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School Days

Another school year is officially done! Wow. The time has flown and not just this year, but all the years past. I can hardly believe that my eldest is entering grade nine next year. Where did the time go?

At any rate, the greatest beauty of homeschooling is picking our own curriculum, so over the next week or two, BDs and I will be scouring though websites and catalogues looking for items and topics of interest. The second greatest beauty of homeschooling is that we can learn year round. This has always worked well for us in that the girls don’t have the opportunity to become bored over the summer.

Q: How does a homeschooler change a light bulb?

A: First, mom checks out three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life.

Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles.

Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they’ll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill.

On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Wilfred Laurier, as his picture is on the five dollar bill.

Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods during a nature walk, the light bulb is installed.

And then…there is light!

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…might relate to this!

Letting Go…

Just a little something that rang true with me, so I thought I’d share. I’m starting today!

Greetings!

Have you noticed that there are some people who can let go of things easily and others who hold onto things for dear life? Well, historically, I’ve fallen into that second category.

So, a few years ago, I decided to counter my tendency to hold on by practicing letting go. I did that by starting a ritual that I call the “give-away game.” This is a feng shui ritual that consists of giving away or throwing away 27 items a day for 9 days in a row — that’s 243 things! I’ve just completed my latest round of “give-away,” and boy, do I feel lighter, clearer, and more excited about what I get to create next in life. I’ve done this practice three times now, and each time, wonderful things have happened: the stalled deal for my PBS show miraculously came through, the ideal business manager showed up in my life, and I lost 15 pounds, to name just a few. Everything we own carries an energy with it. As we let go of old energies, it clears the space for us to open to greater new energy. It’s amazing how letting go of old pots and pans can help us let go of the bigger things that hold us back.

I’ve had a lot of practice in the past few years in letting go. Last year, my family went through a big clearing-out process as we prepared to sell our family home (the one we’d had for 58 years). As we sorted through my mother’s belongings, I marveled at her ability to let go of things she’d had forever. Perhaps she had a sense of what was ahead (she passed away three days after the house sold). But letting go of that home and so many of the items I grew up with (much of the furniture was still the same) was a huge challenge for me. It represented the ending of my childhood (yes, I know that officially ended many years earlier, but there were deep emotional ties that went with that home).

Then letting go of my mother, just days later, was like the Mount Everest of releasing challenges. A few weeks ago, on the one-year anniversary of my mother’s passing, my family visited our old family home. The new family that bought our home is fabulous. They’ve renovated, repainted, and decorated it beautifully. And, best of all, there was love and laughter throughout the house. It was thrilling to see the “baton” being passed to this family.

Coincidentally, they have the same family configuration that our family had when my parents, brother, and sister moved in almost six decades earlier (one six-year-old girl and one five-year-old boy). Our letting go was their fresh start.

If you’re ready for a fresh start in any area of your life, I invite you to try the “give-away game.” Here’s how to do it: 1. Each day for nine days in a row give away or throw away 27 items. Notice what you’re hanging on to, not because you love it, but because you’re afraid to let it go. 2. Stand in your closet and touch or try on every piece of clothing. Ask yourself whether you want to carry that into your life ahead. If not, give it away or throw it away. 3. Clear out old books that don’t have messages that speak to you anymore, vitamins or medicines you no longer need, kitchen items that are cracked or worn-out. (Or how about those half-used shampoo bottles from four years ago?) 4. Fix items that are broken (or get rid of them). Clean items that are dirty. Put your loving attention on everything in your environment to see whether it represents who you are now. Then notice what happens in your life — and watch for miracles. As you let go of things that carry old energy, you also strengthen your ability to let go of old ideas of feelings that no longer serve you.. Then, you’re freer to create a magnificent future. After just finishing this third round of “give away,” I’m already eager to start the next round. Wishing you a beautiful letting go and fresh start,

Marci Shimoff

Caterpillar Know How

This post is coming your way, because I know your day will not be complete without knowing a little bit about our caterpillar project. 😉

So, as you may have surmised, one of our homeschool projects as of late has been the rearing of caterpillars. Painted Lady Butterfly larvae, to be exact. Like most modern butterflies, the six little larvae arrived early one morning via FedEx.

Inside their little plastic tub, they raced around on a very thick layer of something akin to bacon grease (minus the smell). We’re still not quite sure what that stuff is, but they ate (and pooped) it voraciously.

With all that digestion going on, they grew by leaps and bounds and now a week and a half later, they have each moved to the chrysalis stage. For those of you who are as ignorant as I when it comes to butterflies, the chrysalis is formed after the caterpillar attaches itself to the top of the container (or a leaf/branch/stem) and then hangs upside down and seems dormant. After a few days, it then “wakes up,” wriggles around fiercely and peels off its caterpillar skin to reveal the smooth chrysalis underneath. 

At any rate, our last guy formed his chrysalis last night, so this morning, we’ve moved them from their container to the flight cage we built.

Despite our careful cleaning of their plastic tub, only half of our brood made it to the chrysalis stage. It was all very sad, but we are hopeful there will be no more casualties.

Since I can see that you are captivated, I’ll keep you posted about these little guys’ progress.

Freak Out

So, the trouble started this morning, and just for the record, it was just a mini freak out and not a full fledged one. Still, it was big enough to build a big old knot of anxiety in my chest.

All was well until I read a headline that read something like, “X Percent of Patients Do Not Know Family’s Cancer History.” The headline plus the fact that I have a physical booked for next week morphed into the thinking that I should request my mom’s medical records from the Cross Cancer Institute, because it seemed to me that they would only keep them for so long. I’m thinking 7 years would be the longest? Well, it’s been nearly four since she passed, so tick tock.

At any rate, I called and am now awaiting the release form by fax, but in the meantime, I was told I’d need copies of her will, etc. etc. So, I went and dug those up (belly crawling across the top of the stacks of tupperware in our crawlspace!) and in doing so came across a photocopy of a “progress note” that was written by her doctor for her medical file. There were lots of dates and details about stages and tumor sizes, etc., but what always hammers home to me is that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38. Prior to that she’d a few benign “lumps and bumps” (technical term), but 38 years old was the age of diagnosis.

I’m 38.

And thus, you see, the freak out.

A calm mind and body prevail now, but I’d like to take this opportunity to remind all my dear friends to take the time to take care of yourselves and practice preventative medicine. You are dear and precious and have loved ones who want you to be here as long as possible. So whether it’s a test or an appointment or whatever, make sure it happens!

I can’t remember when Part I was, but I do know that it was just a few years back and so forgive me if I’m a bit bitter. I’m tired of the phone calls, door knocking and unsightly signs. And I’m beyond tired of the smear campaigns and the finger pointing and foot stomping. Rather, I’m OUTRAGED! I know 3 year olds who behave with more dignity and diplomacy than the “BIG 3”  who insist upon their “I’m better because he’s worse” campaigns!” What a waste of breath, not to mention time and money. GROW UP already!

At any rate, I’ve been out the door and voted already this a.m. I apologize for the mini rant, but I do want to remind you that it is your DUTY to vote. If you can, take your children with you when you do. Show them by POSITIVE example how to be a responsible and democratic citizen so that they can learn to be one too.

When you get back, we can sit down and discuss you’d do if you were PM. The first thing I’d do is stop this campaigning nonsense. If someone wanted to be Prime Minister, well then they’d have better done a stellar job while holding their seat in Parliament and gotten some attention the good, old-fashioned way, because the signs and phone calls and smear campaigns would be gone!

Happy Easter

Easter Bunny