a new adventure: homeschooling

Shopping for School Supplies

Now that we’re home, we are enjoying our final days of summer before school begins.  This year, along with getting Ace ready for fourth grade, we’re also beginning a new adventure–homeschooling Lucky for Kindergarten. [Read more…]

Goodbye Kindergarten

Well, the year is over. Ace is finished with Kindergarten! I know I say it all the time but I just can’t believe how quickly the time goes. My boy is going to be a first grader!

It’s amazing to look at photos from the beginning of the year until now. He really did grow up right before my eyes. He went from crying every morning to bringing Gaki and his pet rock to school with him to arguing with me that he couldn’t miss school when he was sick because he’d miss out on all the fun.

I’m so grateful for the awesome group of teachers that he had. They made all the difference. Even though it’s still difficult for me to let him go each day, I do find comfort in knowing he’s having a great time and learning so much.

We had a year full of learning and I pray that is the case every year. We both learned a little more about being an Orthodox Christian in a secular world and had the opportunity to share parts of our Faith with people who never heard of the Orthodox church. We grew through little life lessons and mistakes and it was truly wonderful.

That being said…LET SUMMER BEGIN!!

The Gardener

Last week Ace had his first school play. It was just a small play that his class put on for parents and then there was a big lunch for everyone.

He had the opening line and was so nervous about having to be the first one to talk (I would be too, lol) but he did a great job. The entire class did. They all looked so adorable pretending to be little vegetables!

The play was about a gardener who planted an onion and when he went to pull it up to make vegetable soup, it was enormous! So one by one each vegetable called another vegetable to help pull. The vegetables and the gardener pulled and pulled but couldn’t get it to budge until the worm came to help. :)

I can hardly believe that Kindergarten is almost over. I finally begin to adjust and I’ll be dealing with 1st grade soon! Kindergarten has turned out to be wonderful. Ace *loves* it and gets upset if he has to miss a day. He couldn’t wait to go back after Spring break (?!). I am so glad that he loves his teachers and school so much. I don’t know how I would do it if he hated it. They constantly have different field trips and activities going on and I think that makes a big difference. Right now we’re getting ready for the big Spring concert. They go all out for this. The kids record videos and podcasts and put on a performance followed by a dinner for the parents. He’s so excited! Parents can buy the DVD’s afterward, so I’ll be sure to post some of it.

I am beginning to think this will never get easier for me though. My dad said it doesn’t. He said he dreaded us going back to school every year until we graduated. He’s such a gem, isn’t he? I love my parents to pieces. :)

I am really looking forward to the summer even though I know it will fly! Where does the time go? That’s why I try to enjoy every single moment, regardless of how crazy the moment seems at the time. Like this morning when I found Lucky biting off the tip of a glue stick. Is he destined to be the kid who eats paste in Kindergarten? Does paste even still exist?

Sharing St. Basil’s Blessings…

Ace’s class was doing a Christmas around the world project and his teacher asked me to come in and do a project with the class. We had done a fun Thanksgiving craft with beads last month and so she wanted something similar.

So I looked up Christmas traditions in several different countries and we made necklaces with the correlating beads.

I printed this out and gave one to each student:

Learn how to say Merry Christmas in 8 different languages and get a peek into how children from all over the world celebrate Christmas!

Germany: Fröhliche Weihnachten; tan bead for origin of gingerbread and green bead for the origin of the Christmas tree.

Greece:Kala Christouyena; Gold bead for the coin hidden in bread by St. Basil to help the poor without offending them with charity.

Romanian: Sarbatori vesele; bell for the church bells that ring on Christmas morning.

Venezuela:Feliz Navidad; purple bead for tradition of the 12 grapes that they put into their glass symbolizing the 12 days of Christmas. (Dec.26-Jan 6)

Slovakia: Vesele Vianoce; brown bead for potatoes left by St. Nicholas for bad children.

Ukraine: Srozhdestvom Kristovym; white bead for kutya, the traditional pudding made from wheatberries, honey and poppy seeds.Ingredients symbolize hope, happiness, and good sleep.

Slovenia: Vesele Bozicne Praznike Srecno Novo Novo leto; black bead for boots left outside for St. Nicholas to fill with treats.

Ireland: Nollaig Shona Dhuit; yellow bead for the candle they lit in their windows every Christmas Eve to remind us a symbol of welcome to Mary and Joseph as they traveled looking for shelter.

