I know I haven’t written much lately. Part of my time has been spent  reading more about various aspects of Charlotte Mason homeschooling, Teaching from Rest – a VALUABLE book by Sarah Mackenzie – if you homeschool and you haven’t read this book you absolutely MUST!, observing my youngest child and, of course, being overwhelmed by the other

Pixabay had no matches for the term "Teaching from Rest"- but I liked this one for 'rest'.
Pixabay had no matches for the term "Teaching from Rest"- but I liked this one for 'rest'.

aspects of life: changes brought about by the holiday season and the season of winter upon us, maintaining a home with all the boring details that go with it (you know – cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, laundry, cooking, over and over again!), and with all of this, basically reevaluating where I am on our homeschool journey.

As most of you know, I have two kids that I am now homeschooling (my third is a junior in college!); I have a 5 year old and a seventeen year old. The seventeen year old is in his junior year of high school. The 5 year old is my extrovert….quite the challenge to this introverted mother and while I don’t have to label him as anything at this point according to our Pennsylvania homeschool laws, I’m calling him a kindergartener.

For this post, let’s start with the highschooler. While I thought I had a great year planned- sort of laid back but still getting the academics necessary in and also allowing him to explore his interests- having coffee with a friend made me realize I could have done so much better. UGH. Face Palm. But….. relax….take a deep breath, Carol…. We’re all learning, here, right? That’s really what life is about I think…..loving others, and keep on learning - keep improving- finding ways to be at peace and closer to God….

So….. the friend I had coffee with is a unschooler…and it took me being enthralled with Charlotte Mason and really listening to this unschooling friend and her outlook on education that made me really see how bent out of shape I get on ‘meeting those academic requirements’. Yes, absolutely, the requirements must be met. BUT… I must get out of my public school mindset on HOW those requirements must be met and that the bottom line is I need to educate my son in the way that best suits HIM.

SO…… what to do now? Well, I have all sorts of ideas on what to do next year….but how to tweak this year so that I don’t drive him crazy asking him daily if he’s caught up and we can relax about the other activities that have cropped up since I planned the year (like his trip to Florida over the holiday break and the guest we will have in March and scouting activities, and time away from school to get to the weight room at the high school to work out with the football team, etc. ).

Well, first let’s look at what he’s doing this year:

English 11 - that’s not much of a problem as I really made this to be more relaxed this year already.

The only requirements I gave him this year was to read at least 15-20   quality books with a figure of about 3200 pages total(one book was allowed to be twaddle as I knew there was a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book coming out and my son has always LOVED that series and , let’s face it, reading should be fun and why not read a book JUST for fun?) and to give oral narrations as well as a bi-weekly written narration of each book.   In addition to the reading, he was to complete 2 research papers via a online research class.

Anatomy & Physiology - this is taken with a local homeschool co-op.

This was the class we knew would be challenging, not so much as the material is hard but as it’s set up to be a college prep course, we knew it would be a LOT of material, fast paced, and would require a lot of time.

Consumer Math & Finance - This fulfills his third math requirement as he has already fulfilled the algebra and geometry requirements.

I set this class up quite similar to my daughter’s class from years ago. He is completing various chapters I assigned in a consumer math book (I chose the Abeka curriculum) as well as Dave Ramsey’s high school curriculum on finance. To me, the most important part of this class is what he learns from the Dave Ramsey program. This, in addition to him participating in our family monthly budget meetings, will give him a sound understanding of money (making it, saving it, spending it) that he will truly need throughout his life, regardless of anything else he does as a career or family man.

Economics – Economics fullfils a requirement under social sciences. (1/2 credit course)

I attempted to make this course as interesting as possible and refused to use the typical textbook but used a popular book in the homeschool world – Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard J. Maybury as well as various parts of A Bluestocking Guide: Economics and The Money Mystery.

Home Economics - I had to make up this course on my own.

While there are numerous homeschool home-ec courses out there, there isn’t a single one that I could find that really tailored to a boy. There was soooooo much emphasis placed on girly things. I know (don’t get me wrong) that men do cook, sew, and take care of babies. And yes, that’s all part of his home ec course too. But I don’t feel that the home ec courses that I saw emphasized the male role in the household. What about home maintenance? What about general repair? What about the automotive aspect? Most curriculums offer these things as separate courses but I know, having been the second half of a household now for 23 years now, it all comes together. So I tailored the course to include these things as well as cooking, sewing and the general topics that are usually included in home-ec courses. But, rather than sewing and cooking taking up the bulk of the course, they are not emphasized as being the end all and be all of home-ec.

