Ask, Seek, Knock

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Last night as I nursed my son to sleep, my senses dulled by darkness and the hum of the fan, I felt his hand open and close, open and close, open and close around two fingers on my left one. This movement was no longer an infant’s reflex but a repeated gesture of comfort and love. What a marvelous thing to ponder in my heart as rest overcame both of us after a hard day.

A few sermons ago our preacher chose the text in Matthew chapter seven that discusses God’s propensity to give us good gifts when we ask. Ask, seek, knock.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:

For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?

Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,

how much more shall your Father which is in heaven

give good things to them that ask him?

As I rest with my son, I dream of all the good gifts I want to instill in him and present to him. One of those good gifts is the restraint necessary, out of my parental love for him, not to give him everything he asks for. Because he is a child, unwise and unsure of this world. It is my responsibility to use his requests, in combination with the good gifts for which he doesn’t know to ask, to shape and mold him into a strong, loving, just, Christian man.

If this beautiful dynamic can be seen through myself the sinner and my tiny son with the soft, strong hands, how much more glorious is it when magnified by the love, wisdom, and providence of my Father?

A Not About Baby Post

Here’s something refreshing: a post not entirely dedicated to our new little sunshine, bundle- of-joy, sweetheart, booger boy, Michael Ryan (who is doing spectacularly, I might add).

2014 is going to be a redemption year. Late 2012 and 2013 were sprinkled with a long list of quite expensive expenses: a new roof, an ill advised koi pond project (it is pretty cool, but…), ten days in Europe, our third visit to Dry Tortugas National Park, and birthing our first baby and paying for my healthcare out of pocket. All of this minus about seven hundred dollars was paid for in full with cash,  which I commend us for, no matter how unnecessary the spending might have been in the first place. But, as you can imagine, all this checkbook action has left us depleted, to say the least. Redemption of our original plan to live within our means, nay, below our means, is sorely needed.

It is high time to get back on track.

We are about to get super serious about paying off our mortgage. This house is perfect for one baby and might be manageable with two. A third child would send us into chaos on the home front. The fact that we will need to either build here or buy something else is clear.

I will be using this blog for its original purpose again soon, I promise, as we start this serious journey of debt destruction.

Creatively titled series coming soon.

 

Review of The Bradley Method

I’ve mentioned that we were completing Bradley Method courses several times over the past few months. Our last class (party!) is Thursday, so I thought I would type up a little review of The Bradley Method of Husband-Coached Natural Childbirth.

Our midwife, Carolyn, requires all of her clients who  are experiencing their first pregnancies to complete a first time mothers’ program. This includes attending parenting classes at her home, hiring a professional doula, paying for extra midwifery support (one or two apprentices) at the delivery, and completing either Hypnobabies or The Bradley Method courses. Having done some freelance work for a hypnotherapist in the past, I knew that Hypnobabies probably wouldn’t be helpful for us. Luckily, a Bradley course is offered in Birmingham. We signed-up with a little trepidation about spending $350.00 and sacrificing our Thursday nights for three entire months.

No matter how our birth turns out, I am absolutely positive that we will not regret completing the Bradley Method training.

Here’s why:

Fellowship

When doing something a little strange like planning to pop out a child minus the socially expected cocktail of narcotics and medical interventions (or hospital, for that matter), nothing is more comforting or reassuring than sitting in a room full of like-minded people. All week long, I (and Cody, too, I’m sure) politely respond to sarcastic remarks, ignorance, dismay, and raised eyebrows about our desire to bring forth our child via a natural, unmedicated delivery. Sitting in our Bradley classroom for two hours on Thursday nights has been a welcome refuge from skepticism and negativity. We have gotten to know six other couples who desire the same type of birth as we do, have read the same books, recognize the same myths, and are making the same plans for their babies as we are. Our Bradley Method classmates are varied in their lifestyles, ages, and careers, but all feel the same way as Cody and I do about the nature of birth and the importance of planning a child’s entrance into the world and preparing the body for delivery. All of us ladies are due within a couple of months of each other. In fact, one of our classmates was in labor during our meeting Thursday night. She successfully delivered her baby girl without medication about thirty minutes after class was over. So encouraging! We connect through email and Facebook and it will be so inspiring to see beautiful, healthy Bradley babies make their entrances in the weeks and months to come.

