books and resources

projects in progress

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:: Second Milo on the needles :: Snow Pixie hats on the cutting table ::

:: Other project-themed books ::

These handful of days have been off-kilter. Following an unprecedented string of good days, in which everything seemed to flow, the boys (and myself, no doubt) trudged through the last two days with low energy, sapped patience, and a general grumpy malaise. 

This time, though, I have a peace about it. I've come to expect these days, just as I expect the perfect ones. It even feels, dare I say ... comforting. I feel grateful to pass through very human situations together as a family; grateful to learn about each other and let each other experience a full spectrum of feelings. 

It also feels good to hop into a project in the creative space that opens up after a patch of ho-humness. There's plenty to do in the studio between now and Christmas, and the gift-making is kicking into gear. I'm also really liking my circular saw, and have my eyes on some of the projects in this book once the chicken coop is done.

And - I can't recommend highly enough Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners by Lori Pickert. It speaks to me right where I am as parent just starting off on the homeshooling journey, which can be totally daunting if you see all the ideas that can be done out there on the internet and all of the facts that can be passed on to a child. Here's an exceprt:

"Try to avoid pulling attention away from your child's project (his deepest interest) with random, one-off activities. Save casual field trips and similar activities for times between projects. The less you distract your child with random activities and interruptions, the more engaged and focused he'll be. You're giving him the opportunity to stay longer with what he cares about most; you're giving him the chance to build something really meaningful." 

Love.

Back to my projects. Have a wonderful weekend!


Art Co-Op

Guest blogger Charlotte, here again!  I'm constantly inspired by Meg's beautiful art ideas for children, so today I thought I'd show you what my kids have been working on with their friends.

This girl isn't mine! It's our friend, Neela.

Two or three times a month, my kids plus three other families get together and do art projects.  There are thirteen children altogether and they begin participating around age 3.  Our oldest is 10.  They are all engaged with the work, though the younger kids skip the more formal lesson portion and join in during the messy parts. This week we did print making while studying the Impressionists, as shown above.  It was also a Gallery Day, where we display their work from the month.

The materials for this week's project weren't cheap, but since there were four families and not any more ink or brayers needed than for just one child, it ended up being fairly reasonable.  We typically trade off teaching and bringing materials, and it all seems to even out in the end.  We are using the Joyce Raimondo series of books, which have great projects that are grouped by type of art, such as Impressionism, Pop Art, and Surrealism.  Each week we do just one artist and two or three projects.  We typically supplement with a few library books about the artist as well, but the planning itself is not difficult.  

Although we use these books in a group setting, they are great for family projects at home too.  Some of them only require paper and crayons or materials from the recycle bin.  

What art books for children do you enjoy most?


rah-rah storytelling

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Show Me a Story, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways ... did you recognize the stones in my calendar? Just a small tribute to what I believe to be an absolutely magnificent new book.

As a blogger, I receive the occasional catalogue of soon-to-be-published titles, and this one immediately caught my eye and I requested a review copy. That was six months ago or so, and I've been eager to have it in my hands the whole time.

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We love a good story. From the time Finn was a wee one, we would tell him stories about his day - mundane stories that he would listen to with as much rapt attention as an eighteen month-old could muster. Lachlan, though prone to more movement than his brother was at that age, now requests a Sparkle Story when we're in the car.

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Patrick is a self-made storyteller, having a wide array of humorous, real-life tales that he conjures up in social situations - from living with two elderly, Irish uncles who wandered his suburban neighborhood looking for a pint to sleeping on the edge of a cliff in an indigenous community in rural Mexico.

My storytelling is self-conscious. Hesitant. But for my boys? For my boys I can tell a story. And that's what I love about Show Me a Story . Like a puppet show, it adds a visual dimension to storytelling that takes the focus off of the teller and gives hesitant tale-crafters - either a parents or young children - something visually concrete - a hook, of sorts - on which to hang their stories.

