Tag Archives: urban homestead

Summer School

summer school

We do summer school.

Some homeschoolers take the summer off. We go year round. Some homeschools are structured. Some are completely unstructured. We are semi-structured. What I mean by that is that Yak has a daily list of assignments that he can pursue on his own time, within reason. I want his assignments done by 2 pm because often I will have a project for us to work on together. Usually, these projects are school related. Some days we have a field trip or something to do in the morning, which moves assignments to later in the day. Or even gives him a day off from his assignments.

We do school on Saturdays.

Yak gets his assignments done in 2-3 hours a day, so doing school on Saturdays is not unreasonable. It is a lighter assignment day, though. Usually, we will have some “alternative” schooling going on Saturdays, as well. This also keeps us moving towards finishing up high school requirements. Now we can move on to exploring life skills and possibilities for making a living. Deciding whether or not college will factor in. Did you gasp? Look around. Today’s college grads have lots of debt with student loans but they have to claw their way into any kind of decent job. College is not the solution that it used to be. Unless your student has a clear notion of wanting to enter the medical, legal, or engineering professions.

bike cruisers

So what are some of our alternative schooling and projects?

Learning to cut and fit new light panels in grandpa’s ceiling.

Caulking the bathroom sink.

Brushing, skimming and vacuuming the pool.

Working on mom’s truck: replacing brake lights, fuses, learning to check the fluids.

Fixing up the bikes we got at a yard sale: washing, replacing tires, adjusting brakes.

And more.

Field trips?

We’ve gone to the movies (historical fiction/fact).


La Brea Tar Pits

Park days with homeschool group

Escape room

Hiking to Eaton Canyon Falls, San Antonio Falls, Murphy Ranch.

And more.

We document everything and save it in electronic files. Even pictures and videos. Soon I will be deciding how I will structure his portfolio and I will begin putting it together from all this documentation. This way he will have an official record when he decides to apply for college, jobs, or whatever.

In the meantime, it’s summer. I hear the swimming pool calling.


Urban Oasis?


urban oasis

Rain is greening up Southern California.

It’s wonderful. Green. Before the next round of drought and water restrictions starts, I want to say my piece. Brown is not the new green. We need green spots in the city, especially with all the brown lawns.

workout equipment

We need spots where children can play,

and people can breathe. Places where dogs can run on the grass, and those with disabilities can have a day of serenity, outside of the facility. The cement and linoleum facility. We need places where people who can’t afford gym memberships can work out. Where parents who don’t want to leave their children for yet another hour or three, can work out. And city parks have always been those places.

urban oasis play park

We need places with shade,

where mothers and grandmothers with young children can take them to play in the quiet mornings. When older children are in school, and young adults are sleeping off the night before and are not yet out in the park.

urban oasis child play

Before the rain ends and the temps heat up, we need to start addressing our water problems.

We need better solutions.

Gray water filtration systems for irrigation and toilet flushing. Desalination plants – there’s an ocean out there. There are so many options for solutions. So many low-cost solutions. It’s time to put our water needs above corporate greed. We need our urban oasis.


It’s Christmas Time in the City


I just got back to the homestead from visiting my family in the Big City.  It was a particularly enjoyable visit, and for once I wasn’t quite ready to come home.  This trip, I was able to appreciate the little pockets of respite in an otherwise dingy, expensive, lonely city life.
I sat outside my son’s apartment, watching him play basketball with his little brother, and admired the palm trees, stretching up above the rooftop of the complex, swaying and rustling in the chilly breeze, waves of green against the blue of the sky.  I took delight in watching the Christmas decorations going up in mom and dad’s neighborhood; twinkling lights, inflated, lit-up snowmen, front yard Nativity scenes.  I soaked up some last autumn rays of sunlight on a strategically placed patio nook with southern exposure at my parents’ house.  Over the years the old neighborhood has gone from plain and drab to green and well tended, with colorful flower beds, not restricted to the edges of the houses, but creatively scattered throughout front yards.
As much as I basked in the comfort and love of my family, there were those moments when I knew I must eventually return home to my own life, where the background noises come from the chicken coop and the paddocks and a wild indian of a boy, not from constant traffic and electronic buzz.  The early morning aroma is from the barnyard and the juniper trees, and not that peculiar big city odor of mingling garbage and sewage.  And the blankets of stars in the darkness before dawn, outnumber the streetlights ten billion to one.