The Bradley Instructor: Knowledge and First-Hand Experience

Cody and I both have been very impressed with our Bradley instructor. She has a four year old, two year old, and infant, all of whom were born naturally using Bradley techniques and were successfully breastfed. Enough said. The simple fact that I have this woman’s phone number on my contacts list is the source of much comfort.

Nutrition

Cody and I are very aware of the role of nutrition in a person’s overall health. This has become even more evident since I’ve become pregnant and our midwife encouraged a high-protein, high-fat diet at my first prenatal appointment (much like the Paleo diet we were already following). The Bradley Method promotes the Brewer Diet, which is basically what I had been following per Carolyn’s suggestions. The Bradley course recognizes that proper nutrition can drastically reduce a woman’s risk level during pregnancy. Most of the nutritional information covered in the course wasn’t news to me, but it was nice to have some concepts reinforced. Frankly, none of my mamma-friends seemed to have received any nutritional counseling from their OB/GYNs or at whatever hospital-sponsored childbirth classes they attended. I start talking about protein, chugging whole milk, slathering my veggies in real butter, and staying away from excess sugar and Diet Cokes and they have no idea what I am talking about. There’s more to a pregnant lady’s diet than gaining twenty pounds or less so that your pants might zip-up two weeks postpartum.

Our particular Bradley instructor’s day job is a health and nutrition educator for one of the largest hospitals in the Birmingham area. She’s very knowledgable about traditional, whole food diets and the fallacies of modern “healthy” eating strategies.

Home Birth

We are the only couple in our Bradley class planning a home birth. Several times I have sensed tinges of jealously in my classmates as I answered their questions about our experience with midwifery care. Our instructor told us that we were her first students to be planning a home birth and seems excited about hearing how the Bradley strategies perform in an out-of-hospital setting. The course material itself does a great job at addressing issues that might be encountered both in the hospital and at a home birth. I was a little worried that much of the material wouldn’t apply to us since we were the only ones who planned to birth outside of the hospital but nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the Bradley course has better prepared me and Cody to handle situations that might require us to be transferred to a hospital because we are more aware of what we might encounter there. Information is a pregnant lady’s best ally.

Husband Coached

I could talk about natural birth all day long at this point. It’s something I’ve become very passionate about because it is perhaps the most pertinent topic of conversation imaginable as I sit here thirty-six weeks pregnant and quickly approaching the delivery of my first child. Cody, on the other had, isn’t so keen on hearing or talking about vaginal exams, the horrors of transition, or the effects of epidurals on babies. Or at least he wasn’t. After sitting through nine Bradley classes (we skipped a couple) with several other husbands whose wives had drug them there and hearing all the statistics and concepts I have been chattering about repeated by a well-educated and articulate teacher, he’s more confident, informed, and truly on-board for this adventure than I ever thought he would be. I feel like Cody is better able to explain our decisions to questioning friends and family and is better able to help me make educated decisions regarding the birth of our child. As much as he hates coming straight home from work, showering, jumping in the car, and eating supper while riding down the interstate every Thursday night, I truly think he is very glad that we were required to take childbirth classes, particularly The Bradley Method course. In fact, I’ve overheard him tell several people just that. I’ll never forget him mispronouncing episiotomy during one of our first meetings and his shock when I explained to him what the procedure entailed. Ladies, your husbands need to know what an episiotomy is. And, believe it or not, they probably don’t. No one can be a better advocate for your wellbeing and the wellbeing of your child than your well-informed, well-trained “coach.”

 

Obviously, the Bradley Courses are geared towards couples who are committed to achieving a natural delivery because they feel it is the best way to bring their baby into the world. However, I honestly feel like any expecting couple, regardless of if they plan to give birth in their back yard or under general anesthesia, could benefit greatly from completing this childbirth course. The information taught will help you stay low-risk, take ownership of your birth experience, learn how different procedures affect your baby so that you can make informed decisions, help you care for your own body during pregnancy and postpartum, and strengthen your relationship with your spouse during one of the most volatile periods in a marriage. It saddens me that so many of my friends and family members who are already parents were never given the information that we have received through the Bradley Method courses. It’s truly a game changer. I cannot recommend the program highly enough.

Visit www.BradleyBirth.com to find a course offering near you.

Summertime Instagram-O-Rama

My last Instagram-o-rama post was on April 17th. If I wait another two months until the next, there’s a good chance it’ll be dominated by baby shower photos and shots of baby toes, lips, and eyelashes. Fair warning.

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A family photo for the Fourth of July

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And another showing how large our boy is getting.

