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It has been a healing weekend –  very uneventful.  I got some good news on my own health struggles and have dealt with a little minor blech.  But, we visited family and spent quiet days with each other, eating good food and watching the girls play.

Children are the most interesting creatures.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading in Waldorf educational philosophy as prep to teach and better understand my girls.  Most of the reading is on preschool development, and it has given me so much understanding as to why the girls act and react the way they do to things.  I hope it helps me to orchestrate our days.  The reading has made Ivy’s new accomplishments of the last few days even more exciting.  She has worked diligently on expanding her vocabulary.  Our big activity this weekend was to answer her question, “what’s that?”, a million times over.  Before this weekend, Ivy had around ten words that were regulars and a few more she chose to utter here and there.  As of today, she has added the following to her list.

  • ball
  • bear
  • bird
  • banana
  • burp
  • pee pee
  • Elmo

I’m not even sure if I’ve lost track and forgot a few there.  I thought she was on a pattern of Bs until she came out with “pee pee” and then added “Elmo” during a diaper change with her Mamaw this evening.  With “pee pee” and “burp” in her arsenal she’ll be working hard at catching up with her sister’s new love for the word “poop”.  You have to love the preschool potty talk.  Ivy is so proud of herself and has been the happiest baby.  I love watching the girls learn and create their lives.  I stood for a long time and looked at their newborn pictures today.  It is miraculous how quickly they go from completely vulnerable to such learned little things.

The girls and I went on a nature walk Friday.  The late summer wildflowers are blooming and we collected some for an arrangement.  Fortunately, we found a vase under our front porch.

wildflowersDeladis felt pleased with the arrangement and glad to have helped.  There are some red clover, goldenrod (our state flower), jewel weed, Queen Anne’s lace, and some daisies.  I have no idea what the deep purple flowers or the little pink ones are, but they are gorgeous.  I’ll have to see if I can find a book to help me better identify the herbs and plants around the cabin.  They do make for a beautiful sight.  They are my sign that autumn is more near to us everyday.

I was happy and honored to receive notice that I earned the Kreativ Blogger Award from Sunnydaytodaymama.  I love her blog!  She often reminds me to cut back on my words, and her photos are stunning.  Her recent posts on education and parenting have really spurred me onward in my goals for myself and my family.

kreativ_blogger

Here are the rules of this award:
1. List 7 things that I love
2. Link back to the blog that awarded it to me
3. Choose 7 blogs to award as ‘Kreativ Bloggers’
4. Comment at each blog to let them know they’ve been chosen

7 Things That I Love:

  1. God and the world created for us to enjoy.
  2. My husband and all he does for us.
  3. My lovely little girls and being with them everyday.
  4. Our cabin on the creek.
  5. The Appalachian Mountains
  6. Writing
  7. Yoga

My Choice for the Kreativ Blogger Award

  1. The Breeder Files
  2. Mountain Muse
  3. On A Silent Sea
  4. Thrifty Southern Mama
  5. Green V Neck
  6. Gems: Mining in the Morning
  7. These Are Days
  8. The Artist The Mom
  9. Waiting for the Click
  10. exhale…return to center

I can’t choose just 7.  I had a hard time stopping with 10.  All of these blogs nourish me from time to time.  There are so many more.

This is all I have today.  I’m spent and I need to take a little time for myself.  I’m planning to post about sourdough bread soon, and days in and days out (of course).  Thanks ya’ll for reading.  It means a great deal to this mama.

My aunt Sharon and a few other people in my life have always stressed to me how powerful words are.  They have even went as far as saying we should never speak negative things unless we want them to happen.  For example, if you say you can’t do something, or you fear something, it leaves you open to attack.  The devil can’t know your inner most thoughts unless you verbalize them.  (That is how it was explained to me.)  I never took that explanation too seriously and even threw it off as hoo-doo.  I’m coming to realize though, that the words we speak often become what we believe.  Are we not linguistic creatures?  Our words are our most common form of expression.  We most often even think in words.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

– John 1:1

I am reading Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa’s book The Eight Human Talents.  The introduction to the book is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever read.  I typically don’t get into books on spirituality of any sort, but I have enjoyed her teachings and thoughts in the past and being that it is related to yoga and health, I thought I would try it out.  Trying to ground myself in my spirituality, realizing from where my strength comes, and coming to accept who I am right now, I feel is key to knocking the nagging feelings that try to invade my positive work and thoughts.  Sometimes it takes someone who you are not close to to open your eyes to something.  Gurmukh talks about words in her book.  She quotes the above Bible verse to bring it all home.

