Sunday, May 15, 2011

This and That *cough cough*

So, I whined through my last post about how miserable I felt. All in all, I felt like poo for almost exactly a month, before my mom turned me on to the miracle drug that is Walmart's knockoff of Benadryl. Anything else, she said, was just like candy to her and her allergies. So I tried it (actually, I had my most wonderfulest friend pick it up for me, since she was at Walmart anyway) and lo and behold, I started feeling human again.

That lasted for about...a week. It was a wonderful week.

But apparently, all it took was one stinking day spend outside - after a good, hard rain the night before, no less! - for me to start feeling miserable again. Stupid nature.

I shall be avoiding the outdoors as much as possible for a while, I suppose. Meanwhile, my dea
r sweet mother gave me an extra box of drugs for Mother's Day - guess she knew I'd be needing them soon.

* * * * *
During the week that I felt human, I felt bad for another reason.

Penelope Lane was born on May 1 - her mom, my friend Samantha, had been hoping she
would be a May baby, and Penelope complied by just a little over an hour. Penelope suffered from congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), which basically means a hole in her diaphragm that had allowed some of her lower interal organs to shift upward into her chest cavity. They knew that she would need to be transported almost immediately to a hospital with a NICU, would
likely need oxygen (since her lungs probably wouldn't have had space to fully form), etc. But they didn't know exactly what to expect.

She did great at birth - even cried some before they whisked her away. Pretty quickly, though, she was put on ECMO, a heart/lung bypass machine. A week and a half and plenty of scary moments later, she underwent surgery to have her organs put back in place and repair the hole in her diaphragm. That was a terrifying day for ME - I can't begin to imagine what her parents and family went through. But she did well with the surgery and continues to improve, although a lengthy NICU stay is likely.

All this is to say that Penelope has been constantly on my mind for the past two weeks.

Two friends and I went to visit and attempt to distract Sam one evening, and we were allowed to go into the NICU and see Penelope in person...she is so gorgeous, even more so than in her pictures. And it's heartbreaking to see such a tiny, precious baby under sedation, attached to so many tubes and machines. It was harder to think about the risks of the surgery, and her road to recovery. But most of all, my heart just aches for her mother. Her dad and other family too, of course, but being a mom...I hurt for other moms. I know she just wants to hold her baby, to have assurance that everything will be okay in the end, to take her home and have as normal
a life as you can have with a newborn. I remember how scary the first few days were after Rachael was born - and everything was fine. How much worse it must be when everything is not fine, and there's nothing you can do to fix it.

Well, not "nothing", exactly. She can pray, and I'm thankful that she knows and trusts God and can depend on Him to get her little family through this. I'm thankful for the many people that are praying for Penelope - even people that don't know them, like my Facebook friends and church family. Sam has commented that she's felt peace from the prayers she knows are being said, that she believed in the power of prayer to help Penelope through her surgery. So I'm praying, always praying. Every time I think of them, which is many times a day. And if you hadn't heard about Penelope yet, I'm asking you to pray for her too.

* * * * *
Feeling good, distracted, or otherwise, it's been a busy few weeks. Rachael and I have been working hard to finish up her schoolwork for the year, although we'll still be doing some here and there through the summer. We'll be focusing on health and science this summer, since we haven't spent as much time on them as I'd like during the regular school year. For now, though, she's finished her 2nd grade math book, and requested a change in curriculum for next year. We'll wrap up the 3rd grade language arts book tomorrow, and there's enough left in her 4th grade spelling book that we'll carry it over to the next school year. She never ceases to amaze me with how quickly she learns! It's time to start planning my curriculum for next fall, and I'm having her help me, to some extent. As I mentioned, she's decided that Math U See is not for
her, and that's fine. Meanwhile, she adores our current history curriculum (Story of the World), which I had thought of changing - but she wants to stick with is, so I'll give it another year.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love the flexibility of homeschooling?

What I do not enjoy are mean comments about it, especially from people who have never "been there."

Just this weekend, we were in the van on the way to a Girl Scout day camp. There were six little girls in the back, and I heard one of them asking Rachael questions about what she has to do in school. "It must be so cool to be able to do your school work in bed!", she said. (Rachael agreed, but told her that most of the time, she sits at the kitchen table.) "And you can do your work while you watch TV!" came next. (NEVER, Rachael told her.)

Then another little girl chimed in, obviously unhappy that homeschooling was being made to sound like a good thing. "But you don't have any friends," she told Rachael.

I had to laugh at first - since, again, Rachael was in the van with five girls that she considers her friends, and three of these are pretty much "Scouts only friends," rarely seen outside of Girl Scout activities. My child doesn't meet a stranger - she has friends.

She was quick to defend herself. "I have lots of friends," she said. "I meet friends everywhere I go."

"Yeah," the little girl argued, "but you don't have LOTS of friends like I do."

Now I'll admit, this is where steam started coming out of my ears. This little girl was just being mean. It's hard to hear criticism from anyone, but to be singled out as different and odd and even unliked by your friend...that hurts.

Rachael never wavered in her position that she enjoys being homeschooled, though, even after she was told next that, "I wouldn't want to be homeschooled."

