Taking This Show on the Road

CHMShow Have you ever traveled with seven kids, two dogs, and a spouse who dares to set up a conference call during a 10-hour trip? Believe me, it’s just as much fun as it sounds.

On one such adventure, Brown Sugar had to go potty so Songbird took her to the rest area bathroom. Next we stopped at McDonald’s because the Lone Ranger didn’t like the nuggets from Chik-Fil-A. Then Eddie had to buy ice for the cooler where he took another twenty minutes to gather the other seven things I’d forgotten. As the Crusader crawled over the back seat to get an apple for Maven and Doritos for Think Tank, he disturbed the poodles in their crate, and their whimpering roused a dozing M&M. I nursed him back to sleep for the second time when we stopped for gas; we decided it was cheaper to refuel near home. That’s right: almost two hours into the trip, we’d crept a mere five miles away from our own driveway.

Sound familiar?

I dread packing for a trip more than I hate eating okra. To feel productive without actually doing anything, I create mental lists before our departure: Bring both types of soap. Leave the portable baby bed, but grab a crib sheet and blanket. Pack lightweight pajamas for the first, warmer location and robes for the second, cooler one. Take paper, crayons, and board games to fend off boredom and a television overdose at the grandparents’.

The lists go on and on, but the actual packing doesn’t get started until the night before. That’s when the pedal hits the metal. Then I’m arranging seven piles of clothes—at least three additional days of underwear; bathing suits or sweaters, depending on the season; matching outfits for the girls, caps and sneakers for the boys; extra diapers for the little one, more jeans for the big ones. It’s a “no” to the stuffed animals, a nod to the graphic novels, and a “maybe” to the craft supplies. More than likely, they’ll stash these gems under the seats beside the textbooks that never make it out of the car. I trip over Eddie’s suitcase that’s ready to go and mutter, “Who knows?” when Eddie asks when he can load the car.

Actually, getting our show on the road is more a Ringling Brothers than a Cirque de Soleil production. There’s a method to our madness, but it’s still maddening. Departure day is all about minimizing how late we’ll leave and of course, how much later we’ll arrive. Cranky and tired, we’re going in every direction but the one that leads to the car: grabbing toothbrushes I couldn’t pack the night before; stopping the newspaper and the mail; turning on extra lights. The dogs get underfoot so we don’t forget them and the baby wails so we can hear him. It’s all carefully unorchestrated, as painfully necessary as a measles shot.

By the time we finally throw ourselves into the car we’re too tired to drive around the corner, let alone hundreds of miles. We finally make it out of the state, but a few hours, three Wee Sing CDs, and two movies later, we’re still on the road. By our journey’s end Brown Sugar has nosed me out for best traveler. All Eddie and I want to do is push the kids into our host’s waiting arms and head to the nearest hotel to regroup for a day or two.

So, why do we do it?

For scientific study. Why mimic ocean movement in plastic bottles when we can experience the waves breaking on the rocks below Pemaquid Lighthouse? We’d rather paddle to lobster traps than just read about lake ecosystems. Checking out the bird’s nest Grandpa found in the blueberry bush trumps studying animal habitats in the safety of the schoolroom. What’s more entertaining: watching mama run from spiders or climbing giant bugs in Nashville’s botanical garden? (Okay, that’s a draw.)


For art appreciation. I can hum “You Are My Sunshine” for twenty-five miles to hear my mom sing spirituals to M&M. The Lone Ranger’s colored-pencil renditions of New York’s skyscrapers, Blue Ridge mountains, and Pisgah National Forest cascades are works of art. Maven wears out her pencils, retelling her siblings’ escapades in her journal. Our a cappella remix of the “ABC Song,” “Bah, Bah, Black Sheep,” “Twinkle, Twinkle Traffic Light,” and “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” lulls M&M to sleep as we cross yet another county line.

For math application. Ever compare the drive from New Jersey to Maryland with the time spent crawling through Virginia alone? What about calculating the hours spent in line for a 90-second rollercoaster ride? Teaching the Crusader about gas mileage has more life application than doing inverse functions.

For Bible study. When someone screeches, “He touched me!” she’s not talking about Jesus. But that only inspires me to focus on God’s creation whizzing by the car, and meditate on His Word:

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens…When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4)

Since God can “draw out Leviathan with a hook, or snare his tongue with a line…” surely He can reel in the two battling it out behind me. (Job 41:1).

The family road trip…what better way to study God’s Word, geography, psychology, and sociology than watching my little people trample, chew on, argue with, explore, and evaluate everything from the tiniest ant at the rest stop to the hapless diner “lucky enough” to sit beside us at Cracker Barrel? Every fight, traffic jam, sore back, and pit stop draws us closer together; getting to the lighthouse, grandma’s house, the beach house, and our own house is the icing on the upside down cake. Have car, Google Maps, and Bible – will travel.

