OK to Stay Away

Unlike this guy, and many others, I think it is unfortunate that politics require that a president personally visit a disaster area. In this case, some complain that Obama didn't end his Europe trip early to go see the tornado damage in Joplin, Missouri. Previously, it was Bush going to New Orleans, etc., etc. I think a president is perfectly capable of understanding the scope of a disaster without being there on the ground. And when a president travels, it requires immense levels of logistics and security that distract from the tasks at hand, which include search and rescue, repair, and rebuilding. But if a president doesn't make the trip, he gets heavily criticized in the media. Even if a president merely flies over, that's not good enough, even though the view from the air is probably more telling than that from the street. So Obama went to Joplin Sunday, for whatever good it will do.


Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

I've decided that toddler and baby are not mutually exclusive terms. Baby can refer to newborn, infant or toddler. So even though Lucy has left infanthood behind, can toddle and is a year old, she can still be considered a baby. That's my theory and I'm sticking to it :-)

Dear Lucy,

I can not believe you are a year old. These past 12 months have gone by so fast but funnily enough, it is sometimes hard to remember what my life was like before you were in it. You are so much a part of our family now that it seems like it has always been that way.
You are straddling two worlds. You are a baby. You still love to nurse and cuddle. You don't always have to nurse to sleep anymore but if you aren't nursing, you want to be snuggled up right next to me or your dad, sometimes even flopped across our chests. You still love to be worn. You'll go for walks all snug on my back and point out the flowers and birds you see, then I feel your head plop against me as you fall asleep.

But every day I see a little girl emerging. You love your baby doll and "Mr Puppy." You will pick them up and pat their backs, give them a hug and a kiss then hand them to me to take care of for a minute before demanding them back. You'll even lay them down and cover them up with little blankets.

You are becoming much less wary of others and might even smile at someone you meet at church or the grocery store although if they talk to you, you get all shy, hide your face in my shoulder, and pat my back as if to reaassure yourself that I've got you, then you turn and smile at them.

You are about 21 lbs (according to the bathroom scale) and 20 of those are personality. You have a million facial expressions. You have a great sense of humor. You know doing things "wrong" is funny - you still say "dada" when I ask you to say "mama" and if dad asks you for a kiss, you will find something else to kiss (the cat or me) and then laugh and laugh. You can also point out people and will do it wrong on purpose. If you know you have the right answer, you smile and look proud of yourself but if you know you have the wrong answer, you'll look at us and laugh and keep pointing at different wrong things while laughing. Finally I will give you a sad face and you will point to right person. You also like to tickle us with any fuzzy thing (kleenex, lint, etc) you find lying around.

You really like helping daddy feed the cat and making sure grandpa and bubbie's puppy is fed. If Kip whines, you will point to the food storage bin then the bowl over and over again until someone feeds him (or we leave the kitchen if it isn't his meal time :-) And if we give one of them food but they aren't hungry, you get upset. We can sometimes tell you that they are "all done" and you'll be okay with that, but other times you keep pointing at the bowl until they at least try one bite of food. I think you are just like me, you know what is supposed to happen and you don't like when it doesn't work the way you are expecting.

You say two words (mama and dada) and five signs (choo-choo, hi/bye, milk, all done and just this week added more). We've been doing "more" for months now but it wasn't until one of your stories had the phrase "more, more, more" that you finally starting doing it. Within 24 hrs, you learned to apply more to food, books and songs.

But sometimes you don't feel like signing, you feel like screaming. Mostly when you know that we are perfectly aware of what you want but have said no. You try pointing or signing again but then you get mad. For your future's sake, I stay firm but inside I am laughing so hard because your mad face is just so darn cute.

You actually pick up things really fast from books, you learned to clap and do "so big" from books, we never even tried either of those with you, you just started all on your own a couple days after we got a book that had picture of babies doing those. And I have no idea where you learned this from but if you are sitting somewhere and we say "relax", you lean back and rest your head and arms.

For stats you are xxlbs, and xx inches (to be updated after check-up on Wednesday :-) You are long and lean. You are wearing both 12 and 18 month clothes and your hair is almost long enough for a teeny tiny pony tail (I keep trying but it needs to be just a smidgen longer). You are so pretty, both inside and out. I can't wait to experience the next year with you.!


Digital Scrapbooking 101

I got asked a few questions about my pages yesterday and after writing a huge email, decided I should share it will all y'all.

