Friday, November 16, 2012


I spent 7 years before my boys were born teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District.  There were so many challenges and so many joys in it.  I met some amazing fellow educators committed to the lives and minds of those who come through their classrooms.  I also came face to face time and again with limits of what I and others could do in the lives of the students, no matter how hard we worked or how committed we were.  I taught middle school, and while I loved that age and the subject matter (math), it was really hard for this introvert to filter around 180 students through my room in a day, having each of them for less than an hour a day!  The more scripted the curriculum became and the less freedom there was to really be creative and use my skills and insights as their teacher to adjust to what they needed, the more draining it felt.
Since I left teaching the year before my son was born, people have often asked me if I miss it, and it was always hard to answer that question.  I very much missed the idea of what I wanted teaching to be, but the gap between that and the reality was one that made me feel constantly dissatisfied, discouraged, and drained.
This isn't a comment on public schools.  That is another debate for another time and place.  This is about an unexpected blessing and delight in my journey as mom and educator.  I never expected to homeschool for many reasons, though as the time was drawing closer for my oldest to enter school, figuring out good school choices felt daunting.  Right at the start of this school year (with my oldest just turning 4), we arrived in Bhaisepati, Kathmandu, Nepal.  I had decided that, for the time being, I would homeschool the boys.  My oldest is just at preschool age.  With an August birthday, it might even be two school years before he would start kindergarten in the States.  My youngest isn't yet 2.  So, even the term "homeschooling" seems funny to me, as I never went to any sort of "school" until kindergarten.  There is a good international school not terribly far from us, and I have had in the back of my mind that once my youngest is school age here, perhaps I would teach there in exchange for some of the tuition for the boys to attend there.  I don't know what will come next or how long we'll do this homeschool thing.  What I do know is what is right now, and that is that teaching my boys here in our home is a huge blessing and so much fun for me and has rekindled my love of teaching!
Obviously, the more important question is whether this is good for my kids, and for now, it seems to be really good.  The oldest is loving school and loving learning and needs a transition point before jumping into something bigger in such a new and different place, I believe.  The little one is wanting to do what he sees big brother doing and wants to do school, too! :)  We are able to use the things they are interested in as vehicles for learning, and we can adapt easily to what they need to work on.
I don't know how long this will be a good plan for my boys, but I just know that I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to do it now, and I'm realizing that, selfishly, this is an amazing fit for how I use my time and energy and passions!  I love learning, and I love teaching.  I have two boys to guide through exploring and learning and foster an excitement for learning and a curiosity and wonder for the world around them.  Two.  That is an introvert's dream.  Heck, I could take 5 or 6 and still be well within my "zone."  I love being able to be creative and decide on interesting ways to meet our goals.  I love searching and thinking and planning.  I get so excited as I put together our plans for the day or week.  I love to see them enjoying learning and thirsty for more!  I love the ability to adapt and spend more time or less time on what is working or not working or what is connecting with them or not.  I love being able to share my passion for learning with these two precious boys who are totally different from each other in ways that connect with both of them, and I just feel so privileged, for as long as it lasts, to be able to be the one guiding them through this stage of their education and watching them develop into what will hopefully be life-long learners!

Because I'm enjoying this so much, I've decided to start a separate blog to try to record at least a few highlights of our journey with school here.  I find and use and adapt a lot of stuff from a lot of other people who are a lot more creative than I am, so there may not be much original material in the way of the activities, but I for one am enjoying the journey of our teaching and learning at home here and the ways that living in a place far from what we've known as home are affecting that, so here is a start at sharing a bit of that:

Friday, November 2, 2012

Missing Home

Isaiah has really been missing home lately.  The initial excitement and adventure of all the new sights and sounds and things to encounter has worn off a bit, and he has been struggling now with things just feeling a bit  uncomfortable.  As a mom I want to validate his feelings and acknowledge the challenges of such a transition while still keeping a healthy challenge before him to enjoy this place and cultivate a heart of gratitude (something I still need to be challenged on myself often!).

I had started writing this yesterday, and then last night Isaiah asked me how many years we were going to stay here.  I said I wasn't sure but at least 3.  I asked him how he felt about that, and he said, "I just want to go back to America," and he had a little cry snuggling up in my arms.  I fully believe that this is good for our family, and I know there are things that even he loves here, but it is so hard to see my sweet son struggling.  My heart hurts when he is sad.  So, I fight a battle inside myself--that tension between wanting to spare my children from all hurt and heartache and make them comfortable but wanting the richer and deeper and fuller things in life for them that often don't come from what is easy.

On a lighter not, since we've been talking about the things we miss from America, I thought I'd share a few of mine here:
*  milk (cow's milk that I don't have to boil myself and tastes the way I am used to)
*  cheese made from said milk
*  ice cream made from said milk (I'm a bit attached to my dairy products!)
*  friends and mentors from L.A.
*  family--while I haven't lived close to my family for many years now, this distance feels harder
(Sorry to put dairy products above people!  It's stream of consciousness not a statement of priority, I promise!)
*  fall (let's be honest, though, I missed this in L.A., too!)
*  Target (While it drove me totally crazy at times, it was so convenient to drive 2 minutes and be able to purchase nearly anything I wanted in one stop.)
*  having a car (I would never feel comfortable driving here, but sometimes I miss the convenience it brought.)
*  my comfy mattress
*  apple cider
*  clean sidewalks
*  a wide variety of tasty produce all year round (I got really spoiled on this in Southern California!)
*  Mexican food
*  our pediatrician
*  toilets that flush well and generally smoother plumbing systems
*  a clean supply of water that we don't have to worry about
*  knowing how things work and where to get things and where great places are (This is just part of adjusting to ANY new place, especially after having lived in one area for a long time before this.)

I'm sure there are more, and I have moments of feeling a bit jumbled still and missing people and things from "home," but this time has been a much easier adjustment for me personally.  I knew much of what to expect, and we have had so much help, and while I miss a lot of things, I am also really thankful for so many things here as well, so I shall make another list of some of the many things that I'm thankful for about living here:
*  amazing people (I am continuously blessed by the incredible people we meet here.  I had made some friends before who are still here, and there are more that have come, or that I am just now meeting.  There are people from so many places and so many walks of life who have come here, and I just find most of them to be really fascinating and wonderful people!  One family in particular that we had gotten to know just a bit the last time we are here are just a huge blessing and answer to prayer in friendship for us and for the kids and for just processing life with!  I'm also super thankful for my very, very dear friends Tom and Alana who we are thoroughly blessed to get to share life with in this season and place!)
*  the business and its office (We are really so thankful to be part of what we feel is a really cool vision in this business and a great role for John, and we love living close to the office and getting to know the workers and being able to share lunch there together with so many great people who work there and their families.)
*  our home (A blessing beyond what we could have imagined!  Even a yard!!!)
*  pace of life (Things take much longer here, and that can be hard to adapt to, but people just don't try to cram as many things into a day, and that is nice to have some release from what often can often feel too full and scattered and unfocused.  Life is a bit simpler here, in that respect.)
*  house help (Staying home with the boys and being able to really enjoy them and do the things I want to do with them, it is really SUCH a blessing to have someone who works in our home to keep it clean and take care of much of the daily tasks here.)
*  a new language and culture for our whole family to learn and live in
*  very kind and gracious Nepali people who are patient with our lack of understanding of their language and culture and dote on our kids and help us navigate life here

I'm sure there are more things on both lists, but those are a few of the things.  There will be ups and downs, challenges and victories.  We are learning (and sometimes more stretched than others) to make this our home.