River's Edge Urban Academy

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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Ryan and I are both down with it. The kids did a very nice job watching themselves today. Ryan and I attempted to take turns napping, but would often collapse before the other person would get up. So Jossy earned $2 watching the baby and Zeff played I-don't-want-to-know-how-many hours of his Tonka Construction computer game. I thought the TV would spontaneously combust after so many hours of being on but it didn't.
Hope we feel better tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Was the saddest and most beautiful day of my life.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Update on my Brother
My mom talked to him yesterday and he is doing fine and is on his way to Germany. Should be home in either May or June or July or August. (I'm serious, that's what my parents tell me.) The going to Germany thing is good for reasons I don't fully comprehend but have something to do with him becoming an officer I think.
We have had a decent weekend. I worked last night and took an on call tonight. I will work tomorrow though I don't really want to. I am feeling very burnt out of old primips (my pts on friday were 37, 40, 37 and 39) and nipple shields. I think I am really in the mood for some non-English speaking patients and sick teenagers on triple antibiotics. (that is postpartum gallows humor)
Tangent: There is an inverse relationship between age of first baby and amount of baby related knowledge. 16 year olds will fill out our education sheets as having no educational needs and will act insulted if you try to gently suggest anything. They often spend their time in the hospital watching movies and feeding the baby too much formula so it spits up everywhere and leaving half empty bottles all over the room. And they ALWAYS put their baby in brand new scratchy clothes straight from Kmart. They NEVER just use the hospital linens. And their clothes have thirty million snaps and are a complete PIA when you are in the nursery with 3 other babies that also need diaper changes. They also always overbundle their babies with tacky fuzzy fleece blankets piled like six inches high on top of their baby who is wrapped in two blankets.
Old primips, especially successful professional-types take all the classes, read all the books and still know absolutely nothing. They freak out at the slightest provocation and are so anxious that they even sabotage breastfeeding for themselves. This one lady was so freaked out about bf=ing that any time he squeaked she would insist he must be hungry and would just about have a panic attack. No matter how calmly I explained that he really was not hungry yet and the little colostrum he was getting was plenty; she just couldn't trust that her body would work to feed her baby. 40 year olds can make it to their 2nd post op day without changing a diaper. I literally walked a 40 yr old, extremely successful professional through a diaper change, t-shirt donning and swaddling. It took, no lie, 30 minutes.
Even young ones like 20 year olds are a little over-confident and slightly old ones like 34 year olds tend to be more anxious. Infertility increases postpartum anxiety hugely as well.
I have concluded that 23 is the optimal age to have a first baby in terms of not annoying your postpartum nurse. Something far too few people take into consideration when planning their lives and families.
Tangent over.
Took Joss to ballet this AM and we decided that she wouldn't enroll in the third session. She said she enjoyed the Nutcracker but doesn't like the lessons. I don't like the fees, the location or having classes on Saturday (prefer to keep it for family stuff). She has requested to try gymnastics or ceramics so we'll see what works $ and schedule wise.
Took both kids to neighbor kid's birthday party and had an awesome time with my neighbor lady and her friend. Kids also had a great time. Zeff's birthday is tomorrow so I really need to get on throwing a little shindig. Probably on Saturday.
Keian continues to delight and amaze us. He is the enforcer and will go get the kids for us from the back of the house when it is time for supper (you can hear him babble with the patterns and intonations we use when we get the kids) and will bossily hand out boots and jackets when it is time to go. He also is pretty advanced in his block stacking abilities if I do say so myself. He can balance 4 or 5 of our small blocks and does much better than you'd expect at placing them carefully centered so they balance.
I am feeling more comfortable with this unschooling idea. We continue to move through Cal Math 2 slowly and steadily. We are planning some camping trips for the summer and starting to think about a fall one as well. Hoping to see some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites.
Oh Cute Jossy Quote: (We have been discussing civil rights in relation to MLK day and she is fascinated by it.)
J: Hey mom, did you know some people don't treat wheelchair people the same as other people.
Me: Oh?
J: Yeah but that's not nice, who cares if they can't use their legs? They've got arms, right? At least they can't stub their toe.
Me: (Blows opportunity to be good homeschooling mom and collapses with giggles)
She is so cool how she gets into a subject and keeps turning it over in her mind and asking about it. We read a book about Abe Lincoln tonight and I can see that the concept of slavery has really grabbed her attention as she keeps asking questions about it out of the blue. I guess unfairness is a big thing to her. Kids always get mad when things aren't fair and it is a big mind-blower to hear that things can be unfair on such a huge scale.
