sharing my life experiences, reflections and insights as a mother, a writer, an Occupational Therapist, an unschooler, and and a spiritual being having a human experience

Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

March 21, 2016

Writing

Writing is my passion. It is who I am.

I remember getting my first diary. It was a gift from my sister for my 10th birthday.  I remember because I have this diary and every diary and journal after that first one. When I have read through the entries of my childhood diaries, I have realized that I remember the events described in the pages because I wrote them down.

Parenting and Work

When my oldest son was born, November 10, 1997, we had a plan in place.  I would return to work full-time after a 12 week maternity leave and my husband would stay at home with him while he grew his business.  I was able to return to work at 32 hours a week and remain fulltime.  Before my son was born, this plan sounded great.  I remember telling my co-workers that the father could be the primary caregiver as well as the mother.  My plan was that once my husband’s business grew enough,  I would reduce to part-time hours.  In 1997, I could work “prn” and earn double my full-time hourly rate. It sounded so easy, I could work 20 hours per week (without benefits) and make same amount of money as I did working 40 hours. 

Birth and Bonding

I had hoped for a natural birth but only took the hospital birth class and one offered by my NP at my OB-GYN office.  I wound up being induced with an epidural but was so glad he was born without a c-section.  I intended to nurse for 6 months because that was what was recommended by the AAP at the time.  I was very happy to have a healthy baby boy yet boding with him took time.  Parenting was a whole new experience for me. When he was 12 weeks old, I had to return to work. It was the most difficult thing I ever had to do. 

Motherhood and Parenting

Going back to work was so difficult for me. I was glad he was home with my husband when I went to work and I don’t think I could have left him otherwise.   I wanted to be home full-time with my baby!  Don, my husband, told me he would get a job so I could stay home. We had a plan. He had quit his job to be in business full-time for several reasons but a big one was because he wanted to be involved in his child’s life and be there. His previous job required regular travel.  We both knew we wanted to raise our child and not have the child in day care. We shared the parenting experience and he worked when I was home.  Yet, from that moment when I returned to work, my goal became to find a way to work from home. 

Employment and Working from home

I remember researching working at home opportunities. All I remember about that is ordering some ribbons to make some bows for a company, but the ribbon was tiny and I never made any of those bows.  It was 1997 when my first child was born and we had the internet because my husband wanted it for his business but I did very little on the computer back then.

My job changed dramatically in 1999 with the many healthcare changes that happened. I no longer had a job 4 miles from home working 3 full days and 2 half days.  I had to drive to two different nursing homes, one 45 minute drive and the other a 90 minute drive and work in both each day to keep my job. My salary was cut by 15% and my benefits changed including less paid time off and higher healthcare costs.    I did that for 9 months and managed to change my hours to working just 4 days per week and remained full-time but started job hunting.  Because of the changes in healthcare, there were not many jobs to be found at the time. 

In 2000, I found a new part-time job in home health care. I had more flexible hours and could do my paperwork from home.  Moving from full-time work to part-time was a big jump. Also, having to manage my own schedule was a significant and challenging change for me.   My income was half that year being part-time compared to full-time.  (as a side note: when my husband quit his job to go full-time into his own business, ( because  I pushed him to do so saying I could support us) our combined $100,000 income went to $50,000 that was 1996.  When I returned to work in 1998 at only 32 hours per week, my income was $42,000).  I share all these figures to truly paint the picture for you.  We choose to live on less because being home with our child was more important to us than having a bigger house and a newer car. We were looking at moving to a new home in 2000 but because  our lower-income, we had to suspend that plan.  My husband’s business was slowly growing but I remained the primary breadwinner for some time.

An Idea Is Born

I attended my first LLL meeting when my oldest was 3 weeks old.  I was looking for support with breastfeeding with returning to work.  Being in the room surrounded by moms and babies and children, even nursing toddlers, was an eye-opener to me!  I swore I would never nurse my baby past age one. Yet, being surrounding by attachment parenting moms was a new world for me. I can remember  talking to a mom of a 3 month old. She worked as a nurse and worked nigh shift so she was home with her baby in the day.  I can hear here saying something to the effect of, “aren’t they wonderful “(meaning the babys).  I was still bonding with my baby and adjusting to motherhood at that stage.  I know deep inside of me, my soul knew that this was the life for me. 

