Homeschooling is very new to me - I would have said flat out 'no way' just a few short years ago - and I'm a bit of a keener, so despite the fact that it will be 2-3 years before I need to even register as a homeschooler in my province, I'm making things official by going to conventions, ordering (and sometimes using) curriculum and the latest - joining a Homeschool Co-operative.
I fell into this co-op kind of accidentally, when a friend was seeking out children who were the same age as her early homeschooler to arrange activities and field trips with. A sort of 'classroom' if you will of children who have the opportunity to get to know each other by meeting regularly and learning together. Her stated age range was 5-8 (early homeschoolers), and since my girls are only 2 (since yesterday!) and not-yet-4, I feel a bit like a weaseled my way in. My friend, however, also has children who are exactly my daughters' ages as well as one who is younger, so I knew they would not be out of place. After our first meeting, I was happy to learn that there were many more children within the group who fell into my daughters' age group, and so our group will be sensitive to their ages, as well as occasionally planning events and activities that divide the babies and toddlers from the older children. Having a large group of Moms with the same stated goal gives us a lot of people to rotate teaching, planning, and even occasionally babysitting the little ones.
For our first event with all the kiddo's, we planned to meet at the local zoo. There is a large playground just outside the gates, where we let the kids run for the hour before the zoo opened for the day, and then we all packed up the kids and toured the zoo together.
Clara had an odd and unfortunate incident as we were walking into the zoo. She was snacking on a rice cake (which she has had many times) and her face did this:
I have no idea. That rice cake was passed between Clara and Audrey, fell in the wagon they were riding in and was probably held by various mittens before her face did this, so I expect it was something the rice cake picked up outside? Who knows... I'll have to get her allergy tested eventually, I suppose.
Audrey was simply mesmerized by the wolves. She stood there staring until I managed to finally coerce her to keep walking.
One thing I've learned about going to the zoo is that animals are MUCH more active and interesting in cooler weather. We have typically gone on the sunniest days of summer, and have often had trouble finding animals that were sleeping or even hiding. We went in early spring this year, and now in fall, and both times the animals were extremely active. The lynxes were chasing and grooming each other playfully, and both wolves were running around in their pen.
Sadly, I can't say I know many... any?... of the kids in this photo yet, but I think they are all in our group, so I expect I will get to know them well. These kids were suddenly all standing on a giant rock, which seemed like a good photo opportunity...
Ten Moms who each have at least two - typically more - children, makes for a VERY large group of people!
It was a great day, and I was able to learn (and even remember) a few of the Mom's names, and hopefully even some of the kids'. I'm looking forward to seeing friendships develop within the group, and I'm excited to be a part of the events and activities over the year!
Audrey's birthday is technically tomorrow, and conveniently, it fell on a weekend - to fit in everyone we wanted to invite (friends and family), we split the parties into two days. We had a bunch of toddlers and their families over for a party today, and tomorrow (on her actually birthday) the family is coming over to celebrate!
So without a lot of time to give details, between cleaning the house from one party for the next and needing to go decorate the cupcakes for tomorrow, here are a few photos and a quick run-down of the day!
I will suspend judgement on Moms who rent entertainment for their kids' birthdays from now on - after thinking for days about how to entertain 2 year olds while still not boring a 6 year old, I decided to rent a bouncy castle...
After the kids came, we let them all bounce for about an hour before calling them inside for gifts and cake.
A homemade Anna dress... pretty much the star of the show. Clara 'borrowed' it for most of the rest of the day... She doesn't know there's already a homemade Elsa dress waiting for her to wear on Halloween...
Audrey was a bit slow - her big sister(s) Clara and the 3-year-old I babysat became very involved in helping her open gifts...
This wasn't the cake I'd planned - it would have been much more elaborate had the fondant worked out properly - but it looked ok.
I forgot to take pictures of all the owl decorations - Audrey loves owls - but here are the treat bags that all the kids (except Audrey) took home. Clara got one, though, and she shared all of the treats with her little sister. I love how well they get along sometimes.
Clara had a difficult time with all 11 kids romping around in the bouncy castle, and although she really wanted to enjoy her time in it, she kept coming out in tears because someone had 'bumped into' her. She knew that was par for the course in the castle, so she kept going back in, but I think my introverted oldest just couldn't quite get comfortable. So, after everyone had left, when we still had another hour with the castle before it had to be taken down - we went in again, just us girls while Daddy started raking leaves.
She was yelling "Mooommy!!"
I tried to get the girls to sit together and smile at me. This was the closest I got.
