Friday, May 29, 2015

Volunteer Daze

I have spent the last few months volunteering in QT's class each Friday. I do this because he demands it. Mr. A volunteers every Wednesday and has since the beginning of the school year but QT likes both of us to be there.

I take TR when I go and she gets to play with the kids and help the kindergarten class so its a win-win.  Some of those kids are as old as she is, so it works well.

Today I worked so hard that my back was hurting.  I worked like it was my paid job. I cleaned tables after the kids did a painting project, I washed sponges from the same painting project, I folded shirts that the kids wore to do their art project, I had the kids put their handprints on their graduation caps, and then I assisted another mom in taking down classroom decorations.  Before all that I laminated and cut large sized student artwork.

A kindergarten teacher's day is jammed pack!  I was there from 11:45 a.m to 2:55 and I literally did not stop moving until I got in my car and drove away.  I give lots of respect to good kindergarten teachers because a lot of work in front and behind the scenes goes into keeping the class of students engaged and excited.

QT will be homeschooled next year and I am excited about the opportunities that will exist for him.  The A family joined a homeschool community and we met some parents who we will be joining in a home school co-op.  For 2 days a week about 3 hours each day we are hiring a Spanish language teacher who will immerse the kids in Spanish only time.  This includes playing at the park while speaking in Spanish.

A few weeks ago while we were at the park I saw a class of elementary aged kids from a nearby $30k/year private school running laps around the park.  Their teacher spoke to them in only french and the kids spoke to her in French.  That school teaches 3 languages.  I was thinking I would love to enroll my kids there just for that.  Now we get the same opportunity so I am very excited!

QT likes sports so I am sure he will return to a formal school situation at some point. TR is still in love with gymnastics so homeschool is perfect for her and our being able to design classes and participate in home school co-ops is great. TR really enjoys homeschool.  Someone recently described her and said, she is not afraid to try new and difficult academic tasks and if she gets something wrong she does not feel like a failure.

Resilience was a huge thing for me when I was in search of a school and we are raising a resilient kid.  QT is a super perfectionist.  If he gets something less than perfect he gets frustrated.  I want him to embrace being a perfectionist since it seems to be natural for him but I want him to understand that mistakes are opportunities to learn how to get better.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Arts Corner

I rearranged furniture in the living room and I made an "art corner".

   I don't have a hunger for a grand piano but I do like to see them in homes.   We use all of the space in our home.  We are not the people that have unused rooms or a too big house.  A grand piano would require us to move.

  I would like to have an art room and if we bought a large enough house I would have a baby grand in the middle of the floor and art on the walls.

   I moved the piano, guitar, karoke stereo, easel, paints, paper and crafts box to this area.

   Our house has a wall of windows which is pretty to look at but it gets hot and fades things.  The shoji helps the room be more useable.  I love sunshine and lots of windows so I am wiling to deal with the heat and fading.

   Back to ART

  I encourage my kids artistic interests because I want them to feel confident in creating things and developing ideas.   Creative people always have a skill to rely and because they create they don't need  others to employ them.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Graduation Upon Us

In less than 2 weeks, QT will be a kindergarten graduate.

I have many of complaints but overall it has been a positive experience for him.  He entered kindergarten with his sister attending the same school and he was dependent on her to be his friend.  He would cry at recess if she didn't play with him at school. Once she stopped attending the school, he was on his own.  It was his first time without his sister or his parents.

We gave him the option to leave school too but he chose to stay.  Drop offs were a challenge.  He would go into his class alone but he wanted Mr. A to stay in the parking lot for at least 20 minutes.  Eventually he began jumping out of the car and barely saying goodbye.  He became social, independent, outgoing and a leader.  His confidence has grown by leaps and bounds.  That made the experience worth it.

Now to the academics.  QT started kindergarten at 4.6.  I knew he was advanced academically and capable of doing the work but I figured kinder would offer a challenge since he was the youngest and it was his first formal school experience.  School started well, he got to learn new things and it was good for him.

Then the repetition began because other kids needed repetition and perhaps typical kindergartens are repetitive.

I recently went to volunteer in his class and did kindergarten assessments. I saw his and he entered kindergarten knowing the bulk of what they would be taught. We were not trying to teach him kindergarten things, we were interacting as most parents do.

