Thursday, April 25, 2013

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Emotional Regulation

  Interactions with Materials
  • No big changes on her likes and dislikes- stuffed animals for pretend play, puzzles, musical instruments.
  • We are fortunate to have very supportive family members who often send photos of themselves to us as we do not live close by.  Q-ball loves these pictures!  I hang them on the refrigerator, and she often stands in front of them, naming everyone in the photos, and laughing at any stories she can recall.  She'll choose a few photos and carry them around the house with her or take in a car or stroller ride.
Interactions with Others 
  • I am incredibly happy to announce that Q-ball's babysitting went very well last week!  Of course, the initial separation was difficult, and she continually stated that she wanted, "Mama and Daddy stay home!"  Apparently the first 30 minutes were rough, but then she was able to make some of Grandma's rolls with her sitter, play at a park, and continue some physical play at home.  When Mama and Daddy came home, she was so excited, it was hard to calm her down!  I don't expect our next separations to be problem-free, but I'm much more confident! 
Critical Thinking
  • This week Q-ball experimented with the words "might" and "maybe."  It's funny to hear her use the words- not because she uses them incorrectly, but because she sounds so grown up!  Daddy was reading a book with her the other day and was trying to make a small object in one of the pictures, and Q-ball stated, "It might be a train."  Or, when I was looking for yet another lost object in the car the other day, she said, "Maybe it's in Mama's pocket."
Interactions with Life 
  • Q-ball had a very exciting weekend- she was able to watch her Daddy in an obstacle-course race.  While we were watching, she was clearly a bit confused about all the fuss, and was very confused about why she couldn't go swimming in all the water.  We thought her favorite part of the day was getting to ride a "skool bus."  But, by the next day, she was gleefully re-telling stories of the day about Daddy "jump in ice water" and "getting muddy dirty!" 
  • At nearly 22 weeks of pregnancy, I believe that I have stopped producing milk.  Q-ball seems to be taking it in stride. So far, she still tries to nurse, but gives up very quickly unless she is comfort nursing after dealing with some tough emotions.  Her nursing has declined in recent months, and some days she only nurses 3 or 4 times, so we'll see how this affects things.
  • She continues to be very excited about the baby coming.  When we were loading up to go to Daddy's race, with all of the excitement and differences in our travel (we got to each a special breakfast in the car!), she concluded that the "baby come out of Mama's tummy."  A bit more time still!
We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings!  Check out what other kiddos are up to this week!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Watch Her Grow...

This Week's Focus: Language and Emotional Regulation

  Interactions with Materials
  • Q-ball remains very interested in pretend play.  Her animals tend to do everything she does around the house. It's really fun to watch, especially when she is clearly having a great time with the games.  She often will just start laughing by herself in the midst of play.
  • Puzzles also continue to keep her attention.  On a recent trip to visit family, she enjoyed playing with a puzzle that allowed her to use a fishing pole to pick up all of the pieces with her great-grandfather.
Interactions with Others 
  • Tonight marks another period of separation for Q-ball.  A family friend will again come and play with her while Mama and Daddy are out.  The parents are again very nervous about the separation, and from the conversations I've had with Q-ball, I think she's in denial.  Hopefully, she'll soon learn to have fun without Mama or Daddy.
    I entered the living room one day and found Q-ball had set this up to read to her rabbits.

Critical Thinking
  • This age is wonderful as we can now have full conversations with Q-ball.  She is really enjoying making analogies, comparing behavior between Mama or Daddy, or explaining that her stuffed animals are doing things just like her.  I'm constantly amazed at the connections made.
Interactions with Life 
  • She is now in the full blown "do-it-herself" phase.  I have added about 20-30 minutes unto each planned outing as this is how long it takes to get her to get herself into her shoes, carseat, close her own car door, etc, etc.  Or, calm down any tantrum that is caused by my ill-timed assistance.  "No, no- me!" is the most common phrase in the house right now.  Last night, she was actually saying this in her sleep.
  • As she is trying to work through emotions that are much bigger than she is, she is very observant of others' emotions.  She'll often watch me and say, "Mama happy" or "Mama mad" (it happens...), or watch a crying baby and say, "baby sad."
 An Announcement
    In other news in Q-ball's life, she is very excited to be expecting a new baby brother in late August or early September.  She loves reading books about new babies and is very excited about explaining how she is going to help Mama with the baby and that she is ready to share so many things with the baby (her water, her clothes, her potty.)  Hopefully, she's able to hold on to the excitement for another 4 and a half months!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Early Potty Learning the Montessori Way- Our Journey

Disclaimer: This is a long post!  But, do not fear, you don't have to read it all-  I really want it to be helpful for those interested, so I've presented lots of information and lots of the same information in different ways, so you can choose which version works best for you!  If you have questions or tips for other parents, please comment!

