July 25, 2014

week three of Montessori

Here we are closing out week three of Montessori and, yet again, we're all smiles around here.

Lovie's still in the bigger kid class (4-6 year old) and it only makes sense. I think they had her in with the under 4's that first week because she was brand new to Montessori, but once they discovered how much she knows, they moved her on up. In fact she told me just yesterday that they have a new student in her class but he's just new from the other class... and he's four, too. (That's why I'm guessing they start new-to-Montessori kids in with the younger kids.)

This week she's been doing a lot of punching activity.

No, they don't have her practicing to become Layla Ali. They're having her pin-punch to strengthen her grip to hold a pencil and write.

I'd never heard of this before this week so I did some researching into it and it's quite badass, really. The other day when I picked her up, she forgot something in her room, so we went in and she pointed to a picture on a wall, "That's one of the toys in the room!"  It's was a pin-punching of the Pink Tower that a student did! I read somewhere else during my discovery of pin-punching, that one student (not sure where or when) was so fascinated with pin-punching States that she spent weeks on a project of pin-punching out every single State of the US- and glue each of them onto a map!

Most of what Lovie punched this week were shapes like rectangles and squares but then one day she came home with a punched shape of South Africa! And I guess they sing some Continent song that she really wants me to learn so we can sing it together. And did I know that Australia was a continent?

All the reports I get back tell me she's a great listener and especially loves to help out at lunch. And when I ask Lovie about that she gets all excited telling me about how she's able to set out real plates and real cups and help cut with a real knife and serve real food.

Anyway, week three has been fantastic-- just like the other two. Probably even more so actually, because now when I pick her up, she's playing with several children instead of just the one 6-year-old she had befriended. In fact, she hasn't mentioned much about said 6-year-old.

And bedtimes are still a freaking unbelievable dream. Every single night, she's snoring away within minutes of me starting to tell her a story. And absolutely NO arguments at when bedtime is.

July 21, 2014

DGMETT Blueberry Cobbler: YUM!

Trust me on this. Really.

I followed this recipe along with the advice from one of the reviewers and it's just so so so easy and SO DAMN TASTY. Really.

• 6 tablespoons butter
• 3/4 cup + 1 Tb. all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup milk

• 3 cups frozen blueberries
• 1 Tb. sugar

• Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, and heat oven to 350 degrees.
• Put butter in an 8-inch square or 9-inch round pan; set in oven to melt. When butter has melted and browned a little, remove pan from oven.
• Whisk flour, 3/4 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in small bowl. 
• Add milk; whisk to form a smooth batter.
• Add blueberries to butter in pan. 
• Pour batter atop berries.
• Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tb. of sugar.
• Bake until batter browns and fruit bubbles, 50 to 60 minutes.

Let cool a bit before diving in. I ate this without any ice cream but holy cannoli I can imagine how awesome a scoop of vanilla would be atop this warmed cobbler!

July 18, 2014

week two of Montessori

It's the end of the second week of Montessori and things are still progressing amazingly well. It's truly surreal how easy a transition this has been and I feel so immensely blessed as a result.

We did our research before choosing this school. We visited several other schools in the area, though I admit the one she's in is the only Montessori school we visited. Still, we knew it would be a good fit. In fact, we discussed how it was as if the school (Montessori) had been made for Lovie.

And so far we are right. It's a great fit.

The first four days of the program (last week), Lovie, age 4.5, spent with the toddlers and 3-6 year olds because it's the summer program and enrollment isn't as full as it is during regular school year. (During the regular school year, Montessori schools group the children in three year gaps: 15 months-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12. They do this because Maria Montessori discovered that children thrive from interacting, socializing, and learning from each other [in a nutshell-- there are GOBS of videos and stories on this to prove the theory].)  She seemed happy with it for the most part and was even falling asleep during rest time. She made a friend, a 6 year old girl, who was in the "bigger kid" class, but she talked about doing things in the younger class and reports from her teacher were really great.

Then (last) Friday when I picked her up, Lovie came running out to me with all smiles and her teacher told me she had spent the day with the older classroom- and loved it. Honestly, I wasn't too surprised because she really does know a lot already and she gravitates more toward older children. That's part of the reason we wanted to move her out of daycare/preschool (where she spent the last six months in the Kindergarten class). I was, however, surprised the move happened within the first week, but assumed maybe it was just a trial.

But then on Monday after Taye dropped her off, he called me and told me the teacher called after him before he left and gave him Lovie's pillow and blanket because "she won't be needing them anymore" since "they don't take naps" in the bigger kid classroom. Apparently, they moved her in there for good and that's where's she been all week!

The first couple days of the week were a bit rough upon pickup because of the absolutely no nap thing. Her attitude when I picked her up was short. She'd snap at me for the sun shining too brightly on her. I didn't take it personally as I knew she was exhausted and I know how I get when I'm too tired. The past couple of evenings have been much better as far as her attitude when I pick her up. She's not as short with me. In fact, things are wonderful and calm and really, really nice! She's so incredibly happy ALL the time. She wakes up with a smile, she goes to sleep with a smile, she bathes with a smile...

