Lefse Day

Every year, we gather with our lodge family to make lefse.  It is an all-day affair.  It is a great social time, allowing everyone to chit chat as we work collaboratively.  This year, the lodge here in Northern California used 140 lbs of potatoes and we yielded 75 dozen lefse!

Lefse is a traditional soft, Norwegian flatbread. Lefse is essentially made from riced potatoes, flour, and milk or cream, and cooked on a griddle – however, the recipes vary with each family.

lefseday

Growing up, lefse was prepared as a special treat for the holidays. We still make it every holiday season and prefer to eat ours with butter and cinnamon sugar. You can also spread them with jam and peanut butter, cream cheese, or nutella, or you can go the savory route and roll up your Thanksgiving Day leftovers.

Every year, Sons of Norway lodges around the country gather to make lefse for their members or for annual bake sales. My kids have always loved to help in the kitchen and have thereby made lefse since they were toddlers. My daughter has become quite adept at rolling and my son prefers to man the grilling stations.

Historically, the first lefse in Norway didn’t contain potatoes, it was made only from flour. Women would travel from house to house, village to village to make lefse to last the winter months. The flour lefse would cook up like a cracker and be able to last through the season.Many households stored their lefse is wooden boxes covered in cloth or just stacked on shelves. When you were ready to enjoy some lefse it was dipped in water and soaked between damp cloth until softened.

Potatoes were introduced some 250 years ago which were easy to grow and soon abundant. The potato was thereby  incorporated into many Norwegian foods, even lefse!

Like Ireland, Norway suffered from the effects of the potato famine in the mid-1800′s, which is about the time that many Norwegians came to the United States. They brought their knowledge and rolling pins. The result is a Norwegian potato bread delicacy that’s part of a special tradition replicated in many Norwegian-American homes for more than 150 years.

A tradition that you can be part of once again. For everything you need to know about making lefse, visit my Squidoo lens, How to Make Lefse.

Meeting Dr. Jane Goodall

“Roots creep underground everywhere and make a firm foundation. Shoots seem very weak, but to reach the light, they can break open brick walls. Imagine that the brick walls are all the problems we have inflicted on our planet. Hundreds of thousands of roots & shoots, hundreds of thousands of young people around the world, can break through these walls. We CAN change the world.”   ~ Dr. Jane

I first met Jane Goodall at an Oregon Science Teachers Association (OSTA) Convention in the fall of 1997. She greeted us with her infamous pant-hoot and spoke of her desire to see young people come together to make the world a better place.  I of course knew who Jane was .. but this was the first time I had heard of Roots & Shoots. Her message touched me that evening. I purchased her book, Reason for Hope, and as she signed my copy, I informed her that she had always been an inspiration to me but as of today, I would do my part as well.  I wanted to create a Roots & Shoots group of my own.

A dream fulfilled by my children, Oct 2011

I thereby returned to the classroom and immediately started an after-school Roots & Shoots group at one of the two elementary schools at which I worked. Twice a month, a group of students in grades 4-6th gathered in my classroom.  We engaged in a variety of activities and projects … each addressing one of the three goals of Roots & Shoots:  Care and Concern for Animals, Care and Concern for the Environment, and Care and Concern for the Community.  In the fall of 2000, we were invited to participate in a Roots & Shoots Summit in Seattle, Washington.  One student was able to join me … many were involved in sports or couldn’t afford the airfare (we had limited time to raise funds).   We spent the entire day with Roots & Shoots groups from all over the Pacific Northwest; sharing our projects with one another, networking, and listening to Dr. Jane share stories of what had inspired her as a young girl.  It was a wonderful experience for us both.

Meeting Dr. Jane for a second time with a student

Though I left the formal classroom setting when my daughter was born, I maintained my Roots & Shoots membership.  Shortly after my son was born in 2005, I had an opportunity to hear Dr. Jane talk again.  Her presence is so captivating … so at peace.  I knew it was time to again facilitate a group and I thereby started a group for preschoolers.  My children have thereby grown up with Roots & Shoots being an integral part of their lives.  I talk about Dr. Jane frequently and I love sharing her stories with the children.

