Monday, June 6, 2022

The End Of The Homeschool Adventure

March 13, 2020 

This is the date I refer to as "the day the world changed." A pandemic was upon us and we were told our schools were closing. At first it was for two weeks. Yet two days later that time was extended before we found out our schools would remain closed for the rest of the school year. The next few months were filled with confusion, frustration, anger, sadness, solitude, and true relaxation. My children learned more in those few months than they had any previous school year. 

What began as a way to get us through the remainder of the 2020 school year became our way of life for over two years. We were thrown into a journey of homeschooling as a way to keep our lives afloat in a pandemic. We didn't have the luxury of ever pretending as though a pandemic wasn't bringing sweeping changes to our lives and the world. In these two years I learned right along with my children. Things that I had completely forgotten and things I had never been taught. We have always held the belief that getting our children out into the world and trying as many things as possible would bring them more possibilities in life. This belief led us in our homeschooling adventure. While the kids spent a good amount of time with their noses in books reading, completing math assignments, and answering questions from textbooks, we also made use of every bit of free time.

We hiked as much as possible. The minis learned to cook and bake. They did it enough to make the two oldest boys comfortable enough in the kitchen to take on making meals on their own. The kids have had to navigate the every day care of a puppy (which then turned into a 100 lbs. dog). We've taken up gardening and have an unreal amount of tabs open to their favorite gardening websites since I knew nothing about taking care of roses (or cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, and lettuces). They've built bird houses and help draw up building plans for home improvements. We crept across a drained lake and went geode hunting. We learned mom can't snowboard, but the boys taught themselves on a hill nearby our house. We went everywhere from state parks to museums. We swam in the swimming holes of Austin, TX and slept next to the ocean on a national seashore. We went sledding down white sand dunes, freaked the minis out at the International Space Museum, and soaked in a hot spring along the Rio Grande. We lived on a houseboat for a week. They learned how to kayak and paddle board. We walked on the Oregon Trail (numerous times). Dipped our toes in the Great Salt Lake (before it dried up). We drove through the Great Basin, climbed through lava tubes, and ran down a dormant volcano. One mini cried at the beauty of Crater Lake and I became convinced that my children would swim in the ocean no matter what temperature it was along the Oregon coast. We climbed mountains, waded into many a river, and learned about Oktoberfest by joining in one. We oohed and awwed at humpback whales as we looked at the Vancouver skyline. We watched the sun come up over the Badlands and learned how to sleep in the car at a rest area during winter weather. We got a firsthand look into Civil Right by completing the Civil Rights Trail, crying as we crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL. The minis devoured beignets while taking in Mardi Gras in NOLA. I passed on my love for live oak trees as we spent an afternoon climbing them. We made butter beers when the middle one read all of the Harry Potter books, we watched The Hunger Games when the oldest finished the books, and we visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites when the youngest discovered her love of Little House On The Prairie. We spent part of a week hiking waterfalls in the UP. We planned parties with our fellow homeschool friends, indulging in some intricate party details the kids came up with. There was time to actually DO all of the things we thought of. We lived through TWO derechos and know how to run a chainsaw. This is only a small portion of what they and I learned in the last two years.

It was all exhausting and exhilarating.

May 27, 2022 

The day all of that came to an end. As the pandemic fades away and life gives us a normal that will take adjusting to, we are giving up the homeschool title to "go back to the way it was before the pandemic." I'm excited for the minis to have this normalcy back in their lives and I'm thrilled to not stretch myself thin working full time and being a homeschool teacher. However, as unexpected as our homeschool time has been, it was an amazing experience. I can understand why it's a preferred lifestyle for many because it's a lifestyle of learning and finding as many learning opportunities as possible. I don't believe we'll completely abandon that way of living, it will simply be less of our day to day life. While these two dates will be etched in my mind forever, it's the time in between those dates that means the most and is truly irreplaceable.