Posts tagged Mommy and Daddy School
Displaying Children's Artwork

We are almost in the final countdown until the end of the school year! Our family is limping across the finish line a bit, as we typically do, just worn from the extra activities that seem to pop up to celebrate endings and new beginnings.

Every summer is a new beginning for us, too. We make it a point as a family to try new activities we've been itching to get into, and to make learning all about our passions and curiosities. Mommy and Daddy school, a time for two teacher alums (the hubs and I) to share in the learning enrichment, has been a highlight of our summers since the kiddos were toddlers. You can find all of our posted ideas here.

The best ways to decorate and to enjoy children's artwork without letting it overtake your home!

The best ways to decorate and to enjoy children's artwork without letting it overtake your home!

With the #18SummersChallenge approaching in June, I have my mind on creating, crafting, and summer bliss! (By the way, have you signed up to join in on that fun yet? Subscribe to our newsletter to get weekly supply lists and great ideas to make the most of summer!)

But, with creating comes a lot more stuff in the house - papers, sculptures, found objects, and more - that need to find a home. I clear out folders for flat work, make room on a side table for three dimensional creations, and ready art display areas to showcase our fun. And I'm always looking creative ways to decorate with our children's work. Artwork created by small hands makes a home warmer and adds a touch of whimsy and life, don't you think?

1. Hanging gallery - We have one of these in our playroom, complete with clothespins. Haeley from Design Improvised made this one along with her daughters, and the whole process would be a fun way to get children involved in putting together their own space!

2. Covered canvas frames - Create Studio assembled a museum in the making with a great collection of frames ready to go for potential pieces. I feel some curating in our future for these painted beauties.

3. Construction paper quick ones - These paper frames are an easy fold and hang solution from Serving Pink Lemonade. Children can practice their cutting skills, too (bonus!).

4. Rail and clips - I love this solution on HGTV for an old school feel. Pair a vintage yardstick with colorful clothespins for a unique hanging display. This would coordinate so well with our playroom/homework area.

5. Fancy string - Taking the hanging gallery to the next level, why not use pom pom fringe or sequin notions? Special ribbons or different colors for each child would add a nice touch, too.

6. Box gallery show - What if you threw a gallery launch? Love this idea from Casa Maria for a pop up installation of kids art! Invite relatives and neighbors over for lemonade as they browse through the latest creations.

7. Cork tiles - The modern edge on this gallery is what caught my attention. Janssen of Everyday Reading has a bright, clean space that is sure to inspire.

8. Stairway gallery - This classic look is brought to today's styles with the crisp white framing that is featured on each artwork. We're currently creating a collection on our stairway with a similar look, and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all!

9. Rock gallery - These shadow boxes are my fave for taking simple collections (of which we have SO many) to museum-level beauty through repetition of shape or color. I can imagine the shell collection, hama bead art, and eraser assortments finding happy homes in these boxes on display!

Do Good letterpress 8" x 10" print, available soon in the Shop at Pars Caeli.

Do Good letterpress 8" x 10" print, available soon in the Shop at Pars Caeli.

Our latest display technique are these vintage pants hangers that I purchased from Julia over at Tag & Tibby over a year ago. They are both unique and quirky enough to equal the charm of some of our most unique pieces.








Summer Reset

Hey y'all. It's almost here. It's almost summer. Spring is the happy harbinger of summer.

And summer is extraordinary here in the Midwest. It is the time of year that color fills every view, and the warmth of the sun melts away the memories of the gray that surround us the remainder of the year. This summer I'll be hitting the reset button, finding space to bask in childhood alongside my kiddos, take some time to party, and give myself the space to create and rest. But I'll be doing it in the midst of a busy professional life (our busiest time is always the summer) so we're in this together to hold each other accountable.

Pars Caeli is following along so welcome to our new regularly scheduled time for summer blog posts! If you're following me over on Twitter, you read my easy breezy announcement to stretch weekends to four days (oh, how I wish I actually had that power). Beginning this week and continuing into the beginning of the school year, I'll post every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Sometimes you just need a Friday away from social media and devices...and then maybe you need a Monday, off, too. :)

I'm excited to show you all I have in store for the summer edition of Pars Caeli. Fresh ideas for Mommy and Daddy School, family bookclub, a new craft/DIY series with some amazing bloggers you know, a whole lot of adventures, and even a few surprises are coming at you - bam, bam, bam!