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The book is filled with craft ideas to inspire and expand a child's (or family's) storytelling passion. The story rocks are just the beginning, and most of the projects require little by way of specific crafting skills (i.e. sewing or knitting - although some of the ideas do involve fabric and simple sewing.) I found many of the projects to be appropriate for Finn to use, if not make. Each project does have a suggested age range for use as well as an age range for making the material.

I think storytelling as an art is woefully overlooked in most curricula. The ability to "hold" an audience, to think on one's feet, to craft a compelling narrative - fiction or non-fiction - often gets lost. It gets lost in our emphasis on being consumers of stories rather than makers of stories. Of course, reading and writing skills - from listening comprehension to communicating via the written word - are key skills that play a huge role in the potential formation of the person as "storyteller," and certainly enrich our lives in their own right. But we often stop there and never explore our full potential as storytellers. For many of us, (myself included) we're just beginning to tap into storytelling as creative expression now that we have a doting and forgiving audience in our young children.

When I was living in Mexico, I had the pleasure of getting to know a wandering Italian puppeteer, a lanky fellow who sewed his own felt vests and made bread from a culture he carried around with him in the pocket of his baggy pants. His Spanish was more Italian than not, but the children loved his stories. Not all of us are destined to be nomadic story minstrels, but anyone can be a storyteller, in any profession. Patrick is one. I think his ability to tell a good story has helped him both professionally and personally. If you're interested in exploring your own inner storyteller, or if you'd love to encourage your children tap into their storytelling spirit, please grab a copy of Show Me a Story . You'll love it, I know.

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How can you not love a book that ends like this?


kids in the kitchen

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There's a new parenting/cookbook (my favorite combo!) on the block, and this is a must-have. Sara of Feeding the Soil and Kylie from How We Montessori have joined together to offer a primer on inviting young children into the kitchen. Kids in the Kitchen will provide you with all of the ideas and tools you'll need to make endless food prep into a memory-making, skill-building, family experience. 

Tell us a little about yourselves and why it is you're passionate about Montessori education. 
 
From Sara:

Whenever I read the news about another mass shooting or more death in Syria or corporate greed or climate change, I feel an overwhelming need to turn my attention and focus toward hope. For me, that hope is our children. Maria Montessori said, "If help and salvation are to come, they can only come from the children, for the children are the makers of men [and women]."

The Montessori approach to education and parenting helps children become confident, loving, compassionate, and responsible for the well-being of themselves, others, and the world around them. It is a truly transformational approach that has the potential to change the world. 

I first experienced Montessori as a child and later as a teacher and parent. I am currently working to create more public Montessori schools in diverse communities nationwide as the founder and executive director of Montessori For All

Kylie found Montessori when she was searching for a parenting philosophy that resonated with her and her family's needs. She was immediately attracted to Montessori's emphasis on "fostering independence, following the child, order and consistency." She currently spends much of her time writing and communicating with parents around the world via her blog, How We Montessori.

We came together to create the cookbook we couldn't find in bookstores. It explains all the benefits of cooking with children (as young as 18 months), details step-by-step directions for setting up the kitchen in a kid-friendly way, includes a sequence of skills to prepare children for cooking, and features ten simple recipes that are illustrated with photographs so even pre-readers can follow along with confidence and independence. 

The simple act of allowing children to cook helps them develop a core of confidence that is so instrumental to their formation of self. 

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The cookbook is a very accessible, visually appealing primer on getting your young child into the kitchen. Could you share with us your own family kitchen routines? What does a typical day in your kitchen look like - busy? Peaceful? Chaotic? Fun? How does involving your children change the way you cook and the way you think about cooking? 

From Kylie: 
A typical day in our kitchen is all of those things--busy, peaceful, chaotic, and fun. Having children definitely changed the way I cook. More importantly, being a parent changed my entire life. I've learned to focus on the process not the outcome, to accept that things will not go as planned and to really live in the moment. I've learned that the key to living an active and engaged life with children is to look past the barriers and find ways to say yes. When things get a little crazy or out of control, I think about the wonderful memories we are making. Usually the the bigger the mess the louder the giggles.

