Tuesday, November 26, 2013

11 Months


11 months!
She'll be 1 next month!
How crazy is that?
(I'm so excited that her birthday is next month.)


She's 18 lbs and 28 inches long.


She loves toys now.
She plays with them and squeals when she sees them.
Cars, dolls, boxes with things she can dump out, just to name a few.
Starting this week anything that makes noise.
Her favorite noise makers are the jingle bells we got from the dollar store.


She eats EVERYTHING.
She lets me know when she's hungry too.
She'll go in the kitchen and start "mmm"ing.
We found out that this month that she is allergic to mangos.
She also LOVES cows milk.
She went on a formula strike, so Matt gave her milk.
She gobbled it up.
We're not going to switch her quite yet, but at least we know she loves it.


She gives "kisses" now.
They are really painful.
She bites my cheek and 
when I say "ow" (it really hurts! 6 little teeth!),
she starts crying.

Her hugs are much better.
When she hasn't seen me for a while and I pick her up,
she throws her arms around me, puts her head on my shoulder,
and hugs me as tight as she can with her arms and legs.
Usually she has a big grin on her face or is laughing.

Speaking of laughing,
she actually laughs now.
It's about time.
:)


 This is probably the last month of crawling.
My heart is breaking a bit at the thought of that.
I love her crawling.
She follows me around and then peeps her head 
around the corner when she catches up.
 If she sees, me she stops and smiles,
before dragging her little body around the corner and comes at me at "full" speed.
It's so adorable and in the last 5 months, I still haven't quite had enough of that.


She took her first steps at the beginning of the month in the Princeton library.
It was right before story time and she couldn't quite reach the plastic green dogs they have there.
She gave me this horrified look when she realized what she had done (walking),
 before crawling the last 2 inches to the dog.
The last 4-5 days she has really started working on walking.
She is now up to 4 steps.


People love her.
She waves hi and bye with a huge smile.
Yesterday after waiting for 2 hours to see her ENT,
the waiting room clapped when our named got called.
They were shocked that such a little baby could be so happy and good for that long of a wait.
Same thing happened at Costco when we had to wait 4 hours for our tires
She made friends with the employees and many of the customers.
We knew about so many people's grandchildren and where mother's bought their kids clothes.


She's so cute.
I still think of her as a baby, but pretty soon she's going to be a toddler.
It's crazy that it's almost been a year and I'm so grateful that I get to spend this Thanksgiving with her.
Last year I basically spent the holidays cursing the fact I was pregnant.
Now I get to spend my days trying to teach my baby how to say "duck."
I guess she gives us a lot to be grateful for.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Small reasons we like being parents


Finding a tiny banana to feed my tiny baby


Using all those great fashion tips that I find on pinterest on my baby.
J Crew baby. 


Playing cars together


Realizing that we don't need a tree, because the decorations look better on the baby.


Foiling her plans


Reading stories and having very animated conversations about the book.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A lengthy answer as to why I like the Montessori method

I've been asked by a few people what the Montessori method is and why I am implementing parts of it,
and it's a long answer.

Finding Montessori
Madeleine was 7 months old, and I wasn't getting much sleep with her around. 
Motherhood was going much better
 than when she was under 5 months old, 
but it still wasn't really fun.

That day I was invited to a fall festival.
I went with Madeleine hoping to find a pumpkin patch.
Instead I found a few craft booths and then rows and rows of people advertising for childcare.
"We take children 6 weeks and up!"
"We teach them how to play the maraca while jumping on one foot!"
Each one of these booths gave away free little toys for the children to play with.
Free toys that I didn't have to buy?
I was all over that.
I saw one booth that had a pinwheel.
It was sparkly.
Madeleine would love that.
I walked over and this lady told me that if I want to be a better mother, I should sign Madeleine up for her school.
....
What?
I was offended.
Who was this stranger telling me that they could do a better job raising and teaching my kid than me?
I was pissed off.
But I put a mental sticky note in my head to look up this Montessori school and see why this arrogant lady thought my child was better off with her than me.