I believe the universe was created by divine intelligence.  I also believe in science, but I don’t think it explains the beginning of the beginning.  With every cell of my being, I believe we were planned as spiritual beings put on the earth to have a human experience, to chose for ourselves our own path, and to learn from the experiences that come about because of our choices.  My God spoke the universe into being.  Words.  Before I had words, I was a word in the heart of God.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou cameth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

-Jeremiah 1:5

This verse is often quoted by pro-life organizations without the part after the semi-colon.  I believe God knows all of us, and has plans for all of us.  The plans are the things we are capable of doing if we are willing to learn, seek a relationship with Him, and endure human life.  I like the second part of the verse as much as the part before.  I may not be a prophet to nations, but I believe I’m here for important things no matter how fleeting life is.  I am sanctified.

In the introduction of the book, Gurmukh makes the quote from Genesis in a section talking about mantras.  Mantras are phrases repeated or chanted over and over for the vibration of the sound and the peace of mind they give.  Now, this can make them seem mysterious, but the truth is we all have mantras.  Mine are, “why”, “I’m so tired”, “I never have any time to just sit and be”, and “it’s impossible for me to do anything important”.  I’ll say these things out loud when I feel a little stressed or wishing that life was different – easier somehow.  I am sabotaging my ability to be happy, truly happy, by saying these things.  You say something enough and you believe it.  It isn’t only something to say to complain.  It becomes the reality.

With speaking these negative things, we are creating that reality for ourselves.  The important time in our lives is now.  I have too many expectations of how things should be to be good.  Things that truly are wants, I’ve made into needs.  I’ve defeated every effort I’ve made in the past by focusing on what didn’t work instead of working with what does and what the current needs of the situation are.  I haven’t accepted who I am and my responsibilities in life because I am seeking things to be this unrealistic other.  God has given us all we need to find true joy.  There are no requirements outside of what we are born with.

Misery is a choice we can count on.  Misery is not elusive, it’s always there for us.

Gurmukh, The Eight Human Talents

It’s easy to be miserable.  It is almost like we train ourselves for it.  I am enjoying my yoga practice more and more all the time.  It gives me time to reconnect with God, and He as my strength.  I find myself looking at things with easier thoughts, approaching tasks in a more positive way, and being more peaceful.  It’s a place of trust that what I am doing right now is the most meaningful thing that I can possibly do.

Sunnydaytoday Mama posted this video on her blog, and it got me to thinking about how what my girls see me doing will impact their future.  I know my parents actions and how they coincided with their words, really gave me deeply ingrained habits and beliefs.  Becoming a parent makes it harder to live in the trappings of bad habits.  In order to parent from a place where you will give your child a positive experience, and instill in them morality, gratitude, respect for self and others, self confidence, and kindness, you have to be doing those things for yourself.  I’m enjoying this journey more and more all the time.  Old bad habits are truly hard to break.  They become part of who we are.  For so long, I’ve not recognized the joy, but chose to focus on the hardships.  Even pain has a wonderful purpose if we look at it with open minds and hearts.

Leslee Horner at Waiting for the Click, was the first to get me thinking in this direction through her blog.  I was wondering why so much negativity was creeping in when there really wasn’t anything to be down about.  I realized that it was coming from me and the lack of faith that I had in who I am through my Creator.

Going off the grid and making a go at homesteading is one of the most positive things to have ever happened to me.  I’m in my homeland.  I have two beautiful children.  I have a lovely husband.  I have time to write this blog.  I have an hour a day to refocus my attention, be physical, and healthy.  We have food, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our back.  I am rich.  I have such a rich life.

Monday was our first day of homeschool pre-school, and we took a field trip.  Not being tied to a desk in a classroom and movements on the sound of an electric bell, is the first plus I have seen from our short experience.  I can already see how much more can be learned by doing and going than by trying to focus on a teacher in a room full of distractions.  We went to Lexington because John had to drop off some artwork for a showing at ArtsPlace .  I wanted to tag along with the girls and make it a day in the city that we could enjoy as a family.

