Thursday, December 4, 2014

Homeschooling, take two.

I remember when I only had two kids, I couldn't IMAGINE how I would ever NOT keep up on my blog. Not writing on it was unfathomable! And now here I am, with four kids...and I totally get how easy it is to fail to make time for blogging. Instagram kinda killed my blog :)



We are starting our second attempt at homeschooling. Sadly my first grader's new school did not work out. He was getting punched at school and I wasn't receiving adequate communication home about it. His behaviors and meltdowns had been increasing and since he doesn't communicate very much to me, I really had no idea. It will be hard - for sure...we have had tons of daily meltdowns since he's been home...but I feel hopeful. I feel so good about the decision and doing what I can to keep my child safe. Plus, I love the thought of homeschooling. There are many things that overwhelm me about it - like, never having a moment alone or worrying about how I'll possibly teach them everything they need to know - but I love the fact that we are all together, we are learning and working together, spending a lot of quality time together, I like the fact that I am forced to be more present with them, and that there is no rushing off an anxious child to school. I love the fact that home is a safe environment.

I thought I'd share periodically what we're doing in home school because so many others seem to be starting on a similar path with their children's education. There are TONS of different ways to home school. For me, I think I follow a relaxed path. Home school is not like school. We kind of do things as we want to learn them. I am not completely an unschooler, but maybe more of a child-led approach. I am trying to let them take the lead. Granted, we are less than one week in, but that is my general philosophy about education. They will learn when they're interested! Who doesn't?

Here is what we are doing for curriculum:

First grade

Math: Math Mammoth, Khan Academy, and I am also going to try out Life of Fred

Literature: Five in a Row, volume 1

Reading: He picks a book he's interested in and we take turns reading pages. He is a super good reader but doesn't love to do it. He gets overwhelmed easily, so by taking turns, it keeps him interested and prevents a meltdown. Right now we are reading a Magic Treehouse book about Ninjas (he is currently really interested in Ninjas).

Writing: Handwriting Without Tears

Phonics: Explode the Code (I just realized I totally forgot this...we need to start it!)

Keyboarding: Keyboarding Without Tears

French: PetraLingua (I got this hugely discounted on the website Educents)

Science: I am planning to take my kids lead on this. We are currently reading a book about Space and the Earth with some questions and answers. I might look into a formal curriculum later.

Art/Music: No plan yet but I need to make one because this is such an important part of life!

History/Social Studies: Five in a Row is a cool curriculum because it talks a lot about many different subjects as they relate to classic stories, so for right now, our History and Social studies is coming from these books we are reading in Literature.

So far I have been taking a really relaxed approach. I should probably be a little more structured but I don't have energy for that right  now. We start our day when we (I) feel ready, usually around 10 or 10:30 AM. And we just work on and off throughout the day. We take breaks, eat snacks, etc. Each day I am trying to  be sure that we cover Math, Writing, and Reading/Literature/Phonics. Then as we have time and energy, we add in Keyboarding, French, Science, etc.

My almost 5 year old is doing school along with us. She does everything at the first grade level right now except for the Math and Reading. She is loving keyboarding and handwriting. She's really good at them and has a great ability to sit still and do her work. I am dealing with two VERY different learners so it will be a journey to learn how to teach them in the way that is best for them.

I am excited about this journey <3 And it is exactly that...totally a journey! I'm trying to remember that. There is not an end destination...I am focusing on our happiness, on love, and trying not to stress about any of it! (Easier said than done, right?). One thing I've noticed is that my house is WAY messier and that is hard for me. It makes me really anxious. I have to figure out how to either a) not care and not let it stress me out or b) find a way to keep it clean. I am having a 14 year old homeschooled girl come over for 4 hours each week, so I am hoping that having that little break will help my sanity and my house! ;)

If you're interested, you can check out my Pinterest board for homeschooling herehere, here, here, and here. (Someone needs to organize!)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Walter's birth story

It hardly seems possible that I gave birth to our sweet Walter a month ago. I keep saying that time is flying way too quickly, and I mean it! It's amazing how quickly the first month of life flies by in comparison to the last month of pregnancy.

