Monthly Archives: April 2010

Egg incubation update

It’s been two weeks since we began incubating the duck eggs, and one week since we started the chicken eggs (we staggered when we put them in since chickens and ducks have different lengths of time to incubate and we want them to all hatch the same time).  I expected that thanks to little hands that think it’s fun to turn the knob and adjust the heat in the incubator without us being aware of it for hours, we’d end up not having any hatch.  And though I expected it to be a boring process of just waiting until the last day or two when there is sign that they’re ready to hatch, I was wrong!

I read somewhere that you can actually shine a light on the egg if you’re in a dark room and see the developing bird inside.  My kids did this with the duck eggs by shining a flashlight directly on them, and this was very exciting for them!  Thanks to their observations, it  so far looks like 12 of the 15 eggs we started with are developing, contrary to my expectations that we wouldn’t get any.  You can actually see along the shell that there’s a vein-like pattern on those that are growing, and see the tiny developing embryo moving.  It’s quite remarkable.

They tried to take a video so I could put it here on my blog, because they said it was so interesting that all of you would want to see it, too.  But because it has to be done in a dark room, it was too hard to clearly video it since with the necessary light for the picture to be clear, you can’t see what’s happening inside the eggs.  So those of you who are interested will just have to rent an incubator and get your own eggs started. :)

Seeing this development on their own has motivated them to closely read the books I got out from the library.  Dd13 is trying to figure out exactly what body parts she’s seeing develop.  I suggested that they regularly journal their observations, but whether they do this or not, I already think it’s a valuable learning opportunity.

Two more weeks to go until the hatching should be complete!

Avivah

Interesting educational option for dd15

Last week I mentioned that dh and I would be going to New York City on Sunday together with dd15, and now I’ll share with you what we were doing there!

Just over two weeks ago we learned about an intriguing educational possibility and despite it being a very drastic change in the direction dd was planning for next year, we decided to look into it with her.  The program is called Elite Academy, and has several schools associated with it.  One of those schools is a religious girls’ high school in Israel, and each of the schools affiliated with Elite Academy have a program specifically geared towards English speakers.  It’s intended for teens about 15 – 16 years old, and the program includes intensive ulpan/Hebrew language study (about thirteen hours a week), in addition to Torah classes and math/English/etc.  The program is fully subsidized for those who are accepted, and not only are tuition, room and board covered, but students are also provided with a stipend to cover transportation costs while in Israel, and the flight to Israel is paid for as well (not the return flight, though).  (You can get more info here.)

After first hearing about it, we scoured the internet for more information, I spoke to the US representative for 45 minutes, emailed the director of the girls’ school with a list of questions, and then waited another week to listen in on the conference call in which the school principals for the girls’ and boys’ programs answered questions posed by interested parents.  The next day was a Monday, and we sent in the application with the hope that we could be included in the screening to be held in NYC six days later.  On Wednesday morning we received the confirmation about the screening, and 5:30 am Sunday morning we were on our way!

We got there at 9:30, and had time to get a little bit to eat (they provided a very nice breakfast spread) and say ‘hello’ to a long term online friend who I’d never yet met in person before the program started.  Dd15 managed to talk to two girls she knew casually and introduce herself to three other girls she didn’t know at all within fifteen minutes.  The program then began with an explanation of the program to the parents and teens as well as what to expect of the day with regards to the extensive testing they would be doing.  Then they split us up so that the kids could do a group social activity together while the parents went over the contracts in detail.

Then the teens had 2.5 hours of testing, academic as well as psychological, then a break for lunch (which they also provided), then another 1.5 hours of testing for the kids.  Meanwhile, we parents were being interviewed by a psychologist.  There were three psychologists, so three interviews were being done simultaneously.  The interview took a little over 45 minutes, and was not a bit homeschool friendly.  My position regarding answering questions about homeschooling is that I won’t allow myself to be put on the defense, and this was seriously tested by my interviewer.

Not that he wasn’t a nice person – he was.  But besides asking lots of detailed questions about family history, he asked questions in a way that left me feeling he expected something to be wrong.  And then he got into questions about homeschooling.  But right after asking the first question (about why I chose to homeschool dd), before I had a chance to even open my mouth, he said that homeschooling was antithetical to Judaism.   He added: “I’m not saying this just for myself.  I’m saying this as a parent, a psychologist, as a professional – this is the opposite of what Judaism is about.  Judaism is about community, not just staying to yourself and doing what you want.”

