Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dreams


Dreams.                                                             *Photo curtesy of Pinterest
What are the thinks that I think about in the quiet corners of my day?  What do I pull out now and then and toss around, work on for a while, then tuck back inside me to be saved for another time or space?  We all have dreams.  Goal.  Desires.  Many of my dreams have come true.  The big dreams, like my Prince in Shining Armor, the castle and the carriage, and the Princesses in poster beds.  I have the big things, and for that I am eternally blessed.  These are the little things.  The things that to anyone else may seem unimportant or unnecessary but to us are as vital as the air we push in and out of our lungs with each breath.
These are my dreams.  My words.  Attach to the end of these what you will.  It is not the details that matter as much as the state of being.  For it I can have these things, I can do anything.  

Read 
Write
Strive
Remove
Empower
Surround
Appreciate
Beauty
Explore
Grow
Construct
Love  
Express 
Yes
Less No
Please
Thank you
Bless you
God bless
Peace
Peaceful
Namaste

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week of Jan. 23rd

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
In My Home This Week:  Wow.  It has been a very long time since I can say with satisfaction that I accomplished things this week.  My new routine is not easy.  Five days in a row, I have woke to the gentle shake or kiss of my husband.  I only see him for about 15 minutes before he leaves to catch a train, but those 15 minutes are the best way to start a day.  Sometimes, if I am really lucky, he will have the coffee on for me.  
I refuse to slack off, even when the call of my bed is stronger than the call of my coffee cup. I have to look to my accomplishments to propel me forward.  I have: reorganized our daily bookshelf, reorganized the closet space that hold our books and tools, cleaned out the old office which is now a reading room.  I have caught us up on laundry, taken the curtains to the dry cleaners, hung up new ones (borrowed from my bedroom which may never go back), found a new recipe for pumpkin-flax breakfast cookies, baked those twice! and many more things that were on my to-do list.  
My new way of thinking is: put away, throw away or give away.  No more piles.  No more shifting something from one place to the next.  If something is sitting that long unused, it must not be very necessary and gets put in the Goodwill pile.  I have given away two bags of clothing and one bag of unused school stuff.  It feels good.
It feels so good that when 5:30am comes Monday morning, I will meet my day head on, coffee in hand!
In Our Homeschool This Week:  Greg made a comment to me about my post last week.  He said that if the girls come downstairs and I am at the dining room table in my pajamas on the computer it must feel no different from a Saturday morning.  If they know there is no sense of urgency or agenda, he can see where the temptation to balk at schoolwork could occur.  But if they come down to the smell of something cooking, to work laid out on the table for them, and to their mother, at the dining room table, on the computer, with her coffee, but showered and dressed, it sets an entirely different tone for their day.  


They have responded positively to the changes.  There is still the balking over math.  Lilah does not see the need to memorize her multiplication tables and Grace really does not see the need to simplify fractions, but I guess even waking up at 4:30am would not change that!
math: While they may balk, both girls are progressing.  I have to come up with a plan to help Lilah memorize the facts.  It was so easy when Grace was in school and had her test every Friday.  I am thinking about having Greg give her a test every Saturday.  He is not here during the week so she can’t moan and complain to him about it!  Grace will finish book 2 of Key to Fractions this week.  Now that she has moved into multiplication of fractions, she is enjoying it once again.  
history: Grace added a few people to her Book of Centuries.  She is still reading her biography of Clara Barton aloud to me.  She looked up information about the Clara Barton museum in Massachusetts and emailed her Aunt to see if she could personally recommend this for a field trip.   
geography: I have decided to expand beyond the map work we do weekly with Story of the World.  Now we are working on map skills.  This week each of the girls had fun with the compass rose and finding mystery numbers by using the compass.  
writing: Grace has combined writing and technology this week by beginning a Powerpoint presentation about the animals we learned about while watching Billy the Exterminator.  She listed 25 different animals from memory.  After completing a title page for the presentation, she began with alligators.  She included 4 facts from her sister’s animal encyclopedia that referred to Billy’s teaching that episode.  Her plan is to mail a copy to Billy when it is completed!  Lilah continued to work on her story..........
science: We continued to read from Flying Creatures and we continue to watch our window for any signs of live flying creatures.  Our bird feeder has been up for almost three weeks and no sign yet!  I don’t understand.  We had a successful bird walk at Yale University and I have our next bird walk planned!  Lilah is almost done with her mosquito lap book, it will be finished this week.  She has put many hours into this project (I would guess 4-5 so far).  We are going to browse through CurrClick to find another she would like to do.  I also found a insect guide available for download at Terminex.  There are many fun activities relating to the study of entomology.  Hopefully she will be inspired!
grammar: The girls continue to enjoy our lessons!  We worked on identifying nouns and pronouns in sentences.  My Aunt gave me a book: Skill Drill Grammar from her classroom.  I have been using it for additional practice after we learn from First Language Lessons.  Thanks Aunt!
What We are Reading:
me:








While this is a YA book, I would not recommend it for my daughters, until they were adults.  I came across it on a blog and just like that blogger, I could not put it down.  It kept me up until 11:30pm, despite the fact I had to get up in six hours!  The author has a way of really making you care about this flawed characters despite the fact that they make the wrong choices over and over again.  There are also darker sides to this story, co-dependency, binge drinking, sex, and violence.  These two characters have a relationship that I would never want to serve as a model for my daughters and I would hope they would not read this until they know what it is they do want from a relationship.
Lilah:









What I am Pondering:  An update on Grace’s basketball game last week.  The coach I wrote about was given a one week suspension but was allowed to be with his team for the team photos last night.  I am happy that action was taken because our town leaders  have a history of apathetic reactions to the complaints of its residents.  However, I do not think a one week suspension is fitting as a resolution.  I would fully support our team sitting on the bench for the next game, refusing to play out of protest, gladly forfeiting.  Grace would disown me.  She thrives on the competition and will be looking forward to a rematch.  However, if the coach would agree to a forfeit, I would hope she could see the bigger issue at hand.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interview at Interest Led Learning

Today my words are featured at  Interest-Led Learning.  


In my interview I explain:

  • Why we chose to homeschool.
  • What I encourage new or prospective homeschooling families to ponder.
  • How I facilitate learning by following my daughters' interests.
  • What helped me survive my first year.

Christina's blog is a wonderful resource for all families, 
those homeschooling their children,as well as those who are not.  Her words have given me inspiration, knowledge, wisdom, and comfort. I am honored to have the opportunity to share my story.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Day In and Day Out

