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You never know what life will throw at you.  But I have come to understand over the years is that no matter how painful, sad, bad or unhoped for these events are, there is usually a grand scheme behind it, and a couple of months, years or decade later, you finally understand why this particular even took place.

We are right now in one of these turmoil of life.  And this time, I have decided to have a fresh and new look on everything that is happening to us.  I want to change my focus from half empty to half full, and right now, it makes a hell of a difference in how things are going!

This whole process and all of these changes makes us have to leave house and our beloved town.  We are thus right now in the process of finding a new one.    When we bought this house, we knew that it was for a limited amount of time, and although we were happy with our choice at the time, we are finding ourselves longing for something else, something that has a little bit more space now that we are a family of 5, but also something else that I couldn’t put my finger on until I read this book:

What has been lacking in this place is a soul.  We never managed to make a home out of this house.  I have no idea why, maybe because we never infused it, or maybe because this is not what we were looking for at the time.  But whatever the reason, I am now ready and most of all excited to be on our quest to find a place we’ll call home.

Reading this book was the perfect start to our journey, as it really inspired me to really search for specific things that we want to have in our new home. While I didn’t really learn any new concepts in this book, I really loved the fresh ideas, and seeing the process of a family making their nest, and what nooks and crannies are important to them and why.  It really made me think and analyse what is important to us in this next house, and also made me really imagine the kind of life I want to have going in there.

I was thus able to make a good criteria list, and put them in order of importance for me, and our family.  I sure hope this will help the process.  I try every night to see this home, and the faces that will live within it’s walls, and I hope that my dreams will come true, because we would have a heck of a good life 🙂

wish us luck!

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I started reading this book a few days before Pumpkin’s arrival.

It is a Waldorf oriented book about infancy.  Having read Montessori from the start at the arrival of Pea, I wanted to see the Waldorf intake about child rearing in the first few days.

Overall, the book was interesting.  It contains views that  both really made sense, and that I have always applied with my  newborns, but also ideas that I had never heard before, and that are not part of my own personnal “culture” (not having been brought up with the Waldorf principles) , but that had me meditating a lot upon.

I am always in awestruck when I see really young babies in a really crowded environment like the grocery store or the shopping mall.  If those places have ME feeling overwhelmed sometimes, I can just imagine that a newborn just out of the womb environment must be feeling!  So this idea of really protecting the senses of my newborn as long as possible by not putting him in contact with mecanical noise, and bringing him where there is a lot of people (and thus noise) is just something that is completely natural to me.  I have to admit that I was extra careful this time though, a lot more then I was with Pea and Peanut, spending a lot of time babymooning alone with Pumpkin in my room.  I did have to bring him at the osteopath for nursing issues, but this place is such a haven of peace that he did not have to go through the hussle of a typical  waiting room.  I don’t know if that 4 weeks that we just spent really made a difference to him, but it sure did for me.  Having this time of peace, and surrounding my son with peace, quiet, calm really made ME feel peaceful and calm.

The book also stresses the importance of warmth, choosing adequate colors for the baby to see and a beautiful and peaceful room.  Warmth was a little hard to deal with, as we have been in a really hot patch of summer.  I tried to stick to the hat idea all the time, but Pumkin was not impressed at first.  I finally found a Ruskovilla silk hat that he can live with (most of the time…)

it is a little pricy, but at least, he keeps it on!

I got out my lambskin, something that I have since Pea’s arrival, but that I did not use to it’s entire potential with Him and Peanut.  We have been using it a lot this time.  Pumpkin sleeps on it, and I also use it to put him aside us when he is awake.  THis time around, I wouldn’t trade this for anything else.  And neither would he 😉

Pumpkin sleeping on his lambskin in an antique cradle that my great grand father 
made for his family.

Still on the topic of warmth, I cannot say how happy to have made this blanket for him.  It is perfect in every aspect.  I really hope he keeps it as his security blanket for a long time.

I also was more mindful about colors.  It was harder though since we do not have a room for him per se.  So I didn’t get to decorate a room for this newborn.  I must admit that I missed that.  But on the upside, I got to keep him in our room, something that we didn’t do wth the other, DH not being totally on this idea. Cosleeping really is the best and easiest way to deal with a newborn.  And I cannot say how I enjoyed having him by my side, in my arms  all the time.  But back to colors, I used a mauvish voile in our window, that really let the daylight shine through.  I have to admit tht it does create a a peaceful atmosphere, something that I wasn’t as aware with the other 2.  But I wasn’t fond of the idea of putting a silk over the baby’s bed.  I’d rather put the silk right at the window.  THis is something I would do again with another baby.