My fifteen-month old has begun to pour his own milk at breakfast, he will help with snack and dehusk corn or shell peas at dinner. Most of all he likes to be by my side so he spends a lot of time in the kitchen exploring or sampling the food. My four year old loves baking and he loves experimenting. His favourite thing at the moment is making up his own flavor combinations and writing his own recipes.

No matter your child's age or personality, it is important to empower them. Give them the equipment and skills so they can work independently. Involve them in decision making as much as possible. Often they amaze us with what they are capable of.

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Because we all have different children, how do you bring out the best of their own personalities while working in the kitchen? One of us might have a vibrant firecracker of a child who joyfully generates the most fabulous messes, while another may have a detail-oriented, innately ordered child who is passionate about carrying out the ideas that she has in her head. 

From Kylie:
Not only are all children different but I've also found that children have different energy through the day. My best advice is to focus on the child and get to know your child in the kitchen. A little preparation can help. For a child who likes to work fast, have everything ready to go, ingredients out and measured. Other children might enjoy the process of collecting all the ingredients and measuring. It helps to have basic ingredients in the pantry and the basic tools for cleaning up ready. Flexibility is also important. Cakes can be turned into muffins, water can make up for too much flour, dinner can be late. It all works out!


Tell us about your non-profit organization, Montessori for All. All profits from cookbook sales go directly to benefit this great organization.

In the United States, there are more than 4,000 private Montessori schools and only about 400 public ones. Montessori For All seeks to change that. We believe that all children deserve access to an educational experience that develops their minds, hearts, and bodies. We believe that children's educational options should not be limited by their families' incomes. We seek to open and lead high-performing, authentic, dual-language, public Montessori schools in diverse communities across the nation. We are currently working to open our flagship school in Austin, TX, in the fall of 2014. 

 

Thank you, Sara and Kylie, for putting so much of yourselves into Kids in the Kitchen: Simple Recipes That Build Independence and Confidence the Montessori Way . I know it will be a fabulous, go-to book for families with young children!


7 tips for family music time

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This morning, I stopped to ponder the road I’ve traveled to get where I am now – which led me to consider a few of those roads that I didn’t choose. The one that stood out to me was that decision, nine years ago, to pursue graduate studies in Montessori education rather than music therapy - a decision that led to living and teaching in rural Mexico for three years, which ultimately led to an interest in Latin American history on Patrick’s part, which landed us here in the land of Duke, et cetera, et cetera.

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Nine years ago, despite my background in classical music, my confidence in my voice, and my ability to read music and harmonize, there was one thing on the list of qualifications for admittance to the music therapy program that made my heart sink a little. The paragraph said something about fluency in guitar or piano or both. Fluent I was not. I was a putzer. A dabbler. A “learned-the-basics-but-never-had-the-discipline-to-REALLY-master-them,” decidedly amateur musician.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have applied anyway. For what I’ve learned, these past eight years of working with little children, is that they could care less how you play the guitar, or, for that matter, how you carry a tune. What matters is that you enthusiastically demonstrate your love for music, and surround them with it.  If you do that, you’re already an amateur music therapist for your family. No need for a degree. I thought I’d share some things I’ve learned over the years that have helped make our family music time a joyful bonding experience.

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1. Drop everything when there’s an interest

We don’t have a schedule in place for family music time. It happens organically, when one of us, adult or little one, feels thus moved.  This morning, Finn finished his oatmeal, hopped out of his chair, and zoomed over to play the washboard.  With no second thoughts or “we need to clean up after breakfast first” parent-y statements, we left our dirty dishes on the table and joined him. Lachlan had other plans, namely pushing his stroller around, but he eventually joined in, too.

We were recently gifted an old swing set by our neighbors, and have found it to be an unlikely help in the music department. I call it “captive music time,” when the boys are happily swinging and often “singing” along, yet both Patrick and I can bring out a few chairs, sit down with our guitars, and work on some more challenging songs and techniques. I think of it like modeling a love of reading – you aren’t going to curl up with Goodnight, Moon when you have a moment to relax – you’re going to read a good novel.  No need to play children’s songs all of the time – nourish your own love of music, too. The kiddos will notice.

