The Teacher Turned Mom Dilemma

clown mumu 1Homeschooling was off my radar until I read this book by Quinn Cummings and started reading blogs by other moms who believe in a lot of the same principles I believe in; like traditional food, midwifery, green living, breastfeeding and, you know, trying to be the best moms ever and still maintain some semblance of sanity. Turns out that many more parents than I ever knew plan on homeschooling their kids. This all led me to seriously consider homeschooling my son too. In fact, I was certain for a couple weeks that home schooling was the route for us. This was new for me, especially since I was a kindergarten teacher in a very traditional private school for years before Porter was born. I love teaching, and while I’m not sure I’ll do it again, I’m not sure that I won’t either.

If Anyone Can Do It, It’s Me

One train of thought is that since I’m so good at teaching other people’s kids, I should be able to teach my own kid. I mean really, so many people do this. Then I had this epiphany today. When I would give a parent positive feedback about their child, like “she’s so helpful” or “stays on task well”, they would often respond with, “My child? No, certainly not my child.” To which I would respond that yes it’s true, their kid is fabulous.

The other side of this coin is when this fabulous child has their parent in the classroom at some point during the day. This focused and happy child often turned into a whiny, dependent toddler who seemed to have forgotten how to hang their jacket on a hook, let alone complete multiple classroom tasks unassisted.

It wasn’t until today, with my 2-year-old, that I realized that many kids really do act differently when they’re around their parents, in their comfort zone. That’s not to say that I expect my child to be whiny and dependent, but the grace he shows, already, while working with other adults and peers is astounding. I have taught him countless skills and will continue to do so. Utilizing homeschooling websites is an invaluable asset to me already. As a family we will continue to give him a diverse array of experiences, but I feel like he would be missing out on a personal growth experience by not getting to go to school. I’m not talking about socializing either, because I don’t think that’s as big an issue as other non-homeschooling people might.

He’s Got The RIght Personality

My son is a trusting fellow, and that’s how I hoped he would be. My husband and I have worked really hard to make our home comfortable and safe for each other. To always be there when Porter needs solace, a hug or reassurance. In the simplest of terms, I’ve got an extroverted kid. He gains energy when other people are around, he’s not afraid to talk with people and enjoys getting attention from just about any smiling person we may come across.

For my child, and many others I suspect, it’s almost easier to learn from someone other than their own parents. A teacher is someone who is at a comfortable and objective distance from Porter. Certainly not someone who’s cold, but someone like me. Who genuinely loves teaching, relates to children easily, dedicates their life to making sure generations of kids learn to read and write and become whole individuals.

Saying Goodbye Is Hard

Teachers will understand definitely understand this next part. When I told a parent of a crying child that their son or daughter would be just fine only moments after they left, I wasn’t trying to placate them. I’ve seen it hundreds of times and I knew in my core that their, normally, happy and vibrant child always returns to being themselves almost immediately once the parent has left. I also know that leaving your child, crying or not, can be heartbreaking in and of itself. Shoot, the first time I left Porter at the gym daycare for and hour he didn’t cry, but I sure did.

And Then There’s Me

I mentioned earlier that my son is 2, and I don’t care what anyone says or how they try to sugar coat it, he’s a handful. Certainly, I’ve made changes that have helped my energy level and patience (like cutting out sugar most TV), but I have interests that I really want to pursue. Being a stay at home mom is not what I thought it would be.

Something in me believed that because I enjoy cooking and teaching children, that I could learn to like cleaning and folding laundry, and (gasp) spending my entire self devoted to my child. Life would be one big playground after another and we would frolic and float on the bliss of childhood wonderment. And we do, just not all day everyday. There’s that whole issue of reality to contend with too.

Reality, It’s No TV Show

It turns out that I still don’t like cleaning, so much so that I hire someone to come to my house bi-weekly to do the bulk of it. Laundry? Don’t even get me started on how big my pile of clean clothes can get before I force my husband into the servitude that is folding and putting it all away. As for the cooking, I’m doing more of it than ever and that’s okay. But I’m no Donna Reed having dinner done, or even started, before Luke gets home from work. I call it a good day as a stay at home mom if a majority of the toys are off the floor, Luke gets a proper greeting and Porter is in a good mood.

Back Where We Started

All this leads me back to the whole school thing. I want Porter to go to school for many reasons, and my own selfish needs are one of them. That’s right, I’m being selfish so that I have something to give. So I can reserve a piece of me that is genuinely excited to explore and pursue new interests and goals.

