Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Joys of Homeschool

A couple nights ago, Matt was worrying about me. I was taking my nightly bath (the only time I'm not in pain) and he came in and asked me out of no where, "What makes you happy right now?" My immediate response was, "homeschooling Lilly Belle."

For the past 7 years I have owned a business (or multiple). I still currently own Main Street Dance my preschool dance program. I am also the Director of the preschool co-op I created this year, Bloom. But for the first time in Lilly Belle's life, my biggest time focus is HER. That makes my heart so incredibly happy! Main Street Dance is for her. Yes, I love teaching children. I always have and always will, but I continued to teach one class/week for the time being because she gets to go to dance class every Friday afternoon with her friends. Bloom was created 100% because of her. I wanted her to have a preschool to go to this year but we feel very strongly about homeschooling her right now as well. We wanted her to still get the social aspect of school, but in a safe and controlled environment - so...I created Bloom. It is now the highlight of our week and even though we have only just finished our third week together, there are new friendships growing and it is very exciting.

With owning FIT4MOM, so many of her friends are still babies and toddlers. She was always the oldest (or close to it). We always joke about how it must be sad for her that none of her friends can talk back to her ;) Does she love and adore her baby and toddler friends? YES. 100% yes. She is like the big sister. But I knew she was craving more. She loves being with kids her age and loves even more to be with kids who are even a bit older sometimes. She now gets that with dance class and Bloom each week.

I have loved getting to spend so much quality time with her. Does it stink that I'm in so much pain during the day? Yes. But I know that is temporary and this new life we have together is not. This is our lifestyle now. I get to be home with my girls literally 24/7. The amount of time it takes to prep things for Bloom can easily be done during naptime or when she is in bed. And, I've been teaching dance for so long (over 15 years) that I don't lesson plan anymore - I just head to class and teach. I feel out the kids that day and do what works.

My main focus has been homeschool with Lilly Belle. She is loving it. She asks for school all day long. When I run out of activities for the day, she begs for me to think of something else we can do together. Now that we have officially started our school year following the Simply Learning Kids curriculum, our days are so much more structured and relaxed. I can plan for 2 weeks at a time and feel so prepared for what the next day will look like. She doesn't do well when she is bored. Sound familiar? She loves learning and working on new things.

Every night before I put her to bed, I prep school for the next day. I set it all up on our buffet, which serves as our school storage for 75% of our school supplies. I find that our school day goes so much smoother when I'm not rummaging around in between activities trying to set up the next one for her. If I can keep things flowing one activity into the next, she does so well. She learns more and is a lot more focused. We pause in between activities only to clean up and put away what we were working on and grab the next activity in our plans.

We always start with circle time together. I sing songs to her, show her the calendar, read her our curriculum story, talk about our bible verse, and maybe one or two more things while sitting in the living room. Then we get up to do our curriculum activities together. After those, we read another story or two that goes along with our curriculum and we watch some educational YouTube videos about the subject we are working on. I've also been trying to get her to do some yoga, but it hasn't been working out to well with her broken clavicle right now. That part will have to wait...

We usually do school for 60-90 minutes in the morning and then I reset our buffet with new activities while she is napping and then we do school for sometimes 2 hours+ after she wakes up again. The afternoon time is usually things like play dough, busy bag type activities, playing games together, painting at her easel, or I make up little learning games for her to play - like rolling a dice and having her jump that many times.

I can't really take her out anywhere right now and she can't go to play at a park or anything too active because of her clavicle, so this has been working out so well for us right now. We are really loving our time together. We were watching The Jungle Book this afternoon and she asked me what happened to his mommy. I told her that he didn't have a mommy and she replied, "That's sad. I wish he had a good mommy like I do." My heart melted. I have had so much mommy guilt with not being able to really move and not having as much patience as I usually do, but she still thinks I'm a good mommy...

So when Matt asked me what makes me was an easy answer. Getting to be home with Lilly Belle. And even better, getting to teach her and watch her learn...and grow with her. I am so thankful that we are in a place that I get to be with her as much as I am; that I am finally a stay-at-home mommy. That makes me happy...

This stage of motherhood is a season. I don't know how long we will homeschool her. Right now, we know that it will be for sure for this year and next. We are about 75% sure we will homeschool the girls through elementary school, and about 50% sure we will always homeschool them. We don't know what the future holds, but for right now - this is working so well for our family, and my heart is full.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Lilly Belle Does Preschool | Little Blue Truck Unit

We have officially started homeschooling Lilly Belle and it is for real the best thing ever. I love every second of getting to watch her learn and grow. I feel really thankful that we are in a position right now that I am able to stay home with her to teach her and that together we can be the main influences in her life. She is learning so much more than what is just in her curriculum. She asks to do school all day long. We are constantly playing, reading, and learning together as a family and we are all really enjoying it.

