Keeping House

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. 
 -Helen Keller
Smelling the beautiful scent of lavender essential oil float through the air, rearranging the toys to present new learning opportunities, singing while I make dinner with my mini sous chef, and embracing the imperfections of my beautifully ordinary life. These are the things that I live for and what make my heart smile.
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Many people have asked me when I plan to go back to work, what I do all day, and if I am going to go crazy without being mentally stimulated. I stumble on my words and look around for a graceful and pleasing response, but I haven’t found it yet.
I don’t plan to go back to work. I plan to run start-ups from my home and focus on teaching my children.
The balance of my day is a wonderful mix of leaving the house for playdates, library time and errands, and doing work from my phone and desktop, yet having the home our main base.
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 I am very mentally stimulated. I have this whole world of homemaking to explore- cooking from scratch (Ok, not all the time. I am a sucker for pizza of any kind!), making my own cleaning products, and learning about different methods of play and learning for Lydia. I attend webinars, masterminds and read endless material on small businesses and marketing.
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My life may not be glamorous. I may wear gym clothes for three days straight and rock the mom bun 90% of the time. I may shake my head when I feel like my day is full of washing our cloth diapers, cleaning up messes and reheating my coffee five times. But it is fulfilling. Homemaking is a calling, one that I am humbled that I have the honor to take on.
P.S. As you all know, it is not all fun and games. It is messy. It is exhausting. It is hard. Whether you are working and are single, a stay at home mom of four little ones, or anything in between, you are worthy of praise (and a glass of wine!) and are doing a great job. As one of my favorite designers, Emily Ley,  would say, “Grace, not perfection”, ladies.

The Intelligence of Creativity

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’

— Pablo Picasso

IMG_1656My experience as a special education teacher, and through my childhood as a student, has cemented by belief that there are so many ways to be intelligent. Some people excel at math, some excel at understanding turned within literature. Some excel with empathy and intra-personal skills. Some excel at drawing and photography. Some excel at athletics.

Most have multiple forms of intelligence, which can be fostered if given the opportunity. If you are interested in reading more about multiple intelligences, research Howard Gardner.  He breaks these intelligence down into eight categories:

Musical

Visual-Spacial

Verbal

Logical

Interpersonal

Intrapersonal

Naturalistic

Creativity is a form of intelligence that can be seen through many different talents.

I believe that everyone is creative. I believe that if we foster this creativity and allow ourselves to give into this creativity, we feel a sense of grounding as a human. I also believe there are multiple creative outlets.

IMG_0175My husband is a creative problem solver. He takes in logistical mind and can tap into creative ways to strategies within a company. He is also has great spacial awareness.  He can visualize a map and navigation well. (I’m the type that needs to flip my phone around as I go in order to understand a map! Thank goodness I’m not in charge of navigating big family road trips!)

My dad is very bodily-kinstetically creative and intelligent. He was a tennis coach for many years and was able to teach players how to see their bodies in perspective with the world around them. He is also able to conceptualize a home project and bring it to life with his hands. He has a logical mind as well and can take an idea from start to finish in direct steps.

My mom has an amazing naturalistic intelligence. She creates gorgeous gardens and flower pieces. She can also decipher what makes a landscape beautiful or express how nature can ease your mind. She uses this creative talent in the kitchen as well- taking plants and meats and transforming them into delicious meals to enjoy as a family.

As parents, one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to help them understand and believe in their creative intelligence. 

I have tried to expose Lydia to life experiences that help nourish these intelligences. While I mostly focus on the natural world, we began finger painting when she was very young. She loves the sensory experience of painting. It always starts off calm, her gracefully sticking her finger in the paint. Within a minute, it turns into a full on sensory experience of mushing, splattering, squishing, crinkling, giggling and me preventing her from eating her art.

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Painting with their feet is a wonderful way to add sensory input into their day. You can sing “jumping songs”, help them walk across their arts and who doesn’t love little baby foot print art?

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Tummy time art was one of our favorites. Sometimes I just played her on a blanket or threw a towel over a Boppy pillow. My personal favorite was my husband’s idea of putting her on our corn hole board to prop her up. As you can see, she thought this idea was pretty awesome.

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As she is getting older, I can see her artwork change. Yes, it still looks like a jumbled mess of colors, but it you look closely, you can see the movement of her hands differing from her original masterpieces. 

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We are blessed with friends that love to get dirty too! One of my favorite things to do is to host painting play dates. Also, if you are a naturally inclined mama, check out Alexandra’s Instagram feed for some inspiration. ( Also, stay tuned for my new recipes for natural paint.  I use all different paints- homemade and some awesome natural ones that you can buy. I’m now trying to stay clear of the regular store bought paint do to the toxins. )

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Above all else, I challenge you to allow yourself the freedom to create. Allow your children to be creative, even if it means spending the ten extra minutes to clean up the mess. 

