Archive of ‘Child Development’ category

Fall Rhythm

It’s that time of year again. The time when I re-look at our family rhythm and crave the simplicity and calm of fall.

This year’s rhythm looks a bit different since Gavin is now in the mix. He just turned one and a beautiful mix of snuggly and wild man. Nap times are very much part of of rhythm. Please note, that the times I have listed are ranges. Some things could vary by about an hour. And some days, we have to surrender and roll with the punches.

~ 6:30 Kids wake up

Morning Math: I set out a simple math activity on the kitchen table for Lydia (just turned 4) to play with while I make breakfast. Somedays, if my husband is home, she ends up just reading books or playing with him instead. I don’t spend time prepping this math activity so it’s not a big deal if she doesn’t do it that day. Examples of what I place out are- Base Ten page with minipulatives, math cubes for pattern work or measuring, puzzle, flashcards with counting rocks, classification sheet or even just a math book. So simple but the 10-15 minutes of her doing these have been awesome for her math skills. I bop in and out and chat with her about the math skill, but keep it very informal. We don’t do any additional math other than day to day life lessons.

Breakfast: We all try to eat at the table together. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. We eat eggs, avocado toast or oatmeal with fresh fruit depending on the mood, weather or amount of time we have.

Habits: Simple morning habits we currently do are-make bed, get dressed, brush hair and teeth. I’m not a big chore person. Lydia helps when I ask her to and often just joins in when I’m doing a chore. There may be a time later in life when we follow a bigger chore chart, but for now I just like her helping be a part of life. For example, after breakfast, she puts her bowl in the sink. Before dinner, she helps set the table. When I’m done with laundry, she carries it back to the bedroom to put her and Gav’s clothes away.

Free Play: Gav plays around the house until he is tired. He isgiving up this morning nap time, which is actually pretty nice. We read together, play babies, swing, and do little chores around the house. Lately, the kids have been playing outside while I sip on my coffee. We are a morning loving house so this is one of my favorite parts of the day.

~9:30-11:30/12:00 Morning Adventure: Many of our mornings we have an outing. I’m excited that the majority of our outings are short this fall. I love getting out with the kids but dread the exhausted baby time after a long outing. So this fall, I’ve worked hard to have our outings be 2-3 hours versus all day affairs. Snack time is somewhere in there. I have started packing a little lunchbox for Lyd most days for her morning snack. It usually has a fruit, veggie and a a nut/seed/cracker.

Monday: “Mom Mom Day” Lydia goes over and plays/learns with my mom. It is often full of gardening, pretend play and reading. Gav will be home with me which is neat to get some one on one time with him.

Tuesdays: Mix Up Days. Some days we will do an independent outing like the library, zoo or a park. Somedays we will join in on the Tuesday morning nature school class. Most days, I think, we will be home.

Wednesdays: Every other week we have Playschool. I teach the group and it is hosted at a state park. There is a mini lesson based on an author study theme and then the kids free play in the woods. The other Wednesday are little pop up events, get together for playdates or do extra grandma time.

Thursdays: Nature School. My mom teaches Nature School. Lydia will learn about soil, bugs, seeds, flowers and trees. They get to go in depth about things like pollination and learn about what types of soils are in our area. Lucky for me, my parents live right down the road for us so this is not only friend time but it is learning time, grandma time and close by. Yay for Thursdays!

Friday: Home. Glorious Home Day!

~12:30 Lunch and Books: We eat smoothies for lunch everyday. If we want crunch, we make it a smoothie bowl and throw granola on top. In the winter, I am sure we will have soup for lunches somedays too. During lunch we read our library books from the basket we keep in the dining room. More about library books and our reading habits in a future post.

~1-3 Quiet Time: Gav is very ready for a nap at this point of the day and Lydia is ready for a break. Lately, I have been putting on a show for Lyd on my computer while I nurse Gav down for a nap. I soak in my snuggles while Lyd takes a breather and watches something. Once I have given myself a break while nursing Gav, I use my ninja skills to escape him and come out of the bedroom. It is usually about 30 minutes. Our rule is, when I come out, if I say it’s time to turn the show off, she turns it off, even if it is in the middle of an episode. She’s pretty good about it. Not perfect, but pretty good. Once in awhile, I will have her play or she will get engrossed in an activity that she doesn’t remember her “show time” that day.

