Friday, March 29, 2013

Homeschool Progress

Mr. A does the letter and number of the day, he uses a white-erase board to write words that begin with the letter and does math using the number of the day.
I am using Zoo-Phonics so I use zoo-Phonics activity extenders that I print from online. The kids color in the letter of the day, connect dots or do activities related to the letter or number.
I also give TR the little kid lined paper, so she can write sentences. She writes words using consonants and vowels and then she tries to figure out what she wrote.
I only have two kids in my program but I made a seating chart and showed it to them. My mother told me they would like it, and they do. Today, TR asked me could if she set up the papers. I paused. I was trying to process the request. Both kids are seated within arms reach of me and of each other. I told her she could set up the paper.
With pride, she stood up, and put one sheet on her table and the next on QT's table. She did that until all papers were distributed. As I looked at her, I knew what she was feeling. I remember how big I felt when I got to be the teacher's helper. I felt like I was entrusted to do a job and I was determined to show my teacher I could do it well.
My goal is to keep that eagerness alive. We've spent these years raising TR and QT to feel they are capable. Their eagerness and questions are encouraged. I realize order is necessary, when you have a group of eager and curious kids, but the method of gaining that order is sometimes troubling. Great teachers can have order and maintain a child's natural love of learning.
I read something, that asked what preschool would be best to get a child into a specific private elementary school. One response was to pick a preschool based on your child's personality. If the child loves preschool, they will love kindergarten and will bring that joy to the kinder assessment.
TR loves school. We went shopping before school last week. I was trying to show TR fabulous dresses and she was focused on being at school on time. I asked her if she wanted to shop or go to school. She chose school. She enjoys our homeschool. She has dry erase books to practice handwriting and she gets up early to work in her books.
QT is not as eager to sit and color. He likes to do puzzles. We were out one day and he asked me to buy a 48 piece puzzle for him and a set of 3, 24-piece puzzles for TR. I told him he wasn't old enough to do the 48 piece but I bought it anyway. We got home, I opened it and while Mr A and I were in the kitchen he laid it out and completed the top quarter in under 5 minutes.
Now he can put the entire puzzle together in under 10 minutes. So while TR and I are working, he'll color for a bit and then work on puzzles. He is also skilled with Legos. He works on the big kid Legos and has built airports, airplanes, ovens, and other things that look exactly like what he identifies it to be. Mr A is good with Legos and building things, so QT has a good partner to create with. QT is good with his hands. This is great information for me because I can teach in a way that each kid responds to best.
I read this article on Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool. I share some of the listed reasons. The biggest reasons why I still lean toward home school, is I think home-school is a calmer life. 18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool In other things, now that we'll be saving 20k+ on private school next year I feel like we had a windfall. We are checking out tennis/swim clubs to join. Hopefully we will find a great family one that gets sun. If we can't give our kids a country club school, we will give them the country club experience. I think it is intentional that some schools look like prisons, others look like government buildings, others like corporate office buildings and other schools are like country clubs. Schools are pipelines.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Human Resources

I fired my L.A. Assistant. I have fired other people. It is never easy. We gave her warnings and notes for improvement but often when the only reason for working a job is money and not interest, I think it shows. I hired her to babysit. She seemed to enjoy that.
There are two sides to every story. Right now I am trying to figure out what happened. Today I found myself sitting in my car, understanding why some folks would hope the person they are in relationship with would Judy go. I mean, you both know it is not working. You know the other person is not happy and that unhappiness is making situations uncomfortable for everyone. Why stay?
Someone in my business, was upset at what she felt the translator had not done. She said, she could go to Home Depot and get someone to translate. She started getting demanding with the assistant and the assistant quit immediately.
The person does great work but organizational fit is an issue.
It's stressful to me. The person notified me that thru would probably be leaving in May. Mr A said in corporate, security escorts those people out because they have nothing to lose. Today the person sent an email, that I did not approve, asking questions I previously said not to ask.
Who stays on jobs they don't like?
I am ├╝ber tolerant and sometimes that can be mistaken for something else. I cannot allow my livelihood to be negatively impacted because a person wants money but does not like the job.
Mr A. told me something that made me realize in business people are seen as resources. The term human resource had never clicked with me but human resources manages the human resource. It's crazy.
As a small business my goal is to treat team members like family. The person was treating other team members like resources. So if I have to treat her like a resource I guess she will understand.
I am trying to figure out how to resolve this without firing anyone, protecting my business and hopefully getting a resignation.