Deep breaths.  Sometimes as a family who lives, learns and plays together 24/7 you need to take deep breaths.  I have spent the past few days examining how to better manage my home.  It seems like I am always doing that.  
When my girls were in school, there was no need for this type of reflection.  Each day was the same from 9-3.  It did not matter what phase of life my girls were in, whether they were barely out of their toddler years, losing their first teeth or walking themselves into school, my days looked the same... day in and day out.  
I have tried every home management system I have come across.  My favorite was Fly Lady, but I have not been able to incorporate her system into my life as a homeschooling mom.  It took me about two years to figure out that our home is constantly in flux.  A routine that worked six months ago may not work now due to changing sleep habits, meal frequency and activity load.  I need to re-evaluate and re-adjust.
I am adjusting.  I have asked for help.  I have asked for an increase in responsibility.  However, I also have to look at how my actions and inactions contribute to a chaotic environment.
Wake Time
Being home makes it so very very easy to slip into a life of idleness.  No place to go until noon?  Well then...no need to get dressed until ten!  Or have a rough night’s sleep?  Kid's knees in your back all night?  Sleep in!  However, the later we get up, and the later we get dressed, the less likely we are to get to what is important that day.  I am now waking up at 5:30am.  Greg makes sure I am up before he leaves the house to catch the train.  When I stick to this, I  am able to have coffee and blog in peace.  I can do laundry and focus on certain tasks on my to do list all before the girls’ feet hit the floor.  I can have breakfast made and ready to go when they do wake.  I have been gently waking them at 8:00am and requesting that they come down to breakfast at 8:30 so we can begin our day at 9:00. Usually this is sufficient even if they had a rough night's sleep or are extra tired and need a bit more time.
Help Around the House
I can’t take credit for this idea and I don’t remember whose brilliant words inspired me.  If it was you, please comment!  I don’t want to be a House Elf.  I welcome assistance in cleaning, cooking, yardwork, trash, etc.  But I noticed that my girls need a bit of a reminder what needs to be done to help our home run smoothly.  I hung up Dobby the House Elf signs in key areas of our home.  These are just a gentle reminder, and will come down when we are back on track with simple routines. 
image courtesy of iTunes.com
Do you know Yada Home?  It is an app that allows Greg and I to sync grocery lists (separate lists for each store we shop at! and our to do lists!).  This will be helpful beyond words.  Just last night he helped take one item off our to-do list.  Yeah!!   
Cooking
Greg has been helping by cooking on the weekends, mostly soup.  We freeze some for reheating during the week.  Last week we simmered a whole chicken for hours.  During the week I brought it to a boil, added pasta and had a healthy homemade chicken noodle soup in less than 20 min!  This is so simple but time has to be set aside for meal preparation.
Decluttering
Ahh...this is the bain of my existence.  My house is about 1700sq ft.  It is old.  It has no real linen closet and no foyer closet.  Heck, we don’t have a foyer!  Our bedroom closets are tiny and since Lilah’s room has no closet at all, just the walk up stairs to the attic, we repurposed our hallway closet to be hers.  Despite making several attempts before to declutter, I realized that we still have too much stuff.  Why do we have so much stuff?  Why are blogs devoted to the concept of getting rid of stuff?  Television shows focus on this topic.  Magazine articles are written about it.  What is wrong with us that we have purchasing more items than we need in our life?  No more.  Thanks to Andrea, I have renewed my quest for a zen-like home.  


Before:
After:

Being together as much as we are requires usable, functioning space.  If something is not usable, functioning, loved and needed, it is gone.  I am amazed at how much easier and quicker it is to clean up at the end of the day.  Things now have a home since what was there before is gone.  All my old cookbooks, gone.  Old clothes, gone.  Unused hats, scarves, mittens, all gone.  Unused curriculum, in the basement.  Art supplies will soon have a new place to stay other than in a pile on the floor.  Maybe I will post some before and after pics to motivate myself to tackle my few problem areas like the bookshelf and the curriculum cabinet.......


Before:


Better:


Our Accomplishments
I came across this great site:  www.280daily.com .  It a private journal meant to capture quick thoughts, just 280 characters every day.  You can then print your month or year as a blog book.  I am using it every day to capture what we are learning.  Then when I write my end of the week wrap ups, I have not missed the little things, like what we learned from an episode of Billy the Exterminator, or that Lilah drew an amazing picture and Grace was given the full sheet music to Fur Elise.  Grace is also working on this site as a private journal.  

This is where I am at this moment in my life.  Thank you to my “trainer” who literally drags my butt out of bed at 5:30am despite my protests and pleading.  Thank you to my girls who are willing to meet me halfway on this and chip in to restore peace to our home.  Every little thing you do helps.  Every little thing you do is appreciated.  Every little thing you do helps you to become more independent.  This is all good.  Hard, but good.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

One Day


In one day you have countless opportunities for love, wonder, awe, admiration and humor.  You also have countless opportunities for stress, aggravation, frustration and despair.  Which ones will you choose today?
Yesterday we chose option #1.


Joy...























over frustration...




Find your joy in this day.



Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Urban Bird Walk


The Peabody Museum sponsored a bird walk around the Yale Campus during lunch.  They were hoping to attract Yalies on their lunch hour but what they ended up with were two Mamas and their five hatchlings looking for a birding adventure!  


This was the walk I was looking for.  Of course Mother Nature would not cooperate with me and has something against this Mama taking a bird walk.  I was armed (well...legged) with my silk thermals (and did not hear one single tease), my down jacket , three umbrellas, two water bottles, binoculars, a camera and a cell phone.  Cell phone? Very important to take notes on what we saw, since I forgot the now seemingly old fashioned pen and notebook!

We strolled the Yale Science Campus with our necks craned upwards on this misty day.  Not good for a  glasses wearing Mama who really needs to make an appointment for contacts.....






We had fantastic lessons on how to use binoculars and where to look for certain species of birds.  We checked tree tops for cardinals, building ledges for raptors, the skyline for gulls, brush for sparrows, and parks for geese.  We did not see much on this chilly, damp, New Haven day.  But we enjoyed the time outside with our fine friends, those feathered and not!


We learned the importance of taking many walks and reporting your findings to compare against other days with different weather days, weeks, months apart.  We counted the number of birds we saw (which was too easy unfortunately) and recorded both the type of bird and the time it was spotted on an official form.  We were able to ask questions and have them answered with kindness and genuine affection for both children and birding.    We learned that The Peabody is just beginning this program of urban bird walks and were encouraged to participate in future walks.  We also learned about the Eli Whitney Museum, which I had never heard of and now is tops on our list of places to go!


Good times.  Good friends.  Good lessons.  Good life.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What if?

How do you become this kind of parent?  
or this kind of parent?


How do you become the kind of parent that in fifteen years has shared enough pertinent information with your child to keep them alive while living independently in hazardous conditions?  How do you hug them and kiss them goodbye?  
I would like to think that this is the goal of this journey we are on.  To raise our daughters to become independent, risk taking, passionate, courageous, fearless young women.   When presented with an opportunity to pursue their passions they would be prepared enough to meet the opportunity head on with determination and perseverance. 


In just four years would I let Grace go off on a storm chasing adventure?  I can’t see Lilah desiring anything so dangerous but what if she had the chance to accompany a biologist to the Galapagos Islands?  


What if?
Am I raising daughters who will be prepared to accept these kind of offers?  If I am honest with myself, I don’t think so.   
What types of life skills would you need to take on an challenge of living independently at a young age?

  • money management
  • homemaking skills such as laundry, food preparation,
  • necessities for travel like passport documentation, packing skills, ability to navigate an airport, connecting flights, hotel bookings, hostels, foreign currency, exchange rates.
  • natural medicine to keep them healthy, first aid, how to seek medical care in a foreign land.

Over the past year I have begun to teach these things.  I know that my girls could sustain themselves with their basic cooking skills for a few days.  They can make eggs, pancakes, salads, sandwiches, quesadilas, pasta, meatballs, and if need be, we are close enough to walk to a grocery store for supplies.
They can do laundry but choose not to, simply because why do your own laundry when your Mom and Dad will do it for you?  Hmmm.
They can clean a house much better than I can but again, choose not to because it is done for them.  Hmmm.  (I have to compliment my girls again on the job they did last week on the back room, front room and bathrooms.  Well done girls!)
Many of the other things on my list could be introduced the next time we travel with Greg, which hopefully will be this spring.  Rather than take on everything myself, they could look up airlines, pack their own carry on, determine what is necessary and what can be left home.  We can go together to get the documentation to apply for passports and to have mine renewed.  The next time we travel to New York, they can use Metro North to look up schedules and determine if our travel will involve peak rates.  They can handle the taxi and the subway.
I would love to know what the parents of these children did in preparation for these trips.  Was it conscious  preparation for the realization of a dream or was it unintentional preparation through the daily routines we all go through?  How did they have faith to let their children go?  Would they have done anything different?  Would they say yes if they could have a do-over?  
These stories make me wonder.  I want to be that parent.  I want my children to discover what makes them happy.  I want them to pursue their passions, either on a traditional route or one that they make up as they go.  I wonder.
I wonder if they will want to do something like this when they are older.  I never did.  I just did not have that gene in me.  The most I wanted to do was attend college in New York City but ended up pursuing a different area of study.  I wonder.  I wonder if I would say yes.  I hope I would will.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal: The basketball edition: Week of January 16th

