{not} back to school

Technically, we've been "{not} back to school" for about 2 weeks now.
Except Jake and I went to the Dodger game that first week so the girls spent the night at grandma's.
No school that day.
The next day we left for the beach. I took our books {because I always do}, but we didn't do much more than a few chapters of reading and a math lesson {because the girls were driving me batty and I needed them to sit and be quiet}.
That brings us to Monday of last week. The day we have waited and hoped for all summer. The day the rest of the world went back to school!
{Can I get a hooooooooooooooooray!?}
For us, this meant a "not back to school" day of celebration at John's Incredible Pizza with friends.
Wednesday of that week we took the girls to Magic Mountain. They've been begging to go for about 4 years. They loved every second of it. It made me appreciate Disneyland in a whole new way! ;)
All of this is to say, we don't really do the whole
put-on-a-new-outfit-and-pack-a-lunch-cuz-today-is-the-first-day-of-school thing.
We bought our new backpacks and lunch boxes this week
{when they were on clearance at Target}.
There are no pictures {although I do that on their first day of enrichment}.
I don't think there's anything wrong with other people doing all of that.
It's just not the way we do things.
I don't want home schooling to be "school" at home.
Yes, we sit down and do math {out of a math text}, we have spelling tests, we do do school.
But I guess I desire learning to be a way of life,
rather than a 180 day obligation.
Truth be told, we did math {from a text} and reading all summer.
I'm not sure my girls even truly realize their school "started".
In fact, people keep asking them and Emma gets this confused look on her face and says, "Um. Yes? I think. Well...." and then she looks at me like, "Have we?!"
{And it makes me happy. And then I have a little panic attack because I
assume they think her hesitation is due to the fact that we do nothing. sigh.}
And here is where I offer proof that we do, in fact, do something!
I want to brag on a few pieces of our curriculum, but I'll try to make it short and sweet.
Mostly because I'm pretty sure no one cares.
You're welcome.
First: We love Sequential Spelling!
{And when I say love, I mean Lauren begs me to "please, oh pleeeease at least do spelling tests" on Saturday. I, of course did not say, "Are you kidding me?!? This is my day off! Go play." I mean, that would make me a terrible mother and go against everything I just said in the previous paragraph. So obviously, I didn't say that. Probably.}
I did not do spelling tests with Lauren last year. I figured you had to be a really good reader first. Not so much!
We worked through Alpha Phonics last year and I would say that
Lauren is reading above {public school} grade level, but she's nowhere near
chapter books.
Eight days of Sequential Spelling later and she has made unbelievable
progress in reading! All of a sudden, the amount of sight words she recognizes
has quadrupled!
Most importantly though, she loves to read and that's always been my only goal!!
She is {correctly} spelling words like:
Seriously, you should see the absolute giddiness when we go over the spellings and
she gets them right. And better yet, when she gets them right and Em doesn't.
{It's only happened once.}
Yesterday, the word "wee" was introduced. Lauren got it right. Emma knew it wasn't "we" so she wrote the only other spelling of it she could think of.
She spelled it "Wii".
I really love the way it teaches homophones
{and I do not think wee and wii are homophones!}
and builds on words like be and inning so that within days, they are spelling beginning.
It just plain makes sense!
And I'm a big fan of things making sense! ;)
Secondly: We love Sonlight's Core 2 Science & History!
Last year we used Story of the World for history.
I liked the idea of it.
I didn't really like it!
I still don't know if it was just the time period {Nomads through the end of Rome}
or the way it was written or what, but it was so....
The girls really liked it {although I don't think they retained much}, but it was
one of those things I dreaded.
And then there was science...
another thing the girls would say is their favorite subject.
And the thing we usually did the day before we had to meet with our resource teacher
so we would have something to turn in.
Mostly because I didn't have that one great curriculum I could go to.
Sonlight is a lot {a lot!} of reading, but it is great, interesting reading.
We do their "Four Day" schedule for each subject,
but I just combined the days so that we do 2 days of each subject per week.
{It seems less daunting somehow. Even though it's the same exact amount. Whatever.}
I also really like Wordly Wise {vocabulary} for Emma.
Emma will also {hopefully!} learn to type this year. She and Ms. Mavis Beacon are gonna work on it, at least.
I figure she has cursive down....now it's time to move on to something useful.
And now I'll leave you with a lovely little story about my dad's day
teaching at a local public high school.
{Mind you, this is supposed to be one of the "good" high schools. And by good, I think they mean "wealthy". I'm not really sure.}
One of his students was standing up instead of sitting at his desk and when my dad asked him to sit he claimed he couldn't. Apparently there was gum on his desk.
The gum was removed and he was told to sit. Again.
He claimed there were traces of gum still there and so he still refused. Again.
My dad told him to sit up front then because he was not going to be permitted to sit in the back with his buddies {which my dad figured was the reason for refusing to sit in the first place}.
This time, the little darling cussed my dad out.
Like stark-raving-mad cussed him out.
He used the F word more than once and apparently called my dad {in Spanish}...
a N****.
It's so totally ridiculous {and not just because my dad is white!}
that's it's almost funny.
Mostly it's infuriating and terrifying
that there are 14 year olds who behave this way.
But ultimately? It made me feel pretty good about even our worst day of home schooling.
Because when it comes down to it, at least I didn't get called the N word.