First off, digital scrapbooking is awesome. You can find tons of free papers, "stickers" and kits. I have yet to pay for any digital scrapbook supplies. I can also "clean up" in about 60 seconds so even if I only have 15 free minutes, I can actually accomplish something unlike when I would spend half my time taking out and putting back all my papers, scissors, etc. Another benefit is that I can make duplicates, so Lucy will have a copy and so will Craig and I. And I print ours as 12"x12" albums but I can easily print select pages in an 8"x8" for the grandparents.

To start off, you need a photo editing software. I use photoshop elements. It is a really user friendly program although you won't think so the first day or two you use it. But keep trying, say 30 minutes a day for a week and suddenly, it will be your best friend. I still have version 5.0 which is pretty old (I think they are on 9.0 now) but it works well so I'm not planning on upgrading yet. I got it from ebay back when 5.0 was current for ~$50 I think. If you think you might be interested, they have a 2 week trial. I also use it to edit all my photos as well as design my scrapbook pages. There are other programs too but I don't have any experience with them.

I'm not going to embarrass myself by trying to use the program when other have done it better. Shabby Princess's tutorials is where I got most of my initial information but there are lots out there.

You can also use shutterfly or snapfishes album design programs but then you are limited to their papers/fonts/layouts and I didn't find their items very inspiring. With the photoshop method, you save each layout as one picture so in the end you just upload your 20 or so "pictures" as full pages. Shutterfly has templates you can use but I just make them all 12x12 and try not to put anything important at the edges since the very edge might get cut off or stuck in the crease.

Papers/Kits: Whatever you can get in Hobby Lobby, you can find digitally - papers, "stickers", embellishments, etc. As I said before, there are tons of free kits out there so you don't have to pay for anything (although most kits for sale are really inexpensive too, like $1-$4). As you get more experience, you can even find "tears" and "brushes."

A few of my favorites are:
Shabby Princess
Three Paper Peonies
Raspberry Road Designs
DigiScrap Depot

For the most part, I just collect general style papers and kits as I find them then use them as needed but sometimes I search for specific themed items (like when I wanted farm animals for lucy's b-day invite), "digi scrap freebie ___" will usually turn up at least a couple cute things.

When I started, I normally made layouts the same way I was used to, arranging by hand. But then I discovered templates and fell in love. Templates allow me to quickly turn this
layout credit
into this.

 and all the time I spend making it is spent on the fun stuff, like picking out cute papers and arranging the embellishments without worrying about how to fit the pictures on the page. My absolute favorite place to get templates is simply yin. I've pretty much used all her free ones but I will start buying her others from her store since they are great. And she really seems like the nicest lady.

I don't use very many quickpages since I tend to be too picky and I always want to change at least one thing (did you notice that even with the template above, I had to add another picture :-) but I'll probably start as my free time seems to be getting less and less. With a quickpage, everything is done, you just have to add pictures. This is one of my favorite quickpages.

Word Art:
I also love word art. I love having cute little sayings and phrases on my pages, but I'm not clever enough to come up with my own :-) But I don't have to as long as Bethany does for me. She has tons available for free right here. 


I get my albums printed at shutterfly and have always been pleased with the quality. I've gotten prints from snapfish too and they were fine but I started with shutterfly and I really want all my albums to match so I'm sticking with them. If you are like me, you might initially gasp at the cost of printing an album but once you add up the cost of an album from hobby lobby, plus paper, embellishments, scissors,and glue along with the cost of printing the pictures themselves, you are probably saving money. And the best way to save more money on album printing is sign up to receive emails from shutterfly. You'll get codes quite frequently, but the best seem to come a few weeks before the major gift giving holidays (imagine that! :-) Shutterfly will keep my projects indefinitely so I can have it all ready and waiting for whenever a really good coupon is available. Its hard not to print it immediately when I've worked so hard and want to hold it but the $15-20 I've saved makes it worth it.

Well, that was long but hopefully it inspired you to in download the trial photoshop elements and a free kit and give it a try. I think you'll like it!


So big!

or “so little”. Depending on what month I’m looking at, those are the two phrases I keep repeating as I’m looking over pictures and scrap layouts from Lucy’s first year. I can’t believe she will be 1 year old in just a few days. I don’t know if I’m ready. Tear. But I still have a few more days when my baby is truly a baby so lets ignore her birthday for now and focus on the cute pictures! Here are just a few of my favorite pages.

