Aspiring to Gluten Free

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So, for various reasons, we are attempting to eliminate gluten from our diet. It’s actually not as difficult as I had imagined. In fact, the biggest mental block for me was finding a replacement for sourdough. So, I told that to one of my friends who was encouraging me to give GF a try. Lo and behold, there is a GF sourdough, srsly. And, as it happens, we have tried it, and it’s really good. Like other GF breads, it sort of crumbles apart if you handle it too much, but the taste is pretty damn good considering it’s GF.

So, in addition to consulting with my current GF friends, and doing some searching on google and Pinterest, I also picked up a couple of books to help me wrap my head around going GF. Incidentally, we are also trying to eliminate dairy, but since dairy includes cheese and yogurt, it is much much harder for our family. So right now, I am just trying to minimize it until we have the gluten down, then we can reevaluate. I’ve also heard good things about raw milk from many friends who currently consume it.

Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle

Gluten-Free Bible

Reflections:

Like I said before, considering where we live, and the abundance of health food stores, and the fact that even our Trader Joe’s and Safeway carry gluten free options, so far it has not been as difficult as I had anticipated. I’m sure that eating out will be more difficult– however, there are many restaurants around us that offer gluten free options.

Snacks are still a huge priority on my list, because cooking an elaborate meal isn’t possible 5 times a day, and it’s nice to have a variety of different foods to eat.

So far, we have liked Lara bars, (Larabar Gluten Free Fruit & Nut Food Mini Bars, Variety Pack of Cherry Pie, Apple Pie, Cashew Cookie, 12 – 0.78 Ounce Bars <— dang that is a good deal, I might have to order it right now…)

I have also noticed that when you have less snacks on hand, everyone eats less. Which is kind of interesting. The kids, for example, don’t stop eating, they just switch what they are eating. For example, my 4 year old apparently loves bananas all of a sudden. My 6 year old is all about apples and avocados. My 7 year old, who happens to like leady green vegetables, has been carrying around a bag of arugula at various times of the day. Yes, even at breakfast time. I know, what the heck? But srsly. Instead of eating those cereal bars that are packed with sugar and all kinds of whatever other processed crap, my kids are greedily mowing through fruits and veggies. It’s gotten to the point where I have signed up for a local CSA, and I’m really excited about it. I think the kids are too!

Here’s some stuff I have made so far:

GF rainbow sprinkle birthday pancakes!

GF rainbow sprinkle birthday pancakes!

Ok, so my phone is completely messed up and won’t let me import any other photos, oy. So here is a typed list of what I have made recently, ALL GF:

  • Sourdough croutons (from the bread srsly loaf), which were made into stuffing with kale, 2 kinds of chicken sausage, and aged parmesan
  • Vanilla scones
  • Sugar free applesauce cinnamon muffins– 1/2 with walnuts, half without
  • Pizza with turkey pepperoni, beef salami, chicken sausage, and grassfed ground beef, topped with 4 kinds of cheese, heirloom tomatoes, and fresh basil
  • Roasted zucchini chips
  • Homemade granola
  • veggie tacos with handmade corn/GF flour mix tortillas
  • chicken and kale soup
  • chocolate & vanilla birthday cake– this was from a box, yes you can even get GF cakemix in a box, and it was pretty good! (I think it was this one, Betty Crocker Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix, 15-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
  • LOTS of smoothies. With fruit only, with kale much of the time, and soon with carrots. In fact, my 6 year old wanted to get this as one of her birthday presents 101 Best Smoothies & Juices I’m really looking forward to the Pumpkin one, how fall! I’m dying for a juicer to make all the ones with ginger, they sound wonderful!

I have also seen gluten free trail mix at Costco.

So, anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately, in addition to figuring out the right vitamins and supplements to take. It could be because I am nearing 30 (next week), but moreso I think because I am taking the time to evaluate making healthy choices a larger part of our daily routine. Right now is the best time to build upon our kids’ knowledge of how fun it can be to go to the farmer’s market to pick out foods, where they come from, and how they make us feel. It’s pretty exciting stuff, IMO!

Homeschooling Kindergarten

When I originally set out to write this post, I had intended to address parents who wanted to try out homeschooling, starting with not sending their kids to Kindergarten. However, that post basically transformed into more of an intro to homeschool post. So I wanted to come back and talk solely about what’s probably the most nervewracking step for first time homeschoolers, and that is Kindergarten.

For some reason, eventhough we may have memories of a funner more paint fueled K, today K is seen as the end all be all beginning of childrens’ academic careers. If they can’t fit in and excel in K, will they ever excel in life?! The horrors!

But here’s the thing, what kids do at this age actually is really important, and it has not a damn thing to do with academics! I think many of us remember the tongue in cheek poster about “Everything I Need to Learn About Life I Learned in Kindergarten.” Remember? Do you remember reading or math being on there? If your child doesn’t learn how to read by age 5, as is essentially required by Common Core, do you really think they are going to be a failure as an adult?