I have also been really mindful for a while now when buying clothes and things for my children not to get branded, logoed, bright colored.  I am also really careful of tags, material or comfort of the clothes.  I cannot stand something that is itchy, so why would my kids?  But can I say how HARD it is to find neutral, comfy clothes that fits in all those requirements?  Thank god for knitted longies and home made kimonos…

I was not completely in tune with the topic of diapers in this book.  We are EC’ing, and I know that it might not be totally in league with Waldorf.  But I feel good responding to my child’s signals wheter it is for food or for elimination.  We got a puddle pad that I lanolised and that does a wonderful job at keep him dry and comfy while he is out of diapers.  I love this!  We are also using cloth diapers, prefolds have always been a favorite here, for their ease of use, and cleaning.  For night, I have always loved Disana’s tie nappies and Diasana wool covers. This time is no exceptions…

There are things though that really putted me off in that book, mostly the part about breastfeeding.  I felt like it was not in league with AP.  But as with everything, you have to take what works for you and your family, and leave the rest.

So overall, I enjoyed this book.  It gave me food for thoughts on many topics, things that we have already integrated in many ways.

I have just finished to read this book:

It has been on my amazon wish list for such a long time, and for some reason, I kept putting off buying it.

I read Simplicity parenting before, a super interesting book by Kim John Payne, and loved it.  ( and highly recommend it)

It discusses simplicity with young children, with a Waldorf point of view, so I was not convinced that I would be able to really find something different enough to justify buying it.  Well, I finally took the plunge, and I am SO glad that I did.

I feel like this book tackles a bit more topics then Simplicity parenting.  Or should I say complement.  There are so many valuable advises that I took from SP, but I was able to add or reinforce some other topics with Living simply with children.  The topic of school, money, environement, things that I don’t recall reading in SP.  There is also a wealth of informations, links, ressources and all at the end of each chapters so if you feel the need to deepen your knowledge on one topic, it is rather easy to do.

The author really loves the book “your money or your life” and mentionnes it many times through out the book.  I might give it a look eventually.

I love how she stresses that simple living is not something you do because you are poor or can make it, but because you make a choice.  Or should I say CHOICES.  You have to decide what are your priorities, where do you want to go, and what is the best route to get there.  If things are for you, you need to work, and thus get less time.  But if you rather time and relationships, then forget the things, and get the time.

My thoughts and conclusion after ready this book:

It is crazy how the arrival of children in your life make you reconsider many things, your way of living, your values… I guess we call this grow.  This is something that has happened with the arrival of both my child and is happenning again this time around.  I feel like at every preparation for this new arrival, I did a step further in a direction, and I am realizing that this direction has not changed since the beginning of this.  I am just walking deeper into a road that seem to uncover itself as I go, and as our lives changes.  I don’t think there is an ending destination, I think it is the journey that matters.  But that journey really is rooted in simplicity for me.  Everytime I started to feel overwhelemed or just bad (not being able to define what was going on), something happened that made me simplify more, and suddenly, things started to make sense again.

Simplicity comes easily, anytime, and just feel so good to me, to us…

I am realising, after putting down this book, that materialism is really something I am struggling with.  I really feel a weight with material possessions, and feel just so much lighter when not in a” owning” state of mind.  I was scared to have kids, because the vision I had of childhood is the one that is promoted by commercial and the materialistic world we live in.  Comes with a child tons of stuff and that scared me.  I didn’t want to go through this.  And yet, we had a kid, and entered this world of consumerism, and god did that not feel good.  I hate that people around me would somehow decide how our lifes would be by getting us what they thought was useful for a baby:  mobile with lights and music, plastic toys, musical toys and so on.  But after some much soul searching, and reading, and surfing, I found that there is another way to live and there are other things that can be done then just stick to the images that we see everywhere of what life and childhood should be.

First thing to do: close the TV!

And then follow your heart and your soul.

Yes, I am currently in a journey of change, and our way of life has tremendously changed in the last five years.  We have tried stuff, made mistake, tried other things, took some wrong turns, and now are trying to become what our family is by picking what resonates with us.

