SoFi.com Saved Our Bacon

SoFi.com Saved Our Bacon CradleRockingMama.com

I hate credit card debt.

It makes my skin crawl. It makes me feel like I have a boulder sitting on my head.

For a long time now, Darrel and I have been drowning in credit card debt.

How could people who despise debt end up owing so much to credit cards that even with a very high annual income they can barely breathe?

Kids. But mostly medical expenses and the high costs of allergy foods.

FPIES happened, ladies and gents, and it dragged Darrel and I down into the depths of credit card debt.

FPIES reared its ugly head by sending us to the hospital when Zac was 7 weeks old. Not just a visit to the hospital, oh no. This was admitted to one hospital, then an Angel Flight helicopter ride in dire straights to Little Rock, and a week in the second hospital with myriad tests and multiple doctors attending our child. Oh, and then Jed was admitted to the hospital back home at the same time. (Boy, those were fun days…)

In case you don’t know, all that hospitalization is EXPENSIVE; at least 6K.

Then there was flying the kids to Atlanta to see specialists (which, even with free flights and free lodging was still a good 2K in medical costs and expenses).

All of this while I was out on maternity leave, not earning any money. Darrel’s poor paycheck begged for mercy. We just didn’t have the money to pay for these things.

Hello, VISA.

It wasn’t our first choice, but it was our only option.

From the beginning, every time we tried to get on any sort of public assistance, we were denied. Apparently we earned enough money to not qualify for help, but were poor enough to be nearly bankrupted by the cost of keeping our sons healthy and alive.

(I’m not kidding; we were denied for one program because we made $100 too much per year. Argh!)

Adding to the problem was the fact that Zac didn’t have any safe foods until 17 months old and my breastmilk was all that was keeping him alive. I had to take continued leave of absences from work to keep Zac’s food source near him 24/7. We couldn’t afford those leaves, but what choice did I have? It was either go to work and kill my son, or stay home for Zac but maybe lose our house (or at least go into severe debt).

I’ve already done a breakdown of how expensive food allergic grocery shopping is, and those expenses hit us every month without fail whether I was bringing home money or not (on top of the medical bills just sitting on the credit card).

The VISA card was smoking from all the bananas, quinoa, and other specialty food we had to buy.

Then we had to buy a new freezer because all that expensive food must be stored somehow, and we had no more room. More credit card debt.

Now I’ve been back to work full time for over a year. Between the two of us, Darrel and I are earning…well, let’s just say VERY good money.

And we literally cannot afford to get a squeaky belt fixed on my car.

We can’t breathe from the credit card debt we are now having to pay off.

One card alone costs us $515 a month – just to keep the balance from going UP! That doesn’t pay off a single dime of the balance.

Darrel and I have been paying approximately $1,700 per month on debt, and have not made a dent in that debt in over a year.

We. Are. Drowning.

We’re GOOD at paying off debt, folks! We wiped out almost 20K in debt within the first 3 years of marriage alone! But we can’t seem to pull ourselves out of our current hole.

I’ve gone to one of our banks and one of our credit unions, applying for a loan to pay off all the debt. Despite the fact that I was back at work and we were bringing home a lot of money, regardless of the fact that both of our credit scores are very high, nevermind the fact that I informed them this was to pay off  the credit card debt – and I’d even close out the credit card accounts (affecting my credit score negatively)…we were denied both times.

Our debt to income ratio was too high, they said.

“Yes, but using this money to pay off the expensive debt will mean the debt stays the same, right?” I asked.

“Yes,” they said. “But it doesn’t matter. We have a formula, and you don’t qualify.”

Argh!

I’d resigned myself to working 80-90 hours of flight time per month (in the real world, that translates to a traditional 160-180 monthly work schedule) and maybe getting our debt payed off in another 5-10 years, while stressing constantly about how we were going to pay for needed car repairs, how we would pay for a new car when the time comes (a 2004 car isn’t going to last much longer, especially since we have to keep deferring needed repairs), and how we would pay for any emergencies that came up.

While never going out to have any fun or going on vacations, of course. Even with free flights and discounted lodging.

Not a fun way to live. But, you know, we had no choice at the time, and this is the price of being able to cope with FPIES effectively for our family. I’ll gladly live this way for as long as necessary in exchange for my happy, healthy little boy!

Still. Couldn’t there ever be a break for us? A way out?

It sure didn’t seem that way…until I got a piece of mail one day. I didn’t recognize the sender, so I didn’t throw it away as junk mail. I opened it.

Then  I thought it was junk mail! It was one of those fake checks that said “You’ve been approved for $100,000!” Yeah, right. Another credit card ad. Trash!

Just as I was about to chunk it, though, I registered that this said “loan”…not credit card. Intrigued, I looked more closely.

The information in the letter seemed clear enough, but I’d never heard of this company before and frankly, it seemed too good to be true. So I did a little research.

By the time I was done with my online research, I’d shared the news with Darrel and we were applying for a loan.

Two weeks later, we were approved!

We will pay off all but our two smallest debts with this loan, and according to our current budget, everything but this new loan will be paid off by the spring. At that time, our monthly outlay for our debt will drop from $1,700 (without making a dent) to $550 (for a mere 7 years)!

Yes, it’s 7 years of paying on this debt, which sucks. Surely we could pay if off sooner without the loan, right?

Maybe not.

Especially not if we keep getting hit with random expensive stuff. An $823 medical bill from a year and a half ago that insurance just finished with. $510 in new tires because mine were so bald they were about to blow. That squeaky belt in my car that needs to be addressed after over a year of squeaking at me.

This way, we can pay off our debt responsibly, but we can also BREATHE while we do it. 

So what is this amazing company that saved our financial bacon?

SoFi.com.

It’s a completely new approach to financing. SoFi stands for “Social Financing”, and it started as a way for Stanford alumni to help fund the education of current Stanford students.

They expanded to service other universities with student loan options, and now are branching out into mortgages and personal loans.

This isn’t FICO based lending; it’s mostly based on whether they think you can pay it back or not (length of time at a job, income, college degree preferred, etc.). One really comprehensive overview of the company can be read here.

Everything is done strictly online. Even the document submission part was online (they suggested I take photos of my documents and submit the photos if I didn’t have a pdf available!).

Even with a completely online company, though, I experienced better customer service than I have EVER gotten from any brick and mortar finance institution! They have a nifty little “Chat Now” button that – surprise, surprise – actually connects you to a real human being instantly. No matter what time of day I had a question, the connection was instant and the conversation helpful and friendly. (Except for when they’re not actually open. Then I can leave a chat message and they get back as soon as they open for the day.)

When I’ve called on the phone, they were super easy to talk to and work with.

Even signing the loan documents was online.

Easy, easy, easy. 

Why am I telling you all about this great company? 