Walter's "due date" was March 31st and we eagerly anticipated his arrival. I was so ready to be done being pregnant and just meet my sweet boy. The last week was hard! I didn't really expect to go past my due date because I knew when I got pregnant, but since birth doesn't come with an expiration date, I got to wait another week. It was a good lesson for me in patience, trust, and faith. 

On Friday, April 4th, I was almost positive the baby would be arriving. I woke up with strong contractions that lasted all morning. But, sadly, they stopped. I woke Saturday without a single contraction and felt so depressed! Another day pregnant. And not a single contraction on Saturday! My parents were in town, so my husband and I were able to go on our last date together. We did some walking to try to help things progress. And, we ate a delicious cupcake :)

Sunday morning, April 6th arrived and still not really any noteworthy contractions. I texted my midwife, Sherri, and we decided she'd come check me and possibly put something on my cervix to soften it. Right as she was arriving, she got a call that another client's water had broken but no contractions had started yet. She thought it best to not try to soften my cervix and mess with God's timing because she wanted to be there for my birth. I was totally fine with that! I could continue being patient. She checked my cervix and it had changed from the last time she checked me, so she felt confident that things were on their way. Finally, around 10 am, I started to have pretty decent contractions and they came most of the day. I spent the majority of the day in bed sleeping and resting.

Around 6 pm, I started to have contractions that were quite a bit stronger, making me wonder if this was going to be the real thing. I didn't want to get my hopes up though, because I had been having this happen for several weeks. I texted my midwife to let her know they were intensifying, but weren't coming closer together. She was at another birth so I hoped that I'd hold out a little while longer. My contractions were spaced 10, 12, 20, 7, 5, minutes apart...very sporadic. It seemed like they were sporadic because of the baby's positioning because if I was on my hands and knees, they came closer together and stronger, but if I sat, they'd slow down. So, naturally, I tried to stay in a position that kept them coming. I wanted this baby here...now!

At about 7:45 pm (I think?), I called my midwife and let her know they were definitely strong but still kind of sporadic. I had had a few contractions that were 5 and 4 minutes apart, so she decided to just come on over and at least get things set up. Sherri and Angie, another midwife, arrived around 8:30 pm and started getting set up. Of course, my contractions had spaced out again and in my head I was really starting to fear that things were going to stop all together. By about 9:00 pm or so, the birth tub was filled up and I got in. I was hesitant to get in because I didn't want things to stop progressing but Sherri thought it'd be fine. Just before I got in the birth tub, I let my photographer, Mallory, know that she could come on over.

Getting in the water felt really nice. My contractions continued to stay fairly spaced apart for the first little bit. My midwives did the "double hip squeeze" on me during contractions which...let me just say...my life is no longer the same!!! Holy cow! It made the contractions SO much more bearable. Like, a million times more bearable. It was honestly life changing. I kept saying how wonderful it felt. In one of my early contractions, I asked if they'd be like this until the end when using the double hip squeeze and Sherri said, "Yep!" I was so glad...and it made me a lot less anxious about the intensity of labor. Since my contractions were fairly spaced apart, we had a good time chatting and laughing in between. Then, when I'd have a contraction, everyone would focus, press their hands on my hips, and hold them their until my contraction was over. Some of my contractions were really long and strong, while others were pretty short and very easy. They continued to stay spaced apart so I got a lot of rest in between which helped me not get so overwhelmed.


Travis, Roxanna (another midwife), and Sherri helping me through a contraction. I felt so loved and supported.


I love this shot. The artwork is entitled, "They Listened Together," by Caitlin Connolly. It is a beautiful painting of a man and a woman and I find it so appropriate for the way we were together throughout this labor. 


