Toddler Table Manners

IMG_1634“I’d never be able to get her to sit still without buckling her!”

“How do you know he won’t fall out?”

“I wish my kid had table manners like that.”

When our son Joseph (now almost 3) was 18 months old, he already had a grip on basic table manners. Yes, he can be a hooligan while eating just like any other child, and of course he had (and still has) his moments of devil-may-care table antics. . . but he was at 18 months able to:

  • sit still, with good posture
  • use a fork and a spoon (and fingers)
  • drink from a cup
  • and wipe his face and hands with a napkin during and when finished eating.
  • And he can tell us when he is “all done.”

We rarely if ever spoon feed him (only sometimes when he is really really tired) and he also knows to clean up messes that he makes. He loves to wipe the table, even if at this point, he doesn’t get it very clean.

He has these skills because we have been enabling him to learn and use them since he began eating solid foods around 6-7 months. We allowed our child to learn these skills by presenting him with the means to discover his own abilities through a Montessori-inspired presentation and nurture of table skills.

We have thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted as a family from the use of a method that allows real baby-led weaning: the choice to choose foods and eat them at will, in a comfortable and empowering physical environment.

If you would like to read more, please visit my full post on Toddler Table Manners: A Montessori-Inspired
Approach on The full post has information about introducing a napkin and using utensils, too!

Wordless Wednesday – Hiking and Painting





Mamatography October 2013

I cannot believe that October is coming to an end. What happened to Fall? It sped right by me!



I think my little man has an idea where it went. . .


Nope, mama. It’s not up there. . .



It’s not in the water, but we’re getting close. . .



Oh THERE’s the culprit that made fall fly by so fast! Our new home!



Kodiak, Alaska!

I mean, really.  I feel like yesterday we were on the ferry and now we’re finally settled into our new home and making the adjustments needed to get acclimated to living 1) in Alaska and 2) on a semi-isolated island (and by semi-isolated, I mean it’s relatively easy to hop a plane to Anchorage if you have the time and money to do so).



Meanwhile, while we haven’t had the opportunity to jet set off to the Mainland yet. . . We’ve been hiking and exploring with new friends,



Growing bigger and bigger each day. . .



And loving each other wholeheartedly



Oh and we can’t forget to mention the wild blueberries we picked this fall. YUMMY!



It looks like Kodiak is a pretty cool place.


We’re just going to keep rolling with the punches and continue growing with each new opportunity.

That was our month. How has yours been?!

Word of Mom: Guest Posting About Housekeeping and Mothering

IMG_3885I am thrilled to be writing this year for the section Word of Mom.  It’s a section of the popular website devoted to sharing words from witty mom and dad bloggers around the web – My friend and fellow blogger Gretchen was a featured writer for Word of Mom earlier this summer.

Writing for What To Expect was fun, and a little different than my regular authoring spot at Natural Parents Network. I wanted to make sure that I wrote in a way that would entice and encourage moms and dads to balance housework with little ones – and not make them worry that clean houses are some sort of competition!

As you read the article, you might think: why in the world is housekeeping so important to her!? The simple truth is that my Hubs gets anxious when things are messy and dirty, so a little extra effort to make sure that cleanliness and organization are prioritized pays off in a big way by lessening his anxiousness and improving his mood. He can come home from work and dive into playing with the kids if he doesn’t see a thousand things that need doing around the house.

This is the main reason that cleanliness and housekeeping are important in our house – but no matter what the level of cleanliness your aim for, it’s a great way to have teachable moments with your kids about taking care of their blessings and it can be fun, too!

This time around on my first time sharing with Word of Mom, I shared some ideas about how being a housekeeper and a nurturing mother are not mutually exclusive. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Making Pizza Together

The other day for lunch, the Silly Bears really wanted to make pizza.

Lucky for them, mommy has all the ingredients on hand to make dough, and though we didn’t have mozzarella cheese, I figured cheddar would do.

We used the Quick No-Rise Pizza Crust from Kitchen Trials to make our dough. I don’t mind allowing dough to rise (obviously, judging by the amount of bread I make!) but the kiddos wanting pizza that very second drove me to google “no rise pizza dough” and this recipe was great!


