Tuesday, May 29, 2012

This Fortnight in Homeschooling

It's actually been over 2 weeks since I've blogged. Spending too much time watching soaps and eating bon bons.

Actually, that's a lie. No one does that these days. We play video games instead.

A couple of weekends ago we went to the Maker Faire!

Margaret and Isaac drove robots.

And we hula hooped. I'm wearing Isaac on my front in the mei tai in this picture. Having a small person attached to you makes hula hooping more difficult.

We saw lots of interesting things: the Tesla stage was exciting, the bikes, the flight simulator, the bees, the fire breathing mechanical dragon, etc. But I wanted to share this picture because it's so pretty. This is a sculpture made entire out of masking tape. It was probably the size of our dining room and living room put together. Or bigger. This is a close up.

We also saw the eclipse. Here are the crescents made from the eclipse shining through the trees.

And from our viewing box. I only saw a partial eclipse, but it was fun. At its fullest, our solar panels were only getting 75 watts, when it normall has 10 times that much at that time of day.

And this picture is from a walk to the library. There is a section of sidewalk that is raised and the kids think it is a stage, so here they are performing.
So we've been doing things!

I don't feel like linking to the books we've been checking out because that takes time. And we've been to the park many many times in the past couple of weeks as well, but I don't have pictures of all of it.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Inquisition Monday

Megan B. asked, "I have a question for your Inquisition Monday posts. How does your "my body, my choice" idea work during diaper changes? I love the idea and I've started saying similar things to Brayden, but sometimes he freaks during diaper changes and doesn't want me to wipe him. Have you dealt with that? What would you recommend? On the same note, are there any children's books you would recommend that reinforce the "my body, my choice" idea?"

Bodily autonomy is huge for me. I do give a couple of exceptions: health and safety. But I also think I'm pretty lenient even in that: hair combing isn't a big health of safety issue, so I don't push it on my kids (and when we do comb their hair, I try to be very gentle and use a detangler.)

But diaper changes do fall into health for me. Isaac has lived through a lot of painful diaper issues, from thrush as a newborn to food sensitivities when he started solids (and to this day). Isaac is mostly ok with diaper changes now, but when he wasn't, there were a few things that helped:

  • Staying calm on my end. Getting visibly frustrated never helped at all. Lots of deep breaths.
  • Talking. I would say, "Now, I need to wipe your butt so that it will stop hurting." The talking has to be calm, though. 
  • Stop diapering. As much as possible, I let Isaac go naked butt. No diaper to change meant no diaper changing issues. Of course, this means trying to keep your calm when you kid pees on the floor for the fifth time in 3 hours, so you still get to practice patience and calmness. The fresh air also helped air out the rashes and get rid of them. Less rash = less pain = less struggles when we did use a diaper.
  • Wiping- make it as comfortable as possible. We use cloth wipes, so I wet them with warm water when I wipe him so there isn't a cold shock. We use plain terry cloth washcloths because they are so cheap, but if it's a major problem, it might be worth it to buy some nice soft cloths to make wipes from. You might even be able to find small pieces of minky (or other soft fabric) really cheap in a scrap bin at a fabric store.
  • Distraction: book, toy, etc. Singing a song or making silly faces can help. If you know that the wiping won't take very long, you could say, "I'll wipe for only 5 seconds... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!" And keep that promise. You could even do a short song like "Row, row, row your boat." (Wipe, wipe, wipe you butt, so you're nice and clean?)
  • Switching up wipers. McKay is a particularly calm influence in general and is able to help Margaret wash her hair without tears and Isaac doesn't fuss as much with him when he diapers him. 
  • It was always very important to me to never say, "Eww!" "Smelly!" etc., because I didn't want him to think I was disgusted by his body. I would mention, "Oh! You pooped!" so he would learn the difference between pooping and peeing, but I tried not to put a negative value on diapering.

I don't know if any of that helped- for Isaac it was a stage, and it now comes up only when he has a particularly bad rash. We are hoping that he'll become more potty independent soon so this will go away for good- although even if they can potty by themselves, they sometimes still need wiping help. I always ask Margaret before wiping her, "May I wipe your vulva?" Poor Isaac has heard me say that so many times he thinks he has a vulva, too, and will say, "Vulva!" when he potties. We correct him every time and he'll eventually "get it." It's kind of cute, though.

As far as books, we haven't really used many. There are picture books for teaching kids about sexual assault and molestation which often emphasize that the owner of the body gets to be the one who calls the shots for the body. We've just used a lot of repetition. They children have their bodies and I have my own as well. When I'm done with nursing, for example, I'll tell them I'm all done and if they persist, I tell them, "My body, my choice." Consistency and repetition. I think it's important to model it for them: I'll give them the words and demonstrate how to use them.

Readers: do you have favorite "choice" books? Any tips for diapering struggles?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Another week in Homeschooling

This week we all took turns in having colds, and I was really run down from the cold and from a sun burn I acquired Tuesday from our trip to Lake Temescal. And Monday, a home inspection took up 3-4 hours of my time, so not much got done then. We did go to the lake and two parks and the library. We also walked around on Solano (toy stores and yarn stores) while McKay was getting a filling. So we were out and about, but schooling things didn't really happen.

It was kind of a "review" week. Periodically, Margaret would ask to count to 100 with us, and looking at our hundreds chart, we would take turns saying the numbers until we got up to 100. She asked what was bigger than a hundred and I told her you continue with 101, 102, 103... Yesterday on the way home from the park, I heard her counting to herself and when she got to 100, she continued on to 106 before skipping to 109. Work in progress, but she's getting the concept.

At the yarn store:

There were some little learning moments. While I was browsing the Internet, Margaret saw a picture of a black sheep with a bunch of white ones and pointed out that they were different colors. We googled pictures of sheep and talked about how sheep and dogs and humans and other animals come in different colors.