We are following the Simply Learning curriculum and it has been such a blessing for us; especially in our first year of homeschooling when we were not 100% sure how we wanted to go about building her curriculum ourselves. We decided on Simply Learning for many reasons, but the main reasons being that it is created by a mom who has the same values and goals for her girls as we do. It is a modern literature based curriculum meaning that we are learning all subjects surrounding a different book each unit. She has everything there for us from worksheets and activities, to science experiments and crafts to enjoy together. From there Matt and I are going to add even more to the curriculum for Lilly Belle since she has been begging to do school after she wakes up from nap even though we spend our morning doing school time together. Our afternoons have been when she does the activities that I have created for her. Anything from painting projects to fine motor skills activities. Matt works with her on math a few nights/week. Last night she learned about more Vs less with him as he grabbed a giant handful of stuffed animals from her bucket, and the two of them traded back and forth talking about who had more and who had less. He's good at making it a game for her. Lilly Belle and Matt also started a new tradition this week. Each night he is reading a chapter out of the "Who Was" series to her. She chose Who Was Walt Disney as her first book telling us that it says her name on the cover. She knows she is named after Walt Disney's wife, Lillian, so she thinks the cover of the book has her name on it when she sees the word, Disney. The books are definitely above a 3 year old level, but she has shown a real interest and is actually picking things up from each chapter when he asks her about what he read to her.

Our first unit was on the book, Little Blue Truck. Here is a recap of our last two weeks with our first unit together. Our second week was a bit interesting as Lilly Belle broke her Clavicle on Sunday morning and then got pink eye followed by a sinus-type infection that has resulted in fevers as high as 105.2 degrees all week. She has still asked to do school, but for the first few days of the week we did not follow the curriculum, we just did what she was in the mood to do.

We made Ooblick for the first time as well as "mud" this week. She really loved playing with both.

Lilly Belle has been extremely interested in drawing people lately. They get pretty detailed and it's been so much fun watching her drawings get better and better. She also really liked washing her scooter while I washed our stroller out on the patio. We had a lot of fun cooking together too!

Sometimes we will finish all of our curriculum plans for the day and she'll ask to please do more school so I come up with as much as I can for her. On this particular day she wanted to do an experiment so we talked about color mixing and I let her play with food coloring and water to see the colors change.

We had our first two weeks of our preschool co-op, Bloom. I will write more about this later, but when deciding to homeschool Lilly Belle I could not find a co-op that fit our family so...I created one. And it has turned into quite a beautiful little school! Lilly Belle had to miss week #2 because she had 104.7 fever that morning, but I still went and Matt stayed home with her here. We then did school as a family together that night. She really loves going to school and being with her new friends. I have my fingers crossed that she will get to join in next week. She will most likely have to miss one more week though because I don't want to risk getting anyone sick.

I love watching Matt do school time with her. He teaches her in such a different way than I do and it is really so awesome to watch her learning with her daddy. She gets so excited when he's done working for the day and puts his computer away. She asks him right away if he will do school with her.

The two top pictures below show they worked on some science. They read her Usborne flashlight story learning all about apple trees and then drew an apple tree on her board and asked her to draw where certain things were. She also really liked her habitat matching game that I found in the Dollar Spot at Target a few months ago.

She is starting to be able to recognize her numbers 1-10 now. She knows 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 every time. The rest she hesitates a bit or guesses. This was the first time she was able to complete a number sequence puzzle alone.

I am so excited about our next literature unit; Good Night, Gorilla. We have some really exciting activities planned for her at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge that will tie into the unit for her to be able to experience. That was one of the big reasons we chose to homeschool her instead of send her to preschool. We want her to experience her world and not be stuck behind a desk. I want her to see the world around her and want to learn all day long.

I'll try to do a post with all my lesson plans for the next two weeks for the Good Night, Gorilla unit.
I'm sure I'll have a night or two in my near future where I'll be up all night and have plenty of time to blog...!
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Pregnant with Lucy - 28 Weeks and The Truth

I haven't blogged at all about Lucy. I announced we are pregnant again and then stopped there. I write to her often in her journal, but haven't blogged here about her or my pregnancy. That's probably because it has not been all that wonderful. It has actually been a bit of a nightmare.

Week 5: threw out my back - couldn't take any medicine - chiropractor helped a bit

Week 9/10: hemorrhaging - thought we lost our baby again - modified bed rest / no activity until they were gone

Week 14 - Present: severe Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction

I have now been pregnant for 9 months (with a few weeks in between pregnancies) and still have 11.5 weeks to go. It has not been an easy 9 months. I love Lucy so much. I try so hard to soak up all of her kicks and rolls as much as I can because she may have to be our last baby.

