Guest Post: The Appeal of Montessori Parenting

If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t blogged much recently because I’ve been busy settling into the routine of having two little ones – not to mention all the company we’ve had here too recently! But never fear, today I bring you a guest post from my friend Emily to fill the time while I’m away-ish.

Emily is married to Paul and together they have a 7 and a half month old daughter Ariane (it’s German – you pronounce it ah-ree-AH-nuh in case you were wondering). I’m somewhat crunchy and Emily is too – she’s a breastfeeding, baby led weaning, cloth diapering, babywearing mom. She’s also a little bit nerdy like me – she’s a Whovian who loves science, superheroes, science fiction, and pie! I hope you enjoy hearing from her today as she talks a little bit about her discovery of Montessori methods and why she finds them so appealing.

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Montessori! Most people hear that and think, ‘Oh, that’s that lovey dovey type of school where kids get to learn whatever they want.’ Right? Wrong, actually. And I’m sure you know deep down, even if you’ve thought that statement at one point or another, that there has to be something to this Montessori thing. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many schools, teachers, and – most importantly – children that attend the schools and learn from the teachers.

My educational background is as a teacher, and when we went over the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori in class I was really drawn to it. At the time I was involved in student teaching at an inner city Milwaukee Parental Choice school, so I put my interest In Montessori on the back burner. Until a Montessori school moved in down the street from me. I was reminded of how drawn to the philosophy I was, and I wondered what it would be like to teach there.

Not long after this I became pregnant with Ariane, and my teaching career took a different direction. I was due with her in March, which makes for an awkward interview conversation as a December graduate…so I decided not to get a teaching job right away, and stuck with my hardware store job until the next school year began.

It was at this time that I decided to become a nanny. I wanted to be able to care for my daughter as much as possible, and as a nanny I could bring her with me to the homes of the families I work for. Here’s where my story starts getting to the point. So if you hadn’t been paying much attention before, here’s your cue!!

Start paying attention here! :)

A week or two ago, I discovered something amazing. Montessori parenting. If you’ve come across this idea before, awesome for you! Hope you take some useful things from it! If you have never heard of it at all, that’s fine too. I mean, I spent 24 years of my life not knowing about it, and people have been using it for about a century!

Now, I understand that this method may not be for all people, and that’s totally fine. All people parent differently, and all kids need different styles of parenting. But for me, I feel like this is the way I want to raise my kids. It just seems so intuitive and appropriate to me. I love it!

Here’s what I love about it:

  •  The emphasis is on the child learning to interact with his or her surroundings in a way natural to them.
  • As a mom with an educator’s background, I know that I can use the same practices at home that I can find at a school and my kids will have the same expectations in both places.
  • I can pick and choose what I love about this philosophy and blend it with other philosophies if I so choose, in order to best parent my children.
  • It encourages independence and curiosity among young children, while helping them learn practical life skills.
  • I can trust that my children will have a solid foundation of experiences and knowledge once they reach school age, so they won’t have to play catch up to meet expectations.

There are more things I love about Montessori, but they all relate to these five in some way or another.

Another thing: I think that as a parent it’s important to do what’s best for the child as far as the style of parenting goes. That’s why I plan on blending what I love about Montessori with what I love about other styles like Love and Logic, for example, in order to create the best possible atmosphere for my daughter and future children to grow up in.

I’ve also used a lot of blogs and other resources to gather as much information as possible on the Montessori philosophy. Some of my favorites and the ones that are most informative I have included links to below!

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to writing more!! Who knows, maybe I’ll make some videos!

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Thanks Emily! Feel free to leave any questions or comments for Emily below :)

Allen’s Birth Story

FYI, you’re about to read a real birth story ahead. If you prefer not to know details, you should just click away now and go read something different, this may be more than you want to know about me. Oh and if you want to read a comparison, here is Dominic’s birth story. I’m going to use initials like last time, so hopefully you can follow, and hopefully everything makes sense. I was in labor for a long time and I don’t always quite remember what happened exactly when, but I am doing my best to tell a cohesive story haha. Labor has some weird wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff going on.

