Forty Something Parents

The Ins & Outs of Parenting

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Zen Learning: When Your Home Schooler Refuses to Write

I guess I must’ve lucked-out when it came to my daughter learning to read, because it seems to have come so easily for her… and for me, as her mom/teacher.  But when it boils down to learning how to write her words, she has refused most of the time.  My solution to this problem?  I take it easy on her, and don’t dare try and force it.

Instead, I assess her mood in the morning…then decide what we’ll do to fit some learning into our day.  When it comes to writing, though…I have to be somewhat sneaky with how I present a lesson.  Most of the time, we work out of work books; I like Bendon Work Books the best.  However…this past week, I hit a creative writing break-through.  I was jumping for joy!

Last week I had tried encouraging my daughter to write a letter to her Grandma, and for the most part…she did.  Though I had to write a few words for her to copy; so I couldn’t consider that a complete success.  I didn’t mention it to my little’one, and tried not to let it bother me.

But, yesterday…after she finished her usual practice of writing her full name –which we do everyday…since her last name is posing a challenge for her– I nonchalantly handed her a piece of manila writing paper from her tablet, gave her one of her brand new sparkly pencils with ‘creative creature’ eraser, and introduced the fun of writing words she spies (Word ‘I Spy’!) throughout her room.  And, Lo’ and behold…it worked!  She was quietly and calmly writing for the better part of an hour.  I was beside myself with joy, so I snapped a few pics.  How could I resist?!  She was so into her work, she didn’t even notice me there at first.  Either way, I realized we hit a milestone in my Nixi’s introduction to creative writing.

And for those of you who have faced similar learning curves with your child — whether home schooled or not — I hope this helps in some way, for you and your child/children to move forward with a more zen approach to knowledge and learning.  Sometimes it just takes a bit of time to figure out what works…and what doesn’t.

*Happy Learning Leads to a Lifetime of Knowledge*  *Feed the Relaxed Mind*


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Friends and Home Schooling

~ An Impromptu Birthday Party on a Budget ~ 

A day in the life of a seven year-old may not seem like super excitement to some, but yesterday, to my Nixi, was a blast!  Yes, the day might’ve started out quite mellow — me singing her Happy Birthday when she awoke — but by day’s end, at the Joe’s Crab Shack restaurant playground, the running, playing, jumping, and laughter was oh-so abundant.

It was  a last minute plan that sort of just hit me the day before Nixi’s big 0 7 day.  And contrary to what a lot of folks believe — that homeschool kids are introverts who have trouble making friends — my Nixi makes friends where ever we may go.  She has a few kids she has bonded with and calls best friends.  I knew I had to invite them, and I was delighted to hear they could make it.  Nixi didn’t know, and I could hardly wait to surprise her.

So…the day moved on (tick-tock), and I created party favors on a shoe-string budget…while still trying to keep it all secret from my very observant young’n.  I skirted around the truth when she quizzed me on what the jars were for, that I was painting outside.  She wanted to come help, and it was hard to not let her.  But the chemicals I had to use for the project weren’t safe for her to be around.

Needless to say, I finished the party favor jars (made from recycled/reused Starbuck’s Frappuccino bottles), Nico picked up a few balloons and the cake, and we were off to destinations unknown to Nixi.  The party was a HUGE success, even though a few friends couldn’t make it, and I knew our daughter would remember this birthday for years and years to come.  –Perhaps a lifetime.

*Here’s to impromptu gatherings!  And making friends, no matter what your circumstances.*

— Home School Birthday Party Fun at Joe’s Crab Shack on Seawall —

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Home School Science Experiments

Making BLUE GOO —

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Paddle Boarding — Never Too Young

I never could’ve imagined doing water-sports back when I was six years old; let alone paddle boarding or surfing.  I grew up inland, though I was never a land-lubber.  But as I stood watching my daughter stand with ease on a paddle board this past Saturday, balancing upon Mother Ocean, I couldn’t have been more proud of her natural abilities.