My oldest, Harrison, developed a love for road signs at an early age.  You can read more about this here.  I became more involved in the attachment parenting world and learning from my son how to be a mother.  From these two aspects, an idea was born.  I envisioned a conscious parenting website and called it, “Mommy, Daddy, STOP”.  My meaning in this name was “Mommy, Daddy, stop what you are doing and pay attention to me because I will be a baby and a child for a short period of time and spending quality time and quantity time with me is important.  And stop reacting and just parenting the way you were parented, but consciously choose your words, actions and your method of parenting.” By this time, my husband’s business had morphed into a website business and he secured the domain name for me even before I started the website.  I spend time writing about parenting and created a notebook full of ideas for my website.  As I write this, I am picturing my notebook with colored pen marks and realize that I need to find this notebook!

Flash Foward to 2008

I finally created the site on the Ning platform with the help of my now 10-year-old son. And I created a homeschooling website on Ning as well.  I was motivated to finally jump in and do this  because my husband had lost his job August of 2008 when I was three months pregnant with our third child. Backing up…My husband sold his website business in summer of 2007 and then went to work full-time for the man/company he sold his business too.  This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. We had regular income for the first time in years and I was able to not work outside the home for the first time in years.  And it was what I was waiting for to even attempt to have a third child.  I had my second child in 2002 after a year of attempting and one early miscarriage.  I was working in home health care and was able to very slowly return to work when she was 8 weeks old. Literally working just 3 hours per week for several weeks before increasing to about 6 hours per week and slowly increased to an average of about 15 hours per week.

Ning Websites

In 2008, creating a website on the Ning platform was free of charge.  Ning is a platform for creating a social media website which was new and fresh at the time with the growing popularity of that big social media website, you know, Facebook.  I also found work again, prn work as an OT at a local nursing home that summer without telling them I was pregnant.  I needed to bring in some income while my husband rebuilt his business and before my new baby was born! I also poured my time into primarily my homeschool website thinking it would be the one to first bring in income, eventually.  I had no initial plans for making money, I just knew the site would benefit the homeschooling community at a time when it was difficult to find out about homeschool support groups and area resources.  I trusted in the universe that somehow over time, this pursuit would bring me income in order to be home full-time with my children.  And I began posting articles on my Parenting site; the tag line for Mommy, Daddy, Stop was : consciously parenting our children, our parents, and ourselves. 

Baby number three is born in 2009

I worked until mid December of 2008 and then went on unpaid leave. When you work prn, you don’t really “go on leave” you just don’t sign up to work any hours.    He was due January 4 but my other two children were born before their due dates: 12 days prior and 4 days prior. Jason was born on January 8, 2009 in our kitchen, an elective home birth with a lay-midwife.Yes, that story is for another post. I remember getting called from a co-worker after a few months asking if I would be coming back to work.  I told them I wasn’t ready to come back to work yet.  We managed to live from savings and eventually credit because I wanted to be home full-time with my baby for at least a year.  And I did not return to work until after he was  a year old but our financial situation was demanding it and it was a crazy hard decision for me. 

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Gratitude: December 21, 2015

I love how Facebook  has the new feature to share memories from your time line from “this day” in years past.  I enjoy looking to see what I posted on this day, last year, and prior years which for me is often as far back as 5 years ago.

As I was preparing myself to write, rereading my blog post from last week, I discovered this Gratitude Blog from Dec 21, 2011.

Today, 4 years later, I will once again create a gratitude post.

I am grateful for…

My life– being alive and healthy with many natural health practitioners in my life for times when I’m not feeling my best.

EFT– Where would I be without out?  Who knows? – but I can sure see how far I have come with it!

My husband– Don, my rock, my ‘born-again reinvented self-made man, my best friend, my soul mate, my partner, the most amazing father of our three children, the one who lifts me up and keeps life going when I am stuck.  Love you, Don.

My career for the past 23 years as an Occupational Therapist– all the flexibility being an OT has allowed me to have more time with my kids and all the wonderful jobs that I have had in the field, the amazing bosses I have had, and all the experiences and  people who I have met over the years!  And.. It pays well to and has been our main source of income and at times over the years, our only source.

My family, extended family, friends near  and far-new and old- love all of you, everyone who has touched my life in any way, because you have  been a part of  my life, in any capacity, you have helped shape who I am today. Of course I could go on, yet  will save any other thoughts for another post. Deciding to focus on my immediate family for this past.  Mom, Dad, Darrin and Michele and families- love all of you!

