Tag Archives: Kepler

Readin’, Writin,’ and ‘Rithmetic’

Good news on the education front this summer. Kepler and I are working together regularly for significant periods of time and I can see him gaining confidence in his burgeoning reading skills and his developing number skills.

Just wanted to let you all know also that I am getting REALLY good at choosing the rectangle from four different shapes, selecting the correct three-letter word, counting items to put into containers (five balls! nine teddy bears!), and saying the sounds of the letters we are learning.

I may not be able to remember how to do all the punctuation anymore (see the title; I can’t figure out whether Readin’, is right, or Writin,’). But darned if I’m not just as good as they come at phonics, sounding things out, making learning fun, and learning as I teach.

I spent tons of time before the summer researching every curriculum I could find, and I invested in several things. One month in, I am fine with having all those resources, but this one program (Reading Eggs/Math Seeds) is really filling the need very nicely. I am amazed at the balance of variety and consistency in the program, and I am just thrilled that I found this program for Kepler. He loves it and asks me every day to “do Eggs.”

So tonight, instead of rocking out at the 5th and final Chicago U2 concert, which I had imagined I might do, Kepler and I practiced counting backwards from 10 to 1, filled in the missing numbers from 6-10, counted, counted, and counted some more. I daresay Kepler probably appreciates my presence a little more than Bono, Adam, Larry, and Edge would have. And tomorrow I’ll still be able to hear.

Taking Pictures Like Kepler

I don’t know who this stack of people is, but it’s clear this photo is posed. These days, people are getting pretty creative in their portraiture — I guess there’s so much visual noise, we try to be louder than the rest. We’re all snapping photos with our phones all the time these days. But I know when I take photos, I still often pose them, and I also try to make sure I look halfway presentable.

Not Kepler, buddy. He just snaps away, and doesn’t worry about perfection. He actually captures the moment, in all of its mess and glory and reality. So, today, I thought I would share some of his photos with you. Enjoy! By the way, I haven’t edited any of these, in case that’s not evident.


A ball.


Pikachu. One of 85 pictures he took while reading this book.


The special artistic photo of his favorite snack.


from the “tools mommy uses” series


silly selfie at the park.


And, finally, “Quarter by the wall.”

Figuring out the Summer with Kepler


Kepler is currently scheduled to attend a total of 12 half-days of “Extended School Year,” which is a service provided by the school system to keep him in the routine of school, as well as to provide extra academic support for him over the summer. Three of the days will be transition days to the new school (moving up from Primary to Elementary) in August. Those three days will be quite good for him to have.

As for the rest of the days, I’m so torn. I deeply appreciate the services we receive through the school system, but honestly and truly, I want to have this summer with him. We have been working together on his academics and this may be the first time I have ever been so completely enjoying the process with him. I have found a few online resources that he particularly enjoys and I know we can gain momentum by working together every day. If I send him to the ESY classes, we will not be able to get much done on two of the three days each week.

I suppose part of my situation is fear. Somehow I have the idea that if you don’t take advantage of services, they tend to go away. Ultimately, I know there are federal guidelines and probably state and board of education guidelines as well that dictate how services are administered, but I can’t imagine how I would go about finding how which ones of those guidelines affect us. If you read my post yesterday about the bank, maybe you can appreciate that if I find online banking to be tricky to keep up with, understanding the implications and applications of a federal bill might be rather intimidating.

Ever since I heard Alison Armstrong speak about the Queen’s Code, I’ve had a completely different outlook about my life; my responsibilities, my relationships, my possibilities. I find this new outlook to be energizing where I previously experienced these same things as enervating.

James Altucher wrote a recent post called “I Give myself Permission.” James has been a go-to read for me for a couple of years now. After reading that post, and talking through the possibilities with my sister, I have decided that I’m giving myself permission to trust myself in my choice to work with Kepler at home this summer, and have fun going to so many of the fun places in our city. Places where we can walk in nature, swim, see animals, create, and enjoy each day together.

I’m giving myself permission to trust that the resources I need will be there, as they always have been, and permission to say no when I want to, and to say yes when I want to. I am giving myself permission to try this without any guarantees that it is going to turn out any particular way.

I’m giving myself permission to say yes to this little boy throwing his arms around my neck just because. Kisses on my cheek from him throughout the day. Singing songs to him and exploring with him. Giving him my undivided attention as we learn by doing. Yep, my dear school system, you can have him back in two months, but these two months? They’re mine and Kepler’s.   Have a nice summer.

A Field Trip with a Beautiful Boy

After the school field trip, I did some research this afternoon into how to teach Kepler. Two things resonated enough to write down.

Meet the child where he is.

Follow the child.

These are both from a Montessori website which addresses how to use Montessori materials to teach a child with special needs. 

I could leave him to his iPad, or I could take him to the park. One thing I know about him is he thrives on loving attention. Another thing I know about him is he loves to go places. 

Unlike the earlier (school) field trip, on this one, we climbed on rocks in the creek, watched some children who were walking in the creek, played the “drums” on a resonant railing, asked “Brad” and “Breezy” their names and told them ours, met a friendly dog, tried climbing some trees, stopped at the amphitheater and put on shows for each other, and practiced counting as we took turns balance beaming on the concrete parking stops. I basically followed his lead and took advantage of every teachable moment. 