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monkey 8 mon



In which I appear more technologically savvy than I am.

1) I bought a Kindle this weekend. A few months ago I would have scoffed at the idea and considered myself a literary purist but slowly but surely, I began to crumble until I decided, I wanted one. I really really wanted one. And so far, I really really like it, particularly the access to classics for free.

2) Along with that, I've been spending quite a bit of time on girlebooks.com because they not only have the books to download, but their reviews help me select which ones I want - and the books come with cute covers. Not that I care about stuff like that :-) I don't really care for the site's name though.

3) I joined Pinterest. I held out thinking that if I joined, my account would end up like my twitter, unused and unloved. But nope, I lurve Pinterest! I could spend quite a bit more time than I should browsing all the pretty things that I don't have the time/energy/money to make/buy. And that sounds like it would be depressing but funnily enough, it is inspirational. I'm still more of a watcher than a pinner, but you should follow me (my username is brc_mackenzie) as encouragement to change that. I can invite you if you don't want to wait.

4) I've been scrapping like crazy trying to get caught up with Lucy's first year. I don't feel the need to be completely done with her first year's pages by her birthday (especially since I obviously can't make her birthday pages until after her parties - and yes, there will be multiple parties) but I do want to be close. I'm getting there. I promised myself if I did well enough I would share a few of my favorites (yes, I bribe myself, don't judge me :-) so I think you might be seeing a few later this week. And this is tech related because I scrapbook digitally, it is so much easier that way.



One of the main Montessori principles is to respect the child’s absorbent mind. For infants, this includes talking to them. Not just talking to them, but talking with them and having conversations, even though they can’t actually respond to their half*. Another part of it is explaining to them what you are going to do before you do it.

I always thought this would be natural and for the most part, it is. I made it a point to talk to Lucy most of the day when she was little(r). In fact, over the holidays my brother asked me why I was kept talking about what I was doing. At the time, Lucy wasn’t even with me! It guess it was just a habit.

But as she has gotten older, I realize I’m not as diligent about it, especially when I get busy. And sometimes I just don’t think to explain to her what is going on.

Case in point: Last week her nose was running like crazy and she decided she did not like my doing anything about it. So I spent 3-4 days chasing her around with a diaper trying to wipe it off before it annoyed her and she did it herself, a true disaster resulting in snot covering every square inch of her face. It was not pleasant.

But then on Craig’s day off, he started saying “wipe, wipe” before he wiped her nose and by that afternoon, as soon as he said “wipe,” she would stop what she was doing, lean her face towards you and wait for you to wipe her nose. I guess it wasn’t that she didn’t like her nose wiped but that she didn’t like her face suddenly and unexpectedly being attacked. Oops!

So the moral of the story: don’t underestimate the baby. Or the husband.

*This idea is by no means exclusive to Montessori. Almost any child development book will say to talk to your child! Some Montessori followers say this includes not using a artificially high and exaggerated voice (parentese) but I disagree. We never did “baby talk” but almost all people instinctively do parentese around babies, Craig and I included, and I think that their is a reason and current studies show it does help babies learn language.


Frugal Fun

There is a emphasis on beauty in Montessori and I like that. I want the things in my house, especially the ones I am exposing to Lucy, to be beautiful. I really like wooden toys and fun fabrics. But sometimes that can mean that the lovely Montessori activities and toys I see are pricier than I can afford.

Yes, it helps that we don’t buy her a lot. I would rather spend my money on a few nice toys than a bunch of plastic cheap ones* – but I would rather not spend at all if I don’t have to! And the truth is, a lot of the time you don’t, you just have to be creative.

Right now, Lucy loves manipulating things, taking things apart and putting them back and putting things into and out of containers, putting lids on jars, etc. A few months ago, I got out her shape sorter. She couldn’t actually sort the shapes of course, but I showed her how to put the blocks into the box and she would do that over and over again but it got to be too easy and she lost interest. She still uses that toy in different ways now (knocks over the stacks of blocks I make, pushes in the shapes if I put them in the right spot) but she needed a slightly more difficult “putting in” tasks.

