Two months ago my sister Joanie sent Lux her old digital camera. These funny digital relics. Most of them are great cameras with plenty of megapixels and are fully functioning. They are only obsolete when faced with the connectivity ability of our phones.
When we received the box in the mail, I greeted it with my usual skepticism of oh great, yet another accessory we are going to need to remember before we go out the door. But actually it’s been really fun. She only thinks of occasionally, usually for events, loves taking the photos, and can do it completely on her own.
After she took almost 1000 photos I uploaded them onto my computer. Her brief obsession with flags (after she learned they represented different things) is well documented. Passing home life photos that remind me of film photos from the 80s. She started taking self portraits right away, which is funny because I don’t think she’s ever seen Joe or I take one like that, with the camera pinned up inches from our eyes. I love them.
She seems to feel that something is safely archived if she takes a photo of it, which is relieving for both of us as before it felt like she counted on me to remember–“Mom, remember that bunny with the crazy whiskers we saw in the book a few weeks ago? Which book was that?” “Hmmm…no I don’t remember.” And, for example, she had something concrete to do for herself when she had to wash a detailed face paint off, just an hour after it had been applied (due to bedtime).
I took that photo of you because I love you.
I can’t wait to show dad this photo.
I can’t send you this photo. My camera only takes pictures, it doesn’t message them.
Look Joan, here’s what color your tongue is.
Lux uses a Canon Powershot SD880, available used for around $50.
Strawberries were in season when we were in California, and this coast is now enjoying that fact by way of sumptuous bright red discounted California strawberries in our grocery stores. I let Lux pick a recipe out of the Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook for us to make together. That book’s a good one–a big spiral bound thing with bright photos. Within it, all the recipes are organized by what’s in season. She picked strawberry dream cream, a delicious spring frenzy that ends up tasting like ice cream but does not involve an ice cream maker.
strawberry dream cream,
- 3 cups of mashed strawberries
- 2 cups whipping cream beaten until soft peaks formed
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 cup of water
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1 pinch of salt
Add everything, including the mashed strawberries, to the whipped cream and beat with an electric beater. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13″ pan. Freeze for three hours. Remove from freezer, scoop back into the bowl and beat again until smooth, but not melted. Distribute into popsicle molds, or bowls and freeze for another three hours.
* I didn’t see a lot of consistency change between the two freezings & mixing, so I think you could experimentally skip the last step. We kept ours uncovered in the freezer, in small ramekins, for up to a week and tasted delicious throughout the time.
kid-friendly crinkle knife, simply in season children’s cookbook
Here’s an easy Montessori hack, no purchase necessary: the play mat. I’d read about this idea–a small rug or mat that the child knows is their go-to space for all toys and projects. It supposedly can inspire ownership of space, tidiness, and project completion. But with just the three of us kicking around, it seemed a bit restrictive to demand Lux use a mat constantly, and ultimately an unnecessary extra purchase.
Enter, troubled waters: Even though Lux stopped napping around 2.5 years, I quickly realized that we still needed an hour break in the afternoon. She was often refreshed after the hour, most of which she spent talking to herself and play acting. We pressed on with “quiet time” with some difficulty. Joan naps in the girls’ room which leaves our room for Lux, and I could tell she felt like a misfit in the space there. (I asked for ideas here, and you all gave some great ones!) Despite my enticing books-on-tapes and quiet-time-only library books, she resisted it and we quickly found ourselves arguing over it every day.
Enter, a solution: a crisp blanket like this quilt, freshly laid out in front of a table papered and set with colored pencils. This has been successfully designated as Lux’s “work station.” The official labeling and the act of setting it up every afternoon has helped ease her into quiet time! hoorah. I make a point to clean it up directly afterwards, and at other times in the day she will ask for “her work space.” So I think we’ll try rolling this thing out on demand next. Any of you using this technique?
I’ve been experimenting with some Montessori things around the house. When I say Montessori, I mean keeping items that let Lux care for herself without asking for help. I have long practiced the belief that child-appropriate-things will just materialize in my life at the necessary time, and I’ve often leaned away from buying things outright. However, three years into this, I’ve finally realized that some useful things must be sought out and purchased. And if you can manage to get them immediately after you conclude that your child would enjoy them, they turn out to be the most satisfying for both of you.
Some of these Montessori-type things have really been a hit and some have just been so-so, and I’ll try to document them as we try them out. Anything I post here would be familiar to someone in the Montessori world; I don’t mean to pretend that I’ve discovered any of these nice ideas!
First up: a hit. A 16oz glass pitcher, of satisfying weight, with a tight-fitting plastic top. I ordered one, and one day later, we concluded we needed two. One to sit on the table filled with water, waiting for a thirsty customer. Another filled with milk, sitting on an accessible shelf in the fridge, waiting for a starving toddler in the morning who has cereal and a bowl, but no milk.
The first night the pitcher arrived, I put it on the table with some glasses and Lux spent most of the meal asking us if we would like some more water and then solemnly pouring us half-glasses full. Joe and I were tossing water back just to keep up with our eager waiter. I felt she was 2x as engaged as usual and I had the aha moment-–time at the table for Lux is often an endless succession of requesting things and then waiting for her request to be filled. It was a treat to have her focused on what was happening and reversing the constant “I need” refrain.