My son Elliott is sensitive and amazingly tender. He teaches me everyday how important it is to be true to yourself and authentic with others. He went through several iterations of daycare/preschool early on in life. It was always because I needed the time for grad school not because I thought it was good for him. I never saw anything the ‘schools’ that I thought I couldn’t do better at home.
I don’t subscribe to the theory that socialization is some great important thing kids need at 6 weeks of age. He is very well socialized in fact. He is exceedingly polite and mostly respectful. The areas where he struggles with socialization don’t concern me. For example, he likes to drop his pants and pee wherever he happens to be when the urge strikes. Yesterday we had just exited the grocery store and he dropped his pants – like before we even got to the crosswalk. You know – the front part of the grocery store – where the melons are in big bins! When he does this things I remind him that he needs to find an appropriate and private space to pee. I am not concerned that he will still be doing this when he is an adult. He will get it. Another example – he doesn’t have a good sense of personal space. He likes to touch people – usually in a very nice way. He will put his hands on someones face while talking to them. He likes to hug people, often aggressively. He comes by this honestly because he has spent the majority of his life being squeezed, held, kissed, picked up and loved by everyone around him. We haven’t typically asked him if we can touch him first. We just grab him for a hug. This is a tricky boundary for me because I want to teach him body safety and that he is in control of his body and he also needs to respect other peoples body, yet our family is very snuggly and we all are a bit in each others space most of the time. Anyhow, I digress, that is another post for another time. The point is, he will find the right balance of what is socially appropriate in terms of space. Sharing, pushing, playing rough – these are all things he is working on and they are all developmentally appropriate and I have serious doubts any of them would look wildly different if he was in preschool five days a week.
Back to the original topic – I also don’t believe that kids need to be preparing for school at this age. He is now four. He has been to three different preschool/daycare settings in his life. One for a month as a baby. One for a month when he was about 18 months and one for a month when he just turned three. Every single one of them had an academic component. Even where he was when he wasn’t yet one year old. It’s crazy. We spend our whole lives preparing for the next thing. Preparing for kindergarten. Preparing for high school. Preparing for college. Preparing for work. Preparing for retirement. I would rather spend time living just now. In this day. Especially with the little ones!! Holy moly – now is the time for play!! He hasn’t been stunted or influenced by the world. He still has an amazing imagination and his creativity if off the charts. Play. That’s what he should be doing. Playing.
His last preschool experience was really formative in our decision to homeschool. He didn’t want me to leave him there. At all. He cried and cried and the teachers told me I just needed to leave him – that he would adapt. He would have, I’m sure, If I had left him there for more than a couple weeks, but I couldn’t do it. He doesn’t like to be away from me. And after leaving him there crying for three weeks I finally decided to respect that. He needs me right now. He’s not ready to separate and that’s ok. That was last year and things have changed a lot since then. He is far more independent but he’s still a very attached and sweet little guy. He still likes to be at home and with me and his dad more than anything else and so that’ where he gets to be. There are many reasons we are going to be a school at home family and I hope to write a bit about all those reasons. This one is very dear to me. Having the children at home gives us the real opportunity to honor who they are. What their specific needs are. How they like to learn and play. I’m growing in my parenting and my personhood as we move through this journey and honoring who Elliott is has helped me to be more open to who others are as well. Every person is unique and if allowed/nurtured in their uniqueness can blossom. That sounds a bit flowery and silly but I think it’s true. Children don’t have to work to uncover their true selves. They just are. And then we add layer upon layer of crap – social norms, betrayals, misunderstandings etc. – that someday they will have to work to dig out of. I want to work hard to allow my kids to continue being their true and beautiful selves for as long as humanly possible.
This documentary is worth watching. It’s only 3 dollars on iTunes. Nick and I have watched it a couple of times and we decided to buy it. It’s really inspiring in a lot of different aspects. I recommend it wholeheartedly. Just be prepared to have your world rocked.
Creating Freedom: The Lottery of Birth by Raoul Martinez & Joshua van Praag
I had ingredients purchased to make several different salads and tacos for this week. That sounded great to be because it the weather was in the 70s and we were playing outside all day. But then it snowed. Good for the planet and all bad for my meal plan. I make a meal plan once a week and then do my shopping based on that. I try to just go to the store once a week. There isn’t a lot of flexibility in my plan. I talk to friends who just shop and buy staples and what’s on sale and then figure it out. I wish I was more like that!! I cook from recipies 90% of the time. I wasn’t always like that. Before we became vegetarians I had more dishes I would cook without but I don’t seem to do the almost ever anymore. I’m going to try to get back to it.
