Category Archives: Homeschool

Sheltered foodies

In some ways, the clichéd accusation is true:  my homeschooled children are sheltered.  Two events happened in the last 24 hours, though, that made me chuckle while thinking, “Being sheltered isn’t such a bad thing.”

  1. Yesterday, I took the five children to the Prescott area, about an hour and a half north of here.  Among other things, we picked up my nephew and went to Costco.  So, I had six children, ages 3 – 16, in the store with me, and everyone was fabulous.  I was so pleased with how smoothly everything was going, and wanted to bless them.  So, I decided that everyone could have a frozen yogurt or a berry smoothie.  Oh, I laughed as my children inadvertently reminded me how infrequently we do this sort of thing — both because of cost, the sugar, and because who knows what’s in “yogurt” at Costco??  I usually avoid that sort of stuff like the plague.  But, this was a special occasion.  “Chocolate, vanilla, or swirl?” I asked each child.  “What’s swirl?” replied two of them — my six-year-old, Audrey, and my 15-year-old, Ethan.  Swirl.  They didn’t know what swirl was.  Adding to Audrey’s confusion was the whole topic of “yogurt.”  She is familiar with plain, whole milk yogurt, which she very often has for/with her breakfast.  “Yogurt can be ice cream??” she marveled.  Once we got it sorted out what swirl and frozen yogurt was, we could proceed.  Ethan and Audrey both decided to try this novelty of an idea:  swirl.  I had chocolate and gave Fiala (my three-year-old, who has almost kicked a systemic, REALLY BAD candida albicans yeast infection) six little bites.  Everyone else chowed down, and by the end, two of my children were saying it was too sweet and they had a stomach ache.  Ha!  It was a learning experience for all of us, and a really good ~$8.50 spent.
  2. Yesterday, we also received a package from Riega Foods for us to review*.  Now, this isn’t the official review, but I had to share:  I wanted to finish cleaning bathrooms before getting lunch ready, and the clock was ticking, especially since I sat down after being 80% done and chatted with my sister for a half-hour on the phone, which I absolutely do not regret.  😀  My oldest, Ethan, was especially interested in the cheese sauce mixes, and asked if he could make some macaroni and cheese for lunch.  I thought this might be a good idea, especially since my dairy-free child is gone at a friend’s house for the day.  Well, we didn’t quite have enough of the right sort of gluten-free noodles to make a whole meal of it, but I decided that he could work on that to be a “lunch snack” while I finished cleaning the bathrooms.  Now, you need to understand something:  Ethan is my sous chef.  He is a great hand at food prep:  washing, chopping, slicing, stirring, flipping, mixing, pretty much anything I need him to do at the cutting board and the stove top.  Very often, I’m the brains behind making a meal, and he’s the brawn, doing a good portion of the actual work.  So, it’s not like he’s inexperienced in the kitchen.  However…  he continued to come to me to ask me a question or two or three about the process of making what is the (almost) natural equivalent of Kraft Mac & Cheese — powdered mix combined with ¼ cup milk and a couple of tablespoons of butter.  I was partly annoyed that he was having difficulty with such a simple kitchen task when it dawned on me, “He has very little experience following the directions on a package!!!”  We make virtually everything from scratch, and I can’t remember the last time a “cheese sauce mix” was in our home!!  He’s more accustomed to, “Slice these ¼-inch thick and sauté them in butter.”  I finally had to stop what I was doing, and go over in great detail how to make boxed pasta.  I also completely abandoned my annoyance, and was amused and rather pleased that, in his fifteen years of life on this planet, he has virtually no experience with “cheese sauce”.

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*Stay tuned for a whole review and a giveaway!!!!

Thus ends the most French-filled blog post I think I’ve ever written.

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Integrity vs. Loyalty

Sometimes, I worry that my children won’t learn enough.  Or, rather, that, as homeschooled children, they won’t learn enough of the “right” things.

Of biggest concern is my high schooler, Ethan.  He’s 14, and a freshman.  He’s currently doing Sonlight’s Core 200, which is actually SL’s sophomore year program.*  Since the bulk of the history portion of this program centers on Christian church history and apologetics, I’m unsure if I can actually count it as a history credit.  In addition to church history, he’s also reading some serious lit:  Jane Eyre, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Oliver Twist, and Robinson Crusoe are all books he’s read this year.  Still, I sometimes wonder if we’re on the right track for him.

Then, some days, like today, I’m certain that — no matter if it is the “right” thing or not — there is SUCH VALUE in homeschooling.  We discuss topics that, in all likelihood, never reach the ears of a typically-schooled child.

The curriculum assigns readings from an anthology of poetry.  I have long held that poets are at least as interesting as their writings, and we’d be remiss to not become acquainted with each poet from the book.  This extra discussion makes the “poetry” section of his day take extra-long.  I don’t feel badly about this, but we’re just now finishing out week 16 of the poetry assignments, while the rest of his work is in week 30.

Anyway.