Introduction to Christianity - To know and teach our faith to others, one must be aware of what others believe. (1/2 credit course)

I knew right away that I was including Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick’s book, Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. To me, being an Orthodox Christian and creating this course for my homeschooler just automatically led to the use of this book. I just wasn’t sure what to use in addition to that. But in my research of college courses offering an introductory course, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Bishop Ware’s book – The Orthodox Way- was used in a few that I came upon. Thus this book became the second book to be used.

Study Skills - A must course for anyone that is considering college in their future. (1/2 credit course)

I kept this course the same as I did for my daughter several years ago, using the same books and very similar requirements for both. (If you’re wondering about the books, we use “College Study: the Essential Ingredients by Sally Lipsky and How to Study in College by Walter Pauk”)

So that’s the gist of what he’s been doing this year. Being that I’m using narration for a lot of the courses, not just English, and that I’ve strayed from the common textbook, I’m already on the right track for using better education strategies. But coffee with my friend made me realize, I wasn’t using my son to truly gear my decisions on his education. I wasn’t really focused on his interests, his GOALS, his input. Of course, when I ask him, he doesn’t know what to say. After all, I’ve been the one taking the lead for all of these years. Yes, I ask for input- but not a lot of it – sad to say.

So in listening to my friend talk about unschooling and what she has accomplished and how she has done so (and the struggles), my gears started working….and I have already formulated ideas (just ideas- need to sit and actually PLAN with my son) for next year. So what about now? How can I lessen our stress load NOW?

Well- it shouldn’t be terribly hard. The set up of English with narrations is easy. Obviously I need to ditch the idea that there needs to be a set number of books. What I need to focus on his discussing the quality books he reads, whether it be 5 or 15 or 50. I’m relying heavily on gems of information I’m gleaning from the Read Aloud Revival – another great source offered by Sarah Mackenzie- on how to gear these discussions. He’s completed one research paper and has also given a speech (a surprise in the Anatomy & Physiology course) and will be giving another presentation in the spring so I am dumping the second research paper and will do the online course next year. Anatomy & Physiolgy isn’t controlled by me but I do need to step up my participation and make sure I’m helping him study. I could kick myself in that I allowed him to choose whether to start with that course or the Christianity course at the beginning of the year and realize now, that shouldn’t have been an option since he was taking a college prep course and NEEDED to know how to study. Aw, well…. he isn’t doing poorly- but it has been a bigger challenge than expected and I think his father and I guiding him on how to apply the study skills he’s starting to learn to the class he’s taking is a necessary step. Next is Consumer Math & Finance- this isn’t going too badly but I’m wondering what I can do to eliminate some of the textbook stuff in the consumer math book. I’m thinking more participation in our budget meetings and some general computation at the grocery store, etc. I’m really thinking there can be more overlap for some of his home ec course that we haven’t gotten to yet that can be applied to both courses. I’m still thinking on this one. As for home ec itself, my only problem has been the logging of the hours. I’ll need to check with my friend (who will also be the evaluator since I’m filed under the homeschool law this year rather than home tutoring that I usually select). His economics course is almost completed. I think just reading the last book and giving a few narrations will suffice. And the same thing to complete the second book for the Christianity class- just read and give oral narrations- forget the written narrations- they are not truly necessary- unless perhaps one at the end to show a general summary for his portfolio? And there’s the Study Skill Course. I’ll need to reread the requirements I gave him. I still want to use both books- though I may shorten the second one and pick what I feel to be the best chapters and tweak some of the requirements. The goal there is he has lots of tools to use to succeed. Obviously what’s most important is he read the material, understand it and be able to use what works best for him- NOT whether he does personal action statements or fills out tables and charts….so….

I’m looking forward to him getting back from Chicago with his dad (yeah, another event to divert away from the academic curriculum- though an absolute positive experience) so we can sit down and look things over together- yes, even dad because he’s the principal afterall J . I’ll have to post more later, but if you have any ideas- please fill free to share!

As for the kindergartner? Well, that’s to be continued on another post, another day!

And REALLY, if you haven't read this book yet- order it TODAY! And check out Sarah's website too! AmongsLovelyThings.com

4

I wear a lot of hats with homeschool these days as the homeschool mom of a college student (she still asks my opinion on some things), a high school student and a kindergartener! And there's so much going on in our homeschool year now.  Being that I haven't really posted much about homeschooling (or anything else for that matter) for so long that I don't really know where to begin!

Hmmmm.... so let's start with the oldest child- she's not even home any more so that will be short! LOL.  Our daughter just started her junior year at our Alma Mater!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/IUP_logo.svg/252px-IUP_logo.svg.png
Picture by wikimedia.org

...continue reading "The Many Hats of an Orthodox Homeschool 2015"

Today marks day #116 of the 2013-2014 school year for my older son's freshman year of high school.       

