River's Edge Urban Academy

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

Friday, April 22, 2005

Well, I am doing famously at my goal of only filling my van's gas tank every other week. Because said van is out off commission in our driveway. Wussy mom would have just said, "Oh well" and skipped Spanish this afternoon, but I am no wussy mom and I piled the 25 and 35 pound boys in the 40 pound trailer and Joss and I biked the 2.25 miles to Spanish class. We went a different way that was incredibly beautiful, slightly hillier and with almost no streets to cross as it follows the creek and goes under some bridges. It was awesome and would have been perfect if it had not been in the high 40s with strong wind and occasional drizzles. Even so, it was a great ride. I wore my dad or brother's very thick wool army shirt under my windbreaker, and I got too hot, but it was the PERFECT thing to cover the boys up with. It kept them warm and dry and was big enough to tuck in around the edges.
After we got J to class I took the boys to the library, where baby delighted me with his language ability. We had been visiting with Miss Lucy, the children's librarian (during which time I am sure I did not refer to her as a librarian). A while later we were heading to desk to check out when I gave baby my library card and told him to give it to the librarian. He wheeled around and headed back in the opposite direction and handed the card to Miss Lucy. It not only showed that he understood everything I had said, but also that she was a librarian, despite not being told that. He also did a nice job saying please and thank you while we were there in addition to his "Yes, Mommy" that he is so proud of.
After Library we went to the grocery store and got as many necessities as would fit in one grocery bag, then headed back to the rec center to pick up Jossy. The ride home was even colder but we made good time and I am so proud of J's endurance. Another milestone, yesterday Zeff asked for a worksheet so I provided him with a letter matching one. I helped him w/the first row and then asked him to wait while I did something with the baby. In the two minutes I was out of the room he finished the page on his own. And today, with no prompting wrote his own name. I confess I don't know why he started with "y" and moved from right to left to write his first name but I was thrilled all the same.
Well, my hungover 28 year old cousin is here so I better take care of her.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Follow up to Work Post and 80 in April
My last night at work turned out to be very nice. I heard that the sick baby I sent up on Friday was improving, though he was still sick. Also had the opportunity to observe the parents of the hold baby and their interactions with her. I was very glad to observe that they were very loving and responsive and also to know that their drug screens were all negative. ***
*** Details are changed to protect the identity of these families***
Yesterday got up to 80! degrees! It was awesome, we took Z to park n rec in the AM and then came home and J did all her school outside. I did remind her that public school kids didn't often get to do their schoolwork at a picnic table with bare feet and listening to the birds sing. She agreed.
After we picked up the Zooter we came home and met up with my dad and went to North Mississippi Regional Park. We saw the Great Blue Heron rookery and some adults on the nests with binoculars but didn't see any of those crazy pterodactyls flying.
Came home and kids rode bikes and played in our yard with the neighbor kids. Then after supper the neighbor lady and I went shopping at Old Navy. I got 2 new pairs of shorts and 2 T-shirts, got J a dress and 3 T-shirts, Z shorts and socks and K a little surf shirt and matching trunks. TOO CUTE!!!!!!!! OMG I am gonna go put it on him now for absolutely no good reason.
Ooohh saw an awesome link on another blog to this editorial from Scientific American Here's an excerpt:
In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of so-called evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades, we published articles in every issue that endorsed the ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the theory of common descent through natural selection has been called the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time, but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it. Where were the answering articles presenting the powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000 years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles. As editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Love it.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Work Post
Tonight was tough. I was in the nursery and I started my shift with a sick baby and a brand new baby who was on a 72hour hold. These are both things that could keep you mildly busy on their own. But together, it was quite a lot to deal with.
72hr hold babies usually need urine and meconium samples collected. The poo is no big thing but getting a urine sample is ridiculously difficult, especially on girl babies. We have these barbaric little devices of sticky silicone attached to a bag to somehow collect their minute little baby pees. The anatomy of girls makes it almost impossible to get the seal tight and not have it leak out the back, so we put cotton balls there and wring out the urine. It is more putzy and time consuming than it even sounds and it is a 10 minute job every time you change a diaper. So you can spend 10 minutes cleaning up, rebagging and diapering the kid then another 10 minutes dealing with the pee, couple that with the fact that the poor kid can't be with its mom so it needs to be held...and you have one timeconsuming kid.