Right now we're in the midst of dreaming up one of these. Wanna make one for yourself or your family this summer?

Celebrate the Normal photo post continues tomorrow so don't forget to add #celebratethenormal to your photos on Instagram and Twitter. Sparkles and new life coming your way...

xoxo, MJ

Mommy and Daddy School: Sibling Traditions

So it started last year, around this time. Everyone in the house was ready for the endless days of summer to come to a quick close. Although story book in concept, the togetherness of all three kiddos home every day, particularly my daughters (then 4 and 6), had brought out some sharp edges and frayed nerves.

Insert flabbergasted momma.

In an effort to help my daughters see the goodness that could/should/must (?) come from this sacred childhood time together, we created Sisters Day. Our wedding anniversary is August 17, and our children enjoyed seeing the attention (AKA presents) that came with this special holiday. Not coincidentally, Sisters Day is August 18.

Philosophically, I want my children to have many wonderful memories of each other. Practically, I want a peaceful, happy home. And furthermore, who can feud when they're being celebrated?

This is our second year of celebration, and I'm not joking when I say that the girls have been asking about it all year (which also led us to create Sibling Day and now Brother's Day, too). We like celebrating.


1. Listen to each other's ideas and agree on great things to do.

Easier said than done at this age (or any, I suppose). We asked both girls to list activities they thought would be fun to do, and we narrowed it down to 2-3 that would be enjoyed by both.

M, the 7-year old, really wanted to make friendship bracelets, but C, talented though she is, at 5 does not have the fine motor skills down to weave and knot. So, that activity was axed.

C, a lover of all things princess, really wanted to watch Disney princess movies. At 7, M is kind of "too big" for these...or so she claims.

2. Everything is done together.

If we're baking cookies, both sisters are involved in the mixing, scooping, intense dough eating, and joy of the entire experience. The giggling and spills are all a part of the memory.

3. Make some only-for-this-occasion moments.

It's the idea of the special plate used only for certain holidays. Our backyard playset has a table and two benches built in, and once a year we all enjoy dinner out there together. What's the occasion? Sisters Day.

Reserving little treats like this for such a day has helped build upon the gift that having a sister truly is.

4. Catalog this for all eternity.

I'm a little snap happy on any day, but on particular events like this, I think it's so important to photograph the time together. I have the girls pose for a few sister shots, and I make sure to get candids of them together, too. I hope this tradition lasts the rest of their lives, and I think it will be amazing to look back on all of these sister celebrations through the years.

This year our Sisters Day included a trip to the zoo, the creation of a long-awaited (as seen on TV, thank you so much) Wuggle Pets, dinner out on our playset, watching Mirror, Mirror with hot, buttered popcorn in hand, and a sleepover in our tent (set up in our downstairs playroom).

I know that these days will be just a few of the millions of memories that my daughters have of childhood and sisterhood. I want them to have so many unplanned, silly snapshots of life, but I think it's okay that some of the good ones had a little planning involved...

With a little Happy Sisters Day banner stretched across them.







Kids Can: Jobs and Teamwork Around the House

My husband and I share the parenting and home responsibilities. Our life is packed, like yours I might suspect, with the busyness of professional responsibilities, children's activities and school, Church community and functions, and home projects/maintenance. Our home can go from an organized, in tact, gracious space to an absolute food, toy, and clothing disaster in less than 35 seconds (yes, I timed it).

Before the summer began, and we're clearly immersed in the outdoors and summer activities, my husband and I decided to strategise on how we could get our children more involved in keeping our home a great place to live and play. Not only did we want more of a happy, clean place to be, we wanted less of the midnight-house-cleaning-after-the-kids-are-all-fast-asleep moments. We also want our children to learn important principles of responsibility, teamwork, organization, and caring for all we've been given.

We pulled up to the kitchen table with all three kiddos (at this point 7, 5, and 2). We sat in front of our chalkboard wall, our place for conversation and idea generation. We asked each of them:

What needs to happen in order for our house to be clean?

