Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Activity 1- Montessori

     I have given Austin the activity of putting the straws into a container and I am happy to let you know he was so interested in it!  He stayed playing with it for about 20 min.  Once I noticed that he wanted to get up and play with other things I just picked up the container and straws and put it away for later.  I do not want him to use this along with playing with his regular toys. 

     When I first introduced it I gave him the container with the lid on but with the top with the little holes open.  I showed him that you can get the straws and put them into the little holes.  This was a little too hard for him so instead I opened the other side of the top that has the big hole.  He was able to put the straws in there.  Once he put all the straws in he would close the top and shake the bottle then try to open it and dump them all out.  He made up his own variations of this by the second time I gave it to him.

Here is the first time he played with it:
The good thing about these activities is that you can let your baby explore them.  As you see here he was playing with the straws without putting them in the container.  He was feeling them and tasting them =).

The next day I gave it to him I noticed him trying to take off the top completely so I helped him.  This time he would put all the straws in the container without the lid then close the top himself.  He would actually turn the lid and close it.  However, when he did this he could not open it again.  This gave me the idea of next time trying to show him how to open the container.  We will see how that works out.

Remember, every experience is a learning experience!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Montessori intro

Oh the world of Montessori!  Call me weird but I get a rush of excitement of all the things I can do to teach my baby new things.  I felt the same way with my oldest and still do!  I always seem to gravitate to the world of Montessori learning.  This is a philosophy that fosters independence in a child.  It allows the child to grow and learn at their own pace while challenging themselves.  The teacher (or parent) just guides them and introduces things for them.  This belief fosters the idea that a child is a self-motivated learner and they will gravitate to learning new things.  I don’t know about you guys but to me that is a fascinating thing to promote for the real world. 

I am going to start trying to set up a Montessori area in our home.  I would like get Austin to engage in an activity about 2 times a day for maybe 10-15 minutes.  I will try while we are alone in the morning and then again in the afternoon while the older kids are working on homework.  This has been a challenging time for me since, the older ones not only need help while they are doing homework but I like to teach them a little extra while their minds are still in the learning setting.  However, the baby also needs my attention during this time.  I am hoping that doing Montessori activities with him that I can do both at the same time.  (Wish me luck!) 

The first activity I will be doing is good for fine motor skills, picking up items with a pointer grip, inserting items into a container… Within a small little DIY toy a child learns so much!  It can even be used as a musical instrument by shaking it.  Also, this activity can be used for harder things in the future like taking things out of the container.  I got the idea from Pinterest, the link is below:
Putting straws in a container

I will be tracking my experience with this here on the blog!  Please let me know if you have any ideas for a 14 month old.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

15 minute cleaning

            One of my biggest issues being a stay at home mom is probably the same issue I had while I was a working mom.  The issue is time!  I never seemed to have enough time to do anything, especially house work!  I think I have found a way that regardless of what kind of mom I am (stay at home/working), I can manage my time better.  I have read countless of blogs and this one in particular gave me an idea! 15 minutes of cleaning-Organizingmadefun  Even though I did not follow her schedule it was a way for me to come up with my own schedule (Sort of!)

            Since I did not follow her schedule, I do not expect you to follow mine.  This is just a way to show you that IT CAN BE DONE!!!  You just have to customize it in a way that works for you.  Below is a schedule that I came up with for my household:

This schedule is based on just 15 minutes of cleaning (I actually have a timer set for 15 minutes).  Like Becky  mentions, “this doesn't mean if your house is right now a complete pig-stye mess that you can get it cleaned up in 15 minutes. NOPE! Nice try....this is a way of MAINTAINING your home with just 15 minutes of CLEANING each day - not picking up or putting away, CLEANING!”  You have to keep at it however, if you miss a day it is not the end of the world.  If you make this a habit your house will be at least presentable at any given moment.  I live in a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom s (1,210 sq. ft.) apartment with 3 boys (ages from 13 months, 7 yrs. & 34 yrs.).

My weekdays vary, however, I find 15 minutes (usually while the baby is taking a nap in the morning) to clean.  I also have daily chores that I call “Habitual”, I do it out of habit.  These things I do not consider cleaning because I had to condition myself to just do it at the moment, not find time to do it.

