Snapshot of our week

 week snapshot____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
995441_10151843439998969_1134464705_nAn invitation to explore rocks & minerals inspired by Kate

16 month old toddler sorting MontessoriLucy (16 months) playing with her sorting toy

Open-ended play dough playYou can’t go wrong with play dough

horse riding farm visitCameron riding a horse at our farm visit

horse riding pigletsThat’s my little Cameron riding past the pigs
(the mama in the back just had piglets days earlier!)

swinging farmSwinging fun on the farm

horse float care learning farmCam & my niece learning about horse care & checking out the float

feeding ducks lakeWe fed ducks (and turtles, fish, eels) at the lakes

We are really lucky to have a local group and farm that organise the farm visits each month. This was our second visit and Cameron always learns so much from the experience.

It’s OK to be who you are

OK

At the beginning of my motherhood journey, with a babe in-utero, I remember believing I needed to be this certain type of mama in order to be ‘good’. You know the one. The one with the pinterest-worthy home, the Martha Stewart cooking and decor, the knitting/sewing/handmade mama, the one who knows all the answers, the one with a seemingly endless supply of fun, enriching activities for her children.

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Thankfully that changed once I was actually faced with the reality of children. Not only is that impossible, but I want my children to see me as the complex, flawed, funny human being I am.

Painted Lulu

I want them to be themselves, so I be myself. I want them to know it’s OK to make mistakes, so I let them see me make mistakes. I let them see me apologise genuinely, so that they will learn to apologise genuinely.

I want them to feel heard, valued and appreciated purely because they are them, not due to some idealised person they expect themselves to be.

My shy boy

I want them to question things and challenge the norm. I want them to celebrate being different and thinking differently. I want them to know that it is OK to be who they are. Because I’m still working on that for myself, and I figure I’ll give them a head start..

the little things

Inspired by Meagan at This Whole Family, I thought I would share some of our ‘little things’..

A weekly meme capturing the hidden beauty and grace found in the little things that remind us of just how blessed we are :

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climbing tree
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1. listening to Cam’s elaborate stories involving his little buildings and people

2. taking a second to look up at the perfect climbing tree

3. nothing says ‘slow down mama’ like a snuggly snoozing toddler

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What little moments did your week bring?

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.

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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.

Daily Rhythm

I asked on facebook if there were any topics you would like me to discuss and a couple of you said daily routines. Now that Cameron is 3 years and 4 months (in a few days) and Lucy is 13 months old, our routine is becoming more predictable. We generally follow a morning (~6am – 10am) rhythm and night time (~3pm – 7pm) rhythm but our days between 10 & 3 vary greatly.

The morning flows naturally. In the mornings we tend to sing songs and read a book or two, either before or after breakfast. More often than not it’s while we are still in bed.

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We prepare breakfast together (mostly Cam and I but Lucy will or be on my hip). For example I will get together the cereal, seeds and honey while Cammy grabs his and Lucy’s bowls and cups. I will get spoons and prepare the food while Cam gets milk and juice from the fridge. We then wash little faces and teeth. We feed our cat and change over Cam’s magnetic calendar (when we remember!). Cameron is pretty efficient at dressing himself but tends to ask for help with tricky zips and ties. Lucy is not a fan of dressing and I can see her being more demanding with dressing herself than Cameron ever was.

The rest of the morning is spent with chores and free play. I will sometimes have Lucy following me everywhere or on my hip but other times she will play alongside Cam or independently as I clean up. Cameron is great at independent play and exploration, however he loves to help me with things like packing the dishwasher, doing washing, sweeping, cleaning up spills and wiping down surfaces.

I tend to let his involvement be voluntary. I do however make a point of letting him know either directly or indirectly that we keep this home as a family and we tidy any messes we make.

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At around 10am, Lucy will often sleep & our day can turn to going out (to shops or my sisters or a park) or staying in (playing outdoors, doing art, doing an activity) and at some point we will do other chores like putting out rubbish, checking the mail, hanging out washing, etc. Cameron genuinely LOVES helping to do these things and will beg to do things like take out the recyclables.

Some days I can get next to nothing done whereas others are packed full of productivity. Living in this house with our yard makes for an easier time for me if it’s one of my ‘off’ days – nature is the best teacher and entertainer!

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Our night routine is the typical time with Daddy, dinner, tidy up, wind down, bath time, story time and sleep. Lucy’s sleep is still varied so if her afternoon nap ran late she may be up around the time Cameron is going to bed (which means Mike will read him his story and get him down). Cameron is now in his own room, in his own bed. This is very new and came about as a natural progression. We still co-sleep with Lucy and Cameron is welcome to come into our bed.

I’ll save the other topics (behaviour – particularly involving siblings and activities for 3 year olds) asked about for another post 🙂

Settling in

Coming to you from our new home and temporary internet!

We are slowly but surely settling in. Lucy had a lovely but busy birthday and Cameron is loving our new space.

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Cameron has been so helpful with entertaining Lucy and helping me clean the old house. He is loving having a big yard and finding his books and toys that have been packed for some time.

backyard1

We have recently been unwell so Lucy has been grumpy and it’s put a halt on some of our plans, including Lucy’s party. Now that we have a long weekend we are hoping to get lots done – finish off everything at the old place and get stuck into setting ourselves up here.

Hope you have a lovely Easter!

Blogs I Love

I have created somewhat of a blogroll at the top of my page. We’re in the middle of moving home (feels like limbo) at the moment, & I thought I would show you which blogs I frequent & get inspiration from.

Lately, (aside from the usual parenting and organising the move) I have been working through and drawing tons of inspiration from the Playful Learning Ecademy. I have been a big fan of Mariah’s and have her book. Needless to say I was over-the-moon when I found out that I had won a giveaway on her blog which included free access to her Ecademy.

I can’t wait to move homes for many reasons but a big one right now is so that I can use all of the ideas I’m learning through her course.

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Lucy is now 10 months old. She is a handful! It’s amazing how different your children can be! Lucy is determined and more than happy to voice that she isn’t pleased with something you are doing. By voice, I mean grunt and throw baby tantrums. Yes, really.

We have made the venture back into cloth diapering.

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Lucy is constantly pulling up to stand, standing without support and scaling furniture. She’s a climber too and makes her way onto our mini trampoline, the couch and anywhere else she fancies.

She is still only signing ‘milk’, ‘food’ and waving (Cam knew 6 signs at this stage, Lucy is too busy exploring to sign anything beyond food hah!). She’s only just started to give kisses. She says Mum, Dad and ta, and understands a bit more.

Cameron is doing great. I’ve decided to keep him home this year (I was going to take him to a Montessori-inspired kindy two days a week but decided – for various reasons – that it can wait). Hopefully when we find a new rental, move home & settle in, I will be able to get him into kindergym & do more fun out-of-home activities.

Cameron is currently loving duplo. He’s always building and playing out scenarios. It is his go-to thing to do inside. He is so proud of his work too, asking me to take a photo as he is constructing a piece.

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His artwork is developing and he often tells stories about his work.

Cam still adores books. Our bookshelves are constantly being added to (with early childhood education and parenting books for me, and various children’s books for him). We currently have been adding relevant Australian children’s nature guides (alongside anything by Steve ParishImage. Cam loves seeing animals/plants/insects that he knows and finding out a bit more about them.

Cam is still obsessed with riding his bike (with training wheels at this point) and has been very interested in tools (thanks to his new workbench and tools & his Dad of course).

Hopefully next time I update, we will be in a new home!

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 😛

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)