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I am a home schooling mom to three amazing kiddos.  We primarily use the Montessori pedagogy to guide our journey.  We also enjoy aspects of classical education and are part of Classical Conversations community. 

I write a Montessori column for Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

I am still a geek at heart and at times miss my former career as an Information Architect/SharePoint Specialist.  I don't have much free time but if I do, it is spent on comic books and video games.
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First Day of Classical Conversations

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Yesterday marked our first day with our Classical Conversations community.  I've gone back and forth as to whether I should share the real version or the "Internet pretty" one.  I think I've settled on the former.  I've been challenging myself to be more honest about homeschooling.  As with anything worth doing, the great moments come with a heavy dose of crazy from time to time.

The day began with no more than four hours of sleep underneath me.  I find that's the best way to ensure my emotions will spiral wildly out of control.  While our CC Community offers a nursery for children ages 3 and under, we all agreed that it wouldn't be a good arrangement for a severe hemophiliac with a long list of life-threatening food allergies.  We were abundantly blessed when we secured a fantastic nanny that was willing to watch him, medical issues and all.  At about 8:00 PM the night before, I realized my home was nowhere near nanny-worthy.

And for those unfamiliar with CC, the program is designed at equipping parents.  It is not a co-op.  Parents are expected to attend with their children.

The morning wasn't that terrible.  Everyone was up at a good time and relatively excited.  Elora and William are capable of completing morning routines without me.  Our nanny arrived, and she immediately put me at ease.  As I began piling everyone into the mom-mobile, I suddenly wished I hadn't opted for 15 minutes of extra snooze time.

And here's another place where I have to give a kudos to Classical Conversations.  Instead of having me buy a smattering of random supplies for each child and dragging them to class each week, I pay an annual supply fee.  I'm not used to leaving the house with kids and nothing but a purse.

We pulled out of the driveway with just enough time provided I drove, um, purposefully.  As it turns out, it was the first day of a major change to our interstate system.  I wasn't concerned since it was not directly on our route.  Well, apparently all the diverted traffic was.  Yep, we were going to be late on the first day with a director who reiterated 9:00 AM SHARP more times than I could count.

As we made our way downstairs to the gathering area, I heard the meeting in progress and froze before turning the corner.  My extreme introversion washed over me, and I began slipping into a flight or fight state.

To make a long story short, I ended up calling my husband.  After 14 years of marriage, he's used to my brand of crazy.  He listened patiently as I said I was leaving, never to come back.  He reminded me why this was important to our family and how much he appreciates all that I do for the children.  I pretended like his words didn't matter but deep down, we both knew I was just getting it out of my system.

We stayed out of sight and listened to the rest of the opening community meeting.  In some ways it worked out well since both had to use the restroom within 5 minutes of arriving.  I regrouped enough to deliver my children to their classrooms.  Elora couldn't have been more excited.  I had to drag William into his classroom, although he warmed up quickly.  I chose to stay with William initially, although I spent time moving between each class.

The eager pupil.
Less than an hour from our arrival my phone rang.  Lockelan had hives on his legs.  I already liked our nanny, but this moment made me love her.  One of my greatest fears with leaving Lockelan is that I won't get a call with the minor things.  With food allergies, what appears minor can turn severe in a heartbeat.  We talked through the details until I was convinced it was nothing to be overly concerned about.

I must have worn all my fear and frustrations on my face because our director stopped me out in the hallway to ask if I was OK.  I shared a little without unloading.  She told me it would be OK and that no one expects me to be perfect.  I'm not used to being pursued in such a manner so I already appreciate the community aspect of our meetings.

The majority of the class time was spent reviewing our memory work for the week.  It took a lot of effort to keep William focused, but that seems to be the norm for his class.  Elora appeared to enjoy every second.  Both classes used songs and hand motions to enhance the memorization.

At first he was like...
But then he was...
When snack time rolled around it was time to begin presentations.  All participants give an oral presentation every week, which is one of the aspects about the program that I adore.  I slipped into Elora's room to watch her.  The theme this week was to introduce yourself and tell three things that are unique.  Elora blew me away.  She made good eye contact, speaking clearly and concisely.  To my surprise, she chose to focus on her monthly infusions.  She talked about all the places she gets poked and how it hurts.  She also took questions from the audience as well.  As proud as I was of the delivery, the content made me tear up.  Is this really all that she sees unique about herself?  JA robs her of so much.

I pulled myself back together and returned to William's class so I could see him present.  I was surprised when he volunteered to go second.  He also had a fantastic delivery.  He started with his name and began talking about his baby at home that was "cute and adorable".  And of course, he starting talking about "memaphilia".  He even mentioned Elora's "memaphilia" and how blood comes out of her nose a lot.  It didn't hit me as hard as Elora's, but it still makes me wonder if our family has any identity outside of our medical issues.  You know, because I need something else to feel guilty about.

After presentation time, we went outside for our science experiments.  We formed a hypothesis about whether something would become warmer in the shade or in the sun.  We also discovered how satellites that fly above the Earth at the equator appear to be holding still even though they are moving much faster than the Earth's rotation.

Our last activity of the day was fine art.  We are studying drawing for the next six weeks.  We learned the basic elements of shape.  William made an undefined masterpiece which he wrote his name on.  Elora made a deciduous and a coniferous forest, which she also called a "girl forest" and "boy forest".

After we helped the kids clean the room, we headed downstairs for lunch.  Our director is amazing.  She gives families the opportunity to purchase a homemade meal.  Being able to walk out the door without packing three lunches is worth every penny.  Not only that but the food is amazing.  We had baked ziti and a salad.  We were all thrilled with the cheesy goodness, given the bans on dairy within our home.  I also love our director's methods for building the community.  Lunch seating is assigned, and it rotates weekly to ensure you meet everyone.

After lunch, we walked 20+ kids to a nearby park.  The kids were thrilled!  They had a blast running around with their new friends.  From there we headed home.  We all enjoyed the experience.  Despite the roller coaster of emotions, I'm excited to go back next week.  I think Classical Conversations is going to live up to my expectations.  The icing on the cake was returning home to find that Lockelan had a good day as well.  The nanny took him on a 90 minute walk.  There is nothing he enjoys more than being outside.

William with the older boys (not pictured).  He loved every minute of it.
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