Sunday, August 30, 2009

Getting our school year on

Here are some photos from our first couple of weeks of school!

Projects from Jack's first week of preschool.

The preschool table from our first week.

This came out really dark...Maria and Kain decorating new notebooks.

A school table loaded with goodies to enjoy.

More photos of our new school room, open for business...

We went on a field trip to a local nature center. I'm sad to say this picture of a distracted Jack was the only one I took. We are visiting again soon though and I'll take more.

Afterwards we went to the lake with our friends for one last picnic and swim before fall arrives.

Yes, the big kids were there too! But they were off with friends, swimming. I only saw the two littles most of the time we were at the lake.

Thank you, everyone, for your sweet congratulations. I'm feeling very tired and very nauseous and very ready for the first trimester to BE DONE ALREADY. I was having a hard time getting organized for this new school year as it was, and now some days I feel like I'm circling the drain. But we keep muddling along as best we can, and experience tells me that in a few weeks I'll be feeling much better.

Friday, August 21, 2009

They're playing our song

We have a family favorite called Over in the Meadow. We sang it constantly when Jack was a baby...he cried all the time in the car and this song was the only thing that calmed him.

Do you know the song? Sing along!

Over in the meadow, in the sand and the sun, lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle one.

"Dig," said the mother. "I dig," said the one. So they dug all day in the sand and the sun.

Over in the meadow, where the stream runs blue, lived an old mother fish and her little fishies two.

"Swim," said the mother. "We swim," said the two. So they swam and they leaped where the stream runs blue.

Over in the meadow, in a hole in a tree, lived a mother bluebird and her little birdies three.

"Sing," said the mother. "We sing," said the three. So they sang and were glad in the hole in the tree.

Over in the meadow, in the reeds on the shore, lived a mother muskrat and her little ratties four.

"Dive," said the mother. "We dive," said the four. So they dived and they burrowed in the reeds on the shore.

Over in the meadow, in a snug beehive, lived a mother honeybee and her little honeys five.

"Buzz," said the mother. "We buzz," said the five. So they buzzed and the hummed near the snug beehive.

Here's the latest buzz. We are expecting our new little bee sometime around the end of April!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

an exercise in frustration

I haven't really said much about our new school year. It's been a bit of a rough start this year. It's all Tess's fault. People often ask how we homeschool with babies...the babies are easy! When you put them down, they stay in one place! They take more naps! And even when they are cranky, they are usually happy to sit in a sling and nurse. Now, homeschooling with toddlers...that's a whole 'nother ball of wax. They aren't happy to just sit on your lap, not unless they can turn (rip) the pages of the math book and toss the pencils on the floor. When they want anything, they want it RIGHT NOW. And if they are playing quietly and happily somewhere,,,well, you're really in trouble then.

All of that isn't my biggest issue though. I can (most days) roll with the punches of toddler interruptions, and I've developed some coping strategies. My biggest problem is that Tess will no longer sleep without me. She's still a great long as I am RIGHT THERE. Here's how it goes down.

In the mornings, I try to get up and have some child-free time to catch up on computer stuff and load up on caffeine. At 6am, my little watch alarm goes off and I shove my wrist under my pillow to keep it from waking up Tess. She is usually nursing at this point in the morning, so when she seems to be done, I unlatch her and roll her over into her crib-turned-cosleeper, and she seems to settle down. Then Jack sits up and looks at me, and I tell him to lay down and go back to sleep. When he seems to be sleeping again, I start to plan my exit...if John is up, I might crawl over Jack and out his side of the bed. If not, I have to execute the far riskier climb out from between Jack and Tess. If I make it out of the bed with everyone still asleep, I ooch down the stairs. But Tess is not sound asleep, and she will be up as soon as she realizes I am gone. That would be fine...she's usually a happy baby and would play and let me get my caffeine on in relative peace...except that she's tired and cranky this early in the morning and really needs to sleep longer, so usually I opt to stay in bed and let her sleep so that she will be happier during the day. Why is she cranky? She's been up too late! That's because....

