Friday, January 29, 2010

a LOT...

long time no see. really?

are we not always "occasionally" distracted, for better or for worse?

i've gotta good combo of both going right this last quarter. better? let's start with worse... it seems best to end on a good note, and chronologically, no completely without accuracy. so,

i've struggled. much. and by "much" i mean NOT INTENTIONALLY, as i have a lot on my plate and a lot to handle and i've learned alot this year and have a lot yet to learn, a lot of ghosts in my walk-in closet, a lot to loose/realize still....... let's just say, A LOT going on.

and the kids/students, a lot they've learned... a lot left to learn... a lot of-- not pressure, or stress or misinformation. just a lot on THEIR plates.

and like what's on mine, some can be stored and sealed away for another time, soon.

and what's better than leftovers, when they've had the chance for the spicy nuances to soak in? all i can say is, we're so blessed... a LOT!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just Call Me Mister Tea

In my opinion, teaching without tea is just 'ching. And what good is ching-ing. Honestly...

I like tea. A bit of an aficionado, really, but that couldn't matter less during our Twice/Thrice a Week Tea Time. These are moments during the week, usually mid-morning, where we choose a brew of peppermint or some other herbal-- i usually opt for an aged Pu Erh, Darjeeling, Formosan or Tulsi, sometimes Rooibos or a good Mate' though-- and take a seat in the front parlor. It' not unlikely to turn on an instrumental CD at this time.

With mugs in hand, we then start round-robin discussing what we've learned or observed recently. It's a nice little recapper to help things sink in a bit. Then we talk about what we're doing today and tomorrow, and where we'd like to go in our discoverings next.

I cannot tell you the value this has added, giving the kids a vested interest and crucial role in our learning. Responsibility, encouragement, teamwork and camaraderie are all tasty accompaniments to our drinks. Although a scone every now and then sure would hit the spot.

You should give it a try if you don't do something like this. It's something we really look forward to. And if tea isn't your cup of tea, we've also had success with Happy Hour-- I discourage the traditional alcoholic option though. Every now and then we do the same thing during an afternoon, complete with chips, salsa, Mexican sodas and Mariachi. Works just the same.

What... so we raise our family on Tex-Mex. Should've tried my chili last night. i'm usually not one to brag, but this batch was Mucho Good-o!

~Senor Padre

Monday, August 10, 2009

Admin-In-Service Day

It's back to school, for the teacher and staff. At least here, at home/unschool. And since I've no new faculty to necessitate ice-breakers and up-to-dates, it's straight to business. For me, that means sending the kids upstairs while I contemplate what to do in the next few...

First on my list to address is the concerns of our parent-- the other one-- who is moved by the children's comments of "why can't we be in normal school." You know, "like the ones on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel." The second-- and quite relevant-- point here being dismissed to its preface. A real bummer, since she is the sole financial investor to the institution.

To my good fortune, a slough of comments from every stranger we spoke with during our vacation last week sang Bel Canto praises to our mission and endeavor. The teacher and students have only to provide some sense of proof for the days' lessons. Not entirely as easy as a traditional report card or progress chart, but do-able. We do a handful of workbooks and online learning to provide such.

But the core to my system leans on the unquantifiable unschooling side. And upon this "In-Service" day, I ask myself why...

I confess to squirm in my seat a bit here. Like I said earlier, "blah blah unquantifiable blah..." During the regular school day I tend to dismiss that which gets in the way of eccentric and meaningful thought. But no can do, partner. Not without risking my own unwarranted institutionalization. It's something standard methods have trouble with measuring.

Anyone else in my clogs???

Can't wait for tomorrow's In-Service topic...

Monday, July 20, 2009

God bless the one who invented "sprinklers"

i really believe it was a divine revelation. a myriad of designs-- no matter, each inspired by God, Himself, no doubt.

sure... we have the community pool. but it fares itself a man-made, unimaginative sort. nothing to the glory that it "the sprinklers."

and who can deny the proximity... the memories... the pure and simpleness.......

not i.

besides, with the insane a/c bills, who could even notice a little extra water being expended...

again, not i.