So I had to politely let him know he was making judgments about an issue he didn’t know anything about – I’m serious about doing that politely but I’m also serious that I told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. Then I had to clarify what the question really should be, so I could then answer the real question.  Then he wanted to know how dd could possibly cope with the structure of a program like this since she’s been allowed to do whatever she wants and have no structure in her life.   Comments like this are chock full of idiocy false assumptions about homeschooling.  It was almost like he wasn’t really listening to my response before moving on to the next question.  Good thing questions like this don’t faze me.

Then there were questions about how we raised our kids.  And we kept answering, ‘yes, she’s healthy; no, she’s never been seen/treated by a psychologist; no, she doesn’t take any medication; no, she doesn’t suffer from depression’.  He asked me about punishment and I looked at him blankly.  I asked him what he meant, and he asked how I punish her.  I told him I don’t have any need to punish her, and in any case, I don’t really think in terms of punishment.

Then he asked us to assess the quality of our relationship with dd, and wanted us to describe our conflict with her.  I really didn’t want to answer this last question honestly, since I was thinking that by now we sounded a little too perfect, and he’d think we were hiding something if I told him the truth.  But what can you do?  After a brief pause, I told him I was reluctant to say we don’t have conflicts with her because he won’t believe me.  After all, she’s a teenager and everyone knows that teenagers are difficult and obnoxious and trying.  But it’s really true – we enjoy her; she’s really a pleasure to have around.   Despite the uncomfortableness with the negative slant towards homeschooling, all in all the interview went well.  I was glad that we had this interviewer so that dd didn’t have to (their policy is that different psychologists interview the applicant and her parents).

Her interviewer and she got along great, and when dd was asked about conflict with us, she later described to me her thoughts.  She felt if she responded that she didn’t have any conflict with us, they’d think she was hiding something.  So she told them she didn’t like when I used to remind her to do the dishes when it was her turn, and she asked me not to do that.  “So what happened then?” the interviewer wanted to know.  “She stopped asking me and I did them without being asked.”   “Oh.”  Not exactly the example of conflict they were searching for, but it was all she could think of.

I was glad dh had been able to take off of work to come with us, since most applicants had both parents with them.  It was nice to get to see the other girls and parents, and since we spent hours together that day (I left at 7:15 pm), there was plenty of time to chat with them and get a sense of what kind of people they were.  Generally my feeling about the families was positive.

It will be another two weeks until we find out if dd’s been accepted.  To determine if someone is accepted, they gather the result of all the testing, the notes on the parents’ interview, notes on the applicant’s interview, and then the team of three psychologists goes over it together to do a complete assessment of each person (for 1.5 hours per applicant) to be sure that she’s suitable and meets all their criteria.

Dd enjoyed meeting the other applicants, and feels even more comfortable about the idea of attending this program now that she’s seen a sample of the girls applying.  I’m really glad we got this done now, since the next screening isn’t until June, and we’d all like to know if she’s accepted as soon as possible!

Avivah

The accident…..

This past Shabbos (Sabbath) we sponsored a communal meal in honor of the tenth anniversary of an accident involving my now sixteen year old son.  We felt it was important for us to publically thank G-d for all that He has done for us, and I wanted to share here with all of you as well what happened then, and why we continue to be so grateful.

At about this time of year on the Jewish calendar comes a minor holiday called Lag B’omer.  It doesn’t even have the status of a minor holiday; it’s more minor than that!  But in Israel, where I was living ten years ago, it’s a day celebrated with great fun and celebration.  Boys of all ages spend weeks collecting any scrap wood or cardboard boxes they can find for the traditional Lag B’omer bonfires.  There are numerous fires that are built in all neighborhoods, where people sing special songs, dance, sometimes roasting potatoes and hot dogs.   It’s a lot of fun!

My then six year old son wasn’t immune to the excitement building among his friends, and one day asked for permission to go down the block with a friend and look for some bonfire materials.  I have to explain that in the small religious town we were living, it was very normal for young children to go out unsupervised by a parent.  It was a very peaceful and quiet area, and my children there could do things that I’d be uncomfortable with them doing here in the US when they were much older.  (For example, one day I allowed my ds6 to take dd5 to the major supermarket about a five minute walk away – here in the US my kids don’t leave my sight in the supermarket, let alone go in and buy something by themselves!)

