Friday, March 30, 2012

I have never used my blog as a platform to ask for something from my readers, until now.   I am asking for your generosity and support for Lilah’s team.  You all know the impact that DI has had on our family over the past two months from the posts I wrote about marathon meeting day the creation of the bags to sell, the movie screening event, to winning the State Tournament.  DI has fueled new interests, provided a platform for existing talents, developed new friendships, and introduced my children to real life applications for skills that will be vital in the world they are growing up in.
Once you win the State Tournament you are given a packet of information for the Global Tournament which is attended by 20,000 people, and literally takes over the city of Knoxville, Tennessee for one week.  Just the registration fee for our team (team members and family members) is $5,000.  This does not include travel expenses, food and lodging.  It does not include the Connecticut Tee Shirts for the parade of nations nor does it include the State Pins that should/must be purchased for pin trading at the Tournament.  This is a significant expense for families who have made the choice to homeschool, thus taking one parent out of the workforce.
If our children were in traditional school we could approach the PTA and ask for assistance in raising the funds for the fees.  Perhaps we could hold a walk-a-thon or sell flowers and have 500 families participate.  That is not our situation.  We have 5 families who have been working non-stop since the announcement was made Saturday afternoon.
We have set up a website where donations can be made online.  Would you help me to spread the word about our online fundraiser.  Please Facebook it, Tweet it or email it.  If you belong to a homeschooling group, would you send it there?  A coop?  An unschooling group?  
When children do great things, it must be celebrated no matter where they attend (or do not attend) school.  I am discouraged that I could not get this “news” into the newspapers.  We can focus on the “news” of today....on the Israel/Iran tension or the staggering debt that is crushing this country OR we can look for the positives.   Earth Day is around the corner.  And in a little corner of Connecticut six children did an extraordinary thing for which they received the highest praise.  They now have a platform to present their project to a wider audience and compete against other teams from around the world.  
Would you help celebrate their success?

Please visit our website at

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What DI Means To Me

What Destination Imagination Means to Me by Lilah, age 9
I get to see my friends almost every day which is really cool because fortunately, I have really great friends on a really great team.  During our meetings we usually have one or two breaks so we can play together or fool around.  Some of our meetings are up to ten hours, so it’s fun to be around your team for that long.
I think DI would not be as much fun if it weren’t competitive.  I think competing against other teams is great because it gives you the opportunity to try your hardest and it is exciting if you win.
I absolutely love instant challenges.  An instant challenge is where you are given objects and you have to follow the instructions and you have to do what it says in a certain amount of time.  My first ever instant challenge was that we had to lift an egg from the floor up to the table without touching it or breaking it, in a certain amount of time.  The materials we had were 3 drinking straws, a rubber band, a clothes pin, a piece of string and a sheet of label stickers.
Picking one main challenge out of six is extremely hard.  Everyone has different opinions.  Usually it takes more than one meeting. DI is extremely tiring.  All of the people on my team have really busy schedules, so that sometimes leads to very early morning practices.
During DI you learn so much.  It is great.  I bet everybody that has a DI team learns way more than 3 new things a year.  Doing DI is an amazing experience, especially if you win States.  I don’t know if I’m right, but Globals seems truly awesome too!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Return to Normalcy?

