Bonding with [not-yet-born] baby #3 (therablogging from the past)

I came across this post in my drafts folder and I don’t remember why I never published it. Maybe I was feeling too emotional about the possibility of losing our baby? Well, our adorable Eleanor Chara is three months old now and so far she’s totally healthy, so I thought I’d go ahead and post this (belatedly). I guess I’m hoping that it might help someone else who might be feeling the same way to not feel so alone.

date: April 2014

I have been working really hard to get our house “settled” or “ready” for the new baby, which I think is part of “nesting” — but I don’t feel like I have really “bonded” with this baby yet. With both Adele and Everett, I felt like I knew them a little when they were born. This time, despite my alarmingly huge belly, I don’t even feel like we are actually going to have a real baby. I think it is because we had some drama with Everett that I am really aware that things can go wrong, that there are no promises that this baby will live or be healthy, so I think I’ve been a bit detached. Early in the pregnancy (although I didn’t really talk about it with anyone) I kind of assumed I would have a miscarriage. I’ve never had a miscarriage before, but I just felt unbonded to the baby early on so I thought it was God’s way of making it easier on me when the baby died. Well, here we are, just two days from my due date, and the baby is still here and kicking. For those of you who don’t know me in real life or don’t know the story, when Everett was one month old, he was crying uncontrollably and had a really low fever – but enough to be a concern in a baby so young – so we took him to the ER. That was Thursday night and they couldn’t find anything wrong with him so they sent us home. The next day we took him to the pediatrician and he just wasn’t acting right – lots of crying, wouldn’t eat, etc. They ran some blood tests and did a CT scan. The scan showed a bleed in his brain and they told us they were going to helicopter him to Children’s Hospital. They didn’t really want us in the helicopter (I might have been a little bit hysterical), so we got in the car to meet them there. On the way, Everett stopped breathing and had to be intubated (which also means majorly sedated). The next morning he started having seizures so they performed a craniotomy and tried to evacuate the blood that was putting lots of pressure on his brain. They told us that there were a lot of risks for brain surgery on a baby so small — they said it would be very easy for him to bleed out because it’s very difficult to get blood in him as fast as it comes out. Well, our little Everett Dunamis (Everett means brave strong boar and Dunamis means power) was powerful, brave and strong and LIVED through the surgery! Long story short, lots of drama, lots of doctors, lots of tubes and machines hooked up to our new little baby for two weeks until we were released from the hospital. And it’s not like everything’s fine now, you know. I mean, yes, everything is fine, but Everett has cerebral palsy and nobody knows how much it is going to affect him as he gets older. He’s almost three and still not sitting (although he is getting closer!) and not crawling (although he is doing a version of an army crawl!). Everett does make progress every day and he’s such a sweet boy! I love him so much and I am so grateful that I get to be his mom. I am just relating this because I’m trying to figure out why I don’t really feel pregnant this time around – therablogging =).

I don’t know if other moms who have had children with health issues have felt this way with subsequent pregnancies or if it’s just me. In fact, maybe it is all in my head, but I notice that most moms who have special needs kids don’t have any more children – maybe because they want to give their full attention to the special needs child or maybe because they are afraid that the next baby could have problems too. Or maybe they wouldn’t have had more kids even if the child didn’t have special needs. I am trying to have the perspective that Everett is part of a family, so not everything can or should be about him. I try to do as much as I can for him while balancing that with the needs of the rest of us.

For my whole life, I’ve been an eternal optimist and honestly never even considered the possibility that anything bad could happen in my life. I took it for granted that my children would be born completely healthy and everything would be peachy! Well, I still consider myself an optimist, but I think I’ve been mellowed out a bit by some challenging circumstances. Because I know that God is good and He works all things in my life for good, I don’t have any fear for the future. I know that He will still love me and take care of me. And I also know that God loved Everett even more than I do (which is a LOT!) and God will always take care of him.

Then again, I could just be analyzing this way too much. It could be that I can’t picture the new baby because we didn’t find out the gender this time, so I don’t know the baby’s name, etc.

