Hold on to your hats, because I’m actually writing another post, and a year hasn’t gone by! Life here has been interesting over the past few weeks, so there’s definitely stuff to share.
First off, if you’ve been paying any attention to international news in the past couple of weeks, you probably heard that we had some problems here in Haiti. For some background, Haiti’s political tension has been growing over the past year or so, and because of it there have been times where things come to a head, people protest, and the country shuts down for a bit.
Starting on Feb. 7 we went through another round of this, but this time it lasted longer, and was more intense and country wide than it has been in the past year. It meant that most major roads were blocked with a variety of barricades, making travel impossible. Schools were shut down, people couldn’t get to the hospital, and no one could go to work – unless they were like our staff who were willing to walk miles so they could be here. We were basically told to “shelter in place” by all Embassies, and did exactly that.
While that is stressful on it’s own, the evening before it all started our guys were in a bad accident when they were on their way home from a day of filter deliveries. Our driver had to brake suddenly, and the roads were slick from a brief rain. This caused him to lose control of the truck, sending it into a spin and rolling twice down an embankment before coming to a stop. At some point in all of this it hit a motorcycle with a driver and passenger on it. The driver was badly injured and the woman passenger was killed instantly. All of our staff were also hurt with a variety of injuries, and spent time in the hospital. One is still in a hospital in Port au Prince with a badly broken leg that needs a lot of follow up care.
It’s been a lot, but we are so grateful for the people God has put around us to manage everything. Even though it was an accident, CWH has taken full responsibility for it and has helped the family of the woman who was killed with all funeral expenses and a settlement, and we’ve taken care of the hospital fees for the motorcycle driver and all of our staff. Five of our six guys are at home recovering, and a couple should be returning to work next week. We were able to get the truck back last week and have started a damage assessment so repairs can be done. And, we have the funds available right now to buy a new delivery truck. This was something that we were planning on doing this year anyway, but are able to bump that purchase up so we don’t lose momentum with our filter deliveries and installations.
Chris and I have managed well through all of this, though we do see where our PTSD has been triggered in different ways, and are trying to be aware of how that affects us. For me, it actually didn’t fully hit me until last weekend when things calmed down in the country and we were able to start doing life as normal again. I realized I was afraid to go out, and that I wanted everyone close. I knew in my head that it was fine, and we were all fine, but my heart was stressed. Just being aware of it has been much better because I can talk myself through things and just be aware that it might affect how I react in other ways.
Because things were all locked down, and we couldn’t go places, it meant the kids weren’t able to go to school. For a week and a half. We did have some of their school books at home, so we did some stuff, but in the end I downloaded some work and we started doing some homeschool. It was like when a restaurant does a “soft opening” before their grand opening. We dipped our toes in, tried it out, and decided how we felt about it.
We loved it! And it was a huge affirmation that we were on the right path.
Our plan was to officially start homeschooling on March 4. This week would have been our kids last week at their old school. Last week when it was time for them to go back, something unexpected happened – they decided that they didn’t want to go back, and that they’d rather homeschool!
We did send them for Thursday and Friday, because we wanted them to be able to end well by finishing up a few things and saying good-bye to their friends and teachers. They did that, and were happy they did, but they were SUPER happy when they got home last Friday and knew that they were done.
As parents, we want what’s best for our kids, and seeing our kids enthusiasm over homeschooling has been such a huge thing.
On Monday we kept going with our temporary lessons that we’ve been doing while we wait for Chris’ brother to arrive with all our books. He had to reschedule his visit last week to this week because of the crazy that was happening, but he comes tomorrow! I’m VERY excited to get our curriculum, and get everything set up.
I was honestly scared about starting, because of my own insecurities, which I guess is probably normal with such a huge shift like this. I was worried about whether or not I could teach our kids well, and whether or not we would all just be frustrated with each other. You know, the tears, and all that.
