Montessori Floor Bed

Montessori Floor Bed

When we moved to our two bedroom apartment, our daughter had just celebrated her first birthday and I had been sleeping in our living room for the past 6 months. I had also recently gotten my hands on some books about Dr. Maria Montessori and her philosophy of raising and educating children. Needless to say, I was hooked. It is, however, always easier to do external activities than make internal changes so instead of sitting quietly and observing my daughter to learn of her current interests and skills, I dismantled her newly set up crib. My ever-supportive husband with one raised eyebrow looked on as I put our little girl down to nap on the crib mattress which lay directly on the carpet of her bedroom floor. And guess what? She slept!

Our daughter has for the most part always been a sleeper that parents hope for, and if she stays awake, she has access to her toys and books and goes to bed when she’s ready. Her room is safe for her to explore, but we did eventually get a video baby monitor from a friend only because often she would be awake and playing, but quietly, so I would be waiting for her to wake up so we could go run errands, not knowing that she had been up for an hour playing independently!

I don’t like going to bed when I’m not ready to sleep yet, and as I read more about RIE, which coincides so much with what I believe from my Catholic faith about the dignity of the human person, I don’t want to make her go to bed when she’s not ready either. For my own sanity, for the sake of our marriage, and for our daughter to learn to adjust to the routines of our family, we do lead her to her bed around the same times every day. We tell her beforehand that it is time to rest. A few minutes later we tell her it’s time to tidy her room, because if it is at all disorganized, she won’t sleep, but will want to play! If it’s nighttime, we help get her pajamas on her, say a prayer and/or sing a song, bless each other with holy water, and then it’s time to lie down. If she is tired, she will lie down on her own, usually. We simply then tuck her in and give her a kiss. If she is not tired or tired, but cranky, we let her know that it’s time to rest and she can read or play with her toys, but that we are going to leave her alone and shut the door and that her “bebé” is going to sleep now and when she’s ready she can join her in bed. Sometimes there are brief tears, but more often than not is painless.

If we can hear/see her staying up for an extended period of time playing or sitting by the door, knocking and saying, “Mamá! Mommy! Mamá! Meemah!”, it generally means she has soiled her diaper with a number two so we change it and she then goes right down on her own.

When her little brother is born, he will stay in our room as long as that works for all of us, and then he will be in a crib, sharing a room with his sister. We will get her a twin at that time, so we don’t have to upgrade anymore as she grows. I’m glad I didn’t just toss the crib when I first read about floor beds, because the room would not be safe for both children if they were unsupervised all night without barriers between them (my toddler already smothers her doll with love, blankets, and sometimes her own body, so I’m going to keep my eye on her when her baby brother is around!). From what I’ve read, we will probably take down the crib and move our son to a floor bed when he is 18 months old, because by that age he will be able to defend himself against his older sister! But we will take it one day at a time, making sure to keep them safe, and trying to be present in every moment!

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Who has room for a nursery? Sleeping 3 people in a one bedroom apartment

Who has room for a nursery? Sleeping 3 people in a one bedroom apartment

When our first was born, we lived in a one bedroom apartment and pictured (safely) co-sleeping as one happy, cozy family. The first night home we had her sleep in the car seat right next to our bed because the crib looked way to big and scary. A friend lent us a co-sleeper which we used gratefully for almost six months. For almost six months, I would wake up when she did, bring her into bed with us and place her between myself and the co-sleeper falling asleep nursing her. I would usually wake up some time later, try to put her back in the co-sleeper, wake her up, and begin the process all over again until morning. Any mom of a newborn can tell you, you love your baby to bits, but you get tired. It worked out just fine, until, she got too big for the co-sleeper and could sit up on her own. Since we didn’t want her crawling out, we started using a method similar to what we had been doing, but using the crib instead. Around that time, the fatigue was catching up to us. My husband was having a hard time concentrating at work and I was plain exhausted. I remember telling our doctor at her 6 month checkup that I had been scared driving to the appointment that morning because I was so tired. We couldn’t keep it up. Without another bedroom to put her in though, we didn’t have many options. So I moved to the living room.

