Today I attended my first parents teacher meeting for my child... ever. I feel like I graduated to a new level of mom-hood. Our daughter is doing great. She is a smart kid (not that I am partial) and has been provided a lot of attention from many people other than me- so I am not bragging about myself here. It was a moment of counting our blessings.
Although my intention is to later homeschool her, we felt that while I am pregnant with Baby Bee it might be a good opportunity to send her to a little Montessori school while I spent some one on one time with our seccond child (and third who had ever growing needs for mental stimulation!). Each of our children it is clear, learn in different ways. So figuring what those are has become part of this parenting journey.
Having said that, this blog I want in no way or form to put mamas on the path to comparrison, or guilt trips. What I do aim to do, is encourage you by providing some of the tricks Ive been learning. If they help, great! If they don’t - I would love to learn what is working for you as well!
I actually have been quite challenged by my one year old recently who loves to take things apart and figure out how they go together. He is definitely in the tornado stage of learning.
But I am getting off track.
Kids are sponges. We all have heard that. The principle in the parent teacher meeting today was harping on that. We as parents have the most inpact on our child’s learning even if they are going to school. They will learn from just about anything you include them on; whether it be helping you sort socks, or weed the flower bed they will be expanding their little minds.
If you are looking into the homeschool route, or just want to find ways to interact with your kids that is more educational, you've come to the right spot.
Education is Life. Its that Simple.
When I say I homeschool my 3 almost 4 year old (Baby Fox), I take the approach that I carve out an hour or two a day depending on her attention span and my schedule, to sit with her and provide her with opportunities for learning. She really thinks that school is playing games with mommy.
This last year, I spent a lot of time gathering materials to build a “school room.” This year I have not done much leason planning. Last spring when I was teaching both my 5 year old and 3 year old I spent time in the evening or on Sunday preparing for that weeks lessons. We used the book Before Five in a Row. The book created a frame work for us.
Right now, however, I’m focussing on elements my Baby Fox needs work on. She is finally expressing interest in numbers. So this week, we have done various activities that involve number recognition. I will post some of these activities in the next blog.
Give your children structure, grace and yourself the same with a pumpkin spice latte.
At the preschool age (and even 1st - 4th grade), kids learn mostly through play and short spurts of dedicated attention. Some people proudly call their teaching approach “hack schooling.” This is a type of “un-schooling” or antiformal learning approach. Kids do also thrive on routine. I tend to combine some formalities while at the same time meet the kids needs, and my needs for how that is carried out. My goal is three days a week of more focussed learning that begins with Baby Fox ringing the school bell and singing the Sing Spell Read and Write phonics alphabet song. From there I gauge and engage my children according to their mood and abilities. Part of being a mama and a teacher is staying on our toes. But if one of our kids are sick or you are pregnant like me, there is also grace. And maybe a fun reading day on the couch or a scavenger hunt outside while you sit on a blanket.
We still stick to a time schedule (or try). There may be spilled milk or a kid hacking up a lung that change all that. But at least having a schedule helps me keep on track most days. And I go to this lady for pointers onnhow to keep on point: A Mother Far From Home.
This not only helps us achieve our goals, but gives our kids parts of the day they can look forward to. Like lunch.
For a FREE PRINTABLE schedule (lets rephrase it as goals) for a typical day, go HERE.
Homeschooling can happen just about anywhere
Yes, I have created a Montessori style class room complete with a circle rug, accessible directives, a play kitchen and desks. But heres the thing. Most mamas I know, homeschool in their kitchen. Which makes a great space for family learning. If you live where you can be outside, you can conduct your lessons under a tree, your front yard, or a picnic table. I was spoiled, growing up, with a tree house where I did my individual work with my cat. The Wild and Free organization encourages this outdoor learning approach and has a great community and resources.
This week my 3 year old wanted to homeschool in our hammock one day, and then excitedly sat down and announced school was in session in the class room the next. My one year old both days did his tornado type exploration in the same room while we focussed on our numbers and letters. I’ve made both the hammock room and school room baby proof so this wasnt really a problem (I mean henmay have eaten the tip of a marker but it said it was non-toxic).
