Thursday, September 18, 2014

Nora 3-months-old



"The days are long, but the weeks are short." This pretty much sums up how I feel about life lately. A constant mix of my work is never done, and everything is moving to fast.



Nora is growing and changing right before our eyes. It's amazing the difference a month can make. At 3-months-old, Nora is so happy and easy-going. I don't have any growth stats, but she is mostly in 3-6 month clothes and size 2 diapers. Her eyes are still very light blue and she has very light spikey hair.



She's getting bigger and has completely lost the newborn baby look. She's more alert and responsive. Nora coos, tries to copy sounds and faces, laughs and squeals. She's hardly ever super crabby and rarely really screams.



Nora is still nursing a ton! Usually 12-17 times a day. I feel lucky if we make it an hour or more without nursing during the day. I'm trying to accept that she's just a snacker.



This month Nora has slept much better during the day. I moved her into her room to nap and let her have a lovie. Those changes seemed to really have helped. So we are getting usually 40+ minute naps a few times a day. Her nighttime sleep is still pretty good. Although, she's had more nights were she's up 2 or 3 times lately, she is still mostly doing 5-7 hour stretches before waking.



Nora loves Henry now. She loves watching him, she loves when he talks to her, and when he plays with her. She is also starting to get into toys -- her favorites are her Owl Lovie, her winkle, and her dog rattle. She still loves to look at herself in her mirror. Her favorite thing to do it have a conversation with people.



However, I think Nora gets easily stimulated by too many people and can cry more frequently with crowds. She was baptized this month and screamed the whole way through it. She's also still not a huge fan of tummy time, but this is getting better. Babywearing can also be a challenge if she is not in the mood -- Nora likes to be held outward almost all of the time. She's not rolling yet, but she is getting her hips off the ground when playing on her back, and getting better about sitting in the bumbo.



My new favorite thing is the epic pout face she makes when she is sad or scared -- she must be learning from the best! I'm just so excited for life with this little girl, and I so wish we could slow down time. 



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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Montessori Newborn

With Henry, I had absolutely no idea what Montessori was before he was around 13-14 months old. He was around 18 months when we really started to shift our home in a Montessori direction. With Nora, we have had the opportunity to do things differently from the start. 

As I mentioned when I was pregnant we purged all the baby toys -- getting rid of anything with batteries. It's been nice not having a constant barrage of flashing lights and music. At this point, Nora's toys consist of a few wooden rings, rattles and some fabric lovies.



We also made a decision about whether to incorporate a floor bed or not. We compromised and have a floor bed for play and a crib for sleep. We're currently room sharing, so she doesn't actually sleep in the crib, but will eventually move. She does, however, use the floor mat quite a bit. She has loved staring into the mirror and at her mobiles!


Another favorite, has been the series of black and white paintings I made for her changing table area. As Nora gets older, I'll replace these images with pictures of people or places. 

One thing we've focused on with Nora has been giving her the opportunity to develop concentration by waiting for her to be complete before moving to another activity. So, for example, if she is staring at the images on her changing table, but I'm done changing her, I will wait until she stops staring. Same with the mirror, mobiles or toys. Instead of rushing her off, I let her finish her "work" before moving to the next thing. It does take a little more time, but never so long to interrupt what I need to get done. 



I'm by no means a Montessori purist, so we do have some things that probably wouldn't fit with a purist's idea of how a baby should be raised. For one, we use a bouncy seat and swing. While I do babywear a lot too, I still need the convenience of placing Nora "in" something. Plus, she loves the bouncy seat, and seems to be a baby that needs a little space from time to time. She's less into the swing, but in a pinch it's a good place for her to nap. 


I'm excited to see how Nora responds to this environment over the next few months! Have a baby on the way, or a newborn at home? My Montessori newborn essentials are -- 
  • Floor Mat! 
  • High contrast mobile -- by far Nora's favorite so far {but more on the mobiles we are using soon!}
  • Black and white images. I actually wish we had a few more of these around the house. 
  • A low hanging mirror -- this has provide a LOT of concentration from Nora.
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preschool

With a lot of anxiety, a few tears and lot of hugs and kisses I sent my baby to preschool this morning. 



