Monday, 29 July 2013

Silver Linings (my big news)

I'm feeling ridiculously content at the moment!  Life just seems to be falling into place.  A couple of years back I felt like a bit of a maverick.  I was trying to grow our own food and to stop buying commercial products.  Not only did this make it hard when engaging with people, I wasn't doing it well.  It was very frustrating to make life choices about not shopping at the supermarkets but to find myself needing to go there all the time anyway!
Bit by bit we're getting better at living in a style with which we are more comfortable.  We've joined a local environment group, met others who are looking to buy good, healthy real food. 
Gradually we are learning about new sources of food and we are getting better at gardening.  We are still nowhere near the point that I aspire to reach.  I know that summer will again bring challenges with heat and water that I have no answer for at this stage.  Gardening in winter is much more successful for us.  We are finding that most days we can use something from the garden to plan our meal around.  Yesterday afternoon I wandered through the garden for inspiration for the evening meal.  The spinach beckoned.  I knew I had some purchased sundried tomatoes in the fridge so we ate a risotto with tomatoes and spinach.  It was beautiful.
We have two areas to our vegetable garden.  We have an area with seven beds of about 2 metres x 1.5 metres each on one side of the yard.
The other side of the yard has gradually become a round garden over the last couple of years.  I'm trying to develop it for our summer garden because it gets afternoon shade on the north (a tree) and the west (our house) during the worst of summer.  I'm not sure how successful this garden will be because while the tree provides shade, it's roots can be found throughout the garden.  It may out-compete my veggies but time will tell.  I also like the shape.  Because it is round, I can just put a sprinkler in the centre of the bed and water everything at once.  A blessing in summer when watering become a daily task.
Bulk food buying is making a huge difference to how often we need to frequent the supermarket too.  Like the veggie garden, I can look in the pantry and find something to become the basis of our meals. Our pantry has taken on a completely different look.  None of the bright colours and pictures designed by marketing companies to capture your dollar.  Just real food!   As added bonuses to our healthy diet we are drastically reducing our environmental impact and saving money!!!
So the satisfaction of being able to provide healthy food to my family cheaply, reducing our food miles and picking out vegetables straight from our yard is making me feel very good.  Add to that the fact that it is winter and the house feels cosy with the fire warming us with it's gentle but thorough heat and you have a calm and gentle environment.
But the biggest news I have is that I am now homeschooling my children.  It was an unexpected decision brought about by dissatisfaction with various issues relating to school.

I have found yet again though that, as with many things in life, good often comes from bad.  I often find myself using the saying that every cloud has a silver lining.

I have dabbled with home-schooling before because I feel it is a good way to raise healthy, well adjusted children.  The trouble is I kept doubting my ability to provide for my children in every way.  This time I think the time may be right.  We are better situated than ever before to be able to take on this huge task and manage it successfully. 

We don't need to do a lot of running around these days and we have a good network of people around us.  Many of them understand the benefits of home-schooling and having moral support makes such a difference to my confidence levels.  I believe that it is not possible for a teacher to be able to care more about my child's education than I do. Also, no matter how good they are at teaching, they are responsible for many children and are constrained by extracurricular activities, dealing with behavioural issues etc.
Despite some trepidation, it feels right.  When the kids were at school the mornings were horrible.  No matter how well I tried to be prepared the mornings were a big rush and all I could hear was my own voice hassling the kids.  Then when they came home from school there was unpacking of bags, afternoon tea, notes to be read, readers to get through etc.  Suddenly it was time to prepare dinner and the day was nearly over.  I wasn't spending quality time with the kids and it felt like such an high pressure juggling act.
We've been at it for just over a week but already the children seem more settled.  Their games are becoming more imaginative, they are able to choose activities that interest them and we all feel calm.  They have been involved with cooking and in the garden if they chose.  They have been requesting to eat meals outside and have re-organised their cubby to make it more homely.  Belle has identified areas she feels she needs to work on and areas of interest that she would like to study.  The younger two are still being directed by me but she has grasped, with excitement, the possibilities of self-directed learning.
There is still so much to work out such as connecting with other home-schoolers, fine tuning their curriculum, finding resources that suit.......  Somehow I don't feel panicked though.  I feel we will quickly develop a rythym and life just feels right.  I'm enjoying my children and feel incredibly enthusiastic about the future.
There is still uncertainty, a bit of self doubt and a need for lots of learning preparation but, all in all, it feels good, it feels right and I am very optimistic that our lack of satisfaction with the school is our silver lining.  Our lives have just changed direction dramatically and it never would have happened if I hadn't felt unhappy at the school.

Welcome home children!  Can't wait to watch you blossom!!!


purplepear said...

Oh wow Linda. I got goose bumps reading your post today, from the very beginning to the very end. You sound empowered, something I think we have let slip from our fingers. My children are long past school age but I look back to their schooling and wonder how I could have so readily given them over to someone else to "raise" Good for you for taking back your power in so many ways in your life from food to education. Hope it all goes well for you.

Patty@inStitches said...

I would have loved to home school my children, but at the time, our education system did not allow it unless you actually built a seperate building and hired a state qualified teacher. By the time church schools were beginning to florish in the community our children were to old (the limit was K-8) and the older ones were out on their own and gone from home. They are however all thriving, 4 own their own homes and all have excellent work they truly enjoy. But we could have saved them two hours a day on the bus, and controled the pace at which they learned - All were accelorated learners and bored to death by the system.
You will do an excellent job! Just stay a page or two ahead of the oldest and all will go well!

