5

5

Hap­py birth­day, Kael!

5

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Birth

So, it’s been a while…

So, it’s been a while…

Since August 17th real­ly.  I know I post­ed a pic­ture of Jonas when he was born, but the last time I real­ly blogged was about two months ago.  I got an email from my friend, Kate, a cou­ple weeks ago ask­ing if I had been busy since she hadn’t seen much on this blog.  🙂  I real­ized that we I haven’t been very good at shar­ing our news.

Yes, we’ve been busy.  In addi­tion to two busy preschool­ers who are as smart, fun­ny, and cute as they are busy,

we have a new baby

and a new house.

I think I need a vaca­tion!

Outgrowing Toys

Outgrowing Toys

Late­ly, I’ve been notic­ing some­thing at our house. Kael is 4 years old (5 in Novem­ber), and Asa turned 3 in July. It seems to me that right now their inter­ests and abil­i­ties are prob­a­bly as dif­fer­ent as they have been in quite some time. We have def­i­nite­ly tak­en advan­tage of the fact that they are close in age when buy­ing toys, games, and oth­er play things around our place. We often buy things for them that we know they will both like and be able to use. Up until now, I think this has worked pret­ty well for us. They play togeth­er pret­ty well for the most part.

They have great imag­i­na­tions and do a lot of cre­ative play and imag­i­nary play.

Asa with his cape and water shoes giv­ing me the angry eyes.

They have no prob­lems find­ing things to do when we are out and around town at parks or friends’ hous­es.

Play­ing at one of our favorite parks

The prob­lem (if that’s even what it is) comes when we are at home. Kael is out­grow­ing many of our toys. He’s show­ing more inter­est in read­ing books him­self, spelling things, manip­u­lat­ing num­bers (and mem­o­riz­ing my phone num­ber!), and mazes to name a few of the more “aca­d­e­m­ic” inter­ests he’s show­ing. He’s show­ing less inter­est in his fire trucks, stuffed ani­mals, and oth­er toys. More and more often, I find that he is get­ting out toys, play­ing for just a few min­utes and mov­ing on to some­thing. Some­times the thing he moves on to is anoth­er toy, but many times it’s irri­tat­ing his broth­er. (No pic­tures of that. 🙂 )

For a while I thought maybe he wasn’t get­ting enough active play. Maybe he was too tired and need­ed more sleep. Maybe there was a diet imbal­ance or sen­si­tiv­i­ty to some­thing we were eat­ing. Then, today a friend men­tioned she and anoth­er friend had felt sim­i­lar­ly about their chil­dren who are about Kael’s age.

Anoth­er obser­va­tion that my friend made was that Kael’s birth­day and Christ­mas are about six weeks apart. This means that the major­i­ty of the stuff he gets as gifts comes dur­ing this time peri­od. It also means that by this time of year, most of those things are also geared for some­one almost a year younger than he is. I feel like much of what we have to do around our apart­ment is geared for the 2–4 or 3–5 age range. I also feel like Kael is mov­ing very much into the next brack­et what­ev­er that is. Maybe 4–6 or 5–7? I am not real­ly sure since this is new ter­ri­to­ry, but I think you prob­a­bly get the idea.

What do I do about this? I’m not real­ly sure. There are a few things that Jason and I have thought about and talked about. None of them seem to real­ly solve the prob­lem, so I’m guess­ing the solu­tion is more of a lit­tle of this, lit­tle of that kind of solu­tion vs. a black and white answer.

We talked about get­ting Kael some new stuff. I feel like cring­ing as I even write that sen­tence. On one hand, I know that stuff (games, toys, books, etc.) is not the answer. How­ev­er, on the oth­er hand, I under­stand the val­ue of hav­ing age appro­pri­ate and chal­leng­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able for him.

We talked about doing some sort of play­date exchange with a friend where one day a week, Kael would go to a friend’s house to play for a few hours. This would give him a change of scenery, some new toys to play with, and a dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ence than he would have at home. My hes­i­ta­tion with this one is that I can’t just send him to a friend once a week. I would also need to have this friend’s child over to our house for a morn­ing once a week. With the upcom­ing move and a baby on the way this seems over­whelm­ing right now.

