Given the options of Kingman, Arizona, St. George, Utah, and Las Vegas, Nevada my parents chose the first option for its warmer temperatures and lack of sin-city-ish-ness. My grandparents had lived near or with us for much of my life, but my grandmother’s arthritis forced her to live in warmer climes. We had been in Kingman for a short time when my grandparents moved back in with us. The five of us and our dog lived in a 36’ trailer on a lot with a garage. Sometimes, weather permitting, my grandparents slept in the garage. Otherwise, they slept in the RV with us and I had the floor. There are not many more bonding experiences than living in such a confined space. It was a challenging but fantastic experience. We were happy, though, when we found a house to move into within a few months.
Our move to Kingman coincided with my twelfth year of age and I was soon entering the emotional teenage years. We found a homeschool group in our new location and began building relationships. It took almost two years before I really began to become close to any of the people in the group, but I did form some lasting relationships there too.
The older I got, the more we moved into a relaxed and child-led homeschooling style. Mom and Dad encouraged me to find subjects I was interested in and explore them to the fullest extent. Mom also continued to look for ways of interesting me in subjects with which I wasn’t always immediately enthralled. Before I entered the high school years, she hired a tutor for algebra who really opened up the world of math to me and introduced me to entirely new ways of understanding that topic.
At the age of fourteen my parents handed the ‘reigns’ over almost exclusively to me. I made all decisions regarding which materials we would use and they just approved my choices. By allowing me to have ownership of the curriculum decisions they encouraged me more than ever to pursue my passions and to take control of my education. It was empowering and exciting and made me want to pursue excellence.
During these years, among other things, I did a four year inductive study of the monarchy of England, I completed a self-led college level course in accounting and I took two courses at our local community college. I also began working at age 15. I was interested in ranching, so my mother suggested I interview some ranchers in the area and write about the subject. I did so and ended up being offered a job on one of the ranches.
I spent two years working on the ranch – as the official peon. The ranch was a working cattle ranch owned by a European conglomerate. I did all the grunt work (washing vehicles, scooping poop, scrubbing feeding containers with bleach, vacumming floors, weeding and watering plants.) But, I also soon got to work with the ostriches that they owned and boarded there and even occasionally got to work in the clean room and lab where they candled and hatched the ostrich eggs. After working there about a year and a half I was asked by the manager if I would be interested in working more in the office on a new project that the owners were starting. They would be selling off some of their land to form a new housing development and I was asked to do some marketing research and help plan some of the magazine ads that would be run in major national magazines. I much preferred this indoor, air-conditioned position and soon grew tired of the other outside duties I still had to perform.
By the end of my junior year, I took up the offer from another homeschooling dad and business owner to be his full time office assistant/accounting clerk. My senior year of high school consisted mostly of learning real life principles in his office that carried me into the construction accounting career that I had for eight years.
My friend, Debbie, and I planned every detail of our high school graduation ceremony ourselves. We decided what aspects of the ceremony we wanted to include and what we didn’t care to do (neither of us wanted caps and gowns – we wanted to show off our pretty dresses during the ceremony!) It was a truly special day filled with many, many family and friends!
About a month later, I was living in a studio apartment in Las Vegas in a not so desirable part of town, working for a construction company as their office manager and moving into the next exciting season of life.
But wait! There’s more! Stay tuned!