5

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Happy birthday, Kael!

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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