This year was our first attempt at homeschool. We ended up doing Oak Meadow through an online charter school. I had read in various places that other homeschoolers do not feel that charter schools online are “real” homeschool. I didn’t understand at the time, but I do now. Being tied to the state, having to deal with the stress of testing and the results, and being given extra work on top of what we are already doing is stressful. And it’s not particularly productive. These tests are not an accurate assessment of what my daughter knows. She completely freezes during the tests and loses all ability to comprehend. Her posture changes drastically and she looks so dejected, just from having to answer questions. It doesn’t help that it’s also timed. How ridiculous! Next year we will not be doing the charter school thing-even if it does have perks (like free curriculum and a learning fund to pay for horseback riding lessons). I would rather find a way to come up with the money myself to pay for all of these things than to subject her to this inefficient and inaccurate system of testing. No wonder people get up in arms over education. Thank God we are able to homeschool and she doesn’t have to go to a public school that would focus on testing and where she fits in that system. She doesn’t fit in their system.
This would have never have been a problem if we hadn’t been forced to test out of first grade into second grade simply to get the curriculum that best suited her learning. The first grade testing she flew through and did very well. She felt proud of herself. Now with the second grade testing (which is a very different test than first grade) she acts as though she has somehow failed. I know I am part of that problem as well because I am putting pressure on her to pay attention, click on the right answer and do well. We are now doing practice work that is formatted like the state tests everyday until the next round of testing in April. Oh joy. At least maybe it will help ease the unfamiliarity she faces every time we do a test. Ugh.
I am so over it. It looks like I will be heading down the unschool path. Because I would much rather have her discover which work is meaningful to her and do that. I want her to be free to pursue what she is actually interested in, rather than what a curriculum or state standard tells her is important. That to me is the inefficiency of the educational system in general. A bunch of students learning a lot of things that don’t appear to be relevant. Even in college-how much time/money did I waste taking a bunch of general education classes that had nothing at all to do with my major or my interests. I didn’t discover my true passions until I was nearly 30. I have a business degree, but I could care less about business-in fact, I hate it. It’s mind-numbing to me. But I love nutrition, love health and wellness, love learning about the way the body works together, love discovering natural remedies that strengthen the body and help it to heal. It’s fascinating. The body is so intricate and complex, this whole system working together to keep you alive. I could literally go on and on. That’s what I want for my children-to find what it is that makes them come alive, that captures their personal interest and then to find a way to do it, be it, etc. That is success, that is living life with purpose.
Life can be so interesting. It takes twists and turns you never could have anticipated. I am learning some very crucial things about myself. Things that I have embraced as who I am, but really aren’t. They’re simply coping mechanisms that never were turned off. The biggest one-control. I tend to be rather controlling, to the point that I have made it a part of my personality. Except I hate being controlling. It’s extremely unpleasant and not just for the people in my life, but for myself. I don’t like being that way anymore than they like being controlled. Or my attempts at it.
So, now I find myself in that awkward place of acknowledging my faults and yet not quite competent at moving beyond them. I dream of living a life without being tense inside. I dream of joy. I dream of purpose. I dream of being whole and no longer ruled by mistakes made against me.
Being able to name something is powerful. Being able to say that I know the “what” of my reactions…why I get so tense around specific people that I cannot function, then having a full-blown meltdown days after. It helps to know why, to recognize how it started in the first place. To realize there has been so much of my life lived in an attempt to simply keep the peace. I can breathe.
Then there are other dreams. Dreams that I thought I had lost. I dreamt of spending my days in other countries. I dreamt of freedom. I was systematically talked out of my dream that first year of college. Told it was impractical, why didn’t I have a major that I could make some money. Except I didn’t care about money. Never had. Ever. Money has never been my motivation. And so, for practicality, I changed my major. To international business. Yuck. I hated it. I was good at it, but I hated it. I kept it and graduated with a degree that I have not used. Not really. And did not acquire the skills or know-how to execute what I really wanted.
Fast forward to now. I do have one very important dream fulfilled-my family. I am astonishingly grateful for my husband and children. Truly. There is nothing I would change about that. They bring a deep joy. They are grace personified and I have learned more than I ever knew was possible. Now to bring them into the other dream of traveling the world. Of showing them my favorite places. Of letting my adventure side out.
Lovely morning…..sunlight peering through rainclouds, dandelion tea in my favorite Van Gogh mug, Beatles playing in the background and a plate of coconut flour pancakes with strawberries and yogurt.
