A “First” I will never forget

day 28

Today’s writing challenge is to write about the first time you did something.  I am going to write about when I breastfed my daughter for the first time.

My daughter’s birth was an unexpected c-section in 2003.  We were separated after the surgery and I didn’t get to see her until I was returned to my room after surgery, which I was told was only one hour or so, but it seemed a lot longer than that.  The breastfeeding experience in the hospital is not something I can remember quite as clear as the experiences we had at home.  I do recall the first time in the hospital feeling confident, even though I had never seen anybody breastfeed a baby around me before.  I trusted that the baby would know what to do, so I just followed her lead.  I recall just opening up my hospital gown and laying her on my chest and watched her bob her little head towards her food source.  She knew exactly where it was and what to do.  I just had to do some guiding to make sure my nipple was in her mouth at the best angle.  I remember while she suckled thinking to myself, “wow, that’s it!?  nothing else?  is she even getting anything?”. 

It worked out well apparently, since all the nurses said I was doing well and the baby was soiling diapers.  Three days later we went home with our new baby, and so much paper from all the hospital visits from nurses and such.

I was told by my midwife that if my breasts get sore after my milk comes in to use cabbage stuffed into my bra, so on the way home we stopped at the grocery store and my husband picked us up some cabbage. This actually became a routine stop with all of our future children! Little did I know how much relief I would get from those smelly green leaves!

Once home and settled, we got comfortable and ready for our first feed.  I  had to figure the best possible position for me so that I was comfortable since I had an incision to be careful with.  The serene feeling of breastfeeding was shared between the two of us “honeymooners”.  Things were going smoothly, she was latching, I was ensuring she was emptying my breasts and all was well.  Eventually my milk came in and I did get sore, so out came the cabbage leaves.  We would find them in the bed or on the floor come morning time, but they sure did their job!

I was very blessed to have such a positive first experience.  I think for a few reasons it happened this way:

1.  She was my first baby and I didn’t have any toddlers running around.  I could sleep and nap (somewhat), as long as I was up to get my 9 year old sister off to school and be home when she arrived from school at 3:00 pm every day;

2.  I was patient and remained calm, even if something worried me.  I take everything I read with an ounce of possibilities.  Every experience, symptom and problem that you read about in parenting books is all based on experience.  I was prepared if I needed to be, meaning if I didn’t know the answer I knew where I could go for it, or a person I could ask for help;

3.  I trusted my body, nature and and my baby.  This I think is the biggest influence in why this experience was so positive;

4.  I wanted to breastfeed and was determined, but not in a way where it would hinder the breastfeeding relationship I had with my daughter;

5.  I maintained good health.  I wanted to ensure a quick and easy recovery for myself and the baby.  I drank a lot of water and ate healthy meals, no matter how late it was for lunch or breakfast, I made sure that it was the healthiest version.

This is a first experience that is unique between myself and all my children.  Each experience was so different, but this one was very special since it truly was my first time breastfeeding, and she is my only daughter.

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Celebrate it all!

day 27

Today’s writing challenge is to make a list of 5 challenges and 5 victories related to health.  Here are mine as they relate to raising healthy children.

Top 5 Challenges to Raising Healthy Children:

1.  Minimal alone or ‘me’ time.  Every mother knows how difficult it is to be present, loving and nurturing all the time.  Every woman needs time to reconnect with herself and/or her spouse so that she may raise healthy, secure children.

2.  Schools.  I have heard from many mother’s how much the school can be an obstacle when it comes to raising healthy, well adjusted children.  Whether it is regarding, academic success, social success or school lunches, many of you have shared with me your challenges in getting the needs of your children met while attending school.DSC_1301

3.  Peers, In-Laws, Grandparents and Strangers.  How many times have you gone out somewhere and a stranger has offered your child candy?  How many times have your children asked for something that they know you have already answered ‘no’ to, but now because their friend has it they think you will change your mind?  And how often does family still give your child that special ‘treat’ even though you have asked them not to, or your child is allergic?  This makes it very difficult for all the moms out there trying to raise healthy children.