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Since my thesis is on hiatus, I’ve been working a little. Hoping this here six year old Toshiba lasts just a little longer.

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Twenty weeks at Dry Tortugas on the left.  Thirty weeks on the right.

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Precious, sleepy Geoff

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Not a great deal of concern about energy conservation at this point. Seventy-two during the day and sixty-nine at night with all fans on helicopter speed.

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Lovely rainbow beans that have done marvelously. I’ve frozen around twenty quarts.

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First batch of homemade dill pickles.

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Fresh-baked zucchini bread for snacking and freezing. For this batch I used mostly molasses instead of sugar and it was wonderful.

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The garden goodness I experience every day.

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Sweet bird house my dad got me for my birthday that looks like a miniature version of our house.

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I’m 24!

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Every pregnant woman should purchase an exercise ball as soon as she gets a pink plus sign. 

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On my last trip to Chattanooga for a prenatal appointment, I stopped at a rest area and ill-advisedly got a Cherry Coke. Subconsciously, I knew I shouldn’t be drinking it and dropped the entire can all over myself and my car.

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Summertime toes that, so far, haven’t become swollen.

In Which I Get a Bit Political…

A quick glance at Facebook and ten minutes of the morning news informed me that DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act, was overturned today. I wasn’t too concerned with this tidbit of information because I was busy gassing up my vehicle, going to the bank, and driving ninety miles to Tennessee to visit my and my unborn babe’s healthcare provider.

Gay marriage honestly isn’t too high on my soap-box priority list; however, it really fires me up that so much thought, effort, concern, argument, and enthusiasm is put into the right to file a piece of paper at the courthouse (yes, I know there’s more to it than this) when I am legally forbidden from birthing my child in my home and must drive to another state to see the healthcare provider that I and my husband have decided, after much prayer and  research, is the most competent  professional to assist me in bringing forth a healthy life into this ol’ world. It disgusts me that so many resources are being wasted on this ethical battle when I must scrounge pennies to pay for cheaper and better healthcare that the health insurance I pay for out-of-pocket refuses to cover.

Does the sacred nature of birth and importance of the bond between a mother and the life which sprung from her very body not trump a volatile relationship between two adults? If two men or two women may marry  and interact as spouses in public, why am I not allowed to give birth in the privacy of my own home?

 

Pregnancy Update: Our Michael Ryan has made the big flip and is now an upside-down baby, which is a very good thing. Hopefully he will continue to hang in there like a possum for the next few months. Today was my last monthly appointment. From now on, I’ll be headed to Chattanooga every other week. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty now!

Food: 5/30- 6/6

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Since this is a post about food, I thought I’d share a little about the role food has had in my pregnancy so far. One of the many reasons I love midwifery care has been the importance my midwife places on nutrition. I haven’t had any complications so far (knock on wood) and, although I’ve started to slow down a little now that it is regularly in the 90s here in Alabama, my energy level and general feeling of well-being have been fantastic.

My midwife, Carolyn, suggests (requires, requests, urges, etc.) that I consume between 80 and 100 grams of protein per day. That’s alot, y’all. A whole lot. Some days I just can’t get it down. Other days, I surpass 100 and eat a spoonful of natural peanut butter just for fun.

A diet high in protein but low in carbs and sugars has been linked to drastically lower rates of preeclampsia and toxemia. That’s reason enough to eat a little meat at each meal. In addition, when you’re eating as much protein as I am, there’s little room for drive-thru chili cheese fries a la Kim Kardashian or bags of Doritos. Of course I indulge, I’m pregnant! But I’ve found that what I really crave are the foods my body needs to grow this child inside me. Never in my life have I drank glasses of (whole) milk but without at least one or two a day I feel malnourished. At twenty-five weeks, I’ve gained 11-ish pounds. I’ve had no swelling, no body aches, very few headaches, no nausea since about 12 weeks, no blood pressure issues, no kidney infections or UTIs,  precious little heartburn, and one very active baby.