What it is
I went off the library and checked out 3 books about the Montessori method.
I got the original book that Maria Montessori wrote herself, one for teachers and one for parents.
I started with Maria's book.
Instantly I was amused.
It sounded like something my mother would write.
Slamming public schools left and right for forcing children into a system that even adults wouldn't like. (Matt objects and would like to point out that public school worked just fine for him and he's at Princeton.)
She talked about designing a school around the children.
Instead of changing the kids to fit the school, changing the school to fit the kids.
That meant no desk, no teacher lecturing.
She basically said that teachers should capitalize on a child's natural curiosity.
If you give children age appropriate toys,
they teach themselves what they need to know.
-
   This toy for instance is for infants.

They put the ball in the hole. 

What do they learn from this?
Gravity and object permanence; (the ball keeps coming back no matter how hard you try to make it disappear.)
It also works on their motor skills while introducing them to different textures.

A big part of Montessori method is that the teachers are observers.
Interference should be minimal.
By letting the child figure things out themselves,
they gain confidence, problem solving skills and are motivated to keep learning.

This means children should learn to be independent as soon as possible.
Clothes should be designed so children can easily dress themselves.
Sinks and tables should be their size.

They should learn to feed and clean after themselves.
The area should be clean and organized as a way to show children that we respect them so that they respect themselves.

I thought this all sounded good in theory, 
but I was still iffy about it.
It sounded too much like unschooling,
which I really dislike.

But when I went out to Utah, I talked to my best friend Danielle.
I brought the whole thing up with her,
and asked her what her opinion was.
Turns out she had a lot of good things to say about it.

Why it appealed to me
 A lot of this method was things that I had already thought of,
but felt crazy for doing it or didn't really know how to.
I was already doing baby led weaning for food.
Madeleine can use a spoon pretty well and can sit at a table,
and eat pretty much whatever we are eating, which is very similar to Montessori.
The bed thing I was thrilled for.
The educational goals were straight forward and made sense.

Carrying it out
I pitched the idea to Matt, and to my complete surprise, he raised no objections.
We baby proofed the house to an extreme.
Madeleine can roam anywhere but the bathroom and it should be safe for her.
We made her room designed around her.
We bought her a table that she could eat and sit at.

As for the toys, I had already been buying her toys that were not commercialized.
I wanted her to use her imagination.
Most of her toys are fabric, metal or wood.
I did not go out and buy her a whole bunch of expensive Montessori toys.

I didn't buy the expensive Montessori furniture either.
I based what we got off of what Marie said
"child size", "light weight" and "natural materials."
I'm not sure how natural ikea particle-board is,
but it was cheap and very light weight.

The rest of it has just been tweaking our routine a bit.
For example, while I was making dinner last night,
I let Madeleine play with our unpeeled onion on the kitchen floor.
She had a blast pealing off the papery outside layers.
I make more of an effort to include her now.

Pros
The thing I like most about it is it has made being a mom more fun.
I don't feel guilty for letting Madeleine play alone.
I don't feel like I have to watch her all the time because I recognize that interfering with every activity can be detrimental to her learning progress.
It also gives me more time to pursue my own interest.
I absolutely love what Montessori mothers put together for their babies on pinterest.
They are educational and its pretty easy to see the babies progress.

http://www.howwemontessori.com/how-we-montessori/otis-1-year/

This blog has been my favorite. I love that she shows what they do each month,
reports his progress, and tells what they are working on.

Cons
There isn't an official Montessori infant program that is good.
Maria designed the schools for ages 3-7.
The Montessori schools for children under the age of 2, I feel is just expensive childcare.
I've been more impressed with what the moms put together.

I'm not a fan of the discipline method.

It is really expensive if you're not careful.

