The second in the Montessori mobile series is the Octahedron, and this one was even easier/faster to make than the Munari. Similar to the Munari, though, it did make me feel like I was doing a high school geometry project.
Super-easy directions can be found here, and since I used supplies left from the first mobile, I made this for the cost of three sheets of shiny paper (maybe a few dollars?).
I made the octahedrons shortly before our road trip to Milwaukee in October and hung them above the car seat for a bit of the drive. Elli has really enjoyed studying these – probably even more than she’s enjoyed the Munari.
Truthfully, though, it’s been tricky to allow Elli time to herself to concentrate without mom or sister interrupting her! Mom is always close when E is on the floor to make sure the dogs or big sister don’t squish her. Big sister likes to lay down next to Elli and check out the mobile while holding her hand or kissing her or snuggling her. It really is sweet! But it’s definitely a struggle to make sure to give each kid what they need – Lilly’s need to belong and be part of the family, including caring for and loving on her sister, and Elli’s need to have moments of quiet concentration to figure out what this world is all about and develop her attention span.
One of my fave fall traditions is taking a trip to a pumpkin farm to pick the *perfect* pumpkins to turn into jack-o-lanterns. And, of course, taking the *perfect* photos of the event is key. Especially since we do all this fun stuff that the kids will NEVER remember. So, pictures will have to substitute. SEE KIDS! WE HAD FUN!
It was a bit chilly and rainy on our planned pumpkin day, but we got lucky with a break in the clouds and temporary slowing of the wind.
Lilly loved pulling the wagon and picking out the pumpkins. She was actually fairly selective with her choices and went in search for three big pumpkins for mama, daddy, and Lilly June and a “tine pumpkin for tine baby Elli” (her idea – not ours… she’s constantly on the lookout for tiny things for baby Elli, making tiny cookies for baby Elli, and playing tiny rock shows for baby Elli).
The cows were also fun to watch – but Lilly made sure not to get too close.
Elli slept through our entire visit, snuggled up on my chest until I insisted on taking some photos with her in them so she’d know she was along for the fun.
We waited a week to carve (two of) the pumpkins… I took the girls on an impromptu trip to MKE to visit the fam again while Jason worked a week of 12+ hour days (boo work!). I actually took NO pictures that week, which is a bummer because there were some cute moments of Elli staring at my grandpa, listening to his voice. Elli also giggled and hooted at my grandma the baby whisperer, and she took a long nap on my other grandma. Lilly had fun wrestling grandpa, playing with uncle Trev, and having a REAL tea party with REAL TEA at Nanee’s work. Also, I got to go shopping and found some amazing pants that fit my post-baby body, and Nanee and Grandpa took care of Lilly while I slept for almost 12 hours (waking only to feed Elli). A good week and once again, the girls were AMAZING travelers — only one stop on the 4 hour drive, and I only had to pacify Lilly with movies on the ipad for about 20 min each way.
We thought Lilly might be into playing in the pumpkin guts, but she was not. She took a few scoops out of the pumpkin and then was happy to watch mom and dad finish the job.
I really wanted to take a photo of our littlest pumpkin inside of a pumpkin, but she was just too big (or the pumpkin was just too small). Oh well… I’m sure there will be many other opportunities to torture her with creative photography in the future.
I blinked and two months has passed. Yet, it feels like Elli has been a part of our family for forever. She fits in around here so seamlessly that I can barely remember what life was like without her.
Elli sometimes sleeps for 4-5 consecutive hours at night, and on those nights, I feel like I’ve won the sleep lottery. Other nights its every 2-3 hours, and I wake to a VERY EXCITED TODDLER still groggy. Every morning, Lilly June comes into the room where Elli and I are sleeping, climbs up on the bed, and kisses her baby sister. She wants to hold baby Elli first thing every morning, and she coos to her in a high pitched voice, “It’s your big sister baby EllI! You drink milk baby Elli! You have tiny hands baby Elli!” It’s just too much.
She’s a pretty calm baby, I think. Doesn’t cry/fuss much, seems content to watch the world around her. Enjoys taking naps in the Moby wrap (a baby-carrier is my only must have for this second baby). Wakes up minutes after being put down on the rare occasion that she does get put down. She gave us her first smiles around 6 weeks, and will fairly regularly smile and coo at me.
