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DIY Gobbi and fall leaf mobile

December 12, 2013

I’m obsessed, I know.

But once I started searching for DIY Montessori mobiles, I was pretty hooked… and after making the first one, even more so!  Maybe here is where I mention that these mobiles follow a steady progression as the baby ages, and should match infant development.  It’s a super-cool concept, I think, although my baby is growing & her needs changing faster than I can keep up here on the blog!

Here’s a basic timeline of when to use which mobiles, borrowed from Little Red Farm:

Visual mobiles
Mobiles / hanging toys designed to be touched as soon as attempts at grabbing start
  • Bell on a Ribbon (12-16 weeks)
  • Wooden ring on elastic  (12-16 weeks)
  • Primary colours mobile (12-18 weeks)
  • Wooden musical mobile (16-20 weeks)

My most recent mobile was an attempt at the Gobbi.  Most Montessori mobiles are made from beautiful, real materials, and for this one, it seems that wool or cotton embroidery floss is the most popular tool used to make the balls.  Since I simply don’t have the time to make something that intricate right now, I decided to paint styrofoam balls instead.  Admittedly, its not as beautiful as many of the wool felt mobiles I’ve seen on the Internets, but, hey, you can’t win ‘em all, right? :)
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You can’t tell from this picture, but the darkest ball is about 12″ from the stick and each subsequent one is 1/2″ closer to the stick.

Elli seems to be interested, but I think her favorite by far has been the Octahedron mobile.

I was also inspired by the falling leaves in October to make a tiny mobile from a stick & leaves so that E could enjoy the beauty of the falling leaves, too.  I usually shy away from projects like this that are sure to fall apart quickly, but this one has survived a few weeks with toddler & infant, so it was worth the few minutes that it took to glue it all together!
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I had to include this last picture of E covered in blankets and big sister’s pjs… I’ll give you one guess as to who is responsible for keeping baby warm! :) It’s so fun to have Elli awake for longer periods of time so that the girls can “play together” on the floor.  El has recently started grasping objects, so Lilly and I have had fun giving her different things to grasp, and I’ve recently set up the next set of mobiles… so expect more mobile posts to come because, like I said, I’m obsessed.

pause

December 6, 2013

Oh, cruel Time.  You just keep moving, don’t you?

I have this feeling like someone pushed the fast forward button and I’d really just like to be on pause for a bit.

These girls are getting so. very. big.
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Our days are so full, and they move so quickly.  E is now waking for much of the day, which is delightful.  She is such a sweet, easy, happy baby.  So many smiles and now giggles!  She is also VERY talkative – methinks she wants in on the action surrounding her.

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At nearly 4 months, she’s still in 0-3 month clothes.  I’m sure she’s gaining weight pretty well, and she’s probably doubled her birth weight by now.  We had a strange stretch in October where I’m pretty sure that E was not very comfortable, I think due to some reflux — she had the characteristic back arching, spit up, crying, and wasn’t sleeping very deeply.  She’d vomit roughly once per day.  I cut dairy, then soy out of my diet and she seems to be feeling much better (still occasionally vomiting, though).  Do you know what has soy in it?  Pretty much every snack I want to eat and almost all meals out.  So the baby weight must be flying off now (I don’t care enough to actually step on a scale), but OH MAN I JUST WANT TO EAT AN OREO.  Luckily, we do a lot of cooking at home and a few easy substitutions (sunflower oil for vegetable oil, coconut aminos for soy sauce) have eliminated soy from our family meals.  It’s worth it to have a happy baby – we don’t eat THAT much packaged food anyways, and maybe it’s a good excuse to be more mindful of what we’re eating.

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E still wakes at least once/night and usually cat naps during the day.  I think (hope?) that she’ll settle into more of a solid nap/sleep schedule soon — we’ve gotten a few solid afternoon naps & early bedtimes in the past week, but I’ve definitely jinxed myself now that I wrote it.

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She ADORES her big sister.  She’s able to track big sister and the dogs around the room now, and will often smile big when one of them comes into view.  She stares at Lilly, though, watching her with a sweet little grin and often cooing sweetly at her.  She has also found her hands, and they are INCREDIBLE.  It’s too cute watching her stare at her hands as she moves them, opening her mouth wide to slowly draw them in, and then missing the target at the very last minute.  She’s getting better, though, and soon I bet she’ll be able to get her fingers to her mouth on the first try!

