“I want bouche Mommy”. “Mommy fache?” “I range my room all myself!”. This is pretty common language in our French-English speaking household. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? As a French teacher, I know that language learning takes work, practice and effort and it is not something that just happens overnight. But the mother part of me always felt like French would just run through their veins and they would magically speak French because I thought so. The reality is, they don’t.

…Ill-shod shoemaker.

The other day I asked my daughter to show me birds (des oiseaux) in her book during story time. She didn’t know what an “oiseau” was. I asked her the same in English and it took her half a second. I came to the realization that some work needed done. In fact, if I am honest with myself, I will say that I know that I am not doing enough for them to actually speak and understand more French. I am very good at giving directions in French though. Put your shoes on / your coat on / go pee etc are very well-understood :)

This year, I have decided to shift my approach and be more proactive in passing on my language onto the girls. I find it easier with the little one because she is always asking: “what’s that?”, “what’s that” and I just have to answer in French and she’ll repeat. Sixtine on the other hand seems a bit perplexed at times.

Here are some of the things I have in mind to increase French exposure, understanding, and speaking:

- talk on the phone with family and friends

- listen to more French music

- speak more (this one is for me)

- ( her Montessori school provides a weekly themed-French lesson )

- engage in French community activities more often (library, pool, apple picking…)

- and of course, READ more in French.

While I am there, I would like to tell you about a wonderful book series I have come across. It is called THE ZAZOO and Sixtine is completely in love with her Paris book as you can see on the pictures. She takes it everywhere she goes. What I like about this book is that she recognizes places she has seen and visited in the past. She is especially found of the merry-go-round that is located by the Eiffel Tower and wouldn’t turn the page for a while. She always goes back to this page to talk about how she rode it and which color was her favorite etc… I also think that the two languages mingling are reassuring and helpful. It makes bilingualism feel normal and natural to them. You can read about the method on her website – it is very well explained in four principles. Judith Masini, the author, is a French woman living in London and she also caters to school and other educational facilities. She aims to promote French-English bilingualism to kids aged 2-7. The books are themed (what to wear, the beach…etc) and offer vocabulary pages – another great thing is the audio feature, as well as the activity books. The books and packages are available for purchase worldwide – she accepts $US, $AUS, $CAD, British pounds, Euros and Swiss Franc.

What I truly love about these books is that they are positive language learning tools. They will encourage your child to learn in a fun way and feel special and proud about their magic power!

Find Little Bilingues here: Facebook / Twitter / Blog 

Are you bilingual family? I would love to hear tips and success stories! I know it is never too late but sometimes I wonder…

hiding

Hello and Happy New Year from us. It has been incredible to take the time to slow down and enjoy the little things in life as a family. Sleep in, stay in our PJs, bake, go out for walks, being silly together, jumping on beds and dancing in the kitchen. Laugh, laugh louder and laugh some more.Take the time to be present, in the moment for each other. Listen to Sixtine talking about her favorite color and all the things she loves. Noticing how much the girls have grown. Realizing that my babies are turning into beautiful, smart, fun and loving little girls.

Sixtine is a real storyteller and a social butterfly. She loves being around people and she has such a great sense of humor. She has shown interest in letter recognition, her name in particular and painted her first S. Out of all the mediums available, it doesn’t surprise me! Painting is her favorite thing to do. She said: “Mommy, look, I made an S”. She was so proud of herself – she had been trying so hard!

Victoire is still nursing and becoming a real little lady with a mind of her own. She loves dancing and singing with me and her sister. She is going through a language explosion as well. I can have little conversations with her and it makes things so much easier. We have started toilet training and it is going well. We aren’t pushing her in anyway so it is a very laid-back approach that we are taking. She is the absolute cutest in underwear – she got her first pair for Christmas. We have recently changed her sleeping arrangement into a Montessori floor bed. She is very excited and it is going well for us. Victoire is also taking part in more family activities and routines such as cooking, cleaning and tidying up. She made her first cookie this week and it was the most adorable cookie I had ever seen.

I find parenting so much easier the second time around. Not in the sense that there are no challenging issues but I find myself much more confident with myself as a parent. I am currently reading Sibling Without Rivalry and I highly recommend it to anyone with two children or more. It is very enlightning.

Oh YES! I had to randomly share: the girls received a set of Eco Kids play dough for Christmas and they are in love with it. It is very well made, natural and a great alternative if you don’t have the time to make your own.

I will be posting next about bilingualism and how things are going at home.

I would love to hear from you…it has been so long! Being a full-time working mom and having recently launched a new business, I have been trying to find a good balance!