That's fine and good - homeschooling isn't for everyone. Not for every child and certainly not for every parent. But I had to wonder - did this child come up with the notion that Rachael doesn't have friends on her own? Or did she hear homeschooling being criticized elsewhere?

I stewed about this for a good hour...but Rachael, always quick to forgive, let it roll off her back. The girls got along fine for the rest of the day. I asked her about it later, once we were home, and Rachael happily informed me that "she just doesn't know what she's talking about!" Now to let it roll off of mine.

There are many, many reasons while we homeschool. Unfortunately, the more time that I spend around other little girls (as much as I love them, because they ARE all sweet girls for the most part), they are one more reason. The mannerisms and attitudes I keep seeing from young elementary girls very strongly resemble the attitudes I remember possessing and noticing in my friends when we were in middle school. It's hard to believe that things have changed so much in twenty years...but I'm positive that we were not like that in elementary school.

Everyone knows the homeschooler stereotype - they're different, they're weird and awkward and shy and socially inept. And already, I can see a difference between Rachael and many of her peers. However, I like the difference. Rachael has never, and I mean NEVER, said anything to another person just to hurt their feelings. It would break her heart. That's mostly due to her nature, I know, and not because she's homeschooled or because of anything else I've done. But I have to wonder, if she was exposed to it constantly, if it was made to look "okay", would that change her? Wouldn't the peer pressure, the temptation to act like her friends, eventually be too much? I'd like to think not. But I'm not willing to find out.

I love that Rachael LOVES to read...she doesn't just tolerate it, like a lot of kids do. They HAVE to read this book, they HAVE to read so many books this year, they were supposed to read that book but didn't, etc. Rachael devours books like candy. Again, not necessarily a characteristic of being homeschooled - I love reading despite my public school upbringing. But most of my friends did not. I'm so sad that I know so many people who never, ever pick up a book. Magazines and email are about all that they can tolerate. That's not good enough for my children. They need to crave the ability to read before they have phonics shoved down their throats. They need to be read to until they can't listen any more. They need to see Mommy with her nose in a book. They don't need to have it pushed upon them until they resent "having" to learn.

Ah, I'm rambling now. But my point is this: homeschooling is not a bad thing. Public schooling is not necessarily a bad thing. (It's certainly a better thing in some areas, and even in some schools, than in others.) But any education beats no education.

I won't be teaching my children to point and laugh at public schooled kids, saying "haha! I'm finished with school in mid-May and you have another month to go!" I won't teach them that public school is bad, that those children are different or dumb or weird. I doubt they'd come up with the notion on their own, and I'd certainly correct it if it were to arise.

How about having the common courtesy to extend the same respect to my homeschooled children?

* * * * *
The last thing that's kept me busy for the past...nine Girl Scouts. This past weekend was a crazy one, too - a sleepover on Friday night followed by a day camp on Saturday. We had fifteen girls (sixteen on Saturday) and three moms sleeping over, five at camp. It was CHAOS, but in a good way. :) Just the juggling of pickup, transporting, stuff sorting, cake-baking, hot dog eating, edible campfire making, pajama getting on, whine stopping, journal writing, sleeping bag placement crisis averting, girl vs. dog reconciling, movie starting, shushing, shooshing, threatening, and ultimately, being crawled on while trying to made for a hectic Friday evening!

We were out of bed/couch/floor at 5:30 on Saturday morning, getting dressed and packing up and making pancakes, eating, brushing teeth, brushing hair (times fifteen!), loading cars, packing coolers - and the girls were such troopers! There was no whining about getting up or being rushed - one or two that didn't want pancakes was the worst that we experienced all morning.

Day camp was not as much fun as the sleepover. The camp organizer was bossier and more abrasive than our girls are used to, and several pegged her right away as "mean." But they toured the Philpott Lake visitor center, built birdhouses, helped make and serve lunch (hot dogs, chips and fruit salad), then learned some interesting outdoor cooking techniques (pizza cooked in an old popcorn tin, anyone?) We were all ready to pack up and head home by the time 4:00 rolled around - damp, muddy, and tired. All six girls in my van passed out almost immediately once we hit the road.

I hope they had a good time. I think they did, for the most part - I'm sure they did on Friday night, at least. This particular day camp is probably not one that we'll do again. We have one more activity to go - a service project at the local SPCA - and then our end-of-year awards ceremony to conclude the year. I have to admit, I'm a little relieved that the end is in site. We have a great troop - 18 girls now, whereas we weren't sure we'd find five to start the troop back in September, and we have four more lined up to join us this fall. We'll have a full group for sure, with four different levels - Daisies, Brownies, Juniors and Ambassadors. I'm already excited about our plans for next year.

But for now, I'm just tired. I'm ready for a few months with no meetings to plan, no trips to take, and no worrying about whether we have enough seats in our vehicles for ALL OF THESE GIRLS! It's a great "problem" to have, and I feel blessed to be trusted with these girls a few times a month, and with an amazing co-leader. I hope they all come back in the fall. <3

* * * * *
There, an update post. I'm sure I missed something, but it'll wait till another time. I'm going to re-drug and hit the sack...and I'll try to post a little more regularly. Especially if the drugs work as well this time as they did last time.

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