30 August 2009

1 Down, 280 Million to Go

Last week was our first official week of homeschool. I wasn't prepared. I finally decided that if we waited for me to be prepared, Monkey #1 might never learn to read at all, so I named Monday as The Day. By the end of The Day, I felt like my head was going to explode. This is what we had accomplished:

That, my friends, is The Schedule. Sunday in church our pastor was talking about having quiet times, and this being a point in the year when many people are making a new beginning. And he said we should be deliberate about setting good patterns at the beginning of a new phase, or the bad pattern will continue until a crisis intervenes. (That may have been a quote. I didn't put that part in my notes.) Y'all, I sat up and took notice. I have enough crises in my life. So first we made The Schedule. Which was good, because at the end of the day on Monday, when I felt like hiding my head under a pillow and whimpering 'til I recovered, I realized that wasn't an option. Because according to The Schedule, 9:00 Tuesday was time for School again. So, Tuesday we made this large poster:

I used it for a whiteboard, actually. We were discussing the Trinity, the Attributes of God (not all, just a few), and what some good things are that God gives us. Again, I felt like I could use a bit of a lie down. On Wednesday we just discussed the Trinity. That's hefty stuff for four-going-on-five-year-old (and a three-year-old), but I used the example of an egg having three parts, and they seemed to get it, basically. We had hard-boiled eggs for snack, to further explore the three parts of the egg. We also made a book (Happiness Is..., look for it on Amazon soon), and did Math. And discussed the idea that months are numbered, so we can write the date with numbers. I decided Day Three had been easier, and since the trend was headed in the right direction, we continued on Thursday:

I'm in the process of painting my china hutch. That's a separate post, which I'll put up when the drawers are done. The point of this picture is to say, I began to organize the school supplies. (I didn't have school supplies 'til last Saturday. We need a new budget category). The three baskets on the bottom shelf are perfect for books. They came from Wal-Mart, a bit of a splurge at $9/each. I'm still working on the other shelves. Slightly more organized, on Thursday we did Bible, Math, and Reading. I discovered by Thursday the monkeys need a slight break in routine. I'm hoping Storytime at the library will take care of that, but that doesn't start 'til next week. Incidentally, see the chart I made so we can see what's going on for the week?

I'll explain how it works once I figure it all out. Right now I have a vague idea involving pictures and lots of poster tack. I haven't used this much poster tack since college. Ah, I've missed that stuff...

So, overall, the week really went exceptionally well. Well enough that I haven't decided to send my children to public school while I run, screaming, all the way to Bora Bora. :-) And I actually have some semblance of a plan for next week. We'll see how it goes. First I need a new ink cartridge for my printer. That's key.

I'm so proud of our new schedule! (Don't try to disillusion me; it's still all shiny and new).

24 August 2009


I remember the moment I became a mother. I didn’t expect it, because all through my first pregnancy I had thought of myself as a mother. I knew there was a child growing inside me, so that made me a mother. Right?

But it was a very difficult time in my life, with a tremendous amount of stress, and I perhaps hadn’t really absorbed the idea of “a child” quite as much as I believed.
I laboured for 54 hours to bring Monkey #1 into the world, and the moment when he finally slid into the cool blue light of my bedroom, and was laid in my arms, I remember looking down and thinking “Oh my goodness, it’s a baby In that moment, I metamorphosed into a different type of being, and my new life as “mother” began.

One of my favourite memories from when I was a small, home-schooled child is hunting through patches of milkweed for monarch caterpillars. We were frequently successful, and would take the caterpillars home with plenty of milkweed, to watch them grow, turn into a chrysalis, and become butterflies. The thrill never wore off, and it’s something I have been looking forward to sharing with my children. All last summer, I hunted through milkweed patches, and never found a single caterpillar.

This summer I haven’t had much time for hunting. Milkweed is pretty scarce in my neck of the woods, and with travel and whatnot there just hasn’t been time. It wasn’t even on my radar screen, really. I was planning to start homeschooling this fall, and being on the teacher end of things has me pretty stressed out. We went to the IAHE convention in Indianapolis, and came home totally overwhelmed. No matter how many times I repeated “this is simple, he’s barely in kindergarten, I don’t have to worry about Algebra yet,” my subconscious screamed back “BUT YOU SHOULD AT LEAST HAVE A PLAN!!!”

Saturday I suddenly decided that Monday was The Day. We would begin school, for better or worse. I went out and bought some posters to hang up in the dining room schoolroom, got a clock, and eyed with increasing trepidation the mountainous pile of teaching materials I have accumulated in anticipation of this day. I had no plan. I was terrified.

Then Monkey #1 called me out to the yard to look at a strange caterpillar he had found. Now, it has been a long time since I’ve seen a monarch caterpillar, but I know they only live where there is milkweed. But maybe, I thought, we could find out what this was, and raise it, and the monkeys could have that neat experience of watching the butterfly hatch. So I googled, “caterpillar green yellow black stripes ‘black horns.’” And came up with a picture, but no name. So I called my mother, who will probably be chasing the angels down in heaven to share the neat thing she just learned, and asked her to look it up in one of her field guides. And it was a monarch.

Miles from any milkweed, in the middle of our backyard, at a point in my life when I’m getting ready to metamorphose, yet again, into something new and unknown, a precious memory from childhood was handed to me to pass along to my own children. And I think I heard a still, small whisper say “Relax, you’ll do just fine. This is going to be a transformation that you can't even imagine yet.”

19 August 2009

Strengthening My Resolve

We had a bit of excitement around here last night. Rather, very early this morning. The Mad Scientist and I went out for dinner to celebrate our anniversary, and about 8:30 I began to feel just a touch ill. I figured I just over-ate (I'm developing a love affair with Indian food, and that Panak Paneer was GOOD!), but about twelve I started feeling severely nauseous.

