Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The skinny about my opinion on body sizes, nutrition, and health

Let me warn you, I'm about to get on a soap box right now.  When it comes to weight, body size etc we have got it all wrong.  There.  That's the truth.

For starters, being thin/small/tiny doesn't automatically make you healthier.  That's a myth and it's time you stop believing it.  You can be a size 4 and have cholesterol through the roof. Sure, you can probably rock a bikini the rest of the population can't but you aren't healthy.
 The same is true on the other side.  You may not be a size 4 and be in excellent health.  When did we decide the size of a body is directly proportional to that person's health? 

Now that you know where I stand on that issue, here is another that comes closer to home, and gives me heartburn.  When did we decide that being thin or smaller than the average population is automatically a sign that someone has "eating issues"?.  
Considering we are constantly worried about childhood obesity, one would assume children who aren't near the obesity line would have nothing to worry about.  I'm here to tell you that isn't the case.

One of the (few) things I inherited from my paternal side were the genes that made me "smaller" than most.  I was painfully thin all through childhood, and suffered much teasing because of it.  Call it fast metabolism, good genes, or whatever you want, I am a small person, both in height and weight.  
I passed this gene to my children who are also thin.  One of these kids is now a teenage girl who has to endure comments like "oh my, you are so THIN! You need to eat more!" all the freaking time.

Those of you who know her can attest she doesn't look "sick".  She looks healthy, beautiful, shiny black hair, sparkling brown eyes.  There is nothing in her appearance that says this kid has an issue with food.  Still the comments keep coming.  The last comment I received made me laughed at this person:  "does she like food?"

Does she ever!!! She loves to cook, because she loves to eat.  She loves chocolate (I blame it on the constant chocolate craving I had while expecting her); and sweet tea.  She eats as any normal teenager would I suppose. Perhaps it's in her genes or in the fact she is a dancer and that means she dances from the moment she awakes to the moment she goes to bed (including those trips to walmart when she has to break out into a dance in the middle of the food aisle).

What really pisses me off is these people are usually parents of other teenagers! You would think because they have a child at home the same age, they would be more sensitive to the feelings of a teenage girl.  I have been rude many times when answering these people, and have bragged that she has "good genes", and that's probably the reason she can eat what she likes and not gain an ounce.

The thing is, I shouldn't have to say anything.  Because those comments should have never been made.  At least not in front of her.   Way to crush a girl's self esteem!

All I ever wanted was for my children to be confident in their own skin.  Whatever size they are, if they are healthy and happy, that's all I care about. On the same token, I am trying to be a good example for them, specially my daughter, about loving themselves and their bodies, regardless of what that body looks like.  Self confidence can only come from loving yourself, not from the label on the back of your jeans.

I have tried (not perfectly) to be confident in myself, and show my kids that age is just a number, and we can be healthy and happy without being supermodels as the media will have them believe.  I am the mom who wears a bikini alongside her teenage daughter to show her, even at 40+ years, 3 kids later, and a less than perfect body, I still believe in myself and I still believe I am beautiful.  Not in the artificial way that the media portraits, but in the way that can only come from knowing looks are just superficial, and what's inside is what matters most.

I like to think I've succeeded at that.  I watch her while she shops and she is daring and not afraid to try clothes on.  She doesn't care if she doesn't have the x,y,z attribute someone else does, she is happy with who she is.

Which brings me (the long way) around to healthy eating and better nutrition.  Remember when I mention how we love to eat?  Well, I forgot to mention we aren't huge fans of vegetables.  Mostly my fault.  I was the kid who refuse to eat anything green unless it was green cake or green ice cream.  

As I aged I became better at eating salads, and some more vegetables.  But it wasn't until after I turned 40 that I began to eat things like broccoli.  

Anyway, remember when I said looks can be deceiving?  Yep, they can be.  Although I am in good health, I've been fueling my body with the wrong fuel and well, since I'm now older I've noticed how it affects my energy label, etc; not to mention my weight, which in turn affects my joints, etc, etc.  Believe me, no one wants to feel old while they still think of themselves as young.

