Wednesday, December 31, 2008

GFCF shopping in Louisville KY

Well, after Eric's doctor visit a couple of weeks ago, we've slowly been switching the whole family's diet to GFCF (Gluten Free/Casein Free). Fortunately I have already familiarized myself with what this takes, since Bethany has herself been on the diet for some time.

If it's any encouragement, the expensive parts of GFCF come if one buys lots of prepackaged convenience foods. Cooking from scratch, on the other hand, saves money but takes time and energy.

Since I have kitchen helpers (teenaged daughters!) it's worth it to do things from scratch.

I'm very proud of Bethany. Yesterday she made GFCF graham crackers. We are getting much better at this. The thinner we roll them, the crispier they are! I think we'll be whipping out at least on batch or one double batch of these per week, as graham crackers have always been a favorite around here.

She also used some (icky to me) vegan cheez to make some cheez crackers, and now the icky vegan cheez is gone and we can buy Tofutti American slices and Mozarella slices, instead. Those are the best I've found, and they are GFCF. If any of my readers live in the Louisville Area: American cheese style Tofutti is in stock in the Kosher section at the Breckinridge/Hikes Lane Kroger, and the Tofutti Mozarella at the Amazing Grace Health Food Store, down on Bardstown Road.

Also to be found at the Amazing Grace health food store is Darifree milk alternative. We bought two cans.

Then we headed up to the Dixie Asian Grocery further up Bardstown Rd. to get rice noodles, and rice flour, buckwheat flour and corn or potato starch (can't even remember which we got). Bethany's done her research and basically said a 50/50 blend of some type of GF flour and a GF starch is what is needed, along with the guar gum, of course. I'm looking forward to using the rice wrappers that we procured at Dixie last week to make some pork and cabbage spring rolls later this week. Perhaps tomorrow.

At Walmart our Gluten Free/Casein free food choices focused on veggies, fruits, eggs and meat. We also bought some rice pasta, which they carry now, and some tea. Oh, and we bought our cod liver oil there, too. I'm having the whole family take a dose of that daily, as research indicates it's good for people on the Autistic spectrum. I bet it's good for anyone.

Then we headed over to whole foods for the Almond Breeze (we like the unsweetened plain), some dried cranberries, and some children's chewable vitamins that are GFCF and free of artificial color, sweetener and flavor.

For our sweetness these days we are seeking lower glycemic alternatives like stevia blends, sucanat, or palm juice crystals, or sucanat, and honey of course. To go over our GFCF homemade waffles I'm going to mix agave nectar and maple flavor and some water, bring to heat and then let cool. If it needs thickening, I'll add a bit of guar gum. It's lower on the glycemic index than normal pancake syrup, which can contain milk derivatives sometimes.

Well, the GFCF pizza I made with the Tofutti mozarella got good reviews by Eric, our picky eater, and he's also happy that I found Ore Ida fries to be GFCF. I could make my own, but I do have my limits.

This week I made a big batch of GFCF chicken nuggets and those are in the freezer, Bethany made up a bunch of waffles (sorry Van's, we won't be buying yours anymore!) and we froze those as well.

So you can discern our strategy for keeping it affordable.

Oh, and I almost forgot, as an alternative to Boost or Carnation Instant Breakfast, I found a chocolate soy protein mix that Eric can add to his Darifree. His ped said he needed those extra calories.

It's been a very productive day. I'm tired, and I still need to make a GFCF St. Basil's bread for after tomorrow's divine liturgy. (St. Basil's bread is like an Orhtodox equivalent to "Drai Koenigskueche"...has a hidden coin inside. Fun stuff.)

Wise Guys - Denglisch

This is what happens to a native language when you try to take over Europe/the world and then loose to the U.S. of A.

Wise Guys - Alle meine Entchen - Tekkno Remix

This just makes me really really happy!

If you don't know why, don't ask.

Techno Schlager - Dschinghis Khan

Weird German music from the seventies (yes, I loved Dschingis Khan when I was a kid) done up in Techno style....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

My First Sock!

Yesterday, I completed knitting my first sock! For many years, knitting socks seemed like an unattainable knitting goal, as turning the heel held all the mysteries of the unknown. Turns out it's simple, and a you tube tutorial gave me the confidence I needed.

