A new homeschooling year is upon us.
We've had the summer to ponder the mistakes of the past.
Soon, it will be time to begin again.
When the boys were younger, I felt that we needed to expand our horizons a bit. I joined a Catholic home school group in Savannah. The group would meet at noon mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in downtown Savannah. This alone was a good reason to go. For my small town boys, the opportunity to participate in mass at such a beautiful place was a treat. Then we would meet the group for lunch in a park somewhere and the boys got to meet and play with other kids like them, both Catholic and home-schooled. We would also add a trip to Chuck-E-Cheese or Toys-R-us to the day and just have fun.
Eventually, we got busy with other activities and started to look for new travel ideas. Around this time, I saw an advertisement that The High Museum in Atlanta, Georgia was hosting a Dutch masters exhibit. The highlight of the exhibit would be "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" by Johannes Vermeer. Here was a chance to show the boys history right in front of them. We had an art set and one of the pictures in it was a copy of this painting. But this wouldn't be a copy...it would be the painting itself. They would be able to see the cracks in the paint. Even though Atlanta is three hours away, we made the trip. With the educators season pass, it was now possible to come multiple times.
After that first visit, we kept coming back. Each of my boys now has a favorite exhibit, or statue, or installation. And I love that these are memories that they will have forever. We get to talk about history and cultures, furniture and architecture.
Last year, we decided to get even more ambitious. I wanted to do at least one field trip per month.
We started the year off with a trip to Augusta Museum of History. We went on a day when it cost $1 to get in. There was a huge exhibit with refurbished vehicles from the past that the kids could climb in and get a real sense of what riding them was like. We went with my dad, so he was able to give them some first person accounts of living in Augusta as a child.
In September, we had the opportunity to stay with family at the beach in South Carolina. We spent time exploring tidal pools and got to go to an aquarium. Plus, our host caught crab in the canal and made Lowcountry Boil. Because we were there during the off season, it wasn't hot and the crowds were at a minimum.
In November we went back to the High for an even more exciting event. The chance to see a Van Gogh up close. Sam has enjoyed Van Gogh's works since we first got a set of art prints. This was cemented through an episode of Dr. Who where the Doctor and Amy Pond go back in time and meet the famous painter and help him battle a monster. It's a brilliant episode. And here was a chance to see the globs of paint upon the canvas. To really see the 3-D nature of a painting. To get a sense of the brush as it made the strokes. This was what I was looking for!
In March, we set out on our most ambitious trip yet. A trek to Washington, D.C. to visit a good friend (and Ben's godmother) and to visit some of the best museums our country has to offer. In anticipation of the trip, and to bring the history alive, we watched "Apollo 13" and "National Treasure." When we finally got to stand in front of the Declaration of Independence, it was an amazing moment. As an added bonus, we arrived just prior to a late snow storm which shut down the city. My South Georgia boys got to watch eight inches of snow fall, make a snow fort and mix up some snow ice cream.
Our last solo trip, I decided to really step out of my comfort zone and take the boys and our pop-up camper, by myself, to Stone Mountain Park. We had gone with Mac back in October, so we knew exactly which site to pick. We did have some other plans to do some things in Atlanta, but ultimately the boys were having such a good time just playing by the water, that we didn't really want to leave. So we didn't. Except to go to the laser light show.
As I lay in the grass with three of my boys, singing along to the songs, enjoying just being together, I prayed that these memories that we were making together would carry us all into the future. They are growing so fast, and our relationships and time spent together are such a tremendous part of why I home school.
All the sweat and driving and planning becomes worth it, sitting in my camper, watching this.