Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In Which I Reflect

I have one foot in the home school world and another in the foot of public school. One child still educating at home while the other is enrolled at a local charter academy. It makes me reflect on many things, evaluate.

Mommy wars: I never have liked them. My philosophy is every one is doing the best they can with the circumstances and resources they have. I am uber grateful that I have not faced any (known) backlash in the homeschool world for our decision to enroll DD. For all I know we are being talked about behind our backs but I choose not to dwell on that. I think about all the years we have homeschooled and while we have faced curiosity and questions, I don't recall people being mean or judgmental about our decision.
Hey Mommas! Don't let others determine your happiness. Stand by your choices for your children. Stop the mommy wars. Stop comparing your child and choices to others. It can start in pregnancy and follow you all the way through your life if you let it. Midwife or hospital. Circumsision or uncircumcised. Breast fed or bottle. Vaccinations or non-vac. Work or stay at home. Cry it out or co-sleep. Organic. Public school, private school, home school, or boarding school. What books your kids are allowed to read. Allowances. Privileges. Oh, stop already.
As for me and my house. That is my philosophy. My husband and I make our decisions based on what is right for our family. That is all.

What to do with the boy? I am really trying to sort this out right now. What is best for him? I seem to be at war with myself. Keep him at home and work with him one on one. Help him in his areas of struggle and keep plugging away even though at times it is difficult. Or, enroll him too. Allow him to experience answering to multiple teachers, homework, class room dynamics, different set of distractions.  He already has two teachers besides myself, science and writing, that he receives weekly homework from. Honestly, he has struggled. Would I be setting him up to fail? My boy struggles to stay on task. Or would the school be able to get him to respond in ways he has not been able to for me? It is an inner war that I have not yet determined the answer.

Homeschool mommas, Don't beat yourself up! I know the struggle of am I doing enough. You are!

Yesterday, as I was driving home from school with my daughter she was sharing with me her day. Not sure if you heard all of the meaning in that last sentence. We had an awesome conversation.  She shared a synopsis of what they were working on in each class. Her conclusion, "Mom I  already know most of this stuff." Halleluiah, she is not behind, she is ahead. Social studies is taking a different approach then we have previously used so she opened up her social studies notebook and read me all of her notes! I was really excited about that. She liked what she was learning so much that she had to share it with me. I was able to connect the links of what she previously knew about the subject matter and the new stuff she had just learned. It would be fair to say that History was her least favorite subject while at home but she knows I love it. So she shared it with me. :) My mother was right! She told me that with her away all day she is going to have so much more to talk about. This momma is thankful!

I don't have all the answers. I have a God that does. I am trying to listen to His voice and do the best I can. I trust that everything is going to work out just fine.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

I Can't Believe She Just Went There

With public school comes homework. It is a reality for middle school students everywhere. Homework!
Since she had multiple productions of her show this weekend, homework was put off until tonight. Not an overwhelming amount. One math review page and her vocabulary workbook. Not a big deal, right? Wrong! Apparently it was enough to send my daughter over the edge. She insisted that she was unable to do her Math problems. I showed her how to do one, went over the review problems, wrote out the steps to take and told her to finish the work. She escalated. I calmly replied. She did a couple with me talking her through step by step. Then I asked her to do the rest. To which she escalated again. I decided to leave the room before I freaked out on her. I knew the issue was not that she was incapable of doing the work, she simply was not trying to.
I decided to escape to a different room and relax. Through the door she cries out, "You don't even care about my education!"
Oh! No! She! Did! Not!
"I absolutely DO care about your education!
I home schooled you because I care about your education.
I provided opportunities and resources throughout your life because I care about your education.
I supported your decision to try public school because I care about your education.
I sat down with the Dean to find the best possible solutions because I care about your education.
I contacted teachers to make sure your transition was as smooth as possible because I care about your education.
I always have and always will care about your education!
I will be your advocate because I care about your education.
Until I take my last breath on this earth I will help you to be a life long learner because I CARE!
Do not tell me I don't care."

So when you are ready to listen:
You are loved.
You can do whatever you make up your mind to do.
There are steps you can take to be successful. Take the steps.
Don't freak out, it's going to be okay.
Oh and to find the answer to percentages of a number.
First, change the percentage to a decimal.
Next, multiply the decimal and the whole number.
Count your decimal places.
Finally, write your answer in your workbook.
It looks like this:
40% of 60
.40 * 60
= 24

Friday, February 06, 2015

The All Star's First Week

 My sweet daughter was all set to begin school on Monday when this happened:
 I had originally put an exclamation point at the end of the message but she erased it. She was not so excited for it to be a Snow Day, she was ready to start school. Tuesday came and it was another Snow Day.
 She was not impressed.
Then Wednesday:
Yeah!!! Finally, she had school. A first official day. Off she went with a smile. As for me? I was smiling too. No tears. No fears.

