What I’m Into: November 2014

Well, my main project this month was bringing this guy into the world:

baby Felix

As most of you know by now, Felix Victor was born last week (November 19) here at home.

Everyone is doing really great. So far, Felix is a pretty happy guy and a great eater, though he’s really dramatic when he needs something. I am about eighteen times more relaxed about everything this time around which really helps. Lydia is adjusting to the changes astonishingly well (but it helps that she’s been staying with grandparents a lot). She looooooves to cuddle her new brother, except when she “doesn’t like babies.” Fair enough.

And if I’m honest, here is the number one reason I wanted a second baby from the start:

Lydia and Felix

Oh my melting mama heart.

I just wanted so badly for Lydia to have a sibling — someone to share her childhood with. I am so grateful God heard my prayers and baby Felix finally arrived safe and sound. We are so happy to have him join our family.

As for the name, if you’re interested . . . I fell in love with it way back while studying Latin in university — it means happy or fortunate. I like for my babies’ names to be linguistically consistent (both of Lydia’s names are Greek), so we gave him a Latin middle name — meaning victorious. Lots of happy words there.

So obviously my world has pretty much revolved around the family since his arrival, but here are a couple of things I’ve been into:

Books

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I’ve wanted to read Wendell Berry forever.  If you’re not familiar with him, Berry is one of the most prominent voices connecting the Christian faith and ecology. He’s a poet, novelist, essayist, and — importantly — a farmer. I finally got my hands on this book (What are People For?) and dug in — I kept it in my purse (hence its ragged state) and read it in the waiting room of the chiropractor and during Lydia’s swimming lessons.

SO MUCH GOOD STUFF. It’s a collection of essays exploring a range of topics that circle around our (broken) relationship with the land. It highlights the bleakness of our relationship to the earth but is infused with hope that change is possible.

Admittedly, Part 2 is a little academic, mostly exploring ecology and sustainability in relation to literary subjects; but Part 3 is a lot more accessible, and I found it very moving.

Television

After we ploughed through Season One of Veronica Mars on Netflix last month, we jumped right into Season Two. SO SO GOOD!!! Ben and I just loved it. Riveting plot, interesting characters, fantastic story-telling.

Again, it deals with really heavy stuff like child abuse, rape, murder, and suicide, yet I find it doesn’t fill my soul with blackness the way a lot of shows today (ahem — Walking Dead and Breaking Bad) do. (Note: I have not watched a significant amount of either; I’ve just seen enough scenes and heard enough synopses to determine tell they were not for me. Too many rotting/melting corpses.) Once again, we watched an episode almost every night until we finished the season.

Hoping Season 3 doesn’t disappoint!

Craftyness

I don’t usually make much time for crafting. I’m usually too busy in the kitchen, honestly. But reading The Nesting Place last month must have had a greater impact on me, subconsciously, than I realized. Suddenly, I wanted to make All The Home Decor. I started getting really excited to make wreaths and sunburst mirrors and I got a little carried away.

So here goes. I did all of these things while watching Veronica Mars with Ben.

Also: not a SINGLE one of these ideas is original to me (except the last one). Someone else came up with them. I just followed tutorials I found on Pinterest. I am not the creative mastermind behind them.

First I made this sunburst mirror out of poster board, following the tutorial on the Nesting Place blog. I paid $6 for the mirror at Michael’s, and another $1.50 for the cardstock. (So that’s $7.50 total.) It’s big, too — about three feet across. It’s going up over the new mantle Ben built for our gas fireplace — he just has to mount it.

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Then I started getting crazy with book pages. All of the paper you see in the items below come from the same old copy of Don Quixote. Thanks, Cervantes! I never read your book but it looks awesome on my walls!

book page wreathI got the instructions for this book page wreath from Vintage Paint and More. Since I already had the book, it cost me about a dollar in hot glue and took me three hours to make. It hangs above Lydia’s care of self table (which I talk about here). I’ve wanted something there for a year now, and I realized that what was missing from the room was something with texture. Here’s how it looks in its new surroundings:

book page wreath / care of self table(Full disclosure: I totally kicked things out of the way for this picture. It was not this tidy twenty seconds ago.)

