Sunday, January 17, 2016

Getting Back into the Groove

Two weeks of sickness in this household.  Winter break followed by ear infections, chest colds, stuffy noses, runny noses, headaches, exhaustion...and finally we are all well.  This is especially exciting for Neviyah because she is ready to get back to homeschooling.  The two weeks of winter break followed by two weeks of sickness in the house has been too long of a break for her.  She is ready to get back to learning!

I have decided to try something a little different.  Before, every day we learned Language Arts, Math, Social Studies or Science (alternating days), Recorder/Music or Art/Finger Knitting (alternating days), and health. This worked out alright, except with three days of homeschooling only being three-hour bursts due to me still needing to work, it didn't leave a lot of time per subject. Even our full days of homeschooling twice a week does not expand our "subject" time because I try to get us out of the house more - library time, exploring, fort building, etc.

I am going to try, starting Tuesday when we begin homeschooling again, to only do two subjects a day.  So - we might do math and recorder one day, and science and knitting the next, and then language arts and health on yet another day.  This will give us more time.  So, on a math day, we might actually be able to do gnome storytelling math problems that involve art, play some math games, and do a few pages of her awesome math program called Mammoth.**

For science, I joined Spangler Science Club for kids. They send a monthly box with experiments, lessons, and hands on learning.  Neviyah loves science, and she really wants to do hands on experiments. This is the perfect solution!

** For those imaginary people who wonder what the difference between Mammoth and Singapore (the type of math Neviyah was learning in Day School)...

Both Mammoth and Singapore are mastery-based systems that emphasize conceptual understanding, mental math strategies, and use bar diagram methods for word problems.  Mammoth has more built-in review. Review is built into each chapter, and chapters are designed to include prior knowledge review to current problems they are working on.

Mammoth has more emphasis on practicing and learning addition facts.  In Singapore, you have to do that outside of the math program whereas in Mammoth, it is part of the program, the workbooks, etc.  Mammoth also includes lessons about the concepts behind addition and subtraction (fact families).

Singapore covers material much more quickly at the earlier grades but again, one has to supplement math facts and sacrifice, if you will, extended reviews.  So, while Singapore covers single digit multiplication and division in 2nd grade and Mammoth in 3rd, by the time 6th grade arrives, both have covered all the same materials. However, by 6th grade, Mammoth will have included more on statistics and probability than Singapore.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Standing Strong in Peace

It happened when I chanted this morning. I chanted in English. My new thing. I chanted "Breathe in joy and strength. Breathe out wisdom and peace."  

I chanted Breathe in joy and strength. And I took a breath in, letting joy and strength enter me, and fill me.  Pause.  I chanted Breathe out wisdom and peace. And I sent that intention into the world.

And as I chanted in my bed, with my sore throat, and my faint headache, I imaged with the words. 

The breath in of lilac smoke, swirling to all parts of me -- around my heart, to my fingers, my head, down through my body, to my uterus, my toes, and then back to my heart. Gently. Slowly. 

The breath out of white light. Shining, reaching, stretching, encompassing the space in front of me, filling the air around me.  Full of energy, life, hope. 

And as I often do, when my chanting has run its course, and it is winding down, my thoughts go to many places. It travels sometimes to the past, the stepping stones that bring me to this place. Sometimes to the hope of the future. Sometimes to soft places filled with love, and kindness. Sometimes to distance memories that have almost slipped away.

Tonight, out of utter boredom with having been home with sick children for days, I chanted again, but this time I just chanted "Strength and Peace," drawing out each main word as long as my breath would let me, tuning into the vibration on my lips and in my throat, and stretching my arms down and open on "strength" and raising them up and open to the universe on "peace."

The power of words, especially when blended with movement, always catches me a little off guard. This pervasive feeling I have right now - of being a firmly planted tree, of swaying with the wind in harmony and balance, is an amazing feeling that I wasn't expecting to be overwhelmed with on this long, long day.  This long day of trying to handle sick children and a full day at work while I myself am a bit under the weather.  

