Master Conrad

We took Conrad for his 18 month check up today – remember we are a month off due to insurance reasons. Both kids got their flu vaccines (Natalie just does a spray now) and Conrad also got tested for lead and iron. 

Conrad is growing and is healthy! Here are his stats:

Weight: 25lbs 14oz (25-50%)

Length: 33.25″ (75%)

Head circumference: 19.5″ (90%)

He’s gained just over two pounds since his last visit, which was three months ago. 

To compare, I’ve got Natalie’s 18 month stats too!

Weight: 22lbs (10-25%)

Length: 31.5″ (50%)

Head circumference: 19.125″ (90%)

We make kids with large noggins…..interesting….

Weekend

Once again, James tutored both days, so we’re stretched a bit thin over here. Izzy has been incontinent (urine) , thanks to her corticosteroid for her allergies. Her regular vet was closed and since you aren’t supposed to abruptly stop steroids, we phoned the emergency vet, who instructed us that this was a normal response (great) and that we could begin the taper right away. Poor Izzy….she’s wearing a diaper 😦  Needless to say, we’ve had to do a lot of laundering this weekend…..

My mom is bringing us lunch today and I have to say that it is a big relief! I’m pretty tired trying to take on more of the housekeeping and decluttering and preparing to list the building and the childcare, while James works lots and lots of hours. It’s not an ideal situation at all and we’re grateful to have learned that his getting some high paying/work a lot of hours job would be a constant source of stress. His students should begin to taper off in the middle of October and moving forward, we’re going to max his GMAT students at two…..not the four he’s got now. We’re hanging in there!

Now, for some photos!

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Weekly round up and the NAEYC

This week, we tossed three pieces of ruined furniture, and scaled back the toys and are passing on a garbage bag and two boxes to some friends. I cleared my desk of the ridiculous stacks of papers and have yet to deal with all the little doodads that seem to be replicating as we speak. We sold another piece of furniture and took photos of items to list for sale. It’s getting there!

I’m a fan of the NAEYC, which is the National Association for the Education of Young Children. One thing that screams quite loudly when you read current child development literature or that from years past, is that while we find out new things about brain development, the actual, general course of human development has changed little in the past 100 years. We live longer and we’re healthier and taller, but we all tend to follow the same developmental outline of our ancestors.

I’ve taken a child development class and while this doesn’t do a thing in the name of being considered even slightly knowledgable, it did give me this neat textbook that I can refer to. In it, there is a chart,  extrapolated from a document written in 1986 by the NAEYC on developmentally appropriate practice in kindergarten classrooms. Unfortunately as few as one third to one fifth of all early childhood programs follow this educational strategy, according to my handy text here. I have no idea how spot on this information would be now, but this citation is from 1997. Some of the gems of this 1986 chart include:

(developmentally appropriate guidelines are in italics and I am comparing the same data point for each group)

“Curriculum goals:

– Individual differences are expected, accepted, and used to design appropriate activities

– Children are evaluated only against group norms, and all are expected to perform the same tasks and achieve the same narrowly defined skills.

Teaching strategies:

– Children are expected to be mentally and physically active.

 Children are expected to sit down, be quiet, and listen or do paper and pencil tasks for long periods of time. A major portion of time is spent passively sitting, watching, and listening.

Guidance of socioemotional development:

– Teachers enhance children’s self control by using positive guidance techniques, such as modeling and encouraging expected behavior, redirecting children to a more acceptable activity, and setting clear limits.

– Teachers spend considerable time enforcing rules, punishing unacceptable behavior, demeaning children who misbehave, making children sit and be quiet, and refereeing disagreements.”