Hours just fly by.  I am trying to get back a sense of normalcy in my home but it is eluding me.  Life happens outside of DI but that is where 90% of my time and energy is focused right now.  Everything else is pushed to the side.  I throw in a load of laundry and work on a fundraising letter.  I prepare for a trip to the DMV while trying to get the news of the team’s win into the newspaper.  On top of all this, we had the displeasure of discovering termites in our basement and the treatment will occur on Thursday!  Oh....and that other issue called homeschooling. Yes, we are doing that too.
Yesterday the girls got back on track with their math lessons and I asked each to write in their journals about what DI means to them.  I want them to write while the feelings of joy, pride and elation are still swirling around inside of them.  They have not yet come down from Saturday’s win and with the talk of sharing a block of rooms at a hotel with a pool and the fact that this will be a vacation for us as well since we are visiting Greg’s parents immediately before the tournament, it is a very exciting time for us.  
The coordination of two teams, 12 children, 8 siblings, 2 team managers, and 11 groups of parents is daunting.  From what I am learning the Global Finals takes over the city of Knoxville.  20,000 people will participate in this tournament.  Two conference centers will be booked.  Hotels have been sold out for weeks.  We were fortunate to find a Holiday Inn that has availability since it is not in downtown Knoxville but a bit further out.  Our plan is to incorporate family trips to local attractions like zip lining courses, The Smoky Mountains and inner tubing in addition to the DI sponsored events like the 3M Duck Tape Ball.  Having a hotel in proximity to both is key.  Now that that is off out to-do list we can focus on what we need to do next....fundraising.
The tournament is not cheap.  In fact the cost to register a team is $4,500.  This does not include travel costs, hotels for the family members, meals, and the cost of the “field trips”.  My dining room has become a command center with two laptops running, my cell phone and my land line occupied and paperwork spread out.  I can’t imagine what it is like at the team manager’s house!  
My first goal was to get news of this win published.  So far our town’s online newspaper has the event running.  I was hoping the larger publications would run it, but so far no one has responded.  I guess if it is not bad news, it is not real news.....
My next focus is to assist with fund raising.  Every little bit will help.  As homeschoolers, we do not have a PTA or Father’s Club to help us offset the costs.  We are not sponsored by a school district.  We need to do this on our own.  Of the 20 teams that competed Saturday, in six categories, three homeschooling teams came in first place and the other came in second.  Therefore, I don’t feel comfortable reaching out to our homeschool Yahoo Group asking for money when the other teams are in equal need of funds.  
So how to raise money in a short time period?  I guess that is what we have to figure out.  Ideas are being generated and emails are filling up my inbox.  We are brainstorming possible ideas.  It is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.  It leaves me wondering when our sense of normalcy will return.   At this rate, maybe not until after Globals!

Monday, March 26, 2012

First Place is Awarded To....

Saturday tears of joy streamed down my face.  Tears of pride and overwhelming joy.  Not only for my two daughters, but for the amazingly talented, bright, kind, and caring children they call not only teammates, but also friends.  Saturday these children did something that they will look back on for the rest of their lives.  They each won their challenge in their age category.  
Lilah’s team was told for some time that there was no one else in their category to compete against and they would move on to the next round of competition, The Global Finals, by “default”.  That did not sit well with Lilah, who does not believe that children should get trophies or medals just for showing up.  She believes in earning your right to be called a winner.  They were grateful that another team was not only in their category but also their age group.  
When the Crazed Carrots’ name was called as the first place winners they proudly took their place at the podium and knew in their hearts they did the best job they could possibly have done, and their reward was a trip to Tennessee. 
Grace’s team was not expecting a win.  They knew they had competition.  This challenge was popular and there were four teams in their age division.  They had prop challenges.  The special effect wheel did not spin.  Some props fell.  Despite the challenges they moved through their performance with grace and confidence.  It also helped that they kicked butt in their instant challenge.  This may have giving them the extra points needed to come in first place.  
During the awards ceremony, the names in their category were being called.  Third place, Second place.  There were looks of confusion.  Surely they did not place last.....but could they possibly have placed first?  When their name was called tears just pooled in and poured from my eyes.
Countless hours of practice.  The tears of frustration.  The mileage we accumulated commuting.  Every single minute of this experience was worth the efforts.   The team work, the friendships, the problem solving, the creativity, the new skills acquired, and the leadership of two inspirational Team Managers, all contributed to the success of these two teams.
The high has not worn off yet.  Now we are planning the next step of this journey; the one that will take us 16 hours south to Knoxville.  Our DI adventure will continue! 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Grace has been up to....

