Wednesday, January 20, 2010

cleaning my mental house

So there are these two questions that friends have asked me in comments on blog posts that I have never answered, and every time I think about it I feel like a loser. So today I am (finally) going to rid myself of the guilt and answer the questions! And instead of just answering to the people directly, I am posting the answers here because I think they may be of interest to a few more of you.

Quite some time ago my friend Lindsay (who is also a teacher) asked me if I was working. I have truthfully been meaning to post about the beautiful school that I work at for the whole year because I think everyone should know that such a place exists, but I'm only now getting around to it. So the short answer is yes, I am working. But the details are what really matter. I had never planned to go back to work after I had kids (unless I HAD to). In the summer of 2008 I talked about the Montessori training that I went to. That opportunity has blossomed, and the woman who paid for my training started an INCREDIBLE school and asked me to teach at it. The school is called the Elizabeth Academy. Click on the name and go to the website-- I love the mission of the school and believe so strongly in what we are trying to do there. Here is a little blurb about the methods and approach of the school from the website:
"The structured Montessori approach is so individualized, so adaptable and so focused on the child's need, rather than the teacher's need, or the parent's want, or the state's dollar, that the child can't help but flourish.  And yet, as the child becomes the teacher's focus, the child becomes less focused on himself and more aware and respectful of the world around him.  There is no better model, no purer way to be inspired than through a Montessori education.

Elizabeth Academy mandates legitimate inclusion-- creating a slice of the real world with a safety net of real professionals at arms length and open arms to competently and lovingly help navigate the path."

The school mimics the actual population by including a ratio of about 20% of kids that have special needs into the classrooms with their typical peers. The students have learned from each other and grown to love each other, without even really noticing the differences between them. It is really remarkable. I fit in as the "Readiness Teacher." There were a few students who weren't quite ready for the full classroom environment, kids who needed more support and structure due to their special needs. I was asked to come in and be the teacher in that small classroom. Why I said yes (other than the fact that I really loved the idea of being involved in such an incredible school)? I was able to bring my little boy along with me as a typical peer model for these kids. Little G has been able to get up and come to school with me (we are only there three mornings a week for three hours) and it has been such a blessing to have him there learning alongside me. Also amazing? The classroom is staffed with three (3!) diversely educated adults-- me (special education), Miss Maria (speech therapist), and Miss Kelly (Montessori teacher). Also amazing? The resources that we have available to us to work with these children. I am seriously constantly shocked at the materials and resources we are given. If we need something to work with a student? We can buy it. We are not limited by government funding, and the founder of the school truly wants to spare no expense to enable these children to thrive. It is really incredible. We started out with five students in my class, and have since transitioned one (who was ready) to the other classrooms, and added 4 more typical students. This was a picture of us at the beginning of the year:
Oh how I have grown to love these little people. I will miss them (all except for the cute one in the yellow shirt-- that one I am taking with me :)) when I leave in a few weeks to have my baby. I may be back next year (can you believe that they will allow me to strap my baby to my body, bring my three year old, and teach?!), but I also may not be. But I feel so grateful for the opportunity to have been affiliated with such a beautiful school. It is truly a model for how education should be, and people have begun to take notice. We have had visitors from around the nation come observe in the school, and hopefully there will be more like it popping up all around. I would feel so blessed to one day be able to send my children to a school like it.

Okay, now onto the next question. Many of you have inquired what I meant by "doing without any extra stuff" as it pertains to the birth of this baby in my belly. Yes, it is true, I am planning an unmedicated, intervention free (hopefully) birth this time around. Let me be real here-- I am not your typical hypnobirthing woman. No no, in fact, I grew up in a house with an OB/GYN as a father who spoke these words often: "Why wouldn't you want an epidural?! It's like getting your appendix taken out without any anesthesia!" So when I got pregnant the first time I didn't even think twice about getting an epidural. And honestly, I had the most incredible experience giving birth-- it truly was just about as picture perfect as I could imagine, epidural and all.

So why would I want to do things differently this time around?

Giving birth that first time made me aware of my identity as a woman, created specifically to bring babies into the world. I felt like my body had been made to give birth to babies, and I knew I could do it just like women have been doing it for thousands of years. I felt (and feel) a desire to connect with childbirth at its roots-- just me, strong and empowered, giving birth the way my body was designed to. 

I also really love the notion of controlling my body with my mind. I have been taught since I was little that I needed to use my mind to keep my natural man tendencies in check, no matter how strong the desire or appetite. And while this is a little different in that I do not in any way think that choosing an epidural makes one mentally weak, I do personally feel a strong sense of wanting to strengthen my mind and use that strength to get through something that is physically difficult.

