Rethinking our kindergarten homeschooling schedule

So it’s been a few weeks since I posted about our homeschooling “schedule.” If you click on that linky, you’ll see I had high hopes. Truly, I did. But they weren’t terribly realistic.

Math puzzle game
Math without workbooks: T learns to count, identify numbers, and read number words with this matching puzzle (Thanks, Memaw!).

Now that we have about a month and a half of homeschooling under our belts, I think I’ve come up with a better “routine,” rather than rigid schedule. Here goes:

7:30 – 9 a.m. Breakfast, chores, free play

9 – 9:15 a.m. Stretches/yoga/exercise (to get the wiggles out)

9:15 – 10:30 a.m. Two subjects in a row (Math, Language Arts, Science, or Social Studies). Fortunately, T loves school, so I do not have to “make” him sit still to do school work. He is eager to participate, no matter what the subject.

10:30 – 2 p.m. Out and about, running errands, playdates, field trips (to the zoo, Sea World, botanical garden, museums, science centers), etc. We carry substantial snacks with us while we’re out, and then have a late lunch when we get back home.

3-ish  One more subject for about half an hour

Foam block printing art project
T gets hands on at a foam block printing table at a recent school-sponsored art event. (Our charter school is great that way!)

The main challenge is what to do with T’s baby sister S while I’m trying to teach T. Well, in the mornings, she’s pretty easy going and will happily play in her playpen for about 20 minutes. But that only gives me just enough time to get breakfast ready and eat it myself. SO…. I usually resort to bouncing back and forth between the two kids. I put S on the floor for some toys and crawling time (yikes! when did she get mobile?!) and I’ll keep an eye on her while helping T get some work started. Then, he can usually do some work independently while I play with and tend to the baby. When it comes time to read to him, S will play on the floor with us (and yes, that includes crawling on us, using me as a jungle gym, trying to grab and eat the book, nursing, etc. etc., but we still manage to get in some great reading). And when she gets tired, I put her in the sling and rock her to sleep, allowing us to do even more uninterrupted school work.

So far, this new routine is working pretty well. The difference is that I have given up (sadly) a couple of Mommy-hobbies in order to focus on homeschooling. I have taken a hiatus from volunteering (non-profit breastfeeding support organization) and I am professionally blogging only once a month (as opposed to 4 times a month). This takes a ton of pressure off me, and allows me to really relax and get into the groove of homeschooling my son and caring for my baby daughter, which are and should be my top two priorities. I had a lot of misgivings about giving up my two beloved “hobbies,” but in retrospect, I know it was the right thing and now have no regrets.

We have 2 1/2 more months left in the school year, so I hope we continue to homeschool the way we want and enjoy. And we’ll most likely continue to homeschool during the summer, a lot more loosely, but still learning and having fun while doing it.

What’s your daily homeschool routine? How has your routine evolved over the year(s)? What are the challenges of homeschooling when you have more than one child at home? How do you meet the needs of all your children?

Posted in babywearing, blogging, homeschooling | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Breastfeeding an Older Infant with an Untreated Posterior Tongue-Tie

The last time I posted about my baby daughter’s tongue-tie, she was 2 1/2 months old. She is now nearly 7 1/2 months old and I wanted to give an update.

We never had her frenulum clipped (frenotomy) and instead, I chose to nurse through any discomfort or peculiar behaviors. Here were some of those peculiarities and where they stand now:

  • Shallow latch – Not an issue anymore. Her mouth has grown (along with the rest of her!) and her latch is comfortable for me.
  • Clicking – Also not an issue anymore. I believe the clicking stopped when she turned about 6 months old.
  • Sore nipples (pain level 1-3 out of 10) – I rarely have sore nipples now. The only time they get sore is when she sprouts teeth. She got her two bottom front teeth when she was about 4 months old; now she’s working on her two top teeth. Her latch changes as she gets a new tooth; but this is not because of the tongue-tie. The latch usually feels different when the new teeth come in, tongue-tie or no.
  • Stuffy nose/sneezing – She doesn’t get stuffy anymore, but she does occasionally still sneeze after a nursing session. My lactation consultant (LC) said that this is because she “micro-aspirates” the milk as she feeds, due to the tongue-tie.
  • Tucking of the chin – Not an issue.
  • Jerking of the head – Not an issue.
  • Refusing to nurse side-lying with right breast – Not an issue.

