9-10-14 to 9-14-14

Where do the days go?

Wednesday 9-10-14

I’m starting to get my running mojo back. I decided to run up Mt. Holyoke and then hike my way back down. I ran up the access road to the top rather than the trail because I am still being over cautious about injury. It was an awesome feeling making it to the top. It’s not a huge climb and only about 1.65 miles to the top, but it really gets the heart pumping. I took in the view from the top and then strolled down the trails for a total of 3.15 miles.

Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke
Panoramic from the top of Mt. Holyoke

I practiced a little trail running on flat stretches of trail. It was a leisurely hike down. As I was getting close to my car I greeted an older man who was walking his little furry white dog. The dog was bounding along quite happily. We said hello and then the man informed me that 6 months ago the dog was paralyzed! I said well she’s made a remarkable recovery and now I can tell you all about the dog, the man’s daughter who lives in Maine, his workout schedule, etc. People love to share their stories with me! This summer at our favorite little local lake, Carlos ran into a friend from school. When I walked down the small beach to get him to go home I met his friend’s grandmother and her friend. The grandmother’s friend suddenly began explaining that she was wearing a big floppy beach hat because she was in menopause and taking hormones and didn’t want to get a sunburn. I learned all about her daughter who was a new Chemistry teacher and more about menopause. It’s amazing what people will share!

Later in the afternoon I had a phone call to make and I was doing some computer work at a coffee shop near the bike trail. It was a gorgeous day out so I decided to walk and talk. I was surprised that I ended up walking 4.35 miles. I moved for a total of 7.5 miles.

Thursday 9-11-14

I have been itching to do a long run, something more than 5 miles. I had plans to run with my friend Kate, the one I will be running with in the Baystate Half Marathon next month. However, things didn’t work out quite as planned. I left the house and decided to run in her direction. I ran 4.47 miles before meeting up with her as she got delayed by a couple of unplanned issues. We then did some hill work and a mini boot camp of lunges, squats and tricep dips. The weather was really undecided, it was grey and gloomy, but a bit muggy and breezy. Rain was imminent and of course as we headed back to do more hill work it began raining. We decided to just get back on the road and run to my house. Luckily the rain fizzled out.  I ran another 4.04 miles for a total of 8.51 miles!

Back at my house we indulged in a little homemade facial. I made a face scrub out of almond oil and coconut sugar which smells divine! We cleansed our faces with my new Beauty Counter cleanser and then did the scrub. My skin felt so nice and smooth!

Little known fact…I really wanted to be an esthetician when I was in high school. I used to practice doing facials on my friends and family. I was so interested in it my mom took me to the Elizabeth Grady School in Boston for a tour and informational session. Of course once my friends started looking into colleges I wanted to do the same. I am still interested in skin care, but these days I am more interested in how to care for the skin as naturally as possible by eliminating chemically laden products in exchange for more natural organic remedies. Something tells me at some point my career path might come full circle.

Friday 9-12-14

I have been itching to get back into strength training. I hit the gym after bringing Carlos to school. I didn’t have much time, but managed to fit in a good 45 minute session including a quick warm up on the bike. I am aiming for one day a week at the gym.

Later I met my oldest and dearest childhood friend for lunch. It was a belated birthday lunch for me. It’s always nice to catch up with her as we don’t see each other too often. She is a busy nurse practitioner with 4 sons! She had 3 of her boys long before I had Carlos. As kids we used to talk about how we would live next door to each other in California and have children at the same time. Well by the time I got pregnant with Carlos I figured that dream was long gone. Ironically she got pregnant a few months later with her fourth son. Carlos and Domenic are great friends and although they don’t see each other often they act as though no time has passed when they do get together just like their moms. Now I just have to figure out how we are going to live next door to each other in California!