Bottom Line: Don’t Stress!
Basically, if you are new at home schooling, or trying to figure out if its for your family, be open to the idea that you don't have to have all your ducks in a row. Create achievable goals for yourself and your kids. If a catastrophe hits. There is always tomorrow. Yes. There are certain laws for each State you have to abide by. Once you figure out these rules, the rest can be as simple or complex as your family needs. There is normally a lot of leaway in carrying out the law requirements. My mother always planned a week of extra days just in case the State didnt like one of her lesson plans.
It takes a village to raise our children. Thankfully in this day and age, home schooling has more allibis than when my mother was teaching us. We have Facebook groups that meet in real life, chat forums, Pinterest, blogs, and Instagram. However, these “support” options all can get pretty overwhelming at times. Part of survival is also spending quiet time reflecting on your family values and goals. We need to shut out all the perfectionistic, judgemental voices out there telling you are not good enough. You are the only mother or father your child has. God gave them to you for a reason. Do not let the perfection on Instagram steal your joy and confidence. See the love in your child and let it drive you. Laugh at mistakes, learn from them and keep moving. These are mt ultimate goals. And I fail at them every day.
Today marks the day when you finally came into our lives to stay. I had been laboring for a month with you (read my blog on prodromal labour) and chickened out last minute on taking the midwife concoction.
After finishing my bath I took a nap. And then when I woke up I went to the bathroom. Instead of doing what normal people do when they go to use the WC, my water popped.
And then the contractions came in full force. I called my Midwife and my husband. These came full force and close. There was no waiting around. I gathered my things and tried to communicate with your grandma last minute instructions about caring for your sisters. Daddy came and loaded our truck and we were off.
It was rush hour traffic and the hospital was 20 miles away. I thought we would never make it. But Daddy is a good driver. Everyone was so helpful at the hospital and I was so thankful to to have a labor tub this time.
As soon as it was was ready I got in. It felt so good. Soon I felt myself go into transition. Which means you would soon be coming and I called for my midwife. She came and said she waited for 10 minutes but nothing hallened. So she left. As soon as she left I felt everything move within me. And with one big push you lr head was born. And I scream for your daddy to come help me. He asked if he should go get someone and I said to stay with me as I gave birth to you with one last push. I caught you in my own arms and gently unwrapped the cord from your neck. Daddy went running into the hall for help.
I gently lifted you from the water and you took your first breath.
I was amazed at how calm everyone was as they helped me out of the tub. We were not supposed to have you there, but I was so thankful for a peaceful calm birth.
You were healthy as smiled within the first few days of your life.
And even as yoy wake uo fornthe third time tonight I remember all those smiles. You’re so smart and say so many things. You love to be with us and laugh with your sisters. You say dog and dada and mamma and kisses. Bye bye and Hi and you’re trying to say more. You love your trucks too and started walking this week.
We are so thankful for you Henry IV.
I have a confession to make. I really envy those moms who just seem to know what to do in the moment. Who have this calm about them. They keep their cool when their kid is screaming like a terridactal in the Publix cookie isle. They know how to redirect attention, allow for natural consequences or reward on queu.
I wish I could say that is me, but there has been more than once where I’ve cried, even screamed over spilled milk.
I was educated in grad school on how to lead and facilitate positive discipline classes with parents. But who knew how hard it would be when the time came to actually implement what I learned on my own self and kids after becoming a parent.
Im definitely a work in progress.
Here are a few things I have learned and relearned the last few months while trying to apply this positive discipline approach.
This word is so full of meaning. I challenge you to do your own study on it. Jane Nelson is the leading expert in the field of Adlerian Children Psychology. She states:
“When you truly understand that mistakes are opportunities to learn,
This is a new twist to the word grace for me. But I feel that it is relevant. If I don’t let mistakes control my reactions but instead view them as a chance for growth for all of us, that stuck in the mud feeling disappears quickly and learning is again made fun.