Monday, March 25, 2013

In Bulk

I said I would update you on the boutique.. I learn as I grow.
When I learn things, I try to become proactive and maintain the good and prevent the bad. There are some things that are nature to me which may not be natural to others. We call our business a Team. Team is more than just a word to me. Teams work together, support each other, respect each other and cause each member to excel to greater places.
I do not wield a whip and chain. I tell folks what the job is and expect the job to get done. I value every person on my team for the job they do. Attorneys are not better than the assistants and should treat them as colleagues not serfs.
It did not occur to me that some see roles and titles first, not people. In the future I will ensure everyone on the team understands that I do not carry a whip and no one on the team will. I value everyone on my team and I want everyone to feel valued. I don't want people who are just in this for the money. There are families relying on us. Our client is first in our mission and our mission statement.
It is my job to ensure that before a new person joins the team, they know this.
Last week we bought the huge box of Bisquick. It's amazing how much 2 adults and 2 small children can eat. I pray we don't have any food shortages in this country. Seeing your kids be hungry has give a painful painful experience.
I am not a planner. There are some things I did my best to plan for. Before I had kids, I envisioned the life I wanted for them and the type of husband/father I needed to provide that life. I am not speaking of material items but the person I wanted to raise my kids if I was not able to.
In the event of divorce I wanted a man, who would not take my kids on dates or have the new woman watching them. I was working to choose someone I could trust with my kids when I was not around as well as a man who would be a great father.
Last week we saw a young guy with sagging pants and the young mother, carry an infant to a car. As we made our u-turn and parked, we then saw the sorry guy run off. The mother chased him with a shoe. The baby was left in the car.
That broke my heart. A couple of shop keepers, Mr A and I stood there. TR sang to the baby until she stopped crying. Some women looked out of an upstairs window and saw us by the car. One of the young women akee if the moter had left the baby in the car. They eventually came down, saying they were tired of it.
I wish more people would care enough about their unborn children to be cautious about who they procreate with. That baby had a mother and father, it appeared neither parent cared. How did we arrive at this place?

