First week of the new school year (8.15-8.21.2016)

We are back to school at home 🙂 Kids had their fill of summer and were begging to start school since pretty much the end of July and since our co-op was due to start on the 19th, we decided to get a head start and begin our school at home on the 15th.

The beginning of the school year for us coincided with the house project that extended well beyond our initial timeline.

First day at home was idyllic, we sat at our new table next to our new bookcase and got everything done. The rest of the week required more flexibility. We still managed to finish most of the things that were planned, but had to improvise a lot too.

Tuesday was our “Anything can happen” day, I am hoping to have at least a couple of those each month to shake up the routine, take our learning outside and delight the kids who made the most of our first Anything can happen Tuesday. We went to Denver Museum of Nature and Science and although there are no special exhibits at the moment, kids paid a lot of attention in the regular ones, they took notes, talked to docents and discussed their findings afterward.

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Friday was first day at co-op and kids had tons of fun there (and mom got a much needed break), D. also had bootcamp with his choir on Friday and Saturday. The choir is even more serious business for him this year, because it’s the concert choir at last and the workload and responsibility has increased. On Friday D. turned 11, it was a very emotional day for me, because he was just a newborn and BOOM! I have a pre-teen on my hands. Reminded me once again how fast the time goes by really, and how tall kids grow when we’re not looking.

Sunday was my birthday, seventeen times two is no joke, although I think I’ve changed so much since I was seventeen that it didn’t quite feel like a blink of an eye. But still, years went by rather fast, seventeen times three might see me a grandma. We went for a hike in our beloved Roxborough State Park (which we haven’t visited since spring, so hot it was this summer). It is gorgeous as always and full of colors- yellow and purple of flowers, reds and greens of berries and leaves…

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Kids read : D. – Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt and Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table book which he got for his birthday. C. reads “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, she loves animals and it’s a perfect book for her.

Overall it was a good week, and I believe we can call our first week of school a success. I feel I am better prepared this time around, mainly because kids’ activities fell into place nicely (I finally have both kids doing the same thing at the same place on the same day, YAY!), and I make rest a priority this year. (Another lovely article on rhythm helped me cement this decision) D. is  often tired and dizzy, which I am told is normal because his body is getting ready for changes, he grows fast now too. I was very tired last year, I couldn’t have a conversation without complaining about being tired and sick all the time. I am determined not to let it happen this year.District’s schedule is rather cruel- an odd day off here and there and no big breaks until Thanksgiving, we followed it last year and got promptly burned out. So this year I am hoping to take a longer break  every three or four weeks if kids feel like it or a full week off in the beginning-middle of October. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, the temperature goes down (especially at night), yellow leaves are starting to appear and we are mentally ready for the fall.

Hope the rest of August is kind for everyone and happy learning to those that are back to school (or starting soon)!

Goodbye July, Hello August!

July is done. I am not sorry to see it go, relieved to welcome August at last.

How was our July? It was hot, oh so hot. I think we got spoiled by all the summers with cool and rainy afternoons we had previously and the heat felt mostly unbearable.

I had a tiny solo trip in the beginning of the month, only one day of San Francisco. I haven’t traveled by myself for such a long time, it felt weird, yet amazing too. I didn’t need to hurry, didn’t need to worry about bathrooms, food, people getting wet in the bay or tired from all the walking. I stopped at every single place I was hoping to visit and even caught a glimpse of places we lived in back in the days of D’s infancy. I am now asking myself why was I in such a rush to get back home on the first plane next day…because I should have stayed a little bit longer. Next time for sure.

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The rest of July was spent mostly indoors during the hottest parts of the day, kids played outside in the evening and before noon. We went to the garden nearby to enjoy the abundance of flowers and frogs!

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There are various projects in the house that got done (and a couple of more are about to be started), wish us luck.

Kids read a lot , D. especially enjoyed The Wings of Fire books and Mysterious Benedict Society. C. was all about Calvin and Hobbes, she grew into such an active reader. D. usually reads in one sitting and doesn’t ask questions at all until it’s time for us to discuss the book, C. on the other hand stops,asks what the word means, and then discusses meaning of the word for her and for me (i.e. “predestined”, boy, that was quite a conversation), and only after that she goes back to the story. I absolutely love this.

I read “The Court of Thorns and Roses” and “The Court of Mist and Fury” by Sarah J. Maas. While it was entertaining, it was also a little too racy for my taste. Not putting it on D’s to be read pile for a good while, despite it being fantasy genre which he adores.

