How Arden Wins At Life

On the rare (or repeat) occasion that I get caught texting/emailing instead of doing what I said I would be doing for Arden, one might overhear a conversation like this:

Arden wanders over to check on my progress…

Me: (quick, deflect!) Arden, whatcha doing so quietly in your room?

Arden: Nothing.

Me: (suspicion radar beeping) C’mon, what are you doing? I’m just curious.

Arden: You don’t need to know, you should be making my lunch. 

Round one: Arden

So, Arden eventually says she’s reading A Wrinkle In Time (the graphic novel). She disappears, and then returns to say,

Arden: Alright, I’m actually reading Harry Potter 2. But Roenne is trying to make me read 1 first and I don’t want to. I just want to read number 2!

Arden: 2, World: 0

Just another tale of A Mafia Lord Trapped In a 6 Year Old Girl’s Body.

Old Thing New: Easy Craft for the New Year

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Roenne picked out a word for 2017, and I’d say she did a pretty good job. 🙂

Those triangles are from previous thing (made from scrap paper and magazine pages), and they were a nice extra touch, but the important part is the word, and heres how I made the letters with the girls:

First of all, if you have kids, find some old drawings done on printer paper (or maybe homework sheet?), if no kids, any sheet of old, printer sized paper will do (we’re swimming in paperwork, so i’m sure you have something laying around!).

Next, pick a word for the new year and print over the old sheets with outlined letters (choose “no fill” and “outline” in the text editor. I use Pages, but Microsoft Word also works.).

Then use crayons, markers, paint, etc to color in any which a way, cut out, and stick somewhere to brighten, remind, and guide you into 2017!

Happy New Year, and cheers to old things made new. 🙂

Ice Cream for Dinner

ice cream forever

*All true stories brought to you by person who needs laughter (and ice cream) to extinguish the fiery pain.

How to be THE freak show at a Physical Therapy consultation/session:

1) Tell them your body is basically broke for no specific reason: muscle spasm in neck/shoulder, scoliosis, lingering acute carpal tunnel syndrome and plantar fasciitis, and had two babies “oh, but your kids are old enough to be at school during the day, right?”

2) Tell them you are a stay at home mom AND you homeschool so, “Ermagad, you are with your kids 24/7! Wow, thats amazing! So much respect! Continuing to talk in loud voice to maintain level of enthusiasm from first exclamation! Haha, you’re laugh/crying!”

3) Accidentally wear the stupid, holey, sweatpants (or “joggers” as the cool kids say) wth a tear (small) over the right side of your bum (plus contrast underpants!) that you continue to wear because you are cheap and try to strategically keep covered with oversized tops. Trick fail when you have to display broken body problems for assessment in sports bra.

Oh, theres so much more, but I don’t know if you can handle the “but your body isn’t normal” story. Thank you, PT!

Whats that? You want to know know about the rest of my day?

Well..

Car would not start in the morning because Roenne left her seat light on and battery was dead, had to get uber (may explain high blood pressure reading).

John did not understand text message requesting pick up from appointment because: curse of autocorrect. 2nd uber.

Discovery: John forgot to feed kids lunch! Uh oh, gonna be late for play date at Exploritorium.

Had to walk a mile (round trip) to ATM to pay for parking, because the ATM in museum was broken.

Did I mention I took the kids to the most popular childrens museum in SF during summer?

When better to run away from home and have ice cream for dinner, I ask you? And then go shopping for new sweatpants so as not to shame yourself in your multiple follow up PT appointments?

Moral of the story: If in doubt, follow your prehistoric instincts to survive and look good.

Keeping the Romance Alive

imageOh, you know just geeking out at the Hunger Games exhibit while the babies are at summer camps. No big deal. imageEeeek. Are the odds in my favor? imageWhat? NOOOOOOO! Not you!imageI volunteer!

I didn’t know it could be so fun to blow $100! $50 for two adult tickets and………image imageJohn insisted on buying the overpriced “you guys are suckers” goodies. And though my cheap Asian pride was loathe to admit it…..they were OH so worth it! Behold:image

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Yes, I know….I completely married up. What a gem.