So I agreed that he could go down the block, the distance of about a four minute walk from our small apartment building.  A little while later there was a knock on the door, and I opened it to find the 5 year old brother of the friend ds with his 19 year old aunt.  He said something rapidly in a mixture of Hebrew and English, but even though I understood the actual words, it didn’t make sense to me, so I told him to repeat himself.  He said it again, then his aunt yanked him away as if he was saying nonsense.  I closed the door, and tried to figure out what he was talking about – it still didn’t make sense, and it was even more confusing that if something was wrong, why wouldn’t the 19 year old tell me about it?

But it made even less sense that this child would say something so strange to me out of the blue.  So a minute later, I decided to just make sure everything was okay.  I ran downstairs and looked up and down the block to see if anything had happened involving my ds.  No sign of anything.  No sign of any people, no noise – everything seemed calm and quiet.

I came back inside, having seen everything looked fine, but feeling inside myself that something was very wrong.  Dh was there for his lunch break, and I told him I was going out to look for ds and wanted him to come with me.  No explanation.  I grabbed the baby, and went back down the block where I had looked already, but this time I went a little further, where the street began to curve, so I hadn’t seen what lay right behind the curve.  And as I did, I saw a passenger bus pulled to the side of the street, a crowd of emergency workers, and my ds in the middle of them all.

As I approached, one of them (I think it was my son’s principal, who was also a volunteer EMT), said to me in Hebrew with great emotion, “You have just experienced a miracle.”  Having already spoken to the driver of the bus and the passengers on board, he went on to explain what happened.

It seemed my ds had decided to cross the street to get a cardboard box on the other side.  Having been taught to carefully look both ways before crossing, he did, and only started crossing when he was sure it was safe.  He had no way to know that a bus driving at a high speed was about to bear down on him.  The driver was going at full speed, and though he was in a residential neighborhood and children at play were common, rounded the blind curve without slowing down – and then saw ds.   The driver tried to brake and swerve away, but there wasn’t enough time.  Ds6 was hit by the front corner of the bus and thrown across the street by the force of contact.

The passengers on board who saw what happened thought he had been killed.  But after a couple of minutes, he regained consciousness and began crying.   That’s how he looked when we saw him.  We didn’t know the extent of his injuries – just that he was still alive.  Dh went with him to the hospital while I stayed home with the other three kids.  I still feel sick when I remember the feeling of fear in my stomach, waiting to know what happened.  None of my friends or neighbors came by- they were just learning about it themselves, and I think they were were afraid to be intrusive or say the wrong thing.  While it was a lonely feeling, some moments are so intense that maybe it’s best if it’s just between you and G-d.

Hours later a call finally came from the hospital.  Unbelievably, the only major injury he experienced was a collarbone fracture (in addition to minor injuries, like large areas of skin on his arms and legs that were rubbed off, bleeding from the ear).  They did a brain scan and ascertained that his brain was fine – brain damage had been my main fear.  There’s no physical explanation for how my son escaped virtually unscathed from an accident that should have left him dead or brain damaged for life.  I felt as if a sword had been hanging over the head of our family, and something pushed it to the side at the last minute.  And I (and many others) believe that was it was in the merit of one particular thing that my son was saved.

About eight months before this, the aunt of my best friend had been killed in a tragic accident.  She had been waiting to cross a street in Jerusalem, when the Arab driver of a huge tractor/bulldozer indicated to her that she could cross; as she was halfway across, he purposely ran her down.  She was a wonderful person, always positive and smiling, the mother of seven young children.  It happened the day after Rosh Hashana, the day when the fate of every person is decided for the coming year, and it left me feeling shaken inside.

I felt that I wanted to actively do something as a merit for her soul.  (Very simplified explanation: after a person has died, they have no way to do good deeds and earn ‘credit’ for themselves.  But those who are living can do good deeds in memory of the person who has died, in order that the deceased has increasing merits to benefit their soul.)  After thinking about what I could do, I decided to host a weekly gathering in my home where women could gather and say Psalms together.  I got a special set of Psalms that was broken up into a number of booklets; each person would read a different booklet and the idea was that together the entire book of Psalms was said within a 20 – 30 minute period.

