12 weeks


How could 12 weeks have gone by? Just like that.

I hate that a new season has begun without my mother here to enjoy it. She loved the start of a new season...it didn't matter which one it was, she loved them all for their unique beauty. She enjoyed spending time decorating her home and garden to reflect each one.

Mother Nature.
That's what we called her.

My daughter Jacqueline (9) and I have been seeing rainbows everywhere since about a week after she passed. And butterflies...all over our backyard, much more than in the past.
We like to think it's her.

My daughters are planning on attending a childrens bereavement camp on October 13, sponsored by Hospice. They have a lot of fun activites planned, lunch and snacks, support circles and a celebration of life memorial service at the end. My husband & I have also been seeing a grief counsler at Hospice and it's been very helpful. We were going every week in the beginning but now it's every 2 weeks or sometimes a little longer. We also signed up for a 6 week (once a week) support group for those who have experienced the recent death of a loved one. Hospice has been really good to us, even though my mother was not a resident there. All these things are free of charge, which I think is such a great service. We decided to make a donation but have been thinking about sponsoring a stone in their "Garden of Angels" instead.



50 Ways to Bring Our Your Childs Best

There's a lot of good tips in this list, such as #8 (especially the part about involving them), #26 and especially 50.

50 Ways to Bring Out Your Child's Best
Written by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.

1. Let your child discover her own interests. Pay attention the activities she chooses. This free-time play can say a lot about where her gifts lie.
2. Expose your child to a broad spectrum of experiences. They may activate latent talents. Don't assume that he isn't gifted in an area because he hasn't shown an interest.

3. Give your child permission to make mistakes. If she has to do things perfectly, she'll never take the risks necessary to discover and develop a gift.

4. Ask questions. Help your child open up to he wonders of the world by asking intriguing questions: Why is the sky blue? Find the answers together.

5. Plan special family projects. Shared creativity can awaken and develop new talents.

6. Don't pressure your child to learn. If children are sent to special lessons every day in the hope of developing their gifts, they may become too stressed or exhausted to shine. Encourage, but don't push.

7. Have high expectations. But make them realistic.

8. Share your work life. Expose your child to images of success by taking him to work. Let him see you engaged in meaningful activities and allow him to become involved.

9. Provide a sensory-rich environment. Have materials around the home that will stimulate the senses: finger paints, percussion instruments, and puppets.

10. Keep your own passion for learning alive. Your child will be influenced by your example.

11. Don't limit your child with labels. They may saddle her with a reputation that doesn't match her inner gifts.

12. Play games together as a family.

13. Have a regular family time for reading, listening to music, talking.

14. Have reference materials available to give your child access to the world.

15. Allow your child to participate in community activities that interest her.

16. Use humor, jokes, silly stories to encourage creativity.

17. Don't criticize or judge the things your child does. He may give up on his talents if he feels evaluated.

18. Play with your child to show your own sense of playfulness.

19. Share your successes as a family. Talk about good things that happened during the day to enhance self-esteem.

20. Provide your child with access to a home, school or public library computer.

21. Listen to your child. The things he cares about most may provide clues to his special talents.

22. Give your child a special space at home to be creative.

23. Praise your child's sense of responsibility at home when she completes assigned chores.

24. Visit new places as a family.

25. Give your child open-ended playthings. Toys like blocks and puppets encourage imaginative play.

26. Give your child unstructured time to simply daydream and wonder.

27. Share inspirational stories of people who succeeded in life.

28. Don't bribe your child with rewards. Using incentives to get children to perform sends a message that learning is not rewarding in its own right

29. Suggest that your child join peer groups that focus on her gifts.

30. Discuss the news to spark interests.

31. Discourage gender bias. Expose your child to both feminine and masculine toys and activities.

32. Avoid comparing your child to others. Help your child compare himself to his own past performance.

33. Be an authoritative parent.

34. Use community events and institutions to activate interests. Take trips to the library, museums, concerts, plays.

35. Give presents that nourish your child's strengths.

36. Encourage your child to think about her future. Support her visions without directing her into any specific field.

37. Introduce your child to interesting and capable people.

38. Think of your home as a learning place. The kitchen is great for teaching math and science through cooking.

39. Share feelings. A child's gifts can be stifled by repressed emotions.

40. Encourage your child to read.

41. Honor your child's creations.

42. Do things with your child in his areas of interest.

43. Teach your child to trust her intuition and believe in her capabilities.

44. Give your child choices. It builds willpower and fuels initiative.

45. Show your child how to use books to further an interest. For example, "how to" books for the "hands-on" learner.

46. Set aside an area of the house for displaying creations and awards.

47. Encourage your child to tackle areas that are difficult for him. Help him learn to confront any limitations.

48. Be a liaison between your child's special talents and the real world. Help her find outlets for her talents.

49. Introduce children's literature that honors and develops gifts. Books like the Little Engine That could encourage a "can do" attitude.

