Friday, February 26, 2010

Homeschooling Curriculum, Traditional and Non

I love math lessons where my children get to manipulate objects in order to understand basic mathematical concepts. " These 4 peg people want to go to a party, now those 3 peg people are going too, let's bring them all over to the party. How many peg people are at the party?" I know though, that she not only needs to understand the concepts but also what they look like down on paper. So after a few days of addition and subtraction using apple slices, apple seeds and toy pegs, we are ready to do some worksheets from Complete Canadian Curriculum.

I would show you a picture of her worksheet, except there is no copying of any form allowed. I am a goody 2 shoes. Next is a fun game to help Jack recognize numbers and colours. I made a giant dice out of a cube box and a number chart from The Dollar Store. I coloured the ends of Popsicle sticks and wrote the name of the corresponding colour on them as well. Then I put them colour-side-down into a cup.

So we start out by throwing the dice and seeing what number is up. Then the dice thrower picks a stick. Then the person who's turn it is, has to find that number of that coloured objects. for example 4 red objects. When they are found they are put in a basket and re-counted. What I liked most about this game, is that the kids began using teamwork almost right away, helping each other find objects of that colour.

Next was music time. My kids love to dance (who's doesn't?) So I found some kids break dancing videos on you-tube and we watched them. Then I put on some Run DMC and let them go nuts.

They did a lot of killer moves, but my camera was too slow to capture a lot of them. Jooniper even did some stalls. Joonpier wrote about dogs in her blog today and we took a picture of her dog sticker collage. What I love most about Homeschooling is how creative you can be with the curriculum. I think tomorrow will be yoga, got to build those core muscles to hold those stalls!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apple Day!

Dirt Girl World featured apples yesterday. So Jooniper, Jack, Scott and I went to the grocery store and purchased 2 of each variety of apple. Unfortunately, Jooniper was getting over the flu so we were not able to do more than that. Today, Jooniper is feeling much better so we were able to continue our lesson. I drew a picture of each type of apple we had purchased, and labeled it. I wrote what colours the apples were inside the picture of the apple. I then lined up the apples and we discussed the shape, colour and "shinyness" of each apple and jooni placed the correct apples on there picture counterparts.

Jooniper coloured each apple picture. After that it was taste test time. We cut up each apple into slices. We practised our subtraction by taking away slices and eating them then counting what is left. Yummy math time!

We opened the apples, extracted the seeds and counted them. Then we made a poster demonstrating the cycle of seed to apple. I've been storing apple seeds in the fridge, I think we'll plant them this afternoon. Gotta go, Dirt Girl World is coming on!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Had My First Baby.

My first birth experience was very traumatizing. I had no idea what my rights were, or that I even had any. "Hospital policy" was quoted at me left, right and center whenever I asked "why?" or "I want my baby back.". I often felt like I was being patted on the head. So I gritted my teeth and counted the hours until I had my freedom back. My second birth I knew my rights,as I had a wonderful midwife who answered all my informed choice questions as well as a supportive doula that I shared my fears with. I had a better breastfeeding education than my nurses. My baby slept skin to skin with my arms propped up with pillows. My son was latched on all night. I was able to doze for 8 hours. Much longer than with my first baby, who can sleep when their baby is screaming across the hall and the nurses won't bring him/her to you? When the nurse noticed that I was only writing down which side I breastfed on last not the length of time, she chided me. "That's to make sure your baby is getting enough to drink," at which point I told her that "there is no current research that supports that the duration of time on the breast can determine the amount of breastmilk ingested. In fact, the timing of feedings is considered to be counter-productive to breastfeeding success according to the World Health Organization. But it is a wonderful tool to help me remember which breast I fed with last. " She answered "It won't hurt to just write it down." Then left in a huff. When I knew my rights and was able to firmly assert them, my hospital stay was almost pleasant, except that they let my meds wear off and I had to walk to my car 3 days post c-sect with no pain meds in my system. Also, I was able to have my mother stay in the hospital with me, so there was never a reason for them to "help" with the baby, or take it away for a long period of time. Thanks mom. So here is a list of the things I wish I knew before having my first baby.

