Monday, December 31, 2012

Ringing in 2013!

What are your plans for New Year's Eve? We are popping open some bubbly for an early toast, doing a few sparklers to see Coco's dazzled reaction - and going to bed early! 

Tomorrow morning we leave first thing for our little New Year's vacation in Davos. I have been freaking out because I don't know what to pack for Coco and I'm nervous about the cable cars and hotel stay and travel cot and snowsuit and boots and hats and mittens and whether or not she will sleep and if it will be any fun for me at all while J is skiing most of the day and if Coco will nap and if it will just be a big waste of money like our epic Corsica vacation fail. So I got all bent out of shape last night, tried to blame everything on J, quarreled with him and then felt really sheepish afterward. This morning, he got up early with Coco, let me sleep in until 10 and made me breakfast. What a sweetheart! It helped immensely and I don't feel so nervous or crabby anymore. 

Even still, I'm heading into the New Year feeling apprehensive and unsure about things. 

I told myself I would stop worrying about it, but I continue to wonder when I'll go back to work and in what capacity? Boo. I should really just enjoy this incredible time of being a stay-at-home-mom, so why do I do this to myself? 

I have been a rotten blogger as of late because I lost the cable to transfer photos from the camera to the computer and I feel like I can't post anything beautiful. It's silly, but resolution number one is to figure out the cable situation! 

It doesn't help that I feel really homesick following our amazing holidays with my brother - more on that this week as I cover our entire, spontaneous, unexpected holiday together. It was so incredible!

And then there's our apartment - we have been living here long enough that it's time for a Feng Shui attack on the place. J got me a Feng Shui book and the Apartment Therapy Cure book for Christmas and I cannot wait to clear out and infuse some new energy into our lives. 

At the same time, I just want to book a winter trip to my mom's and hide from it all. Isn't that how we always feel in the deep depths of winter? Isn't this period right after the fun and festivities of the solstice just the worst?! It's dark and cold and stagnant. And every year, as soon as Christmas is over (and winter is really just beginning! :( Oh my...) I always crave spring and summer and they feel so impossibly far away! That just makes the darkness and cold all the more formidable. Sigh. 

So let's do this, 2013. The sooner you're here, the sooner the light comes back. And the happier I'll be.  Happy New Year, everyone! xo

(Photo via Pinterest)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Analyzed Movements

In a Montessori classroom, we don't teach children to do concentration-building activities like Washing a Table or Polishing a Cup, we show them. And the way we show them is very deliberate. First, there is very little or no talking. That is because children can listen and children can watch, but not at the same time. Second, we use analyzed movements. What we are teaching a three-year-old when we show him how to wash a table, is how to follow an intricate set of steps that are sequence dependent. By slowing it down, and using movements that are clear, easy to follow and demonstrative, those little tiny children are able to take it all in and replicate a complex activity through imitation. It's simply brilliant. 

And that is where analyzed movements come in at home. Naturally, after many years of spending my days using analyzed movements to demonstrate lessons, open and close doors, push in chairs, carry trays, wash hands, sharpen pencils, trace shapes, wipe up spills, pour water and sew buttons, it spilled over into my everyday life. I am not claiming to be a ballerina, but I do tend to make an effort to be gentle and careful in my movements. I tread lightly, I put things down softly so that they don't make a big noise, I close doors quietly by turning the handle. And most of the time, I do this without thinking about it because it has become a habit for me. 

The real beauty of this is that Coco is imitating my every move! 

Oh my gosh, she is as delicate, careful and graceful as a 14-month-old could possibly be. It truly blows my mind. Part of it is just the way she is, of course. Within hours of her birth, the midwives and nurses all made remarks about how feminine and refined her movements are. And newborns barely move! But a lot of Coco's movement comes from modeling. Today I watched her take the lid off of a little toy metal stock pot and replace it again and again and again. She did it so carefully, with such concerted effort and inquisitive curiosity. She bent down to look closely at the lip of the lid and how it fit into the pot and she did it without making a lot of noise. (A few minutes later she was banging on the pot with a spoon! ;) But the point is, she wanted both experiences. She wanted the typical (and wonderful and exhilarating) toddler experience of banging on a pot with a spoon. And then, on the other hand, she wanted the refined, fine-motor experience of taking and replacing the lid with finesse. It really took me by surprise and made me thankful once again for my Montessori experience before becoming a parent. 

