Saturday, May 24, 2008

in search of truth

i have come across several important books that i will be adding to my personal library this past week. melvin and i are looking to give our children more than what we were given in regards to living in community with the world. living for the world and not simply ourselves. (by 'the world' i mean all of creation: people, animals, the planet) we have screwed things up in so many ways (we=society, people) and we do not know how to truly live for the good of others. how can we prepare the next generation for anything better if we don't teach them better, live better, in front of them---NOW!

reading simple stories are a great way to pass along important truths without having to give direct orders. in stories we can see ourselves and imagine how we can "be the change we want to see in the world."

i am in a place now that allows me to see truth from places i was taught not to look. and in so searching i've found some remarkable stories that teach simple lessons about life, love and peace. i am excited about sharing these things with our children.

and if you are so brave...take a moment to look for these books and read them, for yourself (and then your children). i promise you'll be glad you did!

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth by Douglas Wood

The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth

Kindness: A Treasury of Buddhist Wisdom for Children and Parents

Ayat Jamilah: Beautiful Signs--A Treasury of Islamic Wisdom for Children and Parents

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

in the garden

nature is such a great place to be, whether playing or working. today we got another change to go to the botanical gardens. it was homeschool day, so there were special tours and activities just for us! :) we were also able to spend time with others from our homeschool group. i really enjoyed my time! the children did too!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Site for Homeschool Support Group

Been working on a new space for the support group online. Check it out: No matter where you live you can join and be apart of the support network. Ask your homeschooling friends to join as well and start a local support group in your area!

The Yahoo! Group will come down on the 1st of June.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Storytime at the Library

we had another homeschool support group meeting today. i'm happy to share that at each meeting there are more new faces excited about the possibilities of homeschooling many of which have joined the support group and are becoming active members! this is what my goal was and it's wonderful to see it coming into view.

before each of our meetings our children participate in the library's storytime. the children's librarian, cassi gwyn, is awesome and so graciously prepares activities especially for our group. this particular day the children got to make flowers using their own hand cut out--this is one of my favorite crafts!!

i look forward to continuing to grow the group and support each parent in their choice to homeschool.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Climbing Trees

i'm fortunate to have a large, fenced in backyard where my children have been spending lots of time digging, picking, stomping, planting, swinging, playing and now climbing. jaya has been anxiously awaiting the day when she'll be able to climb the tree all by herself. (it's a great tree for climbing, i must add!) but until then, she was excited to be "placed" in the tree. her siblings, kari and melvin and our neighbor, eve, joined her.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

You Belong in the Zoo!

most people are starting to get that SAHMs don't really stay at home. today i organized a meetup for SAHMs in the area at zoo atlanta to get out with the kids and socialize!! my children always enjoy going to the zoo. we were blessed with a two-year membership, thanks to from grandpa, and try to go at least twice a month. this time we were able to share the experience with some of the friends we've made in the group.

here are a few pictures of the time we had. the day started out cloudy and rainy but by lunchtime the sun was out and in full force! (it was HOT!!)

(SAHM = stay at home mom)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

my "to be" list

because i'm always reading and looking to learn things daily, i was very excited about the new perspective that i got from reading another mother's blog. she shared about how hectic life gets and all the things that we as mothers have to do in a given day. she's a "to do" list person and uses one daily. she then shared that she'd read an article by alan cohen entitled 'what to ask for' and got a different persepctive on the whole "to do" list thing. perhaps our problem is the focus on what we want to have accomplished by the end of the day instead of who we want to be or how we want to feel at the end of the day.

at the end of most days many of us look over what we wanted to accomplish and see that we barely made it down the list. i know when i've made a mental list and look back over my day i feel as though i wasn't "productive," that i "got off track." however a 'do be' list is different, it places the value not on things but on people.

Compare these two lists:

what do i want to get done?

-take mail to post office

-make dinner

-change bed linens

-pickup dry cleaning

-return library books

how do i want to be and feel?

