Vowel sounds relay

Looking at Simon’s writing these days it is apparent he could use a little more help in phonemics and vowel sound variability.  I set up a little relay for him and we found a way to incorporate Owen.  There are no pictures of the activity itself as Simon was in his usual school “uniform” of underwear!

I wrote down vowel combinations on cards and then wrote down a list of words on cards that used those combinations.  I set the vowel sounds on one shelf in the kitchen and the words on the table.  Simon started on the opposite side of the kitchen.  I told Simon the vowel sound, whispered the word to Owen, who shouted it to Simon.  Simon then went to the shelf with the vowel sound cards and had to choose the correct card, next he took it over to the table and picked out the word Owen had called out.  He brought them over to me to check.  Several times he realized he had the wrong vowel combination when he went to look for the words.

I think it was a pretty fun way to work on a concept that Simon would otherwise avoid.  Owen is happy to get involved however he can.  We tried to do a letter recognition relay with Owen afterwards but he wasn’t as excited and wanted to identify numbers instead.

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Writing with a quill pen!

Simon has been interested in making ink and writing with a quill pen for quite some time now.  I can’t recall exactly where the idea started.  Perhaps from the Little House on the Prairie books we have been listening to in the car.  We finally found a good source of feathers at our friend’s house and so the project began.  We watched a few youtube videos on how to make a quill pen.  One was very complicated and seemed impossible for us to do, but we continued to search and found a really easy tutorial.  We made up some simple  berry ink and voila…writing with a quill pen.  We used some old frozen raspberries and blueberries for our ink.  The color starts out as a marvelous magenta and as it dries it turns a lovely midnight blue color.  I myself am just fascinated and plan to write some inspirational signs for around the house with the ink.  We have also started to research other forms of writing and the development of pen technology!

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It’s hard to find a title for these posts…

I’ve been trying to get up the gumption to write more about mental illness but I get stuck on the title.  I guess that’s probably a sure sign that I’m worried about what people will think.  That in turn is a sure sign that it’s hard to talk about mental illness and even though I’m committed to getting it out there I’m still really nervous when it comes to writing it down in actual public words.

Today I’d like to talk to you about depression and hormones surrounding weaning.  Most of us should are aware of post-partum depression and the challenges it presents to new mothers and families.  But did you know that mothers can experience a very similar type of depression following weaning their child from breastfeeding?

I always assumed there would naturally be sadness following weaning a child, but all out depression or wacky hormonal craziness I had not thought of.  After weaning Simon I felt pretty rough for a while but figured it was just “normal” and he had stopped napping around the same time so I figured I was just extra stressed.  Then last year a friend went through a really difficult ordeal after weaning her daughter.  She would tell me she felt downright crazy, crying one moment, ready to yell the next.  She had trouble sleeping and even functioning.  Everything felt like a struggle.  Luckily she had a good support system and was aware of what was happening and sought help.  Her experience had me worried about what would happen when I weaned Owen.

Last week I got to find out what would happen.  Owen hadn’t nursed for about 3 weeks and I was doing pretty well.  Then I suddenly felt like I had the worst case of PMS ever.  I was yelling (inside my car) at people in the parking lot over nothing more than them standing near my car when I was backing up.  I was yelling at the kids for the most minor of infractions.  Then I would have moments where I was just stuck, stuck sitting on the side of the bed in the morning, stuck sitting in my chair after lunch.  I just couldn’t make myself move.  Of course I eventually did, but I wasn’t happy about it!  Every small task seemed like it was too much work and not worth doing anyway.  The real kicker was when I went out shopping at Target one evening.  I got out of the car and was looking around feeling like I was not even part of myself.  It felt almost like people could see through me, could see the pain inside, could see how hard it was for me to just put one foot in front of the other.  I kept looking around as I walked through the store, wondering what people must be thinking.  Needless to say I didn’t stay long.  I came home and that night made sure to tell my husband I was not doing so well with the hormonal shift.  There were a couple more tough days, feeling more sad and listless than angry and then I felt better.

