Hmm. Apparently it’s been over 2 months since I published a blog post. That may be a new record for me. There probably are a few reasons why it’s been so long, but the top two come to mind pretty easily.
The first is that it’s just so easy to live here. My most prolific blog-writing times are right after I move to a new post, as I process all the newness of the place. I did write several posts soon after we arrived here, but I don’t think it was as many as I usually write early on at a new post. Frankly, after living in Egypt and Cambodia, Kosovo just doesn’t feel “foreign” enough to inspire those getting-adjusted posts! My neighborhood feels American, the supermarket feels American (though I don’t use Google Translate nearly as much—read: ever—at American grocery stores), I no longer am a minority in terms of race, and to top it all off, I settled in socially much more quickly here, due to a great embassy community and quick contact with my traditionally sought-out group, the missionaries. So I just don’t have the amount of processing and adjusting to do here as I did in either of our last two posts.
The second quick and easy reason why I haven’t posted in so long is that I’ve felt very busy. Homeschooling only takes up 30 or so minutes each day, but somehow it feels like it takes much more time than that. And—at the risk of sounding elitist—it has been an adjustment for me to be cleaning my own house again. We were able to hire an absolutely wonderful full-time housekeeper in Cambodia for a price that inspired her to do a happy dance in my kitchen and that also was lower than we would have had to pay for a one-morning-a-week cleaning service in the States; domestic help here also is less expensive than in the States, but it’s significantly more expensive than in Cambodia, and we decided that it made more sense for me to clean the house myself here. But it does seem to take a lot more time than it really should, probably because I never really have focused a lot of effort on learning to be an efficient housekeeper. It’s past time to change that. In addition to teaching Alexa and cleaning the house, the active social scene here has contributed (in a good way) to my feeling of busy-ness.
As if all of that weren’t enough—and it shouldn’t be, though it is—I’ve also been spending a good bit of time looking up recipes online. I’m contemplating a major change in my diet and have started taking small steps in that direction. I don’t buy into the pseudo-religious idea that our distant ancestors’ diet was perfect and that all modern innovation in food production results in poison, but I am beginning to be convinced that there is more about our food that matters than calorie count and whether it’s a protein, carb, or fat. It was an easy sell that whole, minimally processed foods are healthier than foods that are highly processed, added to and subtracted from. After all, it’s pretty intuitive that a whole apple provides more nutritional value, with fewer calories, than a similar volume of apple juice or applesauce that has had sugar and preservatives added and fiber removed; it’s also easy to see that refined sugar offers little to no value in exchange for quite a few calories. It was a harder sell, but I’m beginning to come around to the idea we may be better off limiting or avoiding specific other foods as well, in particular grains. The jury is still out, but I have been looking up paleo recipes—these recipes always avoid grains, legumes, and highly processed foods. They usually avoid dairy as well. I’ve found lots of good recipes and have started limiting grains—I’ve found that a couple of days without grains results in me feeling more tired but still better overall, with less stomach discomfort. (Every website I’ve read has said that it’s normal to feel tired and even headachy when switching away from a grain-based diet, as the body adjusts to getting more of its calories from fats than from carbs.) I’ve never had major issues with my stomach, but I have felt mild to moderate discomfort so often that it’s come to be normal, not even something I notice or complain about, but I do notice its absence when I avoid grains. I’m not ready to take the plunge into a completely paleo (or primal, if you prefer) lifestyle, but I’m gradually moving more in that direction. To be honest, I probably won’t ever go fully paleo, but since I do seem to feel better with fewer grains, that’s what I’m going with for now.
I also have spent some time recently looking at options for Alexa’s PreK curriculum next year. (I’m considering this year preschool, next year PreK, and the following kindergarten.) I like Sonlight’s P4/5 package as a base curriculum, but even if I add the kindergarten language arts to it, I think the phonics instruction will be too much review and not enough new material for her. So I’m considering purchasing a separate program to teach her to read, possibly All About Reading, or for a more economical option, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons or The Reading Lesson: Teach Your Child to Read in 20 Lessons. We’ll probably use Handwriting Without Tears PreK. I haven’t gotten around to looking at the math options yet, but we'll almost certainly work through some of the Mathematical Reasoning workbooks that are included in Timberdoodle's preschool and PreK curricula; we'll probably start those sometime this spring.
That’s most of what’s been filling my time lately and why I haven’t been posting much. I’m not sure when I’ll start having more time again—or inspiration—so I apologize now if it’s another two months before I post again.