Homeschool Mom Lessons

When our family began the homeschool journey in 2007, I knew very little other than it was my responsibility as a homeschooling mom to be the primary teacher of character, academics, emotional intelligence, and cognitive skills to my children. Fortunately only one child began official schooling at a time, but when I had three kids in three different grades, all of my relaxed ways needed to change and I needed to build a visual of goals, standards, and what I’ve learned so that I could build on previous skill and knowledge. So 8 years ago I was pregnant with little guy #3, on bed-rest with partial placenta previa. My amazing, full-of-life intelligent child was not going to get sent off to school, because I was going to make sure that my oldest son’s potential was reached at home. My goodness, I have no teaching degree… what have I done?

It didn’t take long to see that the curriculum I ordered was a pretty straight forward, scripted- for-me, boxed curriculum. I am so grateful for the writers of homeschool curriculum and their experience, the time they dedicate to writing the programs we rely so heavily on, because honestly, I couldn’t have made it this far without their book lists and instructions. They have taught me better than teaching classes, how to be a teacher. As I pursued teaching courses I realized pretty quickly that most, literally most… like, 90%, of the lessons had to do with classroom management and teaching groups, which didn’t apply to me. I used A Beka and Sonlight and their Instructor’s Guides taught me all I needed to know about teaching, in addition to anything written by Ruth Beechick and Charlotte Mason. I continue to take classes to make myself a better teacher, but can freely admit that homeschooling has taught me more and made me a better teacher than teaching classes have… I was dropping myself into the world of teaching, not just getting my feet wet, but “all in.” Here are four of the many lessons I have learned that have made me a better homeschool teacher…

1) It is crucial to create a nurturing, safe environment which will promote learning. The atmosphere is just as important as the curriculum. Are we a family who reads for fun? Are we learning all the time because it makes life more interesting? Are we sharing good books, poems and art with our kids? If not, how can we expect them to think these things are important? Immerse kids in reading because we know reading is important. When we read is it an enjoyable, close, comfy experience? When my boys know they get to snuggle up to me or Dad, reading becomes even more enticing to them.

2) Engage. Show him that what he is doing is important to me. I don’t keep my phone near me during homeschooling hours. Nor the computer. That time belongs to my homeschooled child/ren. They have my full attention as I observe and respond, read aloud, ask questions, listen to them read, invite them to narrate what they were able to comprehend.

3) Build on what they know. Research shows children learn best when we help them relate new information to what they already know. It’s called the “scaffolding” approach in classrooms. Using their favorite books or books they read well as jumping off points, using their experiences and interests. Astronomy, Roman gladiators, dinosaurs… a learning unit can be built on any of these!

4) Phonics, phonics, phonics. Play with letters. Start building words before learning all the letter sounds. Learning the sounds one after another before getting to actually read something becomes boring. One letter a week, that’s 26 weeks of learning letters… giving kids the chance to read 3 weeks in is exciting and shows them what their hard work is for! Learning to read is hard work for these little guys, but press on because “you are doing great; you’re reading!” I taught my three kids to read and I wish I could teach more… it is such a rewarding experience and I learn so much about teaching every time we begin phonics.

As teaching and learning is ongoing, so is this list. I look forward to continuing to write about teaching, the parenting side of it and the mechanics of it… teaching is a craft. I used to say that because I taught my child how to walk and talk I could homeschool, but have since learned that I couldn’t have been further from the truth! Teaching is something that I take seriously and I have learned from great men and women how to teach my youngins’. My hope is that when I am old and gray and have a wealth of experience homeschooling I will teach the young mothers and continue the journey… thankfully, others thought to do so for me.

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The Works of the Hippocratic Oath

The father of medicine wrote “Let your medicine be your food and your food be your medicine,” but he placed even more importance on the moral qualities needed to be a physician, such as discernment, self-effacement, and devotion. The Hippocratic Oath is still taught to medical students: perhaps if they were taught some of Hippocrates’ methods the world of medicine would be less of a mess!

When I was a kid I remember going to the doctor’s office a handful of times. I wasn’t sick very often, just check up’s here and there. I would be so bold as to write (without checking first) that my parents did the responsible thing and had me vaccinated with the 10 vaccines that were scheduled to be given each child in 1984. (You can find the list of those 10 on DrMomma.org) Back then we vaccinated against things like polio. It was not debated, or questioned, or an issue like it is today because we weren’t given 38 vaccines before the age of two. Yes, 38. Again, you can find the names of said drugs at DrMomma.org.

