Category Archives: Mama

The Rush For Recertification

The other day while I was looking through the bookcases for our Earth Day Books I found my old Teacher Portfolio.  I started thumbing through, a wonderful trip down memory lane.  I knew that my Teaching Certificate was in this portfolio and decided to check the date in which I needed to recertify by.  I knew I had over a year to get all my ducks in a row but wanted the specific date.  The date printed on the certificate was a bit of a shock to me, September 15, 2013.  Yes just 5 months away!!!

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photo from Ames Historical Society

Panic set in as I thought about how much more I needed to do before I would be eligible to recertify.  I have one 3 credit graduate class and a workshop complete but I am still shy a workshop and another class!  I hopped on the internet and tried to make heads or tails of the Department of Education’s Website.  In a very high stress moment for me, I was a bit surprised by the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that was filling my body.  I was so grateful that I had thought to look at the date on my certificate, so grateful that I still had 5 months to make it all happen and grateful that there are many online options for me to finish out my requirements.

With two online classes through PBS, I should be able to finish up my requirements by August.  It appears to be the cheapest and easiest method from a logistical standpoint (no childcare needed).  The classes I am signing up for should also help us in our homeschooling journey, this was important for me.

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I am not sure for how much longer I will keep my certification up, but for now it seems like the right thing to do.  It will require us to find some extra funds to do so, but I hope the safety net of having it will make those funds worth it.   I am off to call the Department of Education to make sure that my plan for recertification is okay by them.

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Facing My Fears from the Inside Out….

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For the past four weeks I have been participating in this amazing e-course through A Free Spirit Life, called Inside Out,  A Creative Adventure of Self Discovery. It is a 6 week e-course that uses art journaling, meditation, yoga and the power of community to help you make your own self-discoveries.   Shannon, the course facilitator, is incredible and I now understand why people take this class again and again.

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The Inside Out course was carefully designed to meet your needs, wherever you are.  I am not an artist but Shannon and the rest of the group are so encouraging that I have been motivated to try some artistic things that are out of my comfort zone. The kids have also enjoyed all of the painting, collaging and drawing we have been doing lately.  I was really surprised at how freeing this form of self-expression has been for me.

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During week two, Shannon had us confront and face our fears.  This has been an emotional journey for me but one that I am so glad I made time to do.  I decided to face the fears I have about Homeschooling and through journaling, discussion, meditation, collaging, crying and lots more discussion….I have made great gains.  I know that my fears are many of the same fears that every homeschooling parent has.  You know the ones….”Am I doing the right thing?, Am I messing up my child for life?, Will we find other homeschoolers we identify with?  What will the future hold?  Do I have what it takes?” I am sure even public school parents have many of the same fears.

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Through this process I realized that every path has its share of rewards and challenges and it is important to trust ourselves.  It is through that trust or intuition that the right path for our family will be there.   I already have the most supportive husband and that is one of the key ingredients for a healthy homeschooling experience.  I just need to trust myself, lean on my support system and know that these fears are normal and okay to have. I am a pretty capable mama and teacher and I am so excited about the chance to give homeschooling a try.

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This next year is going to be an exciting time filled with our share of low days.  No matter what the low days bring, it is   important that my kids not see my doubts or fear.   I want them to see a confident mama, a mama who they can rely on.  A mama who will encourage them and help them find the keys and tools for their life long learning success.  I am so ready for this adventure!

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The opinions of this e-course are all my own and I am receiving nothing for sharing them with you.  When I find amazing things, I like to share and pass them on!

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Mama is Trying to Catch Up……

This week has been about catching up (and cooling off).  All of those things on my to-do list that never got done, phone calls I had to make, appointments I had to arrange and that gosh darn WILL that needs to be signed.  Sorry there has been no time for blogging…..I hope to be back in full swing next week 🙂

Stay Cool and Happy Summer!