Here’s the thing, the homeschool community actually knows that children don’t read on average by age 5. I would say the average age is more like 8. Interestingly, that’s the age when children developmentally change and develop a love of learning new things. My oldest child happened to start reading by 5 1/2, but that was more a matter of her biology than anything to do with me. And as I think parents of new readers can attest, once they figure out how to learn, and their sense of wonder is fostered, they just take off from there! However, if you are stuck in the paradigm that society forces down our throats that children MUST ready by the end of K, you will likely be feeling very down on yourself, and likely your child, all because of a fabricated non-evidence based standard.

See, for example, the following quotations from the Peter Gray article posted above:

  • I teach kindergarten for 11 more days. What we are doing to the 4-6-year-old kids in this country is absolutely unethical and inappropriate. Any professional educator who truly understands how children develop—academically, cognitively, socially, emotionally—will stand up against the travesty that reformers refer to as “rigor”. Kids do NOT need to be reading by the end of kindergarten. (If they can, GREAT!) They do NOT need to be solving paper-and-pencil equations. They do NOT need to be doing “academic” workstations. They DO need to be playing, painting, building, creating, interacting with books, listening to stories, singing songs, taking field trips, playing pretend, exploring, etc. … I am leaving kindergarten, but I will be fighting for early childhood so that I can eventually go back to kindergarten. But I refuse to be part of something so dangerous to our young children.

  • The system as a whole is broken; it is why I left the profession. Truth is, most school districts, at least the one’s I have worked in in America, do not use scientific evidence or best practices to teach kids. They instead use the next fad that comes along, “Common Core” being the latest debacle, from government bureaucracy because it comes with money or grants from the state or federal govt. and then test these kids to death until they hate school, hate learning, and wish nothing more than to get out because the ones that already are disadvantaged never measure up and continuously keep seeing their failures rather than their strengths.

Just reading that is depressing! I wouldn’t want to be caught dead in a current day classroom where instead of reading books about enjoyment, we have to worry whether the 4 and 5 year olds know what an author and illustrator are. Lunacy!

However, because Kindergarten is so hyped up, it usually freaks parents out to think that they might some how ruin it for their kids. And I would say this impetus is usually the strongest with your oldest child, because you really don’t want to screw them up because then what will happen to the rest of your kids and AHHH OMG! I can’t do this!

Chill!

You can do this!

Here’s how you homeschool Kindergarten:

  • Go to the park!
They liked this park just a little bit.

They liked this park just a little bit.

  • Go to the Science Museum! (Many libraries offer free passes! Or you can have family purchase memberships as a holiday gift.)

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  • Go to the zoo!
  • Make playdough! (There’s only like 5 million recipes on Pinterest, and that’s probably close to accurate).
snow playdough

This is a peppermint scented “snow” playdough we made. We’ve also done a really cool black galaxy one, and orange blossom scented orange, lavender scented purple, the 3 primary colors to mix together, etc.

  • Read books! It’s funny because every child is so different. For example, my almost 6 year old hated audio books for the longest time! She would literally yell, “Turn this off I HATE it!” any time I put one on. Any one, she was not selective. Then, one day, we were listening to Story of the World, and they were talking about how the Chinese accidentally discovered gun powder, and I looked in the rear view mirror to see her eyes wide open, and then she repeated “it exploded!” Both she and my 4 year old like to physically hold the stack of books they want me to read until I have read them all. We go to the library on average twice a week. Librarians at several different branches know my kids. My 7 year old can now put books on hold on the computer, and I get emailed when they are ready!

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  • Play games!
My kids LOVE this game, and many others. In fact, we scored some pretty cool technically vintage games at the thrift store! There is no treasure like a child's thrift store find!

My kids LOVE this game, and many others. In fact, we scored some pretty cool technically vintage games at the thrift store! There is no treasure like a child’s thrift store find!

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  • Go on a hike! Collect cool stuff, talk about what you are seeing, breathe in the fresh air! Charlotte Mason has some really compelling stuff about having children “in nature” on a daily basis. It’s how we got started on that path, though of course it has taken some twists and turns since then.
  • Make recycled crayons! If you’re a homeschooler, you probably have approximately 1 billion crayons in your house

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  • Visit relatives! One of the best aspects of homeschooling is the flexibility. Take your kids to see their great grandparents. Have them paint something together, or help dig a hole in the backyard. There are magical experiences to be had!
  • Bake!

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Look at how well our Hannukah Ginger Bread House turned out!

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  • Go to the ocean!
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My oldest with a family friend when we visited some nearby tidepools!

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  • Go on a factory tour! We have toured the jelly belly factory, and have big plans for nearby chocolate and sourdough factories! Some factories have minimum age requirements. There’s also a sticker factory we haven’t yet had a chance to tour!
  • Go to a farm! When my oldest was K age, we went to see a backyard honey bee/chicken farm.

