Anatomy, Magnetism, Biscuits & Baby.

I’ve been knocked out by a nasty bug for a while, hence no blog last week. I slept almost solidly for about 3 days and then on and off for almost a week! Luckily it wasn’t the kind of bug where you feel terrible – just sick and exhausted, but staying awake has been, quite literally, impossible. Jessy stayed with friends for a few nights while I slept off the worst of it.

So, there’s a bit to catch up on! A finally went back home to live with her Mum and brothers again. It was an anxious time as we really had no indication of time scales. I had a very disheartening phone call with the people handling her school admission, where it seemed they hadn’t even received the forms I’d sent and had no idea how long the whole process was going to take. I phoned my sister to tell her the frustrating news only to find out that she’d been left a message on her answer machine saying that A had her school place and could start on Monday! Clearly, the communications are not working well in that department! It was already Thursday which meant that A would go home the very next day so that she could have the weekend to unpack and settle back in at home. It was quite a shock when I told her and I still feel sad that our careful efforts for a smooth transition didn’t work out. Although we had already had her leaving party I felt that the occasion needed marking in some way so we went up the road to The Nawaab – the very nice Indian buffet that I go to on my birthday.

A farewell meal

A farewell meal

Happy cousins

Happy cousins

A is happy to be back home and I’m glad that this anxious time is over for her, as even though I know she’s enjoyed aspects of being home educated and living with us, it’s not the same as being at home with your Mum. She knows she always has a second home here, though, should she need it. She’s going to carry on going to Martial Arts and Scouts too which means she’ll be round on Mondays for dinner, so we will at least see her once a week.

Now that I’m back to just the one child I’ve had a little more time to notice the things that Jessy is showing an interest in. He was playing a lot with the magnetic base from a little sculpture he has, to the point where he didn’t want to stop playing with it at bed time so I ordered him a magnet kit. I got a small one at first to see how much he enjoyed it. I’d imagined exploring it together, but he had already opened it and got stuck in before I was awake! As well as doing the experiments suggested, he’s come up with some of his own and also used it to create a model of a battle ship which he played games with for days.

Exploring the magnet kit

Exploring the magnet kit

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Another day he created a rather gory picture by colouring a piece of paper red, drawing a person on top of another piece of paper and then cutting slashes into the person to look like he’d been cut! I felt a little disturbed by this creation, but it did give me an idea to use the concept a little more constructively. I thought of using it to learn about human anatomy and cutting the person on top in order to find different organs. We couldn’t find any anatomy pictures in our books and our printer is playing up again, so we went to the library. Again, we didn’t find anything is the books but we found something online and printed off a few different sheets of anatomical diagrams. A first Jessy wanted to make his own, but we found the inaccuracy made the game quite tricky, so I also made one using the anatomical pictures. It was a fun way to learn about the human body.

Anatomy

Anatomy

I’ve been interested to notice this week that despite having a room full of toys and drawers full of craft materials, Jessy often finds inspiration in simple things around him. This week he was inspired by the tiny little premature baby socks I bought. (Jessy was so small and thin that socks never fitted him so I’ve bought some as a precaution!) He said they looked perfect for making little toys. He decided to buy a set with his pocket money and we then agreed that he could have one of pairs I’ve bought for now. He can get a little frustrated with the fiddliness of sewing and often wants to give up and get me to do it instead. I’m encouraging him to persevere so that he improves which in turn will improve his frustration. He’s already got a lot more competent at threading needles. I sewed a little face on the toy for him but he did the head and the arms. He did stop part way through for an all out stroppy whinge complete with rolling around on the floor, but once he had got that out of his system he went back to it and now has a cute little toy named Spuddy.

This week Jessy has also independently baked a batch of delicious biscuits. He decided to copy out all of the ingredients and method, including all the weight conversions so he doesn’t have to work them out each time. On Thursday I was dealing with square roots before 9am which is good going for me! Jessy was working out the square roots for large numbers after I showed him the symbol to look for on a calculator. He then tried squaring the numbers by inputting them himself to see how accurate the calculator had been. After months of not doing much independent reading he’s been up reading so late that he actually fell asleep on the sofa one afternoon! He’s always had a very good radar for when I start to feel wobbly about something. I’d just got to the point of feeling that I needed to schedule in some time each week for independent reading, when the tide of autonomy turned and he got back into it himself!

