Homeschooling - an off week

This year we began officially experimenting with homeschooling. Papillon is officially in Pre-K, so I am keeping my expectations (of myself) pretty low for this year. But it's been good to get my feet wet and get a sense of what things may work well for us in the future.

One thing I have already learned is that sometimes you have good days and some times you have off- days (or weeks...) in terms of what you accomplish.  Last week was one such off-week.  Perhaps I was poorly prepared, perhaps I was over committed, perhaps I was hormonal. But whatever it was, school just wasn't clicking last week. A lot of our activities ended up just being loose-association play time after reading some picture books that we've already read 100 times.

We had one pretty good lesson (I think!). We learned about snakes in our little preschool-co-op. And I think we all had a lot of fun, and perhaps even learned a thing or two!

We had an spoon-egg race with our leathery "snake-eggs" (I'd soaked them in vinegar overnight, it makes chicken eggs nice and soft). 

Perhaps more fun, though was when we "accidentally" dropped them on the sidewalk...

...and smashed them up really well.  (Side note: Eggs, soaked in vinegar overnight smell pretty bad when they are smashed. Yikes!)

That was a good day.  The rest of the week was pretty iffy.

Here we were learning about pets, and making "dog houses" (aka, just building towers with blocks because Mom couldn't come up with anything better to do)

And more on pets...building cages for our play-doh-birds.  Again, basically just playing with playdoh because I couldn't think of anything better.
So yes, and off week. But it happens, right? And as long as they are not all off-weeks, I think we are still succeeding!

So much support

Mon Amour is back to traveling quite a bit, and while I feel like I've adjusted pretty well to parenting all three kids while he is away, I've realized that, more so than even before, I am very dependent on the help and support of others. For those long days, where I just need to talk to a grown-up, or when I need my kids to talk to a grown up that is not me, or when I can't find the motivation to make dinner for just myself and my kids (who may or may not actually eat what I fix), or when the house is simultaneously too crowded and too lonely, I am hugely grateful for all the support I receive from friends and family.

Here's a smattering of pictures of our adventures from Mon Amour's most recent trip.

Nana and Triton. (At Chick Fil A, obviously. We are there a lot when Mon Amour is away)

Helping Aunt Mimi walk Zelda.

Reading with Miss B.

Sharing a sandbox with friends after a sleepover.

And so many more helpers and encouragers who are not pictured!

Sweet sisters

I love the way these two play together.  Here they are on their new scooters (which we got from Freecycle! Woohoo!)

And here is Hibou dressed in an outfit that Papillon created for her.

And another outfit created by Papillon for Hibou, this one complete with some whispered secrets.

Triton : 3 months

Quick! Before this Little Man turns 4 months, let me get some notes down about his 3rd month!

For comparison, here is Hibou at 3 months and Papillon at 3 months.

Triton and his Big Sisters. (Who still adore him. Though Papillon has taken to holding her ears when he cries. haha)

At 3 months, Triton....

....weighs approximate 14lbs.  And wears 3-6 or 6 month size clothes. Still not a super-chub, but definitely long and decidedly bigger than his sisters at this age.

...goes to bed between 8 and 9pm. Wakes up once or twice for a snack before getting up for the day around 7am.  Sometimes a case of gas bubbles will make it hard for him to settle down, but he works it out eventually. 

....sleeps in our bedroom in his pack n play.  Though it may be time to find him a comfier mattress than just the Pack N Play one...

...loves his pacifier! When he's tired and fighting it, often the pacifier works like magic in helping him fall asleep. It's a beautiful thing.

...smiles a ton.

...seems to be starting to grab things. He clasps his hands a lot. Grabs at his pacifier and holds onto fingers when offered.  The girls think he's very talented! a major finger-sucker. He is constantly munching on his fist and fingers. totally chill (unless he's working out some which case, yikes!), and loves to be around people. He's started to show signs of being unable to sleep when people are around. Perhaps it's time to work on actual crib-napping. Maybe....  In the mean time, he still sling-naps, bouncy seat naps, naps on my lap, the sofa, the car (though often I marvel at how long he stays awake in the car, despite the soothing motion). Wherever.

I love the time that Triton and I have in the evenings after the Girls have gone to bed and he and I can just play for a bit.  Oh and he loves being naked. :-)

He loves bath time, though he is getting to long for his little tub. Might be time to bathe in the big tub soon!

Most of the time I think he looks like Papillon, but then I think his face may be a little rounder and his hair is a little lighter, so perhaps he looks like Hibou. Truly he looks like himself, I suppose, but as many people have said "he's definitely related".

We love you Triton!

Two pumpkin patches in two days

It's pumpkin patch season and we seem to have two pumpkin patches that we like, both of which are becoming traditional. This year we happened to do them both back to back.

First - Dick and Jane's farm (yes, run by married couple, Dick and Jane!) This place is adorable. It's never been busy when we've been. The hayride is on-demand which means this time when we said we wanted a hayride, Jane (of "Dick and Jane") hopped onto her gator and drove to the barn to bring out the hayride tractor just for us. A personal hayride! We love this place. They also have a corn maze (which is small but has just enough twists and turns to feel legit) and a (modestly sized) mountain of hay bales to climb on.

Apparently it was a fantastic year for growing pumpkins so there were lots of fantastic ones to pick from.

Hayride time!

Corn maize!

Team work

Riding home with pumpkins on our heads.

Our second pumpkin patch was one very close to our house. Weber's Cider Mill. This one also has a hayride - shorter l then the other but still a fun little loop. And this one also has a bunch of fun fall activities to enjoy while you are there. Oh and they also have apple cider donuts-yum!

