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Unlikely Homeschool

Growing up, I can’t even tell you if I knew one person who was homeschooled. It wasn’t common where I lived. And while I didn’t personally know anyone who was, I was always quick to talk about how homeschooled kids were so “weird,” if it came up with my friends. I also really loved school, I loved academics and I was close to OCD about my assignments, grades, and extracurricular activities. So, needless to say, it wasn’t the path I saw myself taking when I had children of my own.

When I moved to Dubai, I had no idea how much my life would change or that I would be raising kids there. After nannying for some of my friends, I became a preschool teacher and quickly realized how important school was in Dubai. At that time, people would place their children on waiting lists to get them into the school they wanted, even before birth… When we were pregnant with our oldest son, many people asked us where we had registered him for school, but we couldn’t have registered him because we didn’t even know what gender he was until he was born. As we time went on, it became less intense. More international schools opened up, and it was no longer a scary, “what if my kid can’t get into the school we want because of a waiting list?” situation. But it was a situation for us because every school charged tuition and it became apparent that school was just to expensive for us.

Thankfully the Lord had started working on my heart even before we started our family, during my time teaching preschool. I started to realize how much the parents were missing who were dropping their kids off at our school everyday. Even then, I had thoughts of, “if I were able to stay home with our child, then…” And so slowly the idea of homeschooling came into view. I was also aware that homeschooling might not be an option for us if I needed to continue working, and so we were always in between deciding. The deciding time came when we realized that financially if we sent our son to school, I would have to work to help with the school costs. My whole paycheck would go to his and then his sisters’ schooling. I could either teach other kids or I could teach our own while we scaled back on other expenses as a household. And so, we became homeschoolers.

Now, this is my 4th year homeschooling, and my 3rd year formally homeschooling, meaning my oldest son is now in 2nd grade. And I have to tell you, I’ve never learned so much in my life. I have definitely had days where it was hard to get up out of bed, but more and more, my days are these little treasures in which I get to learn with my kids. And I’m so grateful that this unlikely homeschooler became one. Because the time I am given to know and grow with my kids is absolutely irreplaceable. So more on homeschooling soon, but for now- that is the beginning of our story, or a small part of it.

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A Bit of Background

Almost ten years ago, I left to move overseas. Initially, my senses were overwhelmed as I walked out of the airport and found myself in a new country. However, I quickly learned that I could find many comforts from home in the United Arab Emirates, the hub between East and West. While this was true I still deeply missed my family and friends, who could not be imported.

My plan was to spend 9 months there and to return home, but the Lord had another plan. After being there for a few months I was introduced to a man who a year later became my husband. A year after that we got pregnant with our first child and now 7 years down the line, we just had our fourth. Although roots don’t hold well in the sand, Dubai became my home because it was where our family started. Neither my husband nor I had a real desire to move away and we loved being in the middle of our childhood homes and family, South Africa and the United States, and being a part of such a wonderful church in Dubai.

Because my husband and I were from two separate countries, friends would always ask us where we would want to move next. But neither of us really felt called anywhere else so we really didn’t have an answer. However, while we were living in Dubai we saw many of our friends separated because of having two different passports and no residency permanence in their spouse’s country. So after much prayer we found ourselves applying for my husband’s green card, which took almost a year and a half to get. Fast forward to the global pandemic of covid19, and we are so grateful that we started the process when we did, it was truly the Lord who led us according to his timing. We got my husband’s IR1 visa in January, had a baby in April and prepared to move as soon as we could with country shut-downs and travel restrictions. By God’s grace, we were able to move to the US in May.

All of our luggage and three out of four children at Chicago O’Hare
Munising, Michigan. Miner’s Castle Overlook

The next steps are uncertain as we wait for the Lord to lead us, but we are so grateful to be safe and to be together during this time. We always knew moving would be culture shock, and the pandemic has definitely added a different twist to that experience. But every day we are grateful that the Lord provided a place for us to be together at my parents’ house. And now we are awestruck as we are living in a forest, so different from the desert we left. There are beautiful trees, rainstorms, bird calls, chipmunks, cool breezes, and flowers growing everywhere around us- it is a special treat for us as a family. So come along on our adventure around the spinney and we’ll definitely share some laughs together.

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