Other items to note:

  • Squirmy while nursing – Ever since about 6 months, S has taken a liking to squirming during nursing. I usually have her in a cradle hold and she loves to push on the couch or bed with her feet, which makes nursing very uncomfortable, as it results in tugging of the nipple. I have to constantly coax her to relax and say “gentle with mama’s milkies.” I have no idea why she does this. I am guessing that a lactation consultant would say that this is her way of stimulating the letdown more quickly, perhaps compensating for a less-than-optimal suck.
  • Upper lip tie – I still often have to flip out her upper lip after she latches on. She sometimes curls her upper lip in due to her (class III) upper lip tie. After I flip it, it remains out and does not curl back in.
  • Side-lying – We can now nurse on both sides while lying down. And I don’t even have to move her from side to side! I can simply lean over and she can nurse from the top boob. Hallelujah! This is a good thing. Now I don’t have to sit up in bed to nurse her. That means more rest for both of us.

If you read my last post, you may be wondering what happened with the osteopathic manipulations and whether or not we continued with them, or if they “worked,” i.e., treated her above tongue-tie symptoms. Well, after three visits, I chose to discontinue treatment. I really was not comfortable with S’s crying screaming during these appointments. Actually, that’s a whopper of an understatement. After these visits, S wasn’t the only one in tears, my son T and I were, too. It was awful. I am not saying that all osteopathic manipulation is bad. It just wasn’t for us.

(I admit, I do sometimes wonder if perhaps I did my daughter a disservice by ceasing these treatments. According to our DO, many little patients do loudly and fervently protest the manipulations in the beginning but after their symptoms show improvement, their crying decreases and some even come to look forward to and enjoy the treatments. I wasn’t willing to stick it out to see if S would be one of those babies. Her crying rocked me to my core and I had to listen to my instinct and get her out of there!)

Anyway. That’s where we are with nursing now. I stand by my decision to NOT clip her tongue-tie.

Oh sure, there are the potential future problems to worry about, such as refusal of solid foods (not a problem for S), easy gag reflex, dental problems, speech problems, etc. But we’re not there yet. And even if these problems are commonly associated with tongue-tie, I’m not convinced that they will be problems for my daughter. I just don’t buy the whole “get it clipped now or else you’ll face problems X, Y, and Z down the line” argument. My philosophy is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Yes, we had problems early on. It was painful in the beginning, but my pain subsided and she gained weight like a champ and is still at the top of the charts in terms of weight and height. Some LC’s would say that it’s all due to my “oversupply” of milk, like it’s an anomaly that I have lots of milk. The way I see it, my body knows exactly what my baby needs, and provides it. Her anatomy and my anatomy are working in harmony together, the way nature intended, and I thank my lucky stars that everything is working out as it should, without unneccessary medical intervention.

But let’s be absolutely, crystal clear–I am NOT saying that all tongue-ties do not require a frenotomy. Egads, no! On the contrary, there are many, many instances when a frenotomy is the ONLY solution: When the baby is not gaining weight well and/or when mom is in pain or sustains nipple damage. Countless babies, moms, and breastfeeding relationships have been saved thanks to properly diagnosed and treated tongue-ties.

I’m just saying that there are gray areas, too. Our situation was one of those gray areas. My daughter gained weight amazingly well, and my nipple pain was minimal (not counting the excruciating pain during the first few weeks as we perfected the latch), yet she had an obvious posterior type 3 tongue tie that any seasoned LC would recommend for frenotomy. It was a difficult decision for me. For weeks and weeks, I’d obsess over whether or not to have her clipped to avoid future problems, like decreased milk supply. It was agonizing. Only now am I 99% sure that we will have a happy and long nursing relationship, until S decides to self-wean. (What’s up with that 1%? Well, that’s just me being paranoid. You know what they say, nothing’s 100% certain except for death and taxes.)

Posted in breastfeeding, high palate, tongue tie | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Bullies, Strangers, and Pedophiles, Oh My!

Ugh. Why do we even have to think about this stuff? What kind of world to we live in? Seriously. Kids picking on kids. Adults picking on kids. Adults trying to pick up kids. Gross. Get a life, people! Can’t we all just get along???

Our son recently took a self-defense class through a local shop called Play It Safe Defense (featured on Dr. Phil). There were some pretty mature themes discussed. Most of it was over the kids’ heads (many of them were bouncing around, tickled to have a whole padded room to themselves and permission to hit and kick their parents!), but the moms and dads were paying attention. Inappropriate touching, kidnapping, being held up at gunpoint. Scary stuff.

But T, my husband, and I walked away with tons of concrete tips on how to handle these situations. The instructor, Tracie Arlington, was full of common-sense ways to avoid and deflect unwanted attention. Arlington says that the key to making these self-preserving actions become second nature is to role-play at home. She sneaks up on her own kids all the time, and if they’re able to escape her black-belt grip before she makes it to her “car” (the couch), they’ve saved themselves. Sounds like a great way to keep the kids on their toes!

Anyway. I blogged about our experience in detail at KidZui. Check it out — there are oodles of tips — and let me know what you think.

