Category Archives: Practical Life

Amira turned 6 months-old!

Yesterday was a beautiful day to turn 6 months-old! It was a sunny 61 degrees outside, birds chirped and the smell of spring was in the air. Congratulations to Amira for being the sweetest most patient daughter I’ve ever had.Amira6months

Since she turned 6 months-old, my DH and I decided to feed her blended oatmeal as her first taste of solid food. She was definitely ready to eat, evidenced by her grabbing the spoon and stuffing it into her mouth. She is increasingly becoming more independent. A.J. is too!

Now, he pours his own rice milk! A.J.independentAsking for milk politely over and over again can get tiresome. I knew I had to step it up and let him take on the empowering task of pouring his own milk. I bought a little glass pitcher that he has used for several months to water plants and practice pouring, but ironically I never put the milk into the pitcher until now. Ooops. He also spreads his own jelly.

He probably can do many more independent tasks if I’d let him or teach him. I have to review some age appropriate tasks he should be performing himself so that I can get back on the ball in this area. I need to revisit practical life activities so that he can continue to make progress in these areas.

A.J. wouldn’t take his nap yesterday afternoon. For those of you who have had the privilege of being around  A.J., when he is sleepy or cranky know that he can reallllllly go into a frenzy. While I was putting him back into bed, demanding that he take his nap, through his tears, he started saying the Prayer of Protection. He knows how to calm me down. Now, that’s smart thinking! But then again, he is accustomed to me saying the prayer before tucking him in bed. Nevertheless, praying was a timely thing to do. At least I’ve taught him that. Now, if I can remember to pray during his meltdowns perhaps I could set a better example of how to act when frustrated.

Please share with me the wonderful things your toddler can do or could do by 2.5 years-old.

Pray, Persist & Prosper!



Cornbread as Sensory Play

This buttermilk cornbread smells and feels good!

The other day I needed some time to handle business during the day, but A.J. wanted my full and undivided attention. I had to think of something quickly that would keep his attention while I answered a few e-mails and completed some work for my outside job.

The previous night I made some buttermilk cornbread. I never made buttermilk cornbread before, but after trying it, I don’t plan on making it again. Instead of throwing it away, I left it on the counter. When I was looking for something that would keep A.J.’s attention without me, I turned to the cornbread. I crumbled it up and made it a sensory item for A.J. to explore. Since it’s food, I didn’t mind him putting it into his mouth or eating it! I laid down a tarp covering, which I bought at Big Lots (read the nightmare post about that!) and let A.J. go to town. Melt down averted!

My mouth is full of Buttermilk Cornbread!

Oh my! I put some in my hair, too!

What are some successful ways that you’ve occupied your child in a pinch?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

7 Activities That Demonstrate How Water Play Develops Important Skills

Oooooh. Nice looking ice, Mommy!

1. Melting Colored Ice in Warm Water – Although it is winter, I want A.J. to experience some water play outside of the bathtub. The Mommysaver blog shared this neat colored ice idea. However, instead of adding the ice to bath water as the site recommends, I decided to put the cubes in a large bowl. I added warm water so that A.J. could watch and feel the ice cubes melt. The bright colors (which quickly turned dark), texture of the ice, and warm water all fascinated him.

I was so enthralled by his reaction that I didn’t point out the colors. Next time I most definitely will. This activity reinforces color recognition.

Ice melting in warm water.

Ice is cold.

2. Scooping Ice – helps toddlers perfect their three-finger (pincer) grasp which is important for writing. This is a fine motor skill development activity that will help toddlers gain better control over their arm and hand movements. I dumped the melted ice and added the colored ice without water.

Scooping the ice into a bowl.

Yay for me!

Ooooh Gosh this is fun, but my hands are freezing from playing with the ice!

3. Pouring – is another fine motor skill act. However, it encompasses the whole hand and in Montessori education, this would be considered a Whole hand Grasping activity.

I'm helping Mommy to water the plants.

Since A.J. is watering a plant, Montessori educators would also categorize this activity as practicing Care of the Environment. Other activities that fall under this category are:

  1. Sweeping the floor
  2. Mopping the floor
  3. Cleaning spills
  4. Wiping a table
  5. Washing a dish
  6. Drying a dish
  7. Washing a cup
  8. Drying a cup

4. Wringing a Washcloth or Sponge – This is when things went a little awry. A.J. flung the sponge and water went flying every where. He thought this was funny. Wringing a washcloth for a pre-toddler is challenging because it requires a circular wrist motion, a skill that needs practicing in order to be strengthenend.

