Monday, August 23, 2010

Why We Homeschool

It's amazing to me how many people have asked if I was sending my kids back to public school this year. Some of the comments and questions I've heard lately: Don't you get sick of them, don't you want your free time, are you sure they are learning what they need to, don't you want them to be around other people? You have more patience than I do, I would/could never do that, etc.

I've found that after a year, I'm even more convinced that it's the right thing for our family. When we first started, I thought that it was because of large class sizes. I had always been in PTA- loved most of our teachers, and sent Lexii all the way through, from kindergarten on. What I soon realized was that I used the class size as an excuse to pull them out. I had really wanted to have my kids home with me from day 1. When Lex went off to school I really had no choice, I was working 60+ hours a week. A few years later I became a stay-at-home mom and found that the only place I wanted to be was at the school with her. I volunteered everyday and was on the PTA board. I loved knowing what was going on and voicing my opinion. Lexii was a great student and her teachers always loved her. When Nate started school I was the same way. I was at the school as much as possible and was in almost daily contact with his teachers. Nate is a great student but has many challenges due to him having Asperger's. When he started 1st grade it was horrible. I made the decision to pull him out of school, but then chickened out. I didn't know there was help and resources out there for homeschoolers. I returned the supplies I had bought and sent him back to school. We were both completely miserable. As the time approached to send Mason to school, I kept having a nagging feeling not to send them. I had gained some confidence from being in a preschool group for a couple of years and Mason was ready to start reading so I knew he would be completely bored. Nate was struggling with socialization and was completely miserable. He was acting out and very disobedient at home. We went and looked at the class lists on the school door a few days before school was scheduled to start. We turned around and went home. I called Steve at work and said I wasn't sending them. He replied, "I knew you weren't going to". We prayed for confirmation and felt a great peace. We had never had that about our children's education before. I love having my kids home! I love teaching them and watching them learn. I love it when they get something for the first time and are so proud of themselves. I love that we can pray in our little school room and read scriptures and learn about the Gospel along with the other subjects. Most importantly, I love that we get to decide what's important to learn and not someone sitting in an office somewhere writing standard curriculum for thousands of students. One size does not fit all when it comes to an education. In our family we place a high value not only on education, but also on a love for learning. I always want my kids to be inspired to learn about Heavenly Father and the world around them.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An End To A Challenge

Well, we are ready to wrap up this challenge. We are not quite past the 4 week mark, but we've had a couple of cheat days (lunch with grandma and dinner out after Dave's wedding) so now it's hard to keep the momentum going. I think we have done awesome! There hasn't been any complaining and we've figured a few things out:
1. Powdered eggs are very necessary.
2. Cheese is a pain, learn to live without or do cheese sauce. A #10 can is pretty inexpensive but I always wonder what to do with it all once it's open. Ragu does make a small jar- I'm just a cheap skate. I hate to pay a $1 a jar. None of this solves my problem for pizza though. I guess I'll keep experimenting or we'll learn to do without mozzarella.
3. 1 mylar bag of hard red wheat from the cannery makes 10 loaves of bread using my favorite recipe. I'm lazy so I usually just buy my wheat flour already ground and keep my wheat in storage. Yeah, not going to do that anymore. We ran out a few days ago and so we had to grind. We don't have an electric grinder so we got out the manual one. The kids had a blast taking turns and Steve helped a lot too. The bread tasted so much better than usual and I'm sure had more nutrients than the processed flour. Anyway, it was nice to have a gauge on how much we could make with 1 bag. It gave me an idea of how much wheat we really need for what we make.
4. We need lots more powdered milk. I was surprised that we are going through about a can if not more a week. I only had a couple of months worth on the shelf so I will definitely be stalking up. It's pretty cheap at the cannery right now ($7 something a can) so it's a good investment and has a long shelf life.
5. Every food storage needs Cap'n Crunch and Cool Ranch Doritos. I always thought these were just luxury items, but when you have a crisis or a big change it's nice to have something familiar and something you enjoy, especially for your kids who may not understand what's going on.
6. A garden is a life saver. I don't know what we would have done without fresh veggies. I just wish we would have kept lettuce growing in pots in the shade. We really missed our daily green salad with dinner.
7. Eating from your food storage is a lot of work. We loved trying new recipes but it took so much time to prepare everything. It took me all day to make 10 loaves of bread! I am so grateful for my modern appliances. Even though it took all day to make bread, I used my Kitchenaid, nice bread pans, and oven. I can't even imagine all that kneading!

Anyway, I could probably go on and on all day with what we've learned. Most importantly we learned that we can do it and that we can do it cheerfully. Now I'm off to the store to buy some lettuce for the BIGGEST salad ever!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I can totally see why we go for convenience when it comes to food preparation. I had to make rolls and a salad for Relief Society activity. Normally, I would have ran into the store and bought a package of rolls and bought a bunch of fresh veggies to go in my spaghetti salad. The whole deal would probably have taken about 30 minutes, start to finish. In keeping with the no shopping rule I decided I better start from scratch. I started the rolls at 10:30 a.m. I took them out of the oven at 2:15. It is amazing how much time you need when you have to knead the dough and let it rise 2 different times! I was able to make my salad during that time, but it was a little difficult finding stuff to put in it. I always use yummy fresh veggies and this time I had to scour the shelves for something that would work. I ended up with 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 can of mushrooms, a can of olives, and a zucchini from the garden. It was OK, but nothing like it usually is.

It took 4 hours for the rolls and now I need to make sandwich bread and laundry soap too. I am so glad I know how to do these things, but I am so grateful for the grocery store and the modern conveniences that allow me to buy a loaf of bread when things get a little crazy and I have no time.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cheese Making

So, I decided to try out a recipe for making cheese out of powdered milk.

3 c. powdered milk
6 c. water
Heat milk to 12o degrees and turn of heat. Add 1/4 c. vinegar and let sit for 10 minutes. Pour over a cheese cloth and rinse off cheese curds.

Sounds easy, right? Well, it was pretty simple, but it really didn't curdle at first so I added probably another 1/2 c. vinegar when it was all said and done. It only produced about 2 c. of cheese but I had to use the equivalent of a gallon of powdered milk. It tasted very bland. It did actually melt pretty well though. We made pizza pockets and put that in there and it wasn't so bad. I probably won't make it again, but I will maybe try a different recipe.