Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An 'ah ha' Moment

We have been engaged in this homeschooling adventure for about a year now. Having a MS in Education makes the homeschooling journey an exciting opportunity to explore my educational philosophy. I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of education I want for our children and why. We decided to commit to three years of homeschooling as our introductory phase. It seemed to me it would be hard to get a real feeling for what homeschooling can be in one year. That has proved to be the case. At the two year mark I feel we are just getting started.

I spent the first year following a pretty strict and concise curriculum for my 1st grade boy. It involved a lot of me doing what teachers do, giving him things to learn. He was a good student and we made it through the year, but we were both relieved to make it to summer. Starting 2nd grade I had a lot of anxiety planning the curriculum. I knew another year of the same curriculum was going to bring us to tears. I made a few changes but stuck with a pretty traditional classic curriculum. We went slower but during the first month we were already having multiple outbursts and lots of tears. I had always felt there was some part of my son I didn't quite understand and this past month made it clear I needed help if we were to continue homeschooling.

After much discussion we decided to have our son tested. He was doing great in many areas but there were some issues with emotional outbursts, sensitivities, and writing that just didn't make sense. After a lot of research I started to suspect he might be both gifted and a stealth dyslexic. The testing was to confirm those suspicions and it did. We learned we have a highly gifted boy with both CAPD *central auditory processing disorder* and several markers of dyslexia.  This was a big Ahhh Haaaa moment for me. There were so many questions answered with these testing results.

From the outside Leo had 20/20 vision and his hearing tests reveal he has perfect hearing. It is the underlying developmental tests that uncovered the processing issues he was having in both of those areas. In the world of the gifted he is labeled 2e *twice exceptional*. As a child in the public school system it is quite likely he would never have been identified with any of these very substantial learning differences. As his mother I knew we were missing something and I trusted my gut. I only wonder how many other kids out there are going left misunderstood and lacking the educational experience and support they deserve.

So here we are mid year second grade and I realize that the curriculum I have been providing is just a bit off the mark. It makes sense that he would not be engaged or interested in the level of work I am providing for him and also why some of the tasks that seem like they should be so easy are really actually very challenging for him. It also answered the questions about why he hates to join new groups (hearing in groups is very challenging) and also why he hates phonics and writing anything.
The testing process has totally reshaped my preconceived approach for educating my children. With a new lens I am reshaping my educational philosophy to fit my children. I only wish we could do the same for every child in the education system.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


I grew up in the midwest surrounded by wide open spaces and very few people. I now live in Silicon Valley and I am surrounded by people and very little wide open space. I love where I live. It is full of amazing people, opportunities, energy, history, science, nature... It truly is an amazing place to live. But, there is a large part of my heart that longs for the open spaces and for my 'home'.

It was on this emotional note last year that I found myself cashing out an IRA so I could buy land back home. Every year around January I start looking and fantasizing about going home. Last year I decided to pull the trigger. I noticed a small parcel of land that was attached to a community that I love. I decided I had to have it. I grew up hearing stories of my dad saying..."I could have bought that land, If I had only known how much it would worth today!!"  So against all sound logic and financial advice I chose to take out a large portion of my IRA and buy that piece of land. I assured my husband that I had taken out enough to cover the fee and extra taxes.

Fast forward to yesterday and me doing our taxes for 2014. Well, it turns out that my estimation of how much that little piece of land costs has gone up considerably. Apparently when you decide to go against the advice of the people who are invested in you keeping your money in their system you will need to pay dearly for it. I digress. When my husband came home yesterday he found me in tears having realize we are not going to get the tax refund I thought we were going to get (which we really need at this point) we are also going to owe money (and not just a little).  I felt like such an idiot and I felt guilty and scared and lightheaded...

Luckily for me I married an amazing man. He held me in his arms and reassured me that it would all be ok and we would figure it out. Then he pulled a letter out of his pocket that he had printed from work. One of his workmates had sent a letter thanking his coworkers for all of their support during the previous 7 months. You see his wife had a stroke and was left incapacitated. He had to make some really tough decisions about her life without the support and consultation of his best friend, his wife. He had to support her and his young children while keeping up with the daily annoyances of life like paying bills, cleaning, grocery shopping, and homework. His wife cannot speak or move. He had to feed her, clean her, and make all the decisions surrounding her care. During this time his power got shut off, his car got run into, and his bank account was hacked. Life gave him a full court press.

Of course reading this letter made the tear fall even harder, but it did make me realize the smallness of my perceived 'problem'. It didn't take away my shame and embarrassment or frustration for my own mistakes, but it sure did help put them in perspective. Money problems are in most cases quite solvable. There are solutions and they may seem insurmountable, but really nothing compared to not being able to move.

Today my money problems seem pretty small. I still cringe thinking about it, but at the same time I have my piece of land at home and I do love it. I live in an amazing place and I can go out and enjoy it anytime I want. I realize my opportunity to live my life today and I promise myself I will not get bogged down in self pity, but look up and shine forth with perspective.

I hope you have a good day filled with perspective.

Going to India (3/14/17)

Well the travel adventure has started. I am getting ready to depart for a yoga pilgrimage to India with a group from my favorite yoga studio...