50. Accept your child as he or she is.


United Nations

Still more pictures from our trip back home to NYC last week. Although the main reason was so we could have a memorial service for my mother, we got a lot of sight seeing in for Shawna & Jacqueline.

Me and the girls outside the United Nations:

The Security Council:

The Economic & Social Council:

A beautiful mosaic in one of the halls that reads "Treat others how you wish to be treated".

The both really enjoyed the tour. We had a great tour guide from South Arfica named Tumi. My daughters both had a lot of questions for her and walked through the whole tour with a notebook so they could take notes. Jacqueline decided (on her own) to do a report on the United Nations. She gathered some printed material while there and asked me to to make copies of these pictures to include in her report. She took a folder from our cabinet of office supplies and cut the UN emblem from our gift bag and pasted it on the front of her folder. She worked on it at the airport and on the plane and is very excited to show me the finished product which she wants me to share here on this blog.

Do you know what plant this is?

Does anybody out there know the name of this plant? When my mother passed away (so sad to type that-it's 11 weeks today) I inherited all her plants. I have a black thumb (unlike her who was nicknamed Mother Nature) but I'm determined to not kill any of them (there's about 15 different ones). This one just bloomed and I'd love to know what it is so I can take care of it better.


UK Unschooling Article

From The TimesSeptember 6, 2007
"Home education serves her better than school would’

Sara Sengenberger lives in Oxford but was brought up and schooled in the US. She delayed formal education for her daughter Catryn, 7, but has found home education suits Catryn so well that she has no plans to send her to school.

“I came across a book published in the 1970s by Raymond Moore called Better Late than Early, which claims that many biological and psychological factors make 8 to 10 the best age to begin structured learning. Young children learn a great deal through play. I don’t require Catryn to do any formal academic work at all. At the age of 6 she decided that she wanted to read; she had been resistant to the idea before then. Because she started on her own initiative she learned very quickly.

“We follow an approach called Autonomous Education, or ‘Unschooling’, pioneered by John Holt in the US. The idea is that children are given the freedom to follow their interests, on the principle that they learn better that way. Just as I didn’t teach my daughter to walk and talk when she was a toddler, she doesn’t need me to direct her learning now. We make materials available to Catryn and she decides what she wants to do. She does an astonishing amount of arithmetic every day without us having to make her sit down and do worksheets. It is a very relaxing approach. Because we never force Catryn to do anything we live a very harmonious existence.

“At some point she may decide that she wants to go to school, and that’s fine by us, but for now home education is serving her far better than school would.”


Spiritual Parenting

I really enjoy the Spiritual Parenting newsletter by Mimi Doe and have been receiving it for quite some time. The title of the current one is 'The Love That Listens". Some of the highlights for me are:


Ask your child to make a list of all the things she wants to know more about. You may be very surprised. Follow through on this information and provider her with materials, books, teachers if appropriate, and opportunities to explore her interests. Encouraging your child's natural inquisitiveness about all things nourishes her soul.

Often a child will talk to a neighbor or friend instead of directly to you. Are there enough of these removed listeners in your child's life? Can you be a receiving adult for a child other than your own?

Perhaps you are open and available to listen to your child but feel there is more that you need to know. Try talking directly to your child's soul, guardian angel, or spirit. Get quiet and mentally ask if there is something you need to be aware of. You can ask for a picture or message that will help you parent in a deeper way. Listen to the thoughts that come.


Think of a time when you were heard as a child.

- Who listened?
- How did it feel to be heard?
- What did you say that was acknowledged?
- How does that experience live with you today?

Now think back to a time when you were there to listen to your child.

- What was that like?
- Why were you available to listen? Had you made time? Was your child demanding you stop and listen?
- What did you hear?
- How did your child react when you listened?

Ask for guidance this week on how to best hear your children's needs. Ask for divine insight into ways you can help give your child's feelings a voice.

Now let go and remain open to receiving insight and guidance. Listen to the subtle ways your inner wisdom is revealed.

Trust your ideas and insights; YOU are wise.

*Mimi Doe is the founder of Spiritual Parenting.com and the award-winning author of "Nurturing Your Teenager's Soul", "Busy But Balanced", "10 Principles for Spiritual Parenting", and co-author of "Don’t' Worry Get In". Mimi's free newsletter, Spiritual Parenting, has more than 30m000 subscribers from around the world. Sign up on the website: www.SpiritualParenting.com.

