Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

Back to Homeschool February 18, 2013

At Circle Time we discuss the date (and talk about holidays or special events), observe and chart the weather, then read and analyze a poem.

At Circle Time we discuss the date (and talk about holidays or special events), observe and chart the weather, then read and analyze a poem.

The girls are back to being homeschooled for the time being. I never wanted to put them in the private facility they attended while I was in school last semester, but I didn’t have many other options. After my marriage ended abruptly in May, and I found out that I was pregnant with Baby #3 two weeks later, I needed to make some big decisions right away. I was already finished with my first year of graduate school, and after much debate, figured it best to stay put in New England instead of moving back to my home in Illinois.

My Education Station - from flash cards to phonics, from body books to experiments in a box. The white container holds our most frequently used craft supplies. The tray atop is my schoolwork.

My Education Station – from flash cards to phonics, from body books to experiments in a box. The white container holds our most frequently used craft supplies.

For one thing, I was broke, and staying in school would give me loan money. It’s major debt, I know it, but I didn’t have a job, I’m still not getting child support, and with another baby on the way it seemed implausible to move back across the country expecting someone to find me a desirable employee.

There were a lot of other factors weighing into my decision to stay in New England, stay in school, and send my girls to the private preschool and private kindergarten they attended while I took classes, but more on that in another post. The school was decent enough. I loved the teachers and the way they went about teaching the kids, but it was no Montessori. My oldest, Amara, mostly got a safe place to socialize out of her time there. Terra learned to better identify her numbers and letters, and got a lot better at her drawings; the social aspect didn’t appeal to her as much, but she enjoyed the activities.

Typical weekday schedule. The girls painted the cardboard backing and helped choose the activities.

The girls’ typical weekday schedule. The girls painted the backing and helped to choose the activities.

This semester, as I was due with Baby #3 one week ago today (I am still pregnant. I don’t know when she’ll decide to come out), I opted to create a Directed Study course so that I could stay home with my girls. It’s only one class (you can follow my progress of exploring eMarketing here), but I’m able to continue getting loan money and my assignments are due on a much more flexible schedule.

The only problem with this set-up was that until a week ago the girls and I didn’t really have a set schedule. Having so much to do with little organization was getting the better of me, but we’ve finally solidified our routine.

Now, instead of simply knowing that I have to do umpteen chores, feed and bathe the girls, take them to various appointments and lessons, prep for Baby’s arrival, and between the insomnia and worry and whatnot do my homework as well, I have a schedule.

Our Job Chart. As with the schedule, I forgot to put pictures next to the words. I'm adding those today because I want Terra to feel more independent.

As with the girls’ schedule, I forgot to put pictures next to the words. I’m adding those today because I want Terra to feel more independent.

The girls have a schedule too, and they love it. I’d been working toward being this organized for quite some time, but between last semester ending, my nesting, and everything else consuming my attention, I couldn’t get around to really implementing the plan until recently.

I’d been keeping up with the girls’ homeschooling, but between teaching them and my other responsibilities I couldn’t find the time for doing my schoolwork. Creating a set schedule allowed me to find the gaps of space and time between the girls’ many activities where I could clean and work on my assignments and do some blogging. We’re so much more efficient now. Things are running smoothly, the girls feel a better sense of control over their day, and I am finally finding the time to complete everything.

There are numerous things that don’t go on their typical weekday schedule, like bath time and play dates and shopping and therapy; I made extra tabs for those things so they can be switched out with other activities when they need to go on our schedule. I love Velcro! Of course, Baby #3 will change things slightly, but I’m fairly certain she’ll quickly learn to go with the flow.

Planning their lessons ahead of time is going to be crucial to keeping our schedule on track.

Planning their lessons ahead of time is going to be crucial to keeping our schedule on track.

I also purchased a file folder thingy on clearance at Michael’s to plan out the girls’ weekly lessons. It’s perfect, it holds ten folders so I can work ahead to schedule their activities for M-F and put workbook pages and whatnot inside so that I’m not lagging when they’re due to have “learning” time.

I’m so excited to be educating my girls, and so happy that I finally have a better system for planning their activities, keeping track of their progress, and feeling capable of taking care of my household and continuing my education as well.

There are so many things I cannot determine with what will become of my life. This time next year I might not be in New England anymore. I will more than likely have to return to work directly after finishing graduate grad school. I don’t know how I will be financially capable of continuing to homeschool. But I’m trying to look at the bright side and live in the now.

For now we’ve got a good thing going. We’re at home. We’re organized. We’re learning. We’re safe. It may be a tough load to carry and difficult to balance on a daily basis, but when I really consider how much worse things could be I shouldn’t complain.

