Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol 10): Feasts of Angels

My little angel at his Baptism.
The mural has children playing, being watched by their guardian angels. 


-1-
First, tonight's story: After lying in bed 90% asleep for about 15 minutes tonight, Peter heard a floorboard creak. "Heard Daddy." "Yep. Now go to sleep." He immediately turned his head and was asleep in approximately ten seconds. Why didn't I just tell him that sooner?

-2-
Tomorrow (9/29) is the feast of three Archangels and Tuesday (10/2) is the feast of the Guardian Angels. Here are a few ideas for making these feasts more, well, festive. In addition to going to Mass, of course, which is pretty much the ultimate celebration.

-3-
Bake an angel food cake! Apparently this used to be really hard, but having grown up in the age of cake mixes, even I feel confident making one. And pouring lots of strawberries on it. Yum...

-4-
Pray for children throughout the world being protected by their guardian angels. Consider researching information on specific challenges that kids are facing in other countries and praying for these situations.

-5-
Read about the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-38. Reflect on why God chose to send an angel rather than the more subtle inspiration we generally experience in our lives.

-6-
Read Ezekiel 10:12-14. Draw a picture of those angels. Contrast it with angels typically shown in art.

-7-
Pray to your own guardian angel! Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this night be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breastfeeding: Who Cares?

Have you noticed that apathy is cool? I began noticing in college and although it's less pronounced with my peers now, that attitude is still common. It's cool to have a "cause" with which you're involved, perhaps a t-shirt or catchy slogan. But once you get emotionally involved or start trying to influence other people? Calm down. It's not that important.

So if an issue is important to you, it's necessary to have an answer to, "What's the big deal?" For me, breastfeeding is a big deal. Here's why.

The International Breastfeeding Symbol

1. Women deserve accurate information. Baby formula is a for-profit business with a substantial presence in marketing. That's fine. I have no problem with companies being able to market their products. But health professionals (midwives, OBGYNs, pediatricians, nurses, etc.) need to work diligently to provide the other side of the story. An expectant mother needs to be fully educated about the pros and cons of both formula and breastfeeding to make an informed decision. (Hint: There are significant health benefits to moms, too!)

2. Babies deserve to be healthy. Breast milk is the best nutrition a baby can receive. Although formula can literally be a life-saver in certain circumstances, it will never equal the nutritional value of breast milk. If a mother cannot nurse her own child or cannot provide enough milk, the next step can be seeking donated breast milk. Supplemental formula can be considered if donated breast milk is unavailable.

3. Families deserve independence. While breastfeeding costs the mother's time and increased caloric needs, the financial cost of formula is steep. If a child has an allergic reaction to certain types of formula, the financial cost can be astronomical. (It is exceedingly rare for a child to be allergic to breast milk.) Breastfeeding frees families from dependence on prepared formula, with the requirements to carry around formula and bottles. Also, no more late-night grocery runs or stumbling to the kitchen to heat a bottle.

4. Finally, mothers and children deserve respect. What frustrates me most about our current lack of support for breastfeeding is the disturbing prejudice against breastfeeding, particularly in public. I know multiple women who consider breastfeeding to be disgusting and would never consider nursing their children. As a society, I think it is extremely important to stop viewing breasts as purely sexual and to recognize the value of feeding our children. Women are not sex objects. Children are not manipulative parasites. Breastfeeding is good.

Disclaimer: I don't think parents who use formula are bad parents. I don't think their children are doomed to be less intelligent or unloved. I do think it is unfortunate that so many children end up on formula, but I think this is a societal problem. If society encouraged breastfeeding, provided adequate information to expectant parents, and supported breastfeeding women by allowing the time and space they needed, fewer parents would have to choose. They could give their kids the best nutrition AND stay healthy and sane themselves.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Beauty is skin deep, hurt goes clear through

I know a young lady in middle school who doesn't meet American cultural standards for beauty. Of course, early adolescence isn't exactly kind to most kids, but in addition to the usual struggles for clear skin and coordination, she is somewhat overweight.

Her coping device is to interact with the world through sarcasm. She doesn't appear to have a negative self-image, but does expect others not to choose her company. This is good, in that she sees it as their problem and not her own, but I suspect she gets lonely now and again. Whether it is self-fulfilling or not, she's right: the other kids don't seek her company.

Ideally, she could soldier on through the tough years of middle school and be confident that life is not always going to be this way. That is what we tell kids, right? People will not be so shallow, judgmental, and fickle as they get older. They act this way at your age because they are insecure.