These are a couple that I came up with. The first is a Kleenex box with these jenga blocks. Actually they are fake jenga blocks we got at Wal-mart for ~$5 a couple years ago. Their shape combined with the box’s opening means that she has to rotate them first and it is just a bit harder for Lucy to get them inside. I gave this to her last month and she loved it. She would sit for 15 minutes putting them all in then hand me the box to empty and repeat. She will still play with it now but I can tell she’s getting ready for something harder. I’ve heard of putting poker chips through a slot but I don’t think she is ready for that yet. I bought a pack of popsicle sticks at the dollar store so maybe I’ll try to find a container with a smaller opening and see if that works.
Another activity she loves is this ball/jar combo. The ball is actually a cat toy. It’s only fitting that she takes the cat’s toy because Zeeba’s favorite toys are the wooden balls from Lucy’s pounding bench. The jar might look familiar to those of you who bake – its an old yeast jar. It is big enough that the ball fits easily inside but she can’t wrap her hold hand around the ball and still be able to remove it like she normally would so it requires her to use her fingers and really concentrate. She loves to take the lid on and off the jar, put the ball in from different angles (sideways is trickiest but she’s figured it out as seen in the second picture) and even shake it around to make noise. Neither the cat toy nor glass are fully baby proof so I always watch her with this one but she it is definitely one of her favorite “toys.”

Another use for the yeast jar is as a cheerio holder. I wanted something that worked her pincher grasp but since I didn’t want to risk her sticking a bean up her nose, I played it safe with cheerios. She loves to drop them in and hear the little “tink.” I wait until after lunch when I know she is pretty full before I give her the cheerios or the game wouldn’t last long.
Actually, now that she knows it is a game, she won’t eat the good ones, only the broken ones - she goes, drop, drop, drop, finds a half cheerios, looks at it a second then pops it in her mouth! I’m not sure what that says about her future chances of OCD but it does make me laugh. 

My point is not that you go out and buy yeast for a jar or empty a box of kleenex but that, if you pay attention to what you child likes to do and what you have around, you’ll probably be able to come up with some fun things for free/cheap. I know I’ve got a good one when she is so engrossed, I can take pictures without her paying attention to me. And she can play with the same item for a long time, day after day.

None of this is probably news to you more seasoned moms but if you made it through this post, please share what kinds of non-toys your kids have enjoyed playing with. I’m always on the lookout for ideas.

* I don’t meant to imply that I think all plastic toys are junk. My mom saved all our old legos and duplos because she knew they were classics that will always be loved. We got the duplos out at our last visit and Lucy had a blast with them. I’ve also heard good things about little people toys so I’ll be on the lookout for those at garage sales and thrift stores. And just because a toy is wooden, doesn’t mean it is worthwhile. There are plenty of wooden toys I wouldn’t want Lucy playing with either.


More Montessori Organizing - Fun stuff

Lucy’s main play area is our living room. Her toys and fun stuff used to reside on the bookshelf but as I said before, I did some shifting. This is our armoire.
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I got it off Craig’s list for $50 and I love it – although I will admit it makes our tv look a little sad. The bottom has lots of storage. The left side holds all our cds, dvds and board games. The right side used to hold blankets but I moved those to the suitcase on top (I’m still putting the top together so don’t judge it yet :-). Now the right side is Lucy’s and looks like this
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On the top left is her toy bin with a couple wool balls, her sophie, some farm animals and a rattle or two. The other two items on the top shelf are diy montessori activities (more on those tomorrow) and the bottom shelf holds a set of measuring cups for stacking and unstacking, her Melissa and Doug shape sorter ($5 at a consignment sale, score!) and her Plan pounding ball toy thing. She loves everything in there and plays with it all at least once a day.