We are well over halfway through with just 64 days to go. He has fallen a bit behind academically due to days spent hunting (he did put two deer in the freezer this year – gotta love venison stew!) and other scouting activities, etc. and now it is ski season. But no fear – he’s a hard worker and his last few weeks were actually scheduled to be very low key so I feel confident, thus far, that he should be able to catch up and still be finished by our goal date at the end of May.
He’s doing extremely well in his subjects (Biology, Russian, English 9, Typing, Algebra 2, and American History as well as SAT prep and a bit of world geography) and is pretty close to being 100% independent. The only thing that saddens me at this point is our temporary loss of read-aloud time with literature. I gave that up for a bit, about two months ago actually, in order to do history with him instead. I’m reading the history to him aloud to assist him with time (he’s a good reader; he has great comprehension skills but gets easily distracted with textbook reading especially this subject since it’s not exactly his cup of tea so me reading aloud helps him get through it in a more timely manner and allows the extra time to do other subjects).
I feel pressed for time myself but really this is the only subject I actually help him with so I plan on adding the literature read-aloud book back in – at least ten minutes a day. I am actually, enjoying the history and learning much more American History than I ever did in school! I like the curriculum – it’s the Notgrass Exploring America – I feel the company did a great job with the book and it reads a little more like a living book than most textbooks….but it’s still a textbook.
He has finished his IEW and his Grammar, so there’s two things out of the way to assist in him catching up in other subjects! WOOT!
My youngest so is also doing well though it’s not officially ‘school’ for him. That’s what we call it though when we do his little reading lessons a few times a week and other activities. Besides our Teach Your Child To Read In 100 Lessons, he also enjoys using these workbooks and other things pictured here as well as some other activities we call ‘school work’.    wpid-IMG_20140216_193139_953.jpg

We only do about 1-3 ‘school’ things a day. The rest of the day is pure toddler fun (free time).
So that sums up what this family is currently doing in the homeschool part of our life right now. What are you doing in yours?
Oh! And if you have any WONDERFUL suggestions on a non-time consuming (no more than a half hour or so a day) and INTERESTING high school history curriculum (not American since that’s covered!) let me know! I need to start planning for next year!

Today marks day 64 of the school year for my oldest boy.  This is his 9th grade year, his first year of high school and his first year of keeping grades for a transcript.

Some parts of planning for this year were difficult.  Others not so much.  You see, I've been through this before and have sent my daughter off to college already.  She is in her first year and doing quite well! I'm really proud of her.

My other boy is only 3!  There's not so much planning for the three-year old...though my eagerness has kept me exploring and I have peeked at several preschool and kindergarten curriculums but am heavily leaning towards a Charlotte Mason approach for him.

But back to my oldest!

This year we determined to start with 5 major classes:  English 9, Biology with a Lab, American History, Algebra II, and Russian.

English is always my favorite subject to plan!  I love reading and I love writing so what's not to love about planning English?  I do not like curriculums that lay everything out for English because I like to fiddle with things too much and make it more personable and meeting the needs of my child.  But I have dealt with such curriculums in the past for various reasons.  This year, I again chose a mixture.  For Literature, we are using the Gold Book of the Learning Language Arts through Literature Curriculum.    I chose the Gold Book because it ties into American History.  In the beginning, I was all for having him do the whole book and was excited about him being introduced to short stories.  But then I read some of them....   🙁     I knew darn well these were not going to be his cup of tea.  Classic literature or not, if he wasn't going to enjoy it at all, he wasn't going to learn.  So I fairly quickly ditched that part of the set-up.  (We'll try short stories another time, perhaps, if I can find some modern stories that he could relate to.)  Instead, I made a book list (oh how I LOVE creating book lists!).  In addition to the three books that the Gold Book incorporates (The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Red Badge of Courage), I decided to introduce him to at least one Shakespeare.  We will be reading The Tempest.

Selecting which Shakespeare play to begin with was probably the hardest part of the book list!  But with much researching and asking of friend's opinions, The Tempest it will be! I'm looking forward to it as this is one I actually have not read myself yet. Additional required books on his list are:  Rifles for Waite, The Outsiders, Johnny Tremain (we read this one a long time ago as a read-aloud but I felt it fit with his American History and he may enjoy it more now that he's older), and My Side of the Mountain.  In addition to these, he gets to choose 8 for himself with the only rules that one must be about our Orthodox faith and they all must be pre-approved by myself.  I have a feeling he will be reading the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book soon since it was just released, but this one will NOT count towards the required reading!!  The Gold Book, in addition to providing background information and questions for the three books it covers, also has a poetry unit.  Three poems are assigned for reading for each poet the book covers along with comprehension type questions.  It seems to give a good overall view of the elements of poetry and develops skill for analyzing literature.

