Nature Play the Montessori Way

Guest writer and Montessori educator: Alexis Tharp Beatty

What do you think of when you hear the word Montessori? Beautifully prepared environments with perfectly chosen natural materials? Children buzzing about in a classroom participating in various practical life or sensory activities?

Do you think of outdoors, nature, or children playing in the mud? Probably not, though if you read the works of Dr. Maria Montessori you would know the value she found in nature. She states, “When children come into contact with nature, they reveal their strength.” Not only is Maria Montessori a well-known name in early childhood education, but she was also a scientist who was ahead of her time.

Science today is consistently proving the efficacy of the Montessori method. Nature play encourages healthy child development and enhances pre-literacy skills, language development, physical development, and sensory development.Pre-Literacy and Nature

While most people would not expect nature to play an important role in literacy skills, research has shown that it does. Visual discrimination is the ability to identify differences in visual images. Visual discrimination is used in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies, and science. Different stimuli in nature promote the strengthening of visual discrimination, such as the lines of a tree, the natural colors, the shapes of the clouds, etc. Some outdoor activities that you can do to promote visual discrimination are:

  • Practice drawing letters, shapes, or numbers in different materials, such as dirt or sand.
  • Invite your child to find similarities and differences between objects outside.
  • Lay with your child in the grass and look for stars at night.
  • Play hide-and-seek games with objects or toys outside.
  • Sort rocks, sticks, leaves, etc.

Language Development and Nature

Maria Montessori states “There is no description, nor image in any book capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them in a real forest.” What better way to teach a child about a tree then to show them a real tree. To let them in examine it, touch it, listen to the wind blow through its leaves. There is so much language that can be used outside, and allowing a child to really experience those words is irreplaceable. Some activities you can do to promote language development outdoors are:

  • Read a book outside (especially a book about nature).
  • Describe what you see and feel outside (even for infants).
  • Talk about the sensation of the wind, the warmth of the Sun, etc.
  • Play I-spy outside.

Physical Development and Nature

Physical development is the physical and biological change that occurs between birth and adolescence. There are 2 types of development, gross motor, which includes large body movements, and fine motor, which are more precise movements usually involving the hands. There are so many opportunities for gross motor development outside, including running, jumping, climbing, raking leaves, shoveling snow, throwing, and so much more. There are also plenty of opportunities for fine motor outside, including picking flowers/weeds, outdoor painting, picking stones, building tiny houses with seeds, sticks, pebbles, etc. It is also important for children to take risks. It helps them build confidence, learn their boundaries, and learn the consequences of going beyond their limits.

Sensory Development and Nature

As infants grow, every action that they repeat helps their nervous system to develop new nerve cells and neural networks. The excessive amount of time that infants and children spend indoors and doing structured activities creates a sensorimotor deficit. They don’t spend as much time outdoors, and they don’t spend as much time bored, or with a lack of entertainment. Infants spend less time on the floor and more in bouncy seats or exosaucers and their nervous systems aren’t building the connections they need.

The more connections that are made, the easier it is for children to process all of the signals that their senses are bringing in.

When discussing the sensory system, there are two other senses that must be taken into account, the proprioceptive and vestibular senses. Proprioception is the sense of knowing where your body is in space. The vestibular sense is your sense of balance. One of the reasons that our sensory system thrives outside is because of all of the rich natural sensory experiences. The lighting is natural, not artificial. The colors, sounds, and smells are less abrupt. There are so many different textures for them to feel. The breeze lets them know where their body is in space. While sensory experiences can be recreated indoors (you’ve heard of sensory bins I’m sure) they just can’t compare to the experiences outside. Some outdoor activities to promote sensory development and integration are:

  • Playing in sand, including filling containers to carry for heavy work.
  • Balancing on tree branches or stumps.
  • Gardening (and growing their own food encourages healthy eating choices).
  • Building a hula hoop tunnel.
  • Exploring the woods and finding different natural objects.I would encourage everyone to go outside in all weather because there are so many tremendous benefits. More time outside means happier and healthier kids, science says so. If the rain or cold scare you, remember there is a lot of gear for those seasons to keep outside enjoyable.

As Ranulph Fiennes says “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”

Even if you can only go outside for a few minutes, do it! Even if you don’t have a forest near you to explore, go to a park. Even if you don’t know what to do, just go outside! Children are much more likely to keep themselves busy outside, than inside. For healthy child development, get outside!