Best wishes to you and yours, Deb

Do you remember your baby’s first Christmas? I remember Sixtine’s first Christmas vividly – she was only a couple months old. She was our first, and we were a family. We were so proud, so grateful for our healthy baby girl. The most vivid memories I have are the ones that were captured on camera. I can picture her lying down with her little Christmas beanie, and her pajamas. I remember her three toys – couple books, and a toy – all picked out by her father. She wasn’t aware of the celebration but I am sure she could sense the energy, the warm feelings, the nice smells of cinnamon and spices, …

Now, this adorable little girl is 7 months old and she will be celebrating her first Christmas this coming December. She came for a play date and I loved observing her as she was trying to make sense of her surroundings. She seems at first very perplexed but the shiny Christmas balls and lights were too intriguing to let herself intimated by a couple pine needles. She first went at it with her hands – the look on her face was precious – and ended up putting everything in her mouth. She loved playing with the lights – which are cool to the touch, a great feature when you have little children – and her mother and I really enjoyed capturing this moment with my Canon SL1. It is such a nice, small but fierce little DSLR.

I was really inspired by the Baby Moments app for these shots as you can see below. I completely agree with award winning photographer Stephanie Robin when she says that getting your child to interact with the tree will make the pictures all the more interesting, especially children who learn through all their senses.

If you need some more inspiration to plan for your baby’s moments, I’d highly suggest checking out Canon Canada Plan Your Baby Moments Pinterest Page.

On that note, I would like to thank all the participants for entering the giveaway and wish an early Merry Christmas to…Christy, you are the very lucky winner of a Canon Selphy Printer.

What is your favorite thing about Christmas? I know, it is quite early but we have had our first snowfall of the season and this is the only thing that keeps me cheerful about this cold Canadian weather.

 

This blog post was written in partnership with Canon.

Christmas is slowly approaching and with that come the eternal holiday questioning: what to give them this Christmas? I believe that the act of gift giving should be intentional and meaningful but sometimes, we just end up thinking “Oh, that will do.” or “They have everything, what more could they want?” But when it comes to family, I have realized that gifts that come from the heart, such as photobooks are always greatly appreciated and often, they mean a lot to family who aren’t geographically close to us.

In fact, I order extra copies of our photobooks for my mother every year because I know it means so much to her. She takes great pleasure and great pride in looking at them and showing them to friends and family. The girls’ first year flew by so fast I can’t help but cry everytime I look at their first year’s photobooks. And I am so glad I took the time to capture all of their milestones!

I was talking about it with a friend of mine the other day and she asked if I would take pictures of her 7 months old daughter so that she could use them in her photobook. I gladly accepted and suggested she checked out a new app called Baby Moments avec Bébé created by professional photographer Stephanie Robin for Canon. The app guides you through very simple steps to capture your baby’s new milestones and I can’t believe how easy it was to get great shots with such little effort.

Before the photoshoot, I clicked on the 7-9 months tab and chose the “bath time theme” and let the app guide me through the instructions.

I tried different angles and found that placing the baby tub right in front of a window made a great difference in terms of lighting and picture quality as suggested by the app! We also gathered up some of her newborn baby items (hospital newborn hat, tiny pants…) to put up on a banner which made Mom very emotional.

I used a Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and the pictures turned out really well. I especially found that the 40mm lens was particularly effective in capturing beautiful portraits as suggested by the Baby moments app. See for yourself!

What I love most about my new Canon camera is that it is light (I am not one to enjoy carrying a brick to events and gatherings) yet the quality of the pictures is amazing. The settings are very clear and simple to understand (ie. there is a Kids setting, which allows you to take good shots of your child if s/he likes to wiggle!). I just love it – if a mom-friendly camera is on your wish list then the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is for you! My friend was so excited to see how amazing the pictures were that she is already planning a Christmas photoshoot – I see some pretty cute shots (check out Canon Canada Pinterest Board for more inspiration) in the near future.

Some tips for a bath time session: warm up the room for baby beforehand and during the session / a little bit of water goes a long way / use the portrait mode / make sure that baby is well rested / a favorite toy to encourage baby to look at the camera will help / prepare necessary items in advance (towel, etc…) / don’t leave baby unattended.

Now, how wonderful would it be to own a wireless photo printer? It would mean that all your beautiful pictures – the ones you keep on your iphone and mean to email yourself and print but never do – would actually be printed in the comfort of your home from any smart device (such as your iphone, ipad…etc) Been there, done that! But fear not, and…

…enter the giveaway for a chance to win a Selfy CP910 printer!