This is not an anti-vax post (I do vaccinate my children, according to what me and my doctor believe is best for our family), but I want to highlight some myths that are being spread by those who may not understand that when it comes to the immune system as a whole, vaccines are not the primary defense against diseases. A healthy and strong system is our #1 defense and vaccines weaken that system tremendously in some children. My son was one of them. There is a monitoring system the CDC uses to keep track of adverse reactions from certain vaccines. VAERS. My son was vaccinated twice, having the same reaction to the vaccine both times. The same drug, at the same time, gave these children the same reaction (this is just a sampling from the hundreds…) These are some of the other kids who had the same reaction that my son had. Number 303819, 310928, 312714, 331816… you get it.

It is our responsibility to protect our children and others, but let’s be reasonable about how these drugs are being administered. Knowing what we now know about vaccines, what would I have done differently? What will I recommend to my children when they have kids and the vax number is up to 60+ vaccines per child before the age of two?

1) I would look for pediatricians and doctors who are knowledgeable about the risks and benefits of vaccines. Any doctor who will not discuss both risks and benefits is not the doctor for me. I want a doctor who knows his/her facts about vaccines. When I know more about a drug than my doctor, or the doctor is too arrogant to admit that there are risks with any vaccine, it should send up a red flag. I finally found an excellent, award-winning office in Florida. If you live in Jacksonville check out Progressive Pediatrics. They are an A+++ and will listen to your concerns, they are extremely knowledgeable about drugs and can help you weigh the risks vs. benefits. My doctor here in KC is great and very respectful of our wishes and our allergies to certain vaccinations. It helps to have a doctor who is willing to do what’s best for me and my family, not what’s best for drug companies.

2) I would have not given my child round 2 of the drug that sent us to the ER the first time. It did the same thing the second time.

3) I would have given my children the best organic foods life has to offer. What’s the point of vaccinating and then giving a child a pop tart for their morning nutrition? Medicine and good diet and hygiene work together to create the strong immune system in a person. Most of the diseases we vaccinate against are not life threatening to a child. Some are. 4) I would have learned the difference before making my blind choice.

Vaccine doesn’t mean immune. December 2014, 21 NHL Pittsburg Penguins players were infected with a mumps outbreak. Shots and boosters were up-to-date. My kid was vaccinated against the whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus. Twice. He is now living his life with autism- NOT DUE TO THE VACCINE, but the reaction that these 3 vaccines, given together, caused… toxic wastes secreting into his blood for almost 7 days. The same thing happened to hundreds of other children and those kids are also suffering with autism-like symptoms.

5) I wish I could go back and make my decision on a vax by vax basis. I wish I studied the immune system, the diseases and the drugs. I didn’t know. A recent study by the CDC found kids who were vaccinated according to the CDC schedule come from homes run by poor, unmarried, uneducated mothers. I certainly fell into that category when I was vaccinating heavily. The study goes on to claim that children who are not vaccinated according to schedule come from homes where they are well provided for, with married parents, possess a degree of some kind, and have conversations with their doctors.

We know so much more today than we did 40 years ago. Unfortunately, often times I find the only intellectual input to the human pain and suffering and loss surrounding vaccine related issues is “anti-vaccine freak.” Intelligent conversations can only be had when both sides lay down their anger and use rational, intelligent, and sometimes personal conversation. I am more than open to listening to information. I vaccinate. I am not anti-vaccine. I just want people to know that the shots are not 100% safe. Nothing is, and there are other options. The use of essential oils can be the best defense against viruses and bacterial illness. A healthy diet filled with organic, unprocessed foods would have been the best choice for one of my children. Instead he will always struggle with a low IQ. He has autism. He will never have a relationship or a family with a woman. He is “used” by children, taken advantage of, then bullied and abused when he is told he can no longer let those children hurt him or “use” him. He is afraid because he doesn’t know who to trust. And I wonder if I had known the risks vs. benefits of giving him another round of the drug that hurt him the first time, would I have chosen to strengthen his immune system rather than destroy it? He was born healthy and we have been told by professional after professional that something changed the way his brain works. Many have been bold enough to admit that it was most likely the reactions he had to both rounds of the particular vaccines that took him to the ER.