In the last few months, considering homeschooling vs schooling, I have gained quite a bit of respect for parents who choose to home school. I often reference their websites and blogs for ideas that I can use at home. But in the same way that I knew I would breastfeed my son, when the time came for him to sleep in his own bed, and the same part that doesn’t force him to eat dinner if he’s not hungry…I know he’ll be attending preschool taught by a genuine teacher. A person who loves what they do and does it well. Who wants my child to be successful and who I’m sure will assure me that during the day, when I’m not there, that everything continues to be peachy for my sweet boy, and knows in their core that it’s true. I know I can trust in that.

What are your thoughts on homeschooling vs traditional schooling? Leave them in the comments below.

This post featured on Party Wave Wednesday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Tasty Traditions, Small Footprint Friday

Weekly Link Love

The internet is  a vast and interesting place. During the week I spend lots of time perusing websites and blogs in search of interesting information, recipes and entertainment. Here are the links that I really liked, or at least found interesting, from my trip through the inter-webs. What were your favorite links from around the web this week? Share them in the comments below.

Know Your Ingredients

Having given up refined white sugar I’ve been using honey as my substitute sweetener in any recipes calling for a little sweetness. This, very researched, post from Mark’s Daily Apple answers the exact question: Is honey good for you? 

Butter Believer asks: Think Fat-Free Milk is Healthy? 6 Secrets You Don’t Know About Skim

Recipes

After a sweaty dance class I usually turn to my home-brewed, fruit infused, kombucha to replenish electrolytes and restore fluids. This alternative to sports drinks seems like another great solution to the chemical and sugar filled beverages that are often marketed as “healthy”.

I’ve linked to this graham cracker recipe in other posts, but I love it so much that it deserves its own spot on the link love page. I’ve made them so many times that I have committed the recipe to memory (there aren’t very many ingredients). Since the flour it calls for can be hard to come by I often sub it out for sprouted organic spelt flour, leave off the sugar sprinkle and add the cinnamon to the batter. If I wasn’t on a diet I could easily eat these daily and never tire of them.

Totally made ’em and totally love ’em. Will make these again!

Parenting

As a parent you become frighteningly comfortable talking about your child’s potty habits, and that can be a good thing. Kids BMs can tell you a lot about what’s going on in their tiny guts and this post gets down and dirty with the stuff you want to know.

We’ve been in the “toddler” phase for a while now and reading about what’s normal always makes me feel better when things get a little hairy.

Living

It’s cold where I live, and we’re coming out of one of the coldest months I can remember. These ideas for staying warm work.

#5 in this article is a sure-fire truth.

Because It Feels Good

Said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Quinn Cummings.

Fashion and thrift? Yes please! Bea over at the Zero Waste Home wore a single men’s shirt for a whole summer and photographed all of the awesome outfits she came up with. This lady is rad.

Finally, who doesn’t love puppies? Council House Goldens breeds beautiful pups in a sustainable and healthy way, and now they have a blog. This pup is indeed a sweet little Tiny Dancer.

What were your favorites links from this week? Share them in the comments below so I can read them too.

Weigh In Wednesday #5

This is me jumping across the finish line of my first Olympic Distance triathlon, The Spudman. Obviously it's a motivator for me.
This is me jumping across the finish line of my first Olympic Distance triathlon, The Spudman. Obviously it’s a motivator for me.

This week I suffered from a near lethal combination of PMS and this particular loaf of banana bread. I usually mark my weigh-in calendar with basic eating patterns: star = good day, circle = splurge day, spiral = bender (aka sushi night). This week when I saw that 4 days past the last weigh-in I’d been circling, as opposed to starring, I decided to just let go for the week.

The banana bread and accompanying brevés were delicious and I enjoyed every bite of the half loaf I managed to consume over the week. At least it took me the better portion of the week to eat it. It could have been the better part of an hour if I wasn’t practicing some restraint.

Since I had decided that my hormones were going to get the best of me this week, the new goal became maintenance. Or more to the point…avoiding the frozen dessert section at the grocery store. It’s been awhile and my good friends Ben & Jerry were dying for a visit with a spoon and my belly. Thankfully, I avoided them like the plague and survived this crucial week intact.

Last night I went to Body Jam (dance) and physically reset my mind and body for this next week. It worked and today’s been much easier. Although, I’ve had to power my way past the graham crackers I make for Porter, because they’re really freakin’ good. I’ve been reading my original post about why I’m doing this whole weight loss thing to help keep me focused. I also made some apple chips yesterday and they are a great alternative snack, sweet and crunchy. In the end I feel good about not going on any serious sugar benders. I still haven’t consumed any refined sugar or refined food products since the start of the year and I feel great about that.