1.That hospital policy does not override a mother's legal right to informed choice.
Mother: "I don't want an iv" nurse "well it's hospital policy, just in case there's an emergency."
You still have a right to refuse. According to Canadian Medical Association's code of ethics and the Canadian Nursing Association's code of ethics. A patient has the right to refuse any medical test/procedures without further pressure from the health-care provider. In fact, a nurse who is just following the doctors orders and carries out a procedure after the patient has refused said procedure, is just as legally liable as the doctor who gave the order despite the patient's refusal.

2. Cesarean sections are not the "easy way out". They are risky, painful for weeks (sometimes years) afterward and leave you helpless to do simple but necessary motherly tasks.

3. According to the WHO hospitals with c-section rates higher than 15% actually have higher maternal mortality rates and higher incidences of re-hospitalization. In other words, this
life saving procedure when done in excess is a life-endangering procedure. The average c-sect rate in Canada is 25%. So feel free to ask questions when a cesarean is suggested. Your life may depend on it. There are many hospitals in Europe that have less than 15% c-section rate and much lower maternal and infant mortality rates than Canada.

4. It is not a requirement to have a formal breastfeeding education to be a L&D nurse or a doctor, though, the health-care providers who do not have a formal education (18 hours is the minimum recommended by the World Health Organization) will still offer advise. Nurse "Oh well, the baby's not getting enough liquid because your 'real milk' hasn't come in yet." or "write down each feeding and the length to show your baby's getting enough milk" Scientific research has debunked both of these misconceptions, but I still heard them coming out of healthcare providers mouths.

5. The Doctors responsible for creating the policies for formula supplementation usually have no formal breastfeeding education. So, if it is suggested that your baby be supplemented with formula, ask that a healthcare professional with at least an 18 hour breastfeeding education be consulted first. If possible, ask to speak with an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant, they are the gold standard in breastfeeding information and current breastfeeding research. Once again, you have the right to make an informed choice for your baby. It is not considered an informed choice if the caregiver does not have accurate or up to date information. You wouldn't consult Orthopedic Surgeon for advise on treating glaucoma, you'd see an eye specialist. It should not be any different for breastfeeding.

6. When I got home I would need a lot of breastfeeding support. I had no idea how much patience and confidence I would need to learn to breastfeed, and in turn, my baby to learn as well. Thank goodness for midwives, postpartum doulas and public health nurse Lactation Consultants. Find yourself at least one of these to help with the first 3 weeks of breastfeeding.

7. A new baby will want to eat between once every three hours to once an hour. This is not a sign that the baby isn't getting enough. This is very important to the production of breastmilk.

8. Breastfeeding, though very rewarding, is exhausting.

9. Sometimes babies just cry and all you can do is comfort them the best you can, they are adapting to a whole new world. Don't take it personally.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Praying With Little Ones

Do Buddhists pray? Well that depends on the Buddhist. There are Christian Buddhists, and being as I think Christ was "the man" and more Divine than human. I suppose that's what I am. Buddha said there were 180,000 paths to enlightenment (which I believe to be living in full connection with God's love, when we conquer our inner "evils" that act as a block between the creator and ourselves) my children will have to find and follow their own path to God. A creator of many names, but made of the same love. So at night we pray. It is simple, we call God; God, though I have explained that God is neither male or female as God does not need a penis or vagina to create life like animals do. I know, I'm a little blunt. So first we sing a song with a melody fashioned after Raffi's "Thanks A lot" song. Then we each sing what we are thankful for. Jack's mostly thankful for his ricemilk and on one touching night; thankful for Scott. Jooniper is mostly thankful for her glow in the dark star stickers on her ceiling and what ever else is in her line of sight. I am usually thankful for my family and Scott is thankful for the fun things we did that day. Then comes the time to ask God for something we want. Jack always declines, and re-thanks God for his ricemilk. Jooniper asks for toys for Jack so he can have one of his own so she doesn't have to share hers. I usually ask for help being wise, courageous or patient. Scott rarely asks for anything. Then we say "Goodnight God." And start the song portion of our nighttime routine. I think the most important thing I can do for my children spiritually, is open up a line of communication between themselves and God. Jooniper is getting older and I have been reading her the story of Siddartha, we have read Bible stories as well as Native American Folklore. Anyone have a children's spiritual book they recommend? How do you incorporate religion/spirituality into your childrens daily lives?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Homeschooling at the "Lighthouse". Interest driven schooling can be the most fun. This morning jack pretended that his toy was an umbrella and asked us to use the rainstick to rain on him. Then we did rain dances to make the rainstick rain. Then we looked up rain dances and other tribal dances on youtube. The children bounced up and down to Zulu and Korean rain dances. So as a tribute, during Jooni's snack, she rubbed blueberries all over her face as face paint like the people she saw in some of the videos. Well, if it's in the name of cultural education, who am I to make her wash it off? After snack, we begun to plant our carrot, beet, squash and pea garden. The kids got a lesson in how worms help make the soil more nutritious for the plants. Mostly, they wanted to touch the worms. They helped moisten the compost and soil in the wormfarm and transplanted the worms to our indoor garden. To incorporate math into the lesson I read the instructions on the back of the seed packages and using a tape measure, Jooniper showed me where we should put the seeds either one every inch or counting by 2's. After the planting was done, Jooniper and I wrote a story about planting a garden. I typed it up and left blank the vocabulary I thought was most suited to her learning level. She printed the words into the story and was excited she could read them herself.