And now, I share an excerpt from my four-year-old post:

From December 21, 2011

My three wonderful children- Despite my frustrations with them, I am grateful for their strong personalities and sense of who they are.  They have taught me far more than I could possibly teach them.  I love seeing the world through their eyes and witnessing their life and growth and being a part of their lives.  They all have strong passions,  feel deeply and have an amazing zest for life.  I can’t imagine life any other way than alongside the three of them.  They often seem so different from (who) I was as a child, yet, I do see myself in them often and also know they are their own person- each one of them.  I have learned to enjoy where they are more and more over the years. This is a good reminder to me to enjoy 14-year-old Harrison, 9-year-old Abby, and almost 3-year-old Jason.  For, too soon, they will be older,  grown up and no longer living with me.

I am grateful for my children:  Harrison, age 18.125;  Abby, age 13.875; and Jason, age 6.9583 years. 

(someone else recently shared their children’s ages this way and being the math-lover that I am, I had to figure it out for mine!)

I am grateful for finding homeschooling before my oldest  entered kindergarten and allowing him to continue to learn at home they way he had been learning since he was born.  I am grateful we began this endeavor and so his siblings were born into homeschooling.

Harrison will “graduate from high school” this coming spring.  He already has college credit for 4 classes with a 4.0 and another class CLEP credit.  He is taking 2 more classes this spring at our local community college, continuing his participation in the dual enrollment program, called “Career and College Promise” here in NC, where he takes classes without class fee and earns highschool AND college credit.  It is an awesome program and he had amazing  teachers for his first ever experience with school when he first enrolled last fall.

I brag about Harrison and his school success- yet the  true reflection of  his success is seen in the man he has become.  He is a responsible and  kind person. He is employed and already has an interesting resume.  He found a part-time job which will be flexible with school and doing something he enjoys (most of it).  The transition to adulthood  is a gradual process, or so it is  in my mind, happening in bits and pieces with much continued growth and learning along the way- into the mid 20s or beyond.

I am very grateful that he reaches out to me with  his personal life and is  open and honest with me.  This is how I raised him and am so glad to see it continue through the age of 18. We don’t see each other as much with his busy life and me working outside the home, yet  we text often, probably daily and when he is home, he  always makes a point to say hello to me. I see this as the . product of living and learning with my children since birth.

When Harrison was born, I discovered a whole new kind of LOVE!

I am grateful for Abby, my only daughter. I have always wanted a daughter from the time I was a child.  I suppose it came from my yearning to have a “younger” sister.  Her interests have changed over the years from all things pink, tailed, winged and horned to things supernatural, sci-fi and superpowers.  As a young teen, she does not like the kinds of shows and movies that I liked at her age, yet I admire her independent spirit and love of science fiction.  (I was a big Ray Bradbury fan in highschool). She can put on a tough exterior with her talk of superhero, supernatural and horror shows, yet she also has inspiration phrases posted in her room and loves drawing rainbow-colored drawings on her jeans and also her arms.  I enjoy connecting with her over the science fiction shows she introduces me to and enjoys re-watching with me.

It is amazing to see how far she has grown and progressed with her challenges over these past 4 years.  She was 9 when I wrote my post 4 years ago and a very difficult time in her life.  Things got much worse for her at age 11 and yet she persevered and- wow- when I see all she has done since then, it is truly amazing.

She has always been a strong-minded child, ready for the world.  Her older brother developed academic smarts quickly, but Abby always seamed more “street smart”.  She knew the names of all the Disney princess even though we only had basic cable and watched mostly PBS.   She was born into this world from a natural and quick birth.  My “easiest” birth and she latched on to nurse without difficulty.  I can still picture  her as a young toddler walking over the toys in the living room.  No need to go around them or move them, she just walked over them.  She always persevered despite obstacles.  

She had a personality change with her illness at the age of 8 which continued for several years.  Yet, her loving,  easy-going yet stubborn nature has been able to blossom once again.  She has spent several weekends over the past few years, working at agility trials at her aunt’s place of business/ home. And this year she spend two stretches of time with her aunt’s house alone, no mom or dad.  The last time, being 8 days. She worked for her aunt, helping to train dogs and with other business related activities and had some fun time with her aunt.  She managed her own meals with food we sent (dietary issues). She took care of herself.  If you had seen here Winter and Spring of 2013, you could  see how HUGE this is!