Adele’s first day of school

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Today we started school!!! Last night, Kent (formerly known as “Derm Dad” but he says he never liked that name, so now I’m thinking “the Commander” – what do you think?) and I were talking about school. I wanted to tell him that I didn’t want to start Ambleside Online (AO) year one this fall with Adele because I read that it should be begun in the year that the child is six, turning seven. Adele turns six this coming November so that means we would wait one more year. I explained that it doesn’t mean that we won’t be “doing school” but that we won’t be doing those books yet because I think she’ll get more out of them if we wait a year and also because the curriculum gets a lot harder in a few years and it might be too much if we start this year. Kent thought we should start the type of schooling (that I was planning to start in September) now – to see how it goes and give us an idea of whether we should start AO this year or next.

I spent a few minutes gathering books onto a rolling cart (that I stationed near the dining room table where we eat breakfast) and “planning” in my mind and we were ready to begin.

I want to cover the following subjects each week (some once a week, some daily):

  • Bible
  • copywork/calligraphy
  • geography (Operation World – find the country on the map, read a bit about it and pray for the Gospel in that country) *
  • Fairytale
  • poetry
  • math (Ray’s Arithmetic)
  • Composer Study – I picked Handel for this month of “practice school” – we’ll have a different composer when our co-op starts in September and it will be the same composer for one term
  • natural history
  • nature walk
  • nature journal entry
  • handicraft
  • virtue/character (Laying Down the Rails) – habit of “attention”
  • Picture Study
  • Hymn Study – Be Thou My Vision
  • Folk Song – I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad

Once we start AO year one, we will do all these subjects as well as history, literature, biography, and a few more things. One distinctive of a Charlotte Mason education is short lessons, so we don’t spend more than 20 minutes on any one thing. Today, we had ten minute lessons – just to see what her attention span would be. I think I might try 15 minutes on a few things tomorrow.

Today, we did the following:

  • breakfast- we ate together and called Mimi on speakerphone to tell her we were having our first day of school. She prayed for us and then I talked to my sister for a few minutes (she stops by my mom’s for coffee on Tuesday mornings – I am so jealous!!!). Then we cleaned up the kitchen and put dinner in the crockpot. Adele helped me unload the dishwasher, load the breakfast dishes and measure out the dinner ingredients. When we sat down to start school it was exactly 9am – perfect!
  • Bible – We are reading Catherine Vos’ story bible together. We started it a few months ago, but we’ve been pretty sporadic. Today we read about Seth and Enoch and how people lived a lot longer in those days.  We talked a bit about “generations” and “descendants.” We didn’t get through the entire chapter (which is only a page or two), but we’ll finish it tomorrow.
  • Folk Song – I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad. We just read it through slowly and then listened to it on the computer while we sang along together two times.
  • geography (Operation World – find the country on the map, read a tiny bit about it and pray for the Gospel in that country) We talked about Turkey because we know two missionary families there. We located it on the globe and prayed for our friends as well as those the refugees they are working with. I think Adele is too young to comprehend much from this book, but we might just continue to use it to help us pick a country we don’t know much about. I think she needs to gain some familiarity with the names of the continents first, so we’ll work on that a bit.
  • poetry – Adele picked a poem called “Barbershop” which was great because I just gave haircuts to Kent, Everett and Adele on Sunday. It was my first time attempting a girl haircut with scissors – I usually use the electric clippers for the boys. I think it turned out pretty good.
  • math (Ray’s Arithmetic) - I love this little book. It’s old-fashioned and wonderful. Today, Adele wrote 1, 10, 2, 20, 3, 30 all the way to 70 – when we ran out of time. 
  • Composer Study – we read a picture book about Handel (only got through about 1/3 of it in our allotted time) and then listened to some of Handel’s music while we did our handicraft.
  • picture book – Only Opal – Oh my goodness this little book is so dear. We read the whole thing. Adele held the book and turned the pages while I nursed the baby.
  • virtue/character (Laying Down the Rails) – habit of “attention” We read Prov. 4:20-21 and talked about how attention requires us to look with our eyes and listen with our ears, to really pay attention to something.
  • Hymn Study – Be Thou My Vision - We closed with a hymn that Kent plays on the guitar during our sporadic but lovely family worship time. We read it together slowly and then played it on the computer while we sang along. She already knows most of the words to this one.
  • handicraft – When we finished hymn study, it was exactly 11am. I just love it when things work out evenly like that! We still had an hour or so before lunch. The rag rug that I made for Adele’s room was coming loose in a few places, so we worked together to repair it. Adele is still working on holding the needle without pulling it off the thread. And she is still practicing small and even stitches. But, all in all, she does a great job!

