Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: This Is Why I Homeschool

Joanne Grineage: This Is Why I Homeschool: www.jakeskinner.ca Follow this link to the 2015 Sex- Ed Curriculum blog. Answers lots of questions and concerns people have. Not agreeing o...

This Is Why I Homeschool

Follow this link to the 2015 Sex- Ed Curriculum blog. Answers lots of questions and concerns people have. Not agreeing or disagreeing. Just sharing a different perspective.

I have read and reread articles and talked about and heard  about this new curriculum that is going to be a part of the lessons that children will learn in their classrooms. I am glad that people are so passionate about what their children will be taught in their schools, and  it is interesting to me to hear such divided opinions from so many families about how they feel with regards to this topic.
I will be honest, I am surprised by how accepting some people are of the changes, and on the other hand, I am just as shocked at those who are against what is happening. More than anything, it shows me that we as parents recognize how important our children.... our future....really are.
I am not going to speak about how I feel with regards to this new curriculum, but what I want to do is share what I know about teaching my children.
We decided after sending the two oldest to JK and SK, that homeschooling was something that we wanted to try. At the time, my sister was homeschooling her family, and she invited me over to watch and see what it was all about. I knew immediately that it was exactly what I wanted for my family. I had four children at the time and one on the way, and I was trying to be in two places at once. I wanted to spend as much time with my children as possible, and just couldn't be at the school and take care of things at home. I let the girls finish out that year of public school, and then purchased our curriculum to start the next school year at home.
People ask me all the time how and why I do it. People ask if it is hard, and people always ask about the social aspect of raising kids in my own home without the regular interaction with their peers. My answers are usually quite consistent. Some days it is really hard. Some days I want to give up and just enroll the kids in school. And some days, I think about how it would be a little bit easier financially if I was working full time to help support our big family. But the positives of homeschooling ALWAYS  outweigh the negatives of sending my children to school.
Before anyone takes offence to this, please understand, that I am very aware that homeschooling is not for everyone. Everyone has their reasons for making the choices that they do with regards to their children, and I respect that. I am not trying to "sell" homeschooling, I am simply sharing why it works for us, and why I decided to teach my children at home. In light of the latest events with regards to the new curriculum, I feel so very fortunate that I have complete control over what I teach my children. Notice, I didn't say "what my kids learn", but what I teach them.
I, like many parents, am very aware of a some of the things that our children will be exposed to in our society. We do not live in a bubble, and I know that there are things that my children will see and hear that may not be age appropriate, but I can also us discretion with regards to what ages is best for each child to learn about specific topics, such as sexuality, religion, prejudice, etc...The homeschooling atmosphere that we have allows me to observe each of my children and recognize their personal teaching styles, level of readiness for each subject, and maturity. Not every child is ready at a specific age, to learn about certain topics....I can decide if my child is ready or not. Not every child can sit behind a desk for a certain block of time.....I can help find the best way to help my child learn. Not every child needs to be surrounded by other children their age to become a strong, independent, intelligent member of our community.....I have seven children who have proven this to me.
I tell my kids all the time that being homeschooled is a privilege. They are very fortunate that they get to stay home to learn. But what I realize when I see all of what is happening in the schools now, is that it is MY  privilege . Every day, I thank God that this is something that we can do. Believe me, there have been many sacrifices. Financially, we have had to give up things, but only to see the gain in our children. Emotionally, I have cried many tears of frustration, but many more tears of pride and joy.  I'll be honest, I hate Algebra, it's hard to switch from momma to teacher, and lots of tears fall on the textbooks at the Grineage school table. There are days when I just don't want the huge responsibility of making sure that my children are getting the education that they deserve because every child deserves to be educated with a curriculum that will propel them in the direction that they want to go. All of our children deserve that.
I posted a link at the beginning of the blog. I posted it because it shows some of what our next generation will learn in the public school system, and I just wonder if it is what our children deserve. Is it what they need to propel them in the direction that they need to go in life. Does it provide clarity or confusion? Is there more grey than black or white areas? Are we coming together as parents, or is there more division then ever.
This is why I homeschool.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale

Joanne Grineage: Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale: It's has been the challenge of my life to be fit.  To be in good shape and to include fitness and healthy food choices  into my lifesty...