As far as letting her play with things, I’m not consistent. Sometimes I leave the door open and let her play with it all. If I do this, sometimes she will take on or two things out and sit with them. Other times she entertains herself by taking it all out and putting it all back in which is fine too. But more often she gets overwhelmed and switches from one to another then back again within 3- seconds. If that happens, I put it all up, wait and see what she wants to take down and help her take it out, then shut the door again, at which point she will sit happily with that one item/activity for quite a while.
Unlike what I said about her library, this is pretty much it for inside toys. The only things she has that aren’t on these shelves are:
  • a basket under a side table in our living room that holds her baby doll and 2-3 stuffed animals.
  • a small basket of bath/potty toys
  • a couple soft toys in the bedroom for playing with in bed when she wakes up pre-7am on the weekend and we don’t want to get up with her yet.
She also has some not toys like
  • a “discovery basket” in the kitchen. I put whatever random household objects I stumble upon and think she might like to explore. I think it currently holds a wire whisk, basting brush, a empty butter box, a ribbon and a metal teaspoon. I rotate stuff in as I find it and out when she gets bored with it. In theory this is for when I am working in the kitchen but in reality, she likes to look at it if I am sitting next to her but if I try to accomplish anything, she thinks I am leaving her out of the fun and will stand there, crying and pulling at my pants until I include her the “fun” of dish washing or pb&j making.
  • the bottom drawer of the hutch in our dining room is full of tupperware and plastic containers. She loves to empty it out – but surprsingly, she doesn’t like to put it all back :-)
Every once in a while, I panic and feel like I’m depriving her so I go out and buy her something (that is why we have a plan pounder now :-) but 95% of the time, I’m happy with what we have. I like knowing that she is actually using everything she has but more than that, I like knowing I can manage what she has. It is very nice to know that even if she has gotten everything out and scattered it all over the living room, once I put her to bed for the night, I can have it all picked up in less than 3 minutes.
I’m sure she will be getting more stuff for her birthday in a few weeks and that is fine (actually I’m positive she will be because I’m getting her some :-). We’ll rotate what is out so it is always manageable.


Lucy’s Library

I guess this week is Montessori week. I finally got around to taking pictures but when I started writing, I realized I had a bunch to say so I’m spreading it out – blogger willing of course :-)

Maria Montessori put quite a bit of emphasis on order and harmony. The child’s learning should take place in a “prepared environment.” This environment should allow the child to access appropriate materials freely while still being orderly and beautiful.
High shelves of pretty toys that the child can’t access on her own to work (play) with aren’t good but neither is a bucket full of random toys jumbled together without rhyme or reason. Organizing her books/toys/activites like this does require some space but not as much as I thought it would and it is another incentive to keep her “stuff” at controllable levels.
One of Lucy’s favorite areas of our house is her “library.” Serious, this girl loves books. I started counting how many books I read one day but gave up by lunchtime at a count of 32! (This is counting repeats, we read probably 7-8 books over and over and over again :-)
Here is my “famous” rainbow bookcase. It resides in our living room. 110511 Baseball 059 Lucy’s books and toys used to be the bottom shelf but her book collection kept growing so her toys are elsewhere and she has two shelves now.
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I rotate the books on the top shelf. These are the most often read so while I am nice and put one or two of Lucy’s favorites up there, I make sure I have at least one I like too.
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The bottom shelf holds the rest of the living room books* in two baskets (Target). I’ve divided them up into Fiction and Non-fiction. I used to keep the books on the shelf but Lucy was always pulling them off and I felt like I was spending half my time picking up books.
I was worried the baskets would make it difficult to look through but as long as I keep them only half full, Lucy can easily find the ones she wants – and yes, she will flip through looking for just the one she wants!
The colors around the labels match up with stickers I’ve put on the side of the books so they can easily be put back into the right basket. An added bonus to the dots is that they cover up the library sticker that remains when I buy books from library sales (one of my favorite ways to buy books). Without that, I’d be in danger of returning books to the library that I shouldn’t.
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Maria Montessori thought it was important that during the First Plane of development (up to age 6), children read books grounded in reality and not fantasy and fairytales. This is a good, albeit long, paper written explaining more of the why behind that.
To be honest, I can agree that it is probably best to do that, but I  still don’t. We read Lucy a book about a llama in red pajamas before bedtime every night (although I’m still waiting for her to release a book about how sometimes mama needs to potty!) and I have no plans to give up our Boynton collection.
But lately, I’ve noticed that I am naturally drawn towards more realistic books. Both because Lucy really likes books with real photographs and I find it easier to talk to Lucy about what is going on when the situations are real life. And when I’m “reading” a book for the 3rd, 4th, or 18th time, I have to throw out the real words and just talk about the pictures or I’ll go crazy. So instead of talking animals, we’ve been picking up books about babies, animals, trucks, gardens and little girls who love their stuffed animals.
And don’t rule out grown-up books too. My mom has a bunch of nice art books that Lucy enjoys looking at when we are visiting. She seems to especially enjoy the Mary Cassette one, it must be all those mama/baby pictures. I plan on getting some books on chicken next time we are at the library, for me not for Lucy, but I’m curious as to whether she will like them or not. 
*This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Lucy’s book collection. Her current library books are kept on the bay window seat in a stack but I want to get a basket for them. She also has a stack in our room for bedtime, a bunch in her bedroom that I’ve put aside (I’ll be rotating them in with the other living room ones), several in the car for keeping her entertained and even a few in the bathroom for potty time. Now you know why I have to buy books at library sales, I would be in debt if I bought them all new!