It works better if there is more than one kid...and I only have one kid...

There isn't a lot of art.
The Waldorf method is another method that has lots of painting and music,
and many parents combine the two methods to give their children a more rounded education.

Lastly, I think this is a great method until 1st grade.
Maria argued making children sit in class was not useful
 because sitting wasn't usually a needed task in the work force. 
Of course, Maria designed this method for poor children back at the turn of the century
 when most children inevitably ended up with manual labor jobs.
Being able to sit is an important skill now.
And regardless of whether it's right or wrong, college generally consists of professors lecturing to a crowd of sitting students, so for Madeleine to be successful, she needs to learn these skills as well.

Disclaimer: There are many different ways to implement the Montessori method, and likewise, there are many other good ways to parent. I don't claim to be an expert.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Update on Madeleine's room

We changed it from a baby room to a toddler room.

2 weeks later I figured I'd update you all on how it's going.

She does sleep on her bed,
but she gets out of it too.

I really don't mind that she gets up though,
 because if she's still half asleep or tired, she'll stay in bed.
 If she wakes up and needs us, she'll crawl to the door and open it.
(I usually open it a crack after she falls asleep so that she can open it.)
She usually only does it once or twice a night,
which is an improvement from even a month ago.



When she is tired, she can put herself to sleep. 
But she has to be really tired to actually fall asleep on her bed without us prompting her.
Usually what happens for naps, she'll start playing on her bed and blankets
 letting me know that it's time to sleep.

video

Her favorite part of the room?
The table.
Hands down, no competition.
She pushes that thing all over the room all the time.
Matt and I will be lying in bed and hear it moving in the early hours of the morning.
I'll take that noise any day over crying.

I'm happy that we took a chance on this project,
so far it's paying off.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Park and Giveaway Winner!

Our Tiny loves trucks and trains.
There is this wonderful park a few miles from us
that has a big sand pit with tons of old trucks that people left.


It's a wonderful park.
It has a beautiful path with trees and meadows.
It was originally part of Moses Pyne's property.
He's a Princeton Alumni who had a strong impact on Princeton.
His mansion is actually the governor's house now, but this park was donated to the city.
Back in the day, he would let students wander through this park to clear their heads.


Funny enough, I always seem to run into at least one other Post-Doc or Grad student's wife.
We all seem to gravitate to it.


By the way, the winner of the giveaway was Rebecca! :) 
Thanks for those who left comments. 
It was encouraging, so maybe I'll do another sometime.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Crochet Collar

I'm not big into crocheting, 
but I've been eyeing crocheted collars for a while.
I think they look pretty cute,
and it only took the length of "You've Got Mail" to make it. 

One of Madeleine's anime eyes smiles

The hardest part for me was guessing what size Madeleine was.
She was already in bed when I started on it.


So here is the front and the back.


I'm pretty happy about how it turned out.
The pattern I used was this one.
I only did the first 4 rows though, 
because I didn't want it be too chucky on Madeleine.


Tada!

On another note, it was sprinkling snow this morning.
Winter is on it's way!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Calvin and Hobbes

I don't know if you all remember our living room from way back when.
But there was a big blank wall across from the photo wall.

Completely blank.

I kept bouncing ideas off Matt about what to do about it.
He hated all of them.
Like I thought a huge mirror would be cool and it would bring light in.
But he shot down calling that it would fall and kill our Tiny.

Then one Sunday, he said, lets paint something on a canvas.

Sweet!
Something abstracts since we both can't draw.
Then we were talking about colors...
and again we couldn't decide.

Matt and I then started to discuss things that we actually like.
Movies, quotes, music, books, comics.

A comic?
Black and white goes with everything,
and both of our childhoods were shaped by our love of Calvin and Hobbes.

So we got started.

We found canvases on sale,
and I eye balled which canvas I thought was closest to scale.
(I was pretty dead on too!)
Then armed with a few sharpies,
we got to work.


