Long Summer

May 30, 2016

Transition back to school

Filed under: Uncategorized — by dbmamaz @ 2:01 pm

I homeschooled my boys for a total of 6 years.  About 2 years ago I graduated my older son, and this past school year, I returned my youngest child to school, in 7th grade.  It really went much better than we’d expected, and I thought some people might like to hear our story.

Why did I start homeschooling?

I was what is often called an ‘accidental’ homeschooler.  I had learned about homeschooling before having kids, but after much debate decided I was not patient or organized enough.  Plus, my mother and both my first and second husband were against the idea.

My daughter hated high school, but I managed to work with the school district to create a customized program where she took most of her credits for the last two years at community college, where she was much happier.  But meanwhile, my boys were completely miserable – the 7th grader ending up in detentions and suspensions because the school ignored his IEP, and the kindergartner crying every day begging not to go back.

My husband finally admitted that school was failing my boys and I couldn’t possibly do worse.  He was sure I’d have a nervous breakdown and put them back in school.  But even he was impressed by how well it was going by the end of the first year, so we continued.

What was my homeschool style?

After a while, I ended up calling my style ‘relaxed eclectic’.  I was not an unschooler, because we had daily routines and required work.  But I had the kids help choose what the work would be, and gave them a lot of flexibility inside the routine.  I don’t feel like we did very much work, really.

Here is an old post giving you an idea of just how relaxed 1st grade was.

I also have a post where I followed our homeschool for 1 day, and another one 2 years later detailing our homeschooling for a week.  You can see completely out-of-control it seemed at the moment.  I even have another post detailing how much I worried about how we were doing.

All this is to say, if you think you haven’t done enough so that your kids will be ready to transition to school, I probably felt the same way!

But then it was time to change.

Hubby and I had negotiated that I would homeschool until Orion finished high school, but then I requested one more year to help Orion’s transition after ‘graduation’.  During that year, Raven was showing a lot of maturation.  He would take his checklist, get the work done on his own time, call me when he needed me, and hardly fuss at all.  He even took a few online classes, and he took full responsibility for meeting requirements and deadlines, and emailing them for help as needed.  So I knew he was ready for school.

Still, Raven and I were starting to really dread this change.  But we agreed to take a tour of the school first, before we dug in our heels and refused.

Dealing with the school:

Before we could have a tour, we had to register for school.  I called Pocahontas and spoke to someone who gave me the list of items I would need to bring in to register, including his grades.  I explained that we don’t have grades, we homeschool.  She insisted that they have LOTS of homeschoolers come here, mostly from kids whose parents were on missionary trips, and they ALL have grades.  Well, I explained, we DON’T have grades.  “Then how will you know what classes to put him in?”

Luckily, the day we went in to register, we got to speak with the 7th grade counselor, and she was AMAZING!  She gave us the tour, and we were very impressed – the school was fairly small and well laid out.

The counselor was great with Raven.  She asked him some questions and found out he was nervous about handwriting. She explained that, since most work is done on the laptops, he wont need to write much by hand at all!  She discussed the class options with us, and basically let us decide what levels we thought he should be in.  Regular English and History, advanced science (with a promise to cover life science over the summer) and . . . well, I wanted him in Algebra, because we’d already started Algebra.  She insisted he had to be tested.  Fine.

Unfortunately, the test was the final exam for pre-algebra.  Their pre-algebra covered very different materials than ours had.  So despite his already enjoying the first several chapters of Life of Fred Algebra, he was put in pre-algebra.  I decided to hope for the best, but once school started, math became his most hated class.  They were covering stuff he’d known how to do 4 years ago.

I emailed his teacher, but she said she’d given him a pretest, too, and he didn’t know the material, so he had to stay where he was.  But . . . then they gave him the algebra readiness test.  The purpose of the test is to establish a baseline at the beginning of the year, and then when they compare that to the score at the end of the year, they decide if you go to algebra, or pre-algebra 2.  But his score was so high, they put him right in to algebra.  4 weeks in to the term!  Still, he caught up on the work and did well in the class, so he WAS finally in the right place.


