Confessions Of A Super Mom Drop Out

Wife, Mom, Secular Homeschooler


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Fruits Of Our Labor

Back in late March my husband had 10 straight days off of work.  We decided to make good use of that time (& the unusually cool weather we were having) to get our vegetable gardens started and a couple of other outdoor projects.  Spending the time to get the garden going had been a goal since we bought our house nearly 3 years ago, but indoor projects that were more urgent and pressing caused us to miss the time frame to get things planted. (Last spring my kitchen was completely gutted for a total reno–so getting that back up and functional was the number one priority!)  It was hard work but we did it all together and actually had a good time doing it, even the kids didn’t mind….much lol!  While my husband and I both grew up with family gardens neither of us really know much about gardening, especially organic gardening.  And since I spend a large amount of our grocery budget on fresh organic produce it seemed only logical to try to garden organically, obviously.

We made a couple of trips to our local Ag Extension to get some tips and pointers for what varieties of produce grow well in our area and the best time for planting them.  We got a lot of great information and so many printed hand outs!  The people that work there have a wealth of knowledge and information!

We have two fairly decent sized garden beds right now.  We build a new shed in the fall and then take down our old one and put, probably, three more beds in where the old shed is before next spring.  We have a lot of mature trees, so sunny locations are a prized commodity in our yard when it comes to gardening (though the shady spots are pretty handy when we’re outside in our hot Texas summers)!

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My husband and kids mixing earth worms up into one of the gardens.

We’re already starting to reap the rewards of all of our hard work.   We have harvested a lot of kale, lettuce, string peas, tomatoes, and squash.  Our cucumber plants are growing like crazy and are full of lots of tiny little baby cucumbers, so hopefully those get large enough to harvest here before long too!  We’re also hoping to have some melons here before long as well!  We’re at the point where the number of tomatoes we’re picking is getting to be more than we can just slice and eat, though we do seem to be able to eat several in one night just sliced up.  I think this weekend I will get the rest of the stuff I need and make some salsa.  Hopefully before much longer we’ll have enough that I can try making some ketchup as well!

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This picture was taken a few days ago, we probably have nearly double that amount of tomatoes now!   Our tomato plants are definitely doing well!  We were worried that a massive amount of rain we had recently might cause problems, but it doesn’t seem like it has.

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The lettuce and kale are starting to drastically reduce the amount that they are making, now that it’s getting so warm.  The cucumber plants in this bed will be taking over the space the lettuce and kale are using, hopefully, right about the time they stop making.  This has been a great experience for us and for the kids.  We want them to know a lot more about gardening, especially vegetable gardening, than we did when we became adults.  They have enjoyed, mostly, helping out with the garden and the garden chores and have definitely enjoyed eating the fruits of our labor and have each mentioned that having a garden to be able to go pick fresh food out of is pretty dang awesome…..we agree!🙂


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Moving Secular Homeschooling Forward

Check out the BIG news from NASH!!!

N.A.S.H. - National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

is honored to announce
the support of

Secular Homeschool.com

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We are proud to reveal the new N.A.S.H. website:

www.nationalallianceofsecularhomeschoolers.com

N.A.S.H. wishes to thank its Volunteer Staff for their hard work and dedication!

Coming Soon!

More exciting announcements from N.A.S.H. and Secular Homeschool.com.

As the secular homeschooling movement moves forward in the 21st century, be a part of the journey!

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A Small Beginning for a Big Idea

I believe that an organization of this sort has been long overdue and am happy to see there are people heading this up! All secular homeschoolers should look at what NASH is planning to do for our community!!

N.A.S.H. - National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers

The homeschooling community continues to grow at a steady rate in the United States. The latest figures (www.nheir.org) show there are about 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States. There were an estimated 1.73 to 2.35 million children, grades K to 12, homeschooled during the spring of 2010. Research suggests that homeschooling grows at a rate of 2 to 8% per year. The National Center for Education Statistics reports, parents gave a number of different reasons for homeschooling their children. In the 2011–12 school year, 91% of homeschooled students had parents who said that a concern about the environment of other schools was an important reason for homeschooling their child, which was a higher percentage than other reasons listed. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the share of parents who cited “religious or moral instruction” as their primary motivation for home-schooling has dropped from 36 percent in…

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Monarchs and Milkweed!!

The Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling is one of the primary styles that we use.  We are eclectic, and do add in other styles and philosophies but I LOVE so much about Charlotte Mason’s approach to teaching and her views on children.  One of the many things that I love about the style is that teachers are encouraged to get children outdoors, among nature.  To teach them about nature and to teach them to appreciate nature and what it has to offer.  On occasion we will go do hikes outdoors somewhere but we also do a lot in our own backyard to facilitate a love of nature and to teach my children about the wonders and beauty that is nature.

One of the things that we do is “raise” monarch butterflies.  It’s an extremely easy and simple thing to do and the rewards are immeasurable!  The transformation that a caterpillar makes as it transforms itself into a beautiful butterfly is amazing and my children, husband, and myself NEVER get tired of seeing this miracle, though we have seen it countless times!!