Although I have said not so long ago how Waldorf did not resonate all that much with us, I have to retract that. When I first started to research Waldorf, I read a lot, and was influenced by the forums at Mothering.com.  So I was exposed to the outside world of Waldorf, the one that is being more and more popular right now: the beautiful toys notably.  And while I DO NOT want to bash in any ways the wonderful posters over there, I feel like materialism is a common trend that kinda turned me off.  We are, therefore, currently living deep into many of the Montessori principles since my son attend a Montessori preschool and is so happy in this environement, but there also, I felt the burden of materialism weighing on me when thinking about using this as homeschooling method.

But after the rain, the sun always comes out!

But recently, I have found something else. I was searching for a post by a wonderful mama about bedtime  where she was linking me to her blog.  And gosh did I love what  I read.  I wasn’t aware at the time that she was Waldorf or anything, I just loved the ideas and the feel of that post.  I went back to it about 2-3 weeks ago, and then my curiosity was piqued seing that she also had so many things to say about Waldorf, things that were way further from the best toys, the necessary items, basically, nothing that had to do with owning things, but rather living Waldorf.  And in one of her post, I stumbled about a yahoo group adress: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/waldorfhomeeducators/?yguid=301863949  where she claimed there was many articles about Waldorf that were really a must to read.  Being the curious person that I am, I HAd to go and see.

And I have to agree.  I have found so many things that totally resonates with me.  Many that adresses the dangers of materialism, of commercialism, of TV and everything that comes with it.

Yesterday, I was meditating on the topic of newborns.  MY soon to be newborn.  What does he really need?  Does he really need “things”?  And giving a quick look in the file section, I found an article written a couple of years ago by the owner of the list.  I would love to share this part of the article with you:

Soon, though, within perhaps minutes, the weight of materialism beings to exert itself into the realm of the child:  possessions and objects. Humanity does bear the burden of both consumerism and clever mass production capacities.  We overflow with things, we drown in stuff, we wade through our homes and garages and sheds and attics and basements and storage spaces and barns and warehouses and containers and malls and giant cargo ships, with closets, drawers, and shelves overflowing with physical matter.”

“Well intended parents and relatives stock these rooms with every imaginable beautiful “natural” toys.  Hand carved wooden animals fill barns, needle felted villagers populate oak-tree dwellings, handmade dolls with exquisite clothing lie in bunk beds, and china tea sets rest on hand spun plant dyed organic cotton placemats!  Dozens of toys line the shelves and floor.  Can the young spirit breathe in this space?  What can unfold in the inner realms when surrounded by a plethora of objects, colors, shapes, forms, sensory impressions?

In this light, then, if you provide the child with hardened images, and objects, in your home or classroom, then you rob the child of this important venue of spiritual education, one that begins at birth…

Even in the Waldorf world, materialism raises its head with the advent of professionally produced ‘toys’ and products, aimed at capturing the market share of the ‘natural market’.  Homes and classes filled with ‘made’ objects or ‘made’ ideas, are offering hardened thinking to the children, no matter how beautiful or gloriously created these items are. These objects are designed to appeal to us, to the adults, who yearn for the days when a simple stick could be literally anything.  We need and admire these beautiful creations, much more than the child under age seven does…

Nature tables are becoming filled with human-manufactured objects, pushing aside the plants, leaves, wood, and stones.  …”

Written by Marsha Johnson

And that.  That article, really made me think through the night (while baby was obviously having a gymnastic class in there…)  it lifted a veil over Waldorf, one that I was not fond of.

I am still unsure what route we’ll be using when comes the “pedagogy” times.  But I feel like I have seen something that I can really relate to. The more I am reading about the less known sides of waldorf, the more interested I am in reading some more.  There are things that I don’t relate to, and that don’t resonate with me.  But I am grateful to have the time to learn, and read and try!  Isn’t this fantastic to have the time to try, and to feel how this and that makes us feel?  It is the best way to truly find what you are, to customize your life the way you want, and not being dictated what you should think and do and have!.  Trying, making mistakes, trying again, and then knowing.

I will continue to make mistakes and learn, and while all that, I am confident that I will find my path, the one I am supposed to be on.  And there is one thing I know, simplicity and simple living, is part of it.

Yes, I am nesting big time.  But I think whoever is out there over us designed this period to give us the chance to change and find a new path, one we should be on.  I am all ears!

I have 2 that I have read a while ago, but while rearranging my shelves, I stumbled upon, and couldn’t  not reopen them.

These books are introductory books for the Montessori pedagogy.  But even though I am passed this, I am still happy to have them on my shelves.

