Monthly Archives: September 2013

new bike rider

Rahul decided that this was the weekend Samantha was going to learn how to ride her bike. I tried this summer but failed miserably. I could not get beyond her thought process of “I do not want to learn to ride my bike because you are eventually going to take the training wheels off. ” Duh! Isn’t that the whole point of riding a bike? She was reluctantly eager after watching Aidan and a few of her friends at the Swim for Smiles triathlon, but still not ready to take the plunge.  Rahul offered a special reward (I suggested an item from….haha) and today was the day. I went to work and Rahul went to work with the task of getting Samantha to learn to ride a bike. Here are some pics of what I came home to after work –


DSC_5141Samantha said I was a good teacher but not a very good bike teacher. This is why kids are meant to have 2 parents….when one cannot succeed, the other one is there to help out. I am so lucky to be married to a great husband who compliments me in so many ways!

In other news, we have grass in the front woods. Just barely, but it is there!


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our budding Catholic

Samantha has embraced becoming a Catholic. She loves her RCIA lessons every Sunday and shares what she learns after each lesson. It makes me proud mom.



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the fire pit!

We got to test out the fire pit area today. Enjoy the pics of our fun afternoon!



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school updates

First, for those interested in an update on Girls TALK, click here for more about our first lesson. Super excited to finally get started!

The kids have been in their new schools for about a month now. Both are super happy and seem to be learning a lot. Yesterday morning, totally out of the blue, Samantha shared all sorts of things she has been learning. I wanted to stop the kitchen clock so that I could just sit and listen to all that she had to share! Her teacher sent out some information about Montessori learning, and Rahul was able to go to the parent night earlier this week (I was on swim team duty). Basically, there are 5 Great Lessons.

The Great Lessons are an important and unique part of the Montessori curriculum. These lessons are bold, exciting, and are designed to awaken a child’s imagination and curiosity. The child should be struck with the wonder of creation, thrilled with new ideas, and awed by the inventiveness and innovation that is part of the human spirit.

The Five Great Lessons are traditionally presented in lower elementary (grades 1-3), and are presented every year so that children see them more than one time.

Samantha’s class is on lesson 1 right now –

First Great Lesson – Coming of the Universe and the Earth

The First Great Lesson is the most memorable and is often done on the very first day of school. It involves the use of a balloon and gold stars to tell the story of the beginning of the universe. This lesson also includes some demonstrations using solids and liquids to show how the continents and oceans first came together.

This lesson leads to the study of:

  • Astronomy: solar system, stars, galaxies, comets, constellations
  • Meteorology: wind, currents, weather, fronts, erosion, water cycle, clouds, glaciers
  • Chemistry: states of matter, changes, mixtures, reactions, elements, atoms, periodic table, compounds, molecules, chemical formulas, equations, lab work, experimentation
  • Physics: magnetism, electricity, gravity, energy, light, sound, heat, friction, motion, experimentation
  • Geology: types of rocks, minerals, land forms, volcanoes, earthquakes, plate tectonics, ice ages, eras of the earth
  • Geography: maps, globes, latitude/longitude, climates, land/water form names, continent and country research

I think the neatest part of this learning approach is that Rahul had the *exact* same lessons when he went to a Montessori school. Same lessons, same manipulatives. The learning approach is timeless!

Samantha has chosen to research Australia for her latest project. It has been really neat to see her work, but it really did not matter which country she picked. She is learning how to think, problem-solve, and dig deep and learn a lot about a topic. What more could you ask for from a school?

Now for Aidan. The kid is happy at school again. It makes me super happy to pick up a kid with a smile on his face at the end of each school day. He is eager to do his homework (and it is always 100% correct). He talks about friends he has made and tells us a little bit about his skills group (students are put in groups of 10 with a teacher for academic work). Tonight was his back to school night, and all extra-curricular activities were done by 5pm, so both parents got to go! Wow, Rahul and I were so impressed. The teachers are so nice, supportive, and really care about the students. You can feel it in the air when you walk into the school. The work that was displayed of Aidan’s was great. (PPops would be happy to know his handwriting for a written essay posted on the bulletin board was almost unrecognizable as Aidan’s because it was so neat!)