For the writing part of English, we are using IEW.  My son watches the video lessons presented by Andrew Pudewa and follows through with the assignments.  I think his writing has improved a great deal.  We are also using IEW's Fix It Grammar program as a nice review.  My son completed the Analytical Grammar program last year and,quite frankly, that program covered things so well that I truly  don't think he will ever need much in grammar ever again!

Biology was another easy choice.  It's his 9th grade year and the local co-op provides a lab for biology every few years....this being the year for it!  The course is through the Apologia Curriculum.  I love Apologia. It truly prepares the student for college level science but keeps the Christian worldview focus.  Science does NOT have to be all evolution.

American History was a little bit trickier to choose.  My son is not a lover of history.  He doesn't hate it.  But it's not a huge interest.  So I wanted something that may present things differently... not a typical dry textbook and not something that was only going to quickly go over the basics without grabbing any interest.  After much debate, we chose Exploring America by the Notgrass Company.  Of course, we've done some adapting.  The curriculum is cumulative in that it incorporates reading and bible into the history.  We are only using it for the history.  This means he's not doing the literature books they recommend, primarily because I knew they would never be books he would choose for himself and it wouldn't have left room for me to select books I felt he should read.  In addition to skipping the literature, we skip the bible lessons as well - they are of a protestant nature and I don't feel they are necessary to comprehend the history lessons.  We are Orthodox Christians and we read plenty of bible and faith related material without adding this aspect to it.  I here that part of the curriculum is actually done quite well.  I just decided there wasn't a need for it for our particular needs. We are actually reading the history lessons together and I am enjoying this.  We then answer the questions orally together and I help him study for the quiz that he takes every 5 lessons. I like the detail that the author put into the history lessons.  I've covered more American history in the past 2 months I've been reading with him than I think I covered in all my history years in the public schools.  And it's interesting... not just boring factual stuff.  I like it.

I am a HUGE fan of Teaching Textbooks!  We've been using it for our math since my daughter was in 6th grade!  It is AMAZING!!!!!!!  I am not a math expert.  While I got through math and actually got an A in my last semester of high school Algebra, it is not a subject I prefer teaching.  Teaching Textbooks does it all for me.  It's a computerized program and every single problem is on the computer.  If the student plugs in a wrong answer, they can watch the entire problem worked out step by step and see exactly where they made their mistake...and NO arguments with Momma!!  🙂  How can you not love it?? So this year he is doing Algebra II. He knows that he is to watch the explanation of any problem he misses.  If he scores below an 80, I delete the lesson and he does a do-over.  This way, we meet mastery before going on to the next lesson.

My son chose the language he wanted to learn.  My husband's heritage is Russian so it seemed a no-brainer to him to pick Russian.  While my husband recalls a few words and phrases taught to him by his grandparents in his youth, he is not ready to teach the language and I know nothing....sooooo......    CurrClick.Com offers a variety of online courses for homeschoolers and one of them is Russian!!  Mr. G does a fabulous job and my son really loves the course.

Well, that's the main courses.  In addition to these, he practices typing with a Mavis Beacon program as well as types out his final papers for IEW and Fix-It-Grammar.  We haven't seen dramatic results yet, but there are signs of improvement! He also uses Vocabulary.Com to practice SAT vocabulary and does the SAT question of the day two times a week to help prepare himself for that test in the future.

We've also added a bit of geography to the day.  I've been reading a lot about that Charlotte Mason approach and have learned a bit of how she approached geography with outline maps.  I liked the idea and thought it would be a really easy thing to start covering with him.  There's actually no set law that a course HAS to be completed in the same year it's started, so we decided to start out slow and add to it bit by bit like it's presented by the CM Approach... so right now we are covering North America since that's what he is most familiar with.  He did a bigger course last year that covered land forms, environments, etc.  so right now we are only focusing on learning names and locations of countries, major cities, bodies of water, etc.  It's only North America and I've already added to my own geography knowledge!! We'll see how we do the rest of this year before deciding whether to add to it and actually make it worth a partial or whole credit course.

Well, that wraps up what we are doing this year for my son's 9th grade year.  It's actually been a good year so far.  He seems to be doing well.  It's been an adjustment getting used to the amount of reading material and higher level questions and balancing that with Boy Scouts, hunting and pretty soon the ski season will start.  But for a 15-year-old boy who also helps out with chores and is a great big brother, I'd say he's doing a really good job!