 

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Is my 5-1/2-year-old ready to play with less supervision?

T loves playing with the big kids. Always has. Maybe all children are like this. And now that he’s 5 1/2, the “big” kids are now 8 and 9 years old. This seems to be the age when parents allow their children to play in the neighborhood, but just not right under their noses. T, of course, has made friends this age, and when they venture out, he wants to go right with them (sans adults). This terrifies me.

5 year old playing alone
When is it time to let kids explore the world on their own (without a grown-up)?

I blogged about it in more detail at KidZui. Let me know what you think there or here in the comments below. At what age did you feel OK with letting your kids play without grown-up supervision?

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Does a homeschooled kindergartener need a schedule?

Hey hey…guess what? This week was a good week. Why? Because I finally came up with a homeschool schedule for our kindergartener. And I wrote it down. On a white board and everything. Hung it on a wall, too. You’re impressed, right? It’s a big deal for me, anyway.

It goes something like this:

8 – 9 am Breakfast/chores

9 – 9:10 Stretching/exercise

9:10 – 9:30 Subject 1

9:30 – 9:40 Break

9:40 – 10 Subject 2

10 – 10:10 Break

10:10 – 10:30 Subject 3

10:30 – 10:40 Break

10:40 – 11 Subject 4

11 – 1 (ish) – Outdoor time

1 – 2 Lunch

2 – 4 Free play

I know what you’re thinking…. It’s a pretty ambitious schedule. Especially for a time-strapped mom, kindergartener, and a 6-month-old. But at least — at LEAST — it gives me something to shoot for. If we don’t get 4 subjects done in a day, no biggie. But we will at the very least do some math and reading every day. Social Studies and Science we will alternate every other day.

And, AND…if we want to go on “educational field trips,” that absolutely counts as learning, as well. In fact, they’re my favorite part of homeschooling. I’ll take a field trip over a sit-at-the-kitchen-table-and-do-workbooks-lesson anyday.

Take yesterday, for instance. We visited the new Titanic Artifact exhibit at our local natural history museum.

Titanic Third Class Cabin
"Look, Mommy! Bunk beds!" - My 5-year-old's first impression of the replica of the Titanic's third-class quarters

After choking on the “discounted” admission price of $30 ($18/adult and $12/child), I was pleasantly surprised at the artifacts on display and my son’s fascination with it all. At first, I was worried it would be a bit staid and overly technical for him. Not so. There was enough there to keep his curiosity burning. Some of the recovered items that really stayed with him (and me, too):

  • A champagne bottle that still had champagne (“Why doesn’t anybody drink it, Mommy?”)
  • Vials of perfume samples that still had perfume in them
  • A near-complete set of au gratin dishes in pristine condition, and found lined up neatly, like rows of dominoes
  • The boiler room replica
  • The first-class quarters replica
  • The third-class quarters replica
  • The digital rendition of the Titanic’s fatal iceberg collision and subsequent sinking
  • The faux boarding passes with names of actual passengers (who we looked up at the end of the exhibit to see if they were saved or lost). Emil Brandeis (lost) and Nellie Becker (saved).

All in all, quite a chock-full day of what would be considered “Social Studies” learning.

So. Back to this schedule thing. When I look at it, it makes me feel optimistic but stressed at the same time. We’ll just have to take it day by day.

Homeschooling parents, what’s your take on this? Is a schedule a good thing for a 5-year-old or overly optimistic? How did you homeschool your kindergartener? Any recommendations for us?

Image via KPBS.org

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If I could lactate forever, I would

I’m loving breastfeeding. It’s the second time around for me, but seriously, it’s a good thing. Especially this time of year, when there are tons o’ germs and icky things going around.

Is there such a thing as lactating forever? I mean, say my little one weans (whenever that might be…), could I attach the pump and induce lactation for an indefinite period of time? You know, kind of like what they do with dairy cows? I wonder.

I wonder how long a mom can lactate once her baby weans? (Image via stock.xchng)

It’s tempting. No, really. I’m not kidding here. During my relatively short stint as dairy mom, I’ve learned that breast milk is truly a miraculous thing. It heals all kinds of boo-boo’s and can be used as a protective shield against bacteria and viruses. Why just this evening, I expressed a little milk in a teeny bowl and dropped it into my daughter’s nostrils to stave off a runny nose. A couple of days ago, my son had a nasty stye brewing and I poured a few drops in his eye and it went away overnight. And let’s not forget my husband’s experience with the healing powers of the All-Mighty Booby Juice. He had a nasty and painful gouge in his leg from a run-in with a rose bush. I dabbed on a little mama milk, et voilà! Boo-boo all gone!