4. Commercials and Society.  Our children are constant targets for commercial products, and this makes our job as parents very challenging.  We must learn to balance our core values with social values and figure out what is okay for our children.  Children today are living a very fast paced lifestyle with high expectations, and this makes our jobs harder.  As parents we have to work harder to connect with our children so that they do not grow up without us.

5.  Divorce & Family Structure.  Let’s face it, more and more couples are not staying together, so parenting is taking on a whole new meaning.  Families are very diverse and a lot of things about life have become unpredictable for kids.

Top 5 Victories to Raising Healthy Children:DSC_0898

1.  Your Kids Want to be with you.  If your children want to spend time with you, and are not overly consumed by their peers, this is a victory to celebrate!  This is how healthy children are raised, when the primary ‘go to’ person is Mom or Dad.

2.  Education.  As parents we can choose how to be a part of their education.  Whether it is homeschooling, participating in school council, volunteering in classrooms and doing daily homework assignments, being involved in their education is a victory to celebrate!

3.  Family Values.  Whether your family has a vision board, mission statement, family meetings or just dinnertime discussions on values, these are all celebrations to raising healthy children.

4.  Boundaries related to Electronics.  Let’s face it, we can’t shelter our children from all media, but what we can do is set boundaries and expectations around usage and exposure.  Discuss these with your kids and explain why the boundaries are important to being healthy.  This is a victory!

5.  A Partner.  If you have that special someone that has taken on this journey in raising healthy children that is one huge victory to celebrate!!

 

Everything having to do with children is a victory in my mind – no matter how small it may seem to us, in their little world it means everything!

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A Woman’s Reward

day 25

Today’s writing challenge is to post about an event in the 3rd person.

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She sits down with her new baby by the window in a squeaky leather chair.  The fresh air of Spring blows through the slightly cracked window of the bedroom.  It is 3:30 a.m. and the street is dark and everything is quiet in the house.  Her husband lays quietly in the bed beside the chair, and she decides to let him rest, for he has been up with both of them twice already through the night.  As she gets comfortable, ready to nurse her baby, the baby lets out this little cry to tell her to hurry up, for the baby is hungry and can’t wait to latch onto her breast.  She also know the baby is hungry, for her breasts are full, and her distant worriesBreastfeeding Pic from healthychild of not having enough milk to feed the baby are a lonesome thought in the back of her mind.  She feels the warm breath of the baby on her skin, as she brings the baby close to her nipple, and smiles when she sees the big wide open mouth coming at her breast, like a child devouring a piece of a chocolate cake.  Even though this is her first time nursing a baby, its only been 6 weeks, but she feels confident that her and her baby have succeeded at breastfeeding.  She smiles for she is proud; but not only of herself, but this is the first time she feels the pride that only a mother can possess for her own child.  It is at this moment that she realizes how rewarding motherhood truly is.

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photo from www.healthychild.org

You mean I’m not 20 anymore?

day 12

I apologize if you are searching for my Day 11 post – which was yesterday and I totally forgot about it!  I went to yoga last night and came home and relaxed and forgot I didn’t write my piece. So I am skipping it and just carrying on with today’s post. 

Today’s writing challenge is a stream of consciousness writing with the first thing that we said to ourselves when we woke this morning.  Considering, I do not look at myself upon waking…ever…I just hope out of bed and head downstairs to start my day.  I don’t look at myself until well into the morning usually ~ but there are thoughts that go through my mind before I wake.  Anyway, here is today’s stream of consciousness (writing without stopping or editing).

