Friday, August 30, 2013

Not Back To School Day 2013

It’s official.  Our 2013-2014 year is underway.  I consider us year round schoolers.  Anything that happens after June 1 is applicable to the new “school” year.  Right now I am not counting hours or record keeping for Lilah, that will come next year. However, I am diligently keeping my binder, which I will post more on soon, and recording the hours, classes and learning that occur for Grace.  (20 hours music instruction, 12 hours science, 15 hours of art, 11 hours life skills, 8 hours volunteering, etc).

However, our “official” day, our Not Back To School Day, happened Wednesday, the 28th.  As the kids were walking by our house on their way down the hill to the elementary school, we were getting ready to drive to Hartford to visit the Connecticut Science Center.  

This is an interesting place.  It has hands on activities that are engaging and informative.  The girls enjoyed the science in sports exhibit where they learned that controlling a snowboard is about the degree of angle you make between the board and the snow.  They enjoyed manipulating air to move a beach ball and designing a paper kite.  They are not too old for the Lego table and they enjoyed the views from the roof top garden.

The center is heavily funded through donations from Connecticut businesses, many of them big medicine and big pharma.  While I believe antibiotics have a place in our world, I felt that there was an imbalance of the importance of man made medicine over natural medicine.  I would love to have seen a display about plants native to Connecticut and their healing powers. 

Our trip was a pleasant way to begin our adventures into 6th and 8th grade.  I am looking forward to this year and the many activities, classes, trips, and adventures it will bring.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Whale Watch

“Two hundred years ago an old Dutch voyager likened its shape to that of a shoemaker’s last. And in this same last or shoe, that old woman of the nursery tale with the swarming brood, might very comfortably be lodged, she and all her progeny.” 
Herman Melville, Moby Dick 

Have you ever seen a whale?  No matter how many times I venture out on a whale watching adventure the awe of these majestic creatures strikes me like it is the very first time.  We could not have conjured up a more perfect day to head out to the open Atlantic. The sky was clear, the sea calm and the sun was not too hot.  

Just past Provincetown, Massachusetts lie the summer feeding grounds for humpback whales.  We were lucky enough to stumble upon two humpback whales at rest on the surface of the sea.  We were also lucky enough to have a naturalist on board our vessel.  She explained that the fleet of boats make it their mission to “dance” with the whales, learning, investigating, examining but not interfering with their movements nor hindering their freedoms.  

We also observed a giant fin whale, the second largest mammal in the world. Awesome.  

This experience was a first for my girls.  Just stepping on the boat was a major accomplishment for Lilah, who has a fear of boats and being in deep water.  I was regretting that me, the family photographer, forgot her Cannon for this trip!  All I had to record my adventure was my trusty iPhone.  

Lilah put together a little something to share......


Saturday, August 24, 2013


Day 1 = Lighthouse Beach, Chatham, MA.  Yoga with the seals!

My 41st year has been of self discovery, empowerment, and enlightenment.  Those are pretty powerful adjectives and they center around my new found discovery and adoration of the practice of yoga.

Not only is my body the strongest it has been since the days when I studied kenpo karate, my spiritual health is being awakened in new and exciting ways.  I use yoga as a way to connect my body to my God.  In my practice, I am learning to contort and open my body into positions I would have considered laughable a year ago while at the same time still my mind through conscious, intentional breathing.  When this happens I can pray.

Day 2 = Red River Beach, Harwichport, MA.  

When this happens I can pray without interruption by person or by mind.  I can recite prayers in the stillness of my mind, connecting my words to my breathing.  Or I can just have a meaningful conversation with my God.   

When I read Eat, Pray, Love years ago I learned that monks practice yoga in preparation for meditation and prayer.  This resonated with me.  I always went to church and prayed, but praying in church seemed rote, stiff, and not as meaningful as listening to the sermon and understanding how the priest's words impacted my day to day life.   I would lie in bed at night unsuccessful in my attempts to turn my mind off.  I never realized that my body needs to be refocused in a way that acts as an off switch.  That switch turns off my incessant internal chatter.  The chatter about my calendar, classes, lessons, personal relationships, household issues, errands and chores.  It all goes away and for a period of 90 minutes my mind is still.  What I invite into it is conscious.  I use this time to invite God in.