Before we moved to Northern California, I had known that Dr. Jane was coming to Oregon.  Originally, I had planned to volunteer at the public lecture she was going to give in Bend … but with our move .. that plan changed.  However, I wasn’t going to allow an opportunity for my children to meet her to pass us by.  We thereby made the 7 hour drive to Salem for the Oregon Roots & Shoots Summit.

Clipping invasive blackberry vines

Raking the vines that others had clipped

We arrived in the morning and were thereby able to take part in a service learning project close to our hearts … stream bank restoration; removing invasive blackberry vines. In the afternoon, we took part in the giant peace dove parade and visited the booths of the other groups and several non-profits.

At our booth with Grandma awaiting Dr Jane’s arrival

We had a booth ourselves as well … we chose to exhibit photographs of our projects as well as our nature journals.  Several people showed an interest in how we undertook the interpretive sign project.  Everyone was impressed with the quality of the kids’ illustrations.

Dr. Jane arrives at our booth

Sharing our journals & projects

She posed for a picture with us and suggested the kids hold their journals for the photograph.  As she stepped away she remarked, “Your drawings look like those of an 18-year old.”  The kids were all smiles after that and remarkably, we soon had a small crowd of people curious about our work.

Linked to Hip Homeschool Hop 10/18/11

Top 10 Reasons to Homeschool

Families choose to homeschool for many reasons. The choice to homeschool is also difficult. Those who have chosen this lifestyle can attest that while there are obstacles and challenges, the benefits far out weigh the negatives. Today, I share with you my Top 10 reasons to homeschool.

  • Love of Learning 

Learning is a natural process for a child from the moment they are born. As parents, we naturally teach our children all sorts of skills. We teach them about the world around us. When my oldest turned five, I really got serious about my role as teacher to my children. Gathering all the books I could find and I began my research. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to “do school” but to teach naturally as we went through our day.  Making regular trips to the library, zoo, OMSI, parks, and errands around town I used each moment to show my kiddos the world.  Often, while in the car, we would call out numbers on the speed signs and find different letters and say their sounds. In the early years, I relied on our surroundings as our primary curriculum. Learning became a lifestyle.

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  • Flexibility 

Homeschooling allows much flexibility. Since the state of Oregon doesn’t require notification until age seven, you can wait until your child is ready for formal schooling. I discovered most boys, and some girls, are not physically ready until they are seven or eight or beyond. Students are required to take standardized tests at grades 3, 5, 8 and 10th in math and language arts. This gives you, as the teacher, incredible liberty to teach what is important to you and interesting to your child. My kids learned the life cycle of a butterfly by finding a caterpillar in the backyard. They set up a terrarium and created a notebook.  Using a field guide for reference, they drew the stages as they saw it. Hands on learning at its best. For people who prefer more structured learning, the curriculum choices are plentiful, but that is a whole other post.

  • Class Size

You may chuckle, but if you think about it, where else will your child get a teacher student ratio of 1:1, or even 1:3 (depending upon the number of siblings)? The child gets the attention and the assistance needed to be successful. We have two in our school, but we have always been in a learning co-op where we study topics such as art, geography, and science. This gives them the class atmosphere some think they are missing. Other opportunities in the homeschool community include sign language, field trips, classes, ski and swim lessons, which vary in attendance. Many students are involved in Scouts, Awana, National Honor Society, Speakers for Jesus speech club, and various service projects that build social skills.

  • Teacher choices

Often my kids get jokingly asked if they like their teacher. Since they have had me their whole lives they are at an advantage. I know their strengths, weaknesses, methods they have learned by, and what they know. This makes moving easy, too, since they don’t have to changes schools. Since I am not skilled in every subject, I have others teach. My oldest works with a native speaker to learn Mandarin Chinese.  Both kiddos study piano under the tutelage of a local musician.  Teachers are hand picked.