Pictures from Times Square

Here's more photos from our recent trip to NYC. These were taken during a night out in Times Square. I couldn't leave NYC without sharing one of my favorite night time spots with my daughters.

We parked our car in lower Manhattan because one of the things Jacqueline wanted to do while in NYC was hail a taxi. She had been practicing for weeks and was anxious to finally get to do it. I snapped the picture a second to soon because right after this she stuck out her arm and a taxi stopped within 2 seconds. LOL

After walking around a bit, we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe for some dessert.


My baby wearing baby

She told me "I don't like to use strollers because I want my baby to feel me"

Learning the A-B-C's

Accept differences.
Be kind.
Count your blessings.
Express thanks.
Give freely.
Harm no one.
Imagine more.
Jettison anger.
Keep confidences.
Love truly.
Master something.
Nurture hope.
Open your mind.
Pack lightly.
Quell rumors.
Seek wisdom.
Touch hearts.
Value truth.
Win graciously.
Yearn for peace.
Zealously support a worthy cause.


Empire State Building

I just posted about bringing the girls to the San Gennaro feast and now I want to share photos of our visit to the Empire State Building. One of my early jobs (I was in my early 20's) was in an office in the ESB. It was really nice to go back and see it again. :-)

Construction began on began on March 17, 1930 and was the center of a competition between Walter Chrysler (Chrysler Corp.) and John Jakob Raskob (creator of General Motors) to see who could build the tallest building. By October 3, 1930, there were 88 floors finished and only 14 to go. These top floors took the form of a distinctive tower of glass, steel, and aluminum. The tower is about 200 ft. high and topped with a dome. In 1986 The Empire State Building was recognized as a National Historic Landmark. Many movies have been filmed at the ESB over the years.

This is the north side of the observation deck (86th floor). The Met Life building and the Chrysler Building are both visible. In the background is The Bronx and Westchester County.

Looking west, you can see the Hudson River and the state of NJ in the background. It's overlooking some neighborhoods such as Hells Kitchen and Herald Square.

Looking south towards Downtown Manhattan, you can see both the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge crossing over the East River. The gapping hole in between the tall buildings in the back is where the Twin Towers should be.

And finally, looking east at the East River you can see the Queens in the background.

Billy and the girls:

We're Back From NYC (pics from San Gennaro)

So much has happened in the last couple of months since my mother crossed over...most of it sad, some of it uplifting. I'll post about her death and the services over time, it's still to fresh to do it all right now. I'd rather start with some happy times.

Again, thank you all for your condolences and thoughts in the comments and e-mails. They helped me more than you could know. There are about 30 comments that need to be looked at before I can approve them so please bear with me. It may take some time to get everythng updated. Also, I'm planning on getting the next issue (which is #10) of Unschooling Voices out for Oct. 1 so keep your submissions coming. We have a ton so far! If I need to hold it off until Nov. 1, I'll let all of you know.

We just got back from a trip home to New York City where we held a memorial service for my mother, which was attended by family and friends. I'll post more about that at another time-for right now I want to share some of the happer pictures because this was the first time Shawna & Jacqueline (Cimion didn't come) had a chance to sightsee in NYC because the only other time they were there was for our adoption party in 2004 and we only stayed for four days. This time we stayed 10 days and allowed ourselves plenty of time to show them around.

This was their first time on a plane so it was a very exciting part of the trip for them! They both enjoyed this new experience!! We flew out of Orlando airport on 9/6 and this is us on the plane.

Jacqueline took this picture from the plane.

We were so lucky that the annual San Gennaro feast, held in Little Italy, Manhattan, was going on during our stay and we wanted our girls to experience it. Billy & I have attended this many times in the past and it's a New York tradition.

This feast, in it's 80th year, celebrates the patron saint of Naples Italy and draws over a million people during it's 11 day run.

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We decided to beat the crowds (it draws over a million people during the 11 days) and go on the first day, just as it was opening, because I didn't think Shawna (who struggles with sensory issues) would be able to enjoy herself with all the crowds and noise that going in the evening or the weekend brings. So although we missed a lot of the special events, we had a much more relaxed time there.

First...we ate. That's what this street festival is all about. lol We started with some sausage, peppers and onion heros. Mangia!!

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Here's Jacqueline trying her hand at getting the balls in the bucket.

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We're digested and ready to eat again.

hhmmm...what to get...what to get???

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We decided on rice balls.

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Shawna got a henna tattoo. I'll share a photo in another post of what it looked like when it was done.

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Did we save room for zeppoles?

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Of couse we did!! YUMMY!!!

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...which is....


(I'll share more pictures in another post!)