A very sincere thank you to Alexis for writing this beautiful article on the benefits of nature for our children’s education and well-being. I follow her parenting journey and I am so incredibly inspired by her approach to raising her daughters. She meets the challenges of parenting with patience, compassion, and a certain grace that I find so admirable. My daughter attended Montessori school for a period of time and I can say from experience, it was the most beneficial decision we made for her growth and it taught her to follow her curiosity. Montessori also taught me to encourage my children’s natural curiosity and support their organic learning process. I find that children are naturally drawn to the outdoors where they can run, play, learn, be loud, and be free! 

-Guac

Circa 1800

It was circa 2016 when I tried Circa 1800 for the first time. Game changer.

Circa 1800 is one of my favorite restaurants here in Fay!

First off, I LOVE a good presentation. I am an artist after all.Circa not only comes up with some cool combos of flavor but also takes the time to plate the food in a a way that makes me say “I need an Instagram photo of that”.

I love the cozy atmosphere that makes you feel like you can have a nice, wear-a-dress dinner, or a casual lunch with friends. It’s just so versatile!

I think everyone’s sick of hearing me say, “I’ve never had anything there I didn’t love!” but it’s so true.I love novelty and Circa’s menu is that.

I recently went for a tasting that was themed after the Warhol exhibit going on at Methodist University and I must say, it took my already high opinion of Circa to another level.

The pure creativity. You can see how much they love what they do and are masters at what they do.I can tell you all day how their food is drool-worthy but you just have to go eat here for yourself. Trust me.A sincere thank you to Chef Bill & Circa’s bar manager Tony for putting together such a memorable dinner! Also thank you to Persephone Caviar for collaborating with Circa and giving us all a taste of their product!I’ve included their dinner menu but they also have lunch, brunch, and a nice drink menu too!

Fay goes POP

“I always notice flowers” -Andy Warhol

Me too Andy, me too.

He was the bees knees.His art, his quotes, his music, his movies, his life. Most people know him for the banana or the infamous Campbell’s soup can but Warhol created art in various mediums.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, he studied commercial art. Which makes sense seeing as how most of us know him for his portrayal of consumerism.

Through a lengthy process, Fayetteville’s Methodist University was able to secure the opportunity to host Warhol’s art in the GalleryGoes POP Exhibit which opens February 7th at 6:30 pm.That’s right! Can you believe it? His bold and bright works of art are hanging at the David McCune International Art Gallery at Methodist. It’s not everyday we bring world renowned art to Fay!The prints showcase a variety of his series from his Cowboys and Indians series to his Ads Series and even include his Icon Portraits. It was truly an incredible experience to see these in person.

The vibe that Warhol’s art brings to the gallery is this bold, fun, whimsical, pop of inspiration.The display of art is enhanced by music and the playing of commercial advertisements.

You don’t have to be an art enthusiast to enjoy this experience.

The show will be open to the public February 7th at the David McCune International art Gallery at 5400 Ramsey Street, Fayetteville NC 28311.

I’m a Skincare Product Hoarder. There I said it.

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Cocokind Chlorophyll Mask

My mom definitely held skincare as a priority for us girls. She told me prevention was better than trying to fix it later so I really can’t take all the credit here.

Thanks to mom, I wash my face morning and night without fail. I cannot sleep unless my face is clean. I also never forget my skincare!

I’ve tried SO many products and this is probably my top 3 most asked question so I guess this blog is overdue!

I went through a phase in 2013 where for an entire year I only used products from my kitchen on my skin and hair. I washed my hair with baking soda, moisturized with coconut oil, put olive oil under my eyes at night and did hair masks with eggs. It worked for me but then I got sick of putting food on my face so…there’s that.

And speaking of food: #realtalk what you put in your body definitely reflects on the surface. If you eat junk and throw your body out of whack-your skin takes a toll. Ever notice when you don’t sleep well or drink water your skin looks a little sad?

If you don’t drink water, you deprive your skin.

If you eat a ton of sugar, you’re more prone to breakouts.

If you never wash your face, that is pretty gross.

Long sciency story short: consuming too much sugar will result in enzymes which break down collagen and create inflammation. That is NOT GOOD news for your mug. And your skin is made of cells which consist of water. When there is a lack of hydration, your skin will turn dry and yucky.

So anyways, back to my explanation of my eclectic skincare routine: I also lived in Korea for a few years and only used Korean skincare during that time (I still use Korean rice water face wash by Body Shop).