This sock (and yes, I've started on its mate,) is knit in lovely 100% wool (Patons brand). My youngest daughter helped to pick out the bubblegum pink. And the pattern is from one of the links at

Monday, December 29, 2008

Thinking about the New Year

For the past several years, I've sort of been against forming any New Year's resolutions. I've managed to accomplish quite a bit without them, for one thing.

I think last year, I resolved to read the Bible, and while I did not complete that goal, I can definitely say that I read the Bible more often than I did the year I'm still building that habit.

So I've been thinking of goals and habits and what I want 2009 to include, and here's my list:

I want to build my already exisiting exdercise habit to include not just walking, but also some weight lifting again.

I do NOT want to diet, but I do want to continue working on merely eating healthfully when I am hungry. But officially, it's my new year's resolution to NOT go on any weight reduction diets in 2009. I'm scared, it's like taking the training wheels off.

I want to work on more creative ways of doing works of charity. My current project is learning to knit socks., and I need to put some snaps on the stuff I made for Goods for Girls and send those off. (hangs head in shame). I also want to make more pads for that projects.

Keep on keeping on with the Scripture study and spiritual reading.

Make it to Matins more often (I go on many days, but not every time the doors are open).

This means: Get to BED by 11 pm.

OK, enough.

Just to Clarify...

I'm Alana and this is my blog. The person in the sidebar with the blue frame that I am praying for is Michelle's mom. Michelle is a friend of mine and her blog is at I put it up there, not to confuse my readers, but because Michelle's mom is very ill and can use all the prayers on her behalf that she can get.

If anyone want's to pray for my own mother, that's fine, too. ;-) I'm sure she would appreciate it as well.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Christ is born, glorify Him, Alleluia!


The Sheldahl Family

Lovely, Lovely Thift Store Haul

1 big tote basket perfect for my new hobby: Knitting.
Green blouse
Blue blouse
maroon mock turtle neck shirt
Lanz of Salzberg flannel nightgown for my daughter (pink!)
Flannel nightgown for me (green!)
Coldwater creek skirt in gorgeous green and blue colors that perfectly matched the green and blue blouses I found.
VHS tapes of original Star Wars Trilogy
DVD of Star Wars phantom menace
DVD of Spy Kids 2 (the kids begged)

Perfect, perfect, perfect!

Perhaps the local Goodwill isn't so terrible after all.

Could I please have a break??????--Updated

So, someone rings the doorbell at aproximately 4:30 this morning. WT?. Fifteen minutes later the doorbell rings again and I wake up enough to wonder if someone is really ringing the doorbell. I get up, but by the time I get my robe on, etc. and go to the door, no one is there. Must have imagined it, because who would be out pranking at 4:30 am on a very very rainy Christmas Eve, right?

Well, a bit later: Doorbell again. This time I send Wes.

It's our neighbor from upstairs.

He has a hole in his roof. It collapsed. (I'm thinking.....WHAAAAT????) Yup. Apparently, here in late December, Apartment management thought it would be a great time to schedule a roof replacement. Perhaps they had no choice as it was a big necessity. This I can understand and appreciate.

So I did hear the hammering and what not going on yesterday, come to think of it.

Well, long story short, where the roof was off has collapsed. I can only feel very very sorry for our upstairs neighbors. We only have water leaking in around our dining room light fixture and in various places in the kitchen. It is nasty, brown, smelly and makes me gag.

He has this very very relentless and heavy rain coming straight in to his apartment from the sky. I cannot imagine.

Needless to say we've ALL called the maintenance emergency hotline. No one has showed up yet, but perhaps sunrise will shed some new light onto the situation. (Har har.)

Instead of going to liturgy as a family, we are going to have to take turns. Bummer.

And I don't know if I'll be able to bake the bread I wanted to bake today, or put out the lovely Christmas spread I'd planned to have laid out for when we come home from Liturgy. I'll be really sad if one of us (me) has to miss the midnight liturgy to babysit a leaking ceiling.

We asked our neighbors if there was anything to do to help them, food, shopvac, etc. and they couldn't think of anything right now.

