Thursday, 20 November 2014

Photo Share: Lawn bowling and meeting new people.

Meeting new people is always a challenge, but I don't think we realise just how nice everyone is. If only we could orchestrate a reason to talk to each other. Enter volunteering and Young Professionals Network Bendigo. This evening it was lawn bowling, sometimes it talks, once it was a visit to the gallery with an exclusive walk through. It's gotta be good for the soul to be amongst it. 

If you're in and around Bendigo, get on board. Yes it can be daunting talking to peeps you haven't met before, but really, that's how most of our relationships start.

Do you have a good story about meeting someone new?


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Eczema and the mind field of management.

Eczema has become our everyday over the last 6 weeks. And we've changed almost everything (we're not ever going to give away the dog) to try and manage it. 

It's an interesting one because it is very common in babies from 0-5 and often they grow out of it by the time they're 1 or 2. The problem, of course, is telling 6 month old Reuben that he can't scratch that itch and all the other itches over his body. 

His eczema has really put everything else on hold, some days it's napping, nursing, consoling, bathing and crying all day. Some days he's smiley in the morning and miserable from lunch time. Lately, his cheeks and face have been cracked, weeping sores. And pretty much every day he wears mittens, so he can rub his itches but not cut himself with his sharp little baby nails. It breaks my Montessori heart to cover his hands at such a crucial time for discovery, but his health and well being has to come first. 

The biggest issue for me has been the advice and management. As it is linked to genetics and the immune system and the red, itchy skin is merely a symptom it's hard to know what advice to follow. Doctors tend to prescribe more and stronger steroid creams with each visit, but no real advice as to how to manage when/if it gets worse or better. 

But I've found Dr Aron who we will start a 12 week process with which we are more than excited about. Especially after the very interesting TV program Insight last night which looked at allergies. I was shocked to hear that food based moisturiser used on eczema could potentially trigger a future allergy of that food (think goats milk, oat meal, coconut oil - we've had all of them suggested!). 

It's a mind field. And I guess that's the parenting truth that you don't realise until you become a parent. Making the best decisions with the best intentions is hard when there is so much advice out there. 

So a wrap up of the changes we've made to ease Reuben's eczema. 
- Changed laundry liquid for the whole family to soap nuts, vinegar and lemon. 
- Changed all clothes to cotton and/or bamboo and dry inside (away from pollen)
- Use water and face washers instead of baby wipes
- Bath up to 2 times per day
- Swaddle when sleeping (to prevent him scratching himself)
- Reuben wears ScratchMeNots to cover his hands
- Reuben and myself are on fish oil and probiotics from our Naturopath 
- Stopped food to see if there was a trigger - slowly reintroducing in a baby-led weaning fashion
- I restrict dairy and certain fruits from my diet
- Consulted with doctors, dermatologist, paediatrician, pharmacists, naturopath and bowen therapist. 

And now finally, we're onto a treatment plan with Dr Aron, fingers crossed Reuben responds well. 

(I hate posting these photos, but I think it will be important to reflect on in 12 weeks time)


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Our Floor Bed: Pre-rolling

I'm finding that before Reuben can sit up there aren't many "activities" that I can do with him. Of course we play and interact but as far as the wonderful world of pinterest montessori activities goes it doesn't seem to kick in until we're working on fine motor skills etc.

So before he turns 6 months (in 2 weeks... eek!) and starts sitting independently it's about organising his spaces.

First up, the floor bed.

Yep, people look at me strange. Yep, they usually say "like, a regular single bed, on the floor? Oh.".

But with the support of my gorgeous hubby we decided, if we're going to do Montessori, this seems like a pretty essential part.

The theory behind the floor bed is recognition of the space around them, independence when they are able to move around and responsibility and trust for sleeping/quiet time.

Confession: the floor bed is easy when bub isn't moving around. Lately, Reubs has been shuffling around the bed so, inevitably, the day will come when he falls off. How will I deal with this? By hoping like hell he's a quick learner and only does it once or twice.

The pros so far has been that it's easy to pick him up, put him down, read a book to him while sitting next to him, comfort him by lying close to him when he's unsettled.

The cons so far is fear of falling (yet to happen, but will soon).

The challenge of the floor bed for us was that we didn't want it directly on the floor for air circulation issues to solve this we bought a trundle which makes it a few more inches for him to fall and an edge of which we've added some foam to soften the blow.

I'm excited about how Reubs will interact with his room once he's mobile.

For more info check out these posts:

Monday, 22 September 2014

Food TIME!

I wasn't sure that I would be able to tell if Reuben was ready for food, I thought the signs might be subtle... but whoa mumma, the gorgeous little thing started chewing everything, and followed everything you put in your mouth with his (hungry) eyes. Funny how they can communicate without saying a thing. So we took his lead and gave him a little hand size piece of apple to suck on and he looooooooved it.

So this was the week we started pureed foods, 1 tablespoon of apple and he scoffed it. I haven't been too regimented about when I feed him, the aim for me now is introducing tastes and giving him more foods that he can hold himself. 

