Ukuleles, Guitars and Drums ….Oh MY!

I mentioned, a few posts ago that last Summer Z-girl began attending the Institute For The Musical Arts Pre Teen Summer Intro to Rock Program. It is a program that I has been on our radar a while, since she was a wee thing in fact, waiting for the girl to be old enough…hoping it would be a good fit! (You never know, right, a program that looks totally WOW to you, and your kid is like “really mom?”) This program fit like a glove, everything that i had hoped, totally inspiring in all ways. Amazing instructors (professionals in the field) that teach skills while sharing who they are and enjoy the kids, have fun with them promoting a passion for music, great role models (interns who share the passion), provide safe place to try out new instruments and styles, freedom to be,  a new set of friends that share their passion! The experience offers everything you read about in “Tween Parenting Books” how to help kids as they enter middle school and transition from girls to young women. The IMA a labor of love, envisioned by Ann Hackler and June Millington. 

IMG_2275_2Here’s they are introducing  yesterdays Pre Teen Concert

Being part of the IMA community has helped Zoe’s confidence grow immensely, she is finding joy in what she loves, people, and music. Music has always been in her life, beginning Music Together with Lui Collins and just 9 weeks old! moving on the Hootenanny with the Nields and special dance parties and grandmotherly support by Sarah Pirtle. As you can see she has always had great musical guidance and roll models!

Now she feels safe to expand her self expression around what it means to be passionate around music, sometimes even sees herself as a young budding musician. She has a goal to work towards. She is learning about hard work. This year she has found several innovative ways to help her fundraise or start a grass root business based on her new found confidence and passion. Back in June she Dj’d a birthday party for a younger daughter of a past student of mine and LOVED it so much that she decided to get business cards and begin a business “doing what she loves” IMG_5350

More recently she has added to her plan by making and selling duck tape guitar straps in an effort to buy a drum set (it is not a cheap hobby!) 


Finally back in January she and a friend she met at the IMA worked really hard, reached out of their comfort zone, to put on a short concert at a local cafe to fundraise for a trip to Ecuador and raised $200! 

::Full Enclosure:: At first, as a parent who has kept media and popular culture at an arms length, I struggled greatly with the introduction of pop music. These songs are often the antitheis of everything i am raising Zoe to believe, ( strong, able women, treating people with respect,  zero tolerence for judging people by how they look). For the first few months I persused The mighty girl website and downloaded songs with positive moral values to her ipod! Of course that backfired! But I have come to see that it all plays a roll in her growth and development, that the positive influences in her life dramatically outweigh the exposure she is getting through popular music, and that the more I resist something the more it makes it appealing to her…so for now I live with the sound track Taylor Swift, Keisha, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rhianna)

This Summer Z attended both pre-teen sessions, one kicked off the summer for us, and one ended (almost) the summer. Yesterday afternoon was the final summer concert  the Intro to Rock Pre Teen Session II. The shows features some whole group efforts (percussion and voice) and some smaller group original songs and often a grand finale! If you are in the area (Western Mass) Sunday afternoons in the Summer you should attend one of these concerts, they are open to the public, and you’ll not be disappointed! The excitement radiates from these pre-teens, you can feel their anticipation in the air pre show and the feeling of achievement post show!  It blows me away every time how much they pull together in just a few days! 

IMG_2450_2 IMG_2457_2

A year is a long time to wait for the next installment! Lucky for us Rock the Moon is approaching in September, a collaboration between the IMA and Blazing Star Herbal School. Its a weekend “coming of age” gathering to introduce independent self-care practices to pre-teen girls (9-12) through music and herbalism. We base our changing programing on these 8 Guiding Principles :

  1. Finding your voice
  2. Spending time alone
  3. Expressing creativity
  4. Weaving a Web of Community
  5. Exploring your dreams (bringing dreams to life, manifestation)
  6. Connecting to Nature
  7. Celebrating your Self Everyday (self care, nourishment)
  8. Celebrating Coming of Age (by Rockin’ the Moon!)


rock the moon poster.indd

And its fun fun fun. A Fall and Spring IMA boost, a fix to tide you over! 


