Figured it was time that I wrote about homeschooling. There are a lot of sterotypes about homeschoolers, some of which certainly apply to some, but as with sterotypes, they do not apply to all.
We are the “Covid homeschoolers”, the ones who started our homeschooling journey in part, because of Covid. Homeschooling, quite frankly seemed like the best path to take as the shitshow unfolded & schools shut down in March 2020 & didn’t open until later in September. I decided over the summer of 2020, that I wanted to give homeschooling a go. It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly, but I am so glad I did, as we were able to maintain a fairly stable learning environment, unlike their peers.
The 2020/2021 school year was a rollercoaster, one day schools were open, the next they were closed, guidelines changed constantly. I don’t really fault the policy makers for the rollercoaster ride that it was, I mean no-one really had experience in dealing with a global pandemic before, but I was glad I could sit out the ride that I saw friends go through.
Those who find out that we homeschool & are still doing so in 2022, have mixed reactions, some think it’s really cool & others have a noticable change in demeanor, as they try to assess what level of crazy we are.
For the record, we believe in science (we vaccine including for Covid & mask), actually believe that Covid exists & are not religious fundamentalists. Homeschooling is something that we have stuck with because for the most part it works for us & the lifestyle that we like to live. Even before Covid we had a reputation at the school for being travellers, just because the kids were in school it didn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything. We joke that they probably have more stability now than they did at school (at least now, I actually make sure they do school work when we are travelling). It’s easier in some ways, whilst harder in others.
Easier, in that you don’t have to deal with other parents, or beaucratic school “stuff”. Towards the end of the kids stint in the public system there were issues with bullying & a “prank” by another student, resulted in months of recovery, which I admit had a role to play, but mostly it was Covid. I get it, the education system is massively underfunded & honestly I don’t have any issues with the educational instruction that the kids were getting, but sometimes change is good, especially when you realise that, that change is working for you.
Homeschooling is hard though. You are responsible for what your kids learn in the end, which can be a daunting reality. At first, I looked after all of it, but now we (G & I) share more of the responsibilites, which helps. Whilst the responsibility to teach the kids is sobering (it can be really stressful sometimes), it’s also incredibly rewarding to see growth & know that you were a part of that, more than you would have been if you had just sent them off to school like their peers. I feel way more involved in their education than I ever was when they were in school, because I am “in the classroom” every day. The classroom varies too, it can be done pretty much anywhere & we take excursions with more focus than we did before.
Society really needs to get past the idea that kids must be sent out of the house in order to receive an education with 20-30 other peers. That type of learning doesn’t work well for everyone, infact it works for less kids than people might realise. I get it though, it’s hard to take on that responsibility as a parent & it doesn’t work for a lot of families. Just don’t vilify those that chose to do it & equally so, homeschoolers need to back off with their judgement towards those that have their kids in the school system. We are all doing the best that we can.
Figured it was time that I wrote about homeschooling. There are a lot of sterotypes about homeschoolers, some of which certainly apply to some, but as with sterotypes, they do not apply to all.
This is a gluten free version of Worcestershire sauce that I have been making for years, before you could find some Gluten Free options on the market. I like it so much though, that I haven’t bothered to try the commercially made versions on the market. I usually make large batches of it, which I bottle & gift (usually around xmas).
Measurements are approximate, like all good recipes are. Sometimes I throw in more molasses, plum jam etc, it just depends on my mood (and lack of attention to any kind of measurements on the day I am making it).
3 C white vinegar
1/2 C treacle / molasses
1/2 C plum jam
1 small onion finely chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Stir over heat until mixture boils, simmer, uncovered, for an hour, stirring occasionally. Poor into hot sterilized jars (make sure to stir mixture to make sure you get the lovely chunky bits of onion etc evenly spread between your jars). You can strain it, but I don’t, I like the chunks in whatever I am cooking
This recipe as is, makes about 2 cups. I typically don’t do anything less than batches that are 4x this recipe at a time. It lasts a long time in the fridge once open (so long as you don’t cross contaiminate it)
Here’s a picture of some in the making from a while ago
Don’t be afraid to ask
We live in a world that is full of plastic, some of it is incredibly hard to avoid, but a great deal of the plastic waste we encounter in day to day life is entirely unnecessary. Plastic is cheap & has become a such a convenient material to use, that many cannot see a way around using it.