Elli’s feeding is going MUCH better, and I am so very glad that we stuck out the difficult breastfeeding days. We affectionately call her “Elli Belly” because we’re quite pleased that she’s getting a chubby little infant belly. Just nursing her every 2-3 hours seems SO EASY compared to our previous, nurse, pump, bottlefeed schedule. We had weekly meetings with a lactation consultant for E’s first 6 weeks of life, and at one of the meetings, I was mentioning to the nurse that, at least in the middle of the night, the bottle didn’t seem enough for Elli — I’d bottle feed her a few ounces, pump, then bottle feed her a few more, and she’d STILL be awake and looking to feed, so I’d try to nurse her. I was confused about why E would suddenly need so much milk in the middle of the night — especially when she would spit a bunch of it up. The nurse pointed out that she probably wasn’t actually looking for nutrition — she was looking for the warmth and comfort of her mama. And then I had to hold back my tears (because I am NOT a crier). My baby wanted ME. Wow. What a humbling and powerful idea. And maybe that is the most amazing thing about kids: despite my imperfections, the occasional short-temper, the pudge around my middle or the fact that I haven’t showered in two days, they just want me. Just as I am, with no expectation that I’ll be anything other than myself.
I *finally* have this feeling like everything she does is THE CUTEST THING EVER. I feel terrible admitting that it took 2 months for us to get here — especially when I felt like that about Lilly immediately after her birth. Don’t get me wrong: if you would have tried to hurt my baby, I’d have gone all mama bear on you. But truly, I had felt extreme guilt, wondering if we’d ever get past just a need to protect her to this place of adoration. I am trying to cut myself a little slack, acknowledging that 3 weeks in the hospital pre-birth was not a trivial thing, that my body didn’t go through the same gradual hormonal changes during Elli’s birth via c-section that it did during Lilly’s birth, and also that our first few weeks of getting to know each other were quite stressful — my body was physically stressed recovering from surgery, our early feeding issues were overwhelmingly terrifying and stressful, and our entire house was a disaster from the kitchen remodel. I think that if I had to do it all over again, I’d put a two-week halt on the kitchen progress and just recover and hold my baby, instead of trying to stay out of the way of drywall repair men. Or maybe we wouldn’t have started remodeling the kitchen anyways… it was just an added stress at an already stressful time. But now that it’s nearly done, I am so pleased with it — it’s much more functional for our family now.
So! We are here. In this place where I actually can’t put her down without missing her tremendously. Where I’m 99.9% confident that she is the most miraculous miracle ever, the most adorable thing any living human has ever seen, and probably the smartest, most well-behaved, coolest baby ever. I have the exact same feelings about her sister. I’m sure many of you have the same feelings about your kiddos, too. And I think this is what people mean when they say their heart just grew with the second baby – it is entirely possible to love them both with everything I have. My heart is just so full these days! Elli Belly, we are so very lucky to have you, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!
J and I took the girls to a nearby farm to go apple picking last weekend. It was an amazingly warm 70 degrees and super-sunny.
Ever since we went strawberry picking earlier this summer, Lilly will pick up any sort of bucket or basket and walk around yelling, “going strawberry picking!” So I thought apple picking would be a huge hit.
It was sort of a hit.
But more exciting than apple picking were the “horses” (ponies) that were giving rides at the farm. Lil walked and picked apples for a while, but was eager to get back and watch the ponies.
So watch the ponies we did. For a long time. J and I weren’t surprised by her interest in the ponies, but we were surprised when she expressed an interest in riding them. We were pretty sure we were going to buy a ticket and then she was going to sit on the pony for one second and change her mind.
But she surprised us! One of the most fun things about having a toddler around is constantly being surprised by what she says and does.
Our girl, who is normally fairly tentative, got up on that pony and rode! She looked so nervous at first, but seemed to really enjoy herself after a bit. We were both so proud! And I think Lil was pretty proud of herself, too.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned before my interests in Montessori methods. Although I’m not following them perfectly, I do appreciate the simple beauty of many of the Montessori materials, and this mobile is no exception.