We’ve had Bellatrix the hedgehog for a little over two weeks now and I’m very impressed by how well Jessy is caring for her. Even on a Wood School morning he makes sure he’s up in time to change her food and water bowls, and clean her litter tray. He feeds her in the evening and makes sure he plays with her every day. She’s quilling at the moment, which is a process all young hedgehogs go through where their quills all fall out and the adult ones grow in – like humans losing their baby teeth. It makes them rather sore and grumpy. Jessy is luckily not taking her grumpiness to heart. He had some confidence problems at first when he was finding her difficult to handle as she’s spikier than he’d expected, but he now wears thick gloves and has regained his confidence. I’ve supervised him with the big weekly clean outs but he has pretty much done everything himself, including putting the fleece liners on to wash in the machine and then putting them in the tumble drier. We are struggling a little with finding time for her in the evenings as we don’t want to wake her too early, but it can be difficult to fit in enough time between dinner and bedtime. We find she really does need to be handled for at least half an hour to stop being huffy and calm down a little. Luckily he often holds her in the early mornings when she’s still awake.

Holding Bellatrix in thick gloves

Holding Bellatrix in thick gloves

Bellatrix in her new play pen

Bellatrix in her new play pen

Bellatrix

Bellatrix

I’ve been busy making final preparations for the baby and I feel much more organised now. I’m 34 weeks pregnant and growing by the day. The baby still moves lots and feels strong. I’ve washed all the clothes and nappies and muslins and organised everything into sizes. My house looks ready for a baby. I went to the hospital today for blood tests to check whether I have Obstetric Cholestasis again – a rare pregnancy related liver condition I had when I was pregnant with Jessy. It has a high recurrence rate and I’ve felt anxious about it as I would just love things to go simply this time and to have the home birth I am so much looking forward to. I’ll know in a few days whether it has come back and if it has I’ll have some difficult decisions to make. I’m still under a lot of pressure to have growth scans because Jessy was so small, but at the moment I’m still not feeling that is something I want to do. I’m loving having the support of my Independent midwife Jo and my doula Lisa. We all got together for the first time this week and I felt really happy that these wonderful women are going to be with me when I birth my baby. I feel that, as a team, whatever happens I will birth with good support around me, hopefully in a peaceful way in my own home.

Hedgehogs and Home Birth

We’ve had a new arrival this week. No, the baby hasn’t come early – although the preparation has felt almost on par with preparing for a baby! The new arrival was Jessy’s African Pygmy hedgehog, Bellatrix. He’s been waiting patiently for her since before Christmas. She’s come from an approved breeder who has sent us photo updates over the weeks. She hand delivered Bellatrix herself and was very pleased with the home we’d set up for her. She’s a big responsibility for Jessy as they do need quite specific care. I’ve written him out a large list of everything that needs doing for her daily, weekly and monthly to help him remember. So far he’s been doing very well.

First cuddle with Bellatrix

First cuddle with Bellatrix

Jessy was a little upset yesterday as handling the hedgehog has been a bit trickier than he has expected. When they are grumpy or startled they are very prickly indeed, although once she’s being handled she is very friendly and her quills lay down flat and she isn’t prickly at all. Today, Jessy put on some waterproof gloves to help him feel a bit more confident. I joined a facebook forum about African Pygmy hedgehogs several weeks ago and got the impression that they poo rather a lot which has certainly proved to be accurate! It’s all good practice for the baby I guess – although it would be quite nice if I could put a nappy on the hedgehog!!

Bellatrix

Bellatrix

Talking of nappies, I’ve had lots of lovely baby stuff arriving this week. My favourite has been all the new cloth nappies and my bright pink Moby wrap which is a stretchy fabric sling many people I know have found brilliant for newborns. I didn’t have one with Jessy so I’m excited about having one this time around. On Monday I went to La Leche League, a fantastic breastfeeding support group that I went to for years when Jessy was young and where I met many of my closest friends. Afterwards I went to Sling Meet where I learned how to tie the kind of sling I’ve got. Back at home I practiced with a teddy bear and also tried it on Jessy and A.

New nappies!

New nappies!

My new Moby wrap.

My new Moby wrap.

It’s been a difficult week for A. After we’d done our best to create a smooth transition into her going home we had a set back with the schools admissions process which means that she’s still with us and we have no fixed time of when she will actually be able to go home. It should be within the next week or so, but the uncertainty is difficult for everyone. A no longer has a place at Wood School and it feels as if we are all stuck in Limbo land. We’re trundling along doing the best we can.

