Friday, October 28, 2011

Looking Up...

When I saw this weeks assignment for the 52 Photos Project, I was very excited!!  This is something I do ALL the time.  I am constantly in awe of the immense space that exists above us...and so often is ignored.  Unfortunately, I seldom have my camera, so I rarely capture the images that entrance me.  However, I have been lucky on an occasion or two to have my camera handy.  This is the one I picked.  Hope you find it as lovely as I did!

52 Photos Project

This Moment

Joining SouleMama...

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words [cheating a little here] - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."



Let me just say right out of the gate that I don’t home school and I’m not very familiar with the ins and outs of it.  I understand the basic concept, but I cannot speak to it with any type of authority.  My kids have always gone to a traditional brick and mortar school.  I also have only recently (through many blogs posted by you all out there) come to know the term “unschooling,” and although the concept fascinates me the unstructured-ness quality of it leaves me with many unanswered questions.

That being said, there are some things that I am, and that is a mother who loves her children and wants to see them grow to be smart and successful adults.   So, when I went to my 2nd graders parent conference last week, I was naturally very verbal, asking a lot of questions and doing a lot of explaining about the things we do at home to supplement what’s being taught in school.  My daughter’s teacher was very receptive to my questions and encouraging in regards to continuing to work with Bella at home.  She said to my husband and me, “You can always tell which are the children who spend a lot of time with their parents, doing things with their parents, and she is definitely one of them.”  Well, this made me feel a little sad for the kids that don’t have parents at home that spend the kind of time we do with our kids, doing the kinds of things we do in order to ensure that they are learning and developing appropriately.  However, it also made me realize that all along I have been doing the thing I thought I wasn’t by sending my kids to a public school – homeschooling.

My very first job as a teen was as an after-school aide in a preschool.  I loved working with the kids on projects and I always thought I would go into teaching.  Alas, things don’t always turn out as you expect them to and I became a Sociologist instead, but the love of teaching is at the very core of who I am.  Fortunately for me, I have been able to pursue that love with my children.  Even at nineteen, with a new baby and no idea how to raise a child, I have always instilled a love of learning in my children.

With Julian, it started with books.  Both my husband and I love books, and so naturally we wanted our son to love them as well.  When I was pregnant with Julian, Luis and I would sit in bed at night and take turn reading Grimm’s Fairy Tales to my belly.  As soon as Julian was able to open his eyes and stay focused for prolonged periods of time, we continued “reading” to him by showing him picture books and talking about the pictures.  At seven months, my son spoke his first word and by one year he was speaking in clear and complete sentences.  At nine years old he was reading book five of the Harry Potter series on his own and by twelve the favorite was Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code.  He has always also excelled in math and science and has an amazing ability to remember complex concepts at a very detailed level.

When Isabella came along, I thought, “Ok, this one is going to be my ‘normal’ child.”  We followed the same pattern with her, reading from infancy and encouraging exploration and learning every day.  However, when at one year she had the typical repertoire of 10 or so words, which is probably developmentally ok, I began to panic.  Of course, my only comparison was Julian, my brain child.  I had to continually remind myself that she was developing just fine and that I really needed to stop comparing her to her brother.

The toddler years brought on may fun days of painting, coloring, cutting, and pasting.  Talking about letters and numbers and colors and shapes.  Because we are working parents, we tried to maximize the time we have to expose our children to as much learning as we can.  I let go of the comparisons and relished in having another little one through whose eyes I could re-experience the world.  Then, when Bella turned four, something happened.  Something clicked in her little brain and in six short months, she went from reciting her ABCs to reading If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

Once she started kindergarten, it became instantly apparent that I needed to step up my game a t home because the school curriculum was simply not going to cut it.  We began reading more at home, doing more spelling and writing activities, and practicing some simple addition (“If I have 5 apples and I eat 2, how many do I have left?”).  Now, my daughter is in second grade doing third grade math and reading at an almost fourth grade level.  She probably could have skipped kindergarten altogether.  I still panic that whatever clicked in her brain at four years old will click back someday and she will fall behind; so I relentlessly continue to push her to her limits at home.  I love the social environment that she is exposed to at school and so does she.  She loves going to school and I would never take that away from her.  However, I also know that school is not enough…that I need to use my time at home to fill in gaps and continue to create an environment for her where she can feel challenged.

So, I guess I have come to the realization that education does not need to be a one or the other type of approach.  There is really no such thing as traditional school v.s. homeschooling.  I argue that you can have both.  You can’t really pigeon-hole kids and judge the decisions that parents make regarding the children’s education.  There is no right answer for everyone, there is only the right answer for your child right now.  My kids?  Yeah, they go to public school…but they have also been homeschooled all of their lives by two loving parents who feel that learning happens every moment of everyday, whether you’re sitting at desk in front of a chalk board or sitting on mommy or daddy’s lap reading a book.  Learning doesn’t start and stop…it is a continuum…and we are all students as well as teachers.

Friday, October 14, 2011


Taken from Microsoft Word Clipart

We all (often) ruminate about our lives…and how we feel.  I’m sure there are many times when you say, “I’m so busy” or “I’m so tired.”  Or maybe sometimes you look at the bright side and say, “I’m so happy” or “I feel so loved.”  But do you ever stop to think about how lucky you are?  I do.  A lot.

I think it’s inevitable to dwell on the bad sometimes.  There are days when we are feeling down and nothing seems to go right.  You know the days.  When you wake up and stub your toe on your way to the bathroom and think, “It’s gonna be one of those days.”