Saturday 9-13-14

I brought Carlos to soccer practice in the morning and went for a run while he was there. It was a really enjoyable 4.36 mile run. After practice we went home so I could shower. We picked up our farm share, went to Barnes & Noble to pick up a gift card for a birthday party that afternoon and back home for lunch.

The birthday party was for one of Carlos’ new school friends. He loves to dance and takes dance lessons. His mom said he really wanted a dance birthday party so the studio let him have the party there. The two dance instructors spent about a half hour teaching the group of kids a short dance to one of the songs in the most recent Muppets movie. Then the kids performed the dance for us. They had cake and ice cream in the lobby area before going back into the dance room for another performance. The dance instructors put other music on and led the kids in a little freestyle dance party. It was nice to see the boys participating too and having so much fun. My husband is a great dancer and Carlos has inherited the natural rhythm that every Mozambican boy seems to be born with thankfully!

Sunday 9-14-14

I ran 4.40 miles at my happy place, Ashley Reservoir, for a much needed run after work. At home I whipped up my favorite black bean and corn salad for an afternoon barbecue. Carlos had skating at 11:30. At 1:30 all went to the barbecue at the house of one of his class mates later in the afternoon. This new school is very small. There is a strong sense of community. This family invited the entire class over to get to know the families. The teacher and one teaching assistant also came. It was a beautiful afternoon. There was tons of homemade food. The company was enjoyable. It was so nice to chat with everyone, get to know the parents and kids a little better and make ourselves more visible. Carlos is settling in very nicely and we are beyond thrilled with the transformation we have seen in him in the short time he’s been back at school.

We love Montessori and what it is doing for Carlos, but we are quickly becoming aware that not everyone shares our enthusiasm. At soccer practice a boy from Carlos’ old school told him that his mom won’t let him go to Montessori because they let you learn whatever you want to and that’s not right. There have also been a few quips made to me by parents about the lack of structure in a Montessori classroom. I don’t say too much other than to encourage people to visit a Montessori school before criticizing. I tend to preface any discussion about Carlos’ new school with, “Montessori school is not appropriate for all children, but it is a great fit for Carlos.”

So how was your week/weekend?

 

9/2/14

I’m off to a great start today. I dropped Carlos off at school. I vacuumed my car and cleaned the inside. There is just something refreshing about a clean car. Then I ran to Trader Joe’s for a few things to complete my grocery list for the week. I planned my route accordingly so I could run on a bike trail near Trader Joe’s. It was almost 9 o’clock by the time I got there and it was already hot and humid. I’m waiting for you fall!

I hit the trail for a 4 mile run and I felt amazing. My legs were finally acting they knew what to do. My breathing felt great. I ran along at what felt like a slightly speedier pace than what I’ve been running and smiled the entire way. It was an awesome run. After that I browsed around Bed Bath and Beyond for some toiletry organizers. Boy is it easy to lose track of time in there! I found a few things, drove home and immediately threw two pots of water on the stove, one for quinoa, the other for brown rice. I just zipped off a couple of emails and now I’m writing this post.

Today is Carlos’ first full day of school. He had two half days last week to get acclimated which was helpful as he transferred to a new school for 2nd grade. Last winter it became apparent that Carlos needed a different learning environment. I had decided that if we were unable to find another school to meet his needs then I would home school. Prior to becoming a nurse I was a teacher. I was confident that I could learn the ropes of home schooling and reignite Carlos’ love of learning.

Carlos is inquisitive. He loves to explore a variety of subjects. He learns quickly and retains an astonishing amount of information. He is imaginative and creative. He reads at an advanced level. He is bright, not brilliant or a genius, but clearly intelligent. Education is very important in our home. As first grade progressed he was coming home increasingly more frustrated. He finally said what I had suspected, “I’m bored.” I think I’m to blame in part. Whenever Carlos gets interested in something we allow him to explore it in depth. For example he had fascination with Benedict Arnold last fall. We found documentary type videos, stories geared toward children and historical facts. He soaked it up and that led to more questions about the Revolutionary War, George Washington, etc. We found answers to his questions if we didn’t know the answers.

