Gratitude and Hope

I am feeling a lot of gratitude these days for all the gifts and opportunities I have in my life. As we head into Thanksgiving weekend in the the US, I don’t want the frenzy of sales to overshadow this opportunity to reflect on the Ferguson decision, and critical questions of racism and inequality in the world and what actions we can take.

What I am so grateful for at this moment in time:

beautiful squash volunteers Gifts of Gratitude and Hope
An abundance of volunteers in my garden this year. Photo: J.Pierre Stephens

That I have plenty.

A garden of abundance. I can fill my belly, quench my thirst, keep warm and lay down my head when I need without worry.

That I have choices.

So many choices about how I use my time, how I relate to my loved ones, my community, strangers. I have choices about how I parent and relate to my child, how to learn, what I want to pursue at this point in life and how I want to do it.

That I have support and that I am loved.

I have support of family and friends as I choose. I have support for stepping out and trying new things, for being brave, making mistakes and trying again. I also have support for being silly and imperfect and being me. I know that people love me even when acting overwhelmed and disorganized, making silly poems or wetting my pants from laughing to hard.

That I have opportunities.

I have invitations, people who want too listen to my story, opportunities to share my enthusiasm with my community and via the web, the world. I have so many opportunities to turn strangers into friends and build and add to my network of support and sharing. I have opportunities to make more and new choices.

That I can question.

I can ask hard questions about what is happening in my life, my community and the world. I can safely question the status quo, the powers that be, and the way things have always been done whether in relationships, organizations or any situation. I can question the motives the money and the priorities. I can question the honesty, integrity and accuracy of what I read, hear and see.

That I can take action and that my actions matter.

Day in and day out  with confidence in my support I can determine my priorities, take advantage of my opportunities, and choose to take actions that make a difference for myself and others. I can take small daily actions that can help ensure that other people can enjoy and access these things that I am so grateful for.  I can take actions that promote non-violence in the face of violence.

And my hope?

That I have the wisdom and courage to make the best use of these wonderful gifts and to pass them on. As the Brown family stated,

“Let’s not just make noise, let’s make a difference.”

What are you feeling grateful for? What is your hope? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Thank  you,  Lisa

Here is an article I appreciated with action suggestions and resource links.

How do you raise a reader?

Some parents have asked me how I got Dale to love reading, how did we end up raising a reader?  Looking back, I see that what really made the difference was sharing a love of reading  that began long before thinking about teaching him to read.

How to raise a Reader?

I  vividly remember those dreary rainy days when Dale was two months old and nursing all the time. I had so little sleep and was completely out of my element as a new, older mom. For some reason I thought my babysitting experience and being an older sister had prepared me. Hah!

Our blissful first month with Pierre at home caring for both of us was over. Pierre was just beginning a new phase as an engineer for the state department of water resources as we headed into a wet year. We transitioned from happy daddy at home to stressed daddy learning a new job and having to work way overtime. And I sat in the rocker, staring out the window at the rain, disheveled, overwhelmed, and unwashed; and nursed and nursed and nursed.

One afternoon I used a pillow to help me hold Dale at a level that was more comfortable. Ahh, that felt better, now I could move my other arm. I reached over for the nearest book, a how-to baby book, and started reading aloud from the section on Sleep. “Hah, it says here you are supposed to be sleeping 16 out of your 24 hours. Listen to this…” I continued reading aloud, stumbling over the convoluted sentences, but only got more frustrated as I read about what someone else told me my baby should be doing.

I put that book aside and reached for the next book in the stack. It was a smallish paperback, a mystery. Oh this was much easier to hold. And read. The story was funny and the writing was good. And our mutual love of sharing reading began.   Continue reading

25 Kinds of Writing for Real to Help You Play with Writing

When you are trying to raise a child who loves to write, or kickstart you own writing, you want to have fun with writing. Here is a list of 25 ways to enjoy writing and remember that when it comes to the ABC’s of Learning Beyond SchoolW is for Write.

Are you ready to play around with writing? Try writing a few of these:  Continue reading


How do you raise a writer?

Here is a recent question from a homeschooling mom of a 6 and 8 year old.

“ I think I have the other subjects figured out, but how do I work on writing? They really don’t like writing.”

My take:

First: Relax.

At these ages all you really need to do is have writing be real, meaningful and FUN!!!! Think about playing with writing rather than teaching writing.

One of our favorite ways to play with writing was making clue hunts. Dale loved to find things, so we would hide a treasure and write clues, a little kind of riddle – sometimes they rhymed – that would lead to the treasure. There might only be 5 clues total, each clue leading to the next clue and the final clue leading to the hiding place. I wrote them for him, we wrote them together for friends and family, and as he got older, he could write them for me. I can’t remember if this started as a rainy day game or a way to make having just a few presents seem like more fun. We would hide the birthday cake and party favors, or the breakfast ingredients on easter morning. We used a small basket and hid all the things to go in the basket rather than having it be filled to begin with.

We loved to play with writing riddles, jokes, silly poetry, Haiku, alternate song lyrics, rhymes for inside of cards and letters, and love notes to hide in a lunch or under a pillow.

Second: Stay present.

Focus on thinking about where they are now instead of the future and whether they will ever be writers. Don’t worry about judging and measuring or comparing their writing.

BTW Dale did not like to write when he was in school, and there were times when he hated writing – which usually corresponded to me pushing it in a “you’re not doing it right” way.

Start a daily writing practice that is fun and meaningful: a gratitude journal. You can have a family journal, but there is great power in each person having their own and writing in it once a day as a daily ritual all at the same time.   Continue reading

Class dismissed a film about learning outside the classroom

Review: Class Dismissed: A film about learning outside of the classroom

Go see it.

Host a screening and discussion.

Spread the word.

Not just to promote homeschooling, but to bring the discussion of how to make the best options for learning available to all kids to the community at large.

Options. Choice. Multiple paths.

Not one size fits all.  Continue reading