Friday, January 13, 2017

Quilting Unit

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I threw together a quilting unit. I have a lot of quilts to work on, (I've finished two since then) and when my sister was out during Halloween, she was helping me with yet another one. So Madeleine had been around and seeing quilts for a while, but I really needed to buckle down and actually make a few. That requires her to be patient and which goes about million times better when she understands why.

So first we talked about patterns. We use a magnetic drawing board and mini m&ms to practice. I put like 8 m&ms down and then she points and says the colors and then has to figure out which one goes at the end.

We also went to the fabric store and talked about colors. Not super exciting but discussing color and good design I think is always important.

When I started cutting the fabric, Madeleine cut paper up at her table.

Then came the laying out the squares for the quilt. She sat next to me (and on the squares) and talked to me about the pattern we were making. It honestly messed up the first quilt because she mixed in some of the reject squares, but it really didn't matter in the end. Just had me scratching my head for a bit about why my quilt was randomly not laying flat. :)

After that I was just sewing, so she didn't help with that. But we got some really awesome books from the library during this time. This was one of the few occasions that I was really blown away by how awesome these books turned out. I originally only grab 3-4 books, but I quickly checked out a few more.

What makes these books so good is they deal with transitions, families, history, death, and many other things, in a very non threatening way. And it wasn't just one culture or anything. There were books about Asian, Black, Native American, and "White" (I guess? I mean there was a Jewish family, French, pioneer, Russian), which showed very diverse illustrations compared to what we are used to.

So here is some of the break down

Shota is about a Native American girl who gets a special sign at her Grandmother's house after her family finds out their apartment complex is going to be torn down by a wealthy sad man. She and her friend help her grandmother make a quilt that saves their community.

The Nesting Quilt and Mooshka both have to do with having a new sibling. I really loved The Nesting Quilt, since it compared making a quilt to birds making a nest. It really made sense to Madeleine.

The Keeping Quilt  was beautiful. It was about a girl who came from somewhere to NYC and missed her home, so her mother made her a quilt. That quilt is then shown to be used by different generations for marriage, new babies, and death. The pictures are mostly black and white so the red quilt really stands out.

The Quilt has a little girl that is given a quilt that her parents out of her old clothes and an adventure she goes on with her dog through the squares. Quilt of Dreams I think was pretty similar? I don't quite remember.

Stitchin' and Pulling was poetry. Madeleine didn't like reading this one. It was here just for the pictures. Cassie's world Quilt was similar. It was a bit too abstract for her to really understand so she didn't like us reading it as much. She really loved the pictures in it.

Oma's Quilt was my favorite. It's about a grandmother who has to go to a nursing home and hates it. The granddaughter and the mother make her a quilt out of all her old things to help the transition and to remember all the amazing things that the grandmother did in her life. The illustrations were beautiful and the story was very sweet.

And the last book is one we own and Madeleine's favorite.

This one is about a little girl who moves and her beloved quilt gets put up in the attic only to be found by a relative who also moves to a new home. Madeleine loves it and has most of it memorized. She loves the actual quilt and I think she finds the moving part relatable since she didn't like the move a year and half ago.

Christmas morning came and the quilt I made for her was unwrapped. She was so excited and even now we talk about how quilts are special and made with love. That's really what this unit taught her. She's excited to help me with the baby's quilt which is what I'm slowly working on now. It will match hers so she keeps talking about it. I like that I can share the history of the quilts in our home with her. She's always asking where the things she has were made, since many of her toys are homemade.  It's fun teaching her about women's history, and I hope when she's a bit older she will want to learn how.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Learning about Waiting

Madeleine is actually a pretty patient kid, but if you ask  her about Christmas or her birthday she'll say,
"I'm not excited. I'm sad, because I have to wait."

She's been exploring more the words "irritated" and "bored" lately, but I figured we could take a quick detour and talk about patience and waiting for a few days, especially since we are waiting on the baby to get big enough to be born.