Well, I have rambled sufficiently, I'm sure. Peace out.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Please Pray...
...for my friend Anne. She is going through one of the worst heartbreaks I can imagine.
...for my other friend Kate. Dealing with the loss of her mom and other horrible stressors.
...for me. I feel like the world is such a horrible, fuckedup place where awful things happen over and over.
I am very scared about my brother lately. I had a vision when I was giving Zeff a bath the other day. He looked exactly like my brother did when he was little (he doesn't really). I could just see my little brother sitting there and relived that feeling of him being my baby brother that I needed to watch over and look out for. I don't know what that means but I wore my flag shirt and jacket today to work as a good-luck charm to keep him safe.
I go along most of the time being a very positive, optimistic person. I usually believe that life is good and the world is good and everything happens for a reason. But then I hit a patch like this and I am really struggling. I know God has a plan but I just can't accept that right now.
One more prayer, please. Please pray that my brother Jon Lilja will stay safe and come home soon!

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Zeff & More Unschooling
My middle kid is such a special guy. It is not always easy to know what he is learning as he is completely unmotivated by external praise and encouragement. He is the opposite of me in this regard and it has taken a little more thought and observation to learn how to help this kid learn without turning him off.
We have not begun formal school although I have given him tracing pages, mazes and other preschool worksheets at his request. He has always enjoyed hearing stories but lately can sit through longer ones with fewer or no pictures. I think listening to books on tape in the car has helped with this.
I have not found it as easy to teach letters and counting to him because of his personality. Joss loved to show off what she had learned and was motivated to learn more so she could show off more, but that is not Z's deal AT ALL. In fact, I have to be very careful to keep any praise low-key so I don't embarrass him and scare him off letters. (Like I did with potty training: He went, I clapped and said hooray, he ran away and refused to try again for six months.)
He is also very independent and stubborn, and will stick with an activity of his own choosing much longer than anything I try to set up for him.
Because I have concerns about boys being introduced too early to academics, leading to behavior and learning problems, I have tried to err on the side of doing "school" later than early. This mixed with the neglect inherent to all kids after the first one, has led to me not thinking he had all his letter names down as he approached his fourth birthday.
So imagine how far my jaw dropped when I realized his older cousin is teaching him to read. I am not saying he could do it again, but with his cousin by his side, helping him sound out each word, he was reading an online phonics reader.
After he read it he was so thrilled and excited with himself that he spontaneously grabbed my cheeks and kissed me and hugged his cousin. I was stunned but have been noticing that he has been doing more than guessing on some of our electronic alphabet toys. He has also been really enjoying the alphabet page at starfall. I also hear him singing along with the phonics jingles on the phonics story page. So, this is my assessment: he is learning 75% on his own, with 20% help from Malcolm and Jossy and 5% from me.
Do you ever feel like the universe is speaking to you? I think we are destined to be unschoolers. We are having lovely days, by the way. Little thoughts will bubble up in me, "Is J learning what she is supposed to be learning in K/1st grade?" and this strengthening voice replies, "She is learning what she wants to learn. She is learning how to learn and to love to learn. What is it K and 1st graders are SUPPOSED to learn? Who says so? Why?" Really, who cares if we learn all about our city's history and about the river that is 8 blocks from our house instead of about the pilgrims. Maybe we'll learn about the pilgrims later. Maybe we won't. Seems to me that I have found out the little that I remember about pilgrims from school is now thought to be wrong. (Guess that big Thanksgiving celebration wasn't the friendly feast that they told us it was.)
We might not get to a lengthy discussion of the different seasons with a poster for each, but we do go to our community farm several times a season and see the crops from planting to harvest. My kids help plant vegetables, watch them grow, help weed and care for them and help harvest them. Which memory is more useful and which one is retained better?
Wow. That's the end of my unschooling manifesto for today. Stay tuned for more as I undergo the annoying process of becoming a convert to a new belief system. At least I will quit lecturing people about how awesome it is to work out.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Throughout our homeschooling adventure I have always been attracted to the ideas and ideals of unschooling. I was always too uncomfortable with being so far out of the norm to try it. But... I think we are doing it now.