I admire her love for animals and passion to work with dogs.  I don’t think she ever met a dog that didn’t quickly warm up to her. She has such a loving, tender soul and is a true friend, and I even see this in her love for her brothers, her mothering nature  with her younger brother and even for her older brother.  Sure, my kids have  sibling squabbles, often, more than  their fair share- yet, they love each other and this can  be seen despite challenging times and a period of a few years when I didn’t know if it was possible for them to get along at all.

It is powerful watching her grow into a woman, and will enjoy seeing where she heads in life over the next four years.  And I look forward to reflecting back on this post when she turns 18.

When Abby came into my life, I experienced true EMPOWERMENT!

I am grateful for Jason, my long-awaited jumping bundle of joy!

I knew my family was not complete until Jason was born.  We waited a long time to grow our family, waiting until I could financially afford to be home full-time with a new baby.  I spent almost a year wondering if I would be able to have another child and worried that I would not.

I am so grateful that Jason came into my life.  My first home birth-born in our kitchen, yes, by choice! He began making noise before he was fully born and grew quickly doubling his weight sooner than expected as well as learning motor skills far more quickly then my other two.

We called him “Tigger”.  From a young age, he would start moving as soon as he woke up, even before his eyes were open. He had a bouncy seat that he loved.  I remember him learning to pull to stand at 6 months and quickly trying to climb onto the chair as he stood.  As he learned to walk, he would grab a chair, a laundry basket, whatever was available and use it as a “walker” to assist him in walking across the floor. He walked on his own before he turned 10 months old and soon after was running.  He gets a kick out of me telling him how he used to run through the library pulling random books off the shelves. 

The first classes we took him to were at a place called, “Romp and Roll”.  Yes, gymnastic type play for toddlers.  He prefered the free play time to the structured classes.  He has an independent-minded spirit which blossomed growing up in an unschooling family.   He easily  learned to ride a bike at age 5 after riding a balance bike for 2 years.  He learned to swim the same summer as bike-riding.  His growth happens in leaps and spurts.

Children are a reflection of honesty and truth.  And I believe in Jason, this experience is magnified. 

He is tough and determined as well as loving and playful. Like his older brother, he takes life and play seriously. He has never been a fan of people he does not know especially in crowds or at least not since the age of about one.  Yet, he too is growing and overcoming his anxieties and eagerly awaiting getting to participate in TaeKwonDo again.  Something he first did last spring, only participating in class after watching for 8 weeks.  He likes to watch and take in thing around him but if there is negative energy, it overwhelms him, as does other people’s energy in general, at least in a busy room or place.  Like me as a child, he is non-stop talking at home but quiet and slow to warm up around strangers.  Once he gets to know you, you may quickly become his favorite person to talk to!

Having Jason in my life has brought me more JOY!

I used to sign my name proceeded by the words: Peace, love, joy and empowerment.  As outlined above, I see how each of my children brought out the meaning of at least one of these words in a powerful way.  Meeting my husband and having him in my life has helped me find much Peace within myself.  

Today, I am grateful for Peace, Love, Empowerment, and Joy!  

 

 

 

The Gift of Life: Reflected in My Children

Happy Birthday to me!

I prepared for today’s post by reflecting  on my entry from last year: My 42 Year Journey

This year we celebrated at home the day before my birthday.  My husband and three children shared their cards with me as we enjoyed homemade gluten-free and egg-free chocolate cake with coconut milk ice-cream   And my amazing 10 year old daughter wrote this story for me.  She has been doing a lot of writing and I really enjoy hearing her stories and poems. She has also been collaborating with her PA cousin via Skype to write stories.   All of this has been her idea and her initiative– aka- unschooling at it’s best.  It is exciting to watch my children develop their interests and really take off with something that they enjoy doing.  It is also a great reminder to me that my actions do affect my children and one of the best things I can do for their “education” is to show them in my actions that I am pursuing my interests and following my passion!  

This has been very clear with my oldest child, Harrison as his personality is one of concentrated persistence.  Many of his interests have been easy to nurture with trips to the library and home made items.  His focus on achieving what he sets out to do has enabled him to find a way to build a computer and obtain software as well as purchase a digital camera.  It was really cool to get a handmade -with paper and crayons- card from him this year.   A pleasant variation on his recent 

computer generated  cards and picture compilations.  It helped me to remember that despite having an “old soul” beyond his years persona and the fact that he will soon have a driving  learner’s permit, he is still in his  childhood and his younger self is so much very alive in him in a new teenage form.  I can see similarities in my youngest and oldest. Maybe having a three year old and a fourteen year old simultaneously is the key to seeing the similarities between teens and toddlers as well as being able to appreciate that they are their own person at every age.

