Six months later (can it be?!)


OK, well, here I am, after 6 months that somehow have escaped me. I feel I should at least apologize for disappearing, especially to the handful of readers/acquaintances that have been emailing me asking me to please get some new recipes up. I am truly sorry. I will start trying to get stuff up here again.
Not that I’m making excuses, but my explanation:I started homeschooling my daughter (who’s now seven) in January. After spending eight months or so, last year, being at her school all day, five days a week, to train a paraprofessional in dealing with all her diabetic issues, the director of the school informed me, on the last day of school last spring, that the para would no longer be available to keep an eye on my daughter for most of the day;they just couldn’t raise enough money. (Keep in mind [I think I’ve mentioned somewhere on this blog before] that we live way out in the hills, and our local school is a small, private, independently-run, fund-raiser-financed school that was kept going initially by a group of parents when our district closed our local public school a few years ago, due to lack of funding. They have no federal or state funding [so no nurse;no 504 plans, etc], and stay open each year by the skin of their teeth, the generosity of one rock-star dad and his amazing wife and family, and a whole lot of hard-working parent volunteers. The nearest district public school to us is a good half-hour drive one way, or a 45-minute-to-an-hour ride, mostly out of cell-phone range, on a school bus;not an acceptable alternative for a diabetic kid. That’s the context here…) So, I was informed by the director that the para I had just spent an entire school year training would now be in Vini’s classroom for only two hours each morning, and after that either Zeke or I would need to be at the school, or we could take her home and homeschool her for the rest of the day. So, we tried partial homeschooling, meaning  scrambling to get Vini to school by 8:30, after sometimes having been up most of the night monitoring her insulin/sugar;dealing with her breakfast and breakfast insulin;staying at the school until 9:15 AM, at which time the para would show up in the classroom;racing home to try to get some work done while constantly texting back and forth with the para (who, even after a year of training, did not feel fully comfortable monitoring Vini), often from areas of our property where it was difficult to get phone service, which meant walking away from whatever work we were doing at the moment to try to find a spot we could text from;racing up to get to school by 11:30 AM when the para went to lunch, to sit in the last half of math class;staying at school for recess and lunchtime, so Vini could have some social time (even though this “social time” was very regimented);then leaving at 12:30 (right after lunch) to go home or to one of Vini’s extracurricular activities. We did this for all of last fall, which was unbelievably stressful for us. In December we made the decision to fully homeschool.

Now it has been one full semester, and I won’t say it has been easy. I will say, however, that I don’t think we’ll ever go back. Vini has learned more in the last five months than she learned in 2 and 1/2 years of school. She is reading years beyond her grade level, doing math about a year ahead, has learned a lot of history, geography, mythology, cultural studies, science, music and art that she never would have acquired in school. She’s discovered many interests, has learned how to do research on her own into subjects she’s passionate about, and best of all, went through this entire horrible cold and flu season without getting sick once! She’s actually getting enough sleep! She has a couple of groups of homeschooling friends, and in general a much broader and more meaningful social life, including a few intimate friendships of the kind she never really had the time to establish when going to school took up so much time out of each day and week. She is thriving. A lack of diabetes care led us to the decision to homeschool, but the incredible community, freedom, artistic and academic exploration we’ve discovered is keeping us here.

This is the upside. The downside is that, needless to say, my book is on hold indefinitely, and any chance of me getting back into my painting studio in the near future is looking pretty slim. Obviously, homeschooling is a full-time job for me. Zeke does his part, but he’s the one now working outside the property at least some of the time (though we have many money-making ventures starting to come together ON the property [plugging our maitake, shitake and reishi logs this week!]), plus starting a business, so 99% of the schooling is my job. This includes doing Vini’s academic stuff for a few hours each morning, taking her to Kung Fu classes, art classes, spanish class, piano, science classes and field trips, homeschool group get-togethers, reading group, ice-skating, the list goes on… We happen to live in an area where there are quite a number (ever-increasing, as intelligent parents become disillusioned with the public school system) of homeschoolers, and a diversity of activities and classes (many very affordable) available. I’m presently in the middle of writing up my first year-end evaluation for the district, making sure it is comprehensive without going overboard. As one of the district administrators kindly reminded me:the evaluations/progress reports I write in these years will be my daughter’s transcripts in case she decides (or we decide) that she is going to re-enter the system (doubtful!) for high school, or even middle school (5 years away). Or, if she continues to homeschool straight through, these early elementary-school progress-reports are practice for when I have to write her high school reports that will be her transcripts for college. So, well, you get the idea:it can’t just be a scribbled note.
That’s just today’s task for me–In the last 5 months I’ve gone through ancient history; helped Vini take probably ten to twelve books a week out of the library delving into various aspects of ancient history and mythology/folklore, etc, that she loves;I’ve continued to teach her grammar and writing (organizing thoughts on paper), gone through first and 1/2 of second grade math (the Singapore curriculum–NOT the way I learned math back in the dark ages);taken her on numerous educational excursions, and painstakingly gone over everything with her, including homework from her various classes. The kid has a voracious appetite for learning, so on the one hand I’m lucky, and on the other, I can barely keep up! Anyway, it has been a learning experience for me, to say the least, and every day is a new joy and a new challenge. We aren’t really “breaking” for the summer–she is going to kung fu camp for part of the summer, and I will have to be there every day;we have LOTS of work going on here on the property, but we will be slowing down and getting over to the family, to the beach, to swim and surf, etc., so I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to write a little bit in here (and maybe even work on the book!).

Some good recipes to follow…