Whilst it is lovely to see more organisations making changes to show more of an environmental awareness, I feel that as consumers we need to do more to encourage those changes to stick & increase further change.
Our family doesn’t eat out a lot, but when we do, I have started to ask more about packaging, because I have learnt that just because you see biodegradable packaging , doesn’t mean that what you order will come in it or that they won’t throw in plastic cutlery. I have asked not to have plastic cutlery & still had it thrown in with a meal or had my reusable cup used, but had the beverage measured out in a plastic one, that they threw out, before they put it in my cup. I very rarely return to places that don’t seem to get it, but on occasion, I have returned & taken the opportunity to practice being more clear with my requests, because it’s all about education too, if after that chance they still screw it up, that’s it. That “little bit” of plastic might seem fairly insignificant, for what is usually a few minutes of convenience, but it really isn’t.
I have found more often than not when you ask & state your reasons for asking, people are generally receptive & supportive. There are of course the eye rollers, too, but mostly I find it emboldens others to show their support.
A few weeks ago when we were at Upper Canada Village, I was really disappointed to find that the lemonade that used to be in jars pre-covid, was now being served in plastic cups. When I enquired, I was told that the plastic cups were made from corn, but after being given the details of the company, I did a search & discovered that they could only be composted where facilities exist. Do you know how many commercial composting facilities there are that can break down the cups appropriately? Me neither. So, I politely refused, stating why & in the end was able to get the lemonade in our own metal cups. The two women that I was speaking with actually commented on how much they appreciated that we are obviously trying to do our part & whilst they aren’t as hardcore as we are (all a matter of perception) they shared how they are also trying to reduce waste themselves & how nice to it was to see someone else doing so too.
In the end our “voice” is not only our literal voice, but where we spend our money. Support those that support the environment so that it encourages them to continue to do so & improve on what they are doing, whilst also encouraging others to do what they can too.
e-readers & travel
A couple of years ago a friend gifted us an older kobo e-reader for kidlet1. It it was a perfect xmas gift. Kidlet1 is a voracious reader, so having one, gave us a way for him to read books, at a time when libraries were not an option (2020, COVID).
Now, both kids love both reading on an e-reader & physical books. G & I are still trying to get used to using one, but the connivence in being able to “carry”/ access so many books at once can’t be beat, especially when space is a consideration.
After much research we settled on Kobo Libra2’s. There are lots of reviews out there & of course I can’t find the actual article that cinched it for me, however here are few that might be of use, which compare the two types of e-readers; techrader, ny times wirecutter, engadget.
With us spending so much time on the water, being waterproof was more of a necessity than a want & having the flexibility to download books different formats easily, including EPUB format, was useful for us. We don’t subscribe to Kobo for books, but we do use OverDrive as well as downloading books & copying them across to read via Calibre.
Unlike the kids, I have only used the e-readers a handful of times, opting for the more traditional book format instead, but am switching over to doing more reading on the e-reader in an effort to not only save space (when travelling especially), but for my physical copies of books to retain a more pristine appearance (yes, I am one of those book owners). This is in stark contrast to any of the books that the kids have read, which have the “well loved” look to them, everywhere they go, even if it’s a quick trip to the shops, books (yes that is plural) follow.
Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango
One of our favourite desserts is sweet sticky rice with mango. We were originally taught how to make it on a trip to Thailand (prior to the kidlets) & have since adapted the recipe to the one that follows. If you are from Thailand or Laos, this is not a post or version you want to see;
5 Cups long grain sticky rice (soaked in water for at least 4 hours or overnight)
3 ripe mangoes (or more especially if you have anyone who likes to “sample”_
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Cup coconut cream (DO NOT get any with Guar Gum)
1 Cup white sugar
½ – 2 tsp salt
10 pandanus leaves or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Soak rice for min of 4 hours or overnight (more than 4 hours soaking is fine)
Line steamer with pandanus leaves or muslin cloth if no pandanus leaves.