 

Homemaking Flow

I only have one child and one husband so my laundry duties are not nearly as abundant as some of my other mom friends yet there are times when I find myself with three heaping baskets of clothes and diapers overflowing onto our small laundry room floor. It is just way more fun to play and spend time outside than fold laundry!

But one of the components of Waldorf education that I like the most is allowing children to see adults do work. Waldorf professionals speak about the importance of children watching parents and teachers use their hands to mend, make, and create things. The idea is that we have gotten so far away from taking pride in these small upkeep tasks that children often don’t even learn the skills. The idea of mom or dad sitting at the computer for “work” is too abstract. But seeing mom fold the laundry with a gentle smile, or watch dad cut up the veggies for a delicious omelet is comprehendible to them. The key is having them watch, and help you, do work through movement. It is satisfying to them.

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I also think that children need to be among life, rather the center of life all the time. I say this with my brow raised and a slight smile on my face because this is a work in progress for me. Lydia is spoiled with love and uninterrupted attention, admittedly more so than future children will be because she is our first. I strive to be present with her, as I will with future children. But I am working on the balance. I am working on her playing around me as I prep dinner. I am working on her helping move the laundry from the dryer to the basket then sit as I sign with her while folding the clothes. I am working on her being part of the household tasks rather than me doing them all when she goes to bed or takes a nap.

Transitioning into this flow was difficult for me at first. I felt like I was ignoring her. I felt like I should be sitting and engaging in play with her. But, when I started to research and trust my mom gut, I learned that these household tasks are meaningful for her to watch, that being part of a family means that these tasks need to get done, and that her observing these daily activities help form her pride in her home and her attention to detail, my guilt is slowly drifting away and allowing me to see the beauty of the homemaking flow.

Learning Philosophies

 

As a parent and educator, I am often asked what my plan is for schooling for my little girl. It is always a perplexing question for me because the term “school” has become an interesting term in my mind. I believe in learning, but I like to look at it as an all the time event, not as a decision to make at a particular age. But the answer people are looking for is what type of school I will be sending Lydia to. As of now, the answer to that is that I don’t plan to send Lydia to formal school anytime soon. I plan to expose her to learning experiences throughout the week through museums, library time, play groups, nature walk, traveling and at-home exploring. I plan to allow her to play and learn through make-believe and building.

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I plan to let her run wild outside and see what her body can do. I plan to have her come home and reflect through journaling and narration. I plan to take her to museums and look at art, then come home and create her own masterpieces. I plan to have her go to story time at the library, then come home with a pile of books to read. I plan to take her on trips to learn a world not in our backyard, then come home to reflect on this new adventure.

IMG_5240But formal school? I am still up in the air on this. I want to learn about her learning style ad see the flow of our family. I want to see what is available at the time. I want to be flexible with our decision. The short answer is, I plan to homeschool. The long answer is probably something you don’t have time for. I have beautiful big plans for our family, just like all parents do.  My suggestion for all parents when they go to look into schooling and home learning is to learn all of the different philosophies of learning and see what fits with their family philosophy.

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As of now, we are a bit eclectic. I pull for Waldorf and Charlotte Mason mostly. I am learning more about Reggio and find it very inspiring as well.

I complied a very basic list of education philosophies.

 

Montessori:

  • Windows of learning opportunities
  • Un-interrupted “work time”
  • Multi-age groupings in classroom
  • Focus on sensory experience
  • Learning in a prepared environment
  • Greatly encourages independence
  • Belief that children like to do “real work”
  • Specifically designed materials for learning purposes
  • Specific play/work areas

 

Charlotte Mason:

  • Encourages “living books” and meaningful literature
  • Lessons are short (10-15 minutes)
  • Focuses on habits
  • Daily and weekly nature walks
  • Nature notebooks
  • Art appreciation, artist studies
  • Narration of what child has learned

 

Waldorf:

  • Academics aren’t taught until around 7 years
  • Make-believe play for large parts of the day
  • Story-telling is part of the day
  • Great amount of found materials in classroom/home
  • Predicable structure, focus on rhythm
  • Group learning and collaborative projects
  • Balance of “heart, hand and mind” education
  • Art infused in all subjects
  • Nature-based environment
  • Technology/electronics very limited

 

Reggio:

  • Project based approach
  • Interest based learning
  • Documentation of learning through photos and written work
  • Collaborative learning
  • Open spaces
  • Environment is considered the third teacher
  • Loose parts play

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