Practicing

The girls asked to wear “Ergos” on our morning walk today. We used scarves that my husband brought back from Cambodia to make slings to carry their babies (doll and rabbit, respectively).  The slings held up through the entire 45 minute walk and they wanted to keep wearing them once they got home.  Big sister practice is well underway!


Madison’s face…it makes me giggle. Also, most likely the girls will not be babywearing their new sibling anytime soon.  Safety first, after all. It is sweet to see them embrace something they’ve seen us do as parents and make it their own.

Countdown to September – Baby #4!

Be prepared for the most anticlimactic announcement in the history of announcements:

We’re pregnant.

Yay!

Now, of course we are brimming with excitement and looking forward to Baby #4 joining the family sometime in September or October (and planning for another home birth in Mexico).  We are grateful to have another life to welcome to the world and into our home.  The kids already know how to talk to the baby and Leah is particular about making sure my shirt is pulled up and my belly is exposed when it’s her turn, especially if she’s ‘reading’ a book to the baby.  Oh, and the name suggestions are out of this world.  Possibly blog-post worthy all in their own right.

The reason for the wah-wah nature of the announcement is that I wanted to start writing about how I’m processing becoming a mom of FOUR KIDS.  My heart and mind are already picking up habit loops based on what I think life will be like, trying to grasp onto some sort of plan to help us survive those first few months.  Let’s face it – newborns are the most unpredictable creatures on the face of this earth.  And for an INTJ mother whose StrengthsFinder score is all DisciplineStrengthsFinder score is all Discipline and whose DISC score is a soaring S, a tiny, wailing, inconsistent, irrational human is so hard to deal with.

I love them.  Yes.  But there’s a lot to process and I want to use this space to help do just that.  Here’s to new life and more diapers!

What our homeschool looks like these days

I had the best of intentions to continue homeschooling while we were in Washington for a few weeks.  Meh.  What’s that saying about the best of intentions?  Well, whatever it is we definitely lived up to it.  I think we maybe did three mornings of homeschool out of the almost 20 days we were there?  However, the kids were able to do so many other things that we don’t have available where we live that I think it made up for it.  Like spending four hours at the local children’s museum one morning.  Totally counts as homeschool in my book.

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Settling back into life at home means settling back into our homeschool routine.  Here is what our homeschool life looks like these days.

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Tuesday and Friday mornings are our big homeschool times.  Madison and Leah are both at the campus preschool all morning, so Hunter and I have about three hours to dedicate to learning.  Usually we spend about one and a half to two hours on school.  The majority of our structured homeschooling happens on these days.

Monday and Wednesday mornings we can usually sneak in a bit of homeschool (what I call ‘table time’) but with all three kids at home it is usually fast and focused.  Most of the learning that happens on these days leans towards the unschooling version, like long walks outside or art creations or building forts or Legos or MagnaTile empires.  Sidenote – this friend of mine and fellow homeschooling mama is my hero and inspiration when it comes to unschooling.  I wish I had the guts to embrace it like she does.  Also, those photos?!?!  Stunning.  Sometimes I wait until the afternoon when Leah is napping and the kids are in their Quiet Technology Time to steal Hunter away for fifteen minutes of work.

Thursday mornings have a completely different flavor as Madison attends preschool that day but Leah does not, so she is with Hunter and me in the mornings.  Also, I have a standing weekly meeting on Thursdays that starts at 11:00 AM, which means by the time we drop Madison at preschool at 9:30 AM, drive home, do work, and drive back to campus for said meeting, the morning has slipped away (even if we live two minutes from campus, it still take ten minutes to unload and load everyone and everything in the car).  A few months ago I decided to pack all of Hunter’s schoolwork up on Wednesday night, as well as snacks and toys for Leah.  We take everything with us to the campus on Thursday morning when we bring Madison to preschool, and the find a relatively quite place where we can put in at least forty-five minutes of school before I attend my meeting.  It usually works quite well, and Hunter gets to play on campus with his friends which he loves while I’m in the meeting.  Leah attends the meeting with me and charms the socks off everyone there. 🙂

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Much like last year, we did not purchase a set of curriculum for Hunter’s first grade learning.  Instead, we’ve cobbled together various workbooks and activities that fit what he wants to learn, should learn, and is at his level of learning.  Some of the workbooks we use are:

Lest you think Hunter does all of these workbooks every day…never fear.  We have a rotation of what we work on each day and it’s very doable and appropriate for a first grader.

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One of our favorite subjects is history because this book makes it come to life.  I had been eyeing Susan Wise Bauer’s works since before we started homeschooling last year.  We went pretty light on history during kindergarten and I wanted something that gave our kids a worldwide perspective of history, not the Western-centric one I remember learning in my early years of school.  I checked out a few discount book websites and was ecstatic when AbeBooks.com came through for the win.  I was able to purchase both the book and the activity workbook for less than the cost of only the book on other sites.  Happy dance!!!

