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Discover the secret of childhood from 0-3 year old:

Video: 14-Month Update

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 6:29 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Hello Moms, Dads and Montessorians!

Sorry I ‘ve been remiss in updating my blog. Why? Well, I’ve been spending my free time writing a book! Or a booklet, rather. Moms don’t have time to read, as I can attest, so the shorter the book, the better. With that in mind, I’m writing a short, but hopefully thorough, book on raising your child the first year the Montessori Way. I’ve written most of it, but it still needs editing. Watch out – it’ll be coming soon!

Meanwhile, I have so many photos, videos and stories about B and M from the last two months, I don’t even know where to begin!

The girls are now 14 months old – walking, talking and so much more grown up than the last time you heard about them.

Brooke has become a pro at using the spoon. She can eat entire bowls of oatmeal, yogurt or rice by herself. All those months of letting her feed herself (and the endless cleaning up that went along with it) is finally starting to pay off! A couple days ago, I decided to up the ante and give her some cereal and milk to eat on her own. It takes a lot of concentration and hand-eye coordination for a child to do this – but both of them love fishing out those one or two O’s with their spoon. They would eat cereal with milk all day long if Mama would let them!

In other news, Mackenzie is absolutely in love with the harmonica. I bought this when they turned one and Mackenzie immediately started blowing on it, but very lightly at first. In the last two months, she’s taken it to new levels. Here’s a little excerpt from my little traveling harmonica player. And I recommend it as a great instrument for little ones to make music!

Video: You Must Let Your Child Try This

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:47 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Mackenzie is going through a phase of pointing at everything and saying, “Da?” She wants to know its name.

It’s like she woke up one day and suddenly discovered that everything has a name.  She’s always asking to be picked up and walked around so she can point at things and wait for us to give her the name. The sheer joy she exhibits upon hearing the names of those things makes it worthwhile to repeat ‘lights,’ ‘flowers,’ door’ a hundred thousand times, which is how often she asks.

Of all her favorite words, ‘light’ is at the top of the list. She loves to point at lights, hear the word ‘light’ in English (from Dad), then hear it again in Chinese (from me), watch us turn on and off the light, she’s interested in lamps, recessed lighting, hanging chandelier, bathroom lights, etc.…you can say she is generally obsessed with lights.

So I went to the hardware store and bought this foot-controlled light dimmer:

There were a couple other kinds, but many of them were hard to slide.  This one has a large switch and slides easily for little hands. I did a couple demonstrations for Mackenzie and Brooke. I would sit them in my lap and then slowly show them, “Turn the light on. Turn the light off. Turn the light on. Turn the light off…” Throughout the day, the light will suddenly turn on or off. I would look over and see someone practicing turning on and off the light.

Montessori says to “Follow the Child.” The key is to observe them carefully over a period of time, see what they’re interested in, then give it to them. When you can connect them to the right thing, it’s like a switch goes on in their head…

How do I stop my child from climbing on everything?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 2:32 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I took Brooke to an indoor playground the other day. She stared at the older kids as they went up and down the slide. I went to get something from the stroller and when I turned around, Brooke had climbed halfway up the stairs of the slide! I almost had a heart-attack but I did my best to stay calm and watched her get to the top. I helped her slide down and immediately, she went for the stairs again.

From that day on after we got home, she started climbing onto anything she could, including the weaning table. Somewhere in the middle of the meal, we would find her on top of the table with her knee in a bowl of rice!

Clearly, my little monkey was itching to climb. I knew I had to give her something to climb because if I didn’t, she would find something to climb onto anyway. Babies are like that, you cannot stop them because they NEED to do these things, whether it’s putting things in their mouth or climbing. If you don’t want them to do something, you need to redirect their energy and give them a version of it that they CAN do.

So I asked my nanny to clean the staircase in my building and I let her loose on the stairs. She went up and up. Super fast too. And then I would take her down and start again. Up and up again. Five flights in the morning. Then five flights in the afternoon. Then five flights the next morning. She would squeal and babble loudly all the way up and her laughter would echo through the hallway. She loved it.

We’ve continued climbing stairs everyday and I’m happy to report the table-climbing has stopped. Brooke is in better shape than ever and Mama is still catching up!

Read! Nap! Cook! How To Do It All With Twins Part II – Our Morning

Monday, November 28th, 2011 9:49 am | By Stephanie Woo

I spoke to a mom with a 10-month old who read Read! Nap! Cook! How to do it all with twins. “Can you give me more details?” she asked.

