Thursday, August 19, 2010

The sand'box'

The Baby Beast loves playing in dirt, or pouring bird seeds from his hand or a container, so a sandbox seemed the logical next step.

I spent the better part of my childhood springs and summers in our sandbox, making up stories about the little plastic animals we would buy at the grocery store when we shopped. I could be amused for hours on end in my sandbox, so introducing one to my toddler gave me a lot of excitement and expectation.

Rather than spend exorbitant amounts of money on buying an actual sandbox, or driving ourselves crazy trying to build one (we are not terribly crafty here; we can usually manage to cobble things together, but they're hardly impressive), we went and bought a little cheap plastic kiddie pool and poured bags of sifted sand into it.

At this stage, I'm keeping it simple; he has a plastic bucket and a few simple sandbox toys. I encourage him to use bits of sticks and grass and leaves to decorate the sand, as well. From these simplest of playthings, as he gets older, imaginative play will spring. No need to give him handfuls of bright plastic toys (to be eaten by the lawn mower); he can make whole world from flowers and sticks.

At this stage, though, he's mostly into the tactile sensation of sand on his skin, between his toes, squeezed in small chubby fists.

Our big struggle is preventing him eating the sand. Needless to say, our EC journey has gotten much more, erm, interesting with the introduction of sand to his diet. Do you have any idea how hard it is to properly wipe a tushy without abrading the skin because of the passage of sandy poo?

Despite the difficulties of a 16-month-old and sand eating, I think that the addition of a sandbox to his world has been a very positive one. What experiences have you had with very young children and sandboxes? What memories do you have of your own sand play as a child?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mastering new skills: art

I've held off on introducing coloring to the Baby Beast, mainly because I don't want to encourage the ham-fisted attempt most kids use when learning to use a crayon. Luckily, he is very willing to mimic once I model how to do something, and we dived right in to his first "art project."

(a note on modeling: this is a Montessori concept. you demonstrate how to do something correctly, then sit back and allow your baby or child to do it as close to correct as they can. the demonstration is not the set-in-stone way of doing it; the demonstration is merely meant to give the infant/child a clear, hesitation-free way to accomplish a task. everyone does things differently. i still don't use scissors the 'correct' way [i was self-taught] but i manage to cut things just fine, despite the odd looks i get from people when they see me holding scissors)

I offered him only two crayons for this first experiment, since I could see him getting lost in the fun of taking crayons out of and putting them back into the box over and over.

I understood the importance of letting him do his own thing, so I mostly sat back and took pictures, only stepping in to correct his grip occasionally, or to stop him from trying the crayons out on non-approved surfaces (like the curtains or a dog's face). He ended up holding both crayons most of the time, one in each hand, although he's showing a definite peference for his right hand as the dominant one.

Other than him trying to eat the crayons every time I stopped paying close attention, I would say that this first experiment went quite well. The only real hitch is my old problem of saying "crowns" instead of "crayons." I'm working on getting it right, at least when speaking to the BB. I may be screwing him up on accident (as i've been told before), but I'm certainly going to try to avoid doing it deliberately.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Learning to relax

One of the most important things I've learned from being a mother is that I have to relax, I have to let go, and I have to stop being afraid of messes.

My own mother would argue that I've never been afraid of messes - I left enough lying around when I was young that I shouldn't quell at them now. But there's a difference between leaving books scattered across the couch and letting a 16-month-old pour a carton of goat's milk yoghurt on the kitchen floor. However, that's just what I did.

Being aware that both the floor and the toddler were washable, I tried to sit back and let him just enjoy himself. Every now and again, I would try to remind him to take a bite, but for the most part he was engrossed in dribbling yoghurt onto the floor and himself.

Of course, our resident clean-up crew were standing by, waiting for their chance to dive in. They ended up getting yoghurt-spattered too, but I figured that a wet washcloth would get the worst of it off of them.

I'm sure some of you are absolutely cringing at the idea of letting a toddler smear yoghurt on themselves and the floor. But I've been thinking a lot about experiences in life, and I remember very clearly being young (seven or eight years old) and thinking that there was nothing in life as much fun as creating a really good mud puddle with the hose and then stomping in it slowly and methodically for hours on end, pretending to be Atreyu dragging Artax through the Swamps of Sadness (bonus points if you can remember that film).

And, as I said above, both floor and baby were washable. So I sat back, took photos, and readied the wet towels for the end of the experiment (which, by the way, did not end until he'd smeared the dribbles of yoghurt everywhere, and finished by dumping the remaining inch of yoghurt in the carton all over his legs and diaper).

What things have you learned to be more relaxed about since having a baby?

Friday, August 6, 2010

A mother's addiction

I will admit to having an unusual addiction to both Mothering Magazine and their forums at If you've ever wondered if it's okay for your 15-month-old to take cell salts, there's a thread on that. If you feel alone nursing your 22-month-old, there are several threads for that. If your dentist kicked you out because you wouldn't do flouride treatments on your kids, there are threads on that.

Living in Oklahoma, I often feel like the only mom parenting the way I do (a little Montessori, a pinch of Waldorf, and a whole lot natural). I go out to Native Roots Market (if you're in Oklahoma and you haven't been, you should go; they help you be a more effective locavore) to do our weekly grocery shopping, and I'm the only one either wearing my toddler or allowing him to roam freely (under his daddy's watchful eye) rather than tying him into a stroller. Or we go out anywhere and I get sideways looks for nursing my rambunctious, rolling-like-an-alligator toddler (who would otherwise be screaming and pulling on my shirt and pointing at his 'nursies'). makes me feel less alone, and helps me to connect with other like-minded moms. Plus, they have a new blog: All Things Mothering. It will feature blog posts from other natural parenting mommies out there in the world. So if you're enjoying "Well, Naturally!" then definitely head over there and get acquainted with some other like-minded mothers.