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Lilly ADORES her tiny sister.  She’s constantly wanting to hold baby Elli’s hand, talk to her, show her toys, etc.  It’s really sweet.  Lilly’s been having some big emotions lately, (a handful of tantrums, I think, only it’s never clear exactly what she wants, she just has a big emotional outburst) and she will stop mid-crying to check on baby Elli, put a blanket on her, whatever.  It’s too sweet.  The big emotions are tough to witness, but usually stopped by just holding her and letting her do her thing.

These big emotions have been accompanied by big social leaps, too.  She’s now more attentive to what other kids are doing, and in September was even caught holding hands with a little boy she had just met and was playing with.  She is very clear about what she wants or doesn’t want, “I didn’t want you to do that, mama!”  She says “thank you” often and at unexpected times, and it’s really sweet.  She now is obsessed with helping, and wants to be involved in just about everything that’s going on.  She seems busier than ever.  And she often says, “I want to do it by myself” so we let her — she now makes her own peanut butter sandwiches, carrying all of the supplies to the table and then returning the dirty dishes to the sink when she’s done.  She “folds” her laundry with me, wipes up her messes herself, zips her zipper herself, puts her winter coat, hat & boots away herself, and just this week, she made holiday treats (chocolate covered pretzels with sprinkles) all by herself.  In fact, we made an impromptu trip to MKE mid-November when our power was out for 4 days, and while we were there, Lil decided she was going to help my grandma make dinner and went ahead and pulled a little stool up to the kitchen counter.  The next night, she helped my mom cut strawberries with a crinkle cutter.

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I peeked out the window one day to find her raking the dirt, ready to dump it in the wheelbarrow just like daddy.

Lilly loves singing and “rock shows” and often will sing songs she made up herself.  She’s also frequently a dog — it’s so ridiculous to see her lined up at the window with Barley and Jezebel, barking.  Or to hear her panting as she runs to the back door to give Jason a lick when he gets home.  Licking is one of few parent things that I just. cannot. handle. so I try to squirm away when she’s a dog… but poor baby Elli… I am not always able to scoop her away fast enough to avoid sister’s tongue.  Eww.  I am grossed out just thinking about it.  (Hands in drinking glasses is another parenting thing that I just can’t handle, but fortunately, she’s grown out of it).  She’s into imaginary games – covering the dogs with blankets and saying goodnight, going to the “store” — giving us a big “mwah” air kiss as she leaves the room, cooking in her kitchen, playing doctor and checking up on us, and her latest imaginary game involves wrapping up items that are laying around in her play silks and giving them to us.  Yesterday I was gifted a lemon — “what I always wanted!”  It’s so fun.

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Food-wise, Lilly sometimes eats a lot, other times nothing.  I hear that’s what toddlers do, so we go with it.  Sleep-wise, she typically falls asleep on her own around 8pm and wakes around 8am, and seems to be back to sleeping through the night most nights.  She’s sleeping on her floor bed in her bedroom, so we usually wake to the pitter-patter of little toes… Jason usually grabs her and takes her back to her bed or the guest bed that he’s currently sleeping in. (We’re all about divide and conquer with our sleep these days… perhaps someday soon E will stop waking in the night and he can come back to our room!)  Lilly no longer naps, unless she’s at daycare.  Some days she’d probably like a nap around 4pm (wouldn’t we all?), but if she sleeps then she doesn’t go to bed until 10 or 11, and we’re done parenting by 7, so it’s not a great combo.  She’s potty trained but won’t initiate trips to the bathroom yet, so we still have the occasional accident when mom or dad forget to take her.

131112untitled9655.jpgThis is Lilly’s handiwork: both Barley and Elli covered in blankets, cuddling a “George” (monkey).