God have mercy.


As soon as it was light the place was crawling with people fixing the roof, finishing up our unfixed bathroom (remember the water lead/hot water problem?) and shoveling away dirt so that a major potential flood at our sliding door could be diverted. The people who work here really are great.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today is Christmas Adam

And tomorrow is Christams Eve. Get it? Bwahahaha. I heard that joke more than several times today. My kids made it up. They think they are clever.

So, all the good places in town to get a kid evaluated for Asperger's Syndrome/Autism spectrum issues are inaccessible because they are not in our insurance network.

Could we pay out of pocket? No, we could not. And out of network means out of pocket for the first $8000.00 dollars, and then they only pay fifty percent. I looked on line for this one really great place who doesn't take insurance at all, and they charge $150.00 for intake, $175.00 per hour for evaluation (three hour minimum for that) and $150.00 for the post-eval consult. That's $825.00 minimum and possibly more. That's just for the evaluation, not for therapy or anything like that.

I tried once to get the fee schedule from Weisskopf Child Evaluation Center, and they would not even give it out. They are not in our new network, either.

Surely we can go somewhere that is in-network, even if we have to travel. So I"m hunting. Perhaps there's a nice psychiatrist somewhere who will do the job.

And I've been reading, and I"m also pretty sure my 12 year old is firmly on the spectrum as well, as she very tyically fits the descriptions for female Aspieishness.

An interesting thing today: Twelve years old, mind you. She wanted to help me make fudge. This involved stirring the melted sugar/butter/evaporated milk mixture. So I got her started, then noticed she was not actually getting the liquid to move in the pot, so I showed her how to do it. I guided her hand for a few strokes to show her the figure eight pattern and the angle the wooden spoon needed to be. Then I let go, and chaos ensued in her stirring method. She could NOT keep the pattern going. I guided her hand some more, with verbal explanations of the method, and what I was doing (stirring the pot of hot butter stuff in a figure eight pattern...this should be easy, right?) Wrong. She could. not. do. it. We tried several more times. Lots of guidance. She tried, believe me, she tried. But she couldn't. Finally M gave up because her arm was tired, and I finished the stirring. Remember, this is a twelve year old we are talking about here.

Surely this would mean something significant to a psycho-neurologist somewhere.

I love my kids so much, but they aren't normal.

And whatever will I do?

Pray, I guess.

And what's the point of wanting a diagnosis? Well, it would help us get an IEP for special services we might qualify for through the public schools, it would influence the making of curriculum and college and career choices, and it might be the first step in bio-medial interventions. As we can afford them. And it would help me be a better mother, if I can have a better understanding of how their brains function differently from mine.

Would I want to fundamentally change my kids? No. Do I want them to learn social skills and life skills so that they can function and communicate? Yes. Would I like to maximize the nutrients going into their brains and minimize the harm? Yes.

So I can start on the homefront with the GFCF diet, cod liver oil and good vitamins, but I still think I'd like some medical backup.

Today I made GFCF graham crackers, and put the dough through a cookie press. They were really good. And lenten. And festive.

Monday, December 22, 2008


I'm just really struggling with depression right now/lately. Adjusting to living in a new town, even though we love it, doesn't help. Any change is hard and joy is counterbalanced by loss and grief. And it's the holidays.

Do I need medication? I don't know. I don't want to need it. There are always unpleasant side effects, and the cost. I'd rather spend the health savings account money on the kids. Depression is an on-going problem in my life and I'm rather ashamed of it. I ask God for help. More tears this morning. I'm horrible about staying on my meds when I am on meds, because of the side effects. They make me dizzy...horribly dizzy. At least Welbutrin does. Other meds have other effects. Blech.

For one thing, I hate winter. Maybe I have Seasonal Affective Disorder because I always get like this at this time of year. Long term readers of my blogs know this. Forgive me.

I'd love to go walking but when it's eight degrees outside, those walks would have to be short.

I really want to be a joyful person. I really want to be a grateful person, but all the joy and gratitude feels like it's on the surface, and underneath is just this huge pit of pain and angst and sadness in my brain and belly.