In the evenings, we have a whole other song and dance. Tess starts falling apart around dinner time because she's doing that whole painful switch from two naps to one nap. And so right after dinner, I take her upstairs and get her to sleep. She conks right out. I lay her in her crib, and she sleeps...anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. If I zip back up there and nurse her again, she'll probably go back to sleep...for a while. But she won't really sleep well until I come up there for the night, and if I push my luck too long she will wake up for reals and then be up until waaaaay too late. And of course, I can't go to bed with her at 8. Even if I was so inclined, I have three other kids to get to bed, messes to finish cleaning up, laundry to fold, and the following day to prepare for.

So here's where I find myself,,,well-rested, but perpetually falling apart and behind because I don't have the time to get my stuff done.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

I swear, I couldn't MAKE this stuff up...

On the "Notice of Intent to Homeschool" forms we have to fill out for the school district every year, it says,

"Please fill out clearly and legible."

Yes'm. Me and Bubba'll just keep learnin' 'em at home....

I feel an ER visit coming on...

We've had so many close calls with Tess...I haven't even blogged about them, really. Tess falling out of her high chair onto her face, that was a while ago...Tess rolled off of our bed, landed on her head, and passed out, that was a couple of months ago. I think she passed out because she was crying so hard she couldn't breathe, not because of a concussion, but we went to the ER anyway and got her her very first CT scan. She has learned how to climb the furniture, but not how to get down or how to avoid falling off the edge, so we've had lots of tumbles...literally, several times a day. Most of them are minor.

Today, though, we had a complication. I was cleaning the boys' room and Tess was in there with me. She had climbed up on Jack's toddler bed and promptly tumbled backwards off of it. When I went to pick her up I could see something in her mouth...a pistachio shell.

**note to self...pistachios are NOT a good idea in homes with toddlers.**

I tried to fish it out, but it was too far back to get easily and I didn't want to push it further back. What I *did* do, though, was really tick her off at that point, and she started crying hard and sucked that durned thing right into her windpipe. She started coughing and choking and then...nothing. She wasn't moving any air and started to turn blue and just as full panic set in, she wretched and up it came.

No ER visit today. But it was close!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Tess the toddler

Today, Tessie...

---found a bottle of blue sugar sprinkles, somehow, and chewed a hole in the bottom of the jar. The kitchen floor is still sticky.

---found the 45 count bag of plastic spoons and emptied them all onto the kitchen floor. Three times. That's 135 spoons, I believe.

---found the bottle of red food coloring Maria was using for a science experiment, got the cap off and emptied the whole thing all over her face, hands, feet, and down her mouth. She's had a bath. She's still pink.

---pooped in the tub during her bath, and then fought tooth and nail to try and grab some of it before I managed to fish her out.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


"You are going to have to wean him off of this, you know?"

I looked up, confused, from my position by Jack's feet. We were at the dentist, Jack's second check-up ever. The first one had gone ok. This one wasn't going very well. I was sitting at his feet, holding his hands and coaching him through it.

"What? Wean him off of what?" I said.

"Off of needing you to help him get through these things. He's almost school-aged after all."

Ah yes. Translation- "Your child is anxious because of you. You are hovering and being too overprotective."

I wasn't trying to hover at all. I was trying to help. She was doing it all wrong, and that's why this check up wasn't going as well as the last one. We'd had a different hygienist then, a quieter one that didn't talk and joke constantly and try to pretend the spit sucker was an alligator, one that knew me from our church and was willing to let me help my son get through this. Don't get me wrong, this one was very nice and personable, and with another child she probably would have been great, but she was just too much for Jack.