Now, if I just didn’t have to pack…



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About Robin W. Pearson

Over the years God has blessed me with opportunities to edit and write for school publishers, magazines, fiction, and nonfiction. Currently, I use my time cuddling up with my lovely husband of 20 years; homeschooling our seven children; writing about my adventures in faith, family, and freelancing; and dusting off our two neglected poodles. I hope to see my debut novel published soon.


  1. Rose White says

    First I wanted to say that I love your Blog.
    Secondly, I’m just beginning this journey of Homeschooling. This is my first year I have a first grader and preschooler. I have a question about grading or how to grade. I am using the LifePac curriculum and wanted to know in regards to my first grader. Do I just only submit the scores from the test booklet provided or do I add grades from extra work as well? This is all confusing to me. I have contacted my umbrella school about this but have yet to receive an answer. I would greatly appreciate any tips and advice. Thanks
    P. S. Do you know of any support groups for African American Moms that I can get connected with that are local or national?

    • Tammy says

      I used LifePac when my daughter was in elementary school. I graded on extra work, class participation and the test scores. There is a facebook support group. Email me and I will send the link to you. Tammy.grant@live.com

        • says

          Not far from where I used to live…and unfortunately, I don’t think there is a group there- at least not that I know of (at least specifically for the AA community), but I know there are huge park day type groups (I think one is called Highlands). There’s a lady on YouTube who I *think* lives in Huntsville- you might want to ask her.Her channel is “DaJedu”.

    • says

      It’s funny how homeschooling is supposed to be this freeing experience, but all at once you feel so confused and limited by what you don’t know! First of all, trust your instincts. God gave you stewardship of these children for a reason–and if you can be trusted to teach them how to grow into responsible young men and women and to keep them safe in this world, then math, history, and grammar are a piece of cake. But I guess no one is making you grade the life lessons though. Regarding that, each curriculum is different, but if you decide to grade those levels, I would include any work that factors into that subject. If they were in traditional school, teachers include factors such as extra credit, homework, and class participation into a final grade, and so can you. If you’re looking for support, check out African-AmericanHomeschooling.com or search for the African-African Homeschool Moms group on Facebook. I hope this helps!

  2. felicita says

    I am an experience teacher and mother of five, but new to homeschooling my younger son. All my older kids were great readers. My younger one has special needs and among other things has comprehension problems. I will like for him to read some independently, even if he reads books under his grade level. His math, spelling and grammar are at grade level (5th grade) but comprehension is about third grade level at the most, How can I motivate him to keep a reading log? Should I include the stories we read together as part of the reading daily class.

    • says

      Hi, Felicita- congrats on deciding to homeschool. Definitely stories you read together can help to motivate him to read independently and use a reading log. Keep reading to him as long as he wants you to :-) It’s still one of my favorite things to do with my middle-schooler. Try a few online resources for reading comprehension. Reading Eggs is more for learning to read- but you may want to check it out: http://readingeggs.com/. For comprehension fun try http://www.turtlediary.com/grade-1-games/ela-games/a-tigers-cub.html. Also, have you tried the Book It program just to motivate him? http://www.bookitprogram.com/. And one more for you regarding comprehension questions: http://www.readingrockets.org/helping/questions/comprehension

      • felicita says

        Thank you for your suggestions. I will let you know. I’ll be working with my son on setting and theme next week. I’m planning to make an Interactive information text notebook. It is something I saw on a web called Teachers pay teachers.

          • felicita says

            This week I tried some interactive notebook activities. I even created one for science! However, the last two days were very difficult. I felt the my son was not working to his best capacity and were not engage on what we are working. He has special needs on the social and comprehension areas. I was feeling discourage.
            Then I read your post about simplifying homeschooling. I’m thinking on how I’m going to do that. I’m teaching 6 different regular classes (since we live in Puerto Rico I have to teach Spanish which is my native language) plus the therapies (3) and electives classes.

            I read in you post about people asking about the socializing opportunities of homeschooling kids. Maybe that is not a problem for others, but it is one of my concerns. In one hand, our experience at schools from PK to Fourth grade was not a good one. My son was made fun of for the way he act or talk and even physically attack inside and outside the classroom. Meanwhile, because he is a very sweet and immature boy, they felt sorry for him and never expect him to do much in class. I was teaching him at home anyway. On the other hand, now that we are homeschooling I feel that we are both isolated.

          • says

            Interactive notebooking is a nice way to make the subjects come to life. Great job! I know it can be difficult, especially since your child is special needs- which adds a new layer to the way you approach his education, but I pray that you’ll take it one day at a time. For you, your situation is different, and since you need to teach additional classes to your son, simplifying might not come the same way. Maybe you won’t be able to cut down on classes you teach, but perhaps there are some techniques you can use to shorten the length of time you teach each subject, or cause the flow of your day to go smoother. I’m sorry your son was mistreated in school. I think you’re doing great by having him home and pulling him away from a socially hostile situation. Hopefully with time you’ll both be able to locate other homeschoolers you can connect with so that you won’t continue to feel isolated.

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