I believe vaccines eradicated diseases like polio. And I am so grateful for that. I also believe that it was ignorance or fear on the part of my doctor which kept him from sharing with me that I was poisoning my son. Along with Hunter, kids across the country are struggling with the effects of their parents choosing the vaccine route in creating a strong immune system. There are many, many ways to strengthen the immune system against diseases like chicken pox, or using education and condoms to protect against STD’s, rather than vaccinating and killing hundreds of young girls. The story of Thieves essential oil is probably one of my favorites… during the Black Plague grave robbers (Thieves) were stealing from those who had died of the disease, yet they were not getting sick themselves. When finally caught, these thieves were asked what they did in order to stay healthy, immune from the plague. It was essential oils. Particularly Eucalyptus, Juniper, Rosemary, Lavender, and Tea Tree.

6)Oils are valuable in dealing with infectious diseases on three counts. First, they increase the body’s ability to combat infection from bacteria or a virus. Next, they attack the bacteria or viruses themselves. And thirdly, they prevent the spread of infection. 7)Nutrition is important because a variety of essential nutrients are needed for the manufacture of white blood cells. A diet with lots of protein and a high proportion of fresh, raw fruits and vegetables, seeds and grains and a little unsaturated vegetable oil will usually provide all that is needed to build a fortress of an immune system.

It is infuriating when the medical community refuses to listen to parents, but instead calls us names or worse, makes fun of us for asking questions. What’s worse is when all they know is what they got out of the textbook (I have seen the sections on vaccines in many of these books and they tell nothing of vaccines, simply that they need to be given on schedule or everyone will die of chicken pox, basically). Some doctors are choosing to inform themselves, then teach their patients about vaccines, the immune system, and health. I only wish I would have found one of these before handing my son over to a fate I wish on no parent. It’s easy to yell “Yay for vaccines!” when your child isn’t allergic to them. Make fun of me for seeking out information… it’s nothing compared to what my kid goes through daily.

Lay down your anger and ignorance. Lay down your entitlement. Search out vaccine reactions on the VEARS website and have a little empathy for parents of children who didn’t make it through their first two years of vaccines. I am so happy your kid is healthy, but I would never poke fun or call you names just because you chose the recommended schedule. I expect the same courtesy in return.

Knowledge is power. Learn before filling that script or signing for that shot… seek out all the options with your doctor. How so many of us wish we could go back and do so.

 

Modern Day Homeschooling combines with Wisdom from the Trailblazers

Do you know what I would like to see? Some new books written on homeschooling. Not the “how-to” kind, not the kind that gives the pro’s and con’s, but the kind that gives parents the basic knowledge we need to teach our kids the main subjects. Maybe different books for different styles and grade levels. The kind of books written years ago, like the Well Trained Mind and Simply Charlotte Mason and For the Children’s Sake and Mary Pride’s Homeschooling Guide. Because I had to search far and wide, but the only good stuff I could find were the great books written a very long time ago, like when homeschooling started. I have a few more teaching courses to take as I want to finish the year a teacher above all else ( a teacher of aromatherapy, of the academic subjects, and of nature) and then hopefully I will do what I love to do best and write. I want to write something for moms today so that we can use the wonderful readers and read alouds available to use without a scripted instructor’s guide. I use Sonlight. One of my favorite things about Sonlight… tons and tons of wonderful classic children’s books and a reading schedule. Some notes, some mapping suggestions. No worksheets, no scripted teaching lessons. They allow me to teach my children with the books the way I want to teach them. I know this may sound scary, but if you are homeschooling, you are more than capable of learning the how’s and why’s behind the guides we use.