Abbey is getting really good at kneading dough.


Joe is studying her form.


Peeeeeeeeze can I do it, Abbey? Peeeeeeeze!?


“Joe. You can open the cheese. You’re really good at that!”


Mya helped us clean up the extra cheese pieces. . .

about 12 minutes in the oven . . . And then, VIOLA! Pizza!


I couldn’t get a picture before the kiddos begged be to cut it up and serve it.


Abbey even helped clean up. Go, Abbey!

What do you like making with your children?

Mamatography August 2013

Yep, it’s that time again: When Amy gets so busy that her Mamatography posts go from weekly to monthly.

That happen to any of you other mamas out there? I hope it’s not just me!

Since we finished our BIG PCS from Maine to Kodiak Island Alaska, I have been busy busy busy setting up our home, caring for our kids, meeting new friends, getting used to the island, training a new dog, starting my new semester of Public Health classes, and mapping out my classes left until graduation and cheering with joy that I’ll have a BS in Public Health in 2015! Yippee!

I have also been seeking out and enrolling Abbey in a preschool, enrolling myself in an online lactation conference (to continue my lactation-specific education for the IBCLC requirements), figuring out what toddler experiences there are available for Joe here on the island. . . and consequently remembering that Joe will be 3 this coming Spring. O – M – G. How is that happening.

What else. . .

I’ve also been planning Abbey’s birthday party, trying to wring out of the Silly Bears what they would like to be for Halloween (so that I can order in the required materials and get to planning and sewing) . . . oh, and I’m trying to set up a La Leche League meeting for the area AND re-establish my Silly Bear Handmade shop after the move.

And Hubs has been gone to school in VA for 3 weeks.

*Deep Breath*

But I have been taking pictures!


I have now finished this knitting project – - – a cotton hoodie from Toddler Hoodie pattern on Etsy for a special family member who turns one in a few weeks!


And this lovely project is now hanging in my kitchen window – - – used up some scraps on this one (that seems to be a theme with my sewing lately. . . you’ll see later)


Aha! More scrap busting going on in this photo – - – see if you can spot what this eventually became in one of the other August photos as you scroll down!


Abbey, who is turning 5 in September, has celebrated quite a few milestones recently: She weaned from the breast at the end of her full-term breastfeeding experience, she moved all the way across the country with us, and she started swimming lessons! I love this girl. So Much.


Joseph wasn’t such a fan of Abbey getting to swim and him not being able to (gotta be four to take swim classes, buddy! His response: “I AM four!” LOL).

But his new love interest, one of my new Coastie Wife friends, pepped him up with a surprise visit during Abbey’s swim class one day. He was very pleased.


Our handsome man modeling the fleece-crotched training pants I made him. Like Abbey, he is now having less interest in using the potty, but I’m hoping with gentle reminders, we’ll be out of diapers and potty learned around 3, like she was.

They’re super cute though – the trainers. I’m loving them. His little knees and cinnamon roll belly button are to die for too, though.


We’ve been doing lots of baking on rainy days. . . It’s easier to bake in our new kitchen. It’s about the same size as our kitchen in Maine, but not galley-shaped, and not a walk through area (unless you’re coming in the back door) . . . I like the space and Abbey likes being in it with me!


Blueberry Biscuits. Yummy.


Super easy (and sooooo delicious french bread)


And on a sunny day, we have lots of park time and coloring with sidewalk chalk!


Oh, and hiking.



And salmonberry picking.


Thankfully for my husband’s psyche, Abbey hasn’t dressed up Joseph as a girl in quite a few weeks. Glad I snapped this jewel when I did then!



We love dress up, but we love coloring more.


And we love our new puppy, Mya.


Raven stayed behind at Nana and Papas house because we weren’t positive that we wouldn’t harm her physically or emotionally by driving her (or shipping her) all the way to Kodiak. She is enjoying being spoiled rotten by her “grand-people” and though we miss her, we know she is happy and healthy and that is all that matters!

