Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The skinny about my opinion on body sizes, nutrition, and health

Let me warn you, I'm about to get on a soap box right now.  When it comes to weight, body size etc we have got it all wrong.  There.  That's the truth.

For starters, being thin/small/tiny doesn't automatically make you healthier.  That's a myth and it's time you stop believing it.  You can be a size 4 and have cholesterol through the roof. Sure, you can probably rock a bikini the rest of the population can't but you aren't healthy.
 The same is true on the other side.  You may not be a size 4 and be in excellent health.  When did we decide the size of a body is directly proportional to that person's health? 

Now that you know where I stand on that issue, here is another that comes closer to home, and gives me heartburn.  When did we decide that being thin or smaller than the average population is automatically a sign that someone has "eating issues"?.  
Considering we are constantly worried about childhood obesity, one would assume children who aren't near the obesity line would have nothing to worry about.  I'm here to tell you that isn't the case.

One of the (few) things I inherited from my paternal side were the genes that made me "smaller" than most.  I was painfully thin all through childhood, and suffered much teasing because of it.  Call it fast metabolism, good genes, or whatever you want, I am a small person, both in height and weight.  
I passed this gene to my children who are also thin.  One of these kids is now a teenage girl who has to endure comments like "oh my, you are so THIN! You need to eat more!" all the freaking time.

Those of you who know her can attest she doesn't look "sick".  She looks healthy, beautiful, shiny black hair, sparkling brown eyes.  There is nothing in her appearance that says this kid has an issue with food.  Still the comments keep coming.  The last comment I received made me laughed at this person:  "does she like food?"

Does she ever!!! She loves to cook, because she loves to eat.  She loves chocolate (I blame it on the constant chocolate craving I had while expecting her); and sweet tea.  She eats as any normal teenager would I suppose. Perhaps it's in her genes or in the fact she is a dancer and that means she dances from the moment she awakes to the moment she goes to bed (including those trips to walmart when she has to break out into a dance in the middle of the food aisle).

What really pisses me off is these people are usually parents of other teenagers! You would think because they have a child at home the same age, they would be more sensitive to the feelings of a teenage girl.  I have been rude many times when answering these people, and have bragged that she has "good genes", and that's probably the reason she can eat what she likes and not gain an ounce.

The thing is, I shouldn't have to say anything.  Because those comments should have never been made.  At least not in front of her.   Way to crush a girl's self esteem!

All I ever wanted was for my children to be confident in their own skin.  Whatever size they are, if they are healthy and happy, that's all I care about. On the same token, I am trying to be a good example for them, specially my daughter, about loving themselves and their bodies, regardless of what that body looks like.  Self confidence can only come from loving yourself, not from the label on the back of your jeans.

I have tried (not perfectly) to be confident in myself, and show my kids that age is just a number, and we can be healthy and happy without being supermodels as the media will have them believe.  I am the mom who wears a bikini alongside her teenage daughter to show her, even at 40+ years, 3 kids later, and a less than perfect body, I still believe in myself and I still believe I am beautiful.  Not in the artificial way that the media portraits, but in the way that can only come from knowing looks are just superficial, and what's inside is what matters most.

I like to think I've succeeded at that.  I watch her while she shops and she is daring and not afraid to try clothes on.  She doesn't care if she doesn't have the x,y,z attribute someone else does, she is happy with who she is.

Which brings me (the long way) around to healthy eating and better nutrition.  Remember when I mention how we love to eat?  Well, I forgot to mention we aren't huge fans of vegetables.  Mostly my fault.  I was the kid who refuse to eat anything green unless it was green cake or green ice cream.  

As I aged I became better at eating salads, and some more vegetables.  But it wasn't until after I turned 40 that I began to eat things like broccoli.  

Anyway, remember when I said looks can be deceiving?  Yep, they can be.  Although I am in good health, I've been fueling my body with the wrong fuel and well, since I'm now older I've noticed how it affects my energy label, etc; not to mention my weight, which in turn affects my joints, etc, etc.  Believe me, no one wants to feel old while they still think of themselves as young.

So I decided it is time to eat more veggies, less carbs, and cut down the crap (notice I said down, not out) so I can feel as young as I think I am.  
More than likely this will result in me losing weight, because less carbs tend to do that to a body.  

Please, I beg of you, don't make comments like "you didn't really need lose weight!".  You are right, I didn't.  The reason I made this decision had less to do with a number, and more to do with feeling good every day; rather than feeling like I ran a marathon in my sleep.  

I am hoping in the process I can introduce more veggies into our food rotation and get the kids to eat more things.  So they don't discover how good broccoli is when they are 40 like I did. Because it is good! Why didn't anyone tell me that for 40 years!!!

So please, stop judging people's health based on what you see outside.  Unless you have x-ray vision, you don't know what's beneath the surface.  

And if you have ever made a comment about my kids' weight, stop now.  Before this mom goes all "angry latina" on you.  Trust me, it wouldn't be pretty. 


Monday, August 10, 2015

Uncensored- Homeschooling

The opinions posted here are my own, and based solely on my personal experience with homeschooling.  While these may not be the "popular" opinions, they are mine.  I am sharing them, specially for those who may be curious about homeschooling, who may be considering it, or who are just simply nosy.  Because you know we all are a bit nosy.

