I am a big big time organizer. You might not know if from looking at me, where my hair is hardly brushed and I have chalk on my shirt, but I am.
I thrive on lists. When all is crazy in the world, when I am having a bad day I list.
I list things to make me happy, a bucket list, a grocery list, clothes I want to eventually buy, art I want to collect, photos I want to take. I list just about everything.
Which leads me to this post. I also list cleaning things and I am going to share my nerdy, obsessive organizing with you. Instead of having one big, draining terrible cleaning day once a month (or couple of years, like my Dad - love you Dad!), I do a handful of things a week. It's easy and it gives me some structure to this toddler craziness I call life. Some things almost never happen (vacuuming the upstairs) and some things I am really good at (vacuuming the downstairs), but it reminds me to do the crazy things that I would otherwise forget about until a big dust clump fell on my head and I walked around with it all day (cleaning the ceiling fan, and it has happened).
Then we had a big, soapy bath and got all fresh and clean.
John's filmie-nerdy video of egg dyeing:
And my, much more traditional video of egg dyeing:
Liam's first Easter basket.
Yes, that's a little monkey. Inside the eggs were (get this ->) organic, vegan gummy bears. They were actually awesome! Liam ate them all for breakfast, practically in one handful. And there it it, Liam's first milk chocolate. He didn't like it. Not one teeny tiny bit.
I've gotten a lot of questions about the choice to switch to a big boy bed so early.
Q: "Why would you do that? I want to keep so and so in their bed until they're five!"
A: I feel that this switch is an important one for many reasons. This is a switch that is best done earlier one. Like weaning off the bottle, you want to do it before they become attached.
I believe in Montessori philosophy. For those of you that know me well, you know this is a Pandora's box that, once opened, is hard to close. I could seriously talk for hours on the beauty of Montessori education, but that is for another post, my friends.
In Montessori education, the most important thing to keep in mind when working with children is that you always teach the child a way so that they can become more independent and less dependent, more confident in their own actions, more trusting in their own world. In each step, you think to yourself, "Am I doing something in this action that my child could be doing for themselves? Am I taking a step (or learning process) away from them?" By giving them this freedom, you are giving them wings. You are granting them the power to learn and proceed as they wish in the world.
A very important thing in this philosophy is providing the best learning environment for them. This means providing small tables and chairs so that they can climb into them easily, storing toys and materials at their level so they can reach it as they wish, keeping stools around the house so they can stand higher and reach the sink to wash their hands by themselves. It's looking at the world around you and thinking about how they can access it. Adults often say that children can't do certain things. Or they underestimate them - if you leave the stool in the bathroom, they will make a mess. Or worse, they will do it wrong. This attitude effects children. Think about it, if you had to ask someone to get something for you every time you wanted it, wouldn't you feel defeated like you couldn't do it? If they make a mess, teach them to clean it up. Guide them to do it right. Give them wings.
(See what I mean, Pandora's box.)
In the child's bedroom, it is essential that you provide this environment for them. Here's where the bed on the floor comes in. You create a safe place for them, where the whole room is a secured and childproofed area. Consider it a big playpen. You put the bed on the floor and it allows him to get up and move freely as he wants to. He may wake up at three in the morning, he may play for a little bit, and he may fall asleep on the floor. I am okay with this. (It is spring here and okay to go without blankets) I know that if he wakes up, he will learn quickly that the bed is more comfortable and that he will find his way back to it. I know that he is in a safe place. I know that by giving him the freedom of his movements, he will gain trust in his own actions and he will possibly learn faster.
