Wednesday, April 29, 2020

How to not wear face masks at Costco or elsewhere

I am NOT against face masks. To date, our church has sewn over 1,200 surgical masks, and approx. 200 cotton masks, for use by medical professionals and the public during this pandemic. 

However, this should be a voluntary action, not mandated by a store and forced on everyone, especially when there are no laws requiring the wearing of masks in many places, such as my entire state of Arizona. 

Costco is set to implement a policy that mandates all customers must wear face masks starting Monday, May 4th. I have many reasons to be against such an order, which I will share in a separate post. 

In the meantime, here is what you can do to fight back:

1. Contact Costco (local store manager, corporate customer service number, website, email, social media). Every local manager I spoke with welcomed this feedback, and it was obvious that the vast majority of them do not agree with this policy.

2. Cancel your membership for a full refund on May 3rd, 2020 (or before that date). This will send a strong financial signal to Costco. 

3. Take your business to stores that have no such policy, or use Instacart and Amazon instead. Locally, Sprouts stores have stood out above and beyond every other store in how well they have been treating their customers, keeping inventory in stock, continuing to run great sales, etc. 

4. Tell the person at the door that you have a medical condition that prevents you from wearing a face mask. They are not allowed to inquire about your condition, nor are they allowed to turn you away. Several store managers have confirmed to me that they will permit members to enter without a face mask who tell them they cannot wear a mask. 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Baby blessings

***Warning*** This post may induce baby fever. 

Like everyone else, my life has its ups and downs. Life in any size family is not without challenges. My mother used to say, "Little children, little woes, big children, big woes" and that has held true. Not because the older kids are more trouble, but because as they turn into adults, their problems are adult problems, making them so much more relatable, while at the same time less fixable, and thus more painful to a parent's heart.

But oh, the joy that a baby in the house brings every single day without fail! I have been incredibly blessed to have had a baby in the house every day for over 18 years now. Incredible! God has been so good to us. We call the babies "joy bringers" because that's the best way to describe them. They are pure, innocent, perfect beings that daily spread joy just by their existence. And that's to say nothing of the fact that they are squishy cuddlebugs that smell like heaven. 

Little Eva has been an exceptionally easy and pleasant baby. She has literally never even caused us the typical baby "trouble," sleeping and eating nicely from birth, and always so content. On the rare occasion when she does cry, it is only ever for something major, like getting startled, and even then it's more of a whimper than an all-out scream.

With Chloe only 3 years old, I have two sweet little girls in the house right now. Chloe herself is a very gentle soul. She loves to sit, completely absorbed in an activity for long periods of time, quietly humming and singing to herself as she plays.

Every morning, Chloe likes to sleep in. Every morning, Chloe also likes to snuggle up with me in my bed. Due to her having 10 siblings, the two are incompatible. I typically get out of bed two hours before Chloe gets up. Every morning, the first words out of her mouth are, "Why did you get up before I could cuddle you?" It's both sad and cute. I would LOVE to stay in bed waiting for her until she gets up late into the morning, but it's simply not possible in a household our size. Occasionally, Chloe wakes up before dawn, and climbs into my bed for snuggles before I have gotten up yet. Those mornings are rare, but glorious. Most other days, when Eva wakes up (in my bed, and usually even later than Chloe), I go back to nurse her, and Chloe comes along to get those long-awaited snuggles while I take a short break. 

Chloe, like all of us, is smitten with Eva. As I lay next to Eva nursing her yesterday morning, Chloe hugged us both and said in her sweet little voice, "God gave us a very good gift," referring to Eva. Oh my soul! Later in the day, she again hugged me as I sat rocking Eva in the rocking chair, and said "God loves us very much." Oh the joy of glimpsing into a pure heart! Children are such precious souls. They must bring so much joy to God - like mankind before the fall.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. - James 1:17

God has blessed me abundantly in giving me 11 precious souls to care for in all these years. Not a day goes by that they don't remind me of His goodness and mercy. I thank and praise God for giving me these precious gifts.

Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 
- Hebrews 6:14

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

This is NOT homeschooling

Now that we seasoned home educators everywhere have sufficiently chuckled and needled at the fact that suddenly, homeschooling is the new government mandate, I wanted to pause and clarify that crisis homeschooling is very different from real-life home education.

We are not locked up at home all day

Parents who unexpectedly find themselves locked up at home most of the day with kids that are usually gone might be on the brink of losing their minds. If being on lockdown all day, every day were what homeschooling in real life looked like, I dare say few of us would choose it. No, it does not make you a bad mom to not want to be within touching distance of needy people all day without any outside activities or distractions. 

