Friday, June 27, 2014

Catching Up

I've been doing a great job of meeting my daily goals; I just haven't been blogging about it. I walk just about daily now, mostly on errands. To the library and post office, to the movie theater, downtown to restaurants, to the farmers market, to outdoor concerts (at this point checking out rehearsals, mostly). Sometimes I get my walking in by going around the block a couple of times, or walking around window shopping and reminiscing. I haven't been on my bike, but that is something we can work on.

This week I did day camp driving everyday, so the tunes were cranked up. We're also listening to a lot of vinyl at home. I love putting on a record and sitting to listen, maybe knitting, but not using the music as background for activities like cooking and cleaning. There's a purpose to it, and a stronger appreciation, I think.

I sit outside daily, along with walking. My front porch is a beautiful place to be. I made it to the pool Tuesday; we don't usually go during day camp week as the kids are wiped out by the time they get home.

As for creating, I knit almost daily. I say almost because I might have missed a day, but I don't think so. I even knit up in the mountains at a race. Since 6/16 I've completed three waffle weave dishcloths (I went back to the pattern for another one, in cotton hemp this time), a "grandma" dishcloth, and I've added several rows (maybe 20?) to my shawl in progress. I also made deodorant last week, and made sunscreen today.

The kiddos have summer colds right now :( I made them chamomile/lemon/ginger/honey "tea" and they've been sucking on zinc lozenges. Papa wanted to give T an antihistamine last night, but I resisted since I believe that a runny nose is one way the body eliminates the virus, and also, drying things up can give bacteria a better medium to multiply in. Yuck! I'm weird, but I really think it's best to get through minor illnesses without allopathic medications, especially for a child who doesn't have work obligations that require him to be somewhere.

I can't say I know why the boys got sick, but I have my suspicions. Being around 75 other kids at day camp meant being exposed to germs.  But day camp also changed how the boys eat; they had far less fresh fruit each day (not much other than their morning smoothies) and neither of them ate a green salad all week. Plus they relied on bread for sandwiches everyday. In our family, lowering gluten consumption helps everyone have fewer colds. We didn't even eat beans and rice this week; we kind of had a vacation mentality and ate take out most evenings.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wondering About Fake Meats

What I am thinking about today:

Sunday we had company to celebrate Father's Day, and while I sometimes question the sincerity of someone who declares I don't even miss the cheese or sour cream! (because why would you mention it if you didn't miss it?), I did take note of a positive comment about the simplicity of our meal and how it was appreciated that we didn't try to make something that resembled a traditional American meal, except with fake meat. Nope, it was rice and beans, some plant-based toppings, and a delicious cabbage salad for us, not a Tofurkey in sight.

I do buy fake meat, however. I went to the grocery store for produce this morning and decided to take advantage of a sale on Boca Chik'n Patties, Gardein Chick'n Strips, and Gardein Meatless Meatballs. (All of these, at my local supermarket and not a health food store!) Yesterday I purchased several packages of Field Roast Sausages (which are also plant-based), hoping to score the rumored Field Roast Hand-Formed Burgers (I struck out - maybe they are too new?). There is no way that I can claim to be a purist on this issue.

Some people who eat plant-based can't stand the thought of eating anything that resembles animal flesh, and I understand that. Me, I'm raising teen boys (explanation enough in itself), and while I have a long history with veg*nism, they don't. They ate mostly plant-based with some fish for the first halves of their lives so far, and then we ate meat, eggs, and dairy for close to six years (don't judge - or if you must, keep it to yourself). There are only so many meals per week that I can base on beans before I feel whispers of a mutiny just beneath the words Beans Again?. A pasta or potato based meal can broker a truce, but sometimes someone just really wants pizza or a burger (that someone might be me, but left to my own palate I'd probably throw a broiled portobello mushroom on a bun and call it good because I love simple).

I've thought long and hard about whether or not it is okay to eat food that is meant to mimic animal flesh, and I've decided that it's okay for us. Fake meats help people transition to plant-based eating and can make plant-based social situations a little easier as well. Besides, as anyone who does eat meat will tell you, plant-based fake meats aren't really like meat at all. I never lie to a meat eater and pretend that my fake meat is going to taste remotely close to what it is meant to replicate.