We went through room by room to talk about washing dishes, dusting, cleaning sinks, vacuuming, etc. I wrote them up on the board so that we could all remember (even if only some of us could read the list).

I added in a few jobs that my children overlooked like cutting the grass and putting laundry back in the drawers and closets. We talked about the tasks that the kids left out. For example, no one mentioned empty the garbage. As I added it to our list, we talked about what would happen if no one emptied the trash (lots of "ewh yucks" here). Going through the complete list of all household chores was a helpful way to make everyone aware of all that has to be done to keep our house clean and functional. It was also an interesting way to find out who enjoys what tasks. My oldest daughter loves to do the dishes, and my son loves to help cook. These preferences came in handy later when trying to start off our teamwork on the right foot!

Now that we had our list of everything that needs to be cleaned in every room (wowza), we could get into the meat of the lesson. We asked the kids to shout out which jobs they could do on the list. We put stars next to every responsibility that could be handled by one of them. This was actually a lot of fun to discuss, and it brought out each of their senses of independence. Can my five-year old really wipe off the table every night after dinner? Yes, she can! And she's even very interested in doing it. Can my two-year old put away his own clean clothes? Yes, he can! And he wants to! How have I been holding these children back so much?

The key here for our kids was keeping the discussion light and fun and focusing on all of their capabilities and talents. We highlighted the theme of teamwork and down-played the notion of chores.

The interesting part of this exercise for me: we found only two chores that needed just Mommy and Daddy.

Curious? Mowing the lawn and driving to the grocery store.

This next step is really a matter of preference. How often does the sink need to be cleaned? How often do we need to vacuum?

So we went through our lovely list one more time and circled the things that needed to be done every day and underlined those that needed to be done weekly. If it was something even less often (eg: cleaning out the fridge), we left it alone.

This step was an eye-opener for my 7-year old. "There are really that many things to do every day?"

Smile. Yes.

It was time to put the team to action. My children are very motivated by music. Or at least music that they love which right now includes a strange blend of Veggie Tales, Disney, Rihanna, and Sugarland (they're eclectic).

Looking at our daily tasks, we focused on how many songs it would take to accomplish each. We decided collectively that most could be accomplished in two or three songs.

This was a revelation and relief to me. We could really get each of these tasks done together - while building our family connections and learning important life skills in the process - and it might take 6-9 minutes. Suddenly the monumental mountain of house cleaning dissolved into a manageable pile of dust. The Nagging Fairy would get a break.

Helpful tidbit for getting your kids involved in this process? Purchase lightweight and easy-to-use tools. Our 7-year old can (and wants to) vacuum. The fact that our vacuum is purple and weighs under ten pounds, definitely works in my favor as well. My two-year old always runs for this broom and dustpan that look like an alligator.

Every family works differently, and schedules will dictate a lot. When is the best time of day to accomplish these jobs? What day or days of the week? Do you work in pairs, alone, or all together?

You know best. My advice is to embrace the possibility of togetherness and enjoy the fun of hard work. And keep in mind what tasks even the smallest members might be able to do with great success. My two-year old is very proud of his ability to empty our bedroom trash cans into the big trash, and he does it well.

Here's the list we created as a family. Feel welcome to download here if it's helpful for you!

Cheers to a happy home, and independent, confident children with a sense of responsibility and teamwork! What are your thoughts on giving children responsibilities around the house? Here's what we do (I'd love to hear your tips and tricks, too!)

xoxo, MJ

Mommy and Daddy School: Fulfilling Little's Dreams

This post is carefully titled.

That apostrophe s is really important.

When my 5-year old (C) asked if she could join in a family tradition this year, I was curious.

The summer before my eldest (M) started Kindergarten, I asked her if she'd like to have a sleepover with Mommy. I knew she was nervous about being away from home all day, eating lunch at school, (in our case) wearing a uniform, finding her mommy in the car line after school.

The week before school began we planned a lovely evening for just the two of us that included building a clay castle together, doing up special hairstyles for Mommy and daughter, and talking about our wishes for the new school year. She slept cozy with her animals and covers, and I slept (not quite as cozy) on the floor, on a charming little "bed" she had made up for me.