Our theme for the week is cats, and Deladis is pumped about it.  She was focused on noticing and absorbing everything around her.  It was great to watch.  At ArtsPlace, we walked through the gallery looking at the various pieces.  Eventually, we found ourselves in an open oblong room that reminded me of a ballroom.  Deladis entered it first and exclaimed, “Oh, my!”  I stepped in and looked in the direction of her eyes, and above us was an open ceiling that was covered in a thin, white gauze pulled upward and gathered in the center like a huge canopy.  It was beautiful. The way the natural light shone through it made it appear as a textured mist.  She circled the room with her eyes to the ceiling the whole time.  They were also getting ready to hand out the horses for a new horse mania, where various artists paint life sized horse statues to be placed around the city.  Deladis and Ivy both adored looking at those horses.

Next, we ate and went to Michael’s craft store to buy some remaining school supplies.  It satisfied me so much to be there with Deladis.  Everything we bought, you would have thought was a gift wrapped in shiny paper.  Deladis was so excited and she is anxious to use what we bought.  Most of what we needed was tempera paint, modeling clay, and felt.  I had went to Wal-Mart in the neighboring county to where we reside to get the first batch of stuff.  I was grounded by the difference in price.  Michael’s was much cheaper.

After Michael’s, we went to a pet store to look for kittens.  We saw every small animal you could imagine, but there were no cats and dogs – an abundance of guinea pigs free with the purchase of a cage and food, but no cats.  Deladis and Ivy ran from cage to catch gently looking in and waving to the animals.  Ivy hasn’t seen many things like that, and she hasn’t even been to the zoo at an age where she could thoroughly enjoy it, so she was having a blast.

Now, if there is anything to be missed by not living in the city, it is a network of mothers, a good bookstore, and a natural/health food grocery.  If I didn’t have a thousand things on my list of what to be when I grow up, I would be the one to bring all of these things to my hometown in the mountains.  We need these things here.  Our next stop was Joseph-Beth Booksellers where John and I both looked and mourned our inability to buy.  I did buy a Dover Press coloring book of cats.  Dover Press does the best affordable printings of classic literature and coloring books.  The illustrations are realistic and beautiful.  It’s not your typical mindless coloring page.

Then, we moved on to Whole Foods Market.  I was shocked at the price differences being so much cheaper there than the prices for things at Food City (your typical mainstream grocery with limited organics), where I have to shop now.  I was almost moved to tears.  I know, crying in the grocery store is a silly thing, but sometimes we forget our limitations and are reminded of them when we are faced with what could be.  Out of sight, out of mind.  I stocked up on so many things I can’t find around here.  I understood, despite my best efforts how compromised our diet is compared to the one I’d like for us to be eating.

The long trip home was a quiet one.  We got in, I put the sourdough in the oven, and started on the chalk drawing for the next day’s circle time.  It was cathartic, doing something I’ve always enjoyed doing,  but never made the time for as it falls outside of my usual priorities – drawing.  I went into sleep excited for the first time in awhile about my day ahead at home with my children.

Today, we woke up, ate, did dishes (Deladis helped), and had circle time.  I unveiled my chalk drawing of the sleeping kitty to “oohs” and “aahs” from both Deladis and Ivy.  Ivy said the word “cat” for the first time.  Before today, every four-legged creature was a “doggie”.  We went to the library for books about cats, did a little shopping in search for some colored chalk, and made it home to clean the girls’ room before noon.  It has been a lovely day.  I know we’ll have our troubles with homeschool.  They’ll come, but I can rest in knowing that for now, I love the decision we have made to start early and with Waldorf education.

The best photo I could manage around two excited little girls.

The best photo I could manage around two excited little girls.

There comes a time in the off-grid experience when you have to acknowledge that your impact on the surroundings in some ways might be detrimental.  The fact is that in today’s society we need transportation, and in a mountain community (for a family with small children) cycling and in some cases small cars are not practical.  Bus routes are non-existent.  Our means of getting here and there has had to take the form of a truck and a mini-van.  One reason for that is John’s work requires him to haul instruments and artwork long distances.  The other reason is our road is the creek.

Driving through the creek does a number on even the most rugged vehicle, not to mention the eco-systems of the stream.  There is plenty of waterlife in our creeks.  We constantly see minnows, frogs, turtles, and crawdads.  Pushing up the silt, and oil and gas from the vehicles can’t be good for the creek and the life in it.

