What I’m Into: August 2015

Felix 9 mosFelix, 9 months

Lydia strawberryLydia dressed “as a strawberry”

For those who have been following our story, August was split into two distinct parts. The first half of August we continued to spend in the hospital, as follow-up for Felix’s gene therapy in July. But halfway through the month he was discharged and we got to come home!

Life at home has been absolutely wonderful. Felix is still in isolation (and will remain that way for at least the next four to six months), but it feels delightfully normal after all that time in the hospital. He’s doing great — he’s really getting the hang of solids (and he loves them!), and he’s still just such a chill baby. He wakes up once at night (usually), which is amazing. We’ve been spending plenty of time with Lydia, who has already had a few sleepovers.

package

And I have to mention this amazing package I received from Molly (of Molly Makes Do). It made my week. I can’t decide whether I’m in more awe of her talent or her generosity. Looks at those gorgeous yarns, those hand-knit doll clothes, that lovely fabric!! (The doll was already ours, I was just so excited to see the sweater on her.) And on top of that, she made this:

cross stitchCan you even believe it? I am so framing it and putting it on our gallery wall.

Life is good, you guys. So good.

Here’s what I’ve been into.

Knitting

Before I get to books, I want to say that I didn’t get a lot of reading done this month because I was too busy knitting.  I learned how to knit last month, and I spent this month (obsessively) learning how to do slightly more advanced knitting.

I learned how to make grandmother’s favourite dishcloth which was very satisfying.

dishcloth

I also completed this baby sweater for Felix which was an absolute thrill. (I did this while still in the hospital. Unfortunately, it ended up being too small, so will have to go to another baby.)

sweater

sweater felix

The details of this sweater are on Ravelry (which makes me a real knitter, I think). I want to highlight that this pattern uses extra-bulky yarn, which is awesome for a beginner because it knits up so quickly! I did it in like three days! I highly recommend it.

Books

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown — I definitely agree with and appreciate the general philosophy of Essentialism — that there’s value in doing less, but doing it better and with more focus. It’s basically minimalist living for your brain/time/energy. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a whole lot of practical advice in this book until I got to the end — I was just like, “Yes! I agree with all this! I want this for my life!” And even more unfortunately, my library loan time ran out just when it was getting interesting. I’ll have to wait until it’s my turn again before I can finish it (and I definitely want to!).

Kids’ Books

Little You by Richard Van Camp — The amazing woman who runs the Family Resource Center at the London Hospital gave us this little board book as a gift. I can’t get through the dang thing without crying. The poetic text is spare but deeply moving. The illustrations of the little hipster family are gorgeous. Even Felix (at nine months) seems drawn to it.

Little You

“Feel our love as we hold you tight.” I CANNOT EVEN.

Movies

Hector and the Search for Happiness (Netflix) – a little predictable and trite, but Simon Pegg is so utterly charming and delightful to watch I could forgive all.

In a World (Netflix) — Bizarre and hilarious. Lake Bell is spectacular, and Demetri Martin is surprisingly believable and adorable. A smart and delightful exploration of female identity in a chauvinistic world, fidelity and sisterhood. The dialogue is brilliant and I loved it.

The Giant Mechanical Man (Netflix) — I thought it would be weird to see Pam Beesley and Danny Castellano fall in love and it was. This movie had SO much potential to charm. But the dialogue was flat and unconvincing, and unfortunately Jenna Fischer totally drops the ball. (I’m talking Kristen Stewart-level acting. I KNOW.) She’s amazing as Pam, but this character was kind of a bummer.

Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation — We saw this when we went out for out tenth anniversary. LOVED IT!! The opening scene is magnetizing and the fun never stops. The action is thrilling and the characters are lovable. And I actually really liked the female character, which is so rare in an action film. She’s awe-inspiring without being a machine with boobs (a la Trinity from The Matrix). Come to think of it, there’s like no focus on her boobs. Unprecedented!

Television

Wet Hot American Summer (Netflix Original Series) — We’re still not sure how we feel about this one. (We’re about 6 episodes in). It’s OVER-THE-TOP ridiculous. Everything is a joke. If you’ve seen a comedy in the last year, the actors are probably in this show. Everybody is in this show. There’s more crude language than we would like, but also a lot of laughs. Hmm.

Last Week Tonight — I am recently obsessed with this show. I was vaguely aware of John Oliver before, but our doctor recommended we watch the episode on Food Waste and we’ve been hooked ever since. He’s brilliant, hysterically funny, and often convicting. I want to watch everything he’s ever produced. They’re all fantastic, but I particularly enjoyed the one on Fashion. (Language warning.)

That’s what I’ve been into!

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Linking up with Leigh Kramer!

Back Home Again.

These last few days have been some of the happiest of my life.

going home(Getting ready to go home)

On Friday Felix was discharged from the hospital after 41 days. (Which is nothing compared to the 149 we did the first time.) It was a week after I gave him his last ADA injection. (He’d been receiving them twice a week for the last seven months.) Hooray!