It's easier than most emotions since she already knows the word "wait". I'm not trying to give her a definition on something that is abstract. "Irritating" has been hard since she doesn't understand how it's different than angry, and bored she gets that it's negative but not really the definition.

Anyway, I had picked up a great book two weeks ago when I was browsing the library called "Emily's Balloon" by Komako Sakai. 

I love this book. It is good on so many levels. But what I liked the most is that the word "wait" isn't anywhere in the book. She loses her balloon in a tree and she has to wait for her mom to get it the next day. This book and "Waiting for Mama" both don't actually end by the child getting what they were waiting for. The books ends with the reader waiting just like the child in the book. This book show her upset and dreaming about all the things that she wants to do , but she knows she wants to wait. I feel like it validated her emotions and made the book more relatable. 

The four I did remember to take a picture of are pretty good. I already mentioned "Waiting for Mama" above. "Waiting" is supposed to be a big hit, but really I don't like it much. Madeleine does though because after I read it once she could "read" it to herself. "Waiting is not Easy" we talked about how people can be annoying when they are waiting. We talked about how waiting can be hard but that doesn't mean we need to be rude or annoying. The "I Am Patient" was actually better than I expected because we were able to talk about situations that Madeleine is really good at waiting. She just learned the phrase "Excuse me" and we talked about how we sometimes have to wait our turn etc.

The last thing we did was think about times we have to wait. Sometimes we have to wait to eat dinner or standing in line. But other times we have to wait a very long time like for a baby to come or for strawberries to be in seasons again. Madeleine is really into "good choices and bad choices", so we ended by talking about how standing close to me is good and screaming or laying on the ground is a bad choice. She reminded me if we take "3 deep breaths" how that was good and then we could stand still. I wish it was that easy right? :)

Winter Solstice

This was one of those things that we talked about more than we actually celebrated. I think in the future I'd like to get one or two small traditions started for the solstice but it didn't happen this year. One of the things I kept struggling with is that it is a pagan holiday, and while the traditions they have are beautiful, it just didn't fit our family. So social media was kind of a bust when it came for ideas.

The more I thought about it, I decided that the coolest thing about it is the night is so long. Most things seem to focus on the fact it is the shortest day, but I like the night, so I wanted to emphasize that more. The moon's influence is seen in my opinion the most at the beach. The tides are something you can physically see and lets face it, we are up for any trip to the beach. Lucky for me, the weather was 47 degrees and no wind. Not too bad at all. So we piled in our car two hours before sunset and went to beach.

It was lovely. It always is, but I love the beach in the off season. I love watching Madeleine at the beach now that she isn't terrified of waves. She can basically run as far as she wants and we don't worry about losing site of her. That leads to one happy tired kid, and lets her explore as much as her little heart wants.

There is so much to explore too since there are less people and trash. Finding this clam still with the animal with it was pretty cool. We have a book about sea life that Madeleine likes flipping through so seeing on in person was neat. We felt how much heavier it was and we could even see the clam sticking out a bit. 

Eventually, we watched the sunset and then we read our solstice books on the stairs down to the beach.

They were both pretty good. The Shortest Day was more in line with the general Earth unit we are doing, but they were both good.

This one was pretty short and simple, but since we are learning about the moon and its phases and the Earth's rotation, it's something we talked about more than anything else. We've been also transition into reading about snow and Winter instead of Fall. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016


Being pretty pregnant and all, Christmas has been a big enough challenge this year. So when Madeleine came home from her nursery school asking when we were going to celebrate Hanukkah, I was shocked. She didn't let it go though. All last week and most of this week she has been talking about it. Honestly, I think she might have been more excited about Hanukkah than Christmas. So I emailed her teachers, and then started getting things ready for our day of Hanukkah.

I'm really lucky that a lot of my favorite customers at Starbucks are Jewish. When I told them that Madeleine had her heart set on Hanukkah, they helped me get a list of what to do and where to get them. They are wonderful, and they even told me about their childish dreams of Christmas and how their parents made their wishes happen. Even Madeleine's teachers sent her home with a little dreidel and book to borrow, so by today everything was almost set. 

