River's Edge Urban Academy

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

Monday, March 28, 2005

It was 65 today and we spent it almost entirely outside. Kids went outside right after breakfast. I cleaned up a little then took baby out to the backyard with them. Joss made ribbon/twine/stick things for the fairies in our yard who left a fairy ring and Zeff had me trace his outline with sidewalk chalk. I did two of him and one of Keian (who wasn't actually that into it). Zeff was so cute how we labeled one of his outlines Zeffy and he put hair and eyes and a smile and shoelaces on it. The other one he called the gooby monster and put long teeth and claws on it.
We then went in the front yard where the kids practiced on their bikes and Keian made friends with the cat statue next door and discovered blackbirds. We went for a long walk around the neighborhood and then went home for lunch.
After lunch, the big kids played outside while baby napped and I threw a roast and veggies in the crockpot and finished off cleaning the kitchen. I forgot how clean the house stays when the kids are outside! It still looks great at 10:30 tonight!
Then the kids and I went to the como zoo.
We got home at the same time as Ryan so he took the kids outside while I took a little 20 min power nap. We then had a great supper and went for a long family walk. The kids and baby all went to bed a full hour early and with no complaints! They were exhausted. Another successful day!
PS Jossy is getting to be a really good reader and read signs that said "Wolves will bite" and darn I forget what else. Also compared the height of the giraffe with mine and Ryan's and told me how much taller it is than us. Not exactly 3 pages of Calvert Math, but more than enough on the first 60+ day of the year!
PS A common theme through our homeschooling is our willingness to scrap any plans when the weather is unseasonably nice. I feel like it is God's little sign to me that he wants to teach us outside that day!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