Next was music time with Scott. Jack loves to join in with a harmonica while Scott plays his guitar and sings songs. Jooniper's favorite song is "naming the animals". She brings her small plastic animals into the room and Scott has to make up a song about each one, the kids get to name the animal IE: Zwanky the zebra and Scott has to fit it into his song. The kids dance, play drums and use shakers to join-in on the concert.

Jooniper loves her computer time, sometimes she wants to play kids games from kids BBC, today she wanted to have fun typing with the word processor. She likes to change the size of the letters, make them bold and Italic. She types the words she knows but to write a story, she likes me to sound out the words so she can type them. Art time today consisted of still-life. She set up her monkey and teddy and drew them. I was quite impressed. Scott, Joon and Jack made a Finding Nemo themed poster, Whales, Sharks, Turtles etc. Now it is time for the little ones to play outside, the adults are exhausted.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Homeschooling With Dirt Girl

I love Dirt Girl World. Love it. With spring just a little more than around the corner for us Muskokians, I've been feeling the itch to start an indoor garden. As a homeschooler, I always try to make lesson plans around what I have to get done anyways. The grocery store, is a wonderful opportunity to count, sort and share responsibilities, plus Jooni gets to write/read the shopping list with my help. Laundry; sorting and motor skills. Doing the dishes always turns into a lesson of percussion with pots, pans and spoons. So I really wanted to include them in gardening. Of course there's the basics Seed+Water+Sun+Dirt+Love=Healthy plant. But dirt Girl World takes the lessons deeper, into sustainable farming/ecological balance and natural pest control. I learned that Nasturtiums keep away slugs. Funny enough, I picked up some Nasturtium seeds the day before. So we made a poster together about natural ways to keep slugs away from our plants, then we planted Nasturtiums in mugs to later transplant into our outdoor garden. I think Dirt Girl World may become apart of my daily curriculum. I love how much I get to learn as a homeschooler. As a sidenote I discovered Alphablocks on Kids BBC website, pure genious. Have a great day, teach what you love and love what you teach.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Working with a doula partner...

As doulas, we like to guarantee that we will be with our clients as soon as they need us for as long as they need us. This can be tricky when you are a not only a doula but also a mother of young children. Arranging childcare is particularly troublesome. What happens when your spouse has to go to work, your mother in law is unavailable and your babysitter has got the flu? I got a call from a client believing she was in early labour and that was my situation. I scrambled around for numbers of all the babysitters I knew (when really I should have been napping). I couldn't find anyone to take them. My client called back and told me it was a "false alarm". Thank goodness for that because I had 8 hours to go before my spouse got home from work.

There was also a time when I vomited twice the night before and got a call at 8:00am the next morning. She was cramping and feeling sick and had lost her mucus plug. Uh oh. I knew I could have the flu, I also knew I could have just ate something that didn't sit well. Not knowing if it was contagious or not I decided I was not entering a room with a labouring woman or a newborn until it had been 24 hours since the last time I felt sick. I told them the situation and asked if they'd be willing to have another doula. They agreed, though really hoped I could make it. I called around and found another doula who was willing to be on-call for the next 12 hours. We arranged how much of the birth-fee she would receive, should this client need her services that day. It was just something I ate and the labour didn't start until the next morning, whew.

