Saying Goodbye...For Now

It's been a bittersweet week around here (at least for me!). We've spent almost every day seeing friends, trying to do the stuff that's been such a normal part of our lives for the last year and a half. We've lived in Northwest Arkansas for almost five years, and it's a very warm community - easy to fit in, find your place, and enjoy life.

But it wasn't really until we started homeschooling in the Fall of '09 that we started to find people who shared our values and had similar philosophies about family, marriage, and raising kids. I'm amazed at how quickly we developed bonds with these other families that I'm sure will last for many years to come.

The number one question we got after deciding to homeschool was "but when will they see other kids?" I'm happy to see Rich has developed deeper and richer relationships with other kids in the last year than he did in three years of public school. He's learned to chose friends according to character and mutual interest, rather than by proximity (a lesson Brennan, Christie, and I are learning as well).

In all, we agree it's been the best years of our lives so far. I hope the future brings even better ones, but part of us will always long for these peaceful times of school at the library (and the milkshakes that followed), playing at Chik-Fil-A on cold and rainy days with friends, Treehouse, Imagination Village, park days in Rogers and Bella Vista...the list goes on and on. We'll be back as soon as we can, though we know things will be different, including us. But change is good, and we've changed for the better for having known such wonderful people and experienced true, healthy community, maybe for the first time.

So this is not farewell, only "see ya later." And we will.


The Caravan is Moving!

We've been bombarded with e-mails since announcing yesterday that our family is going on the road. It's something we've talked about and planned for so long, it's a little surreal that it's actually happening. It was the primary reason we started homeschooling two years ago, despite the fact that Rich was in a great school (Central Park - Go Gators!) with great teachers.

My wife Christie became an RN the spring before we started homeschooling, and now that she's got some experience under her belt, she has taken a job with a company that pays RN's to travel all over the country for 8-13 week assignments. The company basically pays for a temporary furnished condo/apartment in the area, all utilities, a food and gas stipend, and gives Christie a wide range of contracts in various places in the U.S. to work. There are obviously some expenses on our part, but it's a lot like taking extended vacations on 80% of someone else's dime. Except that for Christie it will be a working vacation!

There are several advantages to this for our family. First it obviously provides a richer, hands-on experience for the boys. Imagine the possibilities: History in Boston, Culture in New York City and Honolulu, Architecture in San Francisco, not to mention all the beaches, amusement parks, national forests, and cultural centers we'll visit along the way. It also won't hurt Christie's resume to work in a wider variety of hospitals and situations outside of Arkansas.

Secondly, many of you know that I have a chronic heart problem, and this will give us the opportunity to see my specialists in Boston and St. Louis more often, with less travel expense. Since my condition is congenital, it's important for the boys to undergo regular testing by qualified specialists as well. Unfortunately, most of the clinics familiar with this heart disease are located on either the West Coast, or in New England. We'll try to position ourselves within driving distance of one as often as possible. I'm sure you can imagine the expense of having to fly or drive back and forth for clinic visits and tests. Hopefully, this will relieve some of that financial burden.

Thirdly, it provides us much needed mobility at this time in our lives. Given my health issues, and some other health problems in our extended families, we are very reluctant to "settle down" anywhere right now and commit to a long-term job or mortgage. Travelling will allow us to make short-term commitments, and should we need to be in either Boston or St. Louis (for my health issues), or in the Little Rock area (where our families live), we can get assigned near those cities fairly easily. This isn't a permanent solution, but for now, it gives us the freedom we need to move around depending on our needs. I realize this is a privilege we're afforded because of Christie's career field, and we want to take full advantage of it while we can.

We really feel that the boys are at the perfect age for travelling and enjoying all that this nomadic lifestyle has to offer. It looks like we'll even be able to catch entire seasons of soccer and hockey for them if we time it right. Our first assignment starts in Hershey, Pennsylvania on February 21st. The next two weeks will be filled with packing, storing, cramming everything we need into the back of the van, saying a tearful (but temporary) goodbye to friends and family, and making the trek to Dutch Country. While there, we hope to visit Boston, Washington D.C., New York City, and Toronto, Canada. I'll be sure to chronicle the whole thing here so our readers can experience the adventure with us. Our name now seems more fitting than ever, and we're excited about living up to it.



Sorry it's been so long since the last update. We moved to an apartment in Fayetteville last summer and it took us awhile to get acclimated. We're used to having a lot more room for art projects, and the smaller space has been quite a challenge. We've made up for it by doing things at the library, arts center, and the clubhouse at our apartment. The boys really enjoy the variety.

We took a long break over the holidays from "normal" schoolwork, but caught up quite a bit on art and science that we didn't get to focus on as much as we would have liked to during the semester. We're doing art all the time, trying to weave it in to other subjects and daily life, but I wanted to spend some time working specifically with the color wheel, line, and form. We also experimented with and compared art mediums and tools (water color pencils vs. water colors, acrylic paint vs. tempera, cold/hard press paper vs. copy paper). I'm also learning that if you want kids to really "find" themselves in art, you gotta buy good quality stuff, and a wide variety of it for them to experiment with. I've already noticed that while Brennan loves acrylic paint, Rich depends more and more on watercolors as we've invested in better quality paints, brushes, and paper. There's simply no substitute for supplies that work like they're supposed to.

So nothing HUGE to report, other than, we're back at it. Brennan is determined to learn how to read before summer, and I think he can if he keeps at it. He's also learning about the continents and we started Africa today. This has sparked Rich's interest about world religions, so I'm trying to pull him in when we discuss various cultures around the world. Rich will be spending the better part of the semester with the Greeks and Romans, and hopefully his literacy learning will be drawn from there. He's warmed up to Greek mythology and anxious to move forward in math now that he's more familiar with the multiplication table.

More updates very soon and an exciting announcement to come...