How To Accidentally Love Life

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The girls are playing Barbies. Wish we had those Barbie 2.0’s, but alas, we only have 5 years old “will probably cause body image issues” Barbies. Future therapy aside, yes, it’s as hilarious as you know my girls to be.

Over the years I’ve learned, you can’t make kids have imaginary play, you can only give them the margin to find those moments on their own.  To the uninformed viewer, this might be mistaken for unapologetically selfish, alone time for mom (me), where I can be found sipping coffee on the couch within convenient overhearing distance from the bedroom to whence the kids have been banished for “play time,” but to those leaning toward this view:

  1. all the not-moms can take a hike (with all due respect)
  2. critical moms probably have mommy guilt over something that needs be dealt with (again, respect, all the things)

When put into the context of our jam-packed Saturday through Wednesday, I think the stumbled upon arrangement just makes sense:

  • soccer practices/games
  • taekwondo
  • school work
  • weekend fun (parties, adventures, visitors)
  • cleaning day (all skate for changing/washing sheets, dusting, mopping, etc)
  • weekly grocery trip
  • cooking prep (for the week)
  • classes
  • other

I keep thinking Thursdays will be the day we make use of our family membership to Cal Academy, but we seem to always end up just staying home and “doing nothing.”

Essentially, the moral of this story is quite simple: if by the mercy of the schedule gods you find yourself “doing nothing” and loving it, and especially overhearing brilliant Barbie imaginary play, for the LOVE, hug, grasp, lounge alllllll over it, AND use the brain power for doing it on purpose, again. I’m calling it “project: do nothing,” but as this blog post is the proof, building in this time allows space for creativity, joy, rest, coffee, so, obvi: good stuff.

In other words, you don’t have to schedule the “good stuff” per say, you should leave blank space to give your mind, heart, and body a chance to intuitively fill in unanticipated needs. I think you’ll be happy to find yourself writing or just reflecting over a cup of coffee while listening to happy kid noises (you know, when they aren’t trying to kill each other).

Roenne, aka “Cinderella” Barbie: blah blah blah (whiny, complaining noises)

Arden, Barbie name unknown: STOP! (Pause) uh, Cinderella, I love you, but please don’t do that anymore

R: blah blah blah (more of the same whining)

A: I’m sorry, but if you don’t stop that I have to give you a spanking

I find it fascinating that Barbie Roenne is acting out and Barbie Arden is adulting. Jr psychologist thoughts: I think they are projecting what they want most: Roenne freedom to behave badly (instead of being responsible), and Arden wants to be grown up.

Did you notice that the Barbies are naked? I don’t even know.

And so ends this not so professional analysis of doing nothing for all the somethings.

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Let’s Homeschool: Year One

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Everyday I’m faced with stress and frustration interspersed with insanely joyful bursts of goodness. At least in my experience, this is the description of “on tiny tyrants becoming.”

Well, we are homeschooling. And, dur, I struggle with patience and feelings of inadequacy, but my true demon is the constant pressure to create the best learning experience for my kids; am I doing it?

Recently, I’ve been having a hard time dealing with the tension between wanting to know cool options, best classes, ALL THE THINGS, and just feeling overwhelmed with the shear magnitude of everyone else’s versions of homeschool; are they doing it better?

Is it possible to be happy with Version US.0 and still be plugged into all the email/meetup groups, forums, etc?

While I’m in the midst of managing the great Information Happiness Conflict, the most important thing I’ve done is to talk about it-with the other faculty member (husband), friends, and I may or may not have had an emotive facebook rant (or two).

In our last “team meeting” a few days ago, John and I evaluated the obvious signals we’ve gotten from the first born, Roenne, who is now 9. *side note: the recently turned 5 year old, Arden has been content with stealth learning, also known as the “as you go” method. May seem too loosey goosey for some, but girl is reading and marking off my grocery list, doing basic addition and subtraction, understanding the natural world via Wild Kratts, and you know, ruling the world.

