Oh, You Magical Montessori


 Montessori is an important part of the fabric of me.  Many things I do as a parent are influenced by the internalization of Montessori beliefs about childhood.  That said, I know that occasionally children with certain temperaments, needs, developmental issues, or more may NOT do best in a pure Montessori setting.  Not that Montessori can't be used to meet them where they are, but that the methods as written are not in line with that child.

For a child with manual dexterity (fine motor) issues, for example, the golden bead materials can be very cumbersome.  They might do better with a different material, a helper to work with the materials, or even no materials.  On the other hand, the same limited motor skills would be supported in maximizing the child's capacities through the sensorial and practical life activities that strengthen the hand.  These are all things a trained and experienced Montessori classroom guide would automatically work through, but something that is a little harder in the home setting.

I haven't done a lot of Lucie updating in this space since her health issues this winter.  There are a lot of reasons for that, including the fact we don't really have answers or know what the future holds and that I do want to protect her privacy to a certain degree.  (I'm also absurdly busy managing her care and needs- it's a lot!) Today, however, I want to talk a little bit about what I've observed of Lucie and some of the hesitations I was having about continuing with Montessori and homeschooling for her (and the surprise person that changed my mind).

The End of a Year Long Study in Radically Following the Child.


 A child changes a lot in one year.  No more so than the first year of life, of which Sarah's is rapidly drawing to a close.  During her pregnancy, I discovered natural motor skills development.  The idea of no tummy time, no swaddles, no bouncy chairs or swings, no propped sitting, no walkers or hand holding adult-led steps appealed to something deep within me.

After 19 months of fighting for every milestone with Tomas, I just felt tired.  In honesty, I think there may have been a streak of laziness that made freedom of movement sound like a good plan.

But mostly I just felt there had to be a better way.

Eventually I discovered that better way for Tomas, when I returned to my Montessori roots to observe him and discover where he was and work from there rather than applying him to a set of arbitrary guidelines.  I was determined to do better this time.

And so began my year of radically following Sarah.

There's An Alpaca On The Road {And Other Things I've Heard Since Moving to The Country}


 There really was an alpaca on the road.  Two of them actually.

And a llama.

Since moving out to our farm I have seen and heard a lot of things.  Some of them beautiful, some comical, and some a little bit hard.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Organizing My Non Traditional Catholic Homeschool


 In the past I've written quite a bit about how I plan and organize our intentional Montessori-Charlotte Mason-Unschoolie- Catholic Homeschool.  We school year round, but build in regular breaks throughout our year and I only plan 1 term (6-8 weeks) at a time.  One thing I love about this approach is that we can do anything we don't enjoy or skip anything we need to for 6-8 weeks guilt free.  That said I have to balance the big-picture with the term by term needs of seven kiddos.

Last year I didn't stay on top of keeping track of who was where very well and the big picture was kind of lost.  As were a lot of daily details, including knowing just where anyone was on a regular basis.

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On Junk Food and Education

Junk Food & Education 

 Earlier this month I had the opportunity to once again attend the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference**.  Going into the weekend, I was quite excited to see Jennifer MacKintosh of Wildflowers & Marbles speaking on Charlotte Mason education.  Non-traditional homeschoolers are quite under represented in Catholic homeschool circles.  I find people look at me like I've sprouted an extra head when I say anything about Montessori, Charlotte Mason, or *gasp* intentional unschooling/life schooling for certain subject areas.  The internet says we are out there, but finding us is a little more tricky than I would like!  I enjoyed Jen's wisdom every bit as much as I expected too, but overall I felt a little off-kilter this year at the conference (and not just because I missed the Blogger's Gathering for the first time in.....ever?).

As I was driving home I realized what it was.

Junk food is invading the homeschool community and it's been happening in the same way that junk has invaded our food supply- slowly and without anyone standing up to it.  This junk education has made it nearly impossible to know what is really in the products that you are spending your money on.

Mini-Farm Tour!


 We have lived on our little homestead for two months now, so I figured it was time to give a little tour!  We have put in a lot of labor but not a lot of dollars towards fixing things up.  As much as possible we are borrowing from the junk piles, moving things around, and using what was left behind or that we already had.  This means our fence posts are mismatched and we are using a few things in unusual ways.  The only purchase (other than seeds, trees, feed) we made is gravel (after I got stuck in the driveway twice in the same week) and straw for mulching and dealing with mud.   It's become a little bit of a challenge for me now to see how long I can keep that up!

Please Don't: Speaking Compassionately & Respectfully To Kids With Medical Special Needs


 A few nights ago, I was sitting near Lucie as she fell asleep and she told me that she wishes she was born like the rest of us.  That she hates that she has epilepsy.  With a chronic medical condition, she endures a lot of necessary pokes, pills, and procedures.  They wear on her and make her feel different from everyone else.  Somedays are better than others.

As a parent this can be a stressful thing for both me and my child.  I can accept (if not always understand) that this cross is one that Lucie and I (along with the rest of our family) have been asked to bear and can integrate that with my worldly understandings.  At only five, it is much harder for her.

The way that staff interact with us can make or break each hospital and clinic experience, and she will always be back soon enough to remember the last visit.  Here are three subtle things that I've noticed can make a big difference in how she responds to situations, how she feels about her medical condition in general, and why they matter.