So I decided it is time to eat more veggies, less carbs, and cut down the crap (notice I said down, not out) so I can feel as young as I think I am.  
More than likely this will result in me losing weight, because less carbs tend to do that to a body.  

Please, I beg of you, don't make comments like "you didn't really need lose weight!".  You are right, I didn't.  The reason I made this decision had less to do with a number, and more to do with feeling good every day; rather than feeling like I ran a marathon in my sleep.  

I am hoping in the process I can introduce more veggies into our food rotation and get the kids to eat more things.  So they don't discover how good broccoli is when they are 40 like I did. Because it is good! Why didn't anyone tell me that for 40 years!!!

So please, stop judging people's health based on what you see outside.  Unless you have x-ray vision, you don't know what's beneath the surface.  

And if you have ever made a comment about my kids' weight, stop now.  Before this mom goes all "angry latina" on you.  Trust me, it wouldn't be pretty. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

Uncensored- Homeschooling

The opinions posted here are my own, and based solely on my personal experience with homeschooling.  While these may not be the "popular" opinions, they are mine.  I am sharing them, specially for those who may be curious about homeschooling, who may be considering it, or who are just simply nosy.  Because you know we all are a bit nosy.

Homeschooling is not "school at home".  Not in this house at least.  There are plenty of people who recreate a classroom environment at home.  That's fine and dandy but it isn't for me and my crew.  We do school at the dinner table, on the couch, in the bed, outside on lawn chairs.
We have a set number of assignments to do each day. We don't set timers, we don't have an alloted timeframe to do a subject each day.  Does that mean they get to goof off all day? Of course not.  It means if math is challenging, we work on it until we get it right.  Can't get cursive quite right? Not a problem.  We work for mastery, simple as that.  Some days school goes smoother and we are done earlier than others.  We don't "teach subjects" to the kids, we like to think we teach them to learn.  I love to see the spark in my kids' eyes when we talk about a topic they like, and watch them find a book, or a documentary so they can learn more about it.  That's what I've always dreamed of, sparking the love of learning.

I use secular curriculum.  I can imagine many shaking their heads right about now. When we first started, I used a Christian curriculum and I didn't like it.  It was filled with worksheets and my kids didn't respond well to that.  I also didn't feel it broaden my children's view of the subject matter the way I want it.

Don't misunderstand me.  I am not passing judgement on anyone who uses Christian materials.  We all use what we believe to be best for our kids.

I wanted my kids to get the type of education I received as a kid.  I grew up attending private catholic school, and it doesn't get any more conservative than that in my opinion.  We prayed before each class period, we had mass once per week and attendance was mandatory.  We had a chapel on campus and it was normal to spend a few minutes in silent prayer during recess. 
But it was in this same school where I learned about evolution in science, and eastern religions in history.  I want my kids to get the same broad understanding I received as a kid.  

Does that make me less of a Christian? I don't think so.  But I'm sure some will think so.  I try not to worry about everyone's opinions when it comes to how I raise my family.

Oh here comes a biggie.  It seems the million dollar question these days isn't about socialization of homeschool kids.  It's about whether or not parents without a college education can homeschool their kids and do so effectively.  

The question is, if you weren't good at math in school, how can you teach your kids math?  or science? or english? and the list goes on.
Well, do you know if your kids' teacher in school was good at the subject they are teaching at school right now? 
Let me be honest with you about my decision to homeschool.  If my husband and I hadn't attended college, I wouldn't have ever considered homeschooling.  Call me a chicken s***, but I would have been terrified to even attempt to do so. We may be on the minority here when it comes to our education level, and I don't know what the answer to the million dollar question is. 
What I do know is there are thousands of resources out there to teach those subjects you didn't particularly like in school.  Like biology in my case.  There are co-ops where another soul braver than me can teach my kids how to dissect a frog, etc.  There are online classes, and classes offered by retired teachers too.
I worry less about whether a homeschool parent has a college degree; and more about whether the kid is learning.  That goes for kids who attend regular school too. Do parents need a college degree to help kids with the homework they bring home from school?  Because, let's phase it, a lot of learning happens at home after the kids get home from school. 
Neither of my parents went to college.  I attended school and yes, I needed help with homework too.  Here I am, many moons later, with both a bachelor and master degrees in engineering.  I think they did a fine job helping with homework, and inspiring me to find the answers on my own.