2

Our story is a personal story.  Why anyone chooses to homeschool always is.  There could be a single or mixture of reasons given:  religion, health, curriculum choice, academic failure in the public schools, and school violence just to name a few I hear the most often.  But each  makes a decision that is personal to them.

We pulled my daughter out of the public schools in her 5th grade year. (We kept our son in public school for the rest of that year, despite his yearning to be home with us to try to meet our daughter's needs at that time.  The following year, we were glad to keep him home with us as well.) She desperately wanted to be homeschooled at that time for various reasons.  It was a decision that changed our family....  little did I know at that time how much it would and that I would be truly grateful for God leading us to do that.

Our family is closer.  We talk often. Not just at meal times, though our family dinner hour is always sacred, but here and there throughout the day.  It's an advantage most families don't have. And we spend lots of quality time together - time we simply wouldn't have if we had to obey the public school schedule and our children were whisked away by a bus early in the morning and not brought home until late afternoon with their backpacks full of homework for their evenings.

We have flexible schedules.  While my years of teaching in the public schools have lent their dent on me in still trying to maintain a bit of a 'typical school day schedule for academics', my kids don't have to get up in the morning until the public school kids have already been on the bus allowing them more sleeping time and they are typically finished with their work before these kids get back on the bus!   And if we are sick.  or want to go somewhere?  We just don't have school. (Yes, we DO fill the 180 days required by law, but we do it according to OUR schedule, not someone else's.) And if we want to take a full week off for PASCHA?  We do!  We can attend more church services, more field trips that are of interest to us (not another entity) and visit family a little more leisurely.   Now this flexibility IS harder in the higher grades with more inflexible choices we make such as volleyball, piano lessons, gym classes with the local homeschool co-op, online classes, etc. but it still remains more flexible than the public schools schedule.

Flexible Curriculum/Classes: Naturally we teach reading, writing and math but we are not held to the rigidity of particular curriculums or particular classes for particular years.  If my child would rather study zoology in 8th grade rather than general science, he can.  If he wants to take Russian rather than the typical French or Spanish, he can.  If he wants to do two histories in one year, he can.  If he wants to take an online class or even an online college course or a college course at a local university, he could!

We teach our children according to OUR beliefs. We teach them God is first, ALWAYS.  We are human, of course, and sometimes fail in demonstrating this.  I have. in the past, missed attending a feast day at church or other event because we are behind in academics.  But in this too, we are teaching God forgives.  But we must always, ALWAYS strive to do better.  This year I blocked out the feast days first on the calendar when I planned school days. So we teach them our faith.  We teach them the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.  And we teach them to love and forgive.

We maintain our HEALTH. My family has completely eradicated illnesses that conventional medicine claims there is not a cure for through eliminating MSG, other neurotoxins, and artificial additives and preservatives from our diet.  Because of homeschooling, my children were an integral part of our conversion from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more whole foods approach and eliminating dangerous toxins from our daily consumption in food products and other sources.  They enjoyed finding new recipes and trying new foods.  They learned to read labels and make determinations on what to consume and realized the detriment these food products had been causing us.  Because of homeschooling, my children were able to delve deeply into our learning process and do not need to be fed nonsensical information in a public school health class.  Nor do they need to fight school policies on school cafeteria food that is full of the very toxins we avoid.  (More on our food habits and our food choices in posts to come!)

These are the highlights of why we homeschool.  I wrote this, I have realized, as though I'm still homeschooling both my older children.  It's a hard habit to break.  My daughter is actually not at home this year because she is attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Yes, homeschoolers CAN go to college - this in answer to an actual question my husband received recently from a well-educated man.)  Currently, it is only my older son that is being homeschooled.  Of course, while he's only 3 1/2, my youngest is also being educated...but in a much more relaxed, fun approach and not really 'school'.  We are enjoying just exploring his world and teaching the concepts that come up as they come up.  He actually has learned a few words already!  Nothing like GOOD BOOKS to captivate a child and give the desire to find out what those letters on the page are doing!

My older son is in 9th grade... his first year of 'high school' and keeping track of credits.  It's a challenging year but he's keeping up well and still active in Scouts and got a doe while hunting the other day (while public school kids were confined in a brick building).

So again, these are the highlights.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about what we do and what we have learned.  There's so much to tell!  🙂

3

It has been forever since I have written here. So this may be long, seeing as a certain little man is not here to interrupt, nor are the other men in my life, nor my daughter.... I have taken advantage of my husband and son being away at a conference to ask our dear sweet neighbor to take my little one for several hours today so that I could have some 'me' time. And what I miss the most about 'me' time is being able to just read or write uninterrupted. I catch a little reading time here and there, so at this moment I'm going to make a cup of tea and WRITE. It's not enough time to start any fiction writing.... but I can at least start catching up here.

