Sunday, December 31, 2017

Our Year in Review

2017 was a year of change for us, with many members of the family moving on to the next stage of their lives, or signalling that they were ready to do so. Mr 25 got his first career job - one which required an overseas move. Miss 23 meanwhile returned from her overseas adventures, enrolled in a PhD programme, found a part-time job connected to her future career goals, and has now permanently left home. Both Mr 25 and Miss 23 gained a serious significant other during the year - yet another change to the family dynamic. Mr 20 was the outlier to the change theme, just continuing on with his university studies and existing part-time job.

For Miss 17, 2017 was the year where it felt like she bade farewell to her childhood. Trampolining  had been a constant  since she was 9 and as she got older it became a bigger part of her life. But she retired from competition mid-year, and by year end  resigned her coaching job as well. She passed the second stage of the tiered drivers licence system, meaning she can drive without supervision  - another step towards adulthood. Homeschooling went well (barring a few odd hiccups, mostly with statistics) and she completed five courses which I titled English Literature, Film History and Analysis, Introductory Statistics, New Zealand History - An Overview, and Animal Behaviour II. However,  I often felt that we were going through the motions, and that she was ready for a new challenge, one that didn't involve me. So while she technically has one more year of homeschooling left, her decision to undertake a university preparation course instead (the easiest way of gaining admission to the university of her choice for 2019, since they will not look at her homeschooling transcript - it's only now that I realise how easy the university admission process was for the older 3) definitely feels like the right one. I'm not entirely sure what we would have done had she opted to continue homeschooling for another year.

One thing that didn't change  - unless change means intensify - this year was the interest in birding . It continued to play a major role in Miss 17's life - and mine. She attended two teen birding camps, plus a university summer school programme in zoology, and a short plant identification course. Attendance at the two courses was an outgrowth of her interest in birds. The start of a local banding project gave her the hands-on work she craved. She continued to edit the local newsletter and write for both the national ornithology magazine and the Young Birders magazine. A big achievement was having a short paper accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Meanwhile I took on the key leadership role in our local birding group. Together Miss 17 and I attended the national ornithology conference, and later in the year went on a birding road-trip with a couple of her friends. Altogether she observed 137 birds during the year, 19 of which were 'lifers' (ones she'd never seen or heard before). My figures were a little more modest (114 and 7 respectively) but more than enough to keep me happy.

For me personally, 2017 was a better year than 2016. The worst symptoms of my health issues were largely under control and I only suffered a handful of major flares all year. Apart from homeschooling and birding, reading occupied a lot of my time. I somehow got through 172 titles last year - being a fast reader helps! There were a few disappointments among my selections, but most I'd happily read again or recommend to others. If I was giving a prize to the book that impacted me the most, or whose message stayed with me the longest it would probably be a tie between Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale and This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel.

For our family as a whole the big event of the year was the completion - finally - of the earthquake repairs (and re-repairs of the unsatisfactory first repairs). We had to move out of the house for six weeks (the packing and unpacking was a major job I hope to not have to repeat anytime soon) and there were lots of unwanted hassles but, more than six years after the most damaging quake, it is so nice to have our home fully functioning again, and to be finished dealing with the earthquake repair bureaucracy.

The year ended on a bit of a sad note with the passing of an honorary family member.  Basil lived with us for nearly two years (while his family was forced into a no-pet rental as their home was rebuilt following the earthquakes) and we continued to have him for occasional visits. It seems that he ruptured a disk, probably the result of the spread of his bone cancer, thus rendering him paralyzed.

Looking ahead to 2018 and I doubt I'll be blogging as often. This blog came about for two reasons. One was to connect with a group of bloggers who all homeschooled and  had girls of a similar age to Miss 17. I learnt a lot from them, and wanted to contribute more fully to their informal community. The other was to help rectify the shortage of homeschooling blogs that focused on high school. Since I'll no longer be homeschooling (assuming Miss 17 is accepted into the university prep course that is) there won't be much for me to blog about!  At this stage I think I'll post quick monthly updates. If nothing else I'd like to document the process of transition from homeschooling to beyond - for both Miss 17 and for me.


  1. I'm sorry to hear about Basil. He looks like he was a sweetie. We lost our Layla a year ago and the kids really miss her.

    How strange it will be to be all done with homeschooling! I'm done with one and nearly done with another, but still have three to go and Fiona has just begun. I'm not sure from day to day whether that's a blessing or a curse. ;) Most days it is definitely a blessing though!

    Happy New Year!

  2. Oh how sad about Basil. I am so sorry.

    I'll miss your blog if you don't write as often, though I do understand. Best of luck to Miss 17 on the university course! It's a shame they don't accept homeschooling transcripts.

  3. Wow! You had a tremendous year! And I feel sorry for the end of an era, even though all of the changes are good ones and for the betterment and growth of your family. I'm only at the starting line for kids growing up and beyond the walls of our home, and unless strange changes come, I still have 15 more years of homeschooling ahead of me, but I feel the bittersweetness of your stage. I'm grateful for your blog and the many things you've shared with the rest of us from around the world! You showed me the way to the Movies as Literature course and encouraged me to make good changes to our homeschool.

    I wish Miss 17 all the best as she starts her university preparation, and I wish you good health!!!! I wish all of you tremendous joy, and I hope you find inspiration to keep blogging. :)

    1. Thanks so much for this Anne. I really appreciate it. I've already jotted down a couple of things for an end of month blog post so I think they'll happen - at least for a while. This is the first year in a long time that I've got really no idea how my days and weeks will pan out.