Mom Time Outs
In a perfect world I would love to just turn on the TV and hide in my dark warm bed for even 10 minutes. The reality? Taking a deep breath in the moment while three kids all are freaking out about the ever evasive donut (hat I never offered) can be difficult. I can’t retreat to the bathroom or my room either for concern of the safety of one or more of my Pocket People. So closing my eyes and counting to five outloud has proven helpful. Wearing a beaded bracelet and snapongneach bead on my wrist to help diffuse my frustration (or my red hot anger- lets be real) can help.
May children sometimes count with me.
sometimes I yell at Google Home to turn on some happy music.
Anything to divert the topic so I can catch my sanity as it runs out the door.
I have read this both in Nelson’s book and on several other blogs. When I find where I will share! But timing is everything. It’s like a preventative healthcare plan for living life with preschoolers. Pre planning for meals, and rest time can save you lots of tears. I learned quickly with my first child who struggled with transitions that one outing a day at this age is about all we can handle. I plan an errand or my work out in the am. Pack snacks. And that is all we do. The rest of the day is spent at home learning how to perform chores, reading, creative free play, swimming and a consistent quiet time.
Eliminating Stress and Caffeine
My mama friend and I were talking yesterday about how wierd caffeine makes us. It makes us cranky and nervous. I get more anxious and don’t sleep as well.
This is may not be true for everyone, but I did a quick google search and there have been many studies linking anxiety and caffeine as a trigger.
“In psychiatric in-patients, caffeine has been found to increase anxiety, hostility and psychotic symptoms. Assessment of caffeine intake should form part of routine psychiatric assessment and should be carried out before prescribing hypnotics.”2
Ive also found that when I’m stressed about other things in my life I tend to take it out on my kids by being more angry and impatient with them. Dealing with my own stress and taking some time for self care can help me deal with the simple day to day of heading my cats, I mean kids.
I will take some time in a different blog to unpack what self care can look like. But for now I don’t need to overwhelm us anymore. This week go find your Zen!
Last night I went through my second round of prodromal labor.
According to FitPregnancy.com its "contractions and/or other labor signs that begin much in the way that traditional labor does, but that do not result in the birth of your baby."
Yesterday I went through four hours of real contractions with beginning symptoms of labour only they never got past 15 minutes apart.
So I took a bath but they got worse. I almost peed on my self during one. So I finished packing my bags while my sister helped take care of my girls.
prodromal or practice labour is so emotionally draining. First of all - I'm like, "why do you need to psych me out? I've already done this labour thing twice!"
Secondly it's makes me feel a bit crazy in the head - like your over reacting to normal pregnancy symptoms. It's a good thing I didn't go to the hospital! Then there is the fact that Baby Hedge isn't full term for another 30 minutes, so on paper he would have been born premature and I would have probably had to go to a different hospital for his care and the L&D staff would have been hyper active about the labor if I had gone in. My Midewife told me today to try to hold him in for one more day. Laugh.
I could be an Eeyore about it and hold to the belief that "Well most likely I will be one of those moms who "labors" the whole month before her baby's due date only to have a super long actual labor too"
Or I could just accept that I don't know the future ...
I started printing out little affirmation posters last night and chuckled at some of the things I found....
"I birth with ease" "this baby will come out of my vagina" "believe you can and you will"
I get that these are supposed to help strengthen us and keep us focussed in labour but my thought was ... first of all my labors have never been easy no matter how positive I was. Secondly, nothing is ever certain.... I could plan the most beautiful natural birth - or even medicated assisted birth and yet it could go awry. I've heard of some women's labor going too fast to have time to get medication. And then there are crazy sad unexplainable things that can happen.
The only thing that is supposedly certain is that God knows what is going to happen, and knows what is best for us and is directly involved in the birth and the life of the baby.
Job 12:9-10 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind...
I can't explain why he lets babies die or mamas bodies be ripped to shreds during a labor.
But the reassuring thing to me is that He knows. He is not an uncaring and non-present God... no...
