Nepal :: Virtual Field Trip

I am delighted. Another homeschool mom organizes a Geography Club similar to the way I had organized Passports Club in central Oregon.  She hosts a gathering in her home once a month, invites the children to give presentations on the country selected for that month, and encourages families to bring a dish from that region to share.  The focus in October was on Nepal and we were fortunate to have two guest speakers … Gyan (a native to Nepal) who now resides here in Northern California and Ana (a native to Costa Rica who has climbed Mt. Everest).  
Gyan speaking to us of the Gurkha soliders, young Nepalese who are trained by the British. 

Gyan spoke to us of his childhood and of how much education is valued in Nepal. He reminded us of how fortunate we are in the United States and how many take our opportunities for granted.  He spoke of the poverty and stated that girls in Nepal do not get a formal education, though this is slowly changing, particularly in urban cities.  He also stated that many young Nepalese men serve in the military.  
Ana speaking of her climbing expedition in May of 2011.
Ana spoke of her expedition and attempt to summit Mt. Everest earlier this year.  She shared with us a slideshow showcasing man photographs from her expedition and talked about the many perils that face the climbers.  We were enthralled by her presentation and had many questions.  She had brought with her a small rock that she passed around for all to touch.
I got to touch Mt. Everest!!!  Well, a rock from 21,000 feet .. the highest point Ana has reached (thus far).
After the presentations, we enjoyed the food that everyone had brought to share.  We were encouraged to eat the many dal dishes in the Nepalese manner … with our fingers rather than forks or spoons.  Dal refers to the thick stew prepared from lentils, peas, and beans – an important part of Indian, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi cuisine.  Dal is a ready source of proteins for a balanced diet containing little or no meat.  It was a little strange to eat in this manner .. many of us felt uncomfortable as we’ve become so accustomed to using utensils. 
Buddy eating dal and rice in the Nepalease manner.
I asked if Gyan might have a friend or family member that could send us a postcard.  Instead, he allowed us to pick from a stack of postcards he had brought along for the occasion.  I thereby don’t have a postage stamp … but a las, I share with you the card I selected.
Gyan gave us a postcard … this is the one I selected.
 The postcard album notebook pages the kiddos completed.
We returned home and soon thereafter completed the notebook pages for our Postcard Album. Of note, Nepal is the only country in the world whose flag is not rectangular and the nation’s flower is rhododendron – my mother’s favorite. 

Birth & Midwifery

For the past few years, my kiddos have been interested in the birth process due in part to the fact that one of my best friends, Aubrey Anselmo, is a Birth Doula and Midwife Apprentice.  Whenever we get together, the conversation at some point always turns to birth and pregnancy.  I love to listen to her share the stories of the home births she has had an opportunity to take part. 

When I was pregnant with my first, I wanted an at home, water birth.  My husband, on the other hand, was adamantly opposed.  He is a healthcare professional … so it comes as no surprise.  Unfortunately, at the time, I didn’t know a doula or midwife … had not known anyone who had had a home birth … and was thereby unable to persuade him otherwise. 

I won’t go into detail here with my birth story, but I will say that it was traumatic and life threatening to both me and my child.  I feel very strongly that had I had a doula or midwife by my side … particularly as this was my first – the problems that arose would not have.  My husband feels the same.  There were so many miscommunications … so many errors on the part of the hospital staff.  As a result of this experience – I have longed for closure.  For healing.  I think that is why I am so keen to listen to the stories that Aubrey shares.

 As she talks, my munchkins inevitably always have questions and I’ve come to discover – due to my own childbirth experiences – my daughter, specifically, has developed a sense of fear.  “I don’t want to have kids, Mom.  I’m scared; I know it will hurt!”    I thereby knew some education was in order … and if my kiddos were interested, so too, were others.

Thus …. yesterday afternoon, I opened up my home to my Aubrey and Tiffany Sutphin of Beautiful Blessings Midwifery and the families of my Roots & Shoots club.  My goal simply to allow the children an opportunity to ask questions in the hope that their fears and misconceptions would diminish.   Aubrey and Tiffany opened up the discussion by first playing a video for us …

From there, the kids gradually felt more comfortable talking and inquiring about the birth process.  As usual, they take time to digest information … so I look forward to the future discussions we will undoubtedly have.  This morning, in fact, as I was typing up this post, MeiLi and I watched a childbirth video that celebrated the miracle of childbirth.  Though I am not able to have another child, a choice I made after my second was born – I look forward to a more natural birth process when I become a grandmother.