Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rain Symphony

I love a summer rain!
Rainy days for me are peaceful and calm.
Rainy days are days we relax and play inside with toys forgotten, by the warm draw of a summer day to play outside (all the time).
Rainy days mean no rushing around to get somewhere, like a beach or playground.

Today as I sit with my tea, eating yummy chocolate chip, blueberry pancakes, with real Vermont Maple syrup I hear the sounds of a summer rain....

The "ting.....ting......ting" of rain drops filling my cannier I put out on the deck after making strawberry jam.
The rythmic patten of drops softly patting on the ground.
The excited chirping of the Tufted Tit Mice, feasting on the worms poking out of the ground.
The cool damp breeze on my shoulder thru the window.
The crowing of a rooster calling the hens to munch on the bird seed fallen to the ground under the feeders.
The sound of two boys happily playing with toys forgotten.....

Ahhh...I love a summer rain!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Article on Mercury in High Fructrose Corn Syrup

This is an interesting article that just makes you wonder, what is really going on with the food process in this country? 
Yeah convince foods are quick and easy, but is it really worth saving 10mins now, instead of eating more whole foods to protect your health later?  Really once you get in the habit of NOT eating all the junk they sell on the shelves and prepare healthy,whole snacks and meals it just becomes life and not a chore, besides there is no chore in eating an apple over a bag of Cheetos! (which contain MSG that is very addictive BTW)
I am not saying once in awhile I don't crave a junk snack....I do...and once in awhile I will indulge..
but read the article and see how much High Fructose Corn Syrup you are actually eating in one day!................think about it!

Article about Mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Home Made Laundry Detergent

Ingredients in laundry detergent + shaved soap bar
Today I made home made laundry detergent as part of my about it here.
I was going to make the liquid version, but I need to acquire a 5 gallon bucket with a lid first.  So I made the powder version instead.  I followed the recipe from here.. Earth Easy (great site)

1/2c Borax
1/2c.Super Washing Soda
1 shaved bar of soap, I used a homemade bar I had
(Ivory or Fels Naptha soap is suggested),
I put all ingredients in a cleaned out coffee can
Use 3 Tablespoons per load

So the clothes...came out clean!  I put them on the clothes my recycled clothes line, just in time for a thunder storm to add some natural fabric softener!

I LOVE knowing what is really in my laundry detergent that I clean my families clothes in.
I LOVE no plastic bottle to recycle.
I love knowing that the ingredients are safe for the Earth!

Dishwasher Soap

ingredients in dishwasher soap
As I posted before here I am on a mission to replace my already Earth Friendly cleaning products with some better home made ones.  I started with dishwasher soap.  The recipe I used was from Earth Easy (check out this great website!)  it was..

Equal parts Borax and Super Washing Soda.  I also added distilled white vinegar to the rinse aid compartment.  They came out....CLEAN!  Some of the glasses had some spots if you looked close, I don't look that close! You should try it! 

I LOVE knowing exactly what is in what I am cleaning my dishes with,
I LOVE not having any plastic bottle to recycle ,
I LOVE that in the end it saves me money,
I LOVE that both the ingredients are all natural and both are product and companies that have been around for a LONG time and tried and true products!

The Witching Hour!

Anyone with small kids will know what I mean by "The Witching Hour"...that time before dinner, when everyone is tired, hungry, cranky, dirty, and impatient and all you want to do is get dinner cooked so they wont be at least hungry and cranky anymore (today). 

For us it is around 4:30, right when I say "OK I am going to start to cook dinner now, you guys go find something to do for awhile".....they fall apart, right then. I get the hanging on my leg whine....."IIII'MMMM HHHUUUNNNGGGRRYYY...." from the 2 year old.  "Mama! James wont let me play with that!" yell from the 5 yr old. etc....

Now I know, I know that practicing Montessori I should let them help prepare dinner, but you know some night I just cant! (most).  I let them help with breakfast and lunch, but dinner is already stressful.