We're Dodger Blue...

Jake & I went to the Dodgers v. Rockies game last Wednesday night.
This was the view from our {amazing} seats!
We had our own private snack bar.
Ok, not really, but it always feels like it!
If only they would sell our garlic fries on this deck!
{Don't worry. I went downstairs for them!}

In typical Dodger form, they quit playing about half way through
the game and lost to a really terrible team.
However, Larry King and his wife
{or is it his granddaughter? gag!}
walked right past us on their way out of the stadium suites.
So, the night wasn't a complete loss. ;)

I love going to Dodger games {even though they lose!},
but I really love just being with this guy!


I'm a Femivore?

I didn't even know there was such a thing...until my sis-in-law sent me this article the other day. I still don't know how I feel about the name, but something in this really spoke to me {and my inner Caroline Ingalls :)}.

Disclaimer: I love that this article puts into words exactly how I feel about being a producer, not just a consumer; that I want to provide my girls with an education that extends well beyond the 3 R's. However, I take major issue with the "feminist" ideologies presented here. I do not wish my marriage to be egalitarian. I do not wish to emulate either Alice Waters nor Betty Draper {or any person for that matter!}. I am not depressed or lacking purpose. I was a happy, fulfilled gardener/mother/wife long before I read this article and realized that feminists had deemed this lifestyle to now be "acceptable"....and I will continue to be so even after they {inevitably} leave to jump onto other band wagons.

*Stepping off soapbox.*

The bold sections are what I particularly liked/related to. :)

Four women I know — none of whom know one another — are building chicken coops in their backyards. It goes without saying that they already raise organic produce: my town, Berkeley, Calif., is the Vatican of locavorism, the high church of Alice Waters. Kitchen gardens are as much a given here as indoor plumbing. But chickens? That ups the ante. Apparently it is no longer enough to know the name of the farm your eggs came from; now you need to know the name of the actual bird.

All of these gals — these chicks with chicks — are stay-at-home moms, highly educated women who left the work force to care for kith and kin. I don’t think that’s a coincidence: the omnivore’s dilemma has provided an unexpected out from the feminist predicament, a way for women to embrace homemaking without becoming Betty Draper. “Prior to this, I felt like my choices were either to break the glass ceiling or to accept the gilded cage,” says Shannon Hayes, a grass-fed-livestock farmer in upstate New York and author of “Radical Homemakers,” a manifesto for “tomato-canning feminists,” which was published last month.

Hayes pointed out that the original “problem that had no name” was as much spiritual as economic: a malaise that overtook middle-class housewives trapped in a life of schlepping and shopping. A generation and many lawsuits later, some women found meaning and power through paid employment. Others merely found a new source of alienation. What to do? The wages of housewifery had not changed — an increased risk of depression, a niggling purposelessness, economic dependence on your husband — only now, bearing them was considered a “choice”: if you felt stuck, it was your own fault. What’s more, though today’s soccer moms may argue, quite rightly, that caretaking is undervalued in a society that measures success by a paycheck, their role is made possible by the size of their husband’s. In that way, they’ve been more of a pendulum swing than true game changers.

Enter the chicken coop.

Femivorism is grounded in the very principles of self-sufficiency, autonomy and personal fulfillment that drove women into the work force in the first place. Given how conscious (not to say obsessive) everyone has become about the source of their food — who these days can’t wax poetic about compost? — it also confers instant legitimacy. Rather than embodying the limits of one movement, femivores expand those of another: feeding their families clean, flavorful food; reducing their carbon footprints; producing sustainably instead of consuming rampantly. What could be more vital, more gratifying, more morally defensible?

There is even an economic argument for choosing a literal nest egg over a figurative one. Conventional feminist wisdom held that two incomes were necessary to provide a family’s basic needs — not to mention to guard against job loss, catastrophic illness, divorce or the death of a spouse. Femivores suggest that knowing how to feed and clothe yourself regardless of circumstance, to turn paucity into plenty, is an equal — possibly greater — safety net. After all, who is better equipped to weather this economy, the high-earning woman who loses her job or the frugal homemaker who can count her chickens?

Hayes would consider my friends’ efforts admirable if transitional. Her goal is larger: a renunciation of consumer culture, a return (or maybe an advance) to a kind of modern preindustrialism in which the home is self-sustaining, the center of labor and livelihood for both sexes. She interviewed more than a dozen families who were pursuing this way of life. They earned an average of $40,000 for a family of four. They canned peaches, stuffed sausages, grew kale, made soap. Some eschewed health insurance, and most home-schooled their kids. That, I suspect, is a little further than most of us are willing to go: it sounds a bit like being Amish, except with a car (no more than one, naturally) and a green political agenda.

After talking to Hayes, I rushed to pick up my daughter from school. As I rustled up a quick dinner of whole-wheat quesadillas and frozen organic peas,
I found my thoughts drifting back to our conversation, to the questions she raised about the nature of success, satisfaction, sustenance, fulfillment, community. What constitutes “enough”? What is my obligation to others? What do I want for my child? Is my home the engine of materialism or a refuge from it?

I understand the passion for a life that is made, not bought. And who doesn’t get the appeal of working the land? It’s as integral to this country’s character as, in its own way, Wal-Mart. My femivore friends may never do more than dabble in backyard farming — keeping a couple of chickens, some rabbits, maybe a beehive or two — but they’re still transforming the definition of homemaker to one that’s more about soil than dirt, fresh air than air freshener. Their vehicle for children’s enrichment goes well beyond a ride to the next math tutoring session.

I am tempted to call that “precious,” but that word has variegations of meaning. Then again, that may be appropriate. Hayes found that without a larger purpose — activism, teaching, creating a business or otherwise moving outside the home — women’s enthusiasm for the domestic arts eventually flagged, especially if their husbands weren’t equally involved. “If you don’t go into this as a genuinely egalitarian relationship,” she warned, “you’re creating a dangerous situation. There can be loss of self-esteem, loss of soul and an inability to return to the world and get your bearings. You can start to wonder, What’s this all for?” It was an unnervingly familiar litany: if a woman is not careful, it seems, chicken wire can coop her up as surely as any gilded cage.
Peggy Orenstein, a contributing writer, is the author of “Waiting for Daisy,” a memoir.

How many of you snorted coffee through your nose when she equated homeschooling to being Amish?



Things I Love {Our Yard}

I knew I would like having chickens. I was excited about fresh eggs!
But I didn't realize how much I'd love watching them out in our yard.
All that I had read is true....they each have such funny little personalities. The feathery little Silkie {Mama Chicken} is a complete spaz...the black/white {Dottie} goes out of her way to terrorize the cats and dogs and mercilessly chases them all over our property squawking & pecking at them...the buff Orpington {Laura} squats down & doesn't move when you come up behind her {she's the only one we can "catch"}.
And they're giving us 3 eggs every day now!
We've been researching which breeds we want to add to our flock next spring.
{Blue/green eggs is our only stipulation as of now.}
Our garden!
Especially these {beautiful} white eggplant!
We also have Chinese {purple} eggplant and a gorgeous green variety.
{It's what's for dinner!}
20 ears picked today.
Antique {horse drawn!} cultivator.
{And our fifth pumpkin of the season!}
We found this treasure at an estate auction. There were hundreds of these amazing pieces including {120 year old} buggies and wagons. I'm saving up for a wagon because how utterly fabulous would that be?
I like to think this cultivator belonged to the Ingalls family.
No, I'm not kidding.
I'll spare you the details of the {elaborate} story I've made up in my head about the sacrifices that they made to buy it and how it changed farming as they knew it.
You're welcome.
{It just makes my heart happy to see it in our yard!}
Our {funky} cactus welded by a friend from church using Jake's {old} horseshoes.
Our favorite place!
{dining room, office, rest stop}
So grateful for the {eerily} mild summer that has allowed us to enjoy this space!
{Seriously. Is anyone else worried that it's going to be 112 on Christmas day this year?}

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