We have a pullout sofa and every evening, before putting our sweet angel to bed, we made sure to use the restroom and grab our toothbrushes and pajamas. We would then have dinner, clean up, catch up, or watch some TV. We’d close the curtains and get ready for bed in the living room/kitchen. Daddy would sneak into the bedroom so as not to wake the babe, and I would pull out my foldable mattress. Success! I am not sure why it worked, but it did. Maybe she could smell my milk from the crib and so kept waking up frequently and unnecessarily. Maybe I was too sensitive to her every little noise and she to mine. But once I moved out, I couldn’t hear her and she couldn’t hear or smell me and we both instantly started sleeping through the night.*

We had friends who did the opposite and the baby got the living room while they got the bedroom and bathroom, but I couldn’t get dinner ready in time every night to do that in our house! Whatever works!

When we were able to upgrade to a two bedroom 6 months later, we appreciated it so much and saw it truly as a luxury. So I guess the old folks are right when they say to be grateful for each moment as starving newlyweds because these will be some of your fondest memories!
*I know not all babies sleep through the night at 6 months and we shouldn’t expect them to. But God knew what I needed and allowed it to work for us! Each family needs to take the mental and physical health of every person in the family into consideration when making such decisions. This worked for us!

From “agenda” to “relationship”: an update to my bilingual parenting journey

From “agenda” to “relationship”: an update to my bilingual parenting journey

I have to read more about translanguage, but the rest mirrors my experience as well!

Españolita...¡sobre la marcha!

baby_bebes

(Photo courtesy of Futureatlas.com, Flickr Creative Commons)

Last year I wrote about my then two-year old daughter’s language development in Spanish. My husband, D., a native of Spain, and I are raising our two children bilingually: our family’s language policy is Spanish at home/among us four and English with everyone else.

With the arrival of my daughter E. three years ago, I began my bilingual parenting journey with what some might call a “hard core” approach: use only Spanish with my children, all the time. Never English. No translating. Promote, promote, promote the minority language.

As a trained linguist, I can cite all of the research supporting bilingualism. I recognize the advantages of a family language policy that supports the minority language.

And, while I’ll be the first to raise my hand with an emphatic YES! to the benefits of being bilingual, I have to admit that my initial approach to raising bilingual children rested on…

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Why Raise Bilingual Children?

Why Raise Bilingual Children?

I speak only Spanish to my almost two-year-old daughter.

My husband only speaks English. Our last name is Butler. My daughter and I are blonde. She and my husband have blue eyes. We live in an English speaking community. No one else in the family speaks Spanish. Why do we do it?

I took Spanish in school growing up, and being a good student, I memorized the rules of the language until I was able to be in a literature class with native speakers my senior year in high school. I got to college, and with so much credit under my belt, a minor was only a few classes away, so why not? But for all that, I couldn’t have a conversation in Spanish. The summer after my first year in college, a friend talked me into spending six weeks in Chile as a Catholic missionary, learning to minister to Latinos and doing so in the local communities. It was a total immersion experience, they encouraged us to not even pray in our native language, but only in Spanish. My best friend was with me and, poor girl, didn’t have the vocabulary I did, so her very sincere and earnest prayers went something like: ‘Jesus, thank you. Forgive me. Help me. I love you.’ which is all you need, but still. It was a little easier for me. And after two weeks there, I woke up one day thinking in Spanish! I didn’t have to stop a conversation to translate in my head what I wanted to say. In that experience, I realized something that has changed my life: I now had one billion new potential friends in the world!

Of course, the studies show that being multilingual, especially from birth, has many intellectual benefits. Where I live in California, speaking Spanish is required with many jobs. Knowing another language allows you to more fully experience places and cultures when you travel. And I had to work hard to get here. I ended up majoring in Spanish and moving to Spain for a year after college. I spent a lot of time, energy, and money in order to be able to speak two languages. And if I could give my daughter all these benefits without the cost, why wouldn’t I?

But most importantly for me, if I can help open her heart to see that every person in the world is just like her, they just live in a different language, and that language does not need to be a barrier but can be a bridge, why wouldn’t I?
We don’t have it all figured out. She prefers to speak English so far (because it’s usually less syllables, I’m sure!). I have to look up new vocabulary words all the time (especially since we go to the zoo so often!). And I am not a native speaker so, even though I feel comfortable speaking Spanish, how will it be when she goes through hardships, life changes, on her wedding day? I have to work hard not only to expose her to the minority language through friendships, media, etc. and when the time comes to teach her to read and write in two languages, but to make sure that I am capable of fully entering into our moments together in a foreign language. You thought giving “the talk” was hard? Try it in another language! We will figure it out as we go. There is no manual for raising kids, in a monolingual home or a multilingual one. But when we are at the park and the only other people there are a Mexican family and we can become friends instead of pretending to not notice each other, that is worth it.