THE WORLD OF THE CHILD

this book is written by ALine D. Wolf.

It is a fable for parents, to try to put them in their’s child’s shoes.  A daddy, that is not very patient, while being at fair with his family, goes into a weird house, where everything is oversized for him, and he is treated with no reagards over this situation.  He finally understand what it is being a child is in this world which is often not tailored to their needs.

It is very short, 50 pages, with images, and big writing.  You can easily go through this in one sitting.

but for a parent who has not been made aware, it carries a very powerful message.  Definelty a book that stays on my shelves for the days where I have a hard time understanding my kids…

A PARENT’S GUIDE TO THE MONTESSORI CLASSROOM

Again, a book by Mrs Wolf

THis book is meant to be an introduction for parents who are about to send their child to a Montessori school.  It is a soft cover book of again about 50 pages resuming what happens in a classroom.  It is heavily illustrated with pictures of the material and a short explaination of how it works.

A great ressource for parents who are not familiar with the method and who wants to know what their kids are doing all day long in school, and be able to discuss with their kids about their day and the work they did (and actually understand…).  I have to admit that being a visual person, while I was trying to introduced myself to the method, when I was reading  about a piece of material, and I was having a hard time picturing it, it really did help.  And the bonus with this, DS LOVES to look at it.  He still does regularly, and talk with us about what he has done at school with the material that he sees being pictured.  This has  been a started for some great conversations with him.

After opening it to take a pic, he couldn’t actually put it down, He went through it again, from front to back!

So overall, 2 books aimed at the people that are not familiar with the Montessori method, but in which I have found great information.

Yesterday, I was working on adding some links that I readily need and use throughout this time of preparation of becoming a homeschooling mom using the Montessori method.

As I was browsing to get all the links I needed, I stumbled on a post that answer a question that I threw out there in the blogging world no longer then last week: How much is too much?, is it possible to have too much in the Montessori method, or does the fact that “freedom of choice for the child” , which is an important part of the Montessori method makes us have to overlook this question, and just provide them with the most at one given time?  I searched and ponder over this question for quite some time.  I asked questions to people who have influenced me into the Montessorian world, but I had not yet found the answer that made it click for me.

And THIS did it. I can totally relate to this post.  entirely.  My answer is now clear.  Too  much IS possible and a dangerous (and possible) downside to it if one isn’t being careful, and isn’t educated enough on the method itself.

I have a dual experience right now trying to dive into the homeschooling Montessori world : because I am a bilingual speaking person…

In english, the ressources are indeed overflowing and it is easy to become overwhelmed.  This was what triggered this question that I had: how much is too much?

I am a firm believer that clutter, and materialism is poisoning our everyday life.  And after reading this book:

it just confirmed what I always felt about the topic.  Granted, this book is fuelled more by the Waldorfian method and philosophy, but I think that many things said in this book does have an importance in childrearing, wheter method you choose to follow.

My reaserches on the Montessorian philosophy and method has help me find TONS of material, some good, and some not as good once you clearly understand the true purpose of the Montessori method.  Montessori has been used largely as a caracteristic of any educational activity, whether it IS indeed related to the Montessori method or not.  And it becomes quite easy to get overwhelmed (mind and enviromenet) with all of it, which is exactly what I DO NOT want.

Maria Montessori really stresses about the importance of the environement, and one of the caracteristic were that the said environement needs to be clean and inviting.  For me, there is nothing less inviting then clutter.

But part of my question still remain.  How to decide what is good and what is not?  How much is too much?  Even if you use only the basic and most true Montessori material there is, there is still a LOT of it.

I have started to read this book a few weeks ago:

It is, I think, the french version of “the Montessori Method”.  It covers the topics of how things worked in the Casa Dei Bambini.  And yesterday, I had a little time to really make my way through it a bit more.  And this also constituted the remaining part of the answer to my question.

In the first chapters, Dr Montessori says this: “Nous nous sommes tous trompé en croyant que l’enfant riche en jouet, riche en aide devait être plus développé.  La multitude désordonné d’objet aggrave, au contraire, l’état de son âme en semant un nouveau chaos.  Elle l’opprime en le décourageant.” pp.89-90

My free translation of this is:  We all made a mistake thinking that the child that is rich in toys and help would be more developped.  The abundance of material worsen his soul by creating a new chaos.  It dishearten them.