So last night was one of those "Ah Ha" moments that happens once in awhile.  It started to pour out side, I mean it was raining hard, but it was so warm!  I was cooking on the grill outside and on my way out the door I said..."where are my boys? Come on you two , no shoes, grab your beach balls and come play in the puddles in the rain!  They had so much FUN for the last 20 mins before dinner was ready, Even I jumped in some puddles too!  Sometimes I forget its SUMMER, a time to kick back and have a little fun!

sorry for the poor picture
Thank you  boys for being cranky and reminding me to have fun!-Mama

Wild Blueberries, Bees, Sidewalk Chalk & Target!

Can you imaging how these four things would all go together early on a Saturday morning?  It would be our adventure in wild blueberry picking!  The morning started off great, we got up at the crack of dawn (as usual), ate fresh hard boiled eggs, homemade zucchini bread, & OJ for breakfast, go dressed in long pants (ironically to keep the bugs off!), grabbed a to go mug of green tea with locally made honey and off we go....

We met our friends Janelle and Athena (4) at Target.  Janelle is all about  Wild Edibles (check out her blog), so when she scouted a huge field of wild blueberries growing behind Target she invited us to join her to pick some. She was smart and brought us each a plastic cup with string tied to it to hang around our necks while we pick. "OK we are all set, lets start picking!"  We entered the path into the woods and found LOADS of sweet tiny blueberries...James was in his glory!

Until all of a sudden he started to SCREAM!  and CRY! I am sure you guest by the title that he got stung by a bee :(

I manged to comfort him and distract him and he calmed down rather quickly, when not 5 mins later Athena started to SCREAM! Only she was not calming down she was really seems we had stumbled upon  a bees nest in the ground!!!  Poor Athena got stung 10 times in the legs!  Janelle, (being the calm quick thinking mama) ran her to the path and we got her pants off (covered in bees).  It just so happen that Janelle had just made some homemade toothpaste from here and brought me some to try...I ran to the car to get it to put on Athena's legs (it has baking soda in it, Janelle's mom says this is good for bee stings)
Mason stood quietly and still and just watched.

OK so we are calmed down, I try to get the bees out of Athena's pants (which we ended up leaving for now)....when you'll never guess...James starts screaming again! A bee was up his pants and stung his leg...we whipped his pants off and grabbed everything and ran out of the woods!

"I feel like I have been stung by a bee emotionally'-Janelle

back at the car....some music, pretzels, juice,  and a new dress for Athena.  Everyone is happy again.
but wait!...................................

James AGAIN starts to scream!  There is another one in his shirt (after 20 mins)...are you kidding?....Off goes the shirt and he is DONE!

We decided to go into Target to buy Guy a birthday present, as we are walking by Janelle and I are drooling over all the beautiful blueberries we are walking by......James runs up the little hill and starts calling us to see them and eats a bunch......Athena follows.....Mason "can we go to target now?" We go into Target and pick up a few things (no present), but we found a big bucket of sidewalk chalk....Janelle and I have an idea!

I parked my car sideways, opened the sliding door, put on  the Wayne From Maine CD (great kids music), we gave them instructions to stay inside the while parking lines and they went to work drawing with chalk while we picked wild blueberries on top of the little hill next to the parking lot! And Janelle's afraid of being known as the crazy lady around town!  eventually the kids joined us in the pick and we got about a keg cups full of berries!  (both kids are fine by the allergies)

It ended just as good as it began, but it was a WILD day!

We plan on going back for more...WITHOUT the kids!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Preparing for the Montessori School Year

I decided after I downloaded and printed out all of Karen Tyler's wonderful albums,
which you can find at...Montessori Worldwide
that I would spend the summer preparing, gathering, acquiring, making.... all the materials so I would be ready in the fall for the WHOLE year! I figured this would make the school year easier.  I would not have to worry about anything but actually doing "school"!  An added bonus is I would have all the materials ready for James when he came of age.
 I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful lady named Cindy Hunt from my area who had taught her children + others of the past 20 years with Montessori.  She was "cleaning house" and gave me an incredible deal on lots of wonderful materials mostly for the 6-9 age!
100's board,multiplication board,division board,grammar symbols,tons of language materials, beads materials, 1000 cubes, 1000 chain + more!