Abbey constantly tells Mya stories about “our other dog Raven”



I couldn’t help but post this picture of Joseph in a classic toddler moment. The “I refused to take a nap, so then we went on a hike to pass the time, and I fell asleep on the sofa when we got back.” One of many classic toddler moments. IMG_3671

Another knitting project. I can’t ever just do one thing at a time – - – can I?


Mya again.


Abbey being a puppy with Mya under my desk in my sewing room/office. Love my work buddies.

Have you seen the completed project yet? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, scroll back up the top. . .


My human work buddy brought me her rainbow bear to sit in my sofa pin cushion. So sweet.



Ah, there she is! My work buddy and my little mermaid!


Joe lined up all the ducks he could steal from the lifeguard’s basket and set them all up looking out the window.

I wonder what he was wishing about while Abbey was having her lesson? LOL



Oh yeah. . . park time!!!!!!!!!


And my post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of wild-caught fresh alaskan salmon. One of the perks of being up here on this isolated Alaskan island! Yum!


That was our August. How was YOURS?

mtbadge2This post is part of the Mamatography 2013 Project with Diary of a First Child and Momma Jorje.

We are taking (at least) a photo a day to keep a record of our year. Join us at any point during the year and start sharing your own daily photos!

Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House

Welcome to the August 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Sibling Revelry

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about siblings — their own, their hopes for their kids, and more. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Five years ago, I was childless. And now, I have two beautiful children that both inspire and mystify me – two little siblings that love and challenge each other as they grow up together. It’s pretty amazing.


Growing up with a brother ten years my senior, I am thankful that God has blessed us with two little Silly Bears closer in age than my husband and I were to our siblings. My brother and I were (not purposefully) ten years apart in age, and I have a few fond memories of our interaction when I was small, but not much interaction with him, because he was already off at high school and college and in his own young adult world by the time I was really interested in having a playmate. I was just the kid sister, never really a playmate to my brother.

It’s just so much fun for Abbey and Joe to play together, bond over struggles, and practice social situations in pretend play being close in age. Abbey and Joseph are two and a half years apart, and this seems to be a really fun age gap (and one that worked well for us!). I can’t imagine being pregnant now, or adding another sibling to the Willa clan right now, but that is how it was for Abbey and my pregnancy with Joe.

Fast forward two years: Abbey and Joseph both love and challenge one another.

Abbey is showing Joe all the fun things to do, like pretending, doing crafts, and even going potty (yep, Joe thinks it’s super fun – thanks Abbey!)

And Joe is showing Abbey that there are limits to her older-sibling power. He is big enough now to stand up for himself, and report breaches of household rules when Abbey lets her strong will take her off course during sibling play.

Have I told you yet how amazing it is that I can sit down and have a cup of tea or coffee while our Silly Bears scamper off to play “pretend kindergarten” or “Alice and the Mad Hatter”, “Ninja Turtles”, “Princess Ball” or “Sports” in their rooms? It’s an intoxicating glimpse into the future, when I can really enjoy “the sweet spot” that moms of older children get to experience —

- – - “I’ve been so deep in The Blur for so many years. Not sleeping, eating cold mac and cheese off of Winnie the Pooh plates. Every day determined by nap schedules, nursing, diaper changes and preschool pick up. But that has changed over the past year or so, without me even noticing.” writes Juliana Miner, a fellow blogger, in her article “The Sweet Spot”.


When I hear my sweet silly bears chattering and playing and growing together in their vibrant sibling revelry, I sit back and enjoy the fact that they don’t need me in that moment. They might need me in a few seconds, but for just that small amount of time, the Blur softens, and I can breathe a little.

I’m insanely glad that we were blessed to be able to give Abbey a sibling within the window that we planned. It’s so fun to watch them grow and change, and such a benefit to me to see their relationship adjusting to their growing ages and stages – - – even allowing me a few seconds of down time every now and again.