I know that homeschooling is like everything else, and that there will be good and bad days. I’m being very realistic about that, and honestly, in hindsight I’m thankful that we had a slow breaking in. I did want to get everything set up and have a big start day, etc, but I can’t change that, so we’re going with what we got and being grateful for it. And, things are going well! Yes, there have been moments, but we just keep going forward.
I think the biggest thing that just gets me, is that every single day the kids have told me how thankful they are that we’re doing homeschool. What?!? I was NOT expecting that, at all. I mean, I figured they would enjoy it, but neither Chris nor I were prepared for how much they would like it. Whenever they tell me this, I take a few minutes to tell them that I appreciate that and ask them what they like about it. The most common response that they give is that they like having someone to actually teach them and explain things to them. Hearing this, just shows me how much we need to listen to our hearts, and when something is stirring, there is usually a reason for it. For us, we knew our kids needed more, and they’ve now shown us that we were right. The best part is, we can actually give them what they need.
And, I’m happy to report that we’ve all been getting along well! Yes, there have definitely been times where boundaries are pushed, but we’re working through it. I developed a discipline system that we’re trying out, where the expectations are clearly explained, and the kids have the choice in how they manage those. I’ll definitely be sharing more about this in the future, because it seems to be working for us so far.
As for the insecurities around being able to actually teach my kids, that has also been a pleasant surprise. I mean, I thought I could do it, it’s just that it’s such a HUGE responsibility. The thing I learned about myself in the past month is that I’m actually really excited to be teaching them, because there are so many amazing things to learn about this world we live in. I love it when I can see them struggling with something, and we can take a few minutes to walk through things, and it clicks. I love hearing them ask questions about things when we’re not in school, simply because they’re thinking about stuff and their curiosity has been piqued.
A lot of people recommend that you do some deschooling when your kids switch over from regular school to homeschooling. Deschooling is when you essentially take some time away from all things school related, to put some space between what the child has learned as a system, and make room for a whole new way of getting an education. I totally understand the need for that now that we’re starting our homeschooling journey, and did consider going that route. Alex, especially, likes and needs routine, so there have been several times in the past week where he’s asked things like how many pages we’re going to do, or what we’ll be doing that day, because those were the markers of a school day for him. I chose not to do a complete deschooling with our kids, simply because we’d already come off a couple of weeks where school was hit and miss, and because Chris and I still need to work from home, which means having some structure through our days.
This is where I’m thankful for the temporary curriculum that we’re doing, because it’s allowed us to implement the concept of homeschooling, and to get some structure to our day, without fully jumping in to a whole new curriculum, etc. We’ve been able to start our morning routine and build on it a bit each day, and do some basics like Math and English each day, while also having time to read out loud, do craft projects and things that our kids haven’t really gotten to do at school. It’s allowed me to see the areas where they struggle, to talk about our attitudes, and to get a better feel for their learning styles and what each of them need in a day.
Chris and I have both been amazed at the quick change we’re seeing in all of us. I think overall, our stress level has gone down significantly. The kids are happy. Chris told me that when he walks into the kitchen while we’re doing school there’s this excited vibe that’s really evident. Chris and I have literally gained hours back into our day since we don’t have to drive and help with homework. Our kids are playing more. We’re able to work on certain things, like manners and respecting each other through the day, rather than in the few hours we used to have where everyone was tired. Today we did a cooking lesson not only for the skill development, but also because our kids are home all day now and eating more food. We needed more snacks to feed them through the day, but I shouldn’t have to be the only one responsible for that. We were able to prep some cut veggies to keep in the fridge and make homemade granola bars, while we worked on life skills and some math. And, at one point Olivia may have giggled and said, “I’m having way more fun than my friends at school right now!!!!” :)
There’s a lot more that I want to share as we get more into things, so there will definitely be more posts coming. Some of those things include:
~How I set up our homeschool space since we’re doing it in our kitchen/living room.
~How I’m managing my schedule between schooling and working for the mission.
~What curriculum we’re using and how we like it.
~How I’m managing the discipline side of things.
~What resources we’re using to help with our lessons.
~What our average day looks like.
More to come!