We think of our youngest as the busy, full of energy, and action kid, yet I keep getting reminders how much he loves to sit with art supplies.  We spent time together last night coloring with markers in a coloring book and also with blank paper and he said to me, “I’m good at drawing. I’m supposed to be an artist”.  One of those moments when you feel like you are getting a big glimpse into their soul.  He has also made a similar comment to me some time ago about sailing.  I have to wonder if these thoughtful responses are coming from a deeper place than just his physical three-year-old self.

I hope I am able to nurture all of my children’s passions.  I know I began my parenting journey with that focus and see it clearly with my oldest child who was an only child for four years.  I feel like my daughter has been given more and more opportunities to pursue her passion since we adopted our dog and now that she is  able to act more independently with pursuing her interests.  Jason’s future remains a mystery and their is something exciting about that.  Sure, I don’t know exactly what paths any of my children will take in their adult lives but I have a much clearer picture with the older two who are almost 15 and 10.  At three and a half years of age, Jason’s future has yet to unfold.  He loves food and helping to prepare food.  He is also very nurturing and I could see him in a helping profession and he has a very physically engaged side and does love fire trucks.  It is possible that having had the experience of fireman coming to the rescue of his dad while he suffered a heart attack, might influence his future career path.  He also has a very imaginative and creative side and loves taking pictures and videos, an activity likely inspired by his big brother.  And I aim to not put any expectations on who he will become but rather spend time nurturing who his is now.  Who knows how these early years of his life could shape his future.

I decided to homeschool my children because I wanted to nurture their love of learning and empower them to nurture their interests.   I have chosen to work less hours in order to be there for them and with them in the process and my husband choose to leave his former work which involved regular travel and too many hours away from home.  Making that choice has involved financial challenges (Note to Universe: I am open to abundance and  moving away from that experience! ).   I would like to believe that despite our limited resources,  my husband and I have been able to at least expose our children to different experiences and help them to further their interests.  Maybe the fact that we have limited financial means will only further their passion to pursue their interests.  There are times when I doubt this.  Yet, I am very aware that childhood is a short period of time.  I am happy to celebrate another year of my life knowing that I am giving my children something more valuable than anything money can buy, my time.   Being a mother is the greatest gift of my life.  I know I have made mistakes, more than I would like to admit, yet, I can be an example to my children in my failures as well as my successes.

I look forward to another year with a renewed focus of being not only with them but present in their lives and available for them emotionally, spiritually and mentally.

 

 

 

Are you an Energy Vacuum?

I belong to an online journaling community and have been re-reading my journal entries.  It is therapeutic and also helps me to find topics for writing.  Today, I found the following sentences in an entry from a year ago:

“I do not need to suck in his energy.”

“I think I am an energy vacuum. I tend to take on others energy.”

I have identified this trait in myself, how I can suck in others energy. If I am around uplifting, inspiring people, I often feel empowered and positive.  And if I am with people who are negative and lost in the victim-hood role of how the world has done them wrong or how their children never listen or their husband just doesn’t understand or….  well, then I may find myself feeling similar emotions and finding everything wrong in my life.

For this reason, I have always  enjoyed being around people of like mind and finding others who “vibrate at a higher level than myself”- meaning, those who are further along the spiritual path- those who have similar beliefs as myself who are where I would like to go- people who are being the kind of person that I choose to be, that I aim to be.  I found this frequently when I first attended Unity as well as when I first became a parent and also when I first began homeschooling and involved in the homeschool community.   As I evolve, the people who “raise me up” change as well.

I also enjoy being around all people, most people.   I enjoy getting together with other homeschoolers of various beliefs and methodology.  I choose to homeschool my children to provide them with more opportunities of real life than they would get in a classroom filled with people all born in the same year.  I look for more diversity for my children.  I like living in a large city.   I have always enjoyed meeting new people.

I have met an uncountable number of people in my life.   I lived in 4 different cities growing up, spanning 3 states.  I moved away again for college and then after graduating, I  up and moved once again.  In the work I have done over the past 19 years as an Occupational Therapist, I have met many people, many people, far more than I can count!