So..... Where to begin??

HOMESCHOOL

My daughter is not here this year. She is at IUP doing incredibly well. I am really proud of her. She seems to be adjusting well and enjoying college life for the most part. I am happy with that she still texts and calls home sometimes though sometimes I feel horribly guilty for not being able to talk to her the way I'd like when she calls because, unfortunately, life goes on here at home....

My son has started his 9th grade year, his first year of high school here at home. He is having a hard time adjusting to all the reading required and balancing that between scouts, hunting, and all the things he likes to do (distractions) through the day but still doing very well. We've made some adjustments. I will be reading his history lessons to him for awhile and verbally doing the questions with him to help save time in the day and my husband downloaded his biology onto his Audible account ( I got the account for my husband for his birthday and he LOVES it.... has been 'reading' a lot!) so that he can listen to it as he reads, enabling him to go faster. He's a good reader as far as comprehension goes, but is a bit slow. So hopefully, these two adaptations will help shorten his school days.

My smallest is too young for official school. He's only 3 1/2 but is incredibly smart. I have been investigating the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling for him. We spend LOTS of time reading. He knows his alphabet (has known it since before age 2) and a lot of sounds and about 7 'sight' words. He can count to over 50, including one to one correspondance, and has an incredible imagination. (I just wish it would turn off at 7 when bedtime arrives!)
I'm having fun with him.... just wish I had more time in the day to give him more attention.

FOOD

Food is a big part of our lives. Really, it's not about food but about HEALTH.
We gave up artificial ingredients a long time ago.... things like MSG (total poison), artificial dyes, flavors, preservatives, etc. We moved closer to more whole foods and more natural ingredients. Though the more I studied the more I realized that even a lot of those things we were trying to convince ourselves were natural, just weren't. So lately, my husband and I (and kids much to their dismay) have been getting further and further away from those processed, so called 'natural' food items...even the organic ones and coming closer and closer to real food... truly what God created. Most of what we eat falls under the Paleo diet plan, which isn't really a diet but a way of life. Some call it Primal. Whatever one calls it, it gets one away from the grains that causes inflamation leading to so much horrible disease (probably if you are reading this and suffer from anything thats not 100% health, grains play a really big factor in that whether you realize it or not). I admit, I started looking into it because of my hairdresser. (strange that I've even started seeing a hairdresser that I actually talk to.... still a bit of an introvert here) But she and I started talking about her lifestyle and I thought...hmmm... wonder if this would work for my DH to lose weight? So I started reading..... and reading... and wow, read some more. So the first books she recommended was The Paleo Diet by Robb Wolf and the Omni Diet by Tana Amen. I don't know if I'd recommend Robb Wolfs book to anyone.... he came off as rather super sarcastic and I'm not sure that if I wasn't really really super interested by the things I heard and read about Paleo eating that I would have kept up with it. I wasn't really offended by Mr. Wolf's writing, but could imagine that others might be.... Anyway, the book was very informative if you could get past his higher than mighty attitude. I really liked the Omini Diet book. It was very informative as well. But then I stumbled upon IT STARTS WITH FOOD by the creaters of the Whole9 website, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.
WOW. Great book. I'm sure to read it again and again. It's a wonderful book and program that has truly cured many many many people from all sorts of illnesses, including diabetes, bipolar and immune disorders and so many others. And I want to do the Whole30 program... just not yet. It may drive my son bonkers. Anyway, the food plan addresses the importance of really good animal protein, stressing to strive towards as organic as possible and understanding that some people can't so explaining what to eat if one can't get the best quality meat sources. The Whole30 program also addresses what to do if you are vegan though they state outright that they don't feel one can achieve total health if vegan. But they were not cocky about it at all. So we are eating a lot of meat, lots and lots of veggies, a little fruit and avoiding grains and most legumes. We are not there 100%. I still have quite a few perogies out there in the freezer and I am not willing, at least at this point, to make life any more difficult for friends and family that like to feed us. We already have to ask these people to cook without artificial stuff that actually causes us allergic reactions now... I can't further complicate and say, Oh, by the way, we won't eat your bread, your rice, your lasagne, your...... yeah, you get it, right? So we are eating it a little here and there... a couple times a month in smaller quanitities, to make sure if we can, that we can tolerate small portions without getting sick. At least that's the plan.

