Behaviour

I was asked to write about behaviour and sibling issues. The difficult thing is that anything pertaining to these topics is so individual.

They talk about siblings being like chalk and cheese. My two certainly fit this description when it comes to personality and behaviour. I see one of my roles as a mother as accepting my children for who they are – both for their talents and their flaws.

montessori, siblings, rivalry, behaviour

I believe an important part of my ‘job’ is to nourish my children, encourage them and help them reach their best potential. Not just academically but within their relationships, their emotional intelligence, their motivation, their ethic, etc etc.. the list goes on and on. I don’t think this is truly possible without them having self confidence and self awareness.

Cameron is a sensitive boy. He is intelligent and cautious. He has always been selective but curious. He always wants to help and is gentle and caring. Cam craves guidance and is full of questions. Even as a young toddler he was forever asking “what’s that?”

Almost any sense of danger, anger or upset (including even gentle discipline such as simply talking through an issue) is met with sensitivity or tears. This is one of my biggest hurdles as Cameron’s Mum. He is introverted and quick to fold into himself emotionally in order to deal with anything confronting. He is perceptive and clever so not much goes over his head.

montessori, pouring, toddler, home

As a sibling, for the vast majority, he is a beautiful role model and big brother. His sensitivity and gentleness is the perfect contrast to Lucy’s fiery passion and determined but happy nature. Cameron is brilliant with Lucy so long as he has the ability to help me take care of her and he is heard. Lucy is only 13 months old so her Lucy-centric behaviours are expected and understandable. She loves her big brother so wholeheartedly and just wants to do everything that he does. This can mean lots of tantrums, messes and general upset – from all parties!

Lucy is a happy girl with a passionate personality. She is fearless and defiant. Her determination is incredible. How headstrong she is, is the main reason I struggle moreso with her than Cameron with behaviour – even as a baby! She loves fiercely and you will hardly ever hear her cry (growling or throwing a tantrum, however, is a regularly occurrence). She is inquisitive but would much rather learn and master things on her own than have any help or guidance.

montessori, toddler, postbox, home

Every single one of the many traits of each of my children is completely accepted by me. I can see the positives and potential in every mannerism and characteristic. Of course, I struggle; particularly when the attribute is something that reminds me of myself (Cameron’s anxiety and difficulty socially.. Lucy’s fearlessness and determination) but that’s the beauty of parenthood. I’m forever learning.

Some resources that I have drawn upon when I feel like whatever I am doing is not working (perhaps it isn’t age appropriate or it isn’t dealing with the root of the problem) are Elevating Childcare and Aid to Life.

pattern blocks, montessori, preschooler, behaviour

With respect to dividing my time between my children, we do mostly everything together. Cameron is content the majority of the time so long as he is involved and heard. Lucy is happy just to watch sometimes and they get along really well. There are times where Lucy requires my full attention but most of the time Cameron is either helping, doing an activity or independently playing. Cameron, being an affectionate child, does get jealous sometimes of all the cuddles that are involved with the care of an infant/young toddler. But a cuddle is all he needs to be off again playing or to resume an activity.

Lucy Snapshot (6.5 months old)

Lucy is a delightful baby and is growing up too fast!
She is a real mover. She sits herself up with ease and strength. She shuffles to get wherever/to whatever she wants. She rolled early and was rocking on all fours super early; so I should have known.
Lulu has started vocalising a lot more. She is often babbling away, a favourite being “dadadadad” just like Cammy at her age.
She is content to do whatever is offered and is not fussy. She adores her brother and really likes being around her cousins too. You can see how badly she just wants to be doing what they are doing.
She can get a little attitude about some things. Primarily food. She will also yell at you if you take a toy/item from her or leave the room without letting her know.
Her fine motor skills have come a long way in the past few weeks. She is keen to feed herself and she really loves and gets engaged with treasure baskets that I make up for her.
Her favourite toys are her Skwish, Cam’s playsilks & rainbow taggie. Other toys she will sometimes pay an interest too are her Haba trix toy, little wooden cars and her puzzle ball.
Mike is in the process of making a Montessori object permanence box and a pull up bar similar to these:
I will share photos once they are complete :) I have bought her a Montessori advanced ball return for Christmas. I’ve asked Mike to make some other materials too.
I will hopefully do a “Cameron Snapshot” soon :)

More Space Updates, Activities and Developments

Cameron is very very involved with practical life activities at the moment. I don’t really have to create any specific ‘activities’ because he wants to do everything and help with everything.