Short of creating a 2-hour video, I decided to keep a log of Brooke and Mackenzie’s morning activities and Mom/Dad’s morning activities so parents can get a sense of what it looks like at our house when the children are occupying themselves and mom is free to do her own thing.

As you’ll see, this morning, I spent 30 minutes in the bathroom, read for 30 minutes, went out to buy breakfast and ate it. Then I napped for 15 minutes until I got woken up by Verizon. Meanwhile, Brooke and Mackenzie were busy most of the morning and didn’t need my attention until 9:14am.

This log is taken on November 21, 2010. Brooke and Mackenzie are 11 ½ months. The log starts at 7am and ends at 9:20 am when my babysitter arrived.

The day starts at 7am when I open their bedroom door. They are already awake. I carry Mackenzie into the living room while Brooke crawls behind us. Daddy helps change diapers while I make milk. They drink milk.

Mom and Dad’s activities

7:20 Dad goes to meditate. I check on laundry and then go into the bathroom.

Brooke and Mackenzie’s activities

7:20 They crawl to toy shelf and start playing

 

7:24 I hear them in kitchen, opening and closing cabinets

 

7:32 I hear them in my room, banging on the blocks

7:47 I come out of bathroom to see where they are. Do a little tidying up in the room.

7:47 In their room, Brooke is opening the drawers and taking stuff out and Mackenzie is chewing on a button

7:52 I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water, sit down to read in living room (and take notes for this article you are reading)

 

7:58 I continue reading and writing without looking at them

7:58 Comes over to me. One plays with my iphone and the other looks at a book next to me

 

8:04 Picks up their morning bottle, drink some more, then drops it and crawls to toy shelf

 

8:05 Plays at toy shelf

8:08 Daddy comes back from meditation and goes to bathroom.

8:08 They crawl to hallway. Plays with musical toy hanging on the gate right outside the bathroom

8:12 Daddy comes out of bathroom, we chat, he makes coffee.

8:12 Back playing at toy shelf

8:16 Daddy cooks breakfast (I am still reading and writing)

8:16 Brooke goes to kitchen to find Daddy. M follows

8:22 Daddy is eating. I go out to buy breakfast

8:22 Pull up on Daddy to get bites of his food

8:34 I come home with breakfast. Sit down on couch to eat and continue reading my book. Daddy goes into bathroom

8:34 B and M playing by my file cabinet. They follow daddy to the bathroom

 

8:40 They come to me. I give them bites of my sandwich

8:46 Daddy in closet getting dressed to go to work

8:46 Mackenzie in closet with daddy. Brooke is on floor under the dining room table

8:50 Daddy leaves for work

 

8:55 I get in bed for a nap

8:55 B and M playing in hallway

9:10 Verizon knocks on door looking for our neighbor

9:10 Playing in their bedroom

9:13 I lie back down to continue my nap

 

 

9:14 Brooke calls to me wanting me to hold her. So I do. And then we all go into their bedroom to play

 9:20 Nanny arrives

 

Brooke and Mackenzie kept themselves busy from 7:20-9:14am and I had time to take care of everything I needed to. They know they are free to roam about the house. Since the house is baby-proofed, they cannot get into too much trouble even if I can’t see them. Occasionally I’ll find them chewing on a tissue or even a shoe they’ve gotten out of the closet, but I’m pretty relaxed about things like that. My father-in-law says that’s how he was with his kids. He calls it ‘Benign Neglect.’ Seeing how his four kids are all independent and responsible problem solvers, I’m convinced it works!

Getting their own food whenever they want

Friday, November 18th, 2011 7:29 pm | By Stephanie Woo

At 11-months, Brooke and Mackenzie’s favorite snack is the organic version of Cheerios. I keep it in the bottom drawer of the kitchen cabinet in an open ziploc bag. I did a demonstration for them one day: how to open the drawer, where the cereal is, etc.

Two weeks ago, one day, while I was cleaning the bedroom, I came out to find Mackenzie sitting here with the drawer opened, eating Cheerios out of the ziploc bag!

Apparently the cheerios in the ziploc bag did not keep her interest, because the next day, I found her here, ziploc bag intact, eating directly out of the cereal box! Since then, when I am cooking their meal in the kitchen, they will come for a little pre-dinner snack whenever they want. Even if it spoils their appetite a little bit, I think the freedom and confidence that comes from being able to get your own food whenever you want is much more important!