I hope to write a book I have yet to find on modern day homeschooling. Not the benefits of it or the “beginner’s” book, but the homeschooling book which teaches moms the stuff taught in school that makes up 10% of a teacher’s job. Academic instruction. It can be modeled any way you see fit. I am partial to Charlotte Mason so I adjust teaching a smidge to meet her standards. I woud like to see a modern day homescooling book for the homeschool mom who’s been at this a little while and wanting some academic instruction because we already have our philosophy down, we already know the importance of the homeschooling in’s and out’s, but we want a bit of teaching advice when it comes to the 5 core subjects. And we don’t want it given to us like we are idiots or like we don’t know what we are doing. I looked for a book to explain to me what I am learning from a semester of online classes and couldn’t find one. I am going to take what I get out of it and share it in writing. So that we have modern-day homeschool books with all the wisdom of the author’s who paved the way for us in the ’80’s alongside the knowledge and experience of the modern day homeschool teachers. Walking the path they carved out for us decades ago, we’ve learned a lot about how kids learn, and we can add to what they’ve learned about homeschooling. Also, some moms don’t just want the instructor’s guide, they want to know what they need to know so that they could do it without the guide. For them (and me) guide is simply for convenience. Which means most of what I am paying for is useless, since I don’t use their teaching, just the schedules. I’m excited to be done paying for how to teach things like poetry, or reading comprehension and genres. I just want the poems. I can take it from there! And so can all other homeschool moms if they/you want to learn the little bit needed in order to teach.

Have a wonderful day and Happy Homeschooling Friends!

I learned a lot in the last 365 days.

I learned the often times a cure is worse than the disease.

Tests and biopsies are not always the answer.

Sometimes a medical test is the answer. I learned to tell when it is right for me.

Doing the hard thing and living through the hard times will make a person either 1) Bitter and weaker, or 2) Strong and forgiving.

I have learned that maturity determines which of the two a person will lean towards.

Most former addicts know that we have two brains… one in the head and one in the guts. The brain in the guts is obviously different, but this system, the digestive system has a brain.

Separating the two is what we all call the “blood-brain barrier.” (I mentioned addicts know this because if you’ve ever been through heroin withdrawal you know that certain opiates do not cross this barrier, but will calm the bottom “brain” when taken at the height of disphoria and illness, like Immodium.) Immodium is a very strong opiate which has been formulated to be “tamper-proof” so that the opiate can not be extracted for abuse. Some people swear that taking large doses cause a heroin-like high, but those people will most likely never go #2 ever again. It simply means that these people have no barrier or a very thin one. The point is that what we ingest can work on two levels.

I learned that the life force of plant parts, distilled and cold pressed into volatile liquids, called essential oils, are able to cross the blood brain barrier and work on two levels- physically and spiritually in the soul.

I learned that certain oils make me calmer, but differently than a drug. And I learned to be patient enough to let them work.

I learned that when hard core prescription sleep drugs couldn’t help my insomnia, valerian root essential oil, capsuled up, was the only thing that worked.

I learned enough about essential oils to know that not everything I’ve heard from people is true.

I am an experienced Naturalist, a new Aromatherapist with some case study experience, and a certified teacher with some child psychology training in regards to how they learn. I went to school, completed lessons and wrote very lengthy papers and took exams that were so difficult they hurt my brain. I worked hard to earn these titles.

I learned to be proud of myself because it is a big deal.

I learned that when insecure or uncomfortable, I used to be a know-it-all, so I need to cut some slack when others act the same way.

I learned that in some ways I can still be a know-it-all.

Not caring what others think about me is not the same as not caring about people.

Some of the best people on earth are the ones I keep in touch with on facebook.. Those are the ones who know that clicking the “like” button is more- it’s a connection. And if facebook were to shut down, I would worry and miss them terribly.

I learned that it feels good to open up myself on a blog. Even though I worried that I would be judged for my former drug use, getting knocked up as a kid, and losing the fetus, almost getting a divorce because we are not perfect people, and getting royally screwed by family (financially) when their house gave me cancer, it turned out I was able to be honest with people about who I am today.

I learned to write every single day. I need to connect with nature every single day. Charlotte Mason expected it of her students and I expect it of mine.

I learned not to ask anything of my children I can’t model in my own life.

I learned to love people better during the times I was hurt the most.

I learned that this is a drop in the bucket of the wisdom of life. And I have a lot left to learn.

Happy MLK Jr. Day

~Jackie

Blogging for Sonlight

Sonlight Blog Party!

(click on me)

I have used several curriculums “out there,” but I always return to my two favorites… Sonlight for my core and KONOS for the fun. This year is no different. My six year old chose core B+C (it’s 2-in-1, not two cores), Science B, and Language Arts with Readers 2. And of course, I pull from all 3 KONOS volumes as they have the most amazing projects. Yup, today I am a commercial. I am not an employee, I get no $, I just really, really believe in this method and their curriculum and how they have gotten me through tough times. It seems like we aren’t doing school because it’s shockingly easy… we cuddle up and read, then create notebook pages. This made my oldest a third grade level reader by 1st grade. I credit them with that… so I am going to take part in this. If you use Sonlight, do it too… and support this amazing company!