This has been quit a task so far!  Here is what I have done...
  1. Printed,hole punched and put into binders all the albums, which includes: Mathematics,Physical Science,Botany,Geology,Practical Life skills, Language,History,Astronomy,Ecology,& Sensorial
  2. Wrote out my letter of Intent for the superintendent of the local schools.  If you are interested in seeing what I put for my letter of intent, email me or leave your email in the comments box.
  3. Next I took lined notebook paper and went thru ALL the albums and made list as I went thru them! Also deciding what I really do or do not NEED to have. list  are for:  Materials to purchase ( magnify lens, microscope, magnets, small animals/minis etc)  , Prep for materials to make (fabric,wood,sandpaper,dowels,pulley, plaster of paris etc...) 3 part cards to makeDefinitions for cards (ex. Plasticity), Materials to print/make (geometric cabinet, world map, continent shapes for globe, etc)
  4. I have spent hours and hours going thru the Montessori Makers Yahoo Group files and saving the files I need in a file on my external hard drive, like, math materials, geometric shapes, culture materials, so much more....
  5. I have also spent hours and hours reading blogs and gathering ideas from all the wonderful Montessori bloggers out there that share their stories and ideas
  6. NEXT....I have to buy INK! and start to print and make the materials!  I will let you know how I do and if I meet my goal of finishing for the Fall!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Home Made House Cleaning Solutions

I have not used chemicals in my house since I moved out on my own about 10 years ago! 
I use ....Vinigar, Lemon juice, a little dish soap (Dr. Brawners,Method,Seventh Generation etc) Baking Soda to clean my house. 
I do buy some earth friendly products like...laundry soap,toilet bowl cleaner,dish washer soap,floor cleaner, & dish soap.
My new quest is to start to make my own as these run out, so I am researchng different recipies to make.  here is what I have so far.  I will add to this post as I make and use theses recipes.

  Please feel free to commont on any that you use and help add to the list!

I just took the time to right out the recipies I like on index cards, lamanated them, punched a hole in the corner and put them on a book ring, now I can have easy access to what I need and how, much hanging on the fridge!  right now my dishwasher is running with equal parts Borax & Washing Soda with vinigar in the rinse aid...I will let you know how they come out......

OK.....I just saved myself a boat load of reasearch!  It is already done for me!  Check out this website for ALL your home made cleaning needs!!!!    Best Earth Friendly Cleaning site EVER!

Some more recipies....These are really great blogs with lots of advice and tips in the comment section too!
Another Laundry detergent recipie


Home Made Toothpaste (my post linked to recipe)

Home made dish washer soap


What to do with all that Zucchinin?

As I find them I am going to compile a list of Zucchini recipies.
Zucchini Carrot Muffins

Sherry's Zucchini Bread (my MIL)
1c. Oil
2c. Sugar
Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time
2c. Grated Zucchini
    Then add...
Sifted together:  3c. Flour
                         3 tsp Cinnamon
                         1 tsp Baking Soda
                          1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1c. Rasins (optional)
Bake @ 325 for 1hr (may vary depending on oven, test with a knife in the middle)

Homemade Granola

Here is a link to the Creative Homesteading Blog, with a wonderful recipie for homemade granola cereal you can make with yuor kids!
Athena's Granola

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Family Garden June/July 2010

James is planting beans in the rain!

My husband Warren would argue with the title of this post...he seems to think that it is HIS garden!  He does do most of the work in the garden, preparing soil, beds, compost, weeding etc..
But the kids get out there and help too!  James especially LOVES the garden! He has helped to plant lots of the garden this year.  Mason helps to, but he needs to be pulled away from the dirt pile they have in the garden to actually help!

Every year Warren creates these stick structures for the vine/climbing plants. every year they are something different!  Its like garden art!

This is both boys hand prints in the wet dirt after they helped to plant the beans! 
Mason's on the right and James on the left.
Poke a hole....drop one in...pat, pat, pat

We are growing asparagus this year, so we should have some next year to eat!

