Nov 20, 2014

Loving Living Books: Lois Ehlert

lovinglivingbooks
 

This past September, Naomi and I started her homeschool preschooling.  It’s been quite the ride, and a lot of fun.  As a lover of books myself, I was thrilled when I discovered the Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling, along with it’s copious free resources (a frugalite’s dream!).  Our days are fairly peaceful for the most part, and involve a lot of time spent enjoying beautiful stories and books.  Charlotte Mason described them as “living books”, meaning a book written by an author who obviously conveys a true passion for the story she or he presents.  A living book uses hearty words, pleasant stories and beautiful, original artwork. The opposite of a living book, as described by Charlotte Mason, is “twaddle”.  Twaddle is a little tougher to define, but you know it pretty quick when you read it.  If it bores you to tears, if the pictures are made by computers, if it contains cartoon characters, etc., well, it’s basically twaddle.  To be honest, one of the best ways to describe “twaddle” can be found in the adorable movie, “Despicable Me”, as illustrated by this video.

  So I thought I’d share with you some of the books we’ve been reading lately.  It’s been quite an experience to sort through the local library and find beautiful books that I enjoy reading to them, and that they enjoy hearing.  Some authors write one or two books that you might describe as “living” and others write whole series’ of books.  So I thought it would be fun for me to feature some of the wonderful authors and their books that we have come across and share them with you. This week, we have been really enjoying books by Lois Ehlert.  Lois is an artist who writes and illustrates beautiful books mostly based around nature, and often using natural items like leaves in her artwork.  Her books are so simple, with lovely language that is simple and easy to read, often in rhymes.  But what I love about her work is that in each picture, she labels what she has illustrated, and then at the end of the book, goes into deeper explanation about the animals and plants in her stories.

Feathers For Lunch tells the story of a hungry cat out looking for a delicious snack.  Each page features a variety of beautiful common birds found throughout Canada and the United States.  Each picture of a bird is life size, and displays the birds doing or eating things they normally do in the wild.  At the end, each bird is listed and includes it’s relative size, diet, and habitat.  Naomi and I really enjoyed this as we were able to identify several common birds that we see regularly in our back yard or on nature walks.

  Growing Vegetable Soup is so vibrant in color and describes the beauty and adventure in growing the vegetables to make a humble pot of vegetable soup.  This was a very relevant story for Naomi and I, as Michael is an avid gardener.  We grew almost everything she featured in the book this year, including carrots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli and we even tried corn.  At the back of the book is even a complete recipe for the vegetable soup she describes.  Naomi and I plan to make it later this week.

  Leaf Man is a beautiful collage of pictures using a plethora of fall foliage, cut and shaped to tell the story of the autumn winds stirring leaves and blowing them across the countryside, over various animals, plants and trees.  At the beginning and end of the book is a sample of the various kinds of leaves and an identification of each one.  It’s a very inspirational book, and Naomi expressed a desire to run right outside to get some leaves so she could make her own “Leaf Man”. We actually have a stack of other stories by her that I cannot wait to flip through as we snuggle on the couch this afternoon.  Lois Ehlert’s books will definitely find themselves on our shelves in the future, and likely be mimicked in our own art projects and story ideas.  Her work is touching, warm and inspirational, a true testimony to what a living book should be.

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Nov 19, 2014

How We Got Through Halloween Candy Without a Single Meltdown: Alternatives to the Classic Candy Binge


scary candy
Photo by Lisa Bunchofpants
To say that Naomi is “sensitive to sugar” is an understatement.  That’s like saying vampires are sensitive to stakes through the heart.  It doesn’t take much of that horrible white evil to turn my sweet, joyful girl into a whining, bouncing, psychopathic little monster.

Halloween, however, is without a doubt the favorite holiday around here.  We all dress up (and I do mean all of us!) and take turns passing out the treats.  This year, she asked to go as a witch, so I went as her kitty.  Michael went as a Jedi Warrior, and we bought the most adorable onsie and hat set for Jude to go as R2D2.  Yes, we are huge and unabashed nerds in this house.  Naomi could recognize Yoda long before she could recognize Ronald McDonald.