Simply Sewing

I like to sew but when I have the time I normally tend to gravitate towards craft projects or quilting instead of clothing. But I’ve decided there are way too many cute little girl clothes tutorials out there to waste and I was determined to give clothes sewing a bit more of my time. For my first try, I put together matching Easter clothes for Lucy and I. 
I already put up pictures but I wanted to link to the tutorials. My skirt was made using this yoga skirt tutorial. I used a 45’ cotton for the main skirt so I used two full widths, one for the back and one for the front.
For Lucy’s outfit, I could have made a matching yoga skirt but I wanted her to wear a dress. I was surprised that I couldn’t really find anything I liked. Everything had straps and we really wanted her in something with sleeves – but teeny tiny sleeves without a pattern or tutorial seemed like more of a challenge than I wanted. When I saw this tutorial I knew I wanted to do a bubble skirt and I’d seen several onesie dress tutorials before so I combined those ideas.
I followed her instructions for the bottom part of the skirt, but instead of making the straps, I sewed the skirt onto the onesie about an inch below the arm pit seams. I made it using an 18mon onesie and kept it fairly long so she should be able to wear it all summer.
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This picture best shows the elastic bubble bottom.
The jacket I made using the same soft knit that I used for the skirt of my dress and a pattern from the bend the rules sewing book.
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I made a kinda big mistake on both my skirt and her dress but neither one was visible so I’m still pretty happy with the results.
Next up was Lucy’s birthday outfit. I made a brown and pink tutu using this tutorial and a cupcake onesie to go with it.
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The onesie is something I made up but I learned how to do a rosette using this tutorial.
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Then I just cut out the rest of the pieces from various fabrics I had on hand. I was going to use wonderunder to attach them to the onesie but at couldn’t find my extra stash and it was late and night but I was determined to finish so I used fabric glue:-) I think it turned out real cute and I can’t wait for her to wear it.
None of these projects were particularly difficult so if you are looking for an easy project to get started on, I’d recommend any of them. Happy Sewing!

A Worm's Tale

1. It's been raining a lot here.
2. We have a lot of giant worms in our yard, like this one:

The other morning, I stepped out onto the front step after an overnight rain that threatened to resume at anytime. Much to my surprise, I saw a large worm writhing on the step (see arrow below for approximate location).

Note that the step is elevated above the main ground level. I thought to myself, "How the heck did that worm get there?" Surely a worm couldn't climb a sheer concrete wall to get there, could it? I posed these questions to my wife and my visiting sister. "Maybe it fell off the roof," they suggested. Then how did it get on the roof? "Maybe a bird dropped it?" Well, the worm seems quite alive and uninjured, but it's possible. It could also be that the wind deposited there, I guess.

I mulled this question for much of the morning. But that night, I was out on another similar step on the other side of the house, and saw a worm there. The last inch or two of the worm was dangling over the edge. I put it on the ground, and it started to move back up the side of the step. I had my answer. Amazingly, worms can climb a sheer concrete wall. Good for them. Why they would do that is another story.


A Potty Update

Now that Lucy is 11 months old, I thought I would share how potty training is going. Great! No, really! I've been pretty irregular because we’ve been sick so I’m really pleased at how well Lucy has picked up on. I’m sure she would be doing even better if I had been more consistent but such is life.

She currently goes almost every morning right after she wakes up (~90%) and pretty consistently after naps as well (~60%). Not surprisingly, those are the three times that I am always consistent about having her sit. I also let her sit between old and new diapers if she wants to (and she normally does, she loves to sit on that thing :-) but they don’t normally  “produce.”

Nap time pottying is actually my favorite because I have her sit before her naps and put her in a new diaper and even if she has taken a two hour nap she is typically dry afterwards so I get to put the same diaper back on!  The only reason we are still only at 60% is that she if she doesn’t sleep quite long enough she wakes up cranky and clingy so I don’t push it even though I know if I had her sit down on the potty she would go. I would  change a extra diaper than have her associate the potty with crankiness and crying. My mantra is “the process not the product.”