In addition my other kid had become jaundiced with an elevated bili at about 3 hours of age. By my shift his bili was rising, hgb falling, he had decreased platelets and was developing petechiae. I was very busy with this kid because he was under lights so needed frequent temp checks, I had trouble getting labs back, had to page the doc almost hourly etc. Turned out the labs were so long coming back because they were so screwed up. They never gave me the results or explained them to me, just told me they needed to talk to the doctor about them! I have never heard of them doing that and it really made me nervous.
The dad was so nice, we kinda bonded at the beginning of the shift during a lull in the insanity and I just felt so badly for him. He was just a nice decent normal guy, it was their 3rd kid and they were just the kind of nice responsible people you wish all babies went home to. The irony of this loved, wanted baby getting so ill so quickly, with no explanation lying across the nursery from this baby whose mother used drugs, didn't get prenatal care, etc is lying there healthy as can be, crying to be held. When the mother of the baby I shipped up to the level 2 nursery aches to hold her baby.
Sorry, I know that is a little incoherent but I am in strange state of exhaustion and nervous energy that doesn't allow me to edit. I worked hard for 9 hours straight with 1 bathroom break and 15 minutes away from the nursery at 9pm to pick up a salad at McDonald's. I also hauled my 60# worth of boys 5 miles in my 40# trailer today so you'd think I would be sleeping now...
Hope tomorrow is better. I almost wrote that it couldn't be worse but I am way too superstitious to actually type that out and leave it there. I just knocked wood too.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Well it is fully spring here, or at least it has felt that way lately. It was in the high 70s for the last half of last week and we have been outside constantly. Sunday both kids actually cried because I hadn't let them watch any TV for a full week because everytime they would ask for it I would rant about how nice it was out and since we live in darn near the arctic circle we should be out enjoying what little nice weather we get. Poor kids, I am so turning into my father.
Last Monday, we went to Como Zoo with my dad. The funniest thing that I can remember is that baby was walking along holding hands with us when he stopped and wouldn't walk over a grate in the sidewalk. Cows won't walk over such things either, so it is interesting to see where cow and eighteen month old logic intersect. With some coaxing he finally did it, and then immediately went over it again several more times to see if it would still work.
It was great to spend time with my dad and the kids dig it too. He has so much great outdoor knowledge and respect to share with the kids.
Tuesday we went to the Minnesota Zoo with my friend Lori and her kids Chet and Annabel. After that, the kids and I walked and rode bikes to the playground. I then got called in to work a night shift that night so...
Ryan stayed home Wednesday. We were supposed to have Malcolm the full day as he was off school on Spring Break, so his mom dropped him off in the AM. I had planned to take the kids to the Science Museum and suggested that Ryan do so instead. Instead he took them down to the river for the first time of the year.
Our family has always had a close relationship with the Minneapolis side of the Mississippi near the Lake Street Bridge since Ryan and I were 19 and 25 and first lived 2 blocks away from it (we are a little farther from it now). We used to take our first puppy down there back then to run around and have always gone down there to explore ever since. Malcolm has been there several times with us and it is the inspiration for our school's name.
So they had a fabulous time of course, and came home 4 hours later filthy, exhausted and hungry. They brought back the usual muddy treasures including a coconut shell. It was really hard to talk them out of their ideas that it had floated up the river from the ocean from Hawaii or that there was a lone coconut tree somewhere on the riverbank that we just hadn't found yet.
Thursday, was a really beautiful occasion for me! A friend was kind enough to not only invite my TWO oldest kids to her son's MN Zoo B-day party but also to PICK THEM UP and take them there for me!! It bought me like 3.5 quiet hours with just my baby. We played outside, did housework inside and then topped it off with a lovely quiet walk around the neighborhood on which he fell asleep and then I had SILENCE at my house! I just can't express how awesome it was! It brought back memories of when J was a baby and I was home with her.
I think of myself then, 21, feeling like I was a kid playing house but trying so hard to be a good mom. I wish I had relaxed and enjoyed her more, but I really felt the stigma of being a young mom and felt like I had to do twice as well as anyone else to avoid being judged harshly.
Back to the weeks events. Friday we just hung out at home and went on two long walks to a different playground and the corner store. I worked that evening and stayed late till 3am. I worked late because they were short a nursing assitant for nights so I stayed to help in the nursery.