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2. Provide a handful of real, yet child-accessible instruments

It’s been really wonderful to see the boys hopping from one instrument to the next, rarely squabbling over who gets to play what. In our music corner, you’ll find a ukulele, several harmonicas, a washboard and some soup spoons, a small pair of drums with drumsticks, maracas, shakers, and jingle bells. A popular item with both boys is the small basket of guitar accessories that only comes out during music time – a guitar tuner, regular picks and a set of finger picks, a slide, and some capos.

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3. Make a list of your family’s favorite songs

Do you find yourself singing the same three songs over and over because you just can’t recall any others in the heat of the musical moment? We did. Oh my, we did. Queue internal parenting dialogue: “Oh cr**. If we sing the Itsy Bitsy Spider one more time, I’m going to wish for the rain to wash me out, and I’m going to wish for many, many rainy days so I don’t have to climb up that spout AGAIN.”  Here’s the thing – I don’t think it’s just us adults that get stuck in a rut with a certain set of songs. Kids forget, and wish they could remember, other songs just like we do. Having a set of favorites that you can call on during family music time really helps.

The list doesn’t need to be fancy. It doesn’t need to be too long. I would suggest starting with at least twenty songs. Start with songs you know your child already loves. When other songs come to you – from your childhood, from a book, on Pandora, etc., write them down. Any song you enjoy singing as a family, or a song you’d like to teach your children, should go on the list. We keep ours on the side of our piano – out of the way but always there.

Not sure where to look for children's songs? We love All Together Singing in the Kitchen, Rise Up Singing, The Singing Day, Elizabeth Mitchell, Raffi, and listening to the Indie Children's music station on Pandora.

4. Learn, or make up your own hand motions and movements for songs

As tempting as it can be to hide behind your guitar and strum “D – D –A –D” over and over again, don’t. What really gets kids excited about music is movement – the hand motions, the spinning, the clapping, the stomping, the pretending.  Make sure to add several movement-heavy songs to your family music time.

We all know the Itsy Bitsy Spider – what about Pick a Bale O’ Cotton? Look to the words to come up with your own motions.  Have your kids pretend to be an animal while singing Old MacDonald – they’ll love it when you have to guess what they’re acting out!

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5. Sing the same song in different ways

Nothing gets a three year-old going more than singing the same song fast, then slow, then loud, then soft, then operatic, then just plain goofy.  Sing the song like a dog. Like a cat. Like a cow.  Enough said.

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6. Introduce new songs with stories

When I was teaching 3-6 year-olds in Mexico, before kids, I had a lot of time on my hands outside the classroom. I had time to knit socks, to knit sweaters – I spent a lot of time knitting. And talking to my cats. My cats spent a lot of time grabbing my balls of yarn and running around the house with them, much to my chagrin.  This happened so frequently that I wrote a little ditty about my cats and their yarn addiction, which I shared with my students. “Una gatita,” (a little cat), was a hit because it had a story behind it. My own boys now love it as much as my students did.

When introducing a new song, try to come up with a way to personalize it, to make it come alive for your audience. Be it a true story from your childhood or a made-up story of the going-ons in the natural world, a little context goes a long way.

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7. Turn on the speakers and jam

No need to be purist and only make your own music! I’ve found our Pandora jam sessions to be a great variation on family music time. It’s also a great way to expose kids to different genres. This morning, for example, we ended our time together with a few blues songs. We tried to name the instruments we heard and we worked on imitating the beat.  Don’t hesitate to come up with dances for the various genres while you’re at it. Just make sure to have a video camera hidden in your hand to capture the cuteness.

May your music-making be merry!


sparkle love

alabama toast

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Making Alabama Toast

"Let's listen to a Parkle Tory!" 

Other than "I'm hungry," Finn's linguistically idiosyncratic way of asking for a Sparkle Story is one of the most common requests from his mouth. 