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Today we learned about the Indus Valley and how it compared to Mesopotamia in ancient times.  Even with my less-than-stellar drawing skills I was able to come up with a few pictures that represented what the story told about agriculture in this region, and as Hunter heard the words in the story he added the pictures to the map.

Reading makes up a significant portion of our homeschooling day.  After we finish workbooks at the table, we usually break for a quick snack and then reconvene on the couch to read aloud.  Our books usually include:

  • An early reader for Hunter to read aloud.  He really loves Elephant and Piggie books, especially this one.  It was the first time that he was fully comprehending what he was reading as he was reading it, and had to stop reading because he was laughing so hard. We’ve also used Dick and Jane books which he enjoyed last year.  Right now we are working through Little Bear, which has vintage illustrations that I love.
  • A book that teaches about the current lapbook topic.  We are on earthworms right now.
  • A BOB book.  We found the first two sets of BOB books in a box of giveaways so he is working through them one at at time.  He is probably beyond this level of reading but it’s nice for him to build confidence by easily reading a whole book by himself.
  • Other random books or articles.  This week we are reading through a magazine article about loving others.

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Then we usually head back to the table to add a section to his lapbook.  I’m so glad I stumbled upon lapbooking as technique for homeschooling.  This website is my go-to place for FREE lapbook lessons.  Hunter enjoys seeing his lapbook take shape during each unit and has even pulled down his finished lapbooks from last year and looked through all of them (we did close to a dozen!).  If we have time before we head to campus for lunch, often Hunter watches a few minutes of an educational video about whatever lapbook topic he has chosen.

Admittedly, I started this year quite lazy when it came to keeping track of Hunter’s daily progress.  Then, a few weeks into the year, I remembered this blog post about upside down and backwards homeschool planning.  Now, instead of pre-planning what we will do each week, I record what we actually accomplish on a daily basis.  As the week progresses I can evaluate if we are lacking in a certain subject and use the final few days to target that area.  Also, as you can see by Monday’s lack of recording, some days we do absolutely nothing.

Like I’ve said before, more than any facts or statistics or rote memorization, I want my kids to love learning.  This quote from Eleanor Roosevelt perfectly sums up my approach to learning:

“Education provides the necessary tools, equipment by which we learn how to learn.  The object of our education is to give everyone of us an instrument which we can use to acquire information at any time we need it.”

Snow!

What a surprise when over six inches of snow blanketed my parent’s hometown yesterday. It snowed nonstop from about 10 AM until well past 10 PM, which meant a white, winter wonderland awaited the kids this morning. 


To say we were underprepared for winter weather would be an understatement.  No gloves, no snow boots/pants/coats.  It didn’t matter though!  We layered up with what we had and stomped through the neighborhood as soon as we were done with breakfast. Snowy days tend to last only about 24 hours (it was already melting off the trees when we were outside today) so I’m happy we were able to be outside and enjoy the snowfall while it still felt like real snow.

And, to compare:


Scott might be in for a slight adjustment once he returns to this continent.

Write A New Story

I was laying in bed yesterday morning, in between alarm-going-off and actually-getting-out-of-bed.  Pondering all the things that were to come that day, I remembered that my husband was leaving for a three day trip in a few hours.  Immediately I flashed back to all the other trips he’s taken over the past few months (our work usually keeps us pretty local but he’s had some commitments over the fall and winter that took him all over the place), what had happened during those times apart, and a slow wave of anxiety started to rise inside my chest.  We had been sick.  The power had gone out.  The kids missed their dad.  Memory after memory crashed through me as I began to dread the upcoming 72 hours while he was gone and we were here.  The suddenly, like a splash of cold water, this thought appeared in my mind.

Write a new story.

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Before my day had even begun, I was allowing the past to determine how the future would unfold.  Thanks to a decent understanding of my DISC profile, I know that a high S (that’s me!) tends to evaluate future events in the light of what’s gone before, so I had a pretty good idea where this ruminating was coming from.  Nonetheless, this simple thought rang out: Could I write a new story for myself, my family, my life over the next few days?  Did I need to let what had happen influence what could happen?

Write a new story.

It’s the morning of Day 2 and the story is halfway over.  I’ve struggled with the blank pages and new pencils, but what we’ve written so far isn’t half that bad.  After all, it’s ours and it’s new and there’s still more to write.

When the kids are sick

Our little ones have been fighting a cough and cold this week.  Yesterday Madison woke up super early crying about ear pain.  She didn’t relent for about three hours, yelling, “It HURTS!” while adamantly refusing anything I tried to do to help her.  Finally, after essential oils, heat compresses, hydrogen peroxide, and Tylenol, she settled down and dozed for about 10 minutes on the couch.  Miraculously, she woke up happy and pain-free.  Hallelujah!  Even more miraculously, she actually fell asleep during our afternoon quiet time (which hasn’t happened in close to two years) and slept for almost an hour and a half, snuggled next to me.