Her initial response to public school was, ""Good first day of school. It's really loud though." Ha!

Her second day she was relaxed and happy at pick up. Excitedly telling me about her day.
At 4:30pm her teacher called me. The best teacher phone call in history. He explained that each month, a student from each homeroom is given the All-Star Award for showing exemplary behavior and the character virtue of the month. The virtue? Courage.

My sweet girl walked into that school with her head up, ready to learn. Taking what could be a very daunting transition and doing it with ease and grace. My sweet girl had courage. :)

He went on to say she is a great kid and a wonderful addition to the school. Yeah!!!

So this morning I attended my first ever school assembly as a parent. As soon as I walked into the gym I was instantly chocked up. I had managed to escape tears all week up until that point. In my defense I am often choked up by kids; parades, singing in church or concerts, whenever I see kids doing big things, or a sentimental commercial. So it was not really a surprise to feel that wave of emotion. I did however have to pull it together before the kids came in. Which I mostly did. ;)

Receiving her award.
My All-Star! Barely entertaining my request for a picture. ;)
Needless to say, this momma is super proud!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Quick Update

Do you know how difficult it is to find school uniforms in January? It appears that only khaki pants can be found at this time of year. To remedy the situation we went online to order direct from French Toast. In the meantime she is going to have to make the most of the one uniform we have.
We met this morning with the middle school dean. I could not have asked for a better meeting. Questions were answered, a course of action was made, and this Mama was reassured that everything is going to be alright.
She is going to have four main teachers, three of which will be male. Apart from a gym teacher in first grade, she has always had female teachers. I am very happy about this, I think DD will respond well. She will also have two electives, Art and Intro to Office. Also, great fits. No foreign language which means we can continue to work on Nepali at home, in her own way and time. :)
Also, after bawling my eyes out yesterday, I did not cry once today. Progress. Peace.
A good day.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

In a Foreign Land

My friend Rebecca was born and raised in Namibia, Africa. One of my favorite stories of her transition to America was when she asked for a pencil eraser during class because she had made a mistake on her paper. Her request, "May I have a rubber, please?" elicited many laughs as American English and British English collided. Even though she grew up speaking English her whole life she still encountered awkward moments as she applied it in a new and foreign land.
My baby girl is on her way to her own foreign land next week, public school. As I process all the changes that will take place, I can not help but wonder what awkward moments await my daughter as she enters this new and unfamiliar territory. The truth is she is speaks the language of school. She has been learning her whole life so the concepts of math assignments, reading and writing are not new. What will be new is what all that means within the confines of a 8am-3pm class room. Will she embarrass herself by not following the norms of school protocol? Maybe.
I am trying not to overwhelm her with a list of dos and don'ts. I am trying to let her experience this in her own way and time. At the moment she is excited. Willing to put her best foot forward and try her best.
This is also new territory for me. In writing that, the tears are filling my eyes overflowing. While I am excited to see my girl stretch her wings and fly. I am sad. Yesterday, she said ever so sweetly, "Mom, your going to miss me." and I started to sob ugly cry. Absolutely I am going to miss her. This sweet precious girl of mine and I have always been close. At times she has been my shadow. We have lived the first 11 years of her life always within arms reach, rarely out of earshot. I have often said, "The blessing of homeschooling is that you are always together." I have experienced each and every first. I know her strengths, her weaknesses. I know what brings her joy and what makes her angry. I know my daughter. And I know she is ready for this next step in her journey. But that does not mean it will be easy to let her go. I am going to have to trust. Trust God. Trust the school. Trust her teacher. Trust my daughter, which I do.
I have a feeling inquiring minds want to know, why. Why am I sending her to public school? Truth, we have had a great run of homeschooling. We have done some amazing things. I guess it boils down to this; adolescences is a hard time.  Rather than see us growing closer I have seen our relationship stressed. Ironically, the best thing about homeschooling can also be the hardest part. You are always together. An annoying classmate is one thing, but when you never get away from it, it's hard. I sense she needs a space of her own. Something to call her own. A reprieve from the current frustrations she is facing. Will it be forever? I don't know. I am looking it as the right decision for now. For the next 4 and a half months, this is what needs to happen. I just know that I love her enough to let her go and I have a God who is big enough to be with her wherever she goes.
Boxes of tissue appreciated as well as your prayers.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Brought You Here?