The Homeschool Mother's Journal
What is Happening in My Home this Week: I was fortunate to spend some quality time with my friends this week while my daughters played with their children.  We talked about important things, things that matter to who we are as women, wives and mothers.   We had tea and shared meals.  We shared friendship.  Thank you to all my friends, who enrich my life more than you know!
What is Happening in Our Homeschool: 
math: Grace is half way through book two of Key To Fractions and has learned to simply fractions by finding the greatest common factor. Lilah’s lessons this week took her back to her learning from her Business Math program.  She was adding with decimals and writing checks! 

grammar: My girls are loving the lessons from one of my favorite books: First Language Lessons.  We are technically on the second grade - but I don’t consider it to be leveled by grade.  Since my girls are significantly older we are able to skip lessons, condense lessons and compress several lessons into one.  We have been focusing on different types of sentences and the use of pronouns.  I think we did six or seven “lessons” this week!

language arts: Lilah’s story is growing page by page.  In her head she is writing a movie which she will direct and her friends will play the parts.  She does not have an outline or a clear ending to her story yet but every day she reads it to me and I am amazed at what is developing.  She is taking the approach of M.J. Allaire, write the story day by day, page by page.  She is now up to 10 or 11 handwritten pages.  What amazes me is the connections she has in this story to her everyday life.  When it is done I would love to share it on my blog and demonstrate how she is inspired by her relationships, books she has read, stories I have told her, and more.  
Grace is using the calendar on her laptop to keep track of topics she wants to write about.  Her goal is to blog every day.  What is happening is she writes one day, edits it the next day and publishes it to her blog.  Realistically her goal should be amended to blog every other day.  I am happy that I see an spark of interest in writing.  This week she plans to write a complimentary letter to Hampton Inn and Suites as well as write about her last basketball game.
science: I hope that our scheduled bird walk at Yale happens Monday.  The forecast is for rain.  Why is nature working so hard against my efforts to learn about birds?  The birds have not found our bird feeder after more than a week, our first bird walk was a disaster, and now our next one might be a bust.  How fun can it be to look for birds while holding an umbrella and trying not to get water on your binoculars?
What We Are Reading:   We are plugging along on the books we have in progress.  Grace is almost done with her Clara Barton biography.  Lilah is happily reading the second installment in the Books of Elsewhere series and I have been doing more knitting this week than reading.  When I am reading it is still Free Range Learning.  I never finished Organized Simplicity and I have gone back to it.
What I am Pondering:  Friday night I took my girls to their basketball games.  Grace’s game was a nail biter.  For two years Grace has studied the play of one particular girl on the opposing team.  The two girls played together their first year, as third graders.  Their coach did not teach them how to play, he just had Grace shoot the ball whenever she got it and the other girl stand under the net for rebounding.  Grace is tall.  I am guessing she is already 5’2”.  This other girl is taller than me and I am 5’8”.  She easily has twenty pounds on Grace.  
Their first year was their only year of playing together.  Now there is a bit of a rivalry between them.  Nothing bitter or fueled by animosity, just a sports rivalry.  Grace knows that you can’t go through the middle to the basket with this girl.  You have to go to the sides and shoot over her and make the shot.  She advised her teammates on this.  They guarded her, they blocked her shots, they prevented her from getting under the basket.  They could not shut her down however, and this girl scored most of the points for her team that night, like most other nights.  This team is used to winning.  Their style of play is not fun to watch, it is aggressive for a 5-6th grade level and I get angry when fouls are not called.  They win, and their coach likes winning.
When a foul was called against them, the coach lost his temper.  He got angry.  He became aggressive.  He crossed the court to yell at the referee.  (this should have been an automatic expulsion from the game in my humble opinion).  He was sent back to his bench.  He became incensed.  He crossed the mid court line and tried to provoke a confrontation with my daughter’s coach. (again...why was this allowed to happen?  He should have been in his car on his way home).  Our coach was stoic.  He showed no emotion.  He led his girls by example, just like the aggressive, confrontational, emotional coach leads his girls by the example he set.  I got out of the stands to find a town representative from the Recreation Department to complain and ask for his removal.  There was no representative in the building.  
Thankfully the moment passed.  The teams were tied at the end of the game and tied at the end of a two minute overtime.  They declined to offer a second overtime, which I thought was wise.  
This was a teachable moment.  This is how adults should not behave.  Ever.  Under any circumstances.  This was poor sportsmanship epitomized.  If not for the level headed, calm behavior demonstrated by both the referees and my daughter’s coach, this incident could have easily escalated into a dangerous situation.  I hope my girls learned the importance of playing with dignity and respect, not only for yourself and your teammates, but also those girls you are playing against.  I hope my girls appreciate how honorable their coach is.  Winning is an integral part of playing a sport.  My daughter is naturally competitive.  I support that spirit within her.  I can tell her over and over to be a good loser as well as a good winner but now she will understand why.  Wining at all costs is worse than losing.  
After the game I did find a Recreation Department employee and voiced my concern and my request for him to be removed as a coach.  I will follow up it in writing and deliver it to the Recreation Department office with the Mayor cc’d on Monday.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Perpetual Quest for Balance...


