This week on Pathways To Life, I’m sharing a few of our family’s favourite recipes. They’re simple family favourites, and both have strong emotional ties for me.
The first one is for my whole wheat pizza dough. I make it in the bread machine since it takes almost zero effort, but you can easily make it the traditional way. I love making pizza with the kids. It’s a fun activity that brings all the family into the kitchen, and I so love having all the kids participating in making something together. It’s just one of those things that gives me the Mommy-Warm-And-Fuzzies. Not to mention that it’s easy to make it nutritious and the kids love it. You can’t miss with kids and pizza; it just makes dinner time fun.
The other is a classic; hot cocoa. Most people associate it with winter, but I love it any afternoon. My eldest and I got into the habit of having it every Wednesday afternoon while watching The Voice together, and I think that’s a memory I’ll have for a long, long time. He’s now an expert at making it, and takes pride in making it for his little brother too. There’s something soothing about wrapping your hands around a warm mug… it makes for a lovely, calming break in the afternoon.
Everyone has their food-associated memories from childhood, and I realize now that I’ll remember these warm and yummy family times as a mother as well. And it’s just as delicious from this perspective.
Three weeks ago, I entered the world of homeschooling with my eleven year old son. This decision was not made lightly, but unfortunately school is not a safe place for him to be and for various reasons transferring schools or boards wasn’t the best decision for him right now. So he’s learning at home for the remainder of grade six, and just like that I find myself a teaching parent. It’s not a perfect solution, but he’s a good independent learner and I think it’s going to be a very positive experience for him. He’s also “twice exceptional” in that he has ADHD (primarily inattentive) and is exceptionally intelligent, and I think having an education program tailored to his specific needs is going to be hugely beneficial.
In the last three weeks, I feel like he’s really learning, not just going through the motions of schooling. I love having the flexibility to spend time where he needs it – long division, which his classroom has moved on from – and less time where he doesn’t need it – reading, which is above grade level in both languages. But the best part is giving him the opportunity to learn things that normally aren’t taught in a traditional classroom. He has learned how to set up and maintain a WordPress blog which is how he is submitting much of his work, he has created and edited a video in iMovie, taught a phonics lesson to the daycare kids, cooked dinner and prepared a weekly meal plan to my guidelines. He is also in the process of learning cursive writing, which he missed out on when he switched schools in the third grade. And he’s doing all of this and more in less time than a traditional school day, leaving him more time for practicing his guitar, playing with his younger siblings and helping Mom around the house. And, no homework! Our stress levels have plummeted, my son is happier than I have seen him in years and our house is much more peaceful now that we’re not dealing with bullying and academic challenges on a daily basis.
Thankfully there are many resources available online for teaching parents, and I haven’t had to invest huge amounts of time in preparing curriculum materials or lesson plans. There are many styles of homeschooling, and I have cobbled together my own program with a combination of store bought workbooks, online learning sites and resources from our public library. I am hugely thankful for our library, which has an amazing selection of books, dvds, ebooks and computer software on a variety of topics. I have everything from a cursive writing program to an aboriginal kids tv show with study guides to a french documentary on Michael Jackson checked out from the library right now, it’s amazing. I’m also very grateful for the information and support from my homeschooling Twitter friends and the community at the Association for Bright Children. I imagine that years ago homeschooling was an isolating experience, but thanks to great internet resources and social media I already feel more connected than I did at our local public school.
If you homeschool (especially in Ontario) I’d love to hear about your experiences, and if you have any great resources to share please leave them in the comments. I’m teaching but I’m learning too!
As you may know, this week I started homeschooling my 11 year old son. One of my many goals in this endeavor is make learning a more personal experience; less rote with more connections to real life. Today I naturally wanted to tie his literacy work to Remembrance Day, and I wanted give him some context that would give the day real meaning to him. At school they are often taught about the veterans of the two World Wars, and of poppies and Flander’s Fields, and although I think it’s important for the kids to learn some of this history, this is so far removed from them I don’t think they truly appreciate the significance. So today I decided to give Haden a different perspective on Remembrance Day, one that I think he can appreciate much more. His ‘required reading’ for the day was the very personal story When Daddy Is Deployed by Christa Charter.
My husband is a GySgt in the Marine Corps. We’ve been married almost two years and our relationship is not typical. … He is on the USS Kearsarge right now, helping with disaster relief in Pakistan. He’s doing important work, and I married him knowing that deployments happen, but I won’t see him in the flesh until next Spring. I’m afraid the baby won’t know who he is when he comes home. [Full article at Playground Dad]
After reading the piece and having a discussion about it and Remembrance Day in general, he was to write a poem or any kind of reflection on Remembrance Day. It could be anything he wanted, as long as it had real meaning or a personal connection. Haden is an exceptionally bright boy, but getting his thoughts on paper is a very difficult task, and he often has trouble writing more than a few sentences about anything. Even though he can talk your ear off at an adult level, writing is a very difficult task that can take an inordinate amount of time. Today he did very well though, and I’m proud to share (with his permission) what he wrote about the subject:
Remembrance Day is a day when we think about all the soldiers that
Fought for our country, family and peace. It’s a time when we remember
All the brave people who went to war, and were away from friends and
Family for months, and not all returned.Christa Charter’s husband is a
GySgt in the Marine Corps and is away from home a lot. So he didn’t
get to see his family as often but he received e-mails from Christa each day
so he would feel close. And that is why we have Remembrance Day, to remember
things like that.
Last week my puppy Sadie and I had the fun experience of being part of the Cesar Millan Live Show. I had seen the call for puppies go by on Twitter and even though I’m not specifically a fan of the show (simply because we don’t have cable) I decided to apply. He chose two puppies to come on stage to demonstrate “normal puppy behaviour” and Sadie was one of them!
We were given the star treatment, sharing a dressing room with the other puppy, an adorable Lab named Fergus, given a nice meal and fantastic seats in the front row. The show was very good, and surprisingly funny and energetic. Sadie and Fergus did great for their part, although the backstage staff and fed her way too much kibble for her to be interested in the feeding demonstration. Their kind staff kept an eye on her while I enjoyed the rest of the show, and afterwards we had the chance to meet Cesar. He also gave me a copy of his book (autographed) and DVD, so I’ll be able to continue my puppy training education.
Thanks Jenn for being Sadie’s other handler – which in fact actually meant being my handler. I appreciate the photography, purse holding, crate carrying, and of course the company! (And the dental floss, LOL! You have the best stocked purse ever!)