DI is coming to its thrilling finale.  After weeks, months really, of dedication to the process of completing a detailed, multi-step, layered project, the children are finished.  They have spent countless (literally, I lost count.) hours on their projects.  100 hours each would not be an exaggeration.   
So much of my writing has been focused on Lilah’s team simply because I have been present for most of their practices.  I have had the privilege of watching this project develop from the initial stage of choosing the challenge, to the massive efforts to hold the movie screening and then taking their experience and translating it into a theatrical performance that clearly demonstrates what their team did, how they did it and what they learned from it.    
Grace’s team operated in secret.  I dropped her off at practice and hours later I would return and pick her up. The massive sets, props and costumes were tucked away in the basement workshop or the garage.  I knew the story line of their project but never saw how it all related.  Thursday night the parents were treated to a front row performance of their presentation.  Their project is vastly different from Lilah’s.  Their challenge was to select two cultures and create a “movie trailer” clearly illustrating the interaction between two characters from the respective cultures.  Her team chose China and Crete.  Their sets include the Terracotta Soldiers in their cave, an ancient Greek temple, a city skyline, a Chinese Antique Store.  They built a rolling motorcycle for a chase scene, weapons for a duel, a large spinning color blending wheel, Terracotta Soldiers, a super sized Nintendo DS, a two person Chinese Dragon with a movable tail and the ability to blow smoke from the nostrils, and a TV frame that moves from set to set, focusing the audience’s attention on the correct set.
Here is a sampling of their work.  Even though I don’t have parental permission to post all the photos of what I have described above, these photos give you an idea of the scope of their work.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not the only one....

Think you want to start a DI team?  You should.  I am not the only Mom who is amazed by the growth she has seen in her children over the past 6 weeks.  

Visit my dear friend Mama K over at Frog Creek for another point of view on this experience that is nothing short of transformational.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Winter session of Co-op

Today ended our first co-op session at our new temporary location.  Our old location was like having a cup of tea with an old friend.  It was calming and comfortable.  It was the perfect space to spend the fall.  Since this year was our first experience with co-op, my girls were saddened by the news that we were leaving, but not devastated.  
Our new space is in a downtown location where the kids have access to art rooms and the mom’s have access to coffee shops!  While it may not be cozy, this space definitely inspires creativity.  
I am thankful that we have extended co-op another 6 weeks at this location.  I will be teaching two sessions of art journaling (age 8-10 and ages 11+).   I expect my girls will have a hard time choosing classes again.

Lilah sanding her toolboox in woodworking class. 

"I learned how to use tools such as the sander, chisel, three different saws, a screwdriver, drill and a protractor for measuring right angles."  ~ Lilah

Grace wet felting a weather scene. 

She loved this class.  Every time I walked by, the children were at peace, talking quietly, while working the wool into wondrous things, like felted soap, trees that change with the seasons, and figurines.

Lilah's pottery class:

Grace's pottery class:

Lilah's tile mosaic class:

While it is hopeful that someday we may return to our beloved antique home with its farm house kitchen, it is not the place that matters when it comes to learning.  Give children a space and a teacher to guide and inspire them, allow for trial and error, access to proper materials, then step back and watch learning unfold.

I am  grateful to the two mothers who organize and coordinate our co-op.  It is a tremendous amount of work and they make it seem effortless. The day we were offered an invitation to join was truly the beginning of a remarkable experience.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Destination Insanity!

You might be wondering why a week has passed with no blog update.  This is why.  This was my schedule last week:
Lilah’s DI team practice: Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Sunday.
Grace’s DI team practice: Thursday, Saturday
Co-op: Wednesday.
This week my schedule will be:
Lilah’s DI team practice: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, possibly Friday
Grace’s DI team practice: Thursday, Friday.
Co-op:  Wednesday.
DI State Tournament: Saturday, March 24!!!!!!!!!
There is not much for me to update.  There has been painting, gluing, cutting, and assembling.  There has been mending, enhancing and brainstorming.  There have been task lists, schedules and assignments.  There have been early mornings and late nights.  
This week will focus on rehearsing.  Over and over and over until it is as perfect as possible.  No matter the outcome Saturday,  these two girls have gained something invaluable from this experience.  They will carry it with them always.  I have never been more proud.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Piano Recital