I found that the most stressful part of my job was the 1/2 hour I had to get ready to go to the birth, a time where I should be centering myself, not running around like a chicken with her head cut-off. Then, after I arranged childcare for the next 24 hours, the question became what do I do if the labour is longer than 24 hrs? Will my spouse be able to find a sitter?

I needed a partner.

There are amazing doulas in my area. They all have specialties, registered massage therapists, hypnobirth educators, expansive knowledge of natural remedies. My specialty is breastfeeding support, many of my clients told me that is why the hired me, (and my stunning personality of course ;). So it was important for me to have a partner with breastfeeding counseling education and experience, should I not be able to make a birth. It was also imperative that the doula I worked with be willing to volunteer for some births, I offer my services for free to women under the age of 20. Enter Emma, my sister's friend who just moved to the area. She contacted me on facebook and we got together. I found we had similar philosophies and she had been a Le Leche League leader, so she had a lot of breastfeeding counseling experience. We worked together briefly then I took some time off for personal reasons. Now I'm back and ready to take on births.

I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is knowing that no matter what (other than a horrific snow storm blocking the roads) my clients will be well supported during their birth. My partner inspires me to get out there and advertise, she also gives me someone to de-brief with after a birth. She gives me inspiration and ideas for improving my skills and classes. I just hope that I am able to do the same for her.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The US Government Has Isolated The Evil Gene

So, the government must have isolated the evil gene, because (according to it has been storing baby's DNA and can guarantee that the DNA information is safe with them. They must have tested everyone with access to that genetic information for the "evil" gene and found no one was a carrier. I hope they remembered to test for the "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" gene and the "morally ambiguous for the sake of scientific research" gene. Though the "It's for your own good, pat pat" gene has been found in the majority of US government officials.

Hands Off My Baby! but nicely...

I remember apologetically telling people not to touch my baby. " She's new, and I don't want her to get sick." I would say. Then they would have the audacity to argue with me, even strangers;
"I'm not sick..."reaching for my baby or "I'll just touch her hand..." To which I'd answer, "she puts her hands in her mouth. Do not touch her." Believe it or not, people would anyways. Would you touch me if I asked you not to? I've had to move my stroller, which usually had them leaving in a huff, muttering something about overprotective parenting. Or they'd stand up straight, hands on hips, saying, "How's she suppose to build her immune system?" I'd answer, "Through my breastmilk." Soon I just began carrying hand-sanitizer. But the fact of the matter is this. It's my baby. If I say don't touch her, don't touch her. So when I saw this sign on One Bored Mommy's blogspot, I was very happy. A polite, yet preemptive strike to all those compulsive baby touchers. They are giving 3 away. I'd love to have these to give to my doula clients. Thanks ladies for coming up with this great idea!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

For Goodness Sakes, Hold Your Kid's Hand!

I'm not big on the whole "judging other parents" thing. Chances are they are just having a horrible day, or maybe nursing a recent bite wound under their left sleeve. My kids wear stained clothes (I'm not throwing out a shirt because my daughter spilled ketchup on it) my daughter wears navy and green, sports whatever hair-cut she wants, (right now it's a buzz-cut, last month it was a mohawk). My son has sported a pink toque and likes his hair long...You get the point. When it comes to appearance of other people's children, I don't judge. Sometimes parents lose their temper and scream at their kids, I've done it. Not proud, not fun to witness; but I understand. What I don't understand is kids running ahead of their parents in parking lots. The tops of their little toques barely visible above the trunks and hoods of the parked (or moving) cars. This infuriates me. I know, or at least hope so, that these parents would not let their 2 year-olds cross the street without holding their hands, why would they let them cross a parking lot that way? What is so much safer a bout a parking lot? I've been hit by a van in a parking lot, The driver stopped as soon as he "heard" that he hit me. Going 20km per hour he still manged to run over the heel of my shoe. I'm sorry if this next line is disturbing, but how loud do you think the "thump" would be of a car hitting a 30 lb 2 year old? Would it be audible over the heater or car radio? Probably not. So for the love of your children; HOLD THEIR HANDS IN THE PARKING LOT.