Last night at dance I stood in front of the tiny portion of mirror that is in the room. I usually stay away from it because a few months ago I made the mistake of watching myself in the mirror and it gave me the sads (as Chelsea says). Last night I didn’t plan on dancing in front of the mirror, but after an hour of watching myself move I could see the changes happening in my body and that made me so happy.

When I’ve lost weight in the past, I’ve never really paid attention to how I was feeling internally, and this time is different. Acknowledging success in all it’s forms has helped get me through this first month, for sure. Here are this weeks numbers:

 Week 5, Jan. 30

Last Week

This Week

Difference

Weight (lbs)

249

249

0

Left Leg (in.)

31

31.5

+0.5

Hips (in.)

52

52

0

Waist (in.)

45

44

-1

Chest (in.)

46

46

0

Left Arm (in.)

16.5

16

-0.5

Neck (in.)

15

15

0

Total loses since January 1st: 12 pounds and 12.5 inches

Weigh In Wednesday #4

This last week went really well. I was concerned about how my eating would be on our trip to McCall, but apparently I’m dialing in what my body wants. It wants breakfast, lunch and dinner with lots of nuts, some blueberries and apples paired with a slice of cheese, and caffé breve. And it wants those things all day long. If I forget about the brie attack that I had late last week, which involved eating wedges (yes plural) of cheese with a spoon, I would say I’m back on track. Moderation is something I hope to achieve by the end of this years experiment. Clearly I haven’t mastered it yet.

I added a Body Pump class at the gym, which involves lifting weights to music. Group exercise is my favorite. I plan on doing that once a week. My chiropractor also bought me a Living Social deal to a Svaroopa yoga class, which I’m really excited to try. All in all I’m supremely happy with myself.

If you want to see where I started on this journey, read this.

 Week #4

Last Week

This Week

Difference

Weight (lbs)

253

249

-4

Left Leg (in.)

35.1

31

-0.5

Hips (in.)

53

52

-1

Waist (in.)

46

45

-1

Chest (in.)

46.5

46

-0.5

Left Arm (in.)

17

16.5

-0.5

Neck (in.)

15.5

15

-0.5

OVERALL TOTAL LOSES: 12 pounds and 11.5 inches

Porter had a well child check this morning and here are his numbers too. Yes, he’s a really big and really healthy boy. Must be all that Real Food and real love he gets.

Height: 36 inches   96 percentile
Weight: 34.5 pounds  97 percentile

Real Food Banana Bread & McCall Trip

My original cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. For the "cook of the 90's"
My original cookbook, Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. For the “cook of the 90’s”

Did you have a specific cookbook that you learned to cook from when you were younger? Maybe Betty Crocker or Joy Of Cooking? It was, after all, a time when there was no internet and the only way to cook was from a book or a recipe written on an index card. I used this book regularly to learn cooking skills and get basic recipes, especially the Banana Bread. I could whip a loaf up in no time, and it would be demolished in no time too. I prefered it still warm with a slab of melty butter or cooled with a slather of cream cheese. It was really good.

Recently I’ve been into Real Foods, which means making a lot of the basics, i.e. bread, crackers, soup stock, kombucha. It’s been a lot of fun to find new recipes and ideas from fellow bloggers on the internet. I’ve also gotten much more competent in the baking department.

Today I looked at my counter noticed 3 brown bananas just sitting there, much to my husbands chagrin no doubt. Having just done our budget, and trying my best to be frugal (hard) I decided I had to use those organic bananas one way or another. BING! Better Homes and Gardens to the rescue!

In looking over the recipes in my beloved cookbook, I noticed that while all the recipes are from scratch, they are pretty standard ingredients. If I’ve learned anything on my Real Food and weight loss journey, regular sugar and flour hold almost no nutritional value and aren’t metabolized in the body very well.

Since Porter was going to be eating this bread over the next week I wanted to adjust it to our Real Food needs. With the original recipe I would feel like I was serving him cake on a daily basis. No bueno in my book.

What I’ve done is taken the original recipe and made it with Real Food ingredients. I only had 2 bites, but it tasted wonderful. It had the right flavor and texture and was actually pretty good for you, if you don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting. Porter enjoyed his with a think slather of pastured butter, and ate every single bite.