James Henry Leigh Hunt 1784-1859

Today had us read one of James Henry Leigh Hunt’s poems, Abou Ben Adhem.  The poem is all right;  not fabulous in my opinion.  The basic premise of it is that even if you don’t excel at loving God, it’s all right;  as long as you love others splendidly, God will bless (and ostensibly love) you the more for it.  That warrants discussion in itself.  However, we didn’t much discuss that.  What we did discuss was the nature of balancing integrity with loyalty.  Too much loyalty without integrity reaps a harvest of brown-nosing and spin-doctoring, sweeping sin issues under the rug.  Leigh Hunt, though, seems to have erred too much on the other side:  integrity over loyalty, which is rather ironic, given the topic of Abou Ben Adhem.  In other words, he was fond of speaking the truth, but not in love, not out of necessity, and often biting the hand that had fed and befriended him, publishing scathing critiques of his contemporaries’ works, and writing exposés of famous people of his day (leading, at one point, to a two-year jail sentence, for criticizing the Prince Regent)…  Unsurprisingly, he (and his wife and his ten children) frequently found themselves friendless and penniless…

Ideally, one would have family, friends, employers, et al, to whom one could be loyal, yet still retain one’s integrity.

I presented to Ethan the best example of both loyalty perfectly balanced with integrity that I know:  his father.  In our itinerant society, my husband has remained with the same employer for more than 20 years.  An integral part of our church (and on staff at said church) for nearly 23 years.  Married for 17+ years.  Each of those take commitment and loyalty.  Yet, he is also integrous to the nth degree, sometimes exasperatingly so, as he seeks to follow both the letter and the spirit of a law.  I was particularly pleased to show Ethan that one can excel at both integrity and loyalty.

It was definitely one of those learning experiences that I know Ethan wouldn’t have had elsewhere, and it made the whole day feel worthwhile.

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*It’s not that Ethan is remarkably advanced;  it’s that we have already so extensively covered American History, which SL slates for freshmen, that I wanted him to learn something different.

Standardized tests, losing my wallet, bread, shopping, and a sick doggie

  • I am considering having my kids do a standardized test before the end of the school year, which I’ve never done before.  The purpose of this is at least three-fold:  1) To assess their progress;  2) To see if there are any holes in their education which I need to fill;  3) Acquaint them with the style of test that they will likely see much more of, outside of our homeschool experience, when the time comes.  Looking into it, I decided that the Iowa Test of Basic Skills would likely be the best choice, because it is much more comprehensive than many other standardized tests, but still at a fairly reasonable cost.  Then, I see that one has to have a bachelor’s degree in order to administer it.  Rats.  Since I completed only 2½ years of college, that means that either I have to choose a test without such a requirement, or enlist the help of someone else in administering it.  I bet my stepdad would, but it’s such a bummer that I can’t just give the test to them by myself.  😦
  • I lost my wallet today.  I went to the grocery store for a few non-perishables, then went to the library to 1) pick up some books I had placed on hold; 2) return some DVDs that we managed to remain in our DVD player after we had returned the covers; 3) pay off the fines that accrued on our 30 or so items while the “hold” had been placed on my account due to the missing DVDs; 4) confess that an additional DVD had “developed” a crack in it while in our care.  When I went to pull out my debit card and my library card, I discovered that I had no wallet.  I assumed that I had somehow left it in the truck, so I left my items at the counter, and went to get it.  No wallet.  So, I went back in to the library, took care of #2 and #4, and ran back to my truck.  I raced back to the grocery store, praying all the while that if my wallet was discovered by someone that they would be honest and turn it in.  After fruitlessly checking the area where I had previously parked, I went in to the customer service desk.  THEY HAD IT!  I was so relieved that it was there, 100% intact, that I forgot to ask the customer service person who had turned it in.  Thank you, Jesus, for answered prayer.
  • The fourteenth time is almost the charm!  I have baked FOURTEEN different versions of my vegan bread recipe, and this last one was the best yet.  I’m going to tweak it yet again… just once more… (I think!), so I should be able to post the recipe very, very soon.  It’s been a hard-fought battle, lemme tell you!!!  Gluten-free, vegan, corn-, rice-, and millet-free…  Plus, tasty AND whole-grain!  It has not been easy.
  • Ross:  The haven for those who have expensive tastes, but not the $$ to back it up.  I wanted a real leather black or brown purse.  I have a number of purses, but needed a new everyday one, and I have been looking for quite a long time, because I could spend no more than $20 on it.  Voila!  I finally found one that I really like, at Ross, on clearance, for $10.  It’s “leather with man-made trim” but for ten bucks, I’m not quibbling.
  • Our dear doggie, Tally, has Valley Fever again.  It’s actually likely that she never quite kicked it last year, though she had improved so dramatically as to appear totally healthy.  She started seeming mopey about six weeks ago, but that was concurrent with the start of Little League season, which means that we’ve been absent much more often, leaving her in her crate or in the back yard, as weather allows.  She doesn’t like when we leave her, and who can blame her?  Still, she had started to lose weight… and when she took a step outside last week, and I noticed a little limp, I thought, “Moping does NOT make you limp.”  So, I took her to the vet on Friday, and explained to the vet that I’d really rather not spend $180 on a blood test to confirm what he and I both know, and would he please just prescribe fluconazole?  Understandably, he would prefer that we do the test, so we would know what her baseline numbers are, and to rule out any other possible (though very unlikely) illness.  But, he was willing to prescribe the medication on empirical evidence alone.  However, I talked to the vet’s office this morning, and apparently, they forgot to call the rx in, which means we won’t get it until Monday.  I hope Tally responds quickly to the medication, and that we soon have our spunky, happy dog back.
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