About me and my blog

martes, 28 de febrero de 2012


Stickers have really surprised me. I really didn't think they would be such a hit. First, I set up a sticky contact paper activity (I had seen in Peaceful Parenting) some weeks ago and, to my delight, it caught M's attention and turned out quite nice. Here you can see her sticking some images I cut out and how the "work of art" is displayed on our kitchen's wall.

Since it was quite a nice activity and M focused on the stickers with a delightful concentration, I decided to suggest other similar activities. I found a sticky strip of Mickey Mouse my sister bought to decorate her daughters' room ages ago (the youngest is 16 already!). I had kept it without a purpose, as many other things I keep along the way, and it has finally ended up being useful. I cut out 4 faces, gave M a white cardboard, and passed the faces to her without further ado. She was free to stick them to the rug, play with them for she loves toying with Scotch tape, or whatever. She decided to stick them to the paper her own way, as you will see. 
There are four different faces of Mickey -smiling, winking, grumpy, and laughing) so I think we will use it in the future for learning moods. 

We worked similarly with these stickers of children.
 And, not a stickers activity but similar, we gave a winter paper puzzle my sister brought to me from her school a go. She is a public kindergarten teacher and she gives me materials from time to time.  We don't use them as they are intended to but they are nice and useful all the same.
Here is M toying with the pieces of the puzzle. She loved to point at the children and see "nena, nena", the word she uses for most things with eyes-nose-mouth. We also took the opportunity to set up a related shelf with winter story books and images.

The puzzle assembled. This, of course, was my doing.
This are easy-to-do, neat activities to do with young toddlers. I will like to hear other alike activities you do with your little ones!

sábado, 25 de febrero de 2012

Joy pockets # 4

I am late this week, but it is still Friday in Alaska, right? I was sick last night and couldn't make it to post joy pockets. This week has been a busy one.
Essential support from a husband without whom I would have had a bad time this week.
Another morning spent with the wonderful toddlers of the shared rearing group.
Interesting conversation about Steinbeck's novel "Of Mice and Men" at the Rubí Book Club.
M concentrating on suggested activities for long stretches of time.
First late winter sunny days.
The early bloom of beautiful almond trees.
M's first steps on her own.

I'd love to hear about your week!

martes, 21 de febrero de 2012

Homemade blocks

Here is the other novelty this week. After saving square and round boxes for a while, I have turned them into huge blocks. I had planned to make square, round, and triangle boxes and then wrap them in colored glossy paper. The square ones should be blue, the round ones red, and the triangle ones yellow. I was thinking ahead a matching activity to be done using Dick Bruna's book "I know about shapes", which you can see in this older post.
You can find square boxes anywhere, round ones are a bit more difficult to get and that's why I have only made one block out of a tin box of Danish cookies -another one on its way. But the hardest to find are triangle boxes. Although the idea was reusing, I dropped by a dime store looking for a triangle box. There were none but I stopped at Schlecker afterwards and unexpectedly found out a triangle box of tissues. Well, it was actually my niece Alba who saw it -thanks sweetheart-. It couldn't be more practical. We are all sort of cold... so we will use the tissues and then make the box into our first triangle yellow block.

To make these you only need:
boxes (you can reuse all kind of boxes)
glue (to glue the glossy paper)
glossy colored art paper (I would rather have one single color blocks but you can use any paper you like)
sticky contact paper (to make the blocks more resistant and water-proof)

You wrap the box in glossy paper, line it with contact paper and voilà: your homemade blocks.

lunes, 20 de febrero de 2012

Homemade huge dice

Hey!! This is our latest (although not new at all) novelty. I made this dice many years ago and for some reason had completely forgotten about it. Now I realize my passion for homemade toys is older than I thought. Should you want to make your own dice, it is very simple. I made it with a piece of foam and a remnant of light blue velvet. I adore this color! My mother was getting rid of a mattress at the time and I cut out a cube of the foam, wrapped it with the velvet and sew it -not very accurately, btw- and sew buttons (=dots) to the surface. The result could be neater but I didn't think my dice would last so long as to be passed on to my own daughter... I must have been 14 or 15 when I made it!! M likes it very much.