Our family loves the three story lines that we've been subscribing to for the past four months: Martin and Sylvia, Martin and Sylvia At Home, and Junkyard Tales. The stories are so down-to-earth, yet so rich in content, and always wholesome and entertaining. 

Martin and Sylvia are a five and seven year-old sibling pair whose seemingly mundane adventures reflect the experiences of many young ones. They are not charicatures; each child has difficulties to overcome, lessons to learn, and charming personality quirks. Martin and Sylvia's parents, however, are a rockstar team - and I really appreciate this! I can't tell you how many times we have used a parenting trick of theirs in a not-so-easy situation. Finn recognizes these tricks, too, and usually cheerfully says, "Oh! Just like Martin and Sylvia!" Score. 

We listen to the stories in the car and at home - often while preparing a meal or doing an art project. Sometimes, Finn will request to listen to a story while curled up in a window seat, watching the birds at the feeder. Perfect for a bit of quiet time. I love thinking about how his imagination is working to construct the characters and set. What a fantastic mental exercise - like reading Harry Potter before the movies came out, you know?

Do you have Sparkle Stories? Any other favorite audio books? 


games for three year-olds

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Those who know me well will find it comical that I'm writing this post.

I'm not really a game person. Growing up, we rarely played board games, but we did get out Scrabble on occasion, and I've always enjoyed that.

I think I would like playing a board game with adults, but I always end up watching the kids when the board games happen when extended family comes to visit because, as we all know, if Mama sits down to relax, there's some sort of siren that goes off that demands her immediate attention. A spill, a book to be read in her lap, a diaper to change, a snack to be made and consumed, an art project to do, etc. etc.

But lately, I HAVE been able to play some board games. Board games for three year-olds. And I'm liking it.

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The first is Zingo - a snazzy bingo game for pre-readers that has a very fun-to-operate tile dispenser. We first played Zingo with our friends on our trip to the mountains this past winter, and I'm glad we decided to add it to our (very small) collection.

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Peaceable Kingdom makes really great cooperative games. This one, Count Your Chickens, is gratifyingly quick to play and fun for counting practice. Finn wants me to tell you that he likes the spinner.

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Another game we like is Busytown, which has a big playing board that needs to go on the floor. This means that Busytown play is, for the current family stage we're in, relegated to Lachlan's naptime. The part of this cooperative game that really holds Finn's interest is the search for objects in the illustrations. You find as many objects as you can in the allotted period of time, then you count up how many you found. I'll be honest - this game isn't boring for parents, because the searches are a good challenge, even for us!

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When I was teaching in Mexico, we had the most lovely, handmade Balancing Moon game. It was a favorite among my students, so when I found a similar one at a local store, I snapped it up. I don't think it's easy to find - this is a slightly different version on ebay.

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It's a simple game - a good introduction to the concepts of balance, weight, and gravity. A fun after-dinner family activity.

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Here's a homemade favorite. This is our family memory game, which I blogged about here. You can find the instructions for making your own out of fabric in Alicia's wonderful book, or you could make a simple version from printed pictures backed with a pretty scrapbooking paper.

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What are your favorite games for little ones?


starting on the homeschooling journey

homeschooling and games

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That, my friends, is Finn's first legible letter. With all the hoopla and busyness that occurs every day at our writing center, his interest in all things letters and words has blossomed into a passion. It's time.

Time for me to start doing a little bit of planning, time for me to organize all of the learning materials that I collected while teaching 3-6 year old in that one-room Montessori schoolhouse in Mexico, time for a little daily activity - playful-yet-planned - to guide him down the path to literacy.

A year or so ago, I wasn't so sure that I would take proactive steps to help him to read. I very much believe that learning must come from a place of joy, curiosity, and intrinsic motivation. At two-and-a-half, Finn showed no interest in letter games and such. I was fine with following his lead, even exploring a more Waldorf-ian, later reading pace with him. I still think that is a wonderful approach for many children.