And since having children, getting involved in La Leache League, later becoming a Leader, joing and being involved in Unity, serving as Co- Youth Ed Director at Unity,  along was well as homeschooling my children and creating a homeschool website all have led me to meet many  new people.

It has taken me over 40 years to truly understand that different people play different roles in our life.  We need to see each person for the role they play in our life and not expect more from them outside of the role they play.  We also need to realistically see the roles they fill in our life, the specific things they are and have done for us and how they enhance our life.   By this, I mean more specific than sister or mother or friend.  I learned this lesson when my husband, Don,  suffered a sever heart attack and was hospitalized for 12 days.  Large numbers of people, friends came to my aid, more friends and help than I could have imagined.

I also learned I couldn’t “unload” all that I was going through with everyone.  Each person in my life filled a need and this was all so clear during this time period when Don was in the hospital.  At first, my goal was to meet my children’s needs.  I needed to be at the hospital as much as possible to help my husband and so I sought people who could go to my home and be with my children and take care of their needs.  I had family who came to stay and took care of laundry and meals.  I found friends who enjoyed my children and came to spend time with them.  And then, as time passed and I saw that I was becoming emotionally, physically and mentally  drained beyond an average state, I identified those people who I could reach out to who could help uplift me spiritually and emotionally.  Those people who I could be most honest with, people who knew me well, and who were good listeners.  People who I used to search for and identified  as  “best friends”.   Frequently in my life, I did not feel like I had any “best friends.”

I see it with a new perspective now.  All those wonderful people who helped me and my family in our time of crisis are all good friends or “best friends”.     Some of these people are acquaintances and some are those I have known a long time.  Each filled a role and helped me and did what they could do “best” for me and my family.

I look back on that time when my husband was in the hospital  in amazement.  I was so focused those 12 days.  I was being the parent I had always hoped to be.  I was being the person that I aim to be.  I was in the moment and living life, one moment at a time.   I would not re-do any of it and would not go back in time because of all the challenges that followed.  It was a crazy time and so many aspects of that time period I would not want to live over. Yet, I miss  the simplicity of life and how well I handled all of it.  I miss the simpleness of life at the time.  I was either at the hospital taking care of my husband or home taking care of my children and then somewhere in there, as I learned the hard way, I had some time to take care of myself.

Maybe I enjoyed that time because I was so hyper-focused on MY LIFE and MY PROBLEMS and felt almost no embarrassment to ask for help from others.  I put out countless emails and messages to my friends and the homeschool community asking for help including, people to meet us at the hospital and hang out with the kids, for people to come to my house, for people to take my children to activities, for a recliner chair and even help with food and shopping.

Because I was so HYPER-FOCUSED  on my life and my needs, I was very much empowered to live MY LIFE.

I say this in contrast to the person I usually am, who is busy helping others.  I did not have time to take in the energy of others, to get lost in what was going on in their lives.  Not that being involved in others lives is bad, not at all but for me, I tend to get “sucked into” others lives and their energy, including people who are negative.  I tend to be a good listener to others so often that it feeds my issue of feeling invisible and unheard.   I often let my needs to unheard, I often don’t speak my mind and say the things I need to say especially in a social gathering of several people.

And so for those 12 days in my life I had an excuse, an out, to not worry about others and take care of myself and my family and ask for all the help I needed.   I see the gift in that experience now as I write this.  I can look back on that time and make an effort to take from that experience the aspects that can serve me now.  I must remind myself of that lesson I learned- the roles that people play in our lives and not expect all people to be all things to me.  And I must remember the role I play in each of those people’s lives and live that role fully, whether it be listening to them or choosing not to listen.

It is a balance.  It is not about giving or taking, but both.  Give and take.

Yet, focusing first on ourselves and our needs, first and foremost, can only serve to help us be a better version of our self.

How can we help others if we can not first help our self?

It brings up the line I like to quote from the airlines:

“You must first put on YOUR oxygen mask before you can put on the oxygen masc of your child or the person next to you.”

We must first meet our needs and in doing so, then we can help others to meet their needs.

I still enjoy meeting new people.  I am busy with my local homeschool website that creates a community for area homeschoolers to find information, resources, support and connections.  The site has over 1200 members and is growing quickly.  Each person has been individually approved and welcomed by me or another administrator (there are only a few).  I like getting out with  my children to field trips and relaxing days at the park.  I like talking to other parents.  I like spending time with family and good conversations.  I like reaching out to friends on Facebook .   I like reconnecting with old friends, spending time with current  friends and making new friends.  I like traveling, visiting people and going on vacations and all the people we met along the way.

