Monday, August 31, 2015

School at Home

Telling people we homeschool can get interesting.  I often chuckle at the responses.  Speaking with other homeschool parents lets me know the response to identifying as a homeschooler are similar. Many people think state licensure is what qualifies a teacher to teach. Parents who teach their own cause a glitch in the matrix of what is familiar.

Some people ask if I have someone to tell me what to teach or they say they could never do that or they say "I work!"  I never respond that I also work.  Telling people you homeschool is like telling people you breast feed your 1 year old, only eat organic or don't eat/wear animal.  

I like that homeschool allows us to tailor the lessons to the needs and abilities of the kids.  Grade level/age aren't our guide and the kids have time to master subjects and they don't have to worry about a clock or a calendar.

  We're doing "The Life of Fred- Apples," as part of our math.  Apples is the beginning of the math series and the kids and I really enjoy it.  The authors of the book say that completion of The Life of Fred prepares kids for the 3rd year of  college math.  
We are still doing Singapore Math TR is working on 4th grade work except for handwriting which is 2nd grade.  QT is 1st grade but  he's also 5 years old so we're keeping things relaxed for him.   
Our Spanish home school co-op began today.  
I like that the Spanish instructor is teaching the kids how to speak the language first.  They don't have to write things down, they can focus on speaking and understanding.  It's nice that we are near a number of homeschool families with kids of similar ages.  
I think I am still pleasantly amazed that such a good size number of families are homeschooling.  The network and opportunities that exists makes it a lot easier to homeschool.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Start of Homeschool

When TR was a baby I knew I'd be willing to homeschool.  As she got older and we realized how many hours  gymnastics schedule requires, we were fairly certain that homeschool would occur at some point.

We took the plunge due to necessity.  TR's 1st grade teacher was below substandard and I wasn't going to leave TR in that classroom.  Mr A and I had discussed what we wanted in a learning environment, and we knew we could offer TR what we had envisioned for her.

After 9 months of homeschool, we are ready to add QT to our roster of students.  This year we have a lot more organized and a lot more prepared for him.  When TR left kindergarten she had a huge number of skills.  She was ready for 3rd grade curriculum. Her teacher was amazing.

QT had a good teacher  but his classmates struggled so we will have to start him working on first grade material.  He is reading and comprehending and I am grateful for that. We have a lot more work to do with him.

Our goal is to ensure our kids remain curious and view themselves as life long learners.  We want them to feel confident that they can teach themselves.  Recently an adult asked TR who her favorite teacher was and she replied, "myself, I teach myself things too."  
I was so happy that we've been successful at developing her belief that she can teach herself.

   I am very pleased with the academic progress of our homeschool program  but nurturing the resiliency,  curiosity and belief in self of our kids feels so great.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Lots and lots more

I've been eating more fruits, reducing fattening snacks, and the family has been doing workouts.
I've lost quite a bit of my belly that had gotten quite large. I don't have any good before photos but I'm still a work in progress. My goal is to post more 'after' photos as I trim down and get fit. I have no idea why I have allowed my weight to balloon. I think L.A. kept me inspired and I did lots of walking because our neighborhood had things to walk to.  Here in Oakland, I just drive.

Mr A and I and some other parents have started a home school co-op.  8 or 9 kids will be taking Spanish two times a week from a teacher the parents have hired.  Part of the plan is to let the kids play and to give parents a break each week.  The parents intend to let the kids go the park for 2 hours every day of Spanish class including the days it rains. So we're sitting at the planning meeting and I zoned out and zoned back in to see people looking at me. Mr. A said, "I told them the kids have rain clothes." I said, "their rain clothes don't fit anymore."  We've been in a drought, who needs rain gear?

Anyway people kept looking at me and I said we'll get them more rain clothes. The women exhaled and went back to discussing other things.  I guess they were afraid I'd say I don't let my kids play in the rain. We're the only brown family in the co-op but having been a part of the nanny life in L.A. I know that caucasian parents sent their kids and their nanny to the park to play, even on rainy days. 
I had a brown Latina neighbor and she let the nannies bring the kids to her apartment on rainy days because the nannies did not want to be out in the rain.


I've had a productive few days working.  It's good to have a goal to work towards.  Setting new goals and redefining my work purpose has helped me get back into my business mode.  Now I just have to make a list because I want to do everything at once.

Friday, July 31, 2015


    I gave great thought to reducing my business.  I was/am mentally drained.  I also think my environment has an impact.  In L.A. it was easy to remain motivated. I would drive down Rodeo Drive, hang out at the Grove, I had to drive past Hancock Park homes to get home. Being poor would be hard but it would be a lot less work than being middle class poor in a pricey region.  There I knew there was so much more to achieve.  I was so motivated and driven and excited about the possibilities.