This mobile is the first in a series recommended for infants. The black and white designs are meant to capture the newborn’s interest and attention. (If you want to read more, this and this provide more info on the mobiles/rationale for their use. Here are more pictures of sweet babies and their mobiles!)
We’ve set up an area for Elli to “work” alongside her big sister. For now, E will be able to lay on a blanket on the floor and look in the mirror or gaze at the mobile. (We tried a mat, but the dogs kept trying to claim it for their own, so now we’ll just lay a baby blanket down for E.)
I didn’t want to make a hole in the ceiling (that’s how most mobiles are attached) because our ceiling is textured and not easy for me to repair when the kids are grown. Instead, I picked up a plant hook from Hobby Lobby, spray painted it white, and had J hang it alongside the window (where I can hide any damage from the holes behind curtains when the kids are grown). I followed these directions to make the mobile – the most difficult part of the project was balancing the weight. The materials needed to make the mobile are simple: dowels, fishing line, black & white paper & craft paint, a glass ball (I used an ornament), electrical tape, and glue (to hold the fishing line in place). I only needed to buy a dowel… total cost for the project: $0.29 – SCORE!
Elli spends more and more time awake with each passing day, and seems to be very interested in her own reflection as well as black and white figures. We have a series of black and white figures lining the edge of the pack ‘n play that we use as a changing table, and she’s been content staring at them for up to 20 min at a time. (Lilly also loved these pictures as an infant!). I’m hopeful that she’ll eventually love this mobile as much!
Last week, Lilly, Elli, and I hit the road while Jason stayed home and worked. Many people have expressed surprise that I’d consider taking both girls on the 4-hour trip to Milwaukee… to them I shrug my shoulders and say, no big whoop.
Seriously, the kids were GREAT in the car. I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions. Elli slept the first two hours, then we stopped to feed her, then she slept the next two hours. Lilly was awake for the entire road trip. She colored for a little bit, but mostly stared out the window or talked to me about what color trucks she saw, which songs she wanted to hear on the radio, who we were going to see at Nanee’s house, and the airplanes in the blue sky above.
While car behavior was AWESOME, our rest stop was not so awesome. Knowing that it would take El at least 30 min to eat, I encouraged Lilly to play on the McDonald’s playland structure at the rest stop. She was hesitant at first, but seemed to enjoy once she got into it. Note that I actually had to climb into the disgusting structure — an opening about 2 ft high — to help her climb into it… while holding El. I should have known then that this was a TERRIBLE idea. But I hoped the playground would be enough activity to wear Lilly out and help her relax for the rest of the trip, so I trudged on. 45 min later, she was in the upper level of playland and there was no getting her out. She wanted El and I to climb the completely enclosed slide to get her – she was a bit freaked out by the idea of sliding down by herself. Another mom was kind enough to encourage her 4-year old to show Lilly how she could either climb down or slide down, and when that didn’t work, I was SO INCREDIBLY GRATEFUL that this other mom CLIMBED INTO THE PLAY STRUCTURE to slide down with my kid. (Note to self: pay this one forward.)
So please, everyone, learn from my experience: completely enclosed playgrounds with two foot entries are NOT good ideas for hesitant toddlers, and especially when you are holding a newborn and unable to rescue the toddler.
By the time we got Lilly out of there, I had to feed El again before we hit the road.
But! We made it and were so happy to see Nanee, Grandpa, Uncle Trevor, and Comet. El met her great aunt & second cousins that evening. And I celebrated putting Lil to bed at a reasonable hour! Usually she’s just too excited to go to sleep early at Nanee’s house, and she just gets funny crazy when she’s overtired, so we tend to not be super-strict about bedtimes when we’re on the road. Unfortunately, Lil woke up at 10:30 that evening and proved impossible to put back to sleep. She was too excited that I had Elli with me; Elli wanted to nurse; I’d feed Elli and Lilly would continue to goof around; I’d tell Lilly to lay down or leave the room (to go cuddle with Nanee & Grandpa); she’d cry and run back to the bed, waking Elli who had just fallen asleep in my arms; Elli would want to nurse to sleep, Lather, Rinse, Repeat. UNTIL 3 AM. At 3, I decided we were all getting back in the car, and we cruised my old stomping grounds for a half hour, until both kids were asleep in the back. Just as I was turning onto my parents’ street, Elli started crying again, waking Lilly. GRRRRRRR. So we tried again to all sleep in the room, but it was a huge FAIL. Around 4, I passed her off to Nanee, despite protests (that stopped a few minutes later). And then she slept with Nanee and Grandpa for the rest of the week.
