Tuesday, February 7, 2017


I love my 1-on-1 with each kiddo, but my time with the boy was falling a little flat. What do a middle aged woman & 9 year old boy like to do? What will reach his young-man heart? What won't drive me insane? So, we made a list of ideas & decided on modeling clay. Which led to this campsite diorama w/working fire pit! He was so good at the planning of materials & figured out a way to make a fire pit that would work w/o igniting the whole thing. Success!!! What do you do w/your boys? #needmoreideas #imalloutagain #curious #idontBMXorwrestleorbuildlegos

Monday, February 6, 2017

How Curious Education Becomes Curious Life...

Curious Education.  
Moving from the right-answer result to the adventure of discovery.

Why is the sky blue?
Does the thunder come first or the lightening?
Why do both sugar and water form in crystals?
Is jet lag worse traveling in one direction over another?
How does convection work?

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” - Pablo Picasso.

My most childlike curiosity began again when all of the noisy messages about who I was supposed to be and what about me I should curtail or reject came to an abrupt silence. After 41 years, I had finally come into circumstances in life that painfully, wonderfully revealed that the package I was trying to fit myself in, to forge my worth, was a fraud and that it would NEVER be the me, or the love I was searching for.  My curiosity was born from simply running out of options for the “right answer” on the deepest level. If the way the world worked on a grand corporate scale was right, then I was content, finally, being a little “wrong” or at least unquantifiable.
Sure, I had allowed a very small trickle of curiosity emerge here and there, when something I tried didn’t work or when I was allowed the freedom of not-knowing for one reason or another.  When I begun homeschooling/roamschooling my kids, I had to yield to curiosity in order to do my “best” and to do roam schooling “better” and the “right” way.  Before I began, I called Harvard and DU and bent the ear of their amazing admissions staff to make sure they were not anti-homeschooling and, in fact, they were “pro”- independent education.  The trickle dried up as I solidified my curriculum and began the familiar type A speed train to success, ahead of the trend, above any acceptable existing standards.  However, something unexpected happened.  With the efficiency we had in place, questions became just a little bit less of a nuisance and more common.  I also noticed that the more questions my kids had, the fewer answers I had.  It scared me. So, of course I consulted experts, google and anything else i could find that had the “right answer.”  As things progressed, I realized that we were covering a wide breadth of information, but I began thirsting for depth myself. I caught myself… asking… questions (gasp)- about little things as we went along.  I was sad when the history book came to an end (NERD ALERT!)
A great example was with Sugar Water & Crystals.  My son and I were having breakfast after having just visited the lake shore, watching the newly forming ice crystals reach toward each other across the lake.  My son asked why the sugar did not change the color of my coffee the way the creamer did.  So, I poured out a bit of sugar on the table so he could see the grainuals.  I told him that sugar actually formed into crystals.  He said, “like the water?”  “yes, huh.  I think so.” So, we looked up the molecular structure of sugar on my phone and, lo and behold, there was a water molecule right smack in the middle of the carbon and hydrogen (show slide).  Is that why sugar forms as crystals?  Do all crystals have an H2O in the middle of their structure?  I wanted to see them all on a big spreadsheet.  Right then. My son and I had so much fun in our journey along the questions.  The fruit of this moment was so rich:  Connecting with a 9 year old boy on a superfun, organic level (which is NOT my forte), admitting we don’t know allowed us to run free in the field of what is it? and why? and slide down the delight of if that, then what else is out there? It unveiled humility and faith in the fact that we do NOT bear the burden of being the biggest thing out there and that we are a creative creation of the creator.  Wonder was sparked. Curiosity breeds curiosity.  So, there in the restaurant we discussed chemistry, humor, seasons, coffee, color, art and laughed a lot.  At ourselves and truly experienced delight.  Just in existing.  We didn’t have to forage for our worth or prove our value.  Rigorous academics and rigorous life-lesson.  

A curious approach to learning/education is even powerful enough to upend something you have a distaste for, and can suspend a hard prejudice I possessed from the start.  I have often reminded myself while instructing my kids that, “If you can learn to learn in a setting you don’t like, from someone you don’t respect, then you can find fun and follow your dreams in anything you do.”
I had to try this out, obviously, as to at least reduce the amount of hypocrisy I dish out on a daily basis.  Can I be a curious student/person in a situation where I KNOW I know better?  Can I even think of a question when I don’t respect someone?  Why does my curiosity seem to be directly proportional to my all-powerful assessments?  Is it?  I began to be more and more curious about the impacts and byproducts of curiosity. Is curiosity dependent on a emotional state to engage?