We always thought we would for sure have at least 3 kids and maybe 4. I always said for sure 4, Matt always says maybe 4. But 3 was always for sure. I just don't know if I'd be able to do this all over again and that crushes me. I love being a mom. I've wanted to be a mom since I knew I could be a mom. I've dreamt of my family with kids running all around for my whole life. In my dreams though, I could run around with them. I could pick them up. I could walk.  I could move. I could sleep.

Not being able to move without pain is really hard when I have Lilly Belle to take care of as well. The mommy guilt is no joke. It is depressing. I've never felt more sad, alone, and depressed in my life. I have always been very active and have used exercise as my stress relief. I dream about the day when Lucy will be about 6 weeks old and I can go for a run, hell, even a walk, with my girls.

I have a wheelchair so that we can go out and do things as a family. The wheelchair makes me so angry. I lose all freedom when I'm in it. Matt likes to get me out of the house and for us to go to Disney together and will push me all day if I let him, but I cannot stand it. Last week we went to Epcot and I really wanted to go on Soarin'. Matt couldn't go with me because Lilly Belle is not tall enough. Usually if I have to push myself or do something with my wheelchair, I won't go because it makes me feel awkward and I don't like all the stares and how uncomfortable it all feels. We asked the cast member if Matt could push me through the line and then get out of line with Lilly Belle and they said no, I'd have to go alone. I really wanted to ride, and I was sick of not being able to do anything, so I told Matt I'd go try. Well... the entire cue is on carpet... up hill. The cast member sent me through the FastPass line, so there was a LONG line ahead of me with no one there - just open space for a really long time in front and in back of me and...I got stuck. Right there in line, I could not push myself up the hill on carpet. I wasn't strong enough. I felt weak. I felt embarrassed. I felt like I had zero freedom. I cried. Right there in line. I cried. Kids ran past me. A whole family passed me. And then, a man saw I was stuck and said he was pushing me the rest of the way. I asked him to just please turn my chair around so I could wheel myself back but he didn't want me to miss the ride because of the line, so he pushed me the whole-rest-of-the way. It was so kind of him. But all I felt was extreme embarrassment. It was awful. I went on the ride and loved it so much. Afterwards, I got back in my wheelchair and went to start going only to realize... all up hill on carpet again. The man, without asking, came back, told me he was pushing me, and pushed me all the way back to Matt in the waiting area. Matt and I both thanked him so much. Then he walked away and Matt kissed me and told me how proud he was of me for doing that on my own. I cried because I felt so helpless and stuck and powerless.

I miss feeling like myself. I miss feeling powerful and strong. I miss feeling freedom. I miss not being in pain. I wish for like 1 minute of the day I could walk without pain. Just for a minute. I wish I had patience with Lilly Belle like I used to. I wish I didn't lose my temper so much. I never used to yell at her, ever. Lately, I've been losing my cool more than I'd ever have liked. It makes me feel terrible and awful. It's hard to be in constant pain and also keep my patience all day long. I miss not having to think about picking toys up off the ground or if I really want to do that load of laundry because of how much it will hurt afterwards. I wish I didn't sigh and want to cry when she asks me to get up to take her potty... again. It hurts to much to pick her up. I miss not counting my steps around the house to remind myself when I'm taking to many. I wish I could get into bed to do story time with Lilly Belle. I wish I could sleep. It is 2:30am right now. I'm so tired, but it hurts so much when I lay down. Shooting, burning, stabbing pain all day long in my groin, butt, and pubic bone. Every step I take feels like someone is stabbing me in my groin. I can literally feel my pubic bone separated. I can feel there is a gap where there shouldn't be one. Sometimes I cry when it is time to go to bed because I know sleeping is going to hurt so much and that I'm going to be up all night. Sometimes I cry in the morning because I'm so exhausted and in so much pain from sleeping. Sleeping is the most painful thing of all. When my legs are together on my side, even with a pillow between them, it literally feels like my pelvis and pubic bone are being crushed. I lay in bed at night taking deep breaths over and over again until I either fall asleep because I'm just so tired, or like tonight, I get up and just decide I'd rather bet tired and stay up all night than be in that much pain. I can't breath when I lay on my back and my legs get so jumpy when I sleep propped up that it feels like bugs are crawling all over my entire body.