My stylish little witch. #halloween

A photo posted by Nada (@nadasings) on

Last year was a nightmare.  Naomi, Michael and myself opted to binge on the candy for a week straight to get rid of it.  The result was a little girl who was overloaded, overhyped and overwhelmed.  It was heartbreaking, and the withdrawl that followed was just as bad.  It took almost a whole month to get her back to her normal, healthy self.  Sugar after that became a bad word in our house, and even now, I almost always half the sugar in any recipe I make. I vowed that next year, we would find a way that we could use to control the sugar monster.  But how do I balance the memory making and joy from Halloween for Naomi with the results of a sugar binge?  There are actually a lot of options!  I was pretty surprised when I looked into it this summer and discovered so many great options!

  R2D2 was not cooperating. Seriously, this is the best pic of him I got. :P #halloween   A photo posted by Nada (@nadasings) on


1.  Buy Candy From Your Child.  Some parents offer their children a set amount of money ($0.10 to $0.25 per piece) to their children.  You could let them save their favorites (like the chocolate bars) and at the same time, buy the junky candy corn and lollipops, and let them buy a new toy or game instead.  I did offer this option to Naomi, but she wasn’t at all interested.  Maybe next year.

2.  Look Into Trade In Offers at Dentist Offices.  This is a great idea.  Several dentist offices in my city were willing to trade money to a child per pound of candy.  My local dentist was offering $1 per pound.  But again, Naomi wasn’t interested in this.  She much preferred the candy.

3.  Send Extra Candy to Military Personnel Overseas.  I had heard of people doing these things for Christmas, but it never would have occurred to me to do this for Halloween.  What a great idea!  This takes place in Canada and in the United States (not sure about in other countries).

The Jedi Master with lightsaber drawn.

A photo posted by Nada (@nadasings) on

Unfortunately, the idea of parting with her hard-earned treats didn’t exactly appeal to Naomi.  So instead, I opted to go with a more structured method.  I laid down some rules and stuck to them strictly.  

a.  Naomi could have three individual pieces of candy a day.  One of those had to be chips.  Chips don’t seem to have much of an effect on her.  She was allowed to pick the treat herself, either a piece of candy, a lollipop, a bag of chips, etc. and that was the only thing she was allowed to have until the next time.  This gave her a choice of what she wanted to have at that time.  It was rather surprising to see her go through the “healthy” (yeah right!) gummy candies first, and focus less on the chocolates.

b.  She could only have a treat after she had eaten her whole meal beforehand.  Didn’t matter what I was serving, or what meal it was — if the meal wasn’t finished, no candy.  Period.  This also guaranteed that she had a full stomach, and her body was busy breaking down the carbs, proteins and fats, instead of just candy.

c.  Candy was a privilege that could easily be taken away.  Candy was not something that she got just because.  It could be used as a punishment in the event that a punishment was deemed necessary (not something that happens often).  If Michael or I thought that she had consumed too much sugar already in the day (on the odd occasions that we ate out or she had juice, etc), it was okay for us to say that she’d had enough candy for the day.  She is really good at recognizing this herself, and accepted it for the most part without much argument.

d.  Dessert and candy cannot go together.  If I had made cookies or cake, she was welcome to have some of that instead of the candy.  But she couldn’t have both.  I was actually surprised how many times she would choose a small piece of hard candy over a lovely slice of chocolate cake.  I am guessing it’s the novelty.

The results have been wonderful.  Tomorrow, she will enjoy the last three pieces of candy and will have been able to enjoy the treats that she enjoyed gathering almost a month ago, and with almost no issues whatsoever.  We will try the other options again next year, but if she isn’t interested in parting with her treats, I will again set down the candy rules and we can enjoy letting her have her treats without having to go through the chaos it creates.

Endora, you can’t beat this! #halloween

A photo posted by Nada (@nadasings) on

Nov 18, 2014

3 Fashionable Ways to Stay Warmer This Winter

What’s more dangerous to your spendthrift ways than a frugal mama?  A frugal hippy mama!  I didn’t want to turn that thermostat up a single degree until we absolutely had to.  We didn’t want to turn it up til the first of November this year, but after all four of us came down with colds, we decided that we’d better turn it up.

Even still, I don’t want to have to turn it up too much yet — it’s not even December yet!  So here are some very simple, very easy ways to keep warm throughout the winter without being terribly inconvenienced or uncomfortable.