You know, when you say "Oh I could NEVER do that", I don't believe you.  You want to know why? Because I was THAT person who said I would never homeschool. Then I was phased with a crossroad and we had to consider it.  When someone utters that phrase, I wonder if they are passing judgement.  Do they think I don't love my kids as much as they do? Do they feel I took the "easy" way out?

People say "oh I don't know HOW you do it".  I've been hearing that phrase since my twins were born.  I don't know HOW I do it either, I just do.  Because it has to be done.  Because I love my kids and want what's best for them.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  That's how I tackle our homeschooling journey.

And while I'm at it, let me state this for the record.  There is nothing wrong with my kids. We don't homeschool because they have "social" issues.  They are well adjusted, fun, easy going, kids.  They make friends easily, they are typical kids.  There are no labels or diagnosis for any of them. Our decision to homeschool them had nothing to do with their ability to attend "regular" school.  Don't ask me if they have (insert a label here) because you are bound to get a "look" and a reply you may not like.

Homeschooling isn't free by the way.  We don't get anything from the school district we are in, at least not in this state.  That means the cost of curriculum and school supplies is all on us.  Paper, pencils, electricity, food, ink for the printer, internet?  It is all paid by us. There is no "taxpayer" money funding my homeschool.

I could go on and on but I'll leave you with this.  We all don't look the same, homeschool the same, or share the same educational philosophies.  We all arrived at this decision from a different place.  Some people do it for religious reasons, others because of the school district where they reside, others because they feel their kids are better served at home.  I've found homeschoolers and regular people are very quick to assume all families arrived at the same place from the same location.  Just as we are all different, so are homeschool families.  

As for us, our kids are better served at home for now.  What the future may bring, I do not know.  Our kids are learning and thriving, and we are learning along with them.  They have friends, they are happy, and so are we.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


So this idea that I need to reinvent my blog has been pestering me for a while. The thing is I am a mom, I homeschool, and I also have a career.  Those 3 things are part of my daily life, and one couldn't exist without the other two.  I want this blog to capture all those aspects of my life that I seldom share.
I don't want this blog to be all about homeschooling, because there are other things I enjoy (ask me how many books are on my nightstand).  I don't want it to completely ignore the fact we educate our kids at home; and are slowly trying to break all the stereotypes that come with that responsibility.  Lastly, I don't want it to be all about my career.  Although it is important to me, there is a whole lot more to me than environmental regulations, and databases.

I also don't want it to be all about opinions.  Yes I have plenty of them, and will share my thoughts on those that are close to my heart.  So don't expect my opinion on celebrities, because seriously, who the heck cares about them.  

So Fasten your seatbelts! This ride may be a little bumpy and crazy, and may be full of surprises.    

Friday, April 24, 2015

Why I blog

I'm not new to blogging.  I have been doing this (poorly at times) for a long time.  

Back in 2007 I decided that having 3 kids, including 9 months old twins, and a full time job wasn't enough of a challenge and decided I wanted to train for a marathon.  Why no one questioned my sanity at that time will remain an unsolved mystery.  That's when I started blogging.  It was a way to document the training and connect with the other people who were part of that training group.

I'm no Forrest Gump, so running because I felt like running wasn't enough; so I decided to raise money for CFC International.  If I was crazy enough to run 26.2 miles, someone worthy should benefit from my insanity.  Once I had a purpose, the miles didn't seem as daunting.  Want to see what I was thinking about back then? Here is where you'll find all about my Road to Chicago Marathon.

After that was over, I decided to continue blogging, and here we are.  I have documented so much about my life in this blog.  It is therapeutic to me to put my feelings into words, it's always been. 
What started as a way to document my marathon training has evolved into a way of sharing what life is like for a crazy Panamanian living in the South.  I blog about everything, family, school, books, you name it, if it interests me, I've probably written about it.

