Archive for November, 2008

Yes, I’ve Heard That

November 19, 2008

I’ve heard that homeschoolers have experienced some emnity from social workers.  I’ve heard that social workers as a whole do not like the concept of homeschoolers.  My experience first hand was very different.  When I resigned my job working with social workers in order to homeschool, the single clearest message I got from co-workers was, “Awesome!”  Many of the most liberal folks I worked with expressed jealousy over my ability to stay home with my kids.  The only somewhat negative person merely asked if I was using curriculuum.  When I told her I was using a nationally recognized curriculuum, she was pacified.

I think part of the reason some homeschoolers feel social workers worry about them is that studies show that abusers try to isolate their victims.  If you were a nutjob, clearly, homeschooling could provide a perfect mechanism via which you could harm a child.  Though, the majority of social workers I’ve met are far more worried about public school teachers than homeschoolers.

And, when I called the local school district to find out about the paperwork I needed to submit for homeschooling my son, I was greeted by a polite, solicitous person who made every attempt to accomodate me.  I didn’t feel the person was being rude or treating me like I was weird, just the opposite actually.  She asked me if I wanted any information regarding curriculuum or anything on local services.  She also asked me if I felt I was connected to a support group because they have some information on local homeschool groups. 

I wanted to blog on this, because although it’s a boring topic, it’s also one you’ll never see in your newspaper.  So, the next time you hear a horrific story about an innocent homeschooler being mauled by a rabid social worker or public school employee, you can say to yourself, “I’ve heard another side of this story, also.”

Research in Progress

November 13, 2008

OK, I just had another research project on my plate.  I’m noticing that the question of what average expected yield per plant is comes up all the time.  Perhaps it’s because we square foot gardeners are usually interested in growing food for our consumption.  I’m going to spend time on getting phone calls in to answer these questions today.

ANSWERS!!!

I was on the phone with an amazing person from our local extension.  He pointed out some issues to be concerned with.  In his opinion, there can be no definitive “average yield” per plant because there are so many variables.  I pointed out that there must be something out there for research purposes.  He referred me to someone else…more on this as we progress.

I Homeschool My Kids

November 12, 2008

My husband and I have made the choice to educate our kids at home.  Personal experience tells me that if you’re over forty, you now think I have horns and a tail, if you’re under forty, you think I’m with some weird cult.

There are a number of reasons to homeschool your kids.  The reasons I hear most are:

  1. Public schools teach strange indoctrinal practices that I’d rather my kids not have to deal with.  (BTW: if this sounds crazy to you, try this one on for size:  http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=77734)
  2. In search of the best education for children. 
  3. You can customize homeschooling far more effectively than group situations allow.
  4. Homeschooling allows high achieving students to set a more challenging pace and allows students with shortfalls to go slower in areas that are difficult (ie: a child who is in fifth grade Math and second grade English).

Our reason is a bit different.  When my husband did youth ministry and I did social work, we met lots of parents who didn’t know their kids.  Not only would they not understand the dark side of what their kids would and could do, they wouldn’t know the bright side.  Some parents couldn’t pick their kids out of a lineup if they were blindfolded.  This bothered us then and bothers us now.  We want the blessing of knowing our kids.  We intend to shape their character to the best of our ability.  We were blessed enough to be able to afford the finances of having a parent at home.  It isn’t easy.  We don’t go out much and we don’t take fancy vacations, etc…, but we were willing to sacrifice that for the ability to know these kids.

We don’t make any pretense of knowing what is right for every kid, but for our family, this was the best choice.  For more info on homeschooling, I encourage you to look at NHERI.org.

This Week’s Experiment

November 11, 2008

This week I’m going to try another object lesson for myself.  Lately I’ve been taking meals to alot of folks at my church who are sick or having babies or adopting.  When I take a meal to someone, I usually make a casserole of some kind and take a bag of homemade salad from my garden and a bit of dessert.  I usually buy a couple of disposable aluminum pans to use.  I have learned that if you take someone one of your cherished cake/casseroles during a time of stress for them, you often will never see the pan again.  I do have friends who insist they are experts at getting their pans back, but I can only assume that requires some version of collections.  I suspect that a person going through a tough time probably doesn’t need someone hounding them for metalware on top of everything else they’re dealing with.  Herein lies the problem, why buy something disposable if I can get something used instead?  I’m going to start looking at thrift stores for some used cookie sheets and cake pans.  Then, I plan to set up a fair size store of these to give away.  If I can find these inexpensively enough, I might try to throw in a bottle of martinelli’s to the folks having babies and adopting.

If you have a better way of doing this, I’d love to hear your ideas.

This Year I’m Growing Heirlooms

November 7, 2008

As you can probably tell, I’m not much of a greenie.  Alot of the things that I do are greenish, but I tend to be pretty practical in my outlook on things.  So, why would an uber pragmatist fork out the extra money for heirlooms?  There are a million answers to that. 

First of all, heirlooms provide an interesting tie to our history.  I’ve read several stories about folks who have an heirloom tomato that they pass from generation to generation.  In addition to romantic value, it connects our kids with gardening.  I’m telling my kids: you want to watch me do this because you’ll want to teach your kids.

Second, heirloom tomatoes, in my opinion have a far superior taste to the hybrids that I’ve grown.  I can my tomatoes.  The taste is important because you are condensing it to some extent.  So, if the taste isn’t great, your sauces won’t be great.  Why not just grow a tasty tomato in the first place?