Saturday, March 23, 2013


So I think Mr A and I have figured out an immediate education solution. The challenge is to seal the deal.
The planning phase and start phase for the private school we will start, cannot occur by the start of this school year. I think we should start as an after school program for public school and offer all the enrichment stuff, I want in a posh private school. My kids can attend that program since they will be at a regular private school as opposed to a country club private school. We can then transition.
We regrouped and restarted our school search, initially without success. I was ready to homeschool and try to fid a few kids to join in. Mr A wanted to look more. My mother told me to check out two nearby public school districts and two private schools. Mr. A really wanted a school with grass. He is firm on private. I didn't know schools came with grass. We toured a kindergarten at a parochial school and we walked in through the front door to observe the class. We were led out of the back door onto a real grass lawn. I say 'real' because turf is more normal than grass at schools. It was a quiet little oasis in the city.
One thing I liked about the school, that rejected us was how old it was. The school we will probably go with, is 2 years older than the other school. While the new school doesn't have a pool or tennis courts it seems to prepare the kids academically. My mother is going to meet with a few teachers and the director of curriculum and review some things. It is also 60+ percent black. TR's preschool teacher had wonderful things to say about the school. Someone at Mr A's school said it was very religious but could not elaborate on what too religious meant.
The other good thing was the very small classes. I recognize how a small class can be a benefit students. When I am working with the kids, I recognize that working with 2 is a breeze. QT is newly 3 and TR is 4 soon to be 5. They are at different places. It's easy to meet the different academic needs of both. I figure it is the same at a small class. TR is more independent. I can give her instructions and she will perform. I need to lead QT through steps.
On our tour the kids were so engaged that they did not notice us peeking in the windows. We went into a kinder class and the kids were taking a test. A few totally ignored us, the redt looked at us for under 30 seconds and went back to work. One girl really wanted to look at us, I could see her conflict but she won her battle and went to work without any prompts. I like that. We toured a school that was highly recommended but we did not apply because when we toured, the kids completely focused on us. The teachers also seemed stressed."
And the best thing is . . . . . . . . QT can start kinder a little early. Because of his birth month and everyone turning kindergarten into 1st grade, QT would have had to start school at close to 6 years old. I had been trying to figure out a way around that rule. He can begin transitional kinder at the school and proceed to first grade if he is successful. If he isn't ready he will do kindergarten the next year.
That is huge for me.
I am excited again. It was so heartbreaking, because TR really wants to go to kindergarten. She loved the activities at school that rejected us, and it gave her a strong desire to start her learning school.
In other news we've decided not to send her to that school's summer program. The tuition for that 2 week programs can go to fund nearly 1/4 of a year of tuition at the Parochial school.
if they don't want our money, they won't get it. Yes, I am bitter. I do think this new school fits our values better, and our values are the factor leading us to opt out of public. This school makes more sense but I remain bitter because I wanted the country club.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


TR's co-op preschool has mandatory parent meetings. We recently had a "motivational" speaker who discussed transformative (whate*. I don't really buy into motivational speakers for myself. My other always had us read the scripture that says "I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me."
I already know I can do all things, the question is "am I willing to do the required work, make required sacrifices and the required commitments."
While I understand and believe I can do everything my mind decides to pursue, my challenge is often the first step.
So the speaker asked us to envision our dream life, she then asked us to write what stopped us from having it. A couple of steps in between and I realized that the only thing preventing me from arriving at where I want to be is me. All I have to do is start. There are no excuses not to begin things I want.
Organization was one of the things on my list of a dream life. This weekend I went into the office and organized. It felt great! So I am beginning on the path to take myself where my dream life is.
My dream life pretty much revolves around home. I want home to be cozy, comfy, clean, organized and well-functioning. It is a constant and daily job, but it's necessary. My dream home includes a place where Mr. A and kids are cozy in their spaces. It also includes snacks, meals and a nutritious garden.
My dream life doesn't require lots of money but I do want to do better business. At ths point doing better business is about the work and building my business reputation. I want my business name to carry weight.
So since I was motivated or reminded that first steps are required to accomplish anything, I will reevaluate my thoughts on motivational speakers. The area between knowing that you can and understanding why you don't, can be tricky. Maybe motivational speakers can be helpful for a kick start.
In other uber exciting news, Mr A is on board to open a private school! Oh my goodness I am so encouraged by this. This dream school I have in my head, should be a reality and other parents will be able to offer their kids this 'gift'.
The highly sought after school we wanted in L.A. began as the dream of a few parents. I want to build an institution for black people and this will be it.
I used to do charter development. I have the skills and resources to design this. I sorta feel like this rejection was my instruction.

