Archive for the ‘ Children ’ Category

My Summer Vacation 2016

Lets see if I have enough time to type this before one of the children implodes…

So much going on here.

June is always a difficult month for me anyway but oh boy.

Hubby had to have semi-emergency back surgery on a severely herniated disc in his lower back. We scheduled the surgery right after finding out we were finally after all this time approved for the house. So he had his back cut open and is healing as well as can be expected now and we bought a nice little prison for me to be stuck to; which everyone tells me is a good thing. Riiiiiight…

I was excited to set up our homeschooling space. Writing curriculum, planning unit studies, getting pumped up for Gaelic lessons, studying up on lapbooking and notebooking and bookbooking……I might have made one of those ‘booking’s up…

But then, Pumpkinhead says: “I want to try public school.”

-At this time, picture yourself falling through the floor and you might understand how I felt.-

So, she took her assessment and start’s First grade in a few weeks. I wont go on a diatribe; but I will say they only have 20 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for recess every day and only do art/music one day per week. -sigh-

Maybe she wont like it and we can get back to our normal lives.

Maybe she will love it and I can just add it to the “crap I have to be a big girl and just deal with” pile.

That pile is getting awfully big.

Just saying.

We are even further away from a beach here. It’s utterly depressing. Thinking of painting a giant beach mural on the living room wall so I can stare at it and daydream all day.

To top it all off, my first and most beloved zoo just had the latest USDA report released… and it is disappointing to say the least. Aggravated would be putting my feelings mildly. I have only been a gone a few years, it truly is part of my heart that place. How could it have declined so quickly?? It really does make me upset. I am hoping that they can turn around and be great again. They have done it before, lets hope they can again.

It has been a rough summer. Not as rough as my life a few years ago, or even two years ago. Today, I am just feeling really weighed down and feeling utterly powerless. I usually end these on the most positive note I can (just like in behavioral training; always end on a high note!) so here is the most positive thing I can think of right now:

 

 

 

Homeschooling Huzzah!

We are half-way through our first year homeschooling.

I have to say, I am really opening my mind to some cool new ideas; new to me anyway. At first, I started by trying to mimic the public schoolroom. Strict rigid schedule, desk, worksheets, etc…

That all really quickly fell apart, and my stress level skyrocketed.  Pushing her to keep up we both were miserable. Add in our regular play dates, holidays, birthdays, LIFE and my homeschool vision was just crumbling. I kept thinking, she has to keep up with the public school!

But then… does she? Really? Isn’t the point of me homeschooling because I want something different for her beyond the industrial machine of mass schooling?

I live in a “strict” state; who’s homeschooling regulations are comparatively stricter than other states. Homeschoolers in my state are more regulated and “watch-dogged” then say someone in a comparatively lax state. I have to declare my intent at the beginning of each year in the form of a notarized document, the district gives me a list of mandatory subjects I have to cover and at the end of the year we need to be evaluated by a professional; including examples of learning and progress. We also are required by our local district to give proof of medical services and provide a projected learning schedule and number of days we will do minimum. Being that my original intent was not unschooling, and I have never experienced homeschooling regulations in another state I had no problem doing all of this. However there are those who have objections to such things.

We have done so many fun things so far this year. I am currently considering not only doing homeschooling next year for first grade, but also going to a more year-round approach. The curriculum I wrote ends on May 31st 2016, however I am really considering writing up a lite work summer curriculum.

The further I get into this homeschool web the more I learn, saying nothing of what my Kindergarten girl and two toddlers are learning. I originally began feeling forced into this, as she misses the cut-off for entry based on age. I huffed and growled and decided that fine my smart and very ready Kindergartner can just be homeschooled this year and if I do a crappy job then no harm no foul she will be ahead for next year.

It is so much more now. It has become in such a short amount of time our way of life and as I envision our future I see nothing but possibilities. I am amazed how easily it has fit our lifestyle and our dreams of the future. Especially since I have begun to change MY attitude of what “school” means. Learning is so much more then just “schooling.” That is such an obvious thing to say. I grew up “in the system.” A daycare baby before my third month of life and put into Kindergarten at age four and that’s how it was. I saw the flaws even as a child and especially as a teenager but that’s the way it’s done right?