The reason I did this schedule the way I did is because I do my heavy, deep cleaning once every two weeks (at least that is the goal.) Usually on the Saturday morning when my oldest is at his fathers’ house for the weekend is the best time for us to clean.  This allows me and my partner to clean together and help with the baby at the same time.  This makes the job easier and faster.  I am lucky that I have him to actually help me but I believe that this still can be done if you didn’t have a helpful partner.  (I was a single mom for about 4 yrs.)  If you kept the daily 15 minutes cleaning your house will not be as hard to do your deep cleaning in one day.  This day I REALLY scrub the bathrooms and kitchen, top to bottom!  We clean the balcony.  Robert deep cleans (shampoos) the carpets with our Hoover® SteamVac™ Deep Cleaner with Clean Surge.  (I was not paid to advertise this, I have been using ours for over 8 yrs., I love it!!!)  Also, I usually use this day to go through the kids clothes and/or do an organizational project. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I am back!

It has been about 8 months since I have written a post and I miss the good feeling I get when I write something in the hope that I may help out someone else. The reason for the time away is because I have had some major life changes. I quit my job trying to change career. Then decided I was going to give myself more time to prepare for my new career and stay home longer with my boys. I always knew that my life was way too full and I really needed to prioritize!

Now, I am not saying go out and quit your job! This decision was not an easy decision for me or my partner. However, for us I think it was the right one. Back in July, I really fell apart. I was so unhappy with just about everything I was doing. I did not like my job. I missed my new born baby during the day so much and I felt I was neglecting my older son in the evenings. Home life was a mess and we just did not have time for anything and we were too tired to care.

I have always wanted to be a teacher. I can remember playing as a young girl and pretending to be a teacher to my dolls and stuffed animals. I never had a doubt when people asked me "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I always knew the answer was a teacher! However, as most people know, life happens. I did start college with a pursuit of a degree in Secondary Social Science Education. Towards the end of my Schooling I got a divorce and was suddenly a single mom without a job. I searched and searched like a maniac to find ANY job. I was really blessed when I was offered a career in Finance for a really well known and established Television Channel. The downfall was that I have always hated disliked math a whole lot. I have struggled with numbers my whole life. Well, I did not have the luxury of being choosy and I knew that this was a great opportunity for me to be able to provide for my 1 year old and me. It turned out to be ok. I learned tons and continued there for 6 yrs. During this time I was not able to continue my education degree because I was not going to be able to do the student teaching that was necessary to graduate. So, in my senior year I changed major to Liberal Arts and finally graduated with a Bachelor’s degree.

When I met Robert, I knew he was an amazing man right from the beginning. He has always been a supportive and loving person to my son, Brandon and I. We were blessed a couple of years later with our precious little baby, Austin. Things were manageable because we made it work but I was just not happy with the kind of lifestyle I was living. I did not feel that this is what life was all about for us. I knew we could change things, but I also knew it was not going to be an easy journey. I looked over our home finances extensively and I knew that it was not going to be easy but it was definitely not impossible to live on his income alone. Robert and I spoke tremendously about my unhappiness and he did not fail to be the supportive boyfriend he has always been. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. So I made the scary jump and became a stay at home mom.

We have cut down on unnecessary expenses and tried to budget ourselves. Without Daycare, extra gas, going out for lunch and dinners we have found a comfortable spending habit. We are still trying to work on our budget because we have been so used to living on two incomes that it has been a major life style change for us and we do not have it perfect yet. However, the time I am spending with and for my family is making me so much happier than money can ever make me. Being a stay at home mom is the hardest job I have ever had and the most rewarding. This is not a job for everyone. For me though, it has been the best decision I have made so far.

In the meantime, I am studying for my education certification. (I have 3 tests to take to become certified) I am trying to figure out my new stay at home schedule with my now 1 year old. I am also, after schooling with my 7 yr. old son, 7 yr. old nephew and 8 yr. old niece. As if that is not enough, I am also trying to organize my home, creating a cleaning schedule, meal planning and nurturing all of my relationships. Follow me in all of my new pursuit. Maybe we can encourage each other. Especially since I know I might need a lot of help to get this all together. One day at a time...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Teachers appreciation week

"To think too long about doing a thing often becomes its undoing."- Eva Young

I have a huge problem with procrastination.  I have all the good intentions in the world.  I am very organized with my thoughts and love to plan things.  The problem is that by the time I get in to the action of doing what I have been planning I am rushed and do not do what I intended to do because I procrastinated too long.  This is a bad habit that I have to break.  I have too many ideas and not enough time. (Or at least that is my excuse!) 

