Quiet: Mom Lessons

When the baby is quiet, he’s either up to no good or pooping.

‘Mom Lessons’ is a new weekly blog series on Lady, Baby, and Books.

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Secular Homeschooling

I know that the baby is only still a baby, and I’m jumping the gun a little, but I’m a planner! So, I’ve been researching homeschooling a lot lately. I want to think of his education from 1 year old on as a type of schooling and I’ve been trying to find homeschool groups in my area to get advice or just meet other moms and their kids. Unfortunately for us, I have yet to find a secular homeschool group.

We don’t consider ourselves a religious family and we want to raise our children as such. That isn’t to say that we don’t want to teach them about religion. In fact, we want our kids to be well versed in many major religions. Understanding a person’s religion can make them much more accepting of differences and different cultures. But I don’t want to be part of a religious homeschool group and that’s all we seem to have around here.

I’m beginning to think that as the baby gets older and we actually get into “real” I’m going to have to make my own. A little scary, but it could be exciting!

Are you a homeschooler or part of a homeschool group? Do you have any advice or tips to give to a new mom?

Semi-Montessori

As I mentioned in my previous post, finding activities to keep my almost 8 month old occupied and happy has been a struggle. He is at the age where he’s aware of the world and wanting to interact with it, but unable to because he lacks the ability to do so. His frustration is sometimes loud and slightly painful to our eardrums. And as much as I would love to help him with everything, doing so would be a disservice to him. Not only does he already want to do everything himself, but by helping him constantly he wouldn’t learn anything. So I’ve been looking into the Montessori method of living/teaching.

Montessori is a teaching method that, when fully implemented, is a way of life for families. It focuses on the child and giving them the opportunity to function at their full potential. Children that most Americans would deem incapable due to their age can dress themselves, make themselves breakfast, help with dinner preparations, and even more. I never thought a 2 year old could chop vegetables (with a dull, child safe ‘knife’ of course) before learning of Montessori. The more I look into it, the more I want to start bringing some of the practices into our lives. I will not be following it completely, but our family will be more conscious of the baby’s abilities and how to encourage self reliance.

This week we added our first Montessori change into our home: we added a baby centered area of the living room where he can get into everything and anything. Baby proofing is done for the whole room, so we can let him explore to his heart’s content. The Montessori area consists of a bookshelf, a mirror, and age appropriate toys. So far, we all love it!

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Things have changed slightly from the picture above. The orange bucket is now on the floor and filled with homemade sensory bags (which I will be doing a post on later), Lucky, the stuffed puppy, is also next to the mirror, and the ball on the bottom shelf has been moved to the second shelf and replaced with books.

Calvin is able to access everything on the lower two shelves. He can play with anything, whenever he wants. The second shelf is even helping him with his dexterity as he works to get a toy he wants. I think his favorite part is the mirror though.

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He will spend 30 minutes straight staring into it, either looking at himself or laughing at our reflections as we move around the living room and wave to him. His frustration levels have dropped dramatically and the house has become a much calmer, happier place for everyone. I’m thrilled!

Seeing the success of this tiny change towards a Montessori lifestyle has me wanting to follow it more. The baby is such a strong willed little person and I think he will thrive on the independence it gives him as he gets older. I know that we will never implement Montessori fully (I believe in cribs and that there are times when a playpen is necessary) but I truly believe that what we do use will enhance our quality of life and give the baby the independence he already craves.

Have you heard of Montessori? Is it something that you’ve used before or are interested in?

Baby Sensory Activity: Pudding Paint

I’ve been struggling to find activities for the baby lately. He’s nearing 8 months and he’s becoming much more aware of the world and wanting to interact with it. Unfortunately, my searching has found very few ideas on what to do with him. Our play has mostly consisted of me letting him loose on the floor with a bunch of toys everywhere. He’s practicing his crawling (which right now is mostly pulling himself around on his tummy) so I’ll sit away from him and entice him with a rattle or other toy. It’s helpful, but not very exciting.

A few weeks ago I put him in his high chair with some different pureed foods to act as paint. We had peas, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes, but nothing interested him. I don’t know if he just wasn’t interested at the time or if the colors weren’t vibrant enough to get his attention. Today I went a different route: pudding paint.

