Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Recycling DIY Party Decors in Our Montessori Home

We're zealous DIY-ers around here. The kind who spends the day before her wedding combing the streets of Dangwa to get the flowers for the aisle and the centerpieces, and even her own bouquet (which her sister would later on make--along with a beautiful headpiece, each bead meticulously hand-sewn, all of which you'd see here). The kind who salvages wooden window shutters from a nearby renovation/construction site and painted them to make a buffet spread backdrop which you'll see, along with the many other things we DIY-ed for Cara's first birthday party, here.

They're happy projects, but also hard work--so it's also always hard to let these things go even after the party (I know it was heartache seeing someone throw away the 5-, 6-feet tall trees I painted in the trash--all 24 of them).

So... I keep them (let's just talk about storage space another time)! And here's how we've been recycling some to decorate our Montessori home.

We've made yards and yaaards of that felt cloth bunting.
But the more impressive DIY here is that painting, an Eric Carle copy, by my sister. Written at the back, it says, "Don't be afraid of change"; given to me when I was starting my own school.

Felt feathers above our outdoor shelf.

 We were supposed to put a floor standing aircon here, but was later on told to install a wall-mounted split-type instead--so the wire that hung unpleasantly on the corner? Hid that with these felt ferns, which I also have yards and yards of!

I needed wall art that would safely go beside our balance beam (no hard frames that could fall and hurt a foot when our now 22-month-old suddenly holds onto the wall for support).

So I used that string of felt triangles and Washi-taped a birthday card from my bestfriend. It's from the Laro Tayo! Series from Kora's Kards, with children playing Luksong Tinik, a traditional Filipino game.

 I told you we have yards and yards of that bunting! We have pretend play things here--but still, with Montessori in mind. Like the ice cream stand has popsicle sticks you put inside small holes so it's actually fine motor, peg work and the oven has cupcakes and a baking tin which is for one-to-one-correspondence; among other things.

And watch a work Cara has invented with the buntings here.

These are not my own DIY, but my sister went to an under-the-sea-themed party and got us these jellyfishes.

Which are now above Cara's care-of-self shelf

And I still have 10 more of these string art! I wonder where I'd put them.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Welcoming the Weeds: A Practical Life and Parenting Lesson

One of my more recurrent daydreams when I was younger, because it was not always possible and pleasant in the usual warm Manila weather, was having a lovely garden breakfast over at my future home's breezy lanai--always with freshly-squeezed orange juice from--I was dreaming big--from our very own orangery (if daydreams have meanings, too, like dreams; I wonder what's the interpretation for this).

So even if this isn't exactly like that of my juvenile imagination, I'm thankful we have a space like this in our home now--

And even if I haven't exactly had freshly-squeezed orange juice during breakfast here yet, I'm glad we have been peeling orangessqueezing another kind of citrus juice, and we have a different kind of orange around here most afternoons--

But one thing I never really thought about, one thing that don't usually come up in daydreams of perfectly manicured lawns and gardens (which is curious because they just creep out and up of almost everywhere else)--are the weeds! Wild, wild weeds!

Too relentless and indefatigable these weeds are that getting three gardeners once a month to pull them out and trim the grass wasn't quite enough. So while I dreaded it at first, I did the weeding out myself. While our now 21-month-old watered the grass, I pulled out the weeds. But--you may have already guessed--pretty soon, she wanted to do what I was doing herself.

Which was great because as it turns out, pulling weeds is excellent for gross and fine motor and a Practical Life, Care of the Environment activity.

I did wonder though just how good an idea this activity really would be if grass get pulled out, too.

But I was wonderfully surprised to see that our young toddler was mindfully making sure that she wouldn't pull the grass out. Even those weeds that are hidden beneath blades of grass, she would spot and carefully take them out. That's visual discrimination right there!

And that's when I began looking forward to and enjoying weeding out our garden everyday.

Some days she does it with me (there was a time we sorted the dried leaves we picked and the weeds we pulled into buckets). 
Other days she's busy with her own work (washing bottles and dishes, cleaning our outdoor table, chairs, and shelf--usually a lot of water work) while I diligently and delightedly (particularly when I'm really able to take deep stubborn roots out) rid our garden of weeds--always still observing our young toddler, sometimes meditating (okay, sometimes daydreaming, too--but let's just call that "meditating", okay).

It was in one of those musing moments when I remembered that welcoming the weeds into our garden, turning weeding from a backache-inducing burden, an extra chore we need to do into an appreciated and anticipated activity, was a lot like one of my take-aways from the Positive Discipline Workshop by The Learning Basket I attended last February. It was mentioned there that often, parents dread or fear disciplining--and I thought understandably so since having to discipline is usually preceded by a situation that needed just that. But Mariel of The Learning Basket said that those usually unwelcome circumstances (much like our weeds) can be turned into opportunities for Positive Discipline, giving us the chance to teach our children "social and life skills for good character".

I used to see in-need-of-positive-discipline situations as "disruptions" to what could have been a pleasant day (much like how I saw the weeds before, "disruptions" to what could have been the picturesque lawn of my daydreams). But now I see them as opportunities.

Opportunities for me to, among other things:
1. Practice, practice, practice Positive Discipline (many positive strategies that are in line with Montessori, my top-of-mind now are "Connect before Correct" and establishing routines and limits)

2. Equip my daughter (and really, still, myself)--with tools and strategies we can use to handle different life circumstances.

Example, one time we were both feeling frustrated over something so we breathed in and out, went outside, and took our frustrations out on, well yes, the weeds.

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