We talked (very briefly) about putting him into child­care or preschool for a few hours a week. Nei­ther of these were quite right either. We don’t need some­one to just keep him at a child­care cen­ter and watch him play. We also are not all that excit­ed about most of the options that are avail­able here. There are a cou­ple options that we are com­fort­able with as far as the phi­los­o­phy of the preschool goes, but they don’t work out for oth­er rea­sons. One costs more than we are will­ing or able to spend on a “just because” preschool. Anoth­er is just a cou­ple hours in the morn­ing and requires fair­ly fre­quent par­ent­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion. Between the short time peri­od and the required par­tic­i­pa­tion, I think it would be near­ly impos­si­ble to work out the logis­tics after Baby is born.

As I read through this post, I feel like the last part is quite a bit of, here’s what we could do, but here’s why it won’t work sort of excus­es. I’m actu­al­ly a lit­tle hes­i­tant to leave it like that, because when I have a con­ver­sa­tion with some­one with that atti­tude, I usu­al­ly want to say some­thing like, “Well, I guess you’re stuck.” But, I’m going to leave it most­ly as a train of thought sort of post.

So, what would you do? Have your kids ever out­grown their toys? What toys, games, activ­i­ties, sup­plies, books, etc do you rec­om­mend for an almost 5 year old? Any oth­er thoughts or ideas?

School Decisions

Just before Kael turned 3, a friend asked me if I had con­sid­ered home­school­ing my kids.  At the time, my answer was, “I want my kids to be home­schooled, but I don’t want to do it.”  At that point, that meant essen­tial­ly no, I won’t be home­school­ing.  As time has passed, that state­ment became less flip­pant and more hon­est.  I real­ly did (and do) want my chil­dren to be home­schooled.  I just don’t want to do it, and as much as I don’t want to, I also feel unpre­pared to do it.

I’m not unpre­pared in the sense that I am unqual­i­fied.  I am sure that my edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­ence qual­i­fies me to home­school.  I have a degree in ele­men­tary and mid­dle lev­el edu­ca­tion with a mas­ters degree in spe­cial edu­ca­tion.  I have the cre­den­tials nec­es­sary.  I am legal­ly qual­i­fied to teach oth­er people’s chil­dren.  Some­how teach­ing my own seems like a much big­ger and more daunt­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty.

So, if I look at my state­ment a lit­tle clos­er, there’s real­ly two issues.  One, I want my chil­dren to be home­schooled.  Why?  I want some­one who knows them and cares specif­i­cal­ly about them to have a per­son­al stake in their edu­ca­tion.  I think that art and music are such impor­tant parts of an edu­ca­tion, and there are less and less of these each year.  Both of my boys, but Kael in par­tic­u­lar, need lots of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty.  Two recess­es for 10–15 min­utes and gym class twice a week are not enough for them.  I also want some­one who has time to answer all of the ques­tions they ask, and they ask a LOT.  No mat­ter how lov­ing and ded­i­cat­ed a teacher is, I’m not sure that with 18 oth­er kids there would be any way that any­one would have that kind of time in a day.  Last­ly, I want to encour­age my chil­dren to think in their own ways.  I don’t want them to do an art project that is the same as 18 oth­er projects.  If they want to do a math prob­lem and get the answer in a dif­fer­ent way than the “right way,” that’s okay with me.  If they want to wear pol­ish on their toe nails, that’s okay with me, too.

The sec­ond part of my state­ment on home­school­ing is that I don’t want to be the one to do it.  What?  I know it sounds a lit­tle bit ridicu­lous.  I also know that part of the ben­e­fits of home­school­ing come from the par­ent know­ing the child so well.  I guess part of it is that I also know myself.  I am not near­ly as patient as I would like to be, nor am I as patient as I would like a teacher of my chil­dren to be.  I also tend to pro­cras­ti­nate some things that I don’t want to do.  I real­ly wish I had a dig in and get it done atti­tude, but too often it’s a last minute, last ditch, not my great­est work effort that I put forth.  Also, I wor­ry about time.  I cur­rent­ly have a 4 1/2 year old, an almost 3 year old, and a baby on the way in Octo­ber.  Some days I bare­ly get every­one dressed and fed.  That is cer­tain­ly not enough pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for a home­school­ing fam­i­ly.

For­tu­nate­ly, Kael has a fall birth­day.  This gives me anoth­er year before I need to make a deci­sion that I am going to act on.  At this point, I plan to do lots of read­ing, research­ing, think­ing, and blog­ging.  I’m hop­ing for a deci­sion which I feel com­mit­ted to and can stand behind com­plete­ly by the time it’s school time for him.

