It has been a VERY long time since I've posted on Five J's—probably over a year. Life has been hectic, and a lot has changed since I last posted anything about our family, so I thought it might be a good time to give everyone an update on where we are.
Where Are We Now?
My husband and I are both still working from home, mainly doing graphic design through FiveJsDesign.com. We used to do a lot of website design, but we've shifted our focus and we're doing a lot more book design now (rather appropriate for a homeschooling family!). We design book covers—mostly for nonfiction—and do the interior layout for books, both digital and physical. We've even laid out an Algebra textbook for the state of Texas. How's that for geeky!?
While we have historically been fairly sedentary homebodies, over the last year my husband has gotten a lot more active. He started mountain biking last fall and absolutely fell in love with it, so he tries to get out the trail as often as he can. He also started going to CrossFit at a local gym, and my 15-year-old daughter has started going with him. CrossFit works very nicely with homeschooling. She attends at least three classes a week, so we'll but putting CrossFit on her high school transcript as her P.E. credits.
My husbands also started a two-year term on our local city council in May which is definitely something new for him. It's been an excellent learning experience, although a little frustrating (of course) at times.
As for me, I started back to college in January 2017 with the goal of finishing up my bachelor's degree that has been 26 years in the making. I also started volunteering as a CASA for children in foster care last May. I'm currently working on my final two classes and I'm extremely excited to say I'll be graduating in May with a Bachelor of General Studies and a concentration in Human Services. I'm also starting some additional classes next week in nonprofit management which I'll be finishing up in May as well. My goal is, after graduating, to work on forming a nonprofit organization that serves youth ages 15 through 25 who are either currently in foster care or who have aged out. (I've actually been working on this a lot already, but haven't been able to focus on it 100% because of school.) The nonprofit, which will (probably) be called the WAY Alliance for Youth, will have mentoring at its core—matching a caring adult with each youth—but it will also incorporate some case management, addressing the specific needs of the youth to help them transition to independence. This is something that is desperately needed in our local area.
My 20yo son finished up his certificate in audio engineering over a year ago, and he's working on his fourth year as the part-time+ audio engineer for our church. He is still living at home, but will be moving out in the next few months to live on his own. This is definitely something new for us!
My 18yo daughter is currently attending a local university studying child development/pre-occupational therapy. She's in their Honors program, and was recently accepted into their Leadership Institute, and she's really enjoying all the opportunities that being at a four-year university is offering her. This is her second year of college, but only her first at the university since she attended our local community college for her freshman year. She still lives at home since the school is only a 20-minute drive from our house. She is a kindergarten Sunday School teacher at our church (she's finishing up her third year in that capacity), and she works as a nanny for a local family. She's definitely found her calling working with children!
(Interesting fact: My daughter is in the Honors program and the Leadership Institute at her university, but she has never taken the SAT or ACT since she started out at the community college which didn't require ACT/SAT scores. She did well in her classes there, and was able to transfer to the university, into their Honors program, without any problems at all. Not taking the SAT/ACT was simply a conscious choice because of the track she was planning to follow. So if someone tells you the SAT/ACT is absolutely necessary to get into a good university, that's simply not true if go via community college. No one in the entire process has looked at her oddly because she doesn't have SAT/ACT scores on her transcript. )
The Last Homeschooler
My 15yo daughter is the only one left to homeschool. She's doing quite a few subjects at home with me, but she also just started her first class at the local community college, a continuing education Spanish class. That was her very first time as a bonafide student in a classroom—she never even did any co-op classes!—and she absolutely adores it. It's been excellent motivation for her in her other subjects as well.
Next year she'll mostly be taking classes through the community college, primarily continuing education health science and Spanish classes, but if all goes well with her entrance test, she'll also be taking dual enrollment, for-credit core classes too. She's on track to graduate from high school in May 2019, after which she'll be continuing at the college with some more health science courses and pre-requisites for nursing school, and then in spring 2020 when she's 17, she plans on enrolling in the 4-month Clinical Medical Assistant program through the college (she's an August baby, so she'll be turning 18 just in time to start the clinical part of the program.) Her ultimate goal is nursing school, so starting out as a Clinical Medical Assistant seems to be an ideal way to get there, especially since it'll take her at least three to four semesters to finish up the pre-requisites to start nursing school itself. As a CMA, she'll get some great education and experience in the field before committing to nursing school outright.
What's also fabulous is that our community college, which is already well-known for it's excellent associate-degree RN program, is going to begin to offer bachelor degrees in nursing by the time she's ready for nursing school, so my daughter will be able to earn a 4-year nursing degree at a very low cost.
No More Homeschooling?
I'm actually really looking forward to this next stage of our life—the I'm-not-homeschooling-any-longer stage. By the time my youngest graduates in 2019, we'll have homeschooled for fourteen years. I've definitely not been the best homeschooling mom—not by a long shot—but my relationship with my children is strong. I've learned a ton in the process, and my kids have each discovered their area of passion for their careers, all of which are vastly different from each other.
No, they weren't accepted to an Ivy League school (they didn't apply). No, they didn't score perfect on their SAT or ACT (in fact, at this point, only one child has taken or plans to take the SAT/ACT). But each one of them knows what they believe and why, they can think critically, they can learn by themselves, and they can interact with other people as adults. They still have things they're working on, but I think what they have achieved is pretty important in the grand scheme of things. If I had things to do all over again, I'd definitely still homeschool.