    So the social aspect has been good because he gets to play with 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade kids.  He is confident now that he can make friends on his own.  That is huge. I went to school with my older siblings and never had to make friends.  I just borrowed their friends.

  TR's kindergarten class had 3 kids, so her teacher was able to let TR learn at higher grade levels.  QT's teacher has 16 students so she seems to be catering to the masses and forcing everyone else to review and review some more.

 So we are excited about school ending and allowing QT to flourish in homeschool.  QT needed speech so I had him assessed.  As an education attorney, I am on high alert. He was 4 so he did the preschool assessment which is used on kids up to 7 years 11 months.   He went to the end of the test book. The assessor said no one had every done that before. In all of the domains QT was advanced/superior.  The assessor said the test results  should be viewed with caution as they don't indicate his true ability because the test ended and had it gone higher, QT was likely to have gotten higher scores.

  QT has enjoyed kindergarten but for months when we asked him what he learned he says he doesn't remember.  He can recall what they do, but he hasn't been learning anything new. For months we've  taken QT from school early to go to art or speech and we'll ask his teacher what he will miss.  She tells us, he knows everything the class will be cover.

He has certainly learned things, but it stagnated a while ago. On the bright side, he likes to rough house and play like little boys are known to play and the school has plenty of boys for him to play with and the school permits the boys to play like boys.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Makers and builders.

I like to make non-alcoholic tasty drinks.  My kiddies like fizzy drinks and it recently occurred to me that I can make my own.  I put sugar in berries, let it sit and use the syrup to flavor sparkling water.  The kids love it and it's like drinking a soda without all of the additives.

   This morning I was thinking on how much Mr. A and I love being parents.  Raising people is a gift! Kids grow so quickly. They begin as totally dependent and grow into their own independence and soon they fly.  Parents raise children to set them free to bless the world.

  It occurred to me that when our kids leave us Mr. A and I we won't be the parents who have nothing to do or put our energy to.  We are builders.  I think one huge reason that we love parenting is we get to help humans develop into the full potential and give them the foundation to walk in their purpose.'

Mr. A and and I always find a way to help others and God has given us the ability to earn our living helping others.   We help others and God has made provision for us to give our kids the extras and the gift of our time.

 Mr. A was coaching high school football for pretty much no money in L.A. but his coaching opened up lots of doors and networking opportunities for us.  It also allowed us to get great and no cost to us, health insurance which was priceless! We were blessed that we could afford to coach for free and gain access to things.  This year he took a break from coaching and a door has opened for him to do private coaching for Division 1 college bound and Division one athletes.

  We are makers and building and if we aren't making people and building them into good human beings, then we will be making and building other things to benefit people and our blessings arrive  in the process of our serving of others.

Monday, May 18, 2015

To Learn

I am making a note to myself to make sure TR learns more than the 3R's.

Study skills, time management, goal setting, prioritizing, work ethic are vital.

These are the things I have to ensure we cover in our curriculum. It's easy to teach academics but those lessons that are necessary to live successfully as an adult have to be instilled through training.

I came across a great article that reminded me to be deliberate with making sure these skills are practiced.

What A Child Doesn't Learn

Summer Free

This summer I am taking at least 6 consecutive weeks off of work.  I am excited! My vacation plans are giving me energy!

TR was invited to an gymnastics camp in southern California and after that we head to Legoland for 4 days.   We'll stay in the Legoland hotel and take our time at the Legoland parks.  QT has been looking at the Legoland brochure for a few months and said he was wondering if the place is real.

We have signed both kids up 1 week of a full day camp.  They will attend different camps during the same week and Mr. A and I will relax.

Next fall we'll be homeschooling both kids so we have to build up our mental reserves this summer.   We are considering organizing a home school co-op so if we do, we'll have at least a few hours each week to recuperate.

I haven't taken a full summer off in years but I need the break from constant deadlines.

I will probably read home magazines, exercise, organize the house and get rid of furniture, get a budget together, work on our new business and do things that will make life run on a system.  I'm looking forward to tuition ending and freeing up some cash.