It’s our 1st day!

Today my baby begins homeschooling, again. Typically we begin every year doing something completely “opposite” of what they would be doing on a typical day, like helping elderly neighbors, visiting conservation centers, etc. And we always spend one-on-one time during a big homemade breakfast going over what each student (son) wants for himself during this coming year/grade. Today is different. Sort of… me and Little Man are headed to Starbucks once the kids head out. He has already chosen his curriculum and ordered it. We spent last week doing that. Today we are going to bring some books with us and start the year with a one-on-one breakfast date and some new educational materials.

This year is a little different because when I am done homeschooling I have about 3 hours worth of writing and assignments to complete for my own education. Why would I sign up for classes and homeschool? I thought I was finished homeschooling. I am not ashamed to admit that I needed to use the school for it’s intended purposes… a back-up when I was not able to homeschool. Medically, I went through hell. I had cancer. It was a slow growing cancer, but one that older people get… not people my age. So when a person my age gets a “slow-growing” cancer, it’s a little more serious. And it’s an indicator that more cancer will come. The good news is that we (me and my urology oncologist) know where it’s going to strike next so we can be proactive and I know what to look for and when those signs happen, I will know to head to him for care. My bladder… there are only two places one can get stage 0 cancer and the bladder is one of those places. It’s called pre-cancer and I have it in my urinary tract. So I am diligent with my supplements, essential oils, rest, staying off my feet after periods of being on my feet, and keeping track of my pain levels. Back pain is a bitch in bladder cancer, even worse with Interstitial Cystitis (my initial bladder condition). So I homeschooled through this. My kids learned to deal with real life… more than when people say that they need to go to school and get bullied so they can handle real life. They lived with a mom who has/had cancer. Doesn’t get more real than that.

Last year my husband and I were watching a thing on Netflix about marriages and I happened to ask him a question about our marriage and he responded in a way that led to serious talks. I guess I always knew he married me because we had a baby. I gave him so many chances to leave guilt free, but he couldn’t. I even told him I wouldn’t even ask for child support… I just wanted a person who wanted to be with me because of love, not obligation. He shared so much of his heart and how it has changed, but that in the beginning he didn’t know what loving me felt like, not like now. He had the chance to cheat… and came close once. And he shared every detail I asked of him as I screamed in pain. Because he kinda’ did cheat in a way and it wasn’t his conscious that stopped him, but a random sequence of events that stopped him. I felt a pain in my gut I thought was ripping me apart. We had been through so much already. I nursed him back to health after he suffered an aneurysm. I sat by his comatose body for a week then helped him learn to eat and write again and read to him because he was like a little boy in mental state and cognitively. I never left his side. I raised his children while he went out and lived his dreams for years. I waited and waited to be his number one, like the way he was mine. And when he was finally ready, I fell to pieces. Too little, too late. More than that… my doctor doesn’t like to label things, but if we were to label this, I had an early mid-life crisis. I could handle cancer and aneurysms, but not a mental break down. That was not for my kids to see, so they went to school. And I slept and slept and cried and screamed and slept some more. Then I got up. And I started going to the coffee house. And the library. And then I started doing the laundry again and making meals. Which my husband had been doing all of that, while I just stayed in bed, in my camper and in this new home for a bit. He took care of the house, the kids, and everything because I barely had the will to live. I was not a crazy person. I am not mentally ill. I simply had too much happen and I broke. A person is only meant to carry so much pain and I had been so strong for the people in my life that I finally crumbled in the wake of healing from cancer and losing organs, my goodness I have had so many organs taken out that I won’t even list them here. So I got better. And that story, the list of ways the universe and God worked together to get me better, is for another post as this one is getting too long and I need to get my older boys off to school so I can homeschool Little man. Because today I get out of bed and I leave the house and I make food for my family and I love my Husband and he loves me back. I have a great life, but I walked through a very long, dark tunnel to get here.

Have a good day friends. Whether entering the tunnel, in the tunnel, or seeing the light after walking through, it’s a great day to be alive!

(No time to edit, I will do that later- sorry for the annoying errors)

Looking for balance, finding joy.