The thing is, weight is a different issue for some reason. When you talk to people who struggle to maintain a healthy weight, or even those whose healthy weight is above the cultural ideal, they will tell you that the judging continues through adulthood. Some, like this girl, just become jaded and keep their distance from casual friendships. Some do their best to ignore it. Some can't and start to believe that they are inherently less valuable than people with other struggles.

It's hard not to be able to tell her things will get better.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Peter Says...

People always tell young parents to keep track of the funny things their kids say. This way, you and I both get to enjoy the outtakes from daily life!


Having listened to too much Frankie Valli recently: "Rubber Ducky, walk like man."

Because 'no' can mean 'don't know' and spirit is a hard word: "Glory be to Father, to Son, to Holy, no."

Referring to himself in the second person and projecting what he wants us to say:
"'Build big tower blocks RIGHT NOW,' Daddy said to you."
"'More pizza,' Daddy said to you." "Do you want more pizza, Peter?" "Yes!!"

Talking to himself at bedtime, getting progressively louder, then: "Shh! Go sleep, little boy."

To my Dad, whom he always calls Papa: "More bread sir please"

In immediate succession: "Love baby so much. Love Mommy so much. Love Daddy so much. Love Father Brian so much. Love llama feet so much."

Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol 9): Are Introverts Dangerous?


-1-
I get a fair number of hits from people searching "are introverts dangerous?" and landing on this post, in which I described pitfalls of being an introvert. That doesn't answer their question, though. I assume they're not looking for personal struggles of introverts, but want to know how to spot the next shooter before it happens. Should introverts be viewed with suspicion?

-2-
To answer this, it is useful to know some psych definitions. For starters, what is an introvert? An introvert is someone who recharges by attending to his or her "inner world." An introvert enjoys time alone to daydream, plan, analyze life, and assess his own well-being. Introverts enjoy socializing, too, but this requires use of energy. Attending a party is sort of like playing an energetic game of basketball - fun, but tiring if it goes too long or happens too often.

-3-
An extrovert, on the other hand, thrives on interpersonal relationships. He recharges by engaging in dialogue, sharing ideas, debating issues, and collaborating on meaningful projects. Extroverts enjoy solitude, too, but in moderation. While they can enjoy a lull in activity, they are anticipating the next event. (My extroverted husband says too much solitude is like your game getting rained out. Video games are fun, but you wanted to play baseball.)

-4-
So how do we distinguish between an introvert and a sociopath? An extreme introvert (like me!) may be described as asocial. To be asocial is to reject social interaction or, in some cases, be incapable of it. When I'm stressed, the last thing I want is to go out and talk with people. I just want to be alone. Unfortunately, in layman's terms this has been equated with being antisocial.

-5-
To be antisocial, from a psychological perspective, is to be a sociopath. Antisocial behavior includes total disregard for the rights of others, destruction of people and property, deceit and manipulation. Tied in with all these behaviors is a lack of remorse for one's actions. There is nothing in the definition of antisocial personality disorder about being introverted.

-6-
Why do we associate loners with killers? I suspect (and this is just my opinion) that it makes us feel better. We remember the cases where neighbors said, "We always knew something was wrong with him. He wouldn't come out for days, never talked to anyone." When the killer's friends and family say, "I don't understand. I never would have suspected him of this," it makes us uneasy. If no one saw it coming, does this mean one of my friends could do something like that?

-7-
So, are introverts dangerous? The short answer is no. Next time your friend opts to stay home instead of hit the bars, you don't need to watch for her face on the evening news.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bed Transition #2

When Peter was just over a year old, he switched from the bedside pack-n-play he'd used in our room since birth to a crib mattress on the floor in his room. As he had limited communication skills, we didn't ask him about this ahead of time, but he didn't seem to mind in the least.

Yesterday, we "upgraded" from a crib mattress to a twin mattress (still on the floor). I had a couple motivations for this. First, the larger I got with the pregnancy, the less comfortable it was to scrunch up on that bitty mattress. Now I can lie next to him comfortably. Second, we planned to do this transition eventually and are trying to do a lot of the changes well before the baby arrives so Peter doesn't blame the little one for the upheavals.

Yesterday morning I asked Peter if he would like a bigger bed with a pillow. "No." "OK, we don't have to do it now." About ten minutes later... "Mommy? Bigger bed for you." (He always refers to himself in the 2nd or 3rd person.) I assured him his little bed was nice and asked quite a few times to be sure he wanted the change; he was certain.