2017, Year of Presence

2017, Year of Presence

Haley over at Carrots for Michaelmas shared a post recently describing her tradition of picking a word for the year to help her stay focused on her New Year’s resolutions. I love her wiritngs, but New Year’s resolutions aren’t really my thing. I’m already making resolutions on a regular basis in prayer, so adding more can overwhelm me. But this year, I am pregnant and have given up on everything. Because I suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum in my pregnancies, I check out about 8 weeks in, am unable to attend social functions, take care of my family, or even pray sometimes. Focusing takes energy that I don’t have, so I’m looking forward to July when my toddler can get her Meema back and I don’t have to depend on my husband to play the role of breadwinner and homemaker. And a one word resolution? That sounds like the only doable kind of resolution I could handle right now.

Mentally, I have been in survivor mode since the 24/7 nausea began. I just finished Chip and Jo Gaines book, The Magnolia Story, and their story helped remind me that I can settle for surviving or I can choose to thrive. Thriving in my circumstances will not match up to my idealized images of bounty and laughter, but it is possible and I think the key for me this year is presence.

I can’t cook. I can’t clean. I can’t go outside. I can’t even read to my daughter. But I can lie on the floor with her and let her build a block tower on me. I can smile at my husband and tell him how much I appreciate all he does for us when he is cooking dinner after a stressful day of work with a toddler attached to his leg. I can cut off the self-pity party, and offer it up instead. I can say in my heart, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph.” And in this moment, this is thriving for me. This is being present. To those dearest to me and to reality itself.

mom-and-toddler-playing-blocks
Kind of like this, except I’m dry-heaving.

Once this baby is born, “present” will look totally different. But I don’t want to use that as an excuse to not be present now. Happiness isn’t around the corner, or in our next pay raise. Holiness will not come once the kids are older and I have more time to pray. God is outside of time, but we wayfarers of this earth are only in the present. And here and now are the only circumstances in which I can be happy. And holy. And thriving.

Why I Chose My Breast Pump

Why I Chose My Breast Pump

I work in the healthcare industry, so I am used to dealing with insurance and Durable Medical Equipment (DME) companies. Never before, however, have I been a patient. Now I get where the name comes from. Oh my.

Skip to the fun part. My insurance covers 5 different models of breast pumps. Based on the advice of many a learned woman, here are the conclusions I’ve come to (let’s see if I still agree with myself in 2 months).

Ameda Purely Yours Ultra™ Personal Double Electric Breast Pump with Tote & CustomFit™ Breast Flanges

www.ameda.com
http://www.ameda.com

What my insurance told me:

Ameda has Proven Airlock Protection™ Solid barrier prevents moisture in tubing to help protect breast milk from bacteria, mold and viruses while pumping. This product also features CustomControl™ Independent Speed and Suction controls that make it possible for mothers to achieve a multi-phase experience

  • Personal-use pump
  • Dual HygieniKit® Milk Collection System includes: (2) 25.0mm breast flanges, (2) diaphragms, (4) valves, (2) tubing, (2) adapter caps, (1) white connector for single or dual pumping
  • Ultra Suede/Faux Leather Stylish Tote
  • CustomFit Breast Flanges, (2) 30.5mm flanges and (2) 28.5mm reducing inserts
  • Cool’N Carry™ Tote: (1) insulated carry bag, (6) 4 oz. bottles with lock-tight lids, (3) cooling elements, Milk Storage Guidelines card
  • NoShow Premium™ Disposable Nursing Pads and Store ‘N Pour™ StoreMilk Storage Bags 2 pk Samples
  • AC power adapter

Advice I received:

One mom told me, “I’ve never had great supply but I get twice as much from the Medela than the Ameda.”

My thoughts:

Anything to “help protect breast milk from bacteria, mold and viruses” sounds good to me!

Let’s be real, I have no idea what size I’m going to need, but that two different size breast flanges are offered is sweet.

Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breastpump Starter Set

www.medelabreastfeedingus.com
http://www.medelabreastfeedingus.com

What my insurance told me:

  • Personal-use pump
  • 2-Phase Expression’ technology with one-touch let-down button
  • Adjustable vacuum settings
  • Compact motor unit in a soft bag
  • Compatible with Medela Battery Pack
  • Double pumping kit with: Medium (24mm) breast shields, 2- 5oz/150 ML breast milk bottles and power adaptor.