Now first, before I get into the whole experience, let me assure you that this is much easier than I thought it would be. I imagined a terrible mess and more stress than it might be worth. I was wrong. Once I sat the baby in front of his paint, it was like I was on vacation. I drank coffee, I perused Facebook, and the baby was happy and entertained without needing my attention every second. Even the cleanup was easier than expected. We may not do this everyday, but I’m thinking we might just do this at least once a week.

After looking up different recipes for baby paint, I went with the easiest one I could find. Plus I already had the two ingredients on hand! All you need is a baby pudding of some kind and food coloring. I used Gerber Vanilla Custard Pudding with Bananas and gel food coloring.

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All I did was place about four tablespoons on pudding on the high chair try with a small dot of food coloring and mixed them up. I used red, blue, and green and left one without coloring as a yellow.

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Next, I stripped the baby down into only his diaper. Note that this step is probably the most important one…

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Then I let him go at it!

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He had so much fun! At first he was very slow about putting his hands into the paint and moving it around. It was very clear that he was watching how everything mixed together and learning what it felt like. After a minute or two he turned it into real party by giggling and licking the tray and just having the time of his life. Even if this was a pain for me, his smiles would have made every second worth it.

He got even messier than this last picture, so when he was done we went straight into bath time. I was happily surprised that all of the food coloring came off and didn’t stain his skin. That was my biggest fear after he planted his face straight into it. After bathing it was nap time for the baby and clean up for me.

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I would highly suggest using a small high chair that attaches to a regular chair for this, if you have one. I just put the whole thing in the bathtub and rinsed it off. If I had tried cleaning it in the dining room, I have a sneaking suspicion that it would have been terribly difficult and annoying. If you only have a large high chair, it might be easier to just spray it off with a hose.

I didn’t even mind the clean up. The table and floor were easily wiped up with a cloth and I happened to coordinate this with when I wanted to do my weekly deep clean of the chair anyway. So, if you’re looking for something to do with your baby, I highly suggest this baby paint.

What fun activities do/did you do with your babies at this age?

It’s a block!

The other day I wanted to get back into my sewing. It’s been a while and I figured I could take advantage of a good nap from the baby and whip out a blanket. I looked through my stick pile of fabric and decided on a Minecraft theme.

The husband and I used to play a lot of the game. It’s still fun to play every once and a while to relax after the baby goes to bed. I should have known that he would want to keep it for the baby after I showed it to him. My good intentions of selling it lasted all of 3 hours until he got home.

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The next day I still had the sewing bug, so I decided to try something I haven’t made before. I worked while the baby napped and then played in his high chair next to me. I ended up doing a passable grass block from Minecraft to go along with the blanket.

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I wouldn’t feel comfortable trying to sell something like this yet, since my technique was not quite perfect, but maybe one day. The stuffing also isn’t sitting exactly how I want it at the moment. I hope to practice on more blocks from the game soon. (No more minky fabric though. Its’ elasticity makes it too difficult to make all of the sides even.) I even want to branch out into other stuffed toys in the near future.

Any ideas for what I should try? I would love to hear what different kids would like to have decorating their rooms!

True Loss is Forgetting

The worst thing is forgetting.

At first you forget they’re gone. You’re enveloped by a thick blanket of grief and you instinctively reach for the phone. You call them for everything: when you’re happy, when you’re sad. With the first ring you remember it’s them you’re mourning. It’s months before you stop forgetting.

Next you forget to think about them. It’s 10:30 at night and the day was stressful. You’re drifting off and it hits like ice through your heart: you didn’t think about them that whole day. Familiar grief wraps around you, this time tinged with guilt. It isn’t until well into the morning that your crying subsides and you sleep.

Then you forget the sound of their voice. You stare at your phone and the voicemails you have but you can’t bring yourself to listen. Instead you call their phone to leave a voicemail of your own. It’s been almost a year but you still haven’t cancelled it. When the machine tells you to leave your message you cry and say you miss them.