  • Comment on this post and tell me how you keep your baby moments alive // scrapbooks? albums? photobooks? iphone mania? prints? other?
  • Like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram

Optional entries:

  • Instagram followers: Tag me in a picture of your baby’s bath time moments (or any other moment suggested by the app), with the #BabyMoments
  • IG: You can also tag your friends in the giveaway announcement picture for an extra entry.
  • Facebook followers: post a picture on my page of your baby’s bath time moments (or any other moment suggested by the app) with the #BabyMoments and @CanonCanada
  • FB: You can also tag your friends in the giveaway announcement picture for an extra entry.

Contest is open worldwide. Giveaway will end November 16th at midnight AST. Winner will be contacted via e-mail and must reply in the next 48 hours and another winner will be drawn.

Good luck!

This post was created in partnership with Canon. All opinions are my own.

sis

I was chatting with a friend the other night about how difficult it was to be a parent, no matter how rewarding, life-changing and wonderful it was. One of my girls had just had a public episode of tantrum-craziness and I felt so frustrated. We came to the conclusion that YES, parenting is hard and not just for me but for every parent. So here is a list of the top 10 things that make it or made it hard for me to parent at some point in my life.

  1. Not trusting your instincts. Being new at being a mother or a father doesn’t mean you don’t know what is good for your child. Believe in yourself.
  2. Reading too much. When Sixtine was born, I read, I read, I read, I read, and I read some more to the point that I felt so overwhelmed with information that I burnt out! It took me a while to realize that all I had to do was to do my best and it would be enough.
  3. Comparing your children to other children. Early talker, late walker…at the end of the day, they will all go to the bathroom by themselves, count, and distinguish letters and numbers. Where is the rush? I understood this when Victoire was born.
  4. Perfectionism. Come to terms with the fact that you will never be a perfect parent. And it is perfectly OK.
  5. Not taking care of yourself. Janet Lansbury - if you don’t know who she is, please read her blog right now, and come back to tell me how you feel. She has a very deep understanding of young children and parenting would be much harder for me if it wasn’t for her. I highly recommend buying her books for reference. She says:

    If you are a sensitive person who can’t sleep deeply with your baby near you, but you’re co-sleeping because you think you should, you are not taking care of yourself.

    If you want to wean your child or limit your toddler’s nursing, but you feel guilty about that, you are not taking care of yourself.

    If you need to go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee, but you’re afraid to leave your fussy baby or screeching toddler, you are not taking care of yourself.

    In fact, if you feel guilty about any self-care moment, you are probably not taking care of yourself.

  6. Thinking that everyone but you knows what they are doing. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Talk with your closest friends about those difficult times, they will most likely know what you are going through and will be able to help. They won’t judge you, and those who do are probably not your friends.
  7. Thinking that being busy is being important. Slow down. Right now. You do not have to fill up your precious time together doing things. Yes, it is nice to get out and experience new things as a family, it is also good for children to practice sports and be around their peers but spending time together at home, doing nothing, now that is bliss. Take the time.
  8. Priorities. Need I say more? If you stay in the past “I used to be able to do this and that” it is not going to work. Life has changed. Accept it. Better even, embrace it! I have become a wonderful multi-tasker. I can almost function with little sleep. And I look all right without make-up on (I said all right, not great). Isn’t that wonderful?
  9. Isolation. We are much more isolated as parents nowadays and there is little support. There are many parents out there who would love to figure it out as a team! Reach out!
  10. Clutter. Less is more. Less toys, less clothes, less everything make life simpler, more peaceful and less tiring. Declutter your life and you will be a happier parent.

One last (scary) thought: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” 

What would you add to this list?

 

row 1: Wooden geometry fraction puzzle / Montessori Numbers Activity Box by Eve Hermann - there are puzzle cards and sandpaper-like number cards / Selecto Primo Memory Game // row 2: Schleich farm animals and handmade cards / Lifecycle of a butterfly with printed cards from The Helpful Garden via Living Montessori Now // row 3: Stencil Shapes / Shell study kit – book available here / Counting ring stacker 

What is your little one interested in at the moment? Any suggestions? Questions? Sixtine just started her full-time Casa program at our local Montessori school and she has been doing fantastic. She LOVES it. I will be posting soon about her first couple weeks or so once she is nicely settled in. I would also like to thank everyone for your response to my question: Is Montessori for everyone? I really appreciated every single comment and every perspective. I will respond to each and everyone of you as soon as possible. It took me a while to process everything but I am now convinced – even though it has only a few days – that we made the right decision.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Vic made friends with a goat here / Sixtine drew my face there – amazing, eh? / Sixtine enjoyed buying some fresh produce at the farmer’s market / Are you on Instagram? I’d love to see what you have been up to! .