The results? Well, we've done this for about 6 weeks. My DH has lost, last checked, about 16 pounds or more 🙂 and is feeling a lot better! I've lost about 6.... I don't really care if I lose... I just don't want to gain anymore. But I feel really good. I have energy! I have started exercising again and actually have the energy to do it. I'm sleeping better. I feel less achy. There's no swelling in places I was starting to feel some, like my fingers, etc. I could go on but this is pretty long already. I'll save it for another day when I update this again... hopefully it will be a LOT sooner!!!

By the way.... this is not another LOW CARB DIET!!!!! I can't stand when people count calories, carbs, fat, etc. It's not about that!!! It's about eating good quality food that gives the body nutrients and doesn't cause inflamation or other problems. We don't count carbs. We don't care what vegetables we eat or stay away from fruit. While we try not to make white potatoes a staple anymore and know that berries are the better fruit, we will not say no to those things or worry about counting the carbs if we do. We eat a large variety of vegetables! I tried parsnipst the other day....mashed... we prefer mashed cauliflower...but hey, they weren't bad.

Anyway, enough about that for now... other than if this continues working, and I highly suspect it will, I have no idea what to do about fasting and Great Lent!!!!

FAITH

In Eastern Orthodoxy, we fast from animal products for the entire duration of LENT. This means most of our protein comes from legumes! Which is one major thing we avoid now.... hmmmmm..... well, we are not there yet. The Fast is not supposed to center so much on the food as growing spirtiually so maybe our Spiritual Father will give us some guidance if we sit and talk with him. Though my spiritual father is different than my husband's who is our parish priest.... but we'll probably just talk to him. We can use seafood.... but I know that a varied animal protein diet is important.... but I can't drive myself crazy about that yet. For now, we use fish and seafoods on Wed and Friday which are days we always fast all year.

I'm doing better spiritually. I had a really really hard time with it spiritually after the miscarriage last year. It's been a year. It's been a really long year. It's been such a very very incredibly long year. Full of struggles in so many ways. But things are better. I can at least pray now with my heart in it. I'm not where I was before that... or maybe I'm stronger in some areas and weaker in others? I don't know... but it's a day to day challenge but I guess that's what it is supposed to be.

Miscellaneous

Well, what else is new? My DH thinks I'm paranoid. (Wait? Is that new? lol) There was a murder that took place about ten miles from our home a few weeks ago. This brought back lots of old feelings of 'paranoia' or nervousness about being home alone (without husband), locking doors, safety, etc. that I know stem from an experience I had as a young college student in my home one summer. Without going into details, let's just suffice it to say that I think waking up with a strange man in your room once is enough to call this extreme caution and not paranoia. Okay, maybe the first week of the murder was paranoia.... but I have moved back into a much calmer sense of mind now and I would just call it cautious. They may have the lady in custody now...not for murder though (yet) for something else... but it wasn't really ever about just thinking that particular lady was going to come and kill me too.... it was about awareness. It was "oh, yeah, just because we live in this beautiful low crime area does NOT mean it can't happen and yes, we really should lock all the doors and windows at night and we should take precautions". My DH thinks locking the dog door at night is overdoing it. (though he thinks we need a handgun... which I have considered but can't get past the saftey issues regarding the little guy). So yes, I lock the dog door. Sue me.

Let's see... what else? I'm trying to keep up with my gratitude journal. My goal is to write two things in there each day. I don't always get to it but I am keeping up with it much better than I was. Recent entried have included : My Godmother, Nutrients of abundance in the foods God has created for us, A smile on the face of a friend that's been down, A friend who calls me cautious rather than paranoid and A sunny October morning! Writing in my gratitude journal is one of my 5 goals I set to create better healthy habits. Gratitude is a wonderful habit!

Well for someone that hasn't written anything at all for months (aside from in the gratitdue journal) I'd say I did pretty well here. Now if only I can keep it going! I need to pick at least one evening a week to try and do that. I just always hate saying no to my older son who always wants to play a game or watch something with me. Who else has a 14 year old that wants to spend quality time with their parent(s)??? Not many, I'm sure.... so it's hard to say no. But once a week shouldn't be awful...

Well, wish me luck with that!
Have a wonderful blessed day and go start a gratitude journal if you haven't already!

🙂

There's lots of things swirling around in my mind again today but for this post I'm going to briefly talk about one. English.

English is a very general term. It covers a variety of subtopics: Literature (my favorite), Writing (my favorite--- ooops...did I already have a favorite?), Spelling, Grammar(my least favorite), research, speech, vocabulary and ??? am I missing something?

Literature can be covered in so many ways and so can writing. Those are the parts of the curriculum I focus on the most and the rest generally fall into place at some point. If they don't, well, we can skip a year! LOL.