Delighted with the results (Yay texture! Yay free decor!), I then went ahead and made a slightly different book page wreath for the space going down the stairs into the basement.

vintage book page wreathThe tutorial for this one comes from The Shabby Creek Cottage. It also cost me about a dollar in hot glue.

Finally, while I was browsing Michael’s, I spotted the very thing to go on the walls beside our alphabet poster: paper-maché deer heads. I immediately knew I wanted to cover them in torn up book pages to match the wreath on the opposite wall. Here’s the finished result:

paper mache deer head with book pages

paper mache deer headsAs you can see, I’m almost done with the second one. It might be a while until my hands are free during Veronica Mars to finish it, though. We’ll see.

And that’s what I’ve been into!

Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Linking up with the lovely Leigh Kramer!

Announcing: Felix Victor

Hi friends! In case you missed it in my social media feeds, baby Felix Victor arrived last Wednesday.

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We had a wonderful (though still horrifically painful) home birth, and we’re all doing really well. He was a whopping 9 pounds, which makes perfect sense considering my size. Felix is a champion nurser and so far a great sleeper. My wonderful mother and mother-in-law have been keeping an eye on Lydia quite a bit, which has really helped with my recovery. I will never be able to repay them.

I’ll be back soon to share his birth story if you’re into that kind of thing (I am!!). Thanks for all the love and support you’ve shown over on Facebook and Instagram. You are all the best.

Favourite Montessori and Waldorf Christmas Presents for a Two-Year-Old

waldorf and montessori gift ideas for a two-year-old

I may not be breaking out the Christmas tree or festive tunes quite yet, but I have started thinking about Christmas gifts.

When it comes to buying for my kid, I really value suggestions from people who share my philosophies on parenting, education, stewardship, and the like. I try to be very careful in my selection, keeping things simple and to a minimum. So I thought I’d share the best-loved gifts I’ve purchased for my daughter. As many of you know, I’m really inspired by Waldorf and Montessori philosophies of childhood and education, so my gifts are naturally influenced by them.

I only feel comfortable recommending products that we’ve personally tried and loved. These are all gifts that Lydia received for Christmas last year when she was two. So we’ve had almost a year to enjoy and evaluate them. I have no qualms about recommending them! They have gotten much love and use.

I hope you are inspired by them, too!

Waldorf Doll (Bamboletta)

Bamboletta Waldorf Doll - Christmas gift ideas for a 2-year-old

This was our big splurge item last year — by far Lydia’s most expensive gift. But oh, she has gotten a lot of love!

The Waldorf philosophy of education emphasizes open-ended play, natural materials, beauty, and simplicity. All of these elements are found together in Waldorf-style dolls.

They are generally made of natural materials like wool and cotton and have very simple faces so that children can project a wide range of emotions onto them. The wool is naturally antibacterial, and slowly absorbs the smell of home, so that the doll will always remind the child of home. Significantly, Waldorf dolls don’t “do” anything (like cry, drink, pee, close their eyes, etc), unlike many contemporary dolls, because all of those things limit what the child can do and imagine with his or her doll. I find them absolutely beautiful and have fallen more in love with them over the last year.

I did a lot of searching, and have found that I love Bamboletta dolls most. They have, in my opinion, the most beautiful faces. They’re actually on the more affordable side, too. They are handmade in BC, Canada, with natural fibers like wool, mohair, and silk, and stuffed with locally-sourced wool. Every doll is unique, and comes with a name and birth certificate. They generally range in price between $130-$250, depending on size and other details. I decided to go with a Little Buddy since they are more affordable, and a good size for a toddler.

Waldorf doll - Bamboletta

So Etta came to join Lydia’s toy family last Christmas. She became best friends with Lydia’s sock monkey, Present, and their shenanigans together are never-ending.

I completely intend to eventually buy our next baby a Bamboletta as well, even if it’s a boy. Every little boy deserves a huggable little companion, too!