My thoughts tend to obsess about certain things like my weight, or what to wear and I get on these obsessive loops of despair. Most of my clothes are black, brown, gray and beige and I wonder if this is a symptom or a cause or just part of the cycle. Rather than looking "New Yorky" with those drab colors, I end up looking frumpy and depressed...because I am.

So, a random list of things I'm grateful for:

My sweet children.
The fact that I got to see my dad last week, who lives nine hours away.
My new nephew, born last week.
My husband, who is wonderful even when I don't deserve him to be.
My new apartment and the fact that it's big and is easy to keep clean.
New friends and old.
The adventure of getting to know a new city.
The wonderful pediatician we found last week who is very knowledgeable about Autism spectrum issues.
Health insurance.
My sewing machine (I'm dying to get it out and sew something soon.)
I'm happy that I learned how to make Artisan bread this past year, that it's easy and just like the bread I used to get from the bakery in Switzerland.
I'm grateful for the internet.
I'm grateful for those big boxes of frozen bonrless catfish pieces you can buy at the Walmart grocery.
I'm grateful for the chance to go to St. Athanasius Orthodox Church yesterday, but also grateful that I missed St. Michael's a little bit (our new parish).

Anyways, does anyone else struggle with depression?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I slept in too late to go to Divine Liturgy.
I had breakfast with coffee, bread and chinese food, instead.
When I walked over to my friend's house to pick up a pot I'd loaned her and to return a bowl she'd left at my house (it had Koliva in it that we ate up), I ended up chatting for a long time and eating my first ever bowl of Borsht (beet soup). It was good, which is saying something considering I heretofore have not liked beets very much.

Then it was home to cook lunch, sort some laundry (we call it wolf-packing the laundry because we pile it all on the bed and everyone grabs a basket and we sort it out and each of us folds or hangs up our own stuff).

Then I took the kids to the library, where I was hoping to settle in with a good book. Instead I spent the whole time helping kids find things to read.

Home again, and time to do some cooking: A big pot of chili with black beans and sweet potato, and some gluten free graham crackers. Those are very nice, and appreciated by all.

I'm very proud of my son. He's busy learning to try out gluten free foods and today he ate potatoes, a slice of tangerine (which he did not like), the gfcf grahams and corn grits as a successful alternative to cream of wheat for breakfast. He still is drinking milk and supplement powder (instant breakfast mix), so at some point we'll just have to go cold turkey on that.

I wonder if there is a GFCF instant breakfast mix that can be mixed with something like Almond milk?

Friday, December 19, 2008

If a Doctor says it, it must be true!

Well, I took E to a pediatrician today. He's been losing weight and not eating. Pediatrician said yes, he's definitely got Asperger's but he can't give that as an official diagnosis. For that we need to go to a psychiatrist. He recommended a few options.

And he told E that he needs the Gluten Free Casein Free diet. B is already doing it, so I decided to switch all our foods over to GFCF at home after the holidays are over. We can live with GFCF. Seriously.

Milk will be the most difficult for E to give up, but at lunch and dinner today he voluntarily stayed away from the gluten. That about knocked me over.

We are on the right track, and it's going to be interesting how it will all pan out.

Jesus says: "Do not worry." So, worry I shall not!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From the Little Mountain - Large Trailer

I finally got to see (and own) the video "From the Little Mountain" that the monks at Hermitage of the Holy Cross have published. It is a very good introduction to Orthodox monasticism, how it's done, what it's all about, etc. It takes the viewer through the year in a stunningly beautiful video. My only disappointment is that it is merely 30 minutes long. Perhpas all was said that needed to be said, and I'm simply used to films being longer.

I wonder what a non-Orthodox would think of this video, as the glimpses into the liturgical life of the Church would be a glimpse of the strange and unfamiliar.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Some Clarity

I was walking between the education/fellowship wing of our Church building and the part of the building that contains the nave this morning. It's a breezeway, and off to one side there's a little garden, with a cross shaped footpath, a bench and an outdoor icon of the Theotokos holding the child Christ.

The weather was mild, and I decided to stop for a moment there at that little shrine, and say a prayer.

A moment turned into many moments, and I stood there in the wind for a very long time, praying the Jesus Prayer. I did not get cold, even though it is December.