Today was my last grocery shopping trip. I've been able to handle the pain of grocery shopping because I can hold onto the cart. Most days I just decide I'd rather get out of the house and be in pain than be stuck in here. Today was the last day of that. I was in so much pain by the time we got to the checkout that I was literally talking myself through it all: "just finish putting the groceries on the belt, you just have to pay now, you just have to walk to the car, okay now carefully put Lilly Belle into the car, you're almost home..." I got home and told Matt that the only times I'll be leaving the house now are on Wednesday mornings for Lilly Belle's co-op preschool, Friday afternoons when I HAVE to teach my preschool dance class (money is stupid), and then only when Matt can take me out in my wheelchair. That's going to be REALLY hard for Lilly Belle too. She needs to get out of the house just as much as I do or we turn into crazy people.

I am angry because I always imagined really soaking this time up with Lilly Belle before we become a family of 4. I'm finally a stay at home mom. Something I have dreamt of my whole life, and yet...I can't even go to the park with her. I can't pick her up. I feel like I'm losing all this time with her. I already cry every time I think about all the time I missed with her when she was born and I had 8 million things going on. And then all the time I missed with her when we moved here and I had another 8 million things going on. For once, my whole world is just being her mommy and... I'm gone. I'm so far gone. I'm not myself. I'm angry a lot because I'm hurting so much. I'm sad a lot. I'm tired all the time. I'm not the mommy I want to be. It crushes me.

This has been a nightmare.

But then... Lucy will kick me. In the moments when I just want to cry because I'm in pain and so done, I'll feel her move and I'll remember that this is all worth it. I'll picture this amazing baby growing inside of me and wonder what she looks like and wonder what hilarious things she is going to do to make us all laugh. I'll wonder if she'll be quiet and shy or if she's going to be outgoing and talkative. I daydream about holding her and nursing her and how she is going to smell. I get so excited about little things like seeing her in all the cloth diapers we've been stocking up on or watching Lilly Belle help her when she's crying. I think about all the nights I'll GET to be up because I'm in nursing her. In no pain. Just holding my sweet baby girl and rocking her and singing to her and just soaking her all up. In just 11.5 weeks (or maybe less...I won't let it be more) she will be in my arms and all the pain will all be gone. Or, on it's way to being gone. Everyday after she is born there will be less and less pain, until one day, there won't be any pain and I'll be able to walk. Then I'll be able to run... and dance!

I cannot wait to play with Lilly Belle on the playground. I cannot wait to pick her up and swing her around. I can't wait to be able to lay on my side to snuggle up to her when she sleeps with us at night. I can't wait to skip with her and chase her around at Disney again. I cannot wait to hold my girls... both of them... together... at the same time!

I have to remember that I am so lucky that this isn't a forever thing. There are so many people in this world who live with pain all day everyday and it won't go away for them. There are way too many people who need their wheelchairs 24/7 and won't ever get to walk again. I get to walk again. I am lucky for that. My freedom gets to come back. This isn't forever. This is eleven and a half more weeks.

I have to just make it through this. And one day, I'm going to forget how much this hurt and I'll probably do it all over again. Because, at the end of the day... that sweet baby that will be in my arms at the end of this is going to make our lives even better. Right now, I cannot imagine anything being better than being just Lilly Belle's mommy - but I know that we are going to love Lucy just as much. That is so crazy to me. We will have TWO little girls to love with our whole hearts. TWO little girls that we'll look at and want to just burst because we love them so much.

Eleven and a half more weeks and I'll have my Lilly Belle and my Lulu BOTH in my arms! Until then, if I cry or seem like a crazy person... just remember it's because I've probably slept for maybe 2 or 3 hours the night before and I'm in a lot of constant pain. I'm not trying to be crazy or impatient or get frustrated so easily or be extra sensitive. It's just really hard.

I am so incredibly thankful for Matt. I could literally not have ever done this without him. He is there everyday to make sure that I'm as comfortable as I can be. He gets me dressed. He helps me in and out of the shower or bath. He helps me with everything. He is working from home now to help me. He pushes me in my wheelchair in 95 degree FL humidity just so I can get out of the house. He helps me with Lilly Belle. He gets mad at me for getting off the couch when it is something he could easily get for me or do for Lilly Belle. He is literally there for me 24/7. He sometimes even has to pick me up out of bed. He is constantly telling me that I'm his rock. He's told me that now for almost 8 years. Now though... he is mine. I've never felt depressed before in my life. I've had anxiety before, but never depression. He is getting me through this though. He won't let me lose myself. Even in my darkest moments, he makes me feel like I'm special and beautiful and even sometimes a little bit strong again. ...

This is all almost over. I'm going to try to sleep again now. I've got a comforter and a bunch of pillows out here in the living room and I'm going to try to sleep on the couch for a couple hours before Lilly Belle comes out here crying and asking me to "please come back and sleep in the bed..."

It's almost over...

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