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DSC_0881This morning I looked in the mirror and thought “ I am a mother of 3 and still feel like I am in my twenties.”  I often think that motherhood freezes our brains – kind of like some freaky episode of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  I remember after I had my first daughter then 3 years later another baby and then 2  years later another baby and then last summer it hit me that I still wasn’t 26 years old anymore.  I actually aged in between all those children.  So, in the midst of all the diaper changes, obtaining a Master’s Degree, learning to breastfeed, running an online and retail business in my home, volunteering on various Boards of Directors and trying to run a house and family…I got older!  Man, when did that happen?!!  You mean to tell me that the clothes I wore when I was 26 years old are not the fashions of a now almost 36 year old woman, now closer to 40 than 30?

I think that it could be a cruel trick to play on us mother’s, this ‘brain freeze’ that happens when we are in baby-land, where one day just melds into the other because we have such a lack of sleep and only one thing on our minds—-our baby!  I honestly don’t know how many more babies I would have had, had the decision not been made for me.  It’s like you get in this routine of just having a baby, nursing him/her, nurturing, growing, loving and everything child/baby related, until one day you realize 10 years have gone by!  Well, that is how I see it anyway.  So, today when I looked in the mirror and realized I may feel like I am still twenty-something, I am not.  What I am though is a strong, independent, thirty-something woman with great kids a wonderful partner and a great life.  A life that I would never trade for anything – even if it were ten extra years.

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This post is part of the Health Activist Writer’s Challenge hosted by WEGO Health.

Homeschool Curriculum 2011/12

I do my homeschool planning and reflection two times per year – once in August and again in January.  At this point in our homeschooling journey I am very eclectic in my approach in teaching the children.  We have decided to take a structured approach to teaching math, reading and writing and leave the other subjects open to how and what the children want to learn.  Here are some resources and curriculum that we have used up to this point in the year and what I think of them.  I have divided it into sections for each child and their grade level if they were attending school, however I often find we are doing work that is at a higher or lower grade level depending on what we are using and learning about.

 

Pre-School: (Skittles)

My youngest – Skittles really enjoys doing ‘school’ work.  He sees us learning at the table and doing ‘workboxes’ and wants his own.  We started this year off with ToSkittles Rice Trayt Trays that you can read more about over at 1+1+1+1.  I purchased these trays last year and we use them constant in our homeschool for all sorts of projects and crafts.  You can even see them being used for potty time in this post here.

Skittles likes to do Lapbooks – a mini version which has been called a Tot Book.  So we did a few of these this year already that you can get for free here.

Around October he really wanted to do ‘workbooks’ like the other children and he wanted to start writing and doing more than cutting, pasting and colouring.  So I moved onto a workbook from Critical Thinking Co.  These are quick short lessons that I could do with him in all subject areas that he really enjoyed doing.  So we would just do these whenever he would bring me the book and ask.

Crafts:  Skittles loves to do crafts, gluing, play-doh, rice trays and anything with stickers or foamies.  This keeps him very occupied while I am working individually with the other children and/or he can do this with one of his siblings if I am having 1on1 time with each of the older children.

Music:  Skittles has been doing music class since 2010 and has been attending Music for Young Children.  This month (January) he just started the Sunrise program where he gets his own book, bag, blanket and learns the music critters.  This program is fantastic the way it introduces children to music.  More on this program in another blog post.

Before Five-In-A-Row (BFIAR): We love all the books listed in this curriculum, and have been using it for at least 4 years! (including Book 1)  We love doing the lapbooks related to these books in this curriculum.  We have found some great free ones from www.homeschoolshare.com, but also some more in depth ones from In the Hands of a Child and A Journey Through Learning.

 

Kindergarten: (Smarty-Pants)

DSC_0205 Smarty Pants is my 5.5 year old that loves Smarties, but also will often answer his brother and sisters questions.  I have not really done much formal schooling with him until this year, but he has done much of what Skittles has done, and doing a lot of learning through lapbooks and listening to his sister do her work.

I started in January 2010 a more structured approach as he could sit longer.  He likes doing hands on activities, crafts, colouring, math manipulatives and lapbooks; depending on the topic.  He really likes doing research and doing projects or unit studies. 

