Monday, April 26, 2010


Some homeschoolers I know have been talking about decompression time, when a family new to homeschooling takes some time off to recuperate from the school-way of studying, resting first, and allowing the kids to begin to find their own interests, to discover books or projects that excite their minds. In a similar way, I keep wondering if I'm still in "decompression" from autumn 2007.

For a long time, I've been wanting to learn something about photography. When [free] workshops were offered at the Janesville library, somehow they never worked out with our schedule. Last Thursday, our local library offered a photography class. I was hyped for it. But the other activities of the day (supremely fun activities) pushed back dinner-prep, and I wasn't ready with food early enough for us to be on our way by 6:15. (By the way, I don't regret how I spent Thursday at all.) A day or so later I realized that other families might have gone to Culvers and picked up burgers on their way to the library. Spending money at a restaurant never crossed my mind.

Maggie and I are reading about birds these days. It would be a great fieldtrip to visit Sand Bluff Bird Banding Station. Even though it's a 4-hour roundtrip, I think it would be worth it. Thing is, it's only open on the weekends, and you really want to arrive between 8 and 9:00 because the birds are more active in the morning. I was trying to gather my energy and my will, and make this Saturday the day for the big trip. Thing is, the kids decided to attend Matthew's play on Friday night with a bunch of the other folks from church. There was no way we were leaving the house at 6am, for a long day, a long drive, and hiking, after teenagers put themselves to bed at 11:00 or later. Two fieldtrips untaken this week. As it turns out, with the rain this weekend, we wouldn't have gone anyway.

It's that time of year when I long to visit Mackenzie Environmental Education Center. We often stopped there on our way to the state homeschool conference which used to be held in Stevens Point. I love that place. I love the wildflowers in late April and early May. And the kids love the two-headed pig in formaldehyde.

If we drove as far as MEEC, another great fieldtrip for learning about birds is the International Crane Foundation.

I really need to look into finding some volunteer opportunities for Maggie. We've done some websurfing, looking for stables that offer therapeutic riding for the disabled. I should talk to the folks back at Smiles and see if they can point us in the right direction.

I think we should go to museums more. To the zoo. To nature centers. To the beach when it's warmer (IF it ever gets warmer... thankyouAlGore). To re-enactments. To art shows. To concerts and plays. To ball games. And then there are music lessons, sports teams, and summer-school classes from which the kids might benefit if we signed 'em up.

Especially since we moved and the economy tanked (thankyouBigGovernment), the cost of these activities is usually prohibitive. The county parks and the state parks require different entry passes. This year we're going to have to pick one vehicle to be the going-to-the-park car, because it would be wasteful to buy passes for both cars. But it's not just the money. Finding time to go to the zoo or the museum is the bigger problem. I'm just too tired.

We go to chapel most mornings, and we take Maggie to choir 3x a week. We buy groceries now and then. Pretty soon we need to make a trip to Mankato to get Paul's car back to him; we'll hit up some Betsy-Tacy sites and may consider stopping to see cranes. There's a homeschoolers' beach day coming up that I want to attend with friends. We'll have to get to Chicago to see Rachel and Matt's new place. There's also a family reunion and symposium. It's not like we never go anywhere!

How do we fit in more activities? How do we make time for volunteering at a horse barn or at the library or some other opportunity for Maggie? Why can all these other families provide music lessons and art lessons and dance lessons and softball teams and 4-H, and still fit in cool outings? I'm doing good if I can remember to make supper every day.

I want to give my kids the mind-broadening, fun opportunities that can acquaint them with new ideas and give them new skills. But it seems like laundry and supper take everything I've got. So schoolwork is done the lazy, sit-on-the-couch, read-the-book way, and not the fulfilling way of experiencing all those different places & people & concepts. It reminds me of the Erma Bombeck essay about the mom who was old, and how her youngest had such a different life from the older brothers.

Sometimes I think maybe we're the ones with our act together, not over-committing and running around like crazy. But other times I wish we could be free to get out there in the Real World the way we used to.

PS: This is blogpost #2500. Good grief....


  1. "Finding time to go to the zoo or the museum is the bigger problem. I'm just too tired."

    Exactly. I don't think our kids are overscheduled. They do several music groups at church and one of them does chess (which only periodically involves a "field trip") and another does Tae Kwon Do (weekly class). Little one doesn't do anything at all right now. Yet the thought of a day trip just about sends me over the edge. I had to make myself go to the Ladies' Tea at our church yesterday. I was glad I went but it meant we didn't get home until 4:00 and after church and questioning and tea I was whipped and the rest of the day was lost. For us it's not the kids' activities that fill up our lives but all the other stuff. A lot of it is we the parents. Factor in our schedules and there's hardly a day that doesn't have something smack dab in the middle of it that makes a field trip impossible.

  2. Susan, I feel exactly the same. I know that for my child's temperament (and mine) we need to do Big Things only rarely, and allow for lots of recovery time. Cost is also an issue.

    But I do feel left out, and I often feel like we should be doing more.

  3. I'm glad I'm not the only one who sometimes forgets to cook supper! I keep thinking we should fit in more field trips and other outings, but there's always something else at home that needs doing. 4-H is really our only year round outside activity; dd's piano teacher comes to our house, and the boys play soccer for about 6 weeks in the spring.
    In my case, I think part of it is that everything takes longer (and costs more) because there are so many of us.