I have so many food plans! I want to become an expert bread maker. I want to stop buying anything processed and make our own everything – ketchup, pasta, peanut butter etc. I want (and need) to decrease our grocery budget. Like a lot. So I’m breaking up with While Foods. For now. We will see how it goes.
But I digress. My meal plan was no longer appealing so I made some changes and picked up a few more things so I could have some warm comfort food.
Mexican Quinoa Stew
This. This was shockingly delicious and unbelievably easy. And vegan. I mean come on! I need to buy her book. I subscribed to her blog. But I sort of love cookbooks. Anyway this is worth cooking. We had it with avocados and tortilla chips on top and quesadillas on the side. A salad would have also been great.
Crusty Baked Cauliflower and Farro
Smitten Kitchen never disappoints. This was very tasty. However the cheese was expensive. Also, this is one you want to eat right when you make it. Nice and crunchy. I would make this again if we had friends over and we’re going to eat it all up in one sitting. We had it with a salad. The children did not like/want/taste it.
Sweet Potato and Green Rice Bowls
Tonight’s dinner. I’m looking forward to it. I love the additions to the rice.
Nick told me recently about all the plasticin the ocean and shared an article from the Sierra Club magazine about the attempts being made to clean it up. The amount was staggering but so was the conundrum of how to solve the problem. I’m amazed regularly at our (humans) ability to find new ways to fuck up this planet. This article is excellent. Quick read. Plastic water bottles, straws, disposable cutlery, plastic bags, takeaway coffee cups, takeaway containers – so easy to stop. I am committing to not using any of these products anymore. If you see me using one please remind me – gently. The toothbrushes and plastic wrapped toilet paper feel a bit harder but I’m sure we can make our way there.
So we totally love cloth diapering. I can’t really imagine doing it differently. Every time I have Hattie in a paper diaper for some reason I have a pang of guilt when I throw it away. They aren’t for everyone certainly and we are absolutely privileged in ways that make it easy on us – like we have a washer and dryer in our house, we can afford the increase in the water bill, our kids aren’t daycare so there is no issue there etc. And although we love them I would by lying if I said it was always rosy. We have had stink issues. Like bad ones. The diapers are clean and then as soon as the pee hits them they reek. I learned we have hard water and that apparently is the issue. So – we have had to strip the diapers a couple of times and change the way we wash them. My biggest issue with this is that the stripping and also the change to detergent are less environmentally friendly and include more toxins then I would usually be comfortable with. But! Stinky diapers are no bueno amigo. My biggest advice with diapers is choose a resource that works for you and stick with it because every blog, website, store clerk will tell you something different. This is the resource I have chosen. I like it. They do a good job explaining the why as well as the how.
Today I made these chocolate muffins for Elliott who believes he is entitled to have a treat everyday. They are vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free…and both kids LOVED them. They each had two. And when I packed them for outdoor school tomorrow Elliott wanted to know why I packed four. “Do I get two of those?!” I explained they were for sharing with Lucy and Zoey. He wasn’t thrilled. Anyway, these will be a staple. They use oat float and almond meal-I made both with my handy dandy new food processor!! They call for coconut sugar but I used monk fruit sugar. They turned out great!
Some new recipes that I am trying this week. I found a new blog https://www.budgetbytes.com and as I am trying very hard to keep my grocery budget down I thought this might be a good place to try. They also have a lot of vegetarian recipes. I am going to try the taquitos and cowboy caviar. I am also trying a new taco recipe from Cookie and Kate.
I will let you know how they turn out.
I wanted to share some of my favorite recipe blogs here.
Minimalist Baker – http://minimalistbaker.com
This blog is one of my favs! It’s all vegan but the recipes are really quite good, the author is enjoyable to read, the photos are beautiful and the recipes are mostly quick and easy. Also, her ebook is totally worth buying. The tomato peanut stew is a regular in our rotation.
Smitten Kitchen – https://smittenkitchen.com
This one is amazing. Her food is never fail incredible! Great for taking to parties and making for guests. Not all vegetarian but a lot of it is. Some of her recipes are super simple and we have in the weeknight rotation. Some are a bit more involved and decedent. We have never had a recipe that flopped from her sight. She has a couple lentil recipes that are great.
Cookie and Kate – http://cookieandkate.com
This is a fairly recent find for me. I have been making her recipes for a few months and they are good. All vegetarian and she tells how to make most of them vegan and/or gluten free. I also really appreciate that she has a health focus so she doesn’t use sugar in most recipes but uses honey instead. She also prefers whole wheat flour in most things and uses lots of veg. I love her banana bread recipe!