We’re back home after our unplanned funeral trip to Indiana, and things are settling back to normal…well, almost. Okay, I don’t do this often, but I have to today. I must eat my words.
Some of you may remember a few weeks back when I wrote this:
“Richard would like nothing more than to sell the house, buy a really big RV, and homeschool the children from the road. Don’t worry. I’m keeping the reins on him. That’s NOT going to happen.”
Well, we did it. No, we didn’t sell the house, and don’t plan to, but we took the children out of school and they’re now being educated via “distance learning.” What that means is they’re attending a private school in Vermont, yet remotely, via the Internet and email. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Are you CRAZY?!
Well, perhaps, but here are the thoughts that played a part in our decision. After cracking that joke about homeschooling the kids and taking our lives and business on the road, we laughed, but quickly then fell into silence, both of us silently thinking, ‘what if…” The thought of doing something that adventurous and that fun stayed on our minds. Richard started quietly researching online private schools while I kept thinking this was something we’d never be able to do. You see, society dictates that we work our tushies off until we’re old and perhaps not physically able to enjoy our retirement years. We get jobs, get married, buy a home, have kids, put them through school, send them out into the world, and then watch them get married, have kids, and start the cycle all over again. Only when we’re finished with our work and when we’ve accumulated enough savings can we start to do what we really want to do. But, what if something happens and our retirement never becomes a reality? What if we spend years planning our future travels, but one of us gets sick or even dies before our dreams become a reality?
Richard and I had planned to retire someday, buy an RV, and travel until we ran out of places to explore, grew weary of life on the road, or croaked, whichever came first. We both love traveling, exploring new places, and history and our favorite thing to do is take road trips. Well, we’d already traded in our pop-up camper for an RV, and our business can be entirely mobile since it’s online, so what was preventing us from just taking off whenever we wanted? School. Yes, school with its rigid schedule, allowing only the summer and a couple of free weeks off per year.
Most of you probably remember the nightmares we had with the public school system, include our oldest getting beat up in Massachusetts and Ali and Frank both being the victims of bullying on different occasions. Ali’s experiences were so severe that we had to pull her out of public school last year because the principal of her school refused to help (he was a moron).
Frank would be in junior high next year and we already know that the public junior high here, like other junior highs, has drugs, alcohol and, of course, bullies (and that moronic principal!). So, we were going to move Frank to Ali’s private school anyway, but that was going to run us more than $700 per month for both tuitions. Add that to those “must have” school clothes, like Nike, excessive school supplies, overpriced school lunches, and the endless school events and fundraisers that always end up costing us more and more money but never seem to affect the quality of the children’s education, and signing up for a private school via distance learning was looking more and more like a good idea.
My mother’s reaction to our idea was disbelief and discouragement, of course. She strongly suggested I get online and talk to other parents of homeschooled children. She seemed sure I would find negative comments about it. I’d already done that and couldn’t find any homeschooling parents who were dissatisfied with their lifestyle. Some of our friends told us we were nuts, while some admitted the idea of running a business from the road via high-speed Internet connections with our children alongside us was an adventurous and even enviable plan.
We received lots of negative comments from people who believe we should live our lives the way everybody else does, but lots of positive comments from people who would love to do what we’re planning to do.
So, yes, we did it. The children are now attending school online and loving it. We’re going to Pennsylvania in the next few weeks and will be on the road for 5 to 6 weeks this summer, driving through more than 10 states. In the Fall, we’re heading south, all the way to the Florida Keys and and for a visit my brother in Miami. And, in late Fall, we plan to head Southwest, toward the desert. We’ll be incorporating the children’s studies into the places we visit. For example, they’ll be studying marine animals and fish before we visit SeaWorld in Florida, and they’ll be exploring Gettysburg before we leave for Pennsylvania. The school they’re attending is incredibly flexible and gives parents the opportunity to supplement and even change the curriculum.
We’ve already purchased a T-Mobile card for our computers and tested it during our trip to Indiana. I was online all day long each day (except during family functions) via a cell phone connection. When we require a high-speed connection for moving large files, we simply pull up to a Starbucks, McDonalds, Borders Bookstore, or a Flying J truck stop, where we can access the wireless connection right from our vehicle. If we do decide to stay in a hotel, we sleep in one that has high-speed access, or we use a phone line. I actually got more work done on the road than I do sitting here each day. Since I was strapped in a seatbelt, it was harder for me to jump up and do this and that, so I had far fewer interruptions.
We’ve joined the local homeschooling association, which hosts events for homeschooled children, and the children will maintain their local friends, of course. In addition, we know we’ll be meeting lots of interesting and fun people on our travels.
While we may be shaking our heads and kicking ourselves after a few months of this, for now, we are incredibly excited about living our lives the way we want to right now.
Hugs to all!