Family Circle ~ Father’s Day 2013

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Family Circle ~ Father's Day 2013

…a time came when mankind aspired not to co-creation but to analysing God's creation… when human thought faltered, aspiring not to creation but to the accumulation of knowledge… " – Ringing of the Cedars, Book 4: Co-Creation, by Vladimire Megre.

Today, we honored Fatherhood, and the important relationship of a father in the creation of a family. I pointed out to the kids that they should look to their dad for his reflections on his own experience, but not for knowledge to substitute for their own reflections. This is what co-creation is, and it makes family life seem more like a creative endeavor than a patriarchal system of governance. 🙂

We also reflected on the the Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

"Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret."

Joe also chose a silly poem by Shel Silverstein about a dad who game his son dollar.


And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
My dad gave me one dollar bill
‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
‘Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes—I guess he don’t know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And just ‘cause he can’t see
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And closed his eyes and shook his head—
And he got red in the cheeks
Too proud of me to speak!

Lastly, we wrote in our family journal some of the words that come to mind when we think about fathers. Love, teacher, experience… Zofia wanted to write something, too; she wrote "CAT"… And, I see Flo snuck the world "wood chuck" on the bottom by a little picture of a tree… Silly girl. When I think of my father, now well into my own parenting journey, I see someone who loved me, guided me, tried not to judge me too harshly, but occasionally looked upon me with the same critical eye he sometimes directed at himself. I see value, experience, wisdom, and the unfolding of a unique creative journey, meshed on this physical plane with mine for a short time, but entangled in the web of existence forever.

Fathers bring an element of balance to a family, or a child's relationship with the world. Fatherhood is a lofty endeavor, often thrust upon those unprepared souls most seeking balance themselves. So, though it may not be a perfectly scripted role, it offers plenty of creative licence!

Family Circle ~ April 2013 (Earth Day)

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Family Circle - Earth Day 2013

Since it's been a busy month, and we hadn't had time to have a family circle, we decided Earth Day was the perfect day to prioritize making time to be together. Monday's are usually "Media Free Day" in our house, so we figured it was as good of time as any to get the kids' attention! And, Earth Day is also good fodder for discussion.

We opened our circle by reflecting on this quote and inviting awareness and peace.

The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.
— Gaylord Nelson

Then, we talked about things we can do to be gentler on the Earth & the impact of the "stuff" we consume. We watched The Story of Cosmetics, and patted ourselves on the back for the changes we've made in the past five or six years, minimizing the products we use, and choosing the ones we do wisely. We really don't rely on too many cosmetics. Baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, coconut oil, and Dr. Bronner's soaps comprise the majority of our daily routine, from tooth brushing to cleaning the house.

We also looked up the Great Garbage Patch Island in the Pacific ocean. The kids were really astonished by the videos and photos we found. It could really make you feel overwhelmed at the enormity of healing our Earth will have to do to repair that wound. But, we emphasized to the kids that even the little things than do, CAN make a difference, and talked about ways we could be even "greener" in our daily lives.

In our Family Journal today, we wrote things we are thankful for about the Earth.

We closed our circle with a Buddhist prayer. Darren and I went out to enjoy an evening walk on a chilly Spring night. The kids retreated to the activities in which they were previously engaged before we summoned them downstairs. A good day.

We gently caress you, the Earth, our planet and our home.
Our vision has brought us closer to you, making us aware of the harm we have done to the life-network upon which we ourselves depend.
We are reminded that we have poisoned your waters, your lands, your air.
We have filled you with the bones of our dead from war and greed.
Your pain is our pain.
Touching you gently, we pray that we may become peace-bringers and life-bringers so that our home in its journey around the Sun not become a sterile and lonely place.
May this prayer and its power last forever.
— Sensei Ulrich, Manitoba Buddhist Temple

Family Circle ~ March 2013

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Family Circle ~ March 22, 2012

Today we celebrated the beginning of Spring, though it still feels like Winter outside. We wrote the things we're looking forward to about Spring in our family journal, talked some more about meditation and watched a short video on the topic, and closed out the circle with a prayer. Love these moments together!

Springtime Prayer
O Dancer of Creation,
the earth awakens to an urgent call to grow.
In the hidden recesses of my wintered spirit
I, too, hear the humming of your voice,
calling me, wooing my deadness back to life.
My soul yawns, stretches, quickens,
as the energy of Spring revives my weariness.
I sit with wonder, observing the steady activity
of downy woodpeckers and newly yellowed finch.
I do so wait with the avid attention of a child’s first look,
savoring the colors and shapes of earth’s loveliness.
As the filtering patterns of early sunlight
lift the shades of green in every growing thing,
I enter into spring’s unlettered words of life.
For a while my doubts, anxieties, and worries
become like chapters in some ancient book
whose text no longer claims my full attention.
I am content to sit, watching Spring
turn the pages of this animated publication,
eager to discover the invigorating story
reflected in my own springtime revelation.
Tell me, Wise Awakener,
why is it easier to believe in a stem of new grass,
or the opening bud of a fresh purple crocus,
than it is to believe in the greening of me?

—Joyce Rupp

Fun Day Transitioning to Midlife

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Tara's 40th Birthday

To celebrate my 40th birthday, we decided to head into DC for the day to meet my mom and Tom, and check out the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo. I was sort of disappointed by the event, as there weren't any natural food vendors, and the only foods served were Philly steaks, french fries, sodas, etc.

Tara's 40th Birthday

Nonetheless, we walked around for a bit, and had fun in DC, stopping off at Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar for a yummy lunch. I've tried their food at various vegetarian/health festivals over the past couple years, but never got a chance to stop in. It's a little "hole in the wall," kind of place with lots of character and excellent raw food! Darren was happy to get his hands on a green coconut. After enjoying them in Ecuador, he's been searching for a fresh looking one for awhile.

Tara's 40th Birthday Tara's 40th Birthday

My mom took Zofia for the evening, so we enjoyed a quiet ride home, stopping at MOM's Market in Rockville to get a jug of Elderberry Kombucha, and then in Frederick, at the Owl's Nest to get a few birthday crystals.

Tara's 40th Birthday

We rounded out the day with a birthday bowl of durian (for me and Darren… Flo and Joe retreated in disgust), some quiet creative time alone, and a restful sleep. Not a bad start to my 40th year… looking forward to making it a great year!

Family Circle ~ February 2013

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Family Circle - February 2013

It was late on this mid-February evening, but we missed our January Family Circle, and finally had a night where everyone was home, so the kids set up our table. We spent a little time chatting, watching a short video on "meaning" from the the Spirit Science YouTube channel and writing things we "love" in our family journal. It was a nice way to wind down the day.

Today's prayer:
As the day falls into darkness, I ask my soul's teacher to help me recognize what is finished, not to manipulate the powers of life and death to keep alive what is really worn out this day ~ SELF-CLARIFICATION ~ May all the out-worn things that I have harboured find their true rest and eternal home.

Today's card from the deck:
"I am learning that all problems resolve themselves."

And, for continuity, we always close the circle with our Unitarian Universalist prayer:

The light does not go out, it is transferred to each of us, to share, and to hold, and to bring with us, when we next return.

Namaste. So mote it be. Amen… Until next time…

Chef Zo

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Chef Zo

Zofia is always busy rearranging the house. Today she decided to set up a kitchen on the ottoman. She's been making little "kitchens" and "fruit stands" all over the house this week. I keep finding apples, lemons, oranges and bananas in different rooms. She's definitely a child of the digital age, because every time she assembles one of her creative collections of stuff, she yells to me to come take a picture. We certainly wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to document all this five-year old Zofia goodness!

Healthy Heart

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Joe had his annual heart check-up today.  They do an echocardiogram and just check things over. When he's a little older, they'll do a stress test.  But, he's in great shape.  Even though we knew that, it's always reassuring to get a good report.  It reminds me of those scary days when he was an infant and we didn't know which way things would go.  Today, the only worry was about Joe's annoyance with with all the sticky goo left from the sensor sticker things they use to monitor his heart.  He had to tediously peel them off, one at a time, deciding whether the quick-rip or slow and steady removal approach was best.  By the end, he was opting for the quick method!   

Flo came along for the ride today, too, because she had a Spanish tutoring session just down the street.  So, after Joe's appointment, we hung out at the medical center for a bit, then drove her over to her lesson at the community college.  Joe and I decided to park and snooze for the hour and a half lesson time.  Joe brought his tablet along to read and play a game, but, I had no problem catching a quick nap while things were quiet and I could recharge for the rest of the day!

Cabin Fever Teen Night

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PHLiC Teen Social

Flo had cabin fever after our quiet holiday week and then being stuck at home with the flu.  She really wanted to get together with her friends.  So, we cleaned up the house, rounded up some holiday snack leftovers, called in the homeschooling teens, and provided a social op for Flo and friends… Fun!  

The unfortunate turn of events for me, was that I was all set to get to bed at a reasonable hour and be alert for the teen get-together!  But then… the pilot light on the heater went out!  Around 1am, I noticed the smell of gas, and temperature in the house was down to 55F.  Brr.  After spending a few minutes looking for obvious possibilities, I reluctnatly woke up Darren to consult with him.  We ended up deciding to shut off the main switch, and call the repair company.  We put in a call, but the technician just got off a 17 hour shift, so since we weren't having a major emergency, we agreed to let him sleep awhile and come later in the morning.

The rather perky and knowledgeable technician arrived around 8am, and a couple hours, and almost $800 later, we had heat again, just in time for Flo's gathering in the afternoon.  So, I was warm, but exhausted by the time the first teen arrived.  But, despite my fatigue, Flo and her friends has a nice evening, and I was happy to facilitate some friend-time for my socially-deprived homeschooler! 

About Us

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Darren and I met in French class, in 1988 at Kennebecasis Valley High School, in New Brunswick, Canada.  I had just moved there with my parents when my Dad’s job transferred him there.  We dated from 1988 to 1993, when I left college in my second year, and had to return to the United States, since I could not work in Canada, as a U.S. citizen.

At this point, we were faced with the issue of which direction our relationship would take…. should we get married (I was only 20) or give the long distance thing a try? Well, we gave the long distance thing a try for a few months, but we soon opted for the marriage route.  In fact, we eloped (told our parents first, though)…. and went to Bangor, Maine. We were married on April 20th, 1993. This was the beginning of our marital bliss…. well, there have been some less than blissful moments along the way, but we’ve grown and learned together, and wouldn’t have had it any other way!

Since our marriage in 1993, we have lived in Connecticut, Italy, Kentucky and now Maryland. Darren left the Army in 1999 and has been working in the civilian sector of the governement since then. Right before the time Darren got out of the army, our daughter, Florence, was born on August 2, 1999. Three and a half years later, we got a new addition to our family when Joseph was born on December 11, 2002 while we were living in Connecticut. Then, most recently, our daughter, Zofia Roze, was born on August 19, 2007 here in Maryland.

We are a homeschooling family, so we’re all learning together!  We decided to homeschool when our first child, Florence, was just a wee baby. Some people we met were homeschooling, and this prompted me to research it a bit. What I found was the perfect fit for us, and both Darren and I were excited about the possibilities of our child’s education. 

Of course, Flo has grown up quite a bit, and started her first “official” school year in the Fall of 2004, here in Maryland. We’ve come to know first hand what the process of homeschooling is really like, and all the challenges and rewards that come with it. What we love most is the flexibility homeschooling affords us, and the fact that we can work at our child’s own pace. 

We realize homeschooling is not for everyone, and certainly acknowledge that there are many ways to get a well-rounded education. We feel fortunate to have the time and energy to devote to our children during these years, and have been overwhelmed by the amount of support, activities and resources available to homeschoolers in our area, and around the country.  We even helped create a thriving support community in our area, called The Potomac Home Learning Circle

Since we’ve decided to homeschool, two of the most common responses I get from my peers are “I could never do that. I wouldn’t have the patience to teach my own child.” and “What about socialization?” As for my opinion regarding these statements? Well, let me tell you… 

Firstly, as for one’s ability to teach their own children, I think most of us are socialized to believe that educating our children is someone else’s responsibility. It often doesn’t even occur to parents that they could effectively provide their children with all the knowledge they need to eventually go out into the world and be effective members of society. Or, furthermore, that this process wouldn’t involve simulating a classroom environment in the home, but can happen naturally, just by taking advantage of everyday opportunities and resources. We want to provide our children with the tools to do anything they want in life. We don’t believe these tools come in the form of any specific curriculum or classroom setting, but from the ability of the child to have the resourcefulness to seek out and accomplish the goals they set for themselves. 

Next, we have the issue of socialization. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word “socialization” can be defined as “the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture.” This may be great, if the surrounding culture embodies characteristics we wish to have our children adopt. We just happen to be of the mind-set that our children can interpret and define their surrounding culture, without the filter of institutionalized education. Okay, so I know when people say “socialization,” they generally mean the opportunity to interact with their peers, not the process of being culturally brainwashed by educational institutions. That’s a reasonable concern. 

Maybe fifty years ago, homeschoolers didn’t have the networks they have today, and homeschooling could have been an isolating experience. However, today, with just a little effort, homeschooling parents can find a multitude of opportunities for their children to engage in activities with their peers. Flo has taken gymnastics, music, art, soccer, swimming and participates in at least a couple weekly playgroups. Equally important, we try to ensure that she has plenty of opportunity to interact with adults and encounter other types of social situations, in which she has to practice using her communication skills, manners and common sense. So, for us, the potential lack of socialization with homeschooling, as opposed to a “traditional” schooling situation is a non-issue. 

Homeschooling is much like life. You find things that work, and things that don’t. I’m sure we’ll learn as much as our children as we continue on this journey. So far we’ve learned to just not take things too seriously, and to just provide a safe and stimulating environment in which our children can learn. 

But, that’s just a bit about us… You can find out more about us and our interests on our main site at