How To Homeschool: Our First Week Experience

 

Our decision to homeschool did not receive the warmest of reception by all of our closest friends. Our immediate family (parents) supported or choice, while others scoffed at thought of us becoming teachers, with no formal teaching degree. Even when we showed them the curriculum and explained the steps, we were met with ignoring responses or just the good old “oh, okay.”. I guess it’s better to say nothing if you can’t say anything nice. Essentially we celebrated this special decision with ourselves.

Did it make us a little conscious of our decision? Yes.
Do we regret it? Not one bit.

 

Coincidentally, a video from the motivational speaker Prince Ea found it’s way on to my feed shortly after we had gotten all the paperwork finalized. It beautifully put in to words how we felt about traditional schooling, you can watch it here. The thing is, in addition to wanting to explore more together as a family, we were not satisfied with the stress that traditional school comes with, which you can read more about in my previous post Why We’ve Decided to Homeschool Our Kid(s). There’s clearly an issue if the second leading cause of death with children ages 10-14 is suicide.

As for his social needs, we are connecting with other homeschooling and world schooling families as well as his extra-curricular activities.

Now for how we got started with homeschooling/Worldschooling. We are currently in the state of California, so we had to follow California law and file the correct paperwork to declare Brian officially enrolled in a homeschooling program. There are a couple ways to do this, but we decided to go with a private school that handles the administrative work and follows up on the legalities but allows us too choose our own curriculum and schedule. It cost us a total of $400 to enroll into the private umbrella school.

The curriculum we use is Time4Learning.  While it isn’t perfect, we are very satisfied with the curriculum and it’s pacing (self-paced). We are also able to adjust the lesson planner. We supplement extra science with a third grade level textbook that we found online. For Language Arts we also supplement personally picked poems to critically assess together, this week it was Langston Hughes’ I, Too, America. If there are ever things we feel we need to work more on, we can just pause on the computer and use notebooks, a whiteboard, etc. to further dissect a subject.

Time management. My husband and I agreed that 4.5 hours a day/4 days a week is what would work best. We try to start anywhere from 8am-10am. We break up “school time” in 1-hour to 1-hour and a half increments. We’ve found the best way to go about this is to set a block of 5-6 hours aside to commit to his schoolwork. So we don’t have specific times or blocks for each subject (ie: at 2pm-3pm we will work on social studies) we just get what we have to get done. If we notice his focus is off we step away from the work take 10-15 minutes to shake it out and jump back in.

 

I keep a log of his daily work which and add very detailed notes. I specify what was taught/learned for each subject area. If we feel he needs more work in an area we spend the first 15 minutes during that subject time revisiting until we feel it’s mastered, if it’s a broad subject or a subject that will take time we note how much time was spent on it for that day and continue on with no “due date”. The great part is that we can move on when we feel it’s mastered, and if we get behind it’s okay because it’s all self-paced.

As mentioned above we are keeping it at 4 days a week, Monday-Thursday, However, because of labor day we concluded our week today, Friday. We rounded the week off with a nature walk field trip on the backside of Runyon. We plan to do 2-3 physical activity/nature walk/field trips more often. Next week, we will start implementing more of the arts into our curriculum and integrate it with social studies and language arts. I won’t be doing weekly updates but perhaps every month or few I’ll update everyone on our experiences thus far.

Should I Let My Child Play FortNite?

FortNite has been a pop-culture phenomenon for the last couple months, in my household specifically, it’s been since February 2018. A frequent question I see so often in mommy groups is whether they should allow their child to play FortNite. Usually the question is followed by a lot of misinformation. Before I continue, I want parents reading this to know that each child is different and it’s up to you to use your judgement. Personally, my 8-year-old son plays,  and my husband and I even as a squad and try to get a victory royale together. So as both a mother and actual FortNite player I want to share this information.

1. The genre of game is not First-Person Shooter, it is Battle Royale, which is a style of game where 100 players get dropped on an island to be the last one standing (or ones if you’re playing squads/duos).  In FortNite, you are also outrunning a storm. There is shooting and weaponry involved. The difference is literal viewing/perspective. In a First-Person Shooter you are seeing it as if you are the shooter. In battle royale you are controlling a character and viewing your character.

2. Theres NO GORE. Not a single drop of blood, no graphic injury, no gasping for life. There’s far more gore in a Marvel or Star Wars movie. While again, every parent is entitled to make their decisions for the kids I personally, find it hypocritical to allow blood and gore in films and shows but criticize a game with none.