There is a small head of broccoli in there!  This pic was take the end of June, we just ate the big beautiful head last week (July 5ish)

Mixed lettuce...we had way more lettuce than we could eat!  My storage bin in the fridge is filled with bags of lettuce rolled with a slightly moist paper towel, this usually last for a couple of weeks this way.  Warren likes to let the lettuce go to flower when we are done to attract the beneficial bugs. check this book out.....

The peas! Both Sugar Snap and Shelling
  The boys flipped for the shelling peas, what a fun way to eat your veggies.  EVERY night we had a bowl on the table and them would eat them like they were dessert....tring to guess how many peas were in each pod before opening them.  Never even cooked them!  Next year more shelling peas.  We also have been eating allot of stir fry and rice, with snap peas and broccoli!

Next update will hopefully be August...canning season!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Toddler Activities

My little one is just 2 years old.  He loves to do everything that his big brother does, so when we started Montessori homeschooling last year he wanted his own rug and materials to work with too.  These are some of the activities I have done with him...

Sorting Sea Glass....

My aunt had pears shipped to her and she gave me the packaging...that is what he is sorting into, but you can use anything (egg carton, paint tray, bowls, cups etc..)

This is a One -To-One Correspondence activity:

On the tray is marbles, tweezers,wooded tongs,little metal spoon, and the shapes are made of the things you put into the bathtub to make a non slip surface with suction cup side facing up.
The activity is to place the marbles onto the suction cup either with fingers or tongs,spoon or
 (tweezers,for my bigger son)

Color sorting plastic beads:

Small Pincher Grasp:

James is using plastic tweezers to pick up bottle caps and put them into the cups
(again the shipping packaging from Aunties pears!)
Behind him is another deep bin (great for keeping everything contained) with cotton balls & pompoms to also pick up with the tweezers.

Sound Eggs:
I filled the eggs with different things to make different sound like
beans, popcorn, toothpicks, pasta, rice, marble, and; pebbles.  I used packing tape around them!
There is a matching set for each sound.  Both boys enjoy this!
James can not find matches yet, but LOVES to shake them!

Click on like to my other post about this!

This is a wonderful website for lots of great Toddler ideas!

There is so much more....I will try to continue posting new ideas....

Soap Making Websites

For those interested in making your own soap,  I was told to check out these websites for information and products...

Very informative web page
Lye Calculator
Oils By Nature
Whole sale supplies plus
essential oils
soap making forum

Everything Soap making by: Alicia Grosso
Soap makers companion & Natural Soap Maker by: Susan Cabbag

Stainless Steel bowls, spoons, plastic containers etc...Ocean State Job Lot!

Hope this helps anyone interested in making your own soap, If you live in MA and are interested in the class I took, leave a comment and I will send you her info.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Montessori Style in Our Home

My little one just turned 2!  He is very busy and loves to "help" my 5 year old, Mason, with everything he is doing, the problem is his "Helping" usually ends up with Mason in tears! 

 One of the methods that I love about Montessori is the use of rugs to define space! Slowly James is learning that if Mason is working on his rug than that is his space and he is not to touch it!  He too LOVES to work on his own rug (like Mason).  We keep rolled up rugs in a basket near the toy shelf.

Another method that I love about Montessori is the Prepared Environment.  I have done my best to implement this method around the house, but it is very effective with their toys (not just Montessori learning materials).  I set up a limited amount of toys a shelf for them to choose from. (these get rotated often as needed)  Each toy is taken out of its container or box and placed on a tray.  This helps the boys to actually see the toys instead of them shoved on a shelf or in a toy box/ basket filled with toys.  To often I found that some toys NEVER got touched !  When they are prepared and set out for play they become inviting and  intriguing to the boys.  I find that they play more on their own this way  ( not all the time of course!)

I have used this method around the house in other ways...

I have placed a low peg rack on the wall near the front door for their jackets,  They hang them up on the pegs when they come in.  This is way better then them throwing them on the ground like before!!! ( it takes practice!)

