Thursday, September 25, 2008

So I'm thinking about homeschool--yay or nay??

It's not that I don't want to. But I'm trying to be very realistic in light of the current economic situation (although some might suggest that the worse the economy gets, the less money will go into education making it more necessary than ever to take schooling your children into your own hands). It takes money to home school. It takes resources. I know I could do homeschooling on the cheap but I'd still have to factor in the cost of outside activities such as music lessons, swim lessons, gymnastics, martial arts on top of how much it would cost to home school. I also know that I'd like to purchase at least math and language arts curricula and well, the costs start to add up. Not to mention that I am having an extremely difficult time finding a home schooling group. There are plenty online but there seem to be a dearth in real life. I am not necessarily the most social of people. Z1 is showing signs of really appreciating being around other children his age. I mean, craving it and loving it. And I want to give that to him.

So I did some preliminary searches on public preschools in the area (because I can't swing private $$). I have my vaccine exemption stuff together and have had it together for some time. I've got a whole list of vegan lunch blogs and recipes ready to prepare healthy (mostly) vegetarian meals for Z1.

I have issues with school, to be sure. I don't think schools necessarily adapt the curriculum to children's specific learning styles. I think schools also waste a lot of time (I know from first hand experience spending a week trying to teach something to a group of 30 kids and then spending about an hour to teach it to 2 or 3 kids--it's just proven, one-on-one or small group instruction works best and most public schools cannot offer that). But I also know that I could do one hell of a job supplementing whatever Z1 would learn at school. It would also give me an opportunity to find ways to make some money either babysitting or doing something else to increase the cash flow. And there's also that nagging thought in my head: I really loved school. Maybe the boys would too. Shoot, even the hubby who was not a stellar student enjoyed school--at least the social aspect. I enjoyed the academic/competitive aspect far more (I don't currently have any friends that I met in grade school or high school).

So I found out that there is at least one magnet school in my town on the "good side of the tracks". If I could get the boys into that school (which is diverse and in which I really enjoyed doing my classroom observations for my master's degree), I think I'd be willing to send them there up until middle school at which point I'd be looking into programs that would allow them to go to private secondary schools on scholarship. My sister did one such program and went to a stellar institution that prepared her for her Ivy college career and gave her opportunities that I never had such as rowing crew(!). I'm hoping there will be other programs in existence when that time comes. I am completely and utterly opposed to my sons attending public secondary school in this town. Absolutely not. I did substitute teaching in one and goodness, no way in hell. I taught in a public middle school (not in my town but in the city) and, no way in hell. I'd have to have absolutely no other options but I'd rather clean folks houses and polish their shoes (not that these are bad jobs but I have a master's degree, you know?) to fund homeschooling if public middle school were my only choice.

I've just been really thinking about it. It takes a whole lot to home school and without the support, I just don't know. I just heard a story about a home schooling mama who just had to bite the bullet and put her children in school because of finance. It's not easy at all.

So many decisions. And I don't want to make any mistakes. There's no room for mistakes when it comes to the education of Black boys who will grow into Black men.

Z1 Just Got Seriously Blessed

With the mother load of books. One of the hubby's co-workers brings her son to work and according to my hubby, her son is one cool kid. Everyone likes him and so no one objects to him being there. Anyway, this boy brought a whole bunch of books with him to work last night with the intention of giving it to someone else. But that person wasn't there and so DH got them. Z1 now has almost every book penned by the popular children's author Mercer Meyer whose character "Little Critter" Z1 really loves. He was beside himself with joy when he woke up this morning and found the stack of books (which also included some Curious George which he also loves). It thrills me to see Z1 get excited about books. His excitement almost matched mine. :)

I'm on a grocery spending freeze

Until the end of September (just a couple of days but significant since I've been going to the market every 3-4 days for greens and such). When the freeze is over and on my ONCE MONTHLY trip to Whole Paycheck, I will get raw cacao to make raw vegan brownies. They're pretty much a Lara Bar (and I love Lara Bars--every variety) but I get to make it at home and we all know that is way more cost effective (read better for my wallet) and better for the environment that buying plastic wrapped bars from Whole Paycheck. :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Excited About Gardening

Okay, if you know me, you know I have a serious phobia of snakes. I can't even stand to look at them on television or in books. A few weeks ago, Z1 and I were studying about jungles and it took such courage on my part to read about and look at the pictures of snakes. I'm relieved that that unit is over. Anyway, it is my phobia of snakes that has kept me from starting a garden all this time.

But if you have your feelers out, you will know that over the next few months, things are expected to get a lot tighter. The predictions are dire and everyone is encouraged to become more self-sufficient. I've been feeling that way a long time . . . even before I started reading and learning the knitty-gritty details about peak oil. Nothing lasts forever and the U.S., with all it's extravagances and luxuries that people take for necessities, will eventually have to go the way of the Roman Empire. The Bible says that for everything there is a season. The U.S. is no exception.

I digress. We are going to start a garden. I am going to be brave about snakes. When I encounter a snake, I will step back, call the hubby or one of my nephews and have them remove it. I will not panic.