We are also giving him sips of water from his shot glasses to get him used to drinking from a cup. 

And continues to put everything into his mouth, but that's because he has some sharp little teeth coming up. Reuben (and I!) can recommend Mama & Little they're cute and functional, which is a tick in my book.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Getting Organised: Food!

Reuben is fast approaching 5 months, and everyone is getting very excited about starting him on solids. I'm excited, but waiting until the moment is right, not too soon and not to late; goldilocks style.

First I have to get organised - I love that being prepared is the Montessori way. So here is my list of getting organised:

1. Cutlery - The best deal I've found is through I Am Montessori

2. Plates, bowls, shot glasses and pitchers... searching the op shops.

3. Weaning table and chair - My father in law is going to help me make it thanks to the patterns from Voila Montessori and I've ordered this high chair so Reuben can be involved in our meals.

4. Read everything I can on the topic - so far my list involves
Montessori Moms - who makes reference to this great article
How We Montessori
Vibrant Wanderings - PDF on food.
Natural Parents Network
Michael Olaf

5. Watch for the signs Reuben is readySee the Raising Children Network
- can sit up and hold his head when supported - check!
- shows and interest in food - he's looking at the cup/fork going from the table/plate to mouth - check!
- reaches out for your food - not yet
- opens mouth when offered food - not yet

6. Start thinking about Reuben's first foods. 

7. Start introducing water and juice (he's not ready yet!):

Do you have any good references or experiences? Get in touch in the comments or via email

Montessori Moms - who makes reference to this great article
How We Montessori
Vibrant Wanderings - PDF on food.
Natural Parents Network
Michael Olaf

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sewing: A Baby Quilt

I'm lucky Reuben's a boy, there aren't nearly as many cute things I could sew for a boy as there is if he were a girl... ahhhh, the ruffles I would go crazy with little dresses full of ruffles.

But my adorable friends had an adorable girl and so I decide to make her a little quilt. I've found the one for Reuben incredibly useful especially as now I put him on the floor quite a bit (and, it helps with mopping up the drool, dribble and spews when I'm out an about).

Nothing better than bright pink and Wonder Woman.

 Made with flannel, quilting batting and blanket ribbon. It is a quick project in theory but with a little one a more accurate time frame is about 4 naps worth, especially if you get some good naps in there.
 Sewing is a wonderfully practical hobby for me, I enjoy taking the time to figure out the puzzle of the pieces and I'm confident enough now to give almost anything a try. I'm not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination but I do enjoy the process; deciding on pattern and fabric, measuring, cutting, sewing, finishing. I love/hate that fabric choice can make or break a pattern. But what I like most about it is the time to think and often when sewing for other people or for an occasion it is a really nice to to reflect.

What's your hobby?

Jess xx

Friday, 29 August 2014

Book Review: Montessori from the Start

The Book: Montessori from the Start: The Child at Home, from Birth to Age Three by Paula Polk Lillard and Lynn Lillard Jessen

Let me start by saying, everyone recommends this book when people ask where to start. It's my first real book to introduce me to the nuts and bolts of Montessori theory as it works in a practical sense, and is an excellent introduction. In no way is it a step by step guide to being the worlds best Montessori mum raising the perfect child, but you will never find such a book anyways. And I feel that it packs in the information of which it expects the reader to acknowledge and then implement as is appropriate to their child. 

This book has done more to build my confidence in my skills as a parent and in the principals of Montessori than I was expecting. It has confirmed that this is the way I want to raise my little guy and fuelled my interest in learning more. 

The key take-home message for me is that children want to learn, want to learn what you’re doing and will develop at a slow pace. They will absorb what is going on around them and have the ability to build skills if given encouragement and space to do so. 

But more than this I feel that this book is as much about raising the child as it is about how to be a Montessori parent, something which I didn’t know I was looking for but took much interest in when talked about. 

I feel confident that I can start to create a simple, ordered and beautiful house and that I have a good guide to start building activities as Reuben gets older. Of course, much of it I haven't put into practice yet as he's not old enough. But the direction around floor beds, cloth nappies, food and the general advice on how to start creating a beautiful environment are excellent and you'll see them in up coming posts. 

I typed up a lot of notes and these are the best bits: 

  • Create a home that is not overly serious and filled with joyfulness and spontaneity.
  • Establish an environment that encourages the development of concentration.
  • A place for everything and everything in it’s place.
  • The hand discovers more information by carrying out new direction and reporting back to the brain. 
  • Rotation not substitution is the answer to the process of habituation to objects.
  • Challenge: build knowledge and background before we expect understanding of specific details.
  • The parent-child relationship is for the child’s benefit, not the parents.
  • Ensure that activities balance effort and success.
  • Remember: the child is interested in the process not the end result.
  • Remember: do not interrupt a child, even praising can throw off their concentration.
  • The child's attraction to order focuses attention and effort.
  • In order to have confidence in ourselves, we need to have control of ourselves.
  • Do not expect immediate compliance, repeat the same request in different words
  • Do not use a challenging tone - patience! 
  • You have control of the situation so there is no need to get angry, anxious or insecure.
  • Remember: this is a collaboration use the concept of “my turn, your turn”
  • Repetition and practice of each new experience results in learning
  • Make it look fun!