My meal plans don’t quite give you a good idea about what I actually eat everyday because I’m eating four or five mini-meals instead of the three listed (these are primarily for Cody). For example, I usually have a glass of milk or orange juice and maybe half of a bacon, egg, and cheese on whole wheat sandwich thins when Cody eats breakfast at 6:30 a.m. I usually sneak back in bed after he leaves until 9:30 a.m. or so and eat again when I wake back up. Milk or juice, ice water, maybe some fruit, and the other half of my first breakfast are the usual second breakfast. I’ll have a snack sometime around 11:00 a.m., often involving peanut butter or Greek yogurt (14 grams of protein in a Chobani!). I’ve been eating lunch a little later in the day now and it usually involves a steamed vegetable of some sort and fruit or maybe leftovers from the night before. I’ll eat another protein-rich snack mid-afternoon, often something cheesy. Supper is whatever is listed on my menu plan and is often a last-ditch effort to rack up on my protein for the day. If I haven’t done very well, I’ll eat another protein rich snack or “dessert” after supper. Maybe a banana with peanut butter, fruit, a yogurt, or a glass of milk with an ice-cold red apple. Cookies and milk are another favorite. The few times indigestion has hit have been after I’ve eaten junk or bread late in the evening, so I try not to eat too much after 8:00 p.m.

Who knows how my body will handle this last and, from what I hear, hardest trimester. Nevertheless, a focus on protein, fresh produce, whole fat dairy, and a small daily dose of whole grains has really paid off for me so far. I feel like my body is getting everything it needs to grow my child and build up my strength for labor and a long and abundant breastfeeding relationship. I strongly encourage anyone who is preparing to conceive or who is pregnant to think carefully about your diet. Not for the purpose of gaining the perfect 20 pounds so that the baby weight melts away quickly, but because it is one thing that you have the most control over during pregnancy that yields the greatest and most remarkable results when attended to carefully and purposefully. Instead of focusing on not eating that whole package of Oreos that you just can’t get out of your mind (I’ve been there), focus on stuffing in all the good stuff that you haven’t included in your meals that day. More often than not, I am thinking about what I haven’t yet eaten on a given day than regretting what I have.

Just a little hormonal rant. I’m off to eat a plate of roast beef. Here’s our frugal-midwife’sfeeissoondue-Ineedtobuyclothdiapers-ohmygoodness-he’llbeherebeforeweknowit-meal plan for next week. Notice the protein 🙂

Thursday
Breakfast-eggs and orange slices, green smoothies
Lunch- tuna salad with lettuce, apple, Greek yogurt
Supper- steakfingers in coconut oil with turnip greens and corn on the cob

Friday
Breakfast-bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on whole wheat thins
Lunch-leftovers with salad, boiled eggs, grapes, bananas
Supper-pinto beans, ham, fried corn bread, fried zucchini

Saturday
Breakfast-bacon and eggs
Lunch-family reunion (make double batch of banana pudding and fruit pizza)
Supper-grilled Dale’s chicken with baked potatoes and salad

Sunday
Breakfast-sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwiches on whole wheat thins
Lunch-Ranch chicken salad with carrots, lettuce, chips
Supper- Paleo chicken fried “rice” with veggies (use leftover chicken)

Monday
Breakfast- cheesy eggs with fruit
Lunch- leftovers, oranges, grapes
Supper- whole wheat spaghetti with meat sauce

Tuesday
Breakfast- bacon and eggs
Lunch- tuna salad with peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole wheat thins
Supper- fried pork chops in coconut oil, honey mustard roasted red potatoes, green beans

Wednesday
Breakfast- bacon and eggs
Lunch- leftovers
Supper- homemade chicken nuggets in coconut oil with English peas and potatoes

Thursday
Breakfast- bacon and eggs with fruit
Lunch- leftover chicken on salad with boiled eggs

Instagram-o-rama springtime edition + others

 

 

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Easter Sunday

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Seventeen Weeks

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Sticky niece and nephew on a sunshiny day

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Now that I’m in my second trimester, my midwife recommends that I consume 100 grams of protein per day (protein-rich diets during pregnancy are linked with lower occurences of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and low birth weight). That’s a lot of meat and milk, y’all. This was my record a few weeks ago. I’ve since hit 104.

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What would a picture post be without at least one of our Geoff?

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Michael Ryan’s closet is filling up.

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Finally, we’re getting our mud hole pond somewhere close to presentable. The hollyhock and hostas I dug from our ditch.

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“Hey Cody. I think there’s a crawfish in the pond.” I poke a stick into a hole in the rocks. “I see whiskers!” Giant catfish darts out from hole. Cody stands in awe of his super-duper wife who found a mystery catfish in his koi pond.

Seriously though. We have no idea how this got in. The only people who might have tossed it in as a joke were just as surprised as we were (and probably wouldn’t have done it anyways for fear that it would eat our expensive koi). The other possibility is that a catfish egg got transplanted via bird back in the fall and grew to enormous proportions over the winter.  Nevertheless, he got relocated to a nearby pond and no koi or goldfish were lost. Any ideas?