Have you ever considered how your everyday movements translate to your child's movements? What do you think of the idea? 

(Photos of Coco at 9 months carefully turning the pages of a book)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holiday Traditions: Our Favorite Christmas Movies

To me, spending time with family is the most important part of Christmas. This year will be our first year on our own as a little family, so we are focusing on creating lasting family traditions that we will continue on through the years. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching holiday movies together. When Coco is a little bit older, we will bake some cookies and make hot chocolate together before we snuggle up on the couch with a fire going and watch our favorite movies.
The best holiday movie of all time is probably Elf. How is it that it never gets old and never loses it knee-slapping hilarious qualities? I love this movie and it will be so fun when Coco is old enough to understand it, too.
My other favorite holiday film is Meet Me in St. Louis. It is a classic! Did you know that the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was written for this movie? Hearing Judy Garland sing it never gets old. What a movie!

What movies do you watch at Christmastime? Or do you prefer to keep the TV off, even at the holidays?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preparing for a Trip with a Baby

This weekend Coco and I are off to Dublin to visit some friends for the weekend. J has opted to stay in Switzerland and ski, so I will be traveling solo with my little lady again. It's surprising how it gets easier and less intimidating as you go. Here are my five trips for an easy trip with a baby - or should I say toddler?!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Montessori Mondays: Sippy Cups vs Real Cups

Sippy cups are great when babies are first learning to drink, but then they can become a crutch. And let's face it, most of those things are seriously ugly. So, instead of getting Coco completely hooked on sippy cups, we introduced real cups very early. We got her these sweet glasses at IKEA. They satisfy two Montessori prerequisites - 1). they're breakable and 2). they are a smaller version of what adults use. They also satisfy my own prerequisite of being very inexpensive. (See Montessori prerequisite #1 ;) So when we are at home, these are the glasses Coco uses at mealtimes. When we are out and about, we take a sippy cup because they don't leak or break and that's important when we're riding the tram and she decided to toss it over the side of her stroller. Around the house, she also uses a sippy cup because it doesn't spill and because she could get hurt if a glass broke and I was in the other room. Soon we will switch to the Sigg bottle Klinik Im Park sent her for her first birthday, but it's a little big at the moment. 

Perhaps you're wondering why Montessori philosophy would suggest giving a baby something breakable. Excellent question! It is because we want to give children a realistic impression of the world  we live in and the everyday objects in it. The things adults eat and drink out of are breakable. Yet, when we give children things to eat and drink out of, they typically are not breakable. This gives the incorrect impression that you can drop, throw or otherwise be careless with cups, bowls and glasses because they will not break. On the other hand, during dinner a few weeks ago, Coco knocked her bowl off of the table and it broke. It made a really strong impression on her. J and I stayed quiet and watched her react and take it all in. She stared for a long, long time at the broken bowl and spilled food without saying anything. Finally, it registered and she looked at us seriously and said, "uh-oh." Then we knew she understood what had happened. I explained that her dishes will break if they fall to the floor and cleaned it up with little fanfare. 

We use glass and real dishes at most of her meals at home and it's the only break we've had so far! Of course we expect more, so we use inexpensive glassware and dishes, but she does seem deliberately careful within her capabilities and it is amazing to watch. I feel that it respects her intelligence and gives her an appropriate challenge in fine tuning her motor skills. 
She also thinks that eating off of regular dishes and drinking from a normal glass like we do is pretty cool. :) Do you give your child real, breakable dishes and glasses? Or do you think plastic is the way to go?
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