Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nature Class









Ok - so I learned from my last post you can't copy and paste pictures! Speaking of pictures, L decided to bring her camera to her nature class this week to capture the shelter she helped construct.

She said they found evidence of visitors from the deer fur found tangled up in the branches.

I love that she comes home from this class covered in dirt, charcoal, stray twigs and pieces of old crumbled leaves stuck in her ponytail, smelling of earth and citronella, filled up with stories of her day, tales of nature and of the joy of making new friendships.

What we are reading now

We are an eclectic bunch of readers.

Me:

L:

G:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary




Yesterday was our 13th anniversary. Thirteen years sure passed by quick. So many things have changed and so many things have remained the same. We are in the same house we bought ten years ago. People teased us saying it was too small. At the height of the market we were tempted to sell and move to a town with “better schools, better parks, better taxes” but realized the grass is not always greener and we stayed. We are still driving our same old Explorer, approaching 200,000 miles and still going. We have moved past the newly-wed stage, past the sleepless night of infancy stage, past the pull your hair out toddler stage and somehow arrived at the stage we are in.....happily parenting two young daughters. I am enjoying this stage.



I am thankful that my husband of 13 years has always supported my every whim and choice. From changing careers, volunteering at the shelter, crazy decorating schemes (my entire playroom was a jungle mural), my car choices, my parenting choices, most recently my educational choice to homeschool. Through thick and thin, he has been at my side....well at my side via cell phone!


I do not want to rush through this stage. This is the happiest I have ever been.

My children are happy, my marriage is happy, my soul is happy.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The "Conference"

A note came home formally addressed to the parents of GWS notifying us that a “conference” is being held next week for the girls in fourth and fifth grade and their parents to discuss menstration. “It’s a change thing”, produced by Proctor & Gamble is

http://www.pg.com/en_US/brands/health_wellbeing/index.shtmlis

to be shown followed by a discussion. We were also advised that our daughters "will benefit" from the dvd and discussion if basic information on the topic was given at home prior to the viewing. Ugh.... Apart from the blatant consumerism of this, (Proctor & Gamble are the makers of Always and Tampax) I have always felt that some matters are best left to families. For example, after an incident of inappropriate touching in one of the elementary schools, the Board of Education brought in a new curriculum called Good Touch Bad Touch. I researched it, read it online and decided no way would my five year old participate in a school program that discusses sexual abuse and molestation. I pulled her. I have likewise pulled my children from dental screenings and eye exams. As a parent, those are my responsibilities.

G does not want to participate in "the conference". I asked her why and was told, “that is not for school”. I chuckled because that is MY answer, not hers. I told her that in order to opt out I needed to know HER reasons and to think about it and get back to me. Later she told me that she has already learned about getting her period. It was covered in The Care and Keeping of You http://www.amazon.com/Care-Keeping-You-American-Library/dp/1562476661 as well as a follow up book I gave her to that, Usborne’s What’s Happening To Me? http://www.usborne.com/catalogue/catalogue.aspx?area=R&subcat=RS&id=1985 . She told me it is a private thing and she does not want to talk about it in front of her friends and their parents. I agreed and pulled her from the program. So for this half hour of her day she will come home, have some ice cream and go back in time for one of her favorite “periods” ...gym!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

No Safety Net

As I was looking through a new immersion science curriculum for us http://www.jeanniefulbright.com/home.html, G was intrigued by three levels of Zoology. This type of science program does not cover many topics, but one topic in great detail. They would like to do the sea animals, but I am thinking Biology. Anyway, I digress.....she asked me what she should do about homeschooling next year. I told her it sometimes helps me to make a list of why she would choose homeschooling and why she would choose school. Her homeschooling list included freedom in the afternoons, no standardized testing, different and interesting activities. Her school list had just one item - friends. Our conversation was interrupted with the ringing of the doorbell but I have a feeling she may be ready to try for one year, knowing she has the option to go back if she is not happy with homeschooling.

So then,why do I feel the same anxiety that I did debating over L? I know I LOVE homeschooling. I have wanted G home since we began this adventure. I despise the current public education environment. Despite this I fear that:

  • she will miss daily interaction with friends, although her relationship with her sister may improve
  • she will have a harder adjustment to a slower pace day although her stress/anxiety levels may decrease
  • she will give me a harder time when she does not feel like having her lessons, but she may learn so much more about the things she is passionate about
  • unlike her sister, she is my personality opposite. I fear she will not enjoy being with me as much as I will enjoy being with her, but our relationship may grow stronger as a result


But I guess we will never know unless we try. I’m ready to jump, no safety net! Is she?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Promises


Today my girls had an amazing experience at the Audubon with the homeschool crew. It was a blessing that G could participate because she is on April vacation from public school. However, it was a bittersweet gift. She left in tears because she knew she would not be able to see if their carefully laid salamandar habitats turn into viable lodging for some small spotted amphibians, whereas L would.

