Saturday, June 15, 2013

Montessori at Home

E over at Growing a Foosa messaged me the other day curious about putting together a more Montessori-friendly environment in her home.  She asked about resources that might encourage her do so.  I wanted to respond publicly in the hopes that it might be helpful to someone who is simply curious or who may want to include tidbits of Montessori in her home.

Dear Mama Foosa,

One of the first blogs I became addicted to years ago was written by Meg McElwee at Montessori By Hand.  While these entries are slightly dated and mostly focus on the classroom, much of the information and ideas are still relevant and easily incorporated in the home.  She has since written a book (maybe 2) and blogs at Sew Liberated.  Montessori is still a main focus of her writing, but she now includes a wealth of knowledge related to Waldorf and sewing.

Photo credit: Montessori By Hand

Another blogger, Sara Cotner, is continually challenging herself by writing a book whilst opening up a charter school in Austin, TX, currently raising a toddler, and gestating another child.  How she keeps focused is beyond me.  Feeding the Soil is another helpful resource with information about how to intentionally create a space for a child in your home.

Photo Credit: Feeding the Soil

The last source of information that will be helpful to you is Maria Montessori (dot) com.  Various trained Montessorians contribute to make this website lush with ideas.  Much of it is related to the classroom for parent understanding, but again you can incorporate the ideas at home.

On to the goods!  For Small Hands and Michael Olaf are both online catalogues that I wholeheartedly endorse.  Everything you find here will serve it's purpose and do it well.  Here is where we spend most of our money when buying our children materials.

Photo Credit: How We Montessori

When you're looking to incorporate Montessori ask yourself these questions:

  • Will my child be independent in this activity?  
  • Is it challenging but not too difficult?  
  • Will/Does my child concentrate for a good amount of time?  
  • Is it a purposeful activity (e.g. does he build with the blocks or is he throwing them like balls)?   
Good luck to you! 

What questions do you have related to 
Montessori and helping transform your home 
into a child-centered environment?


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mine

Without further ado, here is my fiery sunshine (and her incredible older brother).
At 5 hours old, S has her vitals checked by her big brother.


Mother's Day 2013


A mother and her daughter.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

it begins where it left off

I had a baby.  My second baby.  It was mind blowing.  It makes me want to birth a thousand children.  All the children left to be born in the world for eternity, I will birth.

I've neglected this blog for far too long.  Sometimes, I see Jet's Journey in my bookmarks and I squirm.  Or shudder.  Or shrug.  But mostly I look away.

I don't know when this space became a burden because it never was.  Until it wasn't.  And here I am, regretful that so much hasn't been documented because So. Much. Has. Happened.

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The weeks leading up to S's birth were tumultuous.  In fact, tumultuous is too gentle of a word.  One ultrasound indicating small size lead to another ultrasound indicating small head which lead to a lot of information and worry about microcephaly; all of which left me dry heaving in the toilet.

I have never cried so hard in my life.  I envied those who carried on about back aches, the return of morning sickness, the fucking lack of a sex drive.  Oh, I had those things.  I had those things beyond comfort.  But that is what I wanted!  Instead, I scoured the internet, tearfully called my midwife, begged my parents and in laws for prayers and neglected every single friendship I had.

My baby was sick and the ultrasound told me she was.  The doctor told me there was no guarantee.  Not only was I not going to have my dreamy home birth, but I was risking induction at 37 weeks with a baby that probably weighed no more than 4 lbs. and was going to ripped from my uterus and sent away to a NICU for a long time.

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When I decided to let go and let God, I decided to accept my fate.  To accept my baby's fate, regardless of how she may enter this world.  Regardless of her inabilities and abilities.  This is not to say that I prayed to God and all would be well, but it is to say that I prayed (as did all those around me) to hope for a miracle.  A miracle that our lives would be changed, however it may be.  To care for the child placed in our arms, be it a sick and needy child or a child who could fend for her own.  I wanted her.  I wanted her to my core.  Bring me to her, I prayed.  Bring her to me.  I am her mother.  I accept how she enters this world and I accept who she is.  She is my child.  I am her mother.

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S was due on March 6.  My midwife gave me the clear to have her at home.  It was a gamble, but something in us all knew that it might be all right.  S might be okay.  And we were willing to take that risk.  I would be allowed to have her in my home, surrounded by support and love; transferred only if medically necessary within the first few moments of life on the outside.  

On February 20, at exactly 38 weeks gestation, my little one signaled her arrival.  

