First off, I'll say this move was harder than any we have ever experienced. It's the combination of having a big house, moving a home and a business, and having older children, I guess. Our children were very excited to move. I can only imagine how difficult it would be with reluctant children. We encountered a few problems along the way, the chief of which was my engagement band being stolen. While I no longer cry about it, I am still heartbroken that it's gone. And of course, we didn't have it insured, so that sucks. There are other things too, endless really, health insurance, driver's licenses, selling the house, ants, ticks, mice, etc...
The kids have adjusted well. They are both in school, have made friends, and love the new house. I think the disarray was difficult, especially for Eli. He has a series of vocabulary words in the stories he reads that he later uses in sentences. I saw a sentence he wrote yesterday that read, "When I was moving, I was in a madhouse." He's also the one who came home from school after a long day of unpacking and said, "finally, a place to sit!" He never complains, so it's easy to assume he's fine when he's stewing.
About a week after we moved, he instituted family meetings. He told us he wanted to and to show up at 5 if we were willing. At 5 o'clock, he had a board game set up and Ellie aired her grievances. We've had them almost every night since. I think he was missing board games and I'm glad that he took the initiative to change that. So far, in addition to nightly board games, It has led to a one-time agreement to purchase pop-tarts and a 30 minute bedtime extension. I kind of wish we could go back to board game nights instead of "family meetings".
By all accounts, the schools are excellent. I haven't noticed that Eli is doing more challenging work, but he says it's a little more fun, even without knowing all the kids yet. The subject matter seems very comparable in the 3rd grade. They might be slightly ahead in fractions, but Eli had covered that with Ellie at home and some with Accelerated Math, so it's not really an issue. Otherwise, it seems comparable both in quality and quantity of work for Eli. They split up recess into three sessions, which I think is kind of brilliant and they have an awesome science lab where they do cool experiments and every kid has a chromebook. The playground is freaking amazing. The lunches are pretty high quality. The teachers are communicative and care a lot. So, no complaints there at all.
As for Ellie's school, I notice more differences. She has a literature class every day and just had a test on folklore which is comparable in subject matter to some college coursework. The test itself was designed to be very easy to pass, so it's hard to say how much of that information really sinks in with the 5th graders, but it has certainly stuck with her and I'm thrilled she's being exposed to it so early. She has 8 classes a day and a total of 13 different teachers a week, which I also think is great. I think one of the main functions of schooling is exposure to a variety of educated adults as authority figures. She also has a science lab and has been doing experiments since she arrived. The science lab is super high quality and really fun. I think she probably missed a little with respect to literature and that she may be ahead a bit in science, probably due to the fact that she was in a STEM focused classroom in Lenoir. For example, she just finished a unit on states of physical matter (where they studied solid, liquid, gas and plasma); however, because of her class in Lenoir, she was also familiar with Bose Einstein condensate and absolute zero as states of matter. The only thing that I know she hasn't had that the students here have had is a typing class which she'll be tested on. She's expected to be able to type pretty well and we're working on that. The teachers, again, are great, very communicative and extremely friendly and kind. She's made lots of friends and is excited to go to school.
The new house
So we're living in a small house with a barn on the property on 5 acres. We're going to live here while we build which is a pretty long time. We have one bathroom so far. We're planning to put another one in the barn which is almost totally finished on this inside. It's challenging having only one toilet, but I hung a gas mask by the door for emergencies and that has helped. Plus, I hear urine is supposed to help keep the deer away from the blueberry bushes, so..... There's a certain amount of negotiating need that goes on, but we're adjusting. There's no bathtub, only a shower. That's also challenging, especially when you're moving and you're really tired. We have pretty much decided to put a hot tub behind the house and then move it to the new house when it's finished, so that'll help. That and the new toilet in the barn will definitely make a difference. The land is awesome. It's on a cliff overlooking the river valley which is so beautiful. And, except for the cliff, it's really flat and fertile, which is great. We've planted blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherry trees and peach trees so far. We're going to plant apple trees and a garden too. The kids love having the outdoor space. Ellie is kind of obsessed with the Youtube channel Primitive Technology, so this is kind of a dream come true for her. She's been digging a hole since we arrived and it's getting pretty big. We're also excited about what we can do on the cliff. We're thinking about slides and repelling and rock climbing hand holds.... It's really cool. We've had fires at night already around a fire pit in the backyard and the telescope is much more useful here than it was in Lenoir. Total upgrade on the land. And it's less than a mile off I-40 which makes the commute to anywhere super convenient and fast.
The house we're building
We have an awesome architect who has agreed to take on the job. We love all the work she's ever done and couldn't be more excited to have her helping us with this massive undertaking. We really don't want to screw this up. I figure the next year and a half of my life is basically building this house. My Dad has almost convinced us to not hire a General Contractor and to do that ourselves. He's the most confident man on earth. Ellie is lucky enough to walk through life with a little more confidence than is really justified, and I'm sure that's where she gets it. Anyway, we have big plans for this house and it will be awesome. I guess we'll keep the little house and the barn and I'll work out of them. Right now my workshop is entirely in the barn. We're not planning workshop space in the new house. I still don't have internet, stable electricity or water in the barn, but we're working on it.
I think Daniel is really enjoying working with my Dad. It's a challenging transition, of course, and it's really hard to know what exactly you do and how you do it and when you do it, but it's starting to congeal a little. It's difficult to talk about because so much of what they're doing now is not really for public consumption, but I think they're both happy about the arrangement with Daniel, so that's great. There's so much potential everywhere. I don't know what I'm going to do yet. Re-open the shop, work with an organization somewhere, start an organization, teach, build a house, write? I don't know. A lot of good options and I'm just not settled on one thing yet. Internet and electricity first. And a second bathroom.
Oh, we miss our friends. This is one of the hardest parts. We had friends visit from Fayetteville last weekend and that was great. We REALLY miss our friends and our game nights and the humor and everything.... We really, really miss our friends.
That's enough for now, just a little update on our progress in Arkansas.