Mr. A and I started a non-profit educational advocacy form and I have some ideas of how I'd like to help parents via that business. The new business helps people choose and write letters for admissions to private schools, as well as helping parents of disabled kids. I really want to do something to help gifted kids because those kids are also special needs and deserve support.

Friday, May 15, 2015


QT had his first track meet last week.  He loved it! He is a natural runner.

I learned a few things last week at the track meet about "Redshirting' and the value of quality competition.

 We enrolled QT in kindergarten at 4.6.  I knew he was ready.  It didn't occur to me to delay his entry to give him an advantage from being an older/bigger kindergartener.  I knew he could compete and win even if he was 6 months to a year younger than his classmates.  I prefer him to be younger and rise to the challenge.  I was correct!  QT has excelled.

His school had a track meet with other bay area schools.  He was the fastest boy in his kindergarten class and represented his class in the meet.   He was second in the race.  He ran very fast but he did not run as fast as he is capable of.  He did a great job, and in light of him being 5.3 and his competition being nearly a year and some even more year older he did amazing!

He is the fastest in his class and faster than many of the first and second grade kids.   Competition makes a competitive person better.  The meet made him want to run even faster and race more. I am sure he will run faster now that he knows the competition is larger than what exists at his school.

Some parents redshirt to give their kid academic, social and/or a physical advantage. Some football coaches told Mr. Amey to let QT wait to give him the advantage as an athlete. Mr. A also wants him to rise and be greater not just be better because your competition is younger.

  I accelerated QT and he still has an academic, social and physical advantage. He is a leader and did not need to enter kindergarten at late 5 to have the advantage.  I am certain waiting until he was old enough based on the rules would have backfired because next year he will be even more advanced. He is growing frustrated now with of the lack of challenge in multiple areas.  We, the parents, are also growing frustrated.

One of the  3rd kids from QT's school was redshirted.  The boy is one of the older kids in his 3rd grade class.  He is used to competing with/beating kids 1 to 2 years younger.   QT thinks the boy is super fast.  He is 5 years older than QT and I think he has raced him. I don't think the boy can beat TR.  I know he cannot catch her but he tries.

At the meet, kids above 2nd grade had to compete by age.  The boy went there expecting to race 3rd grade kids but the managers calculated his age and put him with the 5/6th grade boys who were in his age category.  The boy came in last and was shook up.  He has been used to competing with kids 1 to almost two years younger than him and struggled to deal with the truth that the kids his own age ran much faster.

That was like a whoa moment for me.  It occurred to me that redshirting to give a kid advantage becomes a disadvantage because the child grows to think they are ahead or good, when they are really behind their same age peers.  As people get older those few years don't make a difference and the kid who has gotten used to being ahead will discover he is actually behind.

One huge reason I wanted to be successful in L.A. was to have an ocean to grow in and not just a small pond.  I needed to know I could do it there and not just use whatever advantages I had in the Bay.  I did well in L.A.  I built the business from nothing and without any connections.  I made the connections and networks. Mr. A began helping me and the business became very successful.  I now know that I have the ability to meet whatever goal I make.

I want my kids to have that confidence and being the big fish in small ponds limit their growth. I want them to know they can be big fish in the big ocean.  Failure is a lesson, so I don't focus on winning, I focus on trying and learning from failure.  Success for me is not about the win but how many times you can get up from failure and keep going. It's easy to keep going when you win, picking up from failure and battling fear of failing again is strength.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Sometimes I talk to Mr. A about choices we made early in our marriage and how those choices have impacted us today.

When we got married we decided to reduce expenses.  We moved to an apartment in the westside of L.A.  We were in a great spot for young couples and we realized how perfect the location was once we had kids.  We rarely had to put the kids in the car and if we got in the car, our activities were very close by.  One day I put the kids in their stroller and walked them to their dentist.  A walk to story time at the library and a walk back through Hancock park was our Friday activity. I loved that because it concluded in long nap from the kids.  Mr. A could ride his bike to work/football. He worked two blocks from the Grove and right on Melrose.  I could drop the kids off and walk/drive go to the mall or pilates, or to get my brows threaded.

It was a great lifestyle for a young family.

Reducing our expenses early on allowed us a great deal of freedom and time together.  It gave also  us the ability to build  our business slowly without having to fret about expenses.  We weren't rolling in money and we didn't need to be.