And I believe I will one day be shown why he let my friend's baby die, or let the woman suffer so much in childbirth....
Cause right now he told me "I am working all things together for the good"
So I printed off some different affirmation cards instead and a picture of a Hedgehog on the beach to make me smile and remind me they have to birth something with spines on it.
And ultimately as I lay here each night wondering if these contractions are real or not, I am just going to have to
Let it go.
And feel his hiccups for the last time. And enjoy the rest of this exciting time of life as it may be my last pregnancy.
Maybe he will meet me tonight. Thank you dear one for waiting at least til midnight so that you are no longer considered a premie.
But even if you had come way too early I would have had to let my worries, control freak ways, and questions go....
PEACE in the answers already given to me.
So rest in peace tonight dear friends and let it go.
Wisdom, courage, sacrifice, and determination are the lessons of our history. Southerners know and understand our past as a people, which is why we are all connected, no matter our status in life. We recognize kinship as the golden threads that are woven through our past: the struggles, the pain, and the power of overcoming. - Deborah Ford - Author of Girls Raised in the South
My story of Pelvic Girldle Pain and the art of living during my third pregnancy.
I am a Girl raised in the south (GRIT), mama of 2 children and one on the way, an artist, hedgehog breeder, and wife to a southern gentleman.
I have been so lucky (living under Christ's Kindness) to have low risk pregnancies. I am 5ft 9in, base weight of 125 and am crazy when it comes to eating healthy. I've been told by doctors and my husband that I'm the epitome of health. Maybe from eating good collard greens and refraining from indulging in too many key lime pies. Though I do love them!
I have been blessed in my pregnancies to get limited nausea and have only have a few vomiting episodes. I get the normal fatigue during the first trimester and then a few weeks into the second trimester I am able to do a few fun nesting projects. Almost as if I'm a bit manic. However the fun that everyone speaks of during the second trimester doesn't last long.
You see I get a different symptom. It's called Pelvic Girdle Pain. With my first pregnancy it was not so bad. I remember trying to pull on my boots mid winter and felt something pop in the process. My left inner thigh has never been the same! But I was super fun flexible and enjoyed doing exercises to prepare for our first baby girl.
Third trimester I lost a lot of sleep due to restless leg syndrome and excruciating leg cramps that would wake me up in the middle of the night screaming. I found out it was due to a calcium deficiency. My emotions are always all across the board - God help the people who have to live with me through that.
It wasn't until after the birth that I started having bigger issues. I had been a runner before I got pregnant and had completed a half marathon among some other 5 ks. 6 miles was my normal distance. I had a dream of running the Chicago marathon after the baby was born.
Instead we moved to South Florida. I and my husband started trying to run together but I found it really difficult as my hips would pop out of place.
After talking to my sister who is a physical therapist, I started seeking help from a local PT to restrengthen my core and help me manage the pelvic and back pain I was constantly feeling. I found a sports medicine place that took my insurance and they were "ok" - it took me about a year to start feeling "myself" again both physically and emotionally. Something most mamas aren't told after their first baby! You carried a baby for 9 months and it's going to take you at least that long to bounce back. Possibly longer if you're breast feeding longer than a year as I do.
Right around my 27th birthday I found out we were pregnant with our second. Again pretty normal pregnancy. However during our summer trip about half way through the pregnancy I found it very painful to walk the dog as her slightest movement displaced my back and pelvis.
Slowly I lost mobility due to pain and inability to move my legs. and I was barely able to keep up with my 1.5 year old as she started walking at 9 months and never stopped running after that!
This time I got in addition to leg cramps and restless leg I got nerve pain and tingling when I slept. I knew then to start taking more calcium and magnesium to help with the first two symptoms. But I didn't have much lead on what to do for everything else. By the time my second girl was born I was a complete mess from lack of sleep and constant pain. There is always some relief that comes post baby. And the joy of having a sweet Baby Girl is like none other. She was 10lbs 7 oz and I delivered her naturally with help from my husband and midwife.