Jack *is* very anxious in new situations, and he has lots of sensory issues, and if you can imagine that you are the kind of person that is made anxious by unfamiliar sensory experiences, and that you had only been to the dentist once before, and then put yourself in that chair...the sounds of lots of people talking and equipment humming, the metalic/rubbing alcohol smell of the exam room, sitting in an unfamiliar chair that tilts you back and puts you face to face with an unfamiliar person, bright lights shining on you, and then this person wants to *put* things in your *mouth*?

Oh no. No, no, no. It was a set up for big issues, and she was handling it all wrong for Jack. She was trying to distract him, playing silly games, asking him lots of questions about his family,,,these were the worst things to do, they just added to his stimulation and confusion. And the whole "pretending there's an alligator in your mouth" thing just sent him over the top. Jack has no imagination. She might as well have told him she was putting a real alligator in his mouth. He kept grabbing the instruments and pulling them out with a wild-eyed look on his face. That's why I was holding his hands. I wasn't holding him *down*, I was just trying to soothe him and kind of "translate" everything for him..."It's like a loud straw, Jack, it just sucks the water out of your mouth like a straw," I murmured to him. "Yeah, it's like a vacuum!" she said brightly, and I sighed...Jack is afraid of vacuums. It's just a little toothbrush, Jack, it tastes like bubble gum and it makes your teeth all clean," I continued softly. "It's crunchy, isn't it?" she put in, trying to help. "I don't like crunchy toothpaste!" Jack said, alarmed and trying to sit up. The hygienist then insisted that I sit back and let her handle him. *I* was the problem. I sighed and sat back, knowing at that point that the visit was over. I was his lifeline to the familiar. He trusted me, not her, and with me out of the picture there was no way he was going to tolerate this. If she would have at least taken her cues from me and talked more softly, explained things more...I watched as she struggled to talk him into letting her put alligators into his mouth and talked brightly about the prize he would get at the end if he kept his hands by his pockets. I watched as Jack struggled to get his hands to stay down by his pockets, but they kept flitting uncontrollably around his face where that stranger kept putting strange feeling, strange tasting instruments. She decided a sterner attitude was needed and put her face in his eyeline and told him Momma would have to leave the room if he didn't cooperate. "She's yelling at me!" Jack said, alarmed. It scares him when strangers correct him, and the forced eye contact had pushed him over the edge. His eyes welled up. She gave up and said we would need to take him to a pediatric dentist, one who was used to "handling children like him". "But," she warned, "they won't let you go back. They don't let parents go back at all. Research shows it's easier to control the children when their parents aren't there." We left with our free toothbrush in hand. No prize though. Prizes were for children who behaved.

Wasn't *I* used to handling "children like him"? Why was my help rejected and seen as a threat and interference? And why oh why do we feel the need to wean such young children from their parents? He's four years old! Four short years ago he was inside my body and then at my breast! Why are we so bothered when a four year old isn't "independent"? Why is a dentist office, a place scary to many *adults*, the place to learn independence? And why are we so sure that forcing them to be independent is the best way to go? Do we really believe that if we don't force our children to endure such things without the comfort of a parent they will become 35 year old adults that need their mommies to hold their hands? In my experience, independence comes very naturally when children are ready to take it, when they have been nurtured and loved into self-confidence.

I have a lot of short-comings as a parent, I'm the first to admit it, but I am *not* hovering and overprotective. Jack is anxious and nervous because that's who he *is* right now, and it is part of my job at this time to help him navigate the world, to show him that the world is not a scary place, that there are not alligators in your mouth, that crunchy toothpaste doesn't hurt you, and that vacuum cleaners can be trusted.

**an update, several years later. Jack is 9 years old now. We did finally try the dentist again, a pediatric dentist used to handling all kinds of children, including "like him". And they do let me go back. I go back with all my kids, in fact. So there.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


I'm trying to combine all of our out of town running around. Maria's dance class is going to be on Monday nights this year. I requested this. Last year it was on Tuesday mornings, which worked out nicely because our homeschool co-op met on Tuesdays. Well, our homeschool co-op moved to Thursdays this year. Which still works out ok, because Kain has occupational therapy down that way on Thursdays. But that left dance class all by itself on Tuesday mornings. Kain has behavioral therapy on Monday afternoons, so I thought if we moved dance class to Monday nights, we could combine things up and only have to be out of pocket half the day on Monday and all day on Thursdays. Tired yet? Wait, it gets better....

