Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fall Semester Winding Down

As the fall semester winds down, I find myself looking forward to a break. Our break is shorter this year than normal, but since we had a longer-than-expected Thanksgiving break, it evens out.

Some fun things happening here:

~Obi is now in All About Reading Level 1, and is reading his first words. I made a lot of hoopla about it, and he is so proud.
~Eden just finished her last final today. Only one more semester of high school to go--and she will graduate with her AA degree from the community college.
~Micah was accepted to St. Cloud State University for the spring semester and is waiting for his advising day so he can sign up for classes.

~Caleb was behind in some of his school work, when I discovered that he already completed the IEW writing class we were doing this semester--The Elegant Essay--a couple years ago with Eden. Oops! So I still need to figure out how to make up those credits with another language arts, but the pressure is off to get caught up on TEE, at least.
~History class (From Adam to Us by Notgrass) with Zeke, Josh, and Malachi is hands-down my favorite subject this year. I could spend 2 hours every day on history.
~Zeke is awesome at Pre-Algebra (Math-U-See). To see him go from struggling with math and not liking it, to being so good at math just makes this momma-math-teacher heart so happy. He still falls back into old habits of thinking he is no good at math. He will decide that a particular topic is going to be hard, before he has even studied the lesson, and he'll become discouraged. It is not uncommon for me to hear just a day or two later, "This is so easy!"
~Tirzah is learning cursive now and she's really great at it!
~We are reading Jotham's Journey for advent again this year. With so many children spread across so many years, it's a blast to bring out this book and it still be a surprise for a bunch of kids.

{Sorry, blurry phone camera!}

My biggest news is that, at 22 months, Genna has fully weaned. It is possible that she will be our last baby, so for that and some other reasons I wanted to let her nurse as long as she wanted to. I was really hoping that baby-led weaning would be a gentle and easy process and that it would just happen naturally after she turned a year old. But the months dragged on, and she showed little interest in weaning.  Eventually I started doing some mommy-led weaning. I slowly got her down to only nursing at naptime, bedtime, and during the night. She gradually ate more solid food, but it was clear that she was still getting a lot of calories during her nighttime feedings. Sometimes she was up 3 or more times a night!  As she got older, she didn't always fall back to sleep at the end of a nursing session, so sometimes she was awake in the middle of the night playing and jabbering or even crying. It was like having an infant still.


As we inch towards Genna's second birthday, I decided that for my own sanity I should wean. I knew that some toddlers don't wean until after their 2nd birthday, and I wasn't sure I had the patience to endure that long. Getting up 3 times a night is ridiculous, I resolved. I agonized over thoughts of emotion sadness--for both of us. Finally after a particularly rough night, I decided to just quit cold turkey. I had been tempted to do it before, but this time I knew that I would do it, and there would be no going back. It was SO hard to wean her. She was a nut-basket case for a few nights. We read books, paced the floors, and listened to music to maintain calm. It took 2 full weeks for me to not feel engorged or sore from quitting cold turkey. We are now almost 3 weeks past weaning, and she no longer asks to nurse. She still wakes up at least once and sometimes 3 times a night, which is leaving me baffled. Instead of being able to nurse her back to sleep, we sometimes are up even longer in the middle of the night (with sad screaming, too). I offer her a water bottle. If she still won't calm down, I will turn on some quiet music. If she still screams, I will push her away from me for a minute or two (to which she screams louder, naturally), then I ask if she wants a hug...she says yes, and I remind her that she needs to be quiet. That usually does the trick. Still, it's pretty sad.

Falling asleep has been a HUGE challenge. We usually do school all morning, break for lunch, then do a little more school after lunch. When Genna was nursing, it would take me about 10-15 minutes to go lay her down for a nap. Now we need a whole new routine. She has no idea how to fall asleep by herself, and I have no intentions of sticking her in a crib (which she would be able to crawl out of) and letting her cry it out. In the months leading up to weaning, I did try transitioning Genna to falling asleep without nursing. At night, we would nurse in a rocking chair, then go lay down in bed. She would eventually fall asleep...but sometimes it took an hour or more while she tossed and turned in bed next to me. So now when we go down for nap, she will toss and turn and NEVER go to sleep. If I'm lucky, she will be exhausted enough by around 3 pm to fall asleep. And you know if I'm staying in bed with her from 1 pm to 3 pm, I'm not getting a lick of school done (plus what are those kids doing with their time? Needless to say, I only tried this twice). I tried letting her play with a kindle until she fell asleep (she didn't). I have asked Caleb to put her to sleep, and again she doesn't fall asleep until after 3 pm.  And then she sleeps until 5 pm. On those days, she doesn't fall asleep at night until almost MIDNIGHT. You guys! This is so much worse than before. Here I weaned her so that I could get more sleep, and so far nothing could be farther from reality. When she is up to midnight, she will often sleep in until 8 am or even later if I'll let her. It's good to let her. If I don't, she will be whiny and clingy all morning while we're doing school. If I do let her, there's no way she'll take a nap. But lately there's no way she'll take a nap anyway. Ok, and let's say she doesn't take a nap. Well, she'll either be screaming all evening or I'll be making supper with her on my hip. And don't think that she'll go to bed for the night earlier. One night she did fall asleep at 7 pm. And she was awake again at 8 pm. She has been falling asleep later and later. It's not uncommon for us to lay down at 9 pm and her not fall asleep until 10:30 pm.

I hope we get the falling-asleep-for-nap thing sorted out soon. I don't want to limp through the next 3-4 years until she is old enough to make it through a whole day without a nap. Even Mercy, who is coming up on 4 years old, still gets really tired and crabby in the afternoons (she hasn't napped since she was very small, either). The alternative is to let Mercy nap, and then she screams for a very long time after she wakes up from nap. I have tried all kinds of tricks to remedy this for Mercy, and nothing works.

If you were giving me a grade on how well I do sleep training at my house, I fully deserve and accept an F. It's not like I haven't read books and am not sure how to train a child to sleep. I am versed in the popular training methods. I struggle to find my own way. Maybe I struggle with laziness, too. It takes effort to train children. When Micah, Eden, and Caleb were all young, they had a consistent 7:30 pm bedtime. During my daycare years before homeschooling, we had a glorious quiet time every afternoon where there were children in my house and it was quiet simultaneously. I have sometimes wondered if that was an alternate reality. ;)

The same could be said for chores. A few years ago someone accused me of making the kids do "all my work" and they wished they could give my older kids a break. The accusation stung. I have struggled to get over that. So on one hand I have this guilt that when I give the kids chores to do, I'm asking them to do "my" work (I do realize it's totally illogical, by the way, but this is a great example of how comments can hurt). On the other hand, the experts say children need chores. I have had success with various methods in previous years, but as our family dynamic changes, I struggle to adapt. I struggle to organize the sheer amount of work and distribute it among the children according to ability and fairness. Then there are the attitudes...we get a lot of those, for sure. So many times I'd rather just clean the bathroom myself in 10 minutes, than spend the emotional energy necessary for getting a child to do it. I know, I know, this means that I'm doing it wrong. Definitely. Guilty as charged.

I just wanted to shatter any expectations that we are a perfect family or that I am an expert or have all the answers. :)

Well, lunch is long past and I need to hustle to finish school for the day. Maybe I will try to put Genna down for a nap, and maybe I won't. At any rate like I said earlier, I'm looking forward to a break...however short it may be!

1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear you are enjoying From Adam to Us!