Category Archives: Homeschooling

One of the things I am committed to.

The Price of Education

Don’t worry, I have no intentions of spouting forth ill-informed pro’s and con’s of higher education!  No, I do not! However, I AM going to tackle a chronic situation many of us have created in our own homes and family circles by the sharing of truths and ideals with our young children.  Picture this true scenario that played out at my local grocery store:

“We need olive oil, let’s go grab some oil and then we can head to the pet shop.  Come on kids, lets go!” says mom.  With many happy hops and jumps and carts driven without valid licenses we make our way to the impressive array of olive oil choices.  I have an agenda as usual.  To save money for a family vacation in this lifetime!  I turn to the big value cans of oil from my early 20’s, this is going to save me so much money!!!  I reach for one labelled as extra virgin with an Italian flag printed on the can.  Its on sale for $10.99, that includes the entire can, a vat you could say, full of evoo!!! My husband shifts his feet uncomfortably, my kids are dreamily examining bags of mini marshmallows.  I hesitate as I reached for the cart, noticing the look on his face.  “What?” I ask impatiently.  “It’s extra virgin, and it’s on sale!” A long pause….. “Is it cold-pressed?” the husband inquires.  “I don’t know, it’s extra virgin 100% pure olive oil.  That is what it says on the can.” I reply.  He takes the can from me.  I know I have lost so my gaze switches to the glass bottle selection, scanning for sale flags.  “This is actually refined oil and olive oil.  That’s what the ingredient list says.  That means it is chemically refined and produced.  They use…” he begins.  I cut him off, “I know what that means. How about that one?”  Jadon has now noticed the conversation and he walks over and picks up the exact bottle of olive oil that we buy every time.  He says, “Can we just get the regular olive oil, mom?”  Cynthia trots over and looks around at the oil and grabs another of the same.  She says, “Can we get the regular kind, mom?”  I sigh, “I was just hoping to save some money.  How do we all feel about organic versus non-organic?”  Jadon looks uncomfortable for a minute, “I prefer organic, but I don’t want to tell you to spend every dollar you have….. Let’s just get the cheaper one.”  Cynthia says, “Let’s get the regular oil, mom.  This one.”  We bought the regular.  

Why you ask, why blog about this?  Well, this was our last stop in the grocery store.  We had to go through the same frustrating dilemma at each step of the way.  From apples to pasta to canned tomatoes to oil.  Did we save any money, absolutely! But not today.  In health care for sure, but what does this have to do with the cost of education???  We have spent countless hours educating ourselves on the production of food. We have debated, vacillated, and yes, even anguished over food.  We have explained our choices to ourselves and to our children.  Why?  Because our kids want a burger at McDonald’s just like other kids.  They want soda and ice cream and cupcakes with sprinkles on them, individual pudding cups…  I have not found anyway to explain to them why we say no other than to teach them.  I educated myself about GMO’s and transfats and feedlot meats and pesticides and herbicides, and yup, you guessed it. They were there. They hear me think out loud, they watch the documentaries. They now have opinions. If you choose to educate yourself and your family, prepare to get called out when you are short on grocery money and trying to take a shortcut.

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Filed under Family!, Healthy Eating, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Life Recapped.

DSCF2177In the flurry of recent changes, I haven’t taken much time for tea with The Earl of late. Change is good, but change is overwhelming too. In the matter of a few months, we have turned our schedules and priorities on their heads. Turned them upside down. Made a one eighty. Tossed convention out the door. Made some bold moves. Ok!!! You get the point, right? Over the summer, we decided to work harder to get out of debt faster than the minimum payments will allow. As a homeschooling family on a single income, we just don’t have that much wiggle room in the ole budget to pay down much of anything. So, my husband picked up some side work to add to the 6 days he already works regularly. He works 6:30 to 3:00 at his day job Monday to Friday and then 6 or 7 hours on Sunday afternoon. Add to that washing the windows at our local hospital and all their associated buildings, filling in for a friend cleaning a school at night, and stripping and rewaxing a floor. We sold some things too. All told, many weeks he worked about 80 hours. We saw him for maybe half an hour or an hour a day. I did not choose to meet The Earl to chat during all these shenanigans. I chose to aim for survival and we did just that. During this time of upheaval and stress, I participated in an E-course on downsizing. We did greatly reduce our possessions, although we have more layers to peel back and clean up. Throughout this time of horror, my children and I thought we would die without our guy around. It was truly horrible. With the big window job finally done, sitting at the table staring at our finances with that big fat paycheck in hand, all I could think of was how can I buy my husbands time back for myself and our children??? In the end, we did reduce our debt, but we stashed part of that money. And we bought him back. Yes, you read that right. We bought him back. This is our first week having him back, and while it is an adjustment, it is an awesome one. I began the downsizing course desperate for a tiny house of my own and ended it buying my husbands time and energy back instead. He is still working 6 days a week. But now he leaves at 5pm and gets home around 11pm most days. He brought me coffee in bed this morning. He helped our son with his reading today. He helped him begin building a wooden box to hold his treasures. He made our daughter breakfast and showed her how to plane wood. And debt? Whatever. It will get paid in time. Some extra work now and then will be ok. Not sure that the extra money will go right to the debt though. Maybe it will buy a piece of land. Maybe it will take us on an adventure. Who knows. I do know for certain that time is the most precious thing we have right now. Time with our children while they are here in our care. We can never buy that back. In the end, I am learning to downsize future regrets and to supersize life where ever we end up. Stay tuned. I’m just getting started.