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A Letter to My Unborn Child February 11, 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dear Nohra Florence,

Hello my darling 🙂 How are you in there? I hear that things must be a little cramped by now. I feel you moving slightly and I am comforted by your gentle strokes. Sometimes you like to jab and poke, but you’re being fairly kind to my body at the moment. Thank you!

I am so excited that you’ll be earth-side soon! I have been unable to sleep these past few nights because I’m so anxious for your arrival 🙂 I really need my strength and energy for labor and birthing, so I should try to rest as much as possible, but it has been difficult to get everything prepared for you and find the time to rest too. Don’t worry though. Your mama is a very strong woman and I will push through my lack-of-sleep to make sure that you arrive earth-side safely. Mama’s name means strength. Did you know that? People call me Jet, but my real name is Brigette (pronounced Bri-Jet), and it means strength; its alternate meanings are “high goddess” and “exalted one.” Name meanings are so important!

Your name has a special meaning too. Nohra means honor, or honorable. It is an honor to be your mother, to know you, to be your friend. Your sisters are honored to have you join our family, and we have no doubts that the world will be grateful for your honorable soul to make its impact. You are already amazing to me, and I am so pleased to have the honor of meeting you…soon!

I chose your name for several reasons. I decided on the German version of the more commonly seen N-o-r-a and N-o-r-a-h spellings. Your father is of German and Swedish descent, but since our last name is Swedish I figured we could pay tribute to both sides of his heritage by spelling your name the way I have. You’ll also notice similarities between your name and your sisters’ names; everyone’s name is five letters long and ends with the letters “R-A.” That began by accident, but I continued the trend for you. Amara’s name means unfading and eternal, personifying the elements of nature. Terra’s name means earth or soil, from that which our sustenance is derived. Your name completes the circle. Your name signifies the way I feel about living, being a part of the life cycle, and being able to contribute to mankind. It is an honor. As are you.

I hope you don’t find your name and its spelling to be a nuisance; I’m sure you’ll have to constantly correct people. I have that same problem when using my real name, and your sisters are already being initiated into the no-one-pronounces-or-spells-your-name-right-the-first-time club. None of us will ever find our names pre-printed on mugs or key chains or any other gift shop paraphernalia. I apologize for that. I think it’s more exciting to have things custom made anyway though, and I hope you’ll come to agree 🙂

Your middle name is Florence, my great grandmother’s name. My mother’s mother’s mother. She was a big part of my childhood and I love her dearly. She was born on December 25, 1923 and she is still alive today. She will be so happy when she’s able to meet you! Florence means blossoming, flourishing, and charming. I am sure you will be all of those things. You sisters, who wanted your first name to be Florence due to their infatuation with Florence Welch, also have family names for their middle names. I love how your name sounds and I love its significance. I hope you grow to enjoy being called Nohra Florence.

My due date is tomorrow, but that doesn’t mean you’re ready to come out yet. I trust you and I will be patient for you to choose when to begin your journey. You are considered “breech” in a bottom-down position. Breech babies are typically delivered via cesarean section in this country, but I do not want to subject us to such torture unless absolutely necessary. I trust that you’ve chosen the best position for you, and I will work with whatever you do. Please don’t feel obligated to position yourself in a way that isn’t comfortable for you. Mama will manage regardless.

There are so many things that I look forward to with being your mother. There is so much to teach you, experience with you, enjoy watching you learn on your own. One day you may look back at this letter, at this time in our lives before your arrival and wonder how I could possibly be excited about bringing another child into such a world, but it is times like these and situations like ours that make new life so vital to human existence. If nothing more, please know that I love you. You are perfect just the way you are, and I vow to do everything possible to help you reach your potential. I am already so proud to call you my daughter. I will work tirelessly to be worthy of being your mama.

2.10.13

2.10.13

Unconditional Love and Gratitude,

Jet (The Mama)

 

Blizzard Baby Prep February 8, 2013

These past few days have been crazy. The girls and I did so much shopping that I think they’ll want to avoid leaving the house for several weeks. As I type, the cars are being covered by the snow in our condo parking lot. It looks nasty out there but I am extremely content. I’m excited to see what it will look like come morning.