He is now pretty much toilet trained and I’d say 70% night-trained. He is getting better at brushing his own teeth, washing his hands thoroughly, washing himself (I have bought mini bottles to hold his shampoo and bodywash, which has helped). He likes to help with changing Lucy and is getting more successful with dressing himself (he can undress himself completely and put on hats, socks, underwear, some pants and shoes).

At 2. 5 years, these are the practical ‘chores’ he typically partakes in daily (I don’t expect it or ask him to, he really wants to):
– feed our cat
– help unpack & pack dishwasher
– help round up washing, put in powder & push button on machine
– help sort washing
– help put out the rubbish
– collect the mail
– help prepare meals
– get own snacks/drinks
– helps to sweep

The only thing that I ask him to do is tidy up his toys with me, otherwise everything else is just natural and usually he is the one asking.

Cam’s love for ‘writing’ and ‘lists’ hasn’t stopped and I will always encourage this sort of thing so I have set up a mini desk next to his Daddy’s one with pens, pencils, coloured pencils, alphabet stickers & stamps, envelopes, lined and unlined paper, coloured paper and a personalised return address stamp (all inspired by Playful Learning Spaces – I own and thoroughly recommend the book!). I’m hoping to set up a stamp & address system inspired by Sew Liberated – except smaller, with a business card holder (I will update once I have done this).

This space has been the inspiration for many spontaneous art/pre-writing adventures already. I’m sure it will evolve and grow as Cameron gets older.

Lucy is almost 4 months old and growing up way too fast. She is a master roller, has found her feet, loves grasping toys and is very strong (doing bubby push-ups and trying to get up on her knees already). Lulu is a very sweet natured baby. She is almost always happy and a very good breastfeeder.

Cameron adores her and she adores him right back. It’s so beautiful to see them together.

Also, I have added a pinterest button over to the right on my blog –>

Unfortunately I have been struggling mentally again lately. Hence the lack of updates again. Thank you to my new subscribers and readers, I truly appreciate it.

Our Evolving Spaces

We were going to be moving but Mike’s job wasn’t the right fit for our family; which was so disappointing. And as a result I really felt like I was stuck in a rut with this house. We have rented this house for over three and a half years now and have accumulated too much stuff. Everything felt cluttered and disorganised.

So, I have been simplifying and re-organising every room (still have much to go!) and trying to create more Montessori-inspired spaces.

We switched the play and living rooms so that the play areas are on tiles. This has freed up lots of space because I also pushed our dining table against the wall where the 6ft fish tank was (it’s now in the living room).

The space above has had a few changes and more to come. I finally found some appropriate sized glasses for Cam (he had grown out of the espresso one’s that I purchased after he grew out of shot glasses) and bought some proper smaller bowls and plates for him (up until now he has had plastic ones). Cam now sorts his cutlery and puts away his own dishes from the dishwasher. He loves sorting our cutlery too now and puts them all away while I put away the rest. We also purchased another step for him (Ikea 2 step stool) so that one can be out here and the other in the bathroom.

These smaller shelves now hold our instruments and Lucy’s toys are on the bottom shelves. The black box at the top is full of her other toys. The light table is to the right for now and (not pictured) I have bought a coffee table with a shelf under it to hold his sensory tub (which is currently space themed with mini rockets, rocks, homemade moonsand and various scoops/cups/tweezers/etc).

Here are Cam’s shelves. The top four are storage (mostly art supplies and practical life activity items). His 12 shelves hold his dough & materials, collage/gluing/stickers box, cutting practice tray, nature basket, puzzles, more puzzles, Montessori cylinders and sandpaper letters, a blank spot which will house his nesting boxes which are on their way, his farm & animals, some duplo, play silks and play foods.

Cam is just about ready, I think, to start using regular kids scissors. He has truly mastered these beginner ones.

This box gets a lot of use. Not all of the art supplies fit in the boxes up the top of these shelves; I’m only storing the things we use regularly (different types of paints/mark makers/stamps/papers/contact paper/etc). The rest is now neatly stored in a chest of drawers in our spare room.

I’ve added more helpful things for Cam as his abilities & interests have evolved (i.e. a laundry hamper, writing materials, appropriately sized soap to wash himself before I thoroughly clean him, etc)

Cam asked to do all four mini-cylinders at once. It was a bit too challenging & asked for help after finishing a little over half the pieces, but he put them back on their shelf without prompting. I am going to need to purchase a smaller work mat for him, he can’t roll this one independently & I’m going to try to get him using one now. Up until now I have only used it with him a handful of times.

