Monday, September 30, 2013

Guest Post: Awesomes on the Road

{I am so excited to have my dear friend writing a guest post for us today. I got to know Ashley through my search for all things homebirth. Having had her youngest at home, she was a wealth of resources in our small town. So much has changed in both of our lives since then, but we keep in touch and visit when we can. I so enjoy watching their awesome adventures.}

When Hannah asked me to be a guest blogger, I was was instantly petrified. I even said, "Um, you do realize that I can't write, right?". But hey, I'm always up for a challenge!

This is us. We're the "Awesome's", according to our family & friends.

We homeschool. Well, sort of. Ok, that isn't accurate... at all. We do what Hannah refers to as "life-schooling'"  This is partly because my husband's job has us traveling all over the country. Homeschooling started as a necessity so that we could go home to WV every couple of weeks. Somewhere along the line, I realized that most of the snapshots that I take of the kids look like this:

When people say that our kids aren't actually getting educated, I try not to get into the politics of why I am not okay with sending my kids to a government-run school. Instead, I want to constantly brag that my 6 year old reads on a 3rd grade level, and he knows some of his multiplication facts and can do some division. He tells me things about Nauru, the smallest independent country in the world, and what animals sleep with their eyelids open. (I have 2 Bachelor of Science degrees and I didn't ever think to find out facts like these!) He knows the ins & outs to every Skylander character and their worlds. And he's been working 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles with me since he was barely 3 years old.

My 8 year old daughter's imagination beats anything that I've heard of. She can think up and draw people & animals with some seriously realistic imagery. You can 'see' her character's personality come through with how she draws. And she's constantly humming songs that she makes up, and works them into stories that she writes. She reads 200+ page books in one sitting. She is an animal lover of all kinds, and is constantly researching to learn about habitats and then she sketches to put it on paper. She is a future champion marksman and she can already out-shoot most kids her age at the range. She is empathetic to her core (she cut off 11" of her hair for Locks of Love last year), and a total "Free spirit". 

The 12 year old's knowledge of all things is so great that he almost scares me. (His IQ puts him in the top 2% of humans. High five to me-- I made him!) He's memorized and learned all the rules of golf from his instructor, he knows more about certain airplanes than some mechanics, he's been riding dirt bikes for years, and he is also building his very own cabin on our property. And he can cook like an 80 year old grandmother, with love & learned family recipes.

A few weeks ago, we stopped at Panera in Indiana to grab a quick bite. A woman started talking to the kids & I. She looked at our shirts, then got really confused and asked where we were from. (I had just taken off a WVU sweatshirt & was wearing a Memphis t-shirt, my youngest had on a Virginia Beach sweatshirt, my daughter was wearing her Minnesota sweatshirt). My daughter told her that we really live in WV, but are kinda in Minneapolis for a little while, and my son said that we just moved from TN. The lady asked me if we homeschool & I said yes. Then my daughter proceeded to tell her that they don't really do any schoolwork. But she said we get to travel a lot and see cool things, so she loves being homeschooled. The woman winked at me and said that she bets they are being taught a lot more than they think.

 Making sure to always represent the Mountaineers along the way!

Sometimes I worry about jacking them up because they aren't in "school". And if we're doing things the "right way". But exactly who's version of 'normal' are we going by here?  When I feel bad about them being stuck in the vehicle, I think of how lucky that they aren't sitting at desks with other kids in assigned seats for 8 hours a day. Other kids are reading in their textbooks all about different cultures, and places that are just so far disconnected from their lives. One of my favorite quotes describes my children's schooling perfectly, "....and then I realized that adventure was the best way to learn". We're making memories and life lessons happen!

This is a more accurate description of their 'classrooms': We're out seeing what real poverty looks like & trying to do our part to help 1st-hand. We are actually going to the historic landmarks & cities. We get to see & touch what only others can read about. We've been to 4 of the 5 Great Lakes. We've been to 29 states and D.C.. We have passports and have used them already. We have hiked & climbed real-life mountains. We have been to hundreds of parks, and had picnics at probably every rest stop from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean on I-20, I-40, and I-90/94.

I jokingly say they'll probably end up in therapy at some point. Hopefully it won't be court-ordered as part of a plea deal, or because of my musical choices on iHeartRadio that they're forced to listen to for hours at a time. But they'll have memories, life lessons, and experiences to look back on that nobody can ever take from them.... and that's worth so much more than anything they can read about, and only dream of, while standing in line at the cafeteria.

{You can follow the Awesomes on Pinterest.}


  1. I have to say, this was an incredibly AWESOME post! I loved reading every bit of it, and found it so inspiring. We all aspire, as home- and life-schoolers, that our kids will be well-rounded and "experts" at many aspects of life, and to see a family where it really is happening is so amazing. Thanks so much for this post, Ashley!

  2. I like that..."life school". Your kids are beautiful and look really happy. Way to go, mama teacher! Thank you for linking up with the Sunday Parenting Party. Hope you link up again, today!