July 21, 2001. That was the day. That was the first day of my life as a person clean and sober from heroin. I’m working through something so bear with me for a post, thanks:) I became pregnant 2 years later. So I basically had two years of life without heroin before becoming responsible and motherly. You know, everyone who is close to me says I’m a good mom, but I never felt like one. God knows I’ve been trying like hell since the day my oldest was born. I have yet to feel good enough. I’m scared tonight… this morning. It’s 4am and I am up, studying, taking a break, drinking hot cocoa next to my flip-with-a-switch fireplace… and I’m crying. Because I don’t know what to do.

I began using hard drugs really young. So by the time I had gotten clean I was in and out of rehabs, suffered the loss of people I never should have lost. And still to this day I don’t know that I’m over their deaths. What does it mean to be “over” a death anyway? So I have this mini window of time when I got clean, volunteered, got a job, and apartment with a roommate and was going to school. I got pregnant before getting married. I actually prayed one night that I would have a baby. I told God I would be a really good mom and that I was ready when He was… thinking I would get married first seeing as my marine corps boyfriend had just come home from Kuwait. Low and behold I did not get a ring (not right away anyway)… I got a positive pregnancy test and a feeling like… I can’t explain so I won’t try.

Here I am, about 11 1/2 years later and I’m finally back to that time, after the drug, but before the kids. I am still a mom, but not homeschooling anymore. At least that was the plan when I was having a mini breakdown and my marriage was falling apart. I enrolled my kids in school because I couldn’t get out of bed. I’m going to be bringing my youngest son home to homeschool again, but a small part of me wants to leave him in school. Jeez, here comes the tears again. I feel like I am in the place where I get to be me and have a life that moves forward. I get to work on school and work towards getting that great job I knew I would always get one day. And this other part of me knows that my youngest child needs me. I’m not done being a full-time mom. I need to do what’s best for my kid. He comes first, then I get to work.

Not to sound like a martyr or complain, but I still have a few years of homeschooling left and this small part of me feels so alone and, done. I put in a freakin’ decade of full-time parenting and how selfish do I sound right now complaining when I know women would kill to have this? I had two years of being a grown up to figure out who I was without giving all of myself to my little people. I don’t know how to parent on evenings and weekends.

I am scared. I am going to homeschool and still continue trying to complete my full course load. All I can try to do is move forward. I can try to ease into a life with split personality disorder. Homeschooling was a lifestyle. It wasn’t something I did, but a homeschooling mom is who I was. And I was good at it and I hope I can still be good at it. We have no support system because for some reason Missouri homeschoolers like to co-op instead of just support each other. I don’t like classes and co-op’s. I do groups and field trips and friends and support. And there’s very little of that here. Fortunately I have a teeny tiny support system and I’m hoping that’ll keep me for another homeschool run.

Thanks for reading, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten into the groove of blogging, but it feels nice. Oh yeah, I am madly in love with Husband and we worked through catastrophic marriage problems which I hope to share in order to help anyone else struggling with what I struggled through. We are doing amazing and I am so glad we decided to work it out! I feel drawn to write about this last year pretty soon and share with everyone how we stayed together through serious problems. Also, today I became a certified Aromatherapist! I still have some advanced classes to take before I can become board certified, but I am qualified to write and speak and share information about essential oils and herbs. At least I feel so. Sorry. It’s an up and down kind of post. Bye for now friends.

Keeping an oily journal and I’m going to be homeschooling again.

Focusing solely on getting my Aromatherapy certification I have gained at least 5lbs. My tush is parked in front of my laptop and library as I work through the curriculum in what feels like a race against time. I need a level 2 certification in order to take the board certification exam, which is my ultimate goal. Why the rush? Well, it looks like my six year old did not receive the foundation our family believes is essential before placing him in the public school system. So we are homeschooling him a little longer. He is extremely intelligent and his work is original, thoughtful and comically creative. He was not ready to go, just like my oldest was not ready when he was six. My other two boys were given years of a loving, accepting learning environment and understand that bullying and bad behavior is not acceptable. The first time my oldest was bullied when he went to school he very calmly explained to the kid that he was not going to take this kid’s abuse anymore and was finished with the bullying… he stood up for himself in ways not normally seen at a school bus stop. I credit the process of homeschooling. Now, I know wonderful children who are mature and kind and they have spent their entire academic career in public school. Unfortunately, I am not able to raise children to have those qualities without homeschooling, which makes it the right decision for our family. I am bringing my youngest child home, but not at the expense of my growing knowledge base and love for the ancient field of aromatherapy, which has been used since the beginning of time, starting with the Egyptians, but wasn’t coined the word “aromatherapie” by a Frenchman in the 1800’s.