Here are some of my favorites (in particular order).  I like going back to read and see how much I have 'evolved' in some areas (not afraid of the ocean anymore!) and how I'm still the same in others.

1)  Don't know much about me? Here are some tidbits. Always evolving
2) Not sure where in the world is Panama? Allow me to show you
3) Why I love books
4) What would my life be like if I wasn't a mom?  I'll tell you
5) My mission statement-
6) 25 Random things about me
7)  Know someone expecting twins? Share my tutorial with them
8) Some of my unforgettable moments
9) More unforgettable moments 
10) Things I've discovered about homeschooling 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Just because... 14 questions

I've been looking for ideas on topics to blog about.  Truth be told, writing helps me deal with stress.  So I blog because it is cheaper than therapy.  Beer is cheaper too.  ha! 

Are you young at heart, or an old soul?
I'm an old soul.  My sisters will tell you I was the most grown up 5 year old in the world.  I've always been the responsible one.  That's not to say I'm don't know how to have fun.  But I'm most definitely an old soul.

What Christmas (or Hanukkah) present do you remember the most?
I remember several presents but one that I remember fondly was a green army Jeep.  I must have been 4 or so at the time, and I asked for a Tonka Truck.  Not a doll, not a doll house (I really didn't like dolls that much).  I asked for a Tonka Truck.  On Christmas morning I had a shiny Army green Tonka Jeep.  I loved it! I think it was the first lesson my mom taught me about being myself.  It was ok to be a girl that loved cars and didn't care for dolls.  I was perfectly ok.  That lesson has stayed with me forever.

If you could pick anywhere to live the rest of your life, where would it be?
If you know me well enough, this answer will not surprise you.  I would moved back to Panama.  I would buy a house in the mountains and live there, happily ever after.  There is no place like home.

 Where was your favorite place to go when you were a little kid?
 My grandparents' house.  That place held some many memories of wonderful summers spent with my cousins in the country.  I remember the smell of gardenias early in the morning, as I helped my Abuela water her garden.  The sound of the coffee grinder as Abuelo got the coffee ready in the morning.  Abuela letting me help with breakfast.  Helping Abuelo feed the chickens every morning.  Watching my grandparents dance under the light of the kerosene lamp, that memory will remain with me forever.  

If you go back to one point in time to give advice to yourself, when would you go and what would you say?
Just one point in time?  Umm, I would say 18.  I would tell myself "weigh all options. and do not be afraid".

When you were young, what would you dream you would be when you grew up?
At 7, I dreamed of being an astronaut.  At 10 I wanted to be a lawyer.  At 41, I'm still trying to figure out what to be when I grown up.  

What part of the past year sticks out in your mind?
Turning 40.  It marked the beginning of the rest of my life 

You win a scratch-off lottery game that gives you $2000 a week (after taxes) for the rest of your life. Do you keep your job?
I would have to do the math first to make sure, but at first thought, YES! I would find another job doing something I'd love even if it paid less than my current job.

Have you ever met someone through the internet, then met them in real life?
Yes!  These women have become some of my closest "imaginary" friends.  They share the good days and the bad ones too.  Life is better because I've met them.

What is your ethnic heritage?
The politically correct term is Hispanic.  I don't use that term.  I'm Latina, I'm Panamanian.  
As far as I know, there is Spanish and native Indian blood running through my veins.  I suspect there is Asian blood too, considering my children are often asked if they are Asian.   

 Are you hard-headed?
who, me?  Absolutely not.  ok, maybe a little.  Ok, I am.  Happy now?

 What gets you out of bed in the morning
 The dog.  He is ready to eat as soon as the alarm goes off.

 Do you want to live until you’re 100?
Yes. I want to see my kids get married and meet my grandkids   

 Give me the story of your life in six words.
Dreamer filled with passion and determination.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Why I love a good book

I love books.  In my dreams, I have a library as big as my house, filled with books, with a huge fireplace and comfy chair right next to it.  And I spend endless hours there, immersed in the stories I find in the books.