Our days seem to have a certain rhythm to them: wake up, eat, play/go on an adventure, eat, play a bit more, relax/read/watch an episode of Curious George, play until daddy comes home, eat dinner, play a tiny bit more/bathe, get ready for bed.  For whatever reason, it’s much easier to get out of the house by 9 than it is almost any other time of day.  So we visit the library, have playdates, run errands, whatever, in the morning.  We usually end up baking at least once/week – Lil loves to be in the kitchen.  And I try to prepare one new activity each week, although some of my ideas seem to go over MUCH better than others (her current fave is a toss up between cutting with a scissors and playing with the Christmas decor).  Our rotating toy selection seems to help, too, though I probably could be better about switching things up more often.

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Snow is so exciting that we had to go outside in our pjs first thing in the morning!

Aaaaand, that’s where we’re at.  A little pause on the old VCR of life…  I am really, especially trying to savor this month so that the holidays haven’t disappeared in the blink of an eye.  That, and I’ll be back to work part-time in January, so I’m anticipating that things will only seem that much busier…

Pigs in a blanket!

November 13, 2013

I had my mind set on making Elli’s halloween costume this year, and since she doesn’t yet have a say about these things, I got to pick!

The costume had to be WARM and I knew I’d be wearing Elli for most of our halloween parties & trick-or-treat, so I wanted to make sure that I could wear her and still have her costume make sense. So – pigs in a blanket it was! (I also entertained making her dress as king kong and dressing myself as the building king kong climbs up, but the pigs seemed cuter and easier!)

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My mom crocheted E’s pink piggy hat and it’s so darn cute! She also made a nose for my hat, which I quickly sewed from pink fleece and felt (for the ears). The button eyes were just hot glued on.

photo credit: DB Family Photography

We both wore pink, and I wrapped us up in the Moby. (I’m obsessed with babywearing these days because it means I’ve got two free hands… another added bonus is that E stayed super-warm and cozy in there during a few cool fall MI days/evenings.) And that was it. Easy peasy.

Curious George and the Man

November 6, 2013

After discussing costumes at dinner one night in early October, Lilly announced that she wanted to be George.  She’s been really enjoying the Curious George stories, and has recently discovered the cartoons, thanks to our Netflix subscription and my need to nurse Elli without being jumped on. :)  She’s often heard running around the house making monkey noises and then declaring, “I’m George!”  She even climbed up on the stairs, grabbed the posts and stuck her head against them suggesting that she was a monkey in a cage.  It’s so fun to see what she’ll do next!

Thanks to our awesome friend at DB Family Photography for the above cuteness!  It’s good to have photographer friends! :)

So George it was.  In keeping with my tradition of making homemade costumes from previous years (the baby boorito and owl), I decided this one needed to be made also.  I picked up a brown sweatsuit (and promptly lost the pants… where can they be?!), and added some brown felt for ears, a tummy, and a tail.  My mom added a bit of elastic in the hood of the sweatshirt so that it would stay snug on her face.  It was relatively quick and easy and turned out quite cute, I think!

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I don’t remember how we decided that Jason should be the man in the yellow hat, but once it was decided, Lilly couldn’t stop talking about it.  So I bought a $5 yellow cowboy hat from the party store, a shirt and pants from Goodwill, and a package of yellow Dylon.  This was my fist experience seriously trying to dye clothing, and I will just say: don’t look closely.  They turned out a bit blotchy – I don’t think I submerged the pants in enough water – but good enough to wear to a halloween party and trick-or-treating.

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The costumes survived FOUR Halloween events (though George’s first tail got cut off after a little toilet incident and I had to sew on a new one).  By the time trick-or-treating rolled around, Lilly was SO amped up that she actually PULLED Jason from door to door.  We were trying to be hesitant and stay with the friends that were trick-or-treating with us, but it proved impossible.  Had we not made her stop for the rain, I think she would have kept going all night…

Thanks to our awesome friend at DB Family Photography for the above cuteness!

 

Octahedron mobile

November 5, 2013

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.

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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.

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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.

Pumpkin picking!

November 4, 2013

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!

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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.

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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).

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The cows were also fun to watch – but Lilly made sure not to get too close.

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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.

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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.

Jason carved two of the pumpkins, and Lilly painted the other two.  I haven’t even taken photos of the finished product, but let me assure you that they’re nothing too fancy.
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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.

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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. :)

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two months of Elli

October 16, 2013

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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