First we read some books of course about Hanukkah.

The Story of Hanukkah was really good and religious. 
I have a Little Dreidel was the dreidel song. Turns out there is like 10 verses to it. Madeleine has been learning it at nursery school so she was pretty excited to hear the whole thing.
Then the last book was just a short story about Latkes. It was cute and about helping people.

Then we made dinner. Madeleine had made the applesauce with me earlier this week, so we just had to make the latkes. 

After dinner, we played the dreidel game, ate our jelly donuts, and lit our "menorah".

Madeleine surprised us by knowing what each side of the dreidel meant. She would sigh or try to cheat each time she landed on "shin".

She was super concerned that we didn't have a big helping candle in the middle.

 We briefly talked about temples and how we would be sad if someone trashed and hurt our temple, and how we would celebrate having it back. I think she got that part.

 I learned a lot about Hanukkah and it was a fun family evening. This whole week is just a week of celebrations. Tomorrow is the Winter solstice which we are planning on celebrating, and then of course, Christmas, and Madeleine's birthday.

Monday, December 19, 2016


Now that we are towards the end of pregnancy of offspring #2, I'm realizing that I'm probably going to wish that I kept a record of the homeschooling stuff that I did with Madeleine a little better. Instagram gets a lot of it, and I enjoy using mostly for tracking my day to day things, but typing things out on a computer is much easier than trying to do it on the ipad. On top of that, even though I haven't blogged a lot, Matt and I still refer back to here regularly to see what we did with Madeleine as a tinier human. I'm guessing we'll keep that up for the long run, so it's worth putting more things on here.

My basic homeschooling philosophy is to expose Madeleine to things and hope she learns something in the meanwhile. We have very low expectations for her. Pretty much we expect her to try it, and let us know what she thinks. We don't do almost any letters or numbers in our home. Most things are units based on what is going on in our lives, or something that Matt and I are interested in that we think Madeleine might like too. The wonderful thing about 3 is that they are curious about everything, so it's really hard to have something flop. I don't think anything has yet to be honest, even with the kids I babysit everyday. As long as I present it as something that I'm interested in, they are usually pretty cool with it.

What we've done so far...
Age 0-1: Survive as parents
Age 1-2: Learn how to not kill self
Age 2-3: Emotions, colors, and started with foods

  • Emotions
    • Happy
    • Angry
    • Sad
    • Hurt
  • Colors
  • Foods
    • Berries
    • Brussel Sprouts
    • Honey
    • Eggs
    • Bread
    • Asparagus
    • Apples
    • Yogurt
    • Where meat comes from
  • Other random things
    • Introduced butter knife
    • Laundry

Age 3-4: We focused mostly on food, but we put other things in too.

  • Food units
    • Meatballs
    • Spaghetti
    • Lettuce
    • Lavender
    • Ice cream
    • Strawberries
    • Blackberries
    • Tomatoes
    • Pears
    • Peaches
    • Apples
    • Bread
    • Salad
    • Pickles
    • Cucumbers
    • Soup
    • Cookies
    • Radishes
    • Scallops
    • Honey 
  • Emotions (kind of)
    • Disappointed
    • Mean
    • How being tired effects how we feel
    • Excited
    • Patience
    • Calming routines
    • How our words can effect others (like calling someone fat or saying you don't want to play with someone)
    • Bad choices v good choices 
    • Frustration
  • Other stuff
    • How babies are made
    • How families are connected
    • Blood
    • Being nice to the Earth
    • Rosa Parks
    • Gardening
    • Butterfllies
    • Composting
    • Microbes
    • Seasons (This one is on going. All other units revolve around the seasons for the most part)
    • What kind of music we like
    • Making grocery list and sticking to them
    • Quilting
    • Forests
    • Geography
    • The Nutcracker
  • Social Scripts
    • How to act in a library
    • How to order food
    • How to pay for food
    • How to ask others for help
    • How to say and use the phrase "excuse me"

The general outline for a unit is lots of books plus an activity a day.