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  • Volunteer! Our local homeschool 4H had a creek cleanup, 5 year olds can help clean up garbage! Or help paint a fence. Or help you collect outgrown clothes and toys to donate.
  • Get a penpal! This was one of the coolest things we did this year. My 5 year old is not a prolific writer, so I helped her. She will get there, but for now she was elated to think of her penpals in Massachusetts, Idaho, Florida, New York, Michigan, and all the other places I can’t remember! In fact, this fall we are doing an exchange of nature items across country! I can’t wait!
  • Snap circuits, or Lego, or whatever– build something. It’s fun

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  • Tour a college! Any college. Yours, or not. They have cool bookstores, and a cafeteria! Plus lots of space to run around. It’s cool.
  • Visit a historical landmark— like your state capitol if it’s close, or if it’s not, plan a trip! I’m hoping to tour all the Missions in California when my kids are older!

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  • Go to the forest! It’s simply magical. Especially to be amongst the Redwoods.

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  • Go to the teacher’s store! Let your child pick out whatever they want, within your budget. On such trips in the past, my kids picked out a pocket microscope, a rock excavating kit, scratch & sniff stickers, a model solar system, a $100 bill eraser, etc. When learning is fun for them, they will always want to learn and do more.
  • Grow something!

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Check this out, we got some milkweed plants to try and help save the Monarch butterflies, and what we got instead were hundreds of lady bug eggs, larvae, then ladybugs! All for just planting them into the raised planter beds!

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  • Build a structure out of sticks! Or whatever! My kids LOVE doing this. In fact, every time we go to a certain fort, they sprint to the pile of branches to get to work.
  • Strew, Strew, Strew! This is one of my absolute favorite things ever. Basically, trying new experiences or leaving out cool things to show your kids what’s out there. It’s just so fun! It’s even more interesting to see what catches your child’s interest. I love seeing how my childrens’ likes and dislikes differ, eventhough they all come from the same mom and dad :)
  • Do living math! One of the most intuitive arguments for certain schools of thought in the homeschool community, is that it is harder for children to conceptualize things in the abstract, especially when it comes to math. Have you child weigh the apples before you buy them. Help them figure out how much they will cost based on that weight. Give them a bunch of snacks and help them figure out how much everyone will get. This is how they will not only “get it” but what is actually relevant in their everyday lives right now. More advanced concepts will come with time, and if you follow their lead, with increased interest in mastering new skills.
we got some cool origami books from the library

we got some cool origami books from the library

We did a poll on facebook of peoples' favorite colors, then we made a graph. We did one for adults and one for kids!

We did a poll on facebook of peoples’ favorite colors, then we made a graph. We did one for adults and one for kids!

The point is, Kindergarten should be fun! I strongly ascribe to the educational philosophy that the most important thing you can teach your child is to love learning. It’s not about whether they memorize certain facts for a limited period of time. Rather, it’s about finding those things that make their heart sing and light their fires of passion to blaze their own trails.

I fervently believe that every child has their own inner genius, and it’s up to parents to help cultivate it, or not. So let your child build their 70th fairy house, or take apart their 20th car! Let them check out 10 books about horses, or only about super heros! They are new to everything, and you are their tour guide! How fun! You can do this, you know you can!

I was going back through and looking at pictures for things to add, and it just brings a huge smile to my face to think about everything we’ve been able to do thanks to homeschooling, and I know you can get there too, if you want!

Typo disclaimer: sorry if I have any!

Back to Home: Don’t Send Your Babies to School This Year

We just finished our third full year of homeschooling. And I wanted to tell those of you who are silently dreading the return of Back to School something:

You don’t need the government to educate and raise your kids. You just don’t.

Every year at around this time, I see many posts about mamas hearts hurting at the thought of sending their babies off to Kindergarten. Weren’t they just born? How could time have gone so quickly? I’m just not ready for this.

At this point, I want to scream through my keyboard in all caps: THEN DO NOT SEND THEM! HOMESCHOOL INSTEAD!!!!!!!!!

But instead of giving people advice that aren’t asking for it, I am posting here for those who want to hear why they should keep their kids home, where the heart is, instead of sending them off to school. You are your child’s greatest role model. Shouldn’t you be the one to show them the way when it comes to difficult issues? Shouldn’t you, as their parent, instill in them the importance of matters like citizenship, leadership, moral integrity, etc? Didn’t you “teach” them to sit up, crawl, walk, talk, etc.? Homeschooling isn’t much different from that.

The following are the most common concerns parents might have for being hesitant to commit to homeschool:

  • My child will miss riding the bus, buying back to school supplies, etc.

Check this out: you can still buy those same school supplies! In fact, my nearly 6 year old managed to break her backpack strap from all our trips to the library, so she will definitely be needing a new one this fall! We also love taking advantage of the school supply sales, since we go through glue sticks and coloring supplies like no one’s business!

As for the bus, you can ride any mode of transportation you want with your child. You could even organize a trip with a homeschool group! Ours rode the train to a local library together a couple of years ago.

  • I’m not qualified to teach my child.