I eat far less fake meat than the rest of my family, but I do eat it. I don't pretend that a Field Roast sausage is anything like a hot dog, but then again I don't pretend that my favorite thing about hot dogs is anything other than Gulden's mustard, a soft bun, and some vegan baked beans.  I skip meatless meatballs and soy chorizo and any fake meat on a pizza. I never think to myself I'm starving and make myself a snack of a vegan Gardenburger, as the testosterone-laden members of my family are wont to do. But I do eat a Boca burger now and then (thank you Red Robin), and I'm crazy for the Native Foods Chicken Ranch Run burger; I can't help it - they are better than any fried chicken sandwich I ever ate as a meat eater.

Fake meats (should I call them meat analogs?) are very processed and not likely to be remotely healthy, so I try to limit the guys to fake meat at one meal per week. That's enough to keep them eating beans five days a week, so who am I to complain?

Outside: I drank my (nettles) tea on the porch this morning with a sweat shirt and socks on! We also went to the pool in the afternoon.  Still, today ended up low on the hours spent outside index. I should have gone with the mountains with the guys and sat under the pines with the Big Dog while they rode. Why the heck didn't I do that? Oh yeah, there wasn't any room in the truck for me since they took friends. I suppose it's better to carpool and save the environment.

Move: Today was a stretching day. Somehow I remember dance warm-up stretches from nearly 25 years ago. I should have stretched for a longer period of time, so I will probably use the foam roller after I warm my muscles in a hot bath.

Create: I started a new dishcloth, which I may even finish before bed.  Then I will be done with this pattern for a least a week, I think. Done with a capital D, because I am bored with the repeats and very tired of the purling rows. I'm going to switch back to my shawl-in-progress.

Music: We cranked up the radio and sang along to P!nk in the car, and I'll put on some relaxing tunes for my bath.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


The boys weren't quite in the grab summer by the horns mood today :(  T-Guy wanted to save his energy for his Tuesday night road ride which is super intense, so he didn't want to swim or bowl. J-Baby had sore legs from swimming yesterday, so he didn't want to go either. They wanted to play video games and read.

Plus, my massage therapist had to cancel my massage, which was another :(  But it was okay; I went to the health food store in the morning, the post office and library in the afternoon, finished my current dish cloth, and finally took my new mountain bike out for a proper spin in the evening - it even involved a little bit of dirt. I had one of my favorite meals for dinner (our lighter meal): sliced avocado with salt and pepper on sourdough toast. Yum! I just got out of my second long hot bath of the day (with epsom salts, ginger, eucalyptus, and Medieval Blend essential oils) and plan to sink into bed with a library book very soon.

Spend time outside: We walked to the post office and library this afternoon and went for an evening bike ride.

Move my body: I walked to do my errands and went for a 45 minute bike ride in the evening. That's a little over an hour of movement, and some vitamin D via sunshine during the walk.

Create: I completed the dish cloth I started yesterday (and used the sewn bind off, which I had forgotten about and really love).

Music: We listened to a remaster of Led Zepplin III on vinyl.

Summer Bucket List and Daily Goals

Today felt like the first day of summer vacation; Thursday the pool opened and we went and that felt like summer too, but today was the first day post Father's Day, which means we have no birthdays or family holidays for months!

Suddenly, despite having registered Papa and the boys for their summer races this morning, I feel free. We can visit with family when it works for all of us and not feel guilty when a race on Mother's Day (meaning we were gone all weekend) requires apology flowers and rescheduling to a day that no matter how we try really isn't Mother's Day. There will be no birthday parties to squeeze into weekends that are already full with long practices, races, or race travel. The obligations are pretty low all summer, which provides a much needed break.

So we went to the park this morning and the pool this afternoon and got started on the months of slow.

For a few years now I have created a summer bucket list, or manifesto, if you like. This year it looks like this:

Outside Everyday
Pool As Much As Possible
Picnic - Any Time of Day
Friday Bowl Days
Make and Eat Lots of Popsicles
Create Daily
Hang Out With Friends
Morning Walks
Sew Every Week
Hang the Laundry
Have Music Nights
Give Up Facebook
Go Device Free Most of the Time
Go to the Beach

Some of the items on the list are part of what I want for everyday this summer. My daily goals are to:

Spend time outside everyday - preferably where I can be on grass or under trees, but in a hot day pinch a few hours on the porch or by the pool will count.

Move my body daily - walk, swim, bike, or stretch.

Make something (create) everyday - knit, crochet, embroider, sew, draw, paint ... or even cook something new.

