Field Trippin' or just Straight Trippin' (one or the other)

When I first started out on this grand adventure of homeschooling, I had a well-intentioned plan to type up weekly recaps so I could somehow keep track of what we covered each week, what we learned, what we made, places we went, books we read.

That didn't happen, so much.  At all.

Turns out, there's not so much time for blogging anymore.  Well, there might be if I were diligent about getting up earlier in the morning.  For some things, coffee just isn't enough.  I feel like I've earned that extra hour of sleep whether it's true or not.

So I don't have a neat blog of projects and curriculum details and field trips and book lists.  We've done all of these things, sure.  I've taken pictures and posted about some of them, but I've come to find out that the time we spend doing actual school work pales in comparison to the untold, other sides of homeschooling.  The Adventures.

Some days we take adventures because we're burned out.  Or tired.  Or cranky.  Or all of the above.  Some days we take them because we're ahead of the game and feel like we've earned a break from the rigors of the "classroom."  Some days we go because we can.  And we love that.  Like today, when it was 70 degrees, breezy, and there was no imminent rain in the near forecast.

We load up the aptly named "Odyssey" with bikes and snacks and we head out.  Sometimes it's just to the grocery store for a gallon of milk.  Often it's to the library (when it's raining).  More often than not we end up at a playground, park, or trail of some sort.  Sometimes we do super official "field trips," which we still call adventures because that just sounds way cooler.

It is amazing what a little adventure can do for tween angst, or kindergarten frustration, or three-year-old funks, or toddler dissatisfaction.  Just the mention of an adventure brings with it the excitement of a change of scenery.

Today's adventure was a trip to church.  It's a bit of a park, playground, and bike trail all together, so we regularly end up there.  The new part was discovering the awesome hiking/walking trail on the grounds that we didn't even know existed.  It was perfect.

(Can I just say right here that I adore my kids?)

We ditched the bikes, and after this picture, ditched the stroller and walked our flip-flopped feet 0.65 miles up and down the trails.  It was legit!  Bridges and trail markers and everything.  I was too busy huffing and puffing from toting the 22-lb babe on my hip (clearly, we were not prepared for this particular adventure), so there were no additional photos from the hike.

But I was way pumped about this little treasure!

After the "hike," we made our way to the playground where I was finally able to capture Super Sarah and her death-defying see-saw act on film!  That girl gets BIG AIR.

And she is happy about it.
While my parents were here we trekked to the Ocmulgee National Monument.  It was super cool checking out the ancient Indian mounds.  I'm still trying to forgive the dude who worked there for referring to my kids, right in front of all of them, as "burdens."  But whatever.  Some people wouldn't recognize a blessing if it kicked them in the face.  I know that they know they are my blessings. 

I think the "burden" comment was actually a concern about the amount of walking they might have to do.  Judging by how they left me in their dust, I don't think he needed to be worried.

We like to try out just about every playground not affiliated with a school that we can find during the day.  Our favorite is the North Peach Park in Byron because they have a wonderful bike trail and an even cooler playground.

"What's going on out there, guys?  I can't see."

"Mommy, this is not dangerous."  Okay, Sarah.  (I think "Danger" might actually be her middle name.)

We had to keep Super Sarah under control so that Leah didn't go catapulting across the park.

In retrospect, this was a terrible idea.  Who gave Leah to Sarah?

Even if we don't get to go somewhere, they "adventure" their little tushes right out the back door to our own playground daily.

Burden my foot.

I remember before I started homeschooling that one of my biggest reasons for not wanting to do it was the loss of flexibility and freedom I was going to face.  I realize, now, that was a self-centered concern.  My vision has changed, and I'm less concerned with "me time" and I'm more concerned about quality "we time."  Our book knowledge is getting along just fine.  The kids are learning and thriving, I have no doubts.  But the biggest benefit has been, without question, the bonds that are developing between the siblings and between them and me.  The relationships are stronger.  The love is multiplying.  And I am just excited about what God is doing in this family!  Not only that, it seems like our flexibility factor has multiplied too.  We aren't less flexible because we homeschool.  We are so much more.

I can't say that I love every minute of this.  We have really hard days.  But on the other side of the hard days, I even appreciate those times.  The hardest moments have nothing to do with "education" and everything to do with heart.  They are the moments richest with teaching opportunities.  It's when our hearts are exposed.  Good and bad.  In the heart regard, I have learned more about myself in the past 8 months than in the previous 28 years combined.  If you want transparency, I dare you to homeschool.

At the end of every day, I am exhausted.  My ears literally hurt from being the recipient of four little peoples' endless chitter chatter.  The house is in shambles.  Papers are strewn everywhere.  Bikes are still in the back of the van.  My hair is all in disarray (wait, it's like that all the time...nevermind).  I hit the bed ready to surrender.  Then this really cool thing happens.  I wake up the next morning.  Refreshed and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  And we do this thing.  This is the first "job" that has allowed me to wake up free from dread and drudgery. 

It's awesome.

This is it.  This is where I'm supposed to be.  It's joy, my friends.
Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.  ~Robert Brault


Sharon said...

Oh Jennie, how happy it makes me to hear how much YOU are thriving in this adventure called home-schooling. It truly is amazing - the things that God makes happen in our lives through our children. Keep up the great work - the rewards are now and forever.


(P.S. Could I come along on an adventure sometime? Pretty please?)

Debbie said...

Applause!!! I love this, and I see see your heart just shining through it. I hope you write more like this because this is the single most important piece of advice about the great adventure of motherhood that you can give.

This would be the reason that my house got so outdated while raising children, in fact. We had a limited amount of time and money, and we decided to store up the treasure that moth and rust will not destroy.

I love that wild picture of Sarah, but the Leah in the swing one is my favorite.

And again, that little chick looks so much like her grandmother that you could have named her Joycette.

Fatcat said...

Burdens? Crazy man. They're beautiful.

Debbie said...

OK, I just got the most wonderful text with some news about you from daughter #1. Having daughter #2 confirm via facebook if the wonderful news is true.


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