On what basis are you not qualified? Not qualified to do what? It may come as a surprise to hear that a teaching credential is actually not content based, but typically focuses on classroom management and occasionally how to organize lessons. Do you have a computer? Know how to look up information or locate sources? Boom. You can be a home educator.

As for actual curriculum, if you decide to go that route, if you are not a current homeschooler, or maybe even if you are, this site will blow your mind Rainbow Resource Center, Inc. If you request their catalog, though it may take a while to come, it’s bigger than the phone book. Not.even.joking. You will be shocked at just how much curriculum and school stuffs are available. Seriously.

Also, you can hire private tutors, or send your kids to classes for particular subjects. You don’t have to personally teach them every single thing just because you homeschool! Co-ops exist for this very reason. Parents have different skills, so they come together, and each parent teaches a different subject. It’s a wonderful thing.

Homeschooling is not what it was 20 years ago. It is so different. There is SO much support available. In fact, it is THE fastest growing segment of education in the U.S. Which brings me to the next point:

  • Friends: I want my child to be around other children

Awesome! You will be happy to hear that there are homeschooled children and their parents everywhere! While the particulars may vary according to where you live, because homeschool is gaining traction, you should have no difficulty finding a group somewhere near you. Our local area has a 4H group only for homeschoolers! (more on that later)

Here’s the best part: the kids can actually play together! What and how they want! No freezing when the bell rings. Climbing up the slide is ok if mom says so! I got in trouble in Kindergarten for talking with my friends too much. I bet you have experiences of not being able to socialize in the classroom too. It makes sense. You can’t socialize and have a quiet and contained classroom. So actually, socialization isn’t something the schools are necessarily advocating. It’s almost a coincidental parallel. Especially considering silent lunches that are becoming increasingly common. That is assuming you can even bring lunch at all, maybe with a doctor’s note. Yes, you read that right, some schools will not allow lunch sent from home. Because the government knows better than parents what to feed all children– whether you like it or not.

However, back to friends, my personal favorite part about homeschool children is that they are not taught to differentiate or discriminate against other children based on age. So any one of my kids can be seen trying to play with a 13 month old baby, or a 12 year old homeschooler that’s helping make sure the younger kids don’t get into trouble. It’s really amazing. You should see it for yourself!

Oh and the moms! The homeschool moms! The ones who know what you’re going through because they are going it too! The ones who are not jockeying for a leadership position on the PTA, or who are fawning over your childrens’ teacher looking for an advantage. The homeschool moms who are there to collectively help your children navigate any difficulties they may encounter, prevent any bullying before it starts, encourage their children to be respectful of other peoples wishes– in other words, moms who are just there to be moms! There is no friend quite like a homeschool mom. And, it has been my experience that unlike school moms who drop you like it’s hot when you leave a particular school, homeschool moms will gasp! still be your friend even if you enroll your kids in school! They may even offer to watch your kids for you during a school break! See the chapter in Gatto’s book about false community on this one.

Also, regarding “socialization,” or what we refer to as the “S word” in homeschool circles, in a typical school setting, you have no control over your child’s peers, other than the fact that they live in the same geographic location and are similarly aged. Hyper sexualization of children is taking place not only in the toys that are marketed to them, but in the curriculum becoming non-optional in California. That is not something that I want my young children exposed to. And I hear it pours over into Girl Scouts these days. No thank you. See an example of some concerns here.

  • I can’t imagine homeschooling my kids until college!

So don’t! Take it one year at a time! Start off by not sending them to Kindergarten, then re-evaluate at the end of the year!

  • What about college?

When I first published this post, I completely forgot about this concern, because for me personally it is not a concern at all. I know all sorts of homeschoolers whose children went on to Ivy league colleges and the like. Or homeschoolers whose children have been recognized as the top 20 photographers under 20 in the country. Or the homeschool child that won The Voice this year. In fact, colleges are starting to catch on to this homeschooling thing, and have special admissions procedures just for our homeschooled kids! Colleges like: Stanford, Yale, Brown, etc. Can you believe, there’s like an entire page, just for us!

Typically, those students who want to walk that path are required to take the SATs, like everyone else, and can demonstrate/are required to demonstrate competency by taking SAT II subject tests, for which there are subtests in languages: Hebrew, Latin (a homeschooler favorite), Mandarin (which my 7 year old decided on her own to study last year, eh?), Japanese Korean, etc. There are also History, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and maybe another category I forgot about, since my oldest child is 7. So, even the Ivys Ivies (?) are not out of reach.

Another popular option is to have homeschool teens, and sometimes even younger, to the local community college when they are ready. Community Colleges are very special to me personally, as I started out at one. You can find world class professors there that really do want to change the world, and don’t need a lot of money or prestige in order to do a kick ass job. JMO.