But my boy is intense and passionate about most everything. He's into it, and I will follow his lead. The more I think about it, the more I know that using games and fun activities to teach phonics and sight words is the right approach for him. The more "unconscious" he can be about learning to read, in the same way that a young child absorbs his mother tongue without effort, the less frustration he'll have down the road.

Although I have my graduate degree in Montessori education, a whole slew of handwritten curricula "albums," as well as experience teaching in a classroom, teaching my own child is a different ballgame. I've found that most of the Montessori materials are far out of my budget range, plus I'm running a business so I don't have time to make all of the traditional Montessori materials by hand (although I do have a good number that I made back when I was teaching (and before I had my own babies!) Plus, learning at home (at least in my home) is much less formal than it would be in a classroom setting. 

I felt a little lost with where and how to begin. And I'm trained in this stuff! It was all just a bit overwhelming. Until, one fortuitous day, John of Montessori At Home contacted me about using one of my photos in the next edition of his e-book. Why yes, of course, and oh my - what is this book?! He sent me a copy and I breathed a sigh of relief. Here it is. For all of you wondering how the heck to implement Montessori in the home, either in a homeschool or as a supplement to classroom learning, this is a real jewel. It's packed with sequential learning activities, it's organized, and it's not overwhelming. John, a former teacher and administrator himself, tells it to you straight. The activities are home-centered, the materials are easy to find, and he lets you know what you don't need to buy, as well as what materias are truly useful in a home setting.

Unlike How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way, which is a great introduction to Montessori for parents of young children, Montessori At Home is an organized curriculum for the 2-6 year-old.

Speaking of other Montessori parenting books, did you notice that two of my boys are on the cover of Learning Together: What Montessori Can Offer Your Family? As far as I can tell, it's only available in the UK, and I don't yet have my hands on a copy. A few more of my photos are used inside the book as well. How fun! Check out this review at How We Montessori.

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Photo by How We Montessori

 

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reinvention: sewing with rescued materials by maya donenfeld

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I've had the most calming, centering, beauty-filled book on my bedside table these past few days. It's Maya's creation - Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials, published by Wiley. I'm so happy to kick off Reinvention's blog tour, give you a peek at what's inside, as well as host Maya for a behind-the-scenes chat about the book. Oh! And how could I forget the giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered to win a copy of your own, courtesy of Wiley. I'll draw a winner on Friday, May 4th!

Comments are now closed. Congratulations to Emily who won a copy of Reinvention!

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I whipped up a quick inspiration board, which is one of the projects featured in Reinvention .

I often think of Maya as the Burlap Ambassador - she's the wonder behind the burlap bins and inspiration boards that took the craft and design blogs by storm several years back. She's so much more than that, though - such a kind-hearted, deep feeling and thinking person. She's someone who I really look up to as I navigate the waters of motherhood, and I think you'll feel the same about her, especially after reading her book.

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Me: It's an honor to share this space with you, Maya, to celebrate the release of Reinvention

Maya: I'm so thrilled to have you be the first stop on my tour, Meg. I will always feel that you played an integral part of making this book happen, simply by giving me that sweet nudge that propelled me forward a few years back. It seems quite fitting to have you get the tour ball rolling, and comes as no surprise that you have asked such thoughtful and compelling questions.

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Me: As I was reading through my copy, taking special care to soak up all of your little stories and peeks into your life that you pepper throughout the book, I was struck by the parallels between your relationship with your mom and your grandparents and your passion for bringing new life to found materials. Your words about them are infused with love and admiration, and you talk about how their creative passions and parenting practices have greatly influenced your own. As I read, I thought to myself, isn't it interesting how we are reinventions of our own parents and grandparents - how we take what they have given us and make it our own, or make something new out of it. Somehow, though, the raw "material" of their love, that which we pass on to our children, stays constant throughout the generations. Can you tell us one of the ways that your are passing on your passion for repurposing to your two children? 

