Friday, October 26, 2012

The Hallow Times

Hallow:  To make or consider holy or sacred

The Hallowtide Days are coming.  For those unfamiliar with this term it is simply what we call Halloween (or All Hallows), All Saints Day and All Souls Day; a three day period of sacred days that call us to reflection life and death.

Celebrating holidays other than Halloween is rather new to me, but I jump at the idea of finding more holidays to celebrate that don't revolve around presents and sugar and give my family the chance to reflect on particular idea or themes throughout the year.  

Our Halloween will look very much like the typical Halloween, in all it's secular glory.  I love having a day that is about dress-up and just having some great fun.  I think it's a great opportunity to get outside with friends and family one last time before winter sets in - here in Iowa it's all too common to get snow the next day (go here to read a post from last years reflection on Halloween).  I think it's great to encourage kids to face things that are frightening.  I believe in encouraging imagination and pretend play because I think it opens the mind to accepting the miraculous, mysterious and almost unknowable Truths in the world.  We will be wearing costumes, going door to door, collecting and giving out candy just like so many others (most of that candy will be pawned off on co-workers the next day).  We will have jack-o-lanterns and decorations, because I really do love this little holiday. 

Religiously speaking All Hallow's Eve is supposed to be a time of reflection, to prepare yourself for the two days following and it will be, but who's to say that sometimes you can't have quite a bit of fun at the wake before the funeral. 

The following days are All Saints and All Souls.  All Saints is a day we're pretty much told that we need to make it to Mass and luckily our parish has an evening Mass so we'll be making a special effort to go.  In fact, it will be my first All Saints Mass and I'm quite curious to find out what it's all about.  It's also said that going to a cemetery and praying helps the souls in purgatory.  Not to sound to macabre, but I plan on taking Henry for a short visit to the grave of a dear friend of mine lost when we were only 13.  He was Catholic and I feel like he'd appreciate the gesture.  These are days to reflect on those we have lost, but it should end with a feeling of hope not hopelessness.  These are days to reflect on those who are gone from us, but have been given a great reward or to pray for those who might still be seeking that reward in this life or the next.

These days, while a little morbid in their subject matter, are not meant to be gloomy or frightening.  Rather it is a chance to face the reality of life and death and to reflect on any beliefs or practices that give us hope in the face of such a finite occasion.  It is a time to reflect on the good in the lives of those near to us and those we might learn about.

The Hallowtide days are great way to reflect and remember.  A perfect time to pull out photo albums and family videos.  To take down favorite recipes or make a toast.  It is a time to face our fears, remember those we love and reflect on what is to come.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Where I Am: A Short Reflection on Starting RCIA

I will be starting RCIA classes this Sunday.  For those not up on the 411 of Catholic lingo RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  It's for anyone, even if you don't think you want to (ever) join the church or you've been a member since birth.  It's a long process; I start on October 28th and take a class a week until after my first communion on Easter Vigil.  It's a little crazy, a little controlling and I'm rather surprised that I'm about to take this step.

I don't have to take this step.  My husband and his family are perfectly content with whatever way I chose to express my faith.  There is no pressure to convert even from the more devout and pious members of the family (and we've got nuns, catechists, etc.all throughout the family) so I can really say I'm taking this step of my own volition.

I'm pretty determined of my course; I fully plan on receiving communion at the Easter Vigil, but it can still be a little overwhelming at times.

I'm am not entering this phase of my religious development wearing rose colored glasses and I do not have myself convinced of anything black or white definitions.  There are teachings I struggle with and probably will struggle with for a long while.  I am nervous of being part of a religious organization which has had so many failings in the past and have already tasted the vehemence of peoples' dislike of Catholics.

I am where I am because I wasn't happy, content or fulfilled in the teachings I grew up with.  I am where I am because we want to present a unified front when it comes to teaching our children about faith.  I am where I am because, while I still struggle with some teachings, I've found some amazing teachings that call to me to be a better wife, mother, daughter and member of my community and world.

A large part of the credit for where I am should go to a number of friends (and my husband) for being remarkable people and models of a faith that I will admit to being highly prejudiced against.  I've lost count of the number of times I've been floored by a friends love, charity or just day to day behaviors only to find out that the same thing I was so impressed with was inspired by their faith.  I remember saying, or at least thinking, on more than one occasion "You can't be Catholic, you're too normal."  The way they took what they learned in classes as a teenager or Mass as an adult and found numerous ways to apply it to their lives was an inspiration.

I do not start on this journey with any idea that I can atone for others' past wrongs or mistakes.  I can barely hope to make sense of it all in my life time.  There is, in fact, quite a few points that I just don't attempt because I don't feel we - as conscious human beings - are even at a point of really understanding something so simply and wonderfully complicated.  But, I can hope that I can take what I can understand and apply it to living a good, loving, charitable life.  I hope that as I engage in this journey I will find my own way to show that what draws me to the faith I choose to live is not how the Church lives in the world at large, but how the Church lives in me.