Also, one thing you may come to realize about life, is that college isn’t the only option! What if your kid decides that he or she is super into welding, and then end up deciding to pursue that full time from an early age? What if they want to do something like what is done at maker faire? If that truly makes them happy? I’ll post a picture of something on that later. Here it is, someone’s child grew up and made this! Likely a team of peoples’ children, from the Maker Faire:

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  • Class parties

Yeah, we got those too. Sometimes at community centers or at the park. Often potlucks. Here’s a pic of the Valentine’s Day exchange from one of our homeschool groups

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  • Fun kid activities

Let me tell you something. There are so many activities to sign your child up for, I can’t even. Not only is every single opportunity for after school classes through the rec center or private businesses still available for your child, but there are tonssssssss of opportunities that are offered solely for homeschooled children. For example, near us, there are language classes, art classes, ceramics classes, classes at the various science museums, LEGO classes, tennis classes, etc.  There is a company called Quantum Camp that offers Math and Science, this cool place called Curiosity Hacked, or places like The Crucible: offering classes in welding, blacksmithing, jewelry making, glass blowing, etc.

We are also fortunate to have nearby an amazing 4H solely for homeschooled children. There are 10 year olds running the meetings. There are 14 year olds running Ancient History clubs. It’s freaking amazing. We haven’t even joined yet, but many of our friends have. I’m looking forward to it, in case you couldn’t tell :)

  • We both need to work

Many many homeschool families have two working parents, especially here in the Bay Area. Find out what income you really need, and find a way to make it work. You would be surprised to learn how many families can and do make it work. I was really surprised to read this when I first found it a couple years ago. A doctor homeschooling her kids! It appears that article has been updated with extensive information on the working angle, check it for more info!

  • Prom

Ok, well maybe you weren’t thinking about Prom, but as a high school and college student leadership participant that helped organize dances, fundraise, and the like, I have thought about these things. As it turns out, there are homeschool proms. And they look just like any other high school prom, except that the parents organize and host it, and I have a feeling there is a lot less delinquency taking place afterwards.

Other cool things that have happened with my homeschool kids: spontaneous jump roping at the park with other girls, going on field trips to museums with other families, sitting quietly and listening to lectures at various locations, interacting with librarian 1:1 to find library books, or using the computer to put books on hold.

My kids have been a part of two trips to a senior home to bring valentines, and then conduct a reverse egg hunt. They have participated in an experiment on ocean acidification as part of a demonstration at a science museum. They have heard about rescued wild birds at a wildlife museum. They have been to a historic Native American village. They have attended various political advocacy events related to school laws. They have been to a homeless family housing center. They have not only seen their mama participating in, but have also been a part of service. My biggest goal in raising my children has always been and will always be to raise good people. People who care about others, and care about the world beyond themselves. I have always jokingly said that it doesn’t matter whether you are the smartest person alive if you are an asshole. You can always take remedial classes in English, but not in character. However, for the record, my 7 year old is reading at a 5th grade level, and is capable of doing Math at least 1 grade level ahead. And all my big kids chant Latin and do Math with food “for fun.” So I’d say we’ve got the academics covered as well.

As far as an every day situation goes, Pinterest is a major source of inspiration, as are teacher friends, especially those on Instagram! Here are just some things I’m hoping to do soon with my kids!

chinese characters

before we started our summer break, my 5 year old was super into Ancient China, so we did some calligraphy, which she loved! My oldest is doing Mandarin with Rosetta Stone, per her request!

Kids have been begging for smores, this just has to be done this summer!

Kids have been begging for smores, this just has to be done this summer!

My 4 year old is obsessed with collecting leaves right now.

My 4 year old is obsessed with collecting leaves right now.

I really want to do this when we start our new school year! I love seeing the kids reflections of themselves, and such a treasure to keep for when they're older!

I really want to do this when we start our new school year! I love seeing the kids reflections of themselves, and such a treasure to keep for when they’re older!

The coolest thing about homeschooling, aside from everything else I’ve written above, is that it really is living in the world. Your children get to live life, every day. They get to learn how to buy things with money, and the concept of tax. That makes explaining historical events like the Boston Tea Party much easier for them to understand. They can see baby birds hatching in the wild! They can go to the Farmer’s market or orchard and see what things are in season and when. They can interact with all sorts of different people, and learn lessons that simply cannot be taught through textbooks or within the confines of a classroom. It’s beautiful and amazing, and I hope you’ll decide to go for it!

If you’re not sure where to start, here are some cool books to read:

I’m not the best at technology stuff, but the following is a broad list of books that I would recommend for starting out. I tried to post the image/link but I’m not sure if it worked out. I think you can take it from here :)

So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, Lisa Whelchel

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The Well Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer

Name Your Link

Learning All The Time, John Holt

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A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century

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A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning

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Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

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Typo disclaimer: sorry if I have any!

Letter to the Governor RE: SB277 Legal Concerns

Originally posted on CALawMama's Blog:

The following is the text of the letter I sent to our Governor. I also sent a slightly altered copy to my local Assemblyman.

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to express some deeply held concerns I have regarding Senate Bill 277, which proposes to completely eliminate personal belief exceptions to mandatory immunization laws for California children.

