Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Schoolish: Now We Are Four

A friend mentioned a few days ago that she had recommende this blog to another friend about activities for preschoolers and it made me realize I haven't really written on that subject for awhile.  We've been plugging away at being "schoolish", which is essentially just fostering a love of learning at home, but it looks a little different than it did last fall.

Play:

There's still a big emphasis on just enjoying play.  I really think we're starting to emphasize a little too much on having early, advanced learners at the cost of letting kids just be kids.  No my four year old is not reading yet and that's okay, but he's plays some pretty great games and acts out some silly stories.


He went up a big curve in the last few months discovering puzzles and games.  It's a little exhausting to have "play" Cootie and ROCK ON! (Geology Bingo) on repeat, but I'm glad he has found them.  He even likes to take out the adult games and make up games with the pieces.

 
Writing:

He's never been that into drawing, coloring or writing, but we crossed a big hill a few months ago when we finally got out our Usborne Books & More. Wipe-Clean Starter Collection (7) and discovered Dot-to-Dot .




What works now is to ask him if he wants to do DtD or the Wipe Clean books while I'm prepping dinner or lunch.  He'll do three or four DtD pages on his own in that time, and his choice between letters, numbers or any of our other wipe cleans.  I feel pretty good with this as it's the same amount of work he appears to do in a day of daycare (their pre-preK work) or more.  So the, maybe, 15 - 20 minutes he spend on it 3 - 4 days a week feels right.

Books:

We hit a slump in our reading materials a few months back, but I feel like I'm finding my grove again (so hopefully that means a book list in the future!).  Collections seems to be the word on the street here and anything with at least five stories in it he likes to sit down and hear.

Just So Stories
Okay, we've been listening to these for Just So Stories, but it counts!
Usborne Books & More. Stories from Around the World for Little Children


My Book House, Volumes 1-12 Volume 2: Story Time is wonderful.  I hadn't been using Volume 1 very much, but finally thought to see what Volume 2 contained and it was just what we needed.  This has gotten me thinking a lot about the types of stories we give our children as examples.

Hoping to get a couple of these collections with some Usborne credit I've been saving next month.



Music:
I just started back to focusing on music in the home again after noticing that My Book House recommends classical and folk songs in the footnote/small print.

We've been enjoying

Schumann's "Album for the Young"

Beethoven Lives Upstairs
 
 
And that's what we've been up to recently!
(This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links and Links to my Usborne business.  Thank you for your support)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Spinning a Good Yarn: A Collection of Yarn for the Geeky Enthusiast

I had so much fun making up my list of "Great Gifts for Geeky Guys and Girls" this Christmas that I was very eager to find another subject to share about.  For those who don't know "Geek" and "Crafts" go together like Pickles and Whiskey {apparently it's delicious}.  There's a whole subculture of geek crafters of which I've only scratched the surface of.

I love it when geek crafters get creative with their wares and wasn't surprised that a search of "geek yarn" brought up quite a few hits on Etsy.  So I've compiled a list of my favorite geek yarn suppliers for your fibre pleasure.

Each of these store owners have given me permission to share their pictures and information, but none of it - from the names to the pictures to the ideas - are mine.  I'd love it if you found something you just had to have from this list and supported one of these purveyors of fine fibres.

* An asterisks denotes a store that I've purchased from or otherwise done business with.

While I insisted to each of these stores that I was not out for the free merch/advertising deal one store did strike up a review deal that was just too kind resist that you'll find out more about in the end.

I believe each of these stores has quality items worth your time and money, and that opinion is not dependent of my business relationship with them.  I hope to patronize each of these stores in the future and support them with my own money without special deals or kickbacks for this post or mentions in the future.  Just hoping to be, in the immortal words of Mal Reynolds....
a big, damn {crafty} hero.

V Yarn*
I found Vberry during my first gift list run down and now am in possession of a skein of "The Game's.... Something" ala Sherlock and am very pleased to feature this store again being able to say I've officially done business with them.
"The Mirror of Erised" A Harry Potter Inspired Yarn
"When Summer Lies" An LOTR Inspired Yarn
"As You Wish" A Princess Bride Inspired Yarn
Find More V Yarn Here.  



Lady Purl
Lady Purl hooked me in with Firefly and Serenity Inspired line.  And yes, "Leaf on the Wind" still brings a tear to my eye.  Any of these would be perfect company for a movie marathon.
"Leaf on the Wind"

"Hero of Canton"

"Big Damn Heroes"
Lady Purls has some great yarns not currently up in her store, I highly recommend combing through her "sold" page to find other, amazing colorways she's dyed.