With our landlord’s end of summer return to the creek came a new road.  The signs of its coming sat at the end of the holler for a few weeks.  We weren’t sure what to expect because moving large amounts of dirt isn’t in our scope.

culvertIf you take a look at my previous post on our road, the new part was made to avoid the creek in the fourth picture.

newroad

The area in the first picture is still an issue.  It is still an issue because we have an anomaly of a bridge.

bridge2As you can see, there is no road coming to or going from the bridge.  It has been sitting there since we moved here, being lonely and unused.  If you wanted to use the bridge, you would first need to drive your car over the cliff above.

bridge 1Soon, there will be a road built to this bridge and there will be no more driving through the creek.  That is an exciting thought for the winter.  No driving back and forth to break up the ice. 🙂

Now, we have to walk a piece to the cabin from where we have to park.  I’ve seen two snakes on the walk during the day (copperhead and a garter), and fumbled in the blinding darkness of night.  It is a tricky walk on the new moon carrying children and bags.  I’m absolutely not complaining.  Every step on this property is beautiful and our landlord and friend is adamant about keeping it natural and serene.  Being here often makes me wish a piece of it could be ours to enjoy our whole life and pass on to our children.  Land is an important part of a mountain person’s existence.

wayThis is the view from where we are parking, now.  We’re moving on up.  It’s a sentimental step, making us a little more accessible to the outside, but a little easier with our footprints.

I do believe that I’m chilling out.  I’m becoming more patient.  It is a virtue that I have never had, but it’s coming – I feel it.  A few days ago, I received a sign.

milkCatching up on my writing, while the girls seemed to both be content to play on their own, was my task at hand.  They played in their room and I became absorbed with my work.  It was when things got a bit too quiet that I decided to get up and check things out.  Ivy had left the bedroom, crept into the kitchen, climbed upon the kitchen table, poured out milk, coffee and water on everything, and was using half a bag of napkins to try to clean it up.  I have a very adventurous little girl.  Yes, mommy should have been paying more attention.  Normally, I would freak out.  I’d say things like, “why” in a high pitched voice, immediately remove Ivy from the table, and be angry for a duration of time much longer than required.  I would pine away at my inability to do any sustained activity without Ivy napping, and feel punished for even having attempted it.

I didn’t do that this time.  I laughed.  I laughed, and my heart felt free.  At least my precious baby was trying to clean it up.  I’ve taught her well.  It was my fault, after all, that I neglected to push the chairs under the table after breakfast.  Some things happen for no reason at all.  Was I worried that she could have been hurt?  Not really.  She has very adept climbing skills and she would have hollered for me to get her down when she was finished.  Should I let it happen again?  No, but similar things are sure to come.  It’s the life of a mother and her children.  These feelings are a huge step in the right direction for me.  I’m celebrating. 🙂

Now, for the magic.  I am a firm believer that magic is all around us.  The Creator works in mysterious ways, and there is such glorious amazement to be found in the nature created for us to subdue and enjoy.  Since childhood, I have looked for oddities of nature, not necessarily looking for the whys and hows, just looking to gawk and be in awe.  Folks, I have a secret.  Gardeners for ages have planted various beds of flowers to attract butterflies to their yards.  One might plant beds of aster, marigolds, oregano, mint, and coneflower.

All the fuss and flowers aren’t necessary, gorgeous, but not necessary.  All you need to attract butterflies is poop.  Poop of the rooster and canine variety has attracted varying species of butterflies small and large to our property.  It is a beautiful show of color and dainty, careful flight.  The girls and I walk outside often to be surrounded by the magic of nature flitting here and there, circling us in radiance.

fliesonpoopHere are a smaller variety in all their lavender glory feasting on old man rooster poop.  The larger ones don’t like to be photographed.  Now, how do I answer Deladis’s question?  Why do butterflies eat poop?  It’s magic, honey.  🙂

Autumn is the best season of the year.  It is the time when I feel most at ease.  The weather is soothing.  The atmosphere of the season sparks my creative juices.  Halloween, my favorite holiday, is upcoming, as well as my birthday in October.  I will be an aunt once again at the end of September.  I look forward to the gorgeous starkness of the bluest skies you ever see in the mountains.  I ache for the weeds to die back so I can hike again with John and the girls around the property.  I’m ready.  I’m tired of all the rain and muggy days.  At the Dollar General last night I saw the first signs that I won’t have to wait for long.  The Halloween decorations are out.

