Montessori in the 21st Century

Love the child unconditionally. Give the child what it is they need to thrive – Tim Seldin

Now that I’m a class parent (teacher’s pet alert!) I seem to get talked into attending all sorts of things at the school, and usually I really enjoy them. As I think I mentioned previously, I am loving being a library volunteer and fine tuning my arts and crafts skills! This week the school is hosting an International Montessori Conference, and as part of that the PTA sponsored a parent discussion panel this morning, which I was talked into attending. Actually I’m always willing to learn more about Montessori and am genuinely interested in these kinds of things, but with a new baby and busy life I found myself dragging my heels.

I ended up being so glad I went (of course) and was genuinely inspired and uplifted by the speakers. These included Adam, the school principal, and Arthur, a school parent, but also Tim Seldin, the head of the Montessori Foundation worldwide, and Lorna McGrath,  Director of both the IMC’s School Accreditation programme and Family Resources at the Montessori Foundation. All the speakers were excellent but Tim was particularly inspiring – it’s great to see that such an articulate, interesting and intelligent man has dedicated his life to promoting and enabling Montessori education throughout the world.

Obviously there was a lot said over the 90+ minutes, but I thought I’d write down what I found the key takeaways for Montessori parents or those considering Montessori education for their children. And my advice is to at least look into it – many traditional schools are now adopting a more “Montessori-esque” approach to learning as the old way of teaching is simply failing many children, and I’ve seen this first hand. Education comes first and foremost from the home, and there’s a lot you can do within your home to see the benefits of the Montessori way.

Parent Discussion Panel: Key Takeaways

Montessori Creates Independent Thinkers and Keen Learners

With Montessori children we see a blossoming – a quantum of happiness. 

I think anyone who lives in Hong Kong has seen the effects of the Hong Kong school system – these individuals who are so learned and intelligent but can not problem solve, can not think creatively and can often not even ride bikes! Hong Kong is an extreme example, but we see the same thing in Australia; kids who are not interested in learning, but want to know rather “Will this be in the test?”

All the speakers touched on this, particularly Arthur Yuen who himself was a product of the Hong Kong school system and did not want his son to have the same blind respect for authority and brain packed with facts “you can easily google”. He wanted his son to ask why, to connect ideas, and most of all to want to learn.

He used the push/pull marketing approach as an example, the concept that there are two ways to market a product – to push ideas at you, or to give you a taste of the idea and get you to “pull” the idea towards yourself. The first you can compare to a traditional school environment – the teacher at the front, controlling the lesson and pushing facts – while the second is more like the Montessori approach.

None of this is to say that if your child studies in a traditional school they won’t be able to problem solve, or they won’t be genuinely interested in learning, but all the speakers touched on this being the key difference among adults with a Montessori background: they were all free thinkers with excellent problem solving skills.

Montessori is About Relationships and Community

This was mentioned a lot throughout the discussion and it really resonated with me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because the schools I’ve been involved in have had such a strong community culture, and secondly because I find Montessori kids to be much more compassionate because of the strong relationships they form in school.

This I think comes down to one, the respect and love children are shown by their teachers (they are not labelled as “naughty”, “disruptive”, “shy” – all kids are different) and the mixed age classrooms. Three year olds are doted upon by six year olds, and grow up to be six year olds who dote upon three year olds. Nine year olds are patient with six year olds, who grow up to be nine year olds who show patience. And so forth.

Heike in particular is naturally loud and bossy, but if she sees a smaller child hurt or needing help, it constantly amazes me how gentle and kid she is with them, and it’s not a trait that comes naturally to most five year olds. I really put it down to the Montessori education.

The Traditional System is Failing Children

6-12 is the most important age – why do we abandon Montessori then? This is the age of the little rabbis, the young scholars who ask: why?

This point exactly is what led me personally to Montessori – as a high school teacher I saw so many children who were being failed by the system. A typical example is a very bright child with a behavioural disorder. Another is a less academic child who excels at, let’s say, art. All these kids are marginalised by the current school system, and it’s disheartening to see.

Again, I don’t mean to say “Montessori is the best and only way and anything else is failing your children,” as most loving parents are doing the hard work at home anyway. But an example I often give is that of J and I.