Here is a picture of our living room now.
(I changed up the shape of the photo wall too. I like so much better now.)



So right across from the photo wall is our comic strip.


And last and not least, here is a close up of our cold baby.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Madeleine's Toddler Room

When we moved here, Madeleine just learned to crawl.
(Like the day before we moved in.)
She wasn't super mobile, and her room was more for us than for her.
Now that she is so mobile and has her mouth on everything,
we figured it was time to make her room designed for her.

So this is our Montessori inspired room for Madeleine.


Here is what it looks like from the hall.
The Montessori method is a form of childhood education.
It's very focused on letting the child have freedom.
So instead of having just a crib as her space,
the whole room becomes her crib.
Hence the baby gate at her door.


She has a table and chairs to eat and play at.


And her bed is on the ground so that she can get off it herself and play.
I love it.

She's been playing in there alone for 20 minute at time,
and when she feels like checking in with us, 
she just crawls up to the gate and lets us know.


All of her toys are on these two shelves so that she can see them


I put the hamper in front of her trash can so she can't pull everything out.
For some reason she ignores the hamper....for now at least.


Her dresser is baby proof. 
And she has her little rocking chair with blankets on it.
When she gets tired, she has been pulling off the top on and cuddles with it
until we stick her in her bed.

The major concern we had was if she was actually going to sleep in her bed.


Yes!
She did.
And even though she still wakes up 3+ times a night,
she only got out of her bed once.

We still have a few small things that I'd like to add,
but I love her room.
We've been hanging out in it all the time,
and Matt likes the option of sleeping next to her again.

By the way the whole thing only cost us 50 ish dollars.
The table and chairs were from IKEA for $20
and the little shelves (they are only a foot high) were $13 each at Walmart.

(PS. I have a giveway for one of those little bunny things if you want to enter.)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giveaway

I've been on a toy kick on pinterest.
With Halloween over, Madeleine's 1st birthday and Christmas are coming up.
I'm not a big fan of a whole bunch of toys around the house that she doesn't like.
So I figured I'd shop around.
I found so many I love from Europe.
Like this little bunny.

Handmade Bunny from Youttle

Unfortunately, shipping from Europe is a bit more expensive.
So I decided to make one of my own bunnies. 


I made a few changes. But I think I did a pretty good job.


I actually loved making it.
It was so much fun piecing it together.
And then the actual hand sewing was wonderful too.
I love my sewing machine, but it is a very different experience than by doing it by hand.

So because my baby doesn't need two...
I'm giving one away to whoever wants it.
I'll even mail it to you.
(Well as long as I can send it with normal flat rate shipping)

Usually on blogs, the blogger has some type of requirement to enter.
Here's mine.

Leave a comment telling me what toys you think are cool for Tiny Creatures 
or a fun DIY craft.

I'll have Matt find me a good random number generator,
and I'll select a winner next week.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Pears

I love Princeton.
Just wanted to say that.
It's beautiful.

I love all the random stores and buildings too.
One of my favorites is this little organic grocery store.
Everything is so expensive...but they have some great deals.
Like if you ride your bike, you get a dollar off every $15 you spend.
If you bring your own bag, they take off 10 cents for each on they use.
But my favorite part is their "soup" and "smoothie" bins.

All the bruised or over ripe fruit go in these little baskets and only cost 
65 cents a pound!!!!
What a deal!

 And while I'm not really into the whole organic thing...
their tomatoes taste amazing.
So I've been stopping by quite frequently.
Today I picked up a lot of apples and pears.

I was talking on the phone when I walked in the door and just set my bag of groceries on the floor.
I forgot about them,
but my hungry little monster didn't.
She picked an apple and tried to eat it.
Her little teeth couldn't get very far,
so she tried the pear next.


Yum! Progress!


 Aww she's so proud of herself.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Casper


This clip is what I think of whenever I change offspring's diaper.

Bleh.