Friday, July 30, 2010


Sung to the tune of, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot:

Aim low, sweet Sama-lama
Put the pee in the potty
You've got to aim down
To make the tinkle sound
Put the pee in the potty

Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Subscription Option

Thanks to a friend's suggestion, I've added the option to subscribe to The Little Things via e-mail.  Use the link at the top of the page.  (Facebook readers, click through first.)

Objectivist Round Up

Musing Aloud hosts this week's Objectivist Round Up.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Week at Mossoff Montessori

Sam didn't do too much "school" work in the past week, but it's a wonderful option to have when we are not busy with other fun activities.  I think it is still working out well that she just chooses her Montessori work when she wants to.  She might go from playing with her dolls to working seriously on polishing, to torturing the cat.

In the past week, Sam did more polishing and cutting, and did the metal insets one time.  (I'm shocked that she isn't working with those more often.)  We added a few new activities.  Since she can't use the hole punch yet, I punched a row of holes in a small piece of paper and showed her how to hold it on top of another piece of paper and fill in the holes with a felt-tip marker to make rows of holes.  She liked that, but only for about 5 minutes.

I also made my own version of the spindle box.  I wanted to do the number rods first, but I hadn't figured out how to make them.  Luckily, Sam seems to be doing well with the spindle box, which in my case, is an egg carton and macaroni:

You just dump out all the macaroni and then put the right number of pieces back in each cup.  The first time Sam tried it she was all over the map, but today she got them all right except for 8 and 9.  It's fun to watch her progress.

We also did some non-Montessori games that were fun and educational.  I had brought home some dice for her from Las Vegas, so we played "highest wins."  We each rolled one die and then figured out who had the higher number.  Sam liked that a lot except that we had some bad luck and I won much too often for her taste.  (She is just beginning to want to win games.)

Then we played with a game called First Words Puzzle Set which is just a huge set of cardboard cards, each with a picture and a word, and each of which is split into two puzzles pieces.  If we only use about 5 cards, Sam can put the puzzle pieces together and she can read some of the words.  She likes to do that kind of game with me but occasionally she will play it by herself.  This video is from a few weeks ago, but it shows her playing Zingo by herself, and how pleased she is when she "wins:"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Carnival of Homeschooling

Along with the Objectivist Round Up, I occasionally submit posts to the Carnival of Homeschooling.  I hope to submit more and more as time goes by!  Check out the latest edition at The Common Room.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Tiny Whirlwind

Wowza, I had a busy and fun weekend full of social events.  We attended a barbecue on Saturday, had friends over on Sunday and then went to the water park, and Sam and I spent all day today swimming with old friends from Michigan who were in town.

A few highlights:

  • Our friends' 20 month old child - that's just over a year and a half old - has hands and feet larger than Sammy's.  Sammy will be 4 in just over a month!  She's tiny.

  • A few hours after we arrived, the water park closed in anticipation of a thunderstorm, which we knew might happen.  What we didn't know was that this was a tree-crasher, power-knocker-outer kind of storm.  As the hundreds of swimmers were filtering out of the water park, the wind started up and caused a dust storm in the unpaved parking lot.  We had four little girls who all just froze in their tracks in the middle of the parking lot and screamed, and I couldn't blame them.  Somehow, we herded them all into the cars without anyone getting blinded.  But by the time we got home and made hot chocolate, the girls all seemed to think it was kind of fun, and I couldn't blame them for that, either.  I do love thunderstorms.

  • Sam had a breakthrough swimming day today.  She's had quite a bit of swimming this year but no lessons yet, and we're still trying to get her to put her face in the water or go under.  Today we hung out with two boys, 3 and 6 years old, and I think it helped her to spend so much time with them.  She draped her arms over the Styrofoam "noodle" and let me pull her around on it while she kicked her feet, and she sat on the edge of the pool and slid in where I would catch her before she went under.  Knowing Sam, she'll be ready for swim lessons just as the season ends.  I'll have to find out if the local indoor pool has lessons.

Sam skipped all of her naps, unless you call passing out in the car for 20 minutes a nap.  She was so exhausted tonight that she threw a tantrum the likes of which I haven't seen in months.  It made me realize that we have been over the horrible hump which was the "terrible threes" for quite a while now.  From last September through February or March, Sam was a very difficult child.  Well, since I have no frame of reference except her, I really can only say that she was difficult based on the Samantha Standard, but it was tough, let me tell you.