Lucy is loving batting at toys and likes this handmade organic crocheted rattle (from etsy) for grasping practice.

Stay tuned for more. Please feel free to ask questions and/or make suggestions!!

Toddler Yoga, Organisation and Fun!

I purchased the book ‘Little Yoga’ by Rebecca Whitford (after seeing it on one of my favourite blogs – An Everyday Story) for Cameron as he really likes imitating whole body movements lately.

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It was an instant hit! He asked us to re-read it several times and surprised me with some of the poses he tried.

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I have been finding little ‘lists’ and ‘notes’ from Cameron like this one lately. He has become very interested in letters and numbers and the written word.

Cameron adores ‘helping’ me with everyday tasks. I have created this board for him. It is at his level below his clock next to the kitchen.

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It has each of our daily tasks with a drawing (poorly drawn, but hey – he guessed them all aside from the table cleaning one) laminated and magnetized so that he can see what we need to do & remove each task as the day progresses.

I am in the process of re-organising everything in our home and changing the playroom in particular to make it more Montessori-inspired. I will post photos when I’m done!

Rambling about my almost-2.5-year-old

Cameron’s play has really evolved in the past few months. I hear the loveliest stories from him and it is fascinating to watch his imagination unfold and flourish.

The importance of open ended toys and play has been clear in this house. For example, Cameron played with a jug (pretending it was a blender, making all kinds of concoctions) for over half an hour today.

The thing that I love about his play now is that it is often a glimpse into how he views the world and how he is processing things.

My favourite thing is experiencing how he views me. Through his play I get to see him impersonate things that I do and say. It is a real eye opener, and makes it all the more clear what a profound influence we have on our children.

Cam helps me see that I’m doing a good job; when my mind is accusing me of the opposite.

Manners have been a biggie lately too. I had been getting frustrated by Cameron interrupting conversations when I realised that it was my fault. He has never been expected to wait, or taught how to excuse himself.. So what could I expect?

Now it is something that he almost always does well. We do need to work on whether the reason for the interruption is important, however :P

Cameron has been very keen to be involved in food preparation. Until recently it was more of a novelty. He has started to work on or perfect – buttering toast, peeling an egg, cutting a banana, helping make smoothies and omelets, etc. he gets such pride from it.

Other practical life activities (sweeping,cleaning windows and surfaces, pouring a drink, spooning, brushing his teeth, removing his clothes, and more) have always been of interest to him. But it’s only in the past few months that he has shown any interest in putting on clothing, washing himself properly, helping with the washing and folding, feeding our cat (he used to enjoy it.. But as a game rather than a proper task) and fish, as well as more, I’m sure, that I can’t think of now.

Cameron has also started to show an interest in writing (writing ‘o’ and ‘m’ – his 2 favourite letters) and his pencil grip has matured too. His love of art hasn’t lessened and he now names his drawings as he draws them.

Cam has also found a newly sparked interest in numbers. He used to count sporadically.. I would often hear him saying “1, 2, 1, 2, 1- yayyy”. Every effort to include numbers & counting into our play was met with disinterest.

In a clear display of toddlers learning what they want, when they want; Cameron counted to 9 one morning when getting dressed for the day. I was counting his buttons and he took over from 3 and counted to 9! “you can count?!” I questioned him with surprise and he answered me with a full belly laugh. Along the same lines, he now likes to ‘trick’ me with colours. Pretending he doesn’t know or hasn’t heard what I have said is extremely funny, apparently.

So Cammy now counts to 12 and counts backwards too (exclusively for rockets, which he is obsessed about). He likes to count things in books that we read now as well.

Speaking of books, I purchased a second hand book sling for the playroom and have been amazed by the positive response from it. I knew it would make reading more accessible for us, but I had no idea how much so. Until now his books were all on his bookcase in his room.

It also seemed to coincide with a change in Cam’s attention span and ability to follow a narrative. I would never turn down reading a book to him so some days we will read ten or so books in a row. He now asks questions as  we read (“is she sad?” “where did it go?” etc); it makes it all the more enjoyable for me.

Cam & his cousin with a wild wallaby

So much of what Maria Montessori believed in has became so clear in my observations of Cameron. I have always believed in much of what Montessori stood for, but as I’m moving along in this parenting journey I’m finding myself so passionate about it.. Because I’m watching the magic of Montessori (even in a less than Montessori-pure environment, within our home) with my own eyes.

