Sunday, March 10, 2013

T is for Transformation

Wow! It has been a long time since I have written and how our world has changed... After my wonderful experience at Kripalu the law of attraction became a positive reality for me. On a whim I responded to a post on the Today show about co-sleeping with your toddlers. There was a new study out that was saying that maybe co-sleeping didn't actually create trouble with your children after all... I commented in a snarky way and minutes later was contacted in my message box by a producer from the show! She said she wanted to speak with me via phone to see if our family would be appropriate to interview. To make a long story short this conversation turned into a full on on-camera interview in our home slated for Monday (it was Saturday)! This launched me into a full scale cleaning extravaganza and my children, husband and myself being seen on national television. We were a little unsure of which way they were going to spin it but Dr. Nancy Snyderman was actually quite supportive. It was really quite beautiful. While we were still on a high from this whirlwind summer, my husband got the news that his job was going to be cut by ten hours come December 2011. We had already been stretching it with his full time pay and although our family is very resourceful there was just no way we could survive on that salary. I began to seek full time employment and can to the realization that though I loved to stay home, I had the college degree. Toby and I agreed that whoever found a job that was the best option first would be the one to go to work. After a few dead end interviews I ended up being approached by the organization I was working for per diem. The executive director was ready to retire and had been for over a year. They had been searching for a replacement the year before but I was homeschooling and had just had the baby so it wasn't even on my radar. Needless to say the timing was impeccable and the job has been the greatest blessing for our family to date. I am the Executive Director of an agency who helps connect families of children with special needs in Oneonta, NY. Family Resource Network, Inc. is an amazing place filled with amazing people and has afforded my husband the opportunity to stay home with our children, garden, write and explore his own interests once again. I am currently trying to convince him to start a secular daddy homeschooling blog in his "spare" time hehe! We will keep you posted...

Monday, August 29, 2011

H is for Honored!

This summer has been a whirlwind for our family. I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to attend a Radiant Child Yoga Training at Kripalu for an entire week while my wonderful husband stayed home with the children! What a blessing to have a loving, supportive partner in these times. I have been inspired and changed by the experiences I had there. My teacher, Shakta Kaur Khalsa is cited as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world and let me just say she is an amazing woman! She helped us to experience yoga in a whole new way, many of us first time Kundalini practitioners. She was patient, and loving in her guidance and helped all of us grown-up teachers how to go back to our innocence in essence. How to free ourselves from our physical and mental constraints and become what is yoga. How else could we be given the wonderful task of teaching it to the young minds of today?
I found that my biggest lesson was time for self. I needed to stop feeling guilty about any spare moment I got for myself and actually take the reigns. I continued my practice in the following weeks upon my return. I was able to, a few days of the week, wake up before the kids, and meditate and do yoga in the early morning hours. It really seemed to help center me for whatever came at me that day. Without trying to sound to hippy, drippy I feel that my experience this summer has opened me up to a new place in the Universal Conscience. Not long after my return my family began to receive all sorts of opportunities and life changing/fulfilling encounters. Even so far as appearing on the Today Show on a little segment about co-sleeping with your toddlers!! A lesson straight from the master Yogi Bhajan for this current culture which I find poignant and true is, "Keep Up and You'll be Kept Up." The less resistance we feel the deeper and deeper we open ourselves to all possibilities! I am so excited to have learned from this master on how to be and I'm hoping to bring all of this to my children's schooling this year.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