Well, because I know how expensive food allergic living is, and I know many of us in the FPIES/food allergy world have gone into extreme debt trying to keep our kids alive. Drowning in debt is an exchange we are all willing to make to keep our kids healthy, but living that way sucks.

This is a potential way out if you, like me, have exhausted all typical resources available.

If you have student loan debt, SoFi.com can refinance it for you! (Be careful, though; Darrel evaluated his student loan debt and realized he’s already got a better deal than what SoFi.com could offer. They’re awesome, but you still have to do the math!)

If you have credit card debt and a job, you may be able to get a personal loan to make those payments a little easier to bear!

If you need a house, look in to their mortgage options!

For older parents, they can even refinance student loans you’ve taken out for your children.

I can’t guarantee they will approve your loan application, of course. But it’s well worth investigating to see if they can help you breathe a little. 

**********

Before I say anything else, let me just state for the record: DEBT SUCKS. DO NOT go into debt if you can help it. If you’re already in debt, though, and drowning in payments that don’t make a difference, I recommend looking into SoFi.com.

**********

Rest assured, I’m so stinking happy about getting this loan I would have shouted SoFi.com’s praises for free! But, you know, they’re just giving away money for referrals…I certainly won’t say no!

If you’re interested in a student loan, visit THIS LINK

If you’re interested in a personal loan, visit THIS LINK

Yes, I will get $100 if you are qualified for a loan, but guess what? SO WILL YOU. IF you go through those links, you get $100, too!

Being rewarded while also being able to breathe again?

I love you, SoFi.com. 


With a little bit of breathing room in our budget, I have every confidence Darrel and I will easily avoid going in to any more credit card debt. This is easily the answer to many prayers. How about you? Have you gotten in such dire straights you’ve had to do a consolidation loan to survive? Would you be willing to try SoFi.com?

The Wonderful World of Potatos

The Wonderful World of Potatos CradleRockingMama.com

Do you know what I dislike?

Working.

More specifically, working so much that I’m exhausted while AT work, and so exhausted when I get home that I’m almost comatose for two days after returning.

I took my computer to work with me last week, but, thanks to insane delays on every flight I worked I had neither the time, opportunity, or brain power to open the computer one single time to write. The computer stayed packed in my suitcase the entire time I was gone, which makes me mad for two reasons: one, I didn’t get a chance to write anything and two, that’s a lot of weight to haul around for no reason!

All told, for July I’m gone from home 16 days, netting me a grand total of 88 hours of paid flight time (plus the flight time for commuting).

I don’t know when I got old, but I’ll tell ya – I’m too old for this!

Sigh.

Anyway, I’m hoping things will ease up soon, but that explains my absolute silence here since last week.

Ever since the unfortunate Ritz cracker and Dasani exposure, we’ve been on a trial hiatus for Zac. We especially needed to give it some time to make sure he wasn’t having any mild reactions when we began our next food trial: potatos.

Tired as I am, when I returned from work Sunday night, we decided he was as “baselined” as possible, and yesterday morning Zac ate his first ever Russet potatos.

I made Potato Pancakes for breakfast and he ate 6 pancakes all by himself!

Later on he had some plain mashed potatos with steak for dinner, which he loved.

This morning, I made Hamburger Hash for breakfast, and he ate his serving, plus half of Jed’s!

So far, so good. He is potty training right now, so diapers are a thing of the past. That makes it harder to keep an eye on his poops to see how he’s doing, but I think I may finally have him trained to come get me before he flushes the potty after he goes #2.

Yesterday, he had a nice looking poop in the potty, a great appetite, and good sleep.

So far today, he’s had a huge appetite and a great attitude.

Not to mention the amazing speech he’s showing! He’s mimicking EVERYTHING we say, no matter what. The speech isn’t directly related to the potatos; he has been increasing his speech exponentially for the last two weeks. However, speech regression is a typical sign of a reaction to his foods, so the fact that his speech continues to grow is promising!

The other day at work, he and I actually had a short conversation on the phone. It basically amounted to telling me he was eating eggs, and me asking if they were yummy, and him saying yes they were, but that’s the most back and forth we’ve ever had on the phone.

I was thrilled.

Also thrilling? The fact that, for the first time EVER in his three years on the planet, I was able to cook ONE single meal for both breakfast, lunch and dinner yesterday.

Three meals a day instead of 6-9 meals a day. The lightened workload is heavenly!

I even had enough time yesterday to whip together dessert for after dinner! I can’t tell you how long it has been since I’ve thrown together some homemade ice cream for after-dinner dessert, just because I could.

I do often make desserts (as evidenced by the many dessert recipes I have available on my site), but the untold story behind those desserts is this: on days when I make a dessert? Dinner is incredibly boring and not too challenging.

Something has to give, after all; if I’m spending time on dessert AND cooking 3 separate meals for dinner, those meals are going to have to be quick and easy!

Even if potatos prove safe for Zac, this won’t be an end to the large quantities of cooking. Jed and Darrel can eat far more than Zac can, after all, and I can’t limit them as strictly as I do Zac and myself.

Finally, though, Zac and I would be able to eat the same thing at meal times, so at the worst, I’ll be cooking 6 meals per day.

I’ll admit that I was hesitant to trial the olive oil and potatos on Zac. Not only because if they weren’t safe, I would have to wean Zac, but also because there are far more nutritionally “powerhouse” foods I’d rather trial.

I’m so grateful my brilliant husband kept his eye on the big picture, though, and pushed to trial these foods. The lifestyle simplification has been overwhelmingly greater than I’d envisioned. Once again, Darrel has proven that he is always thinking of how to best take care of me, since the whole reason he wanted these foods was to simplify my life in the kitchen.

I have a fabulous husband.

Jed is doing very well, too. We’ve recently increased our discipline for him, and increased his household responsibilities. While it’s not perfect, yet, he is stepping up to the plate and proving himself to be a good worker and a pretty good rule follower.

He’s also chomping at the bit to start school! Every day that I’m home, he asks me “Is today a school day, Mommy?”

It absolutely breaks my heart to tell him “No, not yet.” every time he asks. With my overwhelming workload in July, I just couldn’t get my brain firing on enough cylinders to even contemplate teaching him Kindergarten!

Again, I’m hoping that changes next week. My goal is to start school on August 4th. I think I’ll be ready by then, but if I’m not, I’ll just jump in to the deep end and figure out how to swim.

Oh, and last year I had a whole series on gardening called “Brown Thumb Gardener”. Since I didn’t write any more about gardening this year, I bet you thought I decided to give up gardening, right?

Wrong. I planted a garden.

However, because I’m working more this year than I did last year, I knew it couldn’t be a big garden. I decided to just grow cucumbers, zucchini, basil and stevia.

The basil and stevia are doing great, but the cukes and zucchini…not so much.

I got squash bugs.

A HUGE infestation of squash bugs.

I have no zucchini plants left. I had to pull them all up and burn them.