For food, we go to the farmer's market and she gets to pick out and pay for the food that we are going to do. Then I already have a list of books on hold at the library. We then generally make 2-3 recipes with said food. The idea behind it is that she tries new foods and that she learns that she can "not like how something is cooked" but she can still like the food. Ex. She hates pickled onions but loves onions in salsa.

The rest are pretty similar with the exception of scripts, since Matt and I rehearse with her, practice, and then make her do it. After we do a debriefing too. :D Right now we are working on speaking up when ordering at somewhere loud and giving people a bit more space when waiting in line. We don't wait in line near her. We usually are 20+ feet away because otherwise we find that people try to yell across the restaurant to talk to us instead of talking to her. For things that more complicated than Costco ("I'd like a hot dog, please."), I sometimes send her with a piece of paper, but for the most part she can do it. I also send her with almost if not exact change, so the money part isn't an issue.

And that's pretty much it. :) I'm going to hopefully start putting up the activities and books we are reading. Right now, I have the current unit on pinterest and as we do the pins, I delete them. But this way, hopefully I can keep everything together for future reference. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pink Hair

We were waiting for my hair appointment to dye my hair purple, when you walked up alone to the receptionist and said, “I would like pink hair.” You took her and us by surprised, she looked at us, laughing and said, “Is she serious?” Your dad and I looked at each other. We both knew you were, but this was something we had not talked about. Earrings we voted no on until you understood a little better how much it hurt, but hair was just hair right?

We told her that we would like an estimate and if they could squeeze you in that it was okay with us. You are only 3 ½ but you sat for the full four hour appointment, waiting patiently for your pink hair. You sat quietly as she put the toner and very seriously picked out the shade of pink toner you wanted. You entertained us and them with stories that we took turns telling - Goldilocks, the “5” little pigs, the princess dragon, until my hair finally finished.

When we left you could not stop talking about your hair, and when we told you the rules of taking care of pink hair, you listened and remembered. “Don’t put shampoo in my hair Mommy. The pink will come out then.” But even with you following the directions, the pink quickly faded, and you informed me that you needed more pink.

So we did, and we even made it pinker.

This time a few people said a few disapproving comments. “I don’t think it’s right that you are letting her dye her hair pink.”

I thought about it. And here’s what I decided.

As a mom, it’s not my job to control what you are allowed to do with your body. It’s true. I made your body. I marvel at how strong you are and how big you are getting. I love watching you grow up, and it’s weird thinking that you were once my helpless little baby. I was a little sad watching your hair turn its lovely shade a blonde to pink.

But the thing is, my goal is to help you love your body and see it for the amazing tool that it is. It can do incredible things. I want you to not look at it’s imperfections but instead look at how amazing it is. I want you to feel like it fits your unique spirit just right, even if that means pink hair and black dresses every day.  I want you to treat it with love and help it be healthy. Eventually when you get a bit older, I want you to be able to deflect the insecurities that the world and the media throws at you about how you should look. The messages are not kind, and I do not want you to absorb them. If I tell you how you should look and dress, I think it will be easier to listen to those messages when I stop or am not around.  

Your body is yours - pink hair and all. I hope that’s one thing you always remember.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Perks of being a Stay-at-home-mom

Now that I'm working I'm starting to really appreciate certain things about being a full time stay-at-home-mom. Here's just a few of them.

1. If you don't like someone, you don't need to see them ever again.
I have one coworker and custumer that I really do not like, and now I'm struggling to figure out how to get along with. In the last few years, if there was someone I didn't like, I just didn't see them again. 

2. If I don't like part of my job, I can outsource it.
 I hate laundry, so Matt does it. I'm my own boss at home. I run all the operations and divide them out from there. At work, I'm not in the position to do this almost at all. Luckily I like most of my job, but I appreciate this more

3. I only have to be as social as I feel like.
Somedays we can stay home all day and sometimes we hang out with friends all day. As a stay-at-home-mom I only have to give myself as much as I want. I can order pizza and watch movies all day with Madeleine or drive to the beach to relax. Now no matter what most days I have to have a smile on my face and chat and talk with people no matter what I feel like.