The whole world: glow in the dark star bead for the Star of Bethlehem—the birth of Christ—a light for those in darkness.

I figured they learned plenty about what everyone else believed and should have the opportunity to be reminded of what Christmas was really about. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous that the teacher would inconspicuously hush me in the middle of this (or never ask me to come back after I finished!) but she really loved it.

I also told them the story of St. Basil hiding the gold coins in the bread and brought a Vasilopita for them to share.

The kids waiting to get their piece of Vasilopita!

Look! Someone got it!

The proud winner!

The students and the teachers all loved it! The teachers loved it so much that I made another one and sent it, along with the history behind it, for the teacher’s to cut during their lunch hour. When I went that afternoon to pick him up almost every teacher I passed told me what a beautiful tradition and delicious cake it was. Glory to God! May St. Basil intercede for us!


Keep Christ in CHRISTmas

I am certainly enjoying Ace’s Christmas vacation. Can you tell? It’s been over a week since I’ve posted! So much has happened that I don’t know where to begin.

I guess first thing’s first. Over the years I have signed petitions to put Christ back in schools, to keep Christ in Christmas, etc. However, I never really felt the impact of his absence until last week. We were watching a Christmas movie and Ace announced that he had made a menorah in class that day. He went on to tell us all about Hannukah-oil was supposed to last only a day and it lasted 8; middle candle is called something–I don’t even remember; they cooked potato latkes in class. He also said that Jews believe in Jesus (he thought this because they read a story that stated the Jews believed in the true God). I told him they believe in Him as a person but not as the Son of God.

So I asked him what they did for Christmas. “Did you watch any Christmas movies? Learn anything about the Nativity?”

Well, needless to say I was pretty upset when all he could think of were gingerbread men and Christmas trees. Especially after he told me he watched a Kwanzaa movie and made crafts for that too.

I made sure he understood that we should never be ashamed to say we believe in Jesus and therefore don’t believe in certain things. I reminded him that Christ was not ashamed to be beaten, spat upon and crucified for us–out of His love for us–so we should never be ashamed to confess our faith in Him.

At this point, let me just say that I absolutely adore his teacher(s). She is a Christian woman and I really feel blessed to have him in her class. The next day I was scheduled to volunteer in his class so I figured I would talk with her then.

When I asked her about everything she told me that the state has laid quite a bit of red tape regarding the name of Jesus in schools. She did say they watched the Charlie Brown Christmas movie and she read them The Tale of Three Trees, etc. but other than that there wasn’t much more she could do.

I can’t tell you all the different emotions that I felt that day; sadness, disgust, sympathy…betrayal. I have been so naive with all of this. I just could not (still can’t) wrap my mind around the fact that even the story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus, the Star of Bethlehem and the angels and shepherds and three wise men is not allowed to be told. Not even from a non-religious point of view? I can’t even begin to imagine the frustration a Christian teacher must feel when asked to basically conceal her faith and/or beliefs. This is just mind boggling to me…

I also explained that I don’t have a problem with my child learning about other cultures and what other people believe AS LONG AS the other children receive the same opportunity to learn what my child believes. I also told her that next year I would prefer him not to participate in the other “winter holiday” projects. She was very understanding and even urged me to contact the state, even though they’ve had a ton of opposition, it wouldn’t hurt to voice my opinion. I am certainly going to do just that. I had so much sadness in my heart that even typing this brings tears to my eyes. I simply can’t believe it has come to this.

Kyrie Eleison…

Have any of you with children in public school gone through this? What do you do?

Morning Jitters


Ace went to school today since he’s had no sign of a cold since Saturday. Lucky woke up at around 2 a.m. with a low fever, so I gave him Tylenol and a cold cup of water and put him back to sleep. When he awoke at 7:00 a.m. there was no fever or sniffles! DH is still a little under the weather but not nearly as bad as last night. Thank God! Through the prayers of St. Panteleimon!!

So after they went on their way this morning, I poured myself a cup of coffee and took the biggest slice of pumpkin pie in the plate to eat for breakfast. I made the pie Sunday afternoon–I did cheat and use a pre-made pie crust for the first time, which doesn’t taste half as good as a homemade crust, but considering the type of weekend I had, it served it’s purpose. :)

I am still having a really hard time adjusting to this school thing. It’s just such a difficult transition, does it really get better?

