Family life, Links

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If you follow me on Instagram (@meghansheffield), you’ll have already been subjected to some gushing about what a magical weekend we’ve just had. With the spring weather finally here, we’re spending every spare moment outdoors, in the garden, at family barbecues or taking part in community events.

It’s a wonderful time of year, but sitting down at the computer to blog isn’t top of mind. It’s my hope that you’re willing to drift along with the seasonal ebb and flow as well.  Here are a few of my most recent online discoveries, squeezed in between birthday parties and rounds of croquet.

I was thrilled to discover this beautiful stop-motion film made by a mother who followed her son to Montessori school and proceeded to take thousands of photos of his morning, without ever prompting, directing or interrupting him. Also, it’s a Canadian video, so shout-out to Dundas Valley Montessori School who seem to be doing wonderful work.

From Sapling House, this simple and beautiful colour-matching work for toddlers (those who are beyond the “everything in my mouth” stage).

My friend Leisse is a Montessori-trained parent educator, a mother of three kids — three and under — and also manages to be hilarious, whip smart and pulled together with style. A recent post on her blog Eat Play Love about skipping dinner-time battles with respect for her kids is a typical mix of humour and practical advice.

A Montessori morning and an afternoon of croquet

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Family life, Nature

Getting back to nature

Image“Time in nature is not leisure time; it’s an essential investment in our children’s health (and also, by the way, in our own).”
— Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

It’s the eve of the first day of May (Uno de Mayo?) and here in our neck of the woods, it feels like the weather’s about a month behind schedule: wind, torrential rain and chilly temperatures.

Despite all that, our family is taking on a challenge. The 30×30 Nature Challenge to be specific!

30 minutes in nature for 30 days in a row, throughout the month of May. We’re joining thousands of other Canadians in committing to getting outside. Research (and our own experience) tells us that doing so will make us happier, healthier and less stressed.

For some time now, I’ve set an intention to get outside with Jasper everyday, no matter the weather. And usually, we do. But it’s amazing how often that precious little time gets squeezed out of our day — over-scheduling, weather-shy parents (Jasper is an all-weather backyard enthusiast). It’s truly amazing to me how often we spend more time in the car than we do with grass beneath our feet. For us, the 30×30 challenge is a chance to reset and realign ourselves with the natural world.

I highly recommend jumping over to the Suzuki Foundation website to learn more about the challenge and the benefits of spending time in nature. Consider joining us (and many others) on this journey to connect with the world outside these four walls.

And pray for sun.

The photo above is from May 1, 2013, when the little guy was but a wee mite and the sun shone and the flowers bloomed.

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18-21 months, Uncategorized

Blossoming independence

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Spring is a time of awakening — both outside and inside of our home.

With a long and especially harsh winter behind us, we’ve been happily casting off the trappings of winter and embracing the blooms of spring.

No longer stuffed into snowsuits with full-body zippers and snaps and Velcro at every potential source of wind, Jasper is free to experiment with putting his light jacket on and off, and zipping up and down. We’re into prime rubber boot weather here, and they make the perfect introduction to independent shoe-wearing. J can find his boots, put them on, take them off, and return them to their home all on his own. He’s taken to exploring all other forms of footwear we have around and is now an avid Velcro-ripper.

Towards the end of winter, Jasper had begun to make his first forays into the backyard alone. We have a medium-sized fenced yard in a small town, and a sliding glass door from the house which allows for some occasional surreptitious supervision. It’s a great opportunity for us both to develop some independence! With the ice and deep snow gone from the yard, he’s more confident than ever, journeying to the furthest corners of the fences and climbing the ladder to the slide. Following the child these days often means 7 AM visits to the bird feeder. When I go out to the yard to work in the garden, he comes with me, and we’ll each do our work-play separately, but together. And, occasionally we’ll join each other for a little while.

Jasper reached 18 months back in March, and I feel now that I have a first-hand understanding why so many Montessori toddler programs begin at 18 months. It’s like a switch has been flipped, and he’s entered a whole new realm of illumination. Or maybe I should say we have, because as he grows, so do I.

Have you noticed certain seasons or ages or phases when your child suddenly seemed to developmentally leap forward? I’m curious to know what I should look out for in the future.

P.S. While writing this post, the doorbell rang and a package from Montessori Services was delivered, so you may expect some fresh indoor practical life content coming soon!

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18 months, Family life, Uncategorized

Sunday morning

ImageSunday is a day when our pace slows, and I find myself taking stock of both the week ahead and the week that’s passed. Here’s what the view is like for our family this Sunday:

  • I rearranged and rotated Jasper’s shelves this week. A basket of farm animals, a tractor, a basic ring stacker and a wooden farm animal puzzle: out. A basket of forest animals, an owl ring stacker & wooden woodland animal puzzle: in. I love all the fresh energy and interest Jasper shows after his shelves have been changed out.
  • I’m also working on an easy DIY project: matching cards for the Schleich forest animals, which I hope to post about later this week.
  • We are very much looking forward to a trip to the local sugar bush with friends tomorrow morning. One of the wonderful things about living life at a child’s pace is having a deeper engagement with the seasons, and maple syrup season is a wonderful promise of spring.
  • Finally, the scene above: my journal/agenda/sketchbook/grocery list keeper. This week’s pages included a recipe for crepes, some light sketching by Jasper, and a wonderful, worth-remembering list of everything that makes the Montessori method so magical, quoted from Deb at Sixtine et Victoire in this great interview at How We Montessori.
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