What other miracles can breast milk work? Well, let’s see…

Breastfeeding Tied to Stronger Lungs, Less Asthma

Breast Milk May Protect Against Cancer

Substance in Breast Milk Kills Cancer Cells, Study Says

Face Cream Made with Breast Milk May Cure Teen Acne

Remarkable Stem Cell Discovery in Breast Milk

Breast Milk Cure for Infant Malnutrition

And the list goes on. Just Google “breast milk research” and see what comes up.

But back to the idea of eternal lactation… Besides using a breast pump to sustain the flow of “liquid gold,” there is another, more fascinating possibility: Becoming a wet nurse. At $1,000/week, it’s sounding pretty good already! Excuse me while I log in to Monster.com and look for my next job. I wonder what sort of references I’ll need? Can I list my son and my daughter as “satisfied clients”?? I can just imagine my son giving a reference check: “My mom gave me milkies whenever I wanted it. It tasted like melted vanilla ice cream. It made me feel warm and cozy and helped me fall asleep. Can I have some now?”

 

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Recycle your old broken crayons into new ones

When my son T developed the manual dexterity for crayons, I splurged and bought him the high-end, expensive kind — you know, the ones from Germany. Stockmar is the brand. He put a few scribbles to paper (and furniture) and then proceeded to make a hobby of breaking all of those beautiful, natural beeswax crayons in half.

Broken crayons before recycling
"Waaaa...look at us, we're bwoken!"

Needless to say, I was disappointed. He was more interested in seeing how many he could break than he was in actually coloring with them. Then again…he was only 2 years old. What was I expecting? A mini-Pablo Picasso, only with Crayolas (“Washable!”)?

But I didn’t give up. I kept buying more and more crayons, different brands and shapes. Still, he had a penchant for breaking them and not creating unique, breathtaking works of art with them. Sacré bleu!

Fast forward to today. T has stopped breaking crayons and has actually started using them for their intended purpose. However, he still owns quite the broken crayon collection. What’s an OCD-wannabe-crafty-Green mom to do? Of course! Crayons are made with wax… why not melt them and make them into new ones?

Recycled crayons
"Oooo...check us out now! Too sexy for the crayon box!"

So we did. Visit Zui.com to see my whole recycling crayons project, and let me know what you think.

What else can be done with broken crayons (or those cheapy crayons you get from restaurants)? Got any easy ideas for me? (You know me… I’m all about the easy.)

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Just say NO to nursing in public restrooms!

Like any other mammalian mother, I always look for a nice cozy quiet spot to feed my young, away from the prying eyes of predators critics. But I absolutely refuse to be confined to my house, or a grody restroom, or even a designated breastfeeding-friendly “family area.” Because when my child needs to eat, she needs to eat, and it’s not always convenient for HER to have me race home, squat in a nasty toilet stall, or hoof it to the nearest “nursing room” (which, to me, very closely resembles a designated smoking area — like we’re pariahs or something). Sometimes, she just needs to eat right then and there. So we do.

For my top 6 reasons why I am a staunch supporter of breastfeeding in public, visit the KidZui blog (I am so lucky they indulge me and my wacky opinions!)

Did you or do you nurse your child in public? Was it ever something you feared or felt nervous about, and if so, why? How did you get over it?

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We are “officially” homeschooling!

Exciting news, folks. We are “officially” registered with a local charter school that specializes in helping children and families succeed at homeschooling. In choosing a charter, I’m hoping to get some guidance on curriculum, but as I go along, I expect to keep and expand upon the things that work for us and jettison those that don’t.

I admit, as a HS newbie, I have some unresolved trepidations about the whole endeavor: What if we don’t have the time? What if I don’t have the patience? What if T doesn’t learn as much as he “should” be learning? What if he needs to transition to a traditional public school setting one day — will he be on par with other kids his age?? It’s enough to make my head spin.

Thank goodness there’s evidence out there that homeschooled kids DO succeed perfectly well in life. (And they’re pretty normal, to boot.)

Like this guy. He seems like a funny, confident, and creative kid….

Good for a giggle: This homeschooler-turned-college-student speaks out against the 7 most common myths about homeschoolers. Source: BlimeyCow

Stay tuned as we journey into the new world of homeschooling. Wish us luck! And if you’ve got any advice for us (“If-I-only-knew-then-what-I-know-now” type thing, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.)

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What should kids do if they get lost?

It's distressing to think of our little ones getting lost. Would your child know what to do?

Now that T is a ripe old 5 1/2 years of age, I’ve learned to relax my hawk-like gaze on his every move. I’ve learned that I can trust him to stay close or to tell me where he’s going before he just up and leaves.

Or so I thought.

I blogged about our harrowing 10 minute experience of being lost at KidZui.

Has your son or daughter ever gone missing, even for just a few minutes? What did you do and what lessons were you able to teach afterwards?

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