While life seems to be full of all of these deep things to ponder and challenges to figure out, it's also full of adventures big and small, and really good times with the people I love most~ my crazy offspring.
Last month, we had a super fun adventure to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for their generous homeschool days. I had to reserve the tickets months in advance, but they were Free~ Yes, FREE! For the 2 adults and 6 kids that were in our friendly adventure party, this would have totaled close to $300 just to get in the door. (In other words, we probably wouldn't have gone otherwise. Thank you Aquarium~ you guys ROCK!)
After having made reservations so far in advance, and getting all excited, life threw a few bumps in my plans. An unpleasant appointment and a funeral came up, and it turned out they would both land on the day we would be returning. Oh~ and we'd be getting in at 1 AM, AFTER spending a full day at the aquarium AND driving over 5 hours.
I actually considered cancelling the trip due to overwhelm, and the realization that I would be heading straight into really hard stuff already exhausted and on no sleep.
Then, I got a grip and realized that neither the appointment nor the funeral would be any happier for me if I skipped out on my fun. Those unpleasant things would still be unpleasant, and I'd rather have the good times than sleep. (.......)
My kids and I have always been explorers of things near and far, and some of our favorite memories, as well as some of our most profound learning have come about on the road.
We all love the ocean and my Girl Child is enchanted with Marine Biology. How could I say no?
Most of all, there were 6 cute kids looking forward to the trip, not to mention my dear friend and I. So, I went for it, and I am oh so glad I did!
We found a decent deal and stayed at the Butterfly Grove Inn, which was perfect because:
It has a great family suite set up, with big rooms, fridges & fireplaces, a pool and hot tub close by. The continental breakfast was essentially muffins, coffee and juice, but we got enough carbs, sugar and caffeine to get our big band of travelers moving anyway.
They are however, susceptible to human fingers, and while we knew better than to touch them, apparently not everyone does. According to the signs posted along the trail, one can get a $1000 fine for "molesting" butterflies in any way. It was really hard to keep a straight face when trying to explain the context of this warning to the children.
Anyhoo~ seeing the butterflies flitting about the little patch of forest was a pretty magical sight.
We were also within walking distance to Asilomar State Beach and tidepools, where we snacked and explored galore, finding a bunch of cool things~ the coolest in my opinion was this BABY STARFISH!!!!
HomeSchool Days inherently have a higher adult / child ratio than days when school groups attend. The pace is slower, the groups tend to be more relaxed as there is no bus to catch or agenda to fulfill for a test later. Everyone is just exploring.
There is also a distinct lack of adults who use whistles to herd children, which we have unfortunately been subjected to when accidentally visiting attractions during a school field trip time. (I know it's much worse for the kids who actually have to deal with it every day, but for those of us who aren't used to it, whistles and herding are really unpleasant.)
The kids split up and explored at their own pace and based on their own interests. We watched the penguin and otter feedings, did some stuff in the lab, and said "ooooohhh" and "aaaahhh" about 5 million times because the ocean is full of the most beautifully colorful and amazing creatures one could imagine.
All in all, it was a wonderful time of exploring, learning and playing as a family, and is exactly the kind of fun adventure that makes a happy homeschooling bunch.
And thank goodness it was so fun, because we came home to some extra mayhem upon the nonsense I was already expecting (which I will write about at another time.) But for now, I know without a doubt that going for it with making the adventure happen was definitely the right thing to do.
Even if it meant no sleep and a crazy schedule, the smiles and time with people I love filled my tanks and made dealing with the everyday hardships of life so much easier.
Just dreaming and scheming of the next adventure has my whole family excited for what's to come.