I awoke early that morning to the call of my toddler and his father's grin.  I ate one last breakfast with my husband and our son at the dining room table: a delicious egg, toast, tomatoes and protein smoothie (a "prescription" so to speak to get our little gestating bean to gain as much weight as possible).  I cleaned the kitchen and welcomed the child who I had been caring for in our home over the past few months.  As she and J scampered around the house, I began to contract.  To ache only in a way that birthing mothers know.  

It was time.

Yet I was in denial.
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It was a Wednesday and my mother was teaching a Spanish class but neglected the sweet, impressionable youth when an e-mail popped up saying, "I think I might be having contractions."  Thankfully, my attentive husband was home; he made the necessary phone calls to essential personnel, ordered me to send home the little person in our care that did not belong to us, and proceeded to entertain, feed, bathe, and care for the toddler.  

While I writhed with every contraction, I did not believe that she could be on her way.  This early.  After a day of rest and peace.  Calm.  

After one contraction, bent over the bathroom counter, my husband held me by my shoulders.  As I wept, still denying I was in labor but fearful that I would not be able to successfully have this child if the pain was already this intense, he shook me and told me he believed.  He believed our little girl was safe.  That she was healthy.  That she was dictating this day was her birth day.  And that I, as her mother, was going to bring her here.  And he was going to support me through every moment.

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Our doula had previously scheduled that morning for an appointment.  A "tell me how this feels while I massage your hips" appointment.  A "what do you expect from me when labor begins" appointment.  And when she arrived, at noon on that Wednesday, we informed her that I was in labor.  No more of the soft discussions about what I may or may not like, what words or touches might be acceptable.  It was time.
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One hour later, I was holding S in my arms.  One hour; a mere 3 hours after my first contraction.  My child.  My gorgeous girl.

After the child in my care was sent home, I went into transition.  I fled to my bed where I watched the impending blizzard roll in.  I watched the sky darken and I focused on the water tower just north of my bedroom.  I listened to my doula text my midwife encouraging her to rush.  I heard my husband bargain to get my toddler to eat one bite of spinach before he could be excused from the table.  Just one bite and he could have a grape.  And then he could be excused.  Sweet, sweet boy.

Three contractions blended together and I began my internal whisper to my child.  Are you sick?  Are you safe?  Will you breath?  Will your brain function?  I'm your mother, will you know?  Will you understand how to suckle when you are brought to my breast?  Will you bond with me?

I then began to ride the wave of each contraction with the imagery gifted to me by my doula who sat silently next to me with her hand firmly placed upon my thigh.  

Dear sweet, sweet baby girl.  Here comes a contraction.  I feel it like a wave.  A salty, cooling wave in the ocean that shocks me as it gently covers my body.  The shock takes my breath but I do not turn away.  I do not resist as I know that the wave is good for me.  It quenches my body's thirst.  It softens my tense muscles all the while makes me breath heavily.  I promise you, sweet girl, to ride the wave with you.  Be with me.  Stay with me as we arch above the wake.  I see the bubbles before me and I know they're approaching.  The bubbles of fear and pain.  Push through them with me.  Ride this wave and dig your toes in the sand.  Promise me, little one, to dig your toes as far as they can in the sand.  We will be safe there together.  I will hold you.  In the sand together, my child.  We can do this together.
After three excruciating contractions I moved to the bathroom.  I climbed into the tub and I melted into the side, feeling the cool tile.  I was alone for one contraction and an immediate push from my body led me to alert my doula that I was pushing.  With the midwife not in attendance, she demanded my husband come to my side as she rushed to the street in hopes that she would arrive in time.

With the next contraction, my deep animal instinct kicked in and I was pushing against my will.  Against my husband's encouragement to "take a deep breath."

And he looked.  And he saw.  And he touched.  And he caught.

And she was here.

And she was perfect.

And we were alone.  My husband, my crying daughter upon my chest, and my son, sucking his thumb and witnessing something we never imagined for him.

And it was perfect.  And it was beautiful.
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I climbed out of the tub and into my bed.  My husband and toddler followed.  My midwife arrived and my doula lead the way.  And we were giddy.  And the snow fell.  

And it was perfect.  And it was beautiful.

And she was perfect.  And she was beautiful.

Healthy.  

My tears were for naught.  My ultrasounds and NSTs and BPPs were for naught.  

But my prayers were not.  For she was the answer.  My sweet, fiery sunshine.  Her cry from my heart and in my heart it remains.  

Perfect.  Beautiful.  Healthy.

Blessed.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

because we went there too...

I know we're all sick of looking at adorable kiddos navigating and picking the perfect pumpkin at the patch but I just cannot miss sharing our cute little skeleton monster from this past weekend.  And being that Halloween is only 2 days away...







Down and out!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

our gender reveal

...if you didn't catch it in my last post.

This is how we shared the news!

video

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Stroller Envy

Being a mom is bizarre.

