21 September 2011

World View

From our eyes to yours...take a look at some of the images we captured when we spent the year travelling the world looking for opportunities to volunteer. Set to John Lennon's "Imagine" it brings tears to my eyes when I look back over that year. The world is a beautiful place with beautiful people in it and so many of them took care of us. Being away from home, family, familiar sights and smells was unnerving at times but the graciousness of disabled men and women, smiles of orphan children and tears of a mother sad to see us go makes me feel homesickness back at home. Without counting the number of places we laid our heads there were a ton of open invitations extended and offerings of familial spots as we travelled.  It was hard to say goodbye over and over. The end of the video should say To Be Continued because the story doesn't end where the video ends. Especially now having kids. We have the amazing responsibility of contributing to lives that will then contribute to others lives and with our world views and connections to communities around the world there are some great experiences to come.


07 September 2011


At some point I realized that toddlers have no sense of time but as my son moves towards true boyhood at the ripe age of 3 he is teaching me that my concept of time can be summed up in one word...LASTERDAY. Every time he describes when something happened he says it was lasterday.

You see lasterday is everything except right now and anything after right now. It's everything that already happened yesterday, last week or maybe months ago.

So, to bring you up to speed from April to September since blogging stopped let me tell you what happened lasterday.

The school year ended and Soul had his first official summer break. He asked about going to school for days and then let it go when he found out we were going on a few trips. It was on one of those trips that he sustained his first real injury, a fractured elbow. As a parent watching your child deal will indescribable pain just rips you to pieces. I held myself together through his pleading and wailing but broke down in tears explaining to my husband what happened when the x-rays were done. Soul and I had an amazing mommy and son bonding experience through this. He knows mommy is comforting and I know I am made to comfort him.

5 weeks later the cast came off and lasterday he carried it to school to share during circle time. Just in time too because they are working on dinosaurs. With xray pictures and the cast we can have some good discussions about fossils.

It's exciting to be back to school. We met with the teacher lasterday to set goals for this year. He's reading, learning to write (and has chosen to be left handed because of the 5 weeks in the cast) and will discover graciousness with waiting his turn as he most often has a lot he can't wait to say :o) He is an incredible 3 year old and I love sharing his presence with the world. In just a few weeks we'll celebrate his 4 years on this earth and I'll reminisce on the day he arrived, just like it was lasterday.

See you soon,


19 April 2011

Secret Society

Friday mornings have changed. The last few Friday's I've started the weekend off by spending time with other parents and the DGM director talking about a variety of topics. It's starting to feel like being part of a really cool club. And the club IS really cool. I just found out the names of some interesting Alumni. The founders of Google and Wikipedia, Julia Child and to my big surprise Sean "Puffy" Combs. Maybe the lack of television means I get my information slower but I don't recall ever hearing about this fantastic news...Montessorian's fare tremendously well in the real world. Maybe it's because they belong to this well kept secret society.

I can remember hearing at different times that kids who attend Montessori school have a hard time if they leave that environment and go to traditional schools. I guess that means we (my husband and I) will have to do whatever we can to keep our children out of a traditional school. There's no going back now, and good for us. The thing is, life is very Montessori. We are all multidimensional individuals contributing to the multideminsions of our environments. Why shouldn't we be trained in that way and encouraged to be good at it. You might have a Montessori style if you

- work to the best of your ability
- take pride in your own achievements
- demonstrate self motivation
- put things back after you are done with them
- work well with others
- handle transitions well
- understand the meaning of community

How long did it take you to master these things? I know I'm still working on some of them but my 3 year old will have them mastered by the time he's in lower elementary. If people knew the true beauty of educating the entire person who wouldn't want to get their child in fast. When I say the entire child I don't mean Reading and Math. No. I mean an 8 page report card that let's the parent know about social development, self control, grace and courtesy, care of environment, self and others and more...and that's the secret.

Well the secret is out, just click on the title to check out the Wall Street Journal Blog and find out more. It's fascinating that these dynamic, trendsetting personalities mentioned above have their educational roots in Montessori. I'm thinking about what they have done and the following each of them inspired. They all have in common, the ability to create and re create. Puffy was so into recreating that he changed his nickname back to his original nickname after changing it to several other names that he tried on for a while before deciding he was fine with where he started. That's awesome...don't be afraid to try something on; If it doesn't fit or you don't like it you can always leave with what you came in wearing. It's also called the Thank you bite-I don't mind trying it because I know it's not for me I can forgo an further experience with it and still be comfortable and confident that I made the right choice, for me.