Monday, July 6, 2009


why... it's all i'm asking.

one simple question.

one simple word...

but said word need a bit more. why, is it that any-and-every time i give praise regarding the children's behaviour, it is blatantly undone. i've noticed this with any-and-every time i do something nice, like buy them something or let them make a choice for the entire family, as well. the next action is invariably opposite.

i could suppose it is this "natural balance" thingy. or human nature. i subscribe less to an automatic jinxing. although, even the holiest of men, such as Moses or King David-- the "man after God's own heart," for St. Peter's sake!!!-- keep us company with such indiscretions.

i dunno... nonetheless, it makes me wanna do nice things much less, and guard my compliments from being spoken aloud.

but today, again, i will NOT say how pleased or perhaps indifferent even, i feel, with/without certain offspring bearing remote similarities of DNA-- or not-- of an encouraging and uplifting "sense of" co-existence.

of course, you didn't hear that from me...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Summer Breaks (My Heart)

Selfishly, because we usually don't have all the crowds and lines doing our "normal" learning stuff like playgrounds, parks, zoos, museums, grocery stores and so forth. But moreso due to the prevailing reminder of how the masses have been completely turned off from learning. It's really sad.

Case and point. We headed up to the old elementary we used to attend two and a half years ago. It was our EXPO teacher's last day before retirement, and we wanted to wish her well. She couldn't wait to start the next chapter! "Lynn" had taken a job with Lego-- Yeah, Lego; how cool is that-- after EXPO was taken outta of school. She was given the task of doing TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) math prep for the district. Bummer, because EXPO was the only "fun" subject a select number of kids had. Not a bummer was the huge box she filled up for us with learning games and cool math books!

That was awesome, but the handful of frustrated teachers and bored-to-coma students was curious. What are they moping for? Summer's here! Several shared the point that "yeah, but it hadn't started yet," or "so what... we just have to come back in August."

What an aspiration, eh? To learn by repetition to do what you're told, so that one day you won't be so discouraged when your work hours are increased, paycheck cut and hafta simply "do what you're told," some more...

I'm sorry. That's complaining, and negative issues already have too much spotlight. So, thank GOD we have a box full of even more cool stuff to be excited about. This I would wish on every kid!

Whoa!!! I almost forgot the best part! The part that mends this heart... When we left, it was with the 2nd grade girl struggling with math and my 1st grade boy unable to read. Now, after two years of playing, imagining, playing, watching movies, reading funny books and playing, I have a girl that's consumed with problem-solving games and puzzles, and a boy almost obsessive with characters, plots, scenes and settings of movies.

Heck-- We can't wait for the next day, let alone the whole summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Language Lesson

Communication really is key. Let's see if I can remember how they put it in my college speech class. I believe it goes something like this: Transmitter >>> Message >>> Receiver. 

Yeah. That's it. What I don't remember covering in that class was anything beyond that dynamic and the principles of persuasion.  Specifically the problem of perception. 

As a parent-- and in their defense, as children, too-- this problem is raised up all the time. And the real frustration is its independence from intention, rhyme or reason. Although making rhymes does seem to lessen the blows. 

You guys know what I'm talking about. It's like when you say, "we need to straighten the house and clean our rooms," but the response was closer to, "you guys go rearrange your messes and then feel free to do whatever you want while I come over here and play in my kitchen."

Am I crazy? Or was that the EXACT OPPOSITE of the message I was trying to send. And I know this whole time, both sides of the communication process are using English. So that's not the issue. 

I know this for a fact, because the French lessons we got from Nikowa-- Merci' by the way-- still leave all three of us scratching our heads and saying deux. (In English the sound is "duh.") Hey, I'm the one with German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Arabic, Italian, Gaelic, Esperanto and Klingon dictionaries on the shelf. And the answer's not in any of those either. I know. I've looked...

No. It's perception. And it takes a bunch of open minds on both sides to clear things up. Parents gotta see things through Darth Vader masks sometimes, walk around in tiny ballet shoes and tutus for a while. And kids hafta add to the end of every stupid request their folks make the phrase, "because I love you very much and I honestly feel this is the best way I can help you become happy, healthy, smart and strong."

Once we all realize we're all speaking the same language, the message makes sense.

So good luck and blessings with yours! And tot ziens voor nu, Meneer Papa (that was Dutch)