As with almost everything there was a bit of a learning curve for both myself and the littles. There was a time about a year ago that I couldn't have imagined independent play with the mats. Regardless of my doubts, I used them everytime I taught a 3 part lesson. It is a great way to visually mark the begining and end of a task. It is also a great way to define personal or working space.
Then it happened. My oldest son and niece started using them all the time when they want to create space for themselves and create without interuption. As our youngest started toddling we faced challenge next. Two bigger littles who use the mats well and one little one who is just begining to understand the process. Primarily my littlest simply enjoys rolling and unrolling the mats when on his own. He doesn't always respect the bigger littles space, but a good percentage of the time he does.
Do you use montessorri mats at home?
Sometime over the holidays, I marveled watching an extreme couponing show on TLC. It is amazing to me to see the commitment, focus, and success of those extreme couponers. It is thrilling to watch! While I am inspired by the savings, there are a few barriers that will always keep me from joining the ranks of extreme couponers.
Chief amoung these barriers is our commitment to organic, allergy friendly foods. It prohibits what seems to be the number one rule for extreme couponers; throw out brand loyality. I spend A LOT of time researching brands their facilities, food saftey policies and allergy statements. When I find brands that I trust, I am loyal ... always double checking, but loyal.
One of the moms featured was both vegan and focused on organic eating and that got me researching. I discovered that while it is true that most of the mind blowing 80-90% saving deals would be ridiculously out of reach for our allergy family the average "casual couponer" saves 10%-30% on thier grocery bill. That was good enough for me to give it a try. :)
We are now a month in and I can safely say we are seeing great results and not just in the budget. I am sticking to clipping coupons for brands that we trust and use. I follow the technique of collecting the weekly flyers and not clipping them until I need them. Week 2 of coupon clipping my oldest climbed up to help. It is proving to be a great way to play together. He is now really great at finding the right coupons and cutting them out without snipping barcode/sku. :) It's also a great way to practice reading, letter and number identification. :) Who knew?!
If you have been reading since September you know I was excited to join a tot school cooperative in my area. Despite my excitement and confidence in the curriculum writer, I have found myself unceremoniously on the outside looking in. The group has for months, as most new groups do, been struggling to find its sea legs. Failing to provide consistent weekly meetings, behind on delivery of curriculum, and unclear on how to manage the size and needs of the group. While all of these things are red flags. I also maintained confidence in the chief moms in charge, believing that overtime they would get in the groove, define rules and roles more clearly and we would be off a running. On top of dealing with the normal bumps in group formation, I continued to have people reach out and tell me that disparaging remarks about me were consistently made by the leader of the co-op. It was hard to believe the authenticity of these reports. My face-to-face and online interaction with her were so limited and never seemed, pardon the pun, out of school. For the most part, I wrote these comments off as chatter of misunderstanding. The leader is known to be terse, abrupt and without filter. At a time when reports where at a fever pitch, I reached out directly to ask if there was a problem, if I could do anything to build the relationship or squash the chatter. The response I received was that there wasn't a problem that she was misinterpreted and speaking in a global since not about me. She was frustrated and overwhelmed with the work and size of the group and that it would all settle down soon. So again with confidence a made the requested payment for the whole year.
The first meetings were a bit frantic, overcrowded and disorganized despite all the wonderful effort put in by the curriculum writers. As a result, around two months in, we were told that the group would be divided into two smaller groups with regional meetings. That never happened but the holidays did: thanksgiving, Christmas and new years. I along with many assumed that we were just being put on holiday coast mode and that things would pick up again at the beginning of the year. Then it happened, on my way to pick up my husband from the airport, I received a message advising me that I would not be invited to the meetings, but I would be able to access the years worth of curriculum through the group facebook page. I was assured that this was just "housekeeping" and not personal. Then when we arrived at my husbands welcome home dinner another message came through. "You have been removed from tot school fb page". Then moments later my phone blinked again. This time with a firey private message from the organizer. It was a kidney shot, full of anger and judgement.
As I read her sharply worded message that explained how eliminating me would reduce her anger and annoyance. I was hurt. As I read her attack my "drama" filled life I began to cry and then in that moment almost in a whisper I realized, "You can not wrestle with someone's anger. You can only wrestle with your own". As I reflect on the past 2 years, certainly there has been a lot of drama. They have been years that I have heard diagnosis that struck me to my core, years that I have said goodbye to beloved friends gone home to soon, and years in which sleep is a luxury. But they have also been years full of beautiful silver linings! They have been years when I have been blessed beyond measure to hold babies that I was told I would never conceive, years that I have witness a dog that I was told couldn't be rehabilitated lay down his life for one of those babies, years that every time my strength has run out some one shows up with the perfect word, the helping hand, kindness. That's when I really started to cry. I was crying not from the sting of angry words cast by someone who has never even tried to know me, but tears of gratitude for a life full of grace.
I am so grateful that in-spite of the hot mess that can be my life, I have joy unimaginable. I am so grateful to know without doubt that the grace that surrounds me has nothing to do with my skill or my ability. I am grateful to know that while many in the world may see my "drama" and steer clear, I will never be alone. I am grateful that I have been gifted with eyes to see the beauty in madness. I am grateful for authenticity in my relationships. I am grateful that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I do not have to stand for being bullied and marginalized. I am grateful that I know that I will not stand by when it is done to others. I am grateful that although it would shock the little girl I once was, I am honestly able to pray for these people that have hurt me.
It is so easy to use grace as an excuse to simply walk away and allow mean, cruel and hurtful behavior to continue unchallenged. However, to do so is not kind. It is not kind to the bully left delighted by their control but still festering in anger. It is not kind to the one being hurt. I am so grateful to know the truth .... that grace is enough. It is enough to navigate the challenging conversation, to heal broken hearts, and to give me the strength to know that I will continue to speak the truth and seek reparation with love and respect for those in the co-op.