Fitness, Fatness and My Flippin' Scale

It's has been the challenge of my life to be fit.
 To be in good shape and to include fitness and healthy food choices  into my lifestyle, or to fit in? Isn't that the million dollar question of the century. I was thinking as I drove home from a local pizzeria last night with dinner in the back seat, how difficult my run was going to be this morning if I went home and ate pizza with my family. I like pizza and I have never been one to deprive myself of things that I like. But this is a place where I constantly struggle, like zillions of other woman that I know. I am about to be very real about just how frustrating this is for me, but in sharing I want to let people know that everyone struggles. maybe not to the same extreme, but everyone struggles.
I used to do some modelling before I got married and started a family. It was during that time when the pressure to have a certain body type became very real to me. When I went to my first photo shoot in Toronto, I was told to lose twenty pounds, and I seriously did not know how I was going to do that. Mainly because I didn't have twenty pounds to lose. It is all that they say. The pressure to be pencil thin in order to get work exists in that field, and it is unfortunately a message that has been sent to all of the girls fighting body image issues in this generation in all fields. It is just what is expected of us. It is not normal to be average. you must be fit, and thin and only order a salad or you will be judged for not taking good care of yourself.
I have learned  that maintaining a healthy weight provides health benefits. Loosing as little as ten pounds may help to lower your blood pressure, or prevent hypertension. Being at a healthy weight can also relieve the stress that comes along with the constant pressures we put on ourselves to fit between certain numbers on the scale. We are all very aware of the negative affects of stress on our bodies and minds. The pressure to loose weight can be overwhelming for some of us. But I also know that it is probably one of the most difficult things for a woman to maintain. And who decides what this "healthy" body weight is? I am a firm believer that everyone has a different body structure and it is completely ridiculous to think that we can all fit into a generic "perfect weight" for your height and age and gender.
So why is it such a struggle. I work really, REAALLY hard to try and stay at a healthy body weight. I have issues, not healthy issues when it comes to my weight. I am extreme sometimes when it comes to being fit. I am one of those people who look in the mirror and see fat everywhere. I drive my husband nuts, because I constantly ask him to tell me if he thinks I'm fat. If he says no, then of course he's lying to me. And God help him if he says yes. I have a hate, hate, HATE relationship with the scales. I had Barry take them away from me for a while, and was told not to get on the scale in order to try and heal some of these issues that I have, and I went out and bought a new scale and hid it from him. I'm telling you, this is not an easy path that I walk down. But I don't want sympathy, I don't need that. I need to continue to work on the why? Why is it so important to me.? Why do I need to see a certain number on the scale? Why am I so fixated on my body?
The more I look for answers to those questions, the more self absorbed and self focused I appear to be. Oh my goodness, I do not have time to be so self centred, and really, I am not. My family and friends, my job, and my home always come before me. I am a very giving person, and I love to motivate and encourage others to reach their fitness goals. So why this incredible amount of time spent on worrying about my weight? Why does it matter so much? You know what, I blame no one but myself. I could blame things from the past that might have given me body image issues, I can blame things from the present, like having seven children, and not having the same body I did before childbirth. I could blame the stresses of my busy lifestyle and all of the responsibilities that I have now, but that is useless. Being fit and healthy is not just a state of mind, but the state of your mind holds the biggest part of the equation. So take full responsibility for telling myself the lies. I have put the pressure on myself. There is no one harder on me than me. No one is asking me to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount. In fact no one is asking me for any of the things that I expect of myself. I am seriously my own worst critic.
I do need to take care of myself. I think it is very important to live a healthy lifestyle because I have seven children that I want to be here for. I want to be the best mother, wife and friend that I can be. I know that it is my charge in life to treat my body as a vessel that can be used to do good, and if I put garbage in then garbage will come out. I just need to do it in a healthy and safe manner. Fixating on the scales, and on what societies expectations of a six foot tall, forty three year old woman should be, is not healthy. It is counterproductive to all that I believe in and goes against all that I encourage in so many people I influence.
It would be wrong of me to suggest that you are fit if you are 100 pounds over weight, but happy and content with that. We all know that eating is necessary to survive, and making healthy eating choices is necessary to live a healthy lifestyle. We also know that it is important to be within a certain weight to live the best, most productive life you can live. The worst part about all of this, is that we all know it. We've known it for a long time, and it doesn't make any of it easier. We set goals, we buy better food, we eat clean, we run and and bike and swim our way around the world and back, but it is still a struggle much of the time. I just wanted to share that, yes, it is a struggle for me too!!
So what is it going to take to make this better? This is really about me making the changes that I need to in order to make all aspects of my life healthy. Extremes when it comes to food and fitness and weight, are not healthy. It's back to that whole "balance" thing. I have to find it even when it comes to the things like food, and fitness and living a healthier life. I have a way of taking even things that are good for me and making them a little more challenging. I love a challenge :)
I am hoping that everyone is up for the challenge of living a healthier life. It is so hard. I will be the first to admit , and I have shared, that I struggle with it every single day. But isn't it always easier to know that you are not struggling alone. That even someone who you might think has the whole"fitness" thing under their belt struggles too. We all can relate to each other and we all can help one another work out the kinks on our not-so-smooth  personal journey. Challenge yourself today, to work through the lies that society has fed you about your weight and your appearance. Be smart about how you eat, and what you weigh, and how often you exercise. It is important, but it cannot be all consuming...and neither can we.
I still struggle with the scale, but I had pizza for supper last night, and I went for a run this morning. There are so many more wonderful things about women that we need to celebrate, and my chubby bum can be one of them. I'm working on it every day....the balance thing. I'm a work in progress...yay!!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