I knew that Teachers appreciation week was coming and I really wanted to do something cute for Brandon and Austin's teachers.  I really do appreciate all they do for not only my kids but for so many others as well.  I do not think that teachers are thanked enough.  So I told myself at the end of last month that I was going to look for something cute and easy to do with my kids so that they can give their teachers a gift.  I went on Pinterest (great place for wonderful ideas but bad place for a person like me that gets easily distracted) and after I pinned tons of wonderful ideas.  I had no idea what great idea I wanted to actually do, I know I cant do all of them.  So a few weeks later and more visits to Pinterest, I had nothing.  The week came and every morning I took the baby to daycare I would see that other moms beat me to some of the ideas I had pinned.  Now I am already midweek and I still had no idea what I was going to do.  So yesterday when I got out of work I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and decided I was just going to by cookies from the bakery and improvise.  I felt disappointed that I did not do what I originally wanted to do.  However, I was not going to just not do nothing. I felt that something was better than nothing.  On my way home I was going crazy thinking, do I have at least nice ribbon at  home so I can at least accessorize the box of cookies?  Do we have time to get the kids to create a cute card?  It was late and I did not want to wait another day and give the gift on Friday,  I did not want to be the mom who procrastinated... (shhh!)  As many of you might have read my crazy schedule, you know that when I get home it is none stop.  So as you may have guessed, I did not do anything to the boxes at night.  So THIS morning I looked high and low for a ribbon, I found it.  I also found empty gift tags.  I wrapped the store bought cookies and made a pretty bow and attached a handwritten note to the teachers.

Thankfully, it came out cute.  (At least, I think so)  I also was able to express a heartfelt thank you instead of a generic one like I was thinking of doing before.

This is how it came out:

These are the ideas I wanted to do:

Source: via Kenia on Pinterest

Source: via Kenia on Pinterest

I can always do one of these ideas for the end of the year... I should start planning to do that now then!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tips of the trade

   When I was at home during my maternity leave from work I thought about how I was going to continue feeding my baby while I was away from him.  I knew that I wanted to continue giving him breast milk for as long as I can.  I just didn't know how it was going to be possible.  During the last few weeks I pumped as much as I could so I could stock up enough milk for at least the first few weeks.  It was really hard.  I was able to get enough in the freezer for only 1 week.  I figured that was going to have to work one way or another.  I was lucky enough to go back to work part time for a month that allowed my supply to last longer. When I went back to work full time I felt like I was not pumping enough while I was gone and I was afraid that my supply was going to reduce. I was pumping twice a day.  I knew that I should pump about every time that he was scheduled to eat, for me that would be every two hours.  That was difficult with my schedule at work. I thought that there had to be another way to make this work better. Here are a few tips that has helped me so far:

Pumping while commuting   Yes, I actually pump while I am in the car.  I saw this idea on a YouTube video while I was looking at different ideas other moms had for pumping while going to work.  This mom pumped using a pumping nursing bra under her shirt.  Although, it was a good idea, I couldn't make it work for me because I thought it was a little difficult.  Instead, I decided that I would just pump one at a time, this way I had control over the bottle.  (I guess my controlling personality would not let me do it this while I drove)  You might want to try her way first, it may work for you.

At first, I used my electric pump using a car adapter for the power.  I only used one of the pumps while I held it under my shirt.  This worked good for me except that I hated bringing the electric pump with me everywhere everyday.  Every morning I was dragging 5 bags with me to the car along with the baby in the car seat.  I wanted to reduce my load, so I left the pump at work.

Using a manual pump  I know most of you are thinking that I must be crazy. (well... I have heard that before.)  I decided that I was going to buy a cheaper manual pump so that I can use it it the car and at home during the week since I am going to be leaving my electric pump at work.  This is working well for me so far.  I bring home my electric pump on Fridays and sterilize everything and bring it back to work on Mondays. 

Hands free pumping bra  At work I use the hands free pumping bra from Medela to pump.  This way I can pump both breasts at the same time.  Since my hands are free I can multi-task.  I try not to take my computer in with me so I can work because you should be relaxed while you pump.  I usually put a timer on my phone and either go on Facebook or check my email on my phone.  Sometimes I just close my eyes and relax for a few minutes.