I discussed the concept with Joss who thought it was awesome. I told her it meant the kids are responsible to tell me what is interesting to them and it is my responsibility to help them find out more about it. She loved the idea and decided right away that it was what she wanted to do.
The next day she and I were on a walk together. She said "Stop, mom, let's look at this wood and figure out what it's made out of. Hmm it's bumpy and brown...look! there's little cracks in it. I'm doing that 'de-schooling' thing, Mom,"
I picked up about $10 worth of "invention materials" at Artscraps last weekend as well. She helped me and we got many pieces of flower, shiny, pink and red fabrics and many large rolls of lace and lace fabric. She used them to make the most elaborate Valentines for our neighbors.
Today we did some Calvert Math, with her reading the story problems (reading!) then she drew a picture of summer. She spent the rest of the morning counting her money and playing with blocks. Now she's at Gym n Swim.
Current plan (that could change in the next hour) is to continue with Calvert Math, make time for two or three sessions of Jossy reading and two or three story times. I am signing up for quite a few nature classes this spring and we are planning to take some minivacations to Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites and do Fort Snelling. We will also continue our monthly or so ventures to the Science Museum, Children's Museum, MN Zoo and the many nature centers.
I think Zeff gets the most out of this plan as well. It is just so difficult to keep him and Keian occupied while Joss and I go through two hours of Calvert school each day. There is a lot for him to learn and enjoy this way.
So, that's the plan, Stan.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

No Email
My computer genius husband has destroyed our email and it is no longer the same address. It is now Ryktjoszefken@msn.com Yes, I know it is too long and the last part should be "kei" not "ken" but he did not consult me.
Oh well, maybe now I can shake the people who send me stupid forwards and dumb pictures. Just kidding. Kinda.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

A Good Night At Work
Wow! I don't know the last time that happened. I liked and enjoyed all my patients.
I had one really cute young married couple who were so thrilled with their baby and so determined to make breastfeeding work. They soaked up all the advice I had to share and even took my picture. The thing I loved about this mom is she really GOT how important breastfeeding is, and understood that even if it isn't easy right from the start, that it is something that you just stick with and work on until it comes together. She was so great, I can't wait for them to have another baby with us.
Also had an awesome married multip who hardly needed anything all. Gotta love having one or two of those in the mix.
One young single mom of a 24 weeker had been having a really rough stay and had been labelled "high needs". I really connected with her and spent about 45 minutes just listening to her. She recounted her entire course, starting with when she presented for care at a different hospital and the poor gal really had a rough ride. I actually almost cried when she told me how scared she had been at several points and afraid her baby would die. I asked for and received permission to pray for her and her baby. She has a little girl in the NICU and I know that if anyone who reads this felt moved to pray for them as well, that she would appreciate it.
Well, I better get going. Peace.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Bambi's Revenge

Dang! I was searing a venison roast today when I got a major grease burn on my L hand. Right now I am still in near-unbearable pain despite taking 800mg ibuprofen and 2 tylenol #3s! Joss is heartbroken because she was looking forward to doing the climbing wall with her Gym N Swim class all week. She was so psyched to show off her ability to climb to the top. Baby is heartbroken because I will not sling him around on my hip like he wants me to. Zeff is coping pretty well! :)
Thanks to my dear friends who offered to help me through this. I plan to spend tonight in a drug-induced haze and hopefully feel better by the AM.
Ryan was able to come home and take over for me so I am actually pretty lucky.
Oh, yeah, and now I am up to date on my Tetanus shot. Lucky me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Great Days
Yesterday Ryan, the kids, and I went to the Y. We all did the climbing wall. Joss got to the top for the first time, as did I! It was really fun. I was completely unaware of what a work-out I was getting as it was so exciting and scary. When I reached the top they told me to LET GO of the wall and grab onto my rope. It was weird that even though I intellectually knew that they had me, I still had a hard time letting go of the wall!
After that I worked out and Ry played with the kids in the kidgym. I was then lucky enough to get the evening off work so we just bummed around and watched the StupidBowl.
Today we got up, did school, went to the Y and came home for lunch. My dad met up with us and we all went to the Science Museum together. It was great. We saw Mt. Kilimanjaro at the Imax, checked out the Mississippi River exhibit, the Chinasaurs and the collections area.
