blogoshpere.  I will be forever grateful for that!  We share a love of Gooseberry Patch, Simple Abundance and crafts, although go visit her site and you'll see which one of us is more advanced ;)    

And that's that.  So all you Kreativ Bloggers you, should you choose to participate or not please know that you are loved and adored by me!!!!

January 25, 2010

Not Me Monday- bread, bats and pillows, OH JOY!

Welcome to Not Me Monday a blog carnival sponsored by Mckmama.  Come join in and tell us all the things you haven't done this week.

As for me, I most certainly did not find this scene


when I went to check on my bread dough.  I did not leave the bowl to rise in a spot where Bear could find it and carry it to the floor.  I am also certain that I absolutely, positively did not confuse Bear so that he felt "dough" could mean "snow" thereby implying the need for snow removal vehicles.

Furthermore, there is no way I discovered my son using his place setting, the one's that he sets his own table with, in a most inappropriate way.

Nope.  No way.  I must have been imagining things because that could not possibly be dog food in his bowl!  My child would never eat dog food by the spoonful. 

That furry thing?  It is not a bat.  And if it were, it would be out of the question to think that the bat might be angry, scared stiff and possibly rabid.  These kinds of bats do not exist, especially not in J and T's house.

Bear likes to sleep, there's no question about that,

but the very idea of Bear sleeping with a pillow over his head is absurd.  He is a regular, normal 18mo old who never, ever hauls pillows over his head no matter how many times his parents protest, or remove the fluffy offender while he sleeps.  

What haven't you done this week? 

Gotta Love Mondays

are all you out there trying to tell me I should be away from my computer more often over the weekend?  

Because do you know how amazing it is to come back to my blog on a Monday and find I have 18 followers?!
Humor me here all you bloggers with a gazillion followers and all you readers who don't care one iota about my thoughts on followers...  Ahhh...

Alright I'm done, but since I introduced my other new followers this weekend, it seems only fair to give a shout out to Nic at Blessed With A Full House

Catherine Ann at Blessed Adventures  
and Tricia, my awesome cousin who I send a big WAHOO to out there in Nebraska!

Welcome girls and a hearty thank you to all my other followers.  Love ya all :)

Here's a sneak peek at why I was away from my computer all weekend:

I was having way too much fun enjoying family food and fun! 

I'll be back in a bit with a "Not Me Monday" post.  Tah, Tah 'til then.  PS: Aren't the men in Champ's family just so darn cute?! 

January 22, 2010

I'm here, but I'm not

*Hey all, I just had to come back and point out that Miss Tami my #14 is no longer my newest follower. So... while I still think you are wicked cool #14, I'd like to direct everyone's attention to follower #15, Mrs. Bird.  You'll hear more about this great bloggy friend next week.  Ok, just had to point that out.

So I'm here, but I'm not.

I am currently in the midst of a family reunion of sorts.  A bunch of Champ's family is here (a few for the very first time since we've moved) and so I am spending time with them and enjoying every second.

Right now I'm probably sledding in our backyard, or eating something delicious someone brought along.  

Maybe I'm touring a bunch of family around our town showing them the novelties like 

where we get our milk (from the farm, of course) 

or how we pick up our mail (at a very small, cozy post office where the postal workers know us all by name) 

or picking up some fresh maple syrup (processed in a Mason jar).

Anyway, the point is, I'm here, but I'm not.

I will be back though next week.  Oh yes I will, and there will be exciting news involving a Not Me Monday and my very first blog award!  Ooh, I can't wait to share about it!

Until we chat again, have a lovely weekend and I leave you with this pot of beans:

Unlike a hill of beans, you can actually do something with it.  If you are a bean lover like me (and meet my assumptions that you own a wood stove and some cast iron), try this tip over the weekend:

Get your wood stove roaring.  Dump 1-2C beans into a cast iron pot and then fill the pot with water until 3/4 of the way full.  Place the pot on the stove.  Check on it every hour or so and within 2-3 hours you will have a fresh pot of beans.