More Spring
Yesterday got up to 46 degrees and it was so clear and sunny it felt warmer. We played outside pretty much all day. In the AM kids and I rolled out our Mimenchiasaur string to see how long it would be in relation to our house and our block. Kids were impressed that it went to our next-to-next-door-neighbor's house. And it took them 4 seconds to run the distance and 54 Jossy foot steps to walk it.
Then we went in the back yard for mud squelching and fort stomping. Once the fort was a flat pile of muddy snow we went for a walk. We all worked on training the baby to hold hands and stay on the sidewalk. It was so fun.
After we got Malcolm, him and Joss worked out how many loaves of bread we would need for each big person (not Keian) to have two loaves of bird bread and how much it would cost at the Bakery Thrift store (at a nickel a loaf). They did a great job and picked out and paid for their bread with their own money.
We then went and fed the ducks (including one m/f pair of wood ducks!!), canada geese and seagulls at our usual spot. While we were down there a dad and his two kids stopped and came down by us. We shared our bread with them (truthfully we had about six loaves more than we needed!) and were surprised to discover that the little girl had gone to daycare with Jossy from 15 m to 3.5 years! I was talking to the dad about the birds' behavior this spring as opposed to last year and about other good bird feeding places when he told me that it was only the second time he had ever fed birds with his kids.
Now, for all I know he does tons of cool things with his fam, but it made me realize that I never had time to feed birds before I become more of a SAHM (I still work so I'm not officially a SAHM). Now I can't count how many times we've done it. I am so glad and so lucky to be able to slow down and enjoy our life.
When we got home they went back outside and we all played with the neighbor kids in our mud pit, I mean yard. We had seven kids running around, falling in mud and snow while Noelle and I chatted. When the baby completely bailed in the mud and we realized he also had a poopy diaper, Noelle came inside to keep one eye on the kids outside and to chat with me while I bathed him.
After the neighbor kids went home and all the kids changed clothes I let them watch TV while I prepared dinner. However they abandoned it after about twenty min in favor of "halo".
My friend had assembled a chicken and potato dish so I popped that in the oven and steamed some asparagus and made some fridgerator rolls, YUM! Rachel & Malcolm stayed for supper and then J and I went to the Y.
5 MILES IN 45 MINUTES, BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yep, that's right! On the elliptical! A NEW RECORD!!!!!! I am so proud of myself.
And needless to say, after that big day, the kids slept great!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Well, Spring is here and we are having some lovely days.
We got a big dumping of snow Friday evening, which caused us to be shortstaffed at work, so I stayed and worked a double in exchange for Saturday evening off.
Sunday, Ry and the kids spent three hours in the back yard building a snow fort. At it's height (it's been shrinking everyday) it was probably 3.5 ft tall and is sort of circle shaped with an approx diameter of 4-5 feet. They made snow bricks with two big tupperware containers and used those to build it up. Pretty cool!
Monday, Ryan came home at 8:30 and I thought he had forgotten something, but actually his work for the day had been cancelled so we had an unexpected day all together with nothing scheduled. Before we were married we would call days where neither of us worked, "Ryan and Katy days" and we would make an effort to do something special (though back then the most we could usually afford was to ride our bikes around the lakes and end up with a cone at McD's).
So, we declared it a "Ryan, Katy, Jossy, Zeff and Keian day"! We packed the kids up and headed over to the Science Museum. We got there at 10:30 and didn't leave till 1:45 which is an incredibly long museum outing for us, but the kids were perfect. We spent some time with (of course) the chinasaurs. This time we brought a roll of kite string and rolled out and cut a length of string as long as the Mimenchiasaur. We checked out some other stuff and caught an awesome movie, "Stomp's World Beat," that the kids and I absolutely loved but Ryan and the baby literally fell asleep to.
Yesterday (Tuesday) my friend's kids (g5,b3)got dropped off around nine. We played inside till we'd had snack at ten then we went to play in the backyard. The big kids were having a great time with the fort but baby was just really trying to get covered with mud. So we kind of moved to the front yard, then all agreed to take a walk to look for signs of spring. We had only gotten 1/2 way around our block when I passed my friends house and she came out to say her friend was over and did we want to go to the coffeeshop with them. Well, I wanted to, but baby was wet and muddy and our stroller had broken so I wasn't able to take him that far. Fortunately, (she has 3 kids too) she had a snowsuit he could wear as well as a stroller that she let me keep! So we all went to the coffeeshop where grownups could talk and kids could play in the toy area. A little after noon we headed home so we could have lunch. Ryan was home so he had lunch with us and then agreed to stay with the sleepy baby while I took big kids to the zoo. We had a great time on the Minnesota trail, again as well as the Kid's Den. I am always a little nervous that I am going to lose other people's children, so I had the kids holding hands while we were anywhere that was crowded. These kids are all pretty obedient, but of course they were forgetting to hold hands from time to time. So, I had the boys and girls each come up with a team name and we had a competition to see which team could hold hands with the least reminders. The girls were the princesses and the boys were the godzillas! It worked really well and I only had to give two or three more reminders to hold hands for the rest of our trip!
I just love having a pile of kids around me. I am really starting to feel like I know what I am doing as a parent (sometimes) which is not too bad since I have been working at it for almost 6.5 years! It seems that I pretty regularly have 4 or 5 or 6 kids with me and I just love it. I wish we could afford, and my body could handle having a really large family. There is a nurse at my work who was pregnant a little before I was with Keian with her fourth child. Well, that turned out to be twins! And now she is pregnant again! With twins! For a total of 7 kids! Am I weird to be totally jealous? Everyone I tell this to is horrified but I am just so happy for her and want it to be ME! Actually the thought of being pregnant with twins scares me (pre-term labor, c-section), but I am kind of hoping that our next baby could be twins. Her last twins were term, born vaginally, breastfed, etc, so it can be done! I have actually gotten emotional thinking about what if I was in labor with twins and I was trying for a vaginal birth and they made me have an epidural cath placed just in case. Literally, tears have come to my eyes regarding that. Typing that makes me realize that is a titchy bit irrational, but I never put off worrying about something to tomorrow that I can worry about today! Okay, I must be hormonal. And having pregnancy jealousy, because other people with babies the same age and younger than my baby are having subsequent babies now, and we are supposed to be waiting for another 15 months. Waaah! Maybe if I like kids so much I should get off the computer, turn off the Barney and get these kids outside!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Cool Moments (Actually, many disjointed thoughts as I try to get everything down that I didn't blog about in the last week.)
Headings added to make up for lack of coherent theme or graceful segues.

Working out: I am back to working out everyday at the Y. We are all healthy again (knock on wood) so I am making up for lost time and doing the elliptical almost everyday and body flow at least 2-3 times a week. Tonight I actually did 3 miles in 25 minutes, but I had to cut my time short so we would have plenty of time in the pool. So! I have totally broken the 9 minute mile! I did it yesterday too when I was actually going for 5 miles in 45 minutes and I was totally going to make it (which I consider a bigger acheivement because of the longer time) when K had a dirty diaper that I had to go change right at minute 33. Aaarrrgggh!