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Crabapple blossom

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This is what my precious husband has been doing every evening this week. Notice the taped-up, blistered hands.

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We’ve planted: nine tomato plants, fourteen pepper plants, six mounds of squashes, five rows of beans, five mounds of cucumbers, one row of sunflowers, one row of marigolds (supposedly they dispel pests), and two rows of okra. Another row of okra and five rows of corn and we will be finished with planting for now.

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Heirloom Beefsteak, Early Girl, Better Boy

Sweet Banana, Cayenne, Green Bell, Red Bell

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So far, it looks quite neat and very Martha Stewart-ish

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See?

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Yesterday, our sweet neighbor brought over her “leftovers,” which was basically Thanksgiving dinner. With peach cobbler.

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The McNuggets have moved up to the big pen. Thirty-two remain, with one perpetually injured because of his lack of social skills and so confined to a box on the deck where he has forgotten that he is a chicken. They’re now about nine weeks old and really putting down the feed. The White Leghorns have outgrown all of the assorted heavies and will likely be ready for butchering much sooner.

follow me @meaganleap

 

On Children, Education, and Vacations

Having a baby and becoming a parent is a milestone that is accompanied by lots and lots of anxiety about the future and prematurely made decisions about one’s offspring’s course of life. Or so my husband tells me. It may be the hormones, but lately I’ve been contemplating how I want to educate my children.

I have a background in education. In fact, I intended to become an English teacher for much of my undergraduate career. I’ve completed countless undergraduate and graduate level education courses on everything from reading in specific content areas to classroom management skills. I’ve observed and completed practicum hours in a variety of classrooms, both rural and urban. I was a substitute teacher for several years, often filling-in for teachers on long-term leaves that required me to function as an autonomous teacher myself. In other words, I’m not going into this topic blindly. I’m not going into it necessarily bitter either, because my K-12 educational experience wasn’t terrible and, on the surface, it prepared me for college and what most people expect to be the normal course of adult life.

Nevertheless, I’ve know for a couple of years now that I would like to investigate the option of homeschooling our children when the time comes. Cody has finally gotten used to me talking about this semi-taboo subject and at least ignores me now, which I consider to be his coming around to the idea.

The best way I know to explain why in the world I would like to take upon myself the burden pleasure of educating our children is this…

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This is a picture of me and Cody at Dry Tortugas National Park, by far our favorite place in the entire world (so far) and one that we plan to continue to visit as often as possible for the foreseeable future. I’ve shared our experience at this beautiful piece of paradise before and we leave again in just a few weeks for our third annual trip.

It is a top priority for me as a parent and potential home educator to share this type of experience with my children. I firmly believe that investing our money, time, and energy into excursions such as this would reap much richer educational rewards than baseball, winter formals, and SGA elections.

Depending on the age of the child, here are some possible lessons that could be compiled into a four day trip to this magnificent location:

1. Budgeting and Math: It costs money to leave home and travel hundreds of miles into the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Whether it be setting a goal for a young child’s spending money or allowing an older child to help me plan our family vacation budget, travel offers an opportunity for children to learn how to budget, compare prices and deals, and plan ahead. For more advanced learners, the construction of Fort Jefferson displays amazing feats of architecture and brickwork that would initiate conversations on geometry, construction, financing, advanced shapes, etc.

2. Calendars, Time, Distance, Longitude, Latitude, Speed, Etc.: Looking forward to an upcoming trip offers a chance to teach a young child to use a calendar and recognize days of the week, months of the year, etc.; planning an itinerary could facilitate a lesson on time; air, car, and boat travel could be used to compare modes of transportation and ways of measuring speed; trekking to remote locations offers a chance to use a GPS and learn about distances.

3. Geography: Most people have no idea that DTNP exists and that Key West is not, in fact, the end of the Florida Keys. Let’s learn to read a map, kiddos!

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4. History- This is the biggie.

Lesson #1:The ferry ride to Dry Tortugas includes a really cool video about someone finding treasure in the Keys in the 1980s and recounts several stories of Spanish ship-faring in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (there is a museum in Key West that displays many of the artifacts that were found).

Lesson #2: Fort Jefferson was built prior to and during the Civil War but was never used in battle. What is the Civil War and why would they need a fort way out here?