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Filed under Downsizing, Family!, Homeschooling

Living My Dream Life… For Real!

After a few moments of solitude, I have concluded that I am living one of my dream lives.  I have had several different dream lives, I am not sure which I would have “picked” if given 3 wishes.  It probably would have depended on the year combined with the month!  Dreams can be a bit vague, a bit short on details, and they don’t always show you what circumstances will get you into the dream reality.  8 years ago, I was on a path toward world travel and missionary service.  My husband and I were busy all the time, working hard and saving money to go to India for two months.  One day, seemingly out of the blue, we got a call from my then teenage sister in law telling us that she was pregnant.  I said to my husband these exact words (I have no idea why), “That baby should be mine.”  Then we we continued working and saving and we went on that trip to India.  We came back stoked on travelling more, once I recovered from dysentery of course.  We were once again working and saving, this time for a 6 month trip with friends to India and Egypt.  And right before I headed off to work one afternoon I answered the phone.  That phone call asked us to quickly jump a plane to CA to pick up our 15 month old nephew and “baby sit” him while his parents cleaned up their lives.  Without a second thought I said of course we would, and bam! That baby that should have been mine, became mine!  Within days we were arriving back in Boston with our bundle of joy strapped into a borrowed car seat.  And the rest is a dream come true.  I think I completely lost track of where I was going with this.  I did have a dream years ago about having kids and being an amazing mom, my kids would be incredibly awesome (as all hypothetical kids are!).  It wasn’t the dream we settled on or pursued but it was there none the less.  I have always dreamed of being a farmer.  That is one dream that has never changed for me.  I am sitting here, listening to the birds in my back yard singing their babies to sleep, watching a woodchuck fill up on my hosta’s, and pondering on how I got to this place.  I have my ever faithful pot of earl grey steeping quietly at my side, and my kids are spending the evening away with Daddy while I have a date with solitude, earl grey, and cabbage leaves.  If you read my last post you will know why I’m sitting here with cabbage leaves and ice packs pondering the mysteries of life.  My life isn’t easy, my life is messy and complicated just like yours is.  But I am in fact living my dreams.  I did dream of having kids, I did plan to homeschool my hypothetical kids in the country, and I did dream of farming.  I don’t think I have ever dreamed of woodchucks before though!  Kids: check.  I’ve got 2!  Homeschool: check.  This is the end of my third year of homeschooling my miracle boy!  Farm: check.  I have 2 pigeons, 3 ducks, 9 raised beds, 2 strawberry plants, and 5 blueberry bushes!  In my raised beds right at this very moment I have little plants growing!  Radishes, beets, red and yellow onions, peas, beans, kohlrabi, fennel, broccoli raab, golden ball turnips, rutabaga’s, purple top turnips, baby greens, spinach, carrots, parsnips, swiss chard, tomatoes, kale, and hot pepper’s!  Inside I have little cucumber, okra, and squash plants waiting to go outside to play.  I had a delicious duck egg for dinner, laid by my very own Appleyard duck.  It may be small, but it feels like a farm to me.  Each morning as soon as I open my door, my ducks start clamoring for breakfast.  My kids and I don our rubber boots and head out to take care of the farm chores.  How many people get 3 of their dreams to come true by their mid – 30’s?  I’m going to have to assume that I am leading a charmed life!  I imagine that more of my dreams will come true as well, like dairy goats, stately geese, meat chickens, heritage hogs, adorable tiny quail…….  The skies the limit! 

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Filed under Family!, Homeschooling, Mini farming!