My husband and I pulled the mattress down from the attic and let Peter pick which sheets to use (blue). He was so excited to have a big bed and a pillow! I put him down already asleep for his nap, which went smoothly. He hasn't fallen off during naps or last night, which I thought might happen. Phew!

Such a big bed for such a small boy!

Last night, he did take about twice as long to settle as he usually does. No, not upset. You've probably forgotten, but sheets are very exciting when you first have them. Pulling sheets up, kicking them off, sliding feet around underneath... how can a boy sleep with all that to do?!

Also, now that his sheets are blue, he's been asking us to change his walls and make them blue. One step at a time, buddy. :-)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Baby Banz Swimsuit


One of the things I won't miss about summer is convincing Peter to stay still enough to allow me to get adequate sunscreen on him. (FYI, if you want to see how healthy your sunscreen is, click here.) Happily, even when we are swimming I only have to get his face, ears, and the lower parts of his arms and legs. Why? Baby Banz Swimwear!

Pros

  • The SPF really works. I was skeptical that a swimsuit would provide any better protection than a tshirt, but am pleased to admit I was wrong. We never put sunscreen under his suit and he's been completely protected.
  • The style covers most of him. The suit we got has 3/4 length sleeves and a high neck, greatly reducing the amount of sunscreen we need to apply.
  • Smaller sizes have a zipper on the bottom. This makes it easier to do diaper changes or get him on the toilet quickly.
  • On sale, they are really affordable! We already bought a shirt and trunks for next summer.
  • Sizes are flexible. Peter still technically isn't the right size for his suit, but it works well even though it's a bit large. This means we can get quite a bit of wear out of it.

Cons

  • The bottom zipper doesn't always stay zipped. It can come partially undone, chafing his legs a little if we don't keep an eye on it. We've debated pinning or sewing it shut and just taking the whole suit off when he needs the toilet.
  • The one-piece suits are completely made out of swimsuit material. While this means they dry quickly, it also introduces to boys' suits what is common for girls' suits: the butt area gets worn. As he scoots around on his bottom, the material is beginning to pill a little bit.
Bottom line: If you have the money and will be swimming outside, I highly recommend this! If you also swim inside, I'd recommend a cheaper suit for the highly-chlorinated indoor pools. (Although with some of the sale prices, these are pretty competitively priced!)

Disclaimer: My opinions are my own. I have not been compensated by Baby Banz in any way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Miles of Smiles

Doing "wordless Wednesday" a day early because it was youth group night and I am happily exhausted. Enjoy!



Monday, September 17, 2012

Like it, Own it?

I'm pretty good about not buying a lot of stuff for myself. Partially this is because my main hobby is reading, so the library is a much better alternative most of the time. Mostly, though, it's because I like not spending money on stuff so I can spend it doing things with friends or family.

I have a harder time not buying stuff for Peter, even though I know better. For the month leading up to his second birthday, Peter was crazy about airplanes. He saw the potential for an airplane toy in things I never would have considered and ran around the house making "woosh!" noises. For his birthday, we bought him a Little People airplane.

He LOVED it. He took it to summer camp with us every day. It entertained him for hours in his room. He pulled it around with him so many places that some of the color wore off the nose!

Now, he rarely uses it for more than five minutes in any given week.

Happily, what he wants at the mall is to play and walk around - easy to say yes to that! 

Sometimes it's even worse. He recently was given a toy that he was very excited to have... for approximately two days. We eventually donated it because he ignored it even when I actively tried to include it in our play time.

Even though I know this happens, I still want to buy him whatever he enjoys anywhere else. Seeing him excited about something makes me want to give it to him. In reality, I know that having these toys/books/games available at home would make him enjoy them less. They are fun because they are special and new, not because of any inherent quality of the toy.

This is where budgeting is useful. If we want him to be able to eat out with us or go to the town rec program, we can't just buy everything. And yes, Peter has his own line in our budget. That Excel spreadsheet has done wonders for my self-control. :-)

How culturally-based is this desire to possess whatever we enjoy? Is it unique to these United States? North America? Western civilization? Or is it everywhere?

Friday, September 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol 8): Baby Name Picks

-1-
OK, we finally decided on baby names for this little one. We had the boy name set fairly early, but I kept waffling about the girl name.

K, not actually our baby. But they all look the same at 20 weeks. 

-2-
First we were both happy with Anastasia, nickname Ana, but then found out that the main character of 50 Shades of Gray has that name and nickname. We scrapped that, both because we didn't want people to think we admired the book and because we want unusual names and thought there might be a popularity spike with that one.