20130208_155829_6_bestshot-1

The girls are excited to play in the snow, but I am so exhausted from shopping and cleaning that I think I’ll need a recuperation day. We went to the post office to make sure I had enough stamps for baby announcements and to send some mailings out. We went to the pharmacy to fill a prescription so I won’t have to worry about it a few weeks from now (when it will actually need to be filled). We went to the library to return CD’s and a book I’d checked out. We went to a laboratory to turn in a prenatal test I’d completed. We went to PetCo to stock up on Gerbil supplies, We went to Home Depot for batteries and whatnot. We went to the craft store to stock up on supplies for making Montessori materials. We went to Target for the California Baby diaper cream, breastmilk storage bags, and all the other items I needed in order to feel “ready” for Baby’s arrival, to Whole Foods and two other grocery stores to stock up on food. I’m probably forgetting something or somewhere.

20130207_092908_5_bestshotIt was exhausting. It took me several hours just to put away everything that we’d purchased! Surprisingly, the girls were in good spirits and were both very well behaved on each trip. I don’t want to give all of the credit to the new dual-screen DVD player or to the smartphone apps, though both came in handy. I was grateful for and pleased with the girls’ attitudes toward our intense shopping trips. I suppose I’m indebted to them now, and will have to brave the snow despite my Raynaud’s disease.

We really didn’t have to do very much blizzard prep. I was insanely prepared for Hurricane Sandy, after having been so horribly unprepared for Hurricane Irene. But Sandy never showed up in my neighborhood so I already had all of the extra water and candles and whatnot stocked. I focused more on the cleaning; everyone had a bath, the dishes are washed, the laundry is clean, the gerbil cage is clean, etc. If we lose power I do not want dirty dishes. If I have a homebirth I need to have enough clean linen.

20130207_093106_4_bestshotSo far no labor. I expect that she’ll come on Monday, as my other two came at almost exactly 40 weeks (Amara was one day after I was due and Terra was one day before). She is still breech as far as I know, but I never did make it to get another ultrasound. I am excited, and nervous as well. The fact that I’m going to have another child in a few days (give or take) is surreal. It’s really happening. I’m going to go through labor again. I’m going to push again. I’m going to feel that ring of fire again (…but I might not want to think too much about that). I’m going to hold a newborn baby girl in my arms and cry tears of joy.

I have been so anxious that I cannot get much sleep. OMG Baby is coming! I’d like to lounge around, watch TV, and fill out some sections of her memory book, but I have laundry to fold and homework to complete. I hope that Baby waits for the blizzard to pass by before making her appearance. Just in case she doesn’t, I’d better get to folding and studying.

Stay safe everyone!

 

Due in 1 Week with Baby #3 February 4, 2013

Last week was an awfully trying week. Both of my little girls were sick and the weight of being a single parent was heavier than usual. The girls’ illnesses affected everything else. The dirty cups overran the sink, each having contained two to four ounces of a clear liquid; a multitude of cups used at once to encourage the girls to drink from the variety. The laundry kept piling up as everything was getting wet with one disgusting substance after the next. I got hardly any sleep; if no one was vomiting on me she was wide awake and wailing, having slept away the afternoon.

OverwhelmedCatI pushed through it, somehow. I really didn’t have a choice.

Maybe it’s the hormones of my impending delivery or maybe I’m just more depressed lately, but I cannot stop considering the bigger picture of my life. It looks like a catastrophe from a distance. How the hell am I going to get by? How am I supposed to manage caring for four human beings? How am I going to get through graduate school with all of these other responsibilities? How am I going to make it through these next few weeks without crumbling?

I keep finding my finger on the button with his name on it. Just one slip and I’d be calling him. I know I shouldn’t. I know it would just bring me down. What would he say if he answered? Surely nothing to ease my suffering at this point. What could he say to make this better? What could I believe from his lips even if they spoke the perfect words? What if a girl answered? Sigh.

I have more important things to consider at this time. I cannot get caught up worrying myself about his life.

Baby is still breech. I am willing to do whatever it takes to avoid having a c-section. I’m due in one week, but Baby might need more time to turn so I’ll be patient with her. These next few weeks may include hypnosis, acupuncture, a lot of time upside down, and if all else fails, a version. I’m not afraid of going past my due date, that doesn’t concern me. Getting cut open and needing weeks to heal while I’m alone taking care of three babies concerns me.

The Braxton Hicks contractions are coming on stronger and more frequently these days. My appetite is nearly non-existent. I’ve missed the past three weeks of sessions with my therapist so that’s probably another reason for the funk that I’ve been in. I just want to give Baby a happy, healthy welcome. I want to shower her with my affection, not postpartum depression. I want to be a good example for all of my girls. It’s just so hard to handle it all lately.

I cannot believe that in give-or-take one week I will have three babies. I really don’t know how I’m going to keep it together, but I suppose I do not have any other choice.