Grace is blessed to have a piano teacher that she loves.   Miss Jenny has been a part of our family for years now, ever since Lilah announced in the back seat of the car on the way home from preschool that she was not anything like Grace (who at the time was skating several days a week) and she wanted to play piano.  Miss Jenny was patient and kind, for Lilah was a very shy, introverted toddler.  Music flourished in my home as Lilah’s little hands played the C song, then the D song, and so on and so on until she knew all the notes.
At the time, Grace’s passion was skating and much of my time and budget for lessons went towards her coach’s fees and ice time.  She could not take piano lessons.  Hardly discouranged, Grace would sit on the couch during Lilah’s lessons and watch her sister intently, memorizing the lesson so she could go home and duplicate it on her own.  Little did I know then that Grace would leave the sport of skating, immediately ask for piano lessons, and begin a whole new passion that years later, shows no signs of waining.  
Grace is also inspired by a cousin that she does not know.  My cousin has played the piano since he was a child.  A few months ago, my Aunt gave me his CD which contained the full version of Fur Elise.   Grace was captivated.  She played his music over and over.  She played it for her friends and for Jenny.  She begged Jenny to give her the full sheet music so she could learn to play this song that has touched her soul.  Play it she did.  She has tackled this piece with every effort of her being.  This song has become a part of her in a way that fills my heart with joy.  It will be one of those songs that she will stay with and master.  I hope that I can get this video to my cousin, so he will know what a very important person he has become to my daughter.  I truly hope that one day she can hear him play this song in person and he can hear her express her thanks for being such a role model in her musical development.  

Fur Elise, Ludwig van Beethoven

Rondeau (from Suite de Symphonies No. 1), Mouret

Prelude No.1  from Well Tempered Clavichord, Bach

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Be The Change You Wish To See

Years and years ago, I happened to watch an episode of Oprah that has lived inside me ever since.  She said she did not believe in luck.  Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.
Will Lilah’s DI team be lucky at the State Tournament in two weeks?  No, they won't be lucky.  Luck and DI are not compatible.  This team of six children are prepared.  I cannot wait to see what opportunities lie in store for them.


Last night my child was a part of something that touched the hearts of many people.  Her team flawlessly executed a documentary movie screening of Sharkwater in the hopes of raising money for the protection of threatened animals.  They sold handmade canvas bags, painting, and clay figurines as well as organic fruit.  They showed a sideshow of how this project was planned from the beginning stages to the setting up of the auditorium.  They displayed a board of why this movie should matter to the viewers and they distributed brochures explaining why their team chose this project.  

Friends and family attended along with people we had the opportunity to meet for the first time.  So many things could have gone wrong. Nothing did.  This team was prepared.  

Hour and hours of planning, organizing, creating, compromising, brainstorming, learning and bonding were needed to create an event like this.  I estimate about 50 hours were spent in preparation.  It all came down to a two hour event.  Every single bag was sold.  Every painting sold.  Almost every clay figuring sold.  Donations were collected.  $488.15 in total.  But it was not about the money raised.  It was not about the State Tournament or the possibility of going to Globals in Tennessee.  Last night was about the animals.

I have never attended a group viewing of a documentary before.  Watching a powerful movie with a group of people brings about powerful emotions.  Many had no idea the magnitude of the shark finning industry.  Most had no  knowledge of the numbers of sharks slaughtered each day.  Few knew of the cruel and inhumane slicing of fins and the discarding of live sharks back into the ocean unable to swim, sinking to the ocean floor as they drown.  Every person I spoke to after this movie had been profoundly affected.  Some shared that they will be writing letters.  Others felt we need to stop the demand for the product in order to stop the supply.  One of my friends asked me how God can love us when our species does such unforgivable things.  

I told her my hope lies in the future.  In the generation of children we are raising.  These are the children who hold the future of this planet in their hands.  We will raise them to know where their food comes from.  We will raise them to know how to cultivate the Earth.  We will raise them to question the government, and big business when it comes to their involvement in what goes on our tables.  They will know how to heal through nature. They will know how to be kind to our planet.  

Hopefully through projects like this, they will know how to organize, communicate, fund raise, and in Ghandi’s words, be the change they wish to see.

Monday, March 5, 2012

DI Down to the Wire

DI Practices are much like business meetings around the conference table.  There is the agenda.


Division of responsibilities.




This weekend Lilah and I were driving Grace to her practice and she told me how much she loves DI.  When I asked her why, she replied that it gives her responsibility.  When I asked how, she explained that there is so much that has to be done for this project that they have to split it up and each person has homework and the homework is really important.  Plus it is a lot of fun!
This will be a busy DI week for Lilah.  They meet today for a walk through of their big project which will take place Wednesday night.  They meet again tomorrow to work on last minute details before the big day.  Their work is outstanding.  Their cooperation and compromise skills are growing.  Their friendship is heartwarming.  Their passion is contagious.  
This will be an exciting week!

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...