Unexpected lessons

I was homeschooled growing up, so when I set about to do the same for my own children, my primary goal was to make sure they learned to love math. It sounds silly, but math was a huge sticking point during elementary school for me and I just didn’t want that to be the same for my kids.

We started working on math when the kids were little and thankfully, I think we’ve created a culture of positivity around that subject. So I’ve felt pretty good about our work there. For instance, today, Liam had a lesson in math plus 200 mastery questions. He tackled the mastery and then came to me to tell me that he needed a break. This, for us, is a huge victory. One of the things I have not modeled well has been listening to my body and mind when I have pushed the limits too far. And yet, working with the kids to teach them to recognize these limits in their own lives has proven to be lesson that is far more valuable than times tables. So he did a huge portion of his work, took a break to reset and then dove back in.

Liam loves history. Sylvia loves science. I love nuturing these loves. Nurturing a love for science is easy for me. But when history came up as a love, I was surprised. I mean, I enjoy history and museums and reading biographies, but Liam had never been interested until last year. We started using The Story of the World curriculum and he wanted to learn everything. He kept listening to the cds over and over and spouting information, so I decided it was time to start giving him comprehension tests to see what the outcome was.

There are days when all Liam does is history. Because he’s in the zone and learning and thinking and talking about it. While it always creates a ping of “am I doing enough” in me, I see his growth. And I see him teaching his sister to love a subject so deeply. She has been a hesitant reader, progressing slowly and anxiously, but watching him throw himself into something has given her the courage to do the same. We work and work and when they’ve hit their limit, they have learned to tell me instead of melting down, unable to communicate.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned though, has been how. to. let. go. of. expectations. I knew it. I’ve read all the books, listened to the podcasts, perused the blogs. But until I saw the difference a day of living graciously made in my life and the life of my family, it just didn’t connect. Lowering those expectations and allowing myself to not conduct things in our homeschooling environment like I “think” they should be done and instead realizing the needs of the hour and working with them. It’s freeing, I tell you. Sure, I still want to accomplish things so that the state is pleased with me, but this isn’t about living up to perfection. By learning that, I think I’ve accomplished my own mom curriculum. I’ve got about a B+ average right now, but their enthusiasm for learning is helping my own growth curve. Maybe I’ll be an A student by the time Liam hits junior high? 🙂

The pug life

When Matt and I first started noodling around the idea of pets (12 years ago! Gasp!) he was dead set on having a pug. I thought they were the ugliest dogs ever. I wanted a big, protective dog. I wanted something to run with or go on adventures with us and this fluffy, wrinkly dog didn’t fit that bill.

Since I am typing this with a pug crawling all over me, you can gather that I’ve since changed my mind about pugs.

George’s first night in our home!

Over the years though, we have realized that pugs as a breed in general need a little more attention to detail. Those precious little wrinkles need to be cleaned and checked for bites and infections. Their ears need to be cleaned and de-gunked. And with George we have also discovered a litany of skin issues. Vito very rarely scratches, and if he does, it’s his ears. But not George! He has scratched himself raw so many times. At first we thought it was allergies, so we tried hot spot sprays and oatmeal baths. But it wasn’t really effective as a long term solution.

Our vet then recommended that we try a grain free diet. I reached out to the Facebook world and asked for suggestions, and settled on a brand that would be easy to find in town. We followed the protocol for switching food and yet, the itching continued. Then, Vito started throwing up. It stressed me out because Vito is old and I was afraid if he continued to have intestinal issues, it could usher in the end of his life sooner than we want. As the final straw, we discovered George was munching on poop. POOP! And the vet said, he’s not getting proper nutrition, we’ve got to get him on fresh food.

I had looked at making my own dog food over the years and while I always thought it was a great idea, I never did it because, you know… time. But when it came down to it, I was desperate enough to make the time. It’s been a few months now and I wanted to share what we do!

I have tried quite a few recipes that involved a few different fruits and veggies mixed with different meats. They’ve been pretty excited to try new things, but I will tell you that turkey, applesauce and butternut squash was not accepted. Let me tell you, I have rarely seen my dogs turn their noses up at food, but that one? Nope.

Basic Dog Food Recipe:

  • 3 pounds ground meat
  • 1 bag frozen peas and carrots
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced

Put the meat in a crockpot. Just dump it in! Pour the veggies over the top. Cover it up, turn the crock pot on high for three hours. Break up the meat about an hour or so in so that it cooks through. Keep it in the fridge for a week or freeze in daily packages. The dogs get about 3/4 of a cup each twice a day. So I freeze in 3 cup amounts and thaw a bag at night before I go to bed.

Tiny note here: the dog food looks like chili. Matt now asks if he’s allowed to eat something 🙂

In the last few months, we have not had any digestive issues with either dog. George has stopped eating poop (there are not words, people, no words) and Vito’s wrinkles are doing great. George’s skin suddenly flared up, but I take blame for that since I had experimented with adding rice into their diet. So, rice is definitely off the menu now!

A quick field trip

Sylvia and I were on a work trip last week and while we were in between stops, I needed to get a squirmy first grader out of the car. Truthfully, I needed out of the car and a walk around too. The home of James A. Garfield was the perfect stop to remedy our cranky legs.

Even though President Garfield was only in office for 200 days, his museum and home tour were well worth the $7 admission fee. The museum had lots of treasures from his life and the home involved a great tour that was lead by a volunteer who really knew her stuff.

I think one of the best things about this visit was that the home is part of the National Parks Service and to keep kids involved, they had a work book with assignments for the kids to complete. Sylvia’s job was to complete the bingo page (we treated it as a scavenger hunt and sought out each of the items), ask the Park Ranger a few questions and find items on a map. When she was done they gave her a little park ranger pin and I tell you, it made the day for us!

Work will slow down a bit for me after September and at that time we are going to try to do more day trips around the state. There’s so much to learn here in Ohio!