It doesn’t have to be. I love that we get to sleep in. I love that we don’t have to miss family time together. I love seeing her learning and being a part of that. I love how easy it is some days. (Yes, it’s REALLY hard some days too!!!) I love that we can do this anywhere and are not “stuck” here. I love everything new that I am learning and the relationship I am continuing to build with my babies. I love how happy she is to do her lessons (most days!)

I am in no way implying I can teach a classroom of kids, or even that public schools are bad places. Heck no. I am saying that this works for our family and I am genuinely excited for the possibilities and growth we are going through.

I can’t wait to see where this takes us!

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Working on her Flamingo habitat.

Stories About Circumcision: One Midwife’s Perspective

This is great:

Wake Up, Mama!

circ photo

Circumcision can be a touchy subject. Parents are in the unenviable position of having to make this important and permanent decision for their sons with a lot of conflicting information. Those who choose to fully investigate the issue find an overwhelming spectrum of opinions amidst the facts, and most will encounter heated debate in the media, their social circles, or even within their own families. They hear from staunch defenders on medical, cultural, or religious grounds. They hear from others who consider the procedure unnecessary but relatively benign.  They hear from those who see it as a human rights violation, ethically no different from female circumcision common to other cultures.

As you may have guessed, I am among those who hopes cultural change will make circumcision a distant memory. In the future, I suspect we will all be scratching our heads in disbelief that this is what we used to…

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My Sleep Deprivation

First the good news. Hubby got a promotion! While it is not the giant raise we were hoping for, it is certainly better than what we have been barely making ends meet with the past year. It will still take at least this month to get our finances figured out but we are back on the right track anyway!

Also, CHRISTMAS SOON. We have the tree up right now. No lights yet but we have it decorated besides. That makes me feel pretty good. The house smells amazing; that nice woody pine smell. I managed to get the kids some really nice gifts, not a lot but what I did get is pretty nice. They will both be happy. (Pictures after the Holiday)

On to baby issues. Mogwai is getting so big, his first teeth, sitting up on his own. He is even starting to want to explore (read: move!) and is so squirmy. He is also having a bit of a sleep problem. We try to be fair here as far as letting people rest. So hubby and I have been taking turns. With Pumpkinhead, Hubby worked until 2-3 am sometimes so bedtime was all on me no matter what. Consequently I was the only one who could get her down to bed. I love that his new job he is home in time to help me put her to bed and to help with him all night.

We have been putting him in his swing to sleep. By we, I mean Hubby. As Mogwai wont let me put him down in the swing. For one, if he sleeps near me he wakes constantly wanting to nurse and wont sleep unless I am holding him all night. Which is wonderful, but not very restful. For two, I can get him to fall asleep no problem, but when it comes time to put him down (crib or swing) he wakes every time. Every. Single. Time. You can see the dilemma. On nights like last night when Hubby had to be up at 5 am to open the restaurant I stayed up and took charge of Mogwai. Needless to say, it did not go well. We ended up both finally  asleep on the couch, Mogwai nestled in my arms, me partially asleep partially awake him out like a light. He even slept thru Hubby leaving for work. That is, until Pumkinhead woke up at 7 am and came downstairs. Also needless to say, everyone is pretty cranky this morning. Except Pumpkinhead. She slept like a hibernating chipmunk all night. So she is pretty happy. That’s a relief anyway.

I have no idea what we are going to do about this sleep situation. I also have to work tonight so I wont be sleeping tonight either, or tomorrow night. Again; work. Whats the saying about being able to sleep when you dead? That makes me wonder; if dying is sleeping then where do you wake up when you are rested?

I love watching his personality develop. He is so determined and stubborn. He loves to snuggle, and he is kind of lazy. I miss my little newborn too though. It goes so fast. I feel like this whole summer just flew by. This past year has just been such a blur. I almost don’t feel like I even have the same life. Mostly because I don’t. So much change in such a short time. I have been working on trying to slow down. Trying to live in the moment. Trying not to freak out about the future. Trying to enjoy the now. You get the idea.

As always, it’s one day at a time.

PS… we still don’t have a mattress; and the air mattress has sprung a hole. One day we can have a big people bed again! Lets hope for it before Christmas!

Why do I love my breasts?

My son is about 5 1/2 months and as we begin to prepare to start him on “solid” food I have been thinking about how amazing my breasts are. I have had a complicated relationship with them, as most modern women have I think.

