Seven Quick Takes : Black Hills 2019

Well, our annual Black Hills trip has come and gone already. I'm not sure how August is almost over, already, but there it is. Here are seven quick takes from our trip!


This year was the first Black Hills trip for two newbies-- little Koben, and our new-to-us camper. We purchased this camper in late April. It's exactly what we've been looking for over the past few years -- it's a toy hauler (the bed raises up to the ceiling, the back wall doubles as a ramp, and it has tie downs for small vehicles or motorcycles), it has a large bathroom and lots of storage space, and it's only 17 feet long.

It was in rough shape on the inside, and needed lots of scrubbing and TLC (thanks, Mom!) before it was ready to go.

Overall, we really like it.


Sorta-Montessori : Toddler Water Play Skills Bin (a sensory bin alternative)

We have been (imperfectly, sort of) following a Montessori-style philosophy with our toddler for almost a year now.

While we don't follow all the "rules," (our toddler sleeps in a pak n play, not a floor bed; we have many plastic toys; he uses a high chair for meals...), some Montessori principles are practical, helpful for our family, and fit with our parenting style. So we use those, and toss the ideas that don't work for us.

One thing that is technically not a Montessori activity is sensory bins.

If you're not familiar, a sensory bin is a container with a base material like sand, corn, slime, water... and then some objects or manipulatives for a child to use to interact with the base material. They're super popular, often very engaging for kiddos, and can range from simple to very, very elaborate.

There are millions of ideas out there for really awesome sensory bins.

But generally, they're not really Montessori.


Sorta-Montessori : Baking with a Toddler

For the past year or so, I've been working to incorporate some Montessori principles into our home life. Sort of. In all honesty, we're pretty far from a full-out Montessori home. We don't follow all the "rules," but we fit the philosophy to our lifestyle and the needs of our own family. And so far, it's working for us.

One of the things we've been enjoying this spring and summer are our baking days! We usually try to do some baking every other week or so -- my goal was to bake every week, but our schedule this summer just hasn't allowed for that. (Most of the time, my hands are pretty full and I don't take any pictures, so most of these pictures are from when we made Daddy's birthday cake!)

We started working together in the kitchen when Evert was 18 months old, and I was a little hesitant to get started at first (the mess! the fingers in everything! the time it takes! the eating of raw batter!). And yes, all of those things happen. It takes three times as long to include Evert as it would if I just did it myself, and there's always lots of clean up - of the child and of the kitchen.

However, the simple activity of doing a little baking includes so many learning experiences that it totally makes it worth all the time and mess. Little Evert loves it, but even more than that, there are so, so many things he's learning on our baking days!

Here's a look at a couple of the "lessons" he's learning.