Lesson #3: The physician who set the leg of John Wilkes Booth, Dr. Samuel Mudd, was imprisoned in Fort Jefferson after President Lincoln was assassinated. What events led to Lincoln’s death? What is an assassination?

Lesson #4: What are barracks, cannons, muskets, etc. and how were they used? (many of these items are housed in DTNP’s visitor’s center).

I could go on and on…

5. Science- Another biggie.

Lesson #1: What are coral reefs and how do they form?

Lesson #2: What is a cistern and how does it work?

Lesson #3: Why are some animals endangered and how are they protected? (part of the island is reserved as a bird sanctuary for a variety of endangered and formerly endangered fowl, the park has a program for capturing and destroying non-native lionfish, and sea turtles and their protected nests are a common sight)

Lesson #4: the tide and the moon

Lesson #5: How a composting toilet works.

Lesson #6: Oh my goodness at the sea life- let’s identify, compare and contrast, talk about what they eat and how we might know that, crustaceans vs. mammals vs. fish…

Lesson #7: constellations and planets

Lesson #8: How does a lighthouse work?

Lesson #9: heat, humidity, weather, etc.

Lesson #10: How does disease spread? What was medicine like in the nineteenth century?

Lesson #11: How does an airplane stay in the air?

6. Communication skills: Have an older child call and make a reservation via phone or write a confirmation email. Complete an online form for a Florida fishing license. Participate in the NPS’s Junior Ranger Program. Ask a fisherman or sailboat owner where he or she is traveling next. Introduce oneself to fellow campers. Entertain oneself without TV, radio, internet, etc. Sit quietly on a plane. Order from a restaurant independantly.

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7. Life skills: (disclaimer: this is not an intro to The Winningham’s Guide to Prepping, but it is good to know how to keep yourself fed and safe in a variety of environments and situations) Transporting water, how to cook without electricity, how to pack a cooler, how to not die of sun exposure, how to stay hydrated, how to keep you body semi-clean without a bath or shower, how to catch and clean fish, how to set-up a tent, how to stay comfortable without air conditioning, how to pack a suitcase, time management and responsibility (for example: Yes, son, you may go look for the crocodile but you need to report back to the campsite in fifteen minutes. Make sure you have your watch on and keep an eye on the time.)

8. Toddler and Preschool Activities: practicing letters in the sand, identifying colors, learning to eat at a table in preparation for the exciting upcoming trip, swimming lessons, sensory play, learning to wear a hat and sunscreen (from what I have observed, these seem to be HUGE obstacles for parents with little tots- why not have literal lessons beforehand so that the child knows what to expect?)

9. Physical Education: swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, nighttime walks around the moat with headlamps, Frisbee/ volleyball on the grounds of the fort, re-enactment of a soldier’s march atop the fort

10. Reading: The visitor’s center has binders full of letters written by nineteenth century soldiers who were stationed at the fort as well as the famous Dr. Mudd. The fort’s giant windows offer cool places for independent reading during the heat of the day.

I must stop myself.

I would love to center much of our children’s education on two or three trips like this one to DTNP each year. A (traditional) semester of school coursework could easily be constructed around such an adventure and would incorporate so much more than simple math and reading skills (what much of our schools’ curriculum is focused on, despite the push for more advanced math and science). Frankly, I don’t care if my child doesn’t know the anatomy of a cell. If he or she wants to be a nurse, textbooks are available and can be read independently when they old enough, interested enough, and have the reading skills necessary to quickly absorb such information because it is pertinent to their interests. What I do want for my children is a well-rounded and insightful understanding of the world in which they live, a set of practical skills that will help them be self-sufficient and independent no matter their course in life, a general understanding of a wide array of topics so that they can participate in and contribute to conversations with people from all types of backgrounds (including adults and older children), an understanding and appreciation of nature in all its forms, and a love for learning not because it results in As on their report cards and a five dollar bill from Dad, but because it enriches their lives and excites them.

Yes, this desire to homeschool is absolutely about control over my children. I want to guide them to all the wonderful experiences, places, and ideas out there to which they would not otherwise be exposed if they spent nine months out of the year immersed in our standard educational system. Here, child, let mama buy you a book about sea life or a poster that displays bear species or a map of the constellations or a set of binoculars or a book about fashion in the Colonial period instead of a video game or a new shirt for picture day. I want a home filled with collections of five cent post cards, sea shells, and maps not Barbie dolls and Disney movies. Let us be poor. Let us be unpopular. But also let us be true learners.