Something interesting is happening in the nature of how we schedule our time to play.  We have gone from having long stretches of time to play and play to short bursts of time   that usually fall in between activities.  Our weeks have taken on a steady rhythm that was missing in the fall.  
The fall seemed chaotic.  Too much activity.  Too many playdates.  Too many activities.  When I had a day free I did not do my best to honor our time at home like I promised myself I would.  It is so easy to say yes to tea with your friends and conversation that can stretch on for hours.  In fact, there are times when we should say yes to this.  Being home with our children 24/7 is a blessing.  However, just like they need to be with friends their own age, so do we as mothers, need a chance to interact about things other than grammar, medieval history and fractions.   But what was happening is that my only free day at home was taken up by playdates or appointments and the housework was not getting done, the meals I wanted to cook went uncooked and the dogs were getting lonely.  
When December arrived and with it a much needed break from coop and Girl Scouts, the ending of Meteorology and a month long hiatus from Sunday School, I had the change to re-evaluate how I wanted our days to look like.  I became frustrated with myself because I have had this conversation before.  “I will honor my time.....I will not overschedule....blah...blah..blah.”  If I continued to break my promises to myself I was threatening to compromise the one thing I set out to do in this homeschooling journey which was to give my children the time to explore their interests and the opportunities to learn as much as possible in a setting that is both peaceful and stimulating.  While we certainly had stimulation, the peace was lacking a bit.
Now we have a flow to our days of work in the morning, play in the afternoon with a few activities thrown in for good measure.  The girls kept their dog walking job.  They have had this for two years and it is very important to them.  They wanted to keep our artist/writer’s workshop, although this too has been on an extended break until the end of this month.  They are keeping coop.  They have added basketball.  We still have Girl Scouts but we added Destination Imagination, which is a huge commitment, especially since the girls are on different teams that meet in different towns (each at least 30 minutes away).    
To keep all this balanced we have to be very intentional in our scheduling.  Through these activities the girls get time to play with their friends.  What must be scheduled is the time to play with those friends that are not involved in the same activities as we are.  I am eternally grateful that my iPhone allows me to sync my calendar with my computer.    It is the first time I have been able to successfully manage our busy lives with ease.  And so, rather than have the spontaneity of impromptu playdates that turn into sleepovers that result in lots of fun but also a bit of stress over missed math and incomplete stories and unfinished geography programs, we now have playdates that are shorter and definitely less impromptu but still magical in that these children can play.  They take the time they have and make the most of it.  
This is good for us.  This is balanced for us.  This is why I work so hard.  Not a day goes by that I am not at my computer emailing asking about free time, trips to local places and dinner dates.  We are spending quality time with people we care about.  And if we have a play date at 2:00, it is a great incentive to get that math lesson finished!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Fair Lazy