 

The Home(birth)stretch January 25, 2013

IMAG0277I am still doing daily prep for baby, but I’d say the insanity of nesting hit its peak a week or so ago. I finally got the bookcase disassembled and made a run to our storage unit. I’ve got her crib set up, all besides the mobile. I’ve got her dresser cleaned out, but I’ve yet to fill it with her clothes. I’ve got the cloth diaper supply ready to be washed and sorted. I’ve managed to move all of the baby gear from the cellar to the living room, but I’ve yet to assemble anything.

There are still things that need to be done. Washing all of the covers to her various seats, washing my boppy pillow and her tummy-time mat, washing the stroller and her shopping cart thingy. Maybe I am still nesting…but I’m not feeling as incapable of balancing it all lately. I’ve reached a peace with this pregnancy. Now that I’m due in just over two weeks, it’s all a little bit easier to handle.

Not that the pulled groin muscle, pain in my hips, pressure in my pelvis, and continuous sleep shortage are easy to deal with, I just don’t want to complain about them anymore. Maybe I’m trying to build character. I’ll need it when I’m in labor.

It’s nearly impossible not to think about how the birth will be. I’m trying to keep the thoughts on how I’ll handle the actual labor and delivery, instead of contemplating how it’s going to feel with him not there beside me. There are good reasons why he should not be at the birth, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.

This has been so difficult. I’m full-term pregnant and I may be extremely hormonal, but being in my situation would be challenging either way. I cannot help but to look back and think about how much different life was before the conception of this baby.

Nine months ago I couldn’t have ever conceived of there being a time in the future where I’d go over six months without speaking to my husband. Nine months ago I couldn’t have imagined being pregnant, single, still in graduate school, victim to a felony, seeking a divorce. No…those just weren’t the thoughts I was thinking. DSC07109

So baby is coming soon, and the rush of birthing and the anxiety of transition and the newness of change makes me want to reach out for something old and comfortable and reliable, like being his Babydoll. I want to hear him call me by my pet-name again. I want to hug him while he’s shirtless and breathe in the scent of his skin. I want to run my fingers through his hair. I want him to validate me. I want him to possess me.

I do not really. But the familiarity of my marriage is my latest craving. I want to call him. I want to hear his voice. I want to hear him say that he still loves me. I want to know where he is and how he’s doing and whether or not he still thinks I’m pretty. I want to find out if he’s seeing somebody.

But he is not mine any longer, and I should not contact him. I know better than to think that just because he tells me sweet nothings something will change. I’d be a fool to have built up my strength for nine months and then give it all away in one conversation. I must remain strong, and alone.

It does get harder though, knowing that our third daughter will arrive any day now. I wonder if she’ll ever know her father. I wonder if he’ll even care about her at all. I wonder if he thinks this entire situation (court cases, failed marriage, fatherless children, etc) is my fault.

But I should spend my time assembling the swing and washing everything. I should not brood over what he might say were I to call him. I need to continue to build my strength, not slip back and allow myself to be weakened once again by his words, his eyes, his demeanor. This time should be about my daughters, my household, my impending homebirth. It’s just so hard to build a nest when someone significant has been banished from it.

 

Nesting…or not January 7, 2013

Nesting.GlovesThere’s still so much to get done and nothing is clean enough and nothing stays clean very long around here.

I’m always doing the dishes. I’m always folding the clothes. I’m always cleaning the girls’ room for them because I’m too tired to incorporate it into their schedule.

I’m always cleaning their gerbil cage. I’m always giving the girls baths, washing, conditioning, combing, and braiding their hair. I feel like I never stop cooking.

I am so low on energy as I am still rarely sleeping, but every ounce of me is saying…MUST PREPARE FOR BABY!

I have to get the bookcase disassembled so that I can put up her swing in that corner. This entails removing the knickknacks, boxing the books and moving the boxes down to the cellar. There’s no space in the cellar for the boxes until I bring the baby gear up. There’s no place in the condo to store the baby gear except the kitchen, but I still have the Christmas stuff in the kitchen and the buckets for the laundry detergent. I need to take the Christmas boxes to my storage unit, make three batches of laundry detergent and clear the kitchen space to get the process started.

But I never have the time to make it to my storage unit or the strength and will to load the boxes in the van. I have little opportunity to be in the kitchen making laundry detergent because I cannot seem to get a break from cooking and cleaning. I just…AAUGH!!! There is so much to get done and so little time before she comes and I want everything to be perfect and I’m just not doing enough.

I am not capable of doing so much.Overwhelmed Mother

Despite my desire to get everything perfect I have to listen to my body as well. When I am low on sleep and doing everything to provide for my two little earth-side ladies it’s hard to find the time and energy to focus on Baby #3. I really want everything to be clean and organized and ready, but it’s so hard to do my nesting when I have so many other responsibilities.