Then, after watching the workers come deflate and roll up the bouncy castle, we all went to the front yard to 'help' Daddy with the raking. It's bizarelly warm for this late in August, and we were witness to a gorgeous sunset. Then we came inside and had chips for supper and watched Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful evening.
A happy second Birthday (part 1) for Audrey!
Here's a post I started writing in July, it appears - and although it's horribly out of date by now, it's not irrelevant, and so I will post it anyway.
July 20, 2014
Obviously blogging isn't high on my priority list this summer - which isn't a huge surprise since I tend to do things in seasons, but it's a bit disappointed because not only have I not been blogging, but Audrey and Clara are both changing so much and neither of their 'baby' books have been updated in probably over 6 months and because our only camera at the moment is a clunky DSLR, we have also been taking only minimal photos. My girls' life of late has been sadly un-documented.
But so much has been going on! This past June, my Grandparents held an Auction sale in preparation to move to a condo soon. For my Grandma, it was a happy time of decluttering her yard and home, but my Grandpa saw almost all of his prized posessions sold. My Grandpa loved to collect things, and like many antique collectors, he occasionally 'shopped' at the local junk yard. One antique truck that he found in the junk yard sold at his auction for over $300! It was mostly a sad day, knowing that so much of Grandpa's enjoyment came from all of these things.
The horse in the photo above had been sitting in my Grandparents basement for years, and being the overprotective Mama I am, I kept my daughters away from it. (They could get pinched in the springs!!! And it's so old, you never know what might all of a sudden fall apart!) I was overruled, however, and not only were my daughters permitted to play on it at the sale - but my in-laws bought it and now it is at their home for the girls to play with for years to come.
No bitterness, though - I'm over it, really. On closer inspection, and after re-analyzing my position, I had to concede that the horse did not pose the dangers I thought it might and although there is always the finger-pinching, or falling-off risks, they aren't that serious and the enjoyment of the toy far outweighs those risks.
Here's our paddling pool, we got it from some friends who were moving and since their kids are all in high school they didn't feel the need to take this with them. It's been awesome for our girls.
For the first few times we filled it up, I got the girls all ready for 'pool time' in their bathing suits and everything, but since the weather has been so nice lately, and every outdoor playtime has involved getting into the pool, we've been keeping a few inches of water in it all the time now and just expect to have to change Audrey before she comes into the house. I'll still bathing-suit them up occasionally, but they don't seem to care either way...It gets a little frustrating when we're heading to the car and Audrey wanders off and is suddenly soaked from the armpits down and we have to haul her back inside to clean her up and change her, but this pool has been so worth the entertainment this summer.
I'm afraid to write this, because I know how polarizing this particular debate is, but part of the purpose of this blog is to document our life to my children, and that includes - occasionally - telling them how I feel about things...
When it comes to debates about abortion, my initial feeling is flat out confusion. I truly don't understand.
I came across an info graphic on Facebook about a week ago that offended me deeply - and I'm not often offended. My looming menstruation was probably partially to blame for the fact that I found myself wanting to curl up into fetal position and cry for a week, but the feeling was real, and it really hurt.
The graphic uses drowning as a metaphor for unwanted pregnancy. It facetiously stated that because being in water can lead to drowning, no safety devices should be permitted in the water, because everyone should know that water can lead to drowning and the only 100% effective way to keep from drowning is to stay out of the water. It was snarkily poking at those who oppose birth control.
Reading the graphic initially made my stomach sort of churn. I saw the parallel, even found myself being slightly - yet uncomfortably - swayed by the clever seeming presentation.
Until I saw this phrase: "You should see DROWNING as a gift."
This phrase stuck in my head - it repeated because I knew there was something very, VERY wrong with it, but I couldn't quite place why it made me want to vomit. Shortly after this, I was trying to think of a different example for this parallel - a situation in which this statement would not be mockable, because simply putting one word in place of another to prove that the original statement is ridiculous is really not a valid style of argument. There must be SOMETHING that could make this statement always, always true. Winning the lottery. Living in peace. Having parents and family who love you. Wait - A CHILD!!! Just because the statement above is ludicrous, does NOT make the statement 'Babies are gifts', 'Family is a gift', 'Love is a gift', etc. equally ludicrous. It got me for a second - and everyone who agrees with the point of the infographic probably bought it as genius, but it really isn't. It's actually stupid enough for me to wonder if the graphic might possibly be against the argument it seems to be representing... but anyway...
The infographic was subtly saying that being encumbered by an unwanted child is comparable to drowning. Baby = death.