J went to a Steiner school, which is entirely different to Montessori but embodies some of the same core values and is nonetheless not traditional. One of the schools he attended at one point didn’t even offer a graduating qualification, just a watercolour certificate. But he thinks differently, is self-motivated, creative and incredibly successful in his career.

I on the other hand went to an academically selective school and learnt from a young age the value of competition and good grades, which normally meant memorising facts; often kids would try to steal tests prior to taking them in order to get good marks. I got excellent grades and proceeded to flounder at University, and to this day can’t decide what I want to do with my life. I feel like the system failed me by not preparing me for the real world (although of course I’m completely happy, I feel I could have done better).

Tim made this exact point, saying that two out of three extremely bright college students will flunk out of Harvard, purely because they have not been prepared for college life. He cited conversations with eminent professors who lament that kids are trained to get grades that will admit them to prestigious colleges, but are never told what is actually expected from them once they arrive. They’re simply not equipped, and instead “drink their way through college” never reaching their full potential.

High School Choice is given Too Much Importance

School only really needs to teach you to think, to read and basic problem solving. A good school can teach you to prepare for change and understand the society you’re living in.

Do not be caught up in embarrassment, fear and competition – celebrate being alive, and face life’s challenges together. 

A few parents asked about what high schools would be best given the absence of Montessori high schools, or about how these kids go from this environment to that of a competitive international school. And the speakers confirmed my own beliefs: it doesn’t matter.

I often tell parents this myself, that if the child wants to learn and is well loved and supported at home, they will succeed in any school environment. I think paying the big money for the top private schools is worth it only for the experience and connections it can bring. A child who wants to succeed and is supported by their family, ultimately, will.

With Montessori children the idea is that they are even more well equipped with those first few years of education – even the first three makes a huge difference. The speakers really drove home the point that parents these days compare their children to others far too much, and place far too much value on competition. Honestly, what does that matter? It is more important to accept who your child is and teach them to understand the society they’re living in.

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So, a morning well spent in terms of getting me to think and making me feel fairly zen about life. At the end of the day, I truly believe any child who comes from a loving home has a massive head start. But why not put them in a loving school environment too, where we can? I hope that explains a little more of why we love Montessori education, as I often get asked about it.

Z x

Happenings

Once again it has been forever but I do feel I have the perfect excuse. Thought it’s not so much time as inspiration/joie de vivre that I’ve been lacking. Seven weeks of being mostly confined the the house and dressed in active wear will do that to a person! I can feel the fog gradually lifting though and I know that everything is temporary.

Actually, despite feeling a bit “blergh” generally I have been so enjoying being a Mum the third time around, I am absolutely loving that side of it. I feel very relaxed and calm (towards the baby at least) and I think it’s that knowledge of the fleetingness of things that allows me to be that way. I’ve always known “tomorrow is a new day” but never so much as now, having the perspective of two older kids who were surely babies just yesterday, and who now talk and walk and sleep and eat just fine. So I feel like when it comes to Ruby I can say okay, you’re not sleeping, no worries! Let’s get you up. Tired? Let’s try sleeping again. Still not sleeping? Let’s have a cuddle. And it doesn’t bother me.

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I do still try to stick to a routine, as that works better for me (I’m a planner!) but as long as I know roughly when she should be feeding and when she should be sleeping, I’m good! We are also getting plenty of sleep at night, which helps. I do still find myself getting a sinking feeling as the clock strikes 5pm each night, knowing I need to somehow get them all bathed and fed and in bed in the next few hours, but I give myself a little talking to and we get there. It’s good, it’s fun. I’ve rediscovered the odd 7pm wine and I’m loving that too!

We have just come off the back of two crazy weeks of visitors – we had my parents stay for two weeks, which was a long planned visit, but on top of that we had a few last minute visitors at the same time including our niece, one of our best friends from Sydney and then my brother! It was a really full house at one point and with Heike’s first few weeks of school on top of that I was so tired – when our friend from Sydney arrived I walked out and burst into tears! Luckily he is the husband of my most understanding Mum friend and he was totally fine with it, just gave me a hug and understood completely.

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It was SO lovely having everyone here though, especially my parents, and they also got to be here for Heike’s big 5th birthday which was awesome. I made the “genius move” as J put it of hiring an entertainer, a mermaid who put on a one hour interactive comedy and magic show. The kids loved it and the adults got a chance to chat or just chill and enjoy the show, it was great. The details of the entertainer are here, I would highly recommend her, she was hilarious!

