August 26, 2014

T minus One Week

As you can imagine the weeks are just flying by.

I can hardly believe Juniper is almost 7 weeks old - which is almost 8 weeks which is almost 2 months which is ridiculous.

Completely ridiculous.

It's so strange how quickly the newness wears off, how we feel like she's always been here. Always been part of our days, when really, it's only been a few brief weeks.
Anyways, she's doing great and growing quickly, holding her head up and selectively giving sly little smiles if you watch for them -- and you're the right distance away!

I kind of, sort of, maybe feel like I'm getting a handle on things. Vaguely.

I was keeping up on laundry until we all got sick a couple weeks ago (everyone except Juniper thankfully) and since then I've not gotten back on track. I figure if I'm doing 1-2 loads of laundry a day and 1-2 loads of dishes the rest can wait. Although the bathroom is mortifying right now. You can come to our house, but we'll send you outside to pee. Sorry. It's just better for everyone.

Of course now that I feel like I am somewhat managing it's time to start school. And yes, we could wait, there's no mandate looming, but it's Time. Everyone needs to get back into a routine that doesn't include copious amounts of "there's nothing to dooooo" from a certain 7 year old.

A week or so ago I caught the kids getting into the school cupboard for the first time since May. I commented that maybe it was time to start thinking about school for fall and both kids gave a resounding 'YES' so obviously, this lengthy vacation has done it's job.

Next Tuesday, after Labor Day we'll join the ranks of kids taking pictures on their front porches holding signs, Guthrie's will say 2nd Grade and Laithe's Preschool and everyone will smile until they get annoyed and then we'll head back into the house for the First Day of School.

I'll finish up our plan for the year over the next couple weeks. (I did most of my planning in the spring). Last year I laid out lessons until Christmas and then kind of played it by ear last spring. Not going to do that again. It just gets too overwhelming and I'd rather plan and not do it or plan and tweak it later on than not plan and get crabby. We're going to keep on with the monthly main lesson - which means September will be Math, October Science, November Language, December is always Christmas School, January will bring a return to Math, etc etc, finishing the year at the end of May. I find that having a month long intensive works well for us and gives time for their brains to rest between units. I don't find that we have gap problems -- we don't have to spend much time reviewing each time we return to math or language. Possibly this is because we use these subjects every day in our lives, possibly it's because there's not only one way to learn.

We'll still do weekly art, cooking projects and crafts that are largely based on the season, but I'm adding in history & geography this year. We're going to use Story of the World, which is a favorite among homeschoolers. I was going to subscribe to Little Passports to base our geography lessons on, but I'm glad I didn't pre-order anything because I picked up a set of 50 States flash cards from the dollar bins at Target to base some US geography on and I want to use our world maps as we work through the history chapters so really another geography focus would be a bit of overkill. Maybe we'll need a little excitement in the spring and I'll order it then. Or not. We'll have to see.

Organizing this year was significantly easier. After some initial frustration I downloaded Alicia Hutchinson's Homeschool Planner and molded it into what works for me. I hope it'll be a good fit.  The bulk of my planning isn't daily plans as it is weekly and even monthly lists of what I'd like to accomplish. I do love a good list! We're three years in and I feel like we're finding our way a bit easier.

Other goals I have are:

  • continuing daily circle time - having even a few minutes together is the best way I've found to start our day
  • starting and maintaining a reading log, especially for chapter books. This is my inspiration. And I'm hoping it'll be a gateway to book reports.
  • independent study. that sounds so silly when you say that about a 4 and 7 year old, but I'm asking the kids to choose a subject each month that they want to learn about as the first step in learning how to do research and use the library. September's subjects are cats and submarines. I'll let you figure out who chose what!
  • homeschool co-op and homeschool play group. some friends and I started a homeschool co-op last spring and had a successful trial run in April so we'll be continuing that this fall and spring for 10 weeks each. Which means that on Wednesdays we'll be out of the house from 8:30 until 6:00 at least until the weather turns. I am really, really hoping that any appointments we have will be able to be scheduled in between our stops on Wednesdays, but we'll see. It's difficult for me to have too many days where we have outside commitment -- I can imagine that with 3 kids I'll have to be even more intentional about that. 


That sounds like a lot doesn't it? I'm sure we won't get to it all and I'm sure that plans will change, but that's the beauty of homeschooling. I'm invested, but I'm not so invested that we can't try something else. I'm noticing a change in myself this year. I've always said that we are cultivating a lifestyle by choosing homeschooling, but last year and the year before I also had a fair amount of stress at making sure that Guthrie was "keeping up." That if for some reason we should have a change and she should either want or need to go to school outside our home she would be on equal footing with the other students in her age/grade level. I'm not so worried about it this year, which is really nice!

Now, off to enjoy our last few days of summer!



July 20, 2014

Earthside

She has arrived!



Juniper Leigh arrived earthside July 11th at 10:55 in the morning.
Weighing 7 lbs 4 oz and measuring 20 inches long. 
With dark brown hair and blue, blue eyes. 

Much to everyone's absolute delight. We are all just smitten.



Juniper, 

Oh my heart, how you've arrived and firmly planted yourself in this family in such short order! I think it's safe to say the four of us are pretty in awe of you and there is no shortage of arms available to hold you. 


Your brother and sister! It has been such a privilege to watch them become your older siblings.


It's possible we had some concerns about how that blond headed boy would react to you, but you're pretty much magical and he asks to hold you frequently. And every time he holds you he is sure to count your fingers and toes. Yesterday he got to 12, but he got it under control.