Taken from “Children” by John W. Santrock

While I definitely think that the crisis in our schools today is that testing = accountability and this strange assembly line mentality of preparing our youth for the workforce and college (how about learning for the love of it, people! we all grow up and get jobs anyways), I’m also concerned about the big push to move kindergarten to full day as the rule, rather than the exception. I’ve read more than a few school district pages and while I understand that working parents need full day (although honestly, unless the school offers after school care or the parent only works until 3:30, they still have to pay and transfer their kid to a care facility until they can be picked up), what I’ve read the most (on at least three different district sites in Dupage, Kane, and Cook counties), is that the administration wants to move to full day kindergarten to better meet the Common Core Standards curriculum guidelines – it will give them a chance to not rush through the material and build in more breaks. I’m not sure I agree with it being necessary to make a five year old be in school for seven hours a day, to meet curriculum guidelines. It also doesn’t match up with developmentally appropriate practice and I’m sort of a stickler for that! Now, for the record, Montessori kindergartens are generally full day programs, but they differ in an important way: half of the day is spent in mixed age playtime, and only half the day is officially kindergarten.

We do intend on sending Natalie to school, for I also believe that people are, for the most part, happy with their public schools. For kindergarten though, it’s important to us to homeschool her, where we know for certain that we can be appropriate for a five year old and the best part – cater what we do to fit Natalie and where she is at. This is sort of funny though, we haven’t spoken to Nat about homeschooling, but she has informed us on multiple occasions that she would like to go to school when she is 6 or 7….how convenient, hunh!?!

We are also planning on enrolling her in homeschool classes offered wherever we end up – I’ve been doing my research here and you bet this is an important component to where we are considering living! Well, I’m off to watch some tv, I’ve been pulling 14 hour mom days around here and I’m just. plain. tired.

Oh Izzy

I had to draw up a med schedule for Izzy today. She needs two oral meds, an ointment for her ear and two different kinds of drops for her eyes. The oral meds and ear ointment are just for the next few weeks, one eye drop is for the rest of her life, and the second eye drop is for the next six months. She has a fungal ear infection, a steroid for her seasonal allergies, an antibiotic for her sores, one eye drop is to keep her eye pressures within normal range, and one eye drop is to help with her partially detached retina. And Chester? He just needs his teeth cleaned.

Izzy is pretty good at coming to me to receive her meds, but I’m not looking forward to shoving pills down her throat twice a day for the next two weeks. It is also important they be given on time and spaced evenly, hence the med schedule. It makes me feel like a nurse again! If it helps her though, it helps us all!

Here is her med schedule, the top sheet are her a.m. meds and the bottom her p.m. meds. The lovely drawing next to it, was done by our own artist in residence, Natalie. It is a picture of an Izzy robot, to help Izzy when it’s time for her meds. IMG_1850

Tuesday

Natalie has been spontaneously associating letter sounds with their letters, so we’re thinking she’s getting close to reading…Cindy?!? She did tell us the following joke today, which was hilarious.

Natalie: “What did the f say to the u?”

Me and James (exchanging ‘no way’ looks): “I don’t know, what DID the f say to the u?”

Natalie: “Effffff!”

Whew!! Close call, hunh?!? Haha, it made us laugh. Today after reading a book, the word ‘boo’ was the lone word on the last page and we talked about the sounds – she told me what b sounds like and I explained how the two o’s sound, and we sounded it out together. I did get tripped up though when she was asking about her name, because ie doesn’t always make the eee sound….sometimes it’s i, as in pie! Confused? So was I! How the heck do I get through this? You never really realize how strange english is, until you either have to explain a language rule or teach someone to read. I will definitely need some help on this. I’m open for suggestions – Cindy?!?!

Today was a pretty fun day, the kids were goofy. Evidence A:

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Evidence B:

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Evidence C (this is Natalie’s best angry Wonder Woman face for she has been kidnapped you see, by me…muwahahaha!):

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If you can ignore the stuff piled up behind her (our room has become the temporary haven for all that we are keeping and currently sorting, until the basement is more sorted), I really like this pic of Nat:

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These next two, well…..this is how a lot of my day goes….intermixed with the more mundane tasks of feeding and cleaning and drinking tea and chatting with friends.

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They are rather goofy. Pretty stinkin’ goofy.

Things we’re thinking about

Friends – I’ve noticed that friends with outgoing children and shy children have mentioned that their kids have had a hard time making friends, and honestly, just because you’re a kid doesn’t mean you know how to make friends any better than adults. It’s always nerve wracking to worry about your child making friends, but here’s the thing: everyone makes at least one friend. Heck, even sociopaths hook up with another sociopath, so I think we’ll all be ok. 

