Mixed Age Montessori Coral Reef Study


 It might surprise you to know that we almost never study cold places in the winter.  While everyone else is studying penguins, polar bears, and arctic places we like to do plant study and visit biomes such as the Tropical Forest and Coral Reef.  It's cold enough here in Minnesota, we might as well stay inside and dream of warm things!  After taking the fall to study exciting things such as American Government as our main group subject, we returned to our biome study from last year and moved to the ocean to study coral reefs.

Tackling Technology: What is a Montessori Parent to do?


Ask a a group of parents in the year 2017 how they handle technology in their home and you will undoubtedly hear passionate responses from a variety of extremes.  I know families who have no computers or internet connections in their home and families who have all the latest technology with unlimited restrictions.  Both can offer perfectly logical and understandable rationale for their decisions.  In reality, I could say that much and stop this post right there.  Make an intentional decision you feel is right based on your family's circumstances and go from there.

In reality, however, making any intentional decision is rarely straight forward and technology is no exception.   Here are some of the thoughts that Tim and I have wrestled with in approaching this topic from a Montessori perspective.

Note: You may notice I don't have much in terms of pictures for this post.  That's because I don't believe in staging pictures for my blog unless its for a specific new product and because I take pictures of things that are interesting and memorable.... My kids with their faces glued to screens doesn't meet my definition of either interesting or memorable!

Blogger Review Friday: One Small Donkey

Are you looking for a new Christmas book this season?  Today I'm reviewing One Small Donkey, by Dandi Daley Mackall.  One Small Donkey is a story of the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem on that first Christmas night.  It is a story about not being the biggest, strongest, or fastest and still being chosen for an important job.  

First of all, what I liked.  The story was great and so was the message.  It reminded me a lot of The Donkey No One Could Ride about another much-underestimated donkey who participated in the first Palm Sunday.  How often do we think that we need to do big things or have a certain set of characteristics in order to serve our God?  The reality is that, as a certain small sister often reminded us, we can do small things with great love.  There are jobs in the kingdom available for anyone who is willing to bring their offering.  The illustrations were colorful and pleasing, if a tad child like for my taste.

What I thought could be better.  The story was nice and had a singsong rhyme that was easy to read aloud on most pages.  On a few, however, it was super awkward.  It brought me back to my college poetry class that both rhyme and rhythm are important in poetry!  It was like it wanted to be poetic, but fell just a little short.

In the introduction, the author made a special effort to point out that we don't really know Mary rode a donkey as the Bible doesn't tell us that.  And then she proceeded to put Mary and Joseph in a stable, which is also not strictly Biblical, and the Star of Bethlehem was already shining before they got there and the shepherds walked to Bethlehem with the donkey.  I wouldn't have even noticed these other Biblical inconsistencies if the author hadn't made such an effort to point of the questionability of the donkey.  Either follow tradition for traditions sake or follow the Bible for the Bible's sake, but don't do both while bringing special attention to one or the other.   Are there really that many people who's faith would be changed (either for their benefit or because they were offended by the inaccuracy) because Mary did or didn't ride a donkey?

Overall, however, I do think this is a fun and enjoyable new perspective on the traditional Christmas story.  I wouldn't give it five stars, but I feel confident with a good solid four!

In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of this title through the Book Look Bloggers Review Program.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

A Goodbye {for now, I hope}

I have struggled over the past two weeks to decide how much I wanted to share in this space and when I wanted to share it.   Since the time has come when saying goodbye (for now I hope) is no longer optional, I guess now is the time.

In addition to continuing to spend a great deal of time adjusting to Tomas' FPIES diagnosis and helping him grow in the best way he can, including early intervention services, Lucie has been quite sick all fall.  To make a long story short, she was in the hospital over the weekend where she was diagnosed (tentatively) with a seizure disorder, probably epilepsy, although further testing will be needed to rule out all other possibilities.

Words can't express the shock with which this news has been received.

At 5:00 this morning I was awoken due to a suspected seizure which I'm apparently supposed to treat as normal occurrences at this point in time.  I laid with Lucie for awhile where she had a confirmed seizure.  I finally gave up on sleep and got up and came downstairs to vacuum the floor... at 6:00 in the morning.... because someone had spilled popcorn all over the living room.  After  getting dressed and distributing morning medications to now two of my children (being careful not to mix anything up), I made multiple phone calls to rearrange our daily schedule for another set of appointments and while I was doing that FPIES baby thought he should eat some dog food.

