While I'm at it (because I never get around to blogging solely about the Montessori principles I keep hinting at), I will point out this Montessori-inspired shelf. Each shelf has only two or three toys on it, each toy in its own container, if appropriate. There is another bin across the room holding three or four stuffed animals, and a bookshelf in our bedroom with maybe 7 books on it. Z's extra books and toys are kept out of sight, and I am supposed to interchange them every couple of weeks (which happens when I remember), especially things she's not playing with. De-clutter their space; de-clutter their brains. Just like big people.
The idea is to allow kids to discover things afresh and to develop good concentration skills, rather than having hundreds of toys continually accessible and yet being bored. I saw this concept work remarkably well at the Montessori school where I subbed in Anchorage. Another Montessori idea (which I think Z is too young for?) is to have small rugs that the children can roll out to play on. It gives them a confined, designated play space, and really helps their concentration on the task at hand. They must put one activity away before engaging in another.
This rug photo is from http://mymontessorijourney.typepad.com/.
In answer to Darla, the two Montessori books I'm reading are Montessori From the Start: The Child at Home From Birth to Age Three (Lillard and Jessen), and How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way (Tim Seldin). That last one I felt like a real snob taking home from the library, because geez louise, I don't care about raising an amazing child just to raise an amazing child. HOITY TOITY to the max. But that book has tons of great ideas, and it's full of photographs. The first one is a heavier read, with lots of theory. The Montessori philosophy is to allow the potential that is already present in every child to be naturally unleashed, not to push them into amazingness for its own sake. As I have witnessed, kids are capable of so much more than we give them credit for, even as little tinies! I loved that short stint at the school in Anchorage. I feel like it shaped my perspectives of toddlers and pre-school aged children a great deal.
On the health front, Zoralee has had a rough month. Week 1: teething, Week 2: roseola measles (a.k.a. baby measles), Week 3: a chest cold, and Week 4: more teething. She has been needy and fussy, with a reduced appetite for solid food, and her sleep has been wretched. Besides this, she somehow knows that both liquid and chewable medicine is, in fact, medicine and not candy. This is another of the times I marvel at moms with more than one child, especially more than one sick child. Being near my own mother is my sanity at times like this; those two love each other quite immensely.
Aside from that, Z has continued to learn, thrive, and grow. A couple mornings ago, I had her on my bed trying to clip her toenails. She kept pointing to the floor and saying "Buh," which can mean several things, but which I took to mean "book" right then. There weren't any books in that spot, so I made one of those, "Mm-hmm, yeahhh" sort of regarding-yet-disregarding comments that you make often to talkative toddlers. I walked through the living room and encouraged her to come upstairs for breakfast. She wouldn't go up the stairs. She pointed to the bedroom. Okay, okay. I followed her back in, and she lifted the corner of her bed blanket to reveal a tiny black spider. Ohhhh, BUG! That's what she meant. I picked him up and took him outside. She's learning that when we're downstairs, Mommy puts bugs outside, and when we're upstairs, Grandpa vacuums them up. But isn't that cool? She must've seen him crawl across the floor and under her bed, and she knew to lift the blanket to find him. And she kept her mind on him, in spite of me leading her upstairs, where she is usually anxious to go.
Last week we figured it was time for Z to see her pediatrician, mostly to verify that she didn't have the Black Lung, Pop, but also because evidently people do this with their children about once a year. Z's congestion was just upper respiratory, so no worries on that, and the nurse practitioner confirmed by my photo and descriptions that Z had likely had roseola measles, also no worry. She is 31" long (75th percentile) and 18 pounds, 4 ounces (not yet on the chart). So, she's long and lean, a little factoid we had picked up on without the official charts.
As for EC (Elimination Communication) these days, Z is diaper free at home. We've done that off and on her whole life, but this time it's pretty permanent, other than at night. I diaper her when we go to town too, for my own peace of mind, though she potties in any bathroom if I can keep her well enough entertained. She averages one miss per day, which she signals me about while she's piddling on the floor. She poos in the toilet, with a miss once a month. A lot of people are surprised (I sure was) that getting babies to poo in the pot is the very easiest thing of all. She has been doing it some since we started EC at three weeks of age.
My biggest problem has been getting her to be content to sit still on the potty. Whenever I ask if she needs to go potty, her standard answer is "no no no no no." She is such a wiggle worm that I have to let her watch cell phone videos, and I sometimes resort to candy bribery (which might mortify EC hard liners, as natural pottying isn't supposed to be about reward or punishment). That usually keeps her still enough to release her bowels if she needs to go.
Well, hm. I was going to end this post right there, but I feel I should end it with a sentence without the word "bowels." So, here's a little tidbit from today, which I posted on facebook, but hey, some things are worth doubling up on. Zoralee brought me a bit of packing peanut and wondered what it was. I told her it was styrofoam, and she held it up to her ear and said, "Hah-lo." No, I told her, not a cell phone, but styrofoam. This is starting to get very fun, watching her make connections between objects that we adults categorized separately long ago.
Final note: spellcheck says styrofoam should be capitalized. I'm sorry. I cannot with any level of intellectual honesty capitalize styrofoam.