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Bedtime Nursery Rhymes

Hello hope you’re all enjoying the summer weather. I sure am. We even caught the ice cream man while out on a walk. But one of my other favorite moments with Freya is story time.  So I wanted to talk about our favorite collection of stories.

This is a collection from Parragon. It’s easy to find on Amazon. You’ll know it’s the right one if it has a blue and white striped Humpty Dumpty with red lettering outlined in silver.

So this is one of the best nursery rhyme collections I have ever seen. It was gifted to us by Freya’s grandparents on her father’s side.  It contains over 150 stories and rhymes. It has most of the mother goose rhymes we have all heard as well as some more rare rhymes. It also has several stories.

The artwork is simple and sparse, but cute for a wee one to look at. The stories are separated by several rhymes so that you don’t end up reading forever.  It’s a great book for when you need to keep story time short.  It also has a table of contents so that you can read your favorite rhymes or stories. You can also read random rhymes. Right now we are working our way through the book on those nights where we need a shorter story because wa had a longer day.

The book also contains song games that you can play with your child. This portion may be the only complaint that I have about the book. I almost wish that they were categorized by rhymes, then stories, then songs.  Or some variation on that. I think that as Freya grows up and learns the song it may hinder bedtime more than hit helps. Better organization could mitigate that.  My solution has been to highlight them in the table of contents for my personal reference.

It’s a great collection for adults too. I have found many rhymes that not even I have heard.  Though I plan to research as rhymes used to be secret codes for our people in the burning times. Hopefully I’ll find all my class research on the subject at some point so that I can post that here, but that’s another can of worms.

The point is that if you are looking for a complete listing (or nearly complete listing) of nursery rhymes, stories, and songs to entertain your children through their younger years, this may be one of the best books you could ever invest in.

To check it out on Amazon click here. http://www.amazon.com/Bedtime-Nursery-Rhymes-Parragon-Books/dp/1445476738
Blessed Be.

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Minnie & Me a Book Reivew

So I’m happy to say that I am finally starting to get better. I hope (fingers crossed).  I forgot to mention yesterday that I started seeing a chiropractor. I’ve seen him before he used to be married to my cousin. But long story short, it was recommended that i get in to see him. I went today and they ran tests to check the inflamation in my back and my range of motion. We might have at least part of the solution for my random inexplicable pain.  So here’s to hoping that we’ll have it licked in a few weeks.

So  I’m continuing with my book trend this week.  And we’re moving on to a favorite book series from my childhood. Back in the day Minnie Mouse had a series that was all about being your best friend. The small series that included stories about her and her friends, is only a part of a much bigger series, but I didn’t know that until a few days ago.

We’ll start with the basics of the series, the cover, the artwork, the relevance of the stories, and finally a final review.

The story is told from a third person point of view with occasional asides from Mininie where she points out the character flaws and questionable actions of herself and others.  At the end of each story she talks to your child as her friend. She may even ask your child to write to her about a time they did something or were tempted to do something similar to what happened in the story. Or she may ask for your child to share their opinion on the story.

Each story teaches a lesson. Sometimes it is Minnie learning the lesson. Other times it is Daisy, Lily, Penny, or one of her other friends. I think my favorite things about these stories is the fact that it provides a number of opportunities for you to start open dialogs with your children about these issues and how they can come to you if they need help. This is one of the reasons these stories are so near and dear to my heart, because my parents did just that with them.

The stories cover a variety of subjects including theft, peer pressure, growing up too soon, loyalty to your friends, dilemmas young children may face with their friends, and honesty. Each story teaches a different lesson covering just about any aspect of morality and responsibility that we can expect young children between the ages of five and ten to learn.

The covers of the books all follow a theme.  Each cover photo and title gives a hint at the problem. They also each have a decorative binding with some sort of shape usually polka dots and hearts.  Still this is how you can tell the series apart from that of the larger Minnie and me book series.  I believe that there are 20-25 books in the series. While it used to be a subscription they are now easily obtained on amazon for anywhere between $0.01 and $3.50 with shipping and handling. I went and looked it up just to make sure that anyone interested could find the series.

The artwork is clean and easy to understand. If you wanted to start your child on morals early it’s still a good book for infants.  Freya can sit through most of one story and I would say the read time is somewhere between ten and twenty minutes per book.  The shapes are mostly simple and would also serve the opportunity to point out new words to your growing young one even if the moral lessons may be a bit too young for them yet.

The relevance of the stories. Most books with popular characters may have a moral, but it’s buried within a larger story. That’s all well and good, but the aim of these books were to specifically use a girl’s childhood cartoon icon to teach morality or right and wrong.  While there is a story, it’s much more poignant that there is a lesson within the Minnie and me. It’s also set up to open dialogue between a parent and child about some of these issues, unlike many children’s books containing morals.  This can make it easier for a parent who is unsure of how to broach a topic to talk to their child.