After a few minutes of playing with the sponge, A.J. turned the water bowls upside down and began drumming on them. Anything with a flat bottom is at risk of becoming a drum!

Hmmmm, I wonder what sound this new drum will make?

5. Cleaning Spills – is an important part of caring for your environment and teaching this skill so that it becomes a habit for kids is crucial.

Wiping a spill.

6. Spray & Play – I leave a spray bottle with water on the shelf so that A.J. can give it to me anytime he wants me to chase and spray him. I enjoy listening to him squeal with laughter as I chase him around the house. The water is gentle and comes out in a light mist. I especially like to spray him so that he can get accustomed to water unexpectedly getting onto his face. Being comfortable with water in your face is important when learning how to swim. The running also helps him with his Gross Motor Skills.

7. Carrying a Bucket of Water – Actually, this could be carrying a bucket of anything. I haven’t done this with A.J. yet, but I plan to do it soon. Carrying a bucket develops Control of Movement, another area of development in Montessori education.

While the water play activities mentioned here all have latent skill building components, having fun is the surest way to get your toddler doing these activities again and again.

What fun indoor water play have you had with your tot lately?

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Circle Time Surprise

A.J. and I have Circle Time everyday. During our Circle Time we review the calendar by singing songs and focusing on the day’s date. Yesterday, when I pointed out December 7th as the date, A.J. went to his numbers puzzle and grabbed the number 7. I was shocked that he made this connection and even chose the right number.

When I asked him to bring mommy other specific numbers, he brought me random numbers instead. Nevertheless, it still was a pleasant surprise that he made the connection between the numbers on his puzzle and the numbers he sees  on his calendar.  He did however pick-up the zero puzzle piece and began pointing to the different zeros on the calendar. WOW!

A.J. is holding the number 7 in his right hand.

After meals, A.J. wipes off his table and chair. This is a practical life activity that I encourage on a daily basis. He is making good progress.

For the first time this month, A.J. was ready to finger paint again. In the past I would help him by demonstrating what to do, so the art was done more so by me. This time I let him do it all by himself. I provided him with a paint brush that he also chose to use.

I wrote the date on his paper and took a picture. I plan to date and take pictures of all of his creations so that stacks of paper won’t pile up. I do plan to keep some to display, but I will produce a book containing his art work so that he can see his progress.

Check out his pincer grasp. His Grand da-da taught him that!

The Finished Masterpiece

What art activities does your little one enjoy?

Stay Tuned for tomorrow’s post: A Fantastic Homemade Carpet Stain Removal Remedy

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Official Blog Launch Celebration Today!

Welcome and thank you for visiting Beacon Villages! I appreciate you stopping by. Feel free to browse around and if you like what you see so far, be sure to sign-up for e-mail notifications of new posts on this site.

I plan to include lots of delicious recipes, play and craft projects for you and your little one, Montessori inspired educational activities, solutions for the home, musings and more.

By the way, let me know when you stop by every now and then by posting a comment or by e-mailing me!

Happy Reading!

Pray, Persist and Prosper!

Happy Belated Birthday Dad!

November 26th was my Dad’s birthday and I must admit that I just didn’t have it together to make him his special card. Once I make it, I will post it. Better late than never! Here’s the beginning of it.

The caption in A.J.’s bubble reads, “Sorry Grandpa, it was mama’s fault!”

Pray, Persist and Prosper!

Two Big Tots in Big Lots

A.J. and I took a simple trip to Big Lots, but it became anything but simple. To make a long story short. I gave A.J. my car keys to play with in order to avoid a melt down he was about to have. Normally I get my keys back, but this time I got distracted and forgot. Because he’s now a “Big Tot,” he didn’t want to ride in the cart.

He ran all over the store, with me always near. It was frustrating, but I wanted to respect his growing independence.

As I walked to the car however, I realized that I didn’t have my keys. Neither did A.J. When I asked him about my keys, he shrugged his little shoulders as if to say, “I don’t know where they are.”

While I searched all over the store with A.J. in tow, he cried and thrashed around until I felt compelled to force him into the cart so I could focus on my search. He cried the entire time. I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

The workers were polite enough to help me search. I think it was more for their sanity, than out of the kindness of their hearts. (LOL/just kidding!) The search unfortunately was futile.