Homeschooling is not "school at home".  Not in this house at least.  There are plenty of people who recreate a classroom environment at home.  That's fine and dandy but it isn't for me and my crew.  We do school at the dinner table, on the couch, in the bed, outside on lawn chairs.
We have a set number of assignments to do each day. We don't set timers, we don't have an alloted timeframe to do a subject each day.  Does that mean they get to goof off all day? Of course not.  It means if math is challenging, we work on it until we get it right.  Can't get cursive quite right? Not a problem.  We work for mastery, simple as that.  Some days school goes smoother and we are done earlier than others.  We don't "teach subjects" to the kids, we like to think we teach them to learn.  I love to see the spark in my kids' eyes when we talk about a topic they like, and watch them find a book, or a documentary so they can learn more about it.  That's what I've always dreamed of, sparking the love of learning.

I use secular curriculum.  I can imagine many shaking their heads right about now. When we first started, I used a Christian curriculum and I didn't like it.  It was filled with worksheets and my kids didn't respond well to that.  I also didn't feel it broaden my children's view of the subject matter the way I want it.

Don't misunderstand me.  I am not passing judgement on anyone who uses Christian materials.  We all use what we believe to be best for our kids.

I wanted my kids to get the type of education I received as a kid.  I grew up attending private catholic school, and it doesn't get any more conservative than that in my opinion.  We prayed before each class period, we had mass once per week and attendance was mandatory.  We had a chapel on campus and it was normal to spend a few minutes in silent prayer during recess. 
But it was in this same school where I learned about evolution in science, and eastern religions in history.  I want my kids to get the same broad understanding I received as a kid.  

Does that make me less of a Christian? I don't think so.  But I'm sure some will think so.  I try not to worry about everyone's opinions when it comes to how I raise my family.

Oh here comes a biggie.  It seems the million dollar question these days isn't about socialization of homeschool kids.  It's about whether or not parents without a college education can homeschool their kids and do so effectively.  

The question is, if you weren't good at math in school, how can you teach your kids math?  or science? or english? and the list goes on.
Well, do you know if your kids' teacher in school was good at the subject they are teaching at school right now? 
Let me be honest with you about my decision to homeschool.  If my husband and I hadn't attended college, I wouldn't have ever considered homeschooling.  Call me a chicken s***, but I would have been terrified to even attempt to do so. We may be on the minority here when it comes to our education level, and I don't know what the answer to the million dollar question is. 
What I do know is there are thousands of resources out there to teach those subjects you didn't particularly like in school.  Like biology in my case.  There are co-ops where another soul braver than me can teach my kids how to dissect a frog, etc.  There are online classes, and classes offered by retired teachers too.
I worry less about whether a homeschool parent has a college degree; and more about whether the kid is learning.  That goes for kids who attend regular school too. Do parents need a college degree to help kids with the homework they bring home from school?  Because, let's phase it, a lot of learning happens at home after the kids get home from school. 
Neither of my parents went to college.  I attended school and yes, I needed help with homework too.  Here I am, many moons later, with both a bachelor and master degrees in engineering.  I think they did a fine job helping with homework, and inspiring me to find the answers on my own.

You know, when you say "Oh I could NEVER do that", I don't believe you.  You want to know why? Because I was THAT person who said I would never homeschool. Then I was phased with a crossroad and we had to consider it.  When someone utters that phrase, I wonder if they are passing judgement.  Do they think I don't love my kids as much as they do? Do they feel I took the "easy" way out?

People say "oh I don't know HOW you do it".  I've been hearing that phrase since my twins were born.  I don't know HOW I do it either, I just do.  Because it has to be done.  Because I love my kids and want what's best for them.  How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.  That's how I tackle our homeschooling journey.

And while I'm at it, let me state this for the record.  There is nothing wrong with my kids. We don't homeschool because they have "social" issues.  They are well adjusted, fun, easy going, kids.  They make friends easily, they are typical kids.  There are no labels or diagnosis for any of them. Our decision to homeschool them had nothing to do with their ability to attend "regular" school.  Don't ask me if they have (insert a label here) because you are bound to get a "look" and a reply you may not like.

Homeschooling isn't free by the way.  We don't get anything from the school district we are in, at least not in this state.  That means the cost of curriculum and school supplies is all on us.  Paper, pencils, electricity, food, ink for the printer, internet?  It is all paid by us. There is no "taxpayer" money funding my homeschool.

I could go on and on but I'll leave you with this.  We all don't look the same, homeschool the same, or share the same educational philosophies.  We all arrived at this decision from a different place.  Some people do it for religious reasons, others because of the school district where they reside, others because they feel their kids are better served at home.  I've found homeschoolers and regular people are very quick to assume all families arrived at the same place from the same location.  Just as we are all different, so are homeschool families.  

As for us, our kids are better served at home for now.  What the future may bring, I do not know.  Our kids are learning and thriving, and we are learning along with them.  They have friends, they are happy, and so are we.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


So this idea that I need to reinvent my blog has been pestering me for a while. The thing is I am a mom, I homeschool, and I also have a career.  Those 3 things are part of my daily life, and one couldn't exist without the other two.  I want this blog to capture all those aspects of my life that I seldom share.
I don't want this blog to be all about homeschooling, because there are other things I enjoy (ask me how many books are on my nightstand).  I don't want it to completely ignore the fact we educate our kids at home; and are slowly trying to break all the stereotypes that come with that responsibility.  Lastly, I don't want it to be all about my career.  Although it is important to me, there is a whole lot more to me than environmental regulations, and databases.

I also don't want it to be all about opinions.  Yes I have plenty of them, and will share my thoughts on those that are close to my heart.  So don't expect my opinion on celebrities, because seriously, who the heck cares about them.  

So Fasten your seatbelts! This ride may be a little bumpy and crazy, and may be full of surprises.