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So, here’s what we have come up with for Roenne:

  • Provide more support around video/movie creation + editing. She has the focus and interest to work on these for hours with little help or direction. She’s learned from watching Casey Neistat vlogs, her dad’s short attempt at vlogging, and awesome young people produced content on DIY.org. Perhaps we can even find a mentor to answer questions and teach the odd tip/trick!

(ElephantPower is her DIY.org screen name. For now, she is only uploading onto DIY.org, a closed and moderated community)

  • Be okay with staying light on quantity of subjects, and don’t give in to pressure of providing all knowledge of all the usual suspects all at once (well, that one kind of sounds like we are giving a self pep talk). Right now, she is at Quantum Camp for civil engineering (science) and probability/stats (math); creative writing club via Druidawn; reads loads of fiction (vocabulary lessons: write down words she doesn’t know and we discuss); has competitive soccer 2-3 times a week; enjoys down time for completing assignments, playing piano, meeting with friends, participating in the rad community on DIY.org, (*edit: Whoops, forgot to include Minecraft. Oh, how she loves to craft the mine), and must not forget the all important “play with little sister in the room so mom doesn’t lose her ever loving mind” component of the day. After all, can’t have home or school without me (see what I did there?).
  • Identify an area of interest yet unexplored and research opportunities. Roenne has always been a great singer, but I’ve not found a program for her to get training or development. I often joke that she can do the whole rap on Bad Blood, but the truth is she can “do” all the songs she likes including some of the difficult songs from Les Mis. She may just be a life long sing in the shower/car/everywhere girl, but we’re excited to see how she responds to organized and directed vocal-ness once I’ve found some options to pursue.

Wow, I like seeing all that written up. It looks almost as if we know what we’re doing. Well, usually we don’t. Really, really. So, when we feel adrift, we try to come back to the following:

Our guiding principal is simply that she love learning. This is not to be mistaken for “easy” and only doing things she likes. The struggle IS real, so we want her to be in an inspirational learning environment that will positively push her through the hard stuff.

We want to understand her learning style well, so in a way, its an on going study of HER.  

The general framework is to teach concepts and principals (especially character) and provide supports where needed so she can learn to make wise choices. This is also known as Project: Raise Good Person.

Make simple, manageable goals to keep moving forward.

Finally, stay flexible, be okay with change.

The way we started out in January 2015 is VERY different from where we are today. Largely because John initially took the lead.

As a founder of The Iron Yard, he could bring Roenne along to work-the open study space was perfect for her to do Khan Academy assignments, primarily focusing on math, computer programing (multiple online resources), blogging, and reading fiction in her free time (the extras: chess club, piano lessons, and rec soccer).

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We traveled some-a weeklong visit to Washington, DC marked our American History segment, and we took it very, very easy during a busy, multiple-move season late spring through fall. For the first few months after the big move from Atlanta to San Francisco, we embraced our inner tourist, and let no man say “One can not tour and learn,” because we did it and called it homeschool.

Now that John is launching his new startup, TOMO, the transition to me taking the lead is complete, but he definitely continues to balance the force in our typical dynamic: me forgetting to have fun, him lovingly communicating “relax and have fun” through our perfect, marriage telepathy waves (we’ve had hypothetical, online, full immersion course on this, obviously).

John finds all the best Ed Tech stuff online, and I remind their manners into submission (and probably, definitely other important things), but when I’m not making terrible jokes (really, where did I get my sense of humor?), by far the best thing we do for homeschool is to teach ourselves these same things over and over again in the hopes that by even failing to reach them, we come close to teaching:

Support things we care about.
Practice things that we love.
Build relationships that matter.
Do the right thing, first.
Be helpful.
Have fun.
Love each other.

…and probably a few more that I can’t remember, because since when does anyone remember all the things they are trying to forget they failed at one hour ago?

Well, I suppose you get the point, anyway: lets be the grownups we want our children to become, wherever our kids “go to school.”

I could go on, but its probably time to call it a wrap. There are no simple solutions or magic curricula-as with the rest of life, theres just remembering the important things in all circumstances, and continuing onward.

Friday is probably the worst day to write about school, because we are all…already…

Over and out. 😀