Kain starts Upward flag football next week. When you fill out the application, you can request that your child's practice not be scheduled for a certain night of the week. Well, when I registered him we hadn't moved Maria's dance class yet. I realized this the other day and thought, "Oh well, what are the odds it will be on Monday night?" I got a phone call from his coach. Guess what nights his practice will be? Yep...Monday nights, and bumping right up against the time Maria's dance class will be starting 40 minutes away.

So,,,I sat down with my planner, the football schedule, and John's planner. I figured, it's not for forever, football only lasts 10 weeks, and John has Monday off quite a bit. From what I can tentatively gather, if I can keep John from signing up for any extra overtime on Mondays for the next couple of months, there are only two Mondays of actual conflict. Not bad. But I'm not sure what to do about it. Football season is short, and they have one practice for each game. Kain....isn't very good. :) He needs the practice, God love him. Maria would *loathe* to be late for dance. I guess if I can't work anything else out though, we will have to pull him out early and take her in late for those couple of dates.

Or, I can learn to bilocate.

turn off the tv and have a baby!

Save the world! Love it!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

our slow start

Our school year is starting out with a sputter instead of a bang.
Kain had two appointments yesterday, so that made it hard to get much done. I did sit down with Maria and look at her new school year, and I recorded her "back to school interview"...we do these every year and record them for posterity. We decorated our new prayer journals, spelling notebooks, and binders. And I did Jack's first preschool lesson with him. See the new sidebar? Jack's preschool for the week...I am loving Little Saints. It requires a lot of preparation, but it will be perfect for Jack this year, a fun and gentle way to work on some of the skills he struggles with...sitting still and listening, following directions, having actual two- way conversations...anyway, today Kain and I sat down with his books this morning and we also got his interview done. We went to the and met my parents there, and after a day of swimming Kain went home with them until this weekend. See what I mean? A sputter...but that's ok. I think it will actually work out nicely. Maria is doing some unfamiliar stuff this year, so this will give me plenty of time to get her going before I add Kain to our school day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

How we are doing.....

Hello there!

We are still here. I am behind on my computer stuff again, including my blog reader, so I hope everyone out there is well too. We are starting school tomorrow, so hopefully getting back into a routine will allow me some time to catch up. Ironically...the more we need to do in a day, the more we seem to get done.

We've had a nice summer break. I've been meaning to post, but we've been preoccupied a bit. We are in the process of having Jack evaluated for some language/motor/social skill issues,,,,basically, he is being evaluated for possibly being on the autism spectrum. This has been a difficult time, and a busy one. I borrowed a load of books from a friend of mine and have been reading and stewing and mostly kicking myself for not realizing how bad some of his little "quirks" have gotten. We've taken him to our pediatrician, and he agreed that he needs further evaluation, so I'm in the process of filling out a giant packet of intake paperwork for a nearby clinic that does such evaluating. It will be a while before we know anything else. This is the same clinic that Kain goes to, and I remember we had to wait a few months for his first appointment. If you could keep my little Jack-man in prayer, that would be wonderful. The hardest part for me is that Jack is so totally different with other people than he is with us. No one else gets to see what we see. He is sweet and loving and so, so incredibly smart in so many ways. We've just become so used to his ways, his odd behaviors, and we know how to communicate with him and draw him out, and we are realizing that everyone else sees a very different Jack. We really just thought he was brilliant and introverted and his Dad. But it looks like it's more complicated than that.

Anyway, so there's that. Tomorrow, or Tuesday, I'll be back with a report and pictures of our first day of school!