I don’t know if it’s gone or if it will be back.  But what I do know is that I want you to know about it.  Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends.  Please educate yourselves on the emotions and hormones that surround pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and weaning.  Our society does not value the “mother” enough.  We expect women to “get through” pregnancy and birth, not relish in it and savor the experience, learning from it.  Then we expect them to “get their body back” and “get back to work” whatever that work may be soon after birth.  We do not provide enough support for breastfeeding mothers.  Then we are rushed to wean our babies because “if they can ask for it, they don’t need it.” We don’t take into consideration the tremendous changes a woman’s body and mind undergo during all these events.  It is a true shame that there is not more collective knowledge of these matters that can be passed from woman to woman.  I am fortunate to be a part of a wonderful tribe of women both here in Chattanooga and back in Chapel Hill.  These women are here to love one another, support one another and share whatever parts of their experiences they can in order to make someone else’s life as a mother easier.  Please join us and spread the word and the love.

Counting flowers!

A simple but fun activity I made for Owen(3) this morning.  I drew flowers (1-10) on separate sheets then made little number cards.  He had to count the flowers and then find the correct corresponding number and place it in the square at the top of the card.  Then for more practice he would count out the same number of math blocks and put those on the card too.  He enjoyed 1-5 and as I was making 6-10 he moved on to something else.   


I said I would do it…but where do I begin?

Mental illness…there are many types and I’m no expert on any of them.   My blog series will focus mainly on depression because it is so common and so misunderstood.  We seem to be having a bit of an epidemic.  More and more young people are taking their lives, more middle aged people are retreating into their homes, blocking off the chance to get help and continue enjoying their lives.  If you are lucky enough to not suffer from depression, please take this opportunity to learn more so you can help someone else, or be prepared in case it hits you someday too.

Recent (and not so recent, but practically ignored until now) research suggests that depression is caused by inflammation.  Wow!  That’s exciting right?  Not some crazy combo of chemicals messed up in our brains?  Don’t get too excited just yet. This inflammation can be caused by all sorts of different things some of which seem like a chicken and egg scenario to me.  I won’t try to explain the science but I’ll offer you these links:  http://chriskresser.com/is-depression-a-disease-or-a-symptom-of-inflammation and http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/04/depression-allergic-reaction-inflammation-immune-system and http://www.feelguide.com/2015/01/06/new-research-discovers-tha-depression-is-an-allergic-reaction-to-inflammation/

The question posed in one of the articles brings up a good point.  If depression is really caused by something in our body more so than in our brain can the stigma be lifted?  It wasn’t lifted when the cause was thought to be a chemical imbalance instead of demons or whatever they must have believed before that.  I believe the stigma can only be lifted when we realize it could be any of us.  When we realize that it’s not just a “mood”, a “slump”, a “rough patch”.  For some, sure this may be true, it may be just a bit of a rough patch where you experience some symptoms of depression and can get back on track.  For many though it is not that at all.

Whatever causes it, depression is real, there is no denying that.  One cannot simply “snap out of it.” When those of us afflicted by depression are given the impression that you think we can “snap out of it”, it makes it even worse.  Because we start to believe that too and then that adds more stress (inflammation) and more depression follows.

Another really unhelpful argument we often get offered:  You shouldn’t be sad…look how much worse “person/group X” has it…be grateful you aren’t them.  Saying this is like telling someone they shouldn’t be happy about something because there is someone who is happier.  If you think we haven’t already felt guilty about feeling shitty when there are sooooo many people who are worse off than us, think again.  We’ve thought it, it has brought on guilt and stress which then adds…yep you guessed it…more depression.

I think I’ll stop there for today.  If you would like to share your story with the public, please let me know.  I would love to feature some real life stories to help educate those who have not suffered or been close to someone who has suffered from depression before.