Cleaning pump accessories  Every minute of pumping time at work is precious.  I pump for about 15 minutes and it usually takes a long time to clean everything and put things away for next time.  I found that if I just quickly wiped down the shields and put them into a gallon size Ziploc bag, I can just put them into the small refrigerator.  This way I do not have to clean them completely every time I used them.  Putting them in the fridge allows any milk left in the shields not to go bad.  At the end of the day I use the Medela Quick Clean Breast pump & Accessory Wipes and let them air dry in the accessory bag.  On Fridays, I bring everything home and boil to sterilize everything.

Cooler bag  I bought this really handy cooler bag at the baby store.  This bag has freezable ice packs inside the bag already.  You just fold it and put it in the freezer and it stays cold all day.   While I am at work I usually leave this bag in the refrigerator along with the milk.  When I get home I separate the milk he will need for the next day and if I have anything extra I put it into milk bags to freeze.

Last but certainly not least, I nurse him every chance I have with him.  It is real important to have body contact with baby to keep your body producing milk.  It is also important to drink tons, I mean tons of water.  I usually drink about 120 oz of water a day.  That is 15 8oz cups.  If I can squeeze in more I do but never less than that.  I also have taken Fenugreek supplements which help with milk supply.  I have heard that Mother's Milk Tea works too, but personally, I do not like the taste. (I am very picky)

Please share with us if any of this worked for you?  Or if you have any other cool tips that we can use please share.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Things baby does not need

Having a baby is overwhelming.  There are tons of things that go through your mind.  One of the many questions is usually, what does the baby need?  Babies do require many things and Im sure you all have gone into a baby store at some point in your life.  These stores have advertisements that tell the expectant mother and family that the baby is going to need all of it.  If you are a first time mom, you usually have no choice to believe it!  It is real exciting to go through the baby store with the scanner and add things to your baby registry.  There are just so many cute, practical and even "what is this for items?"  I hope to not discourage you but rather help you.  Even though everyone is different and every famlilies needs are not the same. I have found that some things are just not necessary.  With my first baby I registered for what I thought was everything I needed and I realized afterwards that I did not actually use alot of the things I thought I needed.  The second time around, I was a little smarter with my registry but I am sure that I still could have done without some other things.  Here are a list of the things I learned that is basically a waste of money: (save on these items and get other things you do need)

Diaper genie
I usually just put the dirty disposable diapers in the garbage. We keep our garbage can underneath the sink and take out the garbage daily so we never even have smells lingering in the house.  If it is a very stinky diaper I put it in a plastic grocery bag and tie it up to put it in the garbage, that contains the smell.
(we also do part time cloth diapering, so it also helps)

Wipe warmers
This is a personal choice.  I did not want my baby getting used to warm wipes because if I needed to use regular wipes on the go I did not want the baby to freak out.  If I think the wipe is too cold I just warm it up with my hands.

Bottle sterilizer
This is an item I thought I was definitely going to need even the second time around. However, I find that boiling everything is easier, faster and takes up less counter pace.  I also think boiling might do a better job.

Changing table
I thought I would just buy the changing mattress only this time and put it on a furniture but I found that I don't ever use it. I use the the changing table that came with the paypen that I have in the living room.  If not, I change him on the couch, bed, or even on the floor.

Expensive bedding
I know, every mom would like to have a beautiful nursery for their baby.  I did thiis mistake twice! lol  Problem with the bumper, it is a breathing hazard and the nice quilt/comforter, it is not used.  If you just get cute fitted sheets and light blankets it is great.  If you feel you need a bumper, there are breathable ones sold.

Sheet Savers This is a good concept, just not necessary.  All I bought was a waterproof matress cover to save the matress but I just change the sheets if my baby gets it dirty. (I actually dont use the crib at all for a few months anyways.)

Diaper Stackers
These cute diaper holders usually come with the nice bedding set.  If you follow my advice for the bedding this is not necessary to buy seperately.  I actually find it annoying.  I like to have my diapers ready and available when I am changing him so I usually have a few stacks by the playpen and by my bed.  I organize them in a small cubby or basket.


Expensive bathtubs
This is another one that I am guilty of.  Sure they are comfortable if you use it in a kitchen sink.  I tried mine in the bathtub and boy was my back hurting.  The problem is that it is not very convenient.  You have to take it out to the kitchen, then after clean and dry it out before putting it away.  And realistically, my babies grow out of it so fast.

These are items that I personally feel I could do without.  I know every mom and baby are different so you have to just see what works for you.  However, if you are on a budget I would definitely forgo these items.

I would love to hear what you all think.  Tell us what your waste of money items were?  Maybe I missed a few and you can help out other moms.