Before they arrived I envied my friend who developed early (although as I hear it now 5th grade is becoming the standard for girls to develop and is no longer considered early…) and watched another friend pretend to have them by stuffing balloons with pudding and putting them in a bra. Because it was so important apparently to have them. If only I knew then what I know now!

When they finally first “arrived” around age 15 trying to figure out how the heck I was supposed to snap in those hooks in the middle of my back. Trying to also understand why they weren’t DD’s immediately like all the women on TV, and feelings of inadequacy for years because they never made it past a small B until I got pregnant at 25. Feeling like they were ugly and imperfect for years because a male friend commented negatively about the size of my nipples. The up’s and downs of push-up bra’s, padding, and finally the acceptance of my size and subsequent flaunting that follows.

During my first pregnancy the nervousness and excitement as they got bigger and bigger (and consequently more sore and tender.) I knew I was going to breastfeed my daughter. I didn’t really know what that entailed other then insert nipple and baby will eat. Oh, so much left to learn! At the time I didn’t have any breastfeeding friends that I knew of, and the one mom who I was “close” with (close as in my brothers girlfriend) was adamant about all the reasons she didn’t breastfeed (saggy boobs, she wanted to start drinking again etc…) I hadn’t met the new friends we would make in our mommy group yet, so I was pretty nervous about it the first time.

Then after giving birth, the long ordeal I went thru with supply issues, post-partum depression, self image, a screaming hungry baby, an unsupportive pediatrician, a distant husband and in general frustration and disappointment with myself and my breasts. It was a struggle, but we did manage to breastfeed for 7 months, however we did start supplementing with formula around 1 1/2 – 2 months. They certainly were bigger (up to a C at this point) but they were always sore and sensitive, and someone was always wanting them for one reason or another yet they couldn’t supply enough for anybody to be happy!

I am GLAD we struggled though, because those quiet moments I got to have when breastfeeding my daughter still remain some of the most special moments of her infant days to me. Take away all the facts of how beneficial breastfeeding is to mom and baby, the happy hormones released and the antibodies and how its free. What it came down to was it made my daughter happy and when she would look into my eyes in those quiet spaces I never felt so amazing and close to her. The happy hormones work and bonding is achieved, but in the moment you arent thinking of that. You are falling in love with your child.

After we stopped breastfeeding fully they did shrink back down a little, but they finally felt “normal” again. I do feel like I lost a bit of that bonding time with her, when it was just us. But I feel our relationship is so close and special now because we both worked so hard together. I had a bit of a respite where I didn’t have to think about my breasts at ALL (imagine that for a moment ladies) and then I got out of the shower one day and they started leaking again… I knew I was pregnant again in that moment.

My second pregnancy was so full of everything else going on I barely had time to think about them. Of course, they grow and prepare for baby without conscious thought so again I broke out my pregnancy bra’s. They didn’t get sore this time really until the end of the pregnancy. I also knew much more about breastfeeding this time and felt excited for my baby to arrive so I could do it again.

At the beginning of course there was the usual waiting for my milk to come in, but I wasn’t as afraid this time since I now knew a newborn can go a few days without having a real meal and he was getting colostrum so he was OK. He latched well and almost immediately after birth. Getting my supply up was still difficult, but this time I knew to take feenugreek, and to keep taking my prenatal vitamins and about active nursing. I knew to take good care of myself and to drink LOTS of water, and I actually actively did it. It still took about 2 weeks for Mogwai and I to find out feeding groove, but this time I was confidant we would.

I love our pediatrician and she was so supportive. My wonderful husband is also amazing and has been so supportive and extra helpful as well. I cannot even stress how crucial the support of those two people has been. I also am part of a mommy group with members who breastfeed, so seeing them unafraid to do it in public has also given me support even when it’s just the two of us.

Also, although I am not a particularly religious person, I find a great deal of strength from the images of the “Maria lactans.” and the nursing Isis.

At this moment in time, my son has doubled his birth weight and is healthy and vibrant and I am so PROUD to say my breasts did that. He has not had a drop of anything other then breast milk and yet he is thriving. As his mother and as a women in general I feel so amazing. It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes I still need a “booby break” where nobody is allowed to be near them for awhile.

I finally feel like my breasts are more then just the sum of the size cups they can fill or how many men notice them or think they are attractive. They are not some separate entity that needs perfecting and needs work or approval. They are part of my body and they are amazing exactly as they are, “large” nipples and all! I ❤ my breasts!