It starts with simple seeds, seeds for the milkweed plant.  This is a VITAL step because monarchs will ONLY lay their eggs on milkweed and young monarch caterpillars are unable to eat ANY other kind of plant, if you do not have milkweed planted (or have access to milkweed growing in the wild) you will NOT find monarch caterpillars.  If you find monarchs out in the wild somewhere and bring them home they WILL DIE if they do NOT have fresh milkweed to eat, so this is very important!!  There are numerous varieties of milkweed, the variety that does best for you will be, in part, determined by where you live.  Milkweed is, technically speaking, a WEED so really they’re pretty hardy and easy to grow if you have a variety that is specified for your region.  They can, however, get somewhat unsightly looking, especially if you have a large number of caterpillars eating on it, so you would want to plant somewhere that it won’t disturb the “curb appeal” of your home, if that is important to you.  It is also EXTREMELY important that you NEVER use any pesticides on your milkweed!!  This is the only food source for the caterpillars and if it’s covered with pesticide designed to kill “pests” then when the caterpillars eat the milkweed it will make them sick and likely kill them!!  So please keep that in mind.  It can also be helpful to have some other nectar plants around as well for the adult monarch butterflies (hummingbirds and honey bees love nectar plants as well), though the monarchs will come if you only have milkweed planted. (It is also important to not treat nectar plants with pesticides for the same reasons, it can and will make the butterflies, hummingbirds, and honey bees sick, and possibly kill them.)

Once your milkweed seeds begin to grow it won’t take long before you start to see the monarchs fluttering around hovering over the plants briefly.  This is a sign that a female is laying her eggs on the leaves of the milkweed.  She will, typically, lay her eggs on the underside of the leaves, but I have seen them on the front side of a leaf on occasion.  The eggs are very tiny white colored dots, some people have a hard time seeing them.  The caterpillar is an eating machine once it hatches!!  Even when they’re still so small they’re hard to find you can find numerous holes that have been eaten in the leaves.  Some chose to leave the monarch caterpillars outdoors and some will choose to bring them inside to put in bug huts.  This option is fine, but you HAVE to keep fresh milkweed available for the monarch caterpillars AT ALL TIMES!  When they’re still very small you may find that a lot of milkweed is being wasted and getting wilted before the caterpillar can finish eating it, to avoid this you can wait until the caterpillars are about 2 inches long before bringing them in.  Or you can plant Tropical Milkweed (one of the only varieties of milkweed that seems to do well in a pot) in small sized pots and just place a pot of milkweed inside the butterfly hut with the monarch caterpillar (as long as your butterfly hut is large enough to hold the pot and plants–they do make large sized huts so this is the size you would want to have if this is the route you decide to take).

 

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If you do decide to bring them inside then it’s very easy to keep tabs on their progress!  Adults and kids alike are often excited and love checking on the progress of the caterpillars!  Watching them grow so quickly and change is quite exciting.  Once they reach their full size an amazing transformation will happen!!  They will suddenly hang upside in a “J” shape and you will know that it’s nearly time, if you’re lucky you will catch the transformation, but it happens pretty quickly so it’s not uncommon to look into your hut and realize you suddenly have a new chrysalis where your caterpillar had been hanging.

 

 

 

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Once the chrysalis stage is reached one might assume that it would get a bit dull just watching it and waiting for the monarch to hatch or emerge from the chrysalis, but, to me, this is one of the coolest stages!  The chrysalis starts out as a light green color, it looks very jewel like.  It gets darker and darker green and becomes more and more transparent until the monarch inside is fully visible.  It is fascinating to watch the chrysalis and the monarch inside as it transforms!!

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When the butterfly emerges out of it’s chrysalis it’s wings will be very small and wrinkled.  It’s body will be full of fluid.  It will hang and the fluid in the body will slowly release into the wings.  Then it will continue to hang as the wings dry.  When the wings are nearly dry you can pick the monarch up, gently.  You will want to place it someplace safe outside.  The butterfly can not fly until it’s wings are fully dry, so it will need a safe place to hang.

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This is such an easy and amazing thing to incorporate!  And the monarch butterflies are in danger and their numbers are decreasing every year due to more city’s mowing street side ditches, more farms using increased amounts of pesticides, as well as other potential reasons.  But there is hope, people around the country are rallying behind the idea that we need to plant more milkweed in our gardens and yards, the milkweed is ESSENTIAL for the survival of the monarch and it’s getting harder and harder to find in the wild.  Anyone in the US can plant milkweed, there are options for every region of the country and the monarch has always been in every region in the US.  So you can have the pleasure of having a wonderful hobby and learning experience for your children AND help the survival of the monarch at the same time, such a win win!!

I found this video on youtube that is time lapsed with every stage of the monarch from egg to butterfly, so take a look if you would like more information.

 


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My Kids Are Not Cookies….They’re Donuts!