We’d been waiting on some final blood work to see whether it was safe to bring him home. The results we got Friday morning were far, FAR above our expectations. (So much so that at first we were convinced it had to be an error.) The most important news we got was that Felix’s corrected cells have engrafted. His body is making its own ADA! The gene transfer is working!! (We won’t know whether the therapy was truly effective, however, for another four or five months). If we had the time and weren’t in isolation, I would totally have organized a party.

Our primary doctor was about to head out for vacation so she was particularly thrilled — after delivering the news she blew out of there with a huge weight off her shoulders. We walked out a few hours later without a note of fanfare.

Once again, I discovered that being home was even more wonderful than I’d anticipated. Our home is just so beautiful and cozy and perfect. (Even with half the siding missing.) I love it.

Felix is doing better than ever now that he’s home — his sleeping and eating have been fantastic. I feel like he’s already making progress developmentally after just a couple of days. He can always tell when we’re happy.

Sunday we celebrated Lydia’s fourth birthday at my in-laws’. We had a barbecue and I made my signature chick pea chocolate cake with beet cream cheese icing. Lydia had a ton of fun in the kiddie pool with her cousins and friend. It was a holy day.

lydia's fourth birthday

birthday celebration

The following day, her actual birthday, I was able to go to my parents’ house in the evening and put her to bed. What a gift it was to braid her hair, read her Bible story, and kiss her cheeks before tucking her into bed.

Ben and I also quietly celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary this weekend. We’re hoping to go out for dinner and a movie yet sometime this week. Ten years!! can you believe it?

I’ve done plenty of things wrong in my lifetime, but marrying Ben is the one thing I know I did right.

At home, I’m going crazy trying to reorganize our home for when we all live here together. I love it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone, for helping make this week happen. Your prayers, financial support, and emotional support (and Ontarians — your taxes!!) helped bring us here.

I am forever grateful.

Why We’re Not Doing Preschool With Our Four-Year-Old This Fall

Why We're Not Sending our Child to Preschool“Is she starting school this fall?”

“Oh, no. She’ll only be four in August.”

This is how many conversations have gone over the last year about our daughter. But after enough confused looks at my response, I finally started to realize something. These days, it’s normal for kids in North America to start school when they’re four. Even when moms stay at home with the kids.

I honestly didn’t know that before this summer. I thought five was still the standard age to start formal education (that’s when I started school), and that preschool was just free daycare for working moms if they wanted to take advantage of it. What confused me most, then, were families who did something called “home school preschool.” What? What does that even mean?

I imagine the only difference between “home school preschool” and “just being at home with mom/dad” is the addition of some formal lessons to the daily routine. Worksheets and the like. Probably primarily in reading and math. That sounds all right.

I just don’t plan on doing it.

Here are a few reasons why we’re not going to bother with preschool for our four-year-old.

  • I’m planning on home schooling. I’m planning on being at home with my kids regardless. So there’s no pressure to start anything official this year. And if I don’t need to go through the effort of planning and organizing a curriculum for another year, I’m not going to. I’ve got enough going on this year. (To be fair, I’m interested in unschooling, so I might never do a curriculum or formal lessons. I haven’t decided yet. But I especially won’t be doing them before our daughter is at least five.)
  • Kids in some of the highest-ranking countries for educational outcomes don’t start formal lessons until the age of seven. In fact, some researchers believe that pushing children to read too early (i.e. by five) can be detrimental to their academic outcomes. At the very least, it can’t hurt her to wait. I’m going to follow the lead of educators in Finland and elsewhere and wait a few years with the reading and math lessons. (Though I’ll definitely explore reading and math with her, casually, if she’s interested.)
  • Instead, kids (of all ages but especially before seven) need plenty of free play time. Time for running around, climbing things, dressing up their dolls and teddy bears, dancing, drawing, painting, and listening to stories. I can provide all that at home. (And in order to make sure she gets time to play with other kids, I plan on doing lots of outings with friends, trips to the park, and hopefully swimming and music lessons, too.)

playing

  • Through informal games, activities and conversations, Lydia already has lots of fundamental reading and math skills under her belt. She knows that letters make sounds which form words, and she knows what a lot of those sounds are. She can count and do some basic adding and subtracting (“I ate one of the three bananas. How many are left?”). Anything academic she’d learn at preschool she already knows. So I’m not worried at all that she’ll fall “behind” her peers academically (although that shouldn’t really matter. Life is not a competition. But she’s my first child, so of course I secretly kind of care.)

So we’re just going to skip the academics this year. I am not even a tiny bit worried that she will miss out on learning opportunities. She can learn all she needs through play at home.

P.S. – I just happened to stumble across this article on Slate before publishing mine and thought I’d share it: If you are reading this article, your kid probably doesn’t need preschool.