Half my cucumbers are gone, too. The ones that are left still have squash bugs on them, but I go out every night I’m home and kill as many as I can find. Unfortunately, since I’m gone slightly more than half the month in July, that explains why the little devils were able to decimate my zucchini so well. I can only kill them when I’m home, so they have plenty of opportunity to breed and wreak havoc.

I’m rather heartbroken that I’m not enjoying the cucumber bounty I did last summer. I really like cucumbers!!

Well, that’s a little update from our corner of the world. What’s new with you?

Ritz Cracker Non-Reaction

Last week was brutal. I’m feeling very off my game right now, so this might not be the best writing I’ve ever done. Still, I wanted to give an update on the tomato trial, since I announced it last week.

The tomato trial never happened.

Zac helped us pick out tomatos in the store. He helped bag them. The morning of the trial, he helped wash and dice them. He told me how he wanted me to serve them to him.

He seemed VERY excited about tomatos!

Until I put the plate in front of him.

Then he absolutely refused to even taste a tiny little piece of tomato. He even pinched his lips closed when I attempted to feed him a little dice.

Grr.

As we went about our business for the rest of the day, I contemplated how I was going to “sneak” tomatos into his food for a trial. Darrel was all for skipping tomatos and moving on, but, as I said, I really want to eat tomatos! If I could think of a good list of ways to pursue the trial, I was going to do my best to convince Darrel we should continue.

The kids ate a good, big lunch, and we went to town for speech therapy and a quick visit to the health food co-op. They really shouldn’t have been hungry until dinner time.

However, at the co-op, they both started whining and crying for food. “Mommy! I’m hungry!”

I don’t know what possessed me. After three years of dealing with FPIES, I’ve gotten very good at telling the kids “no” and making them go hungry until we get home on the rare occasions I don’t have safe food with us. But last Monday, I found myself seeking out the produce manager to ask questions about bananas.

The organic bananas at my health food co-op, she assured me, are not sprayed with anything. Theoretically, that makes them essentially the same as the bananas we’ve been having shipped in from Florida. Theoretically, that means Zac can eat a banana from my co-op without incident.

My parents have asked me several times why Zac can’t have bananas from the co-op, and every time I’ve responded that we don’t want to spend time on a trial for a version of a food he already has since we’re trying to get NEW foods for him.

But the tomato trial didn’t happen. And I had to leave for work in two days. I wasn’t willing to start a trial the day before I left work, which meant any new trial had to start RIGHT THEN.

Oh, what the hay. I bought Zac some bananas.

The child was thrilled!

For the first time in his life, he got to eat a food right there in the store. Seriously. He has never eaten ANYTHING that didn’t have to be specially sourced and prepared at home.

We didn’t even leave the checkout line before he was digging into the bags to pull out a banana. He ate it as he walked back to the car, a grin on his face.

I texted Darrel, informing him that tomatos didn’t happen and I guessed we were doing a banana trial now.

We decided it didn’t need to be a full trial; just a short one to make sure the bananas were as safe as we imagined they would be.

It looked good for those bananas, too, and then on Thursday, BOTH boys ate Ritz crackers and Dasani water.

I was at work when I learned of this, and was very upset. Ritz crackers are not exactly a great choice for my kids. I expected reactions from both of them.

Amazingly enough, it’s been decidedly quiet on the reaction front. Despite being made entirely of wheat, Jed didn’t have any Meanies from them. Why he had the Meanies from the wheat in the batter on some fried catfish but not from a cracker made entirely from wheat is beyond me, but it is what it is.

Zac’s poops have been…not perfect, but not anywhere near as bad as I would have imagined after drinking Dasani (aka CORN) water and eating Ritz crackers with a zillion ingredients.

I’m flabbergasted.

Still, since the next trial we want to do is potatos, and I REALLY want those to be a safe food for him, we have no choice but to wait a good week or two before pursuing the next trial. I don’t want a repeat of the bell pepper incident; it’s safer to wait just to make sure any mild internal reactions he’s having are healed up before introducing a new food.

I have some really cute pictures of Zac eating his first banana, but, last week was brutal. I don’t have the energy to deal with photo editing right now.

In the meantime, we’re back in a holding pattern, and waiting until we’re sure Zac is totally healthy before introducing potatos.

Also, I don’t know what to think about this Ritz cracker debacle. Do you think it’s a sign Zac may be outgrowing FPIES? I don’t know what to think. Maybe it’s just that since we’ve done such a good job of keeping him healthy he can handle small doses of triggers without incident?

Controlling the Meanies

Controlling the Meanies CradleRockingMama.com

It’s been a long couple of weeks. We’ve been busily trying to get the homeschool classroom put together, since Jed has announced that he can only go to school IN a classroom. (Love opinionated kiddos!)

Really our classroom is just half of our office cleaned out and dedicated to school work, but that necessitates my cleaning out the office first.

Remember when I mentioned my own personal organizational demon? Yeah. It’s A LOT to go through to clean out my office. I sorted through quite a bit last fall, but never finished going through all of it. My paper shredder is going to have a nervous breakdown.

Work slowed down on that project quite a bit last week, as I had to go to work for half the time, but it’s almost done. Jed should be ready to start school by the end of the month (if not sooner).

I’ll admit I’ve been having loads of fun getting things ready to start school. I’m one of those weird people who LOVE school and office supplies. Remember the line in “You’ve Got Mail” about “…a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils”? I completely resonated with that thought!

Putting up a dry erase calendar, buying a globe, putting up a map of the U.S., getting my lesson plans put together, ensuring we have enough crayons and pencils, putting up my old dry erase board to use…it’s all like Christmas to me! The potential! The learning! The fun! I can’t wait!

(And yes, I was going to college to become a teacher, once upon a time. I feel like I’m fulfilling a dream of mine!)

I am a little frustrated about one thing, though. Ever since it became clear that we are just about  to start actual school, Jed has refused to do anything that resembles learning or instruction. As an example, he won’t say his alphabet now. “No, Mommy. I’ll do my alphabet when I start school.” he tells me. Trying to convince him that you don’t need to be in school to learn has been an exercise in futility.

Ah, well. With luck, we will get that particular lesson through his head over the next few years. He only has a short alphabet reprieve, anyway: school will be starting very soon!

In the meantime, we completed an entire food trial with nary a hitch in our gait: olive oil is safe for Zac!

OLIVE OIL. SAFE. THANK YOU GOD!

We use olive oil for everything in this house. With Zac finally able to use olive oil, cooking has become unbelievably easier! No more “two pans to fry” with. Everyone’s food gets cooked in the same pan, now (as long as all the ingredients are safe for Zac, of course).

Who would have thought that a little olive oil would make life so much easier I’m feeling like a boulder has been lifted off my shoulders? It’s amazing!

So, on to the next trial. We start tomatos today. 

Hopefully, it will go as well as olive oil. Tomatos puts me one step closer to a salad. Or a pizza. Or ketchup.