V is for Victorious

This year has been full of trials both internal and external all of which have been overcome! We are reminded time after time, story after story, that we have made the right decision for our daughter and our family. Thankfully Kindergarten is non-compulsory in New York (as in most states) and it has been a year of trial and error with no one breathing down my neck. It has been a year of discovery with no limits!
We have all changed and grown so much. I can truly say I am a homeschooling advocate now. But just as with religion I will not proselytize to those who don't or can't see the way. I will give those advice who ask and help in anyway I can to make our community grow and our children flourish.
Last year when we were in the process of this decision we said that this needs to be looked at as a lifelong (or at least 13 year) process; not a trend, or a few year commitment. Just as parenthood, we made the decision and we will put forth whatever effort it takes to get through victorious. I am not going to lie, I have had to come to some realizations, especially when it came to relying on other people to come through on their end. I started the year with a pretty broad base of individuals willing to help us out, in return for some of the same. Slowly our resources dwindled, but such is life. We are however very blessed to still have a core group of amazing and creative people who have stuck it out with us. We have had a wonderfully successful playgroup weekly which the kids love and all the mommies seem grateful for(some much needed "grown-up" time.) An old family friend has religiously taught Sophia violin in return for a gallon of milk, weekly(you can't beat that price.)My sisters, and my cousin have been invaluable in their advice and materials to make my classroom a success- thank you! Sophia's got a great friend and in turn I have also found one in her Mom- she has provided me with tons of education materials-including the latest trend in literature based learning. Perhaps the most inspiring of all however is a Mom of three who has home schooled her children in a very similar fashion for many years now. She has been a sounding board, a huge resource and I can honestly say a friend at this point- THANK YOU! We truly feel grateful to have so many amazing people surrounding our family and this decision- you have all made this year a victory!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

G is for Growth!

It's Spring, finally, and I am amazed when I think of the growth that has happened in the last 8 months!
Sophia has turned from an above average preschooler, to an inquisitive, holistic kindergartner. She has learned to read through a whole system approach using: tactiles; phonics; word recognition; and good old fashioned daily reading. She can count and recognize numerals 0 to 100, does addition brilliantly, and subtracts with some success. Soph loves all things science and has so much fun with experiments, gardening and keeping a weather journal. She loves to paint and continues to thrive in music and movement with violin and dance and open gym weekly. She also has her first job! She has been helping me with my yoga class every week and receives an allowance for her assistance. The amazing thing to me about Sophia is that she can draw conclusions, make comparisons and remember things we spoke of ages ago. She can put things together appropriately and in a wise and deliberate fashion far beyond her years.
I always knew she would be a wonderfully smart student and had no doubt she would thrive in any environment.
Although I have not made much mention of the younger two in my brood their success and growth has also been phenomenal this year! Part in thanks to Sophia and the structure of our "homeschooling" day. Liam's vocabulary has increased fourfold, he is potty trained (for the most part)and his attention span is that of a five year old. He loves to tell and read stories and is our resident jokester. His fine, and gross motor skills have gone from great to magnificent! He will just be three at the end of the month but has become quite the character.
My youngest, Margot, will be one on the 22nd. She has skipped so many of the "baby steps" trying to keep up with the other two, which is a character trait of the 3rd child I'm told. Straight from breast milk to solids, stacking blocks and crawl chasing everyone even up the stairs!! Her favorite things are kisses from Daddy and dancing with her brother and sister.
It took us all a while to get into the grove and a daily routine but now that we have a basic structure the flexibility just comes naturally. We love things the way they are right now and I wouldn't change a thing! We have learned to grow and have grown to learn, what a great year so far!

Monday, January 3, 2011

E is for Expectations

I think the Homeschooling "honeymoon" is officially over!! Time to get real! The ideal and the reality have come crashing into each other at full speed. To all of you moms out there who think you can't do it...I'm here to tell you you can if you do one important thing- let go of your expectation. Society has placed such a burden on all American women and I am here to bluntly give it the finger. Perfection comes at such a cost- one that has been created by the very institutions I am keeping my children from attending...schools, churches. Why, when I consciously know this and have made the decision to keep my children from them, can't I tear myself away from these expectations? Guilt, ancestry, "normality", fear?
I began to demand things from Sophia as they would in a "typical setting." She began rebelling- of course she did! I have raised her in this fashion and then act surprised when she acts this way- please!!!
Luckily I have a homeschooling mom connection who set me straight a few weeks ago. I explained how frustrated I was trying to get back into the grove after Thanksgiving break and she said this was very normal both in public schools and in a homeschooling setting. I took a deep breath and started to look in from the outside. She then profoundly stated, " The stress comes only from our own expectations. The kids are fine, they are learning every moment. Whether they are playing with their siblings, or coloring with crayons there is no boundary to their growth."
Ah-Ha!!! Revelation!
I am now making the effort to stop over complicating and bringing it back to basics-
I have prepared their environment so that my whole house can teach. I did this for a reason- I am not their "teacher" in the antiquated sense of the word, I am the "directress" here to expound on questions and instill the love of learning in their hearts. Enough about me!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Field Trips are Fun!