Well everything always checks out well at the 8 week postpartum appointment. However with both I had pain during intercourse afterwards. This time I felt I had a partially prolapsed cervix. I began doing Yoga to start strengthening my core... and quickly found out my abs had forgotten how to work. I finally found a women's health physical therapist who started helping me use bio feed back to retrain my core muscles and strengthen my pelvic floor. Surprisingly after having such a large baby I did not have a very wide diastasis recti (separation of the abdominals) and it was fixable through therapy. Some women get it so severely they need surgery.
After going to the physical therapist for several months I started feeling better. I also found a chiropractor who specializes in pre and post natal patients. My friend had told me about her after discussing my daughter's severe reflux. I started taking all 3 of us. Within weeks my pelvis stopped rotating as much and my SI joints began to remember where they belonged.
2 years exactly after I had my Baby Fox I got pregnant with our third. Though the pregnancy was completely a surprise, this time I felt prepared for the physical changes. Once the second trimester hit I tried to get as much done with the heightened energy as possible as I knew what was coming. I probably had 2-3 good weeks before the back pain started. I started going back to PT as soon as I could. I'm in my third trimester now and I wake up every day in pain and go to bed in even more pain. Many nights I can't sleep due to the nerve and Pelvic floor pain. I try to put my best foot forward but as my husband and kids know staying positive while being in pain isn't my strong point. Especially with crazy pregnancy hormones to boot.
I am barely able to do complete dishes and laundry these days with out being exhausted. Grocery shopping takes me two days to recover from. Organization is slow. But hopefully easier roads are ahead.
This baby is almost here and I can't wait to hold him. My prayers are simple these days. Help me be patient. Help me complete this task. Provide me joy in the pain. I have been helped out a lot by some dear close friends and a relative here or there.
I don't really have a lot of good answers for others who struggle during pregnancy. I am less than graceful in my own walk most of the time however I have found a few things that help make the days a bit more sunny.
Starting the day by remembering that we are part of creating a new life and accepting that it takes sacrifice to do so was huge for me. Acceptance of that sacrifice and realizing that God gave up a lot more to give us life than I ever will have to. Giving up painting, cuddling hedgehogs, and fun nights out pale in comparison.
However, chocolate all over the house, including my bed stand is a must. So is a water. A kiss and a hug from my husband in the morning can do wonders. A little eye makeup to brighten my tired eyes can provide a slightly different perspective of my self though natural beauty should always be celebrated - even when you haven't slept in two days.
I really struggle with patience with my children when I am tired. Tonight I found all the dress ups all over the bedroom just after we spent 30 minutes cleaning up the bed room. Let's just say my patience ran thin. I try to make a game for myself of speaking to them in the calmest way possible. Just rephrasing my impatience can help difuse my anger. I haven't perfected this technique, and often reflect on my motherhood as being a failure. However if I have had one triumph of dealing with a tough moment with calmness it helps.
Another key for me is to focus on being thankful. For even the small things. I have been so lucky to be able to get pregnant so easily and to have such healthy babies.
We each have had a cross to bear in our lives and I feel that mine is not so bad - as many of my other sisters have had to bear much worse things.
And hey, at least I am not like Bella Swan with a vampire hybrid inside me breaking my ribs with every kick while sucking the life out of me! If only I looked as gorgeous as she did post birth.
I write not to ask for pity but more as a catharsis for myself...
And so often we as people think we are alone. But that isn't the case. Pregnancy is hard. And so are a lot of other parts of life. But if we share our burdens and also our blessings so many good things can come from it. There is an art to life that I am continually trying to pursue. If we as women could share in a community of grace, love and courage - I truly believe we could revive the "village life." Our children would be able to grow up in an environment of strength and beauty that seems only viable in fairy tails these days.
So I am encouraging my dear friends to not suffer alone or hold to the darkness. Step into the light. Let us bless each other this Sunday. Wether it be at a coffee shop with a friend or opening your home so that encouragement can take place. Let us live in the Acts Way this week.