Crystal Madrilejos

Design & Creative


Q is at a stage (he’ll be five next month) where he is very, very… challenging. Andrew and I feel we’ve tried so many ways of helping him cope with anxiety and frustrations, and sometimes it feels like we’re failing miserably.

The other week, Andrew and I attended a Montessori parenting group discussion at Q’s school that had a lot of great ideas that I thought would make a good blog series, with the first post introducing the general concept of Discipline vs. Punishment.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Montessori Method, the teaching techniques are very centered around the child being self-motivated. So, it makes sense that the Montessori parenting style focuses on “internalizing in order to self-discipline”. By emphasizing discipline rather than punishment we’re teaching our children the “what to do” and not just the “what not to do.” Part of the internalization process requires them to experience the consequences of their behavior and learn how to make better choices. (more…)


One of the things I’ve learned so far in our journey towards possibly homeschooling our kids, is this: if you are raising a kid, then you are already homeschooling. Everything your kids learn outside of the classroom is considered homeschooling. Especially the young ones where “skills” they learn are things we teach instinctually as parents. One of the biggest fears I think most people have, including myself, when it comes to homeschooling is the fear that we aren’t qualified to teach. Which is nonsense! Whether you have the patience or not, is the bigger question (one I’m still pondering myself!) But there is really nothing the kids are learning at a very young age that I feel is above my ability to help guide them in learning. With that said, the Montessori Method is a great approach to start with because it utilizes a child’s natural learning abilities to guide the lessons, which makes it very suitable for us parents who feel we may not be capable of teaching.



I haven’t posted any of Q’s photos in awhile. Here are some he took earlier in the year, when it was still snowing and we had the taps in the maple trees.



I’ve been having lots of thoughts and observations lately I’ve wanted to share but they are random and are probably more journal fodder than anything. The kind of thoughts you have while driving to work or watching the kids play. They may be constructive and potential for bigger more in depth blog posts, but sometimes I just want to put the thoughts out there without thinking about the larger form they can take.

As a way to incorporate these into my blog, I decided to create seasonal notes for thoughts and happening not warranting a full-blown post for now. They may be totally useless and uninteresting, maybe they’ll spark some thought and discussion. Who knows? We’ll just see where this goes. (more…)


Andrew and I have been thinking about homeschooling our kids for a little while now. I’ve definitely been more the champion of the cause than Andrew – but the more we talk about it, the more he is on board. When we first had kids, we just thought of their education as a bridge we’d cross when we got there. We figured, we’ve got time. But it creeps up fast, let me tell you. Now it’s here, we’re crossing that bridge in the very near future. Before we started considering homeschool as an option, we figured they’d go to Montessori for pre-school/kindergarten then on to public schools – the same route that both Andrew and I took growing up. We turned out okay, right? ;) (more…)


More photos from Q. Thankfully, the Endless Winter of 2013-2014 looks like it’s finally coming to an end. As I type this, I can hear the birds outside and it’s 6:45am and the sky is light, all the tell-tale sign of spring. These pictures pretty much sum up our winter. Runny noses and cabin fever.

If you’re coming here for the first time – Q is our 4-year-old son who likes to take photos. See past photos here and here.

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Andrew’s Mom started the tradition of baking cookies for Andrew and his brother every Valentine’s Day for as long as he can remember, and last year Andrew decided to make this a tradition for our little family as well. He found two little red metal mailboxes into which he puts the cookies for the kids to find on Valentine’s Day morning. He’s been tinkering with his cookie recipe for awhile now, but this year’s cookies were, really, really good. Maybe even his best yet. So I thought this would be a great post to kick off our new series called The Kitchen Tinkerer, but more about that later in the post. First, these cookies!  (more…)

At the beginning of 2013, we got Q his own notebook. Previously, he had been drawing on random scraps of extra paper that we had lying around, but he kept requesting that he and I draw together on the same piece of paper over and over again, which resulted in this:




I mentioned that I’m a bit of a crazy when it comes to gifts, I prefer to make them if I am able. This past Christmas was no exception. I made this linen tunic for my niece Layla , who will be turning five in a few months. I’ve really been into linen lately and wanted to give this style of shirt/dress/tunic a try in hopes to eventually make more for Ellis and, one day, myself.

I haven’t made too many wearables other than crochet or knit things. Sewing isn’t my specialty. I’ve never taken a sewing class and a lot of times I’m just winging it as I go and always present it with the caveat of: don’t look too closely. I know the basics and I can follow instructions, that’s about my level of expertise in the matter. I also don’t sew with knits if I can avoid it. Not for lack of desire, but the whole stretchiness thing throws me for a loop. But I’m happy with how these turned out. The embroidery was also a new adventure for me too. I’ve embroidered before, but not on clothing and nothing so complicated, but all-in-all, it was a success. (more…)