 I was in a discussion with my husband about a speaker that I honestly think is a joke.  I don’t respect his life behind the scenes and really, for me, the proof is in the pudding.  So, while my husband, who has been a loyal follower of this person’s work for decades begins to defend his mentor’s benefits, I’ve got my right-answer arsenal ready.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy a little tete a tete every once in a while?  To me, it’s a turn-on and this curiosity stuff is, well, not as sexy.  However, my husband could see it coming and, unfortunately, had been actually listening when I shared my discoveries about curiosity.  So, he threw the ball back, “Why don’t you try just being curious about him, or at least curious as to why you are so judgmental of him?  Ask some questions of yourself or of me or you could do a little more research and see what comes of it?”  
Wait, WHAT?!?!  I was so mad and so caught.  OK, where were the questions?  Blank.  Think, think, think. Something simple.  Where did he grow  up?  I could start with that.  What were some of his first publications?  Has he made any statements regarding his life choices?  What are his events really like and why am I so turned off, to the point of anger, at the thought of them?  What does that bring out in me?  Why so much venom?  
I learned, in that brief time, that I softened toward this man, that I don’t even know.  I began to feel room for compassion.  Empathy.  I had more room (at least a little) to release the compulsion to asses and convict.  I also had more room for questions to get to know my husband’s value for this speaker’s messages, which brought me into a sacred space with him that I had not wanted to bother with before.  Questions.  Curiosity.  Learning. 
With curiosity at the helm, where do the boundaries of “education” start and stop?  I’m not sure.  I know that education has to do so much.  I love the public schools and their willingness to go into unchartered territory with me has been so exciting.  So, maybe it’s not a blanket solution for one type of education - whether homeschool, unschool, public, private, hybrid or online.  Wherever the source of our education and whatever stage we are at in life.  curiosity can bring a depth, wonder, faith and compassion into our view that can create a movement of life-long child-like learners of ourselves and one another.  Yes, there are times to fill in the blank or the bubble or tax form.  However, if we can introduce time and space and trust for the questions that lead to more questions, we may just discover who we really are, vs. who the right-answer result focused messages tried to convince us we were. Be careful though.  This kind of thinking, at least for me, is a bit of a point of no return.  It has introduced a freedom in exploration and discovery and wonder that I am not sure I can relinquish and makes me not so adept at the usual cocktail conversation.

It's.... so.... brain... damage... is...

So, raising kids with intention.  It's exhausting.

An example of this exhausting, brain damaging exercise happened this morning.  I am using a website to prepare my daughter for the testing that is required for her.  I do not approach test-prep from a topical, line-by-line cram point of view.  I approach it from a problem solving, pattern seeking, deductive reasoning, relaxation focus.  Tests in life and in any formal setting can trigger emotions - some of them help us to solve problems an focus, some hinder our problem solving skills and focus.  So, I wanted to create a situation in which all of those emotions (helpful and hindering) showed up for my kids in practice so that they can manage them when it happens for real.
So, my 10 year old daughter starts with some questions that are often on a cognitive ability assessment.  The harder the questions became, the angrier she would become.  Not anger at herself - anger at the TEST.  It must be wrong.  The test must be wrong, the computer must be broken, etc.
Cut to - an AWESOME conversation about character and how we can see "wrong" answers as good news - they are just the next breadcrumb that teaches us about the correct answer. 

Where Do I Start? So Much Blessing....

Wow.  OK, I want so much to write everything about today because it would encapsulate the blessings and abundance of homeschooling in a way that is almost adequate to convey the supernatural grace and freedom that you can have- even while still living in the world.
Be set apart.
Be holy.
A royal priesthood.
A holy nation.
Our Classical Conversations Community.
Full.  Full of beautiful imperfect women.  Families.
Full of a ministry at it's core that most will never hear about in a crafted "message" or devotional.
There is an openness to the Spirit here that I cannot describe and I know that it is unique to this time and this place for this season but my word, my LORD it boasts such glorious beauty and deep joy.  It is full of souls being hosted by bodies.  It is full of incredibly generous moms that are so giving - first in their time and their talents - but then, even more so, in their willingness to deny their very flesh.  We have a community that understands our own flaws of gossip, exclusion, judgement, withdrawal, comparison, envy and doubt.  I have never, EVER been more uncomfortable in my LIFE than in the midst of it and yet, because of that, Gods revelation and abundant gifts are that much more acute. 
It is an environment where my assessment of things is rendered useless.  Isaiah 55:8-9 acquires flesh and I can see and feel that I have no place and no reason to assert any situation - by the mere fact that I am incapable of doing so. 
God is God and if we are all in agreement that we are not Him, that we will resist the apple, we will resist control and certainty of all we "see" and "know" - we will then see and know what is invisible and eternal and real - true love.
Our children, in turn, will see the same.  They will see the consistency of Hebrews 13:8 and wonder why the world functions as it does on so much conditional, temporal and fickle "love."  It really is a bastardization of the term.  Our children know when they see the truth in those around them and if they can witness anything true, vs. "religion", their taste buds will change permanently.  A taste of true love.  Eternal Love from the living water will ruin their palette for any twisted version of love the world will ever offer.  So my prayer is this:
For ourselves - may our palette continue to be cleansed and purified by the living water and the bread that was broken for us so that in turn, our families and our sweet children will consider the drastic saccharine that the world has to offer in the same name and spit it out for good.