There is a documentary called Dolphins: IMAX on Netflix Instant Play and that was our Friday night family movie. Pretty mellow as far as documentaries go- not very scary. Margaret was upset about dolphins getting caught in tuna nets and asked why so many died from that.

I've noticed that Isaac has been singing to himself lately. Margaret does that a lot, too. I need to put these kids in theater.

We transplanted some greens to the garden, but the snails are getting them because I'm not being diligent in putting corn meal around them.

Our library bag is heavy in transportation books this week: Cars by Nancy Levinson is a picture book about the history of cars. We also got a book about the development of airplanes called How People Learned to Fly by Fran Hodgkins and a generic plane book: Planes by Anne Rockwell. Not to leave out bicycles, we got The Bicycle Man by Allen Say.

Margaret likes to pull books from the bilingual section of the library, so we brought home Just like Home/Como en mi Tierra by Elizabeth Miller and Playing Loteria/El Juego de la Loteria by Rene Lainez.

Friday, May 11, 2012


Everyone's doing it, so I might as well put in my 2 cents about the TIME magazine cover and article on attachment parenting. A lot of the hullabaloo has been related to the cover where blogger, Jamie Lynne Grumet is shown nursing her 3 year old son.

In the circles I venture into, issues revolved around her pose/weight/outfit. Some agreed with Salon.com, that putting a thin/hot mom in a tanktop while nursing her son, who appears to have been dressed and positioned so that he looks older (like 6 or 7), sexualized the image.

I disagreed. A tanktop and a child on a chair does not equal sexualized. Maybe if the tank top had some strategically placed sequins and tassels, but a plain tank top? Maybe if she had a "come hither" look, but she doesn't. She looks confident and perhaps challenging (especially paired with the divisive headline). It's provokative, but not sexualized No, she probably doesn't nurse like that at home, but no one nurses at home as if a photographer is posing them for the cover of TIME.

And maybe the boy was dressed to look older, but six year olds do nurse and there's nothing wrong with that either, so that argument was kind of null for me. Perhaps if someone glanced at the cover and went home aghast that a 6 year old was nursing, they'd be a little nicer to their friend/family member who is nursing her 3 year old. Of course, I'd like for them to be nicer to moms who nurse their 6 year olds, too. Usually by that point, it's not something that is brought up in conversation anymore because of the negativity around it. Let's get past that as a culture.

When I went to pin another photo from the TIME article, before I could count to 10, there were some very rude comments on it. Concerns that a child with teeth shouldn't be nursing (some newborns have teeth!), that it would cause some sort of Freudian or psychological issues to nurse a kid who would remember it, and general, "EWW..." surfaced. I asked for respect in dialogue and replied well and I'm ok with leaving the conversation where it is at, so don't go and comment- we all have better things to do than comment troll Pinterest- it's the weekend! But enjoy reading the conversation if you'd like. It was one of those, "Ok. Here we are again..." moments.

In all, I thought the related article was nice and that the cover was some "sell magazines" propaganda. And that's pretty much my whole opinion on it.

Margaret's opinion was, "A big kid nursing!"

Isaac's opinion was, "Breast!" (that's our name for nursing).

Other related articles and responses:

Dionna Ford's Huffington Post article, Extended Breastfeeding Does Not Equal Extreme. Dionna was one of the bloggers in the article's photos as well and did her own post at Code Name: Mama.

Also in the HuffPo: TIME Magazine: the Breastfeeding Debate.

Time Magazine Breast-feeding Cover Provokes Strong Reaction, from the LA Times.

From Breasts to Boobs and Back Again, from Jason Good 365.

USAToday published an article, Breast-feeding a 3 year old is normal, anthropologist says.

And one more opinion from me: Please stop publishing the word "breast-feeding" with a hyphen. "Breastfeeding" is the acceptable form. Ignore the squiggly lines in Microsoft Word. They don't know anything.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

This Week in Homeschooling

Last Saturday we went to the We are Women March in Sacramento. Isaac's sign says, "My mom is a person and so is yours," and Margaret's says, "My body, my choice," which is a common mantra in our home. That and "his body, his choice, he doesn't want to wear his jacket right now," and "Isaac, Margaret doesn't want you touching her right now, her body, her choice." At the rally, one of my favorite signs was from a little girl, "Misogynists are Poopooheads."

We went to the park on May Day and the kids made baskets for Beltane and gathered flowers in them.

We also made peanut butter and jelly pinwheel cookies and the kids helped me measure and add ingredients and follow directions. These are easy: make peanut butter cookie dough, roll out like cinnamon rolls and spread jelly all over the rolled out rectangle. Curl up the dough (like cinnamon rolls), refrigerate for 6+ hours and then slice up and cook like cookies.

We also took a trip to the dentist. Here is Margaret posing in the waiting room.

On the way home from the parks this week, I listened to Margaret count up as high as she could. She would get to 67, 68, 69 and then go back to 30, 31, 32. Because she seemed to really enjoy counting, we made a hundreds chart. I made up the boxes and told her we would count all the boxes. She said the numbers as I wrote them in the boxes. All the multiples of 10 are in blue. She learned more clearly that there is a number between 12 and 14 (she tended to forget 13!) and also the difference between "50" and "15." We're going to keep the chart up because she likes to look at it and point and count.

And this morning the kids went to a party and got to practice some hand/eye coordination.

Because last week's library trip was very homeschooling-intensive and we are still reading and re-reading some of the books, this week's trip was more on the "light" side. On the homeschooling front, I checked out Do Animals Dream? by Joyce Pope and The Owl and The Pussycat by Edward Lear. Isaac chose All Aboard! A true train story, and Margaret chose another Big Adventures of Majoko and a "how to draw manga" book.