I kind of miss those things.

In fact, I catch myself drooling when I see someone eating a nice, crisp salad sometimes. It’s pathetic.

please be a pass tomatos oh please be safe for Zac thank you in advance God

In other news, Jed accidentally ate some wheat a week and a half ago and had a full blown case of the Meanies the next day. (Fructans=reaction for us)

For the first time ever, though, his reaction did NOT happen on his previous “like clockwork” schedule. Instead of symptoms beginning 4 hours post-ingestion, it took 14 hours for the symptoms to appear.

However, when the symptoms showed up, they showed up just as always. He turned into Devil Child like a switch had been thrown.

After about an hour of his screaming and tantruming his way through the house, I investigated a little deeper into what he’d eaten for dinner the night before and learned that wheat was actually a part of his meal.

I told Jed, “Honey, you have the Meanies right now. Last night you ate some wheat, which we know isn’t good for you.” His eyes got big for a minute. Then I told him to go to his room: whether he’s got the Meanies or not, some of the things he was doing were not acceptable. We all needed a break.

I mentally prepared myself for 36 more hours of Meanie behavior, as that is usually how long his reactions last, but found myself completely discombobulated two hours later when I realized Jed had been behaving perfectly lovely for the last 30 minutes.

Curious, I questioned Jed. In our conversation, it came out that he finds it easier to control his bad behavior when he knows it’s the MEANIES causing him to feel so mean, angry, and icky. He knows it isn’t HIM or US; that his feelings are not ‘real’, and so he can rein in his desire to scream, hit, and be completely unreasonable. 

I found that to be not only fascinating, but also a moment of intense motherly pride in my incredibly self-aware son.

It kind of figures, though; I have reactions to foods, as well, and I’ve discovered the exact same thing that Jed figured out all on his own. When I know my food is making me hate the world, I can actually be nicer than I usually am! At times like that, I filter every insult, slight, or frustration through the “Oh, this isn’t that big a deal – it just seems like it because my food is making me hate everyone right now. Just blow it off!” filter. Consequently, I let everything – even things that are legitimate gripes – roll right off my back when I’m reacting.

Strange, right?

And something I thought was well beyond the capacity of my 5 year old to understand, or I would have tried to teach him that sooner. Apparently, I underestimated Jed. He’s a pretty awesome kid.

Unfortunately, just because he was able to control his bad behavior during the reaction, he could do nothing for the stomach pain. He reported an “icky tummy” all day.

That, too, didn’t last as long as normal, though. He was perfectly fine the next morning, far sooner than his typical reaction times.

I’m SO hoping the delay in symptom onset and reduced reaction time means he’s gaining tolerance as he gets bigger. Time will tell.


I’m curious: have any of you have discovered you can control yourself better if you know your feelings are a food reaction? 

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Quinoa Pancakes (& Fructose Friendly!)

Quinoa Pancakes Egg Free Gluten Free Fructose Friendly CradleRockingMama.com

The addition of baking soda to our diets has been wonderful  for baking. It really helps make everything I’ve ever made for Zac fluffier and better textured than they were without it. Including these gluten-free dairy-free quinoa pancakes!

A while ago, I realized that the cookie recipe I make for him could easily be poured into a skillet and fried up like a pancake. It’s the exact same recipe, but he sometimes prefers it cooked that way.

The other day, I decided to make Zac pancakes, and with baking soda on board, I took it a little bit further.

They were a Screaming Success!

He LOVED them! Couldn’t get enough and ate an entire batch before noon.

These yummy little pancakes came out fluffy, and looked and felt exactly like regular pancakes. I was thrilled!

They’re also really simple to make, and are naturally gluten-free, wheat-free, fructose friendly, and potentially dairy-free if you use an alternate liquid.

If you also make sure to avoid corn-y ingredients, you can make these corn-free, too!

Basically, you’ll follow the steps for the quinoa cookies, except to begin, you’ll add some safe fat or oil to a skillet and start heating it up on the stove. Pancakes of any stripe cook better when poured on to a hot surface!

Add 2 eggs, the milk, and the uncooked quinoa to a blender and process until smooth. To make these dairy free, just use an alternate milk like hemp or quinoa milk.

Ingredients Ready to Become Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Obviously “extras” aren’t safe for us, yet, but this would be a good time to add any that you’d like. Vanilla and some sweetener come to mind. I would suggest stevia; if you use anything else, like maple syrup or some granulated form of sugar, reduce the liquid accordingly.

Pour the batter in to a bowl, and add the baking soda. Stir it together with a large serving spoon, then use that spoon to “spoon” the batter in to the skillet.

Batter Up CradleRockingMama.com

I was aiming for mini-pancakes. Mine came out a little larger than a typical “silver dollar” pancake.

I’ve since made them larger, and they come out just fine as full-sized pancakes.

Cook the cakes for 2-3 minutes, or until you can see the edges begin to brown and some bubbles forming on the top.

Cooking the Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Then flip, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Pancakes Side Two CradleRockingMama.com

Plate them up and enjoy a delicious, healthy breakfast!

Quinoa Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Since the first time I made these, I’ve made an alternate version with bananas for extra flavor.

I simply added the banana to the blender with the rest of the ingredients; the only difference is that I reduced the milk to 1/2 c.

That version also came out fluffy and beautiful!

Fluffy Little Pancakes CradleRockingMama.com

Enjoy your gluten free, potentially dairy free, and fructose friendly pancakes!

Quinoa Pancakes - GF/DF & Fructose Friendly
 
Prep time
Cook time
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These delicious little pancakes are gluten free, potentially dairy free, and fructose friendly. They're also fluffy and perfect for breakfast! Enjoy!
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 18 silver dollar sized pancakes
Ingredients
  • 2 T. safe oil/fat (olive oil, tallow, butter, etc.)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ c. milk
  • ¾ c. uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 banana (optional - if you use banana, reduce the milk to ½ c.)
  • 6 scoops of stevia (just under ¼ tsp.) - optional
  • 1 tsp. vanilla - optional
Instructions
  1. Add your safe oil/fat to a skillet and begin warming the pan on the stove. Pancakes work best on a hot surface!
  2. Crack the eggs into a blender.
  3. Add the milk and uncooked quinoa seeds. (Now would also be a good time to add the banana, stevia and vanilla, if using.)
  4. Process until a smooth batter forms.
  5. Pour the batter into a bowl.
  6. Add the baking soda and mix together with a spoon.
  7. Using a large serving spoon, spoon the batter into the hot skillet. These work best as smaller, "silver dollar" sized pancakes.
  8. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges have browned slightly, then flip and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  9. Use a spatula to slide those cute little pancakes on to a plate.
  10. Enjoy your delicious breakfast!