I found the perfect curriculum for my homeschool, pre-school year with Deladis.  Little Acorn Learning offers E-books of lesson plans that are Waldorf inspired and affordable.  They are perfect for use with both Deladis and Ivy.  I think the plans, from what I have seen in the samples, will help keep me focused and develop a better rhythm than the one we’ve established in chaos.  Plus, I’m paying for it, so I have to do it or the money will be wasted.  That’s great motivation.  The curriculum is largely based in nature and officially begins in September, which is another reason to look forward to autumn.  I have bought the summer E-book and am waiting for it to be email to me.  It’s exciting and makes me hopeful.

I mentioned before that our fall garden is planted.  We only put out more cabbage and some broccoli in hopes it will be ready by November.  Honestly, I made a mistake in planting the summer garden.  I planted four hills of zucchini, two of squash, and about ten hills of cucumber.  It was far more than we’ve been able to eat or store for the summer, and because most everyone grows a garden in these hills, you can’t hardly give it away.  The two rows of salad lettuce I planted has allowed us to eat salad almost daily and I’ve made several large ones for social gatherings, given some away, and we still have lettuce rotting in the ground.

We could have used more beans, corn, and tomatoes in the ground.  I should have planted more potatoes as well.  These things are easier to store or keep unrefrigerated long term.  I planted half the garden in organic Painted Hills Multicolor Sweet Corn.  I don’t know if it was the seed, the weather, or my novice, but the seeds hardly sprouted and the stalks of those that did are so puny.  The ears we’ve gotten from it are tasty, though.  A blasted raccoon won’t stop ravenging the newly ripe ears.  I’d like to catch him just one time.  Our beans are hardly existing because the plan was a three sisters garden, so the beans would grow up the corn.  Since the corn didn’t do well, we couldn’t plant but one row of beans.  Those are getting their first blooms.

beans2The stalks are so skinny the weight of the beans are bending the stalks to the ground.  We’ve added some strong sticks to help them along, and the beans seem to like that.  We probably won’t have enough beans to put away for winter, but we’ll have enough to eat on for awhile.

beans1Our cabbage should have had large heads weeks ago, but something is eating them up.  I have never gotten a look at what kind of bug it is, so I assume it’s happening at night.  I believe it is some sort of slug.  I’ve sprayed them with soapy water, but it hasn’t done much good.  I planted two more rows for fall, and I hope whatever is eating them now will be dead by the time the fall plants mature.  We love cabbage and sausage, and I want to make kraut.

cabbageThe gloomy look to these pictures completely narrates the mood of the last days.  We’ve been stuck inside, and that aggravates me quickly.  My biggest excitment was going to the doctor this week.  I long, if it’s going to stay summer, to take the girls swimming in the lake.  I want to play outside with them in the creek.  I want to do something different than what I do everyday in this cabin.  Ooo… cabin fever.

*Update:  The rain didn’t come today, and I took the girls to the lake swimming!  Just me and them.  It was a beautiful time and they’ve been asleep since we got home. 🙂

This has been the most rainy summer I can remember – and cool.  I’m not going to complain too much though because summer heat makes me miserable.  Summer is usually my least loved season.  We did most of our fall garden planting and the rain is good for those freshly planted seeds, but knocked us out of taking Deladis to see a movie for her birthday yesterday and lake swimming.  The weather and being tired of too much zucchini, squash, lettuce, and cucumber in our diets contributed to my wanting to make what, for us, is typically a cool weather supper.

Soupbeans and cornbread is an Appalachian staple.  I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t in my diet.  It was hard for me to understand how so many people I encountered from outside of this area didn’t have a clue as to what it is.  Soupbeans are commonly confused with bean soup, which is a very different dish.

Soupbeans and cornbread was a meal that was born of necessity.  With hard times came, the need for cheap and nutritious meals.  Beans and corn meal were things that most people kept on hand or were easily acquired.  Mountain cooks worked their magic and made this a meal that is not only extremely cheap, but absolutely delicious.  It is my favorite Appalachian meal, and we certainly enjoyed it last night.

soupbeans1Soupbeans (not to be confused with bean soup): Feeds a family of four for about 2 days

  • pinto beans (2 cups dry)
  • bacon fat and/or salt pork (fatback)
  • onion
  • water
  • salt and pepper