I have been tring to teach them to put their shoes together with a clothes pin when they take them off so they are together and ready when it is time to leave again and we are not searching for the other shoe all the time (anymore!)  This one has been harder since I tend to kick my shoes off into a pile instead of neatly putting them together where they belong, but we are ALL working on this one!

In the kitchen...
I have made them their own cabinet/ drawer....
when they need a glass,bowl,plate,fork,or spoon (mostly glassware) they are able to get it them selves (even James) This has been the best!  Mason says to me "I'm thirsty"...I say "Go get a drink"... and he can!  The snack cabinet is the same way only James can not open the pantry door (yet) which is not a bad thing right now!  James also has a stool next to his booster seat so he can climb up and sit at the table by "himseffff"

In the bathroom....
Each person (including Mama & Dada) has a glass with toothbrush, toothpaste, & hair brush in it.  This helps at bed time and in the morning.  Mason is able to get to everything by himself!  which means in the morning I can ask him to go brush his teeth and hair, and he does!

In the bedroom (for Mason)....
I took all of his clothes out of the dresser draws they were in, and rearranged his closet.  The whole bottom shelf now has all is clothes folded so he can get to them.  His underwear (he would giggle) and socks are in a shallow basket for him to reach too.  Now I ask him to please go get dressed.  I usually prompt him on appropriate choices for the weather..." try to find shorts and a no sleeve shirt"  and he does!

we do have a toy box, but I made two small shelves inside to sit two shallow plastic bins so they can reach small items that usually get lost on the bottom and James could not reach.  Now I don't hear "Mama, could you get the chalk,truck,bubbles,toy etc"...anymore!

These are the Montessori methods that I have tried in my house, I would love to hear what others have done too!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Home Made Toothpaste

I have not tried to make this YET!  But since I found it, it is on my "To Make" list!  I thought I would share it with you.  Let me know if anyone tries it and I will post when I do get to making it! The link will take you to the original posting.....
Home made toothpaste recipe

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Contenent Swap

I feel like I have been absent from school all month!  I have been so busy working on project Contenent Swap that I have had NO time for blogging!  So I am going to start with a blog abot the Contenent Swap!
I was invited by to participate in a Montessori Contenent Swap. 
This is how it works...

There are 7 Contenents, there for there are 7 participants.  Each person picks a contenent....Obviously I wanted N. America since I live here!  Unfortunatly someone eles got it first...I got Asia!
My first reaction was "Oh great what do I know about Asia!"  I soon found out that I didnt know that much, but I have learned ALOT!  Each person puts together a BOX with 7 of each item they find about thier contenent.
For example...I ordered coins on Ebay and each participating family will get a coin (7 coins), same with stamps....

I spent the 1st week researching everything Asia, countries, culture, festivals, food, clothes, transportaion,animals, music, houses, kids, games, climate.ect....
I tried to save every website I found to add to the CD's that went in the box.
I also made a ton of 3-Part Cards that are on the CD about Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and I added Honey's India cards too.
If you are interested in any of the cards leave me a comment with your email and I will try to send you the file?

Next I reached out to everyone I knew to see if they have been to or know someone in Asia
(which includes, Russia, China, Japan, the Middle East, Turkey, India ect....

Here is what I put together for the swap...

My friend Paul gave me 6 Sky Lanterns (click link for more info) these are traditional illuminated paper lanterns used in China for the lantern Festival.  We accually used them in Vermont.  They flew very high and away over the trees for miles! Sky Lantern launtch in Vermont check out the video of us in Vermont...listen for my boys doing the count down, then the youngest cryng because he didnt want the "balloon" to go

Asia Pin Map
In this pic you can see the Pin map and Flags I made, I think I made oveer 300 little flags!
(The globe & 3 part cards are not included in the swap)
I will post a blog on how I made the pin maps....

Stamps from Russia

Stamps from all over Asia


Coin from Asia

Green Tea from China

Chinese New Year Red Envolopes


Paper Lantern

Misc item brought back from my friend Craig!

Over all I had a great time putting it all together, I think I could have done so much MORE!  Like finish the bean bags made with different kinds of materials from Asia! So all in all I am back to blogging with a lot to catch up on!!!