First of all, as a parent of four children that vaccinates according to the currently recommended vaccination schedule, I find it confusing why the State Legislature would feel it necessary to legally impose vaccinations on families who have legitimate reasons to choose not to vaccinate. As an opponent of SB 277, I have had the occasion to get to know many of these families and their reasons. Typical reasons include:

  • demonstrated vaccine injury, resulting in children who need intensive and around the clock care, even as they grow into teenagers and adults;
  • religious…

View original 1,614 more words

Jewish Homeschool Resources

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In the course of asking around for some help in locating Jewish learning materials, I got some awesome recommendations. Here are some links, in case you are looking too, and in order to keep them all in one easy to locate place!

Twebrew school: a resource for teaching young children Hebrew

Jewish Homeschool Blog: Hurrah, such a thing exists! I knew it must be out there somewhere! And if you have one too, please feel free to leave it in the comments!

Easy Peasy: Following a trend I recently noticed on Ambleside Online, EP will be splitting their Bible resources into Old and New Testament, rumor has it! It is going to teach Hebrew as well, purportedly!

AISH: a resource for Parshah — I haven’t had a chance to look over this one yet, but it looks like it has TONS of information.

Chai curriculum: this is a source for the stuff I’m guessing that Temples typically use in Hebrew school. Where we live, this is $1,000 per kid, per year. Ergo I will likely be getting this ridiculously appealing curriculum to use with my kids. I need the structure, as I am still learning all the time, and I want an easy to access and present source of material for regularity! This is from a Reform perspective.

I had been having a hard time because it seems hard pressed to find any Jewish curriculum, whereas biblical and Christian sources seem to abound. Anyhow, thanks for everyone who sent me these great links!

Wishing you a peaceful week!

Open Letter Regarding Homeschooling Legality in California

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March 9, 2015

Attention California parents, lawmakers, and other interested parties:

It has recently come to my attention, in the course of my duty as an attorney member of the HomeSchool Association of California’s legal team, that there is some confusion being spread as to the status of homeschooling in California.

I have contacted an individual responsible for proliferating a document, in connection with various legal conclusions regarding SB 277, which misstates the legal status of homeschooling in California. I have been informed that the individual has redacted the legally incorrect portion of the document subsequent to our conversation on the matter.

Homeschooling is legal in California. It is NOT a grey area. It is NOT unclear whether it is legal.

The California Court of Appeals reached a definitive decision in a case which personally involved attorneys from HSC, and many many other organizations, interested parties, and homeschool advocacy groups. This was an immense undertaking, and in the end homeschooling was definitively found to be a legal and established right of parents within California. That the statutes which permit homeschooling leave much to be desired in terms of a less circuitous route is of no import: homeschooling in California is legal.

The following is language from the case itself, JONATHAN L. et al., Petitioners, v. THE SUPERIOR COURT OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Cal. Ct. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3 (2008), B192878

“we first consider whether home schooling is permitted under California statutes. We conclude that it is.”

Furthermore, information has been incorrectly disseminated through multiple outlets, and on multiple occasions, regarding the ability of a local educational agency to determine the validity of a homeschool that operates subject to the requirements of a Private School Affidavit.

Allow me to clearly state the role of such agency, found within the same opinion referenced above:

“As long as the local school district verifies that a private school affidavit has been filed, there is no provision for further oversight of a home school.” [emphasis added].Jonathan L., ibid.

Therefore, while the local educational agency is by no means required to verify a private school affidavit, if it does so decide, once that action is taken, that is where the inquiry must end.

Parents are not required to provide ANY documents to the local school district regarding the efficacy of their homeschool. Parents may provide a courtesy copy of the PSA, which the local school district can also secure directly from the state, if local school district sees such action as an extension of its due diligence. This is the complete and full extent of the matter.

Please feel free to forward any subsequent inquiries or questions regarding this well established area of the law to my attention.

Regards,

[CALawMama], Attorney at Law

HSC Legal Team

HomeSchool Association of California

hsc-legal@hsc.org

Stop The Madness: Why I Vehemently Oppose SB277

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Before I begin, I have a few disclaimers to state:syringe

  1. I vaccinate my children. We made this decision based on what is best for our family.
  2. I homeschool my children, therefore this law does not affect me or my family.*** UPDATE: It has come to my attention through several conversations that this law would require ALL schools public and private to submit to it. Under California law, the only legal ways to homeschool are either by forming a private school or joining under an umbrella private school program or charter. Therefore, it is legally fallacious to say the choice it “immunize or homeschool” because the law does not create ANY exceptions. I advise lawmakers who have made statements to this effect to reconsider.****
  3. Bureaucracies and all of their downfalls make me crazy.
  4. In a Bioethics & Law course, I wrote a research paper on the substantive due process rights of parents to refuse immunizations for their children.
  5. My arguments are based on my legal training and experiences as a parent of four children, here in California.