Soon tears were streaming down my cheeks and drenching my coat, and I had the keenest sense of my own sins. I could see them very clearly. Chiefly I am grieved over my carnality. My worldliness. I waste so much time on things that are not real and on things which do not pull me or push me towards heaven. I am a slave to my body and a slave to my carnal self and this carnal world in so very many ways.

And something inside of me snapped. (At least for today!) I just don't want anything but God and His heavenly Kingdom. Someone asked me what I want for Christmas, and I couldn't even say. I don't even want anything. Just to live the Gospel as best I can. And I fall down so many times.

I want to be dead to the world. Of course I cannot escape to a monastery since I am a married lady with a family. But I've been wondering: How do I live a spiritual life as a lay person? It has to start with prayer and the sacraments and being in the Holy Scriptures. And you know what, I am very weak. I find that it is a huge stretch to take the Sacraments more than twice a week. Like I'm spiritually too weak to do so. I need to be strengthened, and I need to build up those muscles.

I often start out on such a path with good intentions, and then I crash and burn because I do too much too soon, like a baby who wants to run but is really still at the cruising stage and who falls when he lets go of the sofa. But how to I grow into it so that I DO get to the point of having more endurance?

This has been brewing for a while now, and the head covering thing is a part of it. I know it is. Like, when I started covering last May, suddenly my prayer life went down the toilet and I had to rebuild it from the bottom again. Suddenly the spiritual life that I've been engaging in (such as it is) became more of a struggle.

So here I am, but I see the next step in this obedience.

So how do I do this?

Well, for starters I need to clean up my reading. Less fiction. More spiritual stuff. And if it is fiction, it needs to be something elevating. I have a penchant for the most banal literature. God forgive me, I ought to be reading the Holy Scriptures, and spiritual things instead. What a wastrel I am.

Second thing that "goes in" to my brain: TV. I never actually turn on the Television set so it's easy to thing I don't really watch TV, when in reality I watch about two hours most evenings over the internet. Wes and I will get started on a series that is a few years old and watch episode after episode. Something that's meant for one hour a week, when it's taken in in a condensed form is not good. But the advantage is (if I will listen to the still small voice yelling at me over my shoulder) that all the gunk is concentrated and easier to discern. Of course discernment requires follow through in riddance. God have mercy.

I do OK on music.

I need to go for walks and pray the Jesus prayer. My body and my mind and spirit need the exercise. It's like killing two birds with one stone.

I need to be disciplined about going to bed early enough so that I can get up and go to matins. To be so close to Church and not take advantage of daily prayer services that can be prayed with the community is a sin. The reasons I usually turn off the alarm clock and roll over in the mornings have everything to do with staying up to late watching those dumb shows on the internet. Beyond that, I'm fairly consistent with Morning Prayers with the kids, since we do it to start out school day.

And at some point I need to beef up my evening prayer habit as well. It's there, but currently it suffers from brevity and a lack of oomph due to evening tiredness.

There's lots to do. People to love and a world to pray for. Much to repent of. How come I waste my time so often in vain pursuits?

Well, those are my thoughts tonight. God have mercy on me a sinner and keep my spirit safe. I did take a nice walk this evening. Prayer rope, Jesus Prayer, and all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How to have an Invisibility Cloak

1. Be a new person in a large group of people who don't know you.

2. Make sure those people know each other.

3. Act sort of like you might be on the autistic spectrum or sit near someone who does.

4. Wear a head scarf that covers your whole head and neck in a room full of protestants.

5. Enjoy not having to talk to anyone!

(We went to Bethany's band recital this evening. I'm glad she's in home school band. Really, I am.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I've become one of THEM of those evil people who impose their music onto their blog readers. Hate it? Scroll down to the bottom to turn it off.

Don't worry, it's most likely temporary.

I Don't have to Pay for It, neener, neener, neener!

So, there was no hot water. It had been going on for a couple of weeks before we moved in, and it just got fixed TODAY. A month and eleven days later.

I'm not complaining. Those poor apartment manager people, they are the one's who've had all the stress.