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So while it was very sad to say goodbye, we’ve enjoyed having our own time again and getting back into a bit of a routine. The big kids found it hard to go to bed at night with the excitement of everyone here, so they’ve been catching up on their sleep and relishing the opportunity to play with all the presents that were showered upon them by their grandparents. Last weekend we had a public holiday on the Friday and absolutely stunning weather, it was so nice just to hang around Stanley and enjoy the beaches – J took the kids paddle boarding and kayaking, we swam in the pool, went out to lunch and just had quiet family time. It was just what we needed.

I’ve found being a school Mum quite full on, which could be due to my over-enthusiasm putting my hand up as a volunteer for everything, but I just can’t believe the volume of emails I get from the school! At least one a day and that’s just for one child – the thought of having two at school does my head in. I totally understand that if you were a working Mum you would just need to block out 90% of the emails. As in, anything that doesn’t say “URGENT” or involve your child maiming another child. And you would need to have a seriously epic calendar system. For me, I’m getting by on my “scribbled notes, reasonably good memory “system for now but being a class parent and a library volunteer as well (library volunteer=my dreams coming true, massive nerd) I’ve decided I finally have to start entering things digitally. I’ll keep you updated on how that turns out!

Heike is loving school though and is making lots of friends. One of her friends called out yesterday “Bye Heike, I love you!” and it warmed my heart because it’s only week four and I was so worried about her. She’s fine of course, already bossing the kids around in the playground after school and oh, she has found a way of proving she knows everything by prefacing all her argumentative statements with “My teacher says…”. It’s going to be a long 13 school years.

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Walter is plodding along perfectly although he has been sick pretty much consistently since Ruby was born. We’ve noticed a few changes in behaviour since he became a big brother, mostly a new type of wailing, sooky tantrum that is really difficult to manage! He is SO sweet 90% of the time that it’s always a surprise when the tantrum comes on, and I feel like we’re not strict enough with him because he just tugs on everyone’s heart strings so much. And he is SO nice to the baby despite the fact you can see he sometimes hates her, it’s hard to punish him for the odd outburst. I am trying though as he can be quite physical with Heike when he wants to be and it’s not fair on her. Even though 99.9% of the time she starts it.

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J and I are going pretty well, certainly getting along much better than we have when the other two were newborns. I think having a helper makes that so much easier, as we can still walk down the road for a quick dinner or a glass of wine, and we’ve even had breakfast out on a Saturday together just with Ruby. It’s been nice. Moving to Hong Kong has only brought us closer, which has been really nice. Of course we still hate each other sometimes, but mostly it’s all love!

And Ruby is just perfect, I am so glad she surprised us and came into our lives. I love the perspective she has given me and the different roles she has given her brother and sister. I can see her being very doted upon.

So that’s life for us, hopefully now I can be a bit more regular with my posts and not have to bombard you with a brain snap like this!

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Z x

 

My Big Kid

As we slowly muddle through our eighth and final week of summer holidays it’s safe to say that my big girl and I have just about had enough of one another’s company. Still lots of cuddles and laughs and nice moments, but there is an overall feeling of rubbing each other the wrong way. Sharp words and clipped tones, pushing each other’s buttons.

I’ve been so looking forward to her starting school next week – big school, long days, school uniform. Plus her Grandparents are arriving that night, so it’s been a day we’re all looking forward to. I’ve been that focused on it as an end point, or a starting point, that I’ve given little thought to what it actually means. My little girl, my big girl, starting school. It’s a process that, now it’s begun, can’t be undone. The days and weeks and years will pass, and she will grow and learn and change. And she will experience so much, without me. Which is scary!

Life is full of these milestones, and at the end of it it’s these milestones that form your memories and shape your identity. I hope we’re doing the right thing by her. Montessori school, life in Hong Kong, having a helper, new siblings arriving. All milestones that will shape the person she becomes and a totally different childhood to the one I had (yet with some striking similarities). I wonder how she’ll reflect on her life, on these early years. I know she won’t remember the times I snapped at her (or maybe she will recall them fondly, as we do with our own Mum) but I hope the other times, the happy times, add up to happy memories.

I have so many fears for her – I hope she likes her teachers, I hope she makes friends. I hope her bossiness and dominance don’t ostracise her. I hope she finds someone who understands her, like I understand her.