Blueberry Picking With Preschoolers

Blueberry Picking with Preschoolers CradleRockingMama.com

A few weeks ago, I went blueberry picking with my preschoolers. We had to find some organic, fresh blueberries for Zac’s planned blueberry trial, and since I couldn’t find organic blueberries last year at the Farmer’s Market, pick your own seemed the solution!

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how it would go. Not only have I never actually picked blueberries before, but how would my 3 and 4 year old boys react?

Better than I would have thought!

Jed turned out to be an excellent blueberry picker. The first time we went, he easily picked a half gallon in the time I picked a full gallon.

Boys Picking Blueberries CradleRockingMama.com

Then he made friends with a very sweet lady named Hannah, who kindly topped off his bucket for him!

Even better, Hannah is a nanny. A nanny whose current charge has severe peanut allergies. A nanny whose degree is in public health.

She volunteered her phone number in case we ever need babysitting.

I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but it’s nice to have a backup that may have a clue!

Zac, on the other hand, started off strong but quit picking completely after about ten minutes. Then he whined. He was hungry. He was thirsty. He was bored.

Wandering the Blueberry Patch CradleRockingMama.com

Still, between Jed, Hannah and me we managed a full 2 gallons of blueberries in about an hour for the low low price of $14 a gallon!

Bg Bucket of Blueberries CradleRockingMama.com

The next time we went, Jed started off strong again. He quickly started to try and find a new friend to talk with while he picked, though, which seriously diminished his picking ability. There weren’t many people there that day since it looked like it might rain.

Finally he found two little boys who were helping their parents gather berries for the local CSA they operate. The boys weren’t nearly as friendly as Hannah, but they weren’t mean. Jed enjoyed chatting with them, though, by eavesdropping, I learned exactly where Jed needs some clarifying on his social skills!

Zac didn’t even try to pick that time. He just started whining from the start.

Then he took off his shoes and left them…somewhere.

Then it started drizzling.

That ended any picking on Jed’s part, too.

Since we were already wet, and my 3rd gallon was almost full, I just started picking faster to try and finish as soon as possible.

When I was done and we headed up front, we couldn’t find Zac’s shoes anywhere!

The boys looked. I looked. No shoes.

Finally I just took them up to the sheltered stand where we pay and told them to wait there. I grabbed the umbrella from the car, wiped my glasses free from water, and headed back to look by myself.

Suddenly, Zac said he remembered where his shoes were. So I picked him up and carried him with me.

After 20 minutes of hunting for shoes in the rain before giving up, the little stinker took me RIGHT to his shoes when we went back to look the second time. Grr.

That visit netted us 3 gallons of berries.

The 3rd time we picked berries, it was Jed’s actual birthday. The sun was shining and I remembered to offer an incentive to the boys for berry picking. Every pint they picked earned them an extra red chip!

It didn’t work. 

I think they picked a whole pint between themselves.

Jed, as usual, went off to make friends. Zac just hung around me and whined, until I gave him my phone to play with.

After the shoe incident, I made sure the ringer was turned on and that he moved with me every time I hit up a new bush!

Jed quickly found some little girls and tried to make friends, but they weren’t nearly as friendly as the other folks he’d chatted with. I actually heard this little 7 year old girl incredulously ask Jed “Haven’t you ever heard of stranger danger before?”

The whole concept of stranger danger goes against everything I believe in as a human and a mother, so, much to her parents dismay, and just as Jed cheerfully responded “No.” I shouted out “I don’t teach my kids that concept. It’s a dangerous thing to believe.”

Then I called Jed over to me and encouraged him to find other people to chat with.

He couldn’t. So he and Zac went up to the ladies who run the berry patch and chatted with them while I finished picking. Fortunately, they thought the boys were cute and funny and were entertained by the visit.

Jed’s birthday brought us 2 more gallons for the stockpile.

I plan to go back for at least another 2 gallons, though, because while I was absent from the blog the last two weeks we did a full blueberry trial for Zac.

Blueberries are safe! Hello, food #16!!

Honestly, he’s not a huge fan. That’s not too surprising, since he has no safe sweetener to aid in blueberry taste.

But mix those blueberries in with some banana ice cream, and the kiddo goes nuts!!

Eating Blueberry Ice Cream II CradleRockingMama.com

Zac LOVES blueberry-banana ice cream!

Eating Blueberry Ice Cream CradleRockingMama.com

Thank God for bananas!

Once we have a sweetener, I’m sure he’ll be a lot more receptive to blueberries. I’ll be able to make syrup for his pancakes, and his muffins will be a lot more palatable with some sweetener to go with the sometimes tart or bitter blueberries. Having a few more gallons of berries around seems wise, since this year all  of us will be eating these berries and it’s apparently really difficult to find corn-free blueberries out of season!

I, for one, LOVE blueberry muffins! Jed can’t get enough blueberries, either. He eats them frozen all the time. We need plenty of blueberries to last us until next June.

Next up to trial? Probably olive oil. Darrel is on a quest to streamline our cooking procedures at the house. He’d like us to all be able to eat olive oil, black pepper, and potatos, since so much of his, Jed’s, and my diets depend on those three things.

I agree with him about the black pepper and olive oil. I even agree about potatos…I’m just not ready to do that trial yet. I’m not prepared to “lose” potatos if they prove unsafe for Zac.

As fast as he’s weaning, though, by the time we get through an olive oil and black pepper trial I’ll probably be willing to chance potatos. If they prove unsafe for Zac, well, at that point I would just wean him – if he hasn’t done so all by himself!

Once (if?) olive oil is safe, cooking will be HEAPS easier in our house. So pray for a safe olive oil trial for Zac, please? We’re starting that tomorrow!


Have you ever gone blueberry picking (or any kind of berry picking) with your preschoolers? How did it go?

Super Woman Needs a Vacation

SuperWoman Needs A Vacation CradleRockingMama.com

If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know where I’ve been the last two weeks. On vacation!

Sort of. 

June is pretty jam-packed for our family; my birthday, Jed’s birthday, Zac’s birthday, and Father’s Day all hit at once. We have a double birthday party for the boys in June every year, rather than having to do two separate parties three weeks apart.

My birthday basically goes un-celebrated these days, since the kids birthdays have completely overshadowed mine. That’s okay, actually. The only thing I ever really want on my birthday is to NOT be on an airplane! (Don’t ask me why, but it seems like every year that I work on my birthday is the day weird stuff happens. As in, ‘call security or paramedics to meet the flight’ kind of weird. I don’t need a lot for my birthday, but I’d rather not have to deal with that!)

Consequently, I bid for vacation days on or near my birthday to make sure I’m not going to have to work that day.

That worked out great this year, since it ensured I had not only my birthday, but Jed’s birthday off, too. It also provided me with my only complete Friday-Sunday weekend off the whole month.

Remember when I mentioned selling the kids Thomas bed in my quest to “clean out the house, sell off the good stuff and make some money”?

Well, endlessly optimistic me decided to hold a garage sale for all that stuff we cleaned out.