In this life we are all on a journey. For some it has been a journey with many challenges. Hardships. Barriers. Uncertainty. Fear. Unknown territory. How we adjust to each of these challenges determines our happiness in life as well as our future security.
I have watched many of my refugee friends as they have faced many of the above. New in an unknown land, with language barriers. I have watched as they apply for jobs; bought homes and cars. I have seen them in the garden, connecting to the land, providing for their families, hope in their eyes. I have sat in their living rooms and listened to their language and taught them mine. I have seen the determination in both young and old to make a good life here in America.
Today, I found myself at the Gerald Ford Auditorium for the naturalization ceremony as a couple friends became United States citizens. A beautiful moment in their journeys.
Just before the court came to order a man came to the front to give some general instructions regarding the day. He noted what to do and not to do with their certificates. He went over the basics of applying to vote, and how to change their status to citizens. But there was one moment that caught me off guard and brought me to tears. Two rows in front of me was a husband and wife along with their three children. The man announced that once the parents are citizens that all children under the age of 18 and under their green card will also at that moment be citizens. The joy and emotion on this families faces was absolutely touching. A family all becoming citizens together.
The court came to order, the Honorable Judge Neff presiding. She shared with us that the new citizens came from 38 countries from around the world; near and far. Lands of peace and others of turmoil and strife. She read the 81 names of the new citizens and each came forward to receive their certificates. Such pride and joy on each face. Happiness. Happy to belong to this great country.
The Star Spangle Banner was sung. The Pledge of Allegiance recited. Each new citizen responding to the oath. The singing of God Bless America. Then the colors were retired and court was adjourned.
Much joy, clapping, hugging and handshakes as congratulations went around the room.
Then another moment, that tugged at my heart. A woman sobbing, a joyous happy sob as she exclaimed, "Now no one can take him from us. He is here to stay!" A fear released. New hope.
As I scanned the room I realized, each individual had a story. How I would love to sit down with each of them and ask, "What brought you to America?" "Welcome!"
May you find peace and happiness in your new land.
Mero bahini United States citizen ho. Congratulations!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hami Nepali Sikdaichhau.

Simply translated; we are learning Nepali.

It is not an easy language to learn. It uses the Devanāgarī alphabet which is more like symbols than letters. It has 36 consonants and 12 vowels. But the hardest part is not that it is so very different from English, it is the lack of resources. This is the only worksheet I have found. Nepali Alphabet with worksheets It is an excellent worksheet for practicing writing. Since we spend about 30 minutes a day studying Nepali I have had to create many of my own resources and methods in order to teach the kids. 

We are currently working on the following:

आज ___________________ हो ।

Aja ___________________ ho. (Today is____.)

हिजो ______________________ थियो ।

Hijo ______________________ thiyo. (Yesterday was___.)

भोलि ______________________ हो ।

Bholi _____________________ ho. (Tomorrow is___.)

फर्सी _______________________हो ।

Pharsi ____________________ ho. (Two days out is__.)

Yo mahina ______________ho. The month is_________.

Sunday: आइतबार (aitabaar)

Monday: सोमबार (sombaar)

Tuesday: मंगलबार (mangalbaar)

Wednesday: बुधबार (budhabaar)

Thursday: बिहिबार (bihibaar)

Friday: शुक्रबार (shukrabaar)

Saturday: शनिबार (shanibaar)


I am going to take a similar approach to what we did when the kids were in first grade Math. Each day that had a simple routine that covered the date, counting, patterns, and weather. Using an empty hundred chart we will fill in one number each day and count to that number. We will start with 20 as they have already mastered one through twenty. We will say the above sentences regarding the days of the week as well as the date. Eventually we will add the weather or a different subject we are studying.

We are also just starting barakhadi, combining the consonants with the vowels. It looks like this:
क, क, का, कि, की, कु, कू, के, कै, को, कौ, कं कँ, कः

When it comes to nouns we do fairly well. Having been exposed to the language for three years now, we have acquired a decent vocabulary. For instances I can easily tell you every vegetable that grows at the garden. Where I struggle is with the verbs; making complete sentences.

Verbs! There are days that I wonder if I will every conquer them. There are so many to learn. They have so many forms. Similar to Spanish they have different endings depending on whom you are referring to. Add in past, present, active present, future tense, and injunctives and you have 40 ways to say each verb. Yikes! Yet learn them we will. I am slowly grasping the present tense.

I have a whole new appreciation for my gardeners learning a second language. It is hard. This last weekend I was at one of my friends homes and was awkwardly practicing my first ten verbs, as I struggled at times they would gently correct me. Then a relative that is currently working on her English came and we studied together. I would say a word in Nepali and she would say it in English and we would help each other with the correct pronunciation. It was very productive for both of us. This is the best resource I have, native speakers that are patient with me.