I would like to spend some time with my eclectic teachers manual to see what they say about teaching very young students geography. And, of course, we need to spend a lot of time outside. Right now it’s almost 4pm and Adele is still asleep (I made her lie down when I put Everett down for his nap after lunch and she fell asleep – I guess that means she was really tired!) which means she hasn’t been outside at all today and I know that’s really the most important thing for her at this age.

*Edited to add — Before bed, we had the following conversation:
Mom: What did you think of your first day of school?
Adele: Fun!
Mom: What was your favorite thing?
Adele: sewing my rug together.
Mom: What was your least favorite thing?
Adele: What’s least favorite?
Mom: It means what didn’t you like very much.
Adele: nothing. What was your favorite thing?
Mom: Hymn Study
Adele: What was your least favorite?
Mom: geography.
Adele: Oh yeah. mine too. I forgot. And my also favorite was listening to Winnie the Pooh. [I played the audio on the computer while I did my 15 minutes of exercises for my "mummy tummy" =) It's so cute - it's very professionally done and the actors have British accents, which really makes it lovely!]

 

If today was any indication of how things will go in the future, I looooooooooove homeschooling!!!!

 

 

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Art Update for Adele’s Gallery Wall

I really liked how my recent paint experiments turned out — my first time playing around with acrylics (i.e. cheap craft paint). I liked them so much I decided to “frame” them (i.e. tape them up with washi tape) on Adele’s rotating gallery wall. Wanna see?

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This one (above) used to have a blue background, but Adele’s room doesn’t really have any blue, so I painted it over with pink. And added a bit of background flair!

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And when I got up to Adele’s room, I realized that the yellow I used for the background of this one was the same paint I used for this frame. I like it! I don’t love the greens that I used (it was all I had on hand), so I’ll probably redo the green portions in a few days when my next Amazon order of Martha Stewart craft paint arrives. Oh happy day!

 

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Our Books

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Here is the finished “built-in” bookshelf in the schooling room. I think it really looks built-in. The crown molding is an exact match and with a coat of paint it looks like it’s been there forever. We added the beadboard wallpaper on the outside edge and fluted vertical trim as well as an egg and dart horizontal trim at the top (to hide a gap between the shelf and the crown molding).

I have the books for preschool through year eight in here (three tall bookshelves and two small) and the high school books are in our living room along with our regular family books (four large bookshelves).

For the younger level books, I have them organized by year (mostly literature, biographies, poetry, and free reading to be read in a particular year according to the ambleside online list) – one year per shelf with the required books to the left and the free reading books to the right (all the other subjects are just mixed in together). Then we also have separate shelves for certain subjects that overlap years: nature study, field guides, experiments/science, Shakespeare, composer study (Opal Wheeler bios), picture study (large-format books with one artist’s work) mixed in with artist bios written for children, globe and large-format atlases, geography (I put some fiction here if is helps to understand what it’s like in a particular country or region), my shelf (Charlotte Mason books, teaching helps, and my CM notebooks – Book of Centuries, commonplace books, portfolio for prints from picture study), and a shelf for large picture books (on the bottom shelf so my daughter can reach them easily). Then I have two smallish built-in shelves that hold our history and biography books (arranged chronologically). I used to have biographies separate, but then I thought it made more sense to put them in with their time period — of course one book spans their whole lifetime, so the arrangement isn’t precise. I also have pulled artist and composer bios out – they now have their own shelves. I also pulled out the history and biography books for upper-level readers and put those in the living room (arranged chronologically on just two shelves).

Below are the two bookcases that came with the house. This one is on the left and it houses history and biographies up to 1800. On the bottom shelf I have a few history series shelved together.

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This one is history and biographies 1800 – present

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Now we go to the living room. These bookshelves are taller than the ones in the schooling room because there is no crown molding in here. The ceilings are really high – I think nine feet tall!!