4. We spend less money.
It's kind of funny but I think working out of the house actually barely makes any money, even though we aren't paying for daycare. The money is going towards food - more out to eat and more packaged food. The efficiency and focus on our home is weakening.

5. Lower stress levels
Our home is just a bit more stressed. It's not money stress. It's just like there is more to do and more to handle. There is daycare, work schedules, and unexpected meetings to work around.

I love working, but I'm also realizing that money doesn't motivate me as much as I wish it did. I wish we could be wealthier, but I am also daily reminded that money doesn't equal happiness. I'm so glad that I'm only working part time, and it has been really reassuring that I did choose to be a stay-at-home-mom. It's something that does make me happy and allows me to be the kind of person I want to be. I often second guess myself wondering if I would be happier with a career, but this has shown me I don't think I would be. It doesn't mean I'm going to quit my job but having a career in general is lower on my list. I'm not that ambitious and I'll take the pay cut to have a less stressful life. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Biking Adventure - Sandy Hook

This post is going to have so many photos. This bike ride was amazing. I had heard that it was a good place to bike but didn't read up on it at all, so Matt and I were both pleasantly surprised. Sandy hook is a little over an hour from our home and it's a hook off of New Jersey. It's really thin in some parts and you can easily see both sides of the island. Matt and I hooked up our bikes and collapsed the trailer and off we went.

 I thought the trail would be mostly beaches, but no, I was completely wrong. I also thought it would just be a dirt path but as you can see it is a wide paved bike path!

We were standing on one side of the beach and that's how close the other side was. It really is thin in some parts. 

 There were a lot of fisherman. :)

So after we got past all the pretty beach part, we started running in to the historical military parts. I had no idea that they were there and guys, there is a lot. Just about every war from 1880 on built some type of base there, and none of them have been torn down (though as you will see many are falling down on their own.) 

This is one of the earlier ones. Apparently you can take tours in it and there are tunnels. It was built right after the civil war. (Wiki article about it here)

 We were pretty excited to see bike racks too. 

A little bit later, we ran into this part. If I remember right, this used to be big anti-aircraft guns that were built in the 1950's used to be here. (Project Nike.) They took down the guns but the cement remains. Madeleine loved running around on it. 

(Took a family photos by putting my camera on my helmet and set a timer.)

Just around the corner from all of that was the tip of Sandy Hook. We met some wonderful people here but I'll write a separate blog post on them.

Sandy Hook is a big tourist destination place and very busy in the summer. There is even a clothing optional beach! It's kind of weird to see it so empty just a few short weeks later.

On the way back to our car, we took some photos of the old military housing. I have more respect for abandoned housing now that we moved out of Butler. I see them more as a ghost town haunted by history. It isn't hard for me to imagine kids growing up there and wives gossiping together and waiting for their husbands to come home during the Cold War.

They are literally falling apart and they are beautiful. I think it's sad they were just left to rot. 

By the time we got back to the car it was almost dark. We packed up our bikes and walked down the beach. It felt so different than earlier that day.

It was beautiful and oh so quiet. The tide was out so the beach just seemed to stretch out.

I've been to NYC several times at night at this point and seeing it so close made the contrast of where we were and it made the beach even more peaceful.

But the effects on the city were still there. There was trash all over the beach. We try to leave any place cleaner than we arrived, so we spent a few minutes cleaning up trash. Straws and disposable cups were the most common, but there were plenty of other things that had washed up.