-3-
Our criteria for names are that they not be in the top 100 (as listed by the SSA) and that they are the names of saints or beatified people (on their way to sainthood). For boys, we are planning to use names of popes. (We have eight that we like, so probably are all set with that.) We also don't want to use names that are common in our families.

-4-
The girl name choice is Anne Virginia. Anne will be named after two wonderful people, in addition to St. Anne Line. My mom's name is Mary Ann, so this granddaughter will be her namesake. Also, my friend Anne has agreed to be Godmother. Two-for-one deal! Virginia is my husband's maternal grandmother's name.

-5-
The boy name choice is Karl Wojtyla. See what we did there? Blessed Pope John Paul II has been such an inspiration to me; I really want to name a son in his honor. But the name John is very common in both of our families (4 uncles, 3 cousins), so we didn't want to go that route. Karol would likely be mispronounced as Carol, so we shortened it to Karl. Also, both of our paternal grandfathers had Carl in their names.

-6-
In case you're wondering, Peter Xavier is named for the first pope. His middle name came about in this conversation. My husband: "I've always thought X was an awesome middle initial. Can we give the baby a middle name with X?" Me: "Sure. There's a saint Francis Xavier, so I'm fine with that." :-)

Peter dressed as his namesake for All Saints Day 2010.

-7-
Rumors persist that Jeremy wanted to name his son after the X-Men and did this to trick me, which is absurd. We pronounce it 'zay-vier', not 'ex-avier' as it is pronounced for the X-Men. And more to the point, we don't trick each other because we think respect is important. Just thought I'd point that out.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

You can homeschool. Really.

I read posts recently (by the lovely Dwija) about the joys of homeschooling. The comments were peppered with parents saying something like, "I wish I could homeschool! I'm too disorganized, untalented, inflexible, detail-oriented, etc. I never could be like you."

Since blog comments aren't required, I'm going to assume these people are being truthful, that they truly wish to homeschool and feel unable. (This is significantly different from the "good for you!" mentality, in which people say, "I wish I could be like you!" but only to be polite, secretly thinking they would never choose to live that way.)

You want to homeschool? Then do it. You can.

There are books, websites, and support groups eager to help you get started, whether your child is a toddler or has been attending school for years. Read about which styles might work for your family. Connect with your local homeschool community and ask questions. Talk with your kids about the options if they're old enough.

Remember, you don't have to be a certified teacher. Just as there was no license required to take your baby home from the hospital, you don't need an education degree to teach your children at home.

I am not belittling the job of a classroom teacher. It's HARD to teach a group of 15 to 30 kids with different learning styles, home environments, background knowledge, intelligence levels, and interests. It's a lot of stress to be held to more educational standards than you can remember. I would never want to be a classroom teacher, as much as I love teaching.

But teaching your children is not being a classroom teacher. You know your kids, you can decide when to take a break, you don't have to worry about parents undermining your authority. You can pick a curriculum (or no curriculum!) that meets your children's needs and interests. It's completely different from being a teacher.

You can do it.

Not everyone wants to homeschool. That's perfectly acceptable. I went to Catholic schools K-12; my husband went to public schools K-12. We both got a good education. So if you don't want to homeschool, your child is not doomed. But if you do want to, then do it. You can.

My 'baby' cousin, who does not necessarily endorse anything in this post. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Catholic Mommy Underachiever

So, Saturday was the feast of Mary's birthday. I had intended to celebrate on Saturday, but forgot. So we went to Tim Horton's after Mass on Sunday and used part of a gift card to buy us each a baked good. And we sang Happy Birthday to Mary.


My friend recently celebrated her daughter's feast day, proving conclusively that I am a Catholic mommy underachiever. :-) Yes, she and her husband made that at home.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hills and Valleys of Motherhood

Peter was up late last night and took a short nap today. So when he climbed into my lap in the late afternoon, I was more than happy to let him curl up and fall asleep. It's probably been months since the last time he fell asleep in my arms. I just soaked up the rightness of his little body curled up so trustingly, his warm little head tucked under my chin. One of those hilltop moments of parenting.

More or less like this. Has it really been two years already?

When he woke, I noticed he seemed a bit too warm; the thermometer showed a low-grade fever. For dinner we coaxed him to eat a few grapes and a few bites of applesauce, but he wasn't really interested. Since he still was lethargic, we decided this would be a good time to let him watch TV for the first time.