 

I am taking a moment to say hi and write today. Life has been extremely busy since I got back to work and, although we have a good routine now, we are still struggling to find time for ourselves. We have had a beautiful summer and have been spending most of our time outside enjoying Prince Edward Island, its red sands and beaches, farms, and local businesses. It has truly been a joy to see the girls experience their surroundings and getting to see how their personalities evolve.

Observing the girls has been all the more inspiring. Victoire loves animals in general, and Sixtine has developed a true passion for horses. I believe giving natural learning opportunities is essential to our children’s development.

It’s important to have knowledge of the heart,” he explains. “How do 
you get that? Well, you learn through the soles of your feet, the palms 
of your hands, the seat of your pants. All that knowledge has to pass 
through your heart on the way to the head.
—James Raffan, Historian, Camp Kandalore (Our Kids, 2014)

Sixtine and Victoire love picking up shells and rocks when we go to the beach and they especially love feeling the different textures. Sixtine also enjoys lining them up or studying them with her magnifier.

The book Looking Closely Along The Shore compliments the experience very well. It helped with naming and understanding our findings a little more. Of course, sticker work is always a hit here and our Seasonal Eye Like sticker book has beautiful and realistic pictures which comes particularly handy whenever I need to put together a quick activity.

Sixtine started Montessori school this past winter and they are now closed for the summer. She is enjoying going to a home daycare for the time being where she spends most of her time outside with other children her age and her baby sister.

She will start the “Casa Program” in September on a full-time basis and I am happy to have found such a great school for her to learn, experiment and grow.

However, I have been asking myself a question:

Is Montessori (really) for everyone?

My daughter has a very strong and adventurous personality. She needs to touch, explore and learn freely. I have to admit that I have been asking myself whether a Montessori school would be the best for her or not. I think that (good) Montessori schools are a wonderful learning environment for life but I can’t stop wondering if it actually suits all children, and all personalities.

This has been on my mind for a while and I would love to hear your input / feedback / experience on the matter.

Thank you!

I had been on the look for a very easy bread recipe to try with Sixtine (I have made bread a couple times before and it took so long I found it quite discouraging – we don’t own a machine) when I found the perfect recipe for dinner rolls (suggested by someone on a Facebook group).

I cannot believe how easy and delicious those rolls can be. I made a second batch (by myself this time) tonight and I am starting to think it wasn’t a good idea after all as I have been eating them like there is no tomorrow.

I always make sure to only put the necessary ingredients in front of Sixtine as to not overwhelm her and put them in order of use from left to right. She did an amazing job and we had so much fun. Victoire joined us towards the end (she was napping). It was her first time helping out in the kitchen and she clearly had a blast. It was the perfect occasion to wear her little apron – a great gift from Beth and her family on her first birthday.

Aprons / available here and there

Shot glasses / available here , I use Victoire’s glasses as they are the perfect size!

Recipe for dinner rolls:

  • Mix warm water (please supervise your child accordingly), oil, sugar and yeast; let rest for 10 minutes until yeast activates.
  • Add salt and beaten egg; blend well.
  • Add flour, one cup at a time until soft dough if formed.
  • Knead on a floured surface 5-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
  • Shape into small balls (walnut sized) and put into a greased baking pan.
  • Let rise at least 5-10 minutes or until they double in size.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Do you have a great toddler-friendly recipe for bread (or anything nice and sweet) that you would like to share? Please do!

Life lately : beach bum / creative mind / her first smoothie / smells like summer

Question : What are the pros and cons of siblings room sharing? Thank you and have a great week!

This is a guest post by Amy from Midwest Montessori on Following the child.

 

Follow the child. Possibly one of Maria Montessori’s most renowned phrases. So often repeated, yet so often misunderstood.

I find that when I put the phrase too far in the forefront of my parenting, I am letting myself be overrun by my toddler. And then I am reminded.

“Follow the child, but follow the child as his leader.” – Maria Montessori

Following the child does not mean that we give him free reign of our household. It does not mean that we let them break the rules whenever they please. It does not mean that we cave when our child prefers television over playing outside. Or when they prefer milkshakes to fruit. Or when they don’t want to go to sleep despite being overtired.

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Following the child as their leader requires a deep knowledge about the child’s current and upcoming development. It requires a prepared environment, one that is created with the child in mind: both his development and his interests. It requires respect for the child’s autonomy by providing opportunities for independence. It requires two-way communication between caregiver and child, which most often means lots of observing and decoding on our part.

