Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some parenting decisions

Michael is just over 2 years old, but I came to the realization the other week that I couldn't put off looking at preschools any longer.

And just to clarify, the big instigator in this is that we are probably going to refinance our house again to shorten the term and lower the interest rate... and before we lock ourselves into a higher payment for the next 15 or 20 years, I thought it might be good to have a grasp on some of the upcoming educational expenses we should be expecting.

We had always kinda figured that we would send him to the Catholic preschool, since we are planning on sending him to the Catholic school near us. Well, turns out, Catholic preschool is more expensive than the elementary school. A lot more actually. Surprised? I was.

I could really care less if he attends a Catholic preschool or not so I started looking into other options. I started with the Montessori schools. Then some other religious preschools. And a bunch of 'traditional' private preschools. I contacted pretty much every preschool in the area and I've been visiting them this week. 

I don't think anything will compare to the first Montessori school we visited. It was picturesque scene of tranquility and education. The materials were beautiful and perfectly arranged. This school is apparently an internationally recognized AMI school. The directress was wonderful to talk to. It was perfect.

But I think we will pass.  It's not that I wouldn't love to send Michael there, but it just doesn't fit our needs. Michael would need to go at least part day, 5 days per week. I'm not ready to have him spend that much time in "school". And there is some fundamental stuff I'm not really sure about with a strict Montessori education either... children should experience singing and show-and-tell and finger-painting and I don't think that's AMI approved. And it is rather pricey (actually it's about the same price as Catholic preschool).

In mourning my decision not to send Michael to the perfect, fancy Montessori school I had to really think about what I want for Michael.

I think experiences are more important than lesson plans at this age. Making the room in my budget for an expensive school really limits the other things I can do with him. I think it's more important for Michael to visit National Parks and see the ocean than to have a Montessori education.

I think it's more important for him to spend time with me than at school. The time will come when a 5 day a week class is appropriate, but it won't be for awhile. I know that the Montessori prepared environment is wonderful for children, but so is going to the nature center and the library and the pool. If he's with someone else 5 days a week, then he probably won't be doing much with those things with me. Being at home with him is a gift and I don't want to waste it.

With those priorities in mind, I can let go of some of the old ideals I had about what I wanted for Michael and embrace the new ones.

So I continued my search. I don't think I will find a new school that is a perfect for our needs, but I know we have several really good options still.

This is all happening so fast. Babies grow up quickly. Enjoy them while you can.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Square Foot Gardening: A new blogging cliche

Yes, add me to the list of gardeners blogging about their Square Foot Gardens.

Our house is on a small lot, but even more problematic than that, it's the side of a hill, and that just doesn't work well for gardening (at least not for me). We've kept a vegetable garden for the last couple of years at a friend's house. It was fine, until he moved. So we started again last year at his new place. And he moved again this year (to get married this time, that was the wedding we went to over the weekend). So when DH and I started talking about the garden this year, DH quickly offered up that we could garden at another friend's house. I put my foot down. I've had enough driving to other people's houses to garden. Gas is too expensive. I hate being stuck out in 100 degree weather because I don't have a house to go into and cool down (or a toilet to pee in). I wanted a garden here, and I wanted to do it my way, because row gardening kinda sucks.

Enter Square Foot Gardening (SFG). I'd encourage anyone interested to check the book out to get the overview (It's a quick read and you can skim over parts of it). And there are plenty of website explaining it too. It's pretty simple... prepare a raised bed using "Mel's Mix" and plant your plants intensively spaced in a square foot grid system. Basically, if a seed packet says to plant 4" apart, then you can put 9 of those plants in a square foot. There are some details that should be observed and a more to the concept of SFG, so do read the book, but in the end, it's pretty simple.

So after some convincing, I got my husband to at least go along with me on this project. We got nice cedar at a good price from his aunt and uncle (they mill their own wood) and my husband built the boxes and did all the digging and leveling, i.e., the hard work (isn't he good to me?). We bought the soil mix components and filled the boxes the other day. Then I planted them up.

I have no idea how this will turn out. I don't really have a green thumb, but I'm willing to try. Some of the techniques are a little foreign, like staking zucchini and squash. I'm growing some things I've never gown before and I'm not sure if I'm too late in the season for some of it (broccoli and leeks).

We have 5 beds. The top bed is 2'x4' and planted with strawberries. The next bed is 2'x4' and planted with asparagus. These two beds will remain the same from year to year (obviously). The next bed is 3'x4' and planted with zuchinni and yellow squash. Those take up quite a bit of room in a SFG, so I just have 2 planned of each and we will see how it goes. The bottom two beds are 4'x4' and have the grid placed ontop of them. Each square is planted up differently.

I made a little map to help me out.  After you harvest one square, you add some compost and you can replant it. I'm pretty excited, as long as I get some food and enjoyment out of it, it will be worth it.

I've got two little pots with nasturtium in them. Nasturtium is supposed to be a good companion for squash because it keeps the squash bugs away. My husband wonders why I didn't just plant it in the bed, but I want to be able to move it if it gets out of control.

I didn't plant any tomatoes in the SFG. I didn't want to take up room with them and I have some large containers from growing tomatoes before, so I just planted them back in those this year. I have some other containers with herbs around the house too.

The down side of the SFG is that, in my opinion, it's not especially toddler friendly. On one hand, it's extremely toddler friendly, easy to dig in, small, good demonstration garden. BUT, you aren't suppose to compact the soil and all my kid wants to do is get in there and tear it up so. I can't just let him plop down in a corner and dig to his heart's content like he could with the row garden. But I can let Michael help me water. He has a little watering can and it's a pretty good activity for him to do. Hopefully he'll get to help more as the season goes on.

I don't know if you can see it, but I've got an onion poking up. Yay! My husband still doesn't think this will work. I hope I prove him wrong.

Oh, and another part of SFG is composting. We really don't have a good place to compost but I've been thinking about it and I think verimiculture (ie, worm poop) might be the solution for us. I'm a little nervous to get started on that. Something about being responsible for a few thousand worms makes my anxiety tick up. Perhaps it's because it brings up bad memories of the fish tank I had in high school... so many innocent fish (and frogs) lost their lives in that death trap, I don't know if my heart can take more loss.  If anyone has experience with that, I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Good news

I just wanted to share this article: After IVF, some couples get pregnant without help. I saw the title and thought, "Duh," but it gives some statistics that I thought were rather uplifting. So, if you are still in the trenches, perhaps this will help you to feel a little better.

I am in the middle of a busy social season here. In the last couple of weeks we've been visiting family, a wedding, a wedding shower, and we are going to another wedding tonight (and I'm missing another wedding shower because of this wedding). We are also working on some projects around the house and I hope to share some of them with you soon.

Oh, and this is, apparently, my 600th post.