Thank you Universe for this small gift. Thank you Hashem for this small gift.  Thank you Self for this small gift.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Usually changes, especially those to my finances, stress me out. Causes interruptions to my sanity. Entices me to self-isolate.

None of these things are occurring, and wow have I been experiencing changes! Beyond downgrading to a house less than 1/2 the size, and zen-ifying the items I own, and moving my company from office to home are some of the other changes that have occurred even more recently than the above changes of 6 months ago!

First, I went from FULL TIME to PART TIME, in hours, in pay, and in mind-set.  The biggest issue here is the pay - I am making less than half of what I was before. Let me repeat that - less than half of what I was making before!  My bills didn't change...but I am not freaking out! At this point, I am just taking it as it comes...paying the most important things first, and doing what I can with the others.

Second, Rob has taken a new job to earn more to help make up some of the difference. The new job requires him to be on the road from Monday through Friday, and he is only home on the weekends. As many know, we have been through a rough last year and a half in our marriage. We have both grown a lot in the last six months in particular, and so the risk on my relying on another person for finances (have NEVER done in my whole life) and after coming off a rough time should be making me crazy or insecure or something...but it isn't. Single parenting during the week is hard but not impossible, and Rob and I are managing to stay connected.

Third, I began homeschooling Nevi two weeks ago. This in and of itself is a huge responsibility, and one that people I have consulted both advised against and for. I could fail, Nevi could fail, our relationship could be adversely affected, etc.  The list could go on!  However, the transition has been smooth, easy, fun, and rewarding. It is probably the best decision our family has made in a long time. I am loving it, and so is Neviyah!

Fourth, transition of friends has occurred. People who used to be in my daily life have scaled back for whatever reason, and new people have been popping in. I am able to be who I am - at my core a homebody - while at the same time, engage in learning, non-profit planning, bhakti yoga-ing, exploring herbal remedies, etc. While at first I was kind of devastated, especially after coming off a hard year, I am now thriving in the freedom of exploring slowly and at my introverted comfort level, enjoying the new friends I am making, reconnecting with old friends, shoring up friendships that had slowed down, and focusing on doing the things I love to do at a pace I want to do them.  (Michelle E - you were right!)

Fifth, I received the honor of being named the programming chair for Nishmah, and I have been enjoying conceiving of and bringing to fruition new programming series, overseeing and participating in new areas of programming that I was never involved in before, and working closely with the fantastic Sara W.  Nishmah has been extremely patient with me as I have adjusted to these life changes, and I appreciate all of the positive feedback I receive from them. Still, it is a change in that it is an added responsibility amongst all of these changes, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

These changes don't sound as huge as they have been in my life, but I have been feeling the struggle that comes with it, and somehow am making positive ways in which to navigate them that do not include lying in bed all day, freaking out, crying, drinking, or hyperventilating! That's a WIN in my book!

In looking deeper and inward, it is as if I have finally been able to actuate what I have wanted to do my whole life...take life at a slower pace (work)...tap into my role of mother in a focused and in-the-moment way (homeschooling)...take part in something that helps others in a more detailed way (volunteer work with Nishmah)...have time to do some learning in a relaxed way (yoga, herbs)...and connect with others in a meaningful way (reaching out to a diverse set of friends).

Please continue to send me positive vibes, and wish me good luck and steady coping skills!

Monday, November 9, 2015

First Day of Homeschool

We began our morning by spreading a blanket on the floor, and lighting a special candle that Neviyah picked out herself.  It has three wicks, so we decided one would be for her, one would be for me, and one would be for the earth.  We recited a little morning poem, and then turned on the music to sing a Good Morning song to the world, and then some acting out songs to Five Little Monkeys, Head-Shoulder-Knees-Toes, and Skidimarink.