I recently read a book I picked up for $3.00 at a library book sale titled: My Fair Lazy, A Memoir by Jen Lancaster.  The premise of this book gave me the misguided impression that this was "chick-lit".  The author was having an interview with Candace Bushnell and was the topic of Baudelaire came up.  She had no idea what or who Baudelaire was or is (it is a he actually, a French poet, but I had to google it to make sure).  This leads her to question her life of writing and consuming massive doses of reality television while caring for her menagerie of pets and trying to rid her home of pesky vermin.


Wanting to be able to participate in social settings and discuss more than pop culture, Jen enlists the help of her friends to give herself a cultural makeover.  I found her references to movies such as Clueless, the debut episode of MTV’s Real World, and Gossip Girl (all well known to me!) completely endearing.  I think that Jen is someone whom I would love to talk to in real life but I will have to settle for a good read instead.    
  • She reads poetry until she finds poets that she adores.  
  • She attends the theater until she is fluent in the different styles of theater.
  • She visits practically every ethnic restaurant in Chicago.
  • She takes a wine and cheese tasting class with her husband.
  • She reads literature (which she finds is the original inspiration for much of Gossip Girl).

She discovers that she can remain true to her couch loving, reality show watching, snarky commenting self while expanding the definition of her “self”.  As I read this book I could not help but make comparisons to the type of education I am trying to provide for Grace and Lilah.  
Jen home educated herself, with the help of her friends, while having a very good time.  I am educating my girls, with the help of many friends, while having a good time.
We are reading poetry, copying poetry, memorizing poetry.  The girls know who Langston Hughes is as well as Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein.  They have been to children’s theater performances at Fairfield University, Broadway musicals and concerts at Yale.  They know several major composers and artists.  They know that they love the Impressionists but do not love British and early American works of art.  They are beginning to branch out with their food choices, trying Indian and Chinese as well as Mexican and Polish.  They have read books ranging from biographies to fantasy, to realistic fiction.  They recommend books to friends and receive recommendations in return.    Oh my gosh.....they are educating themselves!  
In the process I am also expanding my horizons.  Education is never stagnant.  It does not take a break in June for the summer or take three vacations a year.  It does not end when you graduate.  In fact, it has been my experience that this is when education really begins.  When I was studying karate, my instructor told me that the real study of karate begins with a black belt, for this is when you can apply everything you have learned and put it together in new and interesting ways.  I never made it to black belt, but I knew that what I was learning was just the foundation for what was to come.  I feel this is the same with the learning we do up to grade 12.  It is the foundation for what we will go on to learn once we have covered the basics.  
I had no idea twenty years ago that I would want to learn about gardening, organic food, worm composting, homemade cosmetics and beauty products, and that the majority of my reading would be for information rather than just for pleasure.  Who knew?  
Jen turned her experience into a memoir.  I have turned ours into a blog.  I love that my girls will one day understand that their education was unique and created just for them.  They are getting the basics on which to build their lifelong relationship with education.  All these books, poems, movies, performances, and culinary experiences are the building blocks.  Whether they decide to build a castle, a cottage, or a yurt is up to them, the ultimate owners of their educational experience.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...