Place soaked sticky rice in steamer & steam for 10-15 minutes, until cooked
NOTE: You can also skip using a steamer, if you have a rice cooker, just make sure you measure out everything appropriately for your rice cooker & cook it on the right setting (ie not just on a normal rice setting)
Mix the sauce coconut cream, sugar, salt & vanilla extract together and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes
When cooked remove the rice from the steamer and cool on a tray for a few minutes until still warm but not hot
Add HALF the coconut cream mixture/ sauce to the rice, mixing thoroughly.
Leave the rice and sauce mixture aside for 20-40 minutes (let it rest)
Combine the Serving Sauce mixture in a pot, heat until sugar/ salt is no longer visible
When ready to serve, divide the mixture into servings
(this size mixture should serve 8 people – but for our family is just enough for 4)
Pour Serving Sauce on top
Peel and slice mangoes and arrange on top of sticky rice
Sprinkle sesame seeds on top (if desired) and serve
Many who have followed me for a while, have likely noticed that my posts are sporadic at best. It wasn’t always like this, but of late, it has been more the norm.
I love to create the things that I do, but I am also aware of how consumerism, amongst other things, is ruining the planet. My guilt that I am a part of the issue, is part of why posts on some of the social media accounts that I manage have become so seldom. We are all bombarded with messages telling us to BUY BUY BUY, so why add to it?
Everyone wants your money & most don’t care if that means that an impulse buy today, ends up in landfill or at a charity shop in a few months or even after a short time of ownership, they got your cash.
This isn’t the image that I wish to have or even the message I wish to encourage & this is why I will be sharing more posts that are focussed on things that interest me, such as the environment, travel, homeschooling & of course some of my artistic creations, including my favourite creations, my scrappie critters.
For those that don’t know what a scrappie critter is, they are my own creation, made using “scraps” of fabric that are upcycled into cute little critters. They’re all made to be uniquely imperfect just like all of us & are simply a joy to create. Art, after all, is a part of my life & also a means to earn money to cover the expenses of life. Yep, even artists have to earn a living.
At the moment I am keeping my twoemu creations webpage, but I am considering eventually consolidating that page & having a “shop” on this site for my art. That won’t happen immediately though, as I am only one person managing it all (at least until the kidlets are a little older & I have more confidence in their abilities not to accidentally delete large sections of websites).
For decades now, the planet has taken a back step to profits & the greed of many, a sad but true reality. I wish that all leaders woke up to the fact that our choices as a society are destroying our planet. The one planet that can sustain life, is being trashed & climate change is abundantly obvious to most, but those in positions of power seem to be deaf to the calls for climate action NOW.
Despite the knowledge that plastic waste is out of hand, with so little of it actually being recycled (9% of over 3 million tonnes a year in Canada), companies still like to espouse the value of it. Many point to the value of plastic in terms of food, but ignore the fact that much of the packaging will continue to pollute the planet past their lifetime & how much of that pollution affects the food that they are reportedly “protecting”.
I still can’t wrap my head around why supermarkets have to have so much produce wrapped in plastic. Even when we have had farm shares, we were shocked by the amount of plastic that was still a part of it, so it’s not a transportation issue per-say, I think it’s often just a convenience thing. Change is hard, more than necessary, but hard for many to do.
One knows that it’s possible to buy fresh produce without plastic when you go to somewhere like Farm Boy or your local farmers market, but for many to take advantage of those options requires a degree of privilege. Often buying farm fresh or loose produce is more expensive, either due to geographic location (which can also include a lack of viable transport to get to those places) & or the actual cost is increased. People are literally being forced to support the pollution of the planet because they see no other viable options for their families. We all need food to survive & corporations know that they have most of us over a barrel to just continue as it always has been for some. There needs to be more drastic changes sooner than later, because the planet has taken a back seat for far too long.