But even more than the numbers show, we have made progress with the concept. When we first started, I wasn’t sure if it was just coincidence or not but I am 100% certain that she gets the concept now. Even if it takes me 5 minutes or so after she wakes up to get her to the potty, she will hold it and she normally goes as soon as we sit her down, then she smiles when I say “Good job.” And once when I didn’t feel so good, I just went to the bathroom to change her and wasn’t going to bother about the potty but she pointed to it so I let her try and she went!

As for #2, she’s gone twice on her own but I haven’t done much else to speed that along. I’ve read two books, one said to try and catch them in the middle of pooping and get them to the potty to finish in order to help them make the connection while the other said to just talk to them and tell them what they are doing then change them right away. I think the first approach is probably a better one but I’m still taking the latter for now. Lucy is very inconsistent about how much she eats so, let me put this delicately, the output is sometimes “big kid like” and other times its not - and I am not willing to deal with that mess that happens if she is having a “I’ll just take two cheerios and be on my way” type of day. Once she eats more consistently, we’ll try to work on #2s.

So what is next? Well, I think she is ready to take it up a notch. I’ve heard different approaches ranging from take them every 30 minutes to just picking more standard times to go. I’ve tried to find times to consistently take her but they don’t seem to work with her body’s timing and she nurses little but often so I can’t really follow the “20 minutes after milk” concept. My plan is to do the every 30 minutes for a day or two to get an idea of her routine then cut back to the times I think she needs to go or that she seems to be indicating a need.

BUT – the next 3-5 weeks are going to be a bit crazy for us so even though I think she would do fine with that plan if we were going to be doing our normal thing, I’ll be holding off. If we can keep what we’ve got going until June, I’ll be extremely happy. And by then she should be a good little walker and maybe even signing change so that might help make my decipher her signals easier. I’m keep you abreast of the situation.


Happy Mother’s Day

I could be writing about how much I love my mother, how much she means to me and how I won’t ever be able to repay her for the time, effort and love she has poured into my life – but I don’t have the time.

I could be writing about how much I love Lucy, how much she means to me and how I love being a mother and pouring my time, effort and love into her life – but I don’t have the time.

I don’t have the time because I’m busy spending my first mother’s day with my mom and the one who made me a mom. Happy Mothers Day!

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Osama Photo - Let's See It

I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with the President's decision to not release a photo of the late Osama bin Laden. The main argument against it seems to be that "It will inflame people." I suspect, however, that anyone who might be inflamed by the release of a photo is already inflamed by the actual killing of bin Laden. What's a little more inflammation going to do?

Another argument against the release is, "It won't stop the conspiracy theories." It is true that many will just say that the photo was doctored. But I think there are different levels of belief in conspiracies. Obama evidently hoped that releasing his birth certificate would peel off the less-hardcore conspiracists. Likewise, releasing a photo would possibly convince some fence-sitters that Osama really is dead.

In a situation like this, I think we, as a free society, should err on the side of releasing information. If there is no compelling reason to keep it secret, let it out. This doesn't mean I am pro-Wikileaks or anything, mind you. I just don't believe there is much harm in putting a photo out there. So let's see it. It will probably come out eventually, anyway, one way or another.


Sometimes it is very hard to be polite

A recent phone conversation:
Me: Hello
Stranger: Can I speak to Roberta
Lucy: AHHH!
M: I think you have the wrong number (being polite while wrestling the phone away from my baby)
S: Do you think I have the wrong number or do you know it?
M: Well, there is no Roberta here. (trying to keep a smile in my tone :-)
S: Okay, just have some backbone when you say it
M: Bye! (still trying, but barely)


Montessori and Me

I’ve mentioned the Montessori method before as something I’m interested in, especially for the early years. I’m pretty certain we will branch out quite a bit into other educational methods as Lucy reaches elementary age but for now, most of what I hear/read/see about Montessori just meshes with me.

Some people think that AP and Montessori are at odds but I don’t feel that way. Of course, because I’m only incorporating Montessori concept in my home and not sending Lucy to school, I am free to pick and choose what I like and what I don’t. Yes, I nurse on demand and don’t have Lucy on a strict schedule, but personally, I really do like order and routine, schedules and lists so its nice to have a bit more of that in my life again now that she is getting older (although we are still pretty fluid in our routine). And I think kids thrive on that as long as it takes into account their needs.

