So, where have I been?

I have tried to write a few times since October, but something would always come up. Primarily, I was spending an inordinate amount of time working with Claire and some of the challenges a gifted kid runs into at school. We had decided to bump her up to third grade last year, as she was pacing with the second graders. In fact, she was doing better than many of the second graders, though she was technically still in first grade. We decided to officially keep her in second grade (primarily to avoid having to go through the rigorous testing at the end of the school year), though she would work with the third graders in the classroom.

The Challenge of Gifted Kids

12183864_10153686372922438_6476460127467095901_oAcademically, Claire has been doing fine. Quite well, as a matter of fact. She still has that natural curiosity about her world, and she has the mind to analyze and decode her world. She reads at a sixth grade level and can do both multiplication and division easily. She memorizes facts with ease, and if it has something to do with horses, she’ll probably know a lot more than the average adult. Academically, I have no worries about her or her academic career.

Socially, however, she’s still only seven, though a precocious seven year old that can pace with older kids fairly well. However, the older kids know she’s only seven. And when you’ve got kids that have issues beyond your control or understanding, there can be challenges. Claire has a heightened expectation of how other kids should treat her. She’s very aware of right vs. wrong, and when wrong happens, she spends a lot of that mental power on trying to figure out why things aren’t right or acting out in ways that were rather challenging. That mental activity was better spent on learning and having fun, of course, but she was preoccupied when things were not going right.

I spent time with her at school, which I rather enjoyed. I love her school, her teachers, and it was nice hanging out with some of the other kids. And I did witness some kids acting out for various reasons in ways that were challenging to Claire. I would coach her through it, but at the same time, I had to wonder whether or not it was worth her energy, or my energy, to focus so much on just being okay socially with other kids. And, of course, it’s not all of the kids. But Claire is very good at sorting right from wrong and finding what’s wrong and trying to fix it.

We had a short break, then we all got sick. Stomach bug, then a cold hit us all. Claire was out altogether for three weeks. And, I noticed her personality changing… for the better. She started researching things of interest to her, asking more questions about her interests, and exploring her world in ways she wasn’t doing a month earlier.

It seemed that without the pressure of social issues, her mental bandwidth freed up so she could focus on more positive things.

Because she’s in that parroting stage still, the stage of life where kids are soaking up information, it made sense to homeschool for now. I wasn’t sure if I could handle it, but her educational facilitator and the director of the school confirmed with me that she would be fine. And intuitively, I got the message that I don’t have to be confident in my ability to teach, I just have to be confident in Claire’s ability to learn. And in that I have complete faith. So, we’re homeschooling for now. She’s happier. I’m more relaxed. We’ll meet with her educational facilitator every so often and we’ll document what she’s doing. I asked her if she’d like to keep a blog about what she’s doing, but she’s told me that blogs are boring. So, there you go.

What’s not boring to her is David Bowie. Since his death in January, both of my kids have been listening to David Bowie. Max, in high school, spent a day at school learning about David Bowie’s influence on the music world. Claire, seeing this, dove into Ziggy Stardust. She is also fascinated by the Blackstar video, and thinks it is a fantastic song. Not something you expect to hear from a seven year old, but she’s no ordinary seven year old, this is for sure.

Cooking up miracles in the kitchen

homemade deodorantAnother project that has taken up quite a bit of my own bandwidth is creating personal care products in the kitchen. Last summer, I made some of my own deodorant using coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot, and bentonite clay. You see, your armpits are a primary detoxification center for your lymph nodes. I had found some soreness in one of my armpits, and it turned out to be an inflamed lymph node. I decided to ditch traditional deodorant, and I absolutely loved what I came up with.

After talking to a friend who operates a health store, I started making it for his customers. It has been one of the more successful products, which encouraged me to start sharing some of the other things I make for myself and the family, including remineralizing toothpaste, colloidal silver, and calendula salve. I decided to brand my offerings as Shasta Sage Wellness, and all of a sudden I have a new business. The logo is from a painting we purchased from a local artist that hangs in my kitchen, and the name Shasta Sage has dual meanings, of course. Overall, I’m really excited about the business and how well it’s been received.

calendula oilSo much of my work life over the last 25 years has been spent sitting in front of a computer, wrestling with code and words. There’s something meditative about making something physical and tangible. It’s akin to gardening or cooking in my mind, and I am really enjoying the change of pace. For a change, I get to let go of having to sell things and let others do that. I get to make things, and sell a little, and it feels really good. After spending a day making something, I am physically tired yet mentally still awake, and that feels good, too. And it’s also something I can involve both of my kids in the process of creation, too.

My friend recently asked if I could emulate a formula for a competitive product, something I’ve never done before. It took a few weeks of research, experimentation, and ultimately creating something that turned out better than the competitive product. And in doing so, it gave me more ideas for creating complementary products. I actually really enjoyed the challenge of coming up with a new product using all natural ingredients that will blow the petrochemical-based product out of the water. It was daunting and completely outside my realm of expertise, but it turned out being exceptional. It’s not a publicly available product yet, as it still has to go through the testing phase, but I’m excited.

Enjoying Mount Shasta

mount shasta californiaThis place… it nurtures my soul in ways I’ve never experienced elsewhere, except perhaps far northern Wisconsin. When things get overwhelming, and sometimes they certainly do, this place sets me right again. I am blessed and so very thankful to be able to live here.  The people here are like nowhere else, and the natural beauty of the surroundings, even when we’re socked in by snow, is beautiful. And if I want to escape the snow for a bit, the rest of California and Oregon provide respite.

Someone I know here that has lived here for decades mentioned to me that the mountain either spits you back out or it won’t let you leave. I had to laugh, as I’m certainly a part of the latter. No matter how I might fantasize about moving to the beach, the universe conspires to ensure I stay here.

When I first visited 9 years ago, I cried when I left. When I visited again, the desire to live here was overwhelming. Now that my kids have also fallen in love with the place, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

And of course, still writing

Even with all of these new and surprising activities, I am still making time to write. Most of the time, its early in the morning before anyone else is awake in the house. I am writing for me, for fun, and maybe for someday sharing.

And I’m hoping to get back into the blogging and podcasting thing now that so much is settling into routine.