Garage sales happen on Friday and Saturday.

Last weekend was my only Friday and Saturday off the entire month.

Saturday was also the day of the kids double birthday party.

Is anyone else reading this and thinking “Is she insane?”

Yeah. I didn’t think it was insane until about Thursday. By then it was too late to reschedule everything.

The last twelve days have been full throttle, pedal to the metal, 4 hours sleep per night, absolute frenzy!

I’m exhausted. 

The good news, though, is that all my projects turned out to be huge successes! The garage sale cleared out a TON of stuff and netted us a nice profit, and most of the stuff that didn’t sell has either already been donated or will be soon.

Some of the nicer things that didn’t sell I brought back in to the house to try and sell online. I’m going to give it a month; if they don’t sell by then, well, hello Salvation Army!

Consequently my house is looking much better.

In fact, I’m inspired to get rid of MORE junk. I was shocked when I realized that my house looked nicer after the party than it normally does! So this will be an ongoing project, I think.

Every now and then it’s important to get rid of the things you no longer need or use in order to make room for the life you are living. 

Better than the garage sale is that the boys birthday party was a huge success! Thanks to engaging with the world a bit, we had 6 kids come celebrate with the boys.

We finally had a REAL birthday party!!

Jed was beside himself. 

Ever since Zac’s birthday, Jed has asked about his birthday at least ten times a day. When we revealed that we were having a party for them, he got so excited I thought he would explode!

Every morning he would ask “Is today my birthday party day?”

Every. Morning.

For weeks. 

The whole week was spent prepping for both the party and the sale. Darrel spent hours in the yard, hauling trash, mowing, weed eating, cleaning up the outside, and tidying up the porches.

I spent hours inside cleaning, sorting, pricing sale items, cooking, and advertising both the party and the sale online.

Not to mention the typical “cook 3 meals a day from scratch” and basic functional life necessities.

Friday was to be our first sale day, and it was scheduled to rain.

We don’t actually have a garage.

I didn’t fancy standing outside in a downpour while all our stuff got drenched, but I’d already advertised the sale.

Solution? We set up the garage sale in our living room!

The threat of rain kept most people away in the morning, but by noon it had cleared up and the garage salers came out to shop! Our first sale came at 1:00 pm, and the rest of the afternoon had a nice turnout.

Saturday was beautiful weather all day, and the sales started bright and early. Thankfully, they naturally dwindled by 1:00 pm, which gave us time to clean ourselves up and set up for the party.

Side note: you didn’t think I did this all by myself, did you? Not only did Darrel and I work nonstop for a week, but my Mom came over on Friday to help with the cakes and both my parents came early on Saturday to help set up for the party. We could not have done this without their help!

The party was scheduled for 3:00 pm, and we were ready to go.

Homemade items on the menu:

  • two birthday cakes for Jed & the guests
  • one cake for Zac
  • one cake for me
  • Banana ice cream for everyone
  • Banana ice cream for Zac & me with his special bananas
  • Grilled burgers
  • homemade ketchup
  • Homemade salsa
  • Lemonade (Jed squeezed almost all the lemons by himself!)
  • Cucumber infused water
  • Orange and lime infused water

We bought store bought buns for our guests, corn chips, potato chips, mustard, mayonnaise, and lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.

My entire goal was a birthday party where everyone got to eat basically the same food. At their own party, my kids were not  going to be told they couldn’t eat the food! 

Sure, there were lots of things Zac couldn’t have and a few things Jed couldn’t have, but everyone ate hamburgers, cake, and ice cream.

Beyond the food, we had a game of “stick the funnel on Thomas” (you knew this was a Thomas themed party, right?), in which both of my boys cheated. They didn’t understand they had to leave the blindfold ON!

After that we had presents, which, thankfully, was just the right amount of “stuff” (since I’m clearing out stuff right now!).

Once the presents were done, we headed outside for piñata time!

Jed and Zac were so excited about the piñata! They’d never seen one before, so when I told them what it was and we went shopping for it, I thought Party City would never recover from the shrieking and sheer enthusiasm the boys displayed!

They didn’t pick the obvious Thomas piñata; they went with the knock-off train shaped piñata. It was smaller, but it made them happy.

Then we stocked up at the dollar store for goodies to put in the piñata. With food allergies, there was no way I was putting candy in there. None of it is safe for Jed or Zac, and it was their birthday party! They needed to be able to participate in all the fun!

Fortunately, I think the kids at the party thought a toy-filled piñata was even better than a candy-filled one.

Plus, it doubled as their thank you gift! I wrote “Thank you for coming to our party! Jed and Zac” on the outside of plain gift bags, handed them to the kids, and let the whacking begin!

Two thoughts about this: one, when did it become “the thing” to give gifts to people who come to your birthday party? We didn’t do that when I was a kid. It was enough to be fed cake and ice cream and get to play with your friends. I don’t get it.

And two, when did whacking a piñata become too “violent”? Nowadays piñata’s all have strings that you pull to open them up, so the kids aren’t “encouraged to be violent”. Say what? It’s a pinata!!

We got a stick and let them whack at it the old fashioned way. It was loads more fun than a tame string-pulling!

Anyway, after the last of the goodies had been scavenged by the kids, everyone said thank you and bye bye and went home.

Whew!

Since the weekend, the week has been spent doing some required computer training for work, blueberry picking, goat milk procuring, donating unsold items, online garage sale attempts, and cooking enough food for me to eat this weekend at work.

I need a vacation from my vacation!

Oh, I called myself Super Woman in the title. I’m being facetious. I don’t really think I’m Super Woman.

However, one couple came to our garage sale on both days, and after seeing all the craft supplies I was selling, some of the handmade stuff I was selling, the headboard I made from scratch with my mom, and noticing how I’d decorated my home, the lady informed Darrel “your wife is amazing! You know you’ve got a superwoman there, right?”

To which he wisely replied in the affirmative. Obviously.

I was amused. 

But a little something that showed up a few days later made me laugh out loud: the boys got Super Hero capes and masks!

Well, if my sons are Super Heroes, I guess I can pretend to be Super Woman, right? 

We’ve been having fun being Super Heroes this week, though I think Jed and Zac are just as worn out as Darrel and I are:

One Tired SuperHero CradleRockingMama.com

Yep. The Super Hero family needs a vacation.

Or just a week of good sleep.


How are you doing? Do you find kids birthday parties and garage sales as exhausting as I do?

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part IV: The Little (Big) Things

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part 4 The Little Big Things CradleRockingMama.com

Beyond concerns about the education system, socialization of our children, and food safety, there are a few other, little (and not so little) things that answer the question of why to homeschool. This post wraps up the series by addressing those little (big) things.

First, a logistical issue. We live in the country. The schools my children would attend are about a 20-25 minute drive away from our house.