Hayride with our friend (papillon walked into a rose bush - literally - and got a scratch. The bandaid makes it seem MUCH worse than it was. Ha)

Mini tractor rides

It was a beautiful fall day

The big pumpkins!

Call it a Victory

Papillon has been a thumb sucker since basically the day she was born. At some point (maybe 18 months) she became a thumb-sucker-nose-picker.  We've tried to discourage it for years (which it seems is exactly the wrong way to handle such a habit. Oops)

But we decided to give it a conserted  effort to knock out the habit. I did lot I reading and decided to use all the tools I could find all at once.  So we had special thumbs-only band aids... nail polish, gum, lollipops, a penny reward jar where she was saving up for the ultimate trophy. Papillon totally owned it! She worked really hard for two weeks before she received her hard earned prize. 
The original plan was an Elsa dress, but when the moment came she picked Sleeping Beauty.
It's been about 4 weeks now since we started this venture and the habit is certainly not gone. Her thumb slips in when she's tired and distracted. And she still sucks her thumb at night. But it is sooooo much better than it was. And I am very proud of her. And I think she is proud of herself.

We have a sticker chart to keep the incentive up and I am optimistic that before long the day time habit will be gone. Eventually we will address the nighttime part.

For now I am a proud momma and we are calling it a victory!

Triton Jaune's Birth Story: Boasting in my Weakness (Part 5 of 5)

As wonderful and amazing as his first hours and days of life were, Triton Jaune’s labor was incredibly hard for me. It wasn't long by average standards. 10 hours from first contraction to last; only 5 truly uncomfortable hours.  But afterwards, I didn't feel like super woman. With my other two labors I came away feeling like I could conquer the world and I wanted to tell everyone all about the experience. I feel like this is a very normal post-labor experience for women. It's life changing, in an amazing way!

After Triton's birth, however, my thoughts were very different. I didn't want to tell anyone anything. When asked I would just make general statements that attempted to be positive or at least neutral; like "Water birth is the way to go" or "it was longer than the girls'" or "It was hard, but I was glad I was at a birth center".  I think I may have managed to tell some version of the story to some folks and I am pretty sure those folks were hugely congratulatory and complimentary. But didn’t feel like I deserved it.

I felt like labor had undone me.
I felt like labor was not something I had done; but was something that had happened to me.
I felt like I used to joke "If I ever had to push more than once, I wouldn't be able to do it", and now I knew that was true.
I felt like I had no idea why I had wanted an unmedicated labor.
I felt terrified on behalf of my friends who were expecting in the weeks to come, knowing that if they'd asked me about my experience, I would be forced to tell them horrific things that would make them dread labor.

I felt like I had failed.

I would sit on the sofa, nursing Triton and look at the books about birthing that I have on the shelf, wanting to read them now and figure out where I went wrong. Why was this so hard for me?

Truth be told, I know why this labor was so hard for me. I was not prepared mentally, or physically. I blame last year's miscarriages which is probably at least partially true. But whatever it was, I started this pregnancy majorly stressed and kind of acting on the assumption that it didn't matter what I did (or ate) because this pregnancy, like the others, wouldn't amount to anything; and even if it did, I had been through so much, I deserved to be lazy and eat what I wanted. For 9 months I ate poorly and didn't exercise at all (I can blame the ridiculously cold winter for the lack of exercise, right?). 

I gained 60lbs (which is significantly heavier than the hefty, but normal-for-me, 40-45 that I gained with the girls) and was majorly out of shape. 

Mentally, I was also not prepared. Again, perhaps it was partially the miscarriages and my checked-out mentality because of that. Or perhaps it was because I this was going to be my 3rd labor, and my first 2 were incredibly fast and relatively easy.  Why wouldn't it be quick and (relatively) easy again?  So I didn't prepare. No rereading any of my books on labor. No prepping for the possibility that it would be a long labor. With Papillon's birth, we brought our favorite TV show to watch, and all manner of distracting, time-passing things.  So I think I was undone before things really got going. When the contractions started getting intense, but weren't accelerating rapidly to the end, I had nothing to think about except the next contraction and how much it wasn't going as fast as I had hoped.  So by the time it got really intense, I was already defeated.

By the grace of God, however, I was not actually defeated. By no strength of my own, Triton Jaune made a safe entry into this world. And at the end of the day, as I have been muddling through processing the whole experience, that's been the thing that's stuck with me.  Just as my experience with the miscarriages had taught me that I was not in control of anything; my experience with this labor reinforced for me how God is still in control, even when I have completely lost control. 

I have always loved the verse Phillipians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".   But I think, in my pride, I loved the "I can do all things" part more than the strength of Christ part.  I liked the thought that I could do anything. 

Very recently I've come to a deeper appreciation of a different verse. 2 Corintians 12:9 "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Could it be any more fitting to describe my experience with Triton's labor? I was incredibly weak, utterly spent; and in that weakness, God's power was perfect.   Oh that I would learn to sincerely boast in that weakness.

I don't want to end this (epically long) tale without a nod to my wonderful sister. For a number of reasons I am incredibly grateful that she was there for this labor.  First, her affirmation that Triton's birth was an incredible and amazing thing was very encouraging to me. At least once (and possibly more than once), after Triton was born, I apologized for how crazy that labor was, hoping that she wasn't scarred for life and wishing she had been at a less traumatic birth.  She seemed surprised at these sentiments and said that far from being traumatic (other than the midwife's insistence that she photograph the placenta, haha), she thought it incredible. Her declaration that I did an amazing job was hugely encouraging to me.

Secondly, I am grateful for the pictures that she took. I never thought I wanted labor pictures. And I don't have any of the girls' labors. But, thanks to my sister, I have some wonderful pictures of that day.  I will cherish these pictures.