That first celebration was two years ago, and it's become a back-to-school tradition now. C, having heard about the special moments had been hoping/waiting for her turn to enter Kindergarten so she can experience her rite of passage.

I'll admit, there's a lot to get done with the weeks leading up to school. I have my mental checklist that I'm trying to tick through every day. So, when C asked if she too could have an evening with Mommy...I thought, how am I going to do this?

And then I looked into those gigantic blue eyes and realized, there would be a way.

"What do you want to do for our night, C?" I asked. I braced myself for the answer. My children, thank God, have exquisite imaginations, and are not shy about dreaming big. Her response:

  • Could we eat Reese's peanut butter cups?
  • And maybe watch Beauty and the Beast together?
  • And can you paint my fingernails?

In my head, I was thinking, "Really, that simple? That's all she wants?" I asked her if she'd like to do anything else, and she looked at me with excitement and said, "that would be the best day ever, Mommy."

I about cried.

Could fulfilling a dream of my daughter's be that simple? She just wants to hang out with me and watch a movie, while I get to eat chocolate and paint fingernails? That's such a little dream.

But really, it was a little's dream.

And I was reminded again how the simple moments we spend with our children (and one another) can be the stuff that dreams are made of...even when we don't realize it.

I believe that sometimes we're not fully aware of the little pieces of Heaven all around us. And sometimes we overlook our own capacity to be one of those pieces.

I've got round 2 with M coming up on Thursday night and she has a movie, some hair fixing, and baking on her mind.

I can't wait...because in the process of these little moments, I'm fulfilling my own dreams of motherhood, too.

How will help someone live their dream today? I promise, it might even be something small..that you'll enjoy, too.



Mommy and Daddy School: Creativity

Hello, friends! Happy Wednesday to you. It's a beautiful day here in Pars Caeli. We're talking about creativity for Mommy and Daddy School, and I'm sharing more about me and my family over at the loveliness of Classic Play. Have you visited before? Please, go take a gander.

I had the pleasure of learning from Jen Cooper during her Alt Summit class (that girls knows her stuff on great writing), and, when she asked me to come on over to be a part of her Creative Family Series, I (jumped out of my skin) and said yes, yes, yes!!

As a parent, I look for ways to cultivate creativity in my children. More accurately, however, I don't need to find ways to inspire them (they are bubbling over with ideas and energy), but I do foster avenues for channeling creativity and a solid foundation from whence they can feel confident to explore their God-given talents.

How do you nurture your creativity? Were you raised in a creative home? What do you do when you feel lacking in inspiration? These and more great questions were a part of my interview with Jen. Here's a teaser to get it started. I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts!! And, thank you, thank you, to Jen for offering me the opportunity to write about a subject I so adore. Such an honor.

Now walk on over... XOXO, MJ

Creativity? How would you define it?

For me, creativity is the making of the new–anything from a re-creation to an inventive solution to a masterpiece. I have yet to meet a person that I wouldn’t consider creative. Creativity isn’t special pixie dust reserved for the brilliant artists of the world. We’re all born with it, and some of us cultivate it in broader ways than others.

Have you always considered yourself creative?

I snicker at this, but, yes, I think I have. In times of challenge, I’ve always hung my hat on my creativity. I’m the youngest of three...

Mommy and Daddy School: Immersion




It feels great to return to Mommy & Daddy School posts after a 2-week hiatus here at Pars Caeli. We've been learning and doing, and I'm excited to share and to announce a fantastic giveaway for you + a wonderful little person in your life.


Leading up to the fourth of July my kiddos were all about maps and travel and puzzles. So, we wrapped all of that curiosity into a fun week of learning about the world and our special place in it.

For those of you just joining us on this adventure, let me just say that my hubby and I are former teachers who love to learn alongside our kiddos, and we take full advantage of this in the summer. However, we also both work full-time and believe in encouraging our children to try new activities in the summer months. The long and short of it–we, like so many other American families–have to find ways to squeeze in, maximize, and set aside intentional time to learn. When trying to juggle professional demands, swim lessons, camps, nap schedules, and the other 12 things that come our way every day, this can be t-ough. And we're not miracle workers...just parents with a lot of high hopes so let me share with you our ways we immerse ourselves in learning. Maybe you can use these, too?!