   When I got comfy with my decision I read an article "Rich People Raise Rich Kids" and realized I can't deprive my kids of the opportunity to be exposed to the things that will give them choices in life.   The article couldn't say if the difference is that the rich are able to start their kids off with money or if they teach them.  It did say that the rich teach their kids about saving and I am pleased that my kids love to save and know that money should be saved.  At this age they are saving to buy toys but I'm okay with them setting financial goals for toys.

   I realized if I cease to earn and we allow our income to drop, that impacts the kids.  I don't believe kids can be raised to be rich, but I think they can be raised to be able to  figure out how to escape the ravages of poverty.

  I've decided to get closer to the business. I've gotten very far removed from clients and today I did an intake. It felt great!  I'm starting back with the work that I used to enjoy.

   I want to leave a legacy for my kids and I can't do that by sitting down and ceasing to build.

  The other Legacy matter is social and civic organizations. I read an article on how these groups in the community of slave descendants dilute and separate us from common causes.  I don't know, I see both sides.

  I know that I'm too conservative for most civic and social orgs for people of color.  Too much liberalism frustrates me and I'd rather maintain peace than to join and be absent than to sit silently as people promote policies that I think trap people into their situations.

  Anyway, life is what it is and I'm grateful for my kids and their hugs and kisses and touches and words telling me they love me and that I'm beautiful. They like to be around me and will locate me wherever I may be. It's nice that they enjoy my presence. One day they will get bigger and the time they want to spend with me might reduce. So I enjoy the now, now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reclaiming my self

Many moons ago, Maxine Waters yielded her time to a congressman and didn't like what he was saying so she began to forcefully state "reclaiming my time". I'd love to locate a youtube clip.  I thought it was exciting the way she said it. Transcript of the hearing.

While I am reenergized I still intend to reduce my load.  I cannot do it all and I am not going to kill myself trying.  I will prioritize and let go of the things that do not fit.

Today my kids went swimming. I am very pleased at their comfort in the water.  It's nice to know they can get in, play and swim confidently and get themselves around in water.                  

We are no longer members at the private club. I do miss it and the kids continue to ask if we can go to the club.  The pool we go to is nice, but it isn't plush like the club.

My hope is that we'll be able to join a country club.  We live near one that has golf, tennis and swimming.  That is my vision for recreation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

New Wind

I got new energy and I feel enthused to go on.  I'm glad I took my day or two to wallow in being overwhelmed.

I've been able to put $400 into the new savings account so I feel like its a start.  If I save overtime money comes in, I will feel like I have a purpose for work. Working to keep working is just a drain.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Blaze

I'm burnt out.  Burnt out.

Still I toil on.  My to do list has grown.  The more money we make the more we need and the more we spend. It is exhausting.  My work is very mentally draining and there is so much I cannot get done because my mind is taxed.  I look at the many things that need to be done to maintain family and add that to the mentally draining work and I have to give my self pep talks to accomplish things.

I think business owners have to choose family or the business. How can a business be built if I am focused on the laundry that needs to be washed, folded and put away or what to plan for dinner?  How can a family be maintained if I am focused on the many files that need to be reviewed, laws researched  and briefs that need to be written.  I don't have it to give anymore.

In the first four months of the year I earned and received more than some families earn per year and its all gone.  That is exhausting. I can't be on that wheel.  Things were much cheaper in L.A. Here I feel like no matter how much I make I won't be able to stop working.

I just opened a new savings account and I put money in.  Starting this blog post was hard but it made me feel empowered. I feel a little more in control. I realized I am sitting here feeling bad about  something I can control. Writing things down is so powerful.

 I am good about transferring money into the kids accounts because I want them to have cash to start out. I also pay them for work they do for the business and I deposit direct to their accounts. We tithe, so 10% goes off the top. Tithing and savings are 2 of the few things I feel is not a misuse of money.

It is discouraging to watch large amounts of money vanish. Our housing expenses are close to $5k a month.  Karate is $206 and going up. Gymnastics is $370 or so a month. Speech was nearly $500 a month and art is $150/mth. We own our cars and don't have car notes, I don't get manicures, pedicures,  I don't get my own hair done very often. Food is pricey because I prefer to eat dairy, produce and meats without hormones and pesticides. Gas for our cars is pricey because we selected kid activities that are 10 miles away.

I spend too much on the kids clothing 2-3 times a year but still under $1k a year.  Shoes are costly, so  more money goes for that.  I haven't had the stomach to calculate but our expenses might be $7k a month.  I won a case recently and I realize that even if the check is $50k, it won't be enough to take a break.  I remember getting a $10k check in L.A. I took 2-3 months off.  Here $10k barely makes a dent.  That is ridiculous.

I've told Mr. A I plan to stop working. I will phase out and phase into a new business.  I am going to spend my retirement days cleaning and organizing my house, grocery shop, cook, do laundry and take my kids on outings.  I am not willing to work just to pay bills.