Jessy and I had some time together on Friday while A was visiting her Mum. It’s been a while since we sat down and explored a little together and I found myself having a small internal battle. I love the days when we seem to find a subject to focus on and we explore it in various ways. I somehow feel that autonomous education is really working in those moments and I feel good about it. They are, however, few and far between. I’d seen something about penguins recently and Jessy likes penguins so I suggested we have a look at the different breeds of penguins which he was quite happy to do. We read the list and he liked the look of the ‘Little Penguin’ so we read about it. I started to get excited that perhaps we could have a penguin themed day! However, Jessy’s mind was already heading in different directions. (It was trying to head in the direction of Minecraft Parody songs on YouTube but I put my foot down about that one as he’s seen enough to last a lifetime!!) We’d read that Little Penguins live in Australia and New Zealand so he wanted to look them up on Google Maps. I could go with that – the penguin link was there and maps fall into the ‘obviously educational’ comfort zone. So we got to Google Maps and found them. Then he felt inspired to look up Barbados as we’ve been there recently.

I started to feel my penguin dream slipping away. I had a small internal battle about whether I should pull him back to the penguins but that didn’t feel very autonomous – so off we went to virtual Barbados. We found our hotel and the caves we visited. I can’t remember how it happened but we ended up virtually strolling through the streets of San Francisco. I found the street where I lived for a few months before Jessy was born and got very excited remembering the donut store outside the local tram stop. So I didn’t get my penguin day, but I did get to remind myself that this is how our educational journey rolls. One things leads to another and you never know quite what you might end up exploring. I’m pretty sure we finished up with Minecraft Parody songs on YouTube too – well some of them are pretty cool. 😉

After our online explorations Jessy wanted to bake cakes. He’s gone from baking not holding his interest very much to pretty much doing it on his own recently. Our scales only show grams and the old fashioned book we got our recipe from was only in ounces so we worked on some conversions. Jessy remembered there was a conversion chart in my diary which meant there was a little more working out involved than just typing it into google! We used a fairy cake recipe but the actual result was something quite different. They looked like muffins, were quite biscuity on top, but had a texture more similar to rock cakes! We decided they were a cross between cakes, cookies and muffins and named them ‘Cuffins’. They were very tasty and I’m still not sure why they came out that way!

Baking

Baking

This morning my independent midwife came round. It’s the second time I’ve met her and she really is lovely. It helps that a few of my friends have had her as the midwife for their babies’ births and all have said she was wonderful. It’s such a different experience to the clinical hospital setting where I was kept waiting for hours and felt like a number on a tick chart, or a potential time bomb of possible complications! Jo is all about setting you at ease, listening to your worries and trusting in you. I love knowing that she wants me to have my home birth as much as I do and that I won’t have a fight on my hands, which is how I always felt at the hospital appointments. She’s friendly with the kids and includes them. She called them when it was time to listen to the baby’s heart beat today and as I lay on my sofa we all smiled as we heard the little ‘whoosh-whoosh-whoosh’ of the baby’s heart. Jessy was playing it cool as usual but his eyes were twinkling. She explained why the baby’s heartbeat is so much faster than ours and then used the doppler on the kids so they could hear their own heartbeats. I felt like she was doing Home Ed for me today! She had a good feel of my bump and told me how the baby was lying which baby confirmed with a kick in just the right place. 🙂 The most exciting part of the visit for me was when I was talking about how I wish you could still get old fashioned birthing chairs, as I love the idea of them. I birthed squatting last time whilst being supported and I’ve always thought being able to sit and let gravity do its work would be wonderful. “Oh, I’ve got one of them in the car!” she announced – and promptly deposited in my living room was a birthing chair! It felt like magic! She also brought a ‘belly bag’ which is a big bean bag with a hole cut out for your pregnant belly so you can lie on your front! I don’t think I would ever manage to get out of it if I lay down on it but it’s been the kids’ favourite new toy all afternoon!

The kids had circus skills this afternoon. A asked if she could spend an extra night at our friends’ house so she went home with them. Jessy and I enjoyed cottage pie – a meal we both love but A doesn’t like so we haven’t had it for months. He ate every last scrap of a rather large portion! That’s about it for this week! Bye for now.