I was an unwanted child. My mother considered aborting me - and I don't blame her for this consideration because I understand that she was not ready for the complication I caused her. I understand, but that doesn't mean abortion would have been the right thing to do. I can understand a lot of poor choices, but having compassion on a person's situation does not make those poor choices 'right'. Experiencing the frustration of a crying baby for nights on end made me understand how some mothers might be tempted to shake their babies - but it doesn't make it ok.
It hit me that the world really seems to believe that because I was not wanted - my life is somehow not valuable. That my mother may as well have died as carried me to my birth. Like I said earlier, I blame my emotional pre-menstrual state, but this struck me to tears. It struck me because I have friends who believe this. Members of my own family believe this.
But the frustrating thing is, they would probably refuse to draw this parallel. This is where I don't understand.
They wouldn't mean ME. They might say that if I had been aborted, no one would have known any different, so it somehow wouldn't have mattered. This is true, but that doesn't mean that the implication and bold statement that life might have somehow been better without me doesn't hurt. It does. It hurts a lot. And even if my mother's life would have been drastically improved by my non-existance, would that really justify my death?
I didn't like the idea of abortion for personal reasons for years before I became pregnant with my first child, but I had reservations. Pregnancy locked it for me. I learned the science behind an infant's development. I learned when a fetus develops major organs, loses a tail :) and begins to hear sounds outside a mothers' body. I learned about how distinctly HUMAN a baby is from the first things we know about their development. Then, when I had my second child, I learned how completely different children are - even months before they are born. There are quirks that I noticed about Audrey's personality within me that were SOOO different than Clara's, and some of these quirks I was blessed to witness when she emerged. Funny little body spasms and movements that are just so very HER.
Another thing that struck me remarkably was how bizarre it felt to carry ANOTHER human being inside my body. This was another person - not a part of me. This person was as much a mystery to me as any other person is. I didn't know my child's thoughts, and I couldn't feel my child's physical body. My body fed their little bodies, kept them safe and kept them warm, but that is all. They were not me. If they had died in utero, I might not have known for days. There is no scientific or medical argument that proves that these little beings are actually, physically, part of a woman's body. They aren't.
This is when true confusion set in.
Why are the people who so actively fight against killing these incredible little beings the same people who have a reputation for being the LEAST scientific. Wouldn't the scientific community - more than anyone - be in the best position for realizing just how human we are from the time of conception? Wouldn't they be the ones who would understand that because a child who can survive outside a mothers' body now is drastically younger than a child who could survive in the 1900's, we can't possibly determine an individual life based on their dependency level?
Before I became pregnant I was unsure. I was unsure because I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as teenagers - girls who really didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing, and would now have to face a completely different future. I had compassion for girls who became pregnant as a result of rape, and had to choose whether or not to carry the reminder of their pain, and I had compassion for girls and women who become pregnant and the pregnancy threatens their own lives. I still do have compassion for people in all of these circumstances, and I want to say this completely without judgement - I understand how abortion could seem like the only reasonable option in so many circumstances.
The only reasonable option - as long as we ignore that the 'thing' we are getting rid of is another human being. As long as we don't call it a person, as long as we convince ourselves that it somehow is not yet a human being. So it makes sense that we all believe the lie that a fetus is not a person, because if we didn't, we would all have to admit that it was murder, and the debate would be much more complicated.
If I see our world as a place where people increasingly tell each other that life is about enjoyment - it's about having fun, and taking it easy - it makes sense. We really don't want to have to deal with consequences, and we feel as though it is our right to not have to face consequences wherever possible. When those we love become deathly sick, we blame doctors for not doing their job properly, we angrily claim the right to life - but in many cases doctors don't have nearly as much power as we give them. When people around us die as the result of a tragic accident, there is no avoiding the consequence - a life without that person. We can plead if we wish - "it was only an accident!", "I didn't know this would happen!", "I'm only a child!" - but we can't reverse death.
I see a world where many, many people experience pain and horror beyond what most of us want to admit. Even in our 'peaceful' western culture, there are people watching their family members die in horrific ways everywhere - if you haven't, you probably know someone who has. We avoid pain wherever possible, and although I know an abortion must come with some level of pain - the idea behind it is that it results in less pain than a pregnancy. I won't even speak to whether or not that is true, but I don't believe that life is all about the 'pursuit of happiness' or comfort - especially not when another human being is at stake. So many people never experience physical comfort, wealth or even financial stability, peace... why do we so completely convince ourselves that we must be different?
"Life is pain, Highness - anyone who says differently is selling something" The Dread Pirate Roberts
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