I'll spare you all the gory details. To sum up, about 1:30 my poor husband rousted my mother (a nurse) out of bed to see if she thought he should take me to the hospital. At that point I was on the bathroom floor (too afraid to get any further from the toilet), with numb tingling hands and feet, shivering and shaking, and feeling like death could be a welcome relief. Vomiting can do that to you, and this was pretty intense. My mother was most emphatic that, yes, we should go to the hospital, so I got my first ever ride in an ambulance.

Now, I understand that nurses and doctors, generally speaking, really want to help people. I'm sure most of them are wonderful people doing their best at a difficult job, and I've interacted with many that have deeply impressed me with their compassion and competence. Last night, however, was not a stellar example.

To begin with, of course, they wanted to know if I was pregnant. (You must realize, much of this information comes from the Mad Scientist, who arrived at the hospital shortly after me. I was in no condition to be aware of what meds I was being given.) I replied that it was possible. They cathetarized me to check for a Urinary Tract Infection, and told me the pregnancy test came back negative. I had given them the date of my last period, but I re-iterated that it was too early for a pregnancy to show up on a urine test, and emphatically (as emphatically as possible, given that I was throwing up and in pain, trying not to hyperventilate), insisted that nothing be given me that could harm a baby.

Then they gave me Phenargan, for the nausea. Notice that paragraph right at the bottom? Here it is:
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Phenergan is harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether Phenergan passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use Phenergan without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Older adults may be more likely to have side effects from Phenergan.
They also started me on an anti-biotic, because it turns out I have a UTI. But, guess what, I'm nursing. And no one asked. And neither of the drugs they gave me are safe to use while nursing. So that was irritating thing the first.

Then I was also very frustrated by the nurse, who was extremely abrupt, rather rough (in my opinion) and disgusted by my attempts to ask questions about what they were doing. I object to being treated like an idiot. It's just sort of a thing I have; I like to know what's going on before things are done to my body. So when she informed me that I was being sent for a CT scan, I asked why. She said the doctor wanted to check for kidney stones. I replied that I had no pain in my kidneys. And rather than giving me more information (like, "Kidney stones don't necessarily cause pain, and the doctor thinks it's important to check. Is that ok?") She replied, harshly, "Well, do you want it or not?" I'm sorry, but CT scans are pretty expensive, and no, I don't want a test unless it's really necessary. Is it ok if I ask a few questions to determine how necessary this is, so I can give my INFORMED consent?

I have never been more grateful for my dear husband, who pulled out his laptop to check the meds and realized they weren't safe for nursing. He asked the doctor, who changed my anti-biotic prescription, but still gave us the Phenargan prescription. What's UP with that? That stuff is pretty dangerous for young children, and they have NO idea if it's excreted in breast milk or not. So we didn't fill that one.

Overall, the whole experience left me extremely underwhelmed. The hospital staff were abrupt and left me feeling that my questions were a nuisance. It reinforced my determination to continue having my babies at home, and we're both glad it's over. I spent today in bed, and I'm feeling much better. (Except for my ridiculously engorged chest, sorry if that's TMI, but I'm pretty irritated about not being able to nurse my frantic son, who watched his mother get carted off by a bunch of strange men, when I got home.)

Edited to add: Actually, it turns out they didn't give me Phenargan in the hospital. Which is good, except THAT means that I left with no idea of what drugs they had actually pumped into my system. Which isn't so great. And they DID give me a prescription for the stuff, which is not safe to take while nursing. So I'm still not very happy with the way things were done.

17 August 2009

Back from vacation

A week ago, we returned from two weeks spent camping in New Hampshire with my parents. This has become an annual tradition, and is something my children look forward to every year. I probably have pictures, which I will post at some point. After my poor husband and I achieve some state of normalcy, and feel we have begun to catch up somewhat on life. Oh, the horrors of after-vacation laundry! Oh my. I'm not sure I'll ever recover.

Now I'm trying to catch up on the end of summer, get ready for the school year, prepare for the beginning of MOPS (I'm the group librarian), and assemble a knitting care package for 30-some-odd Ukrainian orphans. How does my life get so crazy?

So, I'm here, and I'll post more on all of that soon. I just didn't want y'all to think that I'd fallen off the face of the earth. Sorry for the incoherency. I have fifteen pounds of peaches, two canoe-sized zucchini, and about five loads of laundry all calling my name. It makes it rather hard to focus.

I really tried not to laugh...

Tonight as I lifted Monkey #2 onto the changing table to put on her night-time diaper, I realized that she was (to use our family euphamism) "stinky."

"I can't believe you just sat ten feet from the potty and made a mess in your pants!" I exclaimed.

Whereupon I was sternly informed, "Mama! I don't have ten feet!"

11 August 2009

What IS the world coming to?!?

That's pretty much all I have to say about this totally ridiculous brouhaha. I found this article absolutely absurd...and the comments about other doll ideas at the end pretty offensive. I don't think it's reasonable or appropriate to compare a doll that nurses to a doll that is an alcoholic, or one with erectile dysfunction. And do they seriously think that this doll is going to be the thing that introduces girls to the idea of breastfeeding? Oh, right. Because they'd absolutely never see anyone nursing. Not in our perfect, sterile North American world, where anything remotely sexual is kept completely out of the public eye...oh wait. Never mind. It's just the totally NON-sexual act of nursing that everyone has a hang-up about. Actual sexually inappropriate behaviour, pictures, and movies, are plastered all over the place. No one seems to get all hung up about THAT.

Pardon my rant. The obnoxious attitude toward nursing drives me up the wall. Audaciter Matris summed it up pretty well

(We'll return to the regularly scheduled commentary in a day or two, after I un-bury myself from vacation laundry.)