Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lake Compounce

While I was off at my brother’s NYPD graduation ceremony Thursday, Greg took the girls on an adventure.  It has been a long time since they have had a Daddy and Me day.  

This was the best kind of day to do sans Mama.  I am not a fan of amusement parks. They were delighted to not have me following behind commenting on the safety records of amusement parks, the amount of trans fat in the chicken nuggets they ate for lunch, the evils of free soda stations located throughout the park (thankfully they also provided free water), and the need for constant sunscreen application!  I such the joy out of a trip like this!  I admit it.  But not Greg....he lives for days like this with his girls.  He is a very cool Dad.  He always has been.  He always will be.  

So much fun was had that they decided to make June 28th an official "Dad Day" Holiday.  Greg will take the day off from work and he and the girls will have an annual adventure of epic proportions.  

Friday, June 29, 2012


This week tears were shed.  Tears of joy and tears of sadness.   The result is the week has gone by with a flurry of activity and I am not sure how to tell the story of this week since the events that took place are not my stories, but only ones in which I am a character.
My church community is grieving for the loss of two of its parishioners.  Two lives cut way too short from cancer.  One, a 19 year old boy who left behind his parents, grandparents, friends and three siblings.  His mother was Grace’s 2nd grade Religious Ed teacher and he was her helper.  There is a mother, a parent of one of my Religious Ed students, who battled fiercely to beat her disease, succumbed to it this week.  I bought her son a medal of Mary and reminded him how I would say over and over again in class that Mary brings me peace in times of hardship.  I wanted him to have her close to his heart as a reminder that a mother’s love never fades.  Love is eternal.  I pray for this child daily; several times a day, in fact.   Tears of sadness have been shed this week.
Tears of joy have also welled up in my eyes.  I had the honor of attending The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) graduation ceremony Thursday to watch my brother graduate with honors.  As Commissioner Raymond Kelly gave the commencement address he spoke of my brother, a veteran of the Afghan War, Operation Freedom, and how he gave for his country.  My brother is no longer a child. He is a fully grown man with a wife and a child, but I felt like I did when my parents brought him home from the hospital and I realized I would always be his big sister.  My little brother now towers above me, and yet, those feelings are the same today as they were thirty five years ago.
This week gave me moments that I will never forget in the course of my lifetime.  Hugging the man who lost the woman he loved and adored.  Praying before the casket of a child.  Feeling the bagpipes reverberate in my body and soul as they played the battle hymn of the Marine Corp, The Halls of Montezuma, while watching my brother stand in salute.  All memories now.  Each different.  Each important.  Each becoming a part of me. While these are not my stories, but the stories of those who lost, who gained, who grieved, who congratulated, they are now a part of my life story.  
I am grateful that I had the ability to experience it all.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer = Beach

New England summers are fleeting.  You have to grab hold tight and not let go until the cool breezes of fall chase away the remaining remnants of summer’s glory.  For us, summer means the beach.  

Once a week we gather late in the afternoon when the sun’s rays are not so hot, and play until our way is paved by the moon’s pale glow.  

This is a time of magic and wonder.  Dinner is picnic style with a few grains of sand for added crunch.  The children are not the only ones who revere this time.  The moms commune and share tidbits about their life during the week.  

Every week for a few short hours, time slows to a crawl.  There is no need to speed it along, for in that time we find peace.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Block Island, RI

Traveling with the Frog Creek Clan showed us what joy there is in making memories that bind families together strengthening the bond of friendship.  Before that, Greg and I  never traveled before where the experience was shared with friends.  

Thursday we had the opportunity to share some time with friends on Block Island.  I love these 9.734 square miles of New England.  Greg and I have visited before for the magical wedding of my best friend fifteen years ago....but have not been back since.  

This trip had many firsts for our family.  First time on a ferry.  First time inviting a friend to come along.  First time sleeping on an island.  First time walking the beach at night.  With so many firsts, the over night trip felt much longer and for the first time in a long time I was able to relax, completely at peace with my surroundings.

How could one not be at peace here?  I have never swam in water so clear and blue north of the Caribbean.   The girls swam and surfed for hours.  Greg and I scoured the beach for sea glass to add to the girls’ collections.   We bonded as a family.  With the hours that Greg puts into his career, our time together is sacred.  It has been far too long since we spontaneously journeyed somewhere unknown and discovered that we do not already know all there is to know about one another.