We then moved to our first subject of the day, Language Arts. I told her "The Magic Spindle" folktale, and then she picked ORANGE for her Language Arts spiral notebook color.  We talked about how the haystack from the story looked like a big "A," and how the little girl's head with her hair curling up in the back as she finds the magic spindle looks like a little "a."  She then drew those two letters with the story in mind.

After Language Arts, we moved on a little movement. We stretched, moved around, stood, bent, sat, laid down, jumped in the air, swayed to the left, swayed to the right, and shook out the wiggles.

Now were were ready to begin Math!  We are starting by exploring the four operations of math through storytelling.  We began with an introduction to Plus, Minus, Multiple and Divide - four gnomes who collect diamonds for the King.  Plus is a heavy blue gnome who collect more than the required 12 jewels - his pockets are always full, and the King hangs him upside down to get the extra jewels to fall out of his pockets!  Minus is a yellow gnome who has holes in his pockets and his bag, so he is always losing jewels!  Times is a fast green gnome who loves to work. He gathers 12 jewels, brings them to the King, and then goes out again to get 12 more!  Last is Divide. She is a caring and generous red gnome.  When she notices that someone else doesn't have enough, she immediately gives them half of her jewels.  Nevi then illustrated these four operations in her PURPLE math book.

As the story went on, we learned that the four gnomes were fighting because their hats had fallen off, and they each didn't know which was theirs. The king gave them each a special sign so they would always know which hat was theirs.

We left our story there, and will continue tomorrow. We took a break for snack, and enjoyed some Naf Naf Pita in the sun room.

It was time to move on to Social Studies.  In Social Studies, Neviyah made a calendar, populated it with labels for the month, day of the week, and number of the week. Then she added holidays and birthdays. She made a special call to her Aunt Kerri to find out when Grandma's birthday is so that it could be noted.

That was the core for the day. Tonight, we will add to our calendar with what the moon looks like, and also add anything else for the day that we witnessed - birds, season, colors outside...whatever she decides she would like to record.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Rosh Hashanah Reflection

It is almost Rosh Hashanah again, and yes, I have missed the mark many times over.  This past year has been difficult for me, almost more so than when I was in crises mode. As daily life moves on, and as strong support goes to the way side, I have to rely on myself. 

In this self reliance, I have endured and re-found my strength, although most days are lonely and a struggle. I have also taken the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, some of whom have been there for me in ways I could never imagine - helping the loneliness melt away, helping to reduce the depressed feelings that seems to come and go randomly.

Also, I have tried hard to keep my eyes open to the ways in which I have missed the mark - as a spouse in a fragile situation, as a parent, as a decent human being, as a consumer...  Adjustments are hard to make, especially when they require change and work and reflection and judgement and doing the right thing.

In a parallel universe, I would be back to my "old" life where things seemed easy. The truth is, though, that it was rough even then. There were challenges - just different ones.  Every moment is an opportunity to grow. Growth doesn't always feel good. Growth isn't always fruit bearing in the first year.  Growth sometimes is hard to see, but easy to feel the aches and pains.

Even in this space within which I dwell, my heart swells with love - for the Universe, for people (flaws and all), and for life (its potential, its hope).  

Thanks to everyone who has looked out for me these last few months...called, extended their circle, recognized my fragility, didn't take personally my need for aloneness but also didn't leave me there for extended periods of time, made me feel important and loved, and sent me that wonderful energy.

My blessing for myself this year is to hit the target. May we all be blessed with making the mark in the areas of our life that need it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Grey Area

I don't live in the grey area. I enter it at my own will. At my own risk. But, I am careful. I do not step on the lines. Or at least I try not to. I come close enough to keep you there, though. Whatever it takes. To keep you in this grey area. The place that you live. The place where you have once again visited, and become trapped within.

It isn't fair. To you.

Me? I am just selfish. I can see you withering away, and I don't care. I would rather have you here, with me, in the gray space. Building my ego. Making me feel loved. Taking sweet care of me.

I am poison. That is what you cannot see.