How much decision-making power is too much for a nine year old to handle? I don’t know if she is capable at her age of making this choice. I see her struggling to remain in school, yet benefit from the freedoms and learning opportunities that homeschooling offers.

While L was at piano today, I took this opportunity to talk to her. I asked her not to get upset or frustrated but to just listen. I was not asking her to make a choice, but I wanted to ask her how she felt. I told her that having the choice to come out of school but be really scary when you have been in school for so long. L asked to come home. School was not the best place for her. I said that I believe her experience with coming home has been good for our entire family. I asked if she felt caught in the middle, liking both things, but too scared or unsure to choose. I felt she might need some help to make a decision.

We agreed that I am going to come up with a plan of what her homeschool adventure could be like. We agreed it would include signing up for girlscouts with her ps friend. We are going to find out more information about Destination Imagination and speak to our friend whose daughters are involved on Thursday. I am going to research possible science classes that would help her learn more about her passion: weather. She wants to see what her math curriculum would look like; Singapore Math. I told her we can look at that online. I told her she may be able to take computer classes and keep her own homeschool blog, that way both her old and new friends could see what she is doing and email her.

I told her the promise I made to L one night as she lay in bed unsure if she made the right decision to homeschool. I promised her two things: that I would help her find friends and that I would do whatever possible to make sure she saw her new friends often. I am proud to say I kept that promise and will keep whatever promise I make to help Grace ease into a whole new life and learning experience.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Very Bad Rule

I am again thinking about G and her path of growing and learning. I am again frustrated by the current state of our neighborhood school. Just this week the Principal implemented a new rule: only one child in the bathroom at a time...ever. How unbelievably inefficient. Today I was in picking G up and while I waited outside the office I saw the first grade teacher take 10 minutes to stand in her doorway and watch the children walk down the hall one at a time. While she was doing this, the Kindergarten class came by and stopped to use the bathroom creating a backlog. Although there are 6 stalls in this bathroom, only one may be used. Children waiting in the hallway were upset. One little girl said “this is a very bad rule.” as she crossed her legs bouncing up and down obvious to all that she really had to go. Five stalls were open, yet she waited. Why? That is what I would like to know. What happened in one of the bathrooms that caused a school with approximately 410 students to implement such a drastic rule? Why are 409 other children being punished for the act of one? G’s recess is being cut into by her classroom trip to the bathroom. Rather than being outside on a 80 degree day, they stand in the hallway waiting for one child to pee. Ludicrous.


Oh and by the way, when I collected G and left, the Kindergarten teacher and the First Grade teacher were still standing there, as were more than 20 children, waiting for one child to finish peeing.at.a.time.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day






There are some things our family can always count on no matter what. Our parents will take us back in no matter how old we get, we can weather any storm, our children are surrounded by a circle of love, there will always be a dinner on the table Sunday for those who can come and wiffle ball. Yup, wiffle ball. Children, adults, dogs, all partake in our family pastime. If the weather allows us to be outside, chances are you will find at least two people pitching and hitting.

This Sunday was opening day at my sister’s. Maybe it was that beloved Uncle is being deployed this week. Maybe it was that we are expecting a new child to our family. Maybe it was the weather was so damn nice. Maybe it was just that the spirit caught us. It was a great game.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Blessings


A friend facebooked that she has an amazing life. And she does. She has a loving husband, amazing children that you can spend hours with and leave wanting to know more about them, she has a warm home and is surrounded by nature’s beauty.

I wonder how many people stop to take time to appreciate their blessings? Do they look in their child’s eye and look past the moments of frustration to the moments of wonder?



Do they notice the things their partner does for them that may go unnoticed in our busy lives? Do they say thank you?

I wonder how many people take our very existence for granted rather than realizing that every breath is a gift, every hug a treasure and every kiss a jewel?






I am blessed by God. I am fortunate to also have a charmed life, surrounded by my children, my spouse, my pets, my faith, my friends, my neighborhood, my family, my community. I count my blessings every day.


CT Art Trail Adventures #3 - Florence Griswold Museum

I find it interesting that even parents who have been homeschooling a long time slip into the mindset that learning comes from books ...