This environment also comes into play when designing the child's room. Many nurseries and child's room these days reflect the taste of the parents. Even if the parent is thinking of the child when purchasing Winnie the Pooh wall decals, it usually serves as a distraction to the young child's sleeping needs. It's important to keep the room simple, quiet, and peaceful. A chair for rocking, a mattress, a small shelf with a few board books, and a mobile is all the child really needs in the room. (And not even all of that.) When decorating the room, think about what the baby could be doing when they wake up. If the room is filled with toys, especially loud toys, they will wake up and be stimulated with loud music and have trouble getting back to sleep. If there are pictures on the wall, hang them low to the ground and secure them well so the small toddler can see them and get to know the pictures. Rotate the pictures occasionally so that they can learn more. If there are shelves, have them low. If there is a lamp, don't make it a floor lamp or you're asking for trouble. Think about the child. Think about their needs. By giving them the bed on the floor, you are allowing them the freedom to learn faster. The freedom to learn at their own pace.
And that is why I love Montessori. It gives kids wings. It gives them the freedom to learn and to grow.
I received a lot of faces when saying that I was going to make the switch so young. Most were respectful, wondering why. But I got some of the "Mom faces" where the forehead scrunches down, eyebrows up, and mouth in a scrunched up disapproval. This is usually followed by the question asked above. I don't want to get into my long answer above, so I just say that Liam is a climber (which is true) and that we don't want him falling (which is also true). It's hard to explain something that is different without sounding condescending, without making them feel small. I don't feel like I am right all the time. I don't feel like I have all the answers. I sure as hell know I don't in fact. And I sure as hell don't know what is best for their family or their child. There is so much crap and so much guilt that comes from being a parent. We are always disagreeing with each other, looking down at each others decisions. It is so hard being a parent, and there are so many pressures and things to worry about. Is little Sarah teething or does she have an ear infection again? Should we do antibiotics? Should we do herbal remedies? Does she need tubes? What about those pedophiles? Last time I check we didn't have any too close to our neighborhood, but I should really check again? And where are my damn keys? My personal problems are finding that balance between guiding Liam and intruding on his learning, letting him learn from his own actions and letting him go too far, and choosing my battles and staying consistent on them.
My point is, we all have our issues. We all have our guilt and our pressures. We all understand this. You are not wrong and I am not wrong. We are all doing our best and we will all make mistakes. And if we don't put our kids in therapy for the thing we are doing to them now, we will put them in therapy for the things we do later. My point is, that we all love our children and that is the most important thing.
So the next time I receive the Mom face or get advice that I did not ask for and do not welcome, I will smile and nod. I will know that that person is doing their best and means well. And I will know that we will all be fine, toddler bed, crib, or mattress on the floor.
I've been so bad again. What, has it been three, four weeks? Ah well.
It has been an interesting time. First, let's talk the fun stuff -
Yes, it sticks to your fingers
AAANNND your chin, but only if you suck on it first.
It has been beautiful lately and we found a park that we absolutely love. If you think it's hard going to the park with one toddler, try three. It's mental suicide. Anxiety ridden toddler craziness.
But here, at this park, there are duck ducks that swim in wawa. There are slides, double swings (check that out!),
and a big field for kicking balls or running around. Plus, it's about a mile away, so Mommy works off the three cupcakes she had for breakfast.
This month we're really taken a turn for the super dangerous. I struggle with the battles that I choose. For instance, do I let him jump on the cushions on the floor? Yes. Do I let him jump on the chair and couch? I'm not sure. Do I let him hurl head first off the chair? Preferably no. Does it matter what I think? Not at all, because right after I shot this angelic picture of my boy, he did just that.
Here we are at one of the aforementioned parks, where I have heart attacks.
Liam absolutely SHRIEKS with joy when he is excited by something now. Here it is in action. I love the arms back and belly out to exclaim even louder.
Dangerous item at the park. I love guiding Liam on this one when it's just the two of us at the park. He is very good at figuring out how to move his arms and legs at the same time. I love it when he climbs up it, because when he is on the other side, looking down at it and thinking about hurling himself head first off of it, he has a recollection of it. You go up, not down. So far, so good. No hurling yet. (FINGERS CROSSED!)
Chalk is super crazy fun. So is eating it like it's a french fry.
Liam is still learning how to run. It's so cute watching him figure it out. He gets this fast, crazy awkward walk where his legs swing around.