One thing that homeschool parents get asked on a VERY regular basis is, “WHY do you homeschool?” or “WHY did you decide to homeschool?”.  There can be as many answers to this question as there are homeschool families.  There are some very common reasons, of course, but most families also have their very own, real, personal, reasons that they make the leap and decide that homeschooling is the right option for them.  For some it may be a choice that happens after a public or private school has been tried and didn’t work out, for some their life situation changes or the school situation changes and then the choice is made, and for some, like my famiy, the choice is made sometime before the child/ren were “supposed” to start school.  I could give you a very long list of extremely practical and well thought out reasons that we made this choice for our family and every one of those reasons are very valid. But, being me, I needed a quirky and fun answer to give people when asked this question because, well, because I get tired of rattling off a long list of the valid and well thought out reasons people want me to give them when they find out that we’re homeschoolers, because really I don’t need to justify my reasons to anyone.  But I also wanted my answer to be reflective of the overall reason we made this choice and didn’t want to just be rude.  My answer needed to be something that caught them off guard and makes them say, “Wait, what??”

So when people ask me the “Why did y’all decide to start homeshooling?”, I simply say, “Because my kids are not cookies….they’re donuts!”  Of course they want an explanation to what I mean by that, usually.  So it’s simple, the public school system in this country is typically a one size fits all cookie cutter approach to education.  It works fine for a large number of kids, those that are easily rolled out and able to tolerate having their edges rounded and shaped while they’re under the cookie cutter.  But my kids are not those kids, they are not cookies and I’m fine with that!  My kids are more like donuts, beautiful delicious donuts…..those kind of donuts that have beautiful sprinkles in a variety of colors.  They have a delicious custard filling.  They may even have some frosting.  Now, imagine what happens to that beautiful and delicious doughnut when you try to roll it out and cut it with the cookie cutter.  Can it happen?  Yes technically you could roll a doughnut flat and cut it with a cookie cutter, but at what cost??  Most of what makes the donuts beautiful and delicious will be destroyed and discarded!  You may have a few random sprinkles and a few smears of frosting left over and you may get an occasional bit of custard from the inside, but it’s not the same and not near as great as it could have been! The edges will likely still be jagged and there may be some missing from the middle where the doughnut’s hole had once been, so it won’t really be a cookie, but it won’t be a doughnut anymore either.  It’s just a pastry that is scarred and destroyed and missing all that once made it so wonderful……I don’t want my kids to become scarred pastries, I would rather they just remain the beautiful, wonderful, and delicious donuts that they are!  Some cookies are beautiful and turn out wonderful, but my kids, yes my kids are not cookies!  Maybe someday I will write a blog about the actual, serious, reasons that we homeschool…but maybe not….
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Where’s My Cape?!

Why am I a supermom drop out?  The answer is quite simple….I ripped off the cape and left it wrinkled up in the corner with a bunch of our other useless unneeded crap, but why?  Well because I don’t need to be a supermom, the supermom doesn’t even exist….we all, as mothers, especially as homeschool mothers, see the best version that other mothers put forward.

Most don’t talk very openly about their flaws and mistakes and admit that they yelled at their kid for no reason than simply being distracted or irritated about something else.  We don’t see when supermom let her kids have too much sugar.  We don’t see them struggle to keep up with the daily chaos of chores, school work, family obligations, the never ending schedule of extracurricular activities.  We didn’t see when they fed their kids cold cereal for dinner last week because it was late and she was exhausted and needed the kids to get to bed.  We don’t see the piles of laundry that accumulate or the dust bunnies under the beds. Nobody walks up and mentions all that they or their child haven’t or can’t do.  We see the proud moments, the happy moments, the thrilling moments…..and then we look at our own lives and wonder if we truly measure up and doubt ourselves.  So we get out the cape, iron out all of the wrinkles (or throw it in the dryer so that it looks ironed–supermoms are busy after all), and bravely put it back on because we sooo desperately also want to be supermom!

But she doesn’t exist, she can’t exist……she is just a figment of all of the wonderful moments we see in the lives of other mothers, she is our worst moment compared to the best moments of all the others that we see, know, and interact with – both in real life and online life.  She is one mom’s proudest moment, her reason to brag, compared to what is hiding in our own lives that we’re not so proud of and don’t want to brag about…..or even mention.  She is a figment and an illusion of all the wonderful things that all of the other great and dedicated mothers are doing today and everyday that you are not doing or not doing often enough.  She is who most moms strive to be, but she is not real, she is not possible, she is a mere dream and a figment created by our own desire to do the best for our kids and feeling like it’s never enough…..but it is enough, your kids want YOU, not a fictional character that is just going along pretending.  They want a mom that is happy, a mom that knows her best effort IS enough, and a mom that has time to play, or chat, or be silly because she’s not too busy flying around trying to be supermom.  You’re real, you’re enough, and supermom can and will never really exist!  This world is FULL of WONDERFUL, AMAZING, and AWESOME mothers….but that image of the “perfect mother” is just that, an image.  I finally threw off my cape, once and for all, and haven’t looked back since…..and my children have been just fine!  (And since I will probably be asked, if anyone reads this lol, I found this shirt here: http://hergoodlife.com/2013/06/supermom-t-shirt-with-cape/ )

SuperMOM-Tshirt-with-Cape

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