Saxon Math Grade 1: 

I started this with him in September 2011, but I often can’t get him to sit every day and do it, so we complement what he’s learning in that with worksheets, math websites and even just activities.  It’s funny how I never asked him to count for me until he started this program and he could count much farther than what I would have thought…but he did have 4 years of listening to his sister count every day!  He doesn’t get the confusion after the number 11, which I’m very excited for him about!

Critical Thinking Co:

He loves these books as well and he has already worked through 2 books.  He will sit for a while when it comes to working in these books with me, and it covers a few subject areas.  I see these more as fun, but it definately provides an opportunity to talk about reasoning and logic.  He is working in two books right now.  Here is the first, and the link for the second.

Explode the Code: 

Smarty Pants has been doing Explode the Code for about 1.5 years.  He started with Get Ready for The Code and we worked in this books simultaneously while doing Writing Road to Reading (WRTR) as well.  When we would do these books I would apply the handwriting and phonogram sounds from WRTR with the activities from Explode the Code. He really enjoyed these books, but since has totally skipped Book C, so will start Grade 1 with him by the end of January 2012.

Spalding: Writing Road to Reading

I found this program out of searching and searching for something for my oldest, and started it with Smarty Pants this Fall 2011.  He has been really good at sitting with me (usually while he eats breakfast or a snack) to do an Oral Phonogram Review and we have started Written Phonogram Reviews as well.  We also do phonogram practice with games and such.  I really like this approach to teaching children to read as it also focuses on handwriting at the same time.  We have not started phonogram practice yet since our holiday break, but will continue next week.  Most days we get this practice in every day, but once the Explode the Code Grade 1 books arrive, I will be able to have him sit longer, since this kid really likes worksheets!

Grade 3: Kit Kat

Kit Kat is my oldest and will be 9 years old in a few short months.  She loves crafts, music, art, writing, reading, Lapbooking, unit studies and playing with her brothers.  I must say that her interests at this point, guide a lot of our homeschool, but Smarty Pants is definately catching up as he gets older in voicing his learning goals.

Saxon Grade 2: We’ve been using Saxon right from the beginning, and she really enjoys Math.  I have the Grade 3 book, but haven’t yet since there are a few other lessons I want to go over before jumping to the next book.  We won’t be starting at the beginning of Grade 3 book, since we have sort of been jumping around the Grade 2 book.  Last September, Kit Kat attended a local public school for 7 weeks so that put us really behind, since she didn’t learn any new concept when attending school.  But it put us behind quite a bit in our Saxon lessons.  I will be starting her in the Grade 3 book by the end of this month (January) and will start probably lesson 50 or so in Grade 3.  Its taDSC_0192king up a lot more time than usual as I have to look ahead and see if that lesson is necessary, but we should be all caught up and ready for Grade 4 Math in September.

Spalding: Writing Road to Reading

I taught Kit Kat how to read using a variety of different methods since it was my first homeschool experience.  I used Phonics methods, worksheets, flashcards that I made, Explode the Code and others for spelling, grammar, etc.  I wasn’t happy with the approaches that many programs took, as I wanted something very thorough that taught everything about language; handwriting, spelling, grammar, writing, sequence, logic, etc.  I could not find something that I was absolutely comfortable with so I created my own using a variety of materials.  Then, I had a 3rd child and found myself pressed for time.  Then I found the Spalding Method. I LOVE it!  I will be writing another post about it where you can read more about this method.

We have been moving along nicely using this method, and her spelling has improved dramatically.  Even Skittles like repeating the phonograms after her at the breakfast table:)

French: Rosetta Stone

Kit Kat has always wanted to learn languages, and she started Spanish at 4 years old. This year we started using Rosetta Stone, and she really likes it. She will sit and do an entire Unit!