I went 4.4 miles on the elliptical today in 40 minutes. Go me!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Updates on Ryan and Work
Ryan had a thyroid ultrasound this week and two days later the dr. called to tell us both that everything is normal and it may be that he is having minor changes that don't affect function but we are just more aware of it because he is so skinny. I was surprised by this because I was braced for the worst. I still am not at ease, though. I just looked at his neck this evening when I got home from work and I think it is getting larger on the right side now.
I plan to call Monday and get referred to an endocrinologist. I feel like the Internal Medicine guy has done what he can and I am still concerned. I think that because I have worked in a hospital since I was 17, I am more aware of the fact that bad things do indeed happen to young, healthy, nice, regular people with families. So maybe I am overly concerned, but I just won't feel comfortable until a specialist has assured us both that it is totally cool.
Update on work: Tonight was still madly busy but I was lucky enough to get cut at 7:30, though I didn't walk out till almost 8:30 because of charting. Meth girl left and the very sweet foster parents came to get the baby. I sort of wish I could know how it all turns out, but I probably never will. This is the third + drug screen for meth in less than a week. One person was a married professional with no prenatal risk factors. I can't remember why that one get tested, I only heard about it second hand. Up till now meth was not something we saw very often at all. Gosh, that sucks. I really pray we don't get into dealing with this all the time because these people are nuts and the whole thing is very sad and stressful for everyone.

Friday, February 04, 2005

I hate my F@@king job
Well, tonight anyway I really do.
This is my patient load:
1st post-op day patient with minimal English and crappy breastfeeding baby. Is of a culture where women are waited on hand and foot after giving birth and doesn't quite understand why I keep leaving her room? Aren't I gonna stay the whole time and hold the pump on her boobs for her?
Day of delivery Nigerian patient. Actually had a decently nursing baby but as she is African she does think that I will be doing everything for her. Her baby was 10+ pounds and NOT CUTE.
41 year old primip (old primips are the WORST, generally very anxious with tons of questions) with tiny little 5# baby that was at 10% weight loss, jaundiced and a crappy breastfeeder.
Top it off with a early twenties primip who we (according to her) decided to mess with by adding a little meth to her urine sample. Now she has certainly not used meth for a very long time so we are just trying to be mean to her. Yeah, we have nothing better to do than to tamper with people's urine samples. And like we WANT all the paperwork involved in that. Believe me I wish we never found out! Her mom actually bordered on being verbally abusive, though not exactly directed at me. And yes, her kid couldn't eat for crap either! Of course she had to come down to the nursery and feed him there since he was on a 72 hour hold and it didn't help anything that by the time she got down there he was too frantic to learn to latch on.
Now this is a tough assignment, despite only having 4 pt's (we often have 5). I expressed that to my charge nurse at the beginning of the shift so that she would look elsewhere for who to assign the next admit.
So, guess who got the first admit? That's right! ME! Nevermind that the other nurses were sitting around talking, with their charting all done while I raced my ass off. There wasn't much I could say when they gave me the patient other than to suck it up and take care of her. At the end of the night though, I did ask my charge, "Why me?" The answer, the other nurse who should have gotten the 5th pt is "incompetent" Excuse me? That nurse walked out of work right on time while I stayed 45 minutes late charting! My reward for competency is being shit on?
Ooooh, one good thing happened that I better get on the record: A visitor in the hall stopped me to tell me I had been her nurse and I helped her SO much with breastfeeding. She was still nursing her three month old and I spent a little time in the hall talking to her about how she could increase her milk production. It was really rewarding as she is of a general type of pt who I did not expect to nurse for very long. I gave her props for continuing to nurse and thanked her for taking the time to thank me. What a sweety.
Anyway, that's my venting for the day, I do feel better. Now to eat a nasty frozen bean burrito as I hardly had time to eat on my whole crappy shift.
Warm Weather

It is 50 today and soooo beautiful. Birds are singing, kids both have scraped knees from riding bikes and scooters outside, and I even saw a bald eagle today!!!
Another school-cancellation-due-to-great-weather-day at our house. After stories with breakfast I was trying to rein Joss is for some reading work when she begged to be allowed to get her "energies out" first. I caved! She actually hauled her own bike out of the garage and through the snowy, icy, muddy mess of a backyard all by herself and had a great time riding back and forth within her "short boundaries" on the sidewalk. Zeff too, had a great time on his scooter and is getting really good at it. They both practiced "skating" as well.