3. But what about all the kids who are getting addicted? Yes, I heard the story about the mom who turned the wi-fi off because her kid got up at 4am in the morning to play FortNite. First and foremost, people need to recognize addiction as a mental illness. Addiction doesn’t just happen. Someone with an addictive personality is going to become addicted to SOMETHING, if you choose to not have it be FortNite it can/will be something else.  Boundaries and children not respecting those boundaries is not necessarily the same as an addiction. Can this game create addiction? No, again that’s something already there. Can it trigger it? YES. If your child has exhibited behaviors of an addictive personality, it’s probably best to not let them play this game.

4. The violence. The biggest turn off for most parents is the violent content of the game. Common Sense Media critics cite 13+, parents cite 11+, kids say 10+. Yes, your child will learn the names of different types of guns and grenades, if that’s an issue then don’t let them play.  As stated before there is no gore, injury, etc. When you are eliminated a hover thing comes above and teleports you back into the lobby. As violent as the game is, it’s also silly. One of the harvesting tools for materials is a pink and green balloon that squeaks when you hack away at a tree or stack of wood pallets.

5. The game offers a lot of discussion topics. If your child is not ready to handle certain discussions, it’s probably best to stay away.  Topics include: Gun Violence (why they are wrong in the real world), Gun safety (differences between handling a gun in a game and in real life — should they ever come across one) EMOTIONAL CONTROL, camaraderie and team work, etc.

Another note, chatting in the game is optional. You can turn it off so your kids aren’t talking to people and they are not talking back. On Xbox you can create parties that are for kids only, no swearing, etc. My husband and I play FortNite with our 8-year-old. It has offered us an additional activity for family bonding. We’ve personally discussed gun violence and why it’s wrong, and to our surprise last school year he wrote a poem about how gun ownership is bad in the real world. One thing we’re able to openly discuss is emotional control, often times when he is playing alone he can become frustrated to where we ask him to put the controller down/turn the game off and breathe.

Choosing to Homeschool our kid(s)

image1 2What comes to mind when you think of a homeschooling family? A religious cult-like family that wants to teach creationism and argues against evolution? Maybe it’s some hippie non-vaccinating family that’s going to dance around trees and sing about mother Earth while burning sage, perhaps it’s something else. Our family is nowhere near that. We are for one, not at all religious (though we respect everyone’s own decisions to follow a religion –as long as it does not harm or hurt people or the planet) and  yes, we vaccinate our children. We are world schoolers.

We never thought we’d be homeschoolers. But we’ve talked about it for years, and finally settled on going through with it this school year. My husband and I are fortunate enough to own and operate a business that gives us a lot of flexibility. I also work a part-time job that allows me to be flexible and put a lot of money towards our savings to see the world together (should I blog about this?). So for someone working a 9-5, homeschooling probably wouldn’t be as of much interest nor as manageable (not saying it’s impossible, just less likely).
worldschoolingWe found traditional schooling to be problematic for our family. For one, our son was bullied a lot. We teach socio-emotional understanding in our home so we allow him to cry, we dissect emotions, and discuss feelings. We don’t want to breed toxic masculinity, but that’s another topic for another day. Even in the most progressive, project based, public charter in Los Angeles, we found that bullying was something other parents weren’t bothering to prevent in their own homes. There were kids using slurs and saying things like “you’re gay” towards our child (who hasn’t even specified his attraction preference) which we also weren’t fans of hearing. I know what some people are saying while reading this— “why didn’t you just toughen him up?” We definitely teach him to stand up for himself and if someone hits him first (never initiate) you fight back! But we still didn’t care for the environment traditional schooling offered. Another thing we experienced is even with two teachers in the class room, our son still performed better with 1-on-1 teaching, actually…most students do. The most frustrating part about traditional schooling (public schools) is that students were treated more as a barter item for money than they were actual people. It was more about attendance for LAUSD to get money than it was about how my child is taking information in. There are complaints from parents across the country, and while that is a more complex topic I’m glad we no longer have to worry about it.

