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Author: FLORA

I am a post-career SAHM (Stay-at-home mom), living in Bozeman Montana. I share stories and ideas from parenting with a Montessori and Positive Discipline inspired perspective. Also, I LOVE DIY projects and finding great ways to use thrift store or hand-made toys for my little ones.
Learn more about why I say I'm "Just" a stay-at-home mom.

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Recent Posts

Decide What you Will Do (To Motivate Children to Clean-up)

Today, I want to share how this tool can be very effective in motivating a toddler to clean up.  &#...

Gardening With Young Children

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If you haven’t tried gardening with your children, I really recommend it for a number of reasons.

Why garden with your children?

1. Gardening is a great opportunity to BE together.

Last year a neighbor of mine said she had looked over into our yard with great affection as she saw me gardening with the children.  She said, “As my kids get older, it’s just so easy to have them out playing with friends or in the house on their own. I forget sometimes what it was like when we played like that together.” I have made some of my very best memories with my own mother while working in the soil of her garden together.  We have had deep conversations, laughter, and fun, while weeding and planting together.  My sister and I both find weeding to be a stress relief that we inherited from our mother.  What a great way to model a healthy way to decompress at the end of the day.  So, I treasure gardening an opportunity to spend time with my children, side-by-side, talking and often laughing as we dig and plant and harvest.

2.  It gives your children an opportunity to do purposeful work.

This is a principle you can read more about, within Practical Life activities in a Montessori environment.  In summary, “Children love to contribute”.  When you garden with your children, it is work they can do, which is incredibly meaningful to the Earth, the family, and their own food/snack options.  I recommend giving them tools to work in the dirt with you.  They can use sandbox rakes or spades like this:

or even more “grownup” type tools like this shovel that my 4-year-old loves:

3.  Gardening increases your child’s interest in eating vegetables.

If you are searching for ways to have your kids interested in carrots, cucumbers, sugar snap peas, or even lettuce, growing them together is a fantastic way! My 4 year-old son even started to eat Kale raw, as he found it was so exciting to cut the large leafy greens himself (great chance to practice using scissors!), washing in a colander, and chomping them right away.  To help matters, we also have a large area with strawberries, which I encourage everyone to try.  Here in Montana where it’s hard to grow many things, strawberries seem to grow like a weed, and the children LOVE to harvest them!

4.  Gardening can be a way to teach Math and Science.

Last year we did a bit of a science

Harvesting and eating colorful carrots with my 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 year olds

experiment, making a hypothesis at the beginning of each month regarding how many strawberries we thought we would harvest that month.  Each time we harvested the berries, we would count them and add them to our tally on the chart in our kitchen.  I think our July tally on our chart was in the realm of 500!

Enjoying sugar snap peas, just picked with their own hands.

If you would like more ideas about the benefits of gardening with your children, check out this great article by PBS: Gardening: How it Affects Your Child’s Brain, Body and Soul.

Easy DIY 1 Year-old Bday Cake

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This cake can take as little as 5 minutes to decorate!

I am always on the lookout for ideas that are cute and EASY.  Easy is definitely the key word here.   Even with only 1 kid (I know some of you are juggling 2, 3 or more!), I don’t want to spend any more time than I have to on toys, cards, or even birthdays.  BUT, I do want those things to be as nice and special as possible.  So, I was so excited when I found this great Dog-shaped Birthday Cake idea on Pinterest from The Experimental Home.

(*Sidenote, you can follow my Pinterest Page here).

cut_cake_dog

Photo from TheExperimentalHome.com

Step 1: Cook your cake in 2 heart-shaped pans.  Then cut one cake in half, in order to make the ears.

Step 2: Freeze to get the cake solid (and to help it not crumble when you frost).

Step 3: Decorate

Step 4: Enjoy!

My good friends made this wonderful version of the cake for their son’s 1st Birthday. By using small dots, it makes a beautiful cake! *But it definitely took more than 5 minutes.

Dog-shaped birthday cake2 dog birthday cake

 

I went a little simpler on my version, but still think it turned out great.  I used a plain white frosting, and mixed in some food coloring to give it a grey color.  Then, we used some black decorating gel to divide the ears from the face, and for the eyes, mouth and nose.

Voila! Took me about 5 minutes to decorate this cake, and it was a big hit with the family and our 1-year-old (although he mainly just loved eating it!):-)

Dog shaped cake5 dog birthday cake3

 

TheNaturalHomeschool

DIY baby squeeze packs for a 1-year-old

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PicMonkey CollageI know some people roll their eyes at the thought of how much time you must have in order to “waste” some making baby food.  However, I have found it to be the total opposite.  If I take about 2 hours, I can make enough food to last me a month!

Now that Chunky Monkey is 1, I am making squeeze packets and freezing quick vegetable snacks, but I have been making his food since he started solids (at 6 months).*I’ll post some baby food ideas soon.

Here is a quick and easy way to make DIY healthy squeeze packs for your 1-year old. These are squeeze packs (using the  Infantino Fresh Squeezed system). 004A9148Half of the cost is the Fresh Squeezed “station” which you reuse every time you make the squeeze packets. Total worth the $16 cost! *And actually a friend of mine has been lending me hers.  So find a friend to share with and you’ve just scored an even better bargain!

Infantino "Fresh Squeezed" Station

Infantino “Fresh Squeezed” Station

It’s then $13 for 50 DIY squeeze packs (Prices are from 2/2015 on Amazon).  That’s less than half the price that you pay for pre-made packs.

Squeeze Pouches

Infantino Squeeze Packets (50 ct)

smoothie ingredients.Plus, you get to control what ingredients are in the packs (organic, gluten-free…whatever your pleasure).  My son is loving fruit smoothies right now, so pre-making squeeze packs means I only have to get my blender dirty once a month, too. yeah!

Here are some ingredients for your DIY squeeze packets:

  • Smoothie: Whole milk, Greek Yogurt, Frozen fruit, coconut oil (to help digestion), and I sneak in some cooked beets.
  • Carrots, Butternut squash and coconut oil
  • Quinoa and applesauce
  • Chicken, apples, and yams

*I’d love some more ideas, so please post recipes you have used for your squeeze packs in the comments below!

Here are some great step-by-step instructions on how to use the Fresh Squeezed system (although it is super intuitive and about the easiest DIY thing I’ve ever done.)  My only tip is to be sure your food is really blended, or you will get stuck trying to push a chunk through the tiny opening.:-)

Here they are!  DIY baby food for 1-year-old

They can be frozen for a few months and easily thaw by taking them out a day before you plan to eat them, or putting them in a mug of warm water (the same way you warm up a bottle).