The second half of quiet time is when Lyd and I do “school”. We play and read together. We try to do things that are hard to do with Gav. This may be an art project, board game or reading longer books. For a guide, we use Blossom and Root. It is simple downloadable pdf curriculum that allows us to pick and choose what works for us. It is very Charlotte Mason based and includes studies on composers and artists as well as nature studies, STEM, basic language arts and math, all through play. We do the Volume 2 for most sections but use Kindergarten for reading. We don’t do all he lessons every week but it is nice to have something to open and run with. I don’t have any major learning goals for this time as Lydia is only four. It is just a nice time to get in the habit of working together and bond through special time. She is working on reading and learning how to explore her own interests. We are learning about artists and enjoying the creative process of art inspiration. our school time usually ends with a big stack of books and cuddles.

3-6 Free Play: We then free-play the rest of the day. I’m pretty strict about staying home in the afternoons. If we don’t, they miss out on their creative free play time and their moods end up cranky and overdone the rest of the evening or the next day. Not to mention, we all LOVE afternoon free play time. It is a block of 3-4 hours of play. We spend a lot of this time in the mud kitchen and backyard. We also spend a lot of time in the playroom bopping around playing dress up or store. Once a week my mother in law comes over to play with the kids during this time. Our afternoons are a treasured part of childhood full of play, without homework and tons of scheduled activities. There will be years soon that I am sure we will have a sport or music practice in the afternoons, but until then I am treasuring these early days.

Dinner Prep. I love cooking so normally I would say that this is a great part of our day. But you know…kids…pre dinner. I try to meal prep in that afternoon time so I can just turn on music and jam with the kids while I cook. Somedays it is one of the best times of our day. Somedays it is a whiney mess. Somedays I text my husband at 4:30 and say “take out please”. But we get fed, usually something pretty nutritious.

~6:00 Dinner. We eat dinner when Zach gets home. If he is going to particularly late, I eat with the kids and save a plate but he is pretty good about coming home for dinner, even if he pulls out his laptop later in the evening to finish up work.

After dinner, it is”Children’s Hour”. This is simply when we all play around in the playroom as a family. Depending on the weather, and moods, we go on a family walk. Sometimes it is 20 minutes, other times it is stretched to almost an hour. No matter how long, it is a cherished time for all.

Brush Up.

~6:45 Books with my husband and Lyd. I nurse Gav to sleep.

After the kids go to bed, Zach and I do a nightly clean up. Zach often works at night. I often fall asleep early.

Love love love hearing about other people’s systems and rhythms. When is your favorite part of the day?

Mud Kitchen

3 generations. 3 kitchens. One love for cooking.

My mom doesn’t have a Mexican bone in her body but you would never know that if you tasted her tamales or huevos rancheros. And don’t get me started on her green chili soup and candies jalelanos. She has a gift in the kitchen, one that I’ve had the honor of watching her cultivate from the bar stool across from her. I’ve been her sou chef since i was a little girl and have the way her wedding ring sparkles as she holds an onion steady with one and chops with her other cemented in my memory bank. I’ve laughed at her dance moves and disco voice as she uses her spatula as a mic. And I’ve been grateful to be her taste tester.

I’ve never farmed nor does my garden look pleasing to the eye at the moment but you would never know that if you tasted my vegetable soup or chicken pot pie. I have a passion for using fresh herbs in my cooking and am fascinated by how a twig of rosemary can transform a dish. My cooking is often interrupted to pretend to be the wolf as my three year old trots around as Little Red Riding Hood, a frequent scene that I know I will miss greatly when this season in life is over. We have some dance moves too, they mostly include ballet twirls to some old school country as I use the mixing spoon as a mic. And I’m grateful to have my own little taste tester.

She’s never cooked a complete meal in her life but you would never know that as she stirs and pours in her mud kitchen. She carefully gathers leaves and flowers from the yard to add to her muddy creation. She twists and turns, slowly mixing her soup one moment and frantically pouring water and tossing in dirt the next. She always has a song in her head; her three year old voice belting out, her hips do a little sway, and a stick transformed into a mic in her hands. And I’m grateful to once again be a taste tester, even if it is a bit muddy.