untitled (1 of 1)-18One of the biggest reasons we’ve decided to homeschool our son is because of the way things are taught. Here we have this beautiful, multi-racial boy, who’s learning about white American history. As a woman of color and first generation immigrant to the U.S. I know next to nothing about my own history. I wish I had gotten more of a global understanding of the world too. Also, as many parents can attest to common core is the most frustrating and idiotic thing on the planet as a base curriculum for students.  So why not private school? Private school still mandates a 9-5 style structure. While the education is said to be better, the 20k/year could be going towards experiences that can better educate a child. Not to mention the lack of socio-economic diversity. While it’s great to aspire having children who go to the school with the rich kids, thus proving you too are rich, we’d rather have our kid(s) be conscious of the different socio-economic backgrounds of others and not just one class of people (which also usually tends to be race dominant)

Okay, so what about college and the SAT and ACT. College/University isn’t mandatory for our kids but it is something we highly encourage. We talk about the different universities he could go to, what he could learn, etc. Statistically homeschooled students perform better on Standardized Tests  than students who go to traditional schools. Also, many universities favor and embrace homeschooling because of it’s benefits which you can read about here — Business Insider: Homeschooling to Havard

I will go into the logistics of homeschooling later but I am so excited to share our family’s newest adventure with you all and can’t wait to share more!

Kid-Friendly Steakhouse Experience: Fleming’s Children’s menu.

DSC_0713-2

 

image1I have to admit for an 8-year-old, Bri has been to some really awesome restaurants, partly in thanks to the visits with his awesome grandparents/ my in-laws with great taste, but also because he has young parents and lives in an awesome city. So he was actually super excited to hear that Fleming’s had invited us for dinner and had a Children’s Menu available. We went in to the Downtown LA location for dinner last night, on a mommy and Bri date. Some alone time with my oldest child was long overdue. Upon arrival were greeted by such an accommodating staff. The manager, Michelle, was incredibly helpful throughout the experience. The hosts sat us quickly at a large booth, it didn’t look like there were any particularly “bad tables” either. Everything seemed fair game, nothing too close to the kitchen or bathrooms.

 

DSC_0704-2
(Bread basket)

 

DSC_0706-2

We got settled in and were offered a basket of bread rolls and water. I am truly grateful there were no straws too! Not only would they have looked kind of tacky, they are incredibly horrible for the environment— taking about 500+ years just to breakdown into micro plastics, but that’s a different discussion for another time. Bri got a hold of the Children’s menu and his eyes immediately closed in on the Colossal Shrimp Tempura. DSC_0709-2He had a choice of a starter salad or apple slices. I wish I could say he picked the salad, but he opted for the apple slices with caramel dipping sauce. He sure did love that caramel dipping sauce too. He started dipping the bread in it shortly after he devoured the delicious apple slices. Bri’s Colossal Shrimp Tempura was served with some veggie tempura too and a choice of either fries or a potato waffle. The potato waffle was a fun spin on a starch side. Bri’s only complaint was that there was no syrup for his potato waffle. Real refined palette there. haha.

image2(cooked to perfection)

I ordered an 8 oz. Filet Mingon with a side of Yukon Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Spinach. The steak was cooked to perfection, a perfect medium-rare to a beautiful cut of meat. The sides were warm and so filling. I paired my meal with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, it was all delicious. Our server Stevie, and the manager, Michelle, were so kind and accommodating. No one acted like Bri was a nuisance, like most places do at the sight of children. The staff was the icing on the cake for the experience, speaking of sweets, we didn’t have room for any because we were so stuffed! We’ll have to visit again and try that lava cake!

Are Six Flags Memberships Worth it?

membershipsixflags

Short answer: Yes and No.

We’re diamond members of Six Flags Magic Mountain (though the memberships are valid for all locations) We upgraded our season passes to diamond memberships after a May visit.

The perks to our pass are that you get free admission to both Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor. Yes, you can visit both in one day. 35% on almost everything in the park. Truth be told I still haven’t found what doesn’t qualify for the discount. You get flash passes every visit, for ONE ride. Free drink refills, Bring-a-Friend-Free days, and consistent 35% discounts for tickets for friends. Oh and Free Preferred Parking and Diamond Member Waterpark access– with reservation.

Sounds great right? But what is up with the reservations?

Well, they sell these memberships like gym memberships. There are more passes to go around than there is actual capacity for these “perks”Reservations have to be made in order to accommodate the free parking and Diamond Member Waterpark access by 5am the day of. Peak days like Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday holidays should be reserved 3 days in advance.

