Saturday, May 31, 2014

37 Weeks!

37 weeks! And, I've made it to full term. I'm really hoping Nora decides to stay in for a little while longer though. There are so many things that I want to get done before she is born -- finish our meal plans for this month, meal plan for next month, get the nursery essentials set up, clear the camera cards, sort/purge and rotate Henry's toys, clean the house, and pack a hospital bag. 


Some of these things are attainable, and some I've had to let go of. I have been getting some work done but I'm pretty much on the work-for-15-minutes, sit-for-15-minutes schedule. 

Otherwise, I'm feeling so-so. Minnesota went from winter to summer in about six days. With temperatures in the upper 80's pretty much overnight, I've been swollen, slow and sore. I've also had a bunch of pretty painful contractions. Thankfully, they are doing their job and at my OB appointment yesterday I was 2 cm dilated. I know this doesn't really tell you when labor will start, but it does mean that 20% of the hard work is done. My blood pressure is still great (106/67) and I'm breathing a little easier. Sleep is still a thing of the past. 


Nora seems to be doing good. She's still moving like crazy and is head down. Her heartbeat was 142 at the appointment. She still has the hiccups constantly and knows exactly where to punch me so it really hurts. 

So, now we wait. I'm not a very patient person, but there's nothing like the end of a pregnancy to make you remember that you have no control. 

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Montessori at Home! eBook and Printables Bundle Giveaway!

Any long time reader of this blog knows that I love using Montessori principles in my home. However, I've also been pretty honest about how overwhelming taking the plunge into Montessori can be. While I really believe it's amazing for children and families, it can be really different from mainstream parenting. And, traditional Montessori training programs are expensive and time consuming; something most families simply cannot afford. 

Thankfully, there's a great, affordable option available for families looking to learn about how to use Montessori at home -- Montessori at Home! eBook and Printables Bundle by John Bowman. This wonderful eBook is PACKED with information about how to start using Montessori ideas at home for children ages 3 to 6.

The eBook doesn't just include information about traditional Montessori work, but how to use these principals in everyday life. How can we encourage independence at mealtimes? How should we handle the use of technology? What toys are Montessori-friendly? This eBook answers all these questions and more. 

Additionally, the book integrates passages from Maria Montessori's own books, so you can not only understand the practical uses of the method but also the theory behind them. And, it does it all with beautiful pictures and links to some of my favorite blogs. This eBook has everything from practical life work to science experiments and mathematics giving you great ideas on how to give your child an academic head-start. 

My favorite part about the eBook is something called action steps. These are clearly defined, practical, and easy to implement ideas, and examples perfect for any household. They really break Montessori down make it accessible for everyone. 

While all of this is amazing in and of itself, Montessori at Home! eBook and Printables Bundle doesn't stop there. The package includes an awesome array of printables created specifically for Montessori works by Montessori Print Shop -- one of my favorites for affordable Montessori materials. These printables range from literacy to geography, to matching and math. In total, there are 76 pages of printables! I'm already busy using geography cards from the bundle for my next project.


The absolute best part!? The price -- you get all of this and more for only $10.95! And as a special for The Kavanaugh Report readers, use this link to get $2 off! 

Now, giveaway time! 3 lucky readers will get their very own copy of the Montessori at Home! eBook and Printables Bundle! Follow the Rafflecopter directions for your chance to win! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


John Bowman is also the author of other titles including Help Your Preschooler Build a Better Brain: Early Learning Activities for 2-6 Year Old Children and Teach Your 3-7 Year Old Math.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

DIY Montessori Sound Object Box


Henry is very interested in the sounds each letter makes and what letter words start with. I've been encouraging this interest in variety of ways through our tot school trays, but I wanted another option for him. A sound object box was perfect since it combined small objects {another favorite for Henry} and letter sounds. 


The Montessori sound object box is a work where children can place small objects in the box that corresponds with the object's beginning sound. It could be one object or several depending on how many you have available. 

In my case, I found the box with 25 compartments at a thrift store for $4. So, I decided to DIY the project. It was super simple! I just used acrylic paint to paint each letter into its compartment. Since X doesn't technically have its own beginning sound, I decided it would be alright for it to share with Y. {And, yes I realized with these pictures that U was painted the wrong color -- have to fix that!}


As far as the objects go, I'm still in the process of collecting everything we need. I know they sell pre-made kits of objects but they are really pricey. Any tips on where to get little objects? I'm just looking at garage sales, thrift stores, etc. But, if you have a good small object location -- let me know! Right now I have a pig, a horse, a goat, and a wolf. Until we complete the set, I'm using wooden coins from Bumblefly~N~Butterbees which are working great. 