Looking back to my own childhood, I realize now that I wasn’t quite the athletic type.  I didn’t even learn to ride a bicycle until I was 10 years old!  But once I did — feeling the wind blow through my hair…free as the breeze — I was hooked.  And to this day, I still love riding my bike more than most things I’ve ever done.

As for my young daughter, I can hardly wait to see her gliding on top of the water.  And soon after she’s paddle boarding, I hope we can introduce her to the art of surfing.  Being island transplants — known as IBC’s (Islanders By Choice) — to our Gulf Coastal home, I feel our little-one will grow up knowing what it really means to blend with nature.  And I too, will come to know Mother Ocean’s embrace like I was never able to when I was a child.  Just as we are never too young to try new and daring things, neither are we ever too old.

*Live the Life You Love*  #NeverTooYoungToPaddleBoard #NeverTooOldToPaddleBoard #LearningNewThings #EveryDayAdventures #PaddleBoarding

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Field Trip: The Grand Children’s Festival

–Fun…FREE Activities For Home School (or Traditionally Schooled) Kids–

In my last post, I wrote briefly about this past weekend…when we attended the Children’s Festival down in the Strand District.  It’s a really fun time for kids of all ages, and very family friendly.  Best of all, the festival is FREE!  And even though this was our first year to attend, we certainly don’t plan on it being our last.

In the meantime — I wanted to share some of the fun moments from this past festival.  The numerous booths and activities were enough to keep us busy for the entire weekend; though the event is only for one day.

The learning experiences that Nixi was able to be a party to, I feel, will stay with her for years to come.  As for me…?  I realized I’m absolutely no good at hoola-hooping, but I  can still do the Lemon Twist; or an updated version of the old classic jumping toy I used to love as a kid.  It was great to show my husband and child, that this middle-aged Mamma can still ‘cut-a-rug’.  I look back on it, and I have to laugh.  –As I feel I’ll do…for years to come.

*Forever Young*

*Being Young-at-Heart*

*Remaining Active Over 40*




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Home School Cliques and Bullying Among Adults

We met late last year, after my daughter had attempted to eat her son’s toy.  My husband had witnessed it as it happened, and made Nixi apologize to the woman’s little boy.  It was laughed off, and we started talking: me and the one I will refer to only as ‘C’…for sake of not gossiping.

She seemed pretty nice when we first met, though the signs of control were there from the git-go.  I noticed it after briefly discussing travel and where-all we’d like to go.  I told her I had always wanted to visit New York.  She quickly came out with, “No…  You don’t want to go there!  Everyone just acts like you’re not even there when you walk down the street.  They never look you in the eye, and they’re rude.”  I just left it alone, but took notice for future reference.

did want to go to New York…still!  Just because someone I’ve just met, and wasn’t sure I wanted to get to know, says NY is no good…doesn’t make it true for me.  Besides, I have friends there; never-mind we’ve lost touch for a number of years.  Still…they are friends.

I’d clearly had my first ‘red flag’ that day; no matter how well our kids were playing at the time.  We had exchanged numbers and decided to get together for a play-date.  But it would be a few weeks before that actually happened.  Again, we ran into her at the library and sat and talked a bit more.  And…again, another ‘red flag’ quickly shot up.

I had noticed her staring and laughing in the direction of a very pretty woman, though quite heavy in size.  The lady had apparently made a bad fashion choice, according to ‘C’.  She stared and laughed under her breath, but it was still very obvious.  I kinda didn’t say anything, but took notice.

Even if I did agree, I still felt bad for the other lady…C’s target of the day.  Still, I felt myself getting sucked into the meanness, but caught myself on the verge…and dismissed the adolescent behavior that was ensuing.

Remembering what I was trying to teach my Nixi, I knew it was very rotten citizenship to behave in such a way.  After-all, being an adult should mean we’ve outgrown such antics as bullying.  One might think so, anyway.  Needless to say, another major red flag.  Two strikes against C!

Well…aren’t just a glutton for punishment!  I overlooked the red flags, and continued getting to know C.  We exchanged a few texts, and even talked over the phone a little.  The play-date plans were made, and…soon-after, we met her and her son for a day at the park with a few other home school moms.