School starts back up in ten days. It does not feel like I’ve had nearly one month of a break. I cannot believe that somehow I am supposed to keep up with the every day, my education, a new baby, a three-year old, a five-year old, and the aftermath of a failed marriage. What am I thinking?! How am I going to handle this?!

Keep breathing…that’s the first step. Keep doing what I can handle every day. Keep being the mother that I want my children to remember me being. Keep believing in myself. Keep refusing to quit. I can get through this. Maybe I will not make it to every nook and cranny of the condo, and maybe the baby gear assembling will take the back seat to sorting cloth diapers and infant clothing. The most important part is getting Baby here safely; I must remain confident that I will be able to sustain.

We’re going to make it through this okay. I would feel so much more relaxed though, if I could just dismantle that bookcase.

 

Resolutions December 31, 2012

2013 is going to be a very eventful year. My third daughter is due in February, my oldest will turn six, my second will turn four.

I will graduate from Emerson College with my master’s in Publishing and Writing, and possibly begin my career in the publishing industry.

I will continue coming to terms with myself; my failed marriage and the abuse I suffered throughout my eight year relationship transformed me. I do not consider every aspect of my marriage to have been negative. I do, however, realize that a lot of my identity was determined by my husband. If not directly, then by my attempts to conform to what I felt he requested of me.

Oftentimes I do not know if the thoughts I have are my own. Am I doing things because I like to do them or because I have been conditioned? Am I making decisions based on my attempts to keep him happy, or am I doing what’s best for my daughters and me? It would seem that with him out of the house, charged with a felony, over 1000 miles away, and unable to contact me due to the restraining order, I would have a better hold over my identity, but I don’t. Not yet.

I don’t know what type of music I like listening to anymore. I don’t if my political views are the same. I question my opinion of almost everything. I am not free if he still lives within me. I need to know what I believe. I need to relearn me. I used to be a pretty cool human being.

 

So even though the New Year’s Resolution thing is a little lame, the timing is perfect and there are several things I’d like to focus on in 2013:

Learning more about me – (outside of my relationship, even outside of being a mother)

Wearing my hair naturally – I haven’t used a relaxer (chemical straightener) for over eight years, and that transition was difficult, but I still feel discontent with the way I’ve styled my hair. I am still conforming. I am still blow drying and straightening, still damaging my curls. I would like to learn how to wear my hair in its most natural state. I know that it will take some time and I may feel intimidated by the newness of my appearance, but I believe it will pay off in the end.

Being confident -For so long I have internalized all of the negative things my husband said about me. It’s not worth listing those things, they are not true. I need to relearn my good qualities, redetermine my value, and let the beauty I have within me shine through. I was once the most fearless person in the room; I was bold without being brazen, confident but not cocky. I want to feel that certainty again. I want to exude self-confidence.

Meditating daily – Lately I try to meditate before getting out of bed in the morning and before going to sleep at night. Meditation is helping me to be at peace with things, to be positive about my future, to not be hindered by my past. I am enjoying the uplift that I get from each session and look forward to making meditation a habit.

Attaining physical fitness – I used to be incredibly fit. I could do 100 standard and 20 one-handed push-ups. I could run for hours. I had the body fat percentage of a body builder. It made me feel good to be strong and able-bodied. It gave me confidence to know that I was an animal who could protect herself from harm. I never showed off my six-pack, I didn’t even like to wear shorts. It wasn’t about the suitors I could attract with my body, it was about feeling powerful. I want to rebuild my strength. I know that I am due with my third child soon, and that I won’t be able to do everything I want to do right away, but I am setting my goals high for physical fitness and I will be working toward them in 2013.

Living more sustainably – We already make our own laundry detergent, bathroom cleaner, and dishwasher solution. We eat organic and local foods and shop our farmer’s market. I cloth diaper, breastfeed, and do lots of other crunchy things, but I’d like to start living even closer to nature. My main focus will be on the foods that we eat. I want to maximize our veggies, get better at gluten-free cooking and dive deeper into the paleo diet. I also want to be more frugal. I want to start making my own soap. I want to sew my own diapers or master EC. So many things really, but I am excited to be starting them all.

 

I don’t expect to fulfill every resolution as though they were items on my bucket list. I don’t see these objectives as things I can do and then be done with. These are aspects of my life that I want to focus on, get better at, and continue on with throughout the rest of my days.

I look forward to the new year and the things that I will accomplish in it. I know that every day will involve becoming a more complete me. Welcome 2013.