Meanwhile, A.J. wanted to nurse and was melting down even further from being in the store so long. I wanted to scream and felt inside like the picture below. I was indeed the other “Big Tot” in Big Lots.

This is a reenactment. Motherhood makes for good comedy!

After two hours of being in the store, I stopped my search, bought some snacks, picked up a few books to read with A.J. and made myself right at home on one of the comfy couches.

I nursed A.J., played with him and had story time, while I waited for my husband who was working an hour away, to bring the spare key. My frustration turned into enjoyable moments with my son as I began to patiently wait. A.J. began to patiently wait with me.

Near the three hour mark, a customer found my keys. They were somewhere near the soap. I must admit, I did feel a twinge of disappointment at having to leave because we had gotten into a reading, nursing, and snacking groove. The timeout had given me an opportunity to relax my mind and adjust my expectations. Needless to say, I was grateful and thankful to have recovered my keys.

Has this ever happened to you? I hope not. (Smile)

Pray, Persist and Prosper! (I needed more of this at Big Lots!)

Milestone Moment: Sweeping Floor & Returning Broom to Proper Place

I love to witness A.J. participating in practical life activities. For example, whenever I’m in the kitchen, he retrieves the broom and dust pan from the pantry and proceeds to sweep the kitchen floor.

I plan to purchase a child size broom to make it easier for him to manage and to use properly. But for now, I allow him the freedom to sweep away using the oversized broom. When he finishes sweeping, he voluntarily returns the broom and dust pan to where it belongs. When he feels the urge to leave it laying in the middle of the floor, I ask him questions about where the broom belongs, instead of ordering him to put it back.

I’m learning to help A.J. to be more self-directed by inspiring him to right-action through questions, instead of asking or demanding. Of course I ask on occasion, but it’s much more empowering for toddlers to take action based on the answer that they think of versus me simply telling them what to do. My questioning tactic will have to suffice until A.J. grows into the understanding that we put items that we use back where they belong.

As I improve my organizational skills and create a “prepared environment,” restoring items to their proper place should become easier for the entire family. I must be patient with myself and 14-month old A.J. Although he is barely over one, he understands a great deal. He is capable of following simple requests and demonstrates that he can process questions by displaying appropriate actions.

Here is an example of A.J. returning the broom to its proper place:

There are occasions when I ask A.J. to return an item to its proper place and he laughs at me or ignores me. When this happens, I offer to help him and explain that “I’m putting the broom back where it belongs.” Then I give a short explanation why, “We want to keep our kitchen neat and safe.”

While A.J. may not understand all of my words, lately I have observed him putting more items back where they belong without having to prompt him. This progress is worth celebrating, which is one of the reasons that I created this blog; to keep track of A.J.’s development and to remind myself to celebrate these milestone moments daily.

Pray, Persist & Prosper!

Back in the Blogosphere!

Thank you in advance for stopping by Beacon Villages! As many of you know, I used to blog about topics related to the nonprofit sector and about personal development. Now that I’m a mommy, I have changed my focus.

While I still work in the nonprofit sector, you won’t find  any topics related to nonprofit management here, unless it fits, of course. However, you still will find posts related to “personal development.” I can’t help it. I’m a work in progress.

To give you a better idea of what you can expect to read, here are my 7 reasons for starting this blog and how you can benefit from reading it.

1. My son is growing up before my eyes. I’m documenting his progression while savoring the journey. Writing frequently prompts me to reflect on the why, what, and how of my parenting.

That was then…August 13, 2010 

This is now…as of October 2011

2. We live in Atlanta and our family is mainly concentrated in Wisconsin, California, and Texas. We also have friends around the country who are interested in keeping up with A.J.’s adventures.

3. I desire to improve my writing skills. This blog is a great way to practice.

4. This blog will hopefully connect me with other homeschooling Montessori moms from which I can learn a whole heap.

5. My experience may help other Montessori newbies navigate through the process of putting philosophy into action.

6.  As an African-American Montessori homeschooling mom, I may face unique challenges and opportunities. Sharing from this perspective may help other moms like me.

7. I plan to create learning materials for my son. These materials can serve as inspiration for other mom/teachers or possibly be sold to save them time and money.

If we can’t meet in person. I’d love to meet you in the blogosphere! Your comments, questions, and musings are always welcome!

Pray, Persist & Prosper!