All before my first cup of (too weak) coffee.

I spent breakfast on the phone while my older boys argued with the middle two about keeping the younger two safe.  In the past 3 days they have seen three tonic-clonic seizures (formerly known as grand mal) and are all entirely stressed beyond belief.

I don't blame them.  Two of them are due to perform in the Nutcracker in a week and are in the middle of extended full cast rehearsals.

Even right now I had exactly seven minutes between laying Tomas down for a nap and when he woke up to swap laundry and think about what on earth I want to say to you.  I never ate breakfast, although at the moment a second cup of coffee (stronger this time) feels more urgent.  Something has to go and blogging has to be at the front of the list.   I doubt it will be the last thing, but I just couldn't disappear without a word, writing means to much to me.  I unfollowed 100% of my friends list (yes even my best friends) and a good number of blogs last week but that is going to have to be just the beginning.

 I still have a book coming out some day with Peanut Butter & Grace.  I've lost track of how many times I've been given a projected timeline dte so I won't promise you anything but I'll try to come tell you when it's available.    My page will still be here if you have people that you want to direct to the archives or previous articles.  The quick start guide will stay, the email list will not.  My Teachers Pay Teachers store will stay, just don't plan on it growing.

I hope that this goodbye is temporary.  A season while we get through this period of adjustment and find our new normal again.  I will not delete the blog's Facebook page and I am undecided about Instagram.  While I close this post, I'm sitting next to Logan doing reading work and spelling sentences with the moveable alphabet.   He just wrote "mug and cup" because the picture was both.  These kids will be my saving grace...for each other too I think.

A friend this morning asked me why we are always so blessed.   I have no idea.  But I will tell you that is the best, most useful thing, anyone has said to me in the last two weeks.   I don't need to be asked why we are so "unlucky" or if I've tried the latest xyz to keep my kids healthy.  I don't need to be told that my lot in life is unfair.

I don't know why we've been so blessed but I'm learning to count it all as joy.  (James 1: 2-3)



"As to the past, let us entrust it to God's mercy, the future to divine providence...... Our task is to live holy the present moment."    St. Gianna Molla

The Teacher Mom Life

Do you know what happens every time I think I'm going to settle into a new routine and have a groove working for me?   Life.   Life happens.  I bet life happens to you too!   Life the last couple weeks for us have been all about a sick (again!) four year old.  We are working on figuring all of that out still, but in the meantime, it is times like this that inspire me to dig into the Montessori method and what it means to us as homeschoolers.

Many of my readers are not homeschoolers and some of the ones that are do not use primarily a Montessori approach.  This was one of the most useful pieces of information I learned from a recent survey I sent out via our homeschool email list (the one I didn't follow up on in a timely manner!).  Most readers who responded are looking for ways to incorporate the Montessori materials or philosophy in a manageable way to specific subject areas.

Since you are all coming from different places with Montessori knowledge and skills, here is some from-the-archives inspiration.

Why Montessori?
What IS Montessori anyways?
10 Things Montessori Isn't
Montessori Homeschooling and My Large Family

It's fun for me to read through posts from my archives because I can see the many ways our homeschool has grown and changed over the year.  While keeping a blog dedicated primarily to our homeschooling is a lot of work at times, the ongoing record keeping is one of the biggest advantages!  As always the Home-Based Montessori Quick Start Guide is the fastest way to find inspiration for a specific subject or age.  You can also subscribe directly to the email list (there is a text box in the right sidebar and a purple pop-up in the bottom right corner of your screen) to be sure your voice is included in future surveys.

October 2016 In Review


 Happy Halloween!

We really aren't much into celebrating Halloween- every few years we give it a try and then go back to several years in a row without.  We prefer our annual All Saints Day celebration and observances.  But since it IS October 31, I figured I would at least acknowledge this holiday hated by teachers everywhere.

But let's see...October...

What the FPIES?


October 14th is Global FPIES day.

Why do I care?

Well it turns out this little guy has it.  We will be too busy managing this rare disease to blog about it often, but I wanted to take a chance today to explain a little more about it for those who (like the me of two months ago) have never heard of it before.