And I know, equally, she has to forge her own path. She will make mistakes, and she will rub people the wrong way at times, and people will hurt her feelings and she will cry. And I can only be here for her at the end of the day with open arms and ears and always a heart full of love. There’s only so much I can protect her, and that’s okay.

This morning I was reminded of the little girl I used to nanny, Olivia – I started working with her on her first day of Kindergarten. She was so little, and so similar to my Heike in so many ways. A tree climber, a nature lover, interested in science with an inquisitive mind and not afraid to play with the boys. Usually playing some kind of imaginative game with a like minded little boy, and not My Little Pony and friendship bracelets with the girls. Her Mum told me they attended her high school orientation this week. Time is cruel – there isn’t enough of it.

So this week I am reminded to watch my tongue, to pay attention, to read a few extra stories at bed time and to make the most of those short twenty minutes at night when it’s just she and I, and she wants a cuddle and to talk about her day, her friends, her birthday. Because before I know it she will be twelve and no longer interested. And I know I will look back on this time with a tear in my eye and an ache in my heart.

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Isn’t she lovely?!

Thoughts with all the Mums who have kids starting school this Autumn… Also – woohoo, they’re going back to school!

Ruby

I’m sure many of you have correctly assumed that my extended absence from blogging has something to do with the arrival of our little girl. Yes, Ruby Elizabeth was born on 4/8/16 at 3.53pm. She is absolutely perfect (naturally) and I can’t quite believe our luck. We are just lucky, lucky, lucky to have these three beautiful children in our lives.

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After championing the ECV I had to turn her, we had a bit of a stressful week afterwards. On the Monday after the procedure I had a bit of a weird CTG (fetal monitoring) where baby was very sleepy and they made me stay for ages, drink juice to wake her up, then her heart rate went through the roof and the midwives wanted to get the OB on the phone. At this point I honestly just wanted her out. I would have consented to a C section after all that just to have her safe. I was slightly hysterical but they reassured me it looked okay and booked in to see me again on the Friday.

Friday rolled around after much anxiety and the CTG was exactly the same. It was probably fine but it rang alarm bells with me when I’d never had that experience before and it was only happening now, after turning her. I went in to see my OB afterwards and I’m not sure if she was picking up on my slight hysteria/paranoia or she was genuinely concerned herself, but she suggested bringing her out a week or so early just to be safe. I was 100% for it, especially after hearing (and reading…damn you google!) so many stories about babies lost in the last few weeks of pregnancy. And so my induction was booked for the following Thursday, Ruby’s birthday.

I actually had a whole lot of other stress in the lead up due to my OB questioning her growth and ordering some scans but I am keen to just forget it all now frankly! Thank goodness she is here.

And what a beauty she is…

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This time around, I have experienced that elusive, rare newborn experience. The newborn who sleeps all the time. I know it won’t last but I am so very grateful she has eased me into this transition to Mum-Of-Three.

Two weeks old today, we have just started to get some more awake time. We’ve all enjoyed crowding around her playmat, cooing at her and enjoying her strained, confused expressions that will soon become smiles. I can already see how it happens, the baby of the family, adored by all and quickly becoming a bit spoilt. But what point is there to life if you can’t spoil your babies?! If there’s anything this third baby has taught me, it’s that life is fragile and precious and we have to embrace it while we’re here.

It’s amazing the love you feel for your children as a mother, so completely unique for each child and yet equally powerful each time.

So far, for me, the jump from two to three kids has been exponentially easier than the jump from one to two. Those who know me can attest that I’m very relaxed and it’s already chaos in my house, so maybe that’s why? Walter is also a much less complicated two year old than Heike was, so although we’ve had some push back (constantly wanting the TV, meltdowns over wanting toast or a smoothie) he has adjusted fine so far. If anything his sister is trickier – one minute wanting to help, the next minute extremely jealous – and let’s face it, after 8 weeks of school holidays she desperately needs some structure and routine in her life.

What’s also nice is that the big two have each other. Even though at least 50% of the time they are trying to kill each other… They are still partners in crime and ultimately not that bothered if my attention isn’t on them.

Oh, and I live in Hong Kong now, with a helper! So, there’s that. Which if I’m honest is probably the single biggest difference. My friend joked that now I can have a fourth, which honestly would be so much easier here. However after spending half of my 20s pregnant I am determined my 30s will be pregnancy free. Wine! Exercise! Nice clothes! Sushi! It’s all about me. We have our Ruby, and there’s only so much luck one person can have. I’m not looking to push mine.

