Sunday, May 31, 2009

Europe…Ooh la la!

Jill's Journal: When Rob shared his RVing through Europe idea as an epilogue to our US adventure, I about peed my pants!! WHAT a brilliant idea! I’m almost more fired up about that than I was about our North America plan! Unbelievable. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. It’s beyond brilliant and so very, very doable, especially after a few years of doing it here. And then there’s Australia and goodness knows where else… We could either ship our rig or sell what we have stateside and buy one there more suited to the local roads and lifestyles… Oh, the dreaming and scheming I am going to do!

I thought I was excited about our trip, but now I am ridiculously thrilled about it! What fabulous prospects are out there … the only limits on our future are our own imaginations!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Europe bound?

Last night I was watching Bourne and thought, you know - if we can do the RV in the US - we could really do that in Europe too. That movie shows an awful lot of fantastic sights and scenes and things that I would very much like to see.

I'm sure there are some logitical problems, but that's a good two years or more away, and we'll have to see how everything shakes out between now and then. I am however pretty certain that if we can do it here, we can do it there.

If we were to do it, I'd have to do a lot of research about vehicle length, width, fuel, types, etc. I know that there are differrent laws over there and I'm not entirely keen on all the hoops we'd probably have to jump through, but it'd be worth it if I can put up with it and keep the right attitude.

Personally, I'd like to see all the different things that Europe has to show me and my family, and I'd like to learn and teach the cultures and heritage that the area would have to offer. I could see a good amout of time in Western Europe, and while going into Eastern Europe would be interesting, it would all depend on how much time we wanted to spend. If I think it'll take a long time to move around over here, I can imagine how much time it'll take over there.

I suppose our primary countries would be: Italy, Spain, France, Germany (I mean - the autobahn in a 450 towing 40' of house... oh yeah!), the Netherlands, Denmark and I'm sure England/Ireland/Scotland would all be something to do. Secondary trips could include Monaco, Iceland (I've always wanted to go), Moscow (maybe a weekend trip), and Sweden/Finland/Norway just to see what that area is like. We'd need our passports in hand, that's for sure.

Worst case scenario is that the girls would all be much older, and could understand that they need to survive with less space. We could just sell the rig over here and buy something more suitable to life over there - we'll see. I'd think that over there I'd be very, very interested in a class C or A. Maybe by that point I'll have won the World Series and no longer need to work... HA!

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Jill's Journal: The Sonlight brochure and catalogue finally arrived. This is the homeschooling information I’d been waiting for so eagerly and I quickly devoured all 162 pages of it. If it was completely up to me, I would very comfortably say this is THE one for us. It has all the things I loved so much about Calvert, plus all the things I wished Calvert had. It looks wonderful, beyond outstanding, and simply perfect for us.

It’s a pretty traditional program, but literature-rich, which is right up our book-loving kids’ alley. It combines all the best things about regular school with homeschool and appears to meld them together beautifully for the optimal experience. The only downside (and I’m not sure this is a total downside) is that there aren’t traditional tests throughout the program. Sonlight feels you delve so completely into each subject that you immediately know how well the kids grasp the concepts and testing would be just an extra exercise with no benefit. I don’t necessarily disagree, but it does make me worry about the challenge of smoothly assimilating our children back into conventional school someday.

On the plus side, Sonlight seems to make school an exploration, almost like an expedition of learning for kids. The emphasis is on learning through literature, yet it has all the usual subjects. And as an added bonus, it has a strong basis in ethics and values and family connection. It’s everything I wanted.

Here’s the most bizarre part to me: Sonlight makes me want to start now. It makes me yearn to pull Erika out of the kindergarten class she’s scheduled to start in the fall and start homeschooling even before our RV adventure. It also makes me want to homeschool long after we put roots down somewhere. This is coming from someone who never wanted to homeschool in the first place!

Another plus: like Calvert, Sonlight has pre-packaged curricula “in a box” for preschool through fifth grade. This is designed for newcomers, people like me who are just starting out and not yet confident enough in their homeschooling skills to design their own program. Unlike Calvert, once I become secure enough in the process, I can deviate and design a program best suited to my kids, if I so desire. And, looking to the future, if we decide to RV for years beyond what we anticipate or even do decide to continue homeschooling after we once again have a fixed residence, Sonlight can take us all the way through the senior year (Calvert only goes to the eighth grade).

I’m in love with this program. Finding it makes me feel nothing but promise and excitement about homeschooling, as opposed to being overwhelmed and daunted like I was before. Sonlight appears to be everything I hoped and more.

Now to discuss with the husband, who listened attentively to all the great things I had to say about Calvert and has since become a great fan of that program…!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bluegrass take two...

OK, so we had a little time to kill, no where to be and a strange happenstance to be on the Northside of town... So - what better to do than go look at the floorplans that I've seen but Jill had not. I specifically wanted her to see the quad bunk and loft Wildcat trailers. They are a little small for us, but at least now when we talk about that type of layout, we both have a visual - and really - the girls like looking at 'houses'. Even the kind with wheels that don't go anywhere (yet). ;)

Anyway - this trip confirmed two things (and accomplished a third):
  1. The guys at Bluegrass SUCK. Its such a total used-car lot. Once again, it was about what he could do for me today, with no care about the future (even though it was my second time on the lot) or trying to keep the sale. He actually took us to the back to see the third model, and then said - make sure to close the door on your way up front (walking). Oh, don't worry about putting the stairs in... LOL. Oh well, I got what I needed out of them, and now I don't have to go back - I actually threw the card away because even if we ended up buying that model of trailer I'd go somewhere else. I've been twice and both times it seemed like they weren't planning on being around in a month.
  2. We can make a layout like either of these work, though it'd be nice to have it in a little larger format. 33 feet is just a little too small, and I don't plan on having a problem with weight, which seems to be what the entire plan for the wildcat setup is about. The loft was particularly friendly for the office space and having the master bed with the bath, but Jill was worried about how it would function with a 6YO and 4YO up top. The loft is high, but I think I could find a way to make it feel safe. Even the bunks are going to be a little tough, but somehow we'll figure it all out. the thing I like about a loft is that it basically gives you full use of a room, with a couch and full wardrobe.. but I can see maintenance (bedding, potty nights, etc.) will be more difficult.
  3. Accomplished - Jill got to see how these things look 'slid-in'. It showed that while they are sorta ok for 'if I have to', they are in no way livable in a slid in condition. The one we looked at was an incredibly spacious model slid-out, but in it was impossible to enjoy, let alone live in. I guess anywhere we stop will allow us to slide it out - at least I hope.
One good thing about Bluegrass is that they basically confirmed the 25% off MSRP thing that we were told before. 38,725 list, but today, if I pushed him, he could let me have it for 29,995 (once again a little Used Carish). Shockingly, we didn't bite.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Jill's Journal: Another of my top picks for homeschool curriculum was CLASS, or Christian Liberty Academy School System. Notice I say “was.” I received the brochure, which sadly told me virtually nothing about their program!

I have no doubt CLASS gives a Christ-centered education, but I can’t be sure what that education is as they specifically “do not send samples of CLASS materials or review copies of books” or do any sort of curriculum preview. How can I make an intelligent, informed decision without that?

I’m afraid they just eliminated themselves from consideration for our family.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Calvert School

Jill's Journal: The first of my top three homeschooling programs to get their brochure in my mailbox was the Calvert School. It’s an extensive, 40-page brochure (!), but I’ve now read it from cover to cover. The length of it was actually appreciated, as it certainly educated me about their program and answered virtually all of my questions.

I’ve heard about Calvert before, as has Rob, and from all appearances it seems to be an outstanding program, quite close to a perfect fit for us. My only reservation about it is that it is completely secular. And that, unfortunately, is a big drawback for me. I really, really want a Biblically-based program.

My other two top picks are both Protestant-based, so this is a testament to how academically exceptional Calvert looks to be for it to remain in my top three. If we decide to go with Calvert, I’ll find what is called a “unit study” program and at least add a Bible class to our homeschooling. What a pain though – I’d so prefer for it all to be melded together and not to have to make a judgment call every time things like evolution are taught. I mean, of course my kids need to learn about evolution as a theory, but I don’t want them taught that as fact. Perhaps a better way to say it is that I’d really like a Christian perspective rather than a worldly approach. If Calvert wasn’t secular, I’d probably be signed up already – it looks that good in every other way.