Update on Friday, November 25, 2011 at 11:51AM by Stephanie Woo

Two days later, we found Mackenzie eating a chocolate cookie she had found at the back of the drawer and wrangled out of the packaging we thought we had sealed tightly. She even gave one to Brooke. Note to self: Move all cookies and sweet cereal OUT of the bottom drawer!

$2 worth of Kleenex

Friday, November 18th, 2011 3:19 pm | By Stephanie Woo

Mackenzie has only done this twice and I didn’t stop her either time – though I had to stop the nanny from stopping her! If you find your baby doing this, don’t do anything. Sometimes they just NEED to experience pulling out the Kleenex! There’s no harm and you’re allowing them to follow their own inner guide. Besides, which toy can you buy these days for $2?!

Getting out of a chair

Friday, November 18th, 2011 3:00 pm | By Stephanie Woo

I’ve been teaching Brooke how to get out of the dining chair by herself. When she is done eating, I would push her chair out a little and then help her scoot her little bottom forward till her feet land on the floor. She’s finally gotten the hang of it by herself!

“See, I did that all myself!” — Brooke at 10 months

What is the best kind of shoes for my baby?

Friday, November 18th, 2011 1:21 pm | By Stephanie Woo

When your children are indoors, TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES. Children do not need shoes except to protect their feet. If they are outdoors or in school where they need shoes, put them in shoes that are SOFT, bendy and flexible.

Recommended Shoes:

  • Soft leather shoes (these shoes are my favorite)
  • Padded all leather shoes
  • Chinese slippers
  • Flexible sneakers
  • Canvas mary-janes that are easy to put on (made in Japan)

DO NOT PUT YOUR CHILD IN THESE

  • Crocs (the toe box is too big and distorts your child’s body scheme. Children in crocs can fall a lot)
  • Hard leather shoes
  • High-top shoes

But the best is NO SHOES AT ALL.

Radio Flyer Walker Wagon

Friday, November 18th, 2011 8:03 am | By Stephanie Woo

Since B and M started cruising, they are absolutely crazy about the Radio Flyer Walker Wagon. We started taking them out on the sidewalk with these and both of them can walk 1-2 blocks in the neighborhood. Here’s a video of them:

The word is ‘hurt.’ Can you say, ‘Mommy, that hurt!

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 11:08 am | By Stephanie Woo

“I don’t like it,” the 3-year-old muttered to herself as the guests left. Miserable throughout her older sister’s birthday party, she was now growing angry. “I want Ally’s doll, not this one!” Her parents had bought her a consolation present, but the strategy went down like a bomb. The girl threw her doll to the floor. “Ally’s doll! Ally’s doll!’ She began to cry…

“You seem sad. Are you sad?” is what the girl’s dad said. The little girl nodded, still angry, too. The dad continued. “I think I know why. You’re sad because Ally’s gotten all the presents. You only got one!’ The little girl nodded again.“ You want the same number and you can’t have it, and that’s unfair and that makes you sad.” The dad seemed to be pouring it on. “Whenever somebody gets something I want and I don’t, I get sad, too.” Silence.

Then the dad said the line most characteristic of a verbalizing parent. “We have a word for that feeling, honey,” he said. “Do you want to know what that word is?” She whimpered, “Ok” He held her in his arms. “We call it being jealous. You wanted Ally’s presents, and you couldn’t have them. You were jealous.” She cried softly but was beginning to calm down. “Jealous,” she whispered.” “Yep” Dad replied, “and it’s an icky feeling.” “I been jealous all day,” she replied, nestling into her daddy’s big strong arms.”

Excerpt from Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina, pg 207

I love this story. It makes so much sense. And it reminds me of Janet Lansbury’s recent article about acknowledging your child’s feelings.

When children fall or hurt themselves, I’ve seen parents pick them up and try to distract them with a toy or something new and shiny. Either the child keeps screaming or has a confused look on his/her face. When I feel hurt, I hate it when my friends try to get me to see a movie or have a drink. But when they say, “That’s hard. It is really tough to have that happen to you.” I always nod and say, “Yes, it IS hard!” Their simple acknowledgement makes me feel so much better.

Brooke and Mackenzie are 11 months now. Whenever one of them falls, gets hurt and starts crying, I’ll pick her up, hold her and then I say, “It hurts, honey. The word is ‘hurt.’ Can you say, “Mommy, that hurt!” It works like magic. A cry or two more and they are ready to crawl out of my arms and move on to the next thing.

One more thing, if you haven’t read Brain Rules for Babies, you must. If you have a baby or are around babies, read this book. To see other books I recommend, click here.