To hang the sound object box, I used 3M picture hanging strips. These strips are designed for objects to be taken off and put on more than once. So, it allows the children to take the box off the wall to work, then place it back when they are done. I'm hoping they hold up long term, but we'll have to see. 

So far it has been a huge hit with Henry and several of the co-op kids. I think once we get more objects, it will become an even more popular work in the classroom. Anyone else have success with a sound object box?


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Saturday, May 24, 2014

36 Weeks!

I've made it to the last month! There's less than a month until my due date. This is all crazy to me. Morgan and I started trying for this baby 2.5 years ago, and to think that Nora could be here in a matter of weeks is mind-blowing. I'm starting to get impatient with the anticipation while at the same time being completely afraid of our lack of preparation.


I know people are thinking she is going to come early after ending up in the hospital twice with contractions, but I honestly think she's going to be late. I think we may have a little drama queen on our hands. 

Since our second trip to L&D, I've actually been feeling OK. I've only had a few hard contractions and that's about it. I am feeling slow and tired all the time. But that's not shocking since between bathroom trips and heartburn, I'm barely sleeping. And completely out of breath. I don't think Nora has dropped at all yet because I still feel like she is sitting on my lungs. {Although, now that I look at the picture, I'm clearly way lower now than I was with Henry.} 


Over the last few weeks, I've developed technicolored-flashers in both my eyes. Its like the normal black floaters just a little bigger and made of colorful light. My blood pressure was a concern when they first started, but turns out that my BP is super low, and a trip to the eye doctor did not reveal anything either. So, the doctors have concluded that its either optic migraines (without pain), or something to do with blood pressure or blood sugar problems. At this point, the doctor recommends having the baby and seeing if  they go away. 

Nora seems to be doing great. Shes so super active that kicks literally take my breath away. Her heartbeat was hovering in the 150's while we were in the hospital. At my last appointment, the doctor was pretty sure she was head down. Although, the doctor is still predicting that she will be on the smaller side {I was only measuring 32 weeks at 34.5}. 

I'm hoping Nora holds on for one more week and makes it to full term. Then, she's welcome anytime! Although, I hope she's not expecting a fully prepared nursery or anything, cause I've totally given up on that being done! 

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Letter K Tot School Trays

Letter K week was our last week in our old tot school room. It felt great to finally be done in that space and move up to bigger and better things!

Our first tray was a key matching tray. We did very similar work last time we did the letter K too. It was still a hit with Henry although he is definitely moving past simple matching.

The second tray was a word matching work. Here Henry was supposed to find the word that matched the K object pictured. This is much more of a challenge for him because he likes to just look at the first letter of each word -- which isn't much help if they all start with K. Once he found the word, he could clip one of the bears (including a koala) to the correct match. 

The third tray was a sort of hide-and-seek sheet with a bunch of random letters on it. If the children placed the beads on only the letter K then they would make a surprise -- a capital K. This was a big hit with several of the children and I think I'll be doing this more frequently! 


Other things we did this week included:

Kitchen Utensil 3-part cards:


Make-your-own kitchen:


Sandpaper Letter/Salt Tray:


Letter K sensory bin:


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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Labor and Delivery Part 2

After our initial scare, I was really hoping to avoid another trip to Labor and Delivery with this pregnancy. However, Nora seems determined to make her presence known and we spent the nicest day of the year in a windowless hospital room. 

I woke up feeling a little sick and tired but that seems to be my normal right now so I didn't think much of it. I will also fully admit that I was a little extra crabby too. Henry and I had some things to get at Target that morning, so we were just running errands. I noticed a few contractions that morning but I've been getting Braxton Hicks more frequently lately and wasn't concerned. 


When we got home, right around 10:45, however, I noticed a big change. The contractions were suddenly much more painful and coming really regularly. I tried all the "tricks" to get them to stop -- tons of water, ate some food, laid down, etc. Nothing worked to slow them. By 1:00 p.m. I was on the phone with my OB and by 2:00 p.m. we were on the way to L&D. 

Thankfully we got to go to our regular hospital, where I quickly learned they won't do anything to stop labor if it starts after 35 weeks. So, I was strapped up to monitors to make sure Nora was alright and take a look at the contractions. They also checked my cervix and we learned I'm a "finger-tip" dilated {so under 1cm} which isn't a problem at this point. The contractions were coming every 5 or so minutes but never got worse or closer together. Nora looked great and moved like a mad-woman the whole time. After a few hours on the monitors, they checked me again and my cervix hadn't changed. Therefore, I was discharged. 



The unfortunate part was that I was still having decent contractions every 5 minutes. But since they weren't changing my cervix, they were just considered really consistent Braxton Hicks. The doctors suggested a hot bath, Tylenol and a sleeping pill if I couldn't rest. 