1. Use every tool at your disposal in the library.

Libraries are still the best, beautiful place to find dazzling information. You can read, listen, create, craft, eat, drink, compute, and entertain in ours (it's really not mine, I just visit 3 times a week).
Trying to consider the developmental levels and interests of my three, we headed to the board books, picture books, and chapter books to see what we could discover about the United States. We also explored the non-fiction section, and each child selected a book about their favorite state. Great patriotic reads and simple historic books abound. Over at music we found great CDs of Americana set to tune. Schoolhouse Rock (a little too old for our kids) has some great stuff, and we found other simple movies/shows about the US. We could have explored maps, puzzles, computer games, magazines, audio books, and more, but kids need snacks, too, so we left with our stack of 20 books/CDs.

How great is that United Tweets of America, Twitter friends? It's a charmed book with a page for each state bird.



2. Time learning in the car is not time wasted.

We have a lot of life stuff to meld into our summer learning so, like it or not, we spend time hauling to and fro in the minivan. One of the ways we continue learning during transit is through music. There are so many great CDs with toddler tunes, nursery rhymes, children's stories, pneumonic devices, and, in our case for this week, patriotic songs. So we played these melodies over and over and had some great sing-alongs while sitting at the traffic lights. Hearing my 5-year old sing that Grand Old Flag was a hoot!



3. Technology is your friend in small quantities.

I love technology, but I know that my children need it in small doses for real learning to take place. We encourage digital learning, and we allow our three kiddos time on the computer, Ipad, and Iphones.


Two great apps that we utilized for learning this week: Stack the States (great for adults, too!) and Learn the States (so many great variations).


This is my favorite children's atlas. Lift the flap!

Along with these, we coupled real maps and altases. Breaking out the world map, we pressed sticky dots on the states and countries where are friends and family reside, and we were able to talk about the places that grandmothers and great grandmothers traveled from. Really a lovely exercise in story telling.



4. Make your toys work for you.

Those blocks can make a great compass rose.  Take the Matchbox cars for a pretend drive along Route 66. My Little Ponys can help the settlers pretend to discover the country in your dress-up gear. You get the idea.


When we started this theme, I thought, what can we use around that we already have? Thinking I'd come up empty handed, I went on a hunt and found map puzzles, talking globes, and a whole host of other toys we could adapt for this learning experience. The kiddos, especially the 2-year old, loved playing with old toys in new ways.


5. Parents are the first learners.

Children can read our enthusiasm (or lack thereof), and nothing hits home as well as when they see Mommy & Daddy learning something new themselves. I find interjecting (short) stories of my first learnings or retelling of "when-I-was-5-years-old" is really helpful as it relates to content. Knowing the song Mommy learned to remember all the states is more fun. Learning of how Daddy experienced New Mexico makes the state come alive.


On top of that, we try to investigate questions within our learning that my husband and I also want to learn. What is our state flower? Should we include one in our landscape? How long would it take to do that cross country roadtrip we're dreaming of? Sharing these questions with our kids, and allowing them to follow our thought processes and tools for investigation lets them know we care about learning so much we make time to do it, too!!

And on that happy note, I'm excited and delighted to announce our first big giveaway!! Through the generosity of the lovely Mariah Bruehl of Playful Learning, one lucky winner and their incredible young person will win a spot in the creative Ecademy series, Through the Lens. I've enrolled M, and she'd love to have a great new classmate!

To win, please leave a comment below. If you want a bonus second chance, send out a tweet about @parscaeli and @playfullearning, and we'll give you extra credit! The winner will be announced on Monday because I love happy announcements at the start of my week. Good luck!!

Happy Wednesday!

Congratulations to Sandra! This giveaway is now closed. Stop back again for more goodness!

Playful Learning: Through the Lens eCourse

Through the Lens: Explorations in Photo Journaling, Wednesday, July 18 - August 8, is an e-course that has been created for children (and their grown-ups) ages six through twelve. Participants will gain new understanding of themselves and the world around them by exploring a variety of photography and writing techniques while creating and adding to their own photo journals. The goal for this e-course is to nurture positive self-expression through photography, writing, and art—to discover and develop a strong sense of voice. It is also a wonderful opportunity for parents and teachers to join in on the process and to connect with their children or students in new and exciting ways.