I'm glad that particular storm is over.  I don't enjoy being hit, even with Sammy's tiny little hands.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Little Thing

I seem to have infected Sam with my own love for taking off in an airplane, but she does still hate loud noise:

A Little Thing

My 3-year-old is a well-seasoned traveler.  On the airplane returning from Florida, as we were taxiing back to the gate, Sam looked up at the ceiling of the airplane.  I wondered what she was looking at until she said, DING!  Then she looked at me with a sly smile and said, THE SEATBELT LIGHT JUST WENT OFF...JUST PRETENDING!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Little Thing

Me:  Sammy, where do you want your tattoo?
Sammy:  ON MY HAND.
Me [teasing]:  On your arm?
Sammy:  NO.
Me:  On your leg?
Sammy: NO.
Me:  On your belly?
Sammy:  NO.
Me:  On your butt?
Sammy [in an exasperated tone, as if I were a dimwit]:  NO, MOMMY, BECAUSE I COULDN'T SEE IT THERE.

I love that she's concerned with what she can see, and not what others can!

Objectivist Round Up

LB of 3 Ring Binder is hosting this week's Objectivist Round Up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Little Thing

This was supposed to be a picture of Sam playing in the car, but I think her parents' reflection in the window is what makes it a great shot:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mossoff Montessori

I can now say that I am officially a homeschooler!  Well, sort of.  Sam will still go to Montessori preschool, but we got started with "summer school at home" this week and we're having a blast!

I had intended to start out in a formal, Montessori way: a dedicated time for school, starting with circle time; a separate space for the Montessori materials, away from toys and other distractions; and me 100% prepared to give proper demonstrations for everything.


I didn't have time to do any work on this project at OCON as I had intended.  We got home and I was totally swamped but I knew that if I didn't get started right away, the whole summer might pass us by.  I wanted to jump right in, but I only had a few things set up, and some were only half-ready, and I didn't know the proper way to do anything much at all.  I guess "prepared environment" really means a lot of prep work, huh?    

I did have a few things ready, so I decided to just allow Sam to work on them during the normal course of the day.  This destroys any ambition of having her concentrate for long periods of time or being totally free to choose any work that she is interested in.  I'd like to move towards that goal, but for now, at least she spends some time doing structured activities independently. 

Here is what our little homeschool looks like:

I don't have enough open shelving, so the drawers have to suffice.  Some of them contain Montessori work and some contain other toys.  Not ideal.  The colored bins on the right hold regular toys and you can see a doll-house on the floor right next to the table. 

I had to put the metal insets in a different room because they took up so much space:

We have two mostly unused bedrooms in this house, either of which could serve as a dedicated school room and solve these problems, but they are being used for storage now, so it would be an enormous effort to clean them out.  Also, they are not on the main level of the house where my computer is, and where the kitchen is.  I have a feeling that Sam would not take well to working in an isolated room like that, and I would have nothing to do.  I do plan to use one of those bedrooms for homeschooling when it's a full-time thing, at which time I'll move my office into the same room.

For our work, we started with polishing pennies, the metal insets, and cutting along a line.  For the pennies, I set up all the needed items on a tray:

I demonstrated how to place one penny on a napkin (which she has to get from her kitchen cabinet), to take a Q-Tip, dip it in the lemon juice and roll it on the side of the glass to avoid drips, and to rub the penny.  We had a few shiny, clean pennies, so I showed her what the penny should look like.  When she is satisfied (and I leave this up to her), she puts the shiny pennies in the other cup.  (For all of you die-hards out there, yes I do put the dirty pennies on the left and the clean ones on the right - always left-to-right!  This was how the tray looked after she finished.)  As soon as I can remember to buy actual lemons at the store, we'll add squeezing the lemons as part of the process.  For now, I refill the little cup with bottled lemon juice every night.

I set up the metal insets for her and reviewed for myself how they are to be used.  So I'm prepared to demonstrate, but she hasn't used them yet.  As part of the set-up, I had to cut a lot of paper into squares the same size as the metal insets, and I ended up with a lot of small pieces of paper.  I decided to use it for "cutting along the line."  This is exactly what it sounds like: the child uses scissors to cut along a line drawn on paper.  I created a series of paper with lines and Sam spent about an hour working on this on Friday, so I suspect I'm going to have to make a new set of paper with lines every night for a while.  Here is a video of what I made for this exercise:

After I took the video I decided to eliminate the papers with more than one line.  I didn't do that in the first go-around and now I'm thinking it was a bad idea.  Another part of this exercise that Sammy really likes is that when she cuts the squiggles, she ends up with two pieces of paper that look a bit like jigsaw puzzle pieces.  She enjoys putting them back together again.  The paper and a pair of scissors are on a tray just like the one for the pennies, and she can bring it to her table to work on any time she chooses.