Let me give you an example. I will always remember reading one book in the series. It was the one where the girls were being bullied. I remember my parents reading that book when they were concerned that I was being bullied and using it as an icebreaker. Granted, they found out that the school had been lying to them for three years by that point….but the book was an icebreaker for us. While I know that not every parent needs that, maybe the child does. Some children may need that opening to be able to have that conversation with their parents. Or even if that have that conversation with Minnie (aka you writing them back). I don’t necessarily promote the last approach, but do what works for your family.

Conclusion

I would definitely rate these as one of my favorite sets of children’s books. It is to the point, opens dialogue, is visually engaging and very positive in its approach to teaching the child through a story while still being fairly accurate.  I don’t feel like this book series sugar coats the situation quite as much as other stories, which is a definite benefit.

I hope that you will at least check out one of these stories if you are looking for character building books for your wee one.
Blessed Be.

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Book Review: Lady of Ten Thousand Faces

My family and I are just about to finish up reading the Lady of Ten Thousand Faces. You can find it on Amazon. It’s a book that holds several stories, each of a Goddess from a different culture. They take a page to explain who the Goddess is before telling the story. Included in the book are Isis, Quan Yin, the White Buffalo Woman, Cerridwen, Freya, Amaterasu, Oshun, Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate.

While the book is mostly text, the few illustrations it has are beautiful.  They are done in a watercolor style. I also enjoyed that you could tell which story was which by a boarder. Each of the Goddesses has their own except for the final three as they all share a story.  Still the artwork did a great job of adding to the story as you would hope it would in a child’s book.

I would say this book is more for a child who is starting to read, but to whom you are still reading to, so probably early Elementary. However, Freya is nine months and she still enjoyed it, even if she wanted to climb on the book more than look at it.

Each of the stories was well written and easy to follow.  My only problem is that some of the stories tell an over simplified version of the story that could raise questions when I present the mythology to Freya as she gets older. I didn’t want it to go into the gruesome details, but it would have been nice if all the names in Amaterasu’s story had been the Japanese names instead of American translations. Or in Isis’s story if it had been a bit more accurate without going too gruesome.

Regardless my issues with the book are few and far in between and should probably be expected in our sugar coated world. And while I want my child to be protected from some things, I don’t feel like we need to change names or water down the story to do so.  The stories of the Goddesses are powerful and beautiful.

Still, a great book overall. Hopefully the first of many pagan children’s books that I will find and be able to endorse.  If not, I might find a new calling as a children’s book writer. Lol.  I would just have to find an illustrator. Anyway, this is still a great book for anyone beginning to teach their child about the Goddess.

I’m going to leave it as a short post today. I just wanted to share my experience with this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a good pagan children’s book.

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Freya, Our Journey, and Montessori

I spend a lot of time thinking about what is best for Freya. All parents, especially first time parents, do this.  We all want to either improve from the past, if we have other children, or not mess up in the first place if we can avoid it.  While school is still several years away for us, I’m constantly trying to find ways to engage Freya and possibly jump start the learning process. Like any parent, we want her to have it better than we did.  In my case, I want to make sure everything goes better than my pregnancy did.

So let me explain what happened as briefly as possible.

 

See, I was one of those not so fortunate people who slipped through the cracks in the system. We didn’t find out I was pregnant till April (I’ve never been regular and had no symptoms) and right after I’d aged out of my father’s insurance. Worse, I was a temp so I couldn’t get insurance through work and I couldn’t afford it on my own. That left Medicaid, which despite applying in April didn’t get approved till three weeks before I was due.

But my pregnancy story gets better. Despite the fact that, in my state, you should be able to get prenatal care, no one would talk to me without 2000 or more upfront. Lovely when a pregnant woman in need cannot get any help from the system that is supposed to protect us. I called every doctor I could find in the phone book and a few that others recommended to me and no one would see me. I was livid.

So when I made an emergency trip to the hospital because I was that soon-to-be-new-mom who was freaking out, I got even more stressed than I already had been. The staff didn’t make it any better trying to sign me up for medicaid (even though I told them I was waiting on my current app to go through) or berating me for not getting prenatal care from a doctor. This did not improve my mood or my impression of the entire system.

And all of that would be compounded by finding out that I wasn’t due in seven months, I was due in two. I was due in August, which was a shock. I was floored and I don’t even know how to describe how her father felt.  Not knowing where the Goddess was leading me, I did all the research that most parents would do over nine months….in less than two.  In the end it was my mentor, Lady G, who convinced me not only to keep my child, but to also put my fears at ease.

After that we switched hospitals and I finally (two or three weeks before I was due) got to have a proper check up. Finally, in August, after two false alarms, I had Freya on the same night I was supposed to run the local community circle. Though it was the best excuse for being late ever, it was something I had been worried might happen. It was like I knew she was coming that day…even though she was induced due to doctor worries.  The birth wasn’t bad, aside from being bullied into inducing her which caused some minor problems, but no harm to the baby.

Suffice it to say, my pregnancy wasn’t a walk in the park.