I’ve been asked several times when I talk about the things I do with Lucy to explain what Montessori is and to be honest, I’m hesitant to do so because I’m not a Montessori teacher nor do I had any formal training. I only know what I have learned from a few books and blogs and I don’t want anyone to take what I’m saying as anything straight Maria’s mouth. But luckily, other people out there have done so.

One definition I’ve seen several places:

A method of educating young children that stresses development of a child's own initiative and natural abilities, especially through practical play.

I agree with that, but it still could leave someone with the question, “Yes, but what is it?”

I think it is much easier to understand by reading about how it is practiced instead of trying to list the different parts of the theory so here are a few of the resources I’ve used to get started learning about the wonderful world of Montessori learning:

  • Living Montessori Now has a great post about the top 10 Montessori principles. Actually her whole blog is cool and it has ideas specifically for homeschooling.
  • Sew Liberated was my first exposure to a Montessori family and is visual feast of Montessori, craftiness and currently, a baby boy that makes my uterus hurt. Even if you don’t care a smidge about Montessori, you should check it out.
  • How We Montessori really shows how a Montessori household can be run. Sometimes I read about a concept but don’t understand how to put it into practice but not with this blog.
  • Counting Coconuts has lots of fun ideas, especially in the practical life section. I get a little intimidated because she seems to do so much but if I can keep those fears in check, I can get really inspired here.

For books, I read Montessori From the Start before Lucy was born and again just recently and thought it was okay (see review here) and recently read and enjoyed Teach Me To Do It Myself but I really want to get my hands on How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way. Alas, our library doesn’t have it and neither does paperback swap so I think I’ll have to use my swagbucks.

We’ve been doing several Montessori things (like the shot glass cup) for a while now but as Lucy is reaching toddlerhood, I am really starting to prepare our environment even more towards that way of thinking and getting activities ready for when she is. I’ll be trying to take pictures over the next few days to share with you. I’m telling you this now so that I can’t slack off so hold me accountable if you don’t see any within a week or two!


But by bedtime, the net result was still a good day.

Yes, this is a Saturday post and I probably won't have enough regular weekday posts so I should save it for Monday but I think the grandparents would mutiny...but that is getting ahead of myself.

Yesterday I went to the doctor. I have been sick on and off for almost a month now. I would feel bad, that can't get out of bed bad for 4-5 days, but eventually I would rally. Then I would wait a day or two, taking it easy, before finally deciding I must be better - only to get sick again 2-3 days later. I even had a doctors appointment last week but canceled because I felt fine that morning. But even the days I felt "good" I still didn't have much energy and to be honest, I was feeling lazy and discouraged. I am planning on adding a few things to my plate in the near future but was beginning to doubt my ability to even handle Lucy and the house. I even had Craig take a sick day or two when shutting Lucy and me up in our bedroom with a bunch of toys wasn't working anymore. I kept trying to tell cut myself some slack but my resolve was wearing thin.

But after seeing the doctor, I feel much better. Apparently I have a bad case of tonsilittis and have been in a bacterial battle for the last month. Oh, so that's why I felt so icky. I'm not one to jump right onto drugs and antibiotics but I do think they have a very special place in our world and personally, I have never been so happy to be given a pack of little pink pills as yesterday afternoon. Of course, Lucy and I will be eating yogurt like it is ice cream and I'll be popping probiotics They haven't kicked in yet so physically, I'm not doing the greatest but at least I know I'm not a hypochondriac housewife that can't hack it.

And the day picked up that evening. After we picked Craig up and got some takeout (no judging, I'm sick remember :-) we stopped by Target to get some baby gates and a cd player for some naptime routine changes we will be making. When we got home, I put Lucy down only to have her take her first steps right back to me!

Craig was there and in a second he yelled, "stall her!" (if you've seen Life As We Know It, you'll get the joke) and ran to get the camera. So technically, these are her ~3-8 steps but I think you will still enjoy them.

I'm so ridiculously proud of her. I know that almost all babies do learn to walk and it isn't like I did anything special to ensure she can walk but I feel like I did.

So at the end of the day, my throat is still throbbing, my house is still a mess and my fridge is empty, but I don't care. My baby can walk! And that made it a pretty good day.