Zoo: Went to the zoo today. Saw 3 hawks on the way there. Huge thrill for J, Z and I. Really enjoyed the MN trail and spotting the hidden animals. We had an adventure on the Tropics trail, when we were all standing by the lemur area when 3 of them came right up to the edge of the cage, within arm's reach of us. The kids were in awe, almost freaked out to be so close to such large and animated animals when all of a sudden they started their super-loud hooting noise. Joss and my friends 6 yr old boy, Chester, were old enough to not act scared but you could tell it was intense. Zeff and Keian were pretty scared though neither cried. I thought it was great. Joss and Chester saw a bird walking loose in the exhibit and felt that my friend Lori and I were underreacting to their report of a loose animal and so told every zoo worker and volunteer about the "animal on the loose". They were all so sweet and promised to check into it, though I could tell they knew it was one of the birds that was allowed to roam the area.
We also smelled real jasmine blossoms. Funny, I never smelled it as anything other than bath salts or incense. The real thing is better.

Joss Math: J was doing a math sheet this AM where she was converting letters to numbers using a phone dial pad and had woven this whole fantasy about how they were a secret code and she was the detective and she had to get the bad guys. I over heard her say the following to her letters:
"Haha, you'll have plenty of time to relax behind bars letter N"
"Get in jail B, get in jail E. I'll have to think about you J, because you're in my name." I was ROFLMAO at the preferential treatment she was giving the letters in her name.

Halo: J and M and Z have added newspaper armor, swords, shields, daggers and scepters to their complicated afternoon imaginary game, Halo. They make these things out of newspapers and duct tape and kite string and they are quite elaborate. They often spend more time setting up the rules and making props for their game than actually playing it. Long complicated, good guy-bad guy games are some of my favorite memories from playing with my good buds as a kid and it takes me back to listen to them run and shout in the basement under my feet.

Cute Kids J and Z were sharing the computer chair playing a reading game this AM, when K begged to be in it with them. I tucked him in behind them and for a good 5 minutes all my kids were cuddling and content in one adult-sized chair together. I would have given anything for my camera but R took it to work.

Brag about my boy: Zeff's behavior is really getting wonderful. He handles disappointment so much better, he follows rules and he is overcoming his fears. He got a shot on Tuesday and didn't cry (my kids are awesome at shots) and today even let me cut his hair and wash it later without crying (much).

Brag about me: I am getting to be a darn good hair cutter if I do say so myself. At least, not too awful. He really resisted the clippers so I did my first "scissors only" 'do and it was okay but it was really tough to get the part around the ears right.

Lament about baby: Zeff and Joss are both so pleasant to be around these days that it just about makes up for Mr. Tantrum-pants! He is doing the same thing Zeff did of getting really frustrated and physical (hitting, biting, pinching) around 18 months. Then we thought it had to do with the frustration of not being able to talk and I think that's part of it, although Keian communicates better than his older sibs did at his age. I seem to remember from the boring What to Expect the blah blah blah books something about a separation anxiety thing going on at this age too, so who knows. Poor guy. Poor us! (PS The what to expect when you are expecting, etc. books are so snotty and boring. They remind me of the mean NP at my first OB's office.)

Dang, I have to get back to recording more of our day to day activities (though it's probably boring for others) because they have said and done so many awesome things lately. They are learning and growing so much, and I really think this unschooling thing is right for us (though you may notice I did provide and insist on the completion of a math sheet today.)


Friday, March 11, 2005

We had such a nice morning at the Science Museum. Checked out the Chinasaurs again. The volunteers were just awesome today and spent a lot of time chatting with the kids about dinos. They are both becoming very expert on the subject and Joss thinks she may be a paleontologist as her "first job". She compared it to how I used to work at Burger King and a coffee shop before I started working at my hospital.
Zeff and I had a nice PM while J was at Spanish. We browsed through back issues of National Geographic and cut out cool pix and talked about light and leopards.
Then I folded clothes while I listened to classical music and the baby napped. aaahh.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Zeff came into our bed this morning and wanted to tell us about his dream. Apparently it was about a two-headed dragon who was his pet and goblins were trying to take it. He wasn't scared at all, this is the stuff he pretends and talks about alot. We asked him what his dragon's name was. He answered sweetly, "Strawberry, because he drinks blood."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Flu continued....
I have a fever and sore throat. I guess if I still have them tomorrow I will go to the doctor but frankly I feel too awful to go to the dr.s office, today.
The kids were really good yesterday. I dropped J off at Gym n Swim and one of my friends was kind enough to drive her home so I could have more than an hour to rest. What a lifesaver!
I hope they can be as good today. Ryan is going to try to get home early, but as I sit here at 8:45am it seems like there is an awful lot of day in front of us and I just want to go back to bed.
Jossy is writing a story about a town where the mayor has a snow machine but he goes in a coma and his wife doesn't know how to turn it off. A COMA??? I do not know where she gets this stuff.