Thursday, June 30, 2011

Intentional Living

Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living

Have you been to It is a wonderful network of blogs headed up by Tsh Oxenrider, which includes Simple Mom, Simple Kids, Simple Bites, Simple Organic, and Simple Homeschool. This past winter I purchased Tsh's book, Organized Simplicity, and it has made such a difference in my life!

In the her book, Tsh encourages you to think and write about what your family's personal life purpose is. Tsh then has you go through and account for every minute of a typical day. She has you write down what you do and how much time you spend doing it, even including going to the restroom! Then she has you write down what you would like to do more of. Finally she has you compare the list of how you spend your time to the list of things you'd wish you could do more, against your family's own "life's purpose" statement. This little gem of guidance from Tsh has really changed our perspective and helped to make life more enjoyable and feel more fulfilled for us. I'll explain more!

I think for some people, life becomes so busy and hectic and then you throw homeschooling in the mix and it can just feel downright chaotic! We start building up these long to do lists weather on paper, in our mind, or in the form of bookmarks on our computer. These are lists of things that we never have a chance to do, to read, or explore. People we'd like to visit with, places we'd like to take the children to, but never seem to have the time. After reading Organized Simplicity, my husband and I really started scrutinizing our life. We realized that we wanted to spend as much time possible guiding our children and spending time as a family. We found out that we could use our time to better accomplish the things we wanted to do, and cut out the things that we found ourselves doing unintentionally, which also tended to drain our time away.

Here's an example: We like to watch movies as a family occasionally. We purposely don't have tv, but we did have a Netflix subscription. While looking for something appropriate to watch that fit our criteria, (good message, kids being respectful towards parents, modest dress, etc.), we would browse the online catalog for what seemed like minutes when in actuality, a whole half hour had unintentionally gone by! We found this happening a lot, and decided that we could better use our time as a family together. My husband ended up cancelling our subscription to Netflix to help us avoid falling in to that rut of always defaulting to movies for family time. We still watch movies together, but not as often. Instead, we've replaced most of our movie watching with bike riding, working on a project together, or just some singing and playing along to music. In turn, we feel much more fulfilled because we are getting up and doing something and actually interacting with the children. It's really a lot more fun for us and it feels good to not feel that nagging feeling in the back of our mind. You know, the one that says's stuff like,  "You should really take the kids for a bike ride" or "I've got to get around to trying that new cookie recipe the kids and I have been wanting to make".

This idea of living intentionally according to your life's purpose comes in to play for homeschooling as well. Are inanimate objects getting in the way of the "animate objects" (people) in your life? I found myself being affected by too much clutter in the form of too many kitchen utensils, toys, books and more. When the kids had a science project to try out, I would sometimes feel a cringe because of the mess it would make or because I had to make time to get the ingredients. I found that I had to put things into perspective, and make way for the people and things that really do mean a lot to me. I've gotten rid of things to make room in the kitchen for the children's items. It feels so good when they can easily find something they need for a school project. It brings about a peace and certainly less frustration. Anything I can do to simplify life as the mother and wife in a family of eight, is fine by me! My husband and I have made the commitment to home schooling, it is part of our family's purpose  in this stage of our life. Because of this, we have had to make necessary adjustments to make everything run more smoothly. It is definitely an ongoing process for us, and it will be different for everyone, depending on your personal life's purpose. I love when the children and I can sit together and just make art. I love to explore different mediums with them, but I need the time and space to do so. Again, for me, keeping clutter (things we don't absolutely need or want) and unintentional living to a minimum, is the key to making things like art time jump from the "To Do" list to the "We Did It!" list.

Being a busy mother, I also definitely need time for myself and for spending time with my husband. We've recently started going on dates more frequently, and I've even started tackling the stack of decorating magazines I've been wanting to get to, but had never made the time for. I still have a way to go and everyday presents new challenges and distractions, but I can definitely say that I feel like I am enjoying the journey to the fullest more than I've ever let myself before.