Of course, reality is a different thing.  I still love books, and I love the library.  Last weekend, I ran to the library before it closed and decided to let a book find me.  That's usually how I find the hidden gems that I wouldn't otherwise know about.

I circled the For Sale table several times before I saw it.  It had that plastic wrapping that librarians put on books to preserve them.  The moment I read the title I knew this was going home with me.  The Family Under the Bridge .  I'm not sure I had ever heard of that book but I knew this book would find a new home with us.

In case you don't remember, I have chronicled our adventures in reading before.  Knowing my kids, I decided, when it came to this book, they would have to either read it, or listen to me read it.  I let you guess which one they chose.  

It wasn't without grumbling that they turned off the xBox and gathered on the bed for our reading time.  They tried to convince me they would read it by themselves (yeah, right!) but I said no.  I'm reading it to you, so listen up.

To say I love this book is an understatement.  It wasn't until I read it that I realized it has won a Newberry Award and it is well deserved.  The story is about a hobo (yes that's how he is referenced in the book), Armand, who finds a family of 3 kids and their mom living under the bridge that he calls home in Paris.  The kids steal his heart, and by the end of the book, he and this family become family.

So many lessons wrapped in one little book.  We looked up pictures of Notre Dame Cathedral and the gargoyles referenced in the book, we talked about the gypsies and learned more about their culture; and we talked about compassion.

This homeless man feels compassion towards these children who lost their father and their home.  He takes them in, and watches over them while their mother works.  He does his best to keep their family together, and in turn, becomes part of their family.  

The book is about family, but not only those related by blood, but also those who stand by you and protect you when the times get rough.  

When we finished the book last night, the boys said "wow, that was a really good book".  And one of them even said "I'm so glad you read that book.  I really liked it".  

That's all the reassurance I need to continue to read to them no matter how old they get.  They may grumble, they may complain.  But once the story grabs them, and envelops them, they will lose themselves in the story and wish it would never end. 

 That's why I love books.  How else could we travel to Paris at Christmas time, meet gypsies, and hang out with a hobo named Armand?  Books are magical places, I pray my kids will soon discover that for themselves.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today I am me...

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” Dr. Seuss.

I love Dr. Seuss.  He had a way to explain things, didn't he?  

I haven't gone on a trekk to see the Dalai Lama or the Pope or in some journey of self discovery.  As life has been unraveling, I've come to realize that I am me.  And Me is perfectly ok.

I'm a mother above all things.  I love my kids with all that I am and all I have and I hope one day they will remember the things I do with them with fondness.  I don't read parenting books, or blogs about parenting, or ask people how to handle a particular situation with my kids (unless it's people in my inner circle).  It's not that I think I'm smarter, or better than any other parent.  It's simply because I am unique as are my children as are all other parents in the world.  So what may work for someone else doesn't necessarily works for me.  I am who I am, and my kids are who they are so we will have to figure out our relationship as we go, without having other people's opinions influence it.

I'm also a working mother.  Before anyone gets their feathers ruffled, I'm not implying moms who stay home don't work.  I get up every morning, get dressed up, put on my stilettos and head to my office.  I spend most of my days surrounded by other professionals, discussing things that would kill most people with boredom.  And I often feel judged but the moms who chose to stay home with their kids, because I don't spend every waking hour with them.  I bring my kids to work with me from time to time.  They love telling people about my office, and how "cool" it is that I have this, or that in here.  I think they are getting a chance to see that women can have a career and still be simply moms at the end of the day.  One day my daughter will have to choose between staying home or having a career while simultaneously raising a family.  Regardless of her choice, I'll know I raised a woman capable of making the best choice for herself and her family. Do I want her to follow my footsteps?  No, because she is not me, her path will be her own.

I'm a homeschooling mother.  I don't fit the stereotypical idea most people have of a homeschooling mom.  I didn't chose this path for religious reasons, I chose this path because I believed it was the best choice for us.  I still do.  I homeschool off the beaten path, starting with my curriculum choices.  I decided when we started that trying to recreate school at home wasn't going to work for us.  I guess you can say we approach school our own way.  I allow my kids to learn from videos and computers, and while running outside, and from encyclopedias. I don't think learning is restricted to textbooks and quizzes, so I allow my kids to narrate back to me what they learned rather than having to write it.  Does that mean I think other families are wrong if they do use quizzes, and worksheets?  No.  You do what works for your family.  It's that simple.  Yet I see so much judgement between the homeschool community for those who do things "off the beaten path".