It all starts on Friday morning, October 17th. I had been having contractions on and off since Wednesday of the previous week, but no this is it type contractions. Well Friday morning things were a bit different. I had a few intense contractions and I was starting to get irritated with Dominic coming in and out of the room I was in. I texted my friend B, one of the few people who knew the real due date (October 22nd, if anyone is wondering now) that I was having a few more intense contractions, but I wasn’t sure yet whether or not they would go anywhere. I didn’t want to get my hopes up. After a little while, I texted Nick and he told me to call A, my midwife, and see what she said. I called her and she was in the middle of giving blood so she told me to call L, one of the other midwives, and talk to her. L said if I was feeling uncomfortable that I should come in. So I called Nick and told him that and he got ready to come home from work. Then I called R, my doula, and let her know. Then Nick called me back and stayed on the phone with me while he was driving home because I was freaking out a bit and he was working his hardest to keep me calm. I was feeling anxious and a bit scared. It seemed like it was taking forever for Nick to get home, but eventually he got there. He helped get our things together and get Dominic into the car and then we headed to the birth center.

Being measured, weighed, etc

Being measured, weighed, etc

I didn’t know yet if this was going to be the real deal or not, so we were taking Dominic with us until we knew. Nick would tell me in the car I was doing a great job and then Dominic would tell me too. When we got to the birth center, midwife B was there and we went to midwife A’s office/space (I guess you want to call it? I don’t know what to call it lol) and she checked me for dilation. I knew I was scared of being sent home again like I had been with Dominic, but I didn’t realize until that moment just how scared I was of that happening again. Midwife B checked me and assessed that I was probably a 6 and I asked her if that meant that I was staying and she told me I was staying and I remember crying, which felt weird, but I was just so relieved and my emotions were so crazy at that point in time. Nick went to go call a few people to try to find someone for Dominic to go with and it was about this time that my doula, R, showed up. S, the doula in training, would show up a little while later. After Nick found a friend of ours to come get Dominic, we moved down to Serenity, which was the birthing suite I wanted, partially because of the big tub and partially because of the name Serenity.

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Once we were down there I got in the tub pretty quick and labored in there for a while. The tub helped make the contractions more bearable. Now, I will say, it is going to be impossible to list all the possible ways that I labored during birth in the writing of this birth story when they happened, because I labored in a lot of different ways. I don’t even know if I remember them all, but through the course of the day and night I labored in the tub, in the shower, on the birth ball, on my hands and knees, on my hands and knees with the birth ball in the shower and on the bed, laying on my side on the bed, walking the halls of the birth center in the middle of night, and I am not even sure that is all of them. I’ll try to add in the ones I remember where I remember them. So anyways, I labored in the tub for a while in the beginning and this was hard but not unbearable. I still felt pretty okay between contractions and I felt like I could handle them. I kept asking about Dominic, because I needed to know he was okay, and I kept asking if I was staying and having this baby, because like I said, I had not realized until that day just how afraid I was of being sent home again.

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At some point I was checked for dilation. I can’t remember this time if I asked for it wanting to know or if they suggested it might be a good idea, I don’t remember. I had been laboring for a while and I know I wanted to see if I was making progress. Midwife B had me at about the same dilation as I was before, but she wanted midwife A to check me. When midwife A checked me, she figured I was probably about a 4-5, which was less than what midwife B had thought, even initially. They explained to me that it can vary based on who is checking you and midwife A asked me when the last time I had pooped was and I had said Tuesday (the joys of pregnancy constipation). I guess she could tell that it might have been a while when she was in there checking me for dilation. She said this might be slowing my progress. They told me what to do was up to me, but they gave me a couple of options. I could see if I could get things moving on my own, I could opt for an enema, or I could do nothing. I definitely did not want an enema so I decided to try to see if I could move things on my own so I went and labored in the bathroom for a while, which is definitely not my preferred place to labor, but I was able to make some progress and I didn’t need an enema so hooray for that! I remember after this check too asking if I was still staying and they reassured me that yes I was and not to be discouraged. I am not going to lie, it was a little hard not to be discouraged, but I knew that I trusted my midwives and that one way or another, I was going to do this.