Following the child means putting our own agenda for our child aside and observing his natural development and interests. I have to remind myself each time I admire Sixtine et Victoire or How We Montessori that I am looking for inspiration, ways to improve our environment, and preparing myself for future stages of Charlotte’s life and that I need not compare my daughter to Sixtine, Victoire, Otis, or Caspar (or Solu, or Kade). Nor do I need to compare myself to their amazing mothers (Deb, Kylie, Junnifa, and Beth). Following the child means following my child—observing her as an individual with needs, desires, and interests that may not always align with what other children are up to.

 

Image 2

 

The goal of Montessori education is not to have the most advanced baby, toddler, child, adolescent, or adult. The goal is to facilitate a natural unfolding of a child’s learning by capitalizing on their natural development (sensitive periods) and interests (following the child). The hope is to keep from stifling the child’s innate desire to learn with our own agendas, benchmarks or milestone expectations.

Montessori is so much more than a set of materials, it is a way of life. I recently wrote about what I consider the most important aspects of Montessori in the home, and following the child should be added to that list.

In the past year I have learned how much smoother our life goes when I choose to follow my child. Like when…

-          I tried to night wean until I realized that nursing her once in the night helped us both sleep better and made days so much better. Eventually she showed me when she was ready to night wean.

-          I anticipated her interest in her object permanence box for nearly 6 months before she tried it out. She taught me that she had other things to work on (gross motor development) before she was ready for it. Just when I thought she would never progress in this area she started putting the ball in the hole over and over and over one day (at 11 months). The next day she tried out her single shape puzzle. She knew when she was ready.

-          I watched her take one or two spoonfuls of pureed food for a few weeks before I figured out she was more interested in soft finger foods. She wanted to feed herself. Eventually decided she was ready spoonfuls of applesauce, hummus, and guacamole and now she even tries to feed herself with her spoon and fork.

-          She began to resist diaper and clothing changes until I realized she wanted more of a hand in the process. Now our diaper and clothing changing areas are on the floor (at her level) and involve more collaboration.

-          She showed so much interest in my car keys that my mother-in-law finally decided to make her a set of her own. She plays with them while we are in the car and has even taught herself how to use the whistle on the keychain.

-          She is naturally drawn to certain toys and materials. She loves her farm animals, her stuffed rabbit, her musical instruments, her bucket, her car keys, and her stacking cups. She has dozens of toys, but when she shows interest in certain ones, she communicates her preferences so I can expand on those elsewhere.

-          Her desire to throw things led us to creating two baskets of objects to throw in our house: soft blocks and soft balls. Now when she shows a desire to throw things we direct her to those, rather than materials she could damage. I love that we can say “yes” to her desire to throw, rather than constantly telling her “no.”

-          She has so much joy when we are outside. Because of this interest, we take child-led walks almost every day. She walks along the sidewalk in front of our house and along our flower garden. She has some garden tools, a walker wagon, a trike and a kiddie pool in the backyard.

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In addition to following our child in these ways, we also try to have our home prepared each day and for each stage she enters. We gather so much inspiration from Deb’s prepared environment for Sixtine and Victoire. Our child friendly spaces include her bedroom and bathroom; our kitchen, dining area, and living room; and our outdoor spaces. Here is a sneak peek into a few of her areas.

Her bedroom

Complete with floor bed, nightstand, low shelves with a few toys, rocking chair for nursing, and a dressing area that encourages independence.

Image 3

Charlotte has slept independently in her room since before she was three months old. She has the freedom to get in and out of bed as she pleases, though she seems to stay in bed all night. I love being able to lie next to her and comfort her if I need to and when she falls asleep I can drift away without having to transfer her.

Kitchen and dining area

Fortunately our family is blessed to be able to share three meals a day together, so Charlotte sits with us in her knock-off Tripp Trapp. In the next six months or so, I anticipate removing the bar so that she can start climbing up and down by herself.

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Charlotte also has a weaning chair and table for snacks. Her hand-built kitchenette serves as storage for our daughter’s dishes, as well as a place for her to wash her hands and get a drink, since it has running water. Soon she will be able to practice washing dishes and prepare snacks on it.

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We hoped you enjoyed getting to know our family and our spaces as much as I enjoyed sharing them. We hope to continue following Charlotte as her leaders through our interactions with her and in our preparations for her. Thank you for having me, Deb, and thank you all for reading.

Amy

Links: Blog, Facebook, Instagram

Thank you for letting us into your home Amy. Your family is beautiful and is sure to inspire many other families.