Reuben is 4 months old so I feel well placed to build on what I've learned from this book. First change we made was a floor bed, I liked the way they explained the concept.  The same goes for cloth nappies, I had decided that I wanted to use them but until I read this book I didn't mention it to too many people, now I feel supported that the reason we are doing it is beneficial for Reuben to know the difference between wet and dry. And we also are onto the 3rd mobile, a bit late but he's still enjoying them. 

Most useful for me and what I will be looking into further is the "teaching" methods, the "your turn, my turn" concepts etc. and of course I won't be able to stop myself from seeking out gorgeous toys. 

I highly recommend this book, it's well written and easy to understand and gives practical tips as well as an overview of the theory.

Overall usefulness: 4/5 (especially if you're looking for somewhere to start reading, but it is a lot of information)
Ease of reading: 4/5 (it'll take you a while and there is heaps to absorb, but it's worth it)
Buy or borrow: Buy, I'll  be referring to this book in the future and also lending it to the grandparents.

For some more reviews check it out on Good Reads

Friday, 22 August 2014

First Impressions: Cloth Nappies

Cloth nappies and the Montessori way: There are some excellent blog posts on why cloth nappies fits into the Montessori theory especially here  so I won't go into too much detail, but when people ask me I tell them: cloth nappies are the first part of toilet training; that is the child recognising when they are wet and dry.  

We decided to give the cloth nappies a go for Reuben because he's our first and, well, quite frankly we figured we didn't know any better so we may as well. I'm keen to make better choices for the environment and for my wallet and the more I researched the more it seemed to satisfy both criteria. I was a little apprehensive about telling people but, I've found people are really supportive and maybe even a little impressed (maybe).

I chose to use Eco Naps All in Ones. Everything has been ordered online and the customer service has been great even when I've come across issues.

I like the Eco Naps All in Ones because they look like real nappies but cuter. His butt is a little chunkier but that's ok too, but they don't hinder his rolling at all.

At the beginning he was too little for them and leaked through a lot so we had to wait until he had put on some chub around his legs, they are delightfully chubby now so we very rarely have leak throughs unless he's way off aim (which happens with disposables anyway).

We also wore them 24/7 at the start but he has developed a nappy rash/dermatitis which may or may not be to do with the cloth nappies but definitely is not helped by them. For a precautionary measure we've changed to cloth during the day and disposables during the night to give his skin a break from being wet against his skin.

Going to disposables, even part time, has been heartbreaking, I feel like it takes a fair amount of balls to do something non-mainstream and to have them contributing to his skin problems upset me. But ultimately, it's about what's best for him not the idea of something. 

The washing is fine, it just needs to be done everyday. As a further measure we wash with soap nuts, I bought them a little skeptical, but to my surprised I find them very effective and all our clothes are now washed with them.

Overall I can't wait until his skin settles and he's running around in them in the summer time with nothing else on, it's going to be total cuteness.



Thursday, 21 August 2014

Starting the Montessori Journey.

Journey; a bit of a naff way to describe it, but honestly, I can't think of a better word. My aim is to raise a child who is confident, curious and able. The journey is really about figuring out what works and how to get to the end point and all the ups and downs along the way.

And, it's a minefield out there. There is a humungous volume of information not only on raising kids, parenting, feeding, sleeping, disciplining, etc, etc, etc but Montessori too.

So this blog is to help me be organised, critical and reflective of the journey. I don't know what's best, I'm just figuring it out and hopefully along the way you, dear readers, will join me, help me and share your ideas.

My story is simple: I went to a Montessori Pre-school in 1987 with my twin sister, it was run by the most amazing teacher I have ever had, Tara. I have fond memories and when I was pregnant decided to look into it to see if there was anything in my area (Bendigo, Victoria, Australia) and to my surprise I found out there isn't. So I started reading and pinteresting and I found this wonderful community online.

Bendigo is a town of 105,000, a major centre in our state known for it's art gallery and gold rush history (and what you probably didn't know was the dim sim was invented here). There is so much to offer here and it surprised me that there wasn't the Montessori option. Maybe one day I might try and bring it to this community, but in the mean time I would love to start the journey and hopefully find some local Montessori inspired mummas along the way.

I have a 3 and a half month little boy named Reuben, a darling husband who loves everything I tell him about Montessori and a staffy-kelpie name Boston (who I am sure will pop up on this blog now and again).

What you can expect from this site is my experiences, reviews of books and websites, links to resources, some of my personal sewing projects, updates on our garden and hopefully some inspiration.

I'm excited. Lets Make, Grow + Share.

Get in touch: jessclairewhite -at-
Follow my Montessori board on Pinterest: