Saturday, September 29, 2012

15: Silhouette

photograph by Jen.

*Navalgazing* Reflections at 29 Weeks Pregnant

So, 29 weeks.  Even though I officially started into my third trimester last week, I think it took me a little while to realize that this little baby is going to be arriving (relatively) soon. 

I feel pretty good about everything.  As I've said before, I think Jen and I are both much more relaxed about this pregnancy than we were when she was pregnant with The Bean.  Of course, we also had quite a few scares when she was pregnant and therefore more reason for concern.  Right now I think our two biggest concerns are 1) how The Bean will react to having a baby around and 2) sleep.  Jen doesn't do well with little sleep, and The Bean is quite a good sleeper, so hopefully this baby doesn't throw either of them too off their schedule.  I know we've still got a few months to go, but I'd in terms of nighttime, she seems to have a very active period around 9-10pm (Jen was freaking out last night watching her move my belly) and again somewhere around 3-5am.  I'll be curious to see if it remains the same once she's born. 

This week has been pretty bad on the sleep front for me as I'd had a number of bad nightmares. There were a few nights where I woke up with my heart racing and had a very, very hard time falling back asleep. I hope it's a brief phase. 

In other news, it seems I am starting to develop what Jen lovingly refers to as "the creepy line"  (the linea nigra) and losing my belly button.  I feel enormous and constantly seem to be misjudging how much space I now take up.  Friends and family have told me I look great, which I wouldn't necessarily agree with, but is nice to hear just the same. 

I bought some cheap prenatal vitamins at the grocery store and seem to be digesting them much better than the "good" ones from my naturopath.  The Charlie Horses have eased up, but my legs are still getting sore/tight in the nights.  Jen has been really good about rubbing them out for me before bed. 

So, things keep ticking along.  We're nearly 3/4 of the way there! 

Photo from 29 weeks +2 days.



Friday, September 28, 2012

30 Day Photo Challenge Catch Up (Again)

10: Water

11: Something Blue

12: Sunset


13: Today's Weather

14: Eyes

{this moment} birthday

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Monday, September 24, 2012

*Navalgazing* Reflections at 28 (+2) Weeks Pregnant

I feel like at various points throughout this week I felt I had a lot to say, but now that I'm actually sitting down to write, not much is coming to mind. 

The little girl continues to wiggle around poking and kicking me.  Either her position has changed enough or she's getting strong enough that it sometimes hurts a bit.  I guess she's getting a little cramped in there.  (She punctuates my writing this with a kick!)  We can now quite clearly tell which way she is lying because her bum pokes out making my belly lopsided.  She also seems to react very strongly when I've eaten. 

Eating has become a slight issue.  No more nausea, but the heartburn is getting really bad, particularly in the evening.  Breads seem to be pretty bad, fruits and milk products not awful.  Often as soon as I look at something I know whether I'm going to react or not.  I have been consuming A LOT of Tums. 

I've been thinking about labour and birth some more.  After looking at various classes online, I think we've decided to hire the woman who led the birth classes we attended when Jen was pregnant with The Bean and ask her to tailor a private session towards strategies for partner-coached natural birthing.  I checked "Husband Coached Childbirth: The Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth" from the library and plan on starting to read it this week.  We also borrowed a copy of "The Birth Partner" to re-read. 

Final note: I think we're getting closer to coming up with a shortlist of names.  The same few seem to be popping up whenever we discuss names, so it at least feels like we're making some progress.  I'd like to narrow the list down to maybe five or so front runners so when she is born we're able to make a decision more quickly.  (Middle name is set as Jen's mother's name, just as The Bean has her father's name for his middle name.) 

Photo from 28 (+1) Weeks:

Fall Activities

I first thought of writing this post last year, when I was in the "fall activities for kindergarteners" mindset, but just never got around to it.  This year I have a little bit more free time on my hands. 

I'd say most of these actitivies are probably appropriate for 3-6 year olds and reflect somewhat of a Montessori approach.  I wish I had some pictures, but I don't.  Hopefully my little descriptions are self-explanatory. 

-set up a nature table with leaves, indian corn, gourds, etc.
-have the child tweeze the kernels out of a cob of indian corn or the seeds out of the centre of a sunflower
-use acorns as counters (very cute if paired with felt oak leaves with numbers on them!)
-identify/classify leaves from a nature walk
-pound golf tees into a large pumpkin
-wash gourds
-core apples
-peel apples using an apple peeler (my kindergarten students LOVED this and would argue over who got to eat the skin!)
-bake and cook fall foods (children can grate apples for muffins or apple sauce, clean pumpkins and roast the seeds, etc.)
-plant bulbs for spring

Some other fun ideas for fall include:
-nature walks
-apple picking
-visiting the pumpkin patch
-going to a corn maze

What are your favourite fall activities to do with/without kids? 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

07: Food 08: Morning and 09: Autumn

Playing catch-up with the photo challenge tonight.  Here are some shots from the past few days.

Enjoying lunch surrounded by some of the yummy food from the farmer's market this week.

Best bedhead ever.  (Only to be rivaled by his mommy, who might kill me if I posted a photo of her taken first thing in the morning.)

 Autumn boy.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome Fall

It's fall and I'm looking forward to enjoying my favourite season as our last season as a family of three.  The days are becoming noticeably cooler and the trees are starting to change colour.  This week I pulled our duvet out of storage.  Scarves and hats are also coming out.  I have a urge to start baking.  My first batch of wheat-free pumpkin muffins weren't so successful, but I have another recipe that seems more promising.  I'm also thinking of apple cake and zucchini loaves and butternut squash soup.  There are balls of yarn waiting to be crafted into tiny hats and baby sweaters.  To me, this is the season of long walks outside, of warm cups of tea, of preparing for the retreat into the colder months.  This will be A Special Winter.  A winter to hold my most loved ones, big and small, close.  But for now I plan on enjoying these bright crisp days.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{this moment} guitar

A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

06: From a Low Angle


A low-angle fail, but too cute not to post.  This is The Bean mimicking me lying down to take his photo.  (NOT easy to do with a six-month belly, BTW.)

Monday, September 17, 2012

03: Clouds

 
Not really the shot I had thought I might caputure, just one I snapped from our balcony quickly this morning.  Good thing though, because apart from the early morning, the sky was cloudless all day.

*Navalgazing* Reflections at 27 (+2) Weeks Pregnant

I did intend on having a photo taken this weekend and writing this update on Saturday (which feels like it was a week ago), but the days were too busy with lovely fall outtings and visiting friends and family so, here we are. 

It was a good week pregnancy-wise.  I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that it's likely I will feel crappy in the evening (heartburn) and have a hard time overnight (peeing every two hours and Charlie horses every third night or so).  Not having many set obligations in the day and the ability to lie down for an afternoon nap, if I so choose, makes things easier.  I'm still heartbroken over losing my job, but I have thought many times about how exhausted it's likely that I'd feel if I were there right now.  Silver lining?

I had a midwife appointment this morning and met Bianca, who will be our primary midwife from here out.  I was a little worried about not liking her as much as Kirsten, who took care of us with The Bean, but she seems LOVELY.  My weight gain (27lbs) and fundal height were both deemed "perfect" though I am somewhat concerned about gaining too much.  Baby's heartbeat was a nice steady 140bpm and she is, as I suspected, head down now. 

I was given the choice of doing a blood glucose screening, so I am going to book that hopefully for sometime next week.

I'll have to get Jen to take a photo this evening, so hopefully I'll be able to post it along with the photo challenge photo.  Hope everyone's week is off to a good start. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

01: Self-Portrait

Teaming up with An Offering of Love and Insert Metaphor for their 30 Day Photo Challenge.  If you're playing along feel free to leave a link to your page in the comments. 
 

Please ignore the crazy look in my eyes.  I was getting frustrated as most of my self-portraits were turning out like this:


Note to self: Learn to use the timer on the camera in the next 29 days. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Only Rain...

 
I love the fall, and though I don't love it when it rains everyday, there is something especially cozy about an occassional rainy day in the fall.  It's the kind of day where you can make a nest on the couch and enjoy the sound of raindrops hitting the roof. 





And so what if some things got accidently left out on the clothesline.  They'll dry when the sun comes back out.


Hope everyone's weekend gets off to a good start. 

---
Post title from Dar Williams' Playing to the Firmament.  A perfect song for this kind of day.

{this moment} running

{A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.
 
 
Inspired by SouleMama.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Twenty Months Old!

Today The Bean is twenty months old! 


This little guy is becoming evermore the toddler these days.  I have to say, it amazes me.

-Most days The Bean wakes up happy and chatters in his crib until we come in and get him.  There were a few mornings this month when the chattering began earlier than I would have liked, but with the nights lasting a little longer, I'm hoping to see more of a trend towards, say a 6:30am wake up.  One thing that I'm finding just lovely is that he'll now rest his head on my shoulder and give me a hug when I get him up from his crib.  So sweet. 

-More than just chattering, he really is talking.  Sometimes we have no idea what he is saying, but more and more we're able to pick out words and figure out bits and pieces of what he has to tell us.  He's begun to repeat words and short sentences.  He says "please" and "thank you" ("ga goo").  He started a thing where he was calling us both "Mommy!" but we're trying to get him back on track with distinguishing us as mommy and mama.  (Grandma and Grandpa both seem to be "Gan-pa" too, so it's not just us he generalizes for.) 

-We continue with a laid-back approach to potty learning.  After dinner we'll often ask if he wants to pee pee on the potty and when he says yes (most nights) he will try to go either on the toilet or on his little potty.  I'd say most nights that he tries he does a little pee.  We praise him like crazy and he seems pretty pleased with himself.  He hasn't pooped on the potty, but will tell us "poo poo" when his diaper is dirty so he definitely has some awareness.  His daycare provider is on board with this, but she says though he'll sit on the potty there, nothing has happened.  Maybe it's too distracting with the other kids around? 

-He also likes to asks us to turn on music by saying "I dance?" and to get out of his stroller by saying "I run."  He never ever seems to say "I walk" or "I sit". 

-He seems to have been really into his books this month.  Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin has been a huge hit.  He loves saying "Nooo!" when asked if the pumpkin is where they are looking.  We have a book called Fingers and Toes that he's really been enjoying too.  He's getting quite good at naming body parts.  Each Peach, Pear, Plum and books about vehicles have also been popular. 

-A woman in our building drives a school bus, and watching her get it ready in the mornings has become a part of our routine, as it was back in June.  While out there he waves and blows kisses to all the people walking down the sidewalk on their way to the subway.  Our little charmer. 

-He seems to be happy playing independently with me or Jen nearby more than he has been before.  I can fold and put away his diapers while he has his train, or trucks, or picnic basket, etc. 

-Balls continue to be a very popular toy.  He is quite good at kicking (he can aim!  Better than me!!) and is working on throwing.  I think it'll be a while before he's able to catch though.  He LOVES it when we throw a ball high up in the air. 

-We've also started doing some drawing with him.  I had an empty notebook and we'll sometimes give it to him in his highchair with a couple of crayons or washable markers and he'll scribble a bit.  He's quite good at getting the lids on and off the markers independently. 

-In addition to all the words he's been saying, he continues to impress us with his understanding.  I can't think of too many specific examples right now.  Lots of "Please give this to mommy." or "Can you get your ___?"  Jen insists that he favours me and was asking him if Mama was his favourite the other day.  He said no.  So I asked if Mommy was his favourite.  No again.  So Jen asked if Mo was his favourite.  An emphatic "Yes!"  Go figure.  We just wish he would stop trying to kick her. 

-My absolute favourite moment this month was when I asked him if he loved Mommy and he nodded his head said "I luf" and then I asked him if he loved Mama and again he nodded and said "I luf."  My heart just melted. 

We "luf" you too little boy. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

*Navalgazing* Reflections at 26 (+1) Weeks Pregnant

I have stretch marks. :( 

I was really hoping I'd make it through without getting any, but alas...

Pretty early on this week I was getting out of the shower and noticed them on the undersides of my breasts.  I actually had noticed a red mark on the top of one of my breasts last week, but The Bean had pinched me, and I thought it was from that.  I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.  I've gone from a B to a D in five months.  I should probably go and get fitted for some new bras (right now I'm wearing hand me downs from Jen and my sister that fit), but I was really hoping to put it off until post-baby and be able to get some nice nursing bras.  (Recommendations on styles/brands welcome!) 

I've been pretty good about putting on lotion all along, so I guess it was unavoidable.  One of my favourite Ani DiFranco lyrics is "I've got highways for stretch marks, see where I've grown?"  I guess I'll just have to embrace that.  (And yes, I LOVE Ani DiFranco and have since I was 14 or so and my brother played me "Back Around" in his bedroom.  I didn't even know I was gay then. ;)  )

Getting a full night's sleep continues to be a challenge.  I seem to be able to get a good stretch early in the night, but after whenever I get up for the first time I only go for another hour and a half before having to get up again.  And that's if I don't get a Charlie Horse.  Yes, they continue to be an issue even with the added Cal/Mag supplements. 

I've been surprised recently by the number of people who have been telling me not to carry The Bean.  Mostly I just brush it off as unsolicited advice but it does make me wonder what the concern is.  He's not very big/heavy and I'm in reasonable shape physically, even pregnant.  The boy likes me to carry him, I've cut back, but I'm not going to deny him completely. 

I'm looking forward to the fall -more of a routine, cooler weather, different wardrobe choices.  This will be our last season as a family of three and I'm trying to prepare for this number four as the days until she join us are becoming more and more limited.  I met up with a few other new and expecting moms from the BabyCentre website for tea on Friday.  It was nice.  I always feel a little awkward meeting new people, but I don't want to feel lonely once the new year rolls around and I'm ready to get out and about again and figured connecting with a few new people may help with that.  I'm also looking into childbirth classes.  Trying to find something that will be a good fit.  I feel like I am far to analytical/critical for Hypnobirthing to work for me, so am considering a different natural childbirth class.  Part of me hates to spend the money to prepare for something that will hopefully only take a relatively short period of time, but at the same time I would like to try for natural childbirth and feel that if I don't educate myself more it is unlikely to happen.  Again, any suggestions on methods, books, etc. would be appreciated.

Photo from 26 (+2) Weeks:

Jen tells me she'll have to start taking them horizontally soon.  Thanks babe.

Friday, September 7, 2012

{this moment} dishes

{A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

 
Inspired by SouleMama.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

100 Days to Go

So, there are exactly one hundred days left until Sprout's due date. 

Admittedly, being pregnant hasn't been an "easy" experience.  My mother used to talk about how wonderful she felt during her pregnancies, and I guess I expected to feel the same way, but as anyone who follows this blog already knows I've had my share of discomforts. 

All this isn't to say I'm not enjoying being pregnant. I am in awe that there is another human being growing inside of me, and it's certainly a time I will treasure. In fact, I'm a little bit sad that I will only get to experience pregnancy once in this lifetime, despite any complaining I've done.

Anyway, on this occassion I thought I'd list some of the items that have made pregnancy easier:

-Diclectin/ anti-nausea medication -without this I don't know how I would have survived the first four to five months.  It didn't make me feel 100%, but it certainly took the edge off.

-Bellaband -very helpful at the end of my first trimester when I could still almost fit into my regular clothes.  Also great to have now as I'm wearning some of Jen's hand-me-down maternity clothes which are just a little big for me.  It's like a belt for maternity pants!

-Maternity Clothes -the first pair of shorts I put on felt like a miracle.  I'm a little sick of them after having lived in them all summer, but they've still been great to have.  One suggestion I would like to make to anyone who thinks they'll find themselves in need of maternity clothes sometime soon is to buy coordinating pieces.  If you're like me, you're not going to puchase a ton of items, so make sure that you can mix and match!  (Try choosing brown or black as a base colour and finding other items that go with your base to pair with.)  This is also somethig I do when travelling to avoid overpacking.  (I haven't bought any yet, but I've heard maternity underwear is a worthwhile purchase, any input?)

-Wedge Pillow -when my sister loaned me her wedge pillow I doubted it's effectiveness, but it really has helped!  I often find myself wishing I had two, because even though I know I'm supposed to sleep on my left, I still roll back and forth and it'd be super-awesome not to have to readjust the pillow each time I moved. 

-Nice lotion -now that I'm starting to feel streched, having a nice lotion to put on after a bath or when I wake up itchy is a nice luxury. 

-My wife -she's awesome, but sorry ladies, no one else gets her.  Hopefully you find someone who treats you as great as she treats me --from taking on Bean duties and allowing me to go to bed at 6pm during my first trimester, to rubbing out my legs before bed, and telling me that I'm attractive even as struggle to get up off the couch--  I really couldn't ask for anyone better. 

I'm curious to hear what others have found they/ their partners appreciated having during their pregnancies.  Leave it in the comments! 

Alternative Educational Approaches

Last month my friend, Ashleigh, asked my opinion on Montessori vs. Waldorf schools.  I would by no means consider myself an expert on any educational approach, but may have a bit more background than others having taught in a “Montessori inspired” environment for several years and having done research and workshops on various approaches.

I feel like right now there are three strong alternatives to traditional education  --Montessori, Waldorf, and Reggio Emelia.  They share some common elements, but are still quite different from one another.  I’ll speak to each of these in relation to early years learning (pre-kindergarten/kindergarten) as this is the area that I am the most knowledgeable about and also what I think would pertain to the majority of my blog readers. 

Here’s my little run-down of each method:
 
Montessori
The focus in a Montessori classroom is on child-directed learning through the use of specifically designed materials created and set up to further the child’s independence and curiosity.  Children have the freedom to choose activities and explore them without interruption.  The classroom is usually quiet and calm, with most students focused on individual tasks. 
The classroom is carefully prepared with materials (many specific to the method), most of which are made of natural materials.  The materials are arranged from easiest to most complex and many contain control of error, allowing the child to self-correct.

The teacher’s main role is to observe the child, guide them when needed, present new tasks (to individuals or small groups) as the child shows interest and ability, and to prepare the classroom environment.

The traditional Montessori classroom is set up in multi-age groupings.  This allows for younger children to learn from their older peers and older children to act as role models/ mentors.

Criticisms:
-anyone, trained or not, can call themselves a “Montessori” teacher or school.  If you’re considering going this route it is a good idea to ask what the teachers’ credentials are.
-depending on the teachers/ school, it can be quite rigid.
-critics say that creativity can be stifled in Montessori environment.  If I were going this route, I would inquire as to how the arts and movement are incorporated into the program.

Waldorf

The aim of Waldorf education is to nurture the whole child, raising him to his fullest potential.
Waldorf classrooms are beautiful (often pastel-coloured), simple, learning environments.  In the younger grades, there is a strong emphasis is on imagination and creativity, with extensive time allowed for guided free play using natural materials.   Oral language and daily, weekly and seasonal rhythm/ routines are strongly emphasized.

The teacher acts are a role model and stays with the same class throughout their elementary years.
Criticisms:
-children are held back from academic learning, even when ready.
-parents are expected to adhere to the philosophy at home, including a ban on television/screen time, and clothing free of commercial images.
-there is a focus on imaginary woodland creatures (faries, gnomes, etc.), which I, personally, feel is a little bit bizarre. 
-I also found there to be unacknowledged Christian undertones, which mainly bothered me for being unacknowledged in a school that claims to be non-denominational. 

Reggio Emilia
This approach contains no pre-determined curriculum, but gives children control over their own learning, encouraging small group project work and self-expression where children, teachers, and community members work collaboratively.

Focused academic instruction is not formally provided, rather children learn to symbolically represent their ideas and feelings through any of their “hundreds of languages” (words, movement, drawing, music, etc.) as they record their ideas to communicate with others. 
Work is displayed around the classroom.  The classroom is seen as an extension of the child’s world.  It is a busy environment, where children are actively engaged in their various projects.

Criticisms:
-lack of curriculum and focused academic instruction.
-expected parental involvement may be a challenge for working parents.
-students who are not interested in what the group is doing may feel excluded or coerced into inquiring into a topic in which they have little to no interest.

Hopefully that provides just a small bit of background to anyone who is interested in any of these alternatives to traditional education.  In my opinion, the “best choice” most often boils down to what best suits the child as an individual and the teachers giving the instruction.  As a parent, you need to look at what you feel is best for your little one(s) and trust your instincts.  You all already knew that though. ;)
For anyone who is interested, The Bean is not in any of these types of programs, but does attend a lovely little home daycare/preschool where he gets lots of unstructured play time, some group “lessons”, stories, art, outdoor time and outings.  As I know I’ve said before, we’re very happy with where he is and have no plans to send him elsewhere for the time being. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

*Navalgazing* Reflections at 25(+2) Weeks Pregnant

This has been a pretty good week overall.  Some round ligament pain and lots of indigestion in the evenings, but no big complaints otherwise. 

Sprout keeps wiggling around and Jen can feel her quite regularly now.  The Bean will point and say baby and kiss my tummy, but we're still not sure he really understands.  He hasn't felt movement yet (he won't sit still long enough to), but I'm curious as to how he will react when/if he does. 

The only other thing to mention is that I am considering updating my facebook page with the news.  Most of my close friends know, but I intentionally tried to keep it from my co-workers because I didn't want to jeopardize any chance I might have of getting an assistant position at my school this fall.  I still haven't heard anything, so I'm pretty confident that the assistant thing isn't going to happen.  I'm diasppointed, but also feel like the summer has (mostly) given me the distance I needed to resign myself to the fact that for all intents and purposes I am unemployed and will be for at least the next year.  I'm sure once Sprout is born it won't bother me as much as it does now.  Anyway, I'd like to share the news with these friends and don't see much of a reason to hold back anymore, but it does still feel like I'm finally conceeding that that chapter of my life is over.  Not the easiest thing to come to terms with. 

Here's the belly photo for the week, taken yesterday at 25(+1) weeks: