Back to school.

We have been back at it for a couple of weeks now.

I can honestly say that as I begin my 4th year of homeschooling, this is the first time I have felt confident and non-anxious about school.

If you are new to homeschool I want to just give you a shout out to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON!  I was a wreck for the first two years. I compared myself to every other homeschool mom I talked to. I compared my kids to every other homeschool kid I saw.  I battled discouragement and self-doubt. I sat online every Monday searching for jobs and for private schools.

Think you’re not smart enough?  Nonsense.

Think you’re not patient enough? Breathe, smile and count to 10.

Think you are not organized enough? We are all in process.

I remind myself everyday that I have been given a gift, three to be exact. I finally stopped fighting my own insecurities, and started celebrating my strengths. I finally took my eyes off of what everyone else is doing, and turned my heart toward what is right for us.

Back to school: Back to simplicity. Back to focus. Back to schedule. Back to one day at a time, one morning at a time. Back to one breath at a time.

Just finished the list for Book Circle, Spring 2014!

We are getting started a little bit late this spring, mainly because my girls and I meet outdoors and this winter has been COLD! Essentially, we only have 8 weeks for book circle, but I am excited to see how many of these great reads we get through!

Each semester carries a loose theme. Last Fall, we read about girls from different parts of the world who overcame obstacles of loss, transition and family crises.  This spring, we are coming back home to the US, and looking at the lives of girls from early 1900’s through the Depression Era.  Throwing in Because of Winn Dixie, which occurs a few decades later, because I try to make it a point each semester to throw in a story about a girl and her animal friend 🙂

So here it is! A big thanks to for always guiding me toward the best finds for us!

Moon over Manifest   Image 8   Out of the Dust   Image 4

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry   Image 7   Because of Winn Dixie   Screen Shot 2013-08-22 at 2.40.24 PM

May B. A Novel   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.47.42 PM   Counting on Grace   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 4.48.11 PM

And last but not least, I found this little GEM today as I was looking for Depression Era content.  Dalhart TX is my home town! My parents and grandparents grew up there. I was stunned when I saw this!  Even if I don’t get to it for Book Circle, I am definitely going to read it with my daughter.  Then send a copy to my family members.

Survival in the Storm   Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 3.17.41 PM

YOGA: Kundalini Kids!

Yoga with Kids3 times a week, the children and I rise and meet one another in the living room or outside for morning yoga and meditation.  Last Thursday, we invited other children to join us. It was so much fun!  9 children ranging from 2 to 12. The energy in the room was precious and pure.

Here is a glimpse of what we do to get our chest, spine and brain activated in the mornings before school!

We are Alexanders, we are learners.

My focus lately has been on family axioms, values and virtues that we overtly speak over our children describing the kind of people we are (ahem, suppose to be.) Call it a motto, maxim, adage, rallying cry….

On my post We are Alexanders, I describe what I mean by this, and list out many of the axioms we say day-in and day-out.

Today I am focusing on “we are learners”. This one is a tremendous parenting value for me. I am a learner, I was raised by learners, and I am married to a learner, so naturally I hope to impart this quality into the hearts of my children.

By learner do I mean over-edumacated academic elite? Heavens no. In fact, I agree with Albert Einstein who said, “It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

This world has so much to teach us.

Culture, nature, myth, math, history, technology, poetry, politics, physics, linguistics, economics…shall I go on? How could we ever imagine that we are done learning as soon as we finish our educational requirements? One thing I admire about my dad, is that at age 66, the man aspires to learn something new everyday. Never assuming he has all the answers, he ask good questions. He reads, he studies, he works hard to keep up with the inexhaustible pace of technology.

There is always something to learn from this bountiful planet. Project-based homeschooling works well for us, because it is designed to help kids pursue the things they are passionate about learning. But weather you homeschool or not: Does your child have a favorite food?  Trace the origin and historical preparation of that food. Discover how that food is prepared today, here in America. (disclaimer – your child may not like what she/he discovers). Did your child get a letter from grandma?  Outline the process of how we send and receive mail. Take the kids to the US Postal office and ask for a tour! Did your kids witness the dogs procreating?!?! Talk to them about the reproductive system of animals and allow them to follow the process out all the way through birth, infancy and independence.  There is so much to learn each day. We need only to open our eyes and pay attention! Life is our Guru. Earth is our hands-on instructor. History is our counselor. Get out there and let your curiosity lead you!

People have so much to teach us.

Do you think you have it all figured out? You don’t.  Your experience or degree make you an expert? Nope. Feel like you really have a handle on things? Guess again. Don’t assume that you know the perception of a Republican or the viewpoint of a Democrat until you share a meal with one.  Don’t expect to tell a teenager what they should do before you embrace them and listen to their heart. Don’t judge a buddhist until you are willing to sit quietly and let them share the experience of their faith journey.