-Courtesy of Glimpse in Time Photography-

-Courtesy of Glimpse in Time Photography-

 

P.S.

This post is NOT knocking other women who choose not to/are unable to breastfeed. I am simply recounting my own personal journey with my breasts. Relax. 🙂

Your Babies Gut…

…WAS NOT DESIGNED TO DIGEST ANYTHING OTHER THEN BREAST MILK UNTIL AT LEAST 4-6 MONTHS!

Formula is a suitable substitute for breast milk, go ahead and use it if you want to.

You know what is NOT OK? Rice freaking cereal or cow’s milk!!! In fact it is dangerous! Their little brand new digestive system is not ready for such heavy stuff! In the long-term it can cause allergies, Gastrointestinal issues, lead to early onset diabetes, and obesity. In the short-term it can cause constipation and confusion.

Some people seem to think it helps with acid reflux and will help a baby sleep better through the night. They have formula designed for babies with acid reflux, if your breastfeeding you don’t get acid reflux at all and sleeping through the night… really? You want to trade you child’s life long health so you can maybe get a full nights rest? Seriously?

Crying Mogwai

The AAP, the WHO, and UNICEF all recommend waiting until 6 months before even starting anything not liquid. They have tiny little tummies, they are supposed to eat a little at a time. Why are we always in such a rush in this country to make our kids grow up? Like we expect them to come out of the womb and be ready to get a job….

OK, maybe not that grown up but we Do put unnecessary timelines on our kids.  Some of my peers are calling 36 weeks “full term” for a pregnancy. They aren’t even born yet and we want them to hurry up! I know women who have scheduled elective c-sections at 36 weeks! That is insane!

Why can’t we just let them grow at there own pace? Let things happen without freaking out that they are slow or behind? It’s like if they don’t fit into our lives or our schedules then something must be wrong with them. Does anybody else see how crazy that sounds? They have just taken a breath and opened there eyes to the sun for the first time and we want them to eat big people food and walk and be quiet and sleep 8 hours a night and take two solid 4 hour naps a day and be happy all alone in a swing or crib four hours and hours each day. We expect so much of THEM, why don’t we expect more of ourselves? How about a little understanding? Why don’t WE take a step back and realize they can not conform to our pre-set determination of their day-to-day life. That it is OUR lives that need re-evaluation to fit around them. Eventually, they will naturally fall into a set sleep pattern and eat on a regular schedule and do all the things we want if we as adults could just be patient. It think it would make everyone, mother and child, much happier.

This is something I wish I had known with my first. I wish I had just had more patience in the beginning. She was such a difficult baby, but I had such high standards of what society told me a baby was “supposed” to be like. She wasn’t fitting into the mold I saw all around me in the media and what our pediatrician at the time said she ought to, so my anxiety rose as I thought something must be “wrong” with her. Looking back, their was nothing wrong with her at all. It is not wrong for an infant to want to nurse every two hours or every 20 minutes, or to want to use mom as a pacie. It is not wrong for an infant to want to be held all the time and to not want to sleep alone. I hate sleeping alone, when my husband would close the restaurant and not get home until 3 am I could never sleep right. How could I expect an infant to happily sleep all alone?

At two months she did not weigh as much as some chart said she ought to weigh. The pediatrician basically convinced me she was starving to death and I was letting it happen by refusing to use formula. I gave in and began to supplement with formula at night and she put on lots of weight fast. I wish at the time someone had told me that breastfed babies arent (generally speaking) as heavy as those fed formula. That the chart that most pediatricians use is based on average weights of formula fed babies. I didn’t take into account my genetics or my husbands (both of us petite babies and children.) All I heard was her doctor telling me she was underweight and my breasts weren’t cutting it. We continued to supplement, relying more heavily on formula until about 7 months when our daughter decided she didn’t want the breast anymore at all. She still took formula at night until her first birthday when she decided she didn’t want that anymore either. I wish I had just worked harder to up my supply. I had been making enough, I just hadn’t been making any extra.