REAL FOOD BANANA BREAD

8″x 8″ baking pan, or use this chart to convert to the baking pan of your choice

350* oven, farenheit

Ingredients, can all be found at your local natural foods store

1 3/4 cups sprouted organic spelt flour
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pure baking soda
1/4 teaspoon real salt (I like Redmond’s Real Salt)
3 mashed bananas, as brown and gooey as you can get ’em
1/4 cup organic pastured butter
2 tablespoons pastured or raw milk
2 eggs, from pastured non GMO hens
1/4 cup nuts (optional)
coconut oil for oiling pan and measuring cup for honey, I prefer refined.

Preheat oven to 350* and make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.

Using the coconut oil, grease your baking pan and measuring cup for honey (this will facilitate easier pouring of honey).

In a smaller bowl mash bananas.

Add wet ingredients, including honey, to the bananas and mix.

In a larger bowl mix dry ingredients.

Add wet ingredients to dry  and mix until it looks like pancake batter. Mix in nuts.

Pour batter into baking pan.

Cook in 350* oven for 35-40 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If you smell banana bread, go and check it.

Remove pan from oven and let cool on cooling rack ~20 minutes.

Turn loaf onto a cooling rack and try to resist it as long as possible. If you absolutely must cut into it before it’s totally cool, everyone will understand.

Bon appetite!

This post featured on: Tasty Traditions

***

Thanks to Luke’s co-worker we got to enjoy the long weekend in McCall, Idaho. It was a winter wonderland, complete with log cabins and sledding. Trips like this are wonderful and exciting and I can’t wait to do it again. Here’s the photo journey.

We stayed in the cabin on the left.
We stayed in the cabin on the left.
Moon with a view.
Moon with a view.
Pink snow.
Pink snow.
Cabin interior. Door on left, with bunk beds, gas stove in center with kitchen, on right of the divide a large jacuzzi tub and full bathroom, views out every window. Log cabins rule!
Cabin interior. Door on left, with bunk beds, gas stove in center with kitchen, on right of the divide a large jacuzzi tub and full bathroom, views out every window. Log cabins rule!

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"Burrito buddies"
“Burrito buddies”

 

Frozen fog makes delicate ice crystals on all the branches, turning trees white.
Frozen fog makes delicate ice crystals on all the branches, turning trees white.
Long Valley, before sunrise.
Long Valley, before sunrise.
We left before the sun came up over the mountains, stunning.
We left before the sun came up over the mountains, stunning.
Big red barns everywhere.
Big red barns everywhere.

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Tall As A Tree, Small As A Bug – Gymnastics!

We are in the throes of winter here in Boise. It hasn’t been above freezing for at least the last 2 weeks, and going outside to “play” is not as fun as it should be. Right now I’m thanking our lucky stars for Wings Gymnastics. Thanks to Porter’s Tutu we’ve been going to child/parent gymnastics for about 7 months. In that time I have learned more about my son’s behavior, physicality, and attitude. To watch how he is influenced by other children and how he confronts new tasks has been truly enlightening. According to the Wings website, gymnastics for little ones provides these tools:

  • Patience and Cooperation
  • Improved listening skills
  • Enhanced neural pathways
  • Improved balance, strength, and coordination
  • Learn valuable social skills
  • Gain self-esteem, confidence, and a “can-do” attitude

I’m pretty certain that at the ripe age of 2 Porter would be developing these skills on his own, but I’m also quite confident that they have been improved upon by his experiences in the gym. Miss. Brenda has been an invaluable teacher and Porter lives for her acknowledgment and praise.

This week we had some make up classes to do and got to go to gymnastics 3 times. AWESOME! Just this week Porter made huge strides. He started walking across the beam unassisted, gained confidence swinging from two uneven bars to one, and FINALLY attempted both forward and backward rolls.

Somersaults were the bain of his usually pleasant gym experiences. I don’t know what clicked, but today he got straight into rolling and ended with a triumphant “ta-daa!” We’ve been working on this since the beginning and I nearly cried when he completed the rolls with a smile. I’m so thankful for these experiences and that we get to enjoy them together.

"Watching eyes, listening ears, quiet mouths. Wiggle your fingers, clap clap clap, put them quietly in your lap." ~Miss.Brenda
“Watching eyes, listening ears, quiet mouths. Wiggle your fingers, clap clap clap, put them quietly in your lap.” ~Miss.Brenda
Climbing a rope ladder to slide down the other side.
Climbing a rope ladder to slide down the other side.

Bye bye song, "Bye bye gymnastics!"
Bye bye song, “Bye bye gymnastics!”

Practicing at home on the bed.

