Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The end of CC

It was another absolutely wonderful year in Classical Conversations.  

As an educator, I cannot express how much I love and adore this program.  Particularly from a brain-development perspective; the program more closely compliments their natural development than any other method of study I've ever seen.  It is so fantastic to see what the kids know and can do as they learn through the lens of the classical model.  


This was Leah's third year with the program, and Logan's first. 

They both had wonderful tutors and had such awesome opportunities to engage with kids they enjoyed.  We always look forward to Mondays!

Each week, the kids memorize 7 subjects: history, geography, math, science, English grammar, Latin, and timeline.  During their community day, they also get a hands-on science experiment, music and music theory, artists and art theory, oral presentation and classical composers.

This year, we studied (mostly) European History beginning with  Charlemagne in 800 A.D., through the Renaissance, World Wars, Korean and Vietnam Wars and ending with the abolition of apartheid in Africa.  SO awesome.

They learned 161 events and people in a chronological timeline.
Over 100 locations and geographic features in Europe and Asia, including continents, countries, cities, rivers and mountain ranges which they have to locate and point to on the map.
24 science facts including biomes, planets, laws of motion and laws of thermodynamics.
Latin verb endings of the first conjugation.
Pronouns, adjectives and adverbs, among others.
Multiplication tables up to 15x15, as well as basic geometry formulas and unit conversions. 
All 44 (now 45) presidents in order.

I tutored a wonderful class of our oldest girls, and it is such a blessing to see what happens when kids stick with the program.  What they know by the time they are 9-11 is absolutely astounding.

One of the greatest achievements within the program is the Memory Master award, which is given to a student who can recite the entire year's memory work - all those facts I listed above - without making any errors.  Leah decided that this year was her year, and we practiced all year so that she could achieve this goal.  

Unfortunately, because of our crazy spring, we ended up missing the last 4 weeks of the program, and because the baby came only a week later and then they did memory master testing the following week... well... 
we never did get caught up.

Poor sweet Leah.

She missed her birthday party, spent three days in the hospital, missed Easter and missed her end of the year dance recital, but the straw that broke the camel's back was not being able to go for Memory Master after she had worked so hard.  There were tears when she discovered she would not be able to take her test.  It broke her heart!

So, we gave her an honorary 20-week Memory Master.  It isn't official and doesn't count for anything, but it sure did make her feel better after all that work!  

Logan did an awesome job as well.  I couldn't believe how much he knew and could remember - especially considering he is only four!  He was almost a memory master; he knew history, geography, Latin and science perfectly without any errors.  It was pretty darn impressive.

So, our year in CC came to a close.  But we're already excited for next year. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

7 Weeks

He's getting cuter, snugglier and more delightful all the time. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

6 Weeks

It may seem a bit excessive to take a photo every week.

I decided to undertake this project partly for purely selfish reasons, and partly for very practical ones.

On the selfish front: well, he's my very last little sweetheart!  This time is so, so very precious to me, and it is gone in the blink of an eye.  My hope is that by drawing it out a little; by pausing every week to marvel at the little miracles that come with being Luke's mommy, I will better remember this very hectic and wonderful time in his life.  In my life, too.

On the practical front: he's the fifth child, people.  If I don't really stop and intentionally remember to photograph him, pictures of his birth will be lumped in with photos of his high school graduation.

So, just for fun, here's a bonus.  Because, who needs more Luke?

Who doesn't need more Luke?!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Easter, belated

Since everything in our world was so screwy this spring, one of the things that we missed entirely was Easter.

Fortunately, that didn't end up being an issue.  

In the end, we just made our own a week later, and no one was the wiser.  

I'm kind of a kill joy when it comes to the commercialism of Easter.  We don't do the bunny - my kids know that it's just mom and dad - and instead we usually spend the month leading up to Easter learning about the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Of course, this year we cut all of that out too.

I also don't allow a plethora of stuffed animals and candy, because I'm the Easter Grinch.

So what little candy they do get is a BIG deal!  As you can see, it goes pretty quickly.

I have a pretty strict "only if they need it" rule.  Each year, their baskets are filled with items they legitimately need for the upcoming summer season.  Things like sandals, swimsuits, towels, hats, summer jammies or sunglasses.  Maybe a pair of tennis shoes if they've outgrown theirs. 

It just so happened that this year, they all needed a lot.  Somehow, everything just came together such that they needed everything I listed up there.  It was a little excessive, but it was all stuff we would have had to buy anyway.

  Leah and Logan have both outgrown their bikes and helmets, and that was a super fun surprise for the kids to wake up to on Easter morning!  Oh my goodness, it was SUCH fun to watch them ride those new bikes up and down the street!  We are almost to the phase where we can actually take family bike rides. Luke just needs to be a little bigger...

We had the hardest time trying to figure out what to get Jacob.  I'm so not an expert on what a teenage boy gets in his Easter basket!  I do believe it was his first ever Easter basket at that, so we tried hard to make it special.  

I LOVE these bright blue hats!  Partly because they're Cubs-colored (GO, Cubs, GO!), but also because they're just so darn practical.  Three bobbing, bright blue heads are so easy to pick out in a crowd!

Little Luke was just an observer this year.  Although, it should probably be noted that he's the only one not to get an Easter basket on his first Easter.  Poor kid.  But, if he wanted to be important, he probably shouldn't have been the fifth born.  ;)

(P.S. How cute is that kid in his froggy jammies?!) 

Even if we had to set aside some of our traditions this year, we still enjoyed ourselves.  There was awesome breakfast and cinnamon rolls, and our usual big Sunday Dinner to celebrate.  

No doubt about it: we are pretty blessed.