His boredom was compounded by the fact that his school had limited facilities for indoor gym and recess which only led to more aggravation during the long cold winter. The outdoor playground was a parking lot and by the year’s end kids were so restricted that they could simply walk around and talk to each other. Kids need to run and play during the day. The kids were discouraged from taking books out of the school library. Spanish class was little more than coloring and watching movies in English (yes that’s right!). Despite a small class of only 13 students the teacher told me personally that they were a difficult group to manage. Carlos began coming home with headaches because of the constant yelling his teacher was doing to discipline the class. I’ve known these kids for the last four years and I find it very hard to believe that an experienced first grade teacher would have any trouble laying down the law from day one. Her major complaint was that the kids talked too much. I’m sure Carlos did his share of talking, but he was not a behavioral problem. Carlos’ teacher abruptly retired at the end of the school year prompting thoughts that perhaps she had some personal issues going on which made it difficult for her at school.

By February I began exploring other options and after visiting a Montessori school I knew immediately that Carlos would be a perfect fit for the school. Carlos spent the day at the school back in June and loved it. He was beaming when I picked him up and wanted to go back the next day. The feedback we received about his visit was so encouraging and made it an easy decision. Carlos acknowledged that although he would miss his friends he really wanted to attend Montessori in the fall. This was a positive sign that we were making the right decision.

Last Thursday he was quiet on the way to school. He was excited, but appropriately nervous. I walked him to the play area where they spend the first 15 minutes before heading into the building and I waited until he found another boy his age. He turned and said goodbye, gave me a quick hug and off he went.

I couldn’t wait to pick him up that day. I saw the director of admissions when I got to the school and she told me that she had seen Carlos midday and he told her it was the best school day ever!! Carlos got in the car shortly after and was a bundle of excited energy. He talked nonstop on the way home about his day. This, in and of itself, was a miracle because most days over the last year he would simply grunt “fine” in reply to my question “how was your day?”

Carlos couldn’t wait to go to school on Friday. It was another great day. Carlos even said to me this weekend, “I wish there were no weekends now so I could go to school everyday!”

So what is so magical about this new school. Well these are the things Carlos loves the most:

  • When you are finished with your assignment you move on to something else.
  • If you have to go to the bathroom you are allowed to go without asking the teacher.
  • Snack is provided by the school and children are able to eat it when they are hungry rather than all together at a designated time.
  • The playground is amazing!
  • No assigned seating, no desks and the freedom to move around the classroom.
  • Mali, the school dog.

Things I love the most:

  • The huge smile on Carlos’ face when he talks about school.
  • The environment. The school is newly built and looks like a large home. It’s calm, bright, clean and inviting.
  • The school’s commitment to giving back to the community.
  • That independence is valued and children learn to problem solve.

Prior to this experience I knew very little about Montessori, but I’ve since read a bit about Dr. Maria Montessori. Her story alone is fascinating. What drew me towards a Montessori school for Carlos is that it encompasses the whole person. Montessori is much more a way of life than an educational philosophy. Dr. Montessori developed her program through observation of young children. Though the children operate with a certain sense of independence it is within an environment specially designed for them and prepared to meet them where they are at individually.

Some think of Montessori and think disorder, but actually it is quite the opposite. Children learn that everything has a place and they are taught to respect and care for their environment. In my brief time at the school I witnessed a rhythmic flow of activity where the children seemed to know what they needed to do without being told. There was peace, quiet and calm. Carlos’ teacher, known as a guide, is genuinely kind, caring and clearly enjoys what she is doing. She is soft spoken yet in a very understated manner she is in control of her classroom. There is a mutual respect throughout the school.

A Montessori school may not serve well for every child though I am inclined to believe that some of the principles might just be worth giving a try in mainstream classrooms.

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” Dr. Maria Montessori