And lastly, it really is just safer to not have an epidural. No I do not think that epidurals are typically dangerous, and yes, I would potentially consider getting one myself again one day, but still, any kind of medical intervention poses some risk. If I can give birth without submitting myself or my baby to any unnecessary risk (no matter how small), I think that is a good thing.

So I (along with my very supportive husband) am half way through a six week course in Hypnobabies training. I practice deep relaxation and positive affirmations every day. I am truly confident in my body's ability to give birth naturally, and am grateful daily for the time I am spending deep in meditation and thought as I prepare. I think about giving birth constantly and honestly, I am SO looking forward to it. I know that there is a chance that things may not go as planned, but I also know that I am doing the work that I need to now so that I can have a truly incredible experience on the day that this babe decides to come. I know some of you have used hypnobabies/birthing before and I would LOVE to hear any and all advice you have. I also know that some of you will be skeptical and doubting. That's okay, but please, don't leave comments about it because I don't want to have to put up my bubble of peace when I read them :).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

saturday night identities

Over the span of about an hour last night I followed my son around documenting his exploits. He is pretty good about entertaining himself, though it is no wonder I feel like all I do is clean up after him all day long!

He started out with his work goggles on, proudly proclaiming, "I'm a fix-it man!"

When the goggles had produced a nice indentation on his forehead, he moved on to basketball. He insisted that J and I both play with him (so not many pictures), and I found great humor in all the little glimpses of his bum we'd get as he moved. His narrow little hips don't hold up his pants very well.

Then he moved on to train building. This activity lasted almost 40 minutes (the other two were only about 20 total), and he was very independent and focused, so I took a lot of pictures.

These are the train stickers that he lined up on the LoveSac.

The bum shot again.

His last adventure consisted of a bath and getting his hair combed missionary style by his father,
and then reading his current favorite book "Albert the Fix-it Man" (of course) before sleep.
While they read I went around trying to reclaim my bedroom that was littered with train tracks, tinker toys, and tools. Sure do love my boys.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

over the break we...

...opened some presents.
The flashlight G found in his stocking may have been his favorite gift.
Either that or the Tinker Toys. He was SO happy about them when he ripped off that wrapping paper.

Uncle Adam gave G this awesome retro Jazz jersey that G didn't want to take off for days. He opened the rest of his presents happily in his jersey.
Love the feeling of Christmas morning that this photo exudes to me.

We spent the afternoon with J's family where G was gifted with many lovely things, but I think the tiny green candy cane may have been his favorite.

The boys playing with their puppets. (By "playing" what I really mean is tangling up the strings and getting them in many, MANY large knots.)

...played with the new lens J got me for Christmas.
(Dear f 1.8, I think I love you.)
(Actually, f 1.8, I know I love you.)
...continued to grow a large belly of baby.
I can't believe there are only 9 weeks left.

...played with our new toys.
Tinker Toy robots are pretty awesome.

...played with old friends.
Jerrod is such a good sport. He is pretty much G's favorite person in the world.

We loved getting together with some of our best buds from high school. The blizzard made it rough for people to get there so not as many made it as we would have liked, but it was so much fun to get together with some of the people that we have so much history with. 

...built a giant snowman.
G has been in love with snowmen all season, and his daddy decided he needed an enormous one right in his own front yard. I came home from a little shopping to these two boys out in the dark putting the finishing touches on this beauty.

...started and finished G's new big-boy room.
My husband may have referred to me as a "nesting nazi," but I was determined to tackle this project over the break because I knew I wouldn't get another full week with nothing to do before the baby comes. This was a huge undertaking since the bedroom had basically been being used as our storage room. We got rid of SO much stuff, tore out a built in bookshelf, primed and painted, nailed in new baseboards on one wall, moved in a new bed for G, and got it mostly decorated. I still need to hang the maps on the walls and get a lamp, but the bulk of the project is done, and it feels SO GOOD. Yay for checking things off your list!

G was insistent on helping paint, which is why we did most of it while he was napping and after he went to bed one night.

G's new bed that, of course, he HAD to help put together. Notice his tool in his hand.
Here is a sneak peak of the room. When it is all done I will post more pictures.

...loved waking up when we wanted, having lazy mornings,  and eating juice popsicles. 
I am so grateful to be teaching at a place where my boy can come with me (and it is only three days a week for three hours a day), and I will never complain about being able to make extra money, but I'm not gonna lie, it was hard to wake up on Tuesday morning. I don't know how I ever worked full-time! G and I only have a few more weeks of going to school together though, so I am going to try to enjoy it as much as I can. Soon enough I will be done and we will have two kids. Two!