Raven is not a social creature.  He is happiest not spending time with other kids at all.  So school was rather exhausting.  He quickly noticed the kids in the advanced class were nicer and better behaved, but he also commented that ‘all the nice kids already HAVE friends.’  Coming in in 7th grade is tough!  However, he has learned the names of 5 friends  – which is really huge for him!


Raven has been on A/B honor roll all year.  And he was even recommended for advanced English next year!  This was the kid who was running 2 years behind grade level in elementary English material.

Now, mind you, I’m not saying that my eclectic methods created an advanced student.  While Raven has never been tested, every other family member has been identified as gifted.  But I don’t think my eclectic methods held him back.


Raven, of course, would still love to come back home.  But now that I’m working on my own degree, I really am not interested in taking on full time homeschooling again.  Its hard enough to get my own stuff done, and I do hope to be back to work when I finish . . . hopefully in less than 2 years!  And hopefully he will get in to the Center for Information Technology specialty center for high school.   If not, we will re-examine our options.

All in all, a very easy and successful transition.


December 8, 2012

What is the inspiration I need?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by dbmamaz @ 2:11 pm

What is the inspiration I need?

 I need to know that this season of parenthood is not finite

 I need to know that its ok that I don’t feel joy in my work as a parent

 I need to know that I AM a good enough parent, even if my children are nothing like other kids

 I need to know that I AM a good enough parent, even if my children are mentally ill

 I need to know that I can still travel back to those quiet woods, cold waters, streaming sunlight that made me feel so free and happy in my youth . . even if only in my mind . . and it WILL be enough

 I need to know that there is still time to fulfill me

 I need to trust that I am doing my best to balance the needs of my kids and my own needs, even if the needs of my kids seem to outweigh mine . . . sometimes they really do. 

 I need to trust myself without judgment.  It is only in accepting the world as it is, including myself as I am, that I am free to move and change

March 14, 2011

Pi day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by dbmamaz @ 8:39 pm

I admit, I don’t usually make a big deal of holidays.  I don’t think I have ever incorporated a holiday in to my home school plans.  We don’t like unit studies and I’ve never even done a theme-day.  Until today.  3.14.  Pi day!  I don’t know what got in to me, but today I just had to do it up!

Of course, homeschooling involves lesson planning, and this particular lesson included some cooking as well as a trip to the library and some web searches, printing and other planning.  But Pi day was a success!

First we read the first Sir Cumference book.  Actually, Orion read it to Raven while I set up the table for the measuring project.  But Raven liked it so much, I had to read it to him again. 

Then it was time to discover Pi.   First, Orion measured various cylinders, and wrote down the circumference and diameters.  Raven looks thrilled, huh?

Orion measures can



Next, Raven used the calculator to find the ratio of the circumference to the diameter.  Orion helped a bit!

 Raven uses the calculator

















Then we read the Pi page from “Math, a book you can count on,” and I asked Raven to check on his computer what todays date was – Raven got the connection! 

We had a break for martial arts and lunch, and when we came back, Orion completed the worksheet from the link above, tried calculating the circumference of one item using the diameter and Pi from his calculator, 3.14, or 3, to see what a difference the decimals make.  And finally he did this worksheet, on practical applications of Pi.

Meanwhile, Raven helped me make his favorite pie – pumpkin!  He read as much of the recipe as he could, helped me with all the measuring, told me the final mixture looked like poo, and reminded me that I’d forgotten to set the timer – good catch!

And dinner on Pi day looks kinda like this:

We have chocolate tofu pudding pie with almond crust


We have lemon coconut gelatin pie with gfcf cookie crumb crust


we have gfcfef crustless pumpkin pie

and just for some balance . . .

hot dogs!!




January 25, 2011

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread with Sugar Crust

Filed under: Uncategorized — by dbmamaz @ 9:14 pm

My baker friend Christi Wampler Macomber has given me permission to share her wonderful recipe!  I have made it gfcf , and I swear I’ve never found a baked good as addictive!  I’ve never tasted her version, but my version comes out like a cross between brownies and coffee cake.  My subs are in parenthesis.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Cinnamon Bread with Sugar Crust

1/2 cup butter, room temperature (Earth Balance)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour (gfcf mix plus 3/4 tsp guar or xanthan)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup buttermilk (soy yoghurt)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
pinch ground cloves

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and thoroughly grease a 9×5″ loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until the previous egg has been completely incorporated before adding the next.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together all purpose flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  • In a measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, water and vanilla extract.
  • Working in two or three additions, alternately add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture to the sugar mixture. Begin and end with an addition of the flour mix.
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together topping ingredients: sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and ground cloves. Sprinkle evenly on top of the loaf cake.
  • Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  • Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a wire cooling rack.
    Cool completely before slicing.

