In what part of town do you live?
I right near the Falls.
How long have you lived in the area?
I grew up in Miami, not far from here. I went to Atlanta for college for a little while, but for most of my life, I’ve been in Miami.
Did you always think you’d stay here?
Not necessarily. My husband’s from Miami as well, and our families both live here. We wanted to be close to family, but we’re now exploring the possibility of going somewhere else and having a new experience.
What type of experience are you looking for?
A community that has a lot of artisanal people, places, and food. We want to be in a place where there’s makers and nature. We love hiking and being out in nature. This summer we went to New Mexico and really enjoyed Santa Fe and Taos. I’m not sure if that’s the place, but it did meet that criteria. My daughter’s a couple years out from going to college. Maybe we’ll wait and see where she ends up and maybe follow her close by, but not too close.
What keeps you busy during the week?
There’s a couple of things. I am currently homeschooling my younger daughter. I was a Waldorf teacher for the past four years. When COVID hit, it was a good opportunity because she and I have always explored the opportunity, but never went for it. We decided we wanted to give it a shot. Also, my husband and I run and operate our business, Parenting Choice. We have a parent education and family stabilization course that we offer online. It’s been up and running since 2005.
What similarities and differences have you found between teaching in the classroom and homeschooling?
The biggest difference is obviously the number of students. Now, I have one student that I can focus on, but I love teaching no matter what. Homeschooling is an incredible experience. I have a lot of freedom to explore with her, discover with her, and figure out what she needs and, then follow that path. If it’s a beautiful day out, we can start the morning with a big art pad on our lap and sit outside under a tree and draw. We both enjoy the freedom in homeschooling.
How are you creating lesson plans for her?
I’m following a Waldorf curriculum. For each grade, there’s a list of what you need to cover. But the teacher in Waldorf education can basically create the curriculum. I research a topic, I learn about it and then I execute it. She’s in seventh grade. So there’s the Renaissance, there’s astronomy, algebra, geometry, physics, and chemistry. There’s a lot to cover in middle school, but it’s a lot of fun and we go block by block. We spend about three weeks very focused on a certain subject.
Are there any projects or topics that have been particularly fun to do together?
Geometry is always fascinating because there’s math and beauty as well. You get the best of both worlds. We’re learning how to use compass and a straight edge to create beautiful geometric shapes, It’s interesting to see the final results of what comes up because she has a different artistic take on it and we have a lot of fun. Then, maybe we’ll follow it up by going to the beach and creating huge geometric shapes on the beach with the sand to bring it to life.
Do you think you’ll continue homeschooling her for the next few years?
She loves it and I love it. The plan is to go through eighth grade and then she’s interested in going to high school, maybe an art based school. It is a precious gift to have this time with her. I didn’t expect it.
Have you found it challenging to work so closely together?
No, I don’t think that there have been many challenges that have come up. We’ve both been pretty good about saying, this is our school day.
Has teaching changed the way you parent?
Oh, absolutely. My background is in psychology. Originally I started teaching by writing the course for my company, teaching parents how to co-parent during a difficult situation, like divorce or separation. That was my first teaching experience. Then I got into Waldorf education and was so inspired that I wanted to become a teacher. Teaching with the Waldorf curriculum taught me how to be a better parent. Then homeschooling has helped me be very present and live in the moment, and understanding child development on a deeper level and what the children need. It all contributes to helping raise your children.
Do you have parents sign up for your online course who are not going through a life change?
Yeah, for sure. It’s applicable for parents who are divorcing or just parenting apart. In this day and age, there’s all sorts of families. But for the majority, it’s usually parents going through a separation or divorce.
Is there a key lesson to teach parents going through a separation?
I think the main takeaway is that regardless of what you’re going through, parents need to remember that they shouldn’t involve their kids in any disputes. We try to give parents ways to understand how to navigate without getting their kids involved with their adult problems so that they don’t drag the children along.
How has starting a parenting business affected your relationship with your husband?
It’s brought us closer together because we’re business partners as well as husband and wife. We designed the program many years ago, right around the time that we were starting to have children. It has helped our communication both as partners in life and as business partners.
Why did you decide to start the business?