There, she said it itself. 😉

And yesterday night, while going through the chapters about practical life, senseorial and part of language, I noticed something.  What she talks about it the bare minimum.  And I think, from her recollections of the event she presents in her book, that this is what the children indeed HAD.

PRactical life were not shelves full of trays containing activities waiting to be chosen and used.  It was the way of life.  It was being done all the time, incorporated in every action of the children.  They were cleaning themselves up before entering the school (clothes and body…) and then taking care of the environement before starting the activities:  cleaning the table that needed washing, removing the dust that was covering a shelf, cleaning a plate that was forgetten, watering the plants, using technics that were taught to them beforehand, with material that was made according to their sizes.  The practice of these activity was to truly make it, everyday, all the time, when needed…  So the material needed for this was what you need to run an household.

Sensorial material was rather basic, and a big part of the school, at least for a while.  Educating the senses was the biggest achievment that they were working on.

Sensorial material consisted of this:

-Knob cylinders

-All the blocks (red rods, brown stairs, and pink tower)

-The 3 sets of colored tablets

-The touch tablets

-The baric tablets

-The thermic bottles

-Forms to be discovered by touch (mystery bags that can be used with geometric forms, but also anything that is small enough…)

-Taste bottle

-something that is the equivalent to the smell bottles

-sound boxes

and the Geometric cabinet with the 3 sets of cards

that was it.  The kids worked with that, finding extensions by themselves, and making the best out of this material.

I am supposing that at this point she didn’t have more because of a comment she made in her language chapter.  She was basically saying that the parents started asking her to teach the children to read and write.  She finally decided to go on with this, but waited at the beginning of the next school year to start at the same time as the children that were being educated in the common schools.  She ended up not being able to make it by her deadline of october, as her material was not ready.  So clearly, this was not available to the kids right away, and the Casa was not equipped with language material until later.

When she did start to have material to learn to read and write she had this made:

-Sandpaper letters

-Movable alphabet as we know it

-The digraph sandpaper letters

-The metal insets

-Some paper with phonetic words written on it.

-Various objects to write their names with the movable alphabets (which were initially made with paper!) which is basically nomenclature.

reading per se came a little later.

and again, that is it.

The children had enough to work on that for a while, and become better at what they did then their commonly educated pears.

THis is what those kids worked with, and they obvioulsy didn’t need more then that.  This kinda sets a limit for me, or at least shows me that really is important as far as material, and letting the child develop their imagination in using the material differently, but for a logical and educational purpose, one that we might even never have tought about.

I think this sets the tone for what I need to have an how to work with them.  There are tons of wonderful material out there, and marvelous ideas.  But I will start small, and add as we go, clutter, and overwhelming being my guide as where to go with the material.  I think that instinctly, I have already been working this way, the material I own and currently am making is all in these lists (I have yet to read the math part…) and I will not rush to print out and lamintate anything until these basics things are on my shelves.  Then, we will see.  I will follow the child…After all this is what she always said was important…

And now, about my french speaking experience…It is totally different than the previous I just described. ENTIRELY!

The author says that in her time, material was harder to come by, and you needed to really be creative and think what you did through: this I totally get. As much as the information is overflowing in english, and you can find the complete pink blue and green set at many places,it is not the case for french speaking people.  No albums that  I currently know of are available, and the material is definitly not as easily findable as it is in the english speaking world, whether you pay or not for it, and what you find is really basic. It got me a  little frustrated at first to really have such a hard time finding french material all ready to work with at the end of a click, whereas it was so easy with english stuff, but this has led me to a lenghty discussion with myself and the realization that more is not better, even in the Montessori pedagogy. This is indeed asking me a little more creativity and I realize that I do have to think my strategy beforehand.  Whereas when the material is readily available, you can just download, laminate, and cut,and voila, it is ready to be presented to the child.  However, when the material is harder to come by, you have to create it, whether you were inspired by somebody else, and it takes a lot more time to put it all together so forget about having a lot…what you have needs to be used at it’s entire potential, and this requires a little more planning, and long term strategy.

So my conclusion to all of this:  Well thoughts activities that are presented in a logical way, and at a perfect timing will bring us a longer way then having all the material in the world at arm’s reach.

I am still reading to find out more about the method and the logical sequence behind it all.  But the more I read, and the more I find that things are settling into their places.  I cannot say that I think Dr. Montessori was a great writer, sometimes her book are really heavy to read, but they are still the place where I find the best answers to my questions…along with some great post from more experienced Montessorians…