Also: I have since purchased more handmade outfits from Bamboletta, and the customer service is out of this world.

And I just want to mention this tiny, random detail: Etta smells absolutely amazing!! She was shipped to us with a tiny bar of natural goat milk soap in the box (specially formulated for washing her cotton skin), and whatever essential oils they used in that soap make everything that comes near it smell like heaven. It sealed the deal for me.

(Note: I am not affiliated with Bamboletta in any way; I’m just crazy about their products.)

Schylling Junior Helper Mop

Yarn mop. Montessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old

The rest of Lydia’s Christmas presents fell in the Montessori Practical Life camp. This mop is one of them.

The Montessori philosophy, like Waldorf, emphasizes giving children high-quality, child-sized materials made with durable, natural materials. This shows respect for the child and encourages her to care for her materials and her environment. Montessori also emphasizes allowing children to do things for themselves, recognizing that children like to imitate adults and contribute to the household.

I got Lydia this simple yarn mop and she absolutely loves it. (It’s not the most incredible quality, but you can actually do the job with it. Not like many of those cheap play items from Toys R Us.) Mopping is an activity that she really enjoys when she has her own mop. I’m not joking: when I say, “Lydia, do you want to come help me mop?” she runs to get her own.

Yarn mop. Montessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old

And importantly, it has stood up to a year of use just fine, and will continue to be used for years to come.

Playsmith Kid’s Big Tool Set

Tool set. Montoessori gift ideas for a 2-year-old(She got this from Grandma, at my request.)

This tool set contains a leaf rake, garden rake, shovel, and hoe. The handles are made of wood and the heads are made of metal. Again, the quality isn’t perhaps the most outstanding, and the paint has gotten some wear and chipping, but overall the items have all held out well, especially for the price.

Toddler shovel - Montessori

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALydia loves to do whatever Mommy or Daddy is doing, and these tools give her a chance to work alongside us outside.

Tiny Cleaver

Tiny cleaver - Perfect knife for a toddler. Montessori gift for a two-year-oldIt is my firm belief that a two-year-old should have her very own knife. (What, like you don’t have any weird beliefs?) Being able to prepare food is an essential life skill that can’t start being practiced too early; and cutting is a vital part of it. Kids need to learn to use knives!

I had a hard time finding a good knife that was small enough for a toddler, high-quality, easy to use, and safe. I tried some crinkle cutters which were decent but I wasn’t completely satisfied. I searched high and low until I finally came across the lovely little cleaver from Michael Olaf (a distributor or Montessori materials.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This little 6.5-inch stainless-steel beauty only costs $4.50 plus shipping and has been totally worth it. I love the sense of confidence and self-worth I can see when Lydia works with her knife. I hear so much pride in her voice as she says, “I’m going to get my knife!” It’s perfect for her little hands. It’s sturdy and sharp enough to cut things like chicken but not so sharp that I worry about her cutting herself. (AT ALL.) The blunt tip prevents accidents and the cleaver style keeps her fingers out of the way when pushing down.

Seriously, it’s perfect.

Stacking Cups

Stacking cups. Perfect gift for a two-year-old

Okay, so this isn’t really a Montessori or Waldorf item, though it does have some of the qualities of both: it’s an open-ended toy that promotes a wide range of learning.

It contains control of error because the cups won’t properly stack unless you do it in the right order. Playing with them teaches lessons in spacial awareness, size, geometry, etc.

They can also be used imaginatively: these cups have acted as drinking cups, bowls, caves for toy animals, flippers for her feet (don’t ask), and more. They’re also fun in the bath tub.

She has also played colour-matching games with them, pairing same-coloured cups together or filling them with same-coloured pom-poms.

Playing with stacking cups

A friend once described them as “the ultimate toy,” and I have to admit, these stupid cheap plastic cups have been one of the most-used items I’ve purchased for her. I highly recommend them. Babies can enjoy them, and Lydia still plays with them regularly at age three.

And that’s about it! What have been some of your best gift purchases for a toddler?

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