After that, we jumped into the car...and then hit another car. Oops. It was a very minor fender bender. Madeleine was so excited to see police cars and a "Mommy police." She kept talking about them. In the end, the only thing hurt was Matt's car, but as of last night even his bike is up and working.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Biking Adventure - Bayshore trail

 I think it's kind of funny how little I physically move despite the fact I spend a lot of time outside. Madeleine usually plays outside for at least two hours a day, but while she is running around, I'm playing ref. I stand, watch, and blow time out when needed, and if I miss a bad move, another mom ref is sure to let me know. Now that Madeleine is bigger being at the playground is more boring for me. She can climb most equipment on her own and rarely needs me. She also plays great with other kids. I usually only need to intervene for the occasional grabbing or sand throwing. 

On the rare occasions I am doing something physical outside, Madeleine is sitting.
I'm currently trying to find more creative ways to start moving while being outside, so if you have any ideas...let me know. 

But one idea we had was explore New Jersey more. New Jersey has some amazing paths, and we decided to check some of them out now that summer is over and there is free parking. The first one we went to was Bayshore bike trial. We wanted to bike it but we couldn't quite figure out how to get our trailer in the car. Since it was only 2 miles long, we decided to ditch the biking idea and just walk it with Madeleine in the stroller.


From the second we drove up to the marina we were excited. There was almost no one there, and we were able to park our car right next to the beach facing NYC.

The first part of the path was just walking down the marina. Madeleine was in love with seeing this many boats. There were yachts, small sailboats, motor boats etc. It was pretty neat.

Then the path started. The first part was all high beach grass that wasn't really interesting.  But then after a half mile, it opened up into trees, with small paths that when down to the beach.

Madeleine kept yelling at Matt to get down because he was going to get hurt. 

After that my phone died. :) I didn't think ahead. But we found dead horseshoe crabs that were over a foot long on the beach that were pretty cool. I had fun poking them with sticks. Matt and Madeleine had fun climbing on all the rocks too whenever we stopped. The walk was so easy and pretty. Madeleine kept pointing out a lots of flowers and sticks, while Matt and I had fun talking, looking at the beach, and the huge houses. But more than anything it was just pretty. There were not many people there and for the most part we could just hear the ocean. 

I'm actually really glad that the bikes didn't work out because I liked taking this trail slow. I think the four mile walk took us about an hour and half with Madeleine in the stroller.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Girly Airplane and Space Room

Pinterest rarely fails me but when we were looking to decorate Madeleine's room, I was struggling. She's into airplanes, robots, and dolls but loves everything to be pretty. "Pretty" in Madeleine's terms so far means floral, purple, or a dress, but I haven't figured out the rest of her definition. For example, Pottery Barn stuff is not pretty to her but skulls are? 

Anyway I was really stumped on how to decorate her room, but in the end, I kept coming back to airplanes. Matt already made her rocket models for her room, and Matt and I both enjoy airplanes. It's not something we would get sick of. But I googled, pinterested, etc. and could not find an airplane room that was girly. 

Here's what in the end we came up with.

Her room from the hall. The coolest thing is probably the pictures. I always ask for Matt's input on stuff and he didn't want to put up fighter planes. So we ended up printing black and white photos of what we consider important events. There are three people, Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Chuck Yeager with their planes. The Wright brother's plane, international space station, and the Hindenburg are a few of the other ones. Madeleine loves them and is always hitting them and taking them down. 

(I'm a bit obsessed with this picture of Amelia Earhart)

To the right of the bench you have this. Her closet doors were glass so we had them removed, for those who are curious this is what the inside looks like.

We all share the dresser and we mainly just use the closet for her larger toys. Most of her toys are on the bookshelf next to the closet

Notice most of her pictures are black and white because I'm too cheap for colored printing. :)

Her bed was she was most excited about. I found some fun fabric at Joann's and threw the pillowcases together. Madeleine picked out the trims herself. The green polka-dot fabric has little yellow roses in the center. When she walked in and saw the room that's the first thing she gravitated towards.

I still havent' completely finished her quilt. It's 90% done though and she's been sleeping with it for the last year. It will get done some day!

Close up of quilt.

The last wall I forgot to take a photo of. It has her little red kitchen.

It's been just over two weeks and she loves it.