I volunteer my time.  I'm sure there are some who think I should be spending more time with the kids rather than spending time doing charity work.  But I believe in paying it forward.  Spending time with a child who may have no one to encourage them or to say a kind word to them makes me realize just how blessed I am to have such an incredible support system of family and friends.  I want my kids to grow up watching me pay it forward so one day they will do the same.  Let's keep the kindness alive.

I am opinionated, and stubborn, and determined.  I speak my mind, and yes, from time to time, I stick my foot in my mouth.  I love fiercely and I defend myself and my own the same way.  I don't conform to the norm, I don't want to be a cookie cutter version of someone else.  

I often tell the kids they don't have to do what others kids do just because it's the "thing to do".  Do what you feel it's right for you; not because Suzie Q. said it was what the cool kids are doing.  And who decides who the cool kids are anyway? There is so much peer pressure out there for our kids.  Starting with when girls are old enough to date and wear makeup, and get belly button rings, and the list goes on.  I want my kids to be ok being who they are, not who their friends think they should be. 

Always remember "there is no one alive who is youer than you". And that's good enough for me.




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Yes, you CAN!

It's that time of the year when homeschool moms start thinking about the upcoming year.  Some already know what curricula they will use for their children.  Then there are others like me, who have tried a few, and are now ready to settle in using a different one and praying this is the one that works for all parties involved.

I have been doing research, and had found the one curriculum I think will work wonderfully for my active boys.  The one that will keep them interested in the lessons, and with plenty of hands on activities for them to enjoy (and burn some energy). I downloaded sample pages and the more I looked through them, the more I liked what I saw.

I really should have stopped then.  I came across a post on a facebook group where someone mentioned this other curriculum, and then this other... Before I knew I was second guessing myself and the choice I thought I had already made.

Thing is, I never second guessed the education my children were getting when they were attending a brick and mortar school.  I never asked to see the lesson plans, or the textbooks that would be used to educate them.  I blindly trusted someone else, a stranger, to make those choices for me.  

{Not trying to start a debate between school vs homeschool.  This is just my personal observation, that affects solely the people I gave birth to.  You do what you believe is best for your children. I am doing the best by mine.}

So here I was, on a late Saturday night, ready to pull my hair because I couldn't figure out which of three curriculum I was researching was the best one for the boys; and I couldn't really figure out what math would work best for my daughter.

In a moment of (rare) sanity, it came to me.  I know my children best.  I have watched them learn for two years at home; and I know what works for them, what gets them excited about learning, what helps thing go smoothly.  
How the lessons are presented is just as important (to me) as the material that's being taught.  

Why didn't I ever question the curricula the school chose for the kids?  Maybe because I am a product of regular school.  Maybe we are taught not to question those who educate us.  I honestly don't know why I never did.

What I do know is I am quite capable of picking the curriculum that it's going to allow my kids to learn and still have fun doing it.  I understand that sometimes they need to stand up and move around while I read to them, or that they need  to burn some energy off in between their lessons.  
I know that they are auditory learners, and what that means when it comes to how they learn.

I know my children and I CAN choose what works best for them to make their learning experience a happy one. I should trust my choice just as much (or more) as  I did those choices that were made for me when they were attending school. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

What every homeschooler needs, the other "S" word in homeschooling: SUPPORT

There is a dirty little S word among homeschoolers no one wants to hear.   The dreaded "socialization".  It is the first thing a family gets asked when the decision is made to homeschool and it seems to be the one thing non-homeschoolers worry the most about.  

But this isn't about that dreaded word, this one is about what I believe every homeschool family needs: SUPPORT, specially from other homeschool families.