Planning, oh planning….I had such a hard time with it. I still do, despite us being 2 weeks away from the beginning of everything -school at home, school at co-op, activities… I planned the first month in daily details, and rough drafted the rest of the school year, and then got stuck. Even the way I planned out first few weeks feels wrong, feels like it’s too much. So I’m shuffling things around again, and at the same time worry if I’m cutting too much off. I guess it doesn’t get easier in the 8th year of homeschooling. Or maybe I am simply overthinking everything. Another thing to focus on is rhythm and there are awesome articles on how I want it to be (The Parenting Passageway for example , and Cedar Ring Mama’s post  was absolutely lovely), but what will it be in reality, I don’t know at all. It will be D’s 6th grade and potentially last year of homeschooling if he decides to give junior high a try next year. I want to keep him at home and at the same time worry if I can handle it. Oh, the times of transitions…

Anyway, August is here, time for a deep breath before another school year begins, I hope this month is kind to everybody.

 

 

 

 

Weekly Round up: Nov. 2- Nov 8, 2015

Closer and closer to winter, first week of November flew by.

We were blessed with a wonderful weather the first half of the week, we saw some snowflakes (which melted before reaching the ground, so they hardly count), the night temperatures are below zero and less and less leaves on the trees.

Picture of the week:

brilliant colors are still mostly there

brilliant colors are still mostly there

What were we up to this week:

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Now is good

It’s August tomorrow. My dashboard is preparing for school, countdowns are up, supply lists, clothes and lunches are being discussed it great detail. People are getting ready. We are not there yet.  I am grateful for freedom of homeschooling – we can go back in a month as opposed to in two and a half weeks when our school district starts again.

We will continue to enjoy our little moments of gold. It was so simple to allow ourselves to rest well this summer. We enjoyed meeting friends, but also were alone a lot. We learned how precious it is to have alone time. I hope people that didn’t get to see us this summer will understand. We had so many “lucky moments”- pelicans, frogs, going hiking, reading under the tree, listening to the rain and watching clouds.

sparkles on the water under the sun

sparkles on the water under the sun

noticing pretty colors

noticing pretty colors

making little bouquets on a hiking trip

making little bouquets on a hiking trip

little legs long enough to kick my elbows, but the toes are still tiny

little legs long enough to kick my elbows, but the toes are still tiny

We grew up so much this summer.  Kids got more independent, they got taller too. I learned to allow things to myself (this poem helped a lot), the man of the house started a new journey in his career. Two books that fell into my hands  talked about the importance of genuine living and basking in the light of present moment. While the concept isn’t new, never before have I felt it to be so imperative to our family’s well being. Maybe it is also because I can physically feel kids growing up so fast and I am not ready to let go. Maybe because the whirlwind wore me out. I want gold moments to last: C. waking me up with kisses, D. sharing his thoughts on Harry Potter, clouds raising when we go up the hill, the cuddles, the warm moments of togetherness. The peace. That is my biggest wish– to be peaceful in my heart. If I learn how to be peaceful, then when the schedules and obligations and necessary activities and chores will start again, I won’t be tired out of my mind, and I won’t feel like my world is spinning and I can barely keep up…Now is good.

Learning how to lose: late night post tournament ramblings

D. competed in karate tournament today. He was very excited beforehand, especially since he won his first gold in sparring last time around, and he was sure he will be victorious again. He did well on his forms, but ended up forth (no medal). He won first two fights and lost the third (fourth again, no medal). He was a bit upset, especially because he was unfairly judged (we saw fouls that were not called, we saw points taken away when they shouldn’t have been, the usual happenings of a judged sport). He did recover his spirits a little when he learned that many of his friends failed to score important victories as well. But he was a bit gloomy for the rest of the day and wondered how did it happen, that he didn’t even get a single medal. And it got me thinking, am I raising a child that knows how to lose so it benefits him?

Losing is an important learning moment, it might stimulate one to do better next time, it might teach us that we don’t always get what we want even when we got what it takes, it might teach us not to give up, it teaches us humility.

I read some articles on how extreme competitiveness destroys the true enjoyment of a sport or game and it got me wondering too. How do we see success? Can we turn the loss into a teaching moment?

First, I had to ask myself and D. what is it that we want from this particular sport? What is the role of competition in this?

The answers were obvious: to learn to protect yourself, to learn discipline and self-control, and  “to make friends ” was D.’s answer. Competition doesn’t matter for the first three because the first one is unpredictable and for the second and third you are competing against yourself. The fourth doesn’t need competition to happen.

Competition is merely a small part of the journey, it doesn’t define you at all, nor does it define your competence since learning process is ongoing.