It was a very fun day for us all, and I found myself second-guessing my previous opinions and warnings.  Parting ways that day, I was sure I’d found a friend for both me and my daughter.  This is going to be a fun year!  I said to myself; later telling my husband Nico how much promise this new friendship was showing.  He, of course, was very happy for us.  Soon, another play-date was planned, and it was just C and I…and our kids.  It went off without incident, we laughed and enjoyed visiting.  I couldn’t have been happier.

Taking a step further, we were soon inviting each other over to our most sacred of places — our homes.  We first visited C and her family at their end of the island.  I loved her little place — a split-level carriage house they’d been renting on the East end.  It was cute and quaint; though it smelled very strongly of natural gas.  I didn’t mind.  I had lived in a house with gas heaters for many years…and grew used to it after about half-an-hour.

So…we got on with what was leaning towards a very nice visit, and even had dinner with them.  The more I got to know C, the more I felt I must have been wrong with my first assessment of her.  Still, there was another red flag that evening.  –Again, I let it slide.

At our last play-date, I had shared our music with C, and she had really loved it, she had said at the time.  So…that night we visited, we had brought our instruments for an impromptu jam session with her husband who played bass guitar.

It was a fun thought, when we had planned it.  But after my first song — which was being drowned out by our kids playing, yelling, and laughing — C came off with, “You need to work on your confidence.”  What the ‘blankety-blank-blank was that?!  Now the red flags were really flying!

 I quickly chimed in with something like, “The song is supposed to be sung softly, it’s just really loud in here.”  Something along those lines.  Nico said the same thing…in a nut-shell.  A few songs later, with her standing over us like she was some sort of expert, I knew she did not appreciate our music and seemed to be picking us to pieces.  Her husband seemed to like it just fine; though he didn’t speak two words the entire time we were there.  We were quickly replaced by video games before the visit was over, and we didn’t stay late.

Red flag number…4?!  I stopped counting at that point.  And I should have cut contact with her then.  If I’d had any sense at all…I would have.  But…I must not, because I invited her for a play-date at our place.  And anyone who knows us…knows that we live quite differently than most folks.

Our lifestyle fits us, just as our tiny home-on-wheels fits our lifestyle.  We don’t expect everyone to ‘get it’, but…then-again, we aren’t trying to impress anyone or get their approval.  Mermaid Mansion is perfect for us, and we’ve worked very hard for what we own…bought and paid-in-full.  ‘Sure beats renting, or a 30 year mortgage!  And, even better, she goes where we go.

So…C came to visit our caravan home, and let-on like she loved it.  I was happy, but hadn’t been worried whether she did or didn’t like our place.  I just opened our home up to her and her son, feeling that perhaps I had over-reacted a little.  Man…!  If I had only known then what I know about her now!  That day never would have happened.

She stayed way after dark, and so, we invited her for supper.  All had gone okay up-to-then, unless you count earlier that day…when her son had been pitching dirt up into the air for it to blow back into my face.  She never said a word about it because she was too busy ‘labeling’ me as a home body.

“Excuse me, girl?!   Just because I love my home life, and don’t feel the need to fly the coop each and every day (just looking for ways to get away from my husband who, according to YOU, sleeps all day and plays video games all night), does not mean that I am a homebody.  And, did you…just maybe, consider that I might not want to be around you that long…locked in a car, off the island to where ever (anywhere but home), you flee?!”  Such are just a few of the reasons why I never wanted to go running around with C each time she invited us.  I listened to intuition those times.

But getting back to her visit to MM–  Inviting her for dinner?!  Was I crazy?!!    I must have been!  By the end of the night, I knew the budding friendship was fading fast.  Her making reference to kids with Down Syndrome as being ‘retarded’ should have been enough; being quite certain that I had told her about my little grandson having DS!  Again, I just sat in disbelief at what had just come out of her mouth…and let is slide.

If I had only seen what Nico later told me about when she’d left, the line would have been drawn right then-and-there.  Had I only seen her getting on to my daughter (I had thought she was reprimanding her son), in MY home…she’d have been told off and ordered to leave. My back was to it at the time; having dinner as the kids played in Nixi’s room.