I went to the library today and picked out a few books for beginning to garden. From going to the farmer's market, I have a pretty good idea about the kinds of crops that grow well in this region such as tomatoes, onions, and sweet peppers. We've identified where we would like to start the garden and this weekend, we're going to turn the soil over and fertilize/put down manure. Fall is the time to do it so that it will be ready for the spring.

I'm a city girl, through and through and playing in dirt is not my idea of a good time. I'm hoping though that I will enjoy it, get the hang of it, and be very productive. Shucks, if I could I would have been keeping chickens a long time ago because organic, free-range eggs are too damn expensive and who knows if they are feeding the chickens organic soy instead of an organic variety of grains and bugs. Anyway, I'm excited but the task is also daunting.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spending Way Too Much on Groceries

So for some reason, this month's grocery bill is significantly larger than the last few months. Well, actually, I do know the reasons. Firstly, I've been going to Whole Paycheck more often than I really should be out of convenience since the Farmer's Market and Whole Paycheck are in the same town. I'd generally hit up the Farmer's Market, swing around and go to Whole Paycheck since it's nearby. I spend on average about 30% more, I would say, at Whole Foods than at any other grocery store. Granted, they have some of the specialty items I need for vegan baking and cooking but honestly, I can make one trip a month to get all the specialty items I need and leave it at that. That's what I was doing and somehow, I fell off the bandwagon. Secondly, I've been committed to drinking the green smoothies and I've been trying to do organic greens and fruits. This has proven to be quite costly. So I found this list (actually, I've known about this list for a while and just remembered about it when I tabulated this month's grocery costs) which basically gives a breakdown of the foods that are most and least heavily sprayed. Looks like I can stop buying organic bananas and onions (which I use a lot). I'm going to print out this list and put it in my wallet.

I started keeping track of the grocery spending back in May and slacked off over the summer. It was really surprising to see how much I've spent in September alone (I kind of knew it would be a bit exorbitant just from the receipts I have in my wallet). So now, I'm trying to get the spending on groceries in some kind of control and stick to a budget. It's true that we rarely eat out so the grocery bill will be kind of high in comparison to some of my friend's and family's bills. But it doesn't have to be crazy.

I often think about

What I will do when the kids are older and don't really need me as intensely as they do now. Oh, I have lots of ideas about the things I'd like to do. But the truth is, my confidence is sorely lacking. I like to write but I'm not convinced I have what it takes. I contemplate going back to school to get my Ph.D. in something like anthropology/nutrition. I know that I excel in academics but do I really think well enough to do something novel in the field? Or will I just be another Ph.D.? I'm not trying to pay for any more school. Am I competitive enough to get a fellowship? I already started a home-based baking business that really has not taken off. Today, I re-vamped it a bit focusing exclusively on baking cookies (Check out the myspace page). All while working on it, I did not feel the least bit hopeful or optimistic. At the end of all that, I wonder if I should just go back to teaching. I know I really wouldn't want to teach because I don't feel that teaching is family-friendly at all. But I have the degree. I know I can do it. I don't know that I'd be a phenomenal teacher but I'd be okay. I could work on becoming phenomenal. Maybe after I teach for a while, I could pursue an advanced degree? Teach on the college level? Do research? That would give me the qualifications I need to open up my own school here or in Africa.

My one encouragement is that as the children start to need me less that it will become very obvious to me what is it that I should do to attain success in my own eyes because I will have the energy to look for and pursue it. I think I haven't yet stumbled upon what it is I'm really supposed to be doing. I don't have the time or the energy right now and I wonder will I ever have the luxury of "finding myself". As always, there's the nagging pressure of reality and the need to "pull one's own weight" and when the kids (who are my main job) are not so needy anymore . . . It's cool having the hubby provide financially for now but I know that at some point, mama wants to bring home the bacon too.

I know that 3/4ths of success is having the right mindset. It just seems that when I get excited and hyped about something, fully believing it's going to work, it just doesn't. I've done the whole manifesting thing, thinking positively, making affirmations--the whole nine yards. I have a vision statement that I faithfully looked at every day to encourage myself. Many of the things in that vision statements are still not anywhere close to being reality. My hair was one of those things. My allergies another. I affirmed coming into money for months and months and thought that by now surely my car would be paid off somehow. Every idea I got for making money, I pursued it thinking it was divine inspiration. I just don't know. I'm in such an interesting place spiritually.

The one thing I am excited about and (I think) very successful at is mothering and homemaking. I pour 110% of my energy into it and I seem to get 110% returns. That is why I'm so focused and passionate about it.

A part of me wishes that I had gotten a career in order or achieved some kind of goals (beside graduating college) before I settled down and had children. It's next to impossible to really focus on yourself/hear yourself think while taking care of a busy household. It's past midnight right now. I have to be up by 6:30/7:00 to take Z1 to his structured playgroup tomorrow. I feel like I'm stealing time just to post this.

Here's to figuring all this stuff out. I hope it's resolved by the time I'm 30. For real, yo.
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