I Turned Things Around

The weather the last few days has been very snowy, and beautiful and wintery to say the least. The roads have not been the safest to travel on because of all of the snow, and ironically, every time there has been risk of a big snowfall, I have been enroute to or from Toronto, or even just a short trip from home. Nevertheless, I am becoming quite comfortable with travelling in winter conditions...to some degree. I was in Toronto this weekend celebrating a birthday when we had to head home early because of a pending snow storm, but fortunately I was travelling with the Jeep, and ONLY because I promised myself the LAST time I was coming home from Toronto in the middle of a snow storm in my little Kia, that I would NEVER risk that drive again without the Jeep.
It's a part of living in Canada, and in this part of Ontario, the weather is unpredictable at times, but really, we can't just staying home every time the snow falls and makes travel a little challenging. Just like with life, we can't just not do what might be a little out of our comfort zone because it isn't easy. It's a bit of a storm. But when do you decide that it is not wise. It isn't always the best choice to weather the storm or just keep driving on.
Tonight I was heading in to Dresden to teach my bootcamp class which was only a twelve to fifteen minute drive in good weather from my house. I had already made a trip on the road in my car from Bothwell to my home, which was about the same distance and I was feeling a bit uncomfortable about the fact that I committed to teaching class that night. It was snowing lightly all afternoon, but I really didn't want to have to miss the second class this week. I waited for Barry to get home with the Jeep, and thought that we would just take our time but get there safety. I said we, because I was travelling with four of the girls. One was joining me at class, two were heading to their theory class and one was off to her girls club.
As we headed down the road,  things were not looking the greatest. I said to the girls that the roads were not good and I was considering turning around. It wasn't slippery, but visibility was horrible. I couldn't see the line on the middle of the road, and I was very uncomfortable with that. The girls seemed nervous and were being very quiet, I think because they could feel how tense I was, so I let them know I was going to turn around when it was safe. I made the decision after I asked my sixteen year old what I should do. She just looked at me and said," it's up to you mom, your the one driving!"
I felt a sense of relief as soon as I turned the vehicle around and headed towards home, but I also felt horrible for knowing that I was letting down the people,that were expecting us to be were we said we would be. But overall, the feeling that I was making the best decision at that time, trumped any of the disappointment that others might have had in me.
It isn't always up to someone else to decide what storms we weather, and when we turn around and retreat back to safety. It isn't  wise to try and please others and not prepare,yourself for what is ahead. What is most important is what is best, wisest, and safest for you and those closest to you in that moment. I had to decide, and I knew that it was not worth the risk.
So how do we know. I probably could have made it safety to town, but what if  I didn't. What if I tried, and ended up in the ditch with the girls, or even worse. You never know, and that is why you trust your instincts and your surroundings, and follow your gut. I asked, and wanted confirmation to do what I knew was best all along, but that is our need to please people around us. Don't go with that. Especially when you are asking a group of young girls, none of which even drive.....what was I thinking?? Don't worry about how your decision might let others down, and don't turn off the voice of wisdom that says, turn around. Listen to the smartest, loudest, clearest voice. It is usually the one that could care less about pleasing people....listen to that.
There will always be storms. We will always have to make decisions. Like my situation tonight, life will bring you the same.  Sometimes it is going to be a very clear, smooth road to travel on, where visibility is 100%, and sometimes the road is going to be slippery, and messy with no clear view of where you are. Do what you need to do to stay safe. In my case, I had to turn around. Sometimes, you just need to pull over, take a break and keep going. Sometimes, you can call ahead and let people know it's just going to take you a little while longer. Whatever the case, make the right call. Do the right thing. Sometimes it really is ok to turn things around.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Joanne Grineage: The Big 2 Oh!!

