Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Back to School

This fall, my sweet boy will return to public school for 2nd grade. I am heartbroken but hopeful. In the last year we have had so many amazing experiences. My son has gotten his confidence, his smile and his mojo back. We have strengthened our bond and learned to understand each other better. I hope it's enough to carry us through the challenges we will be facing in the next few months.

I'm sure I'll have a few things to share about parenting this spectacular child that might still be of interest to homeschool and unschooling families. You'll be able to find us at my other blog site www.yogainthevalley.blogspot.com.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Television Rules

We have set rules about which shows X is allowed to watch. There are a few shows that I perceived to be too strange & inappropriate and they are off limits. Occasionally, X tells me he doesn't understand why he can't watch them or why they are inappropriate.

I realized I couldn't give him a good answer because I hadn't actually watched the shows. I notice bits & pieces as I'm doing my household business but I've never actually sat down & watched these shows so, to be fair, I told him we would watch one together. That way I'd be able to give him specific examples of the rudeness and disrespectful behavior I was sure was there.

As it turns out, I was wrong. We watched together. It was weird but other than characters I couldn't make sense of it was pretty cute. They even showed some pretty good examples of friendship & how to treat others.

I myself have learned a lesson in judgement on this one. My son is an excellent teacher.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Worst Mom in the World

It's been a long Monday. It's been over 90 degrees for a week. I haven't gotten a decent night's sleep in at least that long. These are not excuses. They are just part of the picture.

My beautiful boy has been nothing but a typical 7 year old boy. One minute he is my sweet, snuggly baby wanting to please his mommy. The next he is pushing his limits and pushing my buttons as only he can. I know this is a normal part of his growth & development and try to approach the challenges of guiding him with patience, understanding and love.

Well, this is how I start the day anyway. By about 4 in the afternoon my patience is running short as I find myself answering the same questions for the 42nd time and he pushes harder for what he wants. By 6 I am snapping at him. By 7 I am raising my voice. By 8 I am hypersensitive and over reacting to the smallest things. By 9 (bedtime) I am on the verge of a meltdown. What my boy needs is 30 minutes of undivided attention; a bedtime story, time to snuggle in his bed and talk about/process his day so he can settle in to sleep. It's just time. 30 minutes. It's my job. I'm his mom. I love him more than anything else in the world but right now I don't like him so I send him up to bed on his own. What is worse; I hate myself for feeling this way. I hate myself for giving in to my own frustrations and letting them affect my interactions with him. He deserves better.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


People always have so many questions about our homeschooling experience. For the last few weeks the most common question has been, "Will you take the summer off?"

The answer is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. One of my strongest beliefs about educating children is that they learn more from everyday experiences and interaction than from books and lesson plans. Every experience is an opportunity to learn. Our plan for the summer is to continue to have tons of exciting adventures and learning experiences. We will continue to read together and to do everyday math (adding up his allowance and chores money, helping him spend and save his money, etc.) and on rainy days there will be art projects and science experiments to keep us busy. The main difference is that X won't be doing any on-line lessons unless, of course, he wants to.

Food, nutrition and cooking are great everyday lessons for summertime. Yesterday we stopped at a farm stand and bought a 5 pint bucket of strawberries. After eating our fill straight from the bucket we talked about other things we could make with the leftovers.

We stopped at Target and picked up an automatic ice-cream maker for about $25. It is simple and you don't need to mess with the ice and salt. Before bed we put the urn in the freezer and prepared the mix for fresh strawberry sorbet.

  • 1 cup simple syrup - cooled (1/2 c sugar and 1/2 cup water warmed in a saucepan until sugar dissolves)
  • 4 cups strawberries
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
Blend the strawberries, add the lemon and simple syrup. Put it in the fridge to chill.

This morning for breakfast X helped me make strawberry juice.

We used 2 apples, 1 cup of strawberries (stems & all), 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 cup of pineapple and 1/2 cup of broccoli.

Yup, broccoli! I told him it would be our super secret ingredient and no one would ever know it was in there except him and I. He loved the idea of slipping the secret ingredient past daddy but even better, he was so excited about making the juice that he drank it too. This is a little boy with serious nutritional issues; multiple food allergies, SPD combine and a stubborn streak have combined to make his list of available foods very, very short. Anything that gets nutrients into this child is a saving grace to this Mommy!

Before lunch we put the chilled sorbet mixture into the frozen ice cream urn, plugged it in and turned it on. By the time we were done with lunch dessert was ready. And it was YUMMY! Now, he's excited about all the different combinations of juice and sorbet he can make!

It's going to be a great summer ��

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Some days...

In the past 24 hrs I have cleaned from the floor of my home:
-1 small dried killifish named Houdini who jumped free of the fully covered tank unnoticed by me or anyone else until it was far too late to resuscitate him/her

-5 crickets having escaped from certain death by Gecko. Punishment for escaping from Death Row=death by Rainbow Fish and/or Upside Down Catfish. Still searching for the remaining 13 members of the Jiminy Crew

-I stopped counting the small spots of child poo on the floor, walls, furniture, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. left by one child who should not have been given food he is allergic to even though he begged with big brown eyes. (reminder: not his fault, not his fault, not his fault, my fault, no yelling)

Tomorrow will be better...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not Everyone Has The Option

When we found out we were having a child we immediately started thinking about moving out of our quiet South Minneapolis neighborhood to the suburbs.  There was a long list of reasons we felt that moving was the right thing for our family.  All of those reasons either fell under the heading of safety or education.   We carefully chose a town that was right on the edge of being small town/rural but still suburban enough that we are not disconnected from the diversity of the city.  We found a home on a cul de sac just a few blocks from some of the best public schools in the state.

Not only are test scores high, students are also very active in extra curricular activities.  We still have art, theater, music and gym class (many public schools are losing these programs). There are fairs, carnivals and family fitness events to get families involved.  It sounds lovely.

The reality is that they try their best and I both respect and appreciate that.  Unfortunately our schools are not given the support and resources they need to successfully teach and care for our children.  Check out this report just released on the state of public education in WI.  

We continue to ask for more from our schools and our teachers while giving them less to work with.  When we made the choice to homeschool, X's first grade class in our small town had 24 students, 1 teacher.  Parents were asked to provide not just the usual crayons, pencils, folders, etc. for their child but also basic classroom needs like tissues, plastic bags and dry erase markers.  I didn't mind helping out with these things but the question is "Why don't our schools have enough $ for even their most basic daily needs???" 

I feel fortunate that we were able to ensure our son's best interests by homeschooling him.  Not everyone has that option. Today is voting day.  Our current politic situation in WI is that balancing the budget comes before the care and education of our children.  It's time to fix that.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Give the Kid a Doll!

I brought my son to a playground yesterday and ended up talking to a dad with a daughter about the same age as X.  He was observing how differently the boys were approaching the obstacles on the playground than the girls.  Being a tomboy myself I know that not all girls are inherently careful, prim or doll-loving.  Personally, I wanted a dirt bike and loved going to the stock car races.  I may have been given dolls but I have no memories of playing with them.  Nevertheless, he told me the following story and it made me laugh so hard I snorked like a pig.

A woman was a firm believer in not pigeonholing her daughter with gender specific toys.  She had no dolls but did not lack for playthings.  She had blocks and art supplies, wagons, animals and musical instruments.  One day she gave her little girl a tool set she had purchased at a garage sale. The little girl was overjoyed.  She especially loved the hammer, which she wrapped in a blanket and cradled in her arms while she sang it lullabies.

Give the poor girl a doll.