Monday, March 18, 2013


My home version of zoo-phonics arrived this week. After doing the program for under 1 hour, TR knows all of her phonics sounds. QT knows about 1/2. Next step is to associate the letters with the sounds. I think I can handle that challenge.
At gymnastics, the retired kindergarten teacher taught me how to do the sounds and make the gestures. It was great!
*caution- explicit material*
She also told me about a sociology class she took on sexually deviant behavior. She said two lesbians shared an eel as a dildo and taped its mouth shut. There is also the activity of men putting their penis inside of another penis. She said there were videos. The class was at S.F. State. Adults can do as they please but utilizing children and animals to get their jollies is nothing I will ever ever condone or be silent about.
I have always been led to believe that sex is mental. If people require unnatural situations to climax, perhaps they should speak to their mind.
*End to explicit content*
Back to Lighter topics
I have been slowing checking out other private schools and every school that seems to be a good fit, I have inquired into, has a waiting list. Is there anyone at public? Oakland has something called school choice and a family we know is waiting to see if they get into their neighborhood school. If they do not get in, they will attend private. The challenge with that plan is private school decisions went out last week and acceptances and deposits are due today (yesterday) but parents needed to secure their spots before Oakland sent its decisions.
Removing the ability to attend neighborhood schools, is a great way to kill property values in Oakland. This type of stuff has to be intentional. I think Oakland is some type of test city. Someone decides to test how to destroy families, children, schools, churches and they test it here first and then implement across the nation.
or maybe this city gets all the madness people do and tries to be the first to socialize everyone to that madness as normal.
My mother did her teacher training in the early 70's at S.F. State and her class was told that because they would be teaching in black areas, do not give homework because the kids would not have anywhere to do the homework, probably no tables or lights. She was told "do not mention fathers", because most of the kids would not have fathers.
When my mother arrived at her 99% black school, her white principal advised her to ignore the strange social things she hd been told in her program. She did not assign homework and the parents complained to her principal. She discovered the kids did have homes equipped to do homework.
One day her male student asked her why she always threatened to call her students' mothers and why she never said she would call their fathers. Turned out every kid had a father in the home.
Perhaps the goal was sensitivity but I think the reality was harmful. A message is being sent to boys and girls then words like father is removed from the school vocabulary. Schools socialize kids, but parents have to be cautious to balance it. But how does a parent know vital details like removal of "father". That has nothing to do with reading, writing or arithmetic. Family Values were being targeted.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Go Get it

I heard the mail truck while working in the office. I immediately began sweating. I took the kids to the mailbox with me. I guess I thought I'd be less likely to pass out if they were there.
I knocked on the mailbox before I opened it. I was trying to hear if it sounded like a big envelope. I opened the box, peered in and saw ......... a small envelope.
I opened it anyway and misread it in my emotion. All I read was we had applicants more qualified.
I eventually read the full letter and it said TR was ready but they had more qualified applicants than spaces. I get that, but I still want to know why our family didn't get a spot. What's not great about us? Why not our family?
After I calmed and strategized and promised myself that my kids would get the educational enrichment I want for them, I was able to draft a letter accepting placement on a waitlst.
On the one hand I am crushed but on the bigger hand, I believe God will guide us to where we need to be and keep us from where we don't need to be. I know the safest place is in God's will.
To make stuff hurt more TR told me things her preschool teacher said about kindergarten. The teacher said kindergartners coukdn't go to the potty. Sadly that is true. Kinder kids are treated like little inmates which is why I am cautious.
I spoke to a woman who had taught kinder for 20+ years in public and said how the kids at school we applied to would skip, laugh, smile, talk etc, while going outside and public kids had to be quiet, straight line either in twos, holding hands or one by one. She said she had witnessed some kids line up by holding a rope.
I don't get why public school must tamper down the natural inclinations of young children. That is not what I want. I am pondering hiring a retired kindergarten teacher. I would love to get 2 other kids for our school.
My goals are to raise children who read well, write well, speak well, think, think critically, are in tune to their sensitivities and sensibilities and are confident in their abilities. I will foster their love of learning and offer outside enrichment.
It is going to be real.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Moving Up