sábado, 18 de febrero de 2012


I must confess every time there is a great change in my daughter's life I seem to fail to recognize it at once. I wonder whether I am the only mother who, despite knowing her own child very well, is taken aback by changes and is kind of slow in her reaction.
I don't mean to sound pretentious when I say I know my daughter very well. What I mean is that after having been with her night and day for nearly 14 months (outside // 9 inside) -having never been apart for more than 4 hours in a row- and having observed her closely, I feel I can say I know her. I have observed her a good deal. I try to attend to her cues and follow her lead. And, however, to my surprise some changes seem to skip my observation.
When she started crawling, for instance, I didn't understand that she no longer needed me to carry her everywhere right away. I was so used to having her in my arms that I sort of felt this was going to be so forever... I failed to connect her new ability and her sudden dislike for the baby carrier. Since she didn't like strollers either and absolutely hated the car, we spent some weeks rarely going outside. I have already mentioned this in another post. Babies grow so fast...
I guess the root of my "mistake" is an inner feeling of stability that is challenged by the natural passing of time. When we are pregnant and imagine the future baby, it seems difficult to figure out life with the baby. It feels as if we were going to be pregnant forever. I've felt this way. Inside-outside. There is such a difference. Then, the baby comes to the world and it is nearly impossible to remember how things were before. We "naturally" adapt.
Something similar has happened concerning activities. I used to prepare an environment trying to follow M's current interests and intended it to last for a fortnight or so. Now I see the error. In intending them to last I was actually sort of ignoring her lead. I took her motivations into account in general terms but acted as if I knew how long they would last.
Some weeks ago I started noticing she was dumping objects. At first I thought it could be a non-directed way of trying to find out the use of a certain material. I guess I was wrong, for some days afterwards she spent much time focused on another activity. Then I realized she had only been bored.
Here I esteem it appropriate to bring up one of the basis of Montessori education, the balance of support and challenge. This is in my opinion an interesting idea regardless of your interest in Montessori. I will quote from Paula Pol Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen's book Montessori from the start: "Chidren need challenges but they also need to live in a positive and secure environment" (...) "when parents become rigid and too goal-oriented, there is an imbalance between challenge and support: support is too low, challenge too high. (...) In homes where there is high support and low challenge, children do not develop focused attention".
I have been trying to put this idea into practice for a long time but I must confess I feel I am not quite successful at it. I keep observing M to see what engages her in order to provide materials and activities that in my opinion may lead to moments of focused attention. There have been weeks when she spent some minutes concentrated on one activity -mainly "thing in a slot" sort of activities, but there are many days when she wanders about picking now a book, then something else, moving to and fro... I have had to stop and ask myself: Am I asking too much too soon? Is free education incompatible with the Montessori approach and the emphasis on focused attention? Have I missed a chapter and all this concentration issue applies only to older children? Should we spend much more time outside?
Up to now I have been able to answer that last question and guessed the third one. And I change the main environment at least every couple of days. I set up a sand area in our garden last week and M had a great time playing in it, feeling the sand, getting handfuls of sand, transferring it to a pot, and so on. We have also spent some time in different settings outside our home this week. On one of our outings we went to our local library where apart from books there is a cozy soft area with little couches and construction cushions. M enjoys climbing into the tiny couches.
If you relate to my experience anyhow I would love to hear yours. If you have an answer to my questions, please write to me!

viernes, 17 de febrero de 2012

Joy pockets # 3

Friday again, and today M and me had the great opportunity of joining a wonderful group of shared childrearing. I feel honored for having been asked whether I would be interested in becoming their educator when the current main educator leaves soon on maternity leave. I feel so grateful for being offered to work and at the same time bring my little one along. I will let you know more about this project soon.

Nice, hot shower when it was - 5 outside.
Delicious homemade pumpkin cupcakes.
Enjoyable morning shared with 4 other cute toddlers.
Help with the home cleaning.
Lunch with the husband on a hectic Friday afternoon in our fav. neighborhood in the city; bagel with cheese cream and ginger-apple smoothie.
Midweek morning spent in the local library; discovering new books for children.

lunes, 13 de febrero de 2012

One more Farm week

As usual, books have been a great hit this week. For this reason, and following our main topic "the farm", I have changed the display of the shelf every couple of days. While doing this, I have seen that what works best for us is to change materials every couple of days. We stuck to the farm topic for over a month but have mixed many other activities and several changes of the way materials were displayed. As I said last week I would probably do, I went ahead and and got M a special treat; two beautiful Schleich farm animals: a horse and a foal.
We started the week with horses on the shelf, then switched to sheep and cows.

Another of the top activities this week has been climbing. I rarely post pictures of M's gross motor activities and there is a reason for that: she is way faster than I and by the time I've got the camera ready she is already on the floor again. This time, though, I could take some snaps.

There she is climbing into and out of a hassock.

And here, climbing into an umbrella stroller we have been given and has unexpectedly turned out to be a success.
Tomorrow I'll talk about other activities we gave a try last week and will show you our latest creation.
I am off for a much needed rest!

viernes, 10 de febrero de 2012

Joy Pockets week 2

Here is Friday again -touching its end, by the way- and here I am joining in again to share what brightened our week. It's been a sort of short week splatter with a bit of sickness but also a lot of good moments. I am grateful I found out "Joy Pockets" thanks to Melissa at Vibrant Wanderings. Now I am all week looking forward to reading what brought you joy this week.