Next you forget their touch. It’s hard to figure out when exactly you forgot this one. When you realize, you strain to recall what their hugs felt like. All you can remember is how cold they were when you held their hand for the last time. It hurts to breathe as you struggle to hold in the tears.

Finally you forget what they look like. It’s a panicked moment when you think of them and all you see is a blur of features. You spend the next hour looking at pictures, trying to memorize their face. It’s no use though. No matter how hard you try, you’ll forget again eventually. You never knew how much old pictures could mean to you.

It hurts to remember, but the worst thing is forgetting.

Gift Planning

Kid’s teepees are the cutest idea. They’ve been floating around on the internet for a few years now, with mom’s everywhere going gaga. I’ve admired them but never paid much attention because I wasn’t a mom. Now that I am, and Calvin’s first Christmas and birthday are nearing, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon.

I have an Amazon wishlist for Calvin that I’ve been adding to as I find more items I think he would enjoy. The teepee has stayed off though. Why? Because they’re insanely expensive if you want anything that won’t fall apart with the first use! And I won’t spend $50 on a toy that won’t hold up to little hands. So the only option is to make one myself. I’ve seen tutorials and I know it won’t be hard, especially since I know how to sew. The hardest part is finding the right fabric.

I won’t be making it anytime soon, but I would like to have the necessary items on hand so I can whip it out whenever I have the chance. So I’m taking a little poll on what fabric I should get. Here are the options:

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‘A’ would be the only fabric that I would use for the whole teepee. The other three would be used for the top 1/4 of it, while the bottom would be a crisp white. And I have to keep in mind that I want this to work for both boys and girls. We want more kids and I’m hoping we’ll get a girl mixed in there somewhere. I know which way I’m leaning but I would love other opinions!

Let me know in the comments what you think!

Quick Update

Our house is a mess, the husband has been working 6+ days a week, I’m in need of a shower, and this boy just keeps on smiling.

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Oatmeal and avocado for breakfast, with a healthy side of laughter.

Bicycles and a Baby

When I was in college I biked and rode the bus everywhere. It was a whole lot cheaper than a car so, even though it wasn’t the most convenient, I embraced it. After college I gave my mom my two bikes to keep in her garage. There wasn’t any room in our apartment and she wanted a form of exercise that would be easy on her knees. Well, when she passed they came back to me and they’ve been sitting in our garage since October.

Nick and I decided to finally fix them up. (And by Nick and I, I mean that Nick worked on them while the baby and I cheered him on.) It seemed like an easy fix at first. Just a little grease in the chains, some air in the tires, and a new baby seat installed. We were on our way.

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And just over a mile into our first ride, the back tube on mine and the baby’s ride went flat in a surprisingly loud pop! I ended up having to switch bikes with Nick and ride back home as fast as I could. I grabbed the car and drove back to pick up the boys and the sad bike.

A few days later, Nick had the time to change the tube and we were off again that evening. We’ve had two rides since and everything is going well. We’re loving getting exercise that’s fun and the baby loves looking around at everything. He especially loves giggling and looking at his daddy riding next him.

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I’m thinking that we’re both going to need new bike seats eventually though. They’re comfortable for about 2 seconds.

Does anyone else ride often? And does anyone have good recommendations for big comfy seats?

Liebster Award Nomination

I’ve been absent here the past few weeks, unfortunately. Life happens and gets in the way of writing! However, I was nominated by Sprout and Sprig for a Liebster Award, and it’s given me a little kick in the pants to get back into things! Thank you for the nomination and the motivation! I’m thrilled that you would do this for me.

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The Liebster award is about discovering new blogs, so I’m nominating 11 others for the award. I love reading each of these blogs and look forward to each new post.