So, welcome to Ruby, our sweet baby girl, our precious little gem. She is so very loved!

Z

 

 

My ECV Experience

Picking up from my last post in a much better state of mind than I was then, I’m happy to report that my breech baby is breech no more! We went ahead with the ECV on Saturday at my doctor’s advice and it was a great success – more than that, it was much better than I expected. I wanted to write a post about my experience since I so enjoyed reading these type of posts when I was making up my mind about the procedure.

So, as I wrote in my previous post our cheeky third baby flipped to breech at around 28 weeks (she had been head down at my previous appointments) and did. not. budge! Her head was firmly lodged right under my ribs so she was constantly reminding me of her breech status. I initially was really against getting an ECV at all because of the (minor) risks to baby and thought I would rather have a c-section and take the greater risks on myself instead of baby.

The main reason I decided to try the ECV was because of my OB. She is a really experienced and respected OB in Hong Kong and pretty much everyone you meet has had a baby delivered by her. She was really for the ECV and said that she wouldn’t even attempt if she thought it was risky – she said mine was a 5/10 in terms of difficulty and she would never attempt more than an 8. She also ordered every possible scan and test to put my mind at ease. I had an ultrasound on Wednesday with a sonographer to determine exact fluid levels, blood flow and cord position (I was terrified of the cord being around her neck) and had another appointment with my OB on Friday just to go through everything again. I have to say her bedside manner leaves something to be desired (I’m slightly terrified of her!) but when it came to this I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else.

SO the ECV was scheduled for 10.30am and we had to arrive at 8.30am to check in and get prepped. Since we had never actually been to the hospital (The Matilda on The Peak) this was quite good for us anyway as we’d been meaning to do a trial run. It took us about 25 minutes from Stanley which is about how long the hospital run took with the older two kids back in Sydney. Relief! You may have read before about my paranoia of giving birth in a taxi…

We arrived and checked in and then were taken to a delivery room in the maternity unit. This was quite a full on experience for me – we walked past the nursery and I burst into tears. Seeing the light machine in the delivery suite brought Walt’s birth flooding back. It really hit me that this is happening, which I think was really needed. I’ve been so busy with the other two kids and really focusing on the “breech baby/c-section” thing so much that I haven’t given much thought to the fact that we’re having a real live baby. Now I feel more like I did in the lead up to the other births, more relaxed and ready.

Once I’d changed into a gown the (lovely) midwife took me through a lot of consent forms and talked me through the risks of the procedure. The other quite intense thing about the experience is that you need to be completely prepped for an emergency c-section as there is a risk of baby going into distress during an ECV (from the research I’ve done the risk is about 5%, but as my OB said that really varies depending on your doctor and their approach). So you need to fast (I couldn’t sleep and ate a bowl of cereal at 4am, pre-food cutoff!) and shave and be properly admitted. It’s a good idea to get your head around this possibility prior to the procedure. I don’t think I really did. As the clock ticked down to 10.30 I started really freaking out about the c-section again and had to do some little meditation exercises.

At 10am the midwife gave me the first dose of the terbutaline syrup, the drug they use to relax the uterus – actually this is the same stuff that’s in a ventolin inhaler, which incidentally I have used hundreds of times before as an asthmatic! So I was needlessly worried about this (although it does make your heart race really fast – more on that later). My pulse increased a little but by the time my OB arrived at just after 10.30 she could still feel a lot of tightening so I got a second dose. About 15 minutes later I could actually feel how relaxed my muscles were, so I knew it would be good to go.

My OB came back and was straight into it. She gave me no warning (as I said, bedside manner) and had a student with her so basically just said “Put your hands over my hands so you can feel the pressure I’m applying” and then went for it. And may I say, significant pressure was applied! Baby’s bottom was engaged in my pelvis (I’m sure she was fully prepared to come out that way, but I was not so keen) so she used her thumb and forefinger to forcefully push that out first. Deep breathing was very useful! I then got a contraction so had to lay there like that for about a minute until that stopped. Incidentally I don’t think anything is kicking off in that regard, just that playing around with the baby like that can cause the uterus to contract.

