by Natalie Mack

[Editor’s Note: We are looking forward to Natalie joining us as a Featured Speaker at CHEA’s Parenting & Homeschool Conference, July 13-15 in Downey.

This is just a glimpse into what Natalie will be sharing this summer, as she speaks on a variety of topics including, homeschooling as a military/first responder family, high school, and getting into college athletics. Registration is now open.]

Fair winds and following seas” is a common phrase often rendered to a shipmate as she or he retires or encounters another change of station. But this phrase is not only a way of bidding farewell to shipmates, I believe it is a phrase that summarizes the hope and attitude of United States Navy families. We hope for our fellow Navy families to have easy sailing as they embark upon another Navy adventure. 

“Hurry up and wait” is another common phrase you often hear among military spouses as we desperately attempt to be as patient as possible in awaiting new orders. Where are we being sent to next? Will my children adjust? How will I make new friends? Will we find our tribe? How many homeschool support groups are there? 

Transition is consistent in our daily lives, seemingly more pronounced than for most non-military families. Venturing to a new place to call home every two-and-a-half to three years, putting up new curtains, painting the uniform walls often found in military housing, and finding our way around the “new” commissary and exchange; these are the positive signs of adjustment. Not only do we wish fair winds and following seas to our fellow military members, but each family prays this for themselves as well. “Please help me to adjust more quickly this time. Last time wasn’t so easy, Lord. Please no more damage to my household goods, and let my Polish pottery survive another move.” 

Change isn’t always framed in worry; it is more often framed in trust and excitement. There’s trust that God has already paved the way to new friends and new homeschool co-ops and excitement at all of the new adventures which await us. 

This was especially the case as my family of seven plus a fur baby excitedly awaited our transatlantic move to Naples, Italy. For three glorious years, we studied all over Europe from the top of Mount Vesuvius to the top of Mount Etna; from the Colosseum in Rome to the grand canals of Venice; from Italy to Germany to England; from the French Alps to the beaches of Normandy. 

Referring to ourselves as The Mack Train, we rolled out as often as we could. The passengers on board were my husband LeRoy (Navy Chaplain), our daughters Avani and Alexandra, and our sons Nickolaus, Noah, and “baby” Nathaniel. 

From this incredible duty station, I cried as Avani departed back to the states to attend Liberty University. We were down to four still at home. Then, after being named MVP for the Naples Wildcats Soccer Team for two years and playing on the Calcio Femminile Team of Napoli, our youngest daughter also went to Liberty University to play on the Lady Flames soccer team. I found myself crying at the airport again. We were down to our three sons! 

A year later, life took on another shape as we were relocated to the slower-paced ocean communities of eastern North Carolina. Did we determine to adjust? Yes! 

Due to God’s providence, we are now, several years later, living back near our parents, in the northern Virginia area, and we have adjusted once again. 

Avani is now a full-time teacher, fluent in Mandarin, and on her fourth trip to China. Alexandra is now working for AmeriCorps DC SCORES, and pursuing her Masters. Nickolaus graduated from American University School of International Studies and owns Campus Swipes, a meal swipe exchange service on campus. Noah, our seventeen-year-old is owner of Noah Mack Photography, is a Model UN delegate, a Star Ranked Boy Scout, and president of the Belvoir Home Educators (BHE) Senior Beta Club Chapter. Nathaniel, who begins seventh grade in the fall, is a goal-scoring soccer athlete and a First Class Boy Scout. And our fur baby, Mocha, is often found doing his best to roll out on the “Mack Train” whenever he can. 

We are now in the sandwich generation with my mother-in-law residing with us, and I am her primary caregiver. As with every change of station in the past, I have found myself still trusting God in this new adjustment to our lives. 

May the Lord grant you “fair winds and following seas” in your homeschooling journey. 

About Natalie

Natalie Mack is an author, speaker, and experienced military home educator, with over 21 years of service to military homeschooling families and support group leadership. She is known for her words of encouragement and advocacy for homeschooling, particularly during the journey from high school to college. Natalie is a mom of five: three college graduates, one college junior, and a 10th grader. She is now experiencing new adventures as her husband, a Navy chaplain, recently retired after serving for 34 years.

Copyright 2019, The Old Schoolhouse®. Used with permission. All rights reserved by the Author. Originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade publication for homeschool moms. Read The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine free at at, or download the free reader apps at for mobile devices. Read the STORY of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine and how it came to be.