Only The Toes Knows
Photo by Vox Efx
1. Wear socks. Two pairs, if you don’t have slippers.  This is coming from a diehard barefooted devotee.  But once the temperature starts to fall, I start breaking out my deliciously warm socks.  I have a fondness for Smart Wool socks, myself, but who could resist a pair of soft felted woolen socks handmade by someone you love?  If you’re lucky enough to have a lovely pair of slippers (we each have a pair of these sweet things on their way to us right now!) that will just add to it.  Keeping your tootsies warm, and not in direct contact with your cold floor, will help to keep the rest of your body warm and toasty as well.

 


Time For The Longies
Photo by outdoorPDK
2. Break out your long underwear.  And by the way, there’s no need to go out and buy new skivvies if you can’t afford them.  Even a comfy pair of yoga pants will do just fine.  But under your regular clothes, throw on a pair of thermal underwear and you will hardly even need a sweater throughout the day.  I break out mine the instant the leaves start to change color.  My daughter starts wearing a pair of leggings under her jeans as well.  It keeps us both toasty warm and ready to take on the day’s challenges.

BTW, if you buy a simple pair of black cotton ones, they can go under a knee length skirt or maxi skirt as well — modest, warm and comfy!

 


bandana cowl
Photo by Eunice
3.  Knitted anything is awesome.  Break out your knitting needles (did you know you can start learning to knit for next to nothing?) and create something luxurious and warm to keep you cozy.  On my list of things to knit (as if that list ever gets shorter!) is this gorgeous Bandana Cowl by Purl Bee.  Not only is it gorgeous and cozy, but it would work double duty to keep my neck warm, my head warm, my face warm, and just look so sweet.  But if cowls aren’t your thing, try a hair scarf or headwrap to keep your thoughts warm and comfy.   There are a little million ways to knit yourself a beautiful and warm headscarf.

What ways do you dress to keep warm at home during the colder weather?  Share your comments!

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Jul 29, 2014

Developings

 

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It’s been so long, and we have come so far…

Our sweet baby is here!  Jude joined us on Oct. 24, 2013.  Whereas Naomi was born with her father’s deep brown eyes, cleft in her chin and slim frame, Jude has my bright blue eyes, my cheeky dimples on each side, and my father’s solid and stocky core.  He smiles at me every morning, and loves to explore the house around him.  He is a brilliant little clown, who loves to dance and thinks Daddy is the funniest person in the world.


I will post more on his birth later (and that reminds me, I never shared Naomi’s birth with you all either!).  But right now, I wanted to share an update on us and what all is going on with our family.  It has been long time (Jude is 9 months old now, so it’s been over a year) since I last posted here.  Pregnancy is so hard on me and my body, and then the transition from being a mom of one to a mom of two is an experience and a half!  On top of that, Michael has a new job, which he absolutely loves, and we have some new challenges in our future (more on that as they developed — stay tuned!  You’re going to love it!).

And me?  I’m learning so much about myself and my relationships with my children.  It’s so amazing to see how very different they are from one another, and how amazing they are as themselves.  I love watching them grow and learning more about them.  Since Jude has been born and I’ve been home, it’s been an incredible experience to see Naomi go from 2 to 3 and from 3 to 4 and to see her rebel and blossom and become her own person.  My stars she is an amazing, brilliant little girl.  And what a girl — all girl!  Pink and ponies and flowers and butterflies and glitter and balloons and girl, girl, girl!  It’s so hard for this ungirly mama to deal with all this pink and cotton candy.  :P

 

monsanto

 

I hope to post more things — I have a stash of posts I’ve worked on over the last year that I wrote as they came to me, intending all the while to come back here and post them.  Now that Jude is a little older and doesn’t need me every single second (whoo-hoo!  I can pee by myself — if I’m quick!), I hope to get back and post more and share more about my family and our adventures, as well as the fantastic things that I come across on the internet that I find fascinating.

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Much love to you all and I look forward to reacquainting with you again!

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miniMOMist is an account of Mike, Nada, Naomi and Jude's journey into realistic minimalism, with the goal centered around simple living, and enjoying each other rather than things. We are a faith-based family and blog about our belief in God regularly. Our love for one another and our passion for a simple, minimalist life brings us much joy and pleasure.


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