Thursday, September 30, 2010

Waiting for Oscar

Dilbert and I are currently trying to have another baby. We both feel we are ready (as ready as you ever are for these things) for another one and can't wait to have another child. But we are both dreading all the stuff that comes in between.
I'm not really talking pregnancy. I'm not one of those people that really enjoys being pregnant and it is kindof a pain but I'm ready to tackle that one. I'm not even talking about birth. I'm actually looking forward to birth because I enjoy the challenge and the competition with myself to climb that mountain. The stuff I'm dreading is the insurance battle or the big pay out.
It seems that if you've done a lot of research and decided that you want a natural birth and decided that the best place to attain said natural birth is in your own home with a qualified individual there to oversee the process you bring upon yourself a massive fight with insurance companies.
I don't know why this happens and I have heard tales that some happy people have beautiful insurance companies who simply pay for home births as well as ones in the hospital but none of the insurance companies that are an option for us will do that. In fact they specifically say in their statement of coverage that most home births are not covered. This makes no sense to me for the simple fact that a home birth midwife is about 1/3 the price of an uncomplicated hospital delivery. It would be in their best interest to cover them but they don't and I don't understand why.
And so, I have an appointment tomorrow with a group of midwives who do hospital births and the financially responsible side of me hopes that I love them while the more emotional/hormonal side of me hopes I hate them so we can justify making the sacrifices to pay for another home birth. I just hate that money comes into this decision so much but in the meantime, I look forward to meeting Oscar.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homeschooling from a newbie perspective

I started homeschooling the Pudding the first week of September. Dilbert and I had been thinking about this for a very long time and decided that this year is our trial year. We had several reasons for doing this and here they are:
  1. Neither of us had particularly great experiences in public schools. Dilbert liked high school but not for academic reasons. I didn't really like any of it and was labeled "learning-disabled" early on which I think could be more accurately called "learning differently."
  2. Both of us had a few great teachers, but they stuck out like stars in a sea of darkness. We didn't want to trust our children's education to people who might just be the lights of an airplane.
  3. We are both very conservative and don't really like the idea of our kids education being a matter of labor union policy and political debate.
  4. We think we can do a better job at home.
Those were are reasons for starting this little journey. Having done it for all of three weeks now I can add a 5th reason: It's totally fun.
I'm sure there are super moms out there who are constantly planning activities for their little ones, making sure they experience the full spectrum of what their world has to offer. Occasionally I've branched into super-momhood but usually it's just getting through the day. However, now that Pudding's education is in my hands, I'm finding all kinds of things that I thought about doing before can now be classified as "educational" or "field trip" or "learning experience" and woven in with what we are doing at home.
For example, this week we've been reading about the ponies at Assateague island. We've found several reference books in the library on this subject and Pudding eats them up. So we read about ponies for about an hour every day (that's a lot of ponies). Then in Math we just did a color by number picture of a pony that got Pudding to focus on differentiating between the different numbers. Then we went to Frying Pan Park and saw all the animals but spent most of our time with Jesse and Michael the old Percheron horses. They are as gentle as kittens but still big enough to make quite an impression on Pudding. We talked about how old horses can get and what horses used to be used for and why people needed big strong horses like Jesse and Michael and what sort of work they did. Then we talked about how horses bodies worked (they have multiple stomachs) and what they ate and why. So there we had reading, geography, math, history, agriculture and science all out of one topic. Best of all, I didn't have to cajole or beg her to pay attention to any of it because it's what she's into right now. I couldn't teach like that if I had even 10 or 15 other kids to look after much less another 20 or 30 as some Kindergarten rooms do.
Then this afternoon we went over to a very wooded park to pick leaves which we will identify in the morning when we do some science. Maybe then we'll count all the maple leaves or draw letters on them or I'll teach her how to press them so that they are preserved. The possibilities are endless and it's exciting to have this much room for creativity. I'm a little ashamed of myself for not taking advantage of it sooner.
I'm sure there will be ups and downs on this process but so far so good. I'm just enjoying the ride.