I’ve observed the children in my area being picked up by the school bus at around 7:00 a.m., and being dropped off after school hours between 3:45 and 4:15 p.m.

If you’re keeping track, that means the kids are out of the house by 6:30 a.m. (because the school bus pickups are not AT our house; we would have to drive them there) and not home until 4:30 p.m.

TEN HOURS.

Ten hours out of every 24, my kids would be gone.

Since they sleep 11 hours per night, getting fed and ready for school would easily take an hour, and dinner time means a good hour and a half we are occupied, that means that if my children were to attend public schools, we would have a mere 30 minutes a day to spend any sort of fun, quality time as a family.

30 minutes.

We may as well ship the kids off to boarding school at that rate!

I could increase our quality time together by driving the kids to and from school every day, but that is easily 80-90 minutes of my day dedicated to just driving, to net us only an extra hour or so of time with the kids.

I’m sorry, but that is ridiculous.

Now for a not so little concern. The decision to homeschool, for me, began with concerns about public schools. When our food issues first began, I started thinking more seriously about the idea. Over the years of observing the school bus schedule, I really began researching how to homeschool.

However, it’s only recently that I’ve begun growing convicted that homeschooling is the right choice for our family. 

Yes, convicted. 

After reading more about homeschooling, I started to look at homeschooling through the lens of my faith.

God says to raise your children up right, and when they are grown, they will not waver. He also says to be in the world, but not of it.

Both of those are really good admonitions, and both are a true challenge to achieve in the world today.

It is concerning to see what our modern culture glorifies, and what it ignores. You can hardly turn around these days without encountering something unwholesome, perverse, cruel, or just inane.

I’m disturbed by stories of teenagers hooking up, having babies, doing drugs, flaunting authority, eschewing responsibility, and even more concerned with the observation that those behaviors often continue well in to adulthood.

Harder to find examples of?

Honor. Integrity. Loyalty. Kindness. Truth. Respect. Faith. Hope. Charity. Love.

This world is a fallen world, and always has been. I can’t change that, and I can’t stop my children from living in it. 

But I believe this world encourages children to grow up too fast, before they are prepared to cope with the world in a healthy way. 

So while Darrel and I cannot change the world, we can try to do as God commands and raise our children right, helping them encounter the world in a judiciously controlled way.

They will not be denied the modern world, but we will expose them to facets of it as they are ready for it, not at ages far too young to understand what they are seeing, hearing, or reading.

I pray that by homeschooling, thereby remaining the primary influence in our sons lives, they will grow to be strong men of integrity who can seamlessly wander the world without being eaten up, churned around, and spit out by it.

I’ve grown convinced that while God doesn’t explicitly say to homeschool, choosing to homeschool is the right way for us to attempt to live up to the other things God does want us to do. 

On a less serious note, I look forward to the future, when I can finally utilize my job in a way that will make all the challenges I’ve been enduring this last year well worth it.

Free flights anywhere in the world, folks! Can you imagine a better way to teach the boys about WWII than to walk them through Dachau, see where the Berlin Wall stood, visit Pearl Harbor, and walk the beaches at Normandy?

What about Ancient Greece by visiting the Parthenon? Or the Roman Empire by a day at the Colosseum?

Stonehenge, the Tower of London, the Great Wall of China, maybe a trip Down Under?

The Revolutionary War by visiting Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore?

That’s what I call making history come to life!

We will someday have the opportunity to take a month or two every year and spend it doing intensive, hands on teaching via travel. The boys will learn languages, history, math (using currency exchange and budgeting for the trip), and more. Public schools just can’t offer that!

My kids will someday get to learn the history and languages of the world first hand, and Darrel and I get to go along for the ride. 

I simply can’t wait. 


Homeschooling is not the right choice for all families.

I know that, and have absolutely NO condemnation for anyone who chooses other options – including public schools.

My only hope in writing this series was to share our reasons for making this decision for our family, and encourage you to consider your options for what is best for your own family.

The decision on how to raise and educate our children is an important one, and conversation about the many options available can only bring about good things.

Deliberate actions always bring about the best results; I hope we will all be deliberate about raising our little future adults. 


Read the whole series:
Part 1: Concerns About Public Schools
Part 2: Socialization
Part 3: Food Issues
Part 4: The Little (Big) Issues

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part III: Food Issues

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part III: Food Issues CradleRockingMama.com

I wish food issues played no part in our decision to homeschool.

I wish food issues were a non-issue in a multitude of places, but sadly, that is not so.

When you have children with food allergies, considering their safety when outside of your care is a matter of life and death.

However, as strange as it may sound to those parents who either deal with no food allergies or only IgE food allergies, our concerns about our children’s food intolerance’s are greater than our concerns about their IgE allergies.

The Food Allergy World has made terrific efforts to raise awareness of IgE allergies; most people nowadays at least know what an Epi-pen is, even if they aren’t completely well versed in the symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Food intolerance’s, however, have not made such strides.

In my experience, people tend to not take food intolerance’s very seriously. Because the symptoms of a food intolerance are usually delayed and don’t threaten immediate death, it’s easy for people to not worry as much about them.

Anyone who suffers with a food intolerance will earnestly counter that opinion, but trying to convince people of the seriousness of food intolerance’s is difficult. Usually it requires the doubter witnessing a reaction themselves to change their minds.  In the meantime, this attitude is very worrying to parents of children with food intolerance’s.

Now, if we were to send our children to public school, we would absolutely sit down with the administrators and teachers to arrange a 504 plan to ensure our kids safety.

After 5 years of living in this world, though, I must admit that Darrel and I are wary of the effectiveness of 504 plans.

While we do hear amazing stories of how good a particular teacher or school is at following the rules of a child’s 504 plan, we also hear far too many stories of 504 plans being completely ignored or only loosely adhered to.

From personal observation, I’ve concluded that the effectiveness of a 504 plan is dependent on the staff at the school.

Certainly there are legal options available to a parent whose child’s 504 plan is being ignored, but who wants to deal with that?

All any parent wants is for assured safety for their child. The lack of import given food intolerances makes Darrel and I concerned that the majority of our children’s food issues will not be treated with the concern they need.

While we might be lucky and find diligent, caring, efficient teachers at the school our children would attend, there is always the chance that we would find ourselves in a constant battle over the guidelines we arranged.

Frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to deal with that.

Sadly, the danger of food allergic/intolerant children attending public school is not limited to the diligence of teachers and administrators. After all, our children would attend public school with other children, and other parents will be involved in many activities for all the children, including our own.

That means our children would be exposed to two other sources of potential danger: food allergy bullying from the other children, and willful disobedience and ignorance of the other parents.

Food allergy bullying is a growing danger to food allergic/intolerant children.

Situations of peers deliberately contaminating a food allergy child’s food or learning space (such as wiping peanut butter on a peanut-allergic child’s desk or trying to shove it in their face) are happening with growing frequency.