To begin, soak 2 cups of dry beans in enough water to cover them over night or preferably 24 hours.  My grandmothers called this “getting the gas out”.  They were exactly right.  Soaking makes the beans easier to digest and causes less bloating and gas.  I like to soak my beans long enough so that they sprout.  I have noticed this takes the unwanted side effects of beans completely away and cuts down on cooking time.  On the day of cooking, put the beans in a large stock pot.  Cover the beans with water, then add as much water as you want for soup.  Cut up some onion and add to the pot.  Add salt and pepper to your preference (I use unrefined sea salt for valuable nutrients.)  Then, the most important ingredient is added – fatback and/or bacon fat.  Traditionally, this was a piece of fatty pork cured in salt.  If that wasn’t available grease from the morning breakfast would suffice.  Most often bacon grease is what I have on hand and I use it generously.  Bring the ingredients to a boil and then, turn down the heat to a low-medium.  Cook the beans until they are a light reddish-brown color and soft.  This will take 2-4 hours.

soupbeans2

The food accompanying soupbeans are just as important as the main dish.  Soupbeans are traditionally served with cornbread.  The cornbread is often eaten as a side, and another piece broken up into the beans to sop the soup.  Sauerkraut is a great addition to a bowl of soupbeans.  I can’t have this meal without making fried potatoes and onions.  Both of these foods were traditionally served with soupbeans.

A great plus is all of these food items are very cheap.  This meal can easily cost under $10 and will feed a family of four one meal for around two days.  It is a hearty meal, but I warn you… it’s very easy to overeat because it is so very good.

Take a look at my page of favorite recipes to see how to make my cornbread.  I hope you enjoy this beautiful Appalachian meal created out of our great ability to “make-do”.

It’s hard to believe that it has been four years since I was that confident, pregnant school teacher waiting for her miracle to be born.  I had all the faith in the world that everything would be right, and though the experience of my first birth left me physically and mentally scarred, things were just right.  The little miracle born that day has taught me so very much about myself and the world.  It pinches somewhere deep inside that these four years have passed so quickly.  I know the coming years will race by me with equal speed.  Before I know it, I will be looking into the face of a woman.  A woman that I raised from the very beginning.  Some things I will do and have done very right, and other things I will do and have done very wrong, but right or wrong isn’t the point of it all.  The point is always our motives.  I’m motivate by truth and love.  I love you Deladis.  Happy Birthday and God Bless you my little one.

10 months old

10 months old

15 months old

15 months old

18 months old

18 months old

Almost Three

Almost Three

Four

Four

Deladis turning four this week means that I have less than a year to make one of the most important decisions I will ever have to make as a mother.  What will be the future of her education?  It is a very difficult choice for me and I have spent a great deal of time considering my options already, but now, I have to get serious.  Will Deladis attend public school?  Will we choose to teach her at home?  If so, what curriculum?  What about unschool?  Needless to say, I’m praying and weighing all the pros and cons.  The majority of my daughter’s next fourteen or so years will be spent laying the educational foundations for the rest of her adult life.  I want her to have a joyful experience and come away capable of achieving any dreams she may have for any path she wants to take in life.

The first consideration is public school.  It is the obvious choice for most people.  It is something we are all already paying for as taxpayers and will pay for despite whether or not we choose a public institution for our children’s education or not.  Our children are taught by trained professionals a curriculum that is designed by our respective states to prepare them to be competitive in the job market and to be productive citizens.  Not only that, but our children attending public school develops social skills with their peers and can be involved in friendships and activities outside of the scope that family life can offer.  One plus to public school in the mountains is that everyone knows everyone.  It won’t be hard to be fully informed.  It sounds lovely.

However, being a student in public school was greatly a miserable experience for me.  Sure, I had some awesome teachers, wonderful experiences, and lots of fun times, but I thoroughly believed then and still do that so many of those years were wasted time.  I went through school not having to study to pass tests, not being challenged, and I graduated somehow barely being able to balance a checkbook let alone do any kind of problems dealing in fractions or decimals.  Forget advanced arithmetic or mathematics.  I passed most of my math classes with As and Bs despite this.  I was endlessly with my nose in books and watching educational television trying to fill in the gaps on my own in the subjects I had an interest in – English Literature and Writing, World History, Geography and Culture, and Life Sciences.

High school was the worst, and my senior year frustrated me immensely.  For the biggest part of the year, we sat on the football field rain or shine because of endless bomb threats being called.  I took a current events class that was basically sitting and reading the newspaper while the teacher, the baseball coach, talked sports with the jocks in the class.  My advanced placement English class was assembling the yearbook.  We never took the AP test for college credit as we were supposed to.  One of my best friends quit school and started attending the community college in town.  I begged my dad to let me do the same.  He didn’t.  I often wonder what I could have done had that time not been wasted and filled with disappointment.