I think it's a pretty cool trick that results in cooked beans for soup, conservation of energy and a break for Athena.

One last thing, a special thank you to Tami, my newest follower over there to the right.  I like the number 13, I do, but I wasn't thrilled to have it as my follower count because, well, I guess I am a teeny bit superstitious when it comes to numbers.  

Thankfully, before I could dwell on it too long, Tami came along and remedied the situation by becoming a most wonderful 14.  Thank you.  You've saved me from driving myself crazy with #13 ponderings.

Have a great weekend, all!

January 21, 2010

You Capture: love around your home


Well, sure, I love my husband and my baby and my dogs and my health and my work and my...
but when Beth put out the photography challenge this week to capture love around the home...

I went totally materialistic (and enjoyed it).

I love am head over heels for my books.  Enough said. 

I love my stove.  Her name is Athena and she always helps me out of a bad mood.  She's like a good friend who knows when to offer comfort food.

Meet Avi...

I love him.  I grew him from a tiny avocado seed into what he is today.  He's handsome, isn't he? 

Then there's my stereo.  Who can live without music?  Thankfully, I don't have to (as my singing voice is A-trocious).

Oh, and did I mention how I love my teacups?  In my house, they aren't just for show, people.

 Swing on over to I Should Be Folding Laundry to continue this love fest.  There are probably some entries there much more heartwarming and generous than mine!

January 20, 2010

Some lighthouse love

Are you ready for more? 
Here's part two of the Bear/T.J. seaside tour...

Our friends J and T were the best hosts ever and we had a blast visiting with them!  They took us to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, N.H.

There was an enormous skeleton of a young humpback whale named Tofu.  The center was informative enough to keep me very curious and kid friendly enough to allow for Bear to have a rip roaring time. 

We could see lighthouses from here, but J and T know how much I adore the structures (and have such patience with me) that they took us to a better lookout point in New Castle, N.H.

Here you could see Whaleback light

and Portsmouth Harbor Light which has been in operation since pre-revolutionary times.

Some say it's haunted; to the point that supernatural themed shows have been taped there.

Creepy, yet cool.

another little fact...

Portsmouth Harbor Light is the only lighthouse on the mainland of New Hamshire.

This is also the region of Isle of Shoals, but I had to really use my imagination to see many of those islands.

To end the day, we strolled around Portsmouth, where I discovered this lovely sign


Of course, my trip wasn't all about lighthouses.
Not quite anyway.

I feasted on delicious, home cooked meals, familiarized myself with J and T's new, adorable home and caught up with an 'ol cat friend of mine.  You might remember him.  

Here he is helping to protect his family...

Any guesses on what he was protecting us from?

On another day, J , Bear and I took a little trip up to Maine.  You know, the place with the slogan "the way life should be".

In Ogunquit, Maine J took us to Lobster Point on the Marginal Way where we saw this gem...


it was the cutest, stumpiest lighthouse I've ever seen!

It's not on the National Lighthouse Registry, so in order to find it, you've got to know someone cool, like J.  Or I suppose you could Goggle it. 
Not half as fun though. 

We rounded out the lighthouse tour in York, Maine.  Home of...

Cape Neddick (Nubble) Light
I never tire of going to see this lighthouse, 
I mean look at the thing. 

It's features are gorgeous to begin with and the ocean hits it just rightIt has an infamous red light and uses a cable system to shuttle supplies.  Neato!

In fact, that bucket there?  Yeah, one of the lighthouse keepers sent his children off to the mainland for school in it until someone deemed it a little unsafe.  Probably a good move, but I'd have loved to have been that child.

There has been a wedding on the grounds and a music video filmed in front of it.  

My favorite fact though, is that when NASA launched Voyager II in to space, they included a picture of Nubble Light in their stash of "cool things about the Earth".  You know, just in case they ran into some other civilizations while traveling abroad.

How does one even begin to top that?!  
Cape Neddick Light, you rock (and I don't mean in a nubble kind of way).

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