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Momma’s Been Away

I got back yesterday evening from a 3 day getaway with my husband on the island of Nantucket!  Such an amazing trip and so fortunate to have had this precious time away.  Today is being dedicated to laundry, mowing the lawn, gardening and snuggling with my children 🙂  I’ll be back soon!Image

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Finding our Path….Following my Intuition

Week one of this Unschooling Summit was like a breath of fresh air for me.  Most of the speakers (I have to admit there were a few that I half-listened to) left me feeling inspired and thinking that Homeschooling might be the perfect thing for my little guy starting in “First Grade”.  The freedom, flexibility, individuality, sense of family and adventure that homeschooling provides are the things attracting me to this journey.  I know that not everyday will be easy and there will be many challenges to overcome.  But something about it feels right, at least at this point in our lives.

One of the speakers last week, Debra Snyder, spoke about energy and intuition and how important it is to acknowledge your intuition and follow what you feel is right.  She pointed out that we know and love our children better than anyone and so we should trust our instincts when it comes to making decisions for them.  I know my son. I know his temperament, his learning style, his sensitivities, his passions and the things he finds challenging.  I know that when he is interested in a topic, he wants to explore everything about it.  I know that he needs to work at his own pace or else he becomes frustrated and shuts down.  I know that he has a huge sensitive heart and cares so much for all of the people and creatures around him.  I know that when life seems too challenging or stressful, he pulls into his shell.  I know that he has an amazing energy, inventive spirit and he is always looking at ways to solve interesting problems.  I also know that he is shy and it takes awhile for him to feel comfortable and open up to new people and situations.  These are all wonderful qualities that make him who he is and I want him to learn how appreciate these great qualities and learn how to utilize them to learn and grow.

The way that public education is set up today, there is little room for children to explore their interests. The main focus is on learning to read and preparing for testing and with large class sizes I fear my little quiet guy would get lost in the shuffle.  His LOVE and passion for learning and life might be hindered and I’d hate to see him pushed to do things that he is not developmentally ready to do.  It would break my heart if he ever considered himself a failure because he is not yet ready to read or write at the level that the school thinks he should be at.

So I continue to research this way of life and learning.  Between this conference and the Waldorf Global next weekend, the many books I have out of the library and on my kindle, the research I have done regarding the laws and procedures of our state, discussions I have had with other families and of course my own family.  After all I am married to a successful product of homeschooling and the wealth of knowledge that is my husband, mother and father in-law and sister in-law is so very valuable.  I am so very blessed!

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What am I going to Be When I Grow Up???

I have been pondering this question a lot lately as I try to figure out which path we should take in my children’s education.  What do I want to be??  I have a bachelor’s degree in Zoology and a Masters in Elementary Education.  I found out quickly in college that the world of laboratories was not made for me (too lonely) and since leaving the world of Public School Education to have my babies, I don’t feel like I fit in there either.  So what should I be when I grow up??

If I do decide to go down the path of homeschooling with my children, I do not want to wake up 12 years from now (when they are in high school) and find myself out of a job with no prospects.  I want to make sure that whichever path we take, there is room for mom to follow her dreams…..whatever they may be.

My ultimate dream has always been to run an environmental education camp.  Two of my happiest summers were spent in this role (one year as a counselor and the next as director) and I still think that running a camp like this would be a dream come true for me.  I have also toyed around with the idea of opening a school, running an after school enrichment program, teaching a college class (I had a taste of this world when I was teaching), writing a book or going back to school for my PhD.  It is important to dream but it is more important to act on those dreams and to make them a reality.  I have a wonderful role-model in this…my husband.  He has always followed his dreams, taken risks and I am so proud of all that he has accomplished.  He is always encouraging me to go after that which will make me happy…..and for now my role as mommy has been that thing.  But as my kids grow they will need me less and it is time to figure out what my next project is going to be……it is all so very exciting and scary at the same time!

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A Look Back

I decided to take a trip down memory lane and identify the most clear memory for myself in each grade of school.  This was a lot of fun to do and I learned a bit about myself while doing it.   I have plenty of other memories and could do a whole post about what I remember learning in each grade (maybe I will) but I decided to just go with my most vivid memory.  It is funny what things stay with you through the years.

Kindergarten–I witnessed the marriage of two classmates that ended in a very long kiss on the playground.

First Grade–I remember spending most of my days in either the nurse’s office or the guidance counselor’s office (the nurse would send me there instead of home) because I did not want to be at school.