Let's see:

Hot water not working in Building C. (C is for Cold in this example). So, they replace the hot water heater. This is a $5000 purchase. But the residents still don't have hot water. So they do a bunch of investigating and discover it's a slab leak. Yes, that's right. The water pipes run under a concrete slab. (We live downstairs in Buliding "C", and I like the concrete slab, by the way. It gives me warm fuzzies and makes me feel secure. There's just something about a house upon a rock...)

So the maintenance guys come to measure the temperature of the floor to try and locate the leak. I thought for sure it would be under our floor. It's so nice and warm on our bathroom floor. Like something from the ancient Roman baths. There MUST be hot water under there.

But no, it's our neihgbor's floor, they think.

Enter the new friend: Jackhammer. So I'm so glad, for about a week and a half, that my lovely tile floor is not getting jackhammered, but also sad for my neighbors whose presumably formerly lovely tile floor is being jackhammered.

And then the apartment managers decide they can't handle it, so they hire some contractors to do the work instead of the maintenance guys. So the contractors start to do the jackhammering next door. But soon, it's our turn, because for all the noise and destruction of neighbor's floors, the leak it not yet located. So, alas, our bathroom floor gets jackhammered. And still they can't locate the leak. So they are drilling in all our floors (the four master bathrooms are arranged like the squares on a foursquare game, in four apartments), and after a day of drilling and digging (Hi neighbors!, we could wave to each other through the hole in the wall, but we don't,) the plumbers have holes in the walls and floors and a nice swirling pool of hot water all around, but still no leak.

Finally they have to remove an entire cabinet and sink from our neighbor's bathroom. That was yesterday. But when I came home last night, there was no standing water in the heat-giving-spring-of-our-bathroom, but rather some tired wet dirt and pipes, surrounded by a gaping hole in the concrete. The toilet is sitting in our tub, and a wad of TP discreetly covers the opening to the sewer line.

But that room is not a sauna anymore (yes, it was damp and steamy from all the leaking hot water), and this morning, I took a HOT shower.

I'm so grateful.

And then today the doorbell rang.

It was the termite guy.

Guess what they found when they busted out the cabinet where the water had been leaking next door?

I reckon eventually I'll get my bathroom repaired.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling rather relaxed about the whole thing, because I DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR IT!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


-Stockings hung on the fireplace mantel,
-A Christmas tree with white lights,
-Early morning liturgy in the dark
-Candle light and incense
-Homespun choir with ancient melodies
-Catfish-n-onions, unexpected pastries,
-Phone calls from new friends and old
-Surprise visits
-Yarn that looks like pop-tart frosting with sprinkles when it's knitted
-Learning names and being welcomed
-A grumpy old priest with twinkly eyes and a smile (not so grumpy after all),
-"St. Nicholas" showing up looking remarkably like an ordinary bishop
on an ordinary day.
-Baking cookies on St. Herman's feast day (because he baked cookies, too, for his orphans.)
-Simple meals
-Baking bread
-Shopping trips
-Kozy knitting project
-Hiding out in the bedroom wrapping gifts
-Helping kids make homemade gifts for their siblings
-Shorter days and longer nights
-Beginning of winter and hope for sping
-Preparing for the Nativity
-Midnight Liturgy: Christ's Mass

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

This morning we went to liturgy. St. George's Chapel was packed out, and the choir was in rare form. Such a soprano section! (I want to join.) I cried whenever we sang any of the old familiar tunes that I know from St. Athanasius Church. I get homesick at those times, but a good homesick. The type that knows we are really all united.

We are getting our first sticking snow today, which was happening as we exited the Chapel. This thrilled the kids and they hopped around in glee on our way over to the fellowship hall for a small St. Nicholas Day celebration.

After a light lunch, all the usual goodies were proffered: Chocolate gold coins, an "appearance" of the saint himself, and a story about St. Nicholas' life. Then each child also received a small St. Nicholas Icon and a few kids got pretty light catchers with St. Nicholas on them.

The older girls got to stay for a bit longer and help out with the food pantry work that's done once a month, and I was glad for that.

My instinct is to bake sweet bread on this day, so I whippped out some gluten free cinnamon cranberry rolls and some lemon flavored yeast cake (not gluten free). It's in the oven and I'd best go check it.