Foggy morning yoga  at Red River Beach.  Day 3

My yoga studio, whether it is in a building or en plain aire, is my church for that period of time.  Like I rely on the Father at church to challenge my intellectual spirituality, I have come to rely on my yoga practice and my yoga instructors to challenge my physical spirituality.  When they are connected, I am at peace and unlike the peace and tranquility a massage, a pedicure or a shopping trip promises, this peace is lasting.  

My goal is to connect the feeling I have walking out of a yoga class to the rest of my life.  When my daily world is pressing in on me, I will remember the words of my instructor, “practice handling stress here, with grace, so that you can handle stress outside the studio with grace”.  

I am thankful to have had 4 consecutive days of yoga practice on the sand, next to the sea, with seals to encourage me, and no space between my body and the heavens.  

Yoga day 4.  Glorious.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Perseid Meteor Shower

We live in a metropolitan area that suffers from light pollution.  It is sad to me that my girls have few opportunities to see the full glory of a night sky.  The Perseid Meteor Shower was to peak during our stay on the Cape, so even though it was a bit early in the night, we headed to the beach to gaze upwards.  My brother loaned us his night vision monocular and gave us a lesson on its use.

Holy moly.  It made the sky come alive.  Meteors were visible with night vision that were invisible with the naked eye.  

We were too early to experience the expected 100 meteors per hour, but we each saw several.  For the girls, it was their first time seeing a shooting star.  That was pretty magical.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kayaking on Swan River

As I look back on my pictures of this summer so many of them involve the beach.  It seems we have spent the summer in or on the water!  One of the things we were not able to do in Maine was kayak.  The fog and rough seas made it impossible.  I did not fret because I knew the perfect spot in Cape Cod to kayak on the river which at low tide is really more like a marsh.  

Nature.  Up close and very personal.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cape Cod 2013

“it's a smile, it's a kiss, it's a sip of wine ... it's summertime!” 
― Kenny Chesney

Last week gave me all this and more.  A week spent in Cape Cod, Massachusetts is a little slice of heaven.  It has always been one of my favorite spots, a spot to relax, to inhale deeply, and savor the salty briny air.  I have been coming here since I was a baby and now I get to relive the moments of my childhood through the eyes of my children, and my nephews.  

When I was just a little girl, my grandfather would take me to the beach before the sand combers arrived, before most people were opening their eyes and just after the sun began its ascent over the horizon. In these waters we found whelk shells.  Huge shells.  At low tide the water was clear enough to spot them and dive for them.  They were brought home, boiled to  kill any bacteria and painted with clear nail polish.  They were our treasures.  

Over the years my girls have formed their own traditions during their time at the Cape.  Traditions like early morning bike rides with their father and coffee runs and trips the bakery in town with their Grandfather. 

They will remember being carried into the ocean like a sack of potatoes by their uncle to avoid the dreaded seaweed.  They will remember jumping off rocks fully clothed and playing with their little cousin for hours and hours.  

This week is a gift given to us by my parents.  It brings them joy to see their family tradition shared down through two more generations.  It is a rare opportunity that we all have to share time and space, a smile, a kiss and a sip (or two) of wine.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Our Favorite Spot this Summer

Living so close to the water brings me joy.  Until recently I never appreciated what I had in my own backyard.  I always compared Long Island Sound to beaches in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine and our beach always fell short.

Until this year.  This year our beach has been magical.  I plan to write the Public Works Department a thank you letter for the care they have put into the keeping of our little treasure.  It has never looked more beautiful.  The sand is combed daily.  There is no litter, anywhere.  A few years ago we filled bags with the litter that was either left behind by careless visitors or washed up on shore.  Now our favorite spot, a tidal inlet, is pristine.  The water is clear and clean.  When the light hits the water just right reflecting the blue of the summer sky, I can almost imagine that I am somewhere else, on vacation, but then I realize I don’t have to do that.  I don’t have to dream myself to another location.  I am in the perfect one already.

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...