I found out later that my little stinker-monster was being mischievous, and attempting to push C’s son off the bed.  If I had seen it, my daughter would definitely not have gotten away with that.  I’m not one of those moms who thinks my kid never does any wrong.  I know she does; like all other kids on this planet–including C’s.

So…there I was!  –Not knowing quite what to do about it all, other-than just steer clear of her from that day on.  One would think that it would be a no-brainer!  Right?  Wrong!  A few weeks passed and we kept our distance.  Then, out of the blue, she text me for a play-date.  Never mind that I had suspected that her and the other moms were getting together without inviting me and my daughter.  –‘Not sure why, though. I had never done anything to anyone, and we all seemed to get along great at that first play-date; which was the last time I’d heard from any of them…except for C.

I quickly suspected something was up.  And there was no question who I might have to ‘thank‘ for it.  –None-other than the very ‘friend’ I had invited into my home, and shared with her the illustrations I had painted for my new children’s book.  –Even the story itself, I shared with her.  She was very complimentary at the time; even asking if she could scan my paintings to animate them.  I wasn’t about to let that happen, so I politely declined.  Her niceties, I know now, were completely artificial.  –Just like our friendship had been all along.

Still, even though I hesitated…and went against my gut feeling (which was screaming, Noooooo!  Don’t do it! It’ll end badly!!  NOOOOoooo!!), I went to the play-date, right around the corner from our place; refusing the ride C had offered.  Anything less than a mile from home, we always try to walk; happy to get the exercise while helping to be kinder to the environment.

So…we walked to the park, and there they were: C and her son, and another home school mom I had met briefly at the first play-date.  She was a very nice lady who didn’t say much…and –I suspected–never did any harm to anyone.  She seemed a gentle soul.  I liked her.  No red flags, no signs. She was just genuinely nice.  As for the  other home school moms, I liked them all too.  Even though C had ‘confided’ in me that she didn’t like one of the moms for what ever reason.  Something to do with drama?  I can’t remember really.

Even still, whether they included me or not, I thought they were all nice, and they had never done anything for me to not like them.  Though I suspected they didn’t reciprocate such feelings towards me.  It led me to realize that, since they did not know me, they’d been given false truths about me.  I suspected, but never knew for sure.  Still, no skin off my back.

That last play-date got off with out a hitch, but not for long.  I’m not sure what had gotten into my Nixi that day, but she was being a stinker…again.  Never mind that two of the other mom’s boys were wrestling and, I guess, play fighting; Nixi had no right to go up and smack the smallest boy.  I saw it about to happen, but couldn’t catch it in time.  Nixi was reprimanded and made to apologize.

The boys mom, the nice mom, didn’t seem to be offended. She could see that I had taken care of it, and she didn’t have to say anything.  She was very mature about it all.  Still, I felt bad that it had happened.  And, of course, C had to chime in when Nixi came over for a drink of juice.

“You shouldn’t hit, you know.”  She had the nerve to correct my daughter, after she had previously made it clear that she didn’t like when other moms correct her son?!  My blood was beginning to boil to the point of ‘blanking out’.  When I lose it–completely boil over–I have a tendency to blank out. I didn’t want to do that there, and set such a bad example for the kids.  It had been years since I’d last let anyone get to me like that.  I didn’t like C at all!  Negative all the way!  Toxic to the core!  I could finally see it very clearly.  She was bad news!

The play-date ended badly that day.  –After my Nixi was being mischievous…again, only to the boys; since she’d made fast-friends with the other mom’s daughter.  This time, though, Nixi hadn’t hit anyone.  She was simply picking grass and throwing it at others.  Still not nice.  I know.  Like I said, I’m the first to admit it.  She’s not the only one, though. C’s son would absolutely not share his scooter.  The few times Nixi or any other kid got a chance to ride it, he came and took it away.  C said nothing. She was too busy saying something about someone.  I was half listening.  But I was watching her watch my daughter.

Then it all broke loose!  C got up and stormed towards my daughter, not realizing I was right on her tail.  I was still surprised when she looked like she was going to put her hands on Nixi.  She’d better be glad she didn’t, too!  My boiling point would’ve over-taken me and bad would’ve turned to worse.

It was all so surreal.  There C was, having the nerve to get onto my child.  I stopped her, though I cannot recall exactly what I said; since I was already blanking out at that point.  But it was something along the lines of, “I’ll get onto my child!”  I didn’t crack a smile, but am quite sure I looked really P.O’ed.

C said something like, “It’s time to go.”  As if telling me and my daughter we needed to leave?!  Seriously!  There we stood, at our neighborhood park.  The one had shown her!  More nerve than a bad tooth, this girl had!  I can’t even refer to her as a woman, since she stooped to the level of Kindergartners.

I said a few words to my daughter, careful not to shame her, but to talk to her and see what was going on inside her young mind.  I knew there had to be a reason why she was acting up that day.  We turned and started heading for home.  And I was seething when I turned around to thank C for the scarf and hat she had made for Nixi.  It was a late Christmas gift she had said.  It played a lot into why I kept my cool that day.

I wanted to think it was all just a huge misunderstanding.  Surely C knew I would be offended for her getting after my daughter, if such-a-thing offended her as well?!  Still, she seemed to not know any better.  Her problem I guess, but it wasn’t going to be mine anymore.  I had thought about calling C and asking her what was going on?  Why would she lunge at my daughter and expect to remain friends?  To me, she seemed to not even care.  Nor did I at this point.  Things were best to be left unsaid.

THAT was then!  This past weekend was a deal breaker, though.  We had gone to the children’s festival to meet another friend of Nixi’s; one we’ve never had a bit of problems with at all.  –A really nice little girl, with a really nice mom and grandma.  They respect others because they respect themselves.  And no gossip!

We had such a fun day, seeing all the going’s on and enjoying so many activities.  Nixi and her little friend never had a bit of trouble.  Though they were quite a challenge to keep up with; so full of energy and all.  We had been from one end of the festival to the other…and back again.

I had suspected I might see  C there, since she lives not far from the area.  And I was right.  When I least expected it, there she was.  I hadn’t noticed her until after I noticed her son…right after I had to stop Nixi from taking a dump truck he was playing with.  I corrected her, as I always do when she’s being a stinker.

I looked over and could hardly believe what I was witnessing.  C was pointing right at us, whispering into the ear of another lady who was sitting beside her.  Unbelievably immature!  Adolescent in every way!  Nico and I just laughed at her, not really believing she had the nerve to show such ‘class‘.

The truth is, If I really cared what she thought of us, I might have followed my urge to go ask her what was up.  Though, Nico probably would have stopped me before I could go put an end to it.  –Telling me something along-the-lines of, “she just isn’t worth the effort.”  I would’ve had to agree with him.  We had been having such a good time, and I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of friends.  We just stood our ground and stayed in that spot, despite C’s obvious slanderous gossip and cliquish behavior.  When the girls were done playing there, we headed on down the road to another fun spot.

Nico told me later that the entire time we’d been standing even remotely in the area, C had been pointing down at us and talking into the ear of another unsuspecting sounding board.  It made me think of the one rule of thumb I’ve always followed:  If someone is talking trash about one person, or everyone else, they will certainly talk the same about me.  This was the prime example: C’s adolescent actions.  I was happy to rise above such behavior and be rid of such a toxic person…clouding up my life and well-being.

Yes, my Nixi is still a stinker. But she is my little stinker.  And to this day…and all the days forward, I don’t suspect I’ll ever meet another mom (whether home school or traditional school) who will take kindly to any other mom getting onto her kid(s).  I always try to respect others, as I expect them to respect me.  Without that, friendship will never be.  And with friends like C, I’d rather not have a single one.  I’m happy with my own company, and that of my family and real friends.  With them, there’s little to no drama…and almost always a lot of fun. Life is just too short to waste on toxic people who only mean to deceive.

–Words I live by–

*Life isn’t rocket science.  There’s no need to complicate it with the toxic behavior of others*  *Love yourself and be kind to others*  *Kharma is only bad when sent out that way*  *Cliques are for kids who don’t know any better*  *Adults who bully, are still a child in their minds*