School – Specifically, our homeschool plan for kindergarten – Natalie has learned so much through play and if we had the money, we’d send her to a private play based kindergarten anyways, so that’s what we’re going to do for next fall. Lots of art, reading, exploring and playing. From reading what many people have chosen to do for kindergarten, there seem to be the same ideas (from teachers piping in and parents who have been through the homeschooling trenches): read every single day, explore the outside world and ask lots of questions, and do real art – so don’t have an end project in mind, just create, bake or garden with your kids (math and science), and play. Sounds like a plan!

Today we’re taking the dogs to the vet. Chester is in need of his regular check up, but Izzy is in a horrible state of seasonal allergy related scratches and sores. She’s been licking and scratching herself to the point of misery, so we’re bringing her in to make sure that her sores aren’t infected and to get her some sort of relief. The allergy shampoo we have simply isn’t cutting it and though I’ve given her benadryl in years past (geez, is she good at not swallowing it!), that wasn’t working either. 

We dog sat for a friend over the weekend and he was just deprived of any love. The kids didn’t hand feed him or give him kisses and pets and follow him around to make sure he was safe and not scared, not once. 

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Natalie

We got some new crayons today. The are thick and come with NO paper on them to be picked off and left in little bits around the house. Natalie got to work right away and made some art for us:

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I especially like that the skin is green! She’s been putting x’s on her drawings lately and telling us they are kisses. We’ve been trying to figure out where she got that notion and we’re pretty sure it’s from a comic. I do recall explaining that a long time ago to her as well. It’s funny what she remembers and notices! 

Lately, when we correct Nat (sternly or not), she tells us that we hate her and we think we’ve been transported to the teenage years…..it’s tiresome and also sort of funny. 

Conrad fell off our bed the other day and landed mostly on his face, but it was a very slow fall and he is much better at catching himself, so no bleeding or scratches at all! I was relieved, though I was just a few feet away when I saw that it was starting to happen and I could not get there fast enough. That felt pretty horrible and scary. He calmed down nearly instantly though and we all recuperated and quickly moved on. 

Natalie is still busy making up jokes, the most recent one: ‘What kind of shoes does a horse wear? Nothing! Everyone knows that shoes are for humans!’ I wish you could have seen how much thought she actually put into the answer – it was why I didn’t have the heart to explain that horses DO wear shoes……

We have a piece of art on our wall that is a joint effort from Natalie and Conrad – their first ever! I promise that I will scan it and post it so that you can all admire their handiwork. Conrad has started that lovely phase of drawing on the walls…..haha, but I can admit that drawing on the walls IS fun! I’m not saying we allow it, but I can definitely appreciate why they do it, but I would like to stop. 

September is pediatric cancer awareness month! To be a part of the solution, I ordered myself a kit from BeTheMatch.org. It’s to donate a sample of your DNA so that you can be matched to a cancer patient and become a stem cell donor. I’ve been thinking of all the children that I cared for that died, and I considered making a post about them, but then it just went on and on (b/c it’s so many kids) and was totally a bummer, even though my intention was to just honor their memories. Instead I’ll just mention that my friend’s niece is doing ok and has received all six kinds of the chemotherapy that she’ll receive during the course of her treatment.  She has responded well to those and will undergo something like 17 more rounds of chemo – both single day outpatient and five day long inpatient rounds.   If she responds well to her treatment, then she’ll be a candidate for a stem cell transplant, so I figured that I could see if I am able to help someone’s child or spouse or sibling. It seemed the very least I could do. 

We’re loving this weather! We head out to our yard pretty often and make lots of ‘cabbage soup’, which primarily consists of rocks, sand, leaves, and dirt, yum! Conrad is super into rocks and bugs, so being outside is fun. Natalie usually concocts these long, drawn out stories with background information and crazy characters – her latest favorite character is, princess dragon. It’s pretty funny to see her in action! Perhaps we’ll try and get a video of this. 

Speaking of videos, we do have some to post! That should happen sometime this week. Happy Tuesday!