The fact of the matter is that most homeschool families are very involved in outside activities, and often spend time away from home on a daily basis. That could be anything ranging from co-op classes, to field trips, P.E. groups, and extracurricular interests such as chess, theater, speech and debate, archery, ballroom dancing, music lessons, craft classes, and on and on. And that's to say nothing of leaving the house for everyday activities such as shopping and running errands. 

Being on home confinement as an adult is hard enough for many. Being on lockdown unexpectedly with a house full of kids is NOT typical homeschooling. 

We socialize with others on a grand scale

The most commonly expressed concern with homeschooling is "socialization," i.e. making sure that kids grow up as part of, and integrated into, society. This as opposed to being a misanthropic recluse. I have met a few of the latter, incidentally none of whom had been home educated themselves. 

That's because in real life, home educated students are actually exposed to infinitely MORE people than students locked in a classroom for most of the day. In school, kids are mostly only able to socialize with other children, of their own age and aptitude. In real life, home educated kids interact with siblings of all ages and grade levels, observe working adults in the real world, get to spend more time with extended family, and are exposed all day long to the full gamut of those who make up society, including fringe demographics like the homeless or people with disabilities.

Hands down, home education is far more socially diverse and inclusive than a classroom setting ever could be. To suddenly be isolated is challenging for everyone, including homeschoolers, as this is entirely opposite our normal lives. 

It is well-planned 

Aside from a few exceptions, most parents who choose to home educate do so out of concern for their child's education and well-being. We are responsible parents who take initiative, fully realizing that if we take our kids out of school, it is now up to us to make sure they get a solid education. As a result, we spend many hours researching the best curriculum to match our kids' individual learning styles and aptitudes. We attend homeschool conventions, read every book available on the topic, connect with our local homeschool communities, and otherwise do all in our power to be fully equipped. 

We already have textbooks, lesson plans, and daily routines we rely on. No need to wait on the school district to figure out which way is up, how to switch from classroom to virtual teaching, no need to wait for laptops to be issued, etc. We know where our kids are at in each of their subjects, and stand ready to help them since we have been by their side, educationally speaking, the entire time. There is no learning curve or sudden adjustment. Our approach is not haphazard, we are not panicked or insecure, and we don't view this educational approach as an emergency measure, a band-aid until the school system bails us out. 

In other words, this is "just another day at the office" for us. 

We were not thrust into this

Those of us who have been homeschooling for years were not thrust into this lifestyle overnight, thrown into the deep end of an ice-cold pool as it were. Most of us had a gentle, gradual, planned entry. This is especially true for those of us who have been home educators all along, since we started with just one kindergarten student. 

This has repercussions in countless areas: we are accustomed to cooking for and feeding our kids three meals a day, rather than relying on school to provide lunch and in most cases even breakfast. Our homes are set up to handle people living in it all day long. Our routines are based on having kids around, rather than being kid-free most of the day. Our parenting and discipline are such that we can handle being around our kids, all of them, all day long without life becoming one long, miserable countdown to bedtime. 

Most importantly, we CHOSE homeschooling. It was not foisted on us, unexpectedly, in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, amidst unprecedented measures and the anxieties they produce. 

How are the current situation and regular home education alike? 

Take heart, there are some things that are the same. We all are far from being perfect parents, doing our best. We all can only make it by the grace of God. We all could do better. We all get irritated by and tired of our kids at some point. We all second-guess ourselves daily. We all have kids who resist learning and feign cluelessness to wiggle out of school work or other responsibilities. We all think our kids are the best, smartest, and cutest in the world. We all love them with all of our hearts and want only the best for them. 


This post was inspired by a German news article I read this morning. The German ministers responsible for education are actually using the English word "homeschooling" to refer to the current state of education, in which parents are to continue their kids' education at home with textbook assignments sent through online portals (but no online teaching). Imagine the irony in that! For decades, Germany has been one of a few European countries where homeschooling is not just illegal, but actively squelched. Parents who choose to home educate anyway face anything from government harassment to fines to termination of parental rights or even imprisonment. It would be unfathomable to see children of school age accompany their parents in public spaces during school hours. Those who home educate have to do so in secrecy and fear, not the freedom and widespread acceptance we are accustomed to here in the US and other parts of the world. 

Even now, those same German authorities are stressing the fact that this "homeschooling" situation is temporary, because children need social interactions beyond their immediate family. Whoa there, Sherlock! Tell us something we don't know. To compare unexpectedly doing school at home while being locked up with little to no outside activities or interactions to homeschooling is unfair and deceptive. 

If you had considered home education in the past, but this current crisis has you pulling your hair out, please do not let it dissuade you from pursuing homeschooling in the future. This is NOT our normal.