This wasn’t an easy thing to get started – you know how it is, everyone is busy!  But I persisted and more and more women began to attend.  It was about eight months later when the accident happened, eight months in which I thought I was gathering merits for the soul of a person tragically killed in an accident involving a large vehicle.  Eight months in which I was actually gathering merits to save my own child from what should have been a tragic accident involving a large vehicle.

Avivah

Busy, busy, busy!

Have you ever had this feeling that all it took was one thing to move you from comfortably busy to feeling like your plate is overflowing? Today I had that feeling!

We’ve been busy in the last week and a half exploring an educational option for my dd15 for next year that we just learned about (will share about it next week if she’s accepted).  I got her application in on Monday, which was good to have out of the way so I could enjoy a somewhat relaxed week that was comfortably scheduled, I thought.  Baseball season has just started for my boys, which means that every Sunday afternoon, as well as Tuesday and Thursday nights they’re out – along with the rest of the family, who like to be there to watch and cheer them on.

Last night coming home from baseball I ran over a curb when I turned a corner and punctured my tire, so my planned relaxed morning (just cook, clean, and work with the kids on their educational stuff) today then became busy with getting the tire taken care of.  Which was really much easier than it would have been if not for the amazing Chaveirim volunteer organization we have here.  I really should write a post on them – it’s a wonderful group.

Then I took dd13 and ds11 shoe shopping, and when I got home canned 6 quarts of berries that didn’t seal yesterday (I’m experimenting with new lids and missed a detail on instructions for using them – will share about that also if these all seal properly!).  Then on to my kitchen, which absent my attention all day, was piled up with lots of dirty dishes and pots and mess needing to be taken care of.

Anyway, I had two hours to get it all done and eat dinner before I needed to leave the house to give a speech at my Toastmasters club, but 45 minutes before I was due to leave, I got a call from the synagogue representative that I left a message with this morning (in between getting the tire repaired and shoe shopping :).  I had inquired about sponsoring the shalosh seudos (traditional third meal late Saturday afternoon) next Shabbos (Sabbath) in honor of the tenth anniversary of a bus accident involving my ds16.  She told me that the rabbi will be away next week, and the following week is tentatively reserved – which left me the choice of doing it this week, or doing it three weeks after the actual anniversary.

Hmm, I thought.  I have to give a speech in one hour that I haven’t yet prepared.  I have a trip scheduled to the NASA visitor center tomorrow in the early afternoon (Thursday) that is over an hour away which will take most of the afternoon, and as soon as I come home, ds11 needs to be taken to his baseball game (along with everyone else, which requires putting together a quickie dinner for them to take with them).  And while they’re all at baseball, I have a phone conference with the head of the homeschool umbrella program we’re registered with scheduled.  I have press releases and articles that need to be written for the Torah Home Education Conference.   So I would need to plan for, shop, and cook for this event of 80 – 120 people (to be held about 7 pm Saturday) all on Friday – and all of the cooking would have to be done at the synagogue, so I can’t do a little here and there when it’s quiet around here.

Oh – did I mention that I also have a family of 9 coming for Shabbos (Saturday) lunch, and that it would be prudent not to have everyone getting home from the shalosh seudos after 9 pm Saturday night, since together with dh, I’m leaving 5:30 am Sunday morning on a bus to New York City for a full day of interviews and evaluations for my dd15 (returning 5 am Monday morning)?    And of course I still have my house to clean and food to cook for Shabbos?  Would you think it would be a good idea to agree to do this at the last minute this week, in addition to all that I have going on already?

No, right?  That’s the reasonable and balanced thing to do. But on the other hand, we never made an official seuda (meal) to show our appreciation for the miracle that our son walked away from an accident that should have killed him.  Last year I wanted to do it but the anniversary date was the same time as my due date (and I obviously didn’t know I’d end up being three weeks overdue! :)).  Last year I said, “Next year we’ll make the seudas hodaah (meal of gratitude) to mark the tenth anniversary”.  And it was really important to me that this not be pushed off for three more weeks, just because I’m kind of busy right now.  It’s been pushed off for ten years, and if we’re going to do it, it’s going to be done on time.

So surely you understood why I told the woman I would call her back because I needed to think about it, and then fifteen minutes later was rushing to get the announcement into the synagogue newsletter before the deadline.  Yes, I decided to do it.  Then I went out and gave my speech with ten minutes to compose my thoughts.  It was fine.

I came home and made out a list of foods that we’ll need to make for the shalosh seudos (there’s a basic fee to sponsor it that only includes rolls, crackers, and tuna salad) – my kids really want me to buy soda.  I agreed to bake cookies and cake so it wouldn’t be too healthy, but buying and serving soda is really pushing my comfort zone.  😆  Seriously, I don’t know if I can bring myself to put it in my shopping cart.  All in attendance will just have to suffer, I suppose.  :)

My dear friend called tonight to let me know that there will be meteor shower tonight between 1 – 3 am, and it can be seen if you drive somewhere dark (we have too many street lights around).  In case you’re wondering – I do know what my limits are, and I’m going to sleep instead.  Despite the busyness the extra commitment of making the communal meal at the last minute entails, I feel it’s a really good decision and feel balanced and sane about it all.  Now I just have to tell my husband. 😆

Avivah

Regal Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

My dd15 created this gluten/grain-free dessert.  A nice thing about having gotten my kids involved in the kitchen at a young age is that they’re now really good cooks, and particularly dd15 and dd13 are comfortable adapting recipes to fit our nutritional approach, as well as making up their own recipes.  Despite having common ingredients of chocolate and peanut butter, it’s totally different from my peanut butter cup recipe.  This is more like a cake.

Regal Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

  • 2/3 c. coconut oil
  • 3/4 c. honey (or 1 c. organic sucanat)
  • 1 c. peanut butter (can substitute any nut butter of your choice)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla
  • 2 c. almond flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 6 -12 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips (you can make these yourself by making a batch of healthy chocolate, pour it in a very thin layer, refrigerate until hard, then break into chocolate chip sized chunks)

Cream the coconut oil with honey and peanut butter.  Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Stir in almond flour, baking powder, and salt.  Pour into a well-greased or lined 9 x 13 pan.  If you want thinner squares, pour onto a cookie sheet instead.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.   Put into 400 degree oven for five minutes, then take out and use a knife to swirl the chocolate through the batter.

Lower the heat to 350 degrees and then bake for 30 more minutes.  Cut while warm into small squares (this makes enough for 30 – 40 small squares, less if you cut the pieces bigger).  This is a deliciously rich and decadent dessert!

(This post is part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Real Food Wednesday.)

Avivah

Exploring flower essences for healing

I’ve recently begun reading about flower essences – Bach flower essences, to be specific.  There are lots of flower essences out there, but until now I’ve never been interested in exploring how or why they work. Flower essences, like homeopathy, work on an energetic basis.  That means they reach under the physical cause of unwellness and address the deeper cause.

Several days ago I did a very interesting experiment with three of my kids.  I read that one can look at pictures of the flowers that are made into essences, and you can access your intuitive side by paying attention to which flowers are most appealing to you.  I spontaneously decided to try this when my ds7 was seriously overreacting to someone – which he’s been doing a lot lately and is rooted in something deeper than just behavior.  So I called him over to the computer and told him to pick out his favorite picture.  He chose two – and when I looked at the explanation for each of these essences, it was uncanny how perfectly they described him.

Then I called over my oldest two kids and told them to do the same thing.  My oldest son saw me ask my ds7 and read the explanation of those essences along with me, and after a brief explanation, understood why I was asking them.  Dd15 had no idea why I was asking but I guess she figured it would be interesting!

They made a list of their favorites, then narrowed it down to a list of about 5 – 7.  When I read off each explanation for the essences my son chose – every single one pointed to the same core issue, one that he readily admits is what he has to work on.   Then I read out the explanations for my dd, and she and my ds were again laughing and simultaneously fascinated at how incredibly accurate it was.

I’ve taken both ds16 and dd15 in the last few months for a visit to our chiropractor, who does energy work – and what the flower essences reflected was exactly what the chiro said when she did energy work on them.  Really, really interesting.  She clears away layers of emotional bad energy, but I don’t know how to do that, and I often have wished there was something I could do to access that level of healing without having to turn to someone else.  Enter the flower essences. :)

I’m aiming to buy the entire kit of essences so I can start using them to help the kids.  So far I’ve made a list of essences that would be suitable for myself and five of the kids so far, based on reading different explanations about each essence and the personality type/quality it works on.  Now I just have to aquire them!  Bach flower essences were intended to be used by regular people, meaning you don’t have to be a trained practitioner to know how to use them (unlike homeopathy).   The kit isn’t a minor purchase, but I think it will be a fun, interesting, and helpful modality to use to further the good health of our family.

