Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Food Revolution...revolting against the wrong side?

If you've been following Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, as I have, I'm sure you've seen the atrocities that they call food being served in school ca. It's disgusting! I was appalled at what USDA forces school districts to purchase and serve to our children.

What is more appalling, for me, is the backlash that has occurred against Jamie Oliver. He is bringing awareness and education to a better way of eating and he's condemned for it! Wouldn't the criticism be better aimed at USDA for forcing school districts to 1) purchase food that is unhealthy and over-processed and 2) providing so much red tape that a school who wants to change their food to fresh food that schools give up in defeat rather than fight on through the bureaucracy?

This is America! Our children shouldn't be fed the worst of the worst kind of food simply because an entire case of processed chicken nuggets costs them $3! America's health is spiraling out of control and we are teaching our children poor eating habits. I admire Oliver's persistence in changing how America eats and I hope more people listen to his advice.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Leading a life of simplicity

I don't believe there are words to describe the emotions I am feeling with my home, my organization,my schedule, my life. To put it mildy, I'm frustrated. Stressed even. I feel like my life, things and schedule is in control of me instead of the other way around. I long for the early days of my marriage when simplicity reigned. We may have been poor but our life was so less complicated. With that simplified life, we ate out less which made us healthier; we spent less, which made our home less cluttered and gave us more time because we weren't picking up, cleaning and maintaining things. We had most evenings and weekends free to spend time as a family or have friends over for dinner. More meals were made from scratch which meant we had a ton of opportunities to learn about good foods and how to cook with them. Life was just... well, less, full. And you know what they say, "Less is More".

Simplicity, though, doesn't occur with wishing. It doesn't occur naturally. It requires a proactive guarding of the calendar, bank account, and precious family time. We've had a whirlwind past two years with LOTS of changes. With those changes, we seemed to have lost our grasp on the simple life.

How do we gain it back? I supppose the process is a little different for each family but for us, it is going to start with 1) a strict budget and 2) a more predictable schedule and 3) guarding our calendar better. Adding the word "No" to our vocabulary could be our 4th step in this plan. But I think that is another blog!

So, Project Simplify begins ASAP! I am laying the plans for the changes that are acomin'~

Step 1: Simplify by getting rid of the excess. Read: Garage sales.

Step 2: Set up a budget that reflects our goals as a family and cuts out excess spending.

Step 3: Examine what we participate in and get rid of the excess.

Step 4: Create a predicatable routine and family schedule.

Step 5: Protect our calendar so that family time doesn't get bumped off.

Project Simplify begins today!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Why I Homeschool...

I wasn't always a proponent of homeschooling. I am now ashamed to admit that I once bought in to the commonly held beliefs (albeit misguided beliefs) that homeschooled children 1) have the social skills of a doorknob and 2) teaching is best left to the "professionals". I felt it was sad that homeschooled children were denied the experience that public school offers, after all, my experience wasn't bad. At least, not all of it. I figured homeschooling moms were overprotective, religiously fanatic control freaks that just couldn't handle the variation and "culture" that can be found in public school. I mean, the bullying, snarky comments, choice swear words and the like build character in our kids to some degree, right?!

Luckily, I have seen the error of my ways and my (eh-hem) rather strong opinions on homeschooling have changed. Significantly. Dramatically. Irreversibly. Ok, you get the idea.

What started off as a solution to a problem has become a lifestyle shift for us. In a good way. The problem was the warp speed in which the public school system is desintegrating before our eyes. At least here in California. I mean, a school without a library?! That's like chocolate without peanut butter. Journey without Steve Perry. T.V. without Tivo. It's not natural. It's just not right, people!

Seriously, though, we can't expect our children to take education seriously and make it a priority if the government isn't. That's a lot to ask for grade school kids and apparently, it's a lot to ask of grown adults making decisions for an entire state. Sorry, I digress.

Our journey into homeschooling began 1 1/2 years ago as an exploration into alternative options to public school but has now become our life. I have never been the mom who waited for Monday mornings so I could send my kids back to school and have "me" time from 9-3(although, it is nice every once in awhile). I've never been the mom who panicked when the kids had an extended break from school. I have always enjoyed the company of my children and truly missed them during their school day.

Now, I have the supreme pleasure and honor of spending my days with my children - teaching them, laughing with them, molding their characters and manners and having a positive influence on them.
What I have discovered over this past year and a half is that...
* My children receive far more one-on-one attention with their school work than they ever did in school

*They have far more hands-on learning opportunities and field trips than the State of California's education budget allows. We have several field trips each month as opposed to the one or two a year.

* They are not being taught contradicting values, manners, behaviors, and beliefs of our family

*We are SOOO busy with social activities that we have to really guard our calendar

* The boys are much happier, less stressed and are having their own unique learning style (not the "one type fits all" cookie cutter mold)addressed so that learning becomes interesting

* We've discovered how much they flourish in subjects that are quickly getting the axe in public schools, such as music and art.

* We get to explore topics not offered in grade school (foreign languages; in-depth astronomy,etc.)

* Topics the boys are interested in are incorporated into our day and explored

* Ageism doesn't reign in the heart and mind of my eldest any more (this came from the segregation of ages in school). Gone are the days when little brother is "too young" to play with or it's "uncool" to be seen hanging out with his younger brother. My boys are now good friends and play well together. Most days anyway.

* I get to keep my kids closer for just a little bit longer before they are grown

These are just a few of many "perks" of homeschooling that we've discovered over the past year and a half.

The funny thing is it took me taking a leap of faith to homeschool to realize that I am an expert on my children. I may not have all the answers but I know their idiosyncracies, their temperament, how they grasp information, how they learn best. I am the professional of teaching my own children. I taught them before they ever darkened the doorway of a school. I am capable of continuing this.

The joys of homeschooling have far outweighed the paradyme shift in our life. I get to spend my days with my children. I don't consider it a burden or feel overwhelmed by the fact that I have no where to send them. I do not begrudge the time I get to have them around. I have always wanted to be a mother and when I was told I couldn't have children, I was stunned to think my dream, my goal would never happen. Yet, I've been blessed. Both with two miracle children that, according to the medical community, should not be and with the opportunity to homeschool. Yes, OPPORTUNITY. I am excited to say I am blessed with and on this journey of homeschooling. It's a wonderful thing and I honestly wouldn't want it any other way now.