Here's what you'll find below:
  • Overview
  • Our Basic Action Plan
  • Summary of Early Potty Learning by Month
  •  What I'd Do Differently
  • Our Favorite Potty Books
 As I've described in several posts, we began potty learning quite early by current Western standards.  Dr. Montessori considered the "sensitive period" for potty learning from 12-18 months.  We started at 14 months. When I started our journey, I looked for sources and stories from other families for inspiration, but, frankly, I did not find very much. Two of my favorite Montessori blogs had some information (How We Montessori (it was especially interesting to follow this mom's journey as her son and my son are the same age, so we were struggling together!) and Vibrant Wanderings).  Additionally, I used some elimination communication resources (specifically this book and this book) for tips, although we were certainly beyond the timeline for EC.
   It was a very slow road- with many pit stops along the way, but ultimately one that I'm very happy we took.  So, I wanted to share our journey- month by month- with the goal of helping or possibly inspiring other early potty learning families.

Our Basic Action Plan
  1. Introduce potty, when child is interested and comfortable, encourage her to sit on potty.
  2. A few hours of daytime diaperless time.  During elimination, introduce your sign and/or verbal cue.  Move child to potty during/after every elimination and explain that all elimination happens on the potty.  Encourage them to help clean up any messes, but otherwise use no reward or consequence.
  3. Increase diaperless time during the day as understanding progresses.  Move to diaperless time during naps.
  4. Go diaperless outside of the house (use trainers or just bring extra clothes).
  5. Go diaperless at night.
***If at any point, your child is clearly uncomfortable or upset by the potty, put it away for awhile.  You don't want your child to have negative feelings toward the potty!

Short Summary by Month

13 Months
For the first time, I noticed that Q-ball indicating to me that she was "feeling" when she was peeing.  As a baby who was never bothered by dirty diapers, I felt this was a significant change that signaled readiness for potty learning.  For the next few weeks, I researched potty learning (see sources listed above).

14 Months
I finally got around to buying a potty. We just set it in front of Q-ball on day, explained what it was for and waited for her to be comfortable to sit on it.  It really didn't take long- just about a day or two.  At this point, we started going diaperless at home for a few hours a day.  When Q-ball peed on the floor, we would make the sign for "pee" and a "pssss" sound.  We then moved her to her potty and encouraged her to clean up the mess.  We went through lots and lots of towels.  We were lucky that Q-ball did not mind sitting on the potty; if anything, she loves it- we get to read lots and lots of books.  But, no "catching" this month. 

15 Months
Q-ball started to make the sign for "pee" and within the next 10 minutes would normally pee.  Still, we didn't catch every pee.  Mainly, in retrospect, because I do not think I was fully committed.  I was a little too casual about potty learning at this point, I think as a result of reading some Montessori resources over resources completely devoted to potty learning.  When Q-ball signed, I would not completely drop everything and wait on the potty for the next however long.  As a result, I think I missed a real opprotunity at this point to help Q-ball connect a her physical sensations to moving to the potty. 

16 Months
Not much changed.  Diaperless time did increase to any time at home.  One major difficulty for us was that I was never able to figure out Q-ball's elimination schedule.  I kept lots of notes and observations, but, frankly could never really figure out a schedule that was consistent.  Perhaps she started holding her pee very early in the process?

17 Months
Q-ball was obsessed with watching others go potty.  Whenever we were out and someone went into another door, she would look at me and make the sign for "pee" with the "psss" sound.  Also, I was dragged into bathrooms during every outing.  Q-ball herself, however, was not overly interested in eliminating on the potty herself.

18 Months
For the first time, Q-ball moved to the potty herself and peed!  Biggest success yet!  She was very excited and kept looking in her potty to see if it's full of pee, but, alas, we still didn't have too much success.

19 Months
At times, Q-ball catches accidents half-way and runs to her potty, but, mostly, we still go through lots of towels.  I should stress that we sit on the potty A LOT.  Like, Q-ball will ask to sit on the potty for over an hour reading but will not think about peeing.  She definitely holds her pee.  As we still wear diapers when we go out and at night, and I know that she is holding her pee until these times.

20 Months
Stomach bug strikes household for several weeks.  After a traumatizing diaperless experience for Q-ball and Daddy, we decide to take several weeks off potty learning to prevent any major setbacks.  (Q-ball clearly was really disturbed by the incident was begged not to go diaperless during this time.)

21 Months
I really start to take potty learning more seriously this month.  I keep fairly strict schedules for when we sit on the potty, although if Q-ball is clearly upset, I don't force anything. Also, we don't always do diapers when we go out- we also wear cloth trainers. Potty successes daily- mainly when we first wake up and before bed.  But, we also traveled to see family, and Q-ball was not interested or comfortable practicing anywhere other than home.  We took about a week to get back into our schedule at home.  I know that we are still dealing with some pee holding. 