Nominated Blogs

Cacia Farms
Living a Sustainable Dream
Troll Bridge Farm
Babies, Buscuits, and Booze
Paulette Guerin Bane
Focussed on Family
Cockamamy Farm
Farmer Hick’s Homestead
Straight Arrow Homestead
The Old Sands Place
Home, Scheetz Home

Each nomination also comes with 11 questions to answer and we have to give 11 random facts about ourselves. Here are the questions given by Sprout and Sprig:

Questions

1. Rainy days, sunny days or snowy days?
Rainy days for sure! Living in Arizona, you get tired of sunshine real fast. Monsoon season, which is what we’re in right now, gives us a nice respite but it’s never enough for me.
2. What do you do in your free time?
I don’t have much free time at the moment. Having a baby that’s learning to crawl and the garden and animals means I stay pretty busy. However, I do manage to read a bit during nap time and we’re starting to go bike riding again.
3. What are your five favorite foods?
I love enchiladas, tacos, eggplant parmigiano, grilled cheese with tomato soup, and hard boiled eggs.
4. If you could move anywhere, where would you like to live?
I would have to say Ireland. The lush green rolling hills and the sea make me yearn. Give me some land on a cliff and I would garden to my heart’s content.
5. What is your worst habit?
Being addicted to technology. I’m trying to move away from it (we just cancelled our cable and internet… we now only have internet with our phones) but it’s a hard habit to break. I want to spend more time in the present with my family.
6. What is your favorite quote?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – Dr Seuss
7. Why did you begin blogging?
I have family all over the country that I wanted to keep in touch with. It’s hard to call 20 people to let them know how life is going, but it’s easy to share one blog. I also wanted something that was just mine. Having a baby can take a lot of your self away and I didn’t want to loose it.
8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
Lady: Of course, that one is me.
Baby: I knew I would be blogging a lot about our baby, and any future ones, so I wanted to let that be known in our title.
Books: I have a huge love of reading. I fully believe that reading can change a child’s life and I wanted to encourage that on my blog. I also have an Usborne Books & More business that I love. I wanted to share those amazing books with others.
9. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I see my family on acreage in northern Arizona, creating a homestead together. We want to live sustainably and I want to homeschool our children using our land and way of life. (Hopefully we’ll have 3 little ones running around by then!)
10. What is your favorite story about you and your best friend or partner?
A lot of people think I’m crazy for saying that my husband is my best friend, but it’s true! I have other friends, but how can you not be best friends with the person you’re spending your life with? I think my favorite story of us is our honeymoon. We spent four days parkhopping in Disneyland and California Adventure. We had made a deal that if he went on California Screaming (he’s afraid of heights) I would go on Tower of Terror (I get scared at romantic comedies.) Needless to say, he closed his eyes on the rollercoaster and I cried on the scary ride. We have pictures of me bawling into his shoulder on it. Not fun at the time, but definitely funny after!
11. What is something you’re thankful for?
My little boy. I don’t know how I got through the death of my mother, but I know that having him with me helped so much. He is all of my happiness wrapped up in a sweet, cute little bundle.

Facts

1. I’m pescatarian (not vegetarian), meaning I eat fish.
2. I have a second business, besides my books, where I sell my handmade baby blankets and organic lip balms.
3. My husband and I want 4 kids.
4. We have 3 dogs, 6 chickens, 2 rats, 1 bearded dragon, and 1 fish. (We need to start charging guests like our house is a petting zoo.)
5. I hate getting dirt on my hands, yet I’m an avid gardener. (Explain that one…)
6. I love playing The Sims 4 whenever I can sneak it in, which isn’t very often.
7. I wanted to be a veterinarian my whole life… until college chemistry courses. Then I switched my major 4 times.
8. I never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom until I became pregnant.
9. I’m terrified of nearly all movies. I can’t handle the suspense.
10. Just like your grandmother, I will write a letter to a company if I’m not satisfied with their product.
11. At the moment, all I want to do is go to Disneyworld. (I’ve never been.)

My 11 Questions for the Nominees

1. What is your favorite thing to drink?
2. How many animals do you have?
3. If you could have any type of superpower, what would it be?
4. What would be your dream vacation?
5. Who is your favorite singer?
6. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
7. What is your greatest accomplishment?
8. What is your biggest fear?
9. Do you have a large family? (Cousins, nieces, etc…)
10. What is your dream job?
11. If you could have dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be?

I have to admit, this post took me much longer to write than I thought. It was incredibly fun though, and I can’t wait to read everyone else’s! Thank you again to Sprout and Sprig! This was just what I needed.

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