Maps, Mapping the World

It is better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times. – Asian Proverb

Lets go on an adventure

 ::Wanderlust:: Noun; Strong desire or urge to wander or travel and explore the world

I have always loved maps and globes. Vintage or new. Imaginary or real.  To me they represent open space, hope, adventure, freedom, art and education at its best. They feed my gypsy loving soul! In my 20’s I honored that wanderlust deep within and got to experience world travel (including an expedition to Southern Chile where we helped the park and rec department map an unexplored territory!) I’m so grateful that I chose the path of life long learner (that is another story for another day). Travel has shaped me as a human, seeing first hand how people live around the world, what people eat, how food is grown, how people learn, how people sit in council has taught be a lot, top of that list gratitude and compassion. Seeing how absolutely beautiful the world is, and seeing people all over the world smile has given me hope, deep down hope. Hope that we’ll (the greater we) will find our way again, that we will remember what it is like to treat our fellow citizens with love and respect , that we will rediscover what it means to be human.  I believe that Travel is a vital part of education led me to experience travel.

I am always up for an adventure! Up until fairly recently this was 100% truth. In many ways I still am though recently I feel like I’n not being completely honest as I seem to have settled into home routine more than ever. That scares me, it seems I have let some of my day to day responsibilities, stresses and feelings of exhaustion take over. I have been observing this over the past year or so, is not good for me or Zoe so I repeat and will own it “I am always up for an adventure!”

Zoe has inherited this love of adventure, travel and globes (not so much maps, yet!). As we navigate these middle years where apathy seems so prevalent one of my parenting goals is to travel as much as we can, see pockets of the world, meet people.  She has always been a great little traveler, and this past Winter in Ecuador she proved that she is not so much a little traveler, as a traveler now!

“Once a year go someplace you have NEVER BEEN BEFORE” Dalai Lama

My favorite subject in school was always geography, cultural geography. Whether at Channing School in Highgate England or at Campion in Athens Greece , I was in awe of those Geography teachers who knew so much about the world. I thank them for inspiring me. Its been such a disappointment seeing how little Geography is taught in the early grades, here in the US (it was so obvious when some British friends of mine visited with two young girls age 5-7 they looked at our world map and had so much to say!)  so when picking a curriculum for our 6th Grade homeschool year, geography was a priority for me! My secret homeschool agenda  (i know, I know agendas when homeschooling a 6th grader are a set up for disappointment- still can a girl have a fantasy!) was that Zoe will have a good understanding of the countries of the world and know where to located them on a map globe and know general facts about them like language spoken, major geographic features, cities and major world events. I looked hard for a curriculum we could follow to help me meet this goal (you’ll see what I chose in the previous post where I outline our 2014/15 academic plan) They’ll be plenty of cartology and map art. If any of you have old globes or maps you are not using please send them our way….They’ll be put to good use.

As I perused and previewed our resources I came across, this book, which I promptly got from our local library. I have been enjoying it for days, boy it will be hard to return. It is a map lovers delight! A visual feast! It is artsy take on Geography, so much info here…I recommend it to any map loving family.

Mapsby Aleksandra Mizielinska

It’s all illustrated, every page is filled with images of people, plants, buildings, geographical features you’ll find in a given country/region. Many games can be invented and played on each page depending on the ages of your little one(s).


If you are looking for books on world Geography/Travel, I have done several book posts previously here and here .

And just because it is thursday here is a #TBT photo!


For the love of learning. . .


IMG_0305It’s been a Summer of planning.

(the back story)

This time last year we decided that we would return to homeschooling this school year, the decision was initially based on the fact that  charter school Zoe was attending was moving a little too far for our daily commute. She’s been there since 2nd grade and up until this past year it was a good experience for her,  but as this year progressed things took a turn for the worse and to be honest I wish I had pulled her at Christmas. I kept talking myself out of it, she needs closure, I’m not ready to take her on…i need to plan better, all valid, but as a result over a period of 5 months her self confidence lowered steadily and she lost her love of learning and apathy set it. Of course part of this is age, at almost 11 hormones are raging, as it attitude. . .

So as we embark on this homeschooling journey I have my hands full….My main goals for this  academic year are simple

1. To build self confidence

2. To (re-)install a love of learning


(the academic plan)

We plan to integrate language arts, math and art into our social studies as much as possible.

We are beginning the Fall using Pandia Press History Odyssey Ancients Level 2 to supplement this History/Geography Program we will be using Mapping The World With Art by Ellen McHenry which includes a lot of map making and atlas work.

Related literature will include:

Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics)
  by Roger Lancelyn Green

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Puffin Story Books)

by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

The Golden Goblet (Newbery Library, Puffin)
 by Eloise Jarvis McGraw


And for integrated Math she will be reading

String, Straight-edge & Shadow the Story of Geometry
by Julia E. Diggins

As well as doing some Compass Drawings: Construction designs using a compass and a ruler (Grades 4-6)
, and some Geometry & Measurement Grade 6 (Kumon Math Workbooks)
for practice starting with Grade 5 and onto Grade 6

She is also signed up for a Minecraft Homeschool class, this was mostly out of curiosity, she likes minecraft but is not crazy into it, it sounded interesting, a different way of learning so we’ll see how it goes!  7 Wonders of the Ancient World

Also for language arts:

We will work with the “Mega Words” work book (as this is a continuation on what she has already been doing)  and the “Wordsmith Apprentice” for extra writing practice. As well as a unit study on The Giver Movie Tie-In Edition (Giver Quartet)

They’ll be Latin, and Spanish (hoping to use Rosetta Stone Homeschool Latin American Spanish when the budget allows)

They’ll be Art projects, Photography and Music (Guitar, Ukulele and Drums, songwriting too!)

And of course anyone who knows Zoe knows they’ll be athletics, Soccer in the Fall, Basketball in the Winter and Baseball in the Spring…and plenty of adventures in between I am sure!


(full enclosure)

We are not sure what comes next academically whether we will continue to homeschool beyond 6th grade or whether we will apply to  The Academy at Charlemont and pray that somehow we can pull it off, or whether The North Star Self Directed Learning will be a better fit for us, she has expressed interest in both options or whether we will settle in at home. We will  wait and see how this year pans out

16 months later. . .

Yep we are still here.

To bring you all to the present, here a few highlights of the past 16 months….


A  Moon Photography  Project (Late Summer/Fall 2013)

Moons 2013


Zoe has attended two Rock and Roll Camps at the Institute of Musical Arts in Goshen. And a week from now she’ll be at the next one! These camps have been great for her as she has been able to express herself musically as well as make good friends!



                                                        Preteen Camp, IMA  August 2013


  Preteen Camp, IMA  June 2014


A  trip to Ecuador to continue studies this Winter with a bunch of AMAZING people, boy! Here we are with our teacher Rocio Alarcon



did we stay at some of the most beautiful places! Here is Zoe at the Agua thermas!



We returned to run our Second “Rock the Moon Program” at the IMA. Its a weekend “coming of age” gathering to introduce independent self-care practices to pre-teen girls (9-12) through music and herbalism. And its fun fun fun. Many more pictures on our facebook page here. And there is one coming up if you are interested on the weekend of Sept 26-28th 14.

Final Concert March 2013

Here are the staff and admin of Rock the Moon, Including Hannah, Megan and Rebecca from the local band sensation AND THE KIDS! Who are great mentors and music instructors to the girls!

IMG_4179There have been two baseball seasons for Zoe, First year 2013 (purple shining stars) and Second year 2014 (Red Spartans!) A new passion was born and she looks forward to Little League next year!

IMG_0497 IMG_0757



And along the same lines were our attending our first two major league baseball games this summer, at the Yankee Stadium and at Fenway Park- GO RED SOX!


There was also a punky halloween!
IMG_6473and finally there were a few  memorable trips to P-Town with fires on the beach and a few days that couldn’t be more perfect!



IMG_1105There were many more weekend trips, wildlife encounters and days at home with friends…family visits and laughs….but that just about sums it all up and brings us to this summer! Hope you have all had a great year and a half!

I’m am planning to update a little more often so see you all soon!