River's Edge Urban Academy

Homeschooling 4 kids ages 9, 6, 4 and baby while working as a postpartum nurse and lactation counselor.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Woohoo! Calvert 1 arrived Friday after I left for work! It is just like Christmas, all the shiny new books, crayons, paints, paper, etc. Everything looks great, I am again disbelieving when I look at where she will be at with reading by the end of the year, but I felt the same way last year and she did great, so I will have faith that we'll get there. I haven't gotten too deep into the Science - which was an issue last year, so we will see... I was perplexed when I realized that in her playing around with math games, her abacus, and money for the couple weeks that we were without curriculum, Joss has mastered almost all the Math concepts for 1st grade! I'm proud of her, but I have really debated this weekend if I should go through the 1st grade math curric quickly or return it for 2nd grade math. On my mom's advice, and Joss's performance on the assessment test, I am going to return the 1st grade Math (what a pain, I hate mailing packages) and review the concepts that aren't down cold over the next couple weeks or so. We can always take the 2nd grade Math slowly if necessary.
I have everything ready for our first lesson tomorrow while Z is at park n rec. I printed off a skip counting worksheet from learningpages.com and a hundred's chart that needs the even numbers filled in from the Donna Young homeschooling forms site (can't remember the url, but googling donna young homeschool forms will definitely get you there). She will be reading three phonics stories. I like the word and letter cards better this year. They are smaller with lots more blank ones. We will read about different kinds of scientists, and measure ourselves, and the baby, I think. Can you tell I am excited!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Gotta talk about work a little: I had a bad evening cuz they floated me to L&D to help. I literally was crying in report because they planned to give me two delivered patients of babies who had died or were expected to(renal agenesis - no kidneys and severe intruterine growth retardation). I have never had a loss patient, or even one with a really critical baby - so I was just overwhelmed. I didn't feel like I could turn them down, because skillwise, and medically, I could care for them, and of course no one finds losses easy. But I couldn't stop the big tears rolling down my cheeks and the charge nurse said I didn't have to take them. I guess I'm selfish, but I was just so glad not to have to do that. I would just feel so guilty with all my healthy babies and easy pregnancies. I would have no idea what to say.
So they sent me to help 2 nurses with four preterm patients, but due to my lack of training in that area, I was next to useless. I was talking to one of the nurses that I was (supposedly) helping about how maybe I could help if there was a delivery cuz now I was trained to baby-receive though I had only ever done it at C-sections. I had no sooner said that, when they called out for a baby receiver and I went into the room for my 3rd vaginal delivery of my life (other than my kids). I've been to about 10 C-sections, but they just don't count to me as attending a BIRTH. (not trying to negate anyone's C-section birth experience - just talking about what I find interesting)
It went fine, though there was a tight cord around the neck so the mom had to not push, while the doctor clamped the cord and cut it while the head was just at the perineum. The mom had no epidural, not by her wish unfortunately, but due to a medical condition she had that made it too risky. Watching her go through the discomforts of pushing brought back incredibly powerful body-memories of my own births. I swear my hip bones were remembering the feeling of that unbelievable pressure from the head between them.
I then got to recover the mom and baby and care for them till I took them to their post-partum room. They were very nice and it was a pleasure to be involved in their care (my pat phrase when I am thanking people for being decent patients). I also had to take over recovering another mom and baby about an hour into their care. It was really stressful because someone needed a check like every ten to fifteen minutes, so it was hard to get anything else accomplished. Plus, I didn't know where things were and found the logistics of moving a mom, baby, wheelchair and IV pole, dad and belongings to another room a little daunting. I coped with this by making the dad and any other available family members carry things and learned the trick of getting the mom up to the bathroom and directly into her wheelchair, so we could move on out.
Well, that was my night, hopefully I can leave it behind me now and go to bed! I actually got off early - I had supper at 9:15pm and by the time I was done, there was nothing for me to do so I got to go home around 10pm. They would have let me stay on the clock but I was so physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted that I had developed a terrific headache and just wanted to get out of there. Woohoo, two more shifts to go before I am off for a short stretch.
