Thursday, April 24, 2008

Considering Montessori

Last week, I visited a Montessori school with pre-school. I've always been interested in the Montessori method, and Londo and I have talked about Montessori schools and pre-schools since before we started trying to have kids.

As I've looked into it recently, I've discovered a few things I didn't know realize would be important when finding a Montessori school. First, since the term Montessori isn't copyrighted or anything like that, anyone can stick the label Montessori on what they do, so you have to be sure that the school you are considering meets your expectations. Second, some of the schools can seem like they are full of Stepford children, which is not what we want for the Pumpkin. A coworker of mine visited one school and said it was like they were Borg children, all mindlessly complying. Third, schools can get accredited, but if I understand correctly, there are two different schools of thought: the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). I believe the AMS school of thought is a little more creative, and I think those that are Stepford-ish are probably AMI which is more structured. But I've learned all this second hand, so please take this information with a grain of salt and educate me if I'm not right.

So I realized that it is important to visit the school you are considering and see if it is right for your child. As I said, I visited a Montessori school with pre-school last week. I LOVED this school! This was what I had in mind when I thought of Montessori. The kids were doing different activities in different areas of the room, some doing puzzles together while another child painted on the easle by himself. The teachers and assistants were engaged and interested in what the kids were doing. The environment for 2 year olds (who are not groups with the 3-6 year olds because of the different needs and capabilities that they have at 2) was very much like a big playroom at home, with lamps and rugs and kid-sized tables, chairs, sinks, cubbies, etc.

The kids weren't all happy little automatons, either. In one room, the kids were doing songs while sitting in a circle, but one or two were jumping up and running around. The teacher was watching them, but not impatient or wanting to control them. Letting kids be kids. In another room, two kids just got dropped off and were crying, but the director explained that they would be drawn into the activities soon and that the separation tears didn't last for long. The director answered my questions and other visitors' questions with thoughtful and caring answers, answers I liked hearing.

Most importantly, I could see the Pumpkin in one of those rooms and really loving it. I'm sold on the school, and don't even want to look for another. Unfortunately, they can't take her until the fall after she is 2, over a year from now. We are still working on a solution for the change we need to make in our childcare situation. While it's great I love this school, I still have to look at other solutions that can happen in the next month or two. And we still haven't address how on earth we'd be able to afford the Montessori school--or a nanny, for that matter. At the very least, I will now work towards having a "Montessori Home" in our house, thanks to the information a person online who I highly respect sent to me.

This evening, we meet with a financial planner to see get a fresh perspective on our finances and see if there is some way to afford what we ideally want for the Pumpkin. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Was It Funny Because I'm So Tired?

I don't want to talk about my night--my horrible, no good, very bad night--except to say one thing. When I went in to the Pumpkin's nursery, as usual she was standing up, leaning against her crib rail. She was too tired to stand on her own but unwilling or unable to lie down on her own. So I thought I would try to get her to lie down and maybe she'd just go back to sleep. My only excuse for this level of wishful thinking was the sheer exhaustion I was feeling.

I helped her lie down, and tried to rub her back. But that is when she told me about the bloody murder. Did I say told? I meant screamed. That was when she SCREAMED. BLOODY. FREAKING. MURDER. My child's self-soothing abilities are completely absent. But I think I'm going to try this every night. Every night I will attempt to get her to lie down on her own. Just to get her used to the idea. Is this how you move into sleep training? I know we've been doing some form of it the whole time, but it always felt more baby-led. But I've got to do something this time. I'm seriously nearing the end of my sanity.

But enough about that. I wanted to write about a funny little exchange from yesterday afternoon while Londo was sitting on the floor playing with the Pumpkin.

Londo: You know, she won't understand innuendo for years.
caramama: That's true.
Londo: So we could say all sorts of thing in front of her and she won't have any idea what we are saying.
caramama: Umm, yeah.
Londo, holding up two big bouncy balls: Check out Daddy's big balls!

At this point, I did laugh cause it was silly. Oh, that Londo. He's a funny guy. Even when being completely inappropriate. ;-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sleeping Woes Make Me Cranky

Happy Earth Day!

Can I just say that I love the men who comment on my blog? Did you see what they wrote on the QotW about confidence? I can confidently speak for all women everywhere that we love you guys. Can you teach classes or write a How To book or something? Better yet, let's all agree to advertise their blogs and send links to all the men we know! Check out My Goofy Daddy and I'm Not Skippy and be jealous of their wives! I would be jealous, but Londo is right up there with them... I mean even above them!! I'll link to Londo's blog, but he doesn't ever update it.

Here's something else I'm confident about: If the Pumpkin doesn't start sleeping through until morning again pretty soon, I will LOSE MY MIND!!!

Remember when I wrote about how the Pumpkin sleep trained herself and I said I knew it wouldn't last? Of course it didn't. Between the teething of molars, the sickness, a developmental spurt and the fact that the stars are in retrograde, we have been in another sleep regression.

Let me tell you a little story about what happened in the early hours of this morning, and you all tell me if this sounds familiar...

The Pumpkin woke up crying a little after 4:00 AM. I got up, went in her nursery, picked her up and walked around with her. That wasn't doing it for her, so I sat down and rocked a little, but HECK NO, that wasn't what she wanted. So I just nursed her. That settled her down... way down... but not quite to sleep. So we switched sides and kept nursing. And then I tried just rocking (because damn I was sore), and then more nursing. You get the picture.

Finally, after over an hour, she had fallen asleep. She was well and good asleep. I debate whether or not to keep rocking her and maybe doze off a bit in the glider/recliner. But I was uncomfortable and it was after 5:00 and I wanted to get back in my bed for just one more hour of sleep.

