Archive for the ‘How this all started’ Category

Homeschooling, Part 1

Some people leap into homeschooling.  We were pulled into it.  We resisted homeschooling strongly when our oldest started Kindergarten, praying that God would show us how He was going to make another option possible.  We weren’t capable or willing, we didn’t have the time and energy, and frankly, we were scared that we’d ruin our kids and rob them of the benefits of traditional schooling.  At several points, we thought we had found that other option, but slowly we saw each point of resistance taken down and we started to realize that God was answering our prayers for guidance, just not in the way we had hoped.

For the next several years as the Air Force moved us around the world, we would devote a lot of time, effort, and prayer into finding that non-homeschool option we knew was out there, and every year it would be very obvious that we were to continue in the path of homeschooling.  We’re a stubborn lot.  Finally, a few years ago we decided to let go and take another tack.  Homeschooling seems to be where we are supposed to be, and we will devote ourselves to that path until God shows us another way.

Please don’t misunderstand me.  Homeschooling has given us more blessings than we can count.  Flexibility is one of them.  When we were stationed in Greece, I had an odd schedule – 24 to 36 hour shifts with the days I had off rotating through the week.  When one of my “weekends” arrived, we could head out the door at a moment’s notice to see the sights and sites.  “Coincidentally,” the curriculum we were using was Ancient Civilizations those two years.  “Mom, how big is the Acropolis?”  “Let’s go see!”

When we had an opportunity to travel, we did, not worrying about waiting for a set school vacation.  On two of the occasions in which I was sent to Italy for exercises, we took the whole family, living in an agritourismo outside Ferrara and then tacking on vacation at the end.  One time we spent that in Tuscany…

…another, in southern Italy, including Rome and Pompeii (the background of course is the former destination while our son’s scratched up nose and face is from a tumble he took at the ancient theater in Pompeii).

Two-weeks of training in Bavaria?  “Let’s go!”

Turkey for Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving in Turkey?

There’s a huge discount on airfare to Egypt?  We’re there!

On the way home, we even managed to steal away for a few days of leave in Paris.

Sounds like fun and amazing opportunities to just about anyone, I’m sure.

However, if we’re honest we have to say that most days, weeks, and years, homeschooling isn’t nearly as glamorous.  It comes with sacrifice, and most of that is on the part of my wife because, as much as I want to help with it, the burden falls on her.  Now that all three kids are in school, that sacrifice is even bigger.

The sacrifice isn’t just the incredible time, effort, and other investments she puts into teaching three kids over a wide grade range.  It’s also a sacrifice of what she might be doing with those same investments if she weren’t homeschooling the kids.  The bus drives by our rural route at 7am and returns at 4.  During those nine hours, she could have a traditional career, volunteer at one of the museums or parks, devote more time to her passion of guiding women and families through birth (click here to read more about that), go for a bike or horse ride, walk the trails, get in some tractor or garden therapy, sew or quilt, or just read a book.

When she’s not teaching the kids, or getting them to their activities (and I appreciate that traditional schoolers have to do that also), she’s often planning what the next day’s activities will be, or even reading ahead to learn the material herself.  The kids are learning Latin this year – I took it a long time ago and have dabbled in it since, but that doesn’t help much when I’m at work – so she’s learning it with them.  Algebra was so 25 years ago.  Dissecting a frog is coming up soon – we haven’t done that since 9th grade.  Do you remember the rules for diagramming sentences?  Yeah, we don’t either.

Still, we wouldn’t do it otherwise.

Buying the Farm

If our assignment to New Hampshire broke down one of the last barriers to horse ownership, the house we found to live in sealed the deal.

Nestled in the wooded hills of South Central New Hampshire on just under 15 acres, it included a four-stall pole barn with a large run-out, another older barn now serving as an equipment shed, and four other small buildings, the purpose of which wasn’t clear to us when we looked at the house online.

About 3 acres was pasture in various states of improvement, with the rest comprising a small tree farm.

It ended up being the last property we saw on our househunting trip, and after we toured the property (between snowstorms, of course), we fell in love with it.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, those out-buildings?  Emu huts.  The previous owner was in the process of selling the last two members of his breeding stock, and had evidently been hatching and raising up to 50 at a time.

(Previous owner with a new emu egg)

Very soon after returning, we had negotiated a deal for both the house and other equipment (including the tractor and attachments), and dubbed the property “The Flying T Ranch” with a nod back to our experiences in Texas.

We had a house, we had a farm, we had a tractor, and now…

…Oh, I didn’t talk about the tractor, did I?

We know that horses are one of the apples of my daughters’ eyes.  A tractor, though… that spoke to me and my son.  A real-deal tractor in John Deere green.

All you tractor folks want the specs, so here they are: 48hp turbodiesel John Deere 4320.  Hydrostatic transmission.  400x loader with bucket.  York Rake with grader.  Bush Hog.  Near brand-new 8’ snowplow with hydraulic angle.  Filled tires.  4-wheel drive.  Aux lights.  Heck, it even has cruise control.  Overkill for our little farm.  Oh yeah.  When I go to Home Depot these days with my youngest, he asks if he can sit in the “miniature tractors,” and I love it.

We had a farm.  We had a tractor.  Soon we were going to have horses as well.