I look at our expenses now and how much we have to earn to fund everything.  I am grateful we built up to this point and didn't just get married and start here.  We started out needing less, and we had a lot more time to enjoy each other and then our kids.  We are able to look back and recognize how far we've come as a team.  We also know we can have nothing (but our skills and work ethic) and build together.

A huge reason I sometimes think about the path we chose, is I think about friends/acquaintances we had who got married around the same time as us.  In 2006 the realty market was in a boom so newly married couples were buying mini-mansions and name brand cars.  Mr. A and I were in L.A. in a 3 bedroom house and we downsized to a 2-bedroom apartment.  I had stopped working  to enjoy and focus on the new role of being a wife.  People around us were using combined incomes to live large and we shed an income, had one car, and got an  apartment.  We were ecstatic and at the time I didn't notice how differently we were from other newlyweds our age.  

Now we look back and see those couples who moved into those mini-mansions unhappy with buying too much house and emotionally distant from each other, some are divorced and the houses sold.

What I learned from this time observing couples, that married when we did,  is that couples can easily grow together or they easily can grow apart.  People will grow and change and the couple needs to have a common goal and joint purpose, after the wedding, that allows them to grow together and remain connected.

Life gets so busy and some days, Mr. A and I pass each other at that door, give a quick peck and proceed to our duties.  We are good about our pillow talk and finding time to remain connected because that is now our habit.   Our early foundation building days were not uber busy.  We had one car for 2 or 3 years, so we had to coordinate schedules and communicate.  Those were really fun days.  It's quite special for me to look back at where we were and see where we are.

I remember my grandparents telling stories of struggling financial early in marriage. They built a few businesses and by the time I met them they were comfortably upper middle income.  So I had a different vision of what marriage can accomplish. I wanted to have some financial struggle, and I wanted to build, and we have and continue to.  I hope the kids remember our growth and know that when they are adults they too can build if they have skill and work ethic.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I work

Our home office is set up for home school and our businesses.  The space is completely dedicated to work.  Upstairs is home.  It is nice to have that separation, between home and school/business. Mr A put math charts up and we use that same space for a FAO Schwartz Felt Big World Map When we lived in L.A. my office was set up in the living room. I felt like I never left work.  I probably should have gotten a shoji screen but I had babies who liked to climb, pull and bump things. 

Some of the parents at the homeschool park day want to have a co-op.  I am all for 1 to 2 days a week  but in speaking with other home school parents, co-ops often become school.  We have to be watchful that home school remains home.  Home school makes family life so much better and calmer.  This week we made a quick trip to Sacramento (a 1.5 hour drive each way) and had we not had to pick QT up from school, we could have toured the State Capital and old Sacramento.

QT regularly tells me I do not spend enough time with him.  TR never tells me that.  QT awakens at 7 a.m. on school days, I help get him ready, we eat breakfast and he leaves home at 8:00 a.m.  I volunteer at his school 1 day a week and on other school days, I don't see him again until 3.  Bedtime is 9 pm and those 6 hours between 3 and 6, are spent driving, doing homework, finalizing dinner, eating, getting ready for bed and a small time to just hang out. 

We spend time engaged with TR because we home school. QT spends the day at school, so we have less  time to be with him.

The photo beneath is of TR's home school science class held at a local science center.  Once a month the center holds a class and covers different subjects.  The last class was learning about and designing windmills.  TR made one that got up to 14.15 volts.  She is an engineer by birth.

While TR was in class, QT and I explored the center. He has been there before so he wanted to show me around.  I did not tell him that I used to go to that same museum once a month as an elementary kid. Back then the center had programs for GATE kids.  My school only had 4 of us identified, so the V.P. would drive us.

QT loves science and engineering and used to take a science/engineering class for toddlers at a different space and science center.  QT is in the photo and at the end of class he built a windmill.

 An interesting thing about homeschooling, is when I tell moms that TR is homeschooled, the usual response is, "oh, I couldn't do that, I work".  The response is so common that I expect it.  I sometimes explain that I work from home. 

I work too, I actually work hard but people seem to think my calm is because I have it easy.   My calm exists because being frazzled solves nothing.