(Please hit the jump to recipe button above to head straight for the Chia Seed Sourdough Bagels. Otherwise, let’s talk priorities. Specifically, mine.)
Jordan likes to joke that these days I go to bed with the chickens, and it’s true. I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line early to bed, early to rise became my favorite thing. But it hasn’t always been my thing. Once upon a time the late-night hours were my most favorites, and in the middle of a noisy, motion-filled day, I’d find myself thinking of them far too often. (And probably with excessive affection and longing.) I imagine that a lot of moms probably covet those hushed hours like I did; those peaceful hours after all of the wild children have been tucked away for the night. I would even make it a habit to outlast my husband, craving the solitude to do my thing and think my thoughts–uninterrupted. And completely alone.
Alone in the Dark
But as one day melted into the next, and I knew I’d be woken far too soon by squealing girls, I’d be forced to call the night quits. Turning off the lights, stepping over snoring dogs, locking doors, closing windows, letting in cats–the list of chores was always far too long for that late hour. But sometimes, in the midst of routine, I’d hear a quiet inner voice whisper–appreciate this moment.
And standing alone in the dark, before tiredly trudging up the stairs, I would.
I’d sink into that blissful awareness of knowing that everyone was safe and snug, warm and happy. I’d appreciate it because it was coupled with another knowing–the knowing that it wouldn’t always be like this. I probably wouldn’t always know where the girls were, if they were safe, what they were doing. They wouldn’t always all be protected under my roof. It was a moment of stopping time, or at least of hugging it tightly. I guess, basically, it was a moment of deep gratitude.
I’ve had a lot of those moments throughout the girls’ childhoods. Those conscious pauses to really experience and embrace life as it currently stands, knowing that all things will eventually–and inevitably–change. And repeatedly through the years, I’ve noticed one interesting phenomenon: Just as life seems to be gearing up for some really big shift, I all too often…get one more chance. One more chance to fully savor and enjoy whatever specific piece of my journey is currently drawing to a close. Most recently, it happened with homeschooling.
I really thought my homeschooling days were done when, two years ago, my youngest (Riley Mae) was finishing up high school and getting ready to take her GED. With a bittersweet mixture of relief and regret, we were both prepared to move on to whatever was waiting for us next. But things didn’t go exactly as planned because life happened instead. And as unexpected events unfolded, the textbooks got quietly tucked away.
But this flexibility is actually one of the things that I love most about homeschooling: If a societal norm or expectation doesn’t fit (like graduating promptly at eighteen), then I don’t need to conform to it. Which is pretty perfect because I don’t like most of society’s boxes; they’re stiff and stifling, and don’t allow for those out-of-the-box inspirations that I rely on so much.
Homeschooling allowed me to break lots of rules, rules that I felt inhibited the natural love of learning that kids are just innately born with. I realized very early on that homeschooling gave me the space to foster the individual strengths of each of my girls, while at the same time encouraging them to grow in the direction that suited them best. And while I do admit to being a fan of rules, we did much better making up our own.
And so first Taylor graduated and, following her love of learning, went on to college. And then Jordan graduated, dove into her art, and started her own business. They were both heading in directions that brought them joy, and I congratulated myself on educations well done (and well-rounded).
But while Riley Mae had almost completely finished the work, she hadn’t made it as far as her taking her GED tests. And while most homeschoolers we know skip this formality and jump right into community college, that wasn’t how we had decided to play it. But life was currently marching along in another direction, and we (reluctantly) marched right along with it.
All four of us were now busy growing (in ways beyond the boundaries of school). My novel was rewritten, and we had started this blog and business. My days were full, sometimes much too full, but I was happy to be doing something new after so many years of working algebra problems and science experiments. And the next two years passed in a hazy (and very busy) kind of blur.
But even with the structured homeschooling years behind us (or so I thought), it’s still a definitive part of who we are. It shaped all of us in more ways than I can count. There are some homechooled kids that I know who chose to keep the history of their education a secret, knowing that sometimes the judgments aren’t far behind. Others use it confidently, proving to their doubting college professors that they’re more than capable of doing the work (and often far surpassing expectations). Others like to wear it as a badge of their uniqueness. And still others, like us, don’t hesitate to share the history. Others, like us, want to show all of those naysayers that it can be done (and done well)–with well-adjusted, intelligent, articulate, and socially balanced humans as the end result.
Precisely because it plays such a part in who we are, I’ve known for a while now that our homeschooling experiences were something that I wanted to talk about here on the blog. And recently, after some interesting conversations with a friend, I made the decision to write a series of posts on the subject. We can chalk it up to just another one of those things that I can (and want to) offer a perspective on; largely because it’s still so misunderstood, but also simply because I love it. And while homeschooling techniques are wildly different from one family to the next (another of its greatest selling points), I still have experiences to share.
At the same time, I’m also committed to my Vegan Q&A series, and I haven’t even had a chance to dig into my spiritual series, but still–I’m doing this, too. And ten years from now, maybe all of these series will be complete (of course, I’ll probably have started ten more by then). Slow and steady wins the race, right?
Just a Mom
But today isn’t even technically a part of that homeschooling series; today is just a post on being a mom (who happened to homeschool), and what that means for me right now. Because even though we thought that Riley Mae’s schooling days were done…we were wrong. (Let me just say that 2019 was full of surprises.) But it took us a little while to figure things out, and we continued moving in the new directions we had chosen.