I will be back to talk about and share some photos of Lucy (who is almost 11 weeks old).

(Sorry about the poor quality photos guys, and the lack of posts. I have become more of a blog reader than a blogger, hah)

Happy Mother’s Day!

I got smiles and cuddles for Mother’s Day. I’m so blessed!

My gorgeous rosebud has been giving me cute little smiles.

& I found a whole heap of hilariously cute pics like this one on my iPad, courtesy of our cheeky Camburger.

I hope you are feeling as happy as I am and that you are having a lovely weekend!

Life As a Mama of Two

Life is settling back into a new norm. For a while there, I’ll admit, the days felt pretty much full with the basics (nappies/feeding/settling/etc).

I always thought Cameron was an easy baby (my sister used to laugh because he really wasn’t, I just didn’t know any better) but now I know what it’s really like to have an easy bub. Lucy is beautiful and very relaxed. I think it’s mostly temperament but also partly how my mothering has changed.

Cameron still woke for a feed at one year old, whereas Lucy (from 3 weeks, she is now 6.5 weeks) is already – usually – only waking for one feed between 11pm and 5:30-6:00am (when Cam gets up and Mike goes to work). I know, I’m so lucky!

She’s also a good sleeper in the day and is only fussy when it comes to wind and she does get whingy if you don’t feed her right.that.second. She doesn’t bring up air well and is a strong feeder who gulps air a fair bit. But that is literally the only thing she struggles with, she is a natural breastfeeder (attached herself right after birth!) and is gaining weight perfectly.

She also likes the car (Cam used to scream so loud and high pitched and made it so hard to go anywhere!) She will sleep through noise too and is happy to be passed around for cuddles. She is such a little sweetheart and I just can’t wait to get to know her.

Lulu is already growing so fast! She smiled for the first time a couple of days ago and she is starting to focus her eyes and attention so much more. She is vocalising more too. She is very strong and has amazing neck control (has since birth, just like Cameron) but Lucy is less keen on tummy time (Cam loved it, whereas Lucy is either indifferent or mildly annoyed by it! hah).

Cameron is 28 months old and he is really thriving as a big brother. Sure, we have our moments, but all-in-all he is doing great. He loves to help with Lucy and he is at that awesome age where he is gaining independence in all areas and is keen to learn about everything.

Prior to having Lucy I really feared how it could impact mine and Cameron’s bond and relationship. But really, nothing has changed. Lucy has fitted almost effortlessly into our lives and makes it even better, even more. I’m so thankful for my babies and the bond that I have with them both.

Cam is really growing within himself. I see his confidence and independence developing. He is eating better and has finished teething. He is very chatty and his pronounciation is slowly improving. He comes out with the funniest things and is very inquisitive. He amazes me with how great he is at so many things and how he really is just a little person with such a unique and formed personality.

He is still very keen on art, reading, all sorts of matching/sorting activities and practical life activities. We are still doing tot school activities. I need to start taking more pics of our tot school-esque adventures because I really enjoy it but haven’t been ‘recording’ it. I’m observing Cameron more just in the past few days and hoping to get back into the swing of things in ways that I know will benefit him.

One thing that I’m stumped with is toilet learning. Cameron has been ready to use the toilet in every way (other than emotionally, it seems) for a long time. But there has always been something delaying it (teething, sickness, me being heavily pregnant, a newborn, etc etc) but now I feel like I’ve missed it with timing and it’s going to be hard. Cam knows when he needs to go, will go to the toilet and sit on it but flat out refuses to actually go, despite many ‘tactics’. He loves to use toilet paper, flush and wash his hands but he tells me he would rather poo and wee in his nappy. He also doesn’t seem discouraged by wetting underwear or the floor, he just helps me clean it up and moves on. Any advice?

When I was struggling with mental health, I found it so hard to accept that children do what they do when and how they want to (with respect to eating, learning, social interaction, etc etc). It’s not that I didn’t realise that was the case, or wanted him to be perfect or anything.. but it was an inward battle where I didn’t want Cammy to find things hard. But now I see that you can provide all the opportunities; but it’s up to the child as to how they respond. & why would you want you child to find everything easy? What’s life without failures and mistakes?

Anyway, just a small update. I am hoping to type up my birth story (a video blog version can be found on my Youtube channel). Thank you for your lovely comments/emails/subscriptions. It means so much to me. Hopefully I will get more into blogging and vlogging now that things are settled and we are all doing well. Let me know if you have any questions! <3

Mental Health

For the first time in my life I have the proper treatment for my mental health. It is utterly amazing what medication, and the right help from professionals can do. I have been medicated in the past and/or seen a psychologist and done tests, etc., but never have I felt [consistently] like this.