3 kitchens. 3 generations. One love for cooking.

My parents made Lydia a mud kitchen for her second birthday. It has shelves and hooks for dishes, a stove top with buttons, a dog bowl sink and an oven that is always baking some delicious cookies. It’s the most well-loved and used present she’s ever received. She spends hours outside foraging sticks, filling her tea kettle with water and creating meals. She frequently falls into the roll of the mom while cooking. She tends to her baby dolls and stuffed animals that seem to find their way outside to join her kitchen. The learning that happens when a pot overflows, the mud is too dry, or the flower petals float on the water’s surface is invaluable. And the memories made in the kitchen continue…

Kitchens are a place for creating, experimenting an connecting. They are a place to both reflect on the day but also to just be completely absorbed in the textures she smells of your creation. They are a place to gather and bond over a mutual appreciation for kinship or food.

Mud kitchens are no different. If you’re searching for my daughter pre-breakfast or between 3 and 5pm, check her kitchen. She’s often engrossed in stirring, patting, mixing and foraging ingredients from the yard. She was gifted the kitchen from my parents for her second birthday. We are over a year in and it’s not an exaggeration to say that she plays in her kitchen daily. My parents did an excellent job creating a space that is simple yet had wonderful little details that allow her imagination to explode. They created little knobs for the oven that pulls down to bake muffins and cakes. They selected a dog bowl for the sink so she can easily pull it out to dump it when she’s done doing her muddy dishes. They placed little hooks on the back wall to store her well broken in pans.

Her dishes and pans are a hodge podge. We love this Melissa and Doug set because they are light weight but durable. We also have had luck snagging cheap utensils and cups from thrift shops. A little water station has been a wonderful addition because it allows for more independence in her cooking adventures.

One of my favorite ways to surprise my daughter is by adding a new element to the kitchen. Recently it was transformed into a cut flower shop, using old flowers we are gifted when my son was born. I’ve also welcomed painted rocks and adorable little pumpkins. Fresh herbs and citrus slices add another layer of sensory to the kitchen as well. In the summer months, I’ve added ice cubes to some bowls. I’m still plotting some new winter surprises- suggestions welcomed.

 

To answer questions that I’ve received about the kitchen. Yes, it does get extremely messy. I highly recommend that you put your kitchen within reach of a hose to spray it down. Yes, our kitchen is in a covered area because the covered space was already in our yard. I don’t think that is needed though. Yes, I resume her to clean up her own kitchen. This is a new one for me but I love it. She has a mini broom that she sweeps the floors and I encourage her to put her dishes away at the end of her play session, like I do in our home kitchen. No, she doesn’t try to actually eat her concoctions. However, I’m sure she would have if she has it when she was under two. We have that to look forward to with our son. Yes, I do play with her in the mud kitchen. There is a good healthy balance of independent play and parent-child play. I love mushing mud, adding in flower petals and if course sitting down to enjoy sone freshly made soup with her.

So yes, I’m just as in love with the mud kitchen as my daughter is. It was made with love by her grandparents and is played with with love by the little chef. 3 generations. 3 kitchens. One love for cooking.

Summer Rhythm

I often think of rhythm as the webbing that holds are weeks together. Without sending children to school and without working a consistant schedule, I find that having a strong home rhythm is even more important.

 

We generally use meal times as our rhythm anchors. Our rhythm hasn’t changed much since the fall, which I am very grateful for but it will very soon since I’m 38 weeks today! I’m eager to see how our little Gavin fits into the rhythm and how it will need to be adjusted for his needs. I find that the beautiful thing about rhythm rather than routine, it can ebb and flow to fit our lives.

 

When you are reading this, please note that these times are fairly flexible.

 

 

~ 7:00 Morning Rhythm

 

Lydia wakes up. I have been trying to have a little art “invitation to play” set up for her. She loves it. I also usually give her a tiny serving of fresh fruit to hold her over until I make breakfast. I prep this the night before so it is super simple.

 

We begin with bit of outdoor playtime, lately straight for the sandbox, sidewalk chalk or pool. She tends to stay close to the house in the early morning.