The rest of the week was pretty much smooth sailing, though! We headed to my grandparents’ lake home so they could meet their second great-granddaughter. My grandma always seems to get some of the first smiles and coos out of babies, and Elli was no exception!
We went to the zoo with friends (the Milwaukee zoo is seriously the best zoo I’ve been to). Super-fun because I get to log some friend time and see my BFFs sweet little ones, and Lilly gets to see animals and other kids. While we were there, Lilly fed the aggressive goats proudly (they freak me out… I won’t feed them). And we lapped the zoo a second time because she kept requesting that she wanted to “see more animals” (and because E was comfortably sleeping in the Moby wrap).
Elli met other friends of mine who live in the area, while I enjoyed their conversation skills (so nice to talk to other adults and especially ones that I have such a history with!). She met my cousin & aunt and two of my mom’s friends.
Grandpa took Lilly June ice skating — at her request. She’d been asking about going ice skating for months (and often in the middle of the night… those 3 am requests are super-important!). I think she was pretty thrilled about it, but quit after only a short time on the ice, so Grandpa found a Lilly-sized hockey stick and they ran around playing
street rink lobby hockey instead.
We played at the playground, went shopping (gotta clothe this post-partum body), ate dinner in restaurants, and toured my sister’s new house! So excited for Auntie Ashley and her new hubby in their new house! Best of all, I got spoiled by Nanee and Grandpa, who fed Lilly breakfast while I slept in and watched the girls so I could take a shower without worrying that someone is spitting up or getting their eyes poked out or coloring the walls or otherwise destroying the house.
Both girls must have had an awesome, but exhausting visit because THEY BOTH SLEPT THE ENTIRE FOUR HOURS HOME. Can I say that again? THEY BOTH SLEPT THE ENTIRE FOUR HOURS HOME. So, Nanee and Grandpa, methinks we’ll be back in a few weeks for more sleeping-in and leisurely showers.
Many many moons ago, I decided Lilly would need a beach/swimming robe for the summer. I saw this post and decided to go for it (the post links to a pattern for the robe, but I used an oversized rain jacket as the pattern sizing for the robe and then sewed the sleeves & body as shown in the post. I ran out of fabric before getting to make a tie, so my robe has a large button & elastic loop at the top to keep it together). I used a beach towel from JoAnn Fabrics and it took just a short time (with an awesome helper) to sew.
Lilly sat on the floor and pinned the fabric into the carpet for about an hour and a half, during which time I got most of the robe cut & sewn. After a while, she was putting all of the blue-headed pins in one dot, the red-headed pins in another, etc. We’ve done a few more pinning activities since — pinning into paper seems especially fun.
So that was June. And she refused to actually put the robe on until our most recent beach adventure in September. Toddlers!! Apparently two-year olds are entitled to opinions. Like when she tells me she wants to wear a dress – not pants/shorts.
Or like last week, when we were driving to my parents house and some 80s song came on the radio – Elton John, I think it was – and I hear from the back seat, “I not like this one. Lilly June want Yeah Yeah song.” (Yes, she’s requesting the Yeah Yeah Yeah song by the Flaming Lips. Because she doesn’t yet know that real children’s music can be played in our car.)
Or like yesterday, when I asked her not to stand on the couch and she just looked at me. “Lilly June, are you listening to mama?” I asked. “No. I am not.” She replied. Thanks for your honesty, kiddo, but you still can’t stand on the couch.
In any case, the robe turned out cute & warm, and as you can see, a little big. Perfect for next summer… if she decides she likes it. (Let’s hope she likes it.)