Avivah

Our free chicken coop

I started incubating duck eggs on Thursday night, and I’ll put the chicken eggs in this coming Thursday night; that way all the eggs should hatch about the same time.  Then we’ll decide if we want to keep any of them, and which we’d keep (ie, the ducklings or chicks – still a good amount of debate about that and I think it will depend on what kind of ducklings hatch out).

For quite some time I’ve been keeping an eye out for possible frugal housing options for them once they are hatched, assuming we decide to keep 3 or 4 for pets/eggs.  But one big thing holding me back was the limited time to put together some housing without spending much money on it.

This morning, my ds11 came home and told me he saw that someone put out a sturdy wood dog house for free and thought it would be just the right size for a coop.  I took a walk with my dd13 to go look at it, and he was right – it was just right.  Big enough for the amount of birds we’re considering, but compact enough to not be a major presence in my yard.

But dh had taken the van to work, and what would usually be a quick and easy jaunt to pick this up wasn’t.  It was HEAVY.  Dd and I started carrying it, but after just a couple of minutes, I sent her home to bring back reinforcements (ie the muscles of some other children :)).  Since ds16 was at shul (synagogue), dd15 was davening (praying), ds11 was at piano lessons – so the only muscle was from dd9 and ds7.  Not quite the muscle I was envisioning.

But they did great and we got the doghouse home with a good amount of effort, laughing most of the way at how ridiculous we probably looked to people driving by.  We’ll have to make some adaptations to it – namely, to put in a perch for roosting, nesting boxes for egg laying, and to make the roof hinged so we can open it from the top easily for cleaning.  But the frame and size are good, and I think that’s doable. I also like that it doesn’t look like a chicken coop.

Having this housing at least partially taken care of is one more thing that I don’t need to think about, and having it means that it’s looking a lot more likely that we’ll end up keeping some.  We still need to put a fence around our entire property – not a small project at all – but I have a new friend in the area who is enthusiastic about doing this as a team effort.  If she has anything to say about it, I’ll have a fence up before you know it, lol!

I still have several weeks before anything will be hatching, and then it will be at least two more weeks before I’d think of transferring them outside – so about 5.5 weeks until I need to have everything in place.  So while it doesn’t feel very urgent, time has a way of going very, very fast, particularly when you’re busy with lots of other things (which I am).  I know that if I don’t think about this now, there’s no way we’ll be ready to deal with everything later on.

Wasn’t that a great find?

Avivah

Homeschool Do’s and Don’ts

Last night this question was sent to a homeschooling list that I’m on, and since I was told my response was helpful am sharing it here.

>>I was hoping to find out some more information about how some of the veteran homeschooling parents have done things in the past, and if there is an umbrella program? My mother homeschooled my siter for a year using the Calvert School system. Is this a good route to take or is there something better? Just looking for some pointers and maybe some Dos and Don’ts. Also, are there any good resources / curriculums that are available for 1st grade and on?<<
There are loads of great curriculums out there – the question is which one is a good fit for you and your child. Something can work great for one family and be a disaster for another. Calvert is highly structured and school-like; if that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, it might be a good fit for you. Programs like this tend to have a high burnout rate.

However, I’d encourage you to consider why you want to homeschool and what you want to achieve. It’s easy to fall into the automatic mode of doing things at home in a school-like manner, which tends to not work with the goals most parents have in homeschooling.

Do and don’ts:

Don’t: spend a lot of money on curriculum when you’re starting out – you’ll probably end up regretting most of them.
Don’t: use whatever program someone else you know is doing without taking time to evaluate it on its own merit.
Don’t: kill the joy of learning by pushing too hard, too soon.
Don’t: take yourself or homeschooling too seriously.

Do: take lots of time to read and reflect on what your goals are
Do: remember the joy is in the journey, and if you and your child are enjoying yourselves, you’re on the right track.
Do: realize that it doesn’t matter what everyone else does and what works for them – it only matters what is right for you and your child/ren.
Do: follow your child’s lead; support them in their interests.
Do: attend the fabulous homeschooling conference in June that will be a way to get all of these questions and lots more answered in person by veteran homeschool parents.

**************

When I shared this it was off the top of my head, literally written in five minutes.  So it’s far from a comprehensive list.  Please share other do’s and don’ts that you’ve found valuable in your homeschooling journey!

Avivah

What’s obvious to you isn’t obvious to everyone else!

This morning I went back to the farm to exchange the incubator I got for another one – it was running way too hot and nothing we did was getting it back down.  She couldn’t believe it was possible for it to be at 120 degrees – she said she’s never seen any of them go above 110.  So I repeatedly checked and rechecked, but I still kept getting the same reading, no matter what I did.  It turns out that the heating element got jammed at the highest heat (she thinks it might have happened in transport) and wasn’t budging even though we were adjusting the heating dial.

When I exchanged the incubator, I asked a bunch of questions that I could tell seemed unintelligent to the person we got it from, but I really didn’t get how the incubator worked and wanted to be sure we didn’t have any further problems.  She responded with brief statements about the incubator as if it was the easiest and most obvious thing to operate – and to her it was – but I kept feeling like I was missing some piece of information that would help me understand clearly what she was talking about.   After one comment she made that she probably thought was so obvious she didn’t even need to say it when I picked up the incubator the first time (or more likely she said it and I didn’t have a framework to process it), the light in my brain clicked on and I finally understood what was going on.

As I was thinking about this experience this morning, suddenly I thought about the friend who came by yesterday.  When she left I handed her some beef fat and bones to make broth with, and quickly mentioned that the fat had to be rendered and to use the bones for broth.  When she asked what rendering means, I realized that I was so used to doing certain things and referencing them in a casual way (or thinking that every post I’ve written on these topics has been read, lol!), that I might have left her feeling inadequate, thanks to my quick instructions that might not have included the right balance of details.  Just like the incubator lady and me.  In actuality, making broth and rendering fat are a big process until you get it figured out!

When something is second nature to you, it’s so easy to forget that it might not be familiar to another person at all.  It might even be really intimidating to them!  My personal lesson from today is that I need to gauge the knowledge level of the person asking before making assumptions about what she knows that might leave her feeling foolish (today in response to one of my comments, the woman responded, “that’s why homeschool moms shouldn’t give coop classes” – I definitely felt foolish).  That means being balancing the response with the appropriate amount of detail, given at an appropriate pace.  That can be a tough balance, particularly for someone like me who speaks quickly!:)  But I think it’s important to be aware of so that people don’t emerge from an interaction feeling judged or minimized.

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)

Avivah

PS – edited to add that the woman wasn’t intending to be hurtful and I wasn’t insulted; it’s just a different communication style and as I said, when people are comfortable with something, they just don’t realize it’s foreign to someone else.  I don’t want anyone thinking negatively even about an anonymous person that I reference!

Apple Meatloaf

This was an experiment I just tried – usually we make a plain and simple meatloaf, but  figured it would be fun to try something new!  The basic concept came from this recipe.

Apple Meatloaf

  • 6 lb ground beef
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 c. applesauce (I used homemade chunky applesauce from apples we harvested:))
  • 1 15 oz can tomato puree
  • 2 T. prepared mustard
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 1 t. pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in oil of your choice until translucent (I used rendered chicken fat).  Mix the sauteed vegetables into the ground beef.  In a separate bowl, mix the applesauce, tomato puree, mustard, and spices – this is done now so that all the ingredients are evenly mixed in and will combine well with the meat mixture.  Mix applesauce mixture with ground beef mixture, and mix well.

Place mixture into two deep 9 x 13 pans (it can fill up to four pans, depending how full you want them to be), and smooth the top with a spoon.  You can also use loaf pans, if you prefer.  (I like 9 x 13 pans since that’s the only size I have that is stainless steel, so I try to use them for everything!  :lol:) Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.

The meatloaf has an interesting (and tasty!) flavor, and a texture that is firm enough to slice but slightly looser than your typical meatloaf.  It’s grain-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free.  It’s also suitable for the GAPS diet; I made it now to feed my freezer so I’ll have it on hand when I hopefully introduce GAPS to my family next week.

(This recipe is part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday.)

Avivah