  • Learning Styles 

Each individual has a unique learning style. Visual, Auditory, and Kinetic are three main avenues through which a person obtains information. Formal education is primarily visual. If a student does not fit in this category he/she is labeled and often medicated. My youngest son is definitely a kinetic learner. When learning to read, he would wiggle‚ on the couch by me, read a word or two, run down the hall to the bathroom only to release some energy, not to use the toilet. My oldest, who is able to listen to complex science & history documentaries and follow along, is a strong auditory learner. Instead of feeling dumb, they are allowed to learn the unique way God designed them.

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  • Quality 

I am able to customize the curriculum each year for each child. I can cater to their needs, interests and learning styles. There is an enormous amount of curriculum from which to choose. I can also choose their teachers. In my opinion, this gives them the highest quality education.

  • Developing Talents and Interests 

Do you have a child who is gifted in a particular area? I do. When my oldest was five, she expressed an interest to learn Chinese. It took some doing, but we eventually found an instructor for her.  She can now read, write and speak Mandarin.  She picks it up very quickly and is increasingly passionate about the culture. When my youngest son was four, I noticed he would gently play the piano whenever around one. I vowed never to force my kids to take lessons unless they truly had a desire. Seeing this in my son, and upon his request (“But I’m serious!“), I sought out a teacher. He would practice multiple times throughout the day, because he had the time. Education at home allows time to discover and develop interests.

  • Work Ethic

Last year my kids and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the High Desert Museum. Responsible for leading nature walks and informing visitors about the natural history of the high desert, much was learned. In the past we have also volunteered as living history interpreters, portraying an 1880s homestead family. Home education lends real life opportunities to develop strong work ethic and explore careers, which is invaluable.

  • Family Relationships

I have said many times if you get along with your siblings 24/7 you can get along with anyone! My kids are best friends; it amazes me. They share friends and help each other with assignments.  Through the homeschool environment, the kids learn how to interact with a variety of ages.  They develop a stronger sense of family and shared responsibility.

  • Faith and Character Training

This is only possible through spending time together, consistently correcting and guiding.

Although the reasons are endless, these ten areas influence me the most to continue educating my children at home.

The Old Wisdom: A Poem by Jane Goodall

I have been fortunate to see Jane Goodall speak on several occasions. Each time has been remarkable. Her demeanor and spirit are inspirations to me. I adore her. It is my hope that my own children will get an opportunity to know her – to know her work – as I do.

The Old Wisdom by Jane Goodall

When the night wind makes the pine trees creak
And the pale clouds glide across the dark sky,
Go out, my child, go out and seek
Your soul: the eternal I.For all the grasses rustling at your feet
And every flaming star that glitters high
Above you, close up and meet
In you: the eternal I.

Yes, my child, go out into the world; walk slow
And silent, comprehending all, and by and by
Your soul, the Universe, will know
Itself: the eternal I.

Bill Moyers interviews Jane Goodall

How Did We Get Here?

When I was teaching in NB, I thought about homeschooling only on a few occasions. One of my husband’s colleagues, a hospital pharmacist, homeschooled his children. A few years prior, I had had the opportunity to interview him for a paper I wrote in college. I had only a vague understanding.

There were several families that had enrolled their children in public school after educating them in their homes for a number of years. The ages of the children, the number of children in the family, and the number of years they were educated at home varied amongst the families. However, the one thing they had in common was that all the children were excited about learning, were responsible and well mannered. Model students, really. I became intrigued.

When Sweetie was born, I knew immediately that I would stay at home with her. In the beginning, this transition was very difficult. I struggled with my decision to be ‘just a mommy’… I struggled with my identity.

My plan was to return to the classroom when my own children started school. As those years got closer, however, I began to think about our options. Other parents were comparing elementary schools, considering private, magnet or charter schools. The common questions I heard were, “Where is Sweetie going to preschool? Have you thought about Kindergarten, yet? Will she go to your neighborhood school? Are you going to try to get into Amity Creek or Westside Village? We are on the wait list at High Lakes.” Words that could have been scripted for a movie! She is only 5 – what does it really matter!?