Weird, writing that out got rid of my headache. Staring at a computer screen doesn't usually do that for me (haha) so it must have been the mental catharsis I needed.
It is so unfair that when I actually do get time to sit an catch up on my blogging that my posts disappear. I just posted about how relieved I am to have ordered Calvert. I know the kids learn without being taught - I know I probably could pull it together on my own for cheaper, but it makes me feel safe! I tend to continue to hand out worksheets, encourage the kids to measure, count, classify everything continuously when I am devising the curriculum cuz I am just not sure how much is ENOUGH? With Calvert we do it till its done then we stop. It may sound expensive, but being able to sleep at night without wondering if I am totally forgetting something (like the dreams I had when I was pregnant that I would forget to feed the baby)is worth some money in my book.
Life is good these days, though very busy - I have been working some extra still and the extracurricular activities are in full swing. I overcommitted us a little bit, again!! I have such a hard time choosing from all the great and worthwhile programs out there, and now that Zeff is old enough to have park n rec classes it is worse! Well, I had an evil shift at work, so I need to go park my butt on the couch and try to leave it behind me.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Well, I had written this whole post about how I have decided to listen to my mom, the teacher with 30 yrs experience and go with Calvert 1. Then my smart little baby taught himself how to turn the computer off. Goodbye post! I do keep going back and forth, even since I have made that decision, but I think it is probably wise to stick with Calvert. I will be experimenting with pulling my own thing together next week and we will see how it goes. We will be using Starfall for reading, Learningpage.com printouts for handwriting. Learning page resources for Science along with our many science books and field trips. No plans for history or art, but she is in a park n rec art class with her cousin once a week. Also want to incorporate Rosetta Stone Spanish at some point as I think I can get it free through a local library but we'll see.
Anyway, I just got home from a truly horrendous shift in the nursery. It is sort of a strange feeling to report off to the nurse who took care of me after babies 1 and 3. She was very nice even though I left her a mess. The other nurses were nice, but they all got crappy assignments, unfortunately some crappier than others cuz I was soooo busy while I tried to make assignments. Anyway, I found out that I actually get $2 more an hour when I work in the nursery, but again - SO NOT WORTH IT! Peace.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Thinking about not purchasing the big curriculum and instead piecemealing LA, math, history, handwriting and Science. Am I leaving anything out? This is what freaks me out about pulling it together on my own. Was inspired by my daughter's recent progress in phonics with www.starfall.com and the way she has taught herself alot of what she is supposed to learn in 1st grade math. Maybe I could just spend the next three months unschooling and see where we're at. Oooh, that freaked me out a little, just typing that!
Such strange thoughts to be entertaining. A friend implanted the idea in my head (KW) after I had firmly stamped it out a year and a half ago. We are doing so darn many extracurrics that it might be just fine, though. J is taking soccer, ballet, art, monthly nature class and gym n swim as well! That doesn't even include playgroup and field trips with and in addition to the ones we take with our support group. Z is even joining in by taking a park n rec "preschool-type" class and tumbling.
Z's class went very well. He was so excited about it that he was awake, dressed and with his backpack packed and and on his back when I woke up Monday morning. He wanted to leave immediately but I talked him into eating breakfast and brushing his teeth before we left. He had zero shyness and was very polite about meeting his teacher and introducing her to us. From what his teacher said, he kind of did his own thing - playing dinosaurs while the class made art projects - but she was fine with that, and so am I. He has somewhat of a reserved nature, and doesn't like to jump right into group situations and I appreciated her respecting that. I hadn't exactly planned to tell her we homeschool, but when we picked him up she asked Joss what she had done all morning. Joss said, I did my school and then I made tickets (one of her busy little paper cutting projects)," The teacher said, "Oh! Are you one of those lucky kids who are homeschooled?" Joss beamed, and I knew I liked this teacher!
We did have a nice AM with Z at school. We got J's schoolwork done in half the usual time. We are in the last five lessons of Calvert K! Now if I could just figure out what we are doing next! Part of my reason for considering pulling together my own curric or unschooling for a period is that she is actually quite a bit ahead of the K work. I do not want to spend the $ for Calvert 1 and have to be skipping/combining lessons as we often needed to for Calvert K. I was hoping that we could maybe work together and get her up to Calvert 2 in math and reading and then purchase that midway through this year.