I'm thiking about stretching a 'one-year' American Literature program (Anthology) into two years, meaning he only has to do half of it next year, leaving lots of time to read full books - biographies, historical fiction (American history as he will be studing American History as well), classics and other books of interest. The hard part (and yet, fun) is coming up with the list... and deciding how many will be required. I've got lots of thinking to do. I am having trouble finding an actual list of historcial fiction books that are on American history and written at the high school level. So if any of my followers here have a recommendation, I would love to hear it.

Well, that's all for today. I am REALLY tired. I'm calling it an early night....before I accidentally delete any of this AGAIN (it's happened twice). Who knows if I've even made sense here....to tired to reread and edit! Goodnight!

Those are the four things taking up space in my brain today: Thomas, History, English & Lent

Thomas is the train. I am going to attempt (with the help of a wonderful neighbor) to make a queen size quilt for my toddler's bed. "Queen size?" you ask. Yes, well I didn't want to go out and buy a brand new bed or lose the potential guest bed that we have. So yes, he looks quite small in that bed - which is a good thing as he is growing and this makes him stay smaller in my mind 😉

History & English go together. Or they might be seperate. I'm not sure yet.
It's time to start thinking curriculum for next year already. I start now because it takes me forever to make a decision. This year all I really need to decide on is high school classes for my oldest son, though I can't seem to resist looking at classic book lists and preschool fun things for my toddler.... I know there's no need for anything formal yet - but he is progressing so far already without making much effort that I can't resist at least wanting to buy some fun games and books!

For my older son, I already have math and science figured out. It's history and english that are the mindbenders. First, because he's not really interested in them so I want to not only challenge and teach him something but I'd like to make it interesting or at least not as 'boring' as he usually finds these subjects. There are combined curriculums that take historical fiction and wrap them into a literature and history course. Those ar tempting other than to pick that curriculum you need to go with the text and the books they select and not always do I think their book choices are the best. I've actually debated on forming my OWN curriculum for history by somehow selecting about 200-300 or so 'facts' about American history and making up a list of questions and sources he is to use throughout the course of the year to find the answers to these questions. In the meantime, he would have to check with me the accuracy of what he finds and study them throughout the year to take a test on about half of those (of which I randomly choose which ones to test him on). Obviously these wouldn't all be things like who was the first president? But things he would really have to read something to find the answer to or really commit some things to memory for the test. I'm thinking this would really make him learn the material vs. just reading a chapter at a time from a text, answering some questions in an essay or a test and then moving on and forgetting most of what he covered. The biggest problem with that is me coming up with the material and source list for him to use. I'm thinking of putting some polls out there to the public (here) and friends to see what facts or information they think should be included. What do you think? Good idea or bad?

For English I'm thinking maybe pick a 10th or 11th grade literature anthology that goes with a curriculum and just have him do half this year and half the next. That way he'll get in the literary vocabulary and get a good introduction to answering questions about literature in the manner a text would teach it but also have enough time to read further books of fiction, historical fiction involving American history that I select and some biographies too. Then I can throw in some SAT vocabulary, a little grammar and still have room for a good writing program of some sort (need to pick that one too!).

As for Lent, it is approaching. I know, my non-orthodox friends are scratching their heads and thinking "What...didn't it already start?" No. In Orthodoxy, we still follow the old calendar and the timing of Pascha (the traditional word vs. Easter which is a western christianity term) is still determined according to the cylce of the moon and the Jewish Passover. This is actually our fast - free week. Next week is a 'normal week (fasting only on Wed and Friday) and then we have one week of abstaining only from meat products and then, on March 18th (a Monday not Wednesday like the Catholic Church) Lent begins and we follow a strict fast. Every year is different for us according to our needs but a traditional fast means abstaining from all animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.) olive oil and wine thoughout all of Lent...with a few exceptions on oil and wine on a few select days. Naturally pregnent women or nursing mothers and small children are not expected to follow this. Which is why it's different for us every year. I'm not nursing anymore but we do have a 2 year old (who will be 3 soon!) to consider. So I'm not sure exactly how strict all of us will be. I do plan on eating salmon at least once a week and we are allowed spineless seafoods though I've never been one to think eating lobster or crab should be done during the fast...but remember, Orthodox Christianity was formed in 33 AD...and at that time those foods were not considered the delicacy they are today.

Oh well... I think that's enough for one day! Wow...that's quite a bit of unrelated topics all put together isn't it! Well, that's my brain for you! Have a delightful day! And if you have any suggestions on how to approach that history idea or any other suggestions, I'm all ears!