Second Grade–This is my first memory of being in trouble!  I was trading a pencil with a friend during the math game “travel” and had to put my name on the board!!!  I also had my first experience with sitting with only boys in a cluster of desks…oh the horror.

Third Grade–I have shared many of these memories in a former post but I had my first crush on a boy and my mother would fine me every time I said, “I’m Sorry!”

Fourth Grade–Experienced my first time of bullying.  My “friends” made fun of my clothes, my shoes, told me I’d never fit in with the middle school crowd and constantly picked on me.  This ended up with the guidance counselor scheduling a visit to the middle school with me to show me that I’d be just fine up there.

Fifth Grade–With another friend we started a group of girls who would spy on my fifth grade math teacher because we thought she was having an affair with the principal.  We spied for months, had notebooks, a secret language, even went into her desk 😦 and got in so much trouble with her…she was crying the whole time she spoke with us and we cried with her.  The principal called us into his office, patted us on the head and told us not to do it again (turns out he was sleeping with two other woman in the school at the time!)

Sixth Grade–The same group of “friends” that picked on me in 4th grade, started it up again.  This time they told me they were going to sneak into the school and break the heater so we wouldn’t have school.  They crafted a plan for over a month to try to trick another girl and I into actually following it.  Then they made fun of me when I said I wouldn’t do it (I lived 10 minutes by car away from the school!!).  The day after the “crime” was suppose to happen, I came into school crying and apologized for not helping them (I had cried myself to sleep the night before because I thought that they would hate me for not joining them).  They laughed and laughed at me and told me how the whole thing had been a joke…not funny!

Seventh Grade–Got Mono and missed about a third of the school year (either full or 1/2 days).  I loved being HOME and having my mom as my own personal teacher.

Eight Grade–Had a great year when the mean girls I was friends with started to grow a conscience, grew up a little bit and were actually being nice. Had an amazing week at Environmental Camp, such a great year!

Ninth Grade–Was told by every cute boy in my class that I was an awesome BEST FRIEND.  Cried and Cried when my 9th Grade Council Advisor sang “Ding Dong Mike Brady’s Dead” when I came into school after Robert Reed had died.

Tenth Grade–Our town joined a bigger city for High School. Those same boys that told me I was a “Best Friend” the year before came back around and asked me out once they saw that many other boys had taken an interest in me!  It was a Winni Cooper moment and after two boys fought over me on a bus, my dad had to tell me to calm down 🙂  My sleazy biology teacher also invited me on a trip to Cozumel.

Eleventh Grade–Fell in love with a good Mormon boy and had the best English Teacher EVER.  We could read anything we wanted and we kept a two-way journal….so great!

Twelfth Grade–Had a very inappropriate friendship with my Poetry teacher (on his part), kept the Mormon boyfriend for most of the year (long distance, he was at BYU) and had a very BLUE year.

So there you have it, my most vivid memories of school.

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You Don’t Talk to Friends About Education and Food Issues

Image from Paper Sources

I have learned the hard way that Religion and Politics are not the only two topics off the table when it comes to friends.  Apparently Education Reform and the Food Industry are two more to add to the list (at least in my case).  I have a lot of passion toward both of these latter issues and spend much of my free time reading and researching them.  I am NOT NORMAL and I now understand this.  Most people are comfortable living their own lives where they don’t think about where their food comes from (or what is in it)  and happily send their kids off to the local public school.  They don’t want to think about what they are truly eating or what their children are learning.  They are comfortable with their life the way it is and they are often scared or frustrated when someone comes along and shares knowledge that may challenge their perceptions or jeopardize their harmony.

From here on out, conversations about Education Reform and the Food Industry can only happen with folks who share my same passions.  I have now identified the friends and family I can discuss both with and I have to remain relatively silent with the others.  I have never meant to frighten people or make them feel uncomfortable and believe me I am NO EXPERT.  I am always very honest about the fact that I have so much to learn and do not have many of the answers.  These two topics are topics that I enjoy researching and we have made some big changes in our lives because of my research.  I do value and appreciate everyone’s right to their own way of living, their own way of parenting and their own choices around education and their diet.  My passion can can come across as being very heated when it comes to these two subjects and I often need to remind myself to step back, relax and remember who I am talking too…..my friends.  I just want everyone I care about to be safe, healthy and happy.