Dang, I hate when I have a plan and then start to doubt it! It is such a nice secure feeling to know what comes next. I think I really could do it though. Between the great online resources, like starfall, enchanted learning and others, the library and my mom, I ought to be able to educate a 1st grader. hmmmmm...
BTW I am very pissed and annoyed to report that I am coming down with shingles again. I have not sprouted the sexy and glamorous lesions yet, just enjoying the searing nerve pain that is wrapped around my right side. I did get going on Valtrex this evening so hopefully we knock it out before I sprout the so-lovely blisters. Damn dormant varicella virus. Damn shingles. God bless Valtrex, although pharmaceutical companies are owned by the devil so I don't know how that will work.
Good news: My mom rocks and gave me lots of cool school stuff including tons of science story books, a teacher plan book (useful if I actually pull off this insane curriculum planning idea), monarch eggs and I can't remember what all. She also took J to girl scouts tonight, cuz my head hurt so bad and Ryan, wonderful father that he truly is, couldn't quite muster up the courage to take her. That also would have left me home with the two noisy boys, blechhh.
Best new of all: MY LITTLE BRO IS COMING HOME FROM AFGHANISTAN!!!!!! For a leave only, but soon, before the end of September we are hoping. The kids flipped when I read them his email. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Despite not having an "official" first day of school we have slipped back into a more school-y mode around here. I suppose it is partly to do with PS friends who are no longer available to the PM, if at all during the week.
One of my favorite developments is how Zeff is picking up letters, counting and a little adding from Joss. He is also asking for "Zeffy school" or "dinosaur school" each morning during our quiet time before Joss gets up. We spend about 15-20 minutes talking about colors, counting things, writing his name and working on his dinosaur book. We did one in the past, but he is getting a lot more out of it this time around. So far he knows the name and can tell you one or two defining characteristics of T. Rex, triceratops, iguanadon, pachycephalasaurus and ankylosauraus. The way we reinforce which are plant eaters and meat eaters, and some of their defensive, or predatory characteristics is by mock-fighting on the floor! Zeff didn't believe that ankylosaurus would just eat plants - he's quite a mean looking dude - but I told Zeff to pretend to be a tree and I would be ankylosaurus and pretended to gobble him. Of course he had to gobble me next, which reduced us both to giggles. The baby was even crawling all over us laughing, it was so silly!
Another Zeffy thing is that he spent all day after we got home carrying his stuffed wolf around, dressing him, changing his clothes, feeding him ("he wants ham made from pig") and disciplining him ("He said 'Yes, Zeff' Good answer, Wolfie!'" - what we say to Zeff when he responds to our requests with a prompt "Yes, Mommy") He has always been way more into babies than Joss. He will be a good daddy, someday.
Our days have been busy and fun. Joss is ready for more than the K curriculum we are on the last few lessons of, so we are adding handwriting practice, and providing her with math toys. She has been getting alot of use out of a coffee can full of beans and buttons, several small containers with lids, her abacus and her balance scale (THANKS GRANDMA). She keeps complicated notes of what things weigh, sorta. She also is doing alot of counting by tens and fives and tonight added 70+50=120 because she said 7+5=12. I thought that was pretty good figuring from my not quite 6 year old! She is also doing lots more writing on her own. She brought me a letter today and asked me to have the fairies deliver it to summer.
Dear Sumr,
I had a grat toeem.

I am having such fun at home with my kids! I am sooo blessed to be here for these moments.

Today we finished Zeff's dino-book then got up, dressed and headed to playgroup. We were a little early and no one else had arrived so we decided to take a walk through the marsh on the boardwalk. We had a wonderful time fairy watching, dragon fly spying and pretending the tall marshgrass was jungle. We saw (for real) a great blue heron, cedar waxwing, redwinged blackbirds and a bunny! Jossy also caught (with one hand, mind you) three small toads and attempted to catch a grasshopper with the hand that all ready had three toads in it! She is so brave with bugs but the grasshopper freaked her out a little cuz he hurt her. I explained that they have claws on their legs and the proper technique for grasshopper catching (pin their back legs to their body), for next time.