Your birth was peaceful if intense; several people worked pretty hard to get you into this world. And though intense, it was also very low key, quietly sacred, and full of joy.Your dad announced that you were a girl and I think though we didn't know if you were a boy or girl we weren't surprised one bit that you were our Juniper. We marveled that you cried, briefly, so differently than both your brother and sister. 


After you were born your temperature dropped a little more than anyone likes so you spent some one on one time with daddy in the nursery under the warmer and then a bit later you spent a lot of time laying skin to skin with mama. By the next morning you were warm as could be and nursing like a champ. That extended period of chilliness meant we didn't have to give you a bath right away and that was the longest amount of time we've had to smell that truly new baby smell with any of our kids. Mama loved it. 


We are taking the next few weeks to settle in as a family of five and as much as I like a routine my heart keeps reminding me that these days will never come again with you and to enjoy them. Just breathing your newness in and savoring these early days. Allowing Guthrie and Laithe space to explore this as well with little or no outside activities. By the third baby we surely know how fast these days go and we will have plenty of time for regular bedtimes and the busyness of everyday life so for now we're just setting everything aside to honor our newest little addition.

We are so very glad you are here Juniper Leigh!


June 25, 2014

the state of things

We have been busy, busy, busy these past several weeks. And everyone knows how I feel about busy. More than 1-2 things to do outside our home in a day? Not up for it. I'm just not that girl - at least at this stage in my life. And I haven't been for several years, so maybe it's just a personality trait. Several days of 3-4 outside things to do and I can get pretty crabby. Even if it is all fun, chosen, and welcome stuff. So, coming off several weeks of this, I'm attempting to gain some footing and quiet(ish) before this next big transition, which could be in a couple days or a few weeks. My second favorite thing besides busy is transition. Even when it is welcome and so exciting!

We've had a lot of conversations at home about how everyone needs different things during times of transition. How we can go from needing lots of space to needing lots of hugs in the span of a few minutes. How we can be super cheerful and then uhh, not, also in the span of a few minutes. And that all of it's normal and we can choose to be extra patient and kind to each other.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.

It's possible it depends on the humidity.

Which has been quite high these past couple weeks.

I'm hoping to post shortly about our home improvement projects, but I want to upload some photos too and that's not happening tonight.

Know that we've been crazy in that department though. At least crazy for someone in her third trimester and the need to do All The Things before the baby comes. Not so much out of nesting, but because I know how the year or two after a new baby is. I know that we won't have the wherewithal to get stuff done, especially gracefully.

We also spent the month of May participating in a newly formed homeschool coop. This fall we'll do it again for a longer session. Guthrie loved it, Laithe not so much, but he'll come around.

We finished up school for the year the week after Memorial Day knowing that the kids will have a very long summer break this year and that we're all just fine with that. Though I am already excited for what 2nd grade and 2nd year of preschool will hold for us. Guthrie met all the goals her and I had set and we're really proud of her. Both kids are exactly where I expect them to be at 7 and 4 years old. That's a really good feeling.

The last weekend in May we took a couple days out of town, the 4 of us, for a last little trip just us. We learned, again, that our family thrives with unstructured time largely void of other people. Meaning, the most successful part of the trip was our night at a cabin with no one else around where the kids got to be really independent and all of us got to read, play catch, hike a bit and be in our own space together away from home. The rest of the trip was good too, just maybe with more whining and tears and parental frustration.

Guthrie spent the entire month of June (tomorrow is her last day) in swimming lessons at the pool down the street. She is so thrilled about it this year that I know next week will be kind of a let down. She passed levels 2 and 3 with flying colors and while she is technically ready for level 4 I think it's good that she's done for the summer as level 4 is all about the deep end and diving board and she's still a little fearful. This afternoon she said, "but mom I think if I jump off the diving board I'll drown." If I've learned anything this year in parenting her it's to be supportive and encouraging and to back off. (see bike riding: so frustrating last summer, learned in 10 minutes this year with no parents present, among other examples. i.e. reading) So, I'm good with fostering her excitement for swimming and letting her gain confidence before she decides she's ready to tackle that.

Laithe and I spent the entire month of June (from 10-11 am) hunting shade, avoiding sudden downpours, eating snacks, reading books, hunting roly polys and waiting for Guthrie to be done. Surrounded by super weird parents & nannies. Seriously. So weird. It was a good time for us though as we don't often get much just the two of us. Even if 10 - 11 is the longest hour of our lives.

We've filled the rest of our time catching fireflies, tending the garden, making weekly prenatal visits an hour away (so over that), celebrating father's day, my birthday (where i advanced to a higher level of advanced maternal age, I could write several posts dedicated to that phrase and how often it's been said to me over the past 9 months) and trying to savor these every day moments that seem fleeting when you know everything is about to change. I've no doubt that our family is ready for a new member and that Baby Poke Poke (the kids' name for baby) will be the perfect addition. I've also no doubt that Baby Poke Poke will shake things up!

And me? I'm 38 weeks pregnant and am finally feeling well enough to enjoy this pregnancy. Once I hit 7 months or so things immediately got easier physically. Looking back I don't know if I was just sick over and over for 7 months or if my immune system was so out of whack from this pregnancy or what. It was difficult (understatement) and I am still a little sad about that. But late pregnancy? I'm good. Even if I can barely use the kitchen anymore because it's like my arms have shrunk and I cannot control the waddling. But, both baby and I are healthy and thriving and that's really almost more than anyone can ask for.

Happy Summering!

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