A New Look

Still experimenting with a few things, and few things to add over the next couple days, but I'm pleased to announce the MollyMakesDo {much needed} face- lift!  If you're reading thru a viewer perhaps a quick click-thru to admire the prettiness =)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall and Thrift

Fall has finally made it arrival in the form of some blissfully grey and rainy days which remind me of my beloved Oregon and in true Iowa fashion they're calling for chances of snow the day before Halloween.

Of course life is what it is and a triple threat of teething, stomach bug and resultant ear infection (as well as a slew of dental work) have distracted me from here for a little while.  But never fear there are still things in the works, though I feel as if I need to step up my game with the success of Money Tight Montessori!  Though, kind of, relating can I just say that I'm on a thrifting roll!  The last week has brought us a set of Hape wooden blocks, a box of magnetic letters, a wooden crayon holder and the perfect wooden step stool among other things (but you'll have to wait until Christmas just like Henry!)

 See you soon!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanks and Organization

Wow.  Holy Cow.  I'm a little floored.  Since getting a particular pin on Pinterest "Money Tight Montessori" has received close to 900 views and over 250 Pins in about 3 days.  That's a record here at MollyMakesDo.  Thank you to everyone!

It also encouraged me to finish a little blog organization.  If you look up you'll see a new "Favorites" page that now holds links (some with new fancy Pinterest friendly pictures) to the most popular posts on this little website.  If you're new here, I recommend click over and seeing what else may tickle your fancy.

There are some fun things happening here to watch out for in the next month.  More "Little Holiday" ideas to share, "Inspired" Booklists to share and so much more!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Money Tight Montessori: Thrifting Practical Life

One of my favorite aspects of a Montessori Education is that of the category of "Practical Life" in which the child learns independence from being allowed to participate in certain real-life activities.  These can range from dressing oneself to helping in the kitchen.

As any parents who adheres to an education principle we can often find it overwhelming to fit the items we deem necessary for such an experience into our budget.  I've found that in a pinch our local thrift and consignment stores can be a wealth of items once I knew what I was looking for.

The following are some of the items I've found easy to locate in my local thrift and consignment shops that adhere to Montessori ideas, without being directly from a catalog.
  • Baskets - Many Montessori practitioners are fans of the idea of things being useful and beautiful in order to encourage their use and I've seen many beautiful baskets for sale on Montessori sites for any purpose from storage to sorting and baskets are one item that never seems to be lacking in thrift stores.  Those small baskets that don't seem to be good for much to an adult are the perfect size for little hands.  Large baskets make for much more appealing storage that plastic primary colored totes, IMHO.
  • Trays - Plastic or Wooden trays are versatile objects that can be used for organizing activities and supplies.  Divided trays are perfect for sorting activities.
  • Bowls - Mix matched plates and bowls are a dime and dozen at most thrift stores.  I've found that tea saucers and small desert bowls are a perfect size for little hands.  Ramekins and Ice Cream Dishes are also a perfect size for both Practical Life and Sensory Games.
  • Pouring Materials - Learning to pour water from one vessel to another is a favorite Montessori activity for preschoolers and if you think out side the box a little you'll find that your thrift store has just what you need.  I've picked up a couple cream and sugar sets that are just the right size for my little guys hands.  Set the activity up on a tray with a sponge near by and you're all set to encourage hand eye coordination!
Baskets, Trays, Cream and Sugar Set, S&P Shakers, Wooden Nutcracker, Enamel Mixing Bowls, Utensils, Plates, Bowls and Cups all Thrifted Items in our Kitchen Basket
    • Utensils - Child-sized utensils can be tricky to find, but keep an eye out for things like small spreading knifes, sugar tongs, desert forks and spoons and you'll have a wealth of items at your disposal!  It's not uncommon to find novelty sized kitchen utensils in the mix - tiny whisks and wooden spoons that have little to no purpose for the average adult are a gold mine to children.
    • Various Cooking Tools - An eagle eyed thrifter can easily find unusual items if you go in with the right mind set.  Think of things that you loved to play with or would have loved to play with as a child - perhaps a mortar and pestle, honey pot, salt shakers, various decorative jars for cooking oils or sugar tongs to help with hand eye coordination.  "Mini" and Novelty sized cook and bake-ware are often a dime a dozen and perfect for little hands.Whether they get used in Practical Life or head straight to the play kitchen is not really that important.
    • Cloth Napkins - Something too many people get these as gifts and never use them; if the napkin is too big for your child right now a quick cut and/or a run thru a sewing machine and you're good to go. Not only good for kitchen and imaginative play clothe napkins are the perfect size to teach little hands to fold
    • Jars and Containers - Encourage that hand-eye coordination even more by picking up a few items with different types of lids and latches from the kitchen and knick-knack aisles.  Think of little jewelry boxes or old spice containers.  Use the items to discover sensory experiences like texture, size or color!
    A Few Other Items to Keep in Mind:
    • Scarves - Forget expensive play-silks, stock up on fun cheap scarves for imaginative play.  While you're at it don't forget to check out hats and shoes for dress up!
    • Costume Jewelry - Just because you'd never leave the house in it doesn't mean it's not the perfect accessory for a Queen or a Pirate's Booty!
    • Sheets - Whether it's for forts or to lay out for messy crafts, this can be a great thing to stock up! Just run them through the wash once or twice to ensure cleanliness!