Advice I received:

I received the most feedback about this pump. I think it is just the most well known. Too many moms told me that they had problems with theirs (sometimes due to lack of maintenance on their part). I don’t know if that statistic is merely proportional to the others, but I’d rather not buy something with that much negative feedback.

My thoughts:

The only brand I had heard of before beginning my research.

I don’t want high maintenance. I’ve already got a baby to take care of.

Freemie Freedom Deluxe Set with HANDS FREE and Concealable Freemie Collection Cups

http://www.freemie.com/
http://www.freemie.com

What my insurance told me:

  • Includes standard 25mm funnels and 28mm funnels, extra pump protection filter, and tubing connection kit
  • Pump connection kit allows you to interrupt and resume pumping at your convenience
  • Includes setup for single and double pumping
  • Pump vacuum is adjustable
  • Cups are made without latex rubber, BPA or DEHP
  • Each cup with integrated breast funnel holds 8 ounces of milk, and can be supported by a variety of ordinary or nursing bras
  • Breast Pump with 64-inch integrated power cord (120-volt AC)
  • Pump weight 3 pounds, 2 ounces

Advice I received:

I think it’s newer because there wasn’t as much information out there. The reviews I read on Amazon.com were more positive toward the idea than the reality.

My thoughts:

Looks sweet for pumping on the sly. I, however, spend my days working from home in various stages of dress (Wahoo for hot flashes, vomit in your hair, and all the other side effects of growing another person!), so it doesn’t seem necessary for me.

Hygeia Q Breast Pump with Tote Bag

https://www.byramhealthcare.com/
https://www.byramhealthcare.com/

What my insurance told me:

Hygeia is the only breast pump company endorsed by La Leche League International. Designed for long-term and frequent pumping needs where the mother has access to electric power. Mimics your baby’s unique suckling patterns.

  • All pump parts that come into contact with breast milk are BPA/DEHP free
  • Pump weight is approximately 2.8 pounds
  • One year non-transferable limited warranty
  • Independently Adjustable Speed & Suction Controls
  • Hospital Grade performance in a personal use pump
  • Allows For Double & Single Pumping
  • Closed system with a bacteriostatic filter to prevent contaminants
  • Includes tote bag

Advice I received:

Lots of love for this pump! One blogger points out that Hygeia “follows the WHO international code of marketing breast-milk substitues [sic],” which seem reasonable to me, and commendable in a for-profit company.

My thoughts:

It has “Hospital Strength” in the name, and I am a sucker for quality.

Aaaaaaand you are endorsed by La Leche League. ‘Nuff said.

Spectra S2 Hospital Strength Breast Pump

www.spectrababyusa.com/
http://www.spectrababyusa.com

What my insurance told me:

  • Innovative features to fully support breastfeeding
  • Portable and stylish hospital-strength double breast pump
  • Super quiet and comfortable
  • Hygienic closed system
  • Designed to initiate, increase and sustain a milk supply over a long period of time
  • Gentle suckling action and massage mode to encourage speedy letdown
  • Adjustable suction strength and cycle speed, night light with two settings, timer and more
  • BPA- and DEHP-free
  • Double Collection Kit includes standard 24-mm flanges, two sets of tubing, two hygienic backflow protectors, two wide-neck collection bottles, two collection bottle caps, two slow-flow nipples
  • Weighs 4.1 lbs. and has a two-year warranty

Advice I received:

Also received high praise from many nursing mamas.

One mom mentioned that the Spectra came highly recommended in a low supply support group she belongs to. Considering all the women I know who have struggled with low supply, that’s something to consider.

My thoughts:

There are those beautiful words: Hospital Grade! “Quiet” and “hygienic” also make me smile.

Love that it has a mode for letdown.

Conclusion:

It was a near toss up between the Spectra and the Hygea. Ultimately, the Hygea had more negative reviews and the Spectra had a two year (vs. a one year) warranty. Plus, it seems quieter than the Hygea. So Spectra it is!

Can’t wait to do a follow up post when babe is here and I can tell you how it works in my reality!

Edit:  I have only used the breast pump a three or four times – while my mother-in-law was in town so my husband could take me out for our anniversary. But I loved it! The best part was the ease of cleaning, especially the fact that the design inhibits milk from getting into the tube so you don’t have to worry about cleaning that! I had more discomfort while pumping than I do while breastfeeding, but it was definitely manageable and, it seems to me, unavoidable. I would give the Spectra two thumbs up!