Yes, I can most definitely teach him. It looks different than typical second grade. I’d say he’s about at the developmental age of a 4-5 year old when it comes to what and how he is ready to learn. So there’s a pretty good reason why I have such a struggle with how his school days go. 

I’ll definitely figure it out. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but unhurried exploring is part of it. Laughing and singing will be essential. Jumping. Pretending. Talking together. Holding hands, walking, racing. Touching the world. Trusting my intuition. 

He deserves it. 

A Beautiful Day for a Field Trip

23 little people clad in matching maroon t-shirts line up obediently to get on the big yellow bus that is going to take them to the county park for a fun day! I write a positive blog post about the experience, choosing to focus on the experience from Kepler’s point of view, and the Universe erases my draft to let me know that I should do better than that.


Yes, Kepler did have a great time, and it was a pretty special thing for him that I was along. We played on the playground, took a nature hike, did a scavenger hunt, ate a picnic lunch, and listened to a little presentation about composting and recycling.

It made me miss the days of homeschooling the big kids, and the fun times we had at that very park. Every first day of school, we would go and do the parcourse and take lots of photos. Greg would go, so it would be the whole family, and I would just thrive as we taught them experientially and learned so much. Our nature hikes were a bit different back then, as we would carry a tree identification guide and a bird identification guide, and we would ask lots of questions along the way.

The nature hike today was a walk on the trail from point A to point B, take a few pics of the group, and walk from point B back to point A. Or, in Kepler’s case, ride on mom’s back from point B to point A. Not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t been one of the chaperones!

The scavenger hunt was completely inappropriate for Kepler’s attention and understanding, so we did our own version of it, and spent some time reading a book, and secretly visiting the gift shop and exploring over there.

Good thing I took along a handful of tissues — the pollen today is crazy! So, perhaps this wasn’t my favorite field trip ever, but the humid, sticky bits will fade, while the memories we made today will last forever, or at least a good long while.

If I were Brave

It’s been awhile since I have attended a Sunday morning service at my last church. This place is really top-drawer when it comes to quality of video and music, but I still found myself aggravated within about a minute of the service starting. This place is really directed to twenty-somethings, and the stage is full of young people earnestly singing, playing instruments, and giving the standard Sunday morning routine at this particular church, talking up the upcoming events and how many people they need and how to sign up, and then showing some crash hot stats about the big effects the Financial Peace University has been having on the group members, and finally segueing from there into a time “to be generous, to fuel the life-changes that happen around here” (i.e., give an offering).

Texted my Christian, non-church-going sister and said pray for me to get through this service, sort of tongue in cheek. She reminded me that if I was looking for things to be irritated about, I would most definitely find them, so she encouraged me to focus on whatever good I could see in the service. I agreed and signed off.

Oh, by the way, the reason I was even there is because I wanted Kepler to be able to attend his class, and Greg had left this morning for his next business trip. Either I had to go, or Kepler wouldn’t get to.

So I listened to the message, which was presented by the senior pastor from a place in Israel. (similar to a destination wedding, I suppose). I’m not exactly sure what the theme of the message was today, but I did notice that the call to action was basically to do a brave thing. He mentioned several things, including have a child, and ask a girl out. Although those are the only two I remember, I am not suggesting that his suggestions were frivolous. The main point I came away from it with was that anybody with any beliefs at all could suggest that their listeners be brave and do the brave thing.

The brave thing that came to mind for me is to embrace parenting Kepler like I did parenting the big kids. But I don’t want to. I worked so so so so hard with my older kids, having certain expectations and a clear attachment to the outcome, and all that has happened is that I have had to discover more and more how to allow them to be their own unique individuals, accepting that each of them are on their own journeys, and that their journeys look different than I thought they would.

(Some of my kids occasionally read my blog, and I want to clarify that even though my expectations and attachments to outcome were foiled, I believe that it is a good thing that each of them is on their own journey. I believe it is right that part of my learning is to allow each of them to walk their own path. I an thrilled with the people that they are. I just recognize that there was a just a lot that young mother me did not know.)

I believed back then. I believed that what I was teaching them was right, that homeschooling was a fabulous idea, that church involvement was a pre-requisite for a satisfying, upright life. I believed in black and white back then. I believed I knew what was black and what was white.

I trust the Universe enough to recognize that there are no doubt aspects to embracing parenting Kepler wholeheartedly that would change me for the better, and few that could possibly change me for the worse. But I haven’t figured out my why for this. I guess with the big kids, my why was so unconsciously strong, I never had to stop and think about it much. I believed in self-improvement and perfection, to the detriment of understanding the importance of contributing to the greater good. It sucks pretty much to look back now and think I was lacking in such basic understandings.

There are ways in which parenting Kepler feels like it is something more than I can actually handle on my own. I have no idea how to fight for inclusion for him in the school system. I have no idea how to persevere with teaching a child who learns so much more slowly. I really have no idea how to motivate myself to be enthusiastic about teaching him, to be enthusiastic about trying new and different things to help him learn information. How to continue to set boundaries and enforce them over and over and over and over again.

I might have missed a terribly important window back when he was tiny and I was reeling from his birth. Basically, I think I’m probably just going about this all wrong. But I really don’t know how else to approach it.

No tidy lesson today. No breakthrough yet. Just some honest wrestlings with the circumstances I am in. But I’ll leave you with a song by Jana Stanfield that continues to inspire me, even in the midst of these questions: