Monday, August 19, 2013

Homeschooling: What I Need From You

That's right. Uncle Sam's here. This just got real.
Ok, no it didn't. He's not really here. But now that I have your attention...

School is starting up again. Remember when we were kids and we didn't start until, like, September?! Kids these days are starting in August! I feel like every year I'm surprised by school starting, taken aback by the sudden influx of school buses and crossing guards.

This year is a little different. This year, technically, Esther would be starting her first year of school. She's five years old and would be going to kindergarten. This is brought to light even more by the fact that my super cool nephew, who is the same age as Esther, is starting kindergarten and my other, younger yet still cool, nephew is also starting preschool. The kids at church who are her age are also going to school. Esther is not.

It's no surprise to most that We are not sending her to school. It's been the long talked about plan for years now. I have a good friend who once told me to find someone with awesome kids and ask what they do for schooling, and so we did! We did look into options in our area, but in the end decided to keep her home. We've even dabbled in some 'school' work here and there, mostly games and nature hikes. We've been following more of an 'unschooling' theme as of late, meaning we've been riding her waves of questions and discoveries. Sometimes we look stuff up on the internet, generally YouTube to find some crazy video (the last being of a cicada killer as we have one or two who have made our yard their home). Sometimes I come up with some sort of activity to investigate a certain subject (She wanted to know more about states because we live on the boarder of two states, so every time we cross, we talk about it. We've checked out flashcards, maps and atlases). I'm not at all sure what schooling will look like for our family at this point. I've done a lot of research, talked to a lot of homeschooling families. Preliminarily, I feel like we'll continue on an unschooling path, weaving in some work books, activities, and scheduled events here and there for a while yet. I think we'll be ever evolving as the children grow.

The big question is: why? I'm not homeschooling because I think the system is messed up or anything crazy
like that. Although I had a hard time throughout school for various reasons, I do know multiple people who loved school and I can appreciate that. I think that teachers have a special gift and the families who chose a traditional schooling setting, for whatever reason, are doing it because they feel that is what's right for their child(ren). And that's why I'm teaching my children: I believe that's what's best for them. 

What does this mean for you? Really not much:

1. Support. Please know that so much prayer, thought and research went into this decision. It's not something on a whim, not something because the 'cool kids' are doing it, not something because I want to show off or prove something. It's something that we feel is truly right for our family. I want my children to have the support of those around them as well, I don't want them to feel like their different or some how less than their peers because they don't 'get' to go to school. We need you to support our decision to do what we feel is right for our family.

2. Understanding. Please understand that our schooling decisions and ideas are ever evolving. We believe that schooling for each individual child may look different; most likely it will. At some point, our children may attend a traditional school, or not. That doesn't mean we've abandoned our values or ideas. I talked to a mama who sends her children to a really great Christan school. She said that each year, they pray for each child and make a decision from there as to what to do with them. I don't think it's a coincidence that even in the tightest of years, the Lord provides the finances necessary for her children to attend the school that He has for them. Another mama sent her babes to traditional school when they asked to go, one of which went for a while and decided to come back home for another year and try again the next year. Again, I don't know what our schooling years will look like for Esther, Abigail and Lydia. But I do pray that they will be directed by the Lord. We need to you be understanding as our plans and goals change with each individual child.

That's it! And in return, the same to you!
What does schooling look like in your family?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

World Breastfeeding Week: We Made It!!

I've been meaning to post this post for the last few days, but with World Breastfeeding Week happenings happening, I have been preoccupied! It's been an incredible week of boobie time around our area with the Big Latch On (we had over 50 latches!!), Lydia's FIRST birthday and party (post coming soon!), La Leche League blow out (just a normal meeting but complete with lactation cookies and boobie cupcakes and A MILLION people crammed into a tiny room, great time!), and a peaceful nurse in at our local mall tonight. Again, I say, "INCREDIBLE WEEK!" Plus, I've gotten to see some of my favoritest people in the world several times, always awesome.

More to the point: WE MADE IT!! Lydia reached her first birthday!! For this post, the more important part is that we nursed for an entire year!!! To recap, my first two little nurslings each nursed for six months (with supplementation) and two weeks, respectively. Even before Lydia was born, I became anxious that I would
have another 'unsuccessful' breastfeeding relationship (although, I believe ANY amount of breastmilk is beneficial and always correct mamas when they say they were unsuccessful.) I shared my feelings in an awesome group on Facebook and got a few mamas who immediately offered donor milk, which is something I don't think ever dawned on me! These mamas hadn't given birth yet either!

So it happened. I birthed my beautiful baby at home, surrounded by my amazing family and support system. She latched like a pro and I was filled with joy. And then she didn't gain and that's when I knew: if we were going to do this, we were going to need some help. You can read more about our supplementation journey here. We've been so blessed to have not one, but FIVE amazing mamas who donated to our sweet Lydia (you'll meet them here during World Milksharing Week!) and even had a large (over five gallons!) donation from a friend of a friend towards the end of our first year. All of this sacrifice and support was worth it! We made it to her first birthday!!

I'm so grateful!! Not only for our amazing milk family, but also for our wonderful lactation consultant, Natalie. She provided a wealth of knowledge and support, coming to our house a few times and inviting us into her's, fielding an amazing amount of calls (mostly while I was crying), diagnosing my insufficient glandular tissue and Lydia's tongue tie, and ultimately supporting us in our journey of milksharing and helping us figure out our nursing trainer. She still checks in with us from time to time. I'm telling you, this woman is amazing. (and now I'm also wondering if I get annoying singing her praises all over town all the time! It can't get old telling someone how awesome they are all the time, can it?!) I'm also grateful for my best friend, Adrienne. Although she was newly pregnant and chasing her own toddler around, she was at our house almost every day and available by phone constantly as well. Even dropping everything and coming to our house when the husband called out of desperation. She sat and found Bible verses to encourage me too. I was a hot mess, hormonal, cried a lot, and irrational. These two women (among others) loved me as unconditionally as another human can and for that, I'm grateful.

Some have asked me what's next. And to that, I say, "Ask Lydia!" At one, she's still a frequent nurser with no plans on weaning. Not that she's said anyway! I've had two goals in nursing: to make it six weeks and, then, to make it a year. We've accomplished both!! Now, we'll see where the next milestone leads us! 

So happy World Breastfeeding Week, everyone! And cheers to my first Nursiversary!!