All kind of colors in the sky and all range of temperatures within one same day
My lovely daughter's wide grin at seeing a cat and saying "pah"
Saturday afternoon with good friends
Unexpected presents for M from diverse sources
New handmade blocks
A bit of help from niece Clara, who offered to come babysit for a while
Delicious goodies brought by my dear husband on Friday afternoon
Breakfast and good conversation in the city with an old ex-student of mine
Some nice time on my own
New and successful bedtime routine

I'd love to hear what made you smile this week!

lunes, 6 de febrero de 2012

Our week in pictures

Welcome to M's room. Apart from our shelves, located in the living-room, there are several activities that often take place around here. One of them is looking at books. Another, putting dolls to sleep - together.

Before the weather changed, we tried artwork with finger paint outside but I was unsure whether it might be toxic and changed it for a mass of flour and water...

I set a basket full of shoes and M showed interest in gathering them by pairs. This is a good activity to stimulate visual discrimination.

I saw this activity in Montessori Ici. M took all the pencils out and put them in the holes again but lost interest after the second time.

Some of our farm animal magnets on an oven tray.

This tray belongs to a larger activity I set on the shelves. The books were, as always, a hit, specially that one called "Farm". We will have it again this week and I'm thinking on getting M a treat. You will soon see...

What are you doing these days? I'd love to hear!

domingo, 5 de febrero de 2012

Why we seldom say "no" around here

I have been writing very little lately. I always become aware of how little I write when I start feeling awkward. I find myself complaining about "this feeling of inadequacy" and then I realize of my urgent need to write. It has been like this for a long time. However, I don't seem to find the mood to write in my journal as I used to do, so I've thought I would give it a go here, why not.
Today I was wondering whether I am the only mother who has decided to quit some of her business and stay at home with her daughter most of the time. I know I am not. I mean I follow many blogs whose authors are SAHM -or WAHM. Neither of them lives in Spain, though. It seems there are so very few here I sometimes find it difficult to share. If you are out there and relate to what I say, please stop and say "hello". Even my two best maternity friends have already gone back to work and whereas we share parenting ways and many good get-togethers, I am the odd one now.
One of the issues I wanted to write about was why we very seldom say "no" around here. Without ever discussing the subject, both my husband and I have agreed that giving alternatives worked better than saying "no". If we pay attention to an adult talking to a baby or toddler, we can quickly note the word "no" is on the top ten words the adult uses. I had noticed that before becoming a mother and I found it annoying. Well, I must say I always take words very literally so I found it sort of negative. There are several ways of saying "no" without negating, without prohibiting. And this is actually what my husband and I do with our toddler.
First of all, we don't leave the items we don't thing she should touch anywhere within her reach. There are very few off-limits objects in our house, by the way. She has access to all rooms, including kitchen and bathrooms. Only my husband's camera and laptop are "forbidden" but they are never left on a reachable surface, so out of the question. This eliminates a slew of potential "noes".
When she was a small baby, we let her free to explore and never discouraged her from bringing things into her mouth. Many times I get asked how is it that M doesn't put in her mouth everything she finds along the way and I guess it is because she has overgrown this interest.
We have always let her explore. In the studio, for instance, we used to have many of her books on the lower shelves and she used to grab them, dump them and play on top. Little by little she grew acquainted with books. Our house is full of books. Our experience has showed us that children don't necessarily tear pages. This is, I believe, another of the negative opinions grown-ups have about young children. In my humble opinion, children's behaviors become destructive when they have nothing interesting to become engaged with. This may happen when the environment is not child-friendly and they don't have freedom of movement.
Something similar happens with the ever-present fear of choking. I know our particular experience can't be raised to general, but from what we have seen babies are very capable of spitting out seeds, stones, or pits. It might have been that M was never bottle-fed and hardly ever pureé-fed, but the truth is that she can eat custard apple and spit the pits out. I have also seen other children eating cherries at 10 months without ever choking. This leads me to believe that the more we empower our babies, the more capable they are. Unfortunately, I feel in our society babies are too often over-protected in a way that renders them unable to perform actions which are otherwise natural abilities inherent to human beings.

viernes, 3 de febrero de 2012

Joy Pockets

Inspired by Vibrant Wanderings who was inspired by Holistic Mama, I have decided to join this wonderful idea of collecting pockets of joy... Despite feeling there is much to be grateful for, I sometimes forget.

My old love of crispy leaves highlighted by the joy my beloved daughter showed in treasuring one
Magpies, blackbirds, mockingbirds, wagtails in our garden
The gift of a patient toddler when we adults are in a hurry and the weather doesn't help
Yummy pasta cooked by grandma
Inspiring readings
Uncountable smiles
Kindness, generosity found along the way
"mama mama" heard hundreds of times a day
Snow on a Thursday morning
Stroll under the snow -M and me; nobody else in the streets
And, always great expectations