I also tried to teach her how to use a hole-punch to make rows of holes, but she didn't have the hand strength to use it.  I have another, similar exercise dealing with rows that I'll set up this week, though.  I'm really glad that I wrote up my earlier blog post detailing all of the activities I wanted to do - I've been referring to it often.

So far, this is going really well!  It's low-pressure and we both are having fun.  If it continues to work well, I might not ever make it more formal.  Thank god she has her real Montessori school nine months out of the year.  I think it would be really, really hard, if not impossible (without other children) to create the same kind of environment at home.  But I must say, this is an auspicious beginning for both of us!

Friday, July 16, 2010


Driving around Florida:




Thursday, July 15, 2010

Objectivist Round Up

This week's edition of The Objectivist Round Up can be found at The Playful Spirit.


Excitedly, in the airplane, as a continuous monologue:





Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Little Thing

Sam and I were sharing a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  As I was unwrapping it Sam said, MOMMY, MAY I FINISH IT?  I said, "I'll tell you what.  I'll take all of my bites and when I'm done I'll give it to you and you can finish it.  OK?"  She agreed.  But just as I was about to peel away the little muffin tin liner thingy, she said, MOMMY, MAY I HAVE IT?  So I reminded her that I was going to take my bites first.  She said, NO. MOMMY, MAY I UNWRAP IT FOR YOU AND HAND IT BACK TO YOU?

Since I trust her on issues like this, I handed it over.  As she was unwrapping it, she "accidentally" rubbed her fingers in the chocolate and licked them off.  Then she handed it back to me, and licked the wrapper.

I love that crafty thinking!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The End of OCON

I just returned from the closing banquet.  What an inspirational, life-affirming, relaxing, exhausting, stimulating, fun conference this was!  I'm coming away with three specific new goals: a writing project, a homeschooling project, and an art project.  I'm sure I'll write more about them in the weeks to come.  And I'm coming away with that feeling I always have at the end of an Objectivist conference: the knowledge that, on the whole, Objectivists are the best people in the world. 

My last conference was in 2007 in Telluride.  Sam was 10 months old and we had just begun our nomadic adventures and I was so miserable that I didn't enjoy the conference much at all.  Prior to that I attended the 1991, 1998, and 1999 conferences.  I enjoyed all of those, but never had anything like the experience I had this year.  This year, I had my own personal goals with which I could integrate what I was learning.  This year, I had friends and acquaintances independent from Adam.  (He knew so many people in '98 and '99 and it was hard for me to remember everyone I was introduced to--it was a bit overwhelming.)  On top of that, I got to meet new friends whom I had only known electronically.  The cool part was that I recognized them from their Facebook profile pictures so there was much less social anxiety of thinking, "I know this person but forgot his name," or "I want to catch up with so-and-so but I don't think I'd recognize her."  No, this time, I knew who I knew and I met just enough new people so that I could keep them all straight.  There are at least five people I can think of that I'm sure I will become closer to after spending time at the conference together.  And for all of my other friends who were here, I was able to spend quite a bit of time with them, cementing our relationships even more.

Objectivists are an amazing group.  Most are warm and friendly, successful, lively, intelligent, interesting, and, yes, HAPPY!  Tonight I watched Dr. Ellen Kenner, who must be in her mid fifties, dancing joyfully with her husband and others, wearing a sexy, sparkly, backless top - the kind designed for college kids.  She looked great and I noted that it takes a real benevolent sense of life to dress like that.  She is young at heart and bursting with joy.  Watching her captured the essence of what I feel about the people at this conference.  People talked passionately late into the night, not about abstract ideas (although that did occur too) but about their careers, or their kids, home improvement projects, their pets, their local Objectivist clubs, the activism work they do, etc. etc. etc.  These people are passionate valuers who use Objectivism as a tool to enhance their lives.  It's not just some academic game.  There is a really great culture growing in Objectivism now, and I am honored to be a part of it.  I'm getting a little teary just thinking about all of the incredible people I spent time with this week.

But now, the time has come.  We leave for Florida tomorrow.  I can feel no sadness in leaving, even this most wonderful event, because tomorrow I see my daughter for the first time in nine days.  She seems to have handled the separation well, and Adam and I were doing fine - until yesterday.  I started really missing her and just wanted the conference to be over.  We stayed out very late last night and had a few drinks and when we woke up, we decided to bail on the classes and spend the whole day in our hotel room.  I'm sorry I missed the last two lectures, but I was just done.  Stick a fork in me, I'm done.  I managed to get dressed up and attend the closing banquet, and I even enjoyed it a little bit, but those big events are not really my cup of tea.  So here I am, back in the hotel room, ready to curl up with an Agatha Christie book and count the hours until I can put my arms around my little girl.  We're coming home tomorrow, Sam!  We miss you!  We love you!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vacation Values

Pre-children vacations / Vacations away from children:

"I think I'll skip showering today." / "I get to shower every single day."