The nice weather is just supposed to last till tomorrow so maybe we'll do a little make-up work on Sunday. Or not. She did some starfall last night of her own volition and read some of Frog and Toad to herself today. She also read Fox in Socks to Zeff. Her reading is getting so much smoother. She no longer sounds out simple short vowel words and has quite a collection of sight words. Long vowel and simple compound words are also getting more fluent, but can trip her up, especially if she is getting tired.
Zeff is actually understanding the principle of adding, from J and M working with him. I swear I've done almost nothing with adding, cuz I thought we needed to be working on number symbol recognition and counting, but he is really understanding how to add on his fingers and with objects within the numbers he really grasps (mostly below 6).
I am really growing some faith in the whole unschooling idea. I am having an idea in my mind of finishing our Calvert curriculum (cuz it was SO EXPENSIVE) and then having a 6-12 month or so unschooling experiment.
I seem to be more natural at creating a good learning atmosphere and exploring things with my kids than I am at following a rigid schedule. I suppose the deciding point will be what works best for them. Anyway, this is just a thought that has been rolling around my brain. No definite plans beyond finishing Calvert 1.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Reason #237 why homeschooling is great.
On the super snowy and cold days where public school is cancelled we are able to continue our studies. We therefore feel justified in taking off when it is, for example 40+ and sunny on February 3rd. No school today, though we laid on the sidewalk to examine frost crystals and Joss figured out for herself (with guidance) why it was frosty in the shade and wet in the sunny areas. We also examined our stroller tracks in the snow and observed that the crushed crystals are what caused that area to be "darker" white. Also saw steam rising from a wood retaining wall and talked about that.
J figured out what her and Zeff could get at the corner store with the money she brought. She did a good job with the figuring out part, it was the deciding what exactly to get that took FOREVER!
She also read several signs, etc. so despite not "doing school" I feel like we got plenty done, in light of the weather!
Baby loves to go on walks and wave and yell at all the people and dogs he sees. Today he said "Hewwo" (hello) for the first time (he has said hi and bye bye since before he was one)
He is sleeping now but I am so beat from Hell night at work last night and worrying about R that I cannot move my butt. We still don't know about R's results, prob won't till tomorrow, so we would appreciate prayers. I can't see how I'm going to get through 24 more hours without some kind of answers but I guess I just need to get busy.
Anyway, I should go. Hope everyone is enjoying this awesome gorgeous beautiful day.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Today started out tough, got great and ended tough. For the long version, keep reading.
Took Ry to the doctor this AM. We noticed two weeks ago that his thyroid is enlarged. He went in to the doctor who confirmed it was enlarged but "at least it is symmetrical" did some thyroid function and antibody tests which were normal and told Ryan to come back if it grew any more. Over this last weekend we noticed that not only is it larger, it is also now asymmetrical, larger on the left side.
So we went back today and dr ordered an ultrasound. Ryan got it today and we should hear results tomorrow. Please pray for us as I am really scared.
Day improved immensely when we picked up the kid's buddies Frank and Maggie, met up with my friend Lori and her kids, Chet and Annabel. We took the kid's to the MN Zoo and took advantage of the 40 degree weather by spending the whole time outside walking around the big loop. The kid's also had a great time climbing the "grain elevator" area.
Then parted company with Lori and kids, picked up Malcolm and took six, yep count'em six kids to the Y. I proved my theory that (to a point) more kids are easier than less. I had zero behavior or any kinds of problems with any of the kids. They were awesome. I made them hold hands most of the time (I was a little worried about leaving one behind and still having such a pack that I didn't notice) and it was the cutest thing you ever saw.
Did 4.2 miles in 40 minutes on the elliptical, but set to level 5 in deference to the HORRIBLE air quality we are suffering with here in the metro area. Worst in 25 years. I can tell, too. I had to use my inhaler twice today and I rarely use it.
After supper I had to go into work from 7-11p. Now, I generally think a 4 hour shift just cannot be that bad but tonight it WAS!
It is an unwritten rule of nursing that all bad things happen at change of shift. That held true today. Between day and evening shift one of my patients hemorrhaged and a baby coded. I wasn't there of course, but I paid for it as the nurse I followed had her hands full caring for the one hemmorhaging patient and left almost all the other duties of the shift to me. I also discovered that my 17 year old had been overdosing herself on the self med motrin that we give all our patients. She was okay and I had a great conversation with the midwife who came over to see her. I just got home now at 1am with a splitting headache. I am taking a hot bath and going to bed, now.