So from now on….these topics are off the table for general conversation.   Conversations will center around the kids, the weather and the latest episode of the Bachelor 🙂

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My Third Grade Teacher Wants to Know….

After I graduated college with my degree in Zoology, I got a job at my local elementary school as the Kindergarten Aide.  I loved this job (it led me to apply to graduate schools for education) and I loved being back in the familiar space.  I remember my former third grade teacher cornering me in the hallway one day and asking me what I most remembered of third grade.  I quickly flashed back to images of her beehive hairdo, her red polka-dot slip and of her killing wasps with chalkboard spray but decided to not share those memories.  Instead I shared the memory of the felt board lesson she did with us when Hurricane Gloria was on its way and the big lesson in plagiarism she taught me after I copied the encyclopedia for my bear report.  This answer was not adequate for her and she kept probing….”Don’t you remember anything else? Any of the content we studied??”  At this point I wanted to tell her that I remembered the fact that she tried to demote me from the super-high level class to the a plain high level homogeneous class next door but refrained. Instead I told her I remembered parts of the unit on the solar system.  She left the conversation feeling very deflated and I felt terrible.Most of our memories are related to our emotional experiences and as I took my own trip down memory lane through my years in the public schools (I will share in a future post), my most vivid memories do not necessarily center around what happened in the classroom.  They center instead upon those moments of great emotion….joy, embarrassment, sadness, anger, guilt, fear etc.  This is not to say that I don’t remember content that was covered or that I didn’t learn anything in my years of public schools, I learned A LOT (both good and bad).

Admittedly though, it was in graduate school and beyond where my best learning took place.  This was when I was at a stage in my life when I could focus more on my education and less on what was going on in the classroom around me.  It was a time where I was responsible for and in charge of my own learning and it was in grad school where I discovered the ways in which I best learn information…..I wish I had learned this much earlier.

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You Are Being Demoted

I thought over the next few weeks, I would reflect back upon my own experiences in school. Today I am going to share with you a moment in my school path that if it had gone differently, my time in school may have been a lot different.

My third grade and fourth grade classes were grouped homogenous.  This grouping was supposed to be secret from the children but unfortunately it could not have been more obvious.  At the start of the hall in classroom A, you had the very high achieving kids with the lowest of the low achieving kids (in this case to be high achieving meant that you were bright in math and literacy).  The thought was that the “super high kids” would help the “super low kids”.  The next classroom down the hall had the high children with the medium low children.  The third class contained the above average kids and the just below average children and the fourth room was all average children.  And yes it was very obvious.

I was placed in classroom A and was definitely on the lower end of the “super high achieving kids”.   I lacked confidence and self-esteem which may have been a factor but honestly I just think I was not quite as “smart” as the other kids.  My parents were called in to a parent-teacher conference and my teacher suggested that I be moved down a level into the classroom next door.  Apparently I had done really well with the alphabetical order part of the reading test but I was lacking in some other areas.  My parents knew what a move like this would do to me (I have never liked change) and suggested that we wait until next year to make a more natural move.  Fortunately, my teacher let me stay.

I owe so much to my parents for standing up for me in this matter.  If I had been demoted to the class next door it would have been extremely difficult socially and would have been a big blow to my own self-esteem.  I am sure that I would have seen this as my teacher losing faith in my intelligence and ability to learn and would have probably lost interest/confidence in my schoolwork.  I can only imagine the self-destructive path that a move like this would have caused.  Thankfully I was not aware of the discussion that went on in this conference until I was an adult.As it turns out I was able to hold my own for the rest of the year and they placed me once again in Classroom A for 4th grade.  I was able to keep up with the “high achievers” and did just fine.  Now this example is not earth shattering by any means but had it gone differently, who knows what would have happened. My teacher was basing the majority of her decision on one test score.  Unfortunately this is how many important decisions are made in schools because of factors like time and resources.   I am thankful that I have supportive parents who know me, my abilities and were willing to advocate for me.  It was their support throughout my life that has helped me to grow to become the person I am today.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

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