Despite this belief, we (as a family) try to appreciate all the little changes companies etc make. In the end all the little changes & actions that happen, add up & often have a snowball effect, encouraging others to do something too. One of the little changes that I have appreciated this year is watching as different places switch to cardboard bread bag tags. The other spells the end of cucumber dido’s. A company called Apeel makes an edible coating that eliminates the excuse that cucumbers “need” to be wrapped in plastic in order to curb food waste. I am sure that there are others, but these are things that stood out for us. Last year it was bags of potatoes that were all paper without the plastic mesh window (which seem to be strangely harder to find this year).
We are firm believers of supporting those that support the environment, even in small ways to encourage them & others to take it further. For example if I need to buy bread in a plastic bag ( the bag, I then reuse for rubbish, as I don’t buy bags) I will search out a brand with a cardboard tag, v’s a plastic one. I also actively avoid buying cucumbers in plastic too & of course there are the bags of potatoes as mentioned (we actually buy most of of our potatoes from a local grower in the fall, we get 3x 25kg bags, which gets us through most of the winter).
As a family we try to restrict our plastic consumption, but we are NOT hardcore zero wasters. I wouldn’t even say that we are even aspiring to be so, some of the hardcore zero wasters have hangups about solar panels & that’s definitely not us. We are simply try to live as sustainably as possible on our life’s journey. I firmly believe that more people need to share their “imperfect” journeys, as it encourages others to make changes too. Doing a little is way better than throwing your hands in the air, calling it too hard & doing nothing at all.
This website has gone through a few changes over the years. Initially it started as a site that just G & I had, where I would blog about what was happening & keep track of our travels & some of my artsy stuff. Then I changed over to just the blog & more recently, I decided to consolidate some of my content & sites to the one, where we could combine a lot of our interests, sharing our travel adventures as a family, talk about homeschooling, art & how we try to make sustainable choices along our journey. Note: we are not zero waste & we certainly aren’t perfect, but we do try to do what we can do reduce our waste & are improving every day.
My goal is for readers to see posts from all of the family eventually, but for now, most will come from me (author: Emuu)
Part of the inspiration to share more about our journey, came from the kids, who were quite despondent a few months back when they observed others not caring for the environment in the same way that we do. New York City was eye opening for the kids & a great reminder to G & I why we are on this path. There were mountains of waste with a lot of packaging & misc things that were thrown out because they were no longer needed, but still had a lot of life left in them. As much as it hit the kids hard to see how blasé some are to the environmental crisis we are in, it also made them realise why we need to continue to do what we do.
After I decided to make a post on social media asking others what they were doing to reduce their waste, so that I could share it with the kids to show that they weren’t alone in trying. From that post a friend made the comment that they always enjoyed it when we shared what we were doing, as it inspired them to do more & think about other things they could do, so here we are. We hope that this blog will inspire others.
Our trip to NYC in May was lovely, but I have always found the waste in NYC & surrounds confronting, so much is tossed without a care, or so it seems & we didn’t really see anything that sorted, ie cardboard separated from plastic etc.
I can’t understand how people are so blind to the issue at hand, all that rubbish has to go somewhere. According to some sources New Yorker’s apparently throw our 10,000 tonnes of rubbish every day – EVERY DAY! All of that rubbish has to be transported our of the city & it goes as far as Ohio, Pennsylvania & even South Carolina.
I can totally see how it is, we were caught out a few times, trying to avoid plastic, ordering what turned out to be craptastic fries that came with plastic forks, snow cones that were wrapped in plastic, being given straws when we didn’t want any and a few other things. Central park has bins overflowing with rubbish (& no recycling bins)
It made a lasting impression on the kids, who had never seen that much rubbish in their lives. We are a family that went from one small rubbish bag a week, years ago, to one every couple of weeks & now put out garbage every month or so. Even recycling is every couple of weeks. We honestly compost more than we throw out.
I hope that change comes to places like NYC that have been listed as some of the most wasteful cities, we can’t keep ignoring the issue. NYC should also remind other places why they need to do better too.
Nice city, but the waste issue needs to be tackled, to make the city even better.