ordinary things

I think I have several blog topics I've been kicking around throughout the weekend, all of which are escaping me now. In this moment, my mind is filled with ordinary things, but I might as well share since we may have an ordinary thing in common.

I discovered something new about myself a couple days ago. Occasionally I will get an impulse to go to Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn Kids and just hang out, look around, and be there awhile. I do this, I found, because I want my home to look that bright, uncluttered, peaceful and lovely. I want Amelia's room to look that orderly and inviting. In such moments, I can save time by directing my energy instead to a house-beautification project and enjoy the result for at least several moments to come. It really works, and afterward I want to settle into my surroundings instead of escape them.

Amelia's been uncharacteristically cranky, I think for several reasons. We took a road trip last week and a couple mini-trips during the weekend, so she's been cooped up in her car seat far too long these last ten days. Then, I was reading The Joyful Child (click here for e-book chapters), a Montessori text/catalog by Michael Olaf, and it reminded me that anger, tantrums, and other outbursts can occur when the child's needs aren't being met. I perused the list of needs and realized that Amelia's been longing for more independence and control, but when we're busy it's more expedient for us to exert control from the outside. Another thing that's missing is the opportunity for Amelia to engage in meaningful work, which provides a sense of satisfaction as well as the experience of contributing to the family life.

So as I read, I took notes of some ideas that came to mind. I often don't know what to do with our time together, so I default to going somewhere or having someone over or entertaining Amelia instead of engaging her. First on my list was teaching Amelia to make her own breakfast. Milk and cereal (granola) is her current favorite, so for a begining step I set her table before she wakes up with a bowl of dry cereal and a spoon, and I pour some milk into her small pitcher and store it in the fridge. Then when she gets up, she gets her own milk out of the refrigerator, carefully carries it out to her table, pours it into the bowl and stirs. We'll keep adding steps until she's setting the table and filling her bowl herself, too.

Then at lunch I taught her to use a safe toddler knife I got for her recently. I started by cutting a whole pear into strips, which she then cut into bite-size pieces (the majority of which she ate as she cut). Next she got to cut slices of cheese into tiny bites, which we threw into a bowl of left-over macaroni and cheese and microwaved for the rest of her lunch. Meanwhile, I prepared a chicken taco salad start-to-finish for Justin's and my lunch, and when he got home she proudly showed off her work.

I moved our silverware holder to her cabinet under the kitchen counter, and tomorrow the job of unloading the
dishwasher's silverware basket will become hers (ultimately working toward unloading the entire bottom rack and putting the dishes in their newly accessible place). The household jobs we've turned over so far she guards ferociously. If someone takes out the kitchen trash, she comes running to put in the new bag, chanting my turn, my turn all along the way.

The crankies haven't disappeared completely, but they're lifting more each day. Friday should be bliss.

Congratulations if you've made it this far. I know it's all very mundane, but it might make a difference to someone.