And, we've come a long way since the very first one:

 (Funny side note: This is how fast seven years goes... there was a video camera in the background of one of the shots from our first Easter.  Loooong before I had a smart phone, HA!)

Friday, May 12, 2017

5 weeks

We nursed, like, non-stop this week.  And I have to say, it is adorable to see that reflected in his cute, chunky five week photo!

He clearly had a growth spurt, that wonderful, sweet little man.

Luke reached the phase where he now grins like a maniac every single time he sees me.  It might be the best thing ever.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Unsolicited advice from a c-section mama

There is what might described as the "gold standard" of labor and delivery.  Both my sister and my best friend, for example, win whatever fictional prize exists for when labor goes as planned.  And they are both a-ma-zing birthing stories, to be sure.  I know I read dozens of empowering articles and personal stories that celebrate the incredible circumstances under which mothers are able to harness the collective hereditary power passed on since the beginning of time.

I love natural childbirth.  I love the women who are brave and strong and able to undertake the journey.

But I want to pause to celebrate and recognize the other end of the spectrum.  If an unmedicated, natural childbirth is the gold standard, let's also explore the unsung heroes, and some truths about c-section mamas.

C-section mamas are strong.
Let's face it.  Whatever birth you envisioned, whether long or short or medicated or unmedicated, whether you imagined your water breaking and anticipated the special moment you'd finally realize it's time! Even if you dreaded the hours of contractions and feared the pushing, the reality is that there aren't many who dreamed of meeting their child for the first time in the cold, white-walled operating room.  At some point, c-section mamas are faced with a reality that they were unprepared for.  They must shift their expectations at best; but for many, a c-section means letting go of the long-held dream of experiencing the delivery of a baby.

Sometimes a mama has a few weeks or days to come to terms with this change, but sometimes she has only hours or minutes.  There may be the added terror that something has gone wrong.  There may be huge disappointment after hours of already heroic labor, to no avail.  Whatever the route, the c-section mama must summon her courage and find the inner strength that allows her to enter the operating room.  Not to save her own life as we might otherwise do, but because it must be done for her baby.

C-section mamas are brave.
Facing a major surgery is scary.  Being on the operating table is scary.  The actual process - strapped to the table, half a dozen people in scrubs and masks, anesthesia, catheters, cutting and suturing, counting medical gear to make sure none is left inside of you - is no picnic.  And that's before we consider recovery.

Immediately after surgery, a csection mama naturally cannot move around much.  She may be coming off of medication, or perhaps even waking up from anesthesia.  Her legs are tingling and heavy.  She's puffy from all the fluids that have been pumped into her, and her skin has a sallow, yellow color. She may be nauseous, dizzy, groggy or have a head ache from all the medication. Eventually, she will begin to feel the full effects of what has been done to her.  Walking across the room will be a challenge, and may not even be an option on the day of her baby's birth.

And still, you will see that mama smile.  She will hold onto the fierce love burning inside her for the tiny life she is so bravely bringing into the world, and whatever her body endures will become bearable.  She knows she is facing real wounds and real scars, and she will tell you only: it was worth it.  I'd do it again.

She will have to hold onto that strength for weeks, perhaps even months, as literally everything from riding in the car to putting on underwear hurts (PS: granny panties and a good support belt will help!).  Sitting up to nurse her precious baby hurts.  Going to the bathroom really hurts. She may have orders not to go up the stairs or lift anything other than the baby.

C-section mamas deserve a break.  And some help.
Of course, every body is different.  Some bodies heal quickly, and a csection mama may be up and about with little or no residual pain in a matter of days.  Others... not so much.  It is my fervent belief that every mother deserves to have a break after delivery.  She deserves to be pampered and take a rest after the herculean task her body has just undergone.  But a c-section mama?  It's requisite.

A c-section is major surgery.  She is going to be on major pain medication.  While most people would prefer to eat ice cream and take a break after major surgery, a mother does exactly the opposite.  She who should be cared for does the caring, the bonding, the breastfeeding, diaper changing and child nurturing.  Don't let her fool you.  Make sure she doesn't have to stand on her feet (which hurts) and feed or chase or clothe the people before she has healed.  Just for good measure, plan to have a solid support team for the first 6 weeks after surgery.  Mom shouldn't be doing anything more than navigating the bathroom and the baby for the first two weeks.  Yes, she will argue with you.  Yes, she will protest.  And yes, she needs to prioritize herself first.  If she feels better earlier?  GREAT!

It may feel like a big deal.  But you ARE okay.
Because, we are told that there is a gold standard to which we should aspire.  There is a sense that a c-section isn't "real" or "normal" labor.  A c-section mama may feel as if she has let herself or her baby down.  She may have guilt, regret, fear of another c-section or of never experiencing "true" labor.  She may recoil as she examines what has happened to her body, and have to remind herself she bears only a slight, below-the-belt resemblance to Frankenstein's monster. She may be accused of taking the easy way out, when nothing could be further from the truth.

You are a hero, c-section mama.  And, if I do say so myself, you are a badass.

And, whatever your feelings on my statements above, make sure you adhere to this advice:
don't stop taking that stool softener.

You'll thank me later.  :)

C-section mamas have amazing birth stories, too.

Friday, May 5, 2017

4 Weeks

My little sweet bean is almost one month old!

Smiley, sweet, such a delight to mother.  He still sleeps wonderfully through the night on most nights, and the others I have to say I don't really mind; largely because they don't happen all that often.  He is quiet, loves to snuggle and be held, and generally just delights those around him to no end.

Luke is so patient with the gathering crowds that want to adore him.  He always begins his day with arms clamoring to hold and hug and love him, and he takes it so beautifully.

He is just a good baby.  So, so good.  Strong and good and mellow.  I am a lucky momma!

I changed my font at thecutestblogontheblock.com