I am tired.
It's been a long day. Also, it was a long weekend. I went backpacking Friday-Sunday, got sick on Monday, felt a bit better Tuesday, and then had to handle my mother and the kids together today.
Turtle is on another sleep strike. Last week, without the husband home, I spent two nights of two hours trying to get him to go to sleep. The second night, the only thing that worked was climbing in to the crib with him. Nothing works - not rocking, not milk, not water, not singing quietly, not rubbing his back, not staying in the room with him and shhhhhhing until he falls asleep. We're back to CIO, and as much as I hate it, I don't know what else to do. Problem is, so far it's not working that great this time around either. The screaming starts as we're getting the bedtime routine underway. He no longer wants to put on his PJs, brush his teeth, etc. Any advice? He's only 26 months old, so I'm not sure a sticker chart or checklist would work, but I'm open to any suggestions.
I took a week off of marathon training, which I hope will be partially offset by the approximately 15 miles of hiking I did this weekend. I was starting to feel physically very tired and achy, and I needed a little break, and I honestly do feel better from that point of view. We'll see if it made a difference during my 7-mile run tomorrow.
I've been thinking a lot about preschool and "homeschool", too. I put "homeschool" in quotes because I am using it in the sense of schooling at home in addition to, rather than instead of, more standard schooling (like, at an actual school). I wasn't super happy with the preschool we ended up choosing (mostly because there was space available and my kids were one month too young to start at most of the other schools), and while the situation has improved a bit, it still isn't ideal in my mind. I've been ok with that, because we're probably going to Italy at some point, possibly for 1-2 months, so we will probably pull them out of preschool at that point and lose our spots, and have to look elsewhere. In touring a lot of other preschool that I had previously ignored because of the aforementioned age cut-off, I realized that there were quite a few things I liked about some of the preschools that I do NOT like about our current preschool:
- Many of the other preschools either require the kids to bring a lunch or they include the kids in the lunch-making process, and often in the gardening and food-growing process. At our current preschool, I believe the lunches are prepackaged processed foods, and I'm now realizing that the menu is pretty boring, not very good, and repeats quite frequently. Since my kids go only twice per week, it's not a huge deal, but it's not ideal at all.
- Many of the other preschools are play-based, imagination-strong, and very free form in their style. Particularly the Waldorf school, which I LOVE except for a few small points (I will bring that up in a bit). The preschool where we are is very academic, clean, and well-ordered, but seems to leave little room for the imagination and for child-led learning.
- The yards of many of the other preschools are messy, natural, and allow for a lot of exploration and creativity. Our preschool has a very plain yard, with a play structure in tanbark, some tricycles (which are too big for my kids at this point), and a very few other toys, including some balls and buckets and shovels. It is certainly adequate, but when compared to some of the yards I've seen, a bit depressing.
- Our preschool has had major turnover since we started (only 2.5 months ago), so the teachers they have now are already different than the ones they started with. I was not at all impressed with their first set of teachers, but their current teachers seem a bit better - much more loving and less stern with the kids. Still - they were off to a bad start, and need to work to improve, in my opinion.
I was particularly impressed with our local Waldorf school, without knowing much about Waldorf before touring it. The rooms are absolutely beautiful, built to bring in lots of natural light, and furnished with natural materials, mostly wood and cloth. The yard was very natural, with lots of plants, pathways, and free form areas, such as a sand play area and flower beds. I think the two biggest problems (besides the age cut-off preventing my kids from attending this year) are the very strict rules against media of any kind, and the fact that they are near a freeway (not a major one, but I could hear the traffic and it bothered me a bit). But I love that the materials are so natural and calming, the activities so creative and inspiring, and the setting is so beautiful and open-ended.
The media rule is not too much of a problem for me, although I strongly believe in reading with my children, and in them learning to read at a young age (or at least not preventing them from learning to read). My husband doesn't like the dogmatic sense of the anti-media restrictions, and I can somewhat see his point.
But lately, I've been thinking. My kids are only in preschool 2 days per week. And on the other 5 days, we DO all those other things. We play with wooden toys, and felt, and do arts and crafts and music. We dance and read books, and do role play games. We cook, and bake, all the time! They are constantly helping me make lunch and dinner. We're working on setting the table, using cloth napkins that I made myself, washing our hands before meals, being kind to one another. We have a beautiful yard, and a water table, and we get outside a lot. They help me in the vegetable garden, and can identify all the vegetables we grow, and help me pick them. We also do errands, go to the library, go to gymnastics class, visit Grandma, and we are about to start attending two playgroups - one at the local cooperative nursery school, and one Italian language one nearby. We are also raising our kids to be bilingual, which is going really well so far. The only thing they're really missing is a chance to get used to being in school, and to be around other kids, so that is really all we need, and we have that. While I hope to find a better place when we have to (at least in terms of food - prepackaged processed food just isn't what I want to serve my kids), I am realizing that the current situation is actually just fine.
And so that's where I am. Crossing my fingers that Turtle is dropping off to sleep, and I'm going to try to cut out some fleece for Tadpole's winter hat before I hit the sack. Pictures of hats to come soon!