This post featured on: Thank Your Body

Weigh In Wednesday #3

You know what they say about a plan? The only reason to have one is in case something better doesn’t happen. As we all know, my plan is to lose 100 pounds. In my perfect world, I’d lose 2 pounds a week at a steady pace and achieve my goal easily by the end of this year.

Low and behold, this week something better happened. I pretty much stayed the same, gaining 1/2 pound and losing 1/2″. A solid BM will get me back to where I ended last week, and I’m trying really hard not to get bummed after last weeks triumphant beginning. This journey is a long one and everything isn’t going to go as planned.

Reasons I think the weight didn’t come off this week:

  • I stopped going to sleep by 10:30 and resumed some previously bad habits. Along with a little help from my sleep companions, the ZZZ’s flailed.
  • Not eating enough food. After going on a sushi bender on Saturday I freaked out and stopped snacking. Bad idea.
  • Didn’t drink enough water. Last week I was really good about sipping on water all day long and this week I slacked.
  • Birthdays and weight loss are not good friends. Porter’s 2nd birthday was a blast, but I’m glad it won’t happen for another year.

Now, here are the things I learned this week, which turn out to be just as important as losing pounds and inches:

  • I have enough energy to POWER through dance class. This has been the hardest for me since I started dancing again late last year and I’m ecstatic to finally have enjoyed a class again.
  • I wouldn’t have come to this conclusion without a little help from my friend Chelsea. She said, awhile back, that when she eats sugar she becomes less nice and more irritable. This was exactly the case for me. My patience, listening skills and temper have been much better and more pleasant since I stopped eating sugar and refined foods. My two year old doesn’t know it yet, but it’s made his life a lot happier too.
  • Because of the last point, I’m having a great time being a mom. I have more energy to play, patience to read books, better attitude in the early AM, will power to resist the television and more love in general. I’m feeling like a good mom, which you may or may not understand, and that’s a big deal.
  • I get what can best be described as a cramp in my foot when I don’t eat right, always have. It has now left my body.
  • I’m still optimistic. I know what needs to be done and I’m not going to be flung off course by a week that didn’t go as planned.

And now for the numbers:

Last Week

This Week

Difference

Weight (lbs)

252.5

253

+0.5

Left Leg (in.)

31.5

Same

0

Hips (in.)

53

Same

0

Waist (in.)

46

Same

0

Chest (in.)

47

46.5

-0.5

Left Arm (in.)

17

Same

0

Neck (in.)

15.5

same

0

TOTALS: Gain 0.5 lb lost 0.5 inch

***

Radio Flyer rollin’ snow style.
My boys made Hawaii in the living room.
Newest snow girl, at dusk.
This is why the humidifier runs almost constantly.
My new spice cabinet.
My new spice cabinet.

Train tracks.
Train tracks.
With tunnel.
With tunnel.

 

Play Dough Party! & Recipe

Last weekend we celebrated Porter’s second birthday with friends and play dough. It was a whole lot of fun and I’ve even got the DIY play dough recipe at the bottom of this post. Now get ready for the cuteness, cause it’s about to smack you in the face.

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The following video is everyone singing Happy Birthday to Porter. Keep in mind we did this on his actual birthday and he asked us to sing it multiple times and then blew the candles out 3 times. The “NO!” you hear is him fleeing into Aunt Anna’s arms. He then refused ice cream and cookies. Last year he refused the cake. Maybe next year? He did recover and had the party continued in merriment.

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Aunt Bug racing a car through the Lucy/Porter tunnels.

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These people are the cream of the crop!
These people are the cream of the crop!

***

This is my recipe for DIY play dough. I use the cheap ingredients to save $$$ and considering it’ll be tossed in the trash, or composted outdoors maybe? I usually make it by hand, but I think it would work well in a stand up mixer with a dough hook. It has a perfectly soft texture and you can mix and match the colors. This recipe makes 4 snowball sized rounds. I divide and store them in plastic bags and use them over a week. It’s totally edible, but I wouldn’t eat it unless in was having a Bear Grills moment.

Ingredients

3 3/4 c. flour, reserve 1 3/4 cups on side
1/2 c. salt
1 Tbsp Alum or Cream of Tartar
2 c. hot water
3 Tbsp oil
food coloring

Mix 2 cups flour, salt and Alum in large bowl.

In separate bowl, mix hot water, oil and food coloring.

Pour wet into dry and mix with a spoon or hands until combined. It will be very sticky.

Add the reserved 1 3/4 cups flour and knead with your hands until smooth and play-able.

Divide and store in bags or plastic wrap and commence playing!