Vacation Survival guide

We took a roadtrip this August from our home in Virginia to Door County, WI (look it up). We took two kids under 5 on a 40 hour car ride round trip and lived to tell the tale so here is how we survived.
1. We packed up the night before and left early. I'm not talking just after breakfast early, I'm talking 6am kindof early. We had the kids sleep in very comfortable clothes the night before, jammies that could pass for clothes so that we didn't have to change them when they woke up. We loaded them into the car while they were still asleep along with their special blankets and lovies and away we went.
2. I packed all kinds of food. I made popcorn and cornbread and sandwiches and cookies. I packed clementines and apples and lots of juice boxes. We made a breakfast out of cornbread and apples at around 9am the first day which means we got in about 3 hours of our drive before we had to stop for food. Not to shabby.
3. Car seat arrangement. We drive a Honda CR-v and I had each kid next to a door with a big basket of toys in between. This basket doubled as a toy box once we got where we were going. We used the space beneath their feet for most of the food we brought, that way it was accessible.
4. Portable DVD player! I love this particular invention. My kids watched Finding Nemo about 7 times on the way to Wisconsin but I'm OK with that. We did turn it off from time to time so that they could enjoy the scenery and we could have some family time together but for the most part, there's not much scenery from the toll road in Ohio and Indiana so bring on Nemo.
5. Think outside the box. When looking for places for your kids to stretch their legs on a road trip, may I just suggest a Walmart during off hours. Think about it. You've got these long aisles for kids to run, it's well lite and if you're there during off hours, there aren't very many people to run into. We did laps around the garden center so that we were getting some "fresh" air as well. The garden center was particularly great because you're outside but it's fenced in so the kids can't get too far from you and run into trouble. That, and the Walmart bathrooms are much nicer than the typical rest stop bathrooms.
6. Don't expect to be able to do more than 12 hours (that includes stops) in a day. If you start traveling at 6am, you're checking into a hotel at 6pm or your kids will be friend and you'll have a bad next day. There are no quick stops with kids, plan on at least 45 minutes for lunch, potty, and run time before you're back on the road.
7th and final tip. Most rules are suspended on vacation. The nutrition police go on strike, the bed time patrol is asleep at the wheel. Even the behavior cop is a bit lax. This is OK! You will run into some trouble because of all of this but it's more important for your kids to be able to get to know the rest of their family and build good memories with them than for them to eat all their veggies or get to bed by 7:30 on the dot. Your kids will understand that the rules kick back in after you get home. And yes, you will probably have a couple of bad behavior days once you get back home but this is to be expected and would probably happen anyway.
There, now you have no good excuse for not heading off to that family reunion in the sticks. Kids do travel and as long as you're cool, they will be cool. Be prepared and all will be well. As always, good luck!

Catching up

It's been a long time since I've posted but I have several very good reasons for that so if you still love me enough to read them, here they are.
We went on Vacation! I will post more about soon as I've figured out several survival strategies for road trips with small ones.
We started homeschooling! I will post more about this soon as well because it's awesome and Pudding really seems to like it. She's not reading Shakespeare or anything yet but she's learning a lot of other things and seems to enjoy it.
We've tentatively started trying for another baby. That's big, I know. Part of me is terrified about this and the other is really excited but I know we want more and I feel like we're ready. Life has been entirely too manageable lately, got to stir things up again.
That is the strange thing just now, things have been manageable, as manageable as they ever are with kids under 18 around. My house is still a mess but that speaks more to my poor use of time and messy being genetic than to things being to hectic. I'm able to get diner on the table every night and it doesn't feel like a hardship anymore. I can knit, not as much as I want to but then there aren't enough hours in the day for that one. I can sleep when the cat doesn't decide that he needs to express his heartfelt love to me at 3am by making biscuits on my neck, claws and all. Overall, life is pretty chill right now and I always feel a little uneasy when life is this calm.
And so, bring on the crazy! Bring on the diapers and the endless nursing, bring on the tricky nap schedule and the crazy wakeful nights. Bring on the 3 shirt days and the constant spit up, the discomfort and nausea of pregnancy and the joyful trial of birth. Here we go again!