Mommy & Daddy School

Hi friends! This is totally what I'm feeling right now (so I had to make a pinnable. That's normal, right?). I have this image of my daughter going over to our outdoor faucet and leaning down to take a drink to discover that the water is bursting out of the pipes full blast as she goes to take a drink.

And it's all good.

I have always loved the feeling of going to bed exhausted (let's pretend this is a feeling in past tense) from a well-lived, emotional, love-ful day. We're having a lot of those, and I feel blessed.

However, the organized list of activities for Mommy & Daddy School is not quite what I had expected. As you remember from last week, we base our summer learning together on what makes our children curious. For blogging purposes, I'd like this all to be content-rich, developmentally-appropriate, superior learning.

But, this is real life, and I'm the momma here, and that title trumps blogger in any old Scrabble match (even if it has fewer letters). So, here's what we've had cooking for Mommy & Daddy school. We'll work in our bonus point fun (more on that later) and responsibility songs (ditto on more later) as the weeks go on, with the hopes that these might be useful to you.

Three themes have emerged thus far from our learning: tie dye is unbelievably amazing, scavenger hunts make any kind of learning more fun, and this country we live in is pretty stupendous. (Can I tell you more about the second two in a bit?).

Okay, so let me lay out these fun times so that you can pin, bookmark, star this and do it with your kiddos (or friends).

Tie dying is easy, messy, and perfection for summer. You need:

White (I recommend) cotton apparel - 60% cotton or more
Dye - we used a packaged kit from Tulip that was great and ready to go with squirt bottles half-filled with dye (retail $15)
Rubber bands and gloves (already in our kit)
Wide open space and a willingness to get dye on any of your clothes

We wanted a spiral design in the middle so I grabbed the center point of the shirt and twisted. As the twist got bigger, I placed the ends of the shirt around in a wrapped fashion, and I rubber-banded the shirt, creating four sections. This made it super easy for each child to know where to put their colors.
Some wanted two colors, some wanted all colors, and sectioning it off like this helped them to understand color blocking and bleeding a bit better. We found that putting on way more dye than you think you need is best. Soak it in color!
Once saturated, I wrapped them in plastic wrap to intensify the color. We kept them out in the sun all for about six hours, and I then washed out the dye in cool water. Check out the rainbow sink!
After the water runs clear, which was about 4 minutes per shirt for us, wring out the water and pop it into your washer, with a high water, hot water setting. I kept reds separate from blues just to be sure there would be no bleeding.
 We let ours drip dry (be careful they do drip color), and I was so happy with the brilliance of color.
The kids from big to small loved this. My favorite part of the adventure: these rainbow, water raisin piggies.

Take some time to tie dye this summer. It's addictive.

Join me back here tomorrow to learn how we're going to L-O-V-E our job thanks to Gretchen Rubin and The Happiness Project in our Summer of Happiness bookclub.

Thanks for hanging out, friend. I can't wait to show you more of what's going on over here. Have you started your own version of Mommy & Daddy school? Tell us all about it!


Grown-Up Goodness: Feel Good Fitness

Happy Tuesday! It's time for some more Grown-Up Goodness. Did you see last week's summer markets post? Ah, I just can't resist fresh produce straight from the farmers themselves.

What's next on your list for the summer? Are you making time to drench yourself in the gifts of the sunny season?

True confessions: I was a bit surprised at myself when I was compelled to put "running" on my list. Really? With the beautiful days of summer, I want to go running? For those of you who don't know me outside of this web home, let me say that I did not grow up as a runner/jogger/athlete. My body is not genetically engineered for such exercise, and although I would consider myself moderately fit, taking on a run for just for the joy of it has never been a part of my imagination (and I have a fabulous imagination).

However, in the early days of our relationship, hubby and I went for runs to have some time for conversation and to enjoy the beauty surrounding us. We even entered races. Well, other people raced, and I was super proud of myself for running alongside determined, well-trained, fit folks. My husband was always good enough to jog at my side. Companionship up a 4% incline is a real gift from God!

With the family and three kiddos now, it's tough to find time/money (= babysitter costs) to pair up for a jog, but on rare occasions we still get to run side by side. It takes me back to our first conversations, and it makes me feel great that we will have many more, thanks to the time we're investing in our health.