 

Breakfast- We still do a variation of eggs almost everyday for breakfast. Lydia sometimes requests oatmeal or yogurt so I accommodate those easy requests. I make our lunch smoothies while I am already in the kitchen.

 

After breakfast, we naturally settle in to read books while I have a little more coffee.

 

Then it is free-play, usually indoors, but these summer months pull us outside too. This is when I do household chores like laundry.

~10:00 Morning Adventure

 

I have been blessed with friends and an incredible play-based community. This lends itself from doing great developmental exploring any day of the week. I have been trying to be very mindful about what we agree to join in on. I look at proximity, time outside, child-led interest and my own enjoyment.

 

Mondays- Home Day

Tuesdays- “Mom Mom” time. Lydia spends the morning with my mom.

Wednesdays- Roots+Wings Playschool

Thursday- Home Day

Friday- Playdate, usually at a local coffee shop with a playground!

 

We have snack time during our morning adventure. This is usually fresh fruit and some type of nut or seed.

~12:30 Lunch

We try to get home from our adventures for lunch most days. I could push it and keep us out longer, but the flow of our afternoon works so much better when we are back by 12:30 or 1:00pm.

 

Lunch is smoothies and often something crunchy like crackers to satisfy our snacky needs. I keep a big basket of library books in our dining room so they don’t get mixed up with our other books. We read these while she eats.

 

We usually do lunch at the dining room table. In the summer, we tend to gather on the porch though.

 

~1:00 Quiet Time

My daughter doesn’t nap anymore but this post-lunch time remains very dear to my heart. She plays quietly in the room and reads stories with me.  Once in awhile, if she isn’t sleeping and I feel like she needs some shut off time, she watches a show.

 

I often have the white noise machine going at this time. We have one that has a timer, so after some quiet play, if I need a break, I set the timer and she knows she has to stay in her room until it turns off.

 

Potty Training hint: Put a mini potty in the room to stop the “neeeeeed” to come out of the room to go.

 

~3:00 Free Play

Our afternoons remain our free play time at home. We explore in the backyard, create art in the playroom and just bop around. Generally this is a two hour time block, even in the summer heat or the winter cold. This is when I tend to the garden, clean up the yard and water plants.

~5:00 Dinner Prep

I retreat the the kitchen to prep dinner. Lydia often helps me with this prep or plays with play dough or draws at her little bench right by the kitchen.

 

Lately she has been into audio books. I put on a story for her from Spotify, get out a book that matches the story and pull out a felt set that matches the story. She loves this and will often listen to fairy tales 3 or 4 times while I finish dinner prep. I try to clean all the dishes that I can while I go so after dinner clean up goes fast.

 

This is part of the day that I know will be harder with a newborn. Ayy!

 

~5:30 Dinner

We gather, as a family, at the dinner table.  She sits and chats with my husband and I at the dinner table until she is full. After awhile, she is free to go play in the playroom, directly off our dining room, while we remain at the table.

 

~6:00 Family Time

Kitchen clean up. Playroom clean up. Family playtime or stroller walk.

 

~6:30 Bedtime Routine

Sometimes she hops in the shower or bath, depending on her level of dirt.  But it is always brush teeth, books then bed. We do about twenty minutes of reading and then its time for her to go to bed.

Observer of Play

I’m an observer of play.

Yes, I do run a one day a week playschool, am a former teacher, and lead a playgroup. But those super prestigious(ha!) titles don’t compare to what I feel is my role in my community.


I watch little hands interact with dirt and sticks. I watch feet stomp and jump off rocks. I watch bodies twist coming down slides. I watch shoulders tense and ease as the children engages in a new game.

I listen to spontaneous songs belted out in the middle of a field. I listen to giggles as a centipede crawls on messy hands. I listen to the sweetest conversations as baby dolls interact. I listen to invitations to play, followed by engagement or toddler politics.

And I observe the parents while these incredible learning experiences are happening. I observe their words, or lack of. I observe their guidance, or simply their presence. And I observe their eyes, so clearly falling in love with their child over and over again, while they watch play.

It is such an incredible honor to take the time to observe this.

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