He'll be back later this morning. But, wow, the house is so quiet. So, so quiet.


And, just like that he is off. I hope the world is kind to him.



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Monday, September 8, 2014

Montessori Math and Science Trays


As Henry and the children in the co-op get older, I feel like we need to expand our tray offerings. Part of that is offering more options for math and science. My plan is for this work (or slight variations of this work) will stay on our shelves for a couple of months at a time.

Science

1. Adult-Baby Matching -- I made these cards. The adults are dark purple and the babies are light.


2. Animal Classification Cards -- These are made using flashcards found at Target's Dollar Spot. The flashcards themselves are two sided, so I glued a blank 3x5 card to the back side of each card. Then, included a card with basic facts about each group. The groups were Reptile, Mammal, Birds, Insects, and Fish.



3. Living vs. Non-Living -- Here I've included a small felt mat and labeled cards. Then, I included several objects that represent either non-living or living things. My plan is to switch these objects frequently so the children don't memorize the order, but the concept.


4. Picture-to-Object Matching -- This tray is for some of the younger siblings that come to co-op (although I wouldn't be surprised if Henry used it a lot too). It uses some of the same $1 flashcards from Target and pairs them with animals.


Math

1. D.I.Y. Montessori Teen Boards -- These have been on our shelves before, but we took a break from them at the end of last year. So, they are back.


2. Bead Stairs -- This was another D.I.Y project. I made the stairs using some wooden beads that I had and had painted the correct colors. I still need to add a 10 bar but I don't have the gold paint yet. I paired the stairs with small glass number tiles that I found on clearance at Michaels.


3. Bead Counting -- I found this tray at Goodwill awhile ago and finally get to use it. I paired it with a container of wooden beads. It allows the kids to count each bead out by hand. The felt and the deeper tray keeps them from rolling away. The sliders on the tray move, but reveal the same number no matter where they are.


4. Make-a-Shape -- Here, I've included several geometric shapes on laminated cards. Then, I've included plastic straws cut into smaller pieces. The straws can then be used to create the shapes.



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Friday, September 5, 2014

On Loss and Our First Days

I've sat down to write this post 4 different times now. Each time I've stared at the blank whitness and blinking curser not knowing where to start. I think "just write something." Right now it's 5:15 a.m., Nora is wide awake and I'm trying to coax her back to sleep. There, I started.


Reality is, this post is hard because I'm feeling hard emotions. I was half expecting to fertility -- or infertility -- to be easier to deal with following Nora's birth, but it really hasn't been. It's just complicated.

I love Nora with every fiber of every cell in my body. The sheer joy I feel holding her, kissing her, nursing her makes every 5:00 a.m. feeding worth it. Sometimes, I just look at her and cry I'm so happy to have her. I will never forget how different things could have turned out -- not conceiving, an early miscarriage, a premature birth. Nora's life will always be the miracle that I prayed and begged for. 


I've honestly never been this happy in my life. Yes, it's still hard having a 3-year-old and a newborn. And I get frustrated, and I've cried from the exhaustion. But, still every part of me still feels relaxed and totally amazed with our little family. 

But the losses are still there. 4 babies, I'll never meet. I'll never hold, kiss, or nurse. I see Nora growing and wonder how each of those babies would have been. Would they sleep like her? Would they be as easy going? Maybe they would be more like Henry? Would Henry had loved them as much? Our first baby would be 15 months or so old right now -- could Nora have been baby number 3, instead of number 2? 

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I wrote the above months ago. And, it was just too hard to conclude in any meaningful way, and it still is. I guess that's the thing about loss -- even when it's over, it's not. I'll never stop missing the babies that I don't get to hold. I'll carry the scar of pregnancy loss for the rest of my life. I'll find a way to deal with the scar, but it will always be there. And, I will never forget what we went through, it will be a constant reminder. And, I'll never stop being grateful for the two babies I have because I know how differently things could be. 


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