The three of us curled up on the couch to watch Thomas the Tank Engine. Peter was on my lap, relaxed and happy and even eating a few more grapes while entranced with the show. And then suddenly the grapes and everything else were moving in the opposite direction. All over my shirt. And so I sat there in, um, "goo" while we cleaned him off and calmed him down to the point where he would allow me to go shower.

Did I mention this was about 30 minutes before I had to leave for youth group? The valley moments of parenting...

Epilogue: We cleaned him off in the shower, got him into his fleece footed pajamas, and he and my husband visited my mom while I was at youth group. He had fun and was quite chipper this evening. He ate some more applesauce and yogurt before bed, so hopefully is hydrated and going to keep that down. So far, so good!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Paid church staff: Solution or problem?

I would estimate my current parish has at least three times the number of paid positions that my childhood parish had. We have a pastoral administrator, pastoral associate, faith formation administrative assistant, business manager, administrative assistant, and sacramental coordinator above and beyond what my parish had.

My question is, which came first? Was there such a lack of community volunteers that parishes were forced to seek out and hire people? Or did the Powers That Be decide they needed someone "qualified", eliminating the informal network that had met those needs for so long and discouraging those willing to volunteer?

When I was 12, I decided my parish needed a Christmas pageant. I wrote a script, scheduled rehearsals, found some costumes and asked for help with others, asked my friends to be the musicians, and ran five or six rehearsals. I met with our pastor to have the pageant included with the Christmas Eve liturgy. I also got a list from our parish secretary (aka book-keeper/administrative assistant/business manager) of all the children registered in the parish. I called every house and personally invited the parents to bring their kids to rehearsals. During my six years running the pageant, at least two families began regularly attending Mass because of that invitation.

I was trusted to unlock the church for practice. At the end, I turned off all the lights, locked up, and put the key back in the mail dropbox for the rectory. Some parents stayed for rehearsals, but not all. I cannot fathom any seventh grader today being allowed that kind of responsibility.

I still have that script. I think it would be an improvement on what my parish does. But I don't want to ask about using it. You see, we have a paid faith formation coordinator. It's her job. I don't want to step on her toes.

Would you have trusted 12-year-old me?

Since joining this parish, I've wished we had weekly coffee hour. My parents' parish has five teams, each who do one coffee hour per month (well, Team 5 only on months with five weekends). The team bakes goodies, makes coffee, sets up and cleans. At one church in my parish, coffee hours were reduced because no one was willing to pick up prepaid donuts. That's right. No financial cost and minimal time cost - the store is about a mile from church. No volunteers.

There were also not enough volunteers to clean up when coffee hour was done. Someone asked, "Don't we have a paid cleaning staff?"

Yeah, we do. Maybe that's the problem.

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol 7): Nesting Already?

-1-
I have been ultra-motivated this week to clean and organize our house. (Except the dishes. I'm rarely motivated to wash dishes. Not sure why laundry appeals to me so much more.) I guess it could be "nesting" although I'm only 22 weeks along, so that seems unlikely. Anyway, I am awesome.

-2-
Three years ago, my mom and I pulled up the carpeting in the hallway and the master bedroom. I decided not to pull up the carpet from the walk-in closet, mainly because the shelving in there is somewhat built in, so it would require more effort. I also didn't pry up the carpet tacks from under the bed. Because I am that lazy. And no one ever walked under the bed.

-3-
Today, I completed the flooring project! I trimmed the carpet and nailed down a metal border so the closet no longer looks rattty. My mom and husband helped me move the bed so I could easily reach the carpet tacks and finish cleaning the floor. AND I hand-washed the entire hardwood floor. Didn't I tell you I am awesome?!

-4-

Yesterday, I hung two holy water fonts that my mom bought for me while on a retreat recently. Peter was very excited. He kept zipping between the two (one he can reach from the bottom step; the other is mounted for his height), blessing himself with the Sign of the Cross and saying, "Bwess!"


-5-
In less adorable news, I also replaced our toilet seat. Did everyone else except me already know how easy that was to do? I was ready for a Major Project, but it's so simple it didn't even come with instructions. I now feel a little silly for postponing that for so long. (Pro tip: Home Depot seats are significantly less expensive than Bed Bath & Beyond seats.)

-6-
Since rain is predicted for the next three days, I also conquered two loads of laundry, so everything is clean except a few diapers. Even the guest bedroom sheets! (We've had a recurring guest recently, so I haven't washed them after every use. But now they are line-dried fresh!)