On top of all this, being with the older kids and not napping has resulted in an incredibly easy bedtime routine. Finally! The kid is exhausted come bedtime and has been falling asleep by 8:30 all week (opposed to the 9, 9:30, or even 10PM [even though her bedtime is always consistently at 8--TV off at 7-7:30])! And because Taye takes her to school now, she can sleep in as late as she wants (usually up by 7, 7:30 max).

So week two of Montessori has been fantastic! Lovie's super excited about her notebook at school, along with all that she does with the big kids (and that she's not a napper anymore, of course), and I'm super excited because the transition has been an awesome one and she's back to falling asleep before me in the evenings!

July 15, 2014

all smiles

If I could pick one word to describe last week it would be "Smiles".

(end of first day of Montessori. she was just laying on the couch watching tv and smiling.)

Smiles on her first day at her new school.
Smiles when picking her up.
Smiles while watching TV and decompressing.
Smiles while eating dinner.
Smiles while getting ready for bed and going to sleep.
Smiles the next day and next day and next.

Not just from her either.

The first couple of days were a little rough for me, personally, but that's because I've been so used to driving the sometimes hour drive home with her in the back seat jabbering away. Or singing. (The singing had become so much fun the past six months since she started letting us listen to the radio instead of "kids music." She's got a bunch of favorite songs that she sings along to and it's just a riot to be a part of it.) This week, I'm already kind of used to her not being in the back seat. It still sucks but her happiness, her excitement, her smiles make it all worth it.

I've really come to absolutely love this new school and the Montessori life. It just makes so much sense. I've since been doing even more research than I had prior and I'm getting more and more amazed every day.

The biggest thing for me is when I pick her up. At preschool when I picked her up it was always complete chaos. Always. Someone was always crying and/or screaming and/or running around like a mad dog. I hated it, but I learned to accept it because that's just the way it always was.

Now? It's not anything like that. Even when I pick her up and everyone is outside in the yard it's still calm. There may be some running around SINCE THEY ARE OUTSIDE but it's not like they've been freed after being held captive for a year. It's just kids running around. There's never any screaming or crying or yelling or pushing or shoving or whining. It's really quite surreal most days. How on earth can toddlers and preschoolers and young grade-school aged children get along so well all the time?

The environment. It's the calm environment. The calm, loving, independent environment.

I just don't understand why the Montessori way isn't more implemented in schools. Or why there aren't more Montessori schools that go further than just up to age 5 or 6.

I've learned a lot about Montessori the past several weeks and months. I feel very lucky to have discovered this school so close to where we live. But mostly I feel lucky to have found a place where Lovie will be able to blossom into herself. I'm excited. And I'm all smiles... much like her.

July 7, 2014

new chapter begins

This morning Lovie walked into a brand new (to her) school. It's a Montessori school very nearby where we live. We've been wanting to make the change for some time now, but today was their first opening (day 1 of Summer Program).

We've driven by this school hundreds of times. I've suggested we look into it long ago, but its location and outside appearance kept us from taking that leap till about a year ago when things at Lovie's daycare/preschool were starting to grate on us. I'm not going to speak negatively of the daycare/preschool. It was her home for 4.5 years. They helped Lovie learn to sit and crawl and walk and eat with a fork and use the bathroom. They helped Lovie learn to love to look at books and words and letters and numbers. They helped Lovie learn to socialize.

But it was beyond time to make this move. Lovie needs more.

Yes daycare/preschool was both a daycare and preschool, but it was more of a daycare than a preschool. And I'm not saying Lovie should be "schooled" the entire day she's at school (she's there 5 days a week, 9 hours a day), but I do think she would benefit from more than what was being offered. At home, Lovie is super close to reading. We're spelling new words every single day. At school, they weren't doing any of this with her. She needs more attention. She needs to know that her love of learning is a fantastic thing. Not that she wasn't learning that at preschool because obviously she was learning this from somewhere. But at daycare/preschool, it was more about containing the children and keeping them from hurting one another. They weren't really encouraged to do much of anything but play and that's great and very needed in child development, but it became abundantly clear that Lovie was ready for more.

So last Thursday I brought in a big cake and we said goodbye to that chapter of our lives. And I cried. A lot. The teachers wouldn't stop hugging Lovie. They wouldn't stop saying such wonderful things (her Kindergarten teacher wrote a note to her: "You made me laugh so much my stomach hurt. That's what I'll miss the most. We'll miss you. Good luck at your new school. Be happy, always.") They made a big card for her. They sang a song to her. The kids lined up to give her hugs. Some teachers insisted on more than one hug.

I couldn't help but to cry.

And this morning, she started her new adventure at her new school.

I can't wait to pick her up and hear all about it.