California has long been a bastion for innovation in the legal field. From laws on Evidence, Environmental emissions, to philosophical aka personal belief exemptions for refusing vaccinations, we are first, and I like to think in some cases the best when it comes to making cutting edge choices.

This is not a cutting edge choice.

This is motivated chiefly, if not entirely, by fear.

Making choices out of fear can work out, but it much less likely to when those choices affect everyone throughout the state.

There has been a measles outbreak recently.

Here’s what we know about that outbreak:

A senior California health official has said the source of the outbreak may never be identified, despite a finding that the same strain of virus had led to a wave of illness in the Philippines.

That same genotype has been detected in at least 14 countries and six other U.S. states in the past six months.

The Disneyland resort in Anaheim receives millions of visitors a year, many of them from overseas.

Did you read those three things?

Some people who went to Disneyland contracted the measles. And I am so sorry for them, I wish them all a swift recovery, and I sincerely hope that they receive the level of medical care that ensures the lowest chance of complications.

However, mandatory vaccinations are not the answer.

Here’s why:

  • There has been ZERO evidence causally linking the outbreak to school children not being vaccinated. If you have personally seen this evidence, please feel free to send it to me!
  • the employee in the Bay Area who contracted the measles had been vaccinated, years ago. Thus, mandatory vaccination would have had ZERO affect on his contracting the disease.
  • Vaccinations are NOT 100% effective– you can be vaccinated and still become sick, or even give the disease to someone else

Case in point: this year’s flu. A chat with out local pharmacist revealed that this year they misguessed which strain of the flu to select, leaving some people who had received vaccinations to still contract the miserable disease.

Here’s what the law states:

(a) A means for the eventual achievement of total immunization of appropriate age groups against the following childhood diseases:
(1) Diphtheria.
(2) Hepatitis B.
(3) Haemophilus influenzae type b.
(4) Measles.
(5) Mumps.
(6) Pertussis (whooping cough).
(7) Poliomyelitis.
(8) Rubella.
(9) Tetanus.
(10) Varicella (chickenpox).

The following provision is the number one reason why I oppose this bill:

(11) Any other disease deemed appropriate by the department, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

This puts the decision of which vaccinations ALL CHILDREN IN CALIFORNIA must receive into the hands of not even doctors, but bureaucrats. Is that something that you are personally comfortable with, because I am certainly NOT.

Remember all of the issues that arose with the HPV vaccination? Imagine if the choice of whether or not to vaccinate your child was taken out of your hands because that was added to the mandatory list, without your notice, consent, or even thought to whether you thought it would be a good idea. Does your child even need that vaccination? The state literally does not care.

It erodes religious freedoms. This article presents a well reasoned argument that eliminating the personal choice belief leads to an abuse of the religious exemption. When individuals take advantage of religious loopholes, they can lead to litigation and lawmaking like RFRA, remember that nightmare that keeps on giving?

Further, IMO, in a state like CA, eliminating a personal belief exemption, while allowing a religious exemption to stand violates the First Amendment protections of the separation between Church & State. What if you are atheist? You are not entitled to the very same decision as someone who has just as sincerely held beliefs on the exact same issue. That’s bad lawmaking.

By the way, it’s not abundantly clear that this law retains the religious exemption, as the text as proposed only allows for exemptions, “from immunization for medical reasons.” There is no asterisk or footnote linking to another law containing religious exemptions.

Oh, and by the way, it also costs taxpayer money. By requiring schools to compile and disseminate information on vaccination rates, the state is required to reimburse them for those costs. What are they? How much will they be? How will they be administered or monitored? You got me.

I would much rather have whatever amount spent on reporting vaccination rates to be spent on things like library books, except for libraries like this one. Talk about a bureaucratic bloat.

This also leads to parents making decisions about their childrens’ educations based on fear, rather than based on, oh I don’t know, who can best actually educate them?

Here is a link to SB277 in its entirety. I highly suggest you read it and process what it amounts to: an utter and total intrusion on your rights as a parent to decide what’s best for your kids.

What’s next? Mandatory circumcision, substantiated by evidence of lower cancers later in life?

These are decisions that are best left to individual families to decide for themselves.

This issue is not cut and dry. You cannot just force people to do what you want in order to reach a result.

Plus, as we’ve discussed, that doesn’t even work. So what’s the justification then?

This is the first step in a Brave New World direction.

Recipes in the pipeline

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I have several recipes that I am dying to share, but alas I don’t have the opportunity to do it right now.

I thought I’d write a little teaser, so you can check back in a few if you want the full recipes.

I’m going to soon write up the fabulous recipes for:

  • EASY roasted chicken & veggies in the crockpot
  • Chickenless chicken noodle soup
  • Hella good chicken & garlic pizza
  • Black & White chocolate chip cookies
  • Triple berry muffins– ooh I forgot about that one, luckily I wrote it down! lol

I also can’t wait to tell you all about Operation Plastic Elimination, which is nearly complete.

Lots of good things.

Happy Wednesday!