Flour mix:  equal parts:

  • Soy flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Corn flour
  • Potato starch
  • Arrowroot flour
  • Quinoa flakes

March 3, 2010

Gluten Free Baked Corn Dogs

Filed under: Food,Gluten Free recipes,Uncategorized — by dbmamaz @ 10:22 am
Tags: ,

I decided to try to document my dinner plans for the night.  Of course, my corn dogs are not only gluten free, but free of dairy, eggs, rice, tapioca . . . who knows what else. 

And I decided to take pictures.  This could be long!

When I bake, there are always a lot of different flours.  My corn muffin recipe uses fewer than my banana muffin recipe, at least!

See, not so bad!  Guar gum, in case you are curious, is a substitute for what gluten does for breads – hold it together.  Most people use xanthan gum, but I can’t tolerate that.

Next, wet ingredients:

The soy sour cream and soy milk together make my buttermilk substitute.  The OJ is mostly for flavor.  The gooey stuff in the cup is my egg substitute – flax meal nuked with water.  Ooy gooey.

Ok, my basic allergy-free corn muffin recipe is way at the end here.  The fun part, of course, is the corn dog part!  We start with a nice-sized piece of aluminum foil, folded in half (and kinda tuck the end over)

 We then fold it down the middle.  It’s handy to have your hot dogs on the table before you go much further.  You have to fold the ends  so they close like little canoes, and make sure they are only slightly longer, and maybe 50% taller, than your dogs. Dont make it too long or too wide – your batter will fill the mold, and you don’t want TOO much corn around  your dog.

Here you can see my completed hot dog canoes, and some of my hot dogs, which were there for measuring purposes.  You also see my PAM.  Spray your corn dog molds very very well!  (remember, these things are usually fried, right!)

Next step is to coat your hot dogs lightly with corn starch.  This helps the batter stick to the dogs.  I do this with my hands, so each dog is completely coated, but not thick at all. 

This picture is supposed to show how much batter to put in your corn dog canoe, but instead it is proof positive that I need to learn how to use my camera.  I probably threw away half the pics due to flash.

So, fill your molds about 1/3 full .. . then you will lightly place your dog on the batter, and lift and rotate the dog to start coating it.  I don’t pull the batter all the way around, because that seems to leave the bottom empty.  I mostly cover the dog, set it down in the batter, and spoon enough on top (and esp at the ends) so that the dog is completely sealed in. 

I place the dogs in an oven preheated to 350.  I put the remaining batter in to muffin tins and add those to the oven, and set the timer for 20 minutes.  When the muffins are done (about 20 minutes, toothpick test or starting to brown), i remove them and turn on my convection fan to hurry up the dogs.  They take a lot longer!  If you dont have convection, you might want to try baking at a higher temp to start with, and waiting 10 minutes before putting in the muffins.  Or, if you aren’t making muffins, bake about 30 minutes!

And there they are, 3/4 a dozen muffins and 5 lumpy-looking baked gfcfef corn dogs!  Peel the foil carefully off of the dogs.  The bottoms should be nicely browned.  I tried to take a picture but . . . urg.  Flash.  Bad Cara.

Below is my quirky corn meal muffin.  You could probably just use a mix, or your own favorite recipe, if mine looks too strange!

Totally free corn meal muffins:

1 scant cup cornmeal
1 scant cup mixed potato starch, quinoa flour, corn starch
½ tsp Guar gum
¼ c white sugar
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c soy sour cream & ½ c soy milk
½ c water mixed w ¼ c flax meal, nuked
3 TB oil (or more)
liberal dash of orange juice or water as needed for soft batter

Spray muffin tin w non-stick spray and preheat w oven
mix dry ingredients, add liquids, stir just to mix – lumps are ok. 
Fill ¾ and bake about 20 minutes at 350