My favorite part of tonight’s meeting was learning about the Cabin Creek Kids. Each student creates a character that lives in Cabin Creek. Aidan’s character is Johnny. All year they write about living in Cabin Creek. By the way,  Johnny came to live at Cabin Creek after his parents were eaten by bull sharks. I cannot wait to see how the story unfolds!

So, 2 happy kids. 2 amazing schools. 1 happy mom 🙂


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the front woods

If someone would have told me in the late 1990s that our front woods would look like this today, I would have laughed out loud. It was a JUNGLE of trees and weeds. Fast forward to today.


All we need for the fire pit area is an actual fire pit! One should be here by the end of the week.


I cannot believe how open the area is now. Hopefully we will be able to get grass to grow here. And, I want to put rocks around the fire pit area and plant lyropie along the path. Sigh….the landscaping ideas are endless. Unfortunately I will be working on my lecture on Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives the rest of the week. Maybe this weekend with no swim meets on the schedule?


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Samantha and church: An update

After Seton’s wedding, Samantha became very interested in religion and the idea of going to church. Rahul and I were not sure what to do about this, so we let her explore religion through books and offered some different options:

a) we could find a nice Unitarian church where I would have  a greater chance of feeling comfortable.

b) she could go to church with some friends of ours and would know lots of girls.

c) worship at home.

Samantha remained steadfast that she wanted to become a Catholic, and even reminded us that if she still lived in Guatemala, she would already be Catholic.

I called our neighbor to see if this was even a possibility, and guess what? It is. Most Catholic children start RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation) at age 7. I called the local Catholic church and classes started today.  Samantha was super excited.


So, putting aside my fear and distrust of organized religion, I took Samantha to her first RCIA class this morning. And as strange as it may sound, a non-practicing Southern Baptist and non-practicing Hindu are going to have a Catholic daughter.

Knowing Samantha, she is committed to this endeavor. She did not even flinch when I said it was a 2 year process. Maybe, just maybe, through Samantha I can find peace with organized religion.


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Friday fun

We had the front woods area cleared out today to prepare for the re-grading work and the fire pit area. Leslie offered to leave the 6 little poplars to make a bridge over the creek. What a neat idea! The kids were super excited to find this new addition to the woods when they came home from school. Note: we need to get some rope to tie the trees together so our bridge is a bit more sturdy. Check it out –


I am getting really excited about the fire pit area. Rahul picked the best spot. Check back next week for some updates!

Now for our Mountaineer of the week – Aidan Tilak. Students in the Mountain Class pick a week to basically be the student of the week. The student can share something each day and are honored in various ways throughout the week. Here is what Aidan wrote about himself.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 2.47.10 PM

Aidan shared his mom and dad this week, which was a great way for us to visit the school and see Aidan in his new classroom. So the way it works is that Aidan introduces us and then students in the class get to ask us questions. Here was my intro: “This is my mom, she is a college teacher. She likes to garden and raise chickens. Questions?” Now for the questions I got. They were all over the place. What is your most embarrassing moment (that you are willing to admit), where would you live if you were a purple chipmunk, what am I teaching this semester, and if I could have 3 special powers what would they be. I do not know all the questions Rahul was asked on his share day, but he did say one question was about the worst injury he has seen. I think he deflected that one 🙂

One more interesting thing from my share time. One boy (with obvious attention issues) was humming while another student was doing the calendar activity in Spanish. The teacher simply noted that someone in the class obviously had a lot of joy in his heart and was humming to show it, but it was distracting to the activity and could he keep the humming in his head. No flipping a card to yellow or red, or moving a clothes pin. And guess what folks, he stopped humming for the rest of the activity.

TGIF folks, now on to swim team practice and Cub Scouts!


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