Yet, for me, it is essential that I take time regularly to choose to be around people who “raise me up”.  People whose energy inspires me and motivates me to be more of the person I choose to be, my best self.

Are you an energy vacuum?

I would love to hear your experiences and perspective. Do share so we  may all benefit.

Write a Post a Week

Deep in my soul, I am a writer.  I feel called to write as my passion and purpose, despite my career detour in the field of Occupational Therapy.

And so when I read on Word Press about the post a day or post a week challenge, I had to sign up.  I have had the goal (silently) since I began my blog, to post a blog a week and decided this was a better way to commit to doing this.

Yet, as much as I love to write, I have missed a week.

Why?

Life.

That is the short answer.

My other passion is my family, my three wonderful yet spirited children and my husband, my best friend and soul mate.  Lately, I have also been working much outside the home as an Occupational Therapist.  I am lucky to be able to work prn (as needed) at a nearby nursing home with great staff, a place I enjoy working.  Out of financial necessity, I have been working almost whenever they call and ask me to work which means less time at home and less time to write.

I love writing and yet when there is pressure “to write, and now” it can be hard to really tune into my thoughts and write something meaningful.

I have been taking time to myself, weekly, or as often as i can, for several years now and sometimes it takes me several hours to unwind before I can dig deep and write from my heart.  The challenges of being a homeschooling parent and caregiver to three children, one a toddler and another with mental health issues added to the fact that when I do “go to work”, I am also serving as a caregiver, can be mentally and emotionally draining.  And so when I do take time for myself and to write, I am exhausted and want to chill out with spider solitaire or find myself reading my endless email or facebook posts, lost in a sea of computer generated messages.

 

Writing calls to me.  When I do take the time to write a post, or even an entry in my private journal, it energizes and empowers  me and provides the refueling I need to keep on going.  I return to my family with more patience and love and can enjoy being with them.

Writing reconnects me with myself which in turn helps me reconnects to those I love.  And having others read m posts (as someone who has been journaling for over 30 years), has added a whole new level of empowerment.

Thank you to all who read my posts.  It is added motivation to keep on track and post weekly!

Reflections on a simple but miraculous evening with my family

I wrote the first draft of this blog, two weeks ago.  I had forgotten about writing this and even the experience we had just two weeks ago.   Life has been so moment to moment for me lately.   I  have had a particularly  challenging week and so my own blog has helped me to gain insight and perspective.  Here is the post:

I had a success moment last night, so I thought I would share it.