I had gone to school to become a psychologist. My father, who was an attorney, saw a need for a parenting education class to be provided online. Prior to that, these classes were only in person and people had to take time off of work and get babysitters. I decided to write the course and my husband created an e-learning platform and developed the whole software for it. It was a joint effort. Then we got it approved in Florida by the court. Now we’ve expanded to nine other states.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Right now, I am training a service dog for my daughter. He’s a four month old puppy. My daughter has a condition called complex regional pain syndrome. I’ve trained dogs in the past but not as a service dog. There’s a lot of learning on my end going into it and he’s super smart and bringing a lot of joy to our family.
What types of things are you teaching him?
Now we’re getting into more of the specific tasks that will help my daughter, like mobility counterbalance and retrieving things for her. He can already clean up all of his toys, so that’ll come in handy if she needs help. We’re teaching him to do deep pressure therapy if she gets dizzy. He can actually come and put his body weight on her, or she can lay down and he can go under her legs.
How are you training him?
Clicker training and rewards. I’m basically feeding him all day long whenever he’s behaving or doing well. I hand feed him all of his meals and train him. It’s a lot of work, but it seems to be working well.
Did you choose this specific breed, or did you get lucky?
I think a little bit of both. We were super fortunate because there’s a local breeder here in Miami who once a year awards one family one of her dogs to become a service dog. It’s called the Gift of Hope program. This year my daughter was awarded the dog. He’s a golden doodle. They’re known for being extra smart and he’s going to be a big dog. So if she needs counterbalance and support, he’ll be big enough for that.
You’ve followed us from the farmer’s market to the drive through. What is the experience like coming to our store?
It’s always fun. It’s very close to the place that my girls go horseback riding so it’s usually a great spot if we’re there on a weekend for a cool smoothie after riding. And, it’s always great to see you guys and see what you have. Everything is delicious. We love the ice cream. We love the guacamole. We came one day when my daughter was super hungry and she asked if she could get one of your turmeric bagels. Now we’re addicted to the bagels. They’re incredible. We go through withdrawal. If we don’t have any in the house.
What other places do you all enjoy going to that you might recommend?
Well, I’m super lucky because both my husband and my daughter are amazing chefs. We eat at home a lot and I get to eat the most amazing meals. When we do go out, I’d say the places we like to eat would be Mandolin, a Mediterranean restaurant with great outdoor seating. It yummy and fun. We like to eat at Lokal in the Grove. They have good burgers and I like their veggie burger and they have a delicious local IPA. Shibui is a great little Japanese restaurant. It’s off of Sunset and 102nd. It looks like a little house. You can either sit at a table downstairs or sit on the floor upstairs.
What’s Miami’s best kept secret?
So many people think of the beaches when they come to Miami and the beaches are beautiful and amazing, but I think the best kept secret is the Everglades. There’s nothing like it in the entire world, and it’s right here. You can experience something extraordinary. We have a friend, his name is Otter John, at Gator Park. It’s really fun to go see him learn all about the animals and the Everglades and then take an airboat ride afterwards. The other place that we like to go is Shark Valley. We like to go biking around there.
What for you is a worthy splurge?
Anything that involves an experience, whether it’s going to the theater or eating an amazing meal. And, hopefully it’s a shared experience with someone you love.
What community or philanthropic groups are important to you that you might like to promote or share?
One group that we’ve been involved with for the entirety of my girls’ lives is called Friend of South Florida Music. They’re a wonderful nonprofit that provides music educational to underserved communities. A couple other groups that are near and dear to my heart because of my daughter’s condition is the Coalition Against Pediatric Pain. Also, US Pain Foundation. Both work with children living in chronic pain, whether it’s something like my daughter has or any other type of condition. They provide family camps in the summer and a lot of support for families going through this. It’s not just the child that has to deal with it, but it affects the entire family. So they’ve both been amazing in our journey.
Is there a question that you would like to ask us?
(RS) Do you guys have another business during the week or is this your main business right now?
(A+W) During the week, Adena is usually on the farm and I am home designing. For the last 23 years I’ve been designing jewelry, watches, and other consumer goods. I have a new watch coming out this year and am working on a collection of augmented reality sculptures.
How can readers be in touch?
Our business is called ParentingChoice.com