22 Months
Q-ball's "I-got-it!" day finally has struck.  I think that my increased focus on potty learning had a major impact.  Where we once sat on the potty for 15-20 minutes before Q-ball eliminated, now there is success pretty much as soon as we sit on the potty.  We now do not wear diapers outside of the house, although we still have accidents- we just bring lots of extras.  We ordered an extra potty for the car and encourage Q-ball to use the potty before we go into a store, to the park, etc.  Q-ball even took rather easily to pooing on the potty.  While we did have a few instances of holding her poo and some emotional potty experiences and explanations of how it all works, we did not have complete refusal. 

23 Months
I'd been looking for the time to introduce nighttime pottying with Q-ball, nervous that it would be quite dramatic as diapering is part of our very set bedtime routine.  But, one night, Q-ball announced she only wanted to wear pants to bed. So, that answered the question.  A few nights, Q-ball has asked to put on a diaper, and we have her help us lay out her nighttime diaper and tell her it will be close by "in case she needs it." This satisfies her.  We certainly have not been accident-free, but I feel as though we have as many successes as misses.  Her potty is set up in the corner of her room, and, if she calls me into her room at night, I help her sit on the potty (which, I admit, she's not always happy about.) or I quickly lay down a new towel and change pants if necessary.

24 Months
I certainly consider Q-ball toilet-trained by two years old.  She is still hesitant about using a "big potty," but we have been looking at pictures from EC sources of babies sitting on big potties, and she has had success.

What I'd Do Differently
  • I had a difficult time finding Q-ball's elimination schedule, I'd recommend starting to figure this out before going diaperless or immediately upon going diaperless.
  • I was very, very relaxed at first, waiting for Q-ball to always show interest, or ask if she wanted to sit on the potty.  I'd use a bit more of a schedule next time- on the potty every 60 or 90 minutes for a few hours each day.
  • In the early days, Q-ball was uncomfortable pooping on the potty, so I did not force it.  However, it is much easier for a caretaker to anticipate when a child will poop than pee.  I'd recommend continuing to try to master pooping first or along with peeing.  (Some books recommend that poop-learning come first as when a child poops, they as tend to pee.)
Our Favorite Potty Books
Many potty-learning books are for older toddlers.  These were the ones that we found were most helpful in the early days and weeks.  Q-ball really, really studied these books and clearly used them for tips and encouragement.
  • A Potty For Me!  A lift-the-flap book, this was fun for Q-ball.  Also, stressed that the child was proud of her accomplishments rather than external rewards.
  • Potty The most simple potty book we found.  Q-ball (and I) still say "Uh-Hmm-Ha-He! when we really have to use the potty!
  • Even Firefighters Go to the Potty All kids love firefighters!  This was just a fun one to read that encouraged her to sit on the potty for a long period, when necessary.
  • I Want My Potty We found this older book at the library.  While I do not think the author intended it, this became our "poo poo book."  The pictures in the book seem to show the little girl really pushing on the potty- we used these pictures to discussed different methods that can help with pooping (this was especially helpful during Q-ball's poop-holding time.)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Watch Her Grow- 2 Years Old!

  Last week, Q-ball turned two!  She was very excited about her birthday, quickly realizing it was an occasion when even more attention than usual would be showered her way.  When asked how she wanted to celebrate, she replied, "Ride boat."  So, we found one of the closest boat rides and headed that way on birthday morning.  Daddy even treated us to doughnuts!  After returning from the trip, we told Q-ball it was time for her nap.  She looked at us like us like we must be a little confused and said, "me birthday."  I guess you don't have to take naps on your birthday.   That afternoon, we met a few friends at the park and enjoyed some of Q-ball's favorite foods: her Grandma's recipe for rolls combined with Oma's classic pigs-in-a-blanket, mac & cheese, hummus with veggies, strawberries and blueberries, and, of course, cake and ice cream (although she didn't actually eat any cake once the blueberries made it onto her ice cream!)

With Easter and her birthday in the same weekend, Q-ball got her fill of sugar.

As I did at 18 Months, I'll list Q-ball's currently favorite things.
  • Books!
  • Blueberries
  • Oatmeal
  • Ice Cream
  • Larabars and dates
  • Swings at any park
  • Stuffed animals (she really attached to the Easter Bunny and has been very attached to bunny toys the past few days)
  • Balls
  • Anything musical- instruments, singing, listening to music
  • Running around with Daddy
 We are linking up with Vibrant Wanderings.  See what the other kiddos are up to here! 
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