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It’s hard for me to see my kids sick.  Not only because they are in pain or miserable, but because I’ve come to believe the lie that their physical wellness is directly connected to how well I care for them.  If they are sick then I did something wrong.  We take a slightly alternative approach to wellness and health care in our family (not a lot of doctor visits or prescriptions…using a lot of oils and other natural approaches) and I harbor a hidden fear of being ‘found out’ that blazes to the surface whenever my kids don’t feel well.  That someone will point a finger and accuse me and I’ll be helpless and defenseless.  As if I can control how their body responds to every germ or virus that may pass their way?  I know where the root of that fear comes from (I haven’t written much about my family’s story lately, but there were strong themes of accusation and helplessness woven all throughout) and as I stood in the shower yesterday I decided to confront it head on.

My kids are not sick because I didn’t something wrong.

They are being cared for because I love them.

I’m not in control of their physical wellness, but I can choose how I respond to them when they are feeling icky.  My response to their pain reveals the depth of my love for them.

I hear them hacking and coughing as they wake up this morning.  It’ll be another day of teas, oils, and restful play.  I set my intention to care for them.

Because I love them.

Why yes, you can have a homebirth in Mexico – Part 7

Part 1/Part 2/Part 3/Part 4/Part 5/Part 6

Here are some thoughts I had during my prenatal care with Angelica, the midwife who attended our homebirth in Tijuana in November 2014.  These excerpts are from an email conversation with a phenomenal woman who has dedicated her life to humanized birthing in Mexico.  She has (and continues to be) a pillar of support and source of knowledge for the birthing community in Mexico and beyond.  Although we have never met in person, I consider her a dear friend and close confident with all things pregnancy, labor, and postpartum.

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know how my partnership with Angelica Granada is going during this pregnancy. We ‘officially’ switched our care to her about two and a half months ago, and since have had two home visits with one coming up next week (we also met with her twice before that to get to know her and her approaches to care). We have decided to not see an OBGYN concurrently with her care (unless, of course, something occurs during the pregnancy that warrants their care). I am intensely appreciating her approach to prenatal care – it’s very hands-off, trusting of the mother and baby, yet at the same time with attention to details.
The home visits (which I LOVE that she offers) have consisted of a conversations about diet, exercise, how I feel, how the baby is moving/growing, and then blood pressure, measurements, listening to me and the baby, and taking a few notes. Then we usually start discussing a question or topic that I have in mind and go on from there. No lab work, blood draws, weigh-ins, or excessive paperwork to fill out. Actually, I haven’t filled out ANY paperwork with her yet, except for writing my name in her spiral notebook where she keeps her client notes. She has a few methods/practices that I’m not completely in agreement with, but willing to let those go for now and deal with them when/if they arise
In comparison to what she DOES offer, DOES practice, and DOES believe, those few points are quite minimal to me. I still plan on having something in writing about our desires before, during, and after labor so we can agree on and refer to it. In describing her training and expertise, I would say she is much more a traditional midwife than a modern midwife – traditional in the sense that she is trained/skilled/knowledgable, but still influenced by the current medical approach to childbirth and pregnancy that remains here in Mexico. Does that make sense? I’ve found that doing supplemental research on my own in regards to diet, care, preparation, etc, has been much more helpful than simply just asking her ‘What should I do for…’
It’s almost painful for me to think of the situation that a midwife like Angelica finds herself in – even if she WANTS to expand her knowledge, WANTS to access the latest evidence-based findings, WANTS to update herself with approaches or practices or techniques…where does she turn? To whom can she go? And even if there is someone/somewhere, how would she even know it was available or know how to access it? And would it even be in a language she can comprehend? Not speaking against her competency or intelligence as an individual in any way, but just reflecting on what I’ve observed in the medical community since living here for the past 12 years.

Here are the things that have made my heart sing with joy (and relief!) as our relationship has progressed:

  • she is totally okay with no internal exams
  • anyone can be at the birth. the birth can be AT HOME (a setting in which she has practiced many times)!!!!
  • she has some knowledge of herbs, teas, etc for the pregnancy and labor
  • no episiotomies, but she can do sutures if needed after the birth
  • if i want, she is fine with leaving the placenta with us
  • i can birth and labor in any position
  • i can eat and drink during labor
  • after the baby is born, s/he goes straight to the mom to begin breastfeeding as soon as possible to help stop the flow of blood, contract the uterus, and promote attachment and bonding
  • completely promotes and supports breastfeeding
  • placenta is birthed on it’s own time (no traction or pulling)
  • so far, she hasn’t mentioned a total time limit for labor (unlike the dr with my previous pregnancy here who mentioned freidman’s curve as his point of measurement for a successful labor)

As I read that list I think, ‘Well, DUH!’ But then I have to chuckle and smile and shake my head in gratitude that I will be ‘allowed’ to birth this child as I was created to do.

It wasn’t long before we met and passed all three due dates we had for this pregnancy – one from the doctor, one from the ultrasound, and one from Angelica.  They all were at the end of October, but from the moment we found out we were pregnant I had a sense that it would be a November baby.  Maybe I convinced myself to wait?  Maybe she needed those few extra days inside me to gear up for her big day?  I’ll never know why but I do remember being at peace with whenever labor decided to start.