Ok, I am no expert – but here are a few suggestions for us about how to lovingly approach people:

  1. Ask good questions.  Before my husband goes into a group meeting or a one-on-one coffee, I always remind him to ask good questions.  He grins and replies, “I know, I know, don’t talk too much….”  He is joking, but always comes home and reports the success of simply listening and asking good questions.  Not only do we learn so much more about the other person, but we come away nourished because listening is receiving – and our souls love that.
  2. Don’t give advice unless someone specifically asks you for it.  Over and over I hear people discharging dogma like an M2 machine gun (yea, I totally googled that). I want to stand up and shout, “NO ONE ASKED YOU FOR YOUR OPINION!” Although it is difficult to sit and listen and keep your mouth shut and ears open, please, for the love of all things vulnerable and tender – – please wait until you are asked before doling out your answers to life’s questions.
  3. Approach every conversation as an opportunity to learn. Every person you meet has a unique story. Try to engage them in that story. Strive to understand their perspective.  Think of your friends (and even random people you meet on the street) as mentors.  My friend Heather mentors me in self-dicipline. My friend Anna mentors me in a healthy lifestyle in regard to food and movement. My friend Laura mentors me in intentionality with children….and so on.  Every person in our lives has something to offer, something to teach us. So let’s tap into that wisdom.

We are Alexanders, we are learners. It’s an important message to my children to ALWAYS look for learning moments – every outing, every activity, every project, every movie they watch, every book they read. With every person they encounter, with one another, with home schoolers, with public schoolers, with babies, with elders, and with Mr. Henry – the mail carrier.

I must go now, because my friend is teaching me how to make organic apple muffins.

IMG_8541 IMG_5370 IMG_7873 IMG_8538 IMG_7692 IMG_7538 IMG_7596 IMG_7629


Everything yes – unless of course, harm.
Yes, only when and as long as.
No hinders, haults creativity.
No stifles, sabotages confidence.
So, yes.
The answer is yes.
Examine all angles, exhaust all possibilities with wild imagination.
Now, how?


One of my goals in coaching my children is helping them problem solve. Push through to the next level to find solutions. How can we help our children be problem-solvers if we are always taking the easy route of saying (or barking with furrowed brow) NO!
Rather, the higher road is to word our correction in a way that encourages free thought and exploration of ideas. Does this take more work? Yes. Do we still provide consistent boundaries for children?
The answer is yes. Now, how?


Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 10.55.14 AMMy kids and I watch Ted Talk vids together fairly often. I like to push them to think creatively and find mentors and heroes out there beyond Alabama, USA. We loved listening to this guy. I am sure you have seen it, but if not – – take 10 minutes to watch it with the kids.

Click here to watch the YouTube video.

He inspires my kids explore how they can take control of their own education. He inspires us all as we continue on our journey toward Project Based Homeschooling.

My favorite segment of the talk, is when he is describing the qualities of a happy, healthy life.  Isn’t that what we are trying to do sisters and brothers?  Raise happy, healthy kids?Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 10.51.56 AM

Raising Problem Solvers

Often, I feel less than qualified as a homeschool mom….

However, one thing I do well, is to prioritize raising up problem solvers. I make it my goal each day and long-term, to teach my children to push through problems toward multiple solutions. Regularly, they hear the words, “How can we problem-solve this?” And, “What are some solutions we could come up with for this situation?” You see, I believe that problem solving is a learned skill, not some magical gift that one day just falls upon us.

When I look at the young adults I interact with day to day in the service industry, I realize that so many have a difficult time solving even the simplest issues. I thrive on finding opportunities to help people push through the struggles they may face – whether with a receipt or an exchange, a substitution at a restaurant or ordering something off menu. When a service associate tells me, “I can’t”, the hairs on the back of my neck bristle, and I move in for my teaching moment. Don’t worry, I am always kind about it. But I do enjoy coaching people into the next solution!

Throughout our school day, we often refer to our educational mission, which is hanging in our school room:

We ARE energetic self-starters, who can be creative, work independently, and SOLVE PROBLEMS.

Educational MantraIn any industry, not just the service industry, these are most often the qualities that help a person thrive and experience success in their work. Of course it is not an exhaustive list, but rather a list of building blocks. For my family, we are laying a foundation for a solution-oriented approach to work and learning.

What are some of the building blocks you might add to this list?  Or would you scrap the whole thing and go a different direction?  Are there skills you find yourself revisiting over and over?