About Me

Tib and Cam

Who is Atomic Bee Ranch?
Atomic Bee Ranch is actually a place. It’s the beehive in my backyard. This blog is my virtual beehive. Welcome! I’m Tibby Wroten, resident beekeeper, gardener, librarian, wife and mom. I thought a beehive was an apt metaphor for our family. Although, there aren’t 30,000 to 60,000 of us living in our little suburban home, we are rather busy. I’m also hoping this blog pollinates a few ideas you’ve had in your head.

Why are you blogging?
Before Baby I was a librarian in a middle/high school library, a job I absolutely adored. Then we decided to start a family and realized it was more financially responsible for me to stay home, not to mention it would be great for my daughter.

I have a lot of hobbies, but, I should mention, writing has not been one of them. After much cajoling from a friend of mine who blogs regularly (you know who you are!) and following of Montessori blogs I decided to share what I’ve begun doing at home with my daughter.

Are you home full time?

No, not anymore, although I was for the first several years of my daughter’s life. I teach one after school class a week (Makerspace) and I am a lower school librarian one day a week (Fridays).

This works really well for our family for now. I am happy being in the library and my daughter gets to go my mom’s house Thursdays and Fridays. She even spends the night on Thursdays giving all of us a much needed break while building a really special relationship with my mom. 

How did we find Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf and Unschooling?

I am terrified of the prospect of the terrible twos and threes, so I’ve been reading and researching various parenting techniques, since my daughter was born. I am also rather put off by our schooling options, so I began researching schooling methods, history of homeschooling as far back as the 16th and 17th centuries, ideas for making the most of my daughter’s environment, and the like. At some point I came across a mention of Montessori. I have a good friend (the one who prodded me into blogging) that began using the Montessori method with her son many years ago, so when I came across the mention of it, I asked her about it. I was impressed by what she had to say. Enough that I followed up with my own research.

Full disclosure, I thought it was going to be really weird. It wasn’t. At the time we were having reflux issues with our daughter (who was four months old) and we gave the floor bed a try and used it as a way to co-sleep. We became accidental co-sleepers on a floor bed and haven’t looked back. We also get 10-11 hours of sleep each night. From my own teaching experience and what information I had gathered on effective parenting, the Montessori Method made a lot of sense.

We’re not fanboys. I don’t use all wooden toys. I didn’t use a weaning table. The baby has plastic plates and flatware. I can see how it is a product of its time and culture (definitely a product of politics, too). But I do like a lot of the ideas.

I also like a lot of the ideas I have come across in other resources. Reggio Emilia appeals to me and so do some of the Waldorf ideas. I am incorporating pieces from everything I have read over the past four years as well as what I learned being in the library and the classroom. What really appeals to me at this point is unschooling. I could go into what that is, but many other people have written more eloquently about it than I can so I’ll direct you there

Will Montessori (or Waldorf, or Reggio-Emilia, or …) work for you?

Well, maybe. You should definitely check it out. See my page here for resources. I think there is a big industry built around making parents feel like failures and like they don’t know what they are doing. Fear sells products, especially when it comes to parenting. I realized after a few months of parenting and after reading a number of books, that you can pick and choose what you want from all these books. This seems really obvious, but when you’ve been told you don’t know what you’re doing, it isn’t.

It was sleep training that really hit this home for me. Our daughter is a good sleeper, but she was having issues with reflux at four months that were getting us up twice a night to deal with screaming fits. I was against nursing her to sleep even though that stopped the sobbing because I knew that wasn’t actually solving the problem. I read a number of books and online resources about sleep training and realized that not all of any method would work for us. That’s when we discovered the floor bed (a Montessori infant concept) and how convenient it was for co-sleeping in a way that everyone got their much needed sleep.

As a parent you need to find things that fit with your own life philosophy and with your family’s philosophy. So, I suggest reading up on lots of methods. If you are selective and willing to try things out, you’ll find the pieces that work for you. And you’ll be much happier for it. There is nothing worse than trying to put a square peg in a round hole. My ideas here on the blog are pulled from the Reggio-Emilia approach, Waldorf philosophy and practice and the Montessori method and a lot of other pedagogies. I am able to draw from all of it and cobble together the ideas and activities you see here. It works for our family, for me, and, most importantly, for my daughter. Trust your own ability to know what is right for you and your children.

Will you homeschool your daughter?

Current Answer: Yes. Between a really awful experience applying to the school where my husband and I work (yikes!) and a good hard look at their curriculum I firmly believe that I can give my daughter a better education at home. Our daughter is now nearing 4.5 (again, yikes!) and the decision needs to be made.

Former Answer: At this point I would like to, but I can’t say we will for sure. A lot of factors will go into making that decision. Like whether or not I need to go back to work. Or does my daughter want and need to be in a more social environment. She’s only a year and a half so I can’t be certain at this point. For more on my thoughts about this see my Homeschool Manifesto posts.

I do think if you are lucky enough to be able to do it and it works for your family and your child, it’s a great option. The homeschooling movement gets associated with really right and left wing, shall we say, lifestyles, but in reality the movement has come back to the political and religious middle. Like librarians, it’s still suffering from outdated stereotypes. Don’t let that deter you if you are considering it, though!

Beekeeping? Really?

Yes. I know, even though it is gaining in popularity, apiculture is still a little out there in terms of weekend hobbies. I, however, find bees to be fascinating. They are clean, industrious, gentle (truly!), and just plain fun to watch. Plus backyard honey is awesome. 

Can I use your ideas?

Yes, please do! They are protected under the Creative Commons Liscensing system. See my page here for more about how they can be used. All this really means is that you need to credit me and I encourage you to share any modifications you make to my works. I’m a librarian and we like sharing.