Once we finally got home around 6:15, the contractions seemed to pick up again. I took Tylenol and a bath without a ton of relief. Finally around 10:00 p.m. they tapered off enough for me to sleep. I had a few wake me in the night, but I was so exhausted that they didn't keep me from sleeping. 

I really hope they are stopped now, at least for the next 10 days. Contractions without the baby -- total suckage. 

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Montessori at Home -- How to Start

When I first started to learn about Montessori, I was completely overwhelmed. I wasn't sure where to start or how I could incorporate Montessori ideas into my home. For a time, I stalked blogs without making changes just because I really had no idea where to start. 

Then, one day I bit the bullet with a shelf in our sunroom. It had been filled with bins of toys. I cleared away the bins, picked a few toys and placed them on the self. We've never looked back. 


This isn't necessarily how I would set up a shelf today, but it was a very important first step. Seeing it in action gave me the motivation and the courage to spread Montessori ideas throughout our house. 

I know there are those of you who would love to incorporate Montessori  ideas into your home. But, I also know how absolutely overwhelming it can be. Baskets, shelves, wood, glass, toys?!? There are so many questions about what is necessary and what is not. So, where can you start? 


Here are my suggestions: 

1. Start Small! Just like I did, start with one area of your house. For me, a play shelf or room is a great place. Clear the space of clutter, keep out a few things and put them into a designated space. Don't feel pressured to change every room in your house at once or even an entire room at once. Any change is a great first step.

2. Use what you have! I know some Montessori purists would disagree with me, but I don't think you need to go out and buy a bunch of traditional Montessori work, or special shelves, or trays. If you have baskets/trays/work -- great, use them! 

If not, keep your eyes open. Thrift stores, craft stores, Craigslist and other places have affordable options. Baskets/trays are great for separating activities. Glass dishes are perfect for practical life activities or for daily use. But, it doesn't all have to happen at once. 

3. Get on your child's level! When you've started changing your space, make sure it works for a child. Is something too heavy? Too high? Too scattered? 

Don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees and check out the changes from your child's perspective. You may notice that things need to be adjusted. I find this  is especially true when planning where to hang decorations, and choosing the type of tray for a particular work.

4. Make it practical. Need some inspiration? Practical life activities such as pouring, scooping, transferring, lacing, cleaning, or getting dressed are great places to start. Young children are naturally drawn to these types of activities. Plus, they are easy to pull together with common household items. Two small bowls, a spoon, and a handful of rice can be awesome place to start, without much cost or effort.


And some helpful things to remember: 

Natural materials are preferred. If you have the choice between a natural material {wood, fabric, glass, metal} choose that over plastic. 

A tray or basket can help focus a young child. Ditch the bins with masses of toys, shoot for one basket/bin/tray per toy/activity/work. 

Less is more. You don't need 500 toy options out at once. I promise. Instead, pick a few and rotate, rotate, rotate. {But I fully admit that I still struggle with this one}


I hope this helps you take the plunge into incorporating Montessori principals into your home. Anyone recently made a change or thinking about it?! Any questions for me? 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

35/35!

I can't believe we are at this point! 35 weeks pregnant -- 35 days until my due date. That feels really really soon. It also means we need to get our butts in baby-preparation gear. 

I was just reading over the post I wrote for 35/35 with Henry and I was struck by how prepared we were. His nursery was almost completely done. I was just finishing up preparations. I seemed relaxed.


This time, well. We finally moved tot school out of the nursery space and into its {for real this time} permanent home. I bough a rug for the baby. I've washed a few things. But, yeah. We have a long way to go. And, I have a feeling we will never quite be at the point that we were for Henry.


Instead of nice nursery pictures -- enjoy some random bathroom selfies and the mess that is the nursery.

But, hey, we still have 35 or so days to go. And some seriously strong nesting urges...so, you never know what can be accomplished. 

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maternity Pictures

On Mother's Day, Morgan and I did a little DIY maternity shoot. We sufficiently bribed an otherwise really crabby Henry and I think we did a decent job! Morgan got me a tripod and camera remote for my birthday and they worked wonderfully to capture some family shots. 


I have to stop myself from sharing all 200+ pictures we took, because I seriously love them all. We never really took nice maternity pictures with Henry, and I'm so glad we took the time to do it this time. Set up was easy, just a blank wall and some cute outfits. Pinterest was a big help in deciding the pictures we wanted to take.


Seriously, I love them all! And, I can't wait for Nora's arrival! 

{Also, I apologize for the generous use of watermarks in these photos. I recently found out that some of my pregnancy-related pictures were being stolen and passed off as someone else's. So, watermarks on these pics it is. Sad that some creepers have to ruin it for the rest of us.}

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