I have heard people say things about kids climbing walls, but at our house the kids literally climb the walls.
QT was trying to rescue her. She can also climb a doorway with her feet and legs on either side of her.
I am glad gymnastics exist. When she climbs walls, stands on her head or does a back flip, it's called practice.
A few weeks ago TR's coach said they were trying to figure out if TR could move to the next level. TR's age and maturity were considerations.
TR will turn 5 this year, but the kids must be 6 to compete. I think the rule is if you can compete if you turn the minimum age during the calendar year, so she should be able to compete starting Jan. We had her summer Olympic year so if she goes far, she will be 16 in an Olympic year. 16 is the minimum age and in gymnastics the younger folks tend to have an edge.
The coach told TR and Mr A that TR would move with the group. TR is excited. She asked me if she needs to pack. I explained that it was not a residence move.
I think moving from L.A. shook her sense of security. She tells me she wants to visit L.A. but we should only take a few things and leave everything else in the house.
Private school decision letters will be mailed shortly. I have no words to express my feelings. If we are admitted, I will breath a deep sigh of relief and then inhale again as I begin figuring out where QT will attend kindergarten. We heard that 200+ applied fr 40 spaces. Kindergarten admissions might be tougher than college admissions.
I know TR will love that school, and I so want to be able for her to experience it.
On to Furniture
Our mantle is bare. We plan to take a family photo to fill in the space. A bare mantle makes me feel like the people are moving.
I purchased this cute little table from a 2nd hand store I like to visit. It has a hook on the side but I have no idea what to hang on it.
Updated Writing
I had been trying to figure out how to begin my writing instruction. I purchased a book called the Core Of Writing. Last night TR pulled out a booklet she made at my mom's house and began writing a story. The story was about a generous girl named Ans-a-lot who met a baby dragon. The dragon wished for a mother. At the end of the story, Ans-a-lot became the dragon's mother and then the baby dragon got a father too. The end.

Monday, March 4, 2013

School today

I am unlikely to post regular updates on homeschool, but today was a lesson for me and I took photos.
  We started the day reviewing the calendar. "  Today is", "yesterday was", "tomorrow will be".  We spelled the month, said the month, we spelled the day and said its name and identified the numbers.  I felt like we should have added the weather. TR will often go outside and return with a weather report but she has a little cold and it was cold outside.

The memories of my days substituting in kindergarten returned as we did the calendar.  
After the calendar we moved to math. TR understands the concept of adding and subtracting numbers.  She seems able to do it in her head, but I am working on her showing her work. I think explaining the process helps a person better understand the process. While we were doing our math, I realized that TR can add double digits but she didn't know how to produce double digit numbers.  My 
math goal for QT is to identify numbers and stack manipulatives to correspond with the number. I think he prefers electronics because he puts our passwords in when given numbers and he presses
numbers on the phone and says the number but I want to build his 1-1 correspondence, along with
identifying numbers.

After math was science.  Mr A did wizards brew. The recipe was on pinterest and is in 'The Big Book of Science Thingsto Make and Do'. At the end the brew bubbled
like a volcano.  The kids LOVED it.  They danced around until nap time.

LESSONS LEARNED Today I learned the value in having flexible lesson plans. I will focus on teaching TR to produce double digit numbers. She has full grasp of addition concept. We can practice it to maintain but flexibility in my plans will allow me the airlift to tailor instructions to her needs and interests.
  Today I also learned that teaching my kids is intuitive.  I didn't send them to school to learn to talk and language is a complex system.  I feel greater confidence that I can accomplish this successfully.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ready, set, ....... Homeschool

TR requested more challenging school work. She says her preschool/play school  is too easy. I don't know who told her school can be hard. Maybe her kindergarten interview tipped her off.
We're in March so I won't attempt to switch schools. Mr A and I went to Lakeshoreand purchased reading, printing, writing and arithmetic teachingsupplies.
We started our lessons on Friday and so far, so great. TR is serious about wanting to learn and Mr A and I are excited to teach. TR's attention span is lengthy so I don't have to do transition every 1/2 hour. I have to convince her to switch to a new subject. QT likes the math because he can play with the manipulatives. He doesn't seem to want to do a formal school right now.
I was given a lesson plan book, which I intend to use and design an orderly program. Hopefully we will get accepted into the school we want, but if we don't I think I can create an amazing home school situation. I already have plans to do excursions to museums, science centers, art classes and other enrichment.
I will do my best to blog about our experiences as parent-educators.
I think TR really enjoyed her first day. When we got to her play school, she told her teacher about the math she did that morning and TR seemed a lot more satisfied at school then I normally notice.