Korean skincare includes many brightening products. I liked “snail mucin” by COSRX. This is an added step in skincare called “essence” which is applied after toner but before moisturizer. I also picked up on using seaweed masks there which I still do from time to time.

I change my skincare products often. I joke that I like to “sneak attack” my skin by using a product then changing it up often. I typically go back and forth between 2 products at a time. For example, right now I’m using Beautycounter moisturizer during the day some days and also a Peter Thomas Roth one. At night I’ve been using Strivectin anti-wrinkle cream and an eye serum by Biossance.

It all really depends on your age and individual skin needs. Everyone needs added moisture under their eyes since that skin is different than the rest and everyone needs to keep their skin protected and moisturized.

I read an article once saying that if you have oily skin it’s best to use an oil because your body will adjust and stop making so much oil when your supplying it with enough. That made sense to me so I always keep my skin very hydrated no matter what. Now that I’m not a teenager anymore, my skin can be kind of dry unless I keep it moisturized so, there’s that.

You also have to hydrate from the inside out. Like we talked about, keeping sugar consumption to a minimum and drinking plenty of water is important for healthy skin.

That being said I’m going to legit be a hypocrite and say how important exercise is to healthy skin. I’ve been seriously slacking on hitting the gym lately but when I do, my skin always looks better. Why you ask? Because when you sweat you give your pores a chance to clear out and it also increases blood circulation which is good too. This is also why people go to the sauna. It helps your skin to detoxify.

Exfoliate! Our skin cells don’t regenerate like they used to. For real! Ever notice how kids have beautiful skin? It’s because their skin cells turnover so fast. #jealous

Ours are slower so they need help. That’s where a gentle exfoliating wash comes in. I probably exfoliate my face a few times a week. I also dry brush my entire body before I shower. You can get a dry brush at most grocery stores. Simply stand in your shower and brush your skin upward toward your heart for increased circulation and exfoliation.

Oh and I use sunscreen like a boss. Seriously, especially during the summertime you’ll never see me without a hat on or sunscreen. The sun can be very damaging to your skin if overexposed so you have to be mindful of that.

The trademark Guac hat didn’t start for no reason-I keep my face out of those rays!

So basically, NEVER go to bed without washing your face, ALWAYS moisturize, exfoliate away the old, SPF, and stop frowning or you’ll get wrinkles!

and I do have wrinkles btw. My skin does occasionally breakout thanks to hormones. (Which I use tea tree oil for and it works miracles!) I just try to treat my skin as nicely as possible and hope it gradually eases into my 30’s!

So now that I’ve ranted here’s the deal-my rules of skincare:

  1. ALWAYS wash your face in the morning and at night. Maybe even in between if you need to. DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE especially with the phone. germs guys. Your skin needs to breathe. Give it some space.
  2.  Protect it from the sun and elements. SPF, hats, lotion, etc. The world is a tough place, your skin would like some barriers.
  3. Drink alot of water (Okay, I’m terrible at this. I rationalize that coffee is made with water…so….)
  4. SWEAT! Yes. Workout. Go to the sauna-just sweat all the toxins out of your pores! Sweat naturally clears your skin. Sweat now…glow later. That’s my motto! (Or it would be if I hit the gym more…but hey, work in progress)
  5. TAKE A LAYER OFF-exfoliate. Get rid of those dead skin cells and remind your skin that we haven’t given up hope! Theres a variety of exfoliating face washes out there or you could always use some nifty products which I will list below.
  6.  PLAY FAVORITES-treat your eyes as more special than anything else. Why? because your skin around your eyes is different. It’s extremely thin and lacks oil glands so you need to be very gentle with it and moisturize it. Eye creams are lighter and less greasy for your delicate under eye area.
  7.  HANDLE WITH CARE-breakouts that is. Do NOT pick at your face. First off, your hands are filthy. Second, you don’t want to make it worse or scar yourself and have to deal with a long term mark.
  8. Don’t neglect your NECK! Your neck needs care too. Moisturize it with whatever you’re using on  your face.
  9. DRINK COLLAGEN like a boss. I noticed a huge difference in my skin when I started drinking collagen regularly. It gave me back that youthful plump skin that I was pretty sure I lost with my 4 years of sleep deprivation that motherhood gifted me.
  10. DO NOT SCRUB. Don’t use a washcloth on your face you barbarian! If you are rough with your face you are unnecessarily pulling on  your skin and asking for it to give into gravity. I use my hands to gently wash my face and pat it dry. #benice
  11. CHAPSTICK-hydrate your lips too! Chapped lips are a sign of dehydration. We’re always taking and eating and ya know, breathing! a barrier of chapstick offers protection and hydration.
  12. Be DEDICATED to your skincare routine. My morning routine: wash my face, apply toner, essence, eye cream, then regular moisturizer. My nightly routine: remove makeup thoroughly, wash my face, eye cream, night time moisturizer, chapstick. Once or twice a week I exfoliate and I try to do a face mask (usually charcoal or coconut oil) once a week.