I started to pull away from all this discourse and began to really give thought to educating my own children. I asked several of my teacher friends about their opinions and they stated the typical, “What about socialization?” The one argument that I thought the most about was, “Your strength is science. How are you going to teach the areas in which you are less comfortable? Their education won’t be as well rounded because they won’t have been taught by a variety of teachers with varying strengths and weaknesses.”

Sweetie’s birthday falls just 2 weeks after the cut-off. She would thereby not start public kindergarten until 2008. In April of ’07, I had registered her for preschool for the fall. However, as September approached and as we began to do projects for the fair, I knew she was ready for kindergarten. Her best friends and her cousin were starting kindergarten and she wanted to as well.

Another colleague of my husbands, coincidentally, another pharmacist, homeschooled their children through junior high. I asked them everything that crossed my mind. The idea of homeschooling became more fascinating to me. I started doing a lot of research. When I discovered Charlotte Mason and her approach to education, I knew immediately that I wanted to give homeschooling a try. 2007-08 became an experiment. If it worked – we’d continue. If not, Sweetie would start Kindergarten in the fall. No loss.

For Sweetie, I want to homeschool because she is bright and perceptive. I want to challenge her and not hold her back. I want her to continue to have the opportunity to explore areas of interest to her – living history, crochet and needlework, archeaology, nature study, and art. I want her to grow to be an independent, confidant young woman. I fear her self-esteem could be wounded – her true self altered to please others.

For Buddy, I want to homeschool because he is active and spirited. I fear that in the classroom setting he would be labeled as ‘attention-deficit’. He has Congenital Nystagmus and I don’t want others to judge him as my brothers were. I want him to have the opportunity to explore areas of interest to him – animals, construction, and nature study.

To my delight, homeschooling has been a challenging and very rewarding experience. We begin our 2nd year more knowledgeable. More connected. More prepared.

How about you? Whether you homeschool or enroll your children in public or private school… how did you come to your decision? Leave a link in the comments and I’ll add you to the list below. All participants (excluding me, of course) are eligible for a prize – see my Friday Freebie #3 post for more details.

Click on one of the following links to read similar posts by other families:

Are You Going to Kindergarten? by Teacher of One
Our Adventure in Homeschooling by Alex
A Rocky Start to Homeschooling, Then I Found the Path by Barb
How & When Did We Decide to Homeschool by Neely
When and How Did You Start Homeschooling by Cellista

Sons of Norway

While I was in college, I was a member of the local Sons of Norway lodge. I was not active by any means but I enjoyed reading the Viking publication that would arrive in mailbox and I looked forward to traveling to Norway some day. The primary reason why I wasn’t active is because there were no other young members – though my great aunt and uncle were long-time members, social functions were a little awkward. I also worked 30+ hours a week on top of my 18+ term credit load… I really didn’t have the time.

As a parent, I want the best for my children. As a homeschooling mom, I look for every opportunity to provide educational experience for them. I have known there is an active lodge here in Central Oregon since we first moved here… all things Norwegian tend to grab my attention.

A few weeks ago, I happened to drive by the lodge and I noticed there were a few cars parked outside. On a whim, I stopped and inquired within about the make-up of the members. I hoped there would be other young families so that I could make connections… I didn’t want to feel isolated and I wanted the kids to be welcome… their exhuberance and all.We attended our first Sons of Norway social last night and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, as one would guess, the majority of the members are elderly… yet there were several young members… and the kids made friends with them immediately. Come to find out, the one family with whom I had connected when I first stopped are long-time homeschoolers themselves (though the girls are all in college). It was a little difficult at times to keep all the kids quiet at times – but all in all, the other members were very welcoming and accepting. I didn’t have a chance to visit with many but those I did talk with were very warm. I look forward to future gatherings. It will be a great opportunity for us all to learn about our cultural heritage and make new friends.

Vi sees (See you later).