-7-
Speaking of diapers: If you did cloth diapers through toilet training, how did you handle the laundry? Because now it takes five or six days to get a full load, by which point the older ones are starting to stink. I think my options are 1) do a small load every 2-3 days, which means the washing machine is running less efficiently, 2) do a mixed load of diapers and clothes, which means I'm using my good diaper detergent on regular clothes, or 3) deal with the stink. Am I missing something?


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Teaching without a Curriculum

While having lunch with my mom and her friend recently, our plans to homeschool Peter came up in conversation. My mom's friend asked if we were using an online academy (traditional schooling in a home setting, complete with assignments and a teacher accessible during school hours), as her grandchild had done. She was flummoxed when I said we weren't planning to use a structured curriculum, just teach him what he needed as he grew. It was as if I had said we were planning to only walk backwards now.

It makes sense that people default to imagining homeschooling as traditional schooling at home. After all, almost all of us were raised in traditional schools with a set curriculum and regular testing. This is what we know. The joy of homeschooling, though, is that our own experience does not have to limit our children's experiences. They can have the freedom to explore what interests them and learn in a style that fits their strengths and abilities.

The educational theory my husband and I plan on using to guide our instruction is a mix of Charlotte Mason and unit studies. Charlotte Mason theory emphasizes "real" books - biographies, historical fiction, and other literature - to teach facts, rather than compartmentalized textbooks. Unit studies focus on one area of interest at a time, using a variety of approaches to learn about that topic. Here's an example of a unit study I created that I might do with Peter within the next year.

Brazilian agouti
No, not a squirrel! That's a Brazilian agouti. Obviously.

Zoo
  • Take a trip to the zoo (socializing)
  • Show him a map of the zoo, use it to find an exhibit (social studies)
  • Read exhibit signs (reading)
  • Count animals in an exhibit, how many if one goes inside? (math)
  • Watch what and how different animals eat (science)
  • Practice good hygiene when we eat (health)
  • Observe differences among habitats (science)
  • Count types of zoo workers, what responsibilities each has (math, social studies)
  • Read Zoobies magazines about animals we saw (reading)
  • Learn about veterinarians and how to care for animals (social studies, science)
  • Read the Creation narrative and Noah's ark stories, identify animals (reading, theology)
  • Ask Peter to tell others about his trip to the zoo (writing*, socializing)
  • Make a list of animals we saw (writing*)
  • Learn The Unicorn Song (Irish Rovers) with motions (music, theology)
  • Make a mask of one or more animals seen (art)
  • Create a story with animals as the main characters (writing*)
  • Learn about our responsibility to care for the earth and all animals (social studies, theology)
*Writing involves both the physical act of writing and the cognitive skill of organizing and sharing our thoughts. At Peter's age, the second skill is more important.

This isn't a traditional curriculum. I don't have a preschool social studies textbook that lists zookeeper and veterinarian as careers to learn. This is "real-world" learning, picking a topic that Peter enjoys and using it to increase his knowledge and basic skills. I like that it stretches his brain and is flexible enough that we can use whatever interests him as a teaching moment.

And personally, I don't want to sit home with a textbook. :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Joy of Summer



"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape 
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School

Today was the first day of school for some of my cousins. The local districts are starting tomorrow or the Thursday. I've seen lots of very cute pictures of little kids with their huge backpacks and new school clothes, getting on the bus or riding their bikes. They look happy and excited.

At the State Fair on Saturday, one of the performers reminded the crowd that kids would be going back to school this week. Most of the adults cheered, happy and excited. (Which always bothers me. What message does your child hear when you can't wait to send them away?)

In a week, maybe two, most of those kids will stop being excited. Morning routines will have to be managed, strict bedtimes will have to be enforced, and homework will suck away the pleasurable afternoon hours. School will become a mundane reality for most and a source of anxiety for some. They'll start counting the days until the next vacation.

And the parents? Well, lots of them will be frustrated by the constant nagging that seems to be required to get kids to school on time, to do their homework, to get to bed. They will be worn out by trying to squeeze fun activities into the limited afternoon and evening hours. They will be railing against teachers considered too strict/easy/aloof/overwhelmed to deal appropriately with children entrusted to them.

Personally, this week makes me glad we never plan to have a First Day of School for our kids.

Much better start to our week :-)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day

Hope all of you with a long holiday weekend enjoyed it. Say a prayer of thanks for those who have worked in the past to ensure fair labor practices and for those who continue their work today. God bless us, every one.

Part of our fun week was picking up Grams at the train station!