Our last visit to the park, which fell on a Friday, I didn’t get on a single ride. The lines were way too long and just not worth it to us. Membership wasn’t very useful. My husband did wait in line with Bri, our oldest, for one waterslide. It was crowded in the tide pool. Actually, everywhere was crowded. It could’ve been worse by my patience is very thin with crowds. Thus making the trip not worth it.

If you’re someone who doesn’t mind crowds and waiting in line for 20mins to 1 hour for a ride that lasts less than 1-minute, then good for you.

I think the memberships work if you plan to go frequently. We’ve been 6 times in the last 3-4 months. It’s also great if you can do weekdays, to avoid the weekend crowds and long wait times. We pay roughly $15.00/month per person or $45/month for all 3 of us. Tickets cost anywhere from $59.99-$89.99 for a one-time visit. So we’ve already gotten our money’s worth and more with the 6 visits thus far.

The membership is something that’s been rolled out recently and can use a lot of tweaking, and I know they will. Same with the park itself, upgrades can definitely be done. So yes and no it’s worth it.

My Favorite Products that have made Breastfeeding easier.

Screen Shot 2018-07-11 at 3.08.18 PMIf you didn’t already know from the posts I’ve shared on Instagram. Breastfeeding is something that has been pretty much new to me with this second round of parenthood. I wasn’t successful the first time around, mostly because of socio-economic differences (unmarried, teen parent, working/school with less flexibility, etc). It has been a challenge and though we’re only about 4 1/2 months in, Sagan has been exclusively breastfed. All the while I run my company, work on my own brand, juggle family time, finishing my degree, and SURPRISE work a part-time job (that I went back to at 4 weeks pp) I want to share 6 products that have made breastfeeding so much easier for me, with mamas new and on another round of parenthood who want to explore breastfeeding

 

6. Boobie Bars

boobiebars.jpgI’ll admit these are pricey, but when you’re as busy as I am and committed to EBF the ingredients in this make it worth every penny. My personal experience has been finding my boobs engorged after 3 days within a couple hours of feeding. Which in turn leaves me able to pump more and store. I’ve tried virtually every lactation supplement on the market and these have been the best thus far. I also get them for a little less at The Pump Station in Hollywood.

5. Bamboobies Washable Nursing Pads
bamboobiesnursingpadsOne of my wonderful Best Friend’s bought me a couple packs of these for my baby shower. They have been absolutely amazing! They are so comfy and environmentally friendly too. Which as many of you know is a huge bonus in my book. Unlike disposables, you can reuse these by tossing them in the wash after a day or soiled use. I love companies that make efforts to be a little more green while still being completely conventional to consumers. They’re so easy to insert and adjust in nursing bras too!

 

4. Bonita Bluum Nursing Cover

bonitabluumThis product was actually sent to me for review. I don’t post about every product I get sent, because sometimes they aren’t as amazing as promised. This nursing cover, however, is a must-have for breastfeeding mamas who prefer to cover while feeding, since the world isn’t as progressive as we’d hope it to be. The muslin is lightweight and breathable, which in this LA weather is so important. There’s also a feature that I haven’t seen on any other nursing pads, which is the adjustable opening to be able to see and bond with your babe. I love using this when we go to Six Flags, parks, beaches, etc. (Pictured in use above).

3. Bamboobies Nipple Cream  bamboobiesnipplecream

Another awesome Bamboobies Product. I am not exaggerating when I say that I cried so hard the first week of breastfeeding. My nipples were so sore because of my initial lack of milk and Sagan’s cluster feeding. Luckily, my amazing best friend mentioned above knew to gift this at my baby shower as well. It came in so handy and the jar has lasted me a fairly long time. The product is organic and cruelty-free. It eased the pain on my nipples by a large margin. While the hospital provided another brand, I feel this one did a much better job. You can even feel the difference in quality vs. the hospital provided brand.

 

2. My Breastfriend Pillow breastfriend

Everyone pretty much knows how great this product is. It’s helped so much through my breastfeeding journey. The nurses in the delivery room even commented on how great it was that I brought it along with me. When I say I was determined, I mean I was DETERMINED to make breastfeeding work this time around. What I love about the My Breastfriend Pillow is that it really helps with your posture. It has become a thing for my husband to be involved in the breastfeeding, by wrapping the pillow and fastening it around me. It’s very sweet. It is a staple for every mama to have on their breastfeeding journey. It should also be on your hospital bag checklist (though it won’t actually fit in any bag).