Some call aromatherapy a fad… they obviously don’t know where medication comes from. Some say it doesn’t work… they maybe have not had the patience to wait for the sometimes subtle results. We want everything fast and the life power of the plant gives at its own pace. It cannot be rushed. It can, however, cross the blood-brain barrier and work on more than one level. Both when inhaled on the sensory level and again when it works in the brain, like a mood stabilizer would.

I am obviously really excited about this goal of certification and hopefully will be able to write and speak to people boldly about essential oils (which is what aromatherapy is based on- pure essential oils). I want to share something with you that I realized tonight. The friend who first shared oils with me told me that she kept a binder of information. Being a binder girl myself I started one right away and like assumed, it filled quickly and now I have 2. After taking classes I started to keep a small journal of the oils I was using most, the ones I used on my skin, in my home and when one of us gets a sore throat or cough. I also began to keep fact files on how to blend them and which oils turn them into powerhouse blends. I realized that some of the results that other achieved with certain oils did not do the same thing for me. And essential oils will lose their effectiveness when used over and over for the same thing… so for example, when I need to switch out my leg oil (cellulite and varicose veins), I will take a break from grapefruit and use cedar wood instead. Then after a month or so, go back to grapefruit. It’s how these oils work best. I started to make notes and named this “catch all” journal my fact file. It’s an encyclopedia tailor-made for my family. I just wanted to share the idea of keeping a little journal like this because I realized tonight just how helpful it has been in my aromatherapy journey. I am thankful for the instructor who began me using this method of collecting oily info. It also houses holistic health medicine and wellness info. If you are into oils like me I highly recommend starting a little Moleskine journal filled with encyclopedia style info just for you and your family. Because the life force of plants are an extremely powerful blessing to be able to use and it helps to have that road map.

Thanks for reading. I hope your excited to read about more homeschooling adventures as I will have some to share soon enough! Have a good one!

I am a Naturalist, above all else

Last year I enrolled in classes that would teach me about nature and ecology and forestry. After joining clubs and supporting local wildlife conservation centers, it was crystal clear that no one wanted to share nature deeply, with children anymore. My husband and I were really surprised with the lack of enthusiasm and knowledge that the local Conservation Departments have for kids. Our family has been involved in every club gathering and nature center activity/camp held for kids and are simply in awe of the lack of guidance or love for nature that should be encouraged, but is not. So I began to study and put together programs for my own kids (homeschooling afforded me this luxury) and they were successful. More importantly I was falling in love with wilderness, which needs to happen before I can ask that of my boys.

In the meantime I also started to learn medical coding and billing so I can get a real job, now that my kids are in school. I am also one week away from becoming a certified Aromatherapist, moving onto a level two certification, which then I can take my boards and become a tried and true Holistic Health Practitioner within the arena of aromatherapy. I’m not sure what I want to do with my life so I am learning all of it, piece by piece. Before going back to Nature Connection, I just have to mention that medical billing and coding is scary. It hurts my brain. The math is just within reach and I’m not as comfortable as I would like to be with it, and after I have a class or do a lesson I need a nap as I feel like I barely escaped with my life. Dramatic? Maybe, now I know how my kids felt after reading lessons. Which, like medical coding, is all about decoding a system. If I had any doubts that my brain was broken, they are gone! I am going to have to pass a state exam in order to “pass” this class, which until recently required a four-year degree (to understand all three parts, billing and coding as well as insurance). Still doing all that, but my passions lay with nature… creating programs for kids alongside parks and becoming a triple certified, board certified aromatherapist. Here’s something I wrote when I was in the thick of Naturalist training. I read it often as it reminds me of how much wildlife means to me. “It takes intimate knowledge of the small natural world surrounding me each day to become a Naturalist. Not a study of ecology, not a study of biology or even how to save the polar bears, but an intimate knowledge of the trees in my yard, the birds that visit them at 11am each day and the knowledge that someone is approaching my camper because the squirrels are beginning to run all at once. This intimate knowledge of nature which I am being given the gift of experiencing, is right outside my door, I will come to know it deeply, it will be in my heart even when I move from this place.