My family has been incredibly blessed to have found support even before we began this journey.  I was lucky enough to know someone who, unbeknownst to me until then, homeschools.  She offered her support, guidance, and when a group was being formed at her church, she invited me to join them.

For the last two years, we have joined the other families in this group for fun activities and field trips.  Yes the kids get a chance to "socialize" but honestly, I think I get the most out of these opportunities.  There is nothing as encouraging as talking to another parent about an issue you are facing and have them say "oh yeah we have gone through that too".  We are all at different stages in our homeschool journey; and I've always received lots of support and encouragement when I've needed it.

You may be thinking, why do you need support? Don't homeschoolers want to be left alone, and be away from the general population? Isn't that why you took your kids out of school?

Well no, but that's a story for another time.  If there is a family out there who homeschools to stay away from the rest of humanity, I obviously haven't encountered them.  Because, you know, they are staying away from the rest of us.

Today some of our group got together to have a Valentine's Day party for the kids.  I was reminded then how blessed I am to be part of a group that supports my journey, who makes us feel welcome, and who actually cares about us.
Why should you join a group if you homeschool?
1) Support. 
Yes your family may be supportive, and your friends may be supportive.  But unless your family has homeschooled and your friends are in the trenches with you, you still need the support of people who are traveling the same road.

On the days when the kids will not listen, when the laundry is piling up, and you are ready to flag the yellow bus down the next morning and ship them off to school, you need someone to remind you "this too shall pass".

2) Curriculum suggestions
We've only been doing this for two years, and we have changed curriculum several times.  Not because they were not good but because they didn't work for my kids.  So what do you do when you are in search of yet another one?  You go to that group of parents who has traveled that same road and ask them for suggestions.  

3)  Resources
Looking for a used curriculum sale, suggestions on how to test your kid, or just a recommendation for a book/movie for you or the kids?  Look no further.

4) Friendships
Sitting with someone and talking about parenthood always makes me feel normal.  Really, it does.  It helps me realize that my kids aren't as terrible as I think, they are just kids.  When you sit to talk to a parent who homeschools, you already have something in common; and it gives you grounds to explore what other things you may both like.  

5) It is fun
Whether you are in group that meets on a regular basis, or part of an online community, being part of a group is fun.  You can laugh together at the frustrations that come with daily life, about the funny thing your kids did, or just hang out while the kids get to spend time doing that other S word, socialize.

So if you are considering homeschooling, make sure to find a group that can offer you more than just socialization for the kids.  One that will offer you the support you need.

Weekly Wrap-Up

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Just call me Mr. Magoo

Does anyone remember the cartoon character Mr. Magoo?  The bald, blind man who would run over everyone driving because he couldn't see?  

Today I feel like him.  You see, I forgot to make an appointment with the ophtalmologist for my annual exam.  My contacts, which I'm only suppose to wear for 30 days before throwing them away, are now 30 days passed their expiration date; and the earliest appointment I could get is still 4 weeks away.

So at the risk of causing my eyes permanent damage, and rendering myself completely blind, I decided to wear my glasses.  
You see, I have a love/hate relationship with them.  I love the fact they allow me to see, but I don't really like to wear them.  I guess it all goes back to being in high school and being called "nerd" because not only did I need glasses, I was sort of a nerd.

I see other women who look great wearing their glasses and think "I wish I could look like that with mine".  I just can't pull off the look.  I guess I've gotten so used to the reflection on the mirror that I don't recognize myself with glasses.

I put my contacts away last night (just in case); and wore my glasses to work today.  Talk about trying to adjust!  Everything looks weird, I spent half the morning feeling like I had too many tequila shots before work; and finally at lunch; I closed my door, took them off and allowed my eyes to rest for a bit.  

Will I make it until my appointment? I really don't know.  I'll give it a few more days and then we'll see what happens.  In the meantime, just call me Mrs Magoo.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Aslan who?? Family Reading Time. Sort of

Our homeschool adventure has gone through many changes in the past two years.  It seems we (and by that I mean me) are always trying to find new ways to do things, adapting to new schedules, you get the idea.

