What You Need To Know About Homeschooling During Quarantine

It’s time to go back to the basics.

I work as a Center Director for a Head Start site in Upstate NY. Prior to this I worked as a Family Advocate, A preschool teacher, and a Behavior Technician for children with Autism. I have been working with children for many years, and have two of my own (a 3 year old son and 8 year old daughter). I had always thought about homeschooling my children, but never imagined it would happen like this.

I didn’t understand the severity of the Coronavirus and then we got the news about schools closing. I had done my best to keep my cool up until this point. But this is when I lost it. I wasn’t afraid of a virus; my heart ached for all the children who were losing their safe haven. The Sunday before the first Monday of not having school, I cried in the prayer room at my church and my friend prayed for me. She prayed that God would give me an idea of something I could do to help. I knew I didn’t have the resources to do all that I wished I could, but in an instant God brought the idea to mind. A virtual classroom.

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I didn’t know if the schools had a plan, but I didn’t want to let one day go by so I started my virtual classroom immediately and was blown away by the response. Children from all over the country, and even other countries, showed up. My hope was to provide a space where children could feel like they belonged, after having their world’s rocked in this way. Everyday, they show up and they make my day. And here is what I have learned about homeschooling them and my own children during quarantine:

It does not matter what they learn. It doesn’t matter if they understand the new material. It doesn’t matter if they finished their online assignments. It does not matter if they get the answers right. What matters is that they feel loved and safe. This is hard for all of us parents, even if you’ve been homeschooling for years. These circumstances are different, very different. As much as we try to explain it, they may not fully understand it.

51415BCC-B7DC-404F-8BC8-BF0FCE742855I have to work on myself everyday to understand where they are and how they feel and to give them sooooo much GRACE. I fail on a daily basis, but I keep trying. This is a tough time, and we (parents) often joke about this excess amount of time spent with our children. But the truth is, sometimes it isn’t funny at all. Sometimes it’s hard, disappointing, infuriating, and disheartening. We feel like terrible parents, and even worse homeschool teachers. But we have an opportunity here, to make memories. To make mistakes and learn from each other. To show our children what it means when people say, “WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.”

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I hope that for the short amount of time these children spend in my virtual classroom everyday, they feel a tiny sense of normalcy. I hope that they feel seen and heard, loved and safe. For them and my own children, I hope that when this experience is over, they are not traumatized. I hope that they feel a sense that everyone in their lives did all that they could to give them stability through the chaos.

We must go back to the basics. We must revisit those fundamental social-emotional skills. How are they feeling? How are they coping? What do they need? Do they feel safe? ARE THEY OKAY? Academics are important and I’m not suggesting that they should just do whatever they want, but helping our children navigate these uncertain times (mentally, emotionally, spiritually) in a way that grounds them in faith, love, and hope…that is what truly matters. And remember, mom, dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle, guardian…we are in this together.

Stay safe, stay blessed, and please (if you can) stay home.

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xo,

sheismetoo

Kobe, I Wasn’t a Fan

I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a fan of Kobe Bryant. Not for any reason in particular; I’m just not a huge basketball fan. With that being said, I have posted a lot about Kobe since his passing. I’m not hopping on some bandwagon, and I still don’t know a lot about who he was and what he did for the world. But I’ll explain what has happened since January 26, 2020. 
I remember getting on Facebook and seeing just one shared post: TMZ announcing that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident. Immediately I assumed that it was a sick joke and thought TMZ was about to get ripped a new one for this fake news. I clicked on the link and the page wouldn’t load, even furthering my suspicion that this was a hoax. I then googled his name because surely if this were true, it would’ve been on google by now. Still nothing. So, I went back to Facebook and refreshed my newsfeed one more time. The posts began to flood in.
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Immediately I was engulfed in this search for the “truth.” Because there was no way I was believing a headline that read: “Kobe Bryant dies at 41 in Helicopter Crash.” How in the world could that be true? You might be wondering why someone who wasn’t a fan and didn’t know him personally would care so much. I was wondering the same. But as the tragic news was confirmed, I instantly felt the heaviness of the world. I saw many people say they were logging off social media because of the overwhelming amount of posts about this. As much as I wanted to do the same, I was trapped in a wormhole.
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This past week, I have tortured myself with video after video, and story after story of the life of Kobe Bryant. And here is what I’ve learned:
Kobe loved the game of basketball with everything inside of him. Despite the MJ versus Kobe debates heard all around the world for the past 20 years, Kobe always made it very clear that he knew how talented he was and that he loved winning, but also that true greatness came from teaching the next generation to be their best and to do better than the generation before. This was most evident in the way he was a parent to his children—a #GirlDad.
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One of the most heartbreaking parts of this story is that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, was also on the helicopter. He loved all his daughters vastly, but Gigi…she would carry out his legacy. I believe she would’ve made the WBNA more popular than it’s ever been and done so much more with her life. I saw the footage of the crash and the scenarios in my mind were endless. In life, Kobe was always portrayed as confident and fearless, but in those final moments…could he possibly have held it together as he knew what was about to happen? I prayed that was the case. The thought alone makes my heart ache immensely.
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I learned that Kobe was funny, generous, loving, diligent, passionate, and driven. He cared about his family, his friends, his teammates, important causes, and people. I learned that his legacy went way beyond the basketball court. As I have searched and searched to see more of about his life, I am sad that I wasn’t a fan. I’m sad that I didn’t know more when he was still alive. Because I would’ve wanted to meet this man, even if from a far. A bucket list item for sure.
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I also learned, on a deeper level, that people are cruel. Everyone always wants something to argue about. People tried to downplay the impact of Kobe’s death for many different reasons. I heard stories about him, specifically those surrounding sexual assault allegations. I am no judge. I am not the girl who accused him. I do not know the truth. But I do know that Kobe was not too far gone for God’s grace and redemption. And I pray that such an amazing man knew THAT truth.
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And Vanessa Bryant…still on her two feet by the strength of God alone. I cannot imagine the pain. To lose the love of your life and your child, in an instant. All I could do is cry and pray. I hope we all are praying. For the families, and for our own healing. Because here’s the things…I cannot understand such a tragedy. It is so hard to sit with. When I say it out loud, there’s a twinge of pain that shocks my chest. A friend texted me the next night and said, “After this tragedy, I found myself asking God ‘why?’” I was right there with him. We had a conversation and I referenced the verse Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I knew it was the right thing to tell him, even though I was wrestling with the same question.
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As our conversation continued, he mentioned one of our friends that passed away, and as heartbreaking as that loss was, I was able to see the light in all of this. After our friend passed away, many of our other friends turned their lives around for the better. Many friendships were made or restored. The community began to change, little by little. I said to him, “[Our friend] changed a lot of people’s lives. His life and story…although we miss him, his legacy lives on and still is changing lives. I believe that. And Kobe’s life and death will do the same, ALL OVER THE WORLD! It’s so unfortunate that it had to be this way. But think about the chaos this world has been in lately. All the hate and craziness. The world froze yesterday. Everyone felt it. And yes, there are still a bunch of haters, but mostly people were brought together. And people are going to fight to honor Kobe. To make him proud, just like we do for [our friend]. And that’s a beautiful thing, even in the sorrow.” 
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This message was for him. But then I realized it was God speaking to me. This is the peace that I can rest in. I hope we can all rest in it. Although we will continue to cry and be heartbroken, we also get to smile and laugh at the memories he gave to the world and be inspired. To have the Mamba Mentality and to work to be the best parents and people we can be. To hold our loved ones close and cherish all the moments. Because as we all know, life is short, and tomorrow isn’t promised.
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In 2017 Kobe wrote, “Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back…But reality gives nothing back and nor should you.” So, I hope that we can all feel what we feel and embrace this pain and grow stronger because of it. Not falling backward or feeling hopeless, but moving forward to be better humans in every way.
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I didn’t need to be a Kobe fan to understand how much this hurts. To empathize with every die hard fan, family member, friend, and man who shared the court with him. This loss has been felt around the world. I am praying for God’s peace and comfort for all as we mourn the legend, Kobe Bryant.💜💛
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The Child Inside: A Different View of Aaron Hernandez

I would like to start this post with a disclaimer. Although I am a mental health professional in training, I am not an expert. I was not an investigator on this case. I did not follow Aaron Hernandez’s life or football career. I knew nothing about this story prior to the documentary. Since watching, I have done some further research, but other than that, I am only here to offer an opinion and a different perspective of a tragedy that occurred in our society. I felt extremely inclined to chime in on this heavy topic because I am deeply concerned with the public’s reaction to who Aaron Hernandez was. 

 

I don’t care to defend a celebrity who may or may not have killed people. It is not my intention to excuse his actions or depreciate the lives of those that were taken. However, what I care to defend in this moment is the innocent child who once was. The one who had no choice in who would raise him, who would love him, who would hurt him, or who would leave him.

I care to defend children like little Aaron, whose father abused him and who was sexually abused by someone who was supposed to care for him.

I care to defend the teenager who was never given the proper guidance and help he so desperately needed, to heal from the abuse and trauma of his life. Whose father passed away and whose mother didn’t tend to her grieving child’s needs, but moved on and brought another man into their home.

I care to defend the adult that was never given the tools to cope with strong emotions and tremendous life stressors. Who was thrown into a life of fame and money at a young age—not knowing how to properly express his frustrations. And who suffered from a severe brain disease.

I care to speak against the people who throw the word “psychopath” around to shame those with mental illnesses. Those who choose to ignore the bigger picture and show absolutely no empathy for other humans.

 

Empathy can be a quite a blessing and equally a curse. In my field it is completely necessary, and all at once completely exhausting. As I watched the documentary, my emotions were bouncing off the walls and through the roof. I had a feeling in my chest, that has yet to let up. Sorrow. Almost tangible sorrow. I am not a fan of the Patriots; I didn’t even know who this man was, but my heart ached for him. Not because he was gorgeous (and that, I do believe). Not because he was a father. And not because anyone deserved what came to them. I couldn’t really put my finger on it, until I recently looked at my 3-year-old boy, and there it was. The same low haircut and beautiful dimpled smile. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and again my heart ached for Aaron. Not “the killer inside,” but the little boy he used to be before the world ruined his life. 

 

There is so much more I could say about the documentary and the agenda of producers, or the ridiculous speculations that came from all of this. Or how this case became a feeding frenzy for the media and much more interesting for Hernandez to be in the spotlight, and for them to convict the man who came from nothing, finally made it, and then seemingly just “threw it all away.” I have many opinions, of which I am sure there are many rebuttalsSo, I will spare us all the debate and leave you with this: 

 

I cannot help Aaron Hernandez; it’s too late for that. But I see an opportunity to raise awareness and to defend mental health, in hopes that more people will make it their personal mission to create a better life for the children they are responsible for. To help them become healthy adults, and begin to break the vicious cycle of abuse, trauma, and hopelessness in today’s generation and those to come. 

 

If we can’t prevent the trauma, we MUST help them process it. Anchor your children in faith and love. Whether they become a famous athlete, a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, they will be faced with challenging situations. The difference between whether they persevere or falter, in large part, is in the way you have prepared them. This is our responsibility. Please, take it personally. Take it seriously. As if their lives depend on it…because they do.

Pain demands to be felt healing from hurt

I’m Jealous

“That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” – John Green

Although this is true, we often try our hardest to bury our pain. Pretending to be okay is second nature. But how will it affect you in the long run? Well, allow me to provide some insight.

I’m Jealous

I was listening to the song “Jealous” by Labrinth, the other day. I sat there and really took in the lyrics. “I wished you the best of all this world could give. And I told you, when you left me, there’s nothing to forgive. But I always thought you’d come back…tell me all you found was heartbreak and misery. It’s hard for me to say, I’m jealous of the way you’re happy without me.” These words broke me, and I thought what a vulnerable state of mind that is to be in. To stop pretending that someone or something didn’t hurt you. To stop pretending that you don’t care, and truly admit, what it is you feel.

Tough Love

I struggle with facing my feelings on a regular basis, but I had to look in the mirror and give myself some tough love. And I will share that with you. It’s time to face your pain, however that may look! Maybe you’re jealous. Maybe you’re angry, or extremely heartbroken. Or all of the above. Do you need to cry? Do you need to talk to a counselor? Do you need to talk to God, and really listen this time? Do you need to apologize? Do you need to forgive someone, even if they didn’t ask for it? Do you need to be honest with someone, even with yourself? There’s no recovery before these things happen.

Building on a Faulty Foundation

As hard as we may try to bury the trash, even if it’s not visible, it’ll start to stink! If you’re not willing to break down something that is faulty, nothing you build on that foundation will ever stand for long. I’m not saying to sulk in your misery or act on your anger, jealousy, or frustration. I’m saying, stop burying your pain and acting like you’re okay just for other people’s sake.

True Strength

Take time to grieve that relationship or hurtful situation, to have a few emotional breakdowns, to heal from the hurt, and to find you and truly understand how to move forward. True strength isn’t defined by your ability to cover your pain. It is defined by the way you deal with your pain. Dealing with it means you MUST face it. You MUST feel it. And you MUST be patient. You won’t feel better overnight. But you will be stronger, every day you choose to face your feelings in a healthy way.

xo,

Ashley

A Lesson in Letting Go

Today I learned a lesson in letting go. It was supposed to be a busy Saturday out of the house. I had planned to go to a birthday party in the afternoon, a Friendsgiving party in the late afternoon, and then a basketball game in the evening. But instead, my little boy woke up from his nap with a fever. So, in the house we stayed. Continue reading “A Lesson in Letting Go”