Bread Goes in Your Belly





Abbey and Joe Smily Faces WM

How is the sibling relationship in your experience? Have you witnessed or experienced sibling revelry?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • The Damage of Comparing Siblings — Comparing siblings can lead to hurt feelings and poor relationships. What Jana Falls has learned and why she hopes for more for her son.
  • Connecting Through Sibling Rivalry — With four children who are spaced so that each child grows up in a pair, Destany at They are All of Me shares her method for minimizing the competition so her children can focus on bonding, rather than besting each other.
  • Sibling Revelry — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares the two-week transition that happens every summer as her kids transform from bickering to learning how to play.
  • Baby Brother born from an OceanAbby Jaramillo describes how her toddler connects in a possibly mystical way with her new baby brother and his birth at home, and Abby draws parallels with her own sister’s new baby.
  • Hard, But Worth It — Claire at The Adventures of Lactating Girl discusses how difficult having two children can be, but how it’s definitely worth it.
  • Raising Attached Siblings — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy and her husband are making conscious choices about how they raise their children to foster sibling connection and attachment.
  • It’s Complicated — Henrietta at Angel Wings and Herb Tea reflects on how life’s twists and turns have taken her from a childhood with no siblings to a constantly changing family life with five children, including one in spirit.
  • Supportsustainablemum reflects on how the differences between her relationship with her siblings and her husband’s have affected their family and at a time of need.
  • Peas in a Pod — Kellie at Our Mindful Life enjoys the special relationship her oldest two children share.
  • Lessening the competitive enviornment in the homeLisa at The Squishable Baby discusses how downplaying competition in the home has led to cooperation, not competition.
  • The complex and wonderful world of siblings — Lauren at Hobo Mamareflects on her choices to have not too many children, spaced far apart — and how that’s maybe limited how close their sibling relationship can be.
  • 5 Ways to Help Young Siblings Have a Loving Relationship — Charise I Thought I Knew Mama shares the strategies that help her three year old and 14 month old have a somewhat beautiful relationship and aid in keeping peace in their home.
  • 4 Steps to Encourage Sibling Revelry, even in Hot Moments of Rivalry — Sheila Pai of A Living Family share 4 Steps she uses to shift hot moments of sibling rivalry towards connected moments of sibling revelry and human compassion.
  • Twins Are Fun — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot witnesses the development of her twins’ sibling bond.
  • Growing Up Together- Sibling Revelry in Our House — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work realizes that there is great utility in raising siblings that are close in age, and is grateful to have been blessed with healthy siblings that both love and challenge one another every day.
  • Top 5 Ways to Reduce Sibling Rivalry — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares ideas that helped her two children be best friends along with Montessori resources for peace education and conflict resolution.
  • Sibling Uncertainty — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras wonders how her children’s relationship will change now that the baby is mobile.
  • Living with the Longing — Rachael at The Variegated Life sees that she can live with her longing for another — without changing her plans.
  • For My One and Only DaughterPlaying for Peace mommy reflects on her choice to not have more children in order to focus on other dreams.
  • Siblings: A Crash Course in Relationship Training — How have your siblings prepared you for later relationships? One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s top priorities as mama of siblings is to help them learn how to navigate relationships.
  • The Joys of Siblings: An Inside Joke — Ana at Panda & Ananaso shares the a glimpse into the joys of having siblings through sharing a perplexing yet hilarious inside joke betwixt her and her own.
  • Sibling Support, even in the potty! — Even though Laura at Pug in the Kitchen‘s children didn’t start out best friends, they are joined at the hip these days, including cheering each other on with potty successes!
  • Don’t Seek What Isn’t There – On Sibling Jealousy — Laura from Authentic Parenting analyzes the seeming desire people harbor for seeking out hints of sibling jealousy.
  • Sibling Love / Sibling Hate?Momma Jorje speculates whether her children will have a different sibling experience than her own. Did she make the right choices based on her own history?

Wordless Wednesday – Gone Fishin’




Wordless Wednesday

Abbey and her new friend. LOVE.

and courtesy of Shannon at Pineapples and Artichokes:

Joe and his new little “buddy”

Wordless Wednesday

We have been so blessed to meet some great friends here at our Coast Guard Assignment in Maine.

This week, I caught some great images of Joe and his friend “Londy” (London) having a natural learning experience with some free play in the puddles!

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