My family has started calling me “Farmer Sara”. I am not much of one, but it’s a cute name. Watching things grow and develop this spring into summer is so fascinating. The tiny peach buds I posted a month ago are huge now. My tiny baby chicks (which have a monstrous learning curve) are getting quite large and live in their coop now. And my children-they are growing and changing so fast it can make my head spin at times. My oldest has learned to swim with the help of a friend. And then conquered her fear and went under water yesterday. My baby is now speaking with intelligible words and is very independent. It’s beautiful to see this much growth so closely.
Last week I went to visit my family “back home”. It had been 3 years since my last visit and I was long overdue. Bittersweet. Beautiful. Warming right down to my toes. There’s something about connecting with the people who have known you the longest that makes me feel right at home. I think even my soul took a deep breath and let out a long-held sigh. I learned a little more family history and story, with the pictures to go along. There is something about knowing where you come from-the good and the bad. My sweet aunt took me to the family cemetery. My family lost a baby sister at birth. I was so little, just 3, and was not at the funeral, nor had I ever been to the site. I did not expect the tears. There really aren’t the right words to do justice to that moment for me, but it was profound and healing.
I have this feeling that life will move so quickly this summer, but my intention is to slow down, enjoy the moments, soak it in, and refuse to over schedule. Life is too important to speed through it. The secret lies in the everyday. In the ordinary and routine, we become who we are as all the little things add up. I am here to love well.
Last weekend I took the family out to pick blueberries. Thunderbird Farm has beautiful berries, rows and rows of bushes full of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. The girls had so much fun traipsing off to find the last bush and to see who could pick the most. The berries are free from all pesticides-a huge plus! And if you pick your own it’s only $3/lb. A bargain.
The sun was shining, breeze blowing and it was glorious. One of those moments where your heart swells, your soul is refreshed, and you realize that you are soaking in one of life’s important, meaningful, memories.
“Remember that time we went berry-picking and Zoe was covered in dirt?” and we’ll laugh.
“Remember that time we picked 13 pounds of blueberries?”
Drink it in. Life. Is. Full.
We’re going again tomorrow. We’re out of berries and I need more cobbler.
I have to admit it took me a little longer than I thought to narrow my focus for this post. There are so many topics…so many angles. But one in particular has really been on my radar this week. GMOs, otherwise known as genetically modified organisms. I could write a ton on this, but I’ll try to keep it simple and straightforward.
What are GMOs and why are they harmful?
GMOs are plants that have been crossed with the genetics, characteristics of other organisms to take on those traits. For instance, there is a corn that has been modified (changed) to have a built-in pesticide. So, when bugs eat this corn they then die. The danger is this…those changed traits STAY through the manufacturing and digestive process. Are you seeing the implications of this? When this corn is fed to the cow or chicken or pig and is digested, that animal slaughtered and sold, you purchase it at the store, cook and eat it-you are INGESTING that modified organism producing pesticide which then lives in YOUR COLON! There was a test run where the blood of pregnant mothers was drawn and then their babies-both tested positive for GMOs in their bloodstream. This is critical. If it wasn’t challenging enough to eat healthy on our own, our health is being sabotaged by the big food industry. And unfortunately, this business is not regulated. There is quite a bit of corruption and conflict of interest surrounding government authorities and lobbyists. Thankfully, we can be aware of this practice and protest in a way that is heard-with our WALLETS.
There is a wealth of information available on the implications of GMOs in the food supply-everything from owning the rights to the seeds (putting small farmers and seed-savers out of business) to the feed for most conventional farms to the processed & packaged foods we eat on a daily basis. Thankfully there is help.
The BIG 5 to watch out for are Corn, Soy, Canola, Cotton, Beet Sugar. If you eat packaged and processed food-start looking for organic options and products labeled “non-GMO” ~there is a great app available called True Food that you can download for free and it contains a non-GMO shopping guide. Please begin to further educate yourselves on this topic-as GMOs are infiltrating the majority of the conventional food supply. Watch the movie Food, Inc-it’s a big eye-opener into what is really going on behind the scenes. Then take action to find organic substitutes for your current grocery list. There is a big misconception that it’s just “too expensive” to buy organic. My question to you is this-“what is your health and well-being really worth to you?” “how do you value your family?” I have been able to affordably stick to my budget and shop nearly all organic and non-GMO. Labels “natural”, “all-natural”, “made from natural ingredients” mean NOTHING. That label is not regulated at all and can be put on anything. Mineral oil is natural but you wouldn’t want to eat it. Go to www.truefoodnow.org & www.drmercola.com for more information on how you can take action and what the health implications are for you and your family. Feel free to post questions in the comments! I love a good discussion.