So what do you think? Are there certain things and activities keeping you from leading a more intentional and fulfilled life? How does that come in to play regarding homeschooling for you?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How We Montessori Blog

Thanks to Montessori Print Shop for introducing me to How We Montessori. Looks like a great blog, go check it out! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Practical Life Supplies

Another place I didn't mention you can get a wonderful deal on child size kitchen items is your local restaurant supply company. A lot of times you will find that they sell to the general public and carry many of the same items as some of the Montessori catalogs do. Find out if there is a restaurant supply company in your area and take a catalog with you. Look for items like ramekins, small pitchers or creamers, condiment bowls, etc. You may even find some cultural items like Asian rice bowls and sushi dishes.

Be sure to also check your local ethnic food stores for child size kitchen and practical life items. At a Mexican grocery store in my area, you can find a child size wash board, mortar and pestle, and child size broom. We are also very lucky to have a diverse Asian market nearby and have found some nice pieces to add to our practical life kitchen items.

Have you shopped at an ethnic food store or restaurant supply company for your Montessori classroom?

Friday, June 17, 2011

National Gallery of Art for Kids!

My 7 year olds art work
The National Gallery of Art has some absolutely wonderful resources for kids online! The picture above was created on their website by my 7 year old. The NGA has an interactive art zone that children can use like the one used to create the picture above, and it also has some WONDERFUL video tours for kids! We really enjoyed watching The Voyage of Life (1842) by Thomas Cole. They also have a resource section for students and teachers, as well as a material lending program!

Let me know what you think of these resources! We've also got the Child Size Masterpieces collection and the children have really enjoyed those as well. Montessori Print Shop also has an amazing collection of famous artist 3-part cards and more. The NGA website could be a great extension to those. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cleaning up & Clearing out!

It's that time of the year again folks! Cleaning up and clearing out the classroom to make way and be ready for the school year this Fall. I've been contemplating what to sell and what to keep so that all of the children will fit in our little home classroom. So far, here are a few items I've decided to sell:

North American Montessori Center(NAMC)  6-9 Botany Manual in like new condition! This is their latest manual. Asking $80 with Free shipping within the continental U.S.A.

North American Montessori Center(NAMC)  6-9 Zoology Manual in like new condition! This is their latest manual. Asking $80 with Free shipping within the continental U.S.A.

North American Montessori Center(NAMC)  3-6 Classroom guide, also asking $80 with Free shipping within the continental U.S.A.

A set of 12 beautiful insects in acrylic blocks for observation. $20 with Free shipping within the continental U.S.A Sold

Montessori Colored Tablets 3rd box. $40 with Free shipping within the continental U.S.A.

Email me at montessoricandy at if you are interested in any of the items mentioned above!

Speaking of bugs in acrylic, here's a link to an eHow article on how to make your very own!
How To Set Bugs in Acrylic

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

U.S.A. Map Giveaway!

Copyright Montessori Print Shop
Jennifer at Montessori Print Shop is giving away wooden U.S.A. Montessori Puzzle map. She's so sweet and generous! Check out my interview with her HERE, and be sure to enter the giveaway at Jennifer's Montessori Print Shop blog.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Can You Make Your Baby Smarter, Sooner?

I had an interesting conversation with a very sweet and caring kindergarten teacher last night. She was so saddened to see how many children enter her classroom without even knowing how to color! It just broke my heart to hear that. This teacher was saying that if parents would only spend a little time with their children, instead of opting to let them play video games or watch television, these children would be better equipped to begin their school years.

Interesting story over at NPR about video's marketed as helping to make your baby smarter.
The bottom line of the story? Parents, interact with your children! :) Reading, talking, and just plain spending time with your children will benefit them socially, cognitively, emotionally, and physically. Mom and dad are way better for baby than any "educational" video out there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June Inspiration

Here's a little June/Summer inspiration from around the web to get you and your  child's creative juices flowing. Have fun exploring these links, but more importantly, get up and try some of the ideas once you've been inspired!

Have you read Counting Coconuts? It is one of my very favorite blogs for Montessori inspired children's activities. Mari-Ann does a great job of sharing what is on her Montessori shelves for the month, as well as giving great ideas for making I spy bottles, sensory tubs and more! Check out what she's got on the shelf for the month of June.

The Crafty Crow

The Crafty Crow was created by Cassie as a place to keep track of all the great arts and crafts ideas for kids around the web. Check out her growing list of links for Summer and Outside activities.

Rhythm of the Home
is a seasonal online, family magazine. With categories such as Warmth, Play, Celebration, and Connection, you're bound to be inspired!