While I am slowly making a transition to all natural skincare, my list of products is not there yet. So, just know that the following list is not entirely organic/plantbased/etc. It’s just what I like and some of what I like still has some junk in it. I also change what I use as I find better products that work for me so please don’t take this as an end all be all of my skincare! haha

Suggested products (in no particular order other than what popped into my head that I love):

  1. Beautycounter cleansing balm. This stuff melts your makeup away yet it’s very gentle and moisturizing. I love it.
  2. Cocokind chlorophyll mask
  3. Biossance Eye Serum 
  4. Beautycounter Charcoal mask
  5. COSRX Snail Mucin Essence (that extra step!)
  6. Skinfood Rice Brightening Scrub Foam 
  7. StriVectin SD Wrinkle Cream (prevent and treat!)
  8. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Face Moisturizer 
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen Powder
  10. StriVection Advanced Acid Resurface (another way to exfoliate!)

That’s all folks!

Ivey Artistry Microblading

Eyebrows…the one thing you can get in shape without exercising.

My eyebrows are naturally just thin. Thanks mom.

I have been filling them in since I was 18. First it was a little bit of dark eye shadow then I graduated to a pencil and then got all fancy with all the new eyebrow products out there but regardless of whats out there, I STILL had to fill them in and that gets old.

Are they even?

Is this a good color?

When I hug someone I hope it doesn’t mess up my hard work. LOL Okay you all know you’ve thought this.

When I heard about Microblading I was instantly interested. Microblading creates hair like strokes in your skin using a small blade that deposits ink. It is a method that is done by hand by a professional and typically lasts 12-18 months.

Having a ton of tattoos, the thought of doing something more permanent doesn’t really scare me. It was just a matter of finding someone who is very skilled since it’s going front and center on my face. I mean, I don’t want to end up looking angry all the time…or like a clown…now that I really consider it, eyebrows make a HUGE difference in your expression. I mean, look at emojis.

Back to the story:

After researching the best Microblading artists in North Carolina I landed on Jeanette Ivey of Ivey Artistry Brow & Beauty and I am so darn glad I did.

Have you ever met someone and their energy is just like, YES!

Well, that’s Jeanette.I walked into her studio and was greeted by this tiny ball of artistic energy. The vibe of the place was cool, modern, creative. It was one of those places that inspires you.

I wore my regular makeup to my appointment so I could show her how I typically do my eyebrows and what I like. Honestly though, I don’t know what I’m doing when I fill in my brows and I knew that she would know what to do with them.

First she cleaned off my makeup and then began to make some measurements and marks so everything would be even and the right angle. I could tell she was in her zone and knew exactly what to do to frame my face. We discussed the color too which she already had in mind and it was exactly what I wanted. The process was very reassuring.Then it was time to make the cuts. EEEEP. She uses what looks like a calligraphy pen that dispenses ink into your skin. It’s like a tiny blade that she  makes small cuts with.

I’m not gonna lie-I was SO NERVOUS for the first cut because I had no idea what to expect.

It was not bad. It doesn’t go as deep as I had imagined and it just feels like someone is being super annoying and scratching you. She did the first pass on both of my eyebrows and then put numbing stuff on me and let me relax. After about ten minutes she went back over them and added to them and that was pretty easy peasy since I wasn’t feeling  much.I was surprised how quick and simple the process is. Just a short appointment of Microblading saves me time in the morning doing my makeup and my eyebrows actually look natural. I love that she really fit them to my face and basically just enhanced what I already had. I think it takes a true artist to be able to make something look like it’s supposed to be there.

After the procedure I was a little bit swollen but nothing crazy. She gave me special wipes to use, an ointment, and a card showing what to expect through the healing process.

Top: Makeup Bottom: Microblading

The next morning when I woke up, I magically had the eyebrows of my dreams with no effort whatsoever. I wiped them down, put my ointment on, covered my “mom dark circles” with some concealer, did my eyeliner, and out the door I went! It was awesome.