Maya: I absolutely love the image that you paint. Yes, the raw "material" of love is the thread that weaves our family and traditions together. My hope has always been to model a sense of ingenuity and capability for my children. These are the gifts given to me that have served me best. One project that comes to mind instantly with a smile on my face is our aqua scope and the story behind it. When I think of intergenerational gifts, I must include this portable art studio that was inspired by one my grandmother's craft books. Repurposing and recycling are wonderful practices to teach our children, regardless of our backgrounds. Let's make reinventing a part of all of our traditions!

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Me: The organization of Reinvention is so compelling - you offer readers seven commonly found recycled materials, discuss a bit of the history behind each material, and offer tips on sourcing and crafting with each. What really caught my eye was your chapter on working with Tyvek, which is the fabric-like plastic material that is often used in mailers. Tell us how you discovered sewing with used mailers, and what other projects you have used them for. 


Maya: I've always loved sewing with unexpected materials, and Tyvek takes to thread and needle beautifully. I first became intrigued with Tyvek when it landed in my mailbox, and I realized that the only way that I could recycle it was to send it back to its manufacturer. Well, that's a hassle for anyone leading a typical full life. I thought it would be much easier, and definitely more satisfying, to find a new use for it. I squirreled it away until one day when I was looking for an interesting way to package a present.The Tyvek envelope came to mind. After cutting off the top, I stitched some boxed corners on the bottom and turned it inside out. With a simple strap, it was suddenly an indestructible little gift bag that could be used again and again. Easy. I knew that I wanted to incorporate more than the standard recycled fabrics into reinvention. Tyvek is post industrial material needing to be repurposed.

Me: I love how the projects in the book are so useful - you suggest stuffing the wool poufs and the bolster pillow with unused linens, and you designed a genius insulated wool lunch sack. The list goes on and on - these are projects that are, at once, beautiful and utilitarian. Is it something about working with the recycled materials themselves that inspires you to create something useful out of them?

Maya: Thanks, Meg!  I've always been drawn to making things that could be put to work right away. Not that I don't like fun or whimsical, but most of my creating tends to focus on resolving a problem... whether it be storage or not wanting to buy something new that I could actually make.  I always feel more justified in spending the time to create something if it's practical, regardless of the materials I use to construct it. That being said, fabric that has a prior history does feel extra exciting to transform. Making a lunch sack out of sheets of wool would be useful, but reinventing old wool blankets speaks to that resourceful place ingrained in me. There's a universal sense of pride in clever reuse.

Me: My heartfelt thanks for taking the time to stop by and chat about your new book, Maya! 
Maya: Thank YOU, Meg!!
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Follow along with the blog tour for the next few weeks!
reinvention: sewing with rescued materials blog tour
 
week one
5/2- Craft
 
week two
5/7 Whip Up
5/10 Annekata
 
week three
5/15 Etsy (tuesday tutorial)
5/17 Made

 


sheepish

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Sheep! Seventy of them. The boys and I had a grand time at Stoney Mountain Farm during their sheep shearing festivities. The gracious owners opened their home to a good bunch of people, offering entertainment in the way of wool harvesting and sustenance in the form of a tasty home-cooked lunch.

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Having never seen a sheep get shorn before, I was amazed at how accommodating and docile the animals were through the ordeal. Look at the adoring eyes of that sheep up there! He looked like he was getting a spa treatment. 

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In preparation for the big shearing day, I checked out some shearing-related books from the library. Pelle's New Suit will have to be added to our own collection. Not only does Finn adore the book, but he looks exactly like Pelle. Who knew? The boy with just a drop of Swedish blood in him (there's more Mexican in there than Swedish) would come out looking like the spittin' image of a turn-of-the-century Swedish boy. 

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In addition to Pelle's New Suit , we've also enjoyed Feeding the Sheep and Weaving the Rainbow - all of which are about the process of shearing the sheep, making yarn, and then weaving or knitting clothing from the sheep's wool. 

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We've been shearing some of our own sheep right in our living room. I love observing how new experiences come out in imaginative play, and how they are understood and written in the memory of a child through prolonged and repetitive play or games. 

Do you have a local farm that makes an event of shearing day?