Friday, June 13, 2014


We are not moving, but plenty of families we know are.  Connecticut is a hard place to raise a family, especially in Fairfield County.  The cost of living is just so high.  Land is ridiculously expensive, taxes force retirees south, home costs remain high due to the proximity to New York City, highways are frequently snarled with traffic, and the trains are breaking down more and more often.   Connecticut ranks 4th in state population density with an average of 743 people per square mile.  However Fairfield County has a population density of  1323 people per square mile, putting it just under Washington, DC.  Living this close to people can get on your nerves.  Our family is tied to Manhattan due to Greg’s career.  He actually likes the company he works for and the benefits make the commute and the fact we live here bearable, but there are times when we dream of greener grass somewhere in Tennessee.
Some of our friends have made the choice to raise their families elsewhere.  This spring we said goodbye to a Notebook Girlz member whose family bought a farm in New York.  Another Notebook Girlz member and her sister (both very good friends of my girls) are moving to Florida this week because of the lower cost of living and ability to work outdoors year round.  A member of LCC is moving to Southern California due to her Dad’s job.  This is a significant percentage of our friends.  My girls are feeling a bit lost.  We have discussed returning to school.  I would dread the negative aspects of school like testing, calendars, lockdowns (happen here frequently), homework and the negative social influences, but I realize that being around children all day, having classes together, after school activities, sports teams, band and orchestra, clubs, student council, newspaper, and school spirit are all positives of school are very very hard to duplicate here in CT where coops are small and the homeschooling community is very fractured.
We have had to venture out.  Try new things.  Step out of our comfort zone and seek out new connections.  I was so blessed to find a tribe of women who embraced us when we began this journey into homeschooling.  It is hard to believe that was almost 5 years ago and over the years these relationships have changed.  We don’t have that little bubble of awesomeness anymore so we have to create our own awesome.  
It can be found in the trees.  Grace loved her day climbing and ziplining with other teens a few weeks ago.  We hope to get back there soon, at night, when the woods are lit up with twinkling fairy lights.  Last week we ventured to Capture the Flag, an activity that has been taking place for years, but we never joined in on.  This week over 30 kids, mostly teens, all joined in an organized activity and played two games that took about two hours.  Joining in on something where you know no one, have no idea about the rules of the game, and are unfamiliar with the location is hard.  Thankfully they ran into (quite literally) one boy they are friends with and knew a few others from beach nights.  

They had fun.  They challenged themselves.  They may not have found their next best friend but they opened up the possibility for that to happen.  They did not love the game, but they liked it enough to go back and play again.  


Jen Dunlap said...

I know so well of the social struggles you mention. The good and the bad of school. Our kids need to feel connected to their peers in a positive way and having good friends is important. I keep trying to remind myself though that school wouldn't necessarily provide that connection. We can be surrounded by lots of people and still feel lonely. I'm praying that your girls find the right connections!

dstb said...

I've seen the listing on the inclusive board for capture the flag, but it's just too far away. We'll have to make our own fun, too.

When we first started homeschooling 7 years ago, we were able to join up with a small, but fairly active group of homeschoolers in our area. We had weekly park days and larger events like the annual art show, science fair, and international fair.

As the kids got older, people started going their own ways. My oldest decided to go back to public school for high school. A couple of other kids have been taking community college classes and just aren't as available. I started a hiking group for the older kids, but we could just not consistently get enough people.

Even though I consider my younger son to be the more social one, he seems satisfied with the few activities that he has that get him out with other kids. He has youth group, orchestra, writing class, and his volunteer work. In the winter, he skis once a week. There is one family that both sons enjoy spending time with, so they try to arrange time together on the weekends when they can.

I am a homebody, so I don't mind not having to drive here, there, and everywhere, but I do wish there were more kid-structured activities he could take part in.


Sandra said...

I feel your pain. I've pretty much given up trying to find my homeschool tribe in real life and try and make do with online connections. Mr 16 is very social and his tribe seems to involve a mix of people from Scouting cricket and computing all maintained through more Facebook time than I'd like. Miss 13 has a trampolining tribe but I do not (hate it with a passion but do what I have to do for her sake). Birding is helping us make connections but no age peers for her. Miss 19 lost a lot of her homeschooling tribe at the highschool level - they all either went to school or got very serious about exams and thus had no time to socialize. Luckily she's found a great group at university but the high school years were a bit lonely for her. P.S. Apologies for the lack of commas. I do know how to use them but it seems my keyboard no longer has the ability!

Rosemarie said...

That park looks like Sleeping Giant???

Compared to CT, homeschooling up here in VT is much harder to find a core of friends. There are very few co-ops and things are all far away.

It seems to me that the girls are so very active with lots of things to do. Hope that they continue to homeschool- you give them such wonderful opportunities.

Mary Prather said...

I bet it is very hard to have so many friends moving, Jess. I really like how you are HONEST here... talking about school and how it offers friendships, etc... I often wonder that about Grant, because he LOVES people and sometimes get lonely.

You are such a great mom. :-)

Jessica said...

Mary, I am constantly wearing out my brain trying to do what is best for the girls. We have had honest conversations about school, the pros/cons. It is hard for me because I did not love school. I loved the academics and did well, but I did not love the social aspects, the pressure to date at 14, the cattiness of girls, the pressure to be something I was not. I don't think that would be a healthy environment for Grace. I had a group of 4 friends that I did everything with but only one of those girls was a true friend and even that friendship puttered out in our twenties. I found my life long friends as an adult. I know that is not everyone's experience. Greg is still very close with his school friends but they are boys/men and there is such a difference between male/female friendships.

Right now the plan is to stay home and try to make this an amazing educational experience. My motto is we will homeschool as long as it works. There have been moments lately where I have questioned if it is working, but I pray hard and I know we will find out way. Being on break right now helps. It is giving me time to evaluate and think of what we need to do going forward.

Jessica said...

It is! It was our first time at this park and we did not do the hike. That is on our list of things to do this summer!

I think our frustration is that we are not as busy with friends as we once were. It gets harder the older they get and the more their interests branch off. If families just don't have time to dedicate to hanging out, it gets very hard to spend quality down time with friends. It is what I have to work on. I realize we need time to just be and not do.

Jessica said...

Those online relationships are vital to homeschoolers. I don't know if you know my instagram account but we are with Karen @ Homeschool Girls right now! It is our first meeting after almost 5 years of online friendship. My internet connections are often who I turn to when I am feeling at lose ends.

Jessica said...

Your comment captures how I am feeling! It is hard to be a homebody/introvert parenting a on the go extrovert!

Jessica said...

You are right about school. I left HS and never looked back...well I did go to my 5 year reunion but felt that was so fake and pretentious I have never gone to another one. Who we are now is not who we were in HS and I have not maintained friendships with any of my childhood friends. My true friends were discovered in my 20s and 30s. Thank you for your prayers. I know we will figure this out.

Post a Comment

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...