31 March 2011


Here in the United States education is a mandatory stipulation for parents raising children. To make the task simple, public institutions of learning are free and abundantly placed throughout neighborhoods, convenient for youth and families. It has been this way for decades but it seems as though over the same period of time our collective fervor for learning has diminished. Somewhere between the mandate to school and free resources, the excitement for education and discovering passions has been thwarted. Many strong starters barely complete the warm up before the big race of life after high school begins. Things change when you leave the highly formulated constructs of traditional education and step into the "real world". I have never understood why their wasn't a practice run before the real world. Ahhhhhhh but wait. Stay with me fore a minute and imagine a different educational process.
Imagine a child, happy to go to school.

Imagine learning spaces with endless opportunities to explore.

Imagine being encouraged to get even better at what you're already good at...

Imagine career readiness training from the time you start walking.

Imagine dictating your own promotions.

Imagine self-less teenagers who understand giving is the best gift.

Imagine those teenagers trying to get others to understand it.

Imagine adults who care about what youth have to say.

Imagine things being changed because the adults listened to the youth.

Imagine happy youth.

Imagine a toddler sanitizing her own hands.

Imagine running a business at 12 years old.

Imagine youth raised in this environment.

Can you imagine all this? I can't help but imgine it, every day. Our family is a part of it. This week I saw that toddler self dispense AND sanitize her hands as if she had read one of those bathroom signs that states "employees must wash hands before returning to work". I was amazed how second natured it appeared as she rubbed her plams together literally taking matters into her own hands. To me, it was a metaphor in motion, a vivid comparison, a representation, of sustainability. I am learning that DGM children (and families) are encouraged to be self-directed, independent learners who can change their world. Given the opportunity to practice, use and share those skills with others, what happens is you end up with individuals who have these beautiful tendencies embedded in their nature and it creates a self confident personality that last a lifetime. Tuesday morning I sat in an "Imagine" breakfast with about 400 people. It was an event meant to share the past accomplishments, present activities and future vision of the Desert Garden Montessori School. What a wonderful start to my week. I felt honored to be amongst visionary people who have the capability of turning hopes into reality. I want to teach our sons to do that same thing. I feel encouraged, optomistic, passionate, included, responsible and protected. When you TRULY want to make something happen, you'll put in the honest effort to do so. It's incredible when you have a support system helping you along the way. Salaam, Joronda

27 March 2011

Arts and Crabs

After only a few days of school this guy is so independent. On day two he wanted to be dropped off curbside. Considering that he threw up all over his clothes about 30 minutes after getting dropped off the first day I would say he has some impressive self confidence. I saw that confidence again when I asked him, some time during the middle sof the week, what he did at school and he told me with the most sincerity "arts and crabs". Before I had a chance to find out how he defined that he asked me "what's arts and crabs?" Too funny! He knew he had done it even though he didn't really know what it was.

After a full week I feel like we all just started school. The excitement still has not worn off either. I take him to school and Mateo and the baby do a 14 mile round trip on the bike to pick him up and bring him home after school. In a quick run down of the week it began with throw up on day one, heart warming photos from his teacher of the same day, a pleasant surprise of photos on day 2, coffee with the director on friday and show and tell to end the week. For his first show and tell he shared a Dominican Republic hand made cigar box that he calls his treasure box. He keeps his planes and helicopters in this box and was super excited to show his teacher. What a great start to an educational career!


Joronda Montano

21 March 2011

Life Changes

Wow, how life has changed since 2006. When we came back to the States, general readjustment was met with over coming a life threatening brain disease while protecting a precious Soul's safe entry into this world. I thought about that a lot this morning while I was listening to the wind whip across the yard picking up everything its power could hold. I was holding on to Peace, comfortable and content. It was around 4 o'clock in the morning so I should have been tired but I was excited and reflective.

Today, our first born son would start his First day of school. For the last three years he has been home with Daddy soaking up every bit of Montano manhood he could. After three years we are letting him expand his world. I have been excited about this day since I found out about this wonderful school. I was hooked after visiting only once and truly believe our son's academic experience will be empowering and uplifting for everyone around him.