And then I moved back in with my parents. Once things had settled down, I had a lot more time on my hands. Too much time. Even with having to help take care of both of my disabled parents, I wanted to find something to do with Freya. That’s when I found Montessori, which has become a large part of our lives

Our lack of preparation for her arrival has caused us to be very thoughtful of issues that could come up in the future. This included many discussions about school and what we would like to do versus what we may have to do to give her the best education possible. Both of us are decidedly against public schools. We both went and we both had experiences on opposite ends of the spectrum. He had a great experience while I had a horrible one. Where he had friends who defended him, I was that kid that was likely to end up in the trash can, locker, or torn up. Well, at least until we moved, at which point I kinda became several choice words towards anyone who tried to mess with me. Regardless, my boyfriend, Freya’s father, still agrees that we would prefer to keep her out of public school.

There are several reasons for this. First, the town we currently live in does not have a good school system. Second, the towns we want to move to do not have the best school systems. Third, Catholic school is not an option here, as I will not have Freya bullied into the Catholic church. I’ve had several friends who felt this way when they weren’t Catholic and went to the only private school in their area. Not to mention, I can’t guarantee that the school wouldn’t mess with her or me to start with, due to my faith.

Which leaves either non Christian affiliated private schools, which exist in the area, but are expensive, or home school. We’re still trying to determine if that is possible. We’ll have to see how the next few years go with my Etsy (or possibly Amazon) store I’m trying to set up and everything else. No matter what happens or what the decision may be, all I can do right now is research, pin things to Pinterest, and try not to drive myself mad.

Which is how I found Montessori.

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a learning style based on observations of the child and, more importantly, independent and peer learning. It was created in the late 1800’s by Maria Montessori, the first woman to graduate from medical school in Italy.  She developed it to help children reach their full potential after observing children housed alongside the criminally insane.  It was her work with those children that led her across the globe, where she learned that all children, despite their cultures, have certain times in their lives at which certain skills have to be learned.

Think of it as a house of cards or the foundation of a building. If one block or card is missing, the rest tumble on down.  This can best be seen in the psychological example of children raised by animals or raised outside of normal society. There is a wonderful WordPress article by Psychology Health that lays out the finer points of this scenario and it has happened. These children who don’t learn certain social or language cues from humans, have an extremely difficult time learning those skills later because they have passed that sensitive period in their development. While the author of the WordPress article claims there are no historical evidences of this, that is simply untrue. It is well documented in France in the 1800’s by Harian Lane, see the Amazon link to his book here.

That aside, there are certain peaks in which children develop motor, language, and other necessary skill that allow them to thrive within society. On her journeys, Montessori cataloged a general age range at which many of these occur.  Today, many psychologist and educators still use many of her ideas and recommendations. There are even those further researching her theories for a modern day.

One of the hallmarks of this practice is the environment in which the child learns and play. We haven’t been able to do everything we would like as we share a room with Freya, but I’m hoping to change that once we can afford to get our own place again, but we have implemented as much as we can. For one, Freya has a mattress on the ground where she takes naps during the day, eventually we will transition this to where she sleeps all the time as it allows her to be more independent. We keep her toys organized into as many categories as we can on shelves where she can reach them.

We also have a solid mirror where she can view her own expressions and attempt to play with the baby in the mirror. This encouraged Freya to lift her head and look around. Now she loves it because she can see her own movements. Another thing we have done is to use baby led weaning, where she eats what we eat instead of baby food when we go out. It has made the diaper bag lighter (aside from my mini Tupperware chopper) and it makes her happy to be involved in what we are doing, when we are doing it.  We are also working on getting her to drink form a cup with a little shot glass I have.  Sure we have a few spills, but she has seen us drink from cups and is always reaching for them herself. By letting her have her own cup we may have a few more spills, but she doesn’t reach for our cups because she has her own.

I also love that the method stresses that we can’t compare our children to others, that each child develops at a different pace and that we have to celebrate those differences.  To me it just feels very pagan in nature. We place trust in our child to learn from their surroundings and I can already tell you that Freya has surprised me more than once.

The one area I really want to learn about at this juncture is their method of discipline. That’s one topic I’ve had a lot of trouble finding info on. Though I’m hoping I’ll be able to get back to you with more info on this topic once I get my Montessori books in and find time to read them.

So far, we’ve mostly done sensory play with pasta and food. We’ve done some discovery baskets about different areas of the house. Freya had a wonderful time playing with measuring spoons and bowls in the kitchen. She even enjoyed playing with her new rubber tipped silverware.  It’s fascinating and amazing what will entice and entertain a child.  My goal is to start doing at least one Montessori activity with her a week, two if I can manage it between job hunting and taking care of all my charges at home.

Regardless, if you’re homeschooling or just looking for new ways to interact with your child, Montessori source pages are a great place to find all sorts of activities for kids of any age and all of them are educational. I know that just like our spiritual paths, this one may not be for everyone, but it’s at least worth exploring and seeing what magick and mischief your child can find in their own world through these activities.

Blessed Be.