I have a few shelves dedicated to a collection of works by an individual author (CS Lewis, Elisabeth Elliot, Sir Walter Scott, GA Henty, etc.) or a particular topic (homesteading and permaculture, cookbooks, family/wife/role encouragement, child training, theology (arranged alphabetically by author). Then, I have all the high school “school” books (which we are a loooong way from using) on the upper shelves (I need a step-stool to reach them).

P1050827 P1050829  P1050830 This bookshelf (below) is the last one still waiting to be finished. I still have to do a bit of caulk and painting and then it will be finito! Our goal is to be completely done with all our “house projects” by July 4th (we moved in on March 15th and had a baby April 27th). Hopefully we won’t have any more bright green ladders in our living room or “tool piles” on the sideboard after this weekend!!

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Since the books are in the living areas of our home, I have tried to make the shelves themselves look nice (they are just cheapo Ikea Billy bookshelves with some trim, crown moulding, caulk, and paint to make them look “built-in”), and I’ve tried to arrange the books with some breathing room and a few knick-knacks for visual interest. I want it to look like we love books and beautiful things, but not like we live in a library — even if we really do =).

Everett is THREE!

My sweet boy is three. As promised, here’s a photo of him in the birthday crown.

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Everett is the sweetest boy that I know and I wouldn’t wish for any other. It’s hard to explain it but I pray for him to be healed (and pursue healing with lots of therapy) and at the same time I am really ok with him just as he is even if he never gets any better. He is such a lovey boy – he’s always giving kisses and telling me that he loves me (he says “lll” for “I love you”), both in response to me telling him that I love him and he also initiates. He knows to bow his head when we pray as a family. His speech is really exploding – new sounds and “words” every day. He is getting to be a real pro at getting into sitting (and getting back down again) with great posture. He chews his fingers when he’s scared, overwhelmed, or tired. He speaks French (he says “vwah” when he hears “au revoir”) AND Spanish (he says “la” or “la la” when he hears “hola”) in addition to English. He smiles and laughs all day long and he always has a good attitude. I love you, my little Everito!

Nature Study lately

I had a few birdfeeders (that we moved from the old house) that just couldn’t find homes – because I wanted to hang them from a tree in front of a window we would see throughout the house. Unfortunately, there weren’t any branches that fit the bill. Even if there had been one in front of a window, it would have been too high off the ground to easily keep it filled with birdseed. So, I bought these acrylic window birdfeeders. I haven’t had any hummingbird takers yet, but the organic black sunflower seeds are extremely popular! We see mostly finches and cardinals, and it is a joy to see them throughout the day.

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This is an approximation of the red finches we’ve seen a lot of lately.

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Adele wants you to know that the house she is drawing is NOT finished.

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We have ID’d all but two mystery trees in our front yard.

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Getting Creative

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In this family, we like to make things at home, from scratch. And Derm Dad is into fancy.

Last Saturday was Everett’s third birthday. We were invited to a potluck on the same day so we decided to make that Everett’s birthday celebration too. We picked up a pre-made birthday cake (actually it was from a fancy cake place), rationalizing that we’d just had a baby, Everett’s a middle child now, and he wouldn’t notice or care. Well, we just couldn’t live with ourselves. Derm Dad decided to make a Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake (Cinnamon Cake with Chili Chocolate Buttercream Frosting) for Everett’s birthday celebration (albeit a week late) — we knew it was a winner since Derm Dad previously made it for my epic 30th Birthday Party. We (Derm Dad and Adele) made the cake on Thursday and I crumb-coated it that night. Tonight, I frosted it. Yumsky! We’ll serve it tomorrow night with our friends the P family. And we’ll put Everett in the traditional birthday crown (which he’ll hate) and maybe even put out the birthday tablecloth for a photo (stay tuned).

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And, Adele was painting today with her lovely new paint set that Mammaw sent. Eleanor was asleep, Everett was playing happily with his toys, so I decided to do a little painting myself. Behold.

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Fun, right?

In the past, I’ve painted for nature study, which is just as much science as it is art — and actually, it’s mostly just about really seeing and loving God. For nature study, I use dry brush watercolor, but I think I’d like to experiment a bit with acrylics – just for fun. I had to use acrylic on the bottom red section because I needed to move it up, but I couldn’t cover the blue with just watercolor. It’s a lot better now.