Farm Fancies said...

Looking forward to hearing the progress you and the children make wit the home schooling. My children were accelerated learners, like Patty's, and I tried to work it so I could home school them but the education system had so many "blocks" to prevent me from doing this that after about 4 months I was too tired and stressed from the red tape to continue to try. There weren't any home schooling groups here that I could turn to for help either.

Meg said...

I relate to your post so much that I could almost have written it myself! We too have transformed our eating/food buying habits and are continuing to do so more and more. I'm learning all the time how to be a more successful vege gardener. We are now in our third year of homeschooling and it is one of the best decisions we've made. It is sometimes hard- I find myself a bit worn out from time to time, but overall the pros outweigh the cons and it's worth working through the doubts to find what works for your family. All the best for your homeschool adventure!

Nathalie Willmott said...

Such exciting times! I am hearing of more and more parents who are choosing to take control and responsibility of their their children's education! Something I am thinking about doing in the future (although we have enrolled for 3 year old kinder next year). Being self sufficient is my dream to, to be able to grow ALL our fruit and veggie! I am far off, but I do contribute a large portion of what we eat from my patch! We dream of acreage and are hoping that the house we have bought and are renovating will be able to pave the way to that in the years to come. Then we can raise our own animals as well (this is the life both of us but particularly my husband dreams of for our children as he grew up on a farm in WA)!

Sarah said...

I am so pleased you have decided on homeschooling. One of my closest friends homeschools her 3 girls and they are growing up as lovely girls who are smart and have beautiful manners.
You've given me motivation on trying to reduce the times needed to go to the supermarket.
Great post x

Lynn said...

That's wonderful news Linda and good on you! I home schooled two of my boys for a few years. There was a lot of criticism back then of people homeschooling and I guess the pressure of it all got to me and stopped homeschooling when I fell pregnant with Olivia. There is a lot more support out there now and finding other families that share your values is really important.

We are not allowed to homeschool kids in care but we have found a beautiful independent Catholic school to educate our kids and are happy with that.

I have decided that we are going to 'up the ante' when it comes to our 'green' living this year and are trying to do more and more.
I would live to be self sufficient also but know its not possible so I am trying hard to resource more ethical food, clothes etc. after watching a Four Corners program last week where they discussed the problem Australia is having with pesticides organic is now my priority.
If you ever need help with Buddy Boys programming I think I still have some of Sarah's goals that they worked on through school.

Busy mum of 3 said...

The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when I read this post, strangely I can't pinpoint exactly why.

I guess I just feel so moved by your choice, your enthusiasm and your happiness and contentment at the moment. Brave decision, wise decision, to homeschool, I don't think any of you will look back. Congratulations.

On the food front, you are so inspiring. I can and should do more, I've just got to stop pulling out the "busy" excuse.

Bridget Coyne said...

So happy for you Linda! Homeschooling was such a wonderful decision and experience for Jess & I - challenging but ultimately one of the best things we've ever done. My advice...don't get too caught up in the fornalities...we experienced so much peace and far more productivity when I relaxed and we treated our life as the school, rather than feeling like I had to schedule school time. It's a personal journey that I have no doubt you will excel at :) Lots of love. Feel free to email me if you ever want to discuss xo Bridget

Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Wow Linda what a big step but no doubt one you have thought about in great detail. I am sure that you will find many benefits and be able to adapt it to suit your needs. I look forward to hearing about it all and how things work out.

Linda said...

Reading your comments brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for all your support and for your enthusiasm about our decision.

Thank you Kate, I'm looking forward to being more involved with my children. : )

Patty, it's great that your kids are thriving. That's the outcome we all want for our children. But two hours on a bus! Our kids do it tough in our current social setup, don't they. I've always hated that our little babies are expected to put in six and a half hour days! They are so young.

Robin, I'm so lucky that others before me have paved the way because the authorities are becoming ver respectful of family decisions. It isn't difficult at all to register to homeschool in Victoria. Though like you, there are no homeschooling groups near us.

Meg, I was excited to read your comment! It's nice to talk to others following similar paths. I'll definitely be checking out your blog!

Natalie, it sounds like you are well on your way to creating the future you choose for yourselves. So many people are thinking it through these days rather than just living the life expected. Or maybe they always have and I just didn't see it before.

Sarah, thanks for your support. I'd love to hear more about your friend. Does she have a blog?

Lynn, wow! You homeschooled! I didn't know that. As for self sufficiency, I've seen photos of your garden and it's wonderful! Thanks for the offer with the program's but we paid for education support from our Down syndrome assoc. while buddy boy was at the school and I plan to continue using that support each year. Teaching him is a little more involved than with the girls so I want expert help!

Busy mum, thank you. On food, it happens gradually bit by bit as we come up with new ideas and find new recipes etc. as long as we always keep improving our methods we'll get there. It can't happen overnight though. Good on you.

Bridget! I didn't think of you when making this decision! Yes, I'll be emailing you. I'd love to talk more about your experiences. Your not due to visit J soon, are you? I'd love to sit and chat.

Fiona, I imagine homeschooling will be a feature of this blog from now on! It seems a huge thing at the moment!

Tracey said...

Wow! What a terrific decision. I don't homeschool my kids, and while sometimes I want to, I know it isn't the right move for us. But I think it is a brilliant plan for you and something you sound so comfortable with. I'm sure it'll have its ups and downs, but sounds like you're ready to tackle them.

As to the rest. I love reading your journey. You are a bit ahead of us, and it is inspiring to see others tackle the problems that arise and knowing that its all possible.