Happy feast day to all.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Geeks Without Torture

After my last post, I owe it to you all to post the good things about home schooling my kids:

I like the fact that I get to be with my kids all day.

I believe they are getting a superior education at home than they were at the particular local public school where we lived.

Home schooling cuts down on bullying.

It enables me to find their weak points and work harder on those.

It's not one size fits all.

There is less pressure about grades, and more emphasis on actual learning.

I like seeing their natural curiosity get aroused and then helping them find answers to questions such as: How does nuclear energy work? What's a cold war?

...and then the ensuing interesting discussion about 20th century history, the environmental movement and whether it might be feasible to shoot nuclear waste straight into the sun.

I like their innocence and keeping them that way for as long as possible.

I like being able to impart my values, such as modesty, social conscientiousness and that girls are for something other than shopping and fashion and boyfriends.

I like teaching my kids how to cook and clean up.

I like that we have time each day for Morning Prayers, Gospel and Epistle, learning about the saint of the day and a lesson from a catechism book.

I appreciate the flexibility this form of education affords when certain persons might need a nap, down time, or whatever.

I like having the flexibility as a family to up and move or travel or have a feast day when its a feast day and not have to either miss school or miss Church because of a conflict.

Home schooling makes nerds into confident individuals who are not drones or clones, but rather proud geeks. (Imagine: Geeks without torture!)

I love not being a slave to the alarm clock in the morning (unless I want to make it to matins, which is another story all together and which I have not done so well on this week.)

I like that they can come grocery shopping with me and learn those aspects of domestic skills as well.

I like fun afternoons, and trips to the park and going fun place in the middle of the day.

I like taking them to the library and then coming home and many of us cozying up to a cup of tea and all to a good book.

I like having the input on curriculum, and on what sorts of field trips we take them on.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Hardest Job Ever

Oh. My. Goodness!

I don't often blog about home schooling for some reason. Perhaps because I don't blog much about my kids in general, but also perhaps because it's rather mundane.

We are not the type of family to be galavanting all over the country doing exciting trips to the beach or the mountains or the Smithsonian and calling it all a big long field trip. Sounds like fun, though.

We are not the types to have our kids in a thousand different sports activities or music lessons. Quite frankly, we can't really afford that stuff. So I hang my head in a bit of shame over it all, and wonder if I am doing right by my kids. I teach them to play the recorder so they can at least read music, though.

But you know what? Home schooling my children is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Or probably will ever do. It's just hard.

One of the things that's hard about it is the detractors: The public school teacher lady at Church who gets that look on her face when the kids tell her they are being home schooled, or your friends who think you are crazy for doing something so difficult day in and day out when there's a nice shiny public school down the street.

And the grading is hard. Grading the kids work is not just about their work. It's also an evaluation of how well I've been doing getting them to learn, helping them to be organized, teaching them how to study or explaining math concepts. At the high school level, Wes has to explain the math concepts. I can no longer help there.

So we just finished up our first Quarter...well, I should say we tried to finish our first quarter and discovered some weaknesses and snafoos that will have to be addressed even as we plough into the next quarter's worth of lessons. Moving in the middle of all this did not help at all.

And I discovered that one of my kids hasn't been doing half her work. Yes, it's my fault for not giving her closer supervision and guidance. But it's also her fault. But what that means is that we have more work to do now. And it means I need to track her work better.

So, my head is spinning and I barely know how to do it all. Mostly the kids do their work independently. But then I have to check it, which takes lots of time. That's where I fall down on the job the most, I fear. That, and being organized, getting their papers graded and recorded. And teaching literary stuff ("What are this character's motives and feelings?"-- just doesn't fly with autism, you know?). I stink at figuring out how to get them to understand on a deeper level. Oh, and I also hate grammar, but I've learned TONS of grammar in the past few years. But that doesn't stop me from hating it.

Meanwhile, the laundry still needs attention, the kitchen is a mess. But at least because I was multitasking, there are beans in the crock pot and bread fresh out of the oven.

It all is rather stressful and difficult. Just thought I'd share, because most Home School blogs are all sweetness and light and educational adventures.

But would I change what I'm doing? Nope! Not for a minute.