Finally, heirlooms offer a great variety that are hard to come by in regular stores.  If you go to tomatofest.com or Baker Creek Seeds (rareseeds.com), you will find that every heirloom comes with an interesting story.   Instead of growing your plain green pole beans, this year I’ll be growing purple beans and runner beans with beautiful red flowers.  It should not be overlooked that you can collect seeds from your heirlooms.  So, if you’re diligent, you should only have to purchase seeds once.

Give Me Five Minutes

November 3, 2008

I know, this qualifies as a downer, but hear me out.  Did you know that around seventy percent of garlic sold in the US comes from China?  According to this blog http://pacetua.blogspot.com/2007/06/death-knell-for-gilroy-garlic.html and some other research I’ve done,   “The Chinese are shipping fresh garlic into the U.S. at a cost of $12 to $16 per 30-pound box. It costs U.S. growers and packers $25 to $30 per 30-pound box.”  Ordinarily, I love a bargain, don’t you?  But, how do you suppose China can sell garlic so cheap?  I mean, aren’t the Chinese mandating small families because they can’t feed their own people?  OK hotshots, the answer is obvious, and everyone knows it, China uses slave labor.  Oh, of course, silly me, I meant to say prison laborers.  Of course, one of the more prevalent reasons you can go to jail is if you are a Christian.  So, frankly, if you are a Christian, you should NEVER purchase another bulb of garlic from China.  If you’re a greenie, errr…environmentalist, doesn’t it bother you at all that a nation a zillion miles away is shipping food to your plate?  And because most of us are too freaking lazy to find out where our food comes from, we are participating in the systematic enslavement of the Chinese people.  Of course, it’s not always easy to figure out where your store got their garlic, is it?  I mean, they attempt to repackage it to sell it to you, and there are usually no signs above it, are there? 

Here’s my five minute solution!  Find a place around your home or apartment that gets some sunshine.  Buy a lovely planter, or make one (lots of instructions on the gardenweb forum on how to make these cheap or free) and put some potting soil (make your own if you’re always broke, like I am, again, try gardenweb).  Then, purchase some honest to heaven US grown garlic bulbs at a garden store.  I have tons of pals on gardenweb (Granny, see her blog to the side) who just plant the stuff they got at the store.  Then pull off the cloves and plant them in the dirt (more instructions here:  http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-why-guide-to-growing-garlic-at-home.html).  Your one-time purchase of garlic will provide all the cloves you need for your first harvest and that harvest will provide all the garlic you need for the second harvest, ad infinituum.  If you water these faithfully, and mulch them, they should look like this pretty soon:

http://i376.photobucket.com/albums/oo203/carolynp_garden/garlic.jpg

As I understand it, I will get small bulbs in Spring and large ones in the fall.  Because we use an enormous about of garlic, I have three square feet of garden space plus a planter for these.  I’m planning to plant a couple more in the spring.  How easy was that?  Good bye China.  So, instead of pie in the sky, I wish, I would, nonsense.  Go right now and get started!  After all, you are only five minutes away from a healthier, better existence.

What I learned this week! 103108

November 3, 2008

I’m thinking I’ll occasionally populate the blog with little daily info posts like this one. 

To really understand this post, you have to understand that my great aunt just passed away last week.  She is the only person in my family who understood my love for gardening.  She taught me how to do canning.  Any time I was in the middle of a garden or cooking project that could be easier with a certain kitchen implement, she probably had it and would lend it to me.  She let me bring my kids to her swimming pool and let them tinker about in the pool for hours and hours during the summertime.  She let us sled down her back hill in the wintertime.  She was a great aunt and a great person and I will miss her dearly.

This week I learned that people at funerals DO NOT appreciate zombie jokes.  Not even when someone was foolish enough to schedule a funeral for October 31st, Halloween.  I looked out the window at one point and saw little kids walking in front of the graveyard in glow in the dark skeleton costumes, heh.  People in funeral parlors don’t like zombie jokes.  People in funeral parlors do not like honest critiques of their baked goods (crappy cookies, just trust me…).  And they REALLY dislike it when you ask why they need a hearse to transport an urn.  People in funeral parlors apparently dislike alot of things like this.  My aunt was a card carrying believer in Jesus of Nazareth.  My guess is that she was looking down at us from heaven clutching her stomach in laughter at my jokes.  She made someone who wasn’t around my half of the family much the executor of the estate, with the intent of making it easier on my mother.  These people knew so little about my aunt that they actually hired a “pastor” to do the funeral who literally NEVER used the name of Jesus.  He did use everyone’s favorite Psalm, Ps 23.  The whole funeral felt like a joke before the end of the thing, so my sisters and I had no real issues with cutting up a bit, much to the chagrin of my Aunt’s fam from the starched east coast, which only had the end effect of making us loose west coasters laugh even harder.  If my aunt reads this blog in heaven, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she did, Auntie, we laughed and had a great time at your funeral!  We knew you weren’t there!  We knew you were with Jesus and that we’ll see you soon enough in His time.  We love you and we miss you already.  And Auntie, funeral parlor people don’t like zombie jokes…

Just Another Day

November 3, 2008

Had a meeting today just down the street.  You know you’re a crazy composter when you think about trying to take a rake and your pickup during work hours to “take” other people’s leaves.  In my area, you could end up with buckshot in your fanny and an unsypathetic ER if you try to step on someone’s lawn without permission, so maybe I’ll have to go knock on some doors.  But, hey, they aren’t going to use them, and judging from the general unkempt look of their yard, they aren’t going to rake them.  I just think there’s room for a judgement call’s all I’m saying…