So I very carefully got up. I tip-toed over to the crib. I ever so gently lowered her (against my body) down onto the mattress. And then...

You know what happened, don't you? Oh yes, I'm sure you do.

That little girl's head popped right up and she started wailing and reaching for me. I was so frustrated, I just wanted to scream! But she was already screaming, so good would it do for me to add to that. It would only wake Londo, who had taken the brunt of the night-wakings the past 3 or 4 nights (maybe longer).

I picked her back up and we got into the twin bed in her nursery. She proceeded to fuss and fidget (goodness, the fidgeting!!!!) and even scream right in my ear for another 10 minutes, trying to get comfortable, until she finally found a good spot and passed out.

So I'm totally cranky today, even after my coffee. She was in a fine mood once we got up. She was in fact very adorable and pretty funny, but also into to everything which I'm not great at dealing with when I'm so tired and cranky. But we made it out the door, and I'll just go to bed by 9:00 again tonight.

The bright side (I'm always trying to find that darned bright side) is that we know what it is like when she's sleeping through the night. And we know she'll do it again once she's through whatever it is she's going through. We've seen the light, and we'll get back there soon. Hopefully, it will be soon enough for me to keep any shred of my sanity!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Question of the Week - Confidence

In general, I'm a pretty self-confident person. Whether it's due to nature or nurture or most likely a combination of both, I generally am not filled with self-doubt or second guess myself. I'm also not filled with modesty, apparently, but I didn't say I was perfect. In fact, I do have many flaws, but I know them well and have learned to just live with them and/or learned to compensate for them in other ways. In general.

This is not to say that I don't go through periods of self-doubt or lack confidence in certain areas. This became very apparent to me during the last year. IMO, there is nothing more humbling than being a first-time parent. As I've said before, there were so many things that I thought which turned out to be way off base simply because I didn't know what being a parent was really like. Especially the parent of a very fussy little girl. Those first few months of trial by fire plus the really difficult times while suffering from PPD, they really rocked my self-confidence in so many ways.

But slowly and surely, I've rebuilt my self-confidence in many areas, including parenting. I didn't do it alone. My therapist and I had many long conversations about parenting, and her praise of my parenting instincts helped build my confidence. Being the obsessive researcher I am, I have researched every area of parenting that seems to affect me. I've read books, perused websites, devoured message boards, obsessed over mommyblogs and daddyblogs, and snatched up many parenting magazines. I've had good conversations with our pediatrician. I've watched my sister and her family, my brother and his family, and many friends and relatives go through these early years of parenting. Most importantly, I listened to myself, my husband and to my baby.

So now I'm feeling pretty confident that the choices Londo and I have made are the right ones for us and for the Pumpkin. Even when those choices are not necessarily the "norms" of society. I've heard of other people getting anything from funny looks to big lectures on some of the choices they've made which are the same that I've made. I've been thinking that I must be very fortunate in that most people haven't given me a hard time about my choices, even when they don't choose the same or may not even agree completely.

But is it just luck? Or is it my confidence in the choices I made and the ability to back up my choices with research or observations about my child? I'm sure it's a combination of both, since I know other confident parents who get harassed by well-meaning (or maybe not well-meaning) people telling them that the decisions they made are wrong. But still, I believe that confidence not only helps to keep other people from questioning you (at least to your face), it also helps you not second guess your decisions based on what some mis-informed and highly opinionated stranger might say to you.

That got me thinking and wondering, which in turn makes me want to ask this Question of the Week:

What parenting decision have you made that you are confident about?

The first one that comes to my mind is "extended" breastfeeding*. I'm continuing to breastfeed past one year. Granted, I did move to whole milk for the Pumpkin during the day, but that was really so I could stop pumping. I still nurse her at night, in the mornings and when I'm home during the weekend and she seems to need/want it. Of course, I researched the natural age for weaning, read the AAP recommendation that "Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child" and discovered that the WHO recommends breastfeeding continue for "up to two years of age or beyond." In addition to having done the research, I'm completely confident that this is the right decision for the Pumpkin and for me and Londo. I know she will continue to get benefits from the breastmilk, and the bonding of nursing is a great benefit to both of us.

I tend to just talk about my continuing to breastfeed as if it's the most normal thing in the world, which I believe it is in most of the rest of the world. If anyone has given me a funny look, I haven't noticed because I simply can't imagine who would. If anyone does look at me funny or indicate that I shouldn't still be nursing, I'm more than happy to educate that person on the medical research and the fact that this decision is right for my family.

Have you made any decision(s) that others could question, or that even you questioned, but now you are confident in the decision(s)? I'd love to hear about it!

*For the record, I hate this term. Just because people breastfeed beyond a year should not label it "extended" when in fact it is both normal and healthy for children to continue breastfeeding beyond a year, our social and cultural norms aside.

Cara Mama - Then Why Don't You Listen?

Cara Mama,

I like the fact that I am babbling too. It's okay that you don't understand everything I'm trying to say. I know I need to work on learning the real words and how to pronounce them. But sometimes I use real words and I really mean them. Why don't you listen to me when I do?

Like last night, when you were trying to nurse me to sleep, and I kept saying "down." I wanted to get down. I didn't want to go to sleep! I don't care if I was really tired and it was bedtime. I wanted down and you didn't put me down. You did the same thing that time in the spy museum. I told you down, but you wouldn't put me down! Or those times when you pick me up when I'm clearly saying Dada! You tell me "You mean Mama." But sometimes I don't! I want Daddy even though he's leaving the house! He should stay and be with me cause I ask for him.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that it's great you like that I'm talking. But you really should be doing everything I say.

Grazie and ti amo,
Pumpkin