and The Creative Family by Amanda Soule.
I highly recommend Steady Days to any of you who want to get their lives into a balanced and yet fun and practical routine. Jamie has a wonderful and easy way to make you feel more orderly in your day. She offers many terrific sample routines to sort of work off of. I love how she makes you feel adequate and well equiped as a mother. She offers sound but simple advice and shows in a practical way how to follow it. I loved many of her ideas and am going to be and have started to implement several of them. Such as-a blessing's journal. Every day, coming together as a family and writing down one thing that we each are thankful for. I think this will really help to keep things in focus, but looking at the positive instead of the negative. I loved how she had us think about ONE thing that we needed to work on to make things flow more smoothly and then work on that ONE thing. (not overwhelming ourselves with everything at once.) For me, that one thing that I chose to work on is getting more organized with grocery shopping and menus. I always try to be, but don't always succeed. I find that if I have groceries in the house and at least a sketchy menu of sorts to work off of, the week goes much more smoothly in that area.
I liked how Jamie offered suggestions on routine and dividing the day into segments, but I especially liked how she divided up playtime for the kids and had specific activities for certain days and times of the day. I'd really like to work on this a bit more. So many times Hannah will ask me-"what are we going to do today, Mama?" and I have no idea!! Yes, I typically just wing it and figure it out as we go along. We typically will do some fun things during the day I feel, but I think that if it was a bit more planned or categorized it might be a bit easier to manage!
There were so many more ideas to glean from in this book, but I will let you read it for yourself!
Moving on to The Creative Family... wow. Lots of inspiration. The book was a bit more "out there" in some ways than I tend to be as an individual. (such as contructing fairy houses and decorating with gnomes and mountain men, but you know! each to his own, right? ;)) However, the overall picture of the book was terrific. There was a lot of sound and practical advice on learning to be more creative with your children. Focusing on developing the artistic and abstract side of things and not being so robotic in our days and activities. Flying with the moment so to speak. There were lots of fun artsy ideas to incorporate into the day with your children and ways in which to do it. There were great ideas on how to store all that artwork that comes floating our way as well. One idea which I took from the book is having an 'art wire." I strung up some string held up by two screws in the wall and now the children can hang their artwork up by clothespins to the wire. It looks neat in the play/school room, making a nice display where we can all see their creativity. I liked Amanda's idea of having a special box for each child where you can store their special pieces of artwork, their special "treasures", etc to be able to give to your children when they are grown. Overall, Amanda's book sparked in me an interest and desire to really have fun with the children and let them explore different avenues of creating and creative play. I've always had the desire, but I guess this book sort of ignited the flame so to speak. I loved her simple, creative ways of doing things. Not elaborate, but unique. I think we'll be working more on making more things homemade. I have several ideas up my sleeve!
So-what have I learned, all in all? Number one, I learned that not all families are created equal. What may really big a big thing to one family, could mean hardly anything to another. Take art for instance. Am I extremely into it and love it with a passion? No. But I do want to instill a love and an interest in it in my children. Therefore, I expose them to it. It may not be in the "all out way" that Amanda Soule does it, but it's what works for our family. I love to read, so I suppose that my love of books and reading, I am, in part, passing on to my kids by reading many and varied books to them. Am I completely outdoorsy and passionately love canoeing, camping and mountain climbing? No, but I do want to instill a love of the outdoors and its beauty to my children by going on Nature walks, swimming in the river, small camping trips and day excursions into the mountains. Am I a head over heels organizer and scheduler of my days? Well, no. I used to think I was, but I'm finding out a bit differently. I like the concept, but it doesn't completely jive with me. I like a bit of spontenaeity in my days, and yet I need the structure to cope. So, It's a loose routine that we follow. We have set times for naps and bed and meals. Aside from that, our day usually follows a loose pattern of the same, it seems quite routine to me, and yet there is room for differentiation to the day/week. I will be working on some of this more though as time progresses. Especially as we head into falltime. I want to have more of a set time for Hannah and Nathan to learn. I want to get some lessons planned to go by for the weeks ahead. I do love to plan, but I do love variety as well.
So, there you have it. I've been inspired by these two books and I have several others coming-one with great ideas for learning activities for kids and one for easy crafts for young children, and I am also going to be reading Playful Parenting-which really looks to be an intriguing read. :)
Am i keeping up with my 4 books a month goal? Well, as of right now, I am 3 books behind! Not bad I'd say! I may not be able to completely keep up, but I'd say by the end of the year, I ought to have quite a list of books read! :) Plus, I've read several chapter books to Hannah, so maybe I should count those as well? What do you think? :)