Joanne Grineage: The Big 2 Oh!!: This week was the beginning of birthday season in our family. Ironically, Bailey, being the oldest, was born in the first month of the year,...

The Big 2 Oh!!

This week was the beginning of birthday season in our family. Ironically, Bailey, being the oldest, was born in the first month of the year, and this was a big birthday for her. This was a big birthday for her, but really, I think it was equally momentous for me. My baby girl turned TWENTY. I almost have to catch my breath every time I think about it. I seriously cannot believe that I have a twenty year old child.
Birthdays are always fun around here. We never were big on birthday parties per say, but when we are all here together, it's always a party. There is a birthday almost every month excluding February, July, August, and December, and usually we hold Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mothers and Fathers Day celebrations here as well. So lots of family time and always a wonderful thing when birthday season starts. But this birthday was a little different.
Bailey wasn't here for her actual day, but I sent her a birthday text very early that morning. It was funny, because I also received a few texts from friends, and Barry, who all said "can you believe that you have a twenty year old"? I am shocked and stunned by that but also a little flattered. It is very nice when people say they can't believe I have a child that age. It makes this old momma smile a little.
It's hard for woman sometimes. I mean, that is probably the biggest understatement I could make, because hard doesn't even touch on all that it really is, but hard says a little. Raising girls in a world full of so much garbage and negative influence is not easy. Our kids are homeschooled, but we do not live in a bubble. All of my children have been exposed to many of the same societal influences that your children are around, but just not on a daily basis. Some are positive but many are not. Little Miss Bailey is actually the main reason why we decided to homeschool the kids. We had her in the public school system for junior and senior kindergarten, but she just excelled beyond what was expected of her at that age in that setting, so we took her out and have not looked back.
What made things tough, was knowing that she was the first. We had to do it right the first time because there were six more after her, and we really wanted her to be a great example for the rest to follow. I say it all the time, but I am really one blessed mother. Bailey is probably the best first child anyone could ask for. She has all the traits of a typical first child...she is bossy, and motherly, bossy and a little bossy. But she has always been a loving encourager to her siblings, and even if she has to get the first and last word in, she always gives of herself to her siblings in any way possible. So cute, she always talked a lot, and over all of her siblings. For a while, she was a bit of a stammerer because she always wanted to get the first word in. I always new she was going to do well in life, and she has.
But ultimately, on this birthday, I looked back over the past twenty years, and would not change a single thing about it. I might try to slow time a bit, but it has been such a joy to watch this little girl grow into a strong, independent, intelligent young woman. As I reflect, I think about how we really only get one chance, and it really doesn't last long, but it is so very important. I don't take motherhood lightly. I know just how important this job is. I have seven children that are counting on me as a mother to do this right. I don't always do it right, but I always do my best. I say it to the kids all the time, just do your best.
So, I went to Toronto this weekend to celebrate with Bailey and I still can't believe it. I can't believe that twenty years ago when I was just twenty three years young myself, I became a momma. We like to tell the kids their "birth" day story on their birthday, and I wanted to do that when I went down, but I'm getting old...and I totally forgot. The birth story never changes, and never gets old. Among the many situations that occurred during Baileys birth story, when the doctor took the cord from around her neck and we heard her little cry, I saw Bear cut the cord, but I swear the cord just grew stronger. I looked at her this weekend and just feel in love again. She is twenty but she is still my baby. She is away from home but there is still the connection that we share. I kissed her cheeks to say goodbye, and you know what, she's still my baby. I don't care if she lives on her own and is in the big city. It doesn't matter how much time has passed or all that she has accomplished. Always mommas first, always my biggest baby.
So I've been a mother for twenty years, and I'm giving myself a big 'ole pat on the back, but it is not a job I do alone. I couldn't do it without daddy's help and I couldn't do it if I didn't pray over my children every single day. Every day I doubt myself, and I wish I could do things better. Every day I get frustrated that I goofed up or was a bad mom. But every day I smile at some point because I have had the privilege to be the momma of these awesome children for twenty years!!