Kit Kat also studies music and plays the piano, takes step-dance lessons is a Brownie and enjoys skating and swimming.  We do many different Unit Studies in Geography using our Little Passports that arrives in the mail each month.  I will center a month’s unit on that country once it arrives.

That is basically the curriculum choices we are using right now.  You can read other posts about what we are doing in our homeschool where I will give you resources in each post.

You can also see our Lapbooks on my website at www.Lapbookdiva.com

Note: these photos are actually of the children from 2010. I will update with newer ones when I can!

 

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What is a Parenting Philosophy?

I am in my 9th year of being a mother…but if you count the years I took care of my younger sister I am in my 13th year — wow, that makes me sound really old!  Anyway, I believe my parenting journey started out when I took her under my sole guardianship, she was 8 years old and I was a ripe ‘ol early twenty something not even done University.  I didn’t think much about parenting at that moment in time, for I was working full-time, finishing up my undergrad, getting used to living in a new province and a big city.  I had a lot on my plate…but heck, I thought it was fun to be a parent — – or big sister is how I saw it back then.

The thing is, do we ever realize how much influence we have on a little human being?  I knew (mostly from my schooling at that point), that I was going to have a strong influence on this little person, but I also knew that she had 8 prior years of life that I didn’t have much influence that really shaped her into the eight year old living with me at the time.  I knew that I had to be a good role model and set some rules and boundaries for her, and form a strong relationship based on trust and love, but that was about it.  I never really gave it much thought as to the type of parent I wanted to be to her.

Then…I had a baby and that all changed.  It’s like the moment you look at the two blue strips on the pregnancy test that your mind just starts full-bore, thinking about the type of parent you will be.  Will you let them stay up past their bedtime?  Will you read to them every night?  Will you use cloth diapers, or let them sleep in  your bed?  Will you let them have a boyfriend? or girlfriend? Will you breastfeed or bottlefeed?  How will you work and raise this baby?  What will my parents think?  Will my baby love me?  Will my teenager hate me? and the list goes on.  These and a million other questions go through our minds as we raise our children, but do we ever stop to think about a philosophy on parenting?

I don’t think I have ever really stopped to gather all my ideas on parenting – they just sort of meld all together and one day I will realize I feel a certain way about a certain topic.  I am a reflective person though, and I often think about my actions and parenting decisions and how I want to change them.  That is what I love about parenting is that you can change your mind whenever you want!! I don’t recommend doing this often when it comes to specific thing, for your children will get confused, and then inconsistency happens and all hell breaks loose through the house.  I’m talking more about changing your philosophies around specific ‘rules’ you may read about it popular parenting books by all the “experts”.  For example, how many of you have read a book about a specific parenting dilemma, tried that approach and then ditched it because you couldn’t figure out how the heck to do it?!  I can think of a bunch of sleeping books on the market that say this is how to get your baby to sleep, and that their method will work, blah, blah, blah.  Well, all I know is that when I wasn’t sleeping and bitchy as ‘ole hell, I just wanted someone to perform some sort of magic to interpret what my baby was trying to tell me.  Then it hit me!!! just do whatever it takes so I can sleep and this baby can sleep, ’cause I have 2 other kids to take care of in the morning!  I didn’t need a book to tell me it was okay to let my kid sleep with me (not saying I didn’t read any books about it though).  I used common sense to make it as safe as possible and I let him sleep with me (and my husband and my toddler).  It was a squishy, long couple of months (years, maybe?!), but we all survived.  Did it change my parenting philosophy?  You BET it did!!

After each child I had, my parenting philosophy changed.  I have now been the parent through every stage and age, and am still parenting a toddler and a young adult.  I’ve learned that its okay for my philosophy to change, because each of my children are different and have different needs.  I love them all the same, and have some underlying principles that are the same, but the philosophy may be different for each child.  Not sure if that’s wrong, or not…but it works for me and my family.

What’s your parenting philosophy?  Do you have one?  Does it change?  Does it involve your partner’s ideas too?