With winter in upstate NY making itself ready I have been scrambling for field trips knowing that our travel will be somewhat limited very soon. The great thing about homeschooling has been the freedom for us all to explore local resources and always having a tangible example for our lesson. We have learned in the first couple of months that the outside world is our classroom. Sophia has been able to draw circular conclusions and has knowledge about interconnectedness beyond her years.

During the last week of October we explored the orgins of Halloween and found that it originated with the Celts. I felt that this was the perfect opportunity to speak about our ancestors from these isles and we found an awesome craft called a Parshall which has roots in Pagan Christianity in Ireland. We took a field trip to a local pioneer cemetery with graves dating from as far back as 1812. We did some gravestone rubbings of the Willows and Urns and further discussed our ancestors. This lead to questions about were our ancestors were buried thus furthering this exploration. This whole lesson naturally lead into Dia de los Muertos! We went to the Library and found books on the subject and made and decorated skulls out of FEMO and baked them. We then made a little fall alter with our collected leaves, squash, parshalls and skulls for our ancestors.

The next week we discussed farms and tied in our previous lessons with discussing the professions of her ancestors. We then began to talk about the different types of local farms and and tied this in with our nutrition unit. We then visited a local dairy farm on Friday and had a great time! Last week we had so much fun with family who flew in from Denver and went on another field trip to Albany to the New York Museum. This enabled a lesson about New York State and tied in prior agriculture and Iroquois lessons. We even counted farms on our way down I88!

Next week we will begin our Thanksgiving unit and I have found through Scholastic a really great interactive unit about Plymouth and the Wampanoag tribe. Discussing life and even a live podcast on the 16th. Should be interesting! I'll keep you all posted!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Success With Themes!

I have now been teaching, and learning for 5 weeks with my kids! I can't believe how fast things are happening but am so grateful I get to see how everything unfolds. I can't imagine missing all of these light bulb moments that truly make me feel blessed daily. The weekly themes have been very successful and each week the next theme reveals itself with ease. Sophia has been able to make global connections that are beyond her years in age, and often makes her momma scratch her head and research to find "the" answers. Each week I use a general theme and then we continue things from the following lessons that were of interest. I rely heavily on literature, reading each morning a story having to do with our day. Our public library has really great programs for kids which includes Story Time Kits dealing with many topics we have been covering. Usually they have three of four books, a video or DVD, and felt board activities. It really is an amazing resource and cuts down on my preparation time considerably!!

Just to give you an idea:

Week 1: Diversity and Multiculturalism- focus on Africa/ India
Week 2: Native Americans- focus on the Americas
Week 3: Autumn- Seasons changing, weather changes- focus on harvesting, and apples
Week 4: Natural Cycles- Life Cycle- focus on the life cycle of the Butterfly
Week 5: Foods- Health and Nutrition- focus on the food pyramid and exercise

I have felt such a sense of success when by Friday of each week the kids have turned the theme into some form of play. They are making a nutritious felt pizza as we speak! Sophia made vegetable garden markers last night for fun for our garden next year, and when we were discussing the Native Americans they played for hours on the front porch foraging, hunting, and "making fires" to cook their meat over. For these guys their work turned into play and I feel that they have internalized the lessons.

We have had the great fortune to have one of my husband's former English teachers coming over every Monday to read to the kids and she has started a journal with Sophia and always has a big bag overflowing with books. The kids look so forward to it!
This week we also had our first session at the local gym. I had set up a time and invited a bunch of moms, some homeschoolers and some just with young kids still at home. It ended up being quite a success we kicked balls and jumped ropes, crawled through tunnels and made new friends. We have also picked up Sophia's violin and start lessons next week. We also found out last night that one of the girls in her dance class is also a homeschool and they had hit it off before we even made the connection. I feel so blessed to be able to do this and I feel like the universe is just beginning to open up these amazing possibilities to us. My hope is it will continue always!!!