I've gotten to the point now, after two 10Ks and a handful of 5Ks under my belt, that I really enjoy running, even on my own. And summer running...on trails, on tracks, on roads and like no other.

Does summer make you want to breathe deeper and feel healthier? We find ourselves playing impromptu volleyball games and swimming, jogging out to get the mail and racing to the top of the stairs. All small activities but ones that add up to a feel good, healthy summer.

And when better to feel your best when requires us to wear less to keep cool. It's been a goal of mine for a long time to have shapely arms, and I'm working on it.

Let me leave you with this awesome, short video from a blogger friend, Janae. Check out her blog, Bring Joy for all kinds of fabulous. I find her approachable, quick fitness videos right up my alley.

What's your best way to stay fit and bask in summer? Do they go together for you?

Thanks for popping over! Meetcha' back here tomorrow for some Mommy & Daddy School.


Prepping for Mommy and Daddy School


In my worklife, I have the grand opportunity to attend many lectures and conferences on the latest trends and research in education. As I've mentioned before, my husband and I are both trained educators with fond remembrances of the rich habitat of a classroom, and I enjoy dipping back into these forums whenever I get the chance.


While attending a panel discussion yesterday on the state of science and math education, I was intrigued by new-to-me concepts of making science come alive and relate to children of all levels and backgrounds. And as a brilliant scholar narrowed the conversation to a single thread, I was struck by his question:

Where is the possibility to pursue your curiosity?

He argued (well) that science should be, foremost, a pursuit of our curiosities - a way for each of us to make sense of the physical world around us.

Fast forward ----> This brings me to another new summer feature here on Pars Caeli, Mommy & Daddy School. Because my husband and I are both teachers by formation, it's just in our blood to want to "teach" our children. Of course this happens all the time during the school year. Parents are the first and primary educators of their children. But, in the summertime, we take it to a different level and run our beloved Mommy & Daddy School.

Research has proven that children learn best when the learning is continuous. Don't we all?

I want my children to be lifelong, everyday learners, curious and inquisitive about the world to which they contribute. I also want them to know and feel that knowledge is powerful.

And so as June approaches, furniture and traffic patterns change. Our cozy red, mission-inspired dining room is converted into a space for curiosity. And these multipurpose 9-cubes from Target find their way up from our playroom and are prepped to house projects, books, folders, and anything else that catches our fancy. Note: this is them before. Soon you'll no longer be able to tell they're white because we cover them with labels and "really interesting stuff."

I have three little people with whose amazing minds I get to work - ages 7, 5, and 2, and I want to make sure that each feels honored and encouraged in the space.


And so that means along with these lovely white spaces ready to be filled, we also have lots of these...because little L's loudest wish on the big summer list was to build lots of legos. So you better believe that we have lots of legos and a lego table in here for him (and because he has two older sisters, there's a lot of pink legos, too).

I believe children need open space in which to explore their questions, a structure on which to organize their answers, and a gallery in which to share it with the world. What does this mean practically? A large table, individual storage space, lots of writing and creating materials.


We're just starting up our learning, and I love to begin by asking them what they want to learn this summer because these ideas are our primary curriculum! I'm always surprised by what they offer. Here's where we stand:

M: learn to use a sewing machine
C: learn to go all the way across the monkey bars by myself
L: learn to ride bike without training wheels (this is gonna be a tough one at two, but we'll definitely work towards it)

We also start off by measuring each other and making a great big growth chart on which we also measure other important items (like special blankets and toys) to learn how other objects compare to us in size.

All of these artifacts get posted in the "red room" for us to look at all summer long.

I love being surrounded by my children's accomplishments and dreams. It's a room of such energy.

Follow along every Wednesday as we explore some of the fun activities and projects taking place in Mommy & Daddy school. We'll be reading, crafting, exploring nature, taking on great IPad apps, praying, exercising, experimenting and more! Phew, and taking naps.

How do you nurture your curiosity? Is there a space in your home for you or your children to do so? I'd love to hear!

Thanks so much for popping over! Happy Wednesday.


PS. Here are some great ideas from education experts on simple ways you can keep learning together this summer.