This weekend we worked on the yard and spent time helping Zeff learn to ride his bike. Yes, at 4yrs and 2 months he can now independently ride his two wheeler which has been useless since he insisted on the removal of his training wills 8 months ago!! It was so fun to see his pride in his new accomplishment and watch him go from feeling very anxious and tense about riding to confident and enjoying his new ability.
I got my compost bin moved and had two wheelbarrows full of great compost to put on my vegetable garden. I also dug a trench around what was our scarlet runner bean teepee last year and worked 3/4 of a wheelbarrow full of compost in there. We are planning a sunflower hut and Zeff is especially excited. He is just enchanted with the idea of a flower house.
Joss has even planted a row of peas though it is quite early for it. If the current weather holds, or even if it stays above 40 they will be all right. They are in a sunny patch at the former site of our compost bin so if they don't freeze they should do tremendously.
The kids have been having fun identifying birds by sight and by call (mostly cardinals, but also blue jays and house finches), digging in the dirt and finding, capturing and observing many disgusting, I mean interesting insects and worms. We have had centipedes and this disgusting blobby white thing with and this other thing with pinchers. I need to find a better insect ID book! We mostly have books about insects in general and these aren't working like a field guide, which is what we really need. I should check at No. Miss. Regional park, home of the awesome nature backpacks and see what they have in the bug backpack again.
Today was nice. Zeff started Magic Treehouse again, about which he is thrilled! He loved it in the Fall and then I made a serious mistake and had him try a different park n rec preschool program for the Winter session. He absolutely hated that one and we ended up pulling him out because he was so freaked out about going. This class is perfect for our goals for our kids. Very fun, creative play with little to no academic focus. Today they acted out stories (per Zeff) and all the boys had spiderman stories and all the girls had princess stories! When I got there they were all sitting under the table eating their lunches being mice.
Rachel came over, we picked up Zeff and ran errands then came bakc and had smoothies and cucumber sandwiches. Played in the yard till it started raining after that. Rachel left and Ryan got home early.
My neighbor Noelle then watched big kids (her friend Vanessa and her 3 were also over) while baby napped and Ryan and I power cleaned. I put away all laundry and swept and mopped and cleaned the bathroom. Ryan folded laundry and cleaned and vacuumed living room. Then went and had tea with the other moms while our 9! total combined kids played in gleeful anarchy. That was really fun as there were an 8g, 7b, 7b, 6g and 5g in the older kids group and 4b, 4b and 3b in the little kids group which is who baby played with, though he ran up and hugged his sister whenever the big kid tornado swirled by him.
Well, I fell asleep early, then woke up in the middle of the night cuz I was hungry and have now eaten, blogged and read other people's blogs so I am going to bed!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Warning: There is no pretense of modesty in the following blog post. Only pure self-congratulatory bragging.
My Girl: Today she started talking about going to circus school again. We discussed how she would have to earn $100 of the tuition as it is very expensive. She asked how she would get the money and I told her she could earn $1 extra per day by doing an additional job after her regular chores are done. She figured that it would be $7 a week. Then, with zero help from me (we were in the car) she made a chart that showed how much she would make each week and that it would take 14 weeks and 2 days to earn $100. She labeled her chart: Srkis scool. It was neat that this happened in the car because Ryan was able to hear the way she can work to figure out something when she is motivated. I think of it as a good argument for unschooling, though I have been handing out the occasional worksheet to assuage my nerves.
Me: I rock. I was complimented on my work twice in the last two days by fellow nurses who I really respect. I worked 20 out of the last 48 hours and have had really great interactions with my patients. Nothing too spectacular, just nice patients who I really felt like I had been able to help.
Baby: Totally talks! Daddy, Mommy, Dossy (Jossy), goggy (doggy), bye-bye.
For background: even though some people think it is overly strict or regimented or something, I expect my kids to answer my instructions or when I call them with "Yes, mommy" They have about an 85-90% compliance rate with this rule so I am frequently reminding them of it.
So, today: I called my 18 month old to come sit in his high chair and he said "Na (yes) mommy!" He only really started two word phrases in the last couple weeks so I was really surprised and proud.
Well it's Sleep Robbing Day, I mean Daylight Savings so I better try to get to bed.