We had a nice day at playgroup. We had a good turnout which is always fun. We helped one of the new moms with her sling, I hope it works out for her. I swear, slings are so wonderful once you get them figured out, but they are SO HARD to figure out.
ANTI-COMMERCIAL: NOJO slings are worthless. Every person who has ever told me that they tried slings but they weren't comfortable, or the baby didn't like, or couldn't figure it out was using a NOJO. I have gotten many times my money's worth from my www.kangarookorner.com sling and also have many friends using and loving Maya wraps. My second favorite sling is the one my neighbor has long-term-lent to me and is just a long piece of fabric with two rings. It is still better than my Dr. Sears (how could he!) NOJO sling that I gave up on with Zeffy.
Wow, can I go off on a tangent?
After playgroup we went to the ortho doc (not same creepy guy as first one, actually very decent nice older guy) who re-xrayed J's arm, pronounced it healed, and we cut off the cast! She doesn't even need any follow up. Poor Joss, had about a thousand plans for all the things she would do when her cast came off and was very disappointed that her arm felt so weak and stiff and achy. She had a long bath when she got home and worked on straightening it out (it was at a 90 degree angle for about 3.5 weeks). She was very frustrated and there were many tears this evening. Her fondest hope had been to ride her bike to DQ, so her consolation prize was that daddy made cookies with all three kids while mom read HP5!! Pretty good prize for the mama, too!
While I have PT in the am at 7:30 then I have to come home, do AM stuff, school and drive to two different places to sign up for the extra curric's then back home to get ready to work the whole weekend. I was a lazy bum last weekend and took two on-calls, but this is my off-weekend that I am working so I get bonuses for each shift so MUST NOT LET THEM CANCEL ME!!! I have so little will power in that regard. I can sign up for shifts like a responsible adult, but when it is a beautiful day and the kids and I are having so much fun together and they call me to ask if I want to stay home - HOW CAN I SAY NO???? But I am making the equivalent of time and a half all weekend with the bonuses so I need to get my butt in there!
Ooooh, work related: I went to one c-section last night to baby-receive and I realized I am actually starting to get it! I wasn't scared, I didn't contaminate anything and no one yelled at me. It was such a gorgeous little girl baby, she was a little slow going at first but the cute thing was: she was breech (butt-first, so bent in half with legs up by the head) and her feet kept floating up by her ears. It is just a positional thing, but it always looks to me like they are playing, when they do that.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Wow, I guess I haven't posted in quite a while. I have been working more, in general, trying to get comfortable in the nursery and making a little extra $ for homeschool stuff. Feeling quite guilty and like a terrible homeschooling mom that I am not certain if I will be able to order 1st grade this Friday when I get paid or not. I am almost okay with doing the payment plan, though I had really hoped to avoid it. Even with only having to put 20% down, I am still stretched tight with all the extracurriculars that I am signing the kids up for. It's funny how I know they don't NEED those things, but I have this big fear that I will forget to sign up for anything and we will have NOTHING to do. It is so ridiculous that I would think that as there are tons of things that we never even get around to doing, but as we embark on our second year of homeschooling I detect the makings of a yearly pattern to this.
For the first time I am planning to enroll Z in a pre-school, park -n- rec type class. I am not looking for a three hour three morning a week pre-SCHOOL type thing. More of a 1-2 hour class with some practice listening to an adult besides mom and doing things with kids his own age. I have some good leads to call on tomorrow. I am hoping for tumbling for the first half of the fall and art for the second half for him. I actually have two notebook pages full of places to call for extracurric's for both kids!!!
I also am seeing that when Keian and ?babyofthefuture? are big that no one will be in the three classes a week that Joss is in, unless many of them are combined (more than one kid driven to the same place at the same time) but I don't see that as a reason not to do what we are able to $ and time wise at this point. I figure being the eldest has its plusses and minuses. I won't intentionally avoid one of the plusses (more time, attention,classes, etc), since I probably can't avoid any of the minusses (guinea pig homeschooled child, among others probably).
Well, enough of my late night ramblings. Peace.