[side note: one of my pet peeves is when people ask me what happened to make me depressed or anxious... or tell me to be thankful for what I have... I know that sometimes, depression and/or anxiety are triggered by external events but in my case, it was/is primarily a chemical imbalance coupled with my reaction to situations, because of my nature. I know it is just ignorance but I wish that mental illness wasn't so taboo so the general public could be more educated. SO MANY people deal with a mental illness of some kind in their lifetime. It would be so awesome if they didn't feel wrong or alone while suffering]

Part of me can’t help but feel ripped off for the past however long of my life where I’ve struggled and struggled with depression and anxiety. It’s like a veil has been lifted from my face and I’m shocked into the realisation that this is how most other people feel all the time. Sure, I’ve had periods of my life without depressive episodes or major anxiety… but in the past month (since my psychiatric evaluation, mental health plan and consequent med dose increase) it as though I’m finally seeing in colour. Everything is clearer.

But you know what? Aside from happiness, contentment and feeling so damn greatful… the strongest emotion I’m feeling is PRIDE. Because now I can see that I coped so freaking well with that heavy veil of negativity clouding my thoughts. I am phenomenally strong. Depression, especially, is like walking through life in heavy layers of cold, soaking wet clothing with rain belting down on you – but everyone else sees a dry, warm version of you.

Depression robs you of basic motivation. Not in a ‘oh, I can’t be bothered right now’ kind of way… but in a deep-set, heavy, burdensome way that hits you out of no where. Often I would wake up with no will to do anything, I felt utterly hopeless – but I DID. Even though nothing seemed worth it. I kept going. I was a fucking brilliant mama considering the inner struggle I fought most days.

Anxiety weakens you. So alongside all of the above, I found myself doubting every action that I did make. At it’s worst I felt immobilised by fear. Anxiety attacks sure can be traumatic. Despite being mental illnesses, I went so much physically. The scariest part of anxiety attacks and suicidal ideation for me was that I partially dissociated anytime that things got too heavy.

My mind was so cruel to me. I was my own worst enemy. Every doubt and fear was fleshed out in my mind and I turned it in on myself. There was so much self-loathing.. so much pressure and expectations from myself. I think to those who had no idea, I came across as negative and self-centered. However, these thoughts are uncontrollable. Without help, it’s simply a downward spiral.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday when I was talking about the future with Mike. I said to him “It’s so strange, since Lucy’s birth I have this overwhelming desire to make our dreams a reality.” I have always been determined, even when depressed, so it didn’t even occur to me that my drive was altered. But here I am with what feels like an injection of ambition and strength. & again, that makes me proud, to think that despite all the chemicals in my brain robbing me of my motivation and ability to positively look forward to the future; I sure fought through it.

It is funny adjusting to not dealing with the symptoms of severe depression or generalised anxiety disorder. Who knows what the future holds, but hopefully this will be my new normal. Depression and anxiety are so familiar to me. Particularly in the past 4 years. I’m still working through some of my internal dialogue and those automatic thoughts that have been my ‘go to’ when things get hard in my life. I feel like I have got to get to fully know this ‘new’ Rachel.

I don’t like what it took for me to truly actively seek help and help myself (I may talk about it in the future). But I’m so proud that I did. I’m so proud and thankful for the people in my life who have helped me through this (especially my husband and sister). Nothing I could do could repay them.

Anyway, I’m writing this quickly to share where I am at… and hopefully to inspire others to actively seek help if they are in that dark place. Things CAN be better. Believe me, I never thought so until proven otherwise. I always said that ‘it’ (depression and/or anxiety) was “just how I am”. & you are so much stronger than you think.

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OH, & I’m 24 today! Happy birthday to me :) Waking up to little Lucy and Cammy cuddles was the best birthday pressie ever!

Lucy Violet is here!

Lucy Violet entered the world at 6:25am on the 25th of March after a 17 hour labour. She weighed a petite 6 pound 8, was 51 cm long and had a head circ of 34cm. I pushed her out in one push!

We are all in awe and in love with her! She is just beautiful and such a dream baby. Aside from a post-dural-puncture ‘headache’ (so not a headache, as those in the know would know!) & the consequent visit to theatre for an epidural blood patch, we have been doing beautifully. I am so blessed and this is such a different experience to last time!