I am beyond proud to say that we are nearly 12 weeks with our son and he has yet to have a drop of formula. Honestly, it hasn’t been easy. As much as I let him nurse and as much as I pump and take my prenatal’s and fenugreek and eat my oatmeal I am still not gushing and overflowing with milk. I envy those women who have ounces and ounces stored in the freezer. Currently I have 6 oz in the freezer and another 4 in the fridge… and those were collected on chance and luck. Normally he eats as much as I make, no more no less. But that is OK too. He is healthy and we have managed this time (so far) to be much more relaxed parents and not freak out over every little thing. I feel, all around, we are a much happier family unit and he is a much happier baby because I am going with his flow. He is a fat little baby and I am so proud to say that my breasts did that!

Happy Mogwai eating

Happy Mogwai Eating

Like usual, it appears I have ranted off my original topic. So, I say again, don’t give your babies solid food (including rice cereal) or cows milk (or goat milk or wolverine milk or soy milk) until they are at least 4 months; and even then don’t rush it! They will tell you when they are ready. They have the rest of their lives to eat sugar and starch and peas and carrots. It’s just not necessary or worth it to rush.

Slow Down

Sometimes I forget…

My daughter is going to be three this fall. I became a stay at home mother because I didn’t want to miss anything. The brief period of time I went back to work full-time I cried every day. I cried because I couldn’t focus on my work, I could focus on my child, I couldn’t focus on my husband, on myself, on anything. I cried because while I was feeling so miserable my daughter was not being raised by me and my animals were not getting the attention they deserved. Not to mention, in my career field being even a little negligent can lead to serious consequences for the animal, the public, the zoo, and/or the keeper.

So I decided to stay home. I wanted to be there for my daughter in a way my mother hadn’t been. I wanted to experience every coo and gurgle and cry of every second. My daughter needed me, as her mother I felt that single truth more than anything else. It was not even a hard decision. I knew what my child needed, and everything else we would just have to figure it out.

I have felt so blessed in my life. I have, so far, had a great life. With so many wonderful memories. Some of my most treasured memories I might have missed had I decided not to stay home with my little Pumpkinhead.

But sometimes I forget…

The past few weeks have been so frantic. Financially ever since the move we are sinking in a way we never have before. I don’t think I have been this broke since I was in college living out of my Taurus Wagon. At least we have a roof, and usually have enough food, so we aren’t the BROKEST I have ever been… not yet. But we are getting pretty close.

I may have mentioned before that I have a weird thing about food. I used to hoard it, to stash it, to hide it. I have gone through periods of my life when we didn’t have a lot to eat, or I didn’t have a lot to eat and no money to get any food. I used to hide food from my roommates for fear that we would run out and I needed to have a back up. The past few years have been quite plentiful for us, so eventually I got over it. However, every time the cupboards start getting even a little bare I start getting this anxious twitch in the back of my head. The less food we have the worse it is. It might even be worse now that we have kids that alarm starts screeching sooner even if we still have “enough” food. It makes me grumpy and of edge to say the least. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I married a chef…

For the past few weeks as we try to find some balance between our income and our expenses, as I try to find some job that will work around my husbands schedule and try to do what I can to make as much money as I can in other ways (check out my Tutu’s!) we are still barely breaking even each month. We are one really bad day away from going in the red for a very long time.

So sometimes I forget to just stop and slow down. To just step back and take a breath and stop feeling so manic over money and food and time. To stop and watch my amazing son and beautiful daughter grow up. Sometimes I forget to remember WHY we are so broke and WHY I wouldn’t change it. Sometimes I forget to remember how FAST it goes. He is almost 3 months and she is almost 3 years and God it has gone too fast! I have been there for every single step so far and I still want more. I am greedy for my children’s childhood. By this time next year she will be in preschool and he will be walking and maybe talking. I hope we will still be breastfeeding but who knows if he will want to? It’s all so fast and so uncertain and so magical.

I miss my career, I miss my animals and the professional interaction. I miss the daily challenges and the satisfaction of doing a great job for a good cause. I want to go back into my career… one day. Sometimes I forget just how much my babies need me… even my toddler. I am still the main part of their lives, but I am not always going to be.

So this is me taking a breath and remembering that this part doesn’t last very long and when its gone that’s it. They will be grown and wont want the snuggles or the kissed boo boos or the bedtime stories or the silly crafts and games or any of it.  We will figure out the money stuff, we always do. I think, for now, maybe I should just let go of the illusion of control that drives me bonkers sometimes and just let life be. To just remember why I wanted to stay home in the first place. To stop worrying about the future for just a bit.

I am hoping today that you find some center in yourself too.

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