This Naturalist, s/he will have gleaned wisdom & common sense of the natural world, see what others don’t see as his/her brain has been patterned to stay in communion with her deep sensory awareness. S/he’ll forever study the birds because s/he knows that the birds are the ‘scouts in the sky.’

One day this resourcefulness becomes a part of life, no… rather it sustains life. It comes from thousands of hours of observing, recording, and connecting with wildlife right outside her door.” And I’ going to end the journal entry here because now the question to ask is… how do I get little kids to connect in this way? Observe, see patterns, record observations? Create habits. Make it fun. Fortunately there is a blueprint for this in what Coyote’s Guide calls Taking children’s passions and creating out of them core routines. The ideal learning journey for connection to nature embraces solid scientific curriculum that qualifies a well-trained naturalist- such as cross-referencing information, using technical and Latin names, and replicating results. However, a felt sense of kinship always remains at the root of nature mentoring.

There is an excellent program already developed, but it can only fully understood along with a training guide, which took me about 8 months to complete. My hope is to create some sort of min book or program written to train parents and teachers so that they don’t have time to go to school and learn this unique approach for mentorship. The ideal journey embraces solid scientific evidence with well-trained naturalists who can form relationships with the kids in a way that will entice them out of doors. Away from the mind-numbing tools we use today.

My hope is that my state forms a group like this. I am going to petition the parks until I see it happen… there are Coyote Mentorship affiliate groups and clubs everywhere else, but not in KC. My kids will connect with wildlife, they have already done so in ways that are rare and deep. So… maybe medical coding is my future, but I have a strong sense that Naturalist is more likely in my path. Not just for my family, but for all the families looking for the same connection I began to search for almost a year ago.

Have a Wonderful New Year friends,

Jackie

Insomnia, it’s better than drugs.

At the end of the day, I try to count more blessings than complaints. And while I am not 100% healthy, I am more grateful than anything else for the blessings of late. I felt sick for a long time. For years. And now that I have taken to the holistic health way of life, I’ve felt stronger and happier than I have felt in years. With that being said, currently there’s a new condition that’s taken root within me. Insomnia… tried and true not-sleep-for-days-at-a-time insomnia. When suffering through a bout of insomnia I don’t sleep for about 2 to 3 nights (that’s 3 to 4 days) and my brain begins to shut down. After 24 hours of not sleeping I don’t drive because I notice that my reflexes are that of a drunk Jackie. I am super forgetful and need to reschedule important appointments. Sleeping pills you wonder? I’ve tried them all. If they do work, one of two reactions occur. Either the medication paralyzes my body with what I can only assume a comatose person feels while my mind wants to get up and do something. Or I get a few hours of sleep and then have another 12 hours or so of exhaustion confining me to my bed. So I decided to forgo the several types of sleep medicine and just roll with the insomnia. I stay awake for days and then I sleep for days. I know it is hard for those who love me to understand this affliction, or why I have come to terms with living this way. And the answer is simple. This is the first time I have ever worked through problems and issues without some sort of addiction popping up. My body is responding to stress by disrupting my sleep schedule. It will go away. It is already starting to lessen. I hate missing days of phone calls and emails, but right now I am letting my body handle this time the way it sees fit. I should probably add that in counseling very disturbing emotional issues are being worked through and I am doing the hard work to heal and get better.

Do you want to hear something really cool? Since June I have been struggling with sleep like crazy. But last month I went almost an entire 30 days without missing a night of sleep and without oversleeping at all. Then Christmas came and I guess my body responded to underlying emotional stress and I was without sleep once again. Fortunately my husband has had off of work so I have been able to sleep for the last few days to recover, but I am coming out of the slumber and focused on the improvement. It’s a huge deal… before Christmas, I went almost a month without sleep problems! So tonight as I drink my kava tea and take my valerian essential oil capsule, I accept that I am not turning to addictive behaviors to deal with stress, but I am riding out this healing period of my life with therapy, people who love me and stick by me even when I sleep for 50 hours straight, and it is getting better. I am seeing signs of regular healthy sleep coming back again.

This year I have much to be thankful for, insomnia being the east expected of them all. Here’s to a year of health, rest, and healing within our souls!

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