Next came the really painful bit – she had to use her other hand to force the baby’s head out from my rib cage and slowly push it around. I think this was just painful because it’s a more sensitive area of the body, and also maybe because her head has been squished into my stomach for so long. I’m not sure but again I had to use my breathing. The OB continued to slowly edge the head along while holding the buttocks up and within about two minutes, she flipped! I was amazed as it was so quick and I really hadn’t been sure it would work. My OB seemed quite pleased with herself and was talking about her great success rate this year, and spirits were high.

I immediately felt so much more prepared for what lies ahead. I also felt a HUGE relief from my stomach/rib cage area and a little more pressure down below. Funnily enough the shape of my “bump” has also changed completely, as the head is obviously lower down in the pelvis the bump looks smaller and less out in front. It looks a lot like when I was pregnant with Heike, more like that typical “girl” bump everyone speaks of.

After my OB left I had to stay hooked up to the CTG for a further hour to monitor baby. She was fine (she is such an active baby!) and we were able to leave fairly quickly. The one thing that sucked was that the drug did not wear off for hours – I was really shaky and headachey all through the afternoon and pretty much just took to bed. I know I am really sensitive to medications (hence why I have always wanted natural births, I can’t even take strong painkillers) and was already wary of the drug so it didn’t surprise me that after two doses it took its time wearing off. From what I’ve read online, a lot of women have this experience.

Yesterday, Sunday, I woke up feeling fine if a little bruised and in a much better mental state than I have in weeks. I can’t explain why I was feeling so down about baby being breech but I just was. I think mostly just nerves and I hate uncertainty. Anyway, I had to go into the hospital again to have another CTG just to keep an eye on baby, and she was fine. Kicking madly the entire time. The midwife did suggest that since she is so active and the head is not engaged I should be careful she doesn’t flip again! We discussed lots of walking etc and already today she feels lower.

I’m about to head in for my third day of monitoring, which is really just a precaution and frankly I’m so glad my OB takes it. I am enough of a worrier as it is! It is very comforting to sit and listen to baby’s heartbeat for an hour.

Anyway, I would highly recommend trying an ECV to anyone who is faced with the decision – because I know from experience it does feel like a big one and many women choose not to go ahead with it for various reasons. As for me from now, I guess we’re into the spicy food/sex/long walks phase of the pregnancy, although since I have the energy for none of that we could be in for quite a wait!

Z x

 

 

The Stubborn Third Child (And My Anxiety)

I remember reading once that the first child is for the mother, the second for the father and the third is the child you deserve. Ha! Something like that. It always makes me think of the many gorgeous, cheeky third children I know – my sister being the prime example. I personally always wanted three children so I guess that’s why that saying has stuck with me. My mother in law also told me once that the third child is always the one to bring a truly different element into the family.

As for my third child, she seems to be living up to these expectations. At around the 28 week mark I learnt she had flipped from head down to head up (breech) and there she has remained ever since. She seemingly taunts me with her apparent comfort, continually pushing up with her feet and digging her hard little head under my ribs. Just so I know she’s still there and, you know, still breech!

At this point I would like NO advice on how to get her to turn, nor anecdotes about other babies who have magically turned at this point, because I have heard them all. Everyone is so well meaning and of course at first I was very eager to hear these stories and theories but we’re coming to the end and it’s starting to mean I have to make some actual decisions rather than doing handstands in the pool or perching on all fours watching TV. I know people are being encouraging but at this stage (36 weeks 5 days) it feels dismissive in a way rather than helpful.

The worst thing about the situation is that I have become completely obsessed, thinking about almost nothing else and unable to just relax and enjoy the time I have left with the older two. I’m alert to every movement of the baby, stressed about whether I should get an ECV (External Cephalic Version) and constantly looking up breech c-section stories online.

Currently we are booked to have the ECV on Saturday, but I’m still not 100% sure we’re going ahead with it. Basically it’s a procedure where the OB turns the baby manually using their hands – it’s reasonably common and fairly low risk, although there is only a 50% success rate. Further to that, there are risks, the biggest being that the baby will go into distress and need to be delivered via emergency c-section. I don’t mind about how she arrives in the world to be honest but would rather not put her under any stress, particularly with a 50% success rate (though I have been given a 60% chance due to it being my third baby and having, you know, a used up stretched uterus!).

Also stressing me out slightly is the fact that I have a heart condition and I have stupidly read online that the drug they give you for the procedure can cause irregular heart rhythms (which I already have), but I need to talk that through with my OB tomorrow. I also need to stop googling things!

On the other side of the coin there is the whole C-section possibility, which I just never would have considered as a possibility for myself going into this pregnancy. But there you go – that third child. Actually from a larger, theoretical perspective I could not care less how baby gets here, as long as she gets here healthy. Doing this third time around I know that none of that stuff really matters long term. I am just being an absolute wimp from a practical point of view; I’ve never had any kind of surgery, I’ve had two babies with only a bit of gas, I still hate needles like a 5 year old (and needles in the spine!?). But I’ve realised for baby’s sake I just need to toughen up and do it if I have to. I can do this!

Finally, it’s the uncertainty getting me down. I just don’t know what is going to happen, and for someone who plans and plans and plans it’s difficult. But maybe that’s what the universe, and this beautiful third baby, are telling me – I can’t always have control, and that’s okay. I need to surrender to that and accept that. While I’m not always completely tapped in to that spiritual side of me I do completely believe it’s there and it’s important and I really need to embrace it right now.

SO that’s my plan – breathe deeply, accept the unknown. Be fine with any outcome. And leave all major decisions up to my OB from this point on, because what the hell else am I paying her for?! Special thanks to J for that last piece of advice, it is actually so helpful just to remove any decisions from my own hands.

Wish me luck, and peace!

Z x

Kids’ Art Books

I’ve written before about how I tried to be a ballet Mum and failed miserably. Not only was Heike not remotely interested (she would happily spend hours making up dance moves by herself but first, second, third position? Not so much), I am just not cut out for the costumes/hairstyles/rehearsals. As soon as I found out the four year olds would have to wear make up and I would have to give up three Saturday mornings for photo shoots and dress rehearsals I had one foot out the door. Thankfully Heiks was only too happy to follow.

Still I constantly lamented that she didn’t have an extra curricular activity that she was passionate about. I mean, I am completely lazy so running kids to activities isn’t exactly my favourite thing anyway, but I wanted her to have an interest and to make friends outside of school. That’s why it has been so amazing watching her love for art blossom.

She started getting into drawing late last year, which was actually due to her Mandarin teacher. He really focused on her pencil grip and showed her a few techniques for drawing simple things like flowers and trees. She became obsessed with drawing “roses” which were essentially just green lines with furious red circles on top but that was the beginning. When we moved to Stanley my first priority was to get her into some art classes, and we started not long after at The Studio which I have written about before.

Since then the art obsession has pretty much taken over our house. EVERY morning the pencils and paper are out, and more often than not we are stressing out trying to get out the door while Heike asks for “just one more piece of paper”. With the help of her art teacher and little bits of advice from her Dad and I (her Dad is actually much better at sitting down and getting properly involved) she has become quite a talented drawer, I think, for a four year old anyway!

The not-so-great side effect of this is the paper. Everywhere. On even the most unexpected of surfaces (bathroom cabinet, baby’s nursery, kitchen floor) I am constantly finding drawings – landscapes, butterflies, friends and family, robots, even (concerningly) guns. I never have the heart to throw them out, and so have just been putting them in an ever growing pile thinking I will stick them somewhere or use them as wrapping paper.

Last week I finally got fed up and decided to take action. I spent about an hour going through all the drawings and deciding what was actually worth remembering (do I need to keep a picture she drew of a banana? Probably not…) and then photographing everything.

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I recently downloaded the Print Studio app on my shiny new iPhone, and ordered some prints from there that I was really happy with. They came printed on nice thick paper and for Instagram photos, were really good quality. While there are lots of apps for storing and printing childrens’ art photos, I thought this was just as good an option as the art books are affordable ($15US for a softcover with 38 photos), are delivered promptly and I knew the quality was good.

It also suited me as it could be done completely from my phone – I’m such a technophobe and hate effort so the easier the better.

Ultimately this is just one of those organisational things you NEVER feel like doing, but was actually quite enjoyable and I feel so good every time I look at the empty space where the pile of artworks used to be. I’ve moved the better drawings into the wrapping paper cupboard (don’t get me started on my obsession with wrapping paper) and have sworn there is a 3 month expiry period on these! Let’s see how I go.

How about you – kicked any organisational goals lately?!

Z