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I labored for a while and then eventually I was checked again. I had made more progress, a solid 5 this time. Midwife A could feel that Allen was a little posterior, which also might be slowing my progress, so she suggested a couple of ways to labor that might help him get in more optimal position. One she suggested was hands and knees, which I had done for a bit before, but that seemed to be pretty hard on my back and I could only be that way for a few contractions before my legs would get really shaky and I would have to stop because I would feel like my legs were not going to be able to support me. The other one she suggested was three-quarters position, which I had never heard of, and it would be hard to describe, but I was laboring laying on my side with one leg straight and the other leg bent and pulled up towards my belly and one arm straight behind my head. That’s the best I can describe it and I actually don’t even know if I could show you if you were right here with me. They helped me get into that position and I labored that way for a while, first on one side and then on the other side.

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The next two dilation checks I made steady progress. The next one was six and the one after that was seven. I wanted to be making more progress than that, but I tried to be patient with the pace my body was working at. My midwives were so helpful during this process, coming in and suggesting I do certain things (like walk) to help labor along, but not ever pushing me to do something, just always being there and being encouraging. I don’t remember what all happened when, so here are some things I do remember from that evening.

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I remember saying one of the times that I was in the tub that I felt like a pregnant mermaid and this led to a whole discussion on how mermaids reproduced with Nick and my doulas between contractions. It helped distract me from what was going on.

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I remember throwing up while I was in the tub and hating it, but also having the reassurance of knowing that throwing up in labor is usually a good sign that you are making progress.

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I remember walking the halls with Nick, stopping with every contraction to brace myself against him and try to get through them. In between contractions I would repeat to myself with Nick reassuring me things like, “This baby wants to be born” and “This baby is going to be born” and “I am the only one who can help this baby be born” and “We are a team, we are going to do this together.” My doulas were standing at the corner by our room (Nick and I were walking in a big circle, well technically rectangle) and every time we passed them I would stop for a water pit stop and drink some more (staying hydrated during labor is very important).

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I remember being in the tub with Nick and leaning back into him and using him as a support and I could get some rest that way in between contractions.

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I think sometime after 7 is when it got hard. It’s hard to say, because I don’t exactly remember. Not that it hadn’t been hard before this, but it just got to the point where the hardness became so intense that I began to feel like I couldn’t do it. I was having horrible back pain with every contraction and while Nick told me I had this with Dominic too, I honestly don’t remember having any with Dominic. My doulas and Nick and the midwives were all very reassuring that I could do this, even as I told them that I couldn’t do this, that I wanted them to let me transfer so I could have the drugs, so they could just cut Allen out of me. This is not what I really wanted, but I was beginning to hit that point in labor where I was scared and where I felt like I couldn’t do it and I was starting to panic. I know I hit this point at some point with Dominic too. But to their credit, everyone around me stayed calm and was nothing but encouraging which is exactly what I needed.

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At some point, I got out of the tub. I think it was suggested that I should walk around or try laboring in the shower for a bit. I was so tired though, I ended up laying on the bed though, just to try to get some rest. It’s already Saturday morning at this point, and so not only have I been up a long time, but I’ve been working through these contractions for a long time at this point already. Labor is exhausting. Laying on my side I was able to doze off in between contractions a bit, but after every contraction I would feel like I was about to throw up. But midwife B had put some cinnamon essential oil in the bottom of the puke bowl and smelling that would really take the nausea away thankfully.