And then? Autumn 2019 rolls around. And just like every autumn, all of a sudden the world smelled like sharp pencils, pink erasers, and crisp notebooks. Just like every autumn, it had me considering new beginnings and fresh starts. And without either Riley Mae or myself being aware of it, both of us (independently) found our thoughts wandering back towards the days of school and wondering if now was the time.
The unfinished business of the GED had started nagging at each of us, and somehow, one small conversation started the ball rolling–fast. And here we are, once again immersed in biology and U.S. history. Solving equations and taking field trips. And getting one more unexpected chance to live these days all over again. This time, until completion.
Fondly Looking Back
And while it’s all Divine timing and I can see that (in more ways than one), I have a small confession to make. There are moments when I feel just a little bit sorry for myself because I was getting really (really) comfortable with…my freedom.
I mean, I loved our school years–loved them. And obviously, I chose them. And even though they unfolded during the most challenging part of my life (here), I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way. I have so many memories of us gathered around the table, workbooks open and pencils scratching. So many days spent studying the bees or the flowers or the trees. Papier mâché volcanoes and solar system dioramas. Reading our way through the Lord of the Rings on cold winter mornings, while three little girls munched on snacks and lost themselves in a world far, far away. The list of things that I look back on fondly is far too long to ever write here.
After all of those years, I was just getting a taste of it again; my life was starting to feel like my own. I mean, pockets of time (not limited to the late hours of night) where I could do whatever I wanted? It was like living a dream. And diving back into my novel meant I got lost in things other than solving for the variable and the behavior of bacteria. And it was fun. So. Much. Fun.
Because we all have priorities. I remember reading somewhere years ago that you can say whatever you want about them, but where you actually direct your energy is where you priorities truly lie. And I’ve used that barometer often through the years to gauge if I’m putting my energy exactly where I claim that I want it to go. For some it’s career or relationships, money or power. For others it’s service or spirituality, family or maybe even the cherished dog. But for me? Twenty-four years ago I decided it was going to be my kids, and for twenty-four years my life has reflected exactly that.
Have I messed up? Ummm…yes. I’ve offered more apologies and righted more wrongs than I care to admit to over the years. And I’ve spent even more time looking at those mistakes and deciding how I was most definitely doing them differently next time. But when I look back and do an overall scan, I know I’ve given it the best I had–for the most part. But this GED business really bothers me. And it seems like a really stupid thing to regret, especially since the opportunity to remedy it is here and freely offering itself to me. Regretting something I have the power to fix just seems like an enormous waste of my time and energy.
And what it boils down to is this: I have only one chance at raising these girls. I can’t go back and hit redo twenty years down the line when I realize I should/could have done it better; when I realize that my actions didn’t quite align with my priorities. And while there are definitely mornings when I’d rather pen a sequel, or draft a blog post, I don’t. Instead I correct papers, or I read history, or I decide what subject we need to review next. Why? Because when God gives me another chance, I try my best not to screw it up. And I guess the sequel will just have to wait until this last school-run is done…whenever that may be.
So sometimes the shop stays closed. And sometimes the sequels don’t get written. And all too frequently (as most of you know), I try to run away from the responsibilities of Instagram. But the energy pulled from those places is funneled directly into my priorities. And if God was crazy enough to trust me with the raising of these three humans, then I figure I should give it all I’ve got…and then give it some more.
Appreciate this moment, God whispers. So I do.
- 2½ cups rolled oats (ground into flour)
- ¼ cup chia seeds (ground into flour)
- ¼ cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup chia egg (see below)
- ½ cup sourdough starter
1. Add the oat flour, ground chia seed, coconut flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar to a mixing bowl and stir well to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, add the water, chia egg, and sourdough culture; mix well.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir well once again.
4. Form the dough into a large ball and flatten slightly. Slice the ball into 8 pie pieces and shape each slice into a ball. (Simply cut less slices if you prefer larger bagels.)
5. Place each ball onto a parchment lined baking sheet and flatten slightly. With a wet finger, form the bagel holes. Cover the bagels with a damp towel and let them rise for as little as an hour, or as long as overnight. The longer the bagels sit, the stronger the sourdough flavor.
6. Preheat the oven to 450°
7. Bring a soup pot full of water and ½ teaspoon of sea salt to a heavy boil. Gently place 4 bagels in the water, making sure that they have enough room to float freely. Boil for 2 minutes. The bagels may drop to the bottom of the pot at first, but should be floating on the top after 2 minutes.
8. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to absorb the excess liquid. Repeat the process until all of the bagels have been boiled. Let them sit for 5-10 minutes.
9. Place the bagels on a greased baking sheet and bake for 17-20 minutes. (These are super delicious and chewy eaten fresh from the oven!)
1. Grind 2 tablespoons of chia seed (I use a small coffee grinder) and add to a small bowl along with 1 cup of water. Immediately whisk thoroughly. Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken. ¼ cup of chia egg is equal to 1 egg.
2. Store any leftover chia egg in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Have a happy week, my friends. Much love ~ Melinda
For more vegan fare please hop on over to my Recipes page. Also, Chia Seed Sourdough bagels can be found in my cookbook, Compassion Tastes Better. And if you missed my post on how to grow your own sourdough starter, that can be found here!