Find More of Lady Purl Here.

Winding River
If you're looking for some beautiful, subtle colorways I recommend Winding River.  It was her "The Hobbit" inspired colorways, that are both bright, but not over the top that caught my eye.

"Killi and Filli"
"Dwalin's Hood"

"Thorin's Hood"
Beautiful Fingering Weight Yarns (Plus Yarn Clubs!!) from Winding River Here.

Tale and Tendril
T&T wins the "Make Molly Feel Famous" award.  When I contacted her about sharing her products she responded back that she knew my blog and was a follower!  Call me amazed.  T&T gets on this list thanks to the other spectrum of Geek Craft, that which is inspired by classic literature and historical dramas.  Yes, we geeks can geek out just as much about the regency period as we do about a period correct T.A.R.D.I.S.  Much like Winding River, this is the yarn store for the lover of subtle, but rich colorways.

"Lizzy and Darcy"
"Tom and Sybil"
"Miss Dashwood"
Tail & Tendril also has some amazing lines inspired by "The Hobbit" and the "Harry Potter" Series along with spinning fibre for those much cooler than I.
Find more from Tale & Tendril Here.

Narwhal Needlework
Narwhal Needlwork won me over two fold: First, the word Narwahl is in the shops title and second .... Outlander.  I just.... can't..... beautiful.   
Just perfect yarn for an evening spent in front of the fire with a good pair of knitting needles and the Outlander audiobook (or new series) on .... repeat... of the good parts {you know the ones}/

"Forest and Lochs"
Geillis Duncan
"Claire's Escape"

The Amy Lee Show
Other shops have hinted at their love of Downton Abbey, but The Amy Lee Show wins the spot for Downton inspired fibres.

"Carson"
"Matthew Crawley"
"Cora"

For more Downton Inspired goodness (and lot more Austen!) visit The Amy Lee Show

Weird and Twisted*
Dyeing and spinning yarn is really an art, and Weird Twisted is clearly thinking outside of the box with amazing results.  It was hard to pick just a few to focus on, but in the end it was the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" inspired yarns that would not let me go.  In fact, a new skein is sitting next to my computer as we speak and the fact that I'm writing this and not pattern searching will forever be a testament to my creative fortitude.

"Katara"
"Kiyoshi Warriors"
"Aang" (and this beautiful swirl is all mine!!)
Weird and Twisted seems to be inspired by just about anything, I highly recommend looking through both her current selections and sold items to see just what this fibre artist can create.
Find more wonderfully Weird and Twisted Yarns Here.

EweFluffEwe*
Oh, best beloveds {why yes, we've been listening to "Just So Stories") I can't wait to share EweFluffyEwe with .... ewe.

 I don't want to say more right now I will say you'll be seeing more EFE in the next week or so, and we've worked out a special surprise for one lucky reader.

For now, enjoy these beautiful literary inspired yarns fresh from the farm.

"Captain Wentworth"
"Cosette"

"Jane Bennet"

Match your yarn to your nightstand book collection over at EweFluffyEwe.


I hope you enjoyed this collection.  I had a blast putting it together!
 Onward my geeky crafters, onward!

You can find these yarns and more linked at my Etsy favorites collection Here.

Disclaimer:  I solemnly swear I did not write this post solely because my birthday is coming up in two weeks.  It has nothing to do with that.  Forget I mentioned anything.  I like yarn. ;)

Monday, February 16, 2015

And Lent Approaches

I have to admit I've been in a bit of Liturgical slump.  I just haven't been as inspired to do "all the things" over the last month or so and honestly that's fine.  Doing fewer of the "the things" is better than doing them for the wrong reasons.

I haven't really gotten my act together for Lent either and I'm feeling like that's okay to.  Lent feels like it should be more gradual and have more of a build up than Advent.  Advent is meant to mimic that special time of preparation before birth - you know that's coming, you know what should be done and you have a rough idea of when.  I don't think Jesus' followers realized their Lenten seasons was approaching and going on until the last minute, they probably didn't realize that it would all be over so soon.  Perhaps if they did more of them would have stayed awake that night in the garden.

So it feels right at this moment to take Lent in steps.

Of course there are things I know are expected of me and I'm starting to piece that together, but I'm not worried about having it all figured out before Wednesday.

