Eli's Montessori Room

Eli’s Montessori-inspired room is finally done! With the completion of the rag rug next to his floor bed, it’s officially time to call it quits… well, for the next couple of months anyway.  This room is perfect for where he is right now, but once he’s pulling up and then walking, we’ll be changing things up a bit.  But for now…


We incorporated the idea of art at his eye level, while also decorating the entire room from floor to ceiling with items of visual interest.  I see him wake up from naps and just stare at his wall decal, wall of shelves, or the butterfly mobile for long periods of time.

The letters on the wall above are metal from a local shop, and the bird pic is a print from World Market that came matted, I glued the mat to the backing and then glued a wide brown grosgain ribbon around it for the “frame” and a loop to the back for a hanger.  The kneeler/step stool was a gift, so I’m not sure where it’s from.

As he’s getting bigger, he’s crawling off his bed and towards his low shelf that has toys in small baskets easily accessible to him.  Obviously the monitor needs to be wall-mounted before he starts pulling up, but the cords are secured behind the bookcase where he can’t unplug them.

Also once he’s pulling up and “cruising” the shelf is a good height to hold on to and cruise along, and then he’ll be able to reach the items on the top as well.

Above his bed is a wall decal from Simple Shapes on Etsy.  Excellent quality on that decal, we were really impressed.  We ordered it reversed from the way it’s shown in her store.

His bed is a 4-inch cotton futon made by Gold Bond and can be ordered through Amazon.  It’s 100% cotton, and the flame retardant is boric acid, which, from what I’ve read, is the most natural flame retardant out there.   It compresses to a nice firm 4 inches after not much lying on it by an adult (we just made sure we lay in different place every time, but we just did this to play with him, or in my case, nurse sometimes, we didn’t even have to sleep the whole night or anything to achieve this), that’s definitely firm enough for a baby that can roll over and hold up his/her head.  We started him napping on this when he was about 5 months old.  I was impressed with the quality of the mattress and the almost complete absence of smell.  It had a slight smell on the cover from the plastic it was shipped in, but that aired out in about 24 hours.

We covered it with a cotton hypo-allergenic waterproof mattress cover (we ordered two, so we’d always be able to throw a dry one on if needed), and then organic cotton sheets from Target.

The rug I’m rather pleased with because even though it’s far from “perfect,” it’s the ultimate upcycled piece.  It’s a hand made rag rug that only cost the price of an “S” sized crochet hook.  I made it from some tablecloths, sheets, and stash fabric and used scrap threads from other projects to stitch it together, you know, like all the random colors left wound on your bobbins from previous projects.  I’ll post more in depth about its creation now that it’s complete.

In front of the small window, is a butterfly mobile that I designed. You can view the post on that and download the butterfly shapes here.  It’s not one of the series of Montessori friendly mobiles you’ll see if you’ve been searching for Montessori baby ideas, but he loves the paper butterflies and how they move in the slightest bit of air with a window open or the ceiling fan on, so I’m sticking them there and leaving them for a while 😉

He has a play area downstairs where I’ve been rotating various handmade hanging toys that fit with what he’s interested in as he’s developed, but he’s almost out of the hanging toy phase I think…  Another post, another day on that 😉

The birds on a branch are also a free pattern from Spool.  They have it shown as a mobile, but I riffed of Meg McElwee’s idea for Finnian’s Montessori room and glued the finished stuffed birdies onto a  branch for the wall. (Which, if  you’re interested in Montessori rooms and you haven’t seen that one yet, it’s definitely a must see, and now the most famous Montessori room on the internet as her design has inspired so many others).

The banner over the window is my adaptation of a pattern from Amanda Blake Soule’s Handmade Home, and you can see close up pictures in this post from when I first made it.

The wall shelves and low shelf were custom-made by Earl Linn of Old Country Cabinets for you local readers.

The low wall art are just images I printed out and mounted to cardboard with a good scrapbook quality glue stick and then mounted to the wall with Command adhesive poster squares because I didn’t want anything with glass in it, or even anything he could easily get off the wall.  These he can’t get off the wall, and even if he did, there’s not much he could do to himself with paper and cardboard.  He could eat it, I suppose.

He loves his floor bed!

For more on the Montessori philosophy and method with babies and young children, check out Montessori from the Start and How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way.  The first one is rich in content and methodology, the second, despite having a cheesy title that’s way too long, is full of great practical ideas and pictures of what it looks like.

And in case you were wondering about the paint colors:

Blue: Babbling Brook 401-3 from Porter Paints
Green: Pickling Spice 310-3 from Porter Paints
Brown: Stonington 416-4 from Porter Paints
The orange I lost the card for unfortunately.

And there you have it!

Space to spread out

I’ve gotten some questions about some of the ways we’re doing things, so I thought I’d post a few pictures… Eli’s Montessori room with floor bed should finally be done by the end of next week or so (depending on when his futon arrives), and I’ll blog that later.   For now, here’s his movement area play space in the kitchen/dining room area.

As you can see, he needs a bigger movement mat.  I’m working on it. This one is of my design, sewn from upholstery fabric with a couple layers of batting sandwiched between it and the backing and I sewed a small rug pad to the back so that he can scoot on it and it doesn’t bunch too much like a blanket does.  But he’s more mobile now, and I’ve got plans to make one twice the size if I can just get the time!  And I need to repurpose the wine rack part (and get rid of those bottles!) but he’s not THAT mobile just yet…

The play area just happened to work best here. I can access the office and the laundry room without being far from him at all, and as a bonus, I was able to hang toys and the mobile from command hooks on the arch between the rooms. Plus, there was a nice bit of floor away from anything dangerous.  The mobile is art cards from Wee Gallery and a photo mobile to hang them.

The hanging toy is a car seat chime that he hates on his car seat, but likes to bat here… I’m using it in place of the hanging bell toy for all you other Montessori types out there.

The play handkerchiefs you see on the floor are just fabric left over from one of the projects for his room that I hemmed. I got the idea from Magda Gerber’s thought provoking book.

The fold out book is Black & White by Tana Hoban. Eli loves it!

And the inspiration for most of this comes from Montessori from the Start, a book full of good ideas about babies from birth to age 3

We just added a weaning table and chair, built by Earl Linn of Old Country Cabinets from hickory to match our cabinets.  He’s also building us a low shelf and wall shelves for Eli’s room… stay tuned again on that one.

I cleaned out the kitchen island to provide a toy shelf and a book shelf…

The cabinet currently houses the toys that aren’t out in the small basket and a diaper caddy.  When he’s bigger, this will probably hold his own dishes, utensils and table settings.

The Mommyhood

So it’s been well over 2 months since I posted. I have a four and half month old and a business to run. But, gosh, do I miss blogging! So I’m back. And I started two out of four (well, five if you count this one) sentences with “So” which is boring and evidence that I must need to write more frequently for my own health and grammatical well being.

Anyway, I have actually been up to a few projects and I have a couple of awesome up-cycling things in the works, one of which isn’t baby related, as in you don’t have to make it for a baby, I happen to be making it for Eli’s room, but you wouldn’t have to… make it for Eli’s room that is, unless you want to, but I can’t see him needing more than one.  Rag rug.  Yes, I’m crocheting a rag rug out of sheets, tablecloths and unused stash fabric that was long overdue for a home in a project.  I’m taking pics, and will post a whole how to and how I did it post in a week or so (knock on wood).

And the other project is upcycled and artsy, though baby-related, and I can’t share it cause I’m making one for Eli, but also at least one more for a friend’s baby, so you’ll have to wait till after I give it to them. And I don’t know when that will be.

I know, I’m literally writing a stream of consciousness post and probably none of you are still reading, but hey, this is my blog and this is making me happy.

I’m actually very happy in general.  I love this whole mommy business.  Especially after I came to the realization that motherhood (well parenting too, but I’m a mom, so I’m saying motherhood) is an actual spiritual discipline.

And yes, spiritual disciplines come in handy as well, but the practice of motherhood requires multiple ones a the same time and is in itself a spiritual discipline.  Being a mom requires patience, flexibility, and the ability to pay full attention to one tiny person for sometimes extended periods of time. It involves sitting on the floor watching your baby kick just because it makes him happy to look  up and see you there and to see that you’re paying attention to him.

It requires the disciple of presence, actual undivided presence, an act that is all too often lost to us as we listen to the messages that we should be multi tasking our lives, but I don’t want to multi-task my baby.  I’m committing to times of undivided attention, breastfeeding times being some of them, and then I try to have at least one other time a day when he just gets my whole attention for a while while he plays or we play depending on what mood he’s in.

And I’ve discovered at least most days this gift of presence gives back to me in that it seems to help him feel secure enough in my attention and my willingness to come when he needs me that he is then okay on his own now for some periods of time while I get some other things I have to to done.

More on this later, this post is getting long, but I’m glad to be back, and I look forward to starting to catch up on everyone’s blogs as I can.