1. Evenflo Dual Electric Breastpump

evenfloOddly enough my insurance did not cover a Breast Pump, even though we were paying over $500/month for our family, health insurance monthly cause ‘Merica. We didn’t find this out until after I had Sagan. Luckily, I have amazing in-laws who gifted this to us last minute. I love its easy use and convenience. I know most opt for the $200 breast pump, but I truly prefer this one because it’s not as bulky and it’s compact and lightweight features make it easier to transport. As a mama who works remotely with her company, a part-time job, and is always running back and forth between places. This fits perfectly into a backpack without too much space, also it can be battery operated! (Yes, it went with me to Coachella + Catalina)

 

That’s it for now mamas. Hope you enjoyed this list, maybe I’ll make a video on IGTV or YouTube. Who knows. Let me know what you think about these products and what has helped you throughout your own breastfeeding journey.

Catalina Island: The Go To LA Getaway

It seems these days that Angeleno’s escape LA with a quick 2-hour commute to Palm Springs or a 45-minute flight to Vegas. There’s one quick LA Getaway that often goes overlooked until now…

winemixer gif

…okay well not the actual Catalina Wine Mixer, but Catalina Island.

I visited a couple years ago with my husband and our oldest son, Brian. This time I wanted to grab content for my company (Schoolyard Marketing–which we’ll talk more about later) and brought along Actress Camille Hyde, Actor Brandon Larracuente, and Girl Boss Jazmin Garcia. We made a day trip out of it and were lucky enough to experience some awesome moments. I’ll have a vlog up ONCE I figure out why FCPX things are running from my computer hard drive and not the external (this week). But here’s a rundown of the awesome day trip!

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 7.48.01 PMWe were able to commute to and from the island courtesy of IEX Helicopters. The quick 15-minute Helicopter ride offered gorgeous views of the California Coastline as well as the Pacific Ocean. No, we did not see any dolphins (or whales). I swear dolphins don’t love me even though they are my fave. I have yet to ever see them in the wild (don’t judge my ignorant SeaWorld visit at 13—I didn’t know any better then). The pilots were extremely friendly and we also found out that Kobe flies with the company…cause why commute any other way when you’re that ballin? lol. After landing (which you’ll see on MY CHANNEL soon, so subscribe now 😉) We took a taxi/shuttle thing to the “downtown” area. It was a literal 5- minute ride that hugged Avalon’s coastline for the 4 of us, it was $13-14. We had an hour or so of open time and decided to grab drinks. Got to chat, get to know everyone a little better.

 

skies.JPG

From there we took another cab to check in for Parasailing, courtesy of Parasail Catalina. It was actually my first time parasailing. I really wanted to see dolphins…but no. It was such an awesome experience, being up in the sky with one of my best friend’s Camille Hyde made the experience so much sweeter. Nothing like being over the vastness of the ocean while floating up in the sky.  The crew was so friendly and kind.

IMG_8169

We then picked up a golf cart from Catalina Island Golf Cart Rentals and headed over to Descanso beach for a late lunch.  We were able to drive along the coastline among some gorgeous palm trees and of course the crystal blue water. We ate a couple appetizers as pictured to the right, entrees, and of course ordered some drinks! I believe Camille had a Salad, I opted for wings as an entree, Jazmin had a burger, and Brandon had a buffalo chicken sandwich. All were delicious but the dish that stuck out most to me was the pokè bowl that we had as an appetizer. For the drinks we I had a Jalepeño margarita and Jazmin and Brandon had something called “The Destroyer”.

image1

After getting some content on the beach we ran for our golf cart to make it in time for our flight back to the mainland. [Sidenote: It’s really crazy how Catalina is almost untapped to our generation (millennials) when there’s so much more to do than places like Palm Springs or any other day trips in SoCal] Anyway, in the golf cart we pulled up to a taxi driver and asked him to meet us at the golf cart rental place, and he actually tailed us. haha. We didn’t want to possibly miss our flight so we made sure that we got in and out as quickly as possible. Luckily we got to the heliport with some time to spare. Overall, Catalina is a great place to head out to for a day or weekend trip. If you ever need a break from LA, I think Catalina is LA’s best not-so-secret secret. It has everything us millennials want from beautiful views, instagrammable areas, fun activities, and a beach you can actually drink on! The people living on the island are super kind, as are the business owners that we partnered with. I definitely will be taking more day and weekend trips over and highly recommend it as a must see to my readers/friends/etc.

Stay tuned to my channel for more!