I haven’t written anything personal in a long while because life has been in such turmoil the past year. Much longer than that, actually. I was working multiple jobs to afford living in one of the most expensive places in the U.S. I love Santa Cruz. I grew up there, my friends are there, I have memories everywhere I look. I love the redwood forests, the mountains, the beautiful ocean; how could I leave it?
I couldn’t go on the way things were.
Working so much while still homeschooling was wearing me down. I seriously considered school many times, but the pros of homeschooling always outweighed the cons by a landslide. My kids were unschooling, so I didn’t have a rigid curriculum plan to stick to, but I no longer had time or energy to do science projects, help them research their interests, take them on field trips, or all the wonderful things we used to do together. The walls of my small house were closing in. Craft supplies, homeschooling projects, my own art supplies, and work papers, kids in my space when I needed to concentrate, it was too much. With my disabled husband at home all the time as well, it was a noisy, crowded place. He was depressed to not be able to help as he wanted, enjoy life as he had, or just have space of his own at home. We didn’t have a garage or anywhere he could tinker or escape. Depression was sinking in for both of us. Something needed to change.
We had visited the Yosemite area and Sierra mountains many times. I have family near there, so when we visited this time last year and noticed the houses available near my grandparent’s, affordable houses that had actual garages and land around them, we began to seriously think of moving. It was not long before we were obsessing over real estate listings online and decided moving was the best thing for us all.
Decision Made. We’re Moving!
In one month I had our little condo cleared out as much as possible, painted, fixed some minor flaws, and on the market. We drove back and forth, looking at homes in the Sierra mountains. It was the most stressful time of my life! We had to keep our current house show ready, while still living, working and homeschooling, and be available to sign papers and send documents again and again in attempts to get a loan to get a new home. We did not end up getting the first home we had set our hopes on, but we did get the next. Though it was a long, hard fight we almost didn’t win. I won’t go into details, but I never, ever, want to move again. Especially if selling or buying is any part of it. Our realtors were amazing! But dealing with the sellers realtors, buyers, and especially loans, is no picnic for someone of modest means with only one parent working, and much of that income from self-employment. Many banks won’t even consider self-employment income on a loan application! So ridiculous!
I’m glad my kids were unschooling all year because I don’t know how we could have managed to keep them in school while all this was going on or keep them on a schedule with their curriculum if we did school at home.
Moving day, week,.. month?
We began this process in May last year and moved out of our home in September. I had a business trip to New York that weekend, so I flew across the country the very same day my family drove away from our home of ten years for the last time and off to my grandparents house. It was a chaotic goodbye! I met them there a few days later. One guest room, two kids, two cats, one dog… it was even tighter quarters for two weeks and we didn’t have our new place for certain, yet. By a miracle, we did get our new home and moved in in October. We got settled in as quick as possible because the holidays arrived and family and friends came to stay as soon as we would let them.
Heaven on a mountain
I never imagined I would end up with such a beautiful house or have land! I always wanted land in the mountains, I’m a country girl at heart, but it seemed an unrealistic dream. Now here we are, in the Sierras with gorgeous trees and views, room for everyone and then some.
All of our attitudes changed immediately. We all have space to breathe, tinker, create, dance, live! And nature outside our doorstep, I think that makes the most difference of all. I have a lot of work to do still, to make ends meet, and now I’m down a job I had to leave behind, but I am determined.
In order for my kids to meet some friends right away, they joined a local charter homeschool where they have a class day and field trips. It’s much more “schooly” than we’ve ever dealt with and has been a big adjustment. We’ve taken on curriculum for math and reading, slowly adding a little more school type work as we go. We even came up with a new schedule, more “scheduled” than we’ve had before (if that makes any sense) so I can make sure to have science and history projects prepped and ready and we can be sure to get every subject covered each week. I have to make the most of my limited time when I can do educational activities with the kids and I have found if I don’t schedule it in, we’ll never get to it.
It’s been an interesting shift to a more scheduled homeschool life with worksheets and subjects, but it’s good. Different, but so very good. Of course we still do much of our learning through play and enjoy a lot of free time to be creative. My mindset has not changed, I still lean toward an unschool approach. So far the kids have been eager to learn, I don’t force them to do their work books, if they have learned something, we move on without finishing the section. If they want to learn in a different way, we do. I use the curriculum books as a guide to keep us moving forward and to keep the charter school happy. It’s an exchange that is worth it, so far.
I’ll share what curriculum we like and how we set up our schedule in the near future. My kids are older now and they seem ready for more serious study. I don’t think my son would have taken to these changes as well a few years ago. He’s never been a fan of worksheets, but he hasn’t complained, he understands some things are a trade off for the benefits we enjoy through the charter school, and he’s proud of what he’s learning by being pushed a bit harder. My daughter can’t get enough, she’s always enjoyed paperwork. They are two very different creatures.
Life is still hard with many more bumps along the way than I would like, but we are in our own piece of heaven and I thank God every day for providing us with an amazing place to call home and the privilege of continuing to homeschool my kids.
Beach Side Mommy to Mountain Momma. I’m liking the change.