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I think after a little while this is when midwife B came in. I had eaten some granola bars earlier but that was before I had thrown up and I had been more nauseous than hungry since that point. So I had the option of peanut butter or honey on a spoon, for some energy and strength. I picked peanut butter. After eating that, we talked a bit about whether I should be checked again or what I wanted to do and I decided to get back in the shower again. I labored for a bit in the shower and then when I was ready to get out, I decided I would be checked now. I was bracing myself for the fact that I might have gone only one centimeter more, but to my awesome surprise, midwife A said I was almost complete, I just had a little bit of cervix left. She wanted to see what would happen if I pushed for one contraction, if it would go away and so I pushed during one contraction on my hands and knees and she was right, that worked. I decided I couldn’t be on my hands and knees though, holy back pain at that point, even when I wasn’t contracting. Somebody suggested side lying and that was much better. Now it was weird because I had felt pushy on and off all labor, but I hadn’t felt a strong urge to push when I was actually complete, but I knew it was the right thing because it felt so good (okay, good is not the right word maybe – it felt so right to be pushing) and once I started I didn’t want to stop. With one of my first pushes, side lying, my water broke in an epic way, going everywhere. After that I threw up a couple of times, which midwife A told Nick to help me hold my leg up when I was doing that because the same muscles you use for throwing up actually help move the baby down. At some point I said someone is poking me and they told me, “No, that’s your baby.” And in my head I was like “What?!?” I do not know how many times I pushed, but all of that that I just described as happening during pushing was very quick, because I pushed him out in less than 5 minutes and then he came immediately to my chest for skin to skin. I remember thinking while I was pushing that he was coming out so fast that I was sure I was going to tear but at that point I didn’t care, I was SO ready for him to be born. (To my surprise though, no tears!)

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So that’s my story. So it’s long and jumbly and doesn’t flow the best. It’s what I remember and how I experienced it. Special thanks to Nick and my doulas and my midwives, who were all such an amazing support team for me, who did nothing but encourage mr and believe in me the whole time. I am truly grateful for all of them and as much as laboring was something I did, I would not have wanted to do it without the support I received from all of them because it made such a difference.

Minion Hats

Okay, so I am supposed to be resting but if you know me, my brain is never resting! At least blogging is something that I can do sitting in the recliner so I feel better about that. I took some time off (not really and not long) surrounding the birth of Allen, but I’m going to try to come back and do some more blogging because I really do enjoy it and it really is an outlet for me. And actually, Allen is sleeping on my chest while I write this. I call that multi-tasking ;)

Disclosure: I received this minion set for free in exchange for blogging about it. Regardless, you know I’m only ever going to give you my honest opinions. 

So I will say this first off the bat. These are not the best pictures in the world. I took some and Nick took some and we did our best, but it’s not about the pictures, it’s about the awesome hats and overalls from Crochet Crazy! So check them out.

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The first thing about these hats and the little overalls Allen was wearing is that you can tell that they are super high quality. They are handmade and you can tell that there was love and care put into them when they were made. The colors are vibrant and you instantly know what they are supposed to be – they are clearly recognizable.

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They are durable but also soft. I didn’t have to worry that I was going to be putting something rough and scratchy on my just a little more than a week old baby.

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The fit was excellent – no problems fitting Dominic or Allen, snug but not tight and I predict they’ll get a lot of wear out of this.

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Dominic loves his and it’s something I can see us using all winter for a hat, not just during Halloween. He was so excited to be a minion!

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Meagan, owner of Crochet Crazy, is great to work with too. She is open to custom orders and is super friendly on top of that! She’s a mom, like me, which makes me feel good about supporting her! Small business owners put a lot of time and energy into their work and Meagan is no exception. You won’t be disappointed in ordering from her.

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Speaking of ordering, if you want to check her out, you can find her on Facebook or on Etsy. If you don’t see something you like, definitely contact her and see if you can work out a custom order! I know that she’d be happy to work with you as best she can.
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Seriously, for high quality, handmade items, they will not leave you disappointed. I give two thumbs up. :)

 

 

Conversations with Dominic

Thought I would have some conversations with Dominic about these pictures of him. The questions I asked him are in italics and the rest is him. I know he’s only 2, so it’s pretty basic, but I hope to keep doing something like this as he grows older.
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What do you see in this picture?

That’s Dominic picture!

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What do you see in this picture?

Dominic and mommy!

What are we doing?

Taking pictures of ourself!

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What do you see in this picture?

He eating!

Is that you?

*nods*

What are you eating? 

What is he eating?

Is it a cantaloupe?

He eating a cantaloupe!

Do you like cantaloupe?

Yeah!!

Why do you like cantaloupe?

I do like cantaloupe!

 

30 Day Blogging Round-up

So what’s been happening around my blog and the blogging world lately in the past 30 days?

Most Popular Post in the Last 30 Days

Parenting: Acrostic Poem

Three Must Reads I Spotted in the Last 30 Days

October – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

10 Reasons to Read to Your Child

Dear Parents, You Are Awesome!

Blog to Check Out

Hypable This is the site for you if you are a fan of just about anything. They bring you the latest news on all the major fandoms out there. Doctor Who, Harry Potter,  The Walking Dead, Percy Jackson, and more.

 

101 in 1001: Go Camping

So I did actually go camping, but it was about a month ago. Nevertheless, I did not get around to blogging about it, so as it is part of the 101 in 1001 I set out to do, since it was number 7 on my list, I am blogging about it.

Every year when I was little, my mom’s side of the family used to get together and go camping. As we got older, it got harder to coordinate everyone’s schedules in the summer, so it kind of fell by the wayside. My aunt and I were talking, for the past couple of summers, about getting it together again. Well, this summer, we finally were able to get something together.

Over Labor Day weekend, we went to Kickapoo State Park in Illinois. It was a lot of fun, but it was also pretty exhausting for me being pregnant and all. And it was pretty hot that weekend that we were there. It sort of threatened rain all weekend and would rain for little bits of time sporadically and then be done. Which is great because it could have rained a lot more, but it feels like it might have cooled off a bit more if it had rained for longer.

Dominic had such a blast though, so I’m glad we went. He had so much fun and it was great to see him playing with the other kids. It was his first time camping and hopefully it’s not his last. I also have to thank my mom because she was a big help with Dominic, since Nick couldn’t go with us.

Because of being pretty much away from technology, I didn’t take a lot of pictures. I did however get a few of Dominic enjoying his first s’more. They aren’t great quality because it was dark and he was sitting on the back of the SUV, but I wanted to capture that moment since he had never a s’more before.

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Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge: Afghanistan

So I officially begin the Travel the World in Books Reading Challenge I started for myself by reading a book about Afghanistan.

Because I recognize that not everyone is familiar with every place, I will start my posts with just a (very) brief snippet about the country.

Afghanistan is a country in Asia with a population of roughly 31,822,848. Their government is an Islamic Republic and the capital is Kabul. This is obviously a very brief snippet, but I will fill in more details as I talk about the book.

Facts and map from the CIA World Factbook: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html

The book that I chose to read was The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert.

This was a remarkable book in so many ways. I think that my generation especially has lacked some of the history and the background of the situation in Afghanistan. When we think of the war in Afghanistan, we think of the most recent one. But it is a country that has been marked, in some ways, in the more recent past, with war. Before the war in Afghanistan which marked my high school and college years, before I was even born, there was the Soviet invasion into Afghanistan, just one of the many effects of the Cold War felt around the world. I don’t know the history well enough to know the full story – and I hope to study it someday – but I do feel confident enough in saying that this war had a profound effect on the people living there, as war almost always does.

The book didn’t focus on the war so much as it focused on the work of Doctors Without Borders there in Afghanistan. The story is told from the perspective of a photographer, embedded with Doctors Without Borders, with the purpose of documenting one of their missions there. It is a very unique book in that the story is told in a combination of graphic novel drawings and depictions along with the photographs that photographer took. It is a true story, but this is a rare format for a non-fiction story to be told in, but I think it makes for a very compelling format. The pictures are certainly compelling and they bring you the face of a country affected by war, a very beautiful country.

In reading this book, you truly are able to gain an appreciation for foreign aid workers from NGOs in various countries around the world. I have known that the work they do is not easy, not easy by far, but reading this book, you really see the lengths they go to just to help people. In the case of this story, they had to enter the country illegally. They had to hike through mountains for weeks with donkeys and horses to get to their destinations. They had avoid the main roads which had Russian checkpoints and at the same time, these hikes through the mountains were dangerous because at certain points they faced the possibility of being bombed by the Russians. And those just scratch the surface at the difficulties. All this not for profit or for their own personal gain, but because they believe in helping people who no one else is willing or able to help. These people, these real life heroes, are remarkable and you get to see their stories play out.

I highly recommend this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it told a very compelling story. If you are not so sure on non-fiction either, the format will definitely help propel you along. The pictures are stunning and the story is moving. It’s a subject I feel we often hear little about but it can definitely open your eyes to what aid workers are risking.

100 Must Eat American Foods Challenge: Eggs Benedict

As you may remember, I am working on this list of 100 Must-Eat American Foods. For various reasons that would take a lot of space up to write (haha), I am skipping over a bunch of the ones I haven’t done. Most have to do with cost and/or ability to easily procure them in the state of Wisconsin. But, thanks to Sarah, who commented on my last food challenge post, I learned that there was a Hollandaise sauce mix I could buy, since making my own seemed completely intimidating in every set of directions I looked at. Especially for something I had never tried and didn’t even know if I would like.

Apart from the egg poaching and the Hollandaise sauce, the recipe is pretty simple. English muffin + Canadian bacon + poached egg + Hollandaise sauce. And if you’re like me, you can even cheat. You can use a Hollandaise sauce mix (cheat number one) and you can poach your egg in the microwave (cheat number two). But, if you are poaching your egg in the microwave, you need to really watch the time and check it very frequently. Or you will end up like me and blow up your egg. But don’t worry, I only lost one egg in this process, the next one came out better.

So then I toasted my English muffin, quickly friend my Canadian bacon which I slid on top of that, added the poached egg and then poured the Hollandaise sauce on top of it all.

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I have to tell you, I really loved this. It makes me sad I’ve never tried it before. Especially with my cheats, it was not difficult. Now I am sure, doing it the non-cheating way, it would be a lot harder because poaching eggs on the stove top does not seem like it would be the easiest. Even though I googled and watched videos and asked for tips, it just seemed like it would be very easy to screw up. If you haven’t gathered by now, I’m not very confident in the kitchen, especially when it comes to new things, especially when both the technique and the result are new to me (I had never eaten a poached egg before). But I loved this and I would totally eat it again, only next time I need to get fresher English muffins because mine was a little stale. But it was still good. Also, I discovered I love poached eggs. I ate this Eggs Benedict yesterday and for lunch today I had two pieces of toast with peanut butter and honey and a poached egg. And actually, eating another poached egg sounds good right about now, so I might make myself another one lol.

So there’s another food checked off my list! Stay tuned to see what’s next.

James Bond Movie Challenge: From Russia With Love

Okay, so I’ve been working my way through this list of James Bond movies and the most recent one that I watched was From Russia with Love.

And I have to say, if I hadn’t committed to doing this, I am not 100 percent sure I would continue. I mean, I am having a hard time understanding why people like James Bond so much. But it’s obviously a very popular franchise since they keep making new movies (then again, Twilight is a popular franchise too, so maybe I shouldn’t question it lol).

Anyways, I find these movies kind of boring. After you’ve watched one, you almost have sort of watched them all – at least the older ones. They seem to follow a very similar plot/the same things happen in all the movies. There will inevitably be someone who breaks into Bond’s hotel room. There will inevitably be some party/restaurant scene  where something big goes down. All the women will fall for Bond and I pretty much mean it. He is like schmoozing every woman he comes into contact with and it’s getting pretty old. And it almost always gets him in trouble too, so I really don’t know why he is so quick to be making out with some unusual woman and he never realizes it’s a trap until it’s way too late.

Also, I think he is probably the worst spy ever haha. He just seems to take no care in being discrete. I mean in this movie his hotel room was already bugged when he got in there. He uses James Bond wherever he goes. He’s not very hard to find or track or follow. Why do they keep sending him on these missions?!

Also, the credits for this movie were played over a belly dancer. Why? Just why?

I think the next one is a more modern one again, so hopefully I will like it better.

May Your Trails . . .

AbbeymountainsMade with PicMonkey. Photo background is a free stock photo from MorgueFile. I will also upload it to my Facebook page in case you want a way to share it easily.

 

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