Widowed, homeschooling, mother of 6, traveler, programmer
🗺️ Where I’m from
Well, I was born and raised in the great state of Texas! Spent the first 50 years of my life there living only 3 miles from where I grew up.
I have six children, 4 now adults, 1 becoming an adult in October and 1 teen! Can you imagine having 4 teenagers of different ages in the house at the same time? If you want to grow as a human being, have children!
If you want to grow even more, homeschool them all! I homeschooled all six of my children and what that looked like changed drastically over the decades! I now have 24 years of experience educating children. But I think mother/father years and teacher years should be calculated differently.
I think the number of years you have been a parent should be calculated based on each child. For me this would mean: 6 children of various ages (see table below) = 128 years of parenting!
Likewise, 70 years of teaching!
Now compare that to having 6 children. I’ve always said once you hit 3 children and they outnumber you, then the challenge really begins. But when you have 6 and only one parent, let the games begin!
When their little minds develop to the point that they realize that if they work together, they can wield that power in many ways. In order to deal with this, the parent(s) has to develop some creative parenting skills or they will not survive.
What I have learned as a parent is that we never stop learning, or at least we shouldn’t. My philosophy as a homeschool mom/teacher was that if I could teach my children to read and write and the basics of math and then instill in them a desire to learn and then give them the tools to use to explore, then they would develop a lifelong habit of wanting to know, the desire to improve, the idea that they can learn anything about anything if they only want to. So far, this has worked out well. I won’t say that it was always easy.
Another thing I learned is that everyone learns differently. Even given the same DNA combining to create a new human, no two of my children are alike. Sure, they have similarities, but they also have so many differences which makes each one unique.
I also learned to adapt. I was often asked when the children were younger how I could manage 6 children. I told them that it wasn’t like someone just gave me 6 children of varying ages all at once. I had one, learned about it, learned about being a mom, it grew. I had another one and that changed the dynamic and I learned to juggle 2, learned about balancing, it grew and I grew, then came number 3, etc. It was incremental changes along the way. When people asked how I could do it all, manage my home, my children, homeschool and run a consulting business I always said “you just learn to manage chaos”.
That leads to the next lesson I learned being a parent. Expect things not always to go as planned. You have to learn to adapt, adjust, recalculate, and often on the fly with limited tools availabe. Whether it’s the hot water heater that bursts UPSTAIRS and it is now “raining” in your house out of every air vent, or you rip 2 basement doors off your RV and there is no cell service or internet available and you’re caught in a forest fire! You stop, breathe, make sure everyone is alive and safe and you do the next right thing that you can do and if you can’t, then you laugh about the great story this will be to remember in the future.
Why is any of this important? Because being a single mother of 6 children and homeschooling them has made me a much better person. I’ve learned valuable lessons and what is important in life. My desire is always to do my best and when possible help others to do theirs.
When I first started homeschooling I envisioned us doing school at home. I imagined having a whiteboard to write on, standing up and teaching the children, assigning books to read and homework assignments. My first child shattered that dream. He taught himself to write his name and what subtraction was and I hadn’t taught him any of that! So began my homeschool experience! Seems he was a wee bit gifted and anyone with a gifted child knows that being gifted does not mean gifted in every area of study but may only be in one area. He was a challenge and a puzzle to figure out. Worksheets bored him to the point he would give the wrong answers just to make things more interesting. He was the child that when given the problem find X would have done something like this.
He was very precise. This problem should have been written SOLVE for X. But “finding” X, well, that’s quite a different question. Once word problems entered into math, the challenge was on. If two trains were leaving stations in two locations on the same track, he would need to know how many people were on each train, did the trains leave on time or were they delayed? He was not wrong. Any of those factors would have changed the outcome. Realizing that he needed something different than what traditional schools consider teaching/learning lead me to picking and choosing different things for him to study.
And of course by this time there were other children as well. Child number 2 was begging me to teach him to read at the age of 3. I knew the challenges of teaching reading to child number 1 so I put child number 2 off. I told him when he turned 4 we’d start school. On his fourth birthday he announced he was now 4 and it was time to teach him. Within 30 days that kid completed the entire Hooked on Phonics curriculumn which I belive is supposed to be worked over a year or two. At the age of 4 he read everything and I mean EVERYTHING. At the breakfast table he would read the cereal box and not just the fun parts he read the INGREDIENTS lists! He could look up his own Bible verses and read them. He could pick up the encyclopedia and read it. I knew the challenge was now on with him as well.
As you can imagine each child brought new complexities. The first girl in our family was more concerned about everyone being happy and coloring but every color to her was pink. Pink was the only color that existed in her world for many years. She had her own giftedness and challenges. She decided she was not good at math but she loved cooking. At the age of 11 she started cooking and taught herself everything she knows. The kids all decided she was a better cook than I so she took over family cooking. Most recipes are made for a family of 4 so she had to do all the conversions of recipes for our family and it wasn’t just double. She didn’t just take a recipe for 4 and double it for 8, nope. She did the calculations for 7. She can convert all those Imperial measurements used in cooking in her head! She is excellent in math, but for her math has to have a purpose.
Over the years I changed from schooling at home to teaching to each child’s learning styles, and eventually adopting an unschooling attitude. Unschooling is allowing the child to direct their learning. I would still require some basics but the rest I left up to them to find their subjects and determine how deep they wanted to go with them. I would give them tools, sometimes suggestions and occasionally some motivation. In our home, no child was ever heard saying, “I’m bored”. Anyone who uttered that phrase would be assigned chores to do, usually a very, very long list of chores. They quickly learned that they could find something to work on, something to learn, something to pursue with their time.
Of course things changed drastically when we entered our next phase of life. Traveling! The children than were able to learn history were it happened, to see how our world was formed based on various geologic features, they learned about the states by visting every state, etc.
In 2015 I asked my six children if they were ready to sell the house and everything we own and travel full time in our 38’ class A motorcoach. To my surprise all 6 of them said yes! So we spent 2 weeks and sold or gave away everything we owned in our 4400 square foot house and put the house on the market and we hit the road.
We went from
4400 Square Foot
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Our first destination was Alaska! We made that wonderful trip, got to spend 55 beautiful days in Alaska and we’ve been traveling the country ever since. When we go to grocery stores or restaurants and people say, “where are you from” we always chuckle and I ask the kids who wants to answer that. When people ask where we live now I say, “right here, right now”.
38’ in length. Not sure how they measure the actual square footage.
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Currently we are taking a break from traveling as my elderly mother is needing some care so we had to sell our big RV or rather we traded it for a little 24’ RV that my girls can drive. We bought a condo in a ghost town in NE Montana. It’s actually a decommissioned Airforce base. But for only $11,000 cash you can purchase an 1100 square foot condo (old base housing) and get a 500 sq foot basement. It does only have one bathroom, but we have only have one bathroom in the RV for the last 6 years. At least this bathroom we separated the toilet from the shower and the sink so that three people can use three different parts of the bathroom at the same time. That was always the challenge in the RV if someone needed to shower, no one could use the potty!
Our ghost town...
Obviously, I have enjoyed traveling. Not only have we visited all 50 of these great United States but we’ve also been to 11 Canadian provinces and territories including one of our favorites Newfoundland! Before I had six children I was fortunate to spend some time working in Europe on a project. While I was there I traveled extensively and was able to see much of France, actually lived on the French Riviera in Cannes for most of my stay. I also spent a month in Germany. I was able to visit Italy, Switzerland, Chezch Republic, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Monaco.
Other than traveling which we’re not doing much of this year, I have taught myself to knit and crochet and I’m learning to spin (turning wool into yarn — not the crazy exercise bike craze).
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