If that weren't enough in itself, I find my own inspiration in the academic side of things.  I realize that I am absolutely in love with, like have a crush on learning.  I don't want to at first, bu tthen, if I just have that 10 seconds of courage, I find that my brain is more agile somehow than before.  I am not so distracted.  I am not so worried.

What an amazing coupla weeks. 
I see so much fruit from homeschooling, I cannot begin to fathom it. 
This is our weekly schedule at this point this year:
ah, Ill get to that later
OK - so, a lot of love and bliss on my last post, but I'm still feeling that way - today - one day later :-).

I think too, I relish the freedom tat my kids are experiencing in their minds and hearts to explore themselves, explore their faith and learn a stupid amount about what and who is worth their mind share and who/what is NOT. 
They are not only learning French, Spanish and robotics, they are learning how to work through jealousy, boredom, laziness and fear.  They are also insanely creative and curious people.

I suppose I could document what they've done - I probably should.  I will.  But not here.  Not now.

Four years in.  I am amazed at how accurate a prediction was of a woman I went camping with this last summer was.
She said that finally, this year, I would stop feeling like I had one foot in, one foot out.  She could not have been more right.  Also, it's bizarre how proud of homeschooling my kids are.

Haute Homeschooling 101 - A guide to Independent Education
Patience not required.
 This is More than a Survival Guide, a Thrival Guide.
 Bring me your curious and your thirsty and your scared and your unsure and your broken.

So, you are curious about "homeschooling" your children?  I'm sure there are as many reasons for that as there are stars in the sky.  You can read this book and you will not be overwhelmed.  You will not need to purchase denim jumpers & lace doily collars.  You do not have to hate the system and you do not have to fear the world.  You do not have to be naturally patient or naturally gifted at teaching anything.  You don't even have to like learning yourself, because that will come later, as a byproduct of the process.
No matter how much prep you do or don't do, you will not find yourself completely equipped.  However, you will feel encouraged.  Meaning, en-couraged.  Infused with courage and hope and curiosity. 
Education as it is in the United States right now is suffering for many reasons.  There are also many wonderful things about it.  For as many articles as there are about apathetic teachers, lack of funds loss of programming, there are incredible teachers out there.  There are incredible schools, principles, teacher trainers and the like that eat-sleep-and-breathe their passion for instilling and inspiring creative, critical minds that will be able to research, discover, consume, digest, analyze & teach information.  There are wonderful, innovative programs that schools are spearheading to mold young ones into tech-savvy engineers who can take us to Mars and beyond.  There is no one-size-fits-all.  There is no benefit in condemning a system, only in taking responsibility for a solution.  Your unique solutionSometimes, that solution is to approach Education in a far different manner than before.  I see the world of education - even mass education - changing.  There is a discontent and yet a hesitancy to make the leap into independent education.
Our family opted for homeschooling not from a perspective of where schools were failing - but that we had the flexibility and the curiosity became more exciting than the fear of the unknown and the fear of knowing that I was to be the primary "teacher." 
I have never been a "teacher" in a formal education setting.
I NEVER thought I would homeschool - never met a homeschooler before 10 years ago and was ready to drop my kids with a nanny/daycare/whatever so I could then go back to school or work.
finish Journey of going from public montessori to homeschool.
But I started getting the "nudge" - you know, when God is trying to get your attention, it seems that little nudges begin.  We met a client that homeschooled.  They invited us for dinner.  I vowed never to be like that.  I met a woman from Africa who homeschooled at the Library - ok, she was awesome.  I could homeschool if I moved to Africa.  My parents met a family that homeschooled that traveled all over the world.  I could homeschool if I traveled all over the world.  One of my friends began to homeschool her boys - we've known each other since before we were married.  She didn't die after the first year of homeschool.