We've been walking to a toddler gym on Tuesdays. It is a big gym with tubes, tricycles, mats, balls, and lots of kids running around. It's practically free and one of the many reasons why Madison is such a great place for kids. Here we are walking to the gym, and Liam and his little friend Sadie held hands the whole half an hour.
They have developed such a special relationship. They often play hide and go seek and chase all day. When we read stories on the couch together, they lay on each other and giggle. When I see their friendship, I feel so happy that I made this decision to have this daycare in our home. Yes, it's a "job". But it's a job where I can stay home with my boy and see all of his moments. It's a job where he can socialize, build friendships, and learn to share not one, but all of his toys. It's a job where I can be sure that he is eating well, learning well, and having fun. It's a job where I get paid, where I don't have three car seats so it's a little isolating sometimes, but I love it. I truly love it.
After nap one day, John gave Liam his ipod and headphone.
Get this boy some tables, and he's ready to dj.
Rock it, little man, rock it.
Here we are getting pancakes. Mmmm maple syrup. I think Liam would have eaten that tiger if we had covered it in enough syrup. Maybe he would have even eaten vegetables.
Again, one of the super MONSTER scary playgrounds that we tried out. This one is really special, with a deck out to the lake, a street with fast cars, and playground equipment that's fifteen feet tall.
But here we are looking cute -
Check out that super curl.
Liam loves to kiss the "baby".
He actually says "weeee". It just kills me.
We got a new chalkboard from Ikea. Love Ikea. Here we can experiment with eating chalk like french fries indoors instead of out. This is also fun because we can decorate Daddy's pants with lines of pink chalk right before he leaves to teach. That's okay Liam, there were already ketchup stains on it. ;)
For the past few months, we've had a little playgroup with some friends. I don't even know why we bring out the bowls with this group. We should probably just throw the bag of crackers to them and see what happens.
And our biggest achievement of the month -
BIG BOY BED!
Inspired by the Montessori philosophy, I bought a twin mattress and put it right on the floor. It's okay if he gets up from his bed because I stripped his room to make it more like a big, safe playpen. The only things in the room now are his mattress, the bottom half of his dresser (it was a two piece antique hutch), and a few books. There are a few pajamas in his dresser and a cd player on top where we play bedtime music. I will add a small table and a few more books as time goes on, but I didn't want to distract him too much in the beginning. We transitioned Liam to bigger blankets and a regular pillow a few months ago and he did very well with it.
I put the bed in and the first day we just talked about it. We were very careful to be calm and quiet on the bed. This is not a place for jumping or being wild (that will come in the weeks, months, years to come, I know), but it's a place for reading, cuddling, and sleeping. Here we are getting used to it. The first day Liam and I cuddled and read books on the new bed. We pretended to sleep on it and put his monkeys to sleep. They all wake with a big GOOOD MOOOORNING!!!! and we put our arms in the air!
Despite this solid beginning, I was still a little nervous.
And then the first nap...
I spent the first forty five minutes of that nap sitting outside his door, reading a book and listening to him. He talked to his monkeys for a few minutes and got really quiet. When all was still for a very long time, I saw him. Crashed.
After that nap I thought that he would need more transition. I thought we would nap in the bed for a few days, sleep in the crib at night and then make the full transition. However, later that night I ran a few errands and came home later than expected. John really wanted to help and put Liam to bed... in his crib. With no transition. With no help. I was stunned for a minute, like, why did you DO that? He NEEDS this?!?! But Liam was asleep. He did it. And he has done it every nap and every bedtime since. No problems, no transitions, no big deal.
He did figure out that the pillow and covers are more comfortable. He prefers those to the middle of the bed now.
To close, here Liam is after a big blackberry snack in his stroller. Silly Mommy thought it would be a good idea to give the babies blackberries in a ziploc bag before going to the park. Silly Mommy. I didn't think that the berries (be-yees) would be so much FUN to SQUISH in the bag and THEN eat. But, good job on getting the eyebrow too, bud. Nice swipe. :)