After the holidays, I decided that my kids spent too much time in front of the tube. If asked, they would emphatically deny that statement but I know what I know.  So a new rule was established: no TV during the week, and only allowed with permission on weekends.

Too harsh? Not in my book.  I grew up in a household with no TV.  On those days when I wasn't outside playing with the neighborhood kids; I would be sitting somewhere in the house with a book.  I simply love books.  I have been known for spending a weekend lost in a book and forgetting all about the laundry, the dishes, and eating takeout.

So cutting TV time was an experiment to get my kids to read more.  Don't get me wrong, they do read. But I want them to love books as much as I do.  My suggestion was met with several raised eyebrows, so I suggested we have "family reading time" at first; until we all got into the groove of things.
I chose to begin with The Chronicles of Narnia books.  Kids have seen one of the movies, so it seemed like a perfect choice.  
Picture this: a mom sitting on a chair with the children at her feet, attentively listening to every word she reads to them, with a roaring fire in the background.

That isn't quite the image we created.  Ours looks something like this.

"Kids, it's reading time.  Let's all gather on my bed".  "Do we have to??  Can I read a different book?" "NO, I'm reading and you are listening.  Now gather up".

Picture a mess of kids and a dog (gotta have the dog on the bed, he likes stories too) in one bed.  I begin to read about Digory and Polly, and how Narnia was created when Aslan began singing...

"leave the dog alone!".  "stop putting your feet on your brother!".  "put your legs down, you are going to kick your sister on the face"

I continue on to how the wiser animals formed the council, how the Cabby and his wife became the first King and Queen of Narnia... 

"why did he choose the Cabby?.  "who made him King? "weren't you listening? mom just said Aslan did".  "I wasn't asking you.  Mom, would you answer my question?"

Sigh.  There is no roaring fire, or perfect little kids gathered at my feet, eager to hear every word.  But we are doing it.  We are close to the end of the first book and will move on to the next one until we have read them all.

As a mom who spends 9 hours per day away from home, this is my quality time with the kids. There are nights we only get to read a couple of pages, and other nights when the kids want to take turns reading.  They get to hear quality literature read to them and hopefully it will eventually spark in them a desire to read that will never go away.

Either way, we are not giving up on our reading time.  Even when the dog is the most attentive of all the participants.  

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What I've learned from my dog

Dog owners everywhere, unite!  There is no greater joy than owning a dog, is there?  They just make life better, don't they?

Back in October, we added Max to our family.  
This little fur ball arrived at Casa Johnson in October.  He was 4 weeks old and I just knew he was a keeper. There have been so many lessons learned since Max joined our family.  We are a homeschooling family after all, we find lessons everywhere. 

1) Potty Training a dog is very much like potty training toddlers.  Most of the time they know what they are supposed to do, but it's a lot more fun to watch mom react to you going in the middle of the floor.  

2) Bath time can be fun.  Just delegate it to the kids and pray the house isn't flooded  by the time the dog is clean.

3) Your kitchen counters are never high enough, specially if your dog is half Great Dane.  

4) Having a sick dog is just as bad as having a sick kid.  You will not sleep well, you will make yourself sick with worry; only to have the creature bounce back as if nothing ever happened.  True story.

5) Your bed is their bed.  And by their I mean the kids' and the dog's.  That's where they all go to congregate.  I have found the dog and kids all piled on the bed, pondering the laws of the universe.  Or just watching TV.  

6) The puppy stage doesn't last long when your "puppy" is part Great Dane.  We have a dog that looks like an adult but still behaves as a puppy.  Sometimes we have to remind ourselves he is still a baby.

7) There is no moment as precious as your family  holding hands and praying together; including the dog.  Kodak moment.

8) No one is as happy to see me after a long day at work as Max is.  All he knows is "Mama is home"! 

9) Need to let the stress melt away?  Just climb in bed and let that big baby snuggle up to you.  Pure bliss.

10) Dogs will steal your covers, your pillows, your food; and most importantly, your heart.  

Our family is complete with Max.  He is spoiled (and he knows it!); he is crazy at times (fits right in with the kids); and he has brought the joy we didn't know we were missing.  

How can you not love a face like this one?