I think we should go to the hospital. NOW.

As doulas we are expected to continue our childbirth education. It is important for us to understand medical terms, tests and procedures. To understand possible complications in labour and delivery. But we are NOT to offer medical advise or do any clinical tasks that would be preformed by a healthcare provider (though, out of pure motherly instinct, I have checked a client's forehead when she said she felt like she had the chills). We do observe our clients, take notes (bathroom breaks, what snacks they've eatin, length of contractions and space between them.) But when we observe signs of possible complications (including a very fast labour ) and we are with our clients pre-caregiver, how should we approach this? We don't want to alarm our clients, we don't want to "make" them go to the hospital. It's a bit easier, I find, when my clients have a midwife. Any time a concern arises, for example: slightly heavier than usual bleeding. Clients ask: "Is this normal?" I say:
"Every labour is different, but this does seem a bit unusual, so you may want to give your midwife a call." Easy, midwife asks questions/answers questions and may/may not come over/suggest they meet at the hospital. But when the caregiver is a Dr. and it is not office hours, something that is just a little unusual, needs to be checked out at the hospital. Just in case. Though, I find myself, feeling the need to "cover my butt" sometimes. There have been times that I admit, after a client has told me she doesn't want to go to the hospital to get something checked out, that I reiterate what her Dr. has told her about when to go to the hospital (if it applies) or retold them that what I was observing was not typical of labour, but if she wants to stay at home, I will support her wherever she wants me to. I'm sure this felt like pressure from me to her and her partner. There has been times though, where I've ushered clients out the door, carrying their labour bags. Is this beyond my scope? probably. If I were in the same position would I do it again? Yes. It's a hard line to walk, I want to support her in all her informed choices...but I don't want to have to give baby catching instructions to dad via a 911 call either. Sometimes when mom's suddenly 2 minutes apart and 60 seconds long, squatting saying she doesn't want to go; you just got to step in and say: "I think we should go to the hospital. NOW."

Monday, February 1, 2010

How Will I know If I'm Having A Real Contraction?

As a childbirth educator, I've noticed that women are petrified of being in labour and "not knowing it". The interesting part of that is that their cause for fear is usually on opposite sides of the spectrum. It's an even split between not wanting to give birth in the car on the way and not wanting to go to the hospital too early. As much as I reassure women that early labour is usually a long and slow process and the chances of them giving birth within a few hours of their first contraction is rare. There is always a story about the woman someone knew who didn't make it to the hospital in time. So here's how I explain how to tell what a "real" contraction feels like:

"Who here has stubbed their toe?" Everyone raises their hands. Then I ask, "You know that feeling you get right after you stubbed your toe, when it doesn't hurt bad yet but you can feel the pain rising up your legs?" Everyone nods. "Then the pain rises up to your head and you can't help but react? You hop up and down, breath out loudly, yell ouch, do a little 'I stubbed my toe dance?' " Everyone nods again. "Well a real contraction feels a bit like that, when it peaks you have to cope, you can't help but move, breath differently or cry out. It is impossible not to react."

So now I've got everyone scared and I've got to do damage control.

"So, we talked about 'pain with a purpose'. Well, think of how much movement has been shown to help the baby move down and through pelvis, your coping mechanism to move, actually helps bring the baby closer to being born. Breathing is very important during a contraction, the uterus which is a big bag of muscles, needs oxygen to work that hard, so breathing in deeply, or often and light, during a peak of a contraction aids your uterine muscles. As for the need to vocalize, there is a relationship between your facial muscles and your pelvic floor. When your mouth is tightly shut, your pelvic floor muscles tighten up as well. We want a relaxed pelvic floor, So having a wide open mouth allows that to happen. How do we keep our mouths open wide? Well by vocalizing, of course. Ladies, you will find your own coping techniques. Though, it is much easier to to listen to your body and find them, if you are able to move around and are comfortable enough in your surroundings to breath and make the noises you feel you need to make."

Anyone else have a different way to explain what a contraction feels like? Please share...