I'm starting to feel that Lent should take me by surprise a little bit.  I think I should get to Holy Week and be a little shook up that it's here already, that maybe my plans aren't finalized and I haven't accomplished everything I meant to do.

I think that's the gift of the Liturgical Year, it mimics birth, life and death and as we pass through Good Friday we receive the gift of another year to make it a little better, bit by bit.  We get the knowledge that unlike real death and it's finality we have the opportunity to reflect and change and try a little harder.  We get the chance to realize we haven't prayed or given or loved enough in the time that was clearly laid out for us and we get, ideal, a second chance to improve ourselves.

If we were to walk these forty days with Christ as he lead them, as the last he would be among his beloved friends, family and followers; what would we work on?  If we new our final days were upon us what are the things we would give up or give more of in our lives.  I think these are the things we're actually asked to do for Lent.

Lent approaches, and my Lent will not be perfect, but because of it next year I might do just a little bit better.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Media Lite in a Media Loving Family

I need to confess something.  One of my New Years Resolutions is to watch more television.

Shock.

Horror.

Much Disappointed.

Very T.V.

The Doge meme basically writes itself.

See I told you.

But Molly, you're a hip mom who crafts homemade Montessori materials and bakes muffins, how could you undermine the revolution?

Well, after much consideration I finally had to admit something.  We like watching movie, and television shows and YouTube videos.  We actually enjoy doing those things in each others company and sometimes quality family time comes in surprising ways.  Like when your four year is introduced to Lego Movie and is suddenly much more interested in building things, and Lego books and superheroes.  Or when you dance around like a giddy fool to that song at the end of Tangled with said family because it just makes you happy.  Or you and your husband stand around the kitchen for a solid hour mapping out the plot to the next Avengers movies.  It can be a shock:  we're spending time, talking, reading books and playing with these toys because of media.

We, as a family and as a married couple enjoy media.  My husband and I love theatre, concerts, movies, comic books and so much more together and a big facilitator to that in this stage of life are coming from screens.  Our regular date nights revolve around dinner and a movie or a pizza and catching up on a t.v. series - that is what we enjoy doing together.  It facilitates laughter and tears and hours of conversation.

To us a good movie or a quality T.V. show isn't just a way to mindlessly erase a few hours.  What we watch we do so because we appreciate the writing, or the acting or the costumes or the skill of the animators or designers.  Being the artistic, theatre loving, spectacle understanding  people we are that media is actually a part of our personalities and how we relate as a couple and how we hope to relate as parents and child.  The idea of not sharing my husband love of superheros or my love of animation with each other would be strange.  When I was a kid there wasn't a lot of theatre around in my towns so you know how it first started to interested me?  Movies; filmed versions of musicals and stage shows and Cirque du Soleil that lead me down a very artistic, skilled career.

And I'll let you in on a little secret.  I think movies and the occasional T.V. series are the lesser of the media evils right now.  When I was a kid we obsessed about the length of Saturday morning cartoons and now kids can literally be plugged into non-stop entertainment.  When I see a child glued to a screen out in public, with a tool that requires very little skill to manipulate that half hour of T.V. doesn't look so bad.

So what do we do to make sure it doesn't rule our lives?  We set limits and have rules.

  • The television is in our basement away from regularly used areas of the house.
  • Computers and phones are for adult use only - no children's game or learning tools on them.
  • T.V. is something that can be earned and taken away, sometimes for days, for bad behavior.  It's not a given.
  • No extra screens like I-pads, "learning toys" or screens in the car.
  • Most T.V. time is limited to either first thing in the morning or "when it gets dark", and often involves a barter about what he can or cannot watch now and later.
  • There are still limits on what or what not can be watched around or by the younger member of the family.
  • We look for movies and shows that encourage discussion, finding books to read or different kinds of play when the television is off.  If it's not encouraging one of those things we're probably not watching it.

There are some amazing families that go totally screen free and that's amazing, and most likely that's exactly what their family needs.  There are amazing families who don't limit screens as much as we do; their different limits fit their families or something like a I-pad that's a toy for some might be a crucial tool for a child.  Not all technology is evil and I try to remember this when I see those screens at a restaurant or in the store - I always try to give the benefit of the doubt even if it wouldn't work for us.

So if you enjoy the occasional show or movie, and have found a way for it not to turn your children into ravenous screen junkies.  Huzzah!  We're kindred spirits.

Now I'm off to watch a movie with my boys, cuddle on the couch and do some knitting.
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