So in 4-6 weeks I will go back for a touch-up appointment where she can add to them if I want since they will be healed by then and we will see the full result. The first session shapes your brows and the second session is called the “perfection” session. I already love them so, I can only imagine how epic they will be after the perfection session!

For anyone who has thin eyebrows or just wants to enhance watcha got, I definitely recommend doing this. It was SO worth it and Jeanette makes it such a fun experience. I went into it feeling nervous but I came out feeling like it was such an indulgence and a great time. Microblading gives you such a natural look versus the filled in look and it’s there regardless of whether you just woke up, washed your face, or sweating from dancing around your kitchen to We Didn’t Start the Fire. Whoever thought of this concept gets a gold star in my book.Thank you so much to Jeanette Ivey who graciously performed this service for the sake of me being able to share the experience with all of you.

Check her out on Instagram: @ivey_artistry and on her website www.iveyartistry.com

Yeah, I ate that.

Placenta encapsulation.

What the heck?

I know, bear with me guys.

I’m just a hippie by nature. I’ll just throw that out there. I’ve always leaned towards a more natural lifestyle and dug into alternative remedies.

When I got pregnant it was like research on steroids.Cloth diapers, breastfeeding, co-sleeping, etc I rubbed coconut oil on my belly and tried to eat the right things….but what about me?

What about the aftermath of birth…postpartum care and recovery?

I started digging into what the heck to do about my hormones going crazy and my body healing while simultaneously going into breastfeeding mode. This just sounded like a lot of stuff to me.

So, I landed in placenta ingestion. Now, some people flat out eat it. That’s not the life for me guys.

So, I opted to have it encapsulated. This means that a Doula dehydrated it into powder and put it in pill form. She also made me a tincture so when I go through menopause and lose my mind, I can try that out too.

So that being said, ingesting your placenta is supposed to benefit your milk supply, healing from a ton of blood loss, and also support your hormones since they go crazy when you have the baby.I was a good test subject because I did this with my first baby but I couldn’t with my second (she was high risk and the placenta couldn’t be saved). So, I got to see both sides of it.

Yes, my doctor thought I was crazy when I asked him to set the placenta aside instead of disposing it. He said I was his first patient in all of his career to do it-there’s a first time for everything!

The truth is, placenta ingestion has been practiced for centuries. Scientifically there’s no super solid evidence you should do this BUT it’s one of the many things in motherhood you just have to decide for yourself. I figured it couldn’t hurt.It is a nutrient rich organ and if it has the potential to ease my transition into becoming an exhausted, healing, breastfeeding mother then I was totally down.

The process was fairly straightforward. We called the Doula when I was going into labor so she would be on standby. Once I had my baby, the placenta was placed into a medical bag and into a cooler. The Doula came to pick it up from the hospital and then a couple days later she delivered the placenta pills and tincture to my home. She also checked up on me to see how I was doing mentally and physically-Doula’s are cool like that. So long story short-I took my placenta pills twice a day. My milk supply was great with Noelle and I honestly do think that it eased my transition into motherhood and healing. I noticed a big difference emotionally and in my energy levels when I took them versus when I forgot to.

I wasn’t able to do this with Orchid and I had a harder time with postpartum recovery and breastfeeding so, I personally think it was worth it when I did it. I enjoyed the experience and it was a personal preference. 

The moral of the story is-if you’re someone who is interested in alternative remedies and a more natural lifestyle I encourage you to do some research because there are options and you do not have to stick with one certain path! 

And yes, I still have my tincture for menopause so we’ll see!

Holiday Apple Rose Recipe

I love apple pie and these are a cute way to make individual servings of a warm apple dish!

  • 1 large red apple (cored and thinly sliced so it’s flexible)
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sheet frozen puffy pastry (thawed)
  • ½ cup melted @kerrygold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the apple slices in lemon juice to prevent browning. Place apples on a plate and microwave for about 45 seconds until the slices soften some.

Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl.  Toss the apple slices in to coat them.

Roll the puff pastry out thinly. Then use a pizza cutter and cut 2-inch-wide strips.

Spread the remaining melted butter mixture over the dough. Then lay the apple slices on the dough so they overlap each other.

Fold up the bottom part of the dough to create a pocket for the apples. Then tightly roll the dough to form the rose shape.

Place the apple roses in a muffin pan to bake them for about 45 minutes. Voila!