Our friends shared their precious family time (and beach umbrella) with us.  For that I am grateful. 

Our lives are similar in that both Dads commute to Manhattan daily, travel frequently, and do their best to keep on top of what is going on in their children’s busy lives. In addition to homeschooling her son, my friend is self-employed and works crazy hours when she is not giving lessons.  When they extended the invitation to come, I was a bit concerned with intruding on their sacred time.  However, I am so happy that we accepted.  Now our family’s memories of Block Island are intertwined with theirs.  That is pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Turning Passion into Action

I believe in signs.  The universe (or God to me) has a way of showing us what we are supposed to be doing.  We can be in tune with the energy and go with the flow or we can tune it out, ignore it, and forge ahead in the direction we are going, as wrong as it may  be.  
Passion has been a buzz word in my home lately.  I have shared my belief that if we follow our passions and try to find a way to merge passion with livelihood, work is never “work”.  Sometimes adults get trapped in jobs or careers because they are lucrative.  They expend tremendous amounts of energy, time and resources in a career that allows us to live a certain lifestyle. But when our passions lie elsewhere, our job is just work.  How does a person, who may be the highest income earner in a family, walk away from that security and comfort to pursue a dream or a passion in a completely unrelated field?  It may not be possible.
When I was younger, my passion was international relations.  Once upon a time I thought I would be in the fashion industry as a buyer and travel to the fashion capitals of the world.  In college, I thought currency trading would be a “cool job”.  I majored in international business, fell one credit short of a minor in economics, and envisioned myself in a very different place than the one I am in right now.  
For years I used to have a job that I loved.  Every day was a great day.  I moved the United Nation’s Field Office Personnel around the world.  I would sit at my cubicle with my atlas open and geography came to life.  I dealt with customs agents, freight lines, cargo airliners, as well as my co-workers onsite at the UN.  No day was boring.  No day was the same.  One of my best days was when I received the biggest bouquet of flowers ever for helping clear a very difficult shipment through US customs.  My worst day was when I sent a car to Venezuela instead of Brazil! I would probably still be at my job if it were not for the owners, who were men of questionable character.  Well, maybe not... since I believe that I was led to mentor a young girl as part of the I Have A Dream Foundation just so that my interest would be piqued in the possibility of teaching.......
Although I only taught for a short time at the most idyllic public school in the world, the experience empowered me to make the decision to homeschool my girls.  I had the opportunity to learn the craft of teaching from truly amazing men and women who opened up my world to art journaling, reflective teaching practices, hands on math activities, nature studies and more.  While my thoughts on public schools have evolved since my teaching days, which were pre-No Child Left Behind and the before the testing craze swept our country, I took the best of my beliefs and incorporated new ones, forming my own very unique philosophy of education.
This rambling post is really my attempt to determine my passion.  We have read about people with passion and drive, like Clara Barton.  We have been instructed by people with passion, like Geoff our dig facilitator.  We have had spiritual enlightenment by our passionate Priest who spoke Sunday about using your passion and spirituality to do great things.  We have had literary enlightenment when we had the pleasure to be in the company of Jim Weiss.  Now we need to connect these experiences to our lives.  What are we passionate about?

I have come to realize I am passionate about developing the gift of literacy.  My art journaling classes are something that I spend a great deal of time planning for, participating in, and reflecting on.  I have a goal to incorporate new ideas into my sessions to expand what we are doing and challenge the children to push themselves harder, write more, share more, build on each other’s creativity..... and of course I will blog my every step!

This fall my children will have the chance to put their passion into action as well.  They will be given time, instruction, and guidance to create a project based on their passion.  Any project at all.  It could be an outreach project similar to Lilah’s DI project for animal conservation, it could be a for-profit project such as the creation of a business, or it could be an event that raises money for a specific purpose.  The possibilities are endless.  It is one thing for me to continue to expose my children to passionate adults in their community, but at some point, I have to provide them with the chance to follow their own passions by doing something great.  No longer will I ask them what they want to be when they grow up, I will ask them what they want to be right now.  And from that one complex question, we will see where the answer leads us.  

To say I am excited for this upcoming educational year is an understatement.  We are carefully choosing our activities, building collaborations with other families, and creating new opportunities for our children to excel in their chosen field of interest.  It has taken me 2+ years of homeschooling to get to this place of peace, but I feel like where we are is exactly where we are supposed to be.

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...