It’s A Calling: This is Now

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I’ve been having an existential crisis lately. Apparently, this isn’t uncommon for homeschoolers in February. I can only imagine how difficult things must be for those of you with snow!

Anyhow, as is often the case with this sort of thing, it is tied to what has been going on with us. My 5 year old had some sort of stomach virus over the weekend, and my nearly 1 yo is going on 48 hours of a persistent high fever. Luckily it is responsive to motrin and “airing him out.”

Anyhow, this means that we have been home A LOT. Since Friday. Those of you who know me IRL know that I hate being home. I loathe it. Sure, you can’t always not be home, but in an ideal world, I’d leave home at 10 and return at 5, cook dinner, etc.

I think the reason I hate it is because it’s so boring. There’s a good chance that I have some sort of undiagnosed attention deficit disorder. That would explain my sophomore year in college–I got permission to take 19 semester units so that I could be student body president, play two varsity sports, AND be student body president, not to mention the other activities I participated in. That semester I earned the only C of my college career. I was so tired that I literally forgot to do a major homework assignment, and did miserably on the final.

The hatred for being home has clearly worn off on my children, who everyday, as soon as they wake up, ask where we are going today. So, you can imagine, it is hard being home.

Another related factor, is that being sick means that we can’t be with our people. I NEED people. My kids NEED people. We had SO many cool plans this week: a Chinese New Year celebration at a local museum, a park day, a trip to the zoo’s new playground, homeschool day at the Charles Schulz museum, and a playdate at a local park with some new homeschooler friends. All those things, and similar fun things I would typically do as an alternate, were scrapped.

To top that off, very little sleep has been happening. Baby is sick AND teething, can you blame him?

But these things affect me, I am only human.

Add in 3 big kids who are rambunctious and curious and strong willed.

It left me questioning WHY I am doing this.

I am not a patient person. In fact, I am very passionate, but I do try to be the best that I can, and am constantly trying to improve myself, and do what’s best for my kids.

We are fortunate to live within a great school district. It has wonderful facilities, due to a bond measure reduced class sizes, and some pretty cool enrichment activities. So I have been pondering, why don’t I just send my kids there. Why should I homeschool.

Then, last night, I was fortunate to come across this article that one of my friends shared about 4 year olds (language & sarcasm warning).

I also saw this. I’m pretty sure it’s not a Jewish thing but whatever, I think it applies just the same.16180_929743210383841_829828544352423662_n

Then, when I was up at 2:30 am, and a 15 year old young girl in Instagram follow requested me, and we began chatting. And I thought about all the other older homeschool kids I am friends with, including some young adults. I thought about how neat they were, and how much love they had for their families, how inspirational they were. If my kids turned out like that, I will have accomplished everything I initially set out to do.

If we had been able to do all of those things we had planned, would I be having these thoughts at all? I highly doubt it.

going to be worth itAfter I got the baby to sleep in the middle of the night, as I was laying down, I began thinking about things, and I realized, there is a reason I started on this path. It is a calling. You don’t just ignore a calling because it’s difficult. To the contrary, you persevere strengthened by your faith and resolve to do better, be better, and accomplish the task laid out by your creator.

When I sent my children to daycare/preschool, it felt profoundly wrong. In fact, I felt sick to my stomach. I thought that was a normal thing, and that it would pass, but it didn’t. Instead, I had to actively ignore my feelings as people told me that more time away was better! Better for me, better for my girl!

Aside from my feelings of connection with my children, forcing them to sit in one location, limited to one room most of the time, just feels wrong. It confines their life experience to four walls, and in many cases to pieces of paper, rather than living breathing life.

All my life I dreamed of getting to this place. Happily married to a loving husband. Living in a house, bustling with joyful, smart, and loving children. Children whom I get the privilege of being with all day. Who share my enthusiasm for trying new things, going on new adventures. They rarely say no when I hatch a new plan, or dig out an art supply. the most important work

Another realization that I had, which I often reflect on, is the finite nature of this period in my childrens’ lives. They will not always be this age. Things will not always be this difficult. I will not always be embarassed as they act out and a perfect stranger comments that I “sure have my hands full!”

They will grow up, and they will leave! And I will be so sad! I will miss this simpler time! I will wish that I had it back to do all over again. More glitter, less worry. Why was I so stressed over that, it wasn’t really important.

I hastened whether to post this at all, as it is so deeply personal. But then I thought, maybe I can help someone else get over the February hump, then it’s worth it.

All of the wonderful things we have experienced together have brought us to now.

When the fiddle had stopped singing Laura called out softly, “What are days of auld lang syne, Pa?”

“They are the days of a long time ago, Laura,” Pa said. “Go to sleep, now.”

But Laura lay awake a little while, listening to Pa’s fiddle softly playing and to the lonely sound of the wind in the Big Woods. She looked at Pa sitting on the bench by the hearth, the firelight gleaming on his brown hair and beard and glistening on the honey-brown fiddle. She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting.

She thought to herself, “This is now.”

She was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.

Here’s to the now.

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