Then there are the days when life couldn’t be better.  When happiness and joy consumes us, and the love we feel for others and others feel for us, fills up our heart to almost bursting.  These are great days, and most of us try to make sure that these days far outweigh the bad ones.

But what I mean when I say lucky is not happiness or joy or love.  I’m talking about something else…something outside of ourselves that sets in motion outcomes and results that affect our lives in a myriad of ways.

Luck – a combination of circumstances or events that, by chance, shape other circumstances or events.  Could be good or could be bad…but when we say lucky, we usually mean good.

I know what you're thinking...there's nothing lucky about stubing your toe first thing in the morning and watching the rest of your day go downhill from there, Gail.  And your right.  Sometimes life gets sucky, and it seems that no matter what we do, it only gets worse.  Sometimes when we are feeling crappy, happiness and joy eludes us, and despair takes over no matter how hard we try to the contrary.  However, it doesn't have to be all gloom, all the time.

You see, sometimes…when I’m having one of those days…I start thinking.  I think about the events in my life that have shaped who I am.  I think about the people I’ve met and the relationships I’ve forged.  I think about where I’ve been, where I’m going, and how far I’ve come.  I think about all of the decisions I’ve made right, and all of the things I’ve learned from the ones I’ve made wrong.  I think about all the ways in which my life is whole and healthy and good.  And I feel…lucky!  Lucky because in my thirty-five years on Earth there have been many circumstances and events that have led me down many paths.  And, although those paths have not always been smooth, and I’ve had to back-track a few times, they have always led me to a good place.  

And sometimes these are things we need to think about when we are having one of those days, so we can clear out gray clouds and make room for the happiness and the joy and the love to find it's way back into our lives and our hearts.

A big thank you to all those that visit, and leave me happy notes.  They truly make my day, as they are proof that someone is reading this stuff :)  I’m very lucky to have such wonderful blog-friends!  Wishing you a very lucky weekend!

This post is dedicated to my beautiful mother, who's having one of those days.   Love you, Mom <3

This Moment

Joining SouleMama...

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words [cheating a little here] - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."


When God gives you pork shoulder, chicken stock, green beans, carrots, green onions, ginger, soy sauce, and Top Ramen make your own version of an asian noodle soup and call it dinner!

Happy Friday!!

Monday, October 10, 2011


The other day, the wind, the cold, and the rain came for a visit.
I wasn’t exactly expecting them, but more like hoping they would stop by soon.
It was splendid. 
When they showed up at my door, I was ready with my favorite jacket and scarf, to welcome them in.
Since they stayed through the day and into the evening, I also dug out the fuzzy socks – you know the ones.
We had a wonderful time, the wind, the cold, the rain, and I.
We drank lots of tea and even some hot cocoa.
We snuggled under blankets to read.
We rejoiced in finally being together again.
Alas, with the dawning of the new day, I awoke to find that sometime during the night as I lay sleeping, the wind, the cold, and the rain had taken their leave once again. 
I was devastated, as I thought they had come to stay for a while.
I wasn’t expecting them to leave so soon.
I’m hoping they will be back, the wind, the cold, and the rain – my best friends.

Friday, October 7, 2011

This Moment

Joining SouleMama...

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."


Monday, October 3, 2011


October has arrived and I have to say that, although I was very excited about the coming of Fall (as I posted here), it has been a very slow start indeed.  I wouldn’t say I am uninspired or feeling gloomy as much as I am just very busy.  With everyone back in school, it has been a challenge this year to get into our groove.  Julian’s junior year is proving to be action packed from the word go.  Trying to fit in his evening review sessions, extra after school APUSH classes, and his new responsibilities as co-president and youth council member of GSA, along with Bella’s Taekwondo and Brownies, has my head spinning…and we have barely finished month one!!
There have been consequences, as so often there are.  I have dropped the ball on packed lunches and home cooked meals and find myself taking the kids to eat out more than I should.  I have not been giving the attention I should to my “Uncovering Happiness” project (last month was hit and miss).  The blogging has slowed way down.   I realize that I haven’t finished posting the pics from our Seattle trip, and my camera has been conspicuously empty lately and the words these days come out as lists of things I can’t forget to do.  We have not made it apple picking yet this season, and at the rate we are going we probably won’t.  The unraveling feeling is creeping up…and try as I might to gather the threads, it seems like I almost grab a hold of one and another slips through my fingers.

However, through all of this, there are some glimmers of wonderfulness…

Text messages that start “OMG MERCIFUL HEAVENS…” from my high schooler when assignments and exams get pushed back unexpectedly…never fails to make me smile, that boy.

Feelings of pride as my mini one gives her all during her sparring matches…her attitude of no fear is amazing and humbling.

Bittersweet feelings of excitement and sadness as I watch my son get ready for the first dance of the year…the teen energy as we drive them to the event is infectious and reminds me of times long ago.

Watching Bella bridge over to Brownies with her girl scout sisters…and realizing the bonds that have been forged amongst the girls and also amongst the moms.

Knowing my weekday evening will be that much easier cuz my better half made dinner last night and all I have to do tonight is warm it up!

Not sure if the threads will ever come together for me this year.  Not sure if I will ever get my blogging rhythm back or if I will have to resort to sporadic updates and occasional pictures.  Not sure how much happiness I will uncover or how many takeout pizzas we will end up consuming.  However, one thing is abundantly clear.  This year I will be very busy living…and isn’t that the best of all?