I mean, I really like volunteering and doing all the PTO stuff, he has fabulous teachers and it’s overall just an excellent school but he is still nervous every morning, especially Monday’s and the poor boy has diarrhea from his nerves every morning! (One day he’ll want to kill me for posting that) It seems like no matter how good things are going I still have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about sending him off each morning. On weekends, I feel like I’m borrowing him for a few days and that I have to return him on Monday morning–like a library book or something.

I keep trying to find the silver lining. He is learning a lot already and as nervous as he is in the morning he always says he had a great day when I pick him up in the afternoon. I don’t know which of us is having a more difficult time.

It makes me want to curl up on the couch and watch home videos again…but I promised myself I wouldn’t…maybe I’ll go finish off the rest of the pumpkin pie…

Kindergarten Blues

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve posted but I’ve been sick at home with the Kindergarten blues.

Ace has been having a really tough time adjusting to Kindergarten which means I’ve been having a tough time too. Just knowing that he’s not happy makes me a nervous wreck. Friday was absolutely terrible. He kept begging me to take him home and I tried everything to calm him down. I even told him I’d come to lunch with him if he took his seat and didn’t give his teacher a hard time. (I’d been to lunch every day that week but I wasn’t planning on going that day because I wanted him to sit with his class and get to know some of the kids.) He just kept crying and telling me he wanted to go home with me.

Finally, I pried myself loose from his hugs and tears and the teacher had to practically drag him to his desk. When I peeked in the window his face was in his hands and he was resting his head on his teacher. She is such a sweetheart and it really makes me feel better knowing she cares. She was rubbing his head and his back to help him calm down. That was about all I could take so I bolted for my car, where of course I busted into tears.

Then lunchtime came and I started crying all over again because I knew he was going to be upset when he realized I wasn’t coming for lunch but I told him I would only come if he settled down and went to seat, which obviously he didn’t. As hard as it is sometimes, I can’t reward improper behavior and Ace knows that.

Later that day when I picked him up from school the first thing he asked was, “Why didn’t you come to lunch? I sat at a table by myself the whole time waiting for you and I was so nervous I couldn’t eat all my lunch.”

I felt like the worst mother in the world.

However, on Monday when he started to cry I told him if he cried like that again I wouldn’t come to lunch again and he stopped immediately and I know if I would’ve showed up Friday, he would have been hysterical again. He was still sniffling and crying a bit but he was really trying hard to keep it together. He went into class to start putting his things away but then he ran out and asked if I’d bring Gaki when I came for lunch. Gaki has been at school with him everyday so far but I made him leave him home on Monday. So I promised I would and then he walked back into his classroom sniffling a little.

As I was leaving one of the parents introduced herself to me and told me that she sat with Ace for a few minutes on Friday.

“He was so worried what about you, we didn’t know what happened,” she told me.

I explained the situation to her and then she said, “Oh good, you’re forgiven then. We thought you just didn’t show up.”

Ummm…thanks. I think. And by the way who is ‘we’? We thought you just didn’t show up? So I wondered who else thought I was a terrible mother. Oh well, sometimes in order for our children to learn we have to teach them lessons. Tough love, as they say. No one will know that I cried harder than he did during that 45-minute lunch period.

Each day has been getting better, there are less tears and a little bit more excitement. He has been coming home all week and playing school, which I’m thinking is a pretty good sign. Every morning he still reminds me 100x to pray for him and he asks how to get rid of the ‘nervous bugs’.

His teacher has asked me to volunteer in a couple weeks and when she announced it to the class he got really excited. I explained to him that the better he behaved the more they’ll ask me to come. They can’t ask parents to come if they know their child will cry every time they leave.

Hopefully by next week he (we) will be adjusted and things will fall into place. We’ve got our first PTO meeting coming up and they have a lot of fun parties and field trips scheduled too and I’m hoping that makes a difference.

Lucky and I have been spending more time doing puzzles and snuggling up to read his favorite books during the day. I’m glad to be able to give him more one-on-one time and his hugs and kisses let me know that he likes it too. So, even though this is a big transition for all of us, things will work out great. We just have to be patient.

I’ve always thought it was so difficult for kids to adjust to school–I just never realized how difficult it is for their parents!! Please keep us in your prayers!