Listen to music daily - I love music but I also love silence, and silence often wins.  But some of my best summer memories involve music, so we are going to listen at home if we don't happen to be in the car.

Today I spent time outside four times; I went to the park and spent two hours under the oak trees with my bare feet on the ground, I was at the pool for two hours, I ate a meal on the porch, and I went for a 1.5 mile walk in the evening. The walking was also moving my body. I finished a dish cloth and started knitting another one in a more complicated pattern. We cranked up the music in the car while going to and from the pool.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

And Just Like That The Year Is Almost Over

(Yes, I know I shouldn't begin a title with And, but I wanted to.)

It's June. It's hot. We're eating watermelon. It's time for the outbreath of summer. We are definitely in wrap it up mode.

This has been one of our oddest homeschool years ever. I learned to let go, to be flexible, and to relax; the boys learned without my planning and hovering.

To remind everyone of where we are, T-Guy (a moniker long ago discarded) is 15 and was in 9th grade for the 2013 - 2014 homeschool year.  J-Baby (oh how he hates that name now, but I'm not changing it on the blog) is 14 and was in 8th grade this past year.  Wait, didn't he do 8th grade last year? He did, but I still had him registered as a 7th grader in my little private school. We will decide when to graduate him based on when he finishes the courses he needs for university.

Our yearly summary:

Mathematics: The boys are using Teaching Textbooks Algebra I and it has gone better than I ever dreamed. They aren't quite finished; their true summer break will start once they get through the last few chapters.

Language Arts: Hmm, I don't keep track of eery book they read because it would be impossible. Together we read Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. They have also read several books, fiction and non-fiction, with Papa. They did some spelling and vocabulary using SAT Vocabulary Lightning, but we relaxed on that when we learned that the SAT test would be changing and that the obscure vocabulary wouldn't be focused on any longer. Now I am working with spelling, vocabulary, and grammar in a more holistic manner, correcting it as needed. Writing is usually done in a subject journal format, which works well for them.

Science: We started with Elementary Chemistry. J-Baby loved it and went with it, T-Guy hated it and stalled. Still, they did a lot in the five months that they used it. Since then we've approached science with documentaries and discussion, along with some non-fiction reading. This spring we watched Cosmos (new version) together as a family and used it as a springboard for further discussion and exploration. We star-gazed, we traveled into nature and identified rocks, plants, and animals, and we explored lakes, rivers, creeks, and the ocean. We even went to fish hatchery to learn about that (which tied in with last year's reading of The Giver). Papa took the boys on a JPL tour, and I took them to tour both a high tech noodle factory and a low tech olive factory.

Social Studies: Short Lessons in World History was far more time consuming than the title would suggest. Still, the boys put in the work and gave it an hour a day until race season started.  We then switched to the documentary and discussion format that works so well for them, as well as assigned non-fiction reading. We went on a few field trips, including one that taught us about early settlers to the USA. This spring we spent considerable time discussing politics; J-Baby was fascinated by the incoming political mail and informally gathered opinions and ideas about politics from it. This has given me the idea to watch our fall general election closely and do more scientific gathering of data from the political mailers.

Foreign Language: I had almost given up hope that they would gain interest in Spanish, but they did, and they have been putting our Rosetta Stone program to good use. I don't even have to remind them - they do multiple lessons daily and it's 100% child directed.

Health: We focused a lot on puberty, sexuality, and social relationships this year. Along with physical hygiene, which now includes caring for skin with acne and how to prevent fungal infections (luckily, no one has gotten one yet).

Arts: Piano (J-Baby) and Guitar (T-Guy) have been their main instruments again this year, although J-Baby picks up a guitar fairly often and I imagine that a request for lessons is forthcoming (do you know that when your mother regularly uses words such as forthcoming that you end up with a great vocabulary organically?). Both boys also sing and have been working on harmonies. They also enjoy using Garage Band.

Physical Education: This has been the year of the bike! Both boys were on the mountain bike team, with T-Guy on the high school team and J-Baby on the middle school development team. This isn't just riding bikes, this is learning about being athletes. Learning new skills, improving existing skills, practicing good nutrition, learning about physiology - it's all there.

Vocational Arts: The boys are learning the ins and outs of both bike maintenance and repair and trailer maintenance and repair.

I'm starting to think about next year, and how I can bring back some Waldorf elements to our days while still keeping the responsibility for learning on the boys.