In addition to reading about this phenomenon, I’ve personally heard from two mothers whose young children have been forced to change schools or classrooms because of a food allergy bully.

It’s not a pleasant situation. It’s a dangerous, potentially deadly or debilitating situation for food allergy/intolerant children.

As for the parents of the other students, every few months another disgraceful article or blog post is published by a parent who is “fed up” with all these restrictions being placed on the food their kids can bring to school. (Many of the comments on this article are great examples of the attitudes of fellow parents.)

I personally observed a Facebook exchange where a lady whined about not being able to bring cupcakes to class for her sons birthday because a student in his class had allergies.

Every single commenter on her post took her side. Some merely agreed that it was a difficult situation for the rest of the parents and students, and some went so far as to say that they would stand outside the classroom and hand out the cupcakes to all the kids as they left to go home for the day anyway.

Not one person was horrified at the thought that they might actually kill or maim a child in their pursuit of confectionery celebration.

That makes my blood run cold.

Evidence shows that food allergy and food intolerant parents are making great headway in changing the landscape of public schools to be a safe place for all children.

Unfortunately, the end goal has not been achieved, and far too many food allergy/intolerant children are sickened or killed in public schools due to lackadaisical 504 adherence, insane restrictions on carrying Epi-pens outside of the nurses office, cruel classmates and selfish parents.

Darrel and I feel that our children’s food issues are complicated enough that it will be nearly impossible to create a 504 plan that can be easily adhered to (I mean, how easy is it to convince people to take The Meanies seriously?), and are unwilling to risk our children’s health to the other potential dangers public school brings.

I will be perfectly honest about this next point. While concerns about public schools, socialization, and the other concerns I’ll address tomorrow certainly had me leaning towards homeschooling, it was the concerns about food issues that sealed the deal for me.

I can supplement my children’s education if I feel they are not being properly challenged in public school.

I can work diligently to instill our values and ethics in our children, put them in situations where they must deal with people other than their peers, and otherwise mitigate the effects of poor socialization from public schools.

But I cannot eradicate the pain and internal damage caused by exposure to an intolerance, or, if exposed to an IgE allergen, bring my children back to life.


Tomorrow wraps up this series with an explanation of other factors that played into our decision.

Read the whole series:
Part 1: Concerns About Public Schools
Part 2: Socialization
Part 3: Food Issues
Part 4: The Little (Big) Things


Do you worry about your food allergic/intolerant child in public schools? Have your 504 plans been adhered to properly?

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part II: Socialization

Why We Decided to Homeschool Part 2 Socialization CradleRockingMama.com

One of the most common concerns I’ve heard people express about Homeschooling is this:

What about socialization?

Originally, I shared that concern. How on earth were my kids going to learn how to get along with their peers without being in a public school?

Then I thought about it a bit more.

Let’s start with the definition of “socialize”. From Merriam-Webster:

Full Definition of SOCIALIZE

transitive verb
1
:  to make social; especially :  to fit or train for a social environment
2
a :  to constitute on a socialistic basis <socialize industry>

b :  to adapt to social needs or uses

3
:  to organize group participation in <socialize a recitation>
intransitive verb
:  to participate actively in a social group

Dictionary.com defines SOCIALIZATION as follows:

noun
1.
a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.

2.
the act or process of making socialisticthe socialization of industry.

Let’s address the widely held belief that the only proper way to socialize children is via public school.

I  now have to ask “why?”

Why is public school believed to be the only way to properly teach children how to “participate actively in a social group”?

If you’re anything like me, much of your education in how to participate in a social group did NOT come from your years in public school; instead, it was gleaned from outside activities like church, Girl Scouts, dance classes, etc.

In fact, I would say that the very situation of being in public school makes it nearly impossible for an “individual (to) acquire a personal identity”, considering the well-known fact that schoolyard teasing, cliques, and even bullying are hallmarks of the “social scene” in public schools.

Let’s face it; peer pressure is intense, and school yard teasing can be brutal. 

How can a child discover who they truly are and grow confident in their sense of self when at the slightest mis-step they are brutally condemned and even ostracized for their differences?

Sure, most of us survived the school social scene and lived to tell the tale, but how many of us gained our actual inborn sense of self during our school years? How many of us actually gained that self-awareness years later, either in college or during our ’20’s?

The aim of public school socialization might be a development of an individuals sense of self, but the actual outcome is of thousands of children striving for conformity.

Feeling as though one does not “fit in” with peers is the basis for many young adult novels, made for TV movies, and therapy sessions as adults. Do we really feel it is necessary to endure that in order to function in society?

This ties in with our observations of how social interaction with peers has influenced our oldest son, Jed, already.

From birth, Jed was a charming, friendly, engaging little boy who shared everything freely, played nicely, and had an innate sense of right and wrong.

At one of our playground visits, however, he attempted to play with other children in the sandbox. They would not share their toys, grabbed Jed’s toys and refused to give them back, literally turned their backs on him, and generally behaved horribly.

The very next time we went to the playground, Jed mimicked their behavior, much to my embarrassment and chagrin.

We have had to work diligently for two years to help him “un-learn” horrible practices he learned from other children.

I shudder to think what my sweet, kind, loving son would turn in to after years of isolated exposure to other badly behaved children.

That experience was the first time I actually considered what the influence of peers versus the influence of adults would bring upon a child. It helped me to realize that there is an entirely different perspective we should utilize when considering the socialization of our children. We need to ask the question:

how can our children learn to function in the “real world” by being isolated in an artificial situation with legions of other socially ignorant children?

As an example, say you want to learn a new skill. Skateboarding, skydiving, knitting, car repair, or underwater basket weaving, it hardly matters. As a novice, do you seek out the insight and wisdom of other newbies? Or do you search for a teacher/mentor who has plenty of experience in your chosen skill?

I think the answer is clear; experience and wisdom are key to development and growth of any new skill.

Including socialization.

So why is it considered so absurd that a child could be raised and taught at home, thereby primarily learning how to properly socialize in the world from older siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and extracurricular activity leaders? These people have, theoretically, far better social skills than their child’s fellow gradeschoolers!

This perspective would argue that it is BETTER for children’s social skills to be home schooled; not only would they still encounter plenty of children in outside activities, church, and at the playground, but their primary introduction to how to easily communicate and get along with others would come from a wider variety of experienced, seasoned adults.

They would learn how to be comfortable in ANY social setting, regardless of the age and experience of the company they are sharing.

Homeschooling families often view socialization through this perspective, and the studies back them up. This article cites many studies, so click through if you’d like proof.

In the end, Darrel and I have come to the conclusion that the naysayers are right: socialization DOES matter.

That’s part of the reason why we’re choosing to home school our children.


Read the whole series:
Part 1: Concerns About Public Schools
Part 2: Socialization
Part 3: Food Issues
Part 4: The Little (Big) Things


What do you think about socialization?