As far as peer interaction goes, it left a lot to be desired.  Yes, I had lots of great friends.  I’m so glad I was able to meet them and be with them throughout my days.  However, I was often made fun of in school by kids who thought they were better than me for whatever reason and I had to develop a thick skin and found myself taking up for myself and other friends more than I should have had to.  I believe those skills have helped me as an adult, but they also linger as a nagging self consciousness that would benefit me more if it would disappear.  I know I shouldn’t aim to shield my children from adversity, but they will get plenty of that just living life without the abundance of it so many of us meet in public schools.

Having taught in the public schools for four years helped me develop a perspective from the other end – the teacher.  My school system where I taught was very supportive, friendly, and caring in atmosphere, but we all faced our hands being tied.  I found myself trying to teach with limited resources, over crowded classrooms, and a looming state standardized test at the end of every year which dictated what I taught like a tyrant and measured nothing (in my opinion) about what the children were capable of.  I saw more state funding going to schools in wealthier areas while the rural systems received minuscule dollars and were expected to achieve the same results.  Then, the issue of discipline was tremendous.  I loved my students and thought highly of all of them.  Yet, there are always those times, especially in middle grades, where children will decide to act out in frustration or plain old misbehavior, and there was not much at all that I could do about it.  What I did do was futile?  Respect was a word that I struggled to teach.

It is hard for me to even write this, and if you can’t tell already, my heart is leaning me toward homeschool.  Living in a rural area where moms don’t network as much as in the cities worries me to some extent.  We spend days at a time not leaving the holler.  I want Deladis to have time amongst peers.  I do value the capability of being able to socialize with all age groups though, and I think homeschool will facilitate that.  I can enroll her in dance lessons, take her to events, and we do attend church where she has friends.

We are a Christian home, and I know many Christians are motivated to homeschool in hopes of shielding their children from a “vulgar” world.  That isn’t what is motivating me.  In fact, it would be one reason to send Deladis to public school.  I want her to be amongst all types of people with varying beliefs.  I want her to know different cultures and lifestyles.  I believe the right choice here lies within each family, but I believe a strong home foundation is the important thing.  I think keeping children from knowing the world is laying the framework for worse rebellion, disrespect for differences, and possibly social dysfunction.  I have to say that I think there are great values in beliefs different from our own as well.  She needs to be able to come to her religious and spiritual beliefs on her own for them to be authentic.  So, if I homeschool, I will make every effort to have Deladis be a part of multicultural acitivities.

The curriculum is another choice to make.  I so worry that I won’t be able to do justice to mathematics as I can’t do it myself.  But, they say the best way to learn something is to teach it.  I can’t be afraid.  When we spent time in Louisville, my choice was made.  She would attend the local Waldorf school where we took Parent/Child classes, or if we couldn’t afford it, she would be homeschooled in Waldorf curriculum.  I’m leaning toward that educational philosophy still.

Unschool is intriguing to me, and is something to consider with my lack of organization and absence of ability to stick to schedules that aren’t mandatory.  With unschool, you help the child as they develop a natural interest in a subject.  I fear, there, that she will miss out on too many things that she don’t naturally gravitate toward, but might need in life.

The other important thing to consider is, can I be Deladis’s teacher?  That is where I am struggling the most with this decision.  I’ve been trying to find more personal time.  Sending the girls to public school would allow me time to do my writing.  I would be refreshed and ready when they returned home to me.  It could help me mother them better even.  Then, I consider that that thinking is only me being selfish and skirting my responsibilities to my children.  If I ignore all the cons to public school and send her anyway to buy myself some time, I’m not being a good parent at all.  Yet, I can absolutely admire others making that choice and totally understand where they are coming from.  I know my thinking is flawed there somewhere.

So, the clock is ticking.  I’ve decided to order some Waldorf cirriculum for Deladis’s age and add some activities that would be homeschool like to our days starting mid-August.  I’ll give it a try.  If it is a disaster, I’ll register her for public school and be a fully involved parent.  Tonight, I’m attending a meeting of a possible homeschool co-op in our county, though the numbers of homeschooled children here are low.  I’m looking forward to the discussion.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

August 2009
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