Second, I asked D. and myself how do we feel when we lose– for both of us “disappointed” was the answer. It’s a valid feeling. Now, why are we disappointed? Do our expectations need an adjustment?  D. wanted a medal. Is it all that he wanted- a trophy? Would he be happier if they gave him a “consolation medal”? He would. This got me thinking again about excessive rewards that were given out on previous events. D. got a sports bag as a token of participation, he is happy he did, but he wanted a medal too. Not as a mark of his excellence, but just to have one.

Things to ponder further: Do I, as a parent and an educator encourage excessive praise and meaningless rewards? Do I condition my child to receive a golden star even for a minimal effort? How? Rewards are a constant in our activities outside of home- he gets extra praise if he doesn’t forget his music, he gets a golden star for participating in class- for things that should be a given. Dojo is one place where it doesn’t happen. I’ve seen excessive rewarding mentioned in many parenting books (especially those comparing US parenting culture with other countries)  as a big problem. How do we find a balance between fostering sense of self-worth and making sure our children aren’t confused about their true skill? How we prevent greed for things that have no meaning aside from being a souvenir of an event?

Third: What does it mean to be the best at what you do? Does it mean beating your opponent every single time? Does it require outside praise? Which recognition has more merit? If your teacher tells you you did a good job, but you don’t get the medal, does the praise still stands? Especially if a teacher is not known for distributing praise freely? Do you automatically stop being good, just because your day was not very lucky?

I watched an absolutely brilliant Indian movie a few years back, it is called 3 idiots,  and it immediately came to mind when I started thinking about success vs. excellence. I absolutely recommend it to everyone, it is a indeed a must-see, it pops up in search results as a full movie uploaded on youtube, and I’m sure it’s on Netflix too. D. is perhaps to young to some of the jokes there, but I need to re-watch it.

Fourth: In light of being unfairly judged- is life always fair? It may be a difficult question with a difficult answer for a child, but D. is 9, and fairy tale that his life currently is might get some darker twists sooner or later. Truth is- life isn’t fair most of the time. Immediate gratification doesn’t always happen. We don’t get something because we really really want it all the time. D. knows it and sighs “like that Millenium Falcon Lego set”. But he has so many Lego already and he knows it. And he also has many medals up on his wall. He is saving money to get that set one day. He is saving strength and is determined to train harder to get that win next time. Realizing that you’ve been blessed already is a good thing. Realizing that you have to make an extra effort to get something you want is a strong motivator.

People also can be unkind. We can remember how it made us feel and try to avoid behaving like this in a future. Is it ok to be happy about winning? Yes! Is it ok to automatically assume it will last? No. Realizing that even a sense of superiority is transitory is another valuable lesson. Being humble about your winnings sometimes means less embarrassment if you fail. (And I’m not saying this about D. in particular now, because he’s not the one to gloat. Just something to remember for the future.) Another thing to learn is to be genuinely happy for a friend.

Fifth: Regret. Inevitable part of disappointment. The first question I ask D. when he is done with something important, be it a competition or a concert- did you do your best? If the answer is “yes” than he did what he could and he shouldn’t have regrets. That is where he is right now. It is up to him to push himself forward when he’s ready. But he has to answer honestly. It is much easier to live an honest life in general, but it is crucial to be honest with yourself. D. looked beautiful today doing forms. He felt great doing them. He felt good about his two fights. He was fighting fairly. He has no regrets about that.

Sixth: Learning from your mistakes. To do it one has to realize these mistakes first. Honestly tell yourself there may have been mistakes, gather a courage and look at sparring video, test score, whatever applies to the situation. Find your mistakes, acknowledge them and try not to make them again. Or realize again, that there might have been factors outside of your control (like a situation on a tournament before last where the position of judges  did not allow them to see competitors from all the angles and it affected the scoring), swim in your disappointment for a bit, let it out of your system and move on.

Seventh: I, as a mother have to ask myself- what did I do to help my child feel good about this competition? Did I hype up his hopes unnecessarily? Did I show my anxious face? Did I cheer too loudly and distract him at a crucial moment? Did I not show up on the sidelines because I am too nervous to look at my child being hit?  I know where I failed this time- we were too busy running around during the past two weeks , we over-scheduled our activities, so his mental condition just wasn’t that great. He was in an excellent form physically, but paying attention to his mental condition is just as important. This is the thing I can do for him.

That is all for now. So many things to consider (or overthink?) . Tomorrow is a new day and we will try to make the best out of it.

Two weeks roundup: March 30- April 12, 2015

What a whirlwind!

Photo of the week:

Spring has officially came and settled in

Spring has officially came and settled in

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THE BEST SEASON OF ALL 2014: WE KEEP GOING- DAYS 26 and 27

We were very exited to see the snow towards the end of Christmas Day. Naturally December 26 started with much sledding and rolling in the snow.

our view is cold and pretty

our view is cold and pretty

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