Being Done

Being Done

It’s been a week, and there has been a BIG change.  But, on the oth­er hand, it doesn’t feel like much has changed at all.  My pre­vi­ous blog was pri­mar­i­ly a breast­feed­ing blog.  For the past four and a half years, I have eat­en, breathed, and dreamed breast­feed­ing.  I know that sounds weird, but I think it’s true.  From work­ing through my own strug­gles to breast­feed my sons to mod­er­at­ing a breast­feed­ing sup­port board, I can’t even count the hours I have spent think­ing about, read­ing about, and breast­feed­ing my own kids.  And, now, I’m done.  They’re done.  For the first time, since Novem­ber 2005, I am not nurs­ing any­one.

One of the first things my friends have said when I told them is, “How do you feel about that?”  In my head and my heart, I am so hap­py for both boys.  Kael nursed until just a few days before he was 4 1/2.  Asa nursed until about 6 weeks before his 3rd birth­day.  Kael start­ed off as a 4 week pre-term baby who strug­gled to latch.  He was a sleepy baby.  He had jaun­dice.  Then, some­how as he grew, day by day, we both became more com­fort­able and more con­fi­dent in our rela­tion­ship.  We both began to depend on on breast­feed­ing as a major part of our lives.  When I got preg­nant with Asa, Kael was almost 12 months old.  He per­se­vered and nursed through my preg­nan­cy with Asa.  He nursed like an infant when Asa was born.  Asa was a high needs baby when he was born.  He had reflux and a dairy sen­si­tiv­i­ty.  He was also very anx­ious around peo­ple oth­er than my hus­band and myself.  He spent a lot of time being held and in the Ergo.  At the time, it was hard.  Very hard and very drain­ing.

Kael

Asa

Both boys weaned on their own, and they both chose the day to be done.  We had talked ahead of time about when they were ready to be done the cel­e­bra­tion we would have, and it would be a very impor­tant day.  Kael chose his day at the end of April.  Nev­er did I imag­ine that Asa would choose his only 4 weeks lat­er!  When Kael was born, I had a goal of breast­feed­ing him for six weeks.  As you can see, it went a lot fur­ther than that.  By the time Kael was 3 months old, I knew that I want­ed him to be able to nurse for as long as he want­ed.  I am so hap­py to say that he did.

So, on the one hand, while I am so hap­py to have breast­fed them until they were ready to be done, and I am proud of them for know­ing when they no longer want­ed to con­tin­ue hav­ing “Mom­my Milk,” I am also sad know­ing that this is a chap­ter that is fin­ished.  They will nev­er be my lit­tle babies again.  Also, for the first time in 4 1/2 years, I am not a breast­feed­ing mom.  There was a time when I was preg­nant with Asa that I thought Kael was wean­ing.  We’d had a busy day, and he didn’t nurse at all, not once, dur­ing the day.  I felt real­ly sad about it.  I felt like I had let him down by get­ting preg­nant with Asa and affect­ing my milk sup­ply.  It was also around that time that I first read the essay Wean­ing Ella from Brain, Child Mag­a­zine.  It is a touch­ing essay of a mother’s deci­sion to stop nurs­ing her daugh­ter.  When I read that essay, I felt noth­ing but sad­ness.  I felt sad for myself, for Kael, and for the moth­er and daugh­ter in the essay.

Even though I thought I was done nurs­ing Kael at that point, he appar­ent­ly didn’t real­ize that.  🙂  He picked up his nurs­ing again before Asa was born and nursed like crazy after his brother’s birth.  When I think back to that time, I know there is a great dif­fer­ence between how I was feel­ing then and how I feel now.  Even though I am sad for the rela­tion­ship to be over now, I don’t feel any sense of regret or guilt.  I feel like he was ready, and I was ready (sad, but ready).  I know that both of my boys are ready for their inde­pen­dence.  I know that they are ready to move away from me in their own ways.  I know this, but darn it, there’s just some­thing I’m not ready for in all that!

Kael

Asa

So, while there are times when I am sad, and I’m not even real­ly sure I can put my fin­ger on the rea­son for the sad­ness, I am also excit­ed.  I’m excit­ed that we have Baby #3 on the way in Octo­ber.  I’m excit­ed that Kael and Asa are grow­ing and chang­ing every day.  Even though one rela­tion­ship has come to an end, I know that I still have so much to learn about them and from them as they grow.

Asa and Kael at Lowe’s Kids Day

Kael and Asa at the Pump­kin Patch