Before I had children, I had baby fever.  I was known, long before my husband and I were married, to walk with friends and comment how adorable babies made me ovulate.  Right then and there.  However, not once did I look at their clothes.  Not once did I glance at the diaper bag.  And pay attention to the brand on their stroller?  Not in a million years.

And then J was born.  Then I was looking.  Scouting out, perhaps, for the most functional and, in the interest of honesty, fashionable stroller.

Living in a particularly affluent neighborhood in our large city, I began to notice that strollers were accessories (just like nannies); a sort of status symbol.  Desperately, I wanted to reject this - but it can be so hard when you're surrounded by these beautiful, almost robot-like, modes of transportation for little beings that sh*t in their pants.  Yes, we're transporting our babes in thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and taking a crap is really one of their few daily priorities.

Pardon the crass nature of the above.  But it is bizarre.

We ended up purchasing a BOB stroller.  $400.  More than my monthly car payment (but not student loan payment, grr).  Thankfully, we received many generous gift cards after J's birth that we hoarded for this purpose.  I wanted a functional stroller where I could exercise and bring him along.  All of the other jogging strollers that I considered buying were, frankly, just as bad as their price was good.  It didn't hurt that BOB strollers were/are highly popular and "fashionable."  And I hate that I admit knowing this.

I am not regretful in the least that we spent that kind of money on a stroller for our little man who still, at 19 months, is satisfied with standing in the corner of a room full of people and taking a crap.  I hope that the resale of the stroller will be such that it makes this purchase worthy of the original cost.  And getting a little exercise here and there (admittedly, this department has been neglected since #2 announced her existence).

But now I need another.  Want.  Need.

J's baby sister, S, is due to arrive late this winter.  And I know, come spring, I'm going to need to get these two out of the house.  With J's rambunctious nature, I know it will become necessary to strap him into a stroller with his sister to keep them both safe (because I keep him tied up in this contraption which is somehow more acceptable to me than putting a child on a leash.  It just is.).

I am in the market for a, preferably used, double stroller.  My eyes tell me I want the Bugaboo Donkey stroller, retailing at over 1k.  But, in actuality, I need something about 1k cheaper.

So, wise mothers out there, do you own a double stroller?  
Have you found one that is highly functional, not particularly hideous, and 
CHEAP!?  


Friday, October 19, 2012

thinking aloud

In July of 2008, I finished my very last graduate school class.  I remember walking out of the double doors and, with the swish as they slowly yet forcefully closed, I let out an exhale of relief and accomplishment.  Yet, as soon as my lungs relaxed, my shoulders tightened.  My thesis.

Although I had been guided through the beginning of my thesis the entire semester, I still had, virtually, the entire paper to write.  And the looming October 1 deadline was just a color change of a leaf, a drop in temperature, and a shift to autumn winds away.  2.5 months to prove myself, show what I had learned, and earn those very expensive letters after my name: M.Ed.

Naturally (for me), I put it off.  August came and went, and September was occupied with starting my first job in the adult world.  I opened up a new classroom in a small Montessori school.  I spent evenings and weekends in my classroom.  I spent nights dreaming about the children.  And, as October was just a page away on my calendar, my books and computer sat cold, untouched.

I have a wonderful ability to be terrified, anxious, and stressed.  I have a horrible ability in actually dealing with these issues to rid myself of these all consuming feelings.  After a quick plea to my supervisor, I was granted an extension to March 1.

Eventually, I wrote my thesis and proudly earned those letters.  But not without significantly more road bumps and delays, all caused by me.  The amount of time I was allotted, one would think that I would be able to finish my thesis long before it was due.  Instead, I procrastinated until sometime in February; at which time I pumped it out over the weekends and submitted it.  And graduated.

When I have issues that loom over me, I avoid.  I procrastinate.  I ignore.  Not because I feel that these problems will go away but because they are often painful, challenging, or downright too irritating for me to address.  Anyone who knows me (or knows better) sees that I can avoid so much stress if I simply handled the deck of cards that I have been dealt.  It is something that I am actively working on.

But at one year shy of 30, I am more stubborn than the day I emerged into this world.  It will take more effort than I often want to give. 

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So, WTF am I talking about and why do I choose to update now?  No reason in particular, other than today is a chilly day in the 40s, J is sick and taking an early nap, and the blog is yet another avoided part of my life.  Each day that passes that I have not updated, more my resistance to update grows.  Today and maybe tomorrow, but maybe not, I'll put that all aside and come share some of my thoughts in this place.  

Is anyone even out there?

(crickets)

More updates on my rapidly expanding waistline, growing baby, new home, yadda yadda, to come soon.

I hope.