At this point, Sherri checked me and said I was at an 8 or almost 9 and that by the next contraction, I'd be complete. I really couldn't believe it. In fact, I didn't believe it. I'm pretty sure I was in denial. I didn't want to set myself up for disappointment if I'd actually be in labor for several more hours. It was going so fast! I felt like I'd only been in the tub for a very short while. So I just couldn't believe things were so close. When I had a contraction around this time, I kind of started to push, but since I wasn't fully dilated yet, Sherri said "Kami, don't push right now." And, I kept pushing. I remember Sherri laughing and saying "Hey guys, Kami's not listening to me!" I tried not to push but I just wanted to. Sherri had Travis come around and reach down to feel where the baby's head was. He could feel his head and got excited. That made it more real for me too! For the first time ever, I was able to feel my baby moving down as I sat laboring. I could really feel him moving down, lower, and lower. It was such a strange, beautiful feeling.

I absolutely love this picture. The one thing I wanted for this labor was to have a lot of people there supporting me. I didn't want to feel lonely. And I wanted actual hands on me during my labor. I got so lucky! Typically, there would be two midwives and one apprentice present at a birth. But, I had three midwives and two apprentices, plus my husband, my mom doing the charting, and my photographer. I felt so loved and blessed. It was a definite answer to my prayers.


I think these pictures are probably about where Sherri is checking me and tells me that I'm to a 10 and can push if I feel like it. I was still in shock! 


Ahhh, I remember feeling so loved. Someone was massaging my head, someone else was whispering sweet, encouraging words into my ear. I honestly felt like I could do anything as long as they were right there beside me! I didn't feel scared because I didn't feel alone.


I didn't like the position I was in, so I got on my hands and knees. I really wanted to push on my hands and knees, and preferably deliver that way. Sherri said I couldn't deliver that way because it's difficult to get the baby out of the water and onto my chest, so I'd need to move when he crowned. As he started to crown, Sherri told me to move but I said "NO! I'm not moving!" and before I knew it, a bunch of hands whisked me off of my knees and onto my back to push :)


I remember feeling a little annoyed during pushing, which I'm told only lasted a few minutes. Typically I love pushing! It is finally the moment where I'm not really in too much pain anymore and feel quite a bit of relief. This time was not the case. Pushing was incredibly painful! I felt like I'd never get him out.


But alas, out he came. I did it! I just kept saying over and over, "I did it!" It is hard to describe that sweet transcendent feeling. One moment, the pain is so intense you hardly think you can bear it, the next moment, it's over and such sweet relief. He looked tiny to me! I was so happy he was here. Walter was born in the caul (sac) which is very special and very rare. He is certainly a special boy.


He had a difficult time getting everything out of his lungs, so he needed some help for awhile after his birth. I never felt scared or uneasy. My midwives handled it so well, were so attentive, and were so gentle. 


I stayed in the water until I was able to deliver the placenta, then my midwives wrapped the placenta in a chux pad, put it in a ziploc bag and then put it with Walter as Travis carried him to the bed. He was attached to the cord and placenta for well over an hour, giving him all the extra blood needed. I'm glad for this. It makes so much sense to me to keep him attached so long. Especially since I wasn't able to be right next to him, he still had a little part of us with him as his body temperature and oxygen levels came up to where they needed to be.


Travis gave him a blessing of health and almost immediately after that special prayer, Walter pinked up.


Travis cut the cord,


and weighed him.


The scale actually settled on 9 pounds even. He measured 21 inches long. Big boy! I thought for sure he'd be 7 pounds, he seemed tiny when he came out! 


It was so beautiful to sit and nurse him and stare at him. Those moments right after birth are some of my most cherished moments. 


Max (6 years old), woke up, probably right after Walter was born. He was too shy to come in, so when most of the midwives left, he came in and was so excited to see his brother! I had a little playmat in Max's closet to use when Walter is a bit older and Max came in carrying it, ready to set it up for Walter to play with. It was so sweet.


We are so in love with Walter. His birth was everything I needed it to be. And everything I prayed for it to be. I felt so loved and so supported. I kept telling my midwives "Thank you!! You guys were so amazing!" And they said, "You're the one who did all the work!" I did not feel that was the case...that double hip squeeze changed my life!! ;) 

We are now adjusting to being a family of four and after a month, I think we are moving into a new rhythm. Walter is growing and continues to be so sweet. I want to soak up everything about this time in my life.

Here's our sweet little one who turned a month old yesterday! 
xoxo