"I've had enough of office buildings - I want to spend time outdoors." / "I've had enough of playgrounds - I want to spend time indoors."

"I don't need to brush my teeth this morning." / "I brushed my teeth TWICE today!"

"I'm going to stay up late and party!" / "I don't have a pile-up of work to do after the kids go to bed so I can go to bed early!" 

"I get to sleep in." / "I intended to sleep in but I went to bed so early and slept so well that I woke up early."

"I'm going to see a sporting event." / "I don't have to watch a single soccer game the whole trip!"

"I'm going to rest my mind and just lie on the beach." / "I have the ability to focus on one thing at a time so I'm going to think deeply about the things most important to me."

"I'm going to let my hair down." / "I'm going to put my hair up."

"I want to spend time with my friends." / "I want to spend time alone."

"I'm getting homesick." / "I'm getting homesick."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Alone Time

Tonight at OCON I'm taking a break to get in my required alone time - it's room service and a book for me.  If I'm around people too much, I seem to lose my mind - even when they are some of the greatest people in the world!

I am having the best time at this conference.  I promised myself that I'd try to focus my socializing around the education folks - the teachers, homeschoolers, and other parents concerned with their kids' education.  I've had so many illuminating conversations already, and it's only Monday!  The optional courses that I'm taking are all things that apply directly to my life and work:  Ray Girn's course on Moral Development in Education, Keith Lockitch's course Writing Objectively, and Lisa VanDamme's course on Making Poetry Part of Your Life.  I'll report on them some time after I return, but I know already that I'm pleased with this strategy, rather than the one I used in the past of picking speakers that I like or some subject that I have a general curiosity about.  I mean, those are fine strategies for other purposes, but now that I'm finally honing my interests and developing a Central Purpose, this is exactly what I need.

I've reconnected with many friends that I see rarely, and I'm hoping that I'll come away with a few new friends as well.

Yaron Brook gave a talk on Defending Capitalism this morning that was so inspiring.  I mean, it was not only inspiring in the sense of giving spiritual fuel, but it gave me a specific idea for a new project that could unite two of my greatest values.  I won't write about it until I flesh it out more, though.

On top of that, both Leonard Peikoff and David Harriman have included education as major parts of their lectures.  My mind is doing its thing as an integrating machine and I feel about to burst with insights, practical ideas, and new challenges to think about.

Last night, for Independence Day, among other things, we were treated to a reading of Thomas Jefferson's last letter by John Ridpath.  If you've ever heard John Ridpath speak of the Founders, you can imagine how moving it was, and what an incredible way to celebrate this secular holy day.

Ta-ta for now.  I'm off to enjoy some solitude.

A Little Thing

My little problem solver strikes again.

In the airport on the way to Florida, we stopped at Five Guys for lunch.  Sammy got very upset when Adam cut her hamburger in half.  She began to whine:  I WANT A BIG HAMBURGER LIKE MOMMY.  I DON'T WANT IT CUT UP.  I WANT IT WHOLE.  We pretty much ignored her since she was whining, but eventually she turned to me directly and said in a sad but much nicer voice: MOMMY?  I WANTED A BIG HAMBURGER.

I said, "Your daddy didn't realize that you wanted it whole.  I wish I could put it back together for you but I can't.  But here's the best I can do."  And I kind of squished the two halves together and made a funny face like it was a silly thing to try. 

Sam giggled, but then got a serious look on her face.  She picked up the two halves, carefully held them squished together, and took a bite.  She was so proud, and so was I!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

OCON Update

It looks like there won't be much time for blogging here.  We're having a great time.  Peikoff is thrilling, David Harriman and Yaron Brook were excellent, and I'm just getting started in Ray Girn's course, Moral Development in Education.

Sam is doing fine with her grandparents in Florida.  We talk to her once or twice a day and she sounds so sad, but reports from grandma indicate that she is having a great time.  Still, it breaks my heart when I hear her say, MOMMY?  I REALLY, REALLY WANT YOU TO COME HOME.

On the other hand, I'm doing just fine without her.  I miss her, but I'm not having panic attacks suddenly wondering where she is, and I don't feel like I forgot my purse or something.  Actually, I must be pretty relaxed because I did leave my notebook at Starbucks this morning.

Adam was so sweet and brought along a framed picture of Sam for my nightstand.

I hope to have more time to write about the content of the lectures but right now we're off to the pool.  First time we're actually venturing out of the hotel!