Many months ago (I can’t even remember when I did this,might be over a year ago), I sat down with my older two children individually and asked them what their goals were (in words they understood, one is now 13 and the other 8).  and wrote down what they wanted to work on and made a plan as well as looking at the week.
It was the best connection I had with my 8-year-old (or she might have been 7 at the time, to date with our “home/unschool journey”.  She had many ideas and talked about what she wanted to do.  I wrote it down and we even got books on animals at the library like she wanted and started a notebook for her like she asked for.  I think we met again one more time but then life got in the way…
Her issues snowballed into full-blown ocd last spring and my youngest became more active as he got closer to two years….
Then I  hurt my back New Year’s eve and pain sure brings perspective.
I was “out of it” for 2 weeks, at home but taking 600 mg of ibuprofen every day (and I almost never take pain medication) and laying down most of the time because standing and sitting were too painful.  I had a lot of thinking time.    Once I felt better,  I really wanted to sit down with each child and look at our week.  For the past 4 months or so, I’ve been working nearly every weekend, usually Sat and Sun and so when I get home, I am tired and we eat and then its time to start bedtime routine.
So I seized the opportunity before I went back to work and sat down with each child again on a Sunday.  My husband and I talked some first, looking at our calendars, something we used to do often but have not been doing for way too long despite both of us bringing it up saying we wanted to.  And then I went in the basement with my 13-year-old.
He opened up and shared his frustrations.  Something he has not had much of a chance to do but has needed to with  how the past year has been with me watching a toddler and caring for my  8-year-old daughter who has OCD.  And I wrote some of what we talked about as far as a plan of our days and what he wanted to work on.    And after about a half hour, my toddler needed mommy and he came down with us but we were able to continue talking for a bit longer.
And then I had time with my daughter while she played solitaire.  I think she needed that to help her concentrate and keep the OCD thoughts at bay.  And it was good.
Now this is after me bringing up this idea  just before dinner and her getting mad and resisting all my ideas, saying she wanted to play cards.  Despite my efforts to point out how this has been helpful to both her and us in the past, she resisted  and kept interrupting me.  I got mad, but appropriately expressed it!  (big for me) I let her know how I felt and why I was upset and how important I felt this was for all of us.
So after we talked, she was doing the best she has in a while!!!!!!!!
So despite her initial resistance, I needed to stay strong but kind and calm and keep on and in the long run(as in that same day), it helped her!  And i saw it that evening….she was talking on and on as we got ready for bed and playing with her younger brother.   a sure  sign of how well she was doing, with the OCD, she gets stuck and is in this angry, stuck place where she resists getting ready for bed and needs to wash her hands but doesn’t want to, but has too….and on and on and on…
So this was huge, to see her talking and talking like she used to and happy!
And I looked at my husband and despite his desire for quiet time in the evening, I said just enough, to keep him from stopping her from her enthusiasm and loud playfulness.   She also showed  her little brother how to brush his teeth.  Another good sign, because usually she freaks out if he comes in the bathroom with her when she is brushing her teeth.
We now really know, we can not “hush” her when we want quiet, because it can hush her spirit, and that is not good.    As I type this and think about this, it was just last night, it feels like a miracle with all we have been through.  Sure she still can’t sit down and her list of things she can not touch grows and grows, but, she had fun with her brother in the evening and jabbered on in her old self, happy-go-lucky full of imagination, Abby self that we have missed so much over the past year with her tormented soul going through OCD.

New Year’s Reflection: What is most important to me with homeschooling my children?

I have a homeschool website for Charlotte, NC  area homeschoolers. http://charlottehomeschooling.ning.com/

I have been  posting  a Question of the Week to drum up discussion in the Forums.   I recently posted this question.

What is most important to you (or foremost in your mind) with homeschooling your children?

My response:

When I began homeschooling, or decided that was the path I was taking (in 2002 when my oldest was just turning 5), my goals was to continue to foster my son’s love of learning.  I saw how much he enjoyed exploring the world and loved learning new things and I wanted to continue to foster that love of learning.  I recalled my own experience after I graduated college that the last thing I wanted to do was read anything!  It took me some time before I enjoyed reading again.  I wanted him to continue enjoying learning, like all young children do throughout his life.

I also wanted to teach my child how to find information.  In school I hated memorizing.  I felt that if he knew how to find the information he wanted, then he could learn anything.

I took him to the library often and taught him early how to find books in the library, gave him a general understanding of the Dewey Decimal System, and continued reading to him and following his interests.

I also wanted to be with my children.  I returned to work full-time when my oldest was just 3 months old and it was the hardest thing I ever had to do at that point.  My husband was growing his business and my income was our sole income.  As he grew his business, I yearned for the day when I could work less and eventually be home full-time.

I now with three children, age 13, 8 and 2, see how quickly they grow and how short the time is that they are in my care.  I enjoy being with them.  (Sure, I need time to myself and have days where I am ready to send them all off to school if only for a week.)  I enjoy learning and growing along with them.  This is in part why I describe my method of homeschooling as learning through living.

My oldest is 13 now and he still loves learning new things.  He pursues his interests and understand their are other things he needs to learn to help him achieve his goals (he wants to study computer science in college).  He helps me locate nonfiction books in the children’s section for my younger two kids (because he knows how to find some categories of books better than I do).

I too need to stop and remind myself of my intention with homeschooling and even my beliefs about education to refocus myself.  No matter what your education and homeschooling beliefs are, you can lose site of your intentions as you get wrapped up in the homeschooling world and connect with others who have different focus.

For me, I tend to doubt myself when I am around others who approach things different.  I have many homeschool friends who have a variety of different beliefs about homeschooling and education and I am grateful for all of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love the variety. Yet, I personally, need to remember to stop, go within, refocus and tune in to my intentions and remember why I began homeschooling in the first place.  I also need to  connect with others of like mind.For me, attending my favorite homeschool conference; getting together with others of similar beliefs, both on line and in person;  and writing and reflecting on my beliefs helps me to stay connected to my true intentions.