-be kind

-be patient

-feel connected to my children

-be available to listen

-feel content

do you see how that can totally change your perspective???? omg!! i'm so glad to have read this today! there are plenty of things that need to get done, but i don't want to forget what is most important.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's Spring!!!

spring is the beginning of new life...the awaking of things left dormant...the (re)birth of ideas, plans, hopes and dreams. it's also the time to watch nature come alive. i wanted to celebrate this newness with my family in a way that would mark the occasion and give pause to all that was happening around us. we celebrated the day as a family out in nature--we went to the park. we fed the ducks & pigeons, ate a picnic lunch then watched the kids play on the playground. before leaving we spend some time relaxing, talking and laughing on the grass watching dogs and their owners run past. all in all, we had a nice day welcoming in spring!!

as you'll notice in the pictures, although the sun was out and the sky clear, it didn't feel like spring! but i'm sure the weather will make up for this by summer!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Table Manners and other things

Every day I'm heard saying things like, "We sit down at the table. Chew your food before you start talking. Wipe your mouth with your napkin. Wait until everyone has their food before you eat. Use inside voices at the table. Use your fork/spoon. Now, this is when I'm in a calm and focused place.

At other times one may hear me say things like this: "Sit down! Use your napkin, not your hands. We eat with our utensils NOT our fingers! Will you guys please stop shouting at the table!!!"

If you're anything like will understand this! Needless to say, despite how I'm saying it and how many times I've must repeat myself, it is sinking in. My daughters attended a birthday party yesterday...a tea party, ok, a 'high tea' party. I got them all dressed up to go (the way we used to dress for parties). I was so very happy that all the hard work I've put in paid off during the hours of the party! :)

Not only did they use all their table manners, they also were attentive to me as well as the other adults and responsive to the request made of them. They greeted everyone, they used their inside voices, they remembered to say 'please' and 'thank you,' they played nicely with the other girls and cleaned up what they had taken out before leaving the party. (Translation: they didn't push, hit, shout, fuss, complain, etc.) I was so proud!!

Being at home is hard, intense often dirty work, but the rewards are awesome!!

Playin' in the Dirt Again...

There are times when we spend the entire day outside. It's amazing just how interested my children can become with playing in dirt and water. Give them a few sticks and voila--mud!! All over everything!! As much as I don't enjoy the clean-up process, I give in to their desires to do so because I do see the enjoyment they find. Plus, I remember when I used to do the same thing. There is just something about putting your hands in the earth. Squishing your fingers in and 'painting' with cool mud.

Another bonus about these 'messy' days--they sleep soundly through the night!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Homeschool Day, A Success!!

I had hoped to chronicle all my preparations of this event, but alas! Between my three, planning (online & on the phone) and all the expected and unexpected events of life, I've been unable to. In short, the week of this event a few presentors had to cancel. I was able to readjust--no problem. The day before when I went to set up the conference room for the meeting I found out the room had been double booked. Again, I readjusted. The morning of...more changes!!! It's good that I've been a SAHM for 5 years and have had to learn flexibility!

It was raining, so I waited 5 minutes just to give folk time to get into the building and put umbrellas away. I welcomed those who were there and began. My guests made their presentation and with every new introduction, more people entered the room.

It went so well. Better than I could have hoped for. After the presentations we took time for all attenders to introduce themselves and ask questions. We stayed long after our end time chatting, exchanging information and sharing ideas. The excitement was contagious!

Here a some of the pictures that were taken of the event. I can hardly wait to meet with everyone again.

"Be[coming] the change..."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Homeschool Day @ West End Library

Well, it's official, I've planned the 1st Homeschooling Meeting. Here's what the flyer reads:

Are you a Homeschooling parent? Are you just starting out? Have you been thinking about Homeschooling? Would you like to find out what Homeschooling is all about? If so, please join us for our 1st Homeschool Day at the West End Library, Thursday, February 21, 2008 from 11:00a to 1:00p.

We will have seasoned homeschoolers on hand to answer your questions and share their experiences. We hope to make connections and build a support system for this journey. Activities for preschoolers, elementary level & middle grades! Please come out and join us!

I've place copies in the library, sent several emails to online homeschool groups and contacts I've made throughout the year. It's also an official meeting for my Meetup group. I was even able to get it on the Atlanta Parent Magazine's Online Calendar. I'm hoping for a great turn out!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yahoo! Group Setup

I've finally got my Yahoo! group setup to share with those who will attend the homeschool meetup on the 21st and are interested in joing the support group. I've been using regular email, but I'm sure there are more people out there who'd like to have information on homeschooling.

I've taken all the information that I've compiled and uploaded it to this site. This way everyone can have access to it (members that is) and we can do our part to save the trees! :)

If you're interested, feel free to check us out!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Starting a Homeschool Support Group

Well after lots of thinking, talking and planning, I've decided that I will start a local support group for homeschooling families in the Atlanta-area. There are plenty of support groups in the area, but most all of them are religious and located outside the city limits. I would like to organize an inclusive group where everyone is welcomed & valued and can find a place for encouragement and support.

I'm planning to host a Homeschool Day at a local library. Have been lining up other homeschooling parents to share their experiences and expertise with those attending. It's kept me quite busy, but busy in a good way!

I am looking to find families who are local/close to the area so that this group can be sustainable. Of course anyone in the Atlanta-metro can be apart.

I'm excited about the possibilities and new friendships to be made!

"Be[coming] the change..."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Imagine It! Children's Museum

I have often complained that although Atlanta has lots to do, admission to most everything is rather pricey. When I was growing up in Nashville, my mother made a point of finding out when the free days were for the local museums. When I first came home back in the fall of 2002 I started doing searches online for the free days or 1/2 price days of the museums/centers here. To my surprise I was hard pressed to find any. When you are on a tight budget, dropping $13+ per person can get pretty expensive.

So, this year I was pleased to find out that Target has sponsored several free days at local museums, a monthly free day at the children's museum. Now I can participate on these days and my children can have more experiences in learning.

We all had a good time at the Imagine It! Children's Museum. Here are a few shots:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Imagination is GREAT!

One of the great things I enjoy about being at home with my children and not being on anyone else's schedule is the freedom that it allows them to play and use their imaginations! Yes, they love to watch a good video and I must admit that in times when I'm feeling a bit "pushed over the edge" I do give in...but on most days I direct them to playing!

Over hearing the stories that they create while playing for hours is such an interesting part of the day. Now I don't always listen in...this is when I can get some reading in (I do a lot) but when I pause for a moment to check on them, the stories they're creating are simply amazing. Sometimes they use things we've read about or talked about. Perhaps something they are interested in or saw me or their father doing/saying. Their stories take them so many places and amazingly they don't need a lot of toys/stuff. Simple props like a blanket, scarf, teddy bear, pillow, daddy's shoes, my purse, bowl, dirt, water all these become new things in their imaginative play.

I am thankful that they enjoy this and can "be in their own worlds" for a while without interruption. When I don't interrupt they can play for hours--literally--and are very disappointed when things must come to an end (i.e. it's getting dark outside, it's time to eat, we have to go pick up daddy). I know that all this time helps them learn more about themselves, each other and the world around them.

As I type both girls are involved in detailed play with legos (aren't they great?!). I guess I'll let them play until they ask the eat...

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Big "S" Word

I've often been asked by others, from friends to teachers to complete strangers when they hear that I'm homeschooling, "What are you doing about socialization?" I find that I have trouble conveniencing them that what I'm doing is actually better than what traditional education does.

First of all, there is a difference between socialization and socializing.

Webster says, socialization is a noun and means: The adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture. Socializing is a noun and means: The act of meeting for social purposes; "there was too much socializing with the enlisted men."

As a former classroom teacher of ten years I know that there isn't as much socializing happening at school as when I was there as a student. Systems have cut all most of the times where students were able to interact with each other in any independant way (no recess, no talking during lunch, no talking in line, etc.) So I would even say that there is little socializing happening in the place others believe it's happening.

For me, my children have more interaction with other homeschoolers, their parents, and the community than any traditionally schooled preschooler. These interactions are less scripted (i.e. planned, timed) and they can play, talk, laugh, sing, dance, or sit quietly for as long as they like (most of the time).

I have also run across a book that I'm reading presently. I highly recommend it to you and anyone who is interested in seeing just how homeschooling promotes socialization. It's titled: The Well-Adjusted Child: the Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole. The author takes the time to define what homeschooling is (something other than school-at-home, as most non-homeschooling persons see it), gives a better picture of what homeschooling families actually do, and then looks at the research. I haven't made it to the end yet, but what I've read so far is simply refreshing! It also gives me something else to share with those questioning my decision, as if I'm harming my children in some way.

I hope to add it to my personal library.

So have you experienced questioning from others regarding the socialization issue? What have you shared with those questioning?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Taking Time to Savour the Moment

Being at home with my children is something I've always wanted to do. Now that I've been at home for a little over 5 years, I can't believe how the time has flown by! I have a 5 year old, a soon to be 3 year old and a 14 month old. They keep me busy and with the rest of the time, I keep myself busy! :)

I am a former classroom teacher of 10 years. I now home school my children in a very eclectic, organic way. I want my children to not only be good thinkers and creators but to be positive contributors in our home, community and world. I want them to be gentle on the earth and find ways to live sustainably. Thus, my husband and I seek to model those things in front of them. We've read some really great books that support this as well, the one on my mind right now is Calm and Compassionate Children, a handbook by Susan Usha Dermond. The idea is that allowing children time out of doors--spending time in nature--they can learn from life around them calmness and compassion.

In being at home for this long (not long in the grand scheme of things), we've developed our own rhythms with regard to time. It's so nice not to have to rush around all the time. (We only have to do this with we engage others working on a specific schedule.) In reading the book, In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honore', I again see the importance of slowing down, taking our time to truly enjoy each other and what we're doing! Children need time to just be (so do adults!)! This also frees me from a lot of stress!!! Yes, there are days we do have to meet deadlines and appointments, but MOST days we can just let the day develop. As they get older there may be more structure, but for know we "let the good come," as their daddy says!

I do a lot of reading, in the middle of the night, and get so excited about all the possibilities. It's hard not to feel overwhelmed with all the things I want to teach them, show them, do with them. So, I'm hoping that by sharing with others, I can pace myself. For when I share I put myself in your place and realize that there is only so much one can take in all at once and it remain meaningful! :)

Being outside is always good for my kids. We've had a 'regular' day today. I noticed after lunchtime (1pm-ish) that they were tired, but they didn't want to "move in that direction" without a fight. So I bundled them up (it snowed here and is freezing out) and sent them outside for 15 minutes. Yes, they all cried when it we time to come in. But after the 10 minute drama, they are all sound asleep! (Giving me a minute to write. See, you must keep your goal in mind! smile!) We'll cook dinner together this evening. I've promised the girls we'd make oatmeal raisin cookies. And hopefully have a good evening!

If you haven't read the books mentioned above, take the time to do so! I checked them out at the library. After reading the 1st (Calm & Compassionate Children), I plan to add it to my library so I can reference it as necessary. The 2nd book talks about all the different 'slow movements' taking place and why slowing down can be of benefit to us all. Again, just two books that are worth reading and learning from.

I'd love to begin a dialogue about what things you are doing to raise your child(ren) in this frantic, frenzied world. What things are you doing to slow down and savor the moment?

That's all for now...


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