    If you'd like a list of Easy to Find Practical Life Items CLICK HERE.

    P.S. While "researching" this post I managed to score the Twisting Wooden Nutcracker shown in the picture above at my local Goodwill.  That item alone tends to run between $16-18 at a Montessori supply site and I added it to our collection for a whopping $1.30.

    *I'm not a trained educator in the Montessori Method, only an enthusiast with a few years of real life experience in a Montessori Charter School and what I've gleaned from books.  What I share here should therefore be taken with a grain of salt and not considered a completely true and accurate account of Montessori Education Methods.*

    Shared on LivingMontessori's Montessori Monday 

    and Frugally Sustainable  - Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways 

    and Your Green Resource 

    and Little House in the Suburbs

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Our Useless Degrees...

    My husband and I have what is commonly referred to as a "Useless Degree".  Tonight our useless degrees, when used in tandem, located a repair a melted wire that had disabled our dishwasher.  I was in charge of the lightening fast online research and my husband was in charge of tearing apart said machine and eventually doing the basic electric work that saved us the $100 (minimum) it would have cost to get a repair man in... next Wednesday all using abilities learned while acquiring said "Useless Degrees".

    If we ever become pro-Wrestlers we'll be called "The Muscle and the Librarian" -  
    Tremble before our applicable life skills! 

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

    Black and White

    Black and White.

    Triggers for Him and a Meret for me.  With the kiddos head-wear taken care of I can move to the next projects.

    Please rest assured that in the midst of all of the pretty fall pictures and knitting projects there is a lot of real life going on behind the scenes.  Two weekends away (and sleeping in the same room as mommy and daddy) mean a slow re-accustoming to our previous bedtime routine - we've let him sleep a number of nights with us like he's asked and given in to his "Nah-Nah" (the pacifier) which, before the weddings, we had all but completely given up.  There was an amazing melt down before dinner, the dishwasher has stopped working and the state of most of the house leaves something to be desired.  Though I did manage to make dinner tonight -

    Huzzah! -

     which was eaten downstairs on the couch because of said tantrum.

    But, it's life and I wouldn't change a thing.

    But I wouldn't say no to some kind of robot maid ala the Jetsons.

    The Joy of Leaves

    Our backyard tree is still stubbornly holding on to it's leaves so we took advantage of a neighbors un-raked lawn. 

    I love this time of year.

    Sunday, October 7, 2012


    Just popping in to say hello - we're back form our last wedding of the season.  Sadly due to cold temperatures, an outdoor ceremony, a little boy who would not nap and an unfortunately spaced reception (cocktail hour turned into cocktail 2+ hours) Henry and I spent a good chunk of Saturday watching HGTV and eating pizza in our hotel room while Daddy partied enough for all of us with his old roommate.  Oh well.

    Thank you to all the wonderful comments on my last post and welcome to all my new readers!  I will try not to disappoint.

    I wish I had a picture or two to share from the Feast of St. Francis - but a late nap gave us just enough time to drop our donation off at the animal shelter (and see all the kitties).  We still have our pinecones ready to be made into be bird-feeders during a dull moment!  I think the most important activity of the day was achieved - the donation - and I hope more of our "Little Holidays" can be celebrated by doing similar or better acts of charity!

    Sadly the housecleaning fairies did not stop by while we were away and a lot awaits us tomorrow!

    For now!

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Quiet in the Early Morning

    It's really all, but quiet around here.  We've already been up for a while and had breakfast and are now alternating between playing with trains, cat toys and making shadows  puppets on the walls.  Henry's also brought me another Dr. Pepper from the box on the floor... make that three.

    We're in the middle of a stretch of wedding weekend - one down, one to go - and gearing up for something that will take a good portion of our time for about 6 months.  I'll be  participating in our churches RCIA process this year (that's the schedule in the picture) and my husband will be my sponsor, so we have about a class a week from the end of October until after Easter to attend.  While I appreciate the depth of the program the time frame is a little daunting and we all know how good I am with hurry up and wait situations.

    I plan on a writing a little more of my thoughts on the process as it get started, and sadly I have a feeling I'll probably loose a few followers along the way - I lost three just by writing about Michaelmas and the Feast of St. Francis, but I'll just assume it was not personal for now.  Please know that while I share about my religious thoughts or our family traditions here, I aim to make this a welcoming space for all - no matter our theological differences.

    But, back to the knitting - the striped hat is almost complete, and so is Henry's scarf for his Halloween costume, which means I'll be starting on Ben's Christmas Knit any day now.  Not too bad for the beginning of October!

    Can't wait to be back in a few days to share our St. Francis Day with you!

    Shared on Frontier Dreams KCCO, and Small Things Yarn Along 

    Edit:  Thank you for your lovely comments!  I'm pleased to announced that since posting this I've gained 3 new readers.  Welcome!
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