I think the snipping tool is about to become my new best friend as I piece together English and Spanish worksheets to come up with my own Nepali practice papers. If anyone knows of any handy resources that will help us on our quest to becoming fluent Nepali speakers, please comment below. 

Lastly, a huge thanks to my mom for getting me a Nepali dictionary for Christmas complete with Devanāgarī. It has been an immense help.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Decision Made

The kids and I recently started listening to Anne Frank The Diary of a Young Girl. At the start of the reading I was somewhat surprised to discover there were three different manuscripts in print known as A, B, and C. This left the question which version did I read in middle school, what was added to the complete version, and whether or not it would be appropriate.

First I scanned the book, I found the section where she kisses Peter. Followed by a conversation with her father. Benign. Then I did a little research. I had heard a couple catch phrases of what may be included in the complete version, so I googled them. Thank you Google! One article entitled, "The Things Anne Frank was Frank About" was helpful in presenting the topics that has caused some concern to other parents.

I was left with the decision of read version A which was censored by her father, Otto Frank, or continue with the complete audio version. I decided to talk candidly with the kids and left them to decide. Listen to the audio book which is includes Anne's perspective of puberty, including menstruation, her vagina and feelings for Peter or read the other which omits some of the references to puberty issues. They decided to listen to the complete.

Which I feel is healthy. Bodies change, it is healthy to be observant of ones body. To hear another teen write briefly about these changes will not do harm, rather may be the assurance or comfort they need to get through it themselves.

Decision made. I did let the boy know that on the occasions were she is discussing her period or body changes and he was uncomfortable he is free to leave the room. We shall see where the discussions lead. I have a feeling they will focus more on the fact that she was in hiding during the Holocaust and ultimately lost her life rather than the fact that she got her period. ;)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Good Reads Read

 “A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest.”  ― C.S. Lewis
All  these books can be enjoyed by youth and adult. Every single one got a 5 out of 5 rating by me on Goodreads. Listen up people, these are good books.
 Out of My Mind- A non-verbal wheel chair bound girl finds her voice.
The Watsons Go to Birmingham 1963- Moments of humor, moments of deep reflection. This books is worthy of its accolades and your time.
The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake and Then There Were Five- the first three in a series of four. Heartwarming, vividly written stories of the Melendy family. Wholesome books the whole family will enjoy.
Counting By 7's- A glimpse of the mind of a genius. A walk through the journey of grief. The miracle of finding yourself surrounded by imperfect people that help you find your way.
Memorable characters, superbly written.
When You Reach Me- A nice throwback to A Wrinkle in Time. A coming of age with a twist of sci-fi.
Everything on a Waffle and One Year in Coal Harbor- I like books with hard life topics brought to life and beautifully thought through. Topics such as, loneliness, friendship, foster care, livelihood, environmental protest, loss, love and business adventures.
 The Giver- Do I want to live in the society portrayed in this book? Absolutely not.
Do I want to ponder on things that make the world tick? Yes.
Do I want sameness? No.
Can I celebrate diversity, independence, and free will? Yes, yes, and yes! I like this book because it makes one think. Yes it is sad, but there is something to be learned from the sadness and shock.
Gifted Hands- Anointed! Ben Carson is an amazingly talented man that persevered, worked hard, fought through prejudice, saved lives and changed his industry. Unashamedly a man of faith.
 The Julian Chapter- Even wonder why the bully of Wonder did what he did? This book answers that and more. 

 Never Abandoned by Lori Jo Schepers
Powerful! Redemptive! LoriJo takes the reader on a journey from brokenness to redemption, gives insight of the abandoned heart, and shares her struggles with honesty. With glimpses from behind the veil and touchstones from the Father, there is much to think about. This is a must read for hurting teens, broken adults, pastors, teachers, those pondering how a life can be redeemed, and anyone of influence. We all are people of influence. The words we speak, the encouragement we share, the love and concern of one makes a difference. LoriJo is a warrior, a spiritual champion. She will inspire you, her God will redeem you and change your life forever.

All of them were excellent reads! All of them!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#50 Big, Thick, Hearty Thighs and That's a Compliment

Ha! The title of this recipe cracks me up. Look at those big, thick, hearty thighs!
 I like what I see here; chicken, potatoes, and french baguette.
The meal was easy peasy to make. The thighs were indeed thick and hearty, as well as moist and delicious. Served with a side salad and some baguette this meal was a huge success! Probably the best received meal yet. So yes, yes, yes to this in our future. Tomorrow is a variation, I hope it is as good as tonight's.

I liked the chicken, loved the fruit. -DD
It was really, really good. -The Boy

And on the cleaning front, the rest of my e-cloth products arrived today. Happy Dance!