I remember the day we found out that in 9 months we "could" be parents. Awe, fear and excitement were all a part of that day. I say "could" because it was January 2007, just a few weeks after I was released from the hospital with a diagnosis of neuro brucellosis. The one thing the doctor said was don't get pregnant. Brucella is vicious to the stability of a new pregnancy. After passing out twice in the shower it was a done deal the medicine I thought was having some adverse effects turned out to be a baby. We didn't know if we would make it past the first trimester and weren't sure how the disease would progress through an entire 9 months. Six months later I had my final spinal tap, was back to normal and could focus on just the baby. He was born at 7:49pm September 29, 2007 weighing 8lbs 2.6 ozs and measuring 21 inches. Amazingly healthy!
He has been AMAZING since day one and I know there are amazing things in store for him. I am so excited about him starting school. I can't wait to hear his daily discoveries. Today he discovered he doesn't like rice cakes. Forty minutes after we dropped him off I received a phone call saying he threw up in the classroom. What a way to start. You know what he did? Went to the office told them he was fine, had his clothes changed and jumped right back in for round 2. The voice on the other line said to me he was feeling ok and maybe it was his nerves. Talking to him afterschool it turns out it was definitely the rice cakes. He is very ready to go back to school tomorrow.

Well just so you know, you can go with us. In fact meet us right back here as often as you would like and share in the positive life changes this one is about to make in this world.

Joronda Montano

15 June 2006

Where in the world are we?

South America...Great!!! We got on a boat at the Guayaquil yacht club and skimmed the surface of the Pacific Ocean for 2 hours. We arrived at our destination and pulled up to a small deck leading to an island dedicated to Biocentinela's shrimping. What an interesting place! To give you an idea of what the last month has been for us here are some buenos y malos (highs and lows).

Smelling the ocean air as our boat captain navigated through mangrove pathways, destination Jontec Island...bueno. Weeks later getting stuck in the mud and having to wait in the ocean for 45 minutes on a wooden boat until the tide rose was not comforting...malo.

Choclo con queso fresco, so delicious on a cold morning when you're excited to try new things...bueno. Queso fresco three days in a row and nothing with flavor to help you choke it down...malo.

Three large meals a day in the company of the nicest people you would want to be stuck on an island with...bueno. Large portions of rice three times a day...with queso fresco on top for a treat...malo.

Watching everyone communicate with three deaf guys even though no one knows proper sign languauge. Some how they could all understand each other and everything worked beautifully...bueno.

Being married and spending mornings rowing with my spouse on serene lakes feeding shrimp, listening to egrets and basking in the sun...que bueno. Tasting the microorganisms that the shrimp get....whoa, malo.

Watching B rated movies after dinner dubbed over really badly in Spanish, then barely being able to keep our eyes open before dragging ourselves to bed around 7:45 p.m., priceless and oh so bueno. Being awaken from wonderful dream filled sleep at 4 a.m. by cross bred rooster chicken birds...malo.

Mateo becoming a top notch futbol goalie and helping his team win two days in a row, he was never scored on...bueno

Fishing for shrimp at midnight until almost sunrise was a first for both of us. It was dark, cold and a lot of work...bueno. Preparing the drained lakes for new crops of shrimp is dirty work. We walked through mud above our knees throwing lime and bokashi (a japanese organic mixture for the bottom of the lake). Good process (organic) but thick stinky mud...malo.

Getting our feet sliced up by sea shells. If you've never done it you might not know that shells are like razor blades and if you step on them with no shoes they cut your feet like butter. The worst is trying to sleep because they sting for days. I only had a few but both of Mateo's feet were sliced to pieces...malo

It was overall really really good. Eat organic shrimp if you get a chance, it's great! We left the farm and stayed in Guayaquil at the company house for a couple days before making our way back to Quito...

So what did we do when we got to Quito? We walked for an hour in the dark at 5 a.m., since we couldn't get on the local bus with our big backpacks, found our hostel and prepared ourselves for home. That's right...after 9 months of adventure our next destination was set for The United States...and we're BACK! Maybe we'll be in a city near you soon!

We want to thank everyone for travelling with us. We can't tell you how much it meant to us to have your